Letters to My Children – this is my prayer for you

 

Children, I want you to know that there has been a prayer for you running deep within my heart for the longest time. Since you were born I've been fixed on praying three simple things for your lives. Although there is much to intercede on your behalf, these three prayers will serve as a cover to protect and guide you in all things. So, as you read these prayers, my hope is that you will remember the times I prayed them for you and that they will become a deep mantra within your hearts that guide you toward the life you desire to live in the service of God. Nothing would make my heart jump higher than to know this has become reality for you.

“I pray that you would see this world with the eyes of Jesus…”

In this world you will have trouble. Most of it will stem from the conflict in your own hearts about who and whose you are. I want this to be clear; who you are is a result of how you see the world. As you grow up to live as citizens of this world it becomes increasingly important to remember that you are citizens of heaven also. If you choose to see this world with the eyes of Jesus, this distinction will become vivid and clear and help you greatly in your journey toward God. You will have perspective from heaven and be able to discern what is best not only for yourselves, but for the Kingdom of God and how it is breaking in around you. Seeing with Jesus's eyes will help you to value what God values and be willing participants in his work. This is critical for living a valuable and meaningful life.

“I pray that you would feel in this world with the heart of Jesus…”

The God who makes your heart beat longs to have it beat in rhythm with His. When your heart is in tune with God, you not only see what God sees, but feel what he feels as well. You will share with God a deep love for all creation; the world we live in and all the people in it no matter where they are from or how hard they are to love. Your heart will beat with compassion and that compassion as it moves you to act will serve as a challenge to a world that would rather cast out the unloved. Know that when you do this with your life you are singing the same song that God is singing about healing the world. You will find great joy and meaning in your life's calling if you long to feel with the heart of God. I warn you, though, that with joy there is also suffering… but take heart, for God has overcome the world.

“I pray that you would serve with the hands of Jesus…”

Our hands do many things. As you will learn as you grow, they can often be used for ill purposes. Many will use their hands for war and violence, or for hoarding things. They will use their hands to protect themselves and to tie heavy burdens upon others for their own profit. But you… I beg you to use your hands in the service of God. I want you to to claw your way to the front line of suffering and use your hands to feed the hungry, give to the poor, clothe the cold, hug the lonely, and heal the sick. Your hands are precious instruments, for they will be the tangible way for you to respond to seeing this world with Jesus's eyes and feeling with his heart. People will come to know the power of God through the way your hands serve them. Your life will be a blessing to those around you and God will be praised as a result. Use them as an instrument of God's peace that runs through your heart.

 

Vision as Incremental…

I have been far too busy to blog lately because life is taking its toll on me from all angles. One thing I have tried to keep up is meeting for lunches downtown with friends who church plant and are involved in the missional conversation. This has been a source of life for me in the absence of time to blog.

One topic we have bantered about lately is that of vision. There is much talk about vision in churches and so much of it is good and some needs to be questioned. What I perhaps question most is the type of vision that is based more on models of commerce. Many critique this as it often leads down roads of church growth strategies that are concerned most about growing numerically through a repeatable and controllable process. But is biblical vision about that?

In conversation with my friend Anthony, he put me onto the idea of vision as vocation rather than a static constant. What I mean by static constant, is that if a church’s vision, for example, is to grow to 10000 people, the unswerving pursuit of that vision can often lead to a lack of openness to the spirit’s direction for a body as their life together unfolds. The desire may be a noble one that seeks the Kingdom, but it may not be the specific direction or goal for that church as discerned through the circumstance of their life and the Spirit’s presence. Vision as vocation, on the other hand is a buy-in into the macro promise of the covenant God to restore all things. Vocational vision can be understood as a communal resolve that we are a pilgrim people, traveling through time with the Spirit, as we implement and participate in the redemptive action of God to restore all things. What that looks like in a local context needs to be teased out and discovered through relationship to the Spirit in a posture of listening. It is not controllable, but is is discoverable. As we only have the creative visions of scripture that give language to this redemptive hope, it comes to be for us through a process of improvisation (thanks NT).

The above should lead us to consider that perhaps vision is an incremental endeavor. If we have a vocational vision that includes an openness and attentiveness to the Spirit from a macro perspective, then we can trust that direction will be reveled incrementally as we travel through time with God. What is more, the vision discovered will be an impulse by the Spirit that is intertwined with the communities wrestling match with God. Discovering God in the midst of our circumstances (faithful and unfaithful) as we walk through the good and bad consequences of our life together is the playground for discovering our next steps toward God in this life. What grounds this for me is Israel’s journey through the wilderness. There was only enough guidance for the next few steps of their life alongside their vocational vision/hope for the promised land. Are we willing to take the route they did? Perhaps not for us, but for God, this seems the preferred place he would have us. Strikingly, it is not a place of efficiency, strength, and pride, but a place of weakness, humility, and powerlessness where the only walking we do is with a limp.

This leads me to wonder if each church vision should not begin with a resounding "For now…" as they seek to discern each step along the journey.

What do you think?