Life Church Journey 2018
1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
My Chicago Trip
I had chance to go back to Chicago last weekend where I was a student 20 years ago. Back then, my plan was to go there to study biology and then go to med school so that I can become a doctor. But God had other plans.
Little did I know that I would meet a handful of passionate followers of Jesus, and that together we would end up planting a new church in the city called Hyde Park Vineyard.
This past weekend was the church’s 20th anniversary service, and many of the original small group members were able to come together for this special celebration.
“Look what God can do!”
This was the thought that kept coming back to me. “Look what God can do! Look how God can use some college students to start a church that would eventually plant other churches in Chicago, IL, New Haven, CT, Princeton, NJ, and send missionaries to Wales, Germany, Japan, and the Middle East! Look what God can do!”
Even though I went to Chicago to teach at the anniversary celebration service, I felt like this trip was actually more about me bringing something of this story back to Vancouver, and to ask together: “What does God want to do with us in 2018?”
Right-Side Up Kingdom in an Upside Down World
Dallas Willard begins his incredible book, The Divine Conspiracy, with a story about a jetfighter pilot who was practicing some high-speed maneuvers on her jet. She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent—and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down.
Willard says that this is the parable of human existence in our times. Not so much that everyone is crashing, but that most of us live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside-down or right-side up.
And this upside-down-ness is amplified in a large city where people are living at such high-speeds and with so much ambition in order to pursue that degree, that promotion, that condo, that first million. And in the process, we’ve lost sight of the fact that we are in fact living life upside-down. We’ve gotten so used to living upside-down that it no longer bothers us.
Being the church in Vancouver means to be the extension of God’s Kingdom, his dynamic rule and reign, to partner with God to see all that is upside-down made right-side up again.
Vancouver does not need fancier church services or cooler websites. Vancouver needs the people of God to embrace our Kingdom identity, and our Kingdom calling, for the Kingdom story which is all about making upside-down things right-side up again wherever we are, whenever possible.
Pray Like the Moravians
The worldwide influence of the 18th century Moravian missionaries was extraordinary.
During its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival!
Zinzendorf and a few others in the group, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.
Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”
A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year, 24 men and 24 women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.
The history A.J. Lewis notes, “For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord."
Yes! 100 years of continual, nonstop prayer! Isn’t that amazing?
By 1791, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.
Serve Like the Clapham Sect
The Clapham Sect was a group of evangelical Anglicans, prominent in England from about 1790 to 1830. The name comes from the village called Clapham which is south of London.
It was a small group of Christians in business, government, education, and the church. And they lived with this deep conviction that their money and influence in society was meant for something greater than themselves.
They challenged the whole moral climate of their times and changed their world! Their efforts ranged across a wide spectrum of issues including slavery, missions, prison reform, public immorality, the needs of the poor.
So they gave generously to worthy causes, promoted missionary work all over the world. But their foremost endeavor was to rid the world of slavery.
It’s most well-known member was William Wilberforce. And with his leadership in the Parliament, the Clapham Sect effectively campaigned for the abolition of slavery. And this small group is widely credited for ending the slave trade in Britain.
Living as Kingdom People
Whether it’s a homeless person, a drug addict, or that co-worker who is suffering from loneliness and depression even though she has everything that money can buy, the city desperately needs the people of God to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God and invite them into the Kingdom story.
The Kingdom of God sometimes advances in the city in huge waves. But more often than not, the Kingdom of God moves forward one person at a time. One follower of Jesus waking up to their Kingdom identity, embracing their Kingdom call, and courageously stepping out to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom with one other person. One by one by one.
What about you? Who is that one person in your life who needs to experience the right-side up Kingdom of God?
It was exactly two years ago that we moved into this apartment in Vancouver. The table in the center of this photo was the first piece of furniture we purchased. It was way too big for our small living space, but we got it because we wanted our life to be about family, hospitality, and invitation. We dreamed about the meals that we would share, the people that we would meet, and the family that Jesus would build around this table. Jesus is bringing complete strangers together around this table and making us into a family.
Mission trip to Mexico this Summer
Baptism Service this Fall
A Candle (pray like it can change the world)
Everyone gets to see one impossible prayer answered
A Name (love one person like Jesus)
Everyone gets to see one person take a step in the direction of Jesus
A Baton (run the race to win the prize)
Everyone discovers their gifts and uses them to run the race to see God’s Kingdom come to Vancouver as it is in heaven.