Saturday, June 19, 2010

Authentic Christian Community

VALRICO - Saturday afternoon - around 2:45 - and we've just had this massive thunderstorm pass through. It's amazing how thirty minutes of rain and a cool air-mass can bring down the temperature. So we sat on the back porch for a while, watching, just drinking in the brief respite from summer.

I got the lawnmower going at 7:50 this morning (sorry, neighbors!), so I could do the bulk of the work before the heat become too oppressive. Then I turned my attention to this evening's men's event at First Presbyterian Church of Plant City. I get to share and listen and inspire and - mostly, I pray - encourage the guys as they think seriously about who God is calling them to be.

I'd like to simply show them a video of the Friday evening (yesterday) Rebekah and I spent with some of our friends. There is no such footage, of course, but it stuck me that the best thing for the health of any church is small groups of people who simply live their faith out loud, loving and encouraging one-another in the process.

That's why I chose the messy counter top picture. It simply shows one part of the preparation for a great dinner party. Yes, Rebekah and I used pretty-much every pot and pan in the kitchen! But we had a blast getting ready to serve our guests.

All the ingredients were fresh - so there was chopping, dicing, mincing, slicing, measuring, mixing, blending, sautéing, reducing, baking, boiling, steaming, marinating, pressing, rubbing, mashing, grinding, uncorking.... and more - but I think you get the picture.

What we were doing was pouring our best into the event. When our friends arrived there was an air of expectancy. We all gathered in the kitchen while we finished cooking and we had a long, long meal at the dinning room table, full with laughter and stories and concerns and much peace.

We prayed before the meal, and our interaction all evening long was marked by the presence of our faith. God grounded our conversation; Jesus was present at the table, the Spirit animated every aspect of the evening.

What I'm saying is that - just like that photograph of the counter-top about an hour before our guests arrived - our spiritual lives were indispensable ingredients to a great evening. We didn't just say a blessing, and then park God back in the cupboard where we keep the nice china.

This is what I mean when I talk about full-time faith. It makes everything richer, more abundant, and exciting. If I can get that message across this evening, the power and the promise of authentic Christian community, then there's really not that much else I'll need to say.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Grace and Peace - DEREK

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