Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Allure of God

There are certain parts of the Bible I just don't understand. I've been reading the past few months in the book of Hosea. It is the twisted story of a prophet of God named Hosea who God tells to marry a prostitute (not exactly the kind of girl the parents want you to bring home). She's unfaithful to him, she has several children, most of them probably not Hosea's (some real Jerry Springer material). The whole time, God is using this real life drama as an illustration of his tumultuous relationship with Israel.

What surprises me the most in Hosea is the picture of God you see. Now, remember, the genre of Hosea is prophecy. Imagery is vivid, words are used to paint powerful pictures. And it portrays a side of God not usually seen. It's an up and down story of a God who is being wrenched back and forth (like Hosea) by his love for a women (Israel) who is unfaithful. It can be kind of sappy. And at times, God seems more like a junior high boy than I'm comfortable with.

It is a powerful story of God's unbridled love for... us (let's not get into the whole debate of whether or not we/Christians are the Israel of today). In the middle of it, there are two of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible - Hosea 2:14-15.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope."

This is powerful. God doesn't just sit by and wait for his lover, Israel, to return to Him... He makes the first move! He allures her! God, goes after Israel. It says that He will "speak tenderly" to her. God so desires Israel that He woos her! He acts in ways that entice and draw her back to Him!

Now, the implications for this are huge! God acts in ways that entice and draw creation back to Him. This means that God woos me. As I wander and drift, not always on target in my relationship with God through Christ, God doesn't give up on me. Instead, He allures me! This means that God woos (sorry, I can't find a more manly word) those who are far from Him. Right now, God is speaking tenderly to the people we see every day around us. God is wooing and drawing them, tenderly and gently begging them to return to their rightful place as sons and daughters of the King.

Honestly, if I were Hosea/God, I'm done! No more love, no more mercy, no more effort on my part. You/Gomer/Israel have ripped my heart out for the last time! I'm through! But not God. God is ever full of love and mercy and a passion to pursue us.

I love to see then how God is using us, in Macomb, to allure people. Even crazy things like namethatchurh.com God is using to draw people to Him and make them aware of what He's doing around them. I believe God is helping Macomb to see and sense Him in a million different ways and using us to do some of it too.

I tell you what, I am absolutely captivated with a God who is this amazing! I am gripped by this kind of creative love and I am prayig that others all around me can sense the allure of God as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big News! An Addition to the Team...

From the beginning I have been absolutely blown away to see what God is doing to pull this new church together. There is absolutely nothing about this plant that is normal or that we can take credit for. God is building an amazing team for this new church and we are continually blown away at how God is stirring in people a desire to be a part of what is happening in Macomb. Here's one more piece of that.

We're excited to be able to announce that Matt & Katie Woodburn will be coming to Macomb to join the team! My connection with Matt began when Matt and I were pk's together at Colonial Woods Missionary Church back in the day. Matt and Katie are also both graduates of Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN and have been serving at Rona Missionary Church in Fairborn, OH for the past several years. I love Matt & Katie's heart for people and their great ability to connect with the unchurched. God has uniquely gifted them and placed a common vision in their hearts. Officially, Matt will be serving as the Pastor of Connections, handling primarily outreach and assimilation (no doubt lots of other things).

As you might be wondering, our new church doesn't have the resources to be able to "hire" additional staff like Matt, even though that has been part of the dream from the beginning. The way it works is that the Michigan District (of the Missionary Church) is kicking in a portion to allow Matt to do a church plant internship with us while Matt also works a part time and raises support to help supplement the rest of his income. Please pray for these areas of transition for the Woodburns (they also have a condo to sell in Ohio).

You have know idea how much of an advantage this gives us as a church plant and we are extremely excited about it. If you would like to be a part of helping Matt & Katie make the transition or would like to contribute to the church plant in general (we still have huge needs!), please email us at jhossler@hotmail.com or call 586.246.0938.

I continue to shake my head in amazement at what God is doing. I've never seen greater potential for God to move and do great things than what I'm seeing in this new church. I have no idea what 2008 will look like, but I do know it's going to be exciting! Matt & Katie - it's great to have you guys on the team!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pictures - Mr. E Bunny's Egg-Stravaganza

The event today with the Macomb Township Parks & Recreation Department went great. We ran a station called the "Candy Corral". There were close to 600-people (6,000-pieces of candy!) that came through and we were able to make some good connections. It was a good first touch for our church in the community (and of course we all sported our sleek namethatchurch.com t-shirts). Man, I love Macomb and we have such a hunger and determination to launch a church that connects with them and that can help them connect with Christ!

Connecting with the Community

We're participating in our first community event today. We're thrilled to be partnering with the Macomb Township Parks & Recreation Department for an Easter event. They've been great to work with. Today, we'll have the opportunity to rub shoulders and talk with nearly 600-people!

Pray that we'll make great connections. Pray that we will fall more and more in love with the people. Pray that Christ will be exalted.

(I think prayers are retro-active, so even if you didn't get this in time, go ahead and pray :)) Talk with you soon!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Church Name... sort of!

You have all been waiting so patiently. Well, here it is! Our church name... sort of!

We figured we were designing this church for the community, why not have the community give their input on our name! And this is not so much about coming up with a name as it is we're hoping to peak the interest of our community. At the very least, we're hoping to increase awareness in our community that we're launching a new church!

So jump in - we're going to have some fun with this! Spread the word. We just happen to think God can use it! See ya.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Can You Give God Props?

God deserves some serious props (translation: God has blown us away with some amazing things and he deserves proper credit and recognition). Can you really even give God props? Anyway, here's what He's done:

1) business man decides to give us business cards and t-shirts at his cost (Thanks Dmitry!)

2) God provides great video camera for us to use through one man's generosity

3) we have the biggest billboard on Hall Rd. reserved for part of our marketing plan (God moved the big boys for this one!)

4) it looks like we're in... the door has been opened for a meeting location for us! (we still have to finalize it, but things are looking good)

This past week, I have been brought to laughter, tears, my knees, and awe over what God can do! It's been great.