One of the main tenants of our church is:"Exaltation of God in All Thing."
From the beginning we have sought in our preaching to focus on the greatness of God and His incredible work on the cross. A love that is incomprehensible. Often I have left church on a Sunday evening in renewed awe of His indescribable love for me.
I recently read a devotional by Eylse Fitzpatrick, that shared some incredible thoughts on obedience motivated by love.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jn. 14:15)
It is so easy for us to think, "Okay, I've got the "love God" part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it. It is right there that I fail to get the emphasis right...I mistakenly assume that my love for Him is what it should be...Jesus is saying "love me and your obedience will flow naturally from that love." How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience? By focusing more intently on his love for me than on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faithfulness than mine, more on his strength than mine. " Comforts from the Cross
If there has been one overriding message of our church it has been to not move on from the Gospel. Let its truth permeate your life daily. Today I stand in awe of God's work in so many of the people of our church.
One effect of the God's love for us, is a desire to share with others, to live the new life out in clarity before them. Thus, one of our ladies brings 7+ kids who come from mostly broken, unbelieving homes to two of our weekly services. This doesn't included our approximately 14 kids that come with their parents to church. At times I feel overrun with kids. They ARE a blessing but we don't have a gym for them to play in after church. We don't have a "staff" to oversee their antics. We don't have a church van or bus to bring them the 2KM during these cold/winter nights when they can't walk. So last week, I broke. After the final drop off of the kids, I opened up to the 2 families still at church about all my concerns. We began formulating a plan to better mange the children. Yesterday morning after our prayer service, James shared with everyone the needs and problems. We decided to "adopt" the kids without parents into our regular families. These kids will now sit with their adopted families during the services. The "parents" will be involved in watching their "kids" before and after services and will be more involved in the spiritual growth of their adopted children. We now have 4 people instead of 1 or 2 who do the car runs to pick up the kids; and we are doing a series of lessons on Sunday nights with the younger kids on why we come to church and how we act in church for the glory of God. And finally, we PRAY!
Sunday night went beautifully. The body of Christ pulled together in an incredible way. I sat in amazement as the kids responded with huge smiles and sat with their adopted parents. I think it made them feel like part of church in a new and real way. After church it was 85% calmer. We still had a few accidents and some running but nothing like before. Daniel complained to me after the service that "this adoption thing isn't working very well, because everyone is being really bossy." Which says to me, all the adults are really working to help keep all the kids under control!
To me this is an example of the Gospel affecting our lives. Everyone pulled together with joy to show love to these kids. For 7+ months many of these people have been hearing again and again of God's love, seeing God exalted in prayer, in preaching and in conversation. A natural outflow of this is love for others.
Here are a few other quick snap shots of the effects of the Gospel:
Edinelson quietly shoveling horse manure from out in front of our drive way before the services begin. (Imagine what our 21 kids could do with that...:)
Teresinha serving with joy in our nursery, not just babysitting, but teaching the kids about our powerful, loving creator God!
Bruna, stepping out by faith to teach our ever challenging children's church the power of prayer through the lives of Ezra, Nehemiah and Ester.
The many faces involved in easing James' load on Sunday evenings by serving in the music ministry. Many are stepping out of their comfort zone, to stand in front and lead.
There are no pictures to show those who are:
-studying the Word to know their Savior more intimately
-praying ferverntly to see friends and family saved
-inviting people to church
-disciplining their children in obedience to God
-showing hospitality to both believers and unbelievers
-looking around for ways to bless the brethren
We love Him because He first loved us!
I Jn. 4:19