Archive | May, 2013

Wasted breath

20 May

Twenty years ago I sat in the study of First United Methodist Church, Millington, Tennessee, where I was pastor. A fantasy played in my head-again. It was of me standing before the Lord some day and having him ask me what I had done with my life. After I had yammered on a bit he asked me, “What about that one thing I asked all of my disciples to do just before I left the earth?” “Oh, you mean that go and make disciples thing? We never got around to it. We spent all of our time taking care of those who were already safely home.” Wow! That is not a good fantasy. It’s not that I think that will exclude me from life in the Kingdom come. It’s just that I don’t want to have spent my whole life here and stand before my Daddy with only disappointment to show for it. This time around with the fantasy I felt God yawn and say, “Is just feeling bad about that all you are going to do? When are you going to stop wallowing in that sorry mess and do something about it?”

I said, “Ok, Lord, what next for me?” And the Lord answered with a vision about a wild and crazy church that would be focused on reaching the unreached-that would bend it’s every speck of time, erg of energy, spark of creativity and penny of resources on helping those who don’t know Jesus find their way home safely to him and his tribe. Out of that vision Heartsong Church was born.

Just before we launched our first public service I knew the stakes were high. The scope of what we were hearing that the Lord wanted us to do was God sized. We felt afraid and called at the same time. We understood that to do what the Lord wanted us to do would take a band of committed fired up Jesus followers. Mere attenders and spectators would not do.

As the launch approached I had a chilling thought invade my mind. It said, “You are a fool! This thing you “see” will never happen. It will fall flat on it’s face, and you will be a laughingstock. You cannot do this.” I recognized the voice as that of the evil one.

I knew he was right about me. But after some struggle I decided to trust that he was wrong about God. And all I have to say to that now is: Happy 15th anniversary Heartsong! You, by God, have proven the devil wrong!

And now that we have laid out Seeing 2020-what we have heard from the Lord about what’s next for us as Heartsong, I’m feeling exactly the same as I did before our launch fifteen years ago. Jesus in motion, deeper influence, wider presence? The scope of what the Lord is calling us to is definitely God sized. I’m sensing that the tribe is feeling both afraid and a definite call from the Lord to pursue what we are seeing. And there is no doubt that if we are to accomplish what we are being called by God to do, it will not possibly happen without a strong tribe of committee fired up disciples.

And this time the devil isn’t even wasting his breath on me. How about you?

#Being2020 #devil’sbreath #Godsizedscope #Jesusinmotion

Can you feel the mountains tremble?

13 May

The first thing we heard from the Lord in this several month discernment process we have been calling Seeing 2020 is that he has crafted us over the years to be just the reflection of him he wants us to be. Loud and clear we heard from the tribe, the council, the senior leadership team, team leaders and some of our friends from the community at large that the heart of Heartsong is just who the Lord needs us to be. That doesn’t mean that we individually have grown to full maturity, or that we as a tribe have. What it does mean is that why we exist, what we do, how we do it, our five core beliefs and the Jesus centered life are all gifts to us to be shared with as many as we can influence for Christ’s sake. As we all go deeper in our personal relationship of love and trust with Jesus and each other, and as we go wide in sharing that same kind of living with all in our sphere of influence whose lives are not working as they would if they were spending life according to the teaching of Jesus, we will continue to be this particular and peculiar Jesus following, grateful recovering tribe of knotheads, hotheads, potheads, sots and assorted nuts, ever including all those we are able to reach who do not think they fit in any of those categories and as such, are in denial. We will continue to be about the Lord’s work and only his work. As we have done the past fifteen years, everything we will ever do-everything will be a witness to the life, teaching, death, resurrection and ongoing life of Jesus among us, in us and living through us. Whew! We are so grateful to know the Lord wants us to be who we are! And that was only week one!!!

Yesterday, Jathaniel laid out the second big part of what we are hearing from the Lord in response to our question to him: What’s next? It’s not flashy. No big buildings or capital campaigns in this part, and I know you are disappointed we are not launching a three year capital campaign right now! ;>). What we heard across the board loud and clear from “us” is that the Lord wants us to roll up our sleeves, abandon our comfort zones and make some new relationships. We are being called to a deeper influence in this community for Christ’s sake! Quite frankly, it was a surprise to me how deeply you felt the Lord nudging us to be involved in bringing light and love to the pervasive problems that divide us and demean us and threaten to destroy us as a community. And you have heard the Lord say that we need to develop strategic partnerships with those in the community who are doing the work of community and individual uplift. And what we are called by God to do is bring our faith and hope to bear in ways that may not eradicate these massive issues, but in ways that save one and maybe several at a time. There is no big surprise there. The Lord told his people long ago that they would be salt and yeast-maybe not changing the whole community at once, but having a growing impact on their world by doing what love does one by one, day by day.

And I will admit it was a surprise to me how strongly you feel about Friendship Park being a key part of our going deeper for Christ’s sake. I love the project personally! My belief is that it will be a world monument to friendship that makes not only our community, but the whole world a safer and more joyful place. I’m not sure what it is about the park that moves the tribe to claim it as our own, but that message came through crystal clear. This version of the body of Christ wants to extend our arms to the whole world, and offer a witness that goes beyond what might benefit us personally. As we take this to heart and live it out I believe the same thing about Heartsong that I believe about Bob Goff (“Love Does”). We, like him, will not make Jesus smile; we will make him laugh out loud!

So….. be who you are for Christ’s sake, and extend your love into the community and world in ways that make both more reflective of the Kingdom come. So far what we have heard from the Lord is not complex, and it’s not flashy. But by God, if we all give ourselves to it we will learn, and show, that complex and flashy can more than a bit overrated, if not grounded in being who we are, and being a force for good where the Lord has planted us.

And as we come up on our 15th Anniversary this Sunday, we will hear the last part of what the Lord is saying to us about Seeing 2020-about being 2020. Do you think it will be flashy and complex? Don’t be surprised if it is.

Far More Extraordiary

6 May

Yesterday Jathaniel began to lay out what we are hearing from the Lord as we move from Seeing 2020 to being 2020. For those who have not heard, since last September the Heartsong tribe of Jesus followers has been asking the Lord “what’s next?”. We are fifteen years into this experiment in practical Jesus following-this adventure of a lifetime, and want to know where the Lord wants to lead us between now and the year 2020.

As we prepared to hear “what’s next?” from Jesus we put on our Jesus glasses (i.e. chose to see the world as he does), grabbed our towel and basin (because whatever he says to us will be all about serving others), and took to heart again that the love he call us to is beyond mere thoughts and feelings: for Jesus love does.

The first part of what we “saw” yesterday is that the Lord wants us to know that the culture he has built into us is foundational to everything else that’s next for us. The Lord has led us to be clear about why we exist, what we do and how we do it. He has formed us around five core beliefs and the 3G way of following him and given us the nine tenets of the Jesus centered life to keep us close to him and on task for the sake of his cause.

None of that will change. What will change-what will have to change for us to do all of “what’s next” is the dedication of each one of us and all of us together to live out together, and to share this Heartsong culture-the Heartsong way of following him. Everything else he is calling us to do between now and 2020 depends on us growing deeper in our commitment, deeper in our investment in this tribe, and wider in reaching out to our FRANS (friends, relatives, associates, neighbors and strangers whose paths we cross).

What we will be sharing in the next two weeks is exciting! It shows the confidence the Lord has in us to play our part in God’s ongoing story. And to get to that exciting rest of our story, will require us pouring our lives into making this tribe as strong as possible. We will need to grow in every way a tribe can grow to be able to take on all of what the Lord is saying to us about being 2020.

It is beyond the power of each of us to do what we will need to do to be faithful to “what’s next” for Heartsong. All I can do is give my best time, energy, creativity and resources to it. All you can do is give your best. But you know what? If you and I do that, if all of us give our best to this tribal effort by reaching out, showing up, joining up and showing out, the Lord will make what we see in 2020 be in 2020.

What’s next for us by God is a God sized next. It will require the power of God working through ordinary people like you and me for it to happen. But that is just how anything wonderful and world changing ever happens-by God! It happens when ordinary people invest their lives together in the cause of the Almighty God. I would love to be a part of the Lord doing something far more extraordinary through Heartsong than the extraordinary things we have already done for Christ’s sake! If there are enough of the Heartsong faithful who share that desire (and God only knows how many of us are needed for that critical mass), we will look back on these days as the time we began to take joyful responsibility for being the grown up church the Lord had in mind when he said: let there be Heartsong!

#gutcheck #Heartsongfaithful #Being2020