Thursday, August 6, 2009

About New Life

This new work, though started just relatively recently, has actually been the result of many, many years of preparation. It was E.M. Bounds that said:

Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man.
–E.M. Bounds

And so, it has taken God many years to prepare me—us—for this thing which began roughly two years ago.

Roughly? Well, it's hard to pinpoint a date and time when New Life came to be. It certainly started well before it was named, and really even before our first unorganized “organized” meeting. The people we've been able to lead to Christ and minister to were before any “meetings”. That said, the meetings, held on the traditional day, began about two years ago. I very purposely do not call our meetings “services”, because it sounds very much like a funeral to me, and that is not anything like what a Christian meeting should be. Jesus isn't dead!

We moved here to Motobu at the end of 2000. It was an unexpected move, and more than a bit hasty. Like usual however, and the topic for a future post, God came through in miraculous fashion to open up a place for us to live. Though we knew Kiyomi's parents' house wasn't a long term solution, we knew also it was God's will for a time, and that He opened their hearts to do what they initially really didn't want to.

I bring up this move, however, because of something else God did in the midst of it. Though we knew it was God's will to come to Motobu for a time, it wasn't a place we desired to stay. Far from it, to be honest. To us, there was nothing at all sweet or rosy about Motobu, even the sweetness of hope for ministering to a dead town. There was just nothing, just MOTOBU!

Yet, in preparation for and actual carrying out of our move, something began to happen. Every time we descended from the hills down into the town, we slowly began to sense that this was more than "nothing". Slowly, very slowly, we began to get further away from the feeling of hopelessness, and closer to a sense of the possibilities; God's possibilities.

After another move within Motobu, we finally had a place that lent itself to having people over. We have parking and a space to hold a small crowd. But - there always is a "but" - though we had the desire, we still weren't ready. It's not that we didn't share the gospel or witness to people, but we weren't ready for starting meetings and being responsible for other people's lives. We still needed some "cooking".

In the meantime, I was teaching English for income, both at my own private school, and for a public school system 45 minutes away. I was continually drained, and wasn't very nice to be around. I had a desire to quit one of the jobs, but it took some time to get out of it for various reasons. It was a tough step back in salary, but we just learned to look up and trust our Father in heaven.

From that experience I learned how easy it is to get focused on things we shouldn't. I realized that there were many other things in my life that had to go as well before we could fully begin to step into what God wanted for us. It became a continual letting go of security - false security - for uncertainty, but by faith, absolute security. Does that make sense? We gave up what, to this world, is security, for what, to this world, is insecurity. But like all else, the world has it completely backwards.

… for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
2 Tim 1:12

That is real security.

I've now come to the place where I ask myself why Christians believe following God's will for their life should make any remote sense to this world's economy. It clearly won't. How can we reconcile a "narrow path", "carrying our crosses daily", and "living sacrifices" with ease, leisure, and prosperity? Something doesn't add up. It's because we haven't been using our Holy Ghost calculators; the one that says faith + patience = inheriting the promises. Heb. 6:12

So, there have been several years of stepping out of this world's way of thinking and doing, which dominates the Church as well, and into a life of faith. If faith isn't more to you than believing in some deity, you don't believe. If there is no do-ity, there is no deity, whether you choose to call that figment of your imagination Jesus or not.

And so, with many years of struggling to come to grips with what the Bible teaches and latching on to Jesus for dear life, we were able to start a few feeble meetings a couple of years ago, roughly. And rough is the way to put it, friends, for it has been that, and I suspect will continue to be. Where there is no cross there is no Christian.

Note: This was originally published on my old blog, September 6, 2007.

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