Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gathering to build

As I said in a previous post, one of the things I want to write about is praising God in thankfulness for how great it is to have a gathering of believers locally that meet in a simple/house church/organic fashion.  You can expect more of these types of posts here because I want my blog to provide a picture of how the whole simple church works out practically.  In my own search, I have found this information lacking which left me in the dark as to what to expect if my family and I stepped out of the institutional church.  Hopefully, these posts will help answer the question:  what does an organic church look like?

A bit of background is in order.  My family is going through some trying times concerning our daughter.  I wrote a little about it recently in a post entitled its all my fault.  On this particular Sunday, my wife, who has written much more extensively about the issue in a post called whats up in my life, wanted to have some mommy son time instead of gathering with us. I was going to be alone with my kids, sorrowful over the recent turn of events, and with a fresh revelation of God's holiness from my recent time at the Ligonier conference, I wanted to build and be built so I took our other children with me to gather with the church.

This past Sunday was very special for me.  I wanted so much to share some of the things I had seen and heard at the conference.  I wanted to be used to bring God's holiness to the forefront of our gathering.  I studied the Biblical passage in Amos we had previously agreed to focus on together.  I was ready.  I was prepared.  I was excited!  Yet, I had no idea what the Lord had in store.

It all began rather normally.  The ladies prepared things in the kitchen for our meal while talking about all sorts of things.  The children played together.  The men talked theology, politics, work, and recreation while we waited for all the expected families to arrive.  Soon we were gathered together singing songs.  Every song focused on the Lord's greatness and power.  There were prayers offered up praising Him for his majesty and our salvation in Christ.  Then a brother read Psalm 29 which begins:

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
I found myself consumed with God's Almighty presence and humbled by his love for us by being in our midst and revealing his glory.  At this point, I had no desire to add to this, only to bask in worship of Him.  Then we talked about the importance of unity and how difficult it is to have unity with those who have different convictions.  We shared scripture and principles and examples of how we overcome the disunity among our brethren.  Then, there were other prayers offered for needs outside of our gathering.

I jumped in while we were sharing prayer requests.  I don't want to go into details but if you read the links above, you'll have some idea of the update and shape of my prayer request.  Usually, at this point we would open to the scriptures we had agreed to teach on for this week.  That didn't happen.  Instead the Spirit of God moved in these brothers and sisters to build up and encourage me.  One took Psalm 139 and replaced the pronouns with my daughter's name.

For you formed Chloe's inward parts;
you knitted Chloe together in her mother's womb.
  I praise you, for Chloe is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
  Chloe's frame was not hidden from you,
when she was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
  Your eyes saw Chloe's unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for Chloe,
when as yet there was none of them.
I was overwhelmed.  Prayers went up on our behalf, members ministered according to what God put on their heart at that time.  The time was marvelous.  We never got to read, expound, and apply the scriptures in Amos because God had other plans and He was free to work out those plans according to his will.  It was a great time not only because there was so much done on our behalf but more so because God was the One doing it and therefore glorifying Himself through His body.  What I had heard taught and seen revealed in my mind and heart over the previous days at the conference had come alive and was manifested in the flesh of Christ's members.

There is no way I could have been as edified in a traditional worship service.  Maybe God would have used the predetermined songs and the prayers and the sermon and the scripture readings to edify me in this great time of need.  He is faithful, I'm sure He would have done that.  But the way He was free to work through the various members of His body in different ways, with different gifts, was supernatural.  Surely Christ dwells among us and He is building His Church.

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As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.