The Love of God - An absolute total unconditional love.
The Gospel - It speaks rather about life, not living by the principles of right and wrong, good and evil.
Paradox - It is His strength in me, not me.
Weakness - Receiving the kingdom with His life and all its freshness.
Communion and Worship - A demonstration of receiving God because of our weakness.
Joy - My joy will remain in you and your joy will be full.
Freedom - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
The Father - The God who looks just like Jesus.
Each Other - We are free to love and be loved, to know and be known.
we discuss what we celebrate in our church, first and foremost we celebrate...
The Love of God
We celebrate the absolute
total unconditional love of God. That is because God in essence
is love (1 John 4:8). Everyone believes that God is love and
love is unconditional. So what makes us different? When we say
that the essence of God is love we rejoice in that He is only
love and can be nothing else. Jesus said when you see me you
see the Father (John 14:9).
In Paul's letter to the Galatians he told them that when they
move out of receiving and believing this love and fall back
into the ritual of trying to achieve good works to help God
be pleased with them, they had fallen from grace (Galatians
5:4). It was impossible for them to fall out of grace because
God who is love is full of grace. But because they quit living
by receiving this love and grace where their sin has abounded
God's grace won't let them fall from him. What a glorious comfort
and freedom this proclamation brings our church.
The purpose of this wonderful love of God is to take away our
fear (1 John 4:18). Fear has to do with punishment or feeling
that because we haven't measured up to be the Christian we should
be, God is going to take some vengeance against us until we
do better. But that doesn't take away our fear; that strengthens
our fear. God's heart is to keep showing, declaring, ministering
this pure or perfect extract of love because it says those who
fear have not been perfected in love. It is impossible to worship
a God who you are afraid of. Love and fear do not mix. They
are like oil and water. God is love. He wants to take away our
The Bible tells us that all the commandments are summed up
in one statement: love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind and love your neighbor
as yourself. This statement is really incredible when you think
about it. All the Bible, everything God came to say and will
say and impart, is summed up in this one declaration. What must
I know to see this one imperative happen in my life? First,
it starts with knowing not only that I love God but knowing
that he first loves me (1 John 4:19). As I hear, believe, and
receive that he loves me then I love him, then I love myself,
and I then love my neighbor as I love myself. Now I know I will
then be in the process of seeing fear leave my life because
more and more I am being perfected in this life. I rest in enjoying
this unconditional love and God is pleased because he gets to
receive my love and watch me give it to others.
For years I thought I believed all this about God but when
I would look at the Old Testament it seemed like the God of
the Old was sometimes in a bad mood and got angry quickly. The
God of the New, which was Jesus, was there to appease the God
of the Old and satisfy some of his anger. Several years ago
God told me not to preach the Old Testament until it looked
like Jesus. Now for the first time I feel that we do declare
that God who looks like Jesus. The God of the Old Testament
is no different in heart and essence than the God of the New.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not Jesus
trying to reconcile the world for God (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Jesus did not die on the cross to appease some angry God but
God was in Christ ransoming the world back to himself.
What about his wrath? God's wrath is called a jealous love.
In other words he is never mad at us. He is passionately mad
for you. He is jealous with a passion to have his own world
ransomed and brought back to him because his love burns that
deeply and surely what he desires will happen.
An excellent example of the wrath of God's love is shown in
Ezekiel 16 which is a lengthy allegory of unfaithful Israel
where God takes Jerusalem through the story of how when she
was born no one took care of her, no one cut her chord, washed
her or took care of her. She was thrown into an open field on
the day she was born. She was despised. God said when I passed
by I covered your nakedness, washed the blood from you with
water and entered into a covenant with you. When you became
of age you trusted in your beauty and you became a prostitute,
took some of your garments and made gaudy high places and carried
on your prostitution with the Assyrians and many others. Your
prostitution was so insatiable you still were not satisfied
so you included Babylon. Then God says in verse 38, "I
was filled with wrath and jealous anger. I will destroy your
prostitution and burn down your whore houses and then you will
no longer pay your lovers, then my wrath against you will subside
and my jealous anger will turn away from you and I will be calm
and no longer angry." Why? Because he loves her. She is
his and he will not let go of her because his love never fails
(1 Corinthians 13:8).
Another portion of scripture that has meant so much to me is
the story in the book of Hosea. There we have another picture
story of God's love for his people. He says to his prophet Hosea,
go to the auction block where prostitutes are sold and buy back
your wife who has been loved by another and is an adulteress.
Why? Because God is showing Hosea this is what my people have
done to me and my heart is to pay what it takes to buy them
back and you will know the passion and pain of my jealousy and
love no matter the situation and know that no matter the sin
or the degradation of the pain of the sin my heart for the people
is not changed. It is not what she has done, it is what I must
do to get her back because my heart can settle for nothing less.
What about the rest of humanity? God says through this nation
all the people of the world will be blessed in the same way.
The passage goes on to say, "I will say to those who were
not my people, 'you are my people!' and they will say 'you are
my God.'" (Hosea 2:23). For God so loved this world that
he gave his one and only son to pay the ransom to buy it back.
He does not come in any way to condemn this world. It is already
condemned because of the fall of Adam. He is come in this passionate,
determined love to save it.
What about his justice? For years I thought that justice would
be served by people getting handed over to punitive punishment
for things they have done wrong, especially to God, and that
punitive punishment would somehow cause God to have justice.
That can't be true. If you steal my car you could go to prison
till you die but there would be no real justice for me unless
my car was returned to me. Satan came and killed, stole, and
destroyed the world. There will be no justice until God wins
his creation back, which he certainly will because he is just,
he is love, and his love never fails.
One summer about 11 years ago my view of the gospel began to
be totally changed. Through the story about my daughter which
I shared in "Our Journey", God made it clear to me
bringing my attention to the fact that I was preaching a gospel
which was really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:7). Concern gripped
my heart as well as some disbelief and I remember saying, "God,
I'm not sure I know what the gospel is." Over the years
God has made it more clear what it is and what it is not. Gospel
means good news. Simply put the gospel means that because Jesus
died on the cross for our sin and that by believing and becoming
one with the crucifixion we die with him and it is no longer
we that live but that he lives in us (Galatians 2:20).
The Apostle Paul goes on to say that because we are dead to sin,
we cannot sin ever again (Romans 6:1-2). He is not saying here
that it is a matter of choice. He is saying it is a matter of
possibility. He says that you who have died with Christ cannot
sin again. How can this be if we all sin everyday? The good
news is that it is not you that sins, but rather it is your
sinful nature that sins (Romans 7:20). So when Satan comes and
accuses and condemns us, our answer is that "you cannot
condemn me because it was not me that sinned. It was my crucified
nature that sinned". (Romans 8:1) Now my life is Christ
and for me to sin, Christ would have to sin. But since we know
that is impossible I rejoice in my own life which is Christ
and in this new law which is called the law of life in Christ
Jesus. I keep receiving the truth of who I am and let that truth
have more and more rule over my flesh. We agree with God that
our flesh is dead and we don't ever have to do anything to make
it better or improved. So this law of life has now set me free
from this law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
Another way to describe the difference between the law of life
and the law of sin and death is to go back to the fall of humanity
in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden there were two trees: the
tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. We
were told by God to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good
and evil. We ate of it any way and thereby sinned. This sin
brought death. The problem today with so many Christians is
that we still try to live by trying to do right and not doing
However, this whole system is of the flesh and, therefore,
death. When I think I have done good, I am full of pride. When
I sense that I have done evil, I feel condemnation. Christianity
is not living by the principles of right and wrong, good and
evil. It speaks rather about life. Watchman Nee, in his book
The Finest of the Wheat, Volume I (pp 220-221) said "What
is Christianity? Christianity is life. It does not ask whether
a thing is right or wrong. It asks instead what your inner life
says: it is a matter of how the new life which God has given
us addresses the situation."
How does this work practically? Recently, I visited with a
couple having some marital issues. I told them both of you are
gold. I look at you and see gold bars. I look at the wife and
see nothing but beautiful gold bars. The problem is because
you have not known that, because you have not heard who you
are all your life and you've heard lies, you've got this huge
vault of reinforced concrete all around your gold bars. They
were having communication problems. I said the problem is you
are a gold bar but by the time you speak through your concrete,
which would be your pain and where you've been hurt all your
life, been put under the law, been told you should be better
and felt like if I would do better I would be loved, you have
entered into self-hatred and God-hatred and then you hate your
neighbor. It's a direct opposite of the great commission. These
walls of concrete get thicker and thicker. You are gold but
by the time you work through all your pain, work through your
spouse's pain to get to their gold bars, and then they respond
to what they think they heard, you've got war. You've got war
and pain and destruction and everything that could be a part
of death happening in this marriage relationship. But as you
begin to receive the truth of I am a gold bar, that is who I
am and breathe that and rest in that and affirm that, that gold
becomes more affirmed and it begins to melt the walls around
it of that concrete. If both of you do it, these walls of both
of you get less and less because the shame is being destroyed.
The condemnation is being destroyed. The conditions of being
loved are being destroyed. All the wounds that have caused that
are destroyed because you let God come in and receive the truth
that you are the beloved. You are loved. That begins like ointment
to heal those wounded places and marinate those places where
the holy spirit can come and that wall melts away. As your walls
melt away more and more, you've got gold speaking to gold. That
is how you walk in a Christian marriage. But it starts with
receiving the truth that I am who I am and God adores that and
anything that comes against that is a lie and is not the truth.
I am loved unconditionally and I receive that. Therefore, I
begin to believe that I am loved, then I love myself, then I
begin to love my husband and he begins to love you.
As we hear this our walls begin to melt because the gospel heals
and makes us whole. We love God back because he has loved us
so much and just as importantly we begin maybe for the first
time to love ourselves then we love our neighbor because we
see they are as gold as ourselves. Indian Hills is a community
that is truly learning to celebrate and enjoy this wonderful
The New Testament is full of paradox. The last shall be first;
the dead will live; wisdom is foolishness; you find your life
by losing it; only the dead live; only the weak are strong;
only those that know they are sick can get well; those that
mourn are comforted; those that are bankrupt get the kingdom;
those that are hungry and thirsty are filled. No wonder Jesus
said this gospel is hidden from the wise and intelligent but
is made known to the babes.
The Apostle Paul says that the cross is foolishness to those
that are perishing but to those that are being saved it is the
power of God. There is a way that seems right to man but the
end thereof is destruction. The ultimate paradox is why did
the God of the universe become a curse and die. It has to be
a paradox because no one can figure that out. Now we have to
be at the mercy of God to reveal it which lets us come like
children. So Jesus said let the children come to me for such
is the kingdom of God. A central paradox is John 12:24. If a
grain of wheat dies it will bring much fruit but if it does
not die it will remain by itself. So if you want the life of
a wheatfield, the grain has to die. However, one of the most
practical paradoxes for the Christian life is coming to the
realization that weakness is strength.
Years ago I was a student at Southwestern Seminary. All I knew
was that I was called to be a preacher and surely with God's
help I could do it. That is all I knew. That is all I had ever
been told. Soon after I got there I began to realize that emotionally,
mentally, as well as spiritually, I could not do what it took
to pull off what was required of me. The harder I tried the
more desperate I became till one day I felt like a hamster that
had been running on a wheel and fell flat on my stomach on the
wheel and could not go any further.
To paraphrase my prayer, it was something like this, "I
don't have a clue what to do nor am I even sure you are listening
but all I know is I can't do this any more." A friend that
very day, not knowing any of what I was going through, gave
me a book called The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee.
It is a real short paperback book that simply makes the statement
that unless the strength of a man is broken to the place he
knows he can't use it any more, he can never really be used
by God. God never wanted me to use my strength but wanted me
to continually give up my strength and be weak so that he could
be strong in me.
Paul the Apostle said as much in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paraphrased,
Paul said, "God I don't have the strength to deal with
the weaknesses of my life. I don't have the strength to deal
with the issues of my life. I have asked you three times to
give me strength but three times you have said 'no, but your
grace would be sufficient.'" It was like a light dawned
in Paul's head for he realized the truth. It is His strength
in me, not me. That is the way this life is supposed to work.
The Apostle so caught it he said, therefore, I boast about my
weakness so that God's power may rest upon me.
We take to heart and are encouraged by Jesus when he said blessed
are the bankrupt in spirit for theirs is the kingdom. So every
Sunday we come as needy "beggars" freed from having
to do anything to please God from our own self effort. We also
come convinced that we can't do it anyway. We celebrate receiving
the kingdom with his life and all of its freshness because we
come admitting that we are empty vessels. This gives God the
freedom and the joy of filling us with himself.
One day Jesus was out beside the lake. A large crowd came around
him. As he went along he met a man named Levi, who was a tax
collector, and told him to follow him. Jesus went with Levi
to have dinner with Levi and his fraudulent friends. Tax collectors
were noted for being criminal, much like we would call the Mafia
today. They made their money by skimming off the top of what
they over collected, plus they worked for the Roman government
and in a way betrayed their own people. They were quite a crooked
and desperate lot. The religious church leaders criticized Jesus
and said he was terrible because he ate with sinners and tax
collectors. When Jesus heard them, he made this incredible statement,
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick…"
The bottom line is this, if you can be good and do good (i.e.
if you are healthy) then you don't need me because a physician
can only come to and help sick people. At Indian Hills we certainly
want Jesus to come so we freely acknowledge and celebrate that
we are weak. The irony is that those that keep admitting they
are sick can keep being made well -- another paradox. The sick
are well and those that say they are well are sick. Crazy, but
it's glorious freedom and life. It brings us great joy.
communion and worship
Most Sundays, we take communion together as a demonstration
of receiving God because of our weakness. As we go and receive
the bread of his broken body and the cup of his spilled blood
we thank God for this gift. The root word for communion would
be "thanksgiving." Thanksgiving means we are accepting
something that we did not earn nor could achieve. It is a gift.
We receive communion around this symbolic act acknowledge God
who loved me so much that he went to the cross for me. I receive
his broken body and blood I agree that I have died with him
but also symbolically his body and blood are more in me. I will
leave church this morning with a fresh agreement that God will
be even more the reality of my life than when I came.
This is such a special time for our church. It is a time to
marinate and reflect and let God's Holy Spirit have time to
affirm and reason with us about his love and what that love
causes us to do and to be. We thank God for this wonderful love
and in our weakness we receive afresh his glorious grace and
presence in our lives. We take Jesus at his word when he said
come unto me if you are weary and burdened down with the cares
of this life and I will take them from you and give you rest.
My yoke is easy and I am gentle and humble in heart and I will
give rest to your souls because you will freshly agree that
you are the saved and I am your savior. Your life is my responsibility,
This causes us to celebrate. Around the time of communion we
sing and enter into worship. Our praise and worship is built
around the heart of all these things that we celebrate. Our
songs are about affirmation of God's love and all the ways they
have meaning in our lives. We have a chance to acknowledge weakness
and sing about receiving this wonderful love. The following
is one of the many choruses we sing. This particular chorus
was written by our praise leader.
I Will Receive
I will receive,
The blessing of my King.
And I will glory in the mercies of my God
For His love has set me free;
Created life in me,
I will give thanks,
Because the Lord my God is Good
I was naked in the face of my accuser.
Angry hands that bore the stones,
Were all that I could see.
Then Jesus wrote upon the sand,
That the Lord, the great I Am,
Has paid the price, and now this child
Belongs to Me!"
2002 Indian Hills Praise
We celebrate joy
Many times we think joy is determined by our circumstances.
If things are going well I can have joy. If not, I am sad. David
in the Psalms said in His presence there is fullness of joy.
So at Indian Hills we have come to better understand and celebrate
this joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. How does that
happen? When Jesus came to the very last night of his life,
they had seen him do many miracles, tell hundreds of parables,
demonstrate his kingdom in so many ways and his disciples watched
him and tried to learn from him. On the last night he brought
them all together and summarized what they were to learn from
his life. He summed this up in John 15:1-11.
Jesus was trying to say to them you can't live the Christian
life. God never said you could but he has and always said he
would. He described this picture through these eleven verses
as he told the story of the relationship of the vine and the
branch. Jesus said my father is the gardener. I am the vine
and you have watched him live his life through me for apart
from him I can do nothing. Now I am going back to the father
and I will send my spirit and he will be in you and I will be
in you, the branch, the same way my father was in me, the vine.
Just like I rested in my father and watched him do the work
through me, you will rest in me and I will do the work through
you. You will bear fruit: love, joy, patience… You notice
Jesus never told them they were to produce fruit. That is a
heavy yoke and a hard burden. He said you will bear it. It is
my sap flowing through you that makes the fruit. You are not
in charge. If you live in this rest and simply be at one in
my presence, cooperate with my life and don't grieve or quench
me, your joy will be full. In fact, he says the reason I have
told you this is that my joy will remain in you and your joy
will be full.
A word we use in terms of abide or be at home that is more
real is the word "breathe." To breathe means to live.
So breathe in me and your joy will be full. What happens when
you don't breathe? When the air is quenched and you are suffocating,
there is no joy. Jesus said simply be at one with my love. Don't
make it any harder than that. So at Indian Hills we celebrate
this simple joy of breathing and encouraging each other to remain
How do I know if I am breathing or not? The Apostle Paul gives
another great verse in Colossians 3:15. Let the peace of Christ
rule (or umpire) in your heart. Since perfect love casts out
fear and in that fear there is no condemnation God is saying
to us be free to live your life and my peace will lead you and
guide you. There are no rules to follow nor human effort to
churn up but my gentle peace like the wind blowing a leaf will
guide you and that will referee in your heart and I am in charge
of the rest. This kind of joy is truly full of glory and we
are excited about that at Indian Hills.
Paul said it is for freedom Christ has set us free. (Galatians
5:1) Paul admonishes the Galatians church to stand firm and
don't be enslaved by a yoke around your neck. What are these
yokes of slavery? They are all those religious rules and laws,
oughts, shoulds, could's, that choke and chain us like slaves
to a prison cell.
Brennan Manning is a wonderful theologian and author. He tells
the story in one of his books that one day a woman in his parish
came and brought him a sign that now hangs in his office. It
says, "Today I will not should on myself." We declare
that we have been freed from this whole demonic system which
Paul earlier calls witchcraft and death.
In the truth of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
we walk through the doors of the prison cell and like calves
we are free to leap and run in fresh pasture. We take Jesus
at his word when he said I came that you might have life and
have it abundantly. There is no room for slavery in that kind
of freedom. At Indian Hills we celebrate this freedom and continually
receive the authority to expose anything false that would bring
slavery to us. "'Christianity hasn't been tried and found
wanting,' wrote Gilbert Chesterson, 'it has been found difficult
and left untried.' Mahatma Gandhi once said 'I like your Christ
but I don't like your Christians.' He gave us the reason. 'They
are so unlike your Christ.'" (Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning,
page 49) We desire that our church will look like Christ.
As we celebrate our freedom, we must be careful to heed the
words of the Apostle Paul when he said, "We were called
to freedom: only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity
for the flesh but through love serve one another." A friend
in our church recently shared how for a long time he thought
that this "freedom" gave him a right to control his
household and make all the decisions because, after all, he
was in charge and this freedom gave him the right to rule as
he pleased. A situation came up in his household about whether
to get a dog or not. His wife wanted the dog and he did not.
He realized that as he gave up his right to rule and in honor
prefer, or "serve", his wife it brought great joy.
Her joy brought him great life. As he became aware of this,
with great excitement he called his wife to say "we are
getting the dog." Later that night while at dinner, she
asked why he had decided to get the dog. He said, "It is
time I gave up my rights and control and enjoy what will bring
you life. Freedom has brought them both life. Theirs is a fresh
We enjoy celebrating
God as Father
The people of our church come from varied backgrounds of denominations.
One thing that most of us had in common was that though we believed
that Jesus and God were one, somehow we felt, for a lack of
a different word, that they had different dispositions. Because
of bad teaching our concept was that the God of the Old Testament
was austere, demanding, hard to please, and was actually someone
that we needed to be careful how we acted around. Jesus, on
the other hand, was nice, sweet, kind and very approachable.
There was a need for the God of the New Testament, which was
Jesus, to save us from the God of the Old.
Needless to say not only is this theologically incorrect, but
this type of schizophrenia has caused great confusion in the
church. The Bible in describing Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 says, "For
unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government
will be on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor,
might God, everlasting Father, prince of peace." God is
saying that Jesus will be called the everlasting father. That
is why when the night before Jesus died, Phillip said to Jesus,
"if you show us the father that will be enough for us",
Jesus answered him by saying, "How can you say show us
the father. Anyone who has seen me has seen the father."
At Indian Hills we feel it is critical and absolutely essential
to preach a God who looks just like Jesus. The myth that has
caused great confusion that Jesus somehow came to save us from
God is a lie of our tradition. Even though we have covered this
in another section, it warrants repeating in the context of
God as father that the truth is God was in Christ reconciling
the world to himself (11 Corinthians 5:19). Years ago as I was
studying for a sermon, God spoke to my heart very clearly and
said do not ever preach the Old Testament again until the God
of the Old Testament looks like Jesus. Through the journey of
several years I am excited about entering into that declaration.
Though not perfect the challenge is exciting and brings hope
to our people. God as father means that though he is broken
hearted and like the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, many
times he will release his children to have what they think they
want in order for them to come to their senses and realize that
there is no life that is as good as being in the loving fellowship
of the father in his house. Though the parable in Luke 15 shows
the son leaving in arrogance, confidently believing he would
find joy on his own, the father waited patiently every day for
his return and when the son returned the father ran out to meet
him, covered his sin and shame with his kingly robe, brought
him back to his house, killed the fatted calf and had a party
for this son which was dead but was not alive. This is the heart
of the God of the Bible.
One of the most important concepts about God as father is that
he will discipline us. This is discussed in Hebrews 12. God
the father as disciplinarian is called the act or word of encouragement
(Hebrews 12:5). Therefore God disciplines us so that we may
live and share in his holiness. "No discipline seems pleasant
at the time but painful later on. However, it produces a harvest
of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by
it." (Hebrews 12:11) I have a son named Luke. When he was
three years old and began to play in the front yard with his
ball and plastic bat, I told him that if he went into the street
for any reason that I would have to punish him. Sure enough,
he went into the street. I saw him and came out and spanked
him on his bottom. He cried and said I will never do that again.
The reason I punished him was for no other purpose than to protect
him and save his life. My punishment was an act of encouragement
for him. I was jealous for him to live and not die. Because
he was three and did not understand, to him the discipline was
very unpleasant and even painful. The purpose of the punishment
was to perfect him in love. This is the heart of God as he deals
We preach Jesus is full of grace and truth and so is the father.
It was said about Jesus that he was full of grace and truth.
Jesus said when you see me you see the father so the father
was full of grace and truth also. Many times people think that
preaching grace means that God is like a sweet Santa Claus who
is soft on sin. We preach the total picture of the father to
show that it is because he is grace that he is not soft on sin.
God will work in grace to free us from it so we can live. God's
heart for us is that he came that we might have life and have
One of the most important benefits of sharing God as father
is the fact that it brings security. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says "This
is good and pleases God our savior who wants all men to be saved
and come to a knowledge of the truth. The word wants is a very
interesting one in the original language. When you read that
in our English translation the word wants seems to say that
God would like for everybody to be saved but it's beyond his
ability to do that much about it. That is sad because in the
original language the word wants is thelo and it means definiteness,
assurance, determinate purpose, resolve of spirit. It is the
same word used in John 3:8 where Jesus said the wind blows where
it wills. Certainly we know the wind doesn't sit over in a corner
and want to blow somewhere but it can't. When the Bible says
it is good and pleases God our savior who wants thelo, i.e.
is determined in his purpose that all men be saved and come
to a knowledge of the truth, the security is that it is God
the father's heart that is so broken for his creation that he
is determined to have it reconciled. This brings great security.
This word is also used in Matthew 18:14 where in the parable
of the lost sheep the Bible says "in the same way your
father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones
should be lost." In other words, God our father will not
allow anything to stop his determined purpose of finding all
sheep, even the one that is lost. This father's heart of God
makes us secure and we declare this God at Indian Hills.
Finally, the most important fact that gives us security in
the father's heart is that the Bible says God has sworn by his
own life and every word from his mouth that he utters will be
integrity and a word that cannot be revoked. What is this glorious
promise and authority that God's heart has sworn with such integrity?
God goes on to say that before me every knee will bow and every
tongue will worship and praise me and recognize that I am the
God who saves. (Isaiah 45:22-23) What a glorious declaration.
Eugene Peterson in the The Message Bible captures the thought.
I leave you here with his quote on this.
"So turn to me and be helped-saved!-everyone, whoever and
wherever you are. I am God, the only God there is, the one and
only. I promise in my own name: Every word out of my mouth does
what it says. I never take back what I say. Everyone is going
to end up kneeling before me. Everyone is going to end up saying
of me, 'Yes! Salavation and strength are in God!'"
How could we not help but preach this glorious good news.
Because of the communion of the oneness of our goals and purpose
and desperate need, God has bonded us together with a growing
atmosphere of safety where we are free to love and be loved,
to know and be known. Because we are growing in the understanding
of who we are and as we accept that love we are giving it more
and more to each other.
We laugh with those that laugh and cry with those that cry
because Christ is in us bearing each other's burdens. We don't
carry these burdens like there is some heavy responsibility
upon us to fix each other. We do, however, bear each other's
burdens and participate in each other's journey as we live,
share, and encourage each other with our own journey.
A good example is one night in a small group a person spoke
while fighting back tears. He said God is working in my life
but I don't like what He is doing. He said God spoke to him
and said, "Do you not yet understand?" and then showed
him a picture. The picture was of an old-fashioned schooner.
All the oars were broken and there was no wind nor current.
The ship was helplessly still. There were no cannon balls to
be found for the cannons. There was an enemy schooner circling
the ship and the men on the helpless ship began to play cards.
He said what he came to realize was God has waited for me to
get so totally helpless that I had to give up and turn my life
situations over to him. I had to rest and play cards.
Obviously, God did not mean for him to be idle but he did mean
for him to give God the responsibility of being the savior of
his life. In other words, God wants us to be the saved, not
the savior. The young man said this makes me angry. Another
person began to encourage him with their own story and said
the reason you are angry is the same reason I have gotten angry
so many times. It is because deep down I don't know for sure
that God is good and that he will follow through with being
a savior I can trust. He agreed.
Several shared similar stories. His comment at the end was
I thank this group so much. I feel so much better that I have
been able to share this and know that I am okay. Our desire
is that this type of spirit permeates everything this church
does and everything we are at Indian Hills. Whatever activity
we may be involved in, this is the spirit, the spirit of rest,
love, safety, and unconditional acceptance, which makes us a
special place. If this is a need that you have, we would love
for you to come join this family.