Taking The Valley, Presence

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              In this series, we first looked at preparation – priming the pump. Then we talked about prayer, the drawing of the water. Now let’s talk about the commitment of our presence. Attendance at Fight Club, Weekend Almost Alone With God (WAAWG) or with your Band of Brothers (BOB) is so very, very important. It’s the time when the people of God come together, and there’s transforming power in a tribal gathering. I’d like to look at four things regarding what it means to be committed to presence – to giving God the opportunity to do all that he wants through us. I call this jumping in with both feet. This is a “commitment to be committed” to the tribe, rather than just dipping a toe in the water and not fully taking the plunge.

              First, Caleb’s Heart Ministries is a component of God’s family on earth, a tribal God-honoring community. In 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV), Paul said that God’s family “is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” In Colossians 3:15, we’re told, “For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.” God came into the world and lived and died and rose again to redeem us so that we might be a part of his family. His family here on earth is called the church, so the church is extremely important. Is Caleb’s Heart a church? Not in the traditional sense, of course. But look at Acts 2:42: They lived in community and harmony; they shared their time, talents and treasure; they studied God’s Word; they shared meals; they prayed; and routinely they came together in the organized church for corporate worship. If we’re not a church, we are at least a model life group!

              Second, if a “family” is healthy, the members will see one another often. There are a lot of factors that distinguish a healthy family from a dysfunctional one and getting together is a big one. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is when Jesus went into the Temple “as was his custom” (Luke 4:16 NIV). There was a great Methodist preacher named Sam Jones. He was as prominent and respected in the late nineteenth century as Billy Graham was in the 20th and 21st. Sam Jones once noticed a couple of farmers and a little dog walking to town one day. For a little while, the dog walked beside one of the farmers, then he walked alongside the other farmer. Someone nearby questioned, “To which farmer does the dog belong? He seems to be with both.” Sam Jones replied, “Well, there’s one way you can tell. When the two men get to the fork in the road, one of them will go to the right and the other will go left. Then you’ll know to which farmer the dog belongs because he can’t go both ways.” It’s about knowing to whom you belong, choosing your team, deciding whose colors you wear.

              Third, in community, we can help each other. The nature of life is such that sometimes I might be on a mountaintop and you might be in a valley. At times like those, I could reach down and help you. Later, our roles might reverse. I might be in the valley and you might be on the mountaintop, so you could reach down to help me. When one of us falls, the other can help pick the fallen one up. Now there is no institution in the world that is better positioned in its mission to help each other and to reach out and to support than Caleb’s Heart Ministries, especially when it operates with passionate, prayerful people who rely on God and each other for support in living.

              Finally, we need to meet to encourage each other. The word encourage literally means “to put courage into.” Regardless of who you are, there are times when each of us needs encouragement. I love to go to Fight Club on Thursdays and see people alternately hugging each other and then punching each other in the shoulder, “putting courage into” each other. A lot more is riding on your presence than you know.

              Every member of this tribe is valuable. I want to encourage you to jump in with both feet. Healthy families meet regularly, and we don’t let excuses keep us away. We affirm who God is, and we affirm that every person is important, working together to accomplish God’s will. As commitment primes the pump and prayer draws on all the strength and power that God offers, our presence puts us in a community where we have so much to give and so much to receive. Don’t be a MINO – a “member in name only.” And don’t underestimate the witness you make when you simply show up.



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