Wake to a new start in a new year!
For many that number has been a disappointment.
Oh, don't get me wrong, most of my "plans" did not happen the way I thought they would, not even close.
2020 has been a gift from God.
We were given a "heads up" about rest, and we took it. We weren't any less busy on staff, it was just different.
We experienced as a congregation some of the greatest blessings financially we ever had, going back to God providing for us a new roof and through the generosity of others a new facade (a work in progress), and improvements still being made on our "sheep shed". We have weathered a once in a lifetime global event and we not only survived, we thrived! Our congregation has not all returned to live events, but we continued to obey Jesus and stayed open and engaged!
For us personally, Janice got a word in February that we would receive more than double in 2020 and we did, a double-double! (Easy In-n-Out fans, not that kind...) We saw the birth of grandchildren -THREE! (Jude, Micah and Olive) and then, a great-grandson, Sora. That is an amazing gift and sign of God's goodness!
God has been good to all of us.
So, with all that, I was shocked last Sunday as I shared, when Sunday morning early, I heard the Lord weeping. When I asked, He said, "My people haven't been grateful for the year I gave them." I was utterly gobsmacked. I began to repent immediately for any area that I had neglected to be grateful. There is so much we overlook and by doing so, we take it for granted. We literally take no notice. When we are not grateful, there are gates of access that we miss in our lives. Gratitude and thankfulness open gates that transition us from the world and life happening to us, into seeing God's hand of grace happening for us! It was in that spirit that I felt a challenge to us for this New Year to become the most grateful people on the planet. To me, that seems a worthy goal of a good year before us.
With gratitude for the challenges and opportunities in front of us, I wanted to write out a part of our vision and make it plain for you, so we can hit the ground running this year. (Habakkuk 2:4)
This is a new, fresh canvas with a palate of grace available to us. Here are some of the portraits of grace the Lord wants to do among us.
Fully establishing a house of prayer. (Matthew 21:12-16) - we have begun two nights of intercession this last year in the fall, Thursday and Friday each week. We feel a strong call to deepen that experience and make prayer our court of first resort and not our court of last resort. Each week the meetings start at 6pm, with the exception of the Encounter service which begins at 6:30pm on the first Friday (non-holiday) of each month. This is in addition to our continued call as a people to seek His face first and foremost whenever we gather. Why? Because the verse is clear, the gathering of the church should be to seek God and His face for the sake of seeking His face alone. When we seek His face in full repentance and humility, He releases healing and restoration (2 Chronicles 7:14), this prayer makes room for those needing healing to obtain what they need (Matthew 21:14), and then praise is renewed in the house (Matthew 21:16). We are called to seek His face in 2021.
Creating Intentional Community. (Acts 2:42-47) - one thing I took away from this year is that if we needed to disperse and still keep our identity as believers that we need many smaller groups of believers meeting together. My eye teeth were cut in small house groups. We would gather to worship, share a meal together, prayer, encourage and dig into the scriptures from the pastor's teaching on the weekend. I grew as much in these contexts as in any other, in experimenting in spiritual gifts, body life and caring for others. We will be selecting, training, and releasing leaders and homes for gathering points all over the region. These will increase our capacity to love and see others come to Christ. It will be wonderful! Be on the lookout for steps we will be taking to this. We are called to gather as His body everywhere in 2021.
Release the people of God in powerful ministry. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) - one of our highest priorities is the training of people for the works of Jesus (Ephesians 4). We will be expanding our training and releasing of people in all sorts of ministry, some formal, some informal and some on the job, but we will continue to press into the equipping of saints for the work of the ministry. Kathy Hendrickson will be facilitating some of this in her new role as the leader of Encounter Night (Encounter Rooms). We want to train people in healing, prophesy, and basic inner healing. We will be working towards seeing training for everything we do in a culture of experimentation and joyful risk. We are called to train and release people into ministry in 2021.
Becoming even more diligent in our life in the Word of God. (Psalm 119:11) The Word of God must become part of our daily foundation, especially in these times when everything is pulling us away from historical orthodoxy and orthopraxy into progressive aberrations of truth that lead to a loss of faith. We must become so acquainted with the real thing that we know how to spot counterfeits by how well we know the original. The greatest mentor, the Holy Spirit, waits for us daily as we meet Him in the Word. Our plan is to continue to encourage a daily habit of being in the scriptures, mixed with training on how to do Life Journal and to see groups centered in that all around our region. We are called to be a people of His Word, both hearers and doers in 2021.
These priorities are part of our larger scope as a people engaged in missions, evangelism, and more. As you prepare and reflect on 2020 and 2021, pray through your involvement in this. We know that He is the God of the more, there is more for us and we are excited about it!
Bless you all and happy New Year! God is on the move! Pastor Doug