In God’s kindness, our church has grown significantly over the last year, and it does not appear to be slowing down yet. So this is a word to both new folks and to those of you who have been around for a while.
We believe that God has been and continues to bless our community in simply astounding ways. There has been blessing on our educational endeavors, business ventures, abundance of children and grandchildren. We live in a land of plenty and relatively good health, and on top of that, God has given us the ability to enjoy it. We are watching generations rise up, walking with Jesus like their parents and grandparents, marrying in the Lord, and determined to do the same with their children by the grace of God.
But the age old temptation is to think that blessing is something you can get hold of. The temptation is to think that blessing is the sort of thing you can tame. That you can figure out the formula, manage it, package it and sell it. But the blessing of God is nothing other than the favor of God, the kindness of God. And you cannot get hold of that. Rather, the blessing of God is only something that can get hold of you. It tames you. And not the other way around.
We don’t know why God is blessing us so richly, and it really doesn’t add up. It really is all grace. But what we do know is that God loves to bless the humble, and we know that the center of Christian humility is confession of sin. So we have determined as a community to keep short accounts, to confess our sins and not just try to ignore them: snapping at your wife/husband or kids, telling a lie, cutting corners on a job, cheating at school. We’ve committed to confessing all of these sins.
When you get into the habit of confessing sins, you pull the weeds when they’re relatively small, and the confession isn’t usually as dramatic. But it might appear to the newcomer that these people must really have their acts together and don’t struggle with normal human sins. Now, we do believe in sanctification; we do believe in progress in holiness, but you really do need to understand that most of what you see is the grace of confession of sin and forgiveness. We really are a motley crew, and if we are clean at all, it is only by the blood of Jesus, covering our sin.
So this is the exhortation: if you’re new here, you are most welcome. If you’d like to really dig in and be part of this crazy blessing, the most important thing you can do is confess your sins to God and anyone you’ve sinned against. And not just one time, but regularly, daily, weekly. Don’t let any bitterness or guilt build up. That will only get in the way. And if you’ve been here for a while, don’t put on airs. Check your hearts: Are they clean? Don’t get lazy. Remember where you came from.