Matthew 23: 37-39 [ESV] 37″O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38See,your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say,’Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
I am just getting home from a wonderful vacation with my family. It was my first vacation since planting City on a Hill Church 61 weeks ago. It was very tough to be away from the church but it is necessary. After all it is Jesus’ church.
While away I prayed over City on a Hill Church with passion as I have since before she came into existence. My white hot passion to build, become, and be a city within a city reaching our city with the life changing message of Jesus Christ still burns like fire shut up in my bones. My desire to preach the Gospel and live the Gospel in this city still inspires me daily to stay close to my God, my Savior and my King. I call my people [God’s people ultimately, however He has appointed me as shepherd according to Ezk. 34:23-24] by name. I thankfully and willingly accept my divine calling and I live it out by the grace of God in every area of my life.
I can’t help but to be passionately devoted to these precious people God has called me to. I want God’s best in their lives. I am totally devastated when I see one of them losing there passion and focus and wandering off into dangerous terrain. As I type I can think of seven or eight that I call out to God for daily hoping to see them return home. I know how Jesus felt and I feel what Jesus felt when he said how often I have wanted to gather you like a mother hen gathers her chicks but you wouldn’t let me. Sometimes I think it is more than I can bear as I watch them make poor life choices and wander farther and farther away from a loving God. It is a cross that I bear and I will not give up on them! I know what is at stake.
On my trip I had ample time for personal reflection, journaling, prayer and devotion. I asked the Lord what He was saying to me or what He wanted to say to me. I heard Him say, “Close the book and put down the journal. My people perish for lack of wisdom.” I couldn’t shake that one sentence, “My people perish for lack of wisdom.” I prayed, stared, and pondered this thought a bit more. During that time I realized just what was being said to me. We live in a Church saturated Gospel starved world. My job is to bring the truth of God’s Word to my people. If people don’t know God how can they worship Him? If people don’t know and understand the Gospel how can it keep them? If people don’t know and understand the sovereignty of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, the Holiness of God, how can they live it? Wisdom is different than knowledge. Wisdom is applied knowledge. We can not be just hearers of the Word we must be hearers and doers of the Word.
I thought of some of those precious people out there wandering and my heart just broke. I have watched as the cares of this life try to strangle out God’s Word in their lives. I have watched as the lure of “good times” have uprooted their faith and left them hopeless and helpless. I reach out but they don’t respond. I see them and they look right through me. On more than one occasion I have thought St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg how often I have wanted to gather you to Jesus like a mother hen gathers her chicks but you wouldn’t let me. I thought City on a Hill, City on a Hill how often I have wanted to gather you to Jesus like a mother hen gathers her chicks but you wouldn’t let me. Even now my heart grows sad as I think of some who have walked out into the outer edge of darkness and can not see the light anymore [2 Cor. 4:4]. One thing is for sure I will not quit and I will not give up. I will keep trying to gather them to Jesus just like a mother hen gathers her chicks.
I just had to get this out there today in hopes that one or two might read this blog and come home. In hopes that others who read this blog won’t give up and will venture out with me into the darkness to bring them home. I won’t stop until every person in St. Petersburg has had a chance to accept or reject Jesus. I won’t stop until the last of the lost are found, the last of the wanderers are safely home, until everyone who calls themselves a Christian is a disciple making disciple, and until missionaries are sent into every corner of this city, region, and globe.
Until then I will carry the burden of the heavy heart of a shepherd not willing to see one wander off. I will preach like Heaven and Hell exist, because they do. I will preach like everyone doesn’t go to heaven because they don’t without Jesus. I will preach like it is all about Jesus, it has always been about Jesus, and it will always be about Jesus, because it is!
I planted City on a Hill Church to be a church that is for the city. A city for God among the city of men. A church that relentlessly pursues the lost and wanderer. A church that produces disciple making disciples. A church that sends missionaries. A church that won’t give up or give in even when the going gets tough. A church that will exalt Jesus and preach the Gospelunapologetically.
I am reminded of an old song it says, “His heart is big enough to love you, even though you’ve turned Him away. His arms are long enough to save you, and give you another chance to make up for your mistakes. His grace is more than sufficient, even though your heart aches, even though you’re to blame. His heart is big enough to love you some run back to Him today. He bought you back with His own blood from Calvary, back in His arms is where He wants you to be. And what He longs for is to see you totally completely free.”
For now this shepherd stands guard over the flock that has been entrusted to him by God. While watching over this flock his eyes scan the horizon in hopes to see the lost and the wanderer find their way back home.