From an article originally posted February 25, 2013…
We had a sweet sendoff yesterday from Village Seven. My heart filled with such gratitude for the church that had the vision to bring us out here and plant this church. When the session learned of my cancer, they graciously allowed us to push back our start date. We were originally supposed to begin in October, but they were open to us beginning in March. The later start was good providence. The added time gave us time to be strengthened and grow and be stretched as a community.
Jason brought me coffee in bed this morning and we discussed the coming week. He has several lunch appointments, a sermon, all the many details that need to come together the first week of worship. I will be speaking in the chapel at the kids’ school, and the list kept going. So, together we stopped and committed the week to prayer.
One of my prayers for our church is that we could be a healing place for the hurting professional Christian. There are so many that have been hurt within ministry that need a safe place of healing and restoration. When we were in North Carolina there was a church, Grace and Peace in Asheville, that welcomed us, reminded us of the gospel, and became a safe haven for healing. I know many hurting ministers that entered their doors to be comforted with the truth. Jonathan Inman and his lovely wife Sonja were wonderful at listening to our hearts, bringing laughter to the situation, and reassuring us of the gospel.
Today, reading scripture, I came across this parable. For years, I thought it was a parable of evangelism, but look closer. The lost sheep was once not lost. The lamb once knew the shepherd. The lamb was once in the fold. The lamb wandered outside the protection of the good shepherd. And look how good the shepherd is. At a great personal cost to him, he searches for and finds his beloved sheep. I believe these are our covenant children that long to see the gospel in a real way, I believe these are hurting Christians that have left the church cynical, pastors burnt out and weary.
Lord, help us be a church that nurtures the hearts of your people with grace and the gospel. Lord, I pray we would see the hurting hearts of those we meet and love them gently with your truth and love. Lord help us to be bold in proclaiming, inviting, including, speaking your mercy to a hurting community. I pray the landscape of our town would never be the same.
This week is stressful in its details, but I know they will come together. My heart is heavy in prayer that we would be a people that walk honestly before The Lord. That we would know His nearness is our only good. Join me this week in prayer for Westside Church in its infancy.