A Spreading Fire

August 1, 2017

 

I was driving home after the Trustee meeting and something was different. The sky was not the same. The air was not the same. It had a scent to it. I got in my car and started to drive north and I saw what had altered my world and everyone else’s in the city. Lindsay Hill was on fire. The entire top third of the hill was charred and the fire was spreading to the lower two thirds quickly. Smoke billowed up from it. While it looked like mostly dry grass it was an ominous site and one that had many people pulling over to the side of the road to gawk.

 

I began to pray for people who would be affected by the fire, for people with asthma, allergies, firefighters, Cal fire personnel, police directing traffic and blocking roads. People who may have livestock or structures in the area, “God move your mighty hand and protect people.”

 

And then it hit me. This is also a picture of the gospel, of the movement of God burning out the dried out, dead rubble and clearing the way for something new. It is the work of God moving so powerfully it can be seen for miles. It is bright and smoke-filled, affecting those young and old, rich and poor by its sheer magnitude and strength.

 

That is the church, you.  It is easy to forget, to be trapped in our minds, lulled to sleep by the daily, recurring themes and tasks of life. The once special things, church, Bible study, prayer, ministry, random acts of kindness, generosity become commonplace and another route to as stale feeling of stagnation, to a one-dimensional view of God, the church, and your life. The once powerful image of the God of the universe fades into blurry shades of gray in your life goes from sunrise to sunset with nothing extraordinary to report but only the joyless movement of day in and today out.

 

We do not want that at Grand Avenue, for you, your friends, your loved ones, and anyone else you know and love. That is why we have some incredible things coming up with the rest of the summer in the fall. That is why you need to seriously pray that God would give you the desire to engage in the experience of depth of fulfillment and satisfaction that you maybe have not seen in a long time.

 

We have a mission statement that reflects values that drive the decisions we make.

 

We exist to invite all …

 

This means we are a welcoming community to anyone and everyone. It means that we go out of our way to welcome people who aren’t part of us yet and to welcome people were checking us out. You invite people who don’t care about us and don’t know about us. It means we are radically hospitable and enthusiastically seek out opportunities to do that for people.

 

… Into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ …

 

We believe that knowing Jesus is expressed in intimate, friendship kind of knowledge of Jesus is expressed through experiencing life with Jesus. It means that a regular process of change deep within our character through practices of the means of grace, prayer, Bible study, deep personal reflection, solitude, contemplation, meditation, fasting, cultivating virtues of patience, restraint, self-control, and sowing peace, we become recipients of transformation and evangelists for personal change. We worship God was still changing hearts. With those hearts God is changing character, releasing people from the bondage of anger, rage, addiction, apathy, cynicism, pride, and anything else that works to keep us from being transformed more into the image of Jesus.

 

… To serve God through our community.

 

We are becoming a servant church that is available to our community because we love Jesus, because Jesus loves our community. Therefore, we love our community. We serve what we love. We work with at risk kids because we love them. We feed the hungry because we love them. We prepare shoeboxes for kids in other countries because we love them.

 

So, all things we do are done because love of God moves us to action as it moved Jesus to action, and action that saved our souls and gives us the boldness to proclaim that action to the world.

 

Be part of the spreading fire of the Gospel. May burn through our chaff, our stubble, our workaday lives at the dynamic, anything-is-possible, everyone-is-welcome God can come and build the kingdom here.

 

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