February 2019   
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The Gathering

And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) Mark 6:31....."Gathering with the Church should lead us to holy ground." Francis Chan

I heard a lady named Andi Andrew say that after speaking at a recent conference, a woman came up to her afterwards and said, "Oh I loved you. You're so cute and entertaining." She was completely taken aback. She'd come prepared to share the wonderful transforming power of Christ, but what that lady saw was a cute and entertaining person. Andrew had no desire to be perceived that way, but she was. Many of those charged with being His voice, proclaiming His heart and will, could be described in the same way, whether they intend it or not. Are you one? Particularly, if you've been charged with being His voice to a congregation, community, and generation?

Chan's quote saying that every time a fellowship comes together it should usher us into His holy ground, is a piercing challenge. Is that the reality of the one you attend? Let me take it a step further; is it your reality when it is just you and Christ alone? Someone said that wherever we stand with Him is holy ground. Do our lives reflect that? If they don't, can we admit that there are too many places in our lives where we're not standing with Him at all? If that's the case, how can we ever expect that our gatherings in Him will ever become "worshipfests," where we stand as a body on His holy ground? When we live each day in that place, our coming together is just an outflow of that intimacy with Him. This has to first be true of the Preacher/Pastor/Shepherd. When God rebuked the priests of His people Israel for the poor spiritual condition of those people, He said, "Like priests, like people." Our fellowships will never be any deeper in Him than those charged with their care.

Years ago, our church fellowship regularly had a booth in a local community celebration. We'd pass out treats for kids, literature about our church, and offer to pray with anyone who had a need. I remember one lady coming by, taking a quick look at our information, telling us that she "attended" another church, but that, "Maybe one Sunday I'll come by and try you out." To me, this captures the hearts of so many who sit in sanctuaries each week. Consumers who want to try out the product. If the product is not good enough, "cute or entertaining" enough, well, there's always the fellowship down the road. Intended or not, this lures too many into the trap of trying to be cuter and more entertaining than their "competitor" next door. The church needs no more entertainers. We need prophets....now more than ever. Only such voices will ever lead their people onto His Holy Ground. Only such voices will inspire their people to live on that ground every day of their lives.

Larry Crabb said something to the effect that a gathering becomes a church when the people come together for one reason only, to behold Him, and in every aspect of their lives, become like Him. That's holy ground. May that one reason become our reason. May it become your reason, and mine.

Pastor O

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