Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Dec 30, 2009

Dear Chrio,

What a privilege it has been for me to journey with you all for this last year and almost a half!  I’ve said over and over that I never saw it coming- seeing a church launch with a handful of people and seeing what God might do with us.  It’s been quite a ride- meeting spaces have been living rooms, a synagogue, a  (very colorful!) reception hall!  From poker groups to coffee shops to strip clubs as venues to display God’s love and grace.  Sending out global partners all over the planet- from Thailand to Central Asia to Honduras to Kenya to places we aren’t even allowed to put in print.

God has been so faithful, so good.  And so have you.

And yet I find my heart still longing deeply for God to do something that we haven’t seen yet.  We have seen growth- new people enfolded into our family.  We’ve moved towards many others with love and servant-hood.  Lots of wonderful stuff.  But there’s something big that we haven’t experienced yet. We haven’t yet had the privilege of throwing birthday parties for people who have found brand new life in Jesus.  We haven’t yet been able to celebrate with the angels in heaven that one more person who was lost got found, that another wandering sheep came home.  While many of us could share gladly about God’s transforming work in our own lives, not very many of us could describe the incredible privilege of having a front-row seat to God’s rescue and restoration work in the life of someone else.  We’ve had so many incredible beginnings as a church- new missional communities, new ministry teams, new global partners.  It’s time for some new life.

Of course we can’t make that happen by just wishing for it to occur or even by trying really hard.  Only God can bring new life.  Only Jesus can rescue people who don’t even realize that they are drowning.  Salvation is a God-sized work.

So what is our part, then? Do we just wait and hope with our fingers crossed?  Wish really hard?  You know better than that.  We have a critical part to play.  And that starts with prayer.  I’m calling on us- myself included- to get really serious about praying for people to come to know Jesus through us, through Chrio.  I’m talking about praying by name for people we know who don’t know Jesus.  And not just the occasional mention to God.  The kind of prayer that is desperately seeking, asking, knocking- as if someone’s life depended on it—because it does.  I’m asking us to consider fasting about this- a meal one day a week, or a day per week, or a day per month- whatever God moves you to commit to.  But let’s let our hearts be heard in God’s throne room- and believe that He wants us to be praying like this.

Second, let’s love boldly, courageously.  I know, some of us feel nervous already about that or are already thinking that I’m talking to someone else.  No, I mean all of us.  All of us asking God, “What is a (potentially scary) next step You want me to take?”  It may be initiating a conversation or inviting someone over for dinner.  It may be walking across the street or across the office.  For some of us, it’s telling our story- simply, briefly- about our faith in Jesus.  For others, it’s extending an invitation- to a Chrio Sunday gathering or to your missional community.  I don’t know what your next step is, but Jesus does.  Why don’t you ask Him?

Finally, let’s invest strategically.  Many of you give faithfully to the kingdom work of Chrio.  I want to thank you deeply- I am so amazed by the generosity of this church.  But there are some of us who haven’t yet entered into the privilege of intentional, regular, and sacrificial financial participation in our church.  If we are going to see our mission to the East Valley and around the world expand, it will require that more of us get involved financially.  Specifically, we believe that God is leading us to seek out a location that we can call our own- that will require a greater financial investment.  We want to invest even more of our resources in local service and global partnerships. We plan to plant churches and expand our training of emerging leaders.  As we grow, we’ll need to take on more staff- leaders who can multiply themselves by developing other leaders.  That all takes money.  And I used to feel strange talking about money.  But then I remembered that Jesus talked about it all the time, unapologetically.  He says it tells us a great deal about the true condition of our hearts.  I think He’s right.

And so, as one year closes and a new one dawns, I find myself feeling energized, hopeful, and excited.  I believe God has some “can you believe it?” stuff in store for us.  But above all, what I’m most excited about is Jesus.  I want to know Jesus even better in the coming year.  I want to grow closer, go deeper, risk more of myself and trust more of myself to Jesus.  I want to be so single-minded about Him that others might call me obsessed.  I have no idea how many more years I have left on this planet or until Jesus comes back.  But I do know that I want every day between now and then to count, to matter for eternity. And the best, the only way that will happen is if I keep my eyes on, my heart wrapped around, and my life connected to Jesus.  Let’s be all about Him!

All Chrio Blogs, Richard’s Ramblings

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