go to where the people are...

Last night I was invited to share a little at what our church calls "Teen MOPS". It's a ministry that reaches out to young girls who are pregnant or who have had babies as teenagers. (typically out of wedlock). Something that they just started this year was a parallel ministry to their "significant others"...which as you can imagine is quite daunting.

This particular evening that I was invited to was a night that they put together to share a meal with the couples and then open a time afterward to discuss the heart of a woman and a man in a marriage relationship...which is funny cause out of all of them, I think only one couple was married. (There were about 8 couples) Most of the guys have to be dragged there against their will, akin to the days when your mom grabbed your ear and drug you to the kitchen table to finish your peas.

I will have you know that I would rather speak to 15,000 people in an arena than to stand up and venture into the dicey terrain of this sort of assembly. All my comforts and standards and defaults don't apply quite so smoothly in this setting. My stomach was in knots, churning my blood into a buttery texture. I was wondering how to transition from eating to talking about family, relationships, and especially GOD. "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders..." (Col. 4) Yeah...that's what was filling my mind.

I will have to tell you that the night was powerful. And it was powerful because we were leaning into the awkwardness. It was invigorating because we weren't playing it safe. The volunteers that do this on a weekly basis have my highest regards. They are moving toward the darkness and attempting to push it back with the light of truth...the kind of truth that only comes when people lay down words and employ an incarnational model of pitching their tent among the broken...living among them...meeting them where they're at.

As I was sharing, there were little babies nestled in the arms of these teenagers completely unaware that they are smack dab in the middle of a search and rescue mission...a "Saving Private Ryan" call to duty. What if all this effort saves just one of those babies? What if this dinner and all the man hours that go into planning an event like this gives even one of those fragile couples a leg up in this life? What would these kids do without caring people leaving the safety and comfort of their posh living rooms tonight and choosing to move toward the tension, the carnage, the wreckage. They don't have to...and yet they lay down their peace of mind to pick of the broken pieces of humanity. And what fills your heart when you lay down peace to pick up pieces...is a peace that passes comprehension...a peace that can only be found on the other side of torture and tension and terror.

And these men and women from our faith community that have set aside their own "peace" in order to gather up the "pieces" have my utmost respect and affection this Friday morning. Their dedication to reach and stretch beyond themselves rebukes me and stirs me. It's stirring to my blood. And I want to be more like that. I love being a pastor of a community that gets it...that really gets the call of the kingdom...the grit of the gospel...."to seek and save those who are lost".

God continues to disclose more of Himself to me everyday...but I'm finding that he won't let me see anymore until I move to places that require more of Him. Last night was one of those nights. I'm finding that God isn't often found on my couch, or in my office, or even in my church...he's found in the trenches with the broken.

I almost feel these days like the church is to God what the zoo is to a lion. You can see him there, but he's been tamed and caged for so long that you're seeing only a shell of the real thing. To find a real lion, you must venture into the jungle...for it is there that the lion will truly be himself. If you're looking for God, move to the wilds of the world...he is prowling around in places you would least expect. When you go to the zoo, you will find a lethargic lion near dead laying on a cement floor muscles atrophied, eyes darkened. When you go to church, you will often find a God no less dead, hanging on to life by a thread. He is there, but not in his natural habitat, not in his full glory. To see him as such, you have to move into the wild...that is where the Lion Himself acts Himself. He is untamed, glorious, and threatening. He is majestic, fearsome, a thing of beauty. The zoo will leave you disappointed if you're looking for a real lion. The (weekend) church will leave you disappointed if you're looking for a real God. To find these you must move into the jungle.

I've spent too many years in the zoo.


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