There have been many milestones in our journey thus far: the calling of the Lord to plant a new Christ-centered/Gospel-saturated church in East CLT; the particular vision for East CLT Pres gleaned and gathered from Scripture; a core group of faithful ambassadors formed by the influence and enterprise of the Holy Spirit; the various teams, positions, roles, and responsibilities established and enacted; and the birth of East CLT Pres on September 7th 2014!
But of all the milestones – officially installing the founding members of East CLT Pres on September 28th, 2014 is perhaps the most momentous. There is nothing more prized on planet earth than the Bride of Christ! Jesus LOVES nothing in this world more ferociously than the Church! Jesus expressly came to serve her, and to give His life as a ransom for her (Matthew 20:28), and He adamantly aims to cultivate the same mentality and affection for her in us (Matthew 20:26-27). Two things delight the King of kings to no end: (#1) When we comprehensively DEPEND upon Him alone as our Savior and our Shepherd …putting our deadly doings down and receiving and resting upon Him alone for all things! (#2) When we – relying upon the grace of God in Christ alone – DEVOTE ourselves to the Bride of Christ, committing to one another the way Christ committed to us (John 13:12-17, 34).
Here’s the genius of church membership – – – > (#1) nothing will make you feel the reality of your neediness and DEPENDENCE like inseparably uniting yourself to a group of sinners …people who are so bad that their preeminent profession is that the only perfect man to have ever walked the earth – God in the flesh in fact – insisted that it was necessary to live and die for them or else they would be condemned to hell. (#2) Nothing will actually cultivate the genuine love and DEVOTION for one another that Christ commands like church membership! …Membership means family (that’s why we call them family members). You don’t choose your family members, but you are nonetheless inseparably stuck with them, and thus the “one anothers” that we are called to love become constant and inescapable. Only in the context of such devotion will we find good soil to put down the roots of true Christ-centered discipleship. Without such commitment and devotion we are drifters – transient church attendees – prone to incessantly flee out of fear that people will discover the real us, and/or we ceaselessly search for something more entertaining and immediately gratifying. Honest and robust opportunities to love, mourn, rejoice, confront, comfort, bear burdens, submit, forgive, and persevere with one another are found in the Bride and Body of Jesus Christ (i.e. a local, particular, visible church family) – where dependence and devotion are pervasively presupposed and integral. We often fill our heads with man-manufactured notions that God wants us to leave behind the mundane in search for the “magnificent.” But it is often the case that the Kingdom of Heaven manifests itself precisely in the mundane (this is its great secret!). Like a seed sown [hidden] in soil, growth is not necessarily as dynamic and entertaining as we expected. Growth does not explode forth in a moment …progress is gradual, death and dying are involved, grit and grime are unavoidable, gumption, perseverance, and self-denial are indispensable. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade (Mark 4:31-32).
I’m convinced that the greatest compliment anyone can ever pay someone else is to treat them like family; and when disciples of Jesus officially become members of a particular church that’s exactly what they are vowing – in reliance upon the grace of Christ – to do!
Please take a moment to sincerely thank God for His familial love for His flock, and for insisting (via His command and an ordained corporeal context) that we partake of and practice that same devotion toward one another!
Please pray that the flock of East CLT Pres would love one another with brotherly affection. Outdoing one another in showing honor. Not slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, constant in prayer. Contributing to the needs of the saints and seeking to show hospitality (Romans 12:10-13).
Pray that our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, would direct our way toward, and within, the church, and that the Lord would make us increase and abound in love for one another and for all, so that He may establish our hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).
Please pray that God would cause us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).