* Watch it Live at the 331 Club

[ Statement 3 – We are all the staff of the Salvage Yard.[i],[ii]  Our church does not reflect one person or a specific group of people but we are all various members of one body, of which Christ is the head. ]

Did you see the darkness tremble
When we stood hand in hand?[iii]
Your hand was in my hand[iv]
Did you see that when we lifted Jesus up,
We really lifted each other up?[v]
Nothing can tear us down [vi]

“Do you remember talk of the golden years?[vii] 
Well, darling dear[viii], those years are yet to come.
So put your hand back into mine[ix] cause onward, we’re pressing on!”

This might just seem like all we’ve got.[x]
Yeah, that’s right[xi]
But tonight[xii], we’ve got far more than enough.[xiii]

I can see people singing songs to glorify
And people using words to edify[xiv]
I can see we’ve got a long road to endure[xv]
So Let’s fix our eyes
On the One who for the joy set before him…[xvi]

[i] I feel like this song needs some context.  It’s the oldest “planet song”, written before there was even an idea of having planet songs.  All of these songs relate to stuff we’ve learned or experienced at the Salvage Yard Church, but every nugget we’ve learned together in this small, localized group applies to all Jesus followers everywhere – Christ’s full body, the fullness of him who fills all in all!  While they are localized experiences, they are intended to act as springboards to encourage anyone who listens to them – both people at the Salvage Yard and elsewhere… and while Earth can certainly encourage anyone (hopefully!), this song was specifically written about/for the folks at the SYC when we were going through a tight spot.  After writing some notes on this song, I’m sorry that they may seem really “insider”.  I don’t mean to exclude.  I’m actually finding it really difficult to find the line between being personal (and detailed enough to convey the gravity of this story) and just giving too many boring/disconnected details.  Have grace and take what you can from it, I guess!

[ii] “As the staff of the Salvage Yard, go and meet the needs of people in the name of Jesus.” That’s what our pastor said to us all at the end of each church service for years. He built up this idea in us that we all carried the weight and responsibility of being the church [and by extension, we all carry the responsibility of being the Church together, as we grow and mature… don’t get weird. It’s not anarchy and complete lack of structure, but are all the body of Christ together], and that we were all commissioned by the church to be involved in lives of ministry at work, at school, at home, in formal ministry… in life.” – Taken from As the Staff of the Salvage Yard, a tiny book I wrote a while back about our church leadership and staffing experiment, which is still in progress.

[iii] Every year, the people who are a part of the Salvage Yard stand up, circle up, hold hands, and commit the next year of life to God and to each other.  It’s a powerful and liberating thing to commit to a Christ-led community together.  So, way back when we did this one year, Matt played that Hillsong song that says “Did you feel the mountains tremble when we…”  As we gathered together in a circle to hold hands and recommit to God and to each other I was hit with the idea that we were actively taking a stand against Satan and the power of darkness.  The Church (Big C – all of us, buddy!) is God’s way of establishing his kingdom here on earth and it is through the Church’s corporate unity that his name is made known.   “The manifold wisdom of God might now be known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10).  What we were doing was very real, not just physically or relationally, but real in a spiritual way that is deeper than the ‘reality’ we see around us (see Mercury).

[iv] At that same moment (note above), as I grabbed the hand of the person standing next to me, I was blown away by the fact that we – myself and this other person in particular – were committing to “do life” together.  Outside of the body of Christ, there’s probably little chance our paths would have ever crossed.  Being unified through Jesus has a way of overcoming things that may separate us otherwise.

[v] There’s this illustration: Our paths lie on a triangle, with you, me, and God at the vertices, God being “on top”.  You and I can get closer to each other by moving along the base of the triangle but doing so doesn’t change anything about our vertical position and leaves us even further away from God (along our paths, not across the shape).  BUT, if we both move up the sides of the triangle closer to God, then the result is that we ALSO get closer to each other.  It might not even feel like it at first, because our path distance is further away to begin with, but eventually we can get just as close, but even better is that we are also closer to God.  Now, it’s just an illustration – don’t try to write a geometrical proof from it.  But we have a choice (as a group of people) to center on each other or to focus on Jesus.  It turns out, that when we set out sights on Jesus, we become like him (see Uranus) AND we end up lifting each other up too. Sweet.

[vi] This totally has the potential to be a hot-air, idealistic statement… Or we can take truth as truth when we hear “I have overcome the world,” “If God is for us, who can be against us,” “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength,” and “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”  I’m not being boastful or arrogant, as if our own ability or insight has anything to do with it.  I’m just smiling a little and getting those warm-fuzzy feelings and thinking, “Yay God! You are awesome! You steady me and set my feet on solid ground and you’re in me and I’m in you and nothing care tear us down!”

[vii] A little history: we had a super vibrant outwardly visible spell where “really cool” stuff was happening “all the time”.  Then we had a lot of tough stuff happen – a couple unexpected deaths, some major leadership changes, friends moving away for good things, other friends just dropping off, divorces, burn out, life changes… stuff just kind of imploded.  It would be easy to look back and call the time before the chaos the “golden years” – in fact, some people did.  But if we believe that we’re always being transformed from glory to glory, each day becoming a little bit more like Christ, seeing his kingdom come bit by bit, then surely those times gone by had some gold in them, but they weren’t the golden years.  And, like I talked about in The Sun, it gets no better than this right now, experiencing life with God, straight through the ups and downs and ins and outs and goods and bads.  Our focus is not back, but forwards – “Onward! We’re pressing ON!”

[viii] First off, this is Jesus talking to us, darling dear.  The Church is the precious bride of Christ, and that includes our little Salvage Yard Church and if you’re part of a group of Christ followers somewhere else, it includes you too!

[ix] Jesus still talking to his bride again here… you and me and all of us.

[x] This… When we look around the room at a handful of people and think, “How are we going to make it?” or “How can so few make a difference?” or “We don’t have enough to give.”  (These lies to be responded to in subsequent points)

[xi] Acknowledge the facts (like “there are few of us”) but then move on to the truth.

[xii] Tonight – not yesterday and not tomorrow, but focusing on the present.

[xiii] There are two different takes on this.

  1. I still clearly remember an elder meeting years ago when Jon reminded us that it’s God who builds his church, and he’s not going to leave us short handed.  We recognize that everyone who comes brings something of value to who we are collectively. We are all using our gifts and talents and personalities to do church together, and if someone new becomes a part of the church, they get to do it, too, and it reflects their being a part of it.  So, yeah, there might be few of us, but we can trust God and follow his leading to show us how he’s already met the needs we might be discovering.
  2. To quote Dan the Man Mohler – “Don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I don’t have enough.’  Yeah, we have enough.  Who’s born again?  Who’s got Holy Spirit?  [Anyone following Jesus, woot!]  So the kingdom’s in us.  We’re not looking here or there, it’s right on the inside.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, right?  So, you’re the go to people.  You’re the team of God.  Your the best he’s got and he’s okay with that!”

Curry Blake has an excellent illustration you can watch from 42:23 – 47:47.  Here’s part of it, starting with him quoting Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of Him that raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you… Stop.  I wasn’t even at that healing service, but the Spirit that is in me, he was there.  I started realizing… we’re not doing the healing.  Jesus said he didn’t even do the miracles.  But the Spirit of his father in him, he did the miracles.  Wigglesworth never healed anybody.  John Lake never healed anybody.  If anybody ever got healed, it was the spirit of God that did it. We may be carriers of that spirit, but there’s never been a human that healed anybody. It’s always the Spirit of God.  So, you can think, ‘You know, I’ve never been in this situation before. I don’t know what to do!’ That’s okay. Because you’re not doing it anyways. The one that’s actually going to do it, the one in you, he’s done it. As a matter of fact, if it’s ever been done, he did it.  He wasn’t there every now and then, if it’s ever been done, he was the one that was there. He’s been there every time.  Every dead raising – The spirit in you was there.  Every deaf ear that was open – the spirit that’s in you was the one who did it. He was there. Every blind eye opened – the spirit in you did it. We don’t have different spirits.  There is one Holy Spirit.”  All that to say, we’ve got FAR MORE than enough – we’ve got the very Spirit of the Creator God!  Woo!

[xiv] Personally, this was the first time I ever had an inkling of the prophetic.  As I wrestled before God with the situation our church was in (the tight spot mentioned in note 1), I really felt a sense of peace and the need to persevere and give it time; that we would indeed be a people that came through our crises to glorify God and worship in spite of all we had been through.  We would once again use our words to lift each other up and to edify God, not just to verbally process and to scramble to create some semblance of having it together so that we could continue on.  When I write about it now, it sounds a little embarrassingly immature, but then again, it was.  All the more praise to God that we came through it at all!  More about working while in process in Mars.

[xv] Even though it is (was) a long road – and maybe we’re still walking it – it is worth it!  I mean, the only other option was just to quit and everybody’s mama told ‘em that quitters never win.

[xvi] One: This is Hebrews 12:1 and 2ish: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The only way we’re getting through any of this is to fix, like, really fix our eyes on Jesus.  Keep ‘em there.  Don’t move.

Two: Why’d Jesus endure his brutal crucifixion and God turning his face away from him?  He did it for the joy that was set before him.  What was the joy?  It was you, friend!  It was me!  It was getting his lost kids back into right relationship with himself.  If we can really get a hold of that it totally changes the perspective on whatever crisis is at hand.