Gospel Obscurity, Quote

Where You Are

Too often, we view our neighborhoods and cities as simply as necessary piece of life; we have to be close to work, or afford a life in some place and this is where we are. But in reality, you are exactly where God has determined for you to be, and he wants you to do good while you are there.

Our exile is not a political one like Israel’s; but in Christ, we are exiles in the midst of our cultures driven by the ways of the world. The answer is not to close ourselves off and start a commune, but instead work for the flourishing of our cities.

Gospel Obscurity

A Rock In The Sock

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This morning as I made the way down the street for my morning run I was pestered by something in my shoe. It began as a little itch, something I just ran through trying to take my mind off of it. Then it became more annoying so I adjusted my shoe a bit hoping for relief. Then it was unbearable so I put my finger in my sock to find a small rock, a pebble, working like sandpaper on my heel as I ran the race that was set before me.

Immediately the comparison to sin that lingers and stays so close became abundantly clear and painful even. I suppose I could have continued on with the rock in my sock but it would have ruined the run. It would have dominated the experience and detracted from the purpose. I may have hobbled along, but there would have been no joy, no undistracted exertion.

This friends is us when we live with the little rocks of sin. Those things that have become routine. The behaviors, the thinking, the attitudes. They usually just start as an itch but become something that tries to burrow into the skin and wreak havoc.

These are the things we are to lay aside, give up on, remove from the “socks” of our lives. So that we may run. Live the abundant life we are meant for.

But the encouragement doesn’t stop in Hebrews with just running. It is running while “looking to Jesus” we are encouraged toward. The founder and perfecter of our faith that took on a cross to clear every “rock,” remove every weight of sin that clings so closely. And because he did that, for the joy of claiming you, you are now free to remove those pesky rocks from your socks.

Christian, there is no rock of sin that can condemn you in Christ. You are covered, and made to wear his righteousness. Now in him you are also empowered to lay aside sin. Notice it, own it, repent of it, and turn away from it. Discard the rocks.

This is for me and I think the Lord gave me a pebble to illustrate with frustrating clarity the distraction of those tightly clinging sins I have been trying to run through.

May we live to surrender those lesser things to the finished work of Christ. May we run looking to him.

Adventure, Gospel Obscurity

Mapping the Road Ahead

I am in the midst of a very slow process of drafting a vision document for Reservoir Church, something I have been hesitant to do but something that is increasingly needed for our congregation eager to engage in ministry and the purpose of the church.

As a replant of a twenty-year-old church, the elders and I have been slow to cast “a grand vision” for the future of our church frankly because our key vision was health, something we drastically needed.

Approaching now the four-year mark of replanting we are ready for the long view so that we can “drive in the right direction.” We have a new name, 80% of our members became so within the last four years, and our demographic has shifted slightly younger to new families looking for something to invest in long-term.

This process is much like plotting your course in google maps. You have to know where you are going in order to choose a route.

It can seem daunting in the near term and maybe premature. Certainly, anything we formulate is open to amendment along the way. But if we don’t have a shared destination in mind we will be all over the map and less than fruitful.

How does this truth play out in your life? Like me are you prone to coasting and trusting you will end up on the shore with the wave upon wave of grace in Christ?! This might be a good time to seek direction from the Spirit and go after the goal.

 

Gospel Obscurity

Me Like A Bird

We love our home in South Escondido. We don’t own our home but we feel settled here and a big part of the love is the birdsong so prevalent here. We have all sort of birds, looking out the window we have a hummingbird nest in a front yard tree as well as a finch nest near our door. The doves, mockingbirds, blue jays and even the screech of lizards acting like birds all join together to make you feel like you live in an aviary!

This morning as I contemplate the purpose of God in setting our places and seasons, one encounter with a bird in our house makes me realize how I usually approach his plan.

We often leave our patio door – into the dining room – open. It is easier for the dogs to come and go as they wish and we love the fresh air, which living in Southern California we have year round! This particular morning, some weeks ago, I heard rustling coming from the dining room. As I investigated, I saw a blue bird had somehow flown into the room and was as the bay of windows in the front of the room trying to fly free – through the window.

He was even panting from the the exhaustion of aggressive flapping with no result. So I gingerly approached the bird trying to figure out how to get it to move the 15 feet to the back of the room where the open door was. I moved the shades out of the way to remove any obstacle but the bird still thought his freedom was found through the glass not the opposite way.

I didn’t want to grab the bird, probably because I was a little freaked and scared I would harm it. So instead I went outside, to the other side of the window with the plan to startle the bird to fly the other way.

As I made my way to the window in our front yard, another blue bird was on a branch near the window loudly cheering on its friend. I assured the bird I meant no harm and was trying to help! Then I approached the trapped bird from the other side of the glass and tried to scare it.

It worked. The bird flew away from me and through the open door.

I felt accomplished and like a friend of the animals in that moment.

Now, like the bird, how often have I been trapped up against some glass, assuming it was my path but ending up exhausted. Usually it is me running from God when he has opened the door I am meant to travel through and thankfully he does what it takes to get me back to soaring. Oh how I need to look more to him as he guides and cares for me.

I wonder if you ever find yourself up against the glass? You are there in order that you might seek God. Look to him, see how he pursues you in Jesus and follow him. You will catch your breath and fly just like you were meant to.