Today was awesome at both Compass campuses. At Goodyear the worship team did a killer rendition of “As the Deer” – which to be honest I was pretty skeptical about at first. But they rocked it up and even threw in a U2 blend which was a nice complement to the song.
We talked about the “Send” portion of Life360 and our text was Jeremiah 29:4-7:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
In the story of the Israelites we can find our story. You are where you are because that is where God sent you. In an age of mobility where you can recreate yourself in any locale across America in a matter of weeks if you’ve got the will, its hard to believe that God actually sends anyone to stay anymore.
But we’re here in the West Valley to seek the welfare of our city. That means working for the peace, wholeness, health, prosperity, forgiveness, and love of this town. By the way, for those of you who were wondering where I got the shirt, you can find it here.
I had a woman come up to me and say that she and her husband have been debating whether or not to have another baby, and my sermon today sealed the deal: they’re gonna go for it. So she sent him a text during church to say the decision’s been made. I told her to say, “You’re welcome” to him for me! You see, the Bible always says that kids are good – they bring new life and they bring old lives together. Therefore we should never be afraid of bringing more of them into the world.
That is the subject of another issue altogether. God’s first command to humans was to be fruitful and multiply, and yet we’ve come up with 1,000 reasons to be afraid of parenthood and of “filling the earth.” As to the fears of overpopulation, all you’ve got to do is take a flight from Phoenix to anywhere and you’ll see plainly that we’re not going to run out of space anytime soon. But for those who don’t trust their eyes or their common sense, there is a wonderful book by Ben Wattenberg called Fewer that will scare you to death. Basically our population is on target to level off and by the end of the century start to drop, dramatically. That might be welcome news for our ecologically-minded misanthropic friends out there, but its terrible for anyone who is interested in a tax, customer, or employment base. It’s hard to be a teacher when there’s no one to teach. It’s hard to be an orthodontist when there’s no one who needs braces. But hey, the earth would be great if it weren’t for the people, right?
But I digress. Another woman came up to me and said she was wondering whether or not she should move from the East Coast to Arizona after my heartfelt appeal to STAY exactly where you are and don’t “go” anywhere. I explained that for her we’d make an exception, and that she needs to move out here and help us create “zones of justice, peace, and love,” as Hirsch and Frost describe it, right here in our great West Valley.
All of this of course points to the kingdom of God, which Jesus says we should seek first. Several books about mission and the kingdom that have impacted me greatly I was able to reference today. The first is called The Faith of Leap by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, and the second is called The Mission of God by Christopher Wright. The key quote from The Faith of Leap:
“A key issue for any group willing to embrace the risk and adventure of mission is to dare to believe that they have been sent to stay home. That is, that home might be the very best place for them to serve and that the missionary call to “Go” might still apply, but it is a going deeper, not a going away. It is being sent in to every arena, domain, and context of life, not simply geographical moves. Sentness is an identity thing.”
The key quote from The Mission of God:
“It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.”
There’s a lot to be said for staying in one place and letting the long term results of your labor take root for the glory of God. There’s nothing wrong with moving around (I’ve done it plenty), but I’m in a phase of life where I feel God challenging me to stay and see what he can accomplish through me, my family, and our church over time. Anyone can say they’re going to change the world – it’s a lot harder to think about changing your street. But that’s where the imagination comes in, because there are specific needs and opportunities that God might just be calling us to address.
For me, I want to draw the lines in tight for a while, focus on the place that God has called me, and see how the kingdom might flow out of me through love, mercy, justice, and peace shown to my city.
Tonight I’m headed downtown to a friend’s church to sit on a Q&A panel. Here are some of the questions I was told to prepare for:
- Are there venial and mortal sins?
- If the Mars landrover “curiosity” discovers evidence that life once inhabited that planet– does it argue against the Christian worldview that life on Earth is unique and special?
- How do we as Christians believe in a Bible that has so many discrepancies?
- Will our pets be in heaven?
- God is the creator of ALL things–so why does he create things like satan, fear, anxiety?
- Why has the Church had a problem with women in leadership roles?
- In Romans what does Paul mean when he says that Pharoah was created for wrath?
- If the discovery of the Higgs-Bosen particle is accurate, then does that demonstrate that we no longer need to appeal to God to explain the universe?
- Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?
How fun will that be?