church, Devotion, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 12: “Peace. In Church.”

Photo: avante.biz

A communion of saints, gathering of believers, a company with a cause to fulfil the Great Commission: The Church on Earth. In Moses’ time, great value was placed on the tabernacle as sacrifices were made and festivals celebrated. The temple of the Old Testament was the location of profound teachings and gatherings. The early church came into existence in the New Testament after Jesus’ death and resurrection. God, over and over again, uses flawed people to come together to worship, learn, encourage, eat, and pray. Those people are his Plan A for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the Earth.

The church equips the saints to do the work of the ministry. Diversity in age and experience among God’s people brings the tapestry of each one together in beauty and purpose. Unfortunately, churches can also be a source of heartache and dysfunction as many of you seek to find a perfect place without problems or strife. As long as the church is full of people, it will never be absent of problems.

The Bible promises blessing to flow when you live together in unity:

“How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.”

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV)

You may not agree on every theological point with your fellow Christians in a different denomination. Your style of worship may look loud and “free;” or, perhaps it’s reserved and quiet. The source of your lyrics – hymnals or power points? Does it really matter?

God’s church is alive and well on the earth and it deserves all our focus and attention today.

Pray for your pastors and leaders in church. Pray for its specific vision and purpose to be carried out. Ask God to bring peace where there is discord. Truce in disagreement. Jesus considers the church a spotless bride for whom he will come back one day. He loves the church and it’s worth fighting for in prayer today.

“I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth. This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough:
He appeared in a human body,
was proved right by the invisible Spirit,
was seen by angels.
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
believed in all over the world,
taken up into heavenly glory.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16
Church planting, Inspiration, religious

Paul and Pastor Joe

The relationship between Paul and Timothy in the Bible is one of mentorship, spiritual fatherhood, honor, and faithfulness.  The Apostle Paul coached Timothy and empowered him to do the work of the ministry.

We have been blessed to have the same type of mentorship from our Pastors Joe and Lori Champion at Celebration Church (www.celebrationchurchtx.com).  Between the two of us, Greg and I have served on staff for the last 5 years in KIDS, Women’s, High School, and most recently, helped launch our first satellite campus.  As Pastors Joe and Lori entrusted us to do the work of the ministry at Celebration Church we have always been willing to serve wherever they needed us.  Like the Apostle Paul trained up Timothy, they have surely trained us up!

As the events surrounding our call to plant a church in Australia began to unfold earlier this year, Greg and I agreed that our next step would be to talk to our pastors about what God was saying to us.  After two months of praying and further confirmation we knew it was time.  With our meeting set for Tuesday, April 12th, we were nervous with excitement.  What would they say?  Would they too be excited?  Would they confirm what we had been feeling?  Would they be sad or hesitant?  They had always believed in us and allowed us to lead people in their church, but this was different.

As we sat on the couch in Pastor Joe’s office, Greg could hardly get the words out.  My heart beat faster as my husband shared from his heart. He began to cry as he articulated his desire to plant a church and his love for his homeland.  As tears streamed down his face, I felt great relief as I looked at our pastors.  I knew they knew it was right!  Without hesitation, Pastor Joe nodded his head and said something like, “I see it.”  Both Pastors Joe and Lori articulated that they always knew we would do this and they were thrilled and excited. 

We immediately began to brainstorm the transitions that would need to happen; we talked timelines; we talked about the desire of ARC (www.weplantlife.com) to plant churches internationally and how the timing of this seemed so perfect.

It was an awesome relief to have the blessing and support of our pastors.  Before the meeting, I secretly hoped they would say, “Let’s all just keep this to ourselves and pray about it for another year!”  That way, we could just keep this whole thing as pillow talk and daydreams; we wouldn’t have to move forward into unknown land!  However, like a mom and dad who prepare their kids to leave the house when they go off to college or get married, our spiritual parents had been preparing us all along.  They were ready to send us out!

As I look back at the last 6 years at Celebration Church, there are countless occasions where our Pastor has poured into us.  From Sunday mornings, to staff chapels, Pastor Joe, like Paul to Timothy, has encouraged us to “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12b).   He and Pastor Lori live their own lives this way.  They constantly press us to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (vs. 13) and to grow as leaders.

Now that we are moving forward to plant our own church, we know Pastors Joe and Lori will be there encouraging us, challenging us, and believing in us.  We are so grateful for their example and mentorship as we embark on this new season in our lives.

We all, as disciples of  Christ, must follow the Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy.  He says, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you” (1 Tim 4).  He encourages Timothy to meditate on these things and to give himself entirely to them, so that his progress would be evident to all.  Paul says that in doing this we save both ourselves and those who hear us.  Greg and my desire is to do just this- to be examples to the world of what it means to be Christ followers.

We thank God for our amazing Pastors who have raised us up to be ready to step into what God is calling us to do.  They are surely the “Paul” in our lives.  We all need someone like this help us grow and flourish in our callings so we can be sent us out to accomplish the plans and purposes God has in store.