Sunday, November 28, 2010
Sun 11.28 Auch, France
(pronounced USH as in usher)
45 minute drive west of Toulouse
I slept remarkably well. In my quiet time I continued meditating on the same verses from yesterday about God knowing His plans but for us but in a way that draws us closer to Him whether we see the details. Victor continues to be an always positive advanced 5 yr old bundle of energy. He was up and playing when I woke up right before my alarm refreshed and excited.
The work in Auch is a little unique. The Kims have joined an established church to aid that church in Planting new churches. L'Espace Bethesda, as it is called, is the only church of it kind in the area in a 45 minute radius. Some folks drive even longer than that to come!
The goal is to plant churches in each of the surrounding villages. One in Comminge has already been planted. It meets twice monthly. The rest of the time they all meet together here in Auch.
Today was a Comminge day so instead of almost 100 we were about 70 or 80.
I am a musician and have an open heart when it comes to worship. I didn't know what to expect. I have experienced anointed worship in other countries but not always. And not always in France. Sometimes the music is stilted and archaic. Or very 70's sounding. Or just plain bad in it's execution but beautiful in it's heart towards God.
The service at L'Espace Bethesda was just beautiful! They do all the worship up front, have communion during the next to the last song, offering during the last song, and end with the message. One song was a translation of "My Reedemer Lives" Hillsong or Vineyard NOT Nicole C. Mullen. All songs were very scriptural and easy to follow. The band was multicultural, led by Benjamin, a young black man from Guadaloupe. They were anointed and excellent.
But the message hit home like a two-by-four to the forehead. Joel used to be more involved as a teactor until some extreme health issues kept him bed-ridden for years. he only returned to church 6 months ago and just preached today for the first time. I didn't know all this until after his message. This makes the following message even sweeter because he never once mentioned his continuing health problems!
In short Joel Benoit spoke from Gen 15. Abraham has already been called, and has gone where God sent him. God is re-iterating the promise of progeny and blessing thru offspring. Abraham in a rare moment of verbal doubt challenges God's promise by reminding Him that at that moment his only heir was a non-relative member of his household. God tells him to make the first sacrifice of an animal, tells him to go out and look at the stars and puts him in a dep sleep to prophecy in more detail about way he will bless and shape the family/nation over the next 400 years.
Only God ratifies the COVENANT with Abraham by passing thru the two split pieces of the bloody sacrifice. Usually both parties, being equal, would pas thru together to signify the acceptance of the agreement and it's terms. The sacrifice itself was a symbol that said " may either of us end up like the sacrifice if we break our end of the deal." Only God ratified the covenant because only He could be faithful to its terms. And His faithfulness NEVER DEPENDS ON US. Abe had to wait a long to time to see the beginning of the promise and NEVER in life saw the nation his progeny would become, as promised. But his trust was counted to him as righteousness.
Joel pushed us, me to ask "What's the attitude of your heart while you wait for God to fulfill His promises to and purposes in you?" I was floored that I had come thousands of miles to hear a pastor preach a message that is the heart of my walk for a few years now, almost as if it was only for me! Joel walked us thru the scriptures and challenged us with "counting the stars." Remember that's how God told Abraham to remind himself of the promise. Like counting our blessings reminds us how faithful God has ALREADY BEEN! I'll be chewing on this one for a long time!
We came home to another fabulous French meal over a great conversation and discussion of the service, the church leaders and purpose and more of our personal stories. And Victor's continuous joy! We even braved the uncharacteristic rain and cold to take a late afternoon stroll in the town's riverside parc. It's been cold and rainy both days but warm inside as God links heart to heart and helps us become unified. Even if I end up in Paris we are team mates in the same country, winning the French for Christ!
I'll end with this. Even if the trip ended now it has been so illuminating about the work going on here down south in Auch. And their exciting longterm vision is to saturate the entire southwest with churches in every town and village! Isn't that the goal of the Gospel with feet on it?