Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home at last

Don't worry. I may have appeared to have fallen off the face of the earth since my last post, but that is far from the truth. In fact, there are many, many exciting things I would like to chronicle here on what God has been up to and what he is currently doing in Northern Utah. It's a comprehensive connection of my journey in Australia to this moment in Utah and I think you'll enjoy it immensely, for it gives glory to God for the amazing ways he is laying a foundation and building his home in Northern Utah. Coming home from Australia was a tough move. I had the privilege of being a member of one of the (if not the) biggest and healthiest churches in the world: Hillsong Church. As far as heavenly movement and getting it done for the kingdom, Hillsong's got it going on. And so when I felt that God wanted me to pack up and get ready to go back to Utah, I was a little more than disappointed. There were several things pointing the way of home, though. Closed doors with health, finances, and finally, just a still small voice that let me know it was time reassured me that I was indeed on the right track. But before I left, I sense God wanted to do something big. Inviting my parents to Hillsong conference 2010 was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was at one of the "break out" sessions for the worship stream that my parents were discovered by Hillsong staff to have served in worship ministry for over thirty-six years. And so, in true grand Hillsong fashion, they surprised my parents by inviting them up on the stage in front of some 12,000 people to honor them for their commitment. When asked to share about their ministry, my parents did, saying God was on the move in Utah but that they needed prayer for their home church as they were going through much transition for God's will and vision for the future. And so with that request made, 12,000 members of God's church representing seventy-seven nations from around the world, bowed their heads in prayer as they interceded on the behalf of Utah and for God's will to be done there as it was in heaven. Truly, the conference's theme of "Holy Momentum" would prove to be more than just a catchy title as we would soon see back home. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Arriving back in Utah in August of 2010, there was only about a two-month window of preparation and rest from a long season abroad before kingdom activity kicked into gear. My home church, Maranatha Baptist, was down to forty members and on the verge of closing its doors. A drawn out and strained search for a pastoral candidate left the church grasping for direction and vision. At that time when it looked like Maranatha might cease to exist, a church from Ogden invited Maranatha of being adopted into their church family. Alpine church, a multi-cite non-denomenational church focused on bringing the gospel and the reality of God's grace to the people of Utah, was offering to adopt us, a small baptist church. I know God works in mysterious ways, but this was a little beyond me. I couldn't believe our good fortune and the possibility of getting to join a church that was part of a healthy kingdom movement. Although there was much stirring initially as this would make for much change, the vote to be adopted by Alpine went through and Alpine Logan began it's transformation as God skillfully went to work at beginning the renovation of this house. -------------------------------------------------- Fast forward to July 2012. God has done great things! From a church of forty, we are now seeing a regular Sunday attendance upwards of 350 people. And it's summertime--the season when most people travel and are away. And so by the fall, there will be new challenges to face but they are good ones. What will happen when our college student population ventures back to USU for fall semester and the general populous returns from their summer vacations? This is something we as a church are seeking guidance to for our next step as we strive to reach the most people possible in a limited facility of 100 years. Like I said earlier in this blog, God has been speaking to me a great deal lately about foundations. In the Bible, I see a lot of imagery of buildings and walls, of foundations and of destruction, construction, and renovation. Alpine Logan has just finished a massive season of renovation, and it has been to the glory of God as we look back and see what God has done during this time. And just as Nehemiah ventured back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls and help usher in the restoration of the nation of Israel, so too do I feel that God is asking us to look ahead and examine how we, too, might continue to build our foundations as a church and continue to seek the restoration of the church--his body--in Utah. I'm reminded that Nehemiah had a sword in one hand and a building tool in the other as Sanballot tried desperately to call him down from building the wall and to sabotage their project--to humiliate, discourage, denigrate them and destroy the efforts to rebuild the wall. "Foundations" is a critical element of church life at Alpine as we seek to help people pursue God by taking three basic steps that will help lay the foundation for their lives in a successful pursuit of God and his will for their lives. And now I believe God has been impressing me with the question: "How will we continue to build the foundations of God's kingdom in Utah? What is the next move?" And that is where Alpine Logan currently waits. We are waiting on God's direction, his timing, his plans for the future. The harvest is plentiful (and we are in a harvest season) but the workers are few. As we strive to find out what pleases God and do it and avoid the distracting and discouraging voice of the enemy to stop "building the wall," how will we please him with advancing his kingdom next? We are running out of space at Alpine Logan with the people that keep visiting in order to build the foundations of their lives (a great problem to have!) and as the fall approaches this does become more of a concern. However, we know that God knows what's next, even if we are still waiting on his direction in the matter and he's even more committed to his church's success than we are. I think Ephesians 2:19-22 sums up beautifully God's desire for his house to grow and it's foundations to be established on earth and for us, in Utah: "That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home." -- The Message It is in this hope that we as a local church, here in Cache Valley, continue to seek God's direction as he continues to lay our foundations as the body of Christ and build his home and to welcome the lost to his heart--the place where they are home at last. (If you are interested in this topic and God's kingdom movement during this time in history on a world-wide scale, you can check out more in this awesome video produced by Hillsong: