Friday, September 19, 2008

something's happening in austin...

something's happening in austin and it is not another race or music festival (though i love those things). something weird is happening among the people in austin. not weird in the sense of 6th street weird, but weird in the sense of against the status quo. there is a stirring going on in the hearts of God's people here. an awakening that i have never experienced before. God is on the move.

at church, we are two weeks into a series on being a church for the city. what does that mean, "for the city"? well we feel called to be a city advocating for the renewal and restoration or God's great city, Austin, TX. we do not want to merely be a church in the city, living life trying to grow in our relationship with Christ, but forgetting that hell and God's wrath are a reality for those around us. we do not want to be a church against the city, withdrawing and creating our happy safe christian subculture. we do not want to be a church that is of the city and resembles it so much that the gospel and truth of Christ are lost in the mix and all things are relative. no, we feel that God is calling us to build a great city, renewed and redeemed by a gospel movement, by being a church FOR the city of austin that labors to advance the gospel throughout the nations.

we have on our faces before the Lord, repenting for not having a heart for the lost. we are not broken for the things that break his heart. the sick truth is that we do not care about the lost, if we did we would be doing something. sadly somewhere along the way, we have learned that church and christianity is about me. me growing, me getting fed, me finding friends that i like, me feeling good, etc. which are all good things, but they are not the main thing. we have lost the power and purpose of the gospel. we have forgotten what we have been saved from. we have forgotten what those around us need to be saved from. sadly most of us come to know the Lord and then become so inwardly focused that we forget that the gospel is not about us.

so as staff and as a church, we have been pleading with the lord to break our hearts. we want God to renew and restore this city. what if he did? what if, like in ninevah, EVERYONE from the least to the greatest came to know the Lord? what if He actually did it? why don't i pray like he can? because sadly, deep down inside i either don't care, or i say, "well ya He can, but He probably won't." and i don't believe! Lord help my unbelief!!

we have studied jeremiah 29 and taken the challenge to move in and settle in the city. God told the israelites to move in and settle in babylonia, even though they had just conquered them and even though they were secular. the israelites did not want to go in, they wanted the Lord to smite the babylonians. oh how that is our heart sometimes. there are some that it is easier to have a heart for, but what about those that digust us or anger us? often we find ourselves with a heart like jonah's. we don't want to tell them about Christ because we are afraid that God might save them and we want them to get what they deserve. we somehow have forgotten that none of us deserve to be rescued or saved and the gospel does not select on merit.

the cool thing is that as we have been praying as a church we have been praying that not only would the austin stone have a broken heart for the lost, but that the entire body of christ in austin would be broken. and well, it is starting to happen. we are starting to hear about other churches with a similar passion. something is happening in austin...

what would happen if God totally renewed and redeemed the weirdest city in texas? would dallas finally wake up out of it slumber and fake christianity? would houston be forever changed? would texas quit taking so much pride in itself and start helping others? what if the gospel became the center of our lives and focus again? what would happen to our nation?

i think it is time we do some serious soul searching and confessing. let's wake up from our slumber, get outside of ourselves and remember our purpose here. let's not waste our prayer lives on trivial things, but let's spend it on pleas for the kingdom to advance.

don't worry, i am the first to confess that i am not there yet, but the more time i spend on my knees confessing my junk, the deep junk that i didn't know about, and confessing our church's junk and our city and nation's junk, the more i am seeing our need for the gospel and the more i being broken for those that do not have it. may i have a heart like abraham's who plead with the Lord to save sodom and gomorrah, even though they were all kinds of messed up and evil. let's wake up church and get on our knees!

Rescue The Perishing
Billy Foote, Fanny Jane Crosby

Verse 1:
Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Snatch them in pity
From sin and the grave
Weep o'er the erring one
Lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus
The mighty to save

Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save
Church open your eyes once more
And see what Christ died for
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save

Verse 2:
Down in the human heart
Crushed by the temptor
Feelings lie buried
That grace can restore
Touched by a loving heart
Wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken
Will vibrate once more

As we're playing our songs
While we're singing them well
Have we forgotten the lost
The reality of hell
If we say we love God
Wanna see His will done
Will we offer our lives
Or just the songs we have sung
Do we even care
When will we care

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