I don’t feel qualified to speak on this subject – I think because its still something I’m working through in my own life.But over the past six months or so I’ve really been challenged by several ideas in Scripture and I’m hoping that this morning we can work through them together and chew on them together and as we leave here we’ll be challenged to see our roles and opportunities for ministry differently.I’m a big believer in the idea that God still speaks and he still speaks to everyone, not just a select few who get to boom his message from the stage – but to each and everyone one of us – so I’m looking forward to some of your input this morning as well.
Laurie and I just returned from a week long cruise with Josh and Shalyn.On the 3rd day of our cruise we made a stop in Progresso, Yucatan, Mexico and somehow I convinced the group that we should see some Mayan Ruins. I think the only way I was able to get them to agree was because the tour ended with a couple hours relaxing at a beach club.
We took a trip to the Dzibilchaltún (chi-bil-cha-toon) Mayan ruins.
It was a very interesting site with the Temple of the Seven Dolls where historians believe the Mayans made human sacrifices.What made it even more interesting is that the Mayan’s built the temple in a way that on the summer and winter solstice, the sun will line up perfectly with the doorway on either side of the temple and shine its light on the village letting the residents know the seasons are changing.As we toured the rest of the ruins we came to the central governmental/commerce area and found a structure that just seemed a little bit out of place….
Sure enough – it was a Spanish Chapel built by the Conquistadors in the 16th Century.I laughed that with all these structures around that apparently have held up pretty well over the centuries, the Spanish still felt the need to spend a lot of money building this chapel in order to convert these pagan Mayans to their Christianity. I’m sure they were looking forward to doing something BIG for God and they planned to use this structure to do that. Sound familiar?Now don’t get me wrong, I understand there can be value in having a church building and having a place where the community can come and gather and worship and share life. A place that people can gather throughout the week and serves as a beacon, a welcome and safe place for the entire community…But I’d hate to think we’re missing out on some amazing opportunities to have church and build community simply because WE’RE WAITING ON GOD TO DO SOMETHING… to provide something that better suits our needs, or ideas and our dreams.Yet, isn’t that what we do each and every day – we say we’re ready to surrender to God but only after he provides an unmistakable sign, or we’ll surrender to God as long as he calls us to somewhere nice like Hawaii. Or we’ll surrender to God and lead his people, as long as they’re not dirty or messy or smelly or talk too much. I’ll surrender to God as long as he wants me to minister to people just like me. Not the crack heads, the meth addicts, the prostitutes.I think that John 1 suggests that Jesus moved into our neighborhoods and got his fingers dirty. I don’t think he was too concerned about getting his fingers dirty by building great temples or meeting places, instead I think we see him going from place to place living life and enjoying dinner with folks – most often than not – in their own homes.He got down in the dirt and the muck and the mire with us. He didn’t show up and wait for Herod to welcome him with trumpets blaring. He didn’t broadcast his message over CNN or Fox News. He went about creating a revolution by going from town to town, living a quiet life and helping the least of these.I have a feeling that rather than expecting his people to do HUGE, MASSIVE, GRAND PROJECTS…. God is simply looking for people willing to do something really, really, really small.
I don’t think God expects us to reach 1,000s at a time. I don’t think he expects us to win entire cities for Jesus in a week.I think he’s more concerned with individual acts of love and kindness and sharing the Kingdom of God with one another.I think God is a God of an upside down Kingdom where the small acts make just as much of a difference in someone’s life as a big flashy event.And this is where the tension happens in my life…My idea is to always look for some huge thing that God wants to do – but in doing so I miss all the small things he’s doing on a daily basis.If you want to know an easy way to do church and ministry… get a wad of cash, buy a building, put together a great show and then send out thousands of mass-mailers to the neighborhood. You’ll have a “church” in no time. Before long your name will get out and people will be coming to your event/your church/your ministry just because so-and-so is there. And then you’ll get a book deal, work the conference circuit and make a big splash for Jesus.But more and more I’m hearing folks admit that they’ve been down that road and it’s not as fulfilling as they thought it would be…And I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when we look at the description of his ministry in John 1 or when he sent his followers out in Luke 10.In Luke 10 – rather than sending his followers out with a great marketing plan and cookie cutter franchise ideas… he instructs them to look for a person of peace….
You may find this person in any number of places.As I understand it, you may find a person of peace in your neighborhood. You may find a person of peace at work. You may find a person of peace that represents an entire family.Acts 10 talks about the Roman Centurion Cornelius who was “a righteous and God-fearing man ... respected by all the Jewish people.” He invited Peter into his home and his entire family heard God’s message and scripture tells us that he and his entire family were saved.
So what if Jesus showed up today? What would he tells us? What would he tell those of us gathered here at the Civic Center?I think he’d tell us something very similar.I picture Jesus walking into the Civic Center today and saying, “HEY! Yall have an awesome thing going on here! But guess what -- the Harvest in Ellis County is plentiful! And Ellis County isn’t exactly coming here every Sunday. Let’s get out in the fields and you and I will really move into your neighborhood. Let’s go show them the Kingdom of God! Let’s go into your neighborhood -- and your neighborhood -- and your neighborhood and let’s show them that the Kingdom of God is at hand!”And I think many of us would avoid it because we’ve been taught that God wants to do something BIG and HUGE in the world – and we think we need a special degree, or background, or personality to do it…But want to know where I’ve personally seen the most lives changed over the last year? In a small group of guys that meet on Wednesday mornings. In friendships made over coffee or tacos or even phone or online conversations.In a group of ladies meeting in a living room or at Starbucks once a week.In a living room where a neighbor invited another neighbor to join with others and learn about God’s working in the world around us.I’ve seen it as people share their stories and share their experiences and share how God still speaks – TODAY.Real changes happen through real relationships - where people are honest and authentic with one another. Where people offer spaces of grace and are intentional about their relationships and share relevant truth about how God is working in one another’s lives.If Jesus really did move into your neighborhood – what do you think it would look like? How would it change your life, your neighbors life, your overall neighborhood?
Jesus tells us that Faith of a Mustard Seed can move mountains. The weak will shame the strong. You don’t need a mega-budget to turn the world upside down.So I think Jesus would tell us, “Let’s each commit to looking at the neighborhood you live in. Let’s commit to looking at your workplace. And join me in showing your neighborhood the Kingdom of God. Let’s find those people of peace and make a real impact in your neighborhood – day in and day out.”A good friend tells several stories of how he’s seen this principal work out in the lives of those around him.A couple in Austin commits to prayer walking for their neighborhood.This friends son was actively working in a church as a college minister in Lubbock. He began wanting to reach out to the surrounding community and starting pray walking through a neighborhood in Lubbock. And roughly 10 years ago my friend felt a yearning to do church differently. He had a hunger for something different. He was burned on the traditional, institutional church and he decided to put a sign on the side of his truck that said “Free Prayer Thoughts.” He’d set up at gas stations, Wal-Mart parking lots, donut shops etc. Through this he meets a garage door repairman and they start a church with just 4 people – my friend, his wife, the garage door repairman and the man’s daughter. It’s been meeting in a park parking lot for 10 years.God led each of these individuals to a person of peace. A person that God already had ready. God doesn’t need big budgets, higher education packed with plans and events and agendas to win the world. He only needs people with faith of a mustard seed.
What if God has that person of peace waiting for you in your neighborhood already – someone who’s already geared up and ready to join you and God in bringing the Kingdom of God to your neighborhood.What if you’re that person of peace for someone else? Would you want to miss out on that?!So let’s go and be God in our neighborhoods. Let’s be the Kingdom of God in our jobs. Let’s be God’s people of peace in our sphere’s of influence. Rather than building churches… LET’S BE THE CHURCH!Let’s go forth and simply offer spaces of grace, intentional relationships and relevant truth to those around us.And then, as the Word will become flesh through us – we’ll see God truly move into our neighborhoods.
In your neighborhood
neighborhood<br />what if God moved into yours?<br />
john 1:1, 2, 14<br />NIVIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.<br />
john 1:1, 2, 14<br />MSGThe Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. <br />The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.<br />
john 1:1, 2, 14<br />NKJVIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.<br />
“God wants to do something really, really, really small”<br />
A person of peace (Luke 10)<br />Jesus tells his followers the harvest is plentiful…<br />SO PRAY!<br />Go into the towns and villages and look for a person of peace<br />Stay with that person and join them and God in building the Kingdom of God in their sphere of influence<br />
What is a person of peace? (Luke 10)<br />Receptive to the Kingdom of God<br />Has a good reputation and influence among his friends and family<br />Refers you and the message of the Good News to their larger sphere of influence<br />
neighborhood<br />what if God moved into yours?<br />
God lead each of these individuals to a person of peace. The person that God has ready. Not flyers, not events, not programs, just people faithful to praying and finding people of peace. Sometimes you may find a person of peace in five minutes, sometimes you may find it in 5 years. But remain faithful to finding the person God is leading you to.<br />
Stock your freezer with heat and serve lasagnas or soups for when a neighbor gets sick or out of work
Invite neighbors over for coffee or tea or whatever
Fill a freezer</li></ul>God lead each of these individuals to a person of peace. The person that God has ready. Not flyers, not events, not programs, just people faithful to praying and finding people of peace. Sometimes you may find a person of peace in five minutes, sometimes you may find it in 5 years. But remain faithful to finding the person God is leading you to.<br />