August 6th of this year I posted a blog about my writing journey called They Told Me I Need To Write A Blog. It had a tone of hopelessness because, quite frankly, I felt hopeless. A lot has changed since then. I have had people offer to help and I have gone from shelving my book “Blueprint” to working with an editor. I also have a cover designer and, when the time comes to bring it to the public, I have someone who will guide me through the process. I never thought life would change so much in a matter of weeks but then I often forget (I know better) the fact that my God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine Ephesians 3:20 (NIV). If you are wondering what this book is about, here is the newly edited Introduction in blog format as a teaser to my book launch which will take place tentatively near the beginning of November 2020.
If you have been in a doctor’s office…
…you probably have some idea of what the perfect house looks like, or at least looked like five years ago when the magazines the office so graciously provides were printed. Open concept with in-floor heated ceramic tiles, hardwood flooring, custom cabinets, stainless steel appliances… Each photograph highlights the finishes and styles that decorators believed would be timeless marks of beauty. This was the new standard, the must-have look for anyone who was anyone. After thirty minutes thumbing through the glossy pictures waiting for your name to be called, you are fully educated and ready to pick out the perfect home.
Many a house has been purchased based on…
…what people know looks good. Many of these same people have ended up unpleasantly surprised by the things hidden by what “looks good.” If we focus our search merely on the features presented in a magazine, if we fail to go beyond what we “know,” beyond the showcased glitz and glamour to the basics of the structure, we run the risk of having a house that looks great as it cracks and crumbles under the weight of everyday living.
The same thinking that causes us to believe…
…we know all we need to know about the quality of a house from a few glossy photos plagues our thought process when it comes to our individual lives as Christ followers and to the collective of Christ followers, our churches. We read books about successful Christian living and successful churches, and we are captivated by the glitz and glamour they portray. Before long, maybe a little longer than the 30 minutes spent on the magazines in the doctor’s waiting room, we start to believe we are fully educated and ready to pick out the perfect design.
For many, their church home was just a…
…new pastor away from success. An outreach program away from growth. A more contemporary style of service away from stopping the youth from leaving. They knew what a great church looked like, at least according to the latest “how to do church” books. All they had to do was patch up this or paint over that, update the look, and they would be well on their way to creating a successful, strong, active collective of Christ followers.
This is not a new problem…
…The reputation of the church in Sardis in biblical times was based entirely on what it looked like but hidden beneath its good appearance were similar issues that severely compromised its very existence. Jesus addresses this in the vision He gave John, saying “…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” Revelation 3:1 (NIV).
All that glitz and glamour on the outside…
…of our lives and our churches may create a reputation of being alive, but you can’t fool God. He knows what the paint and patches cover up. He knows that behind what looks good is a structure and foundation that is crumbling. No matter how things appear, if you or your church are dead or dying, you cannot cover it up.
There is so much more to the Christ follower’s life and to the collective of Christ followers than what we think we know, so much more than the glitz and glamour many have been chasing for years. Under what looks good is what actually makes our lives and our churches good. Beneath the fancy finishes are the structural supports of a strong relationship with our God who loves us and wants more for us than a glitzy and glamorous façade covering up a weak and deteriorating foundation.
So, are you ready to strip your life and your church down to the foundational supports?
Are you ready to shore up anything that is unstable in your spiritual life and in your church?
Are you ready to create a structure that will support whatever storms blow into your life and church?
You know what looks good, but do you understand what you need to build it right?
Let’s get out the plans, a Blueprint for the Christ follower and collective of Christ followers, and build a life and a church community that can remain structurally sound whatever comes our way, even a worldwide pandemic!
Note: I would like to thank all those who wished me well and prayed for me last week as I underwent the second of my bi-yearly neck procedures. I have recovered for the most part and will be getting back to reading blogs soon.