Monday, July 20, 2009
Get On Your Boots....
"How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! "Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. "Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. "God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse them? "May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!" -Numbers 24:5-9
This is the passage that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me deeply from, concerning the unfolding journey of forming church planting, ie. missional communities, or as described above, simply: "Beautiful Tents".
I love the image of tents...simple, agile, flexible, sustainable, personal, unfettered and formed for journey. You can set up a tent in a fairly short time. Finding ways to embrace this image for the expanding work of mission and evangelism is going to be my work in the seasons ahead. Helping people embrace a fresh mentality that is based on function more than form is often tough in a day when people are generally bred to desire being "moved" instead of "mobilized"....it's at the root of the Israelites idolatry that constantly longed to return to Egypt instead of take the land.
The "known" is always more comfortable than the "unknown"...no matter how slavish it was.
Spreading out tents in order to gather people together for worship and mission doesn't have to be an unnatural disconnect from our outliving of Kingdom in our day to day worlds. My desire is to find the rhythm found within the imagery of 'tents" that will connect proximity and localized presence with vision expanding, love motivated mission.
Believing that as the church militant; we can embrace our neighborhoods with compassion soaked, prayer awakened hearts and missional work boots and gloves.
There is a fine balance between being Mission minded and Ministry motivated...it's tricky balancing the pastoral care of soul with apostolic reach of evangelism. Church planting is an act of spiritual birth. It's limited...a couple doesn't procreate like rabbits...we have a few...in most cases, planned...and in many, not...but life happens. All living things reproduce...its the order of creation, both old and new.
Embracing and celebrating life...is the atmosphere of the Fathers house. He loves sons and daughters...He is filling His home and we are blessed to respond to His Fatherly heart in the work of mission. To neglect it, to reject the command to expand, to refuse to go, to timidly refrain from sharing or boldly preaching or patiently working...is to selfishly hoard His love. His love is water for parched soil, seed for untilled earth, kisses for aching hearts, bottles for tears, aloes and thread for open wounds...ressurection for the dead in and among us. The above scripture contains vivid and brutal language...and I believe the imagery of horned Ox, broken bones, flying arrows and roused lions...is indicative of the kind of spirit a missional community must spiritually embrace. It's a fire and a roar in it's belly. We are not aggressive in a abusive and dominating crusader like way....but inwardly and outwardly we embody a mission minded vision of the Glory of the Lord covering the Earth like the waters cover the sea. His fame is our aim...we are longing to see people love and worship and serve the Lord of the Nations...and the Shepherd of our communities....He is King of Kings...and the Lily of the Valley.
The Painting above was a "Vision & Values" statement this year...it's a rally call to the Wild Goose within us...to dream, envision, rise and let the Wind of God's Spirit scatter the seed of the gospel into the streets and sidewalks, taverns and back alleys, high rises and trailers....any place heart soil can be found....with one caveat: "Go for souls and go for the worst." -William Booth.
Jacob's Well: "A church with a Neighborhood mission and a City reaching vision."