Thursday, October 22, 2009

Encountering God, Experiencing His Grace

Several Sundays ago we began a new emphasis in worship called "A Search for Vitality." We have become a church which has grown more intentional about implementing the things that we hope will lead to our Acts 2 Vision becoming reality: Bringing people into a vital relationship with Jesus. The series of messages are based on Isaiah 6, Isaiah's powerful and moving vision of God. It's in that moment that Isaiah's cries out, "I am ruined!!" Every encounter with God's holiness leads to a profound sense of our shortcomings and failings...it simply cannot be any other way in God's presence.

But contrary to our expectations of being pulverized, every time without fail God responds to such acknowledgement with grace and compassion. It's not always a painless process. The heavenly being in that story touches the lips of Isaiah with a live coal from the altar. But it is really the touch of grace. God's grace is further displayed when God asks of Isaiah, "Whom shall I send." God doesn't want to destroy us. God wants to use us.

In the first message, "Encountering God's Holiness," based on Isaiah's powerful and moving vision of God in Isaiah 6, I invited people to participate in a spiritual discipline for four weeks. Here's how it works: If people want to participate, they simply turn in their name and email. Once or twice each week for the next four weeks, I send out an email to this group and once they receive it they take 60 seconds to stop and get present to God - to encounter God's holiness.

As they get present to God's presence in their lives in that moment, people simply pray, "Lord, here I am. What do you want me to see...hear...do? How do you want me to relate to the person near me...the person far from me? What are you calling me to understand about myself and my life?"

As we get present with God - encounter God's holiness - we look for things that we "don't know that we don't know". That is the realm where transformation begins to take place. We experience transformation when we move what we "don't know that we don't know" into the area of what we do know.

As people have shared their experience, it has been truly exciting to see people get present to God in the midst of the ordinary routine of their lives and to see how God is speaking into their lives through Jesus.