Monday, May 24, 2010

The Living Rock People

1 Peter 2:5

“Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.”

"If all I had was the Bible as my guide...and I was to read this book and then start a 'church' what would it look like? Would it look like the thing that we've built here and all refer to as church? Or would it look radically different?" -Francis Chan

I have been thinking a lot about church lately. This past Sunday I was reading and talking about Acts 2:40-47 with a few friends. This is a stunning picture of the church. I also just had coffee with a friend and we talked about church. . . What is church? Is church a building? Is church a program? Is church God's people? Is church the Body of Christ? How are we to be the church? What does it mean to be the church? I found a great web site; we are church, which begins to unpack these questions: There are some amazing articles under the resource section by Tim Keller on The Missional Church, and some others great articles by some different authors.

I recently took a leave no trace trainer’s course with my wife Irene. Leave No Trace is a wonderful organization that lessens environmental impacts from back country travel and other outdoor activities. The mission statement for The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is: “. . . An educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide.” The mission of Leave No Trace is simple and it minimizes environmental impact by leaving no trace.

When Irene and I got our materials for our LNT Trainer’s Course I found myself thinking about church again. There was a bumper sticker included in the packet that read, “Leaving your mark is overrated.” Now, that is funny and true when applied to not negatively impacting the environment when in the wilderness. However, if we were to apply this quote to the rest of life, or to Christianity or the church, this quote begins to be very ridiculous and tragic. This simply is not true. I began thinking about the church as I looked at this bumper sticker. I thought to myself, “Are there Leave No Trace Christians who think that ‘Leaving their mark is overrated?’” I also thought, “Am I one of them!?” Are we leaving a trace as the church? Because leaving our mark as the church is not overrated; this is our purpose.

The church is called to leave their mark. The church is not a building. The church is the people of God, living for God. Peter in his first letter, the first letter of Peter, asks us to present ourselves as stones for the building up of a living sanctuary that is vibrant with life. Peter is not talking about leaving our mark with physical structures here, or buildings. He is talking about a living structure with massive impact on our communities and our world. It is in this “living sanctuary,” the body of Christ; that we are all called to serve as holy priests offering ourselves up to God, having our lives approved by Christ Himself. In our serving and offering ourselves up, we will be impacted, we will leave the mark of Jesus on our families, on our communities, and on this world. We are called to be the church and to impact our communities for Christ. We are called to leave a trace of Jesus everywhere we go.

It has been said that, “Following Jesus is not ‘a spectator sport.’” This is true. We are not called to sit back and watch passively. We are to engage the world as “living stones” as the church. We are not called to “Leave No Trace” in our faith. There is no such thing as a “Leave No Trace Christian.” We are called to impact the world for Jesus’ sake. We are all implicated in ministry. We are to be the living body of Christ in the world, and to the world. We must leave our marks! We must share Jesus wherever we go. We must “get in the game!” As the church we are to impact our culture with true service, true fellowship, true worship, true teaching, and true ministry. We are to be the church. We are living stones. We are to be a living sanctuary, vibrant with life, in a sin dead world.

May we be the church in the world and impact our communities for Christ.

Impacting and leaving our mark as living stones,



Leave No Trace. Retrieved May 24, 2010.

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. 1 Pe 2:5

We Are Church. Retrieved May 24, 2010.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Dr. Hugo Heyrman, Waiting, 2006, acrylic paint on paper (21 x 29,7 cm.)

Psalm 130: 5-8

“I pray to God—my life a prayer— and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning. O Israel, wait and watch for God— with God’s arrival comes love, with God’s arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it—he’ll redeem Israel, buy back Israel from captivity to sin.”

Psalm 62: 5-6

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”

Isaiah 40: 31

“But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

No one likes to wait.

We live in an instant society where we expect everything when we want it, just how we want it, and right when we want it.

I have a friend who was once punished by his parents when he was a teenager by having his internet connection downgraded to a slower speed. He had to wait for everything as he surfed the net. It drove him crazy and worked to deter him from stepping out of line with his parents ever again.

No one likes to wait on anyone or anything. It is just not fun or immediately gratifying.

Our relationships with Jesus are no different. We do not like waiting on God. We want God to answer our prayers and to meet our needs and our desires on our schedules and on our time table.

One of my favorite songs by Tom Petty is “The Waiting.”  This is how the song’s chorus goes: “The waiting is the hardest part. Every day you see one more card. You take it on faith. You take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.” I remember being particularly fond of this song when my wife and I were engaged to be married. I hated the waiting. I wanted to begin our life together forever immediately. I had no interest in waiting, but I did, because she is worth the wait.

We wait for those things that are important and have promise, don’t we?

In Psalm 130, verses five through eight, the Psalmist waits patiently for the Lord with assurance that God will come and meet him and show him love and redemption. Like those who wait for the morning with quiet assurance that it is coming, just like it always has day after day, the Psalmist expects God and eagerly awaits His coming presence.

The Psalmist, like Tom Petty in “The Waiting,” takes God on faith and takes God’s nature of love and redemption to heart. For the Psalmist and for us, God is a sure thing and not a gamble at all. The “cards are always in our favor” with Him. The Psalmist, like my eager anticipation for a life of love and joy with my future bride, knows that God is worth the wait and that His promise is sure. The Psalmist knows that God’s redemption and love is coming. It is right around the corner like the dawning of a new day.

Dr. Hugo Heyrman, in his painting “Waiting,” see here or above, captures the emotion of waiting very well. The painting is blurry, unclear, and is out of focus and is abstract in nature. Waiting can feel unfocused, unclear, and abstract. In looking at this picture you get a sense of loneliness and uncertainty. Waiting can feel uncertain. Waiting can also feel lonely; like a watchman waiting for the morning, to be relieved from his duties, can feel lonely.

Dr. Hugo describes art this way, “Art connects past and future, the known and the unknown (Dr. Hugo).” We see this in Hugo’s work “Waiting” as we are left wondering: “Where has the woman in this painting been? Where is she going? What is she waiting for?” and “Will what she is waiting for ever come?” This painting gets us thinking about waiting.

Like actual waiting, the painting “Waiting” has us thinking about the past and the future, and the known and unknowns of life. We ask ourselves, “Where has God been at work? Where is God now? Will God come through?” and “Where will God lead next?”

In Psalm 62, verses five through six, the Psalmist, David, proclaims that God is his hope, his rock, his salvation, and his fortress. Waiting can bring with it uneasy and fearful feelings of unrest. Waiting can be a scary place of darkness like the night, but the morning does come. God is our protection. God is our hope. God is our foundation and God is our security.

God Himself is our light in the darkness of waiting. As John says in Revelation, “God is our Bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16, 21:23).” It is God who is the “Dawning of Our New Day.” It is God who we are waiting on. It is God who is our life (John 14:6), and God is worth our waiting.

Our identities and our purpose in life are found in God (Colossians 3:3). When we wait on God, we find ourselves, our lives, and our purpose in Him (Matthew 16:24-26). Our life is as a prayer to God, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 130, verse five. In our waiting God comes to us, and in turn, we find ourselves as we are truly supposed to be (1 John 3:2-3).

Our lives are indeed “on the line before God” and our hope is in Him alone (Psalm 130:5-6). Or as Isaiah says this, “Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind (Isaiah 40:31).” Those who wait fly; they soar. Those who wait live.

May we wait on God and find ourselves, and our life, there where God meets us.


Dr. Hugo Heyrman, Waiting, 2006, acrylic paint on paper (21 x 29,7 cm.)

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ps 130:5-8

Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Ps 62:5-6

Waiting. Retrieved May 18, 2010,