Tuesday, December 8, 2009
blessed by the body...
Over the last few weeks, I can not count the way that the body of Christ has made my family’s life so blessed!! So I just had to blog about it…
Right now, our family is in the fund raising portion of our efforts to become full time missionaries to Haiti. We were warned by other CSI missionaries that this phase would be the “most challenging part” and they were exactly right! It is extremely awkward and humbling to ask people you know for support. It is challenging to try to share our heart and passion in some promotional materials that we are trying to create about the work we will be doing in Haiti. Given our present economy and my own personal corks when it comes things like financial planning/ security… relying on God ALONE to provide for our families livelihood through His people is a very scary place to be! But God is teaching us soooo much in this season about His faithfulness and the way He has intended his church body to function.
We have been AMAZED by the response of some of our sweet brothers and sisters in Christ and the way they have volunteered and eagerly came alongside to help this dream of ours become a reality. For example, an elder in our church who is a graphic designer has designed some amazing brochures that really communicate our heart for Haiti and the work God has prepared for us to do there. Another man from our church family is a web designer. He has volunteered to help us maintain our website (www.starfish4haiti.com). We contacted a very talented photographer about taking some family and team portraits and because she shared our heart for missions and the Lord, she not only scheduled an appointment for us right away but insisted waving her normal portrait fees. Another old friend who is a video/media pastor used his talent to put together a short video for us that also beautifully shared our heart for Haiti. And I could go but basically God has been blessing our socks off in the way His children have volunteered their gifts and time to help us on this journey we are currently on. There are many different parts of the body of Christ and when those parts come together with a common goal (to further God’s kingdom), it is a beautiful thing!
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, our house was broken into. It could have been WAY worse but some things were stolen that would have made Christmas morning kind of a downer for our kids. But upon hearing what happened, some of precious church family offered to replace some of the items that were stolen. Some students in our ministry even sacrificed and pulled together their own resources to bless our family in a special way! And we were once again blown away by the generosity and love of the body of Christ!
In our Sunday school study of “Crazy Love”, Francis Chan challenged us a few weeks ago by these thoughts…
“Is there any logic in believing that God started His Church as a Spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining, hour-long services? Was he hoping that one day people would be attracted to the Church not because they care for one another, not because they are devoted to Him, not because the supernatural occurs in their midst, but because of good music and entertainment? Try to imagine what conclusions you would come to if you had no prior church experience. The things in church services might make sense to the American church-attendee, but they don't make sense biblically. Picture yourself on an island with only a Bible. You've never been to a church-you've never even heard of one. The only ideas you have about church are what you've read in your Bible. Then you enter a building labeled "church" for the first time. What would you expect to experience as you entered that building? Now compare that to what you actually experience when you attend church. But what if the church looked like this?
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
It describes what the world is waiting for. I used to look at this passage as something that was wonderful but could never happen in the twenty-first century. There are just too many cultural obstacles for the Holy Spirit to overcome. He is powerful enough to raise the dead, but not powerful enough to form a sharing and loving body in our individualistic society. I doubted God's ability to stir a body of believers to love tirelessly and give without restraint. I reasoned that this type of fellowship was probably not intended for our time. Besides, we don't have time to love like this.
This last year our church has done a lot of studying of the New Testament church and it has been challenging to say the least. The church, as a whole, has a long way to go but there are breath taking glimpses of us “loving tirelessly and giving without restraint.” In the world we live in, it is easy to become jaded and judgmental of hypocritical Christians but from where I am standing … the body of Christ is a BEAUTIFUL thing!
PS Please don't be the appendix!