Lessons Learned

In light of some of the recent opportunities for grace-filled ministry at EBC, I’ve begun to reflect on some of the things I’ve learned and/or been reminded of about our church. Here are just a few random thoughts.

1. We really do have some incredible leaders. I am intentionally excluding myself from this comment. But I do not know when I have been more humbled to work with a group of people. Leaders who are not afraid to ask tough questions, to lovingly and graciously disagree, and to simply seek the mind of God for the church’s direction. No church in America has any more mature lay leadership than EBC. None.

2. Our staff is awesome. I’ve watched these men and women deal with a lot of different things in the last year. It’s always been with grace and humility. I respected all of them when they were hired. But my estimation of their love for Christ and His Church has skyrocketed in recent days. If there’s anything worthy of criticism at EBC, blame me. But if there’s anything worthy of thanksgiving, say a prayer of gratitude for the staff. Lee, Sandy, Lynn, Tommy, Dusty, Michael, Wendy, Christi, Philip, Matt, Nita, Brandy, Rhon, Kay, Joey, Ronnie, John, and Justin…you guys are the best!

3. We want to be a Bible-centered, gospel-driven church.  Every church says that and many really mean it. EBC really means it. In the last few weeks I have watched strong men and women of God humbly submit themselves to the teachings of God’s Word. Their “flesh” wanted to respond in one way but their Bibles demanded a different response. They went with the Bible against their own opinions and emotions. That’s an increasingly rare thing, even in conservative circles.

4. We are a place of truth, repentance, and grace.  Without both grace and truth you don’t really have either one. The truth is, God is a God of grace. And grace is based on the truth that none of us deserves forgiveness. You can’t have one without the other. Repentance is the hinge upon which grace and truth pivot. When truth is declared and repentance is expressed, grace begins to flow. It really is a beautiful thing!

5. Grace can be messy.  I mean, it’s not easy. Legalism with all of its nice little boxes and check-lists is (in some ways) easier. Grace requires prayer, forgiveness, Bible study, wisdom, discernment, and personal holiness. I know the Savior’s crucifixion was not a tidy little affair. The daily crucifixion of my carnal flesh and the redistribution of His grace can be a bit messy, too.

6. God loves me.  In the midst of expressing and teaching the love of God to others I have been reminded of that simple and timeless truth myself. Not because of me or my actions but in spite of me and my actions. God loves me. And He loves you too.

7. I am one decision away from stupid.  That doesn’t soften sin or condone ungodly actions but it sure does temper and color my response. Galatians 6:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:12 would be great supplemental reading on this point. Moses, Jonah, Jacob, Lot, Peter, and others would all testify that loving God doesn’t immunize you from sin or stupidity. I have a personal interest in making sure that EBC is a hospital for repentant sinners…I will be a patient there sooner or later.

8.  Repentance changes everything.  It really does.  It changes the reaction from both God and man.  No blame-shifting, excuse-making, and acountability-dodging...just confession and repentance.  Maybe we could start a new trend...each of us beginning with ourselves.