Starting a Party

There are birthdays, baptisms, graduations, weddings, baby showers, parties, conferences and funerals.  We all have events in our lives that are important.  At each of these events we find people, some we know well and others we will come to know.  We share time, memories, food, and drinks.

A few Sundays ago was youth takeover Sunday at our church.  Although I serve the youth in my church I missed the celebration and the worship due to a previously scheduled family vacation, but I had an opportunity to watch our youth pastor’s sermon and catch up on the events while away.  I wanted to take a minute and share some of my thoughts.

June 6, 2017 // Let’s Start a Party // Pastor Justin Wallace from The Pointe Church on Vimeo.

As Christians, we have the opportunity to celebrate forgiveness and a reunited relationship with God that can be obtained no other way.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. — Jn 14:1-6

Jesus is the source of our party and we take it wherever we go.  In my travels, I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook, “Captive in Iran” by authors Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, and contributor Anne Graham Lotz. Everywhere Maryam and Marziyeh went they started a party and Jesus was at the center of it.  There was a party on the streets of Iran, a party in the police station when they were arrested, and a party in Evin prison, one of the worst prisons in Iran.

In the midst of persecution, there was a unity of people, a coming together of one mind and a filling of the moment with the Holy Spirit in spite of sickness, filthy prison conditions, and treatment. Maryam and Marziyeh shared with us a story of God’s remarkable faithfulness in the face of grave persecution and even showed us how God is in control in spite of what the enemy throws at us. The Jesus party happened because He was the center of all they did.

The most remarkable part of this story from my perspective as an American is that God raised up two women in Iran to make a difference in the lives of other Iranians.  In spite of what we think we know and believe about other people, God never abandons those who truly seek him and he loves to be the center of a party no mater where it happens. The important thing to him is that you’re at the party with him.  He’s sent out he invitations and you’ve been invited.

Are you going to join the party?

 

Getting Real

In an earlier post, I asked the question, “How is God working here?”, and I’ve been trying to show little by little how God was moving in El Zapatillo and along our journey. We had a team of 21 in total, 17 from The Pointe Church, and 2 from CH Global, plus Rudy and Sully Rojas.

 Every evening our mission team gathered together for a time of reflection, devotion, and sharing. We were working from the book “On Mission”.  I enjoyed the book, although some of the stories in the book took me by surprise due to the frank confessions, but this opened us up to be vulnerable with one another and share.  In a sense, we were able to “Get Real” with one another and with God on a deeper level.

Just because we go to church and claim to be Christians, doesn’t mean we have our own lives together.  We’ve all lived life and we continue to live life.  We bring all the junk in our lives with us.  Sin’s decay doesn’t stop at the church doors; the stench follows us in. Repairs only begin when we give that stuff to Jesus. Our mission team was no exception.

One of the hardest things in our culture to overcome is a need to be self-sufficient.  We’re all taught that we should be able to provide for our own needs, but the reality is that no matter how hard we try, or what we do, we can’t fix any of it on or own.  God created us and provides even the air we breathe and only he can fix what we’ve broken.

The time of sharing allowed me to develop a closeness to my team members I hadn’t experienced since my youth when I was involved in our church group.  It’s been something I’ve searched for thirty years, and when I found it, I finally understood something.  What I’d been searching for had been right there with me the whole time.  I had been looking for a feeling of closeness, an open, non-judgmental acceptance… love.  But God was there the whole time and that closeness, openness and non-judgmental acceptance … the source of it … wasn’t from my team members.  It wasn’t even from my friends in youth group.  It was God’s holy spirit and the closeness I felt was his spirit shining through others. The difference was two things.  First, it was my willingness to be obedient to God and seek Him.  The second was my friends willingness to be obedient to God and seek Him.

When I made some sinful choices in my life, I had pushed away the holy spirit and gone my own way.  He was still there, but he would only reveal himself to the extent that I allowed him to with my choices.  My personal journey on this trip was done in obedience to God because I love him.  It was done because there was a need I could meet with my life. I made a sacrifice of my time and money to go.  God honors us when we love him and when we give up our lives to him to use. When we do these things we come closer to him.  My team members made that same sacrifice to follow him and God rewarded us with a closeness that will last for an eternity.

What are you most disappointed in?

“What are you most disappointed with in your life?”  That question was asked during our Men’s group this morning.  It’s a loaded question.

There are lots of things that disappoint me about my own life.  Sometimes I’m disappointed in some of the decisions I’ve made regarding handling of money.  There are relationship decisions, some of my children’s choices, dreams that I have not realized, etc. I’m sure this list is pretty similar to yours because we are all human.  We’ve all lived life.

The loaded part of this question becomes relevant when we discover who or what we’ve spent our lives serving.  It’s most likely the things we’re disappointed in.  These are the things we invest in, spend our time doing, and seek at the exclusion of all else. We all serve someone or something. Some of us serve many things. The fact is these often become our gods and inevitably we worship something other than the one true God who created us, has a plan for us, and desires a relationship with us.

Somehow we all seem to seek after other things that seem important and miss the real point in life and why we’re here.  Kyle Idleman, in his book, God’s at War presents a lot of great points that we all need to think about.

You can get your copy below:

Click here to get the book.