January 17, 2017
– Chad Fisher (Cape First Remix/House of Hope)
Six months ago, my family took our first step on road we felt God was calling us down. We left a church that we loved, in a town that had stolen our hearts, and moved away from family and friends. To many people, our move didn’t make sense. Leaving a lead pastor position that we had been somewhat successful in to join staff, seemed like a step backwards. However, we were remembering the principle that obedience was our job, while outcome was His.
Our obedience has landed us here, at Cape First Church, with the purpose of learning everything we can while we contribute to various ministries. As I’ve reflected on the last six months – I began to consider some things that I have learned. The list is already lengthy: how helpful having a staff is, budgeting at a larger scale, consistency in ministries, etc. Yet, the greatest lesson learned has been inward.
I find it humorous that the lesson revolves around chairs and offering. In about a week’s span – I participated in two things that I’ve participated in many times. I helped fix the chairs in the main sanctuary and at our House of Hope campus. To my demise, I’m a perfectionist. Therefore, setting chairs up can be a tedious task. It was in the thick of placing chairs that I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit: “Remember how good this is?”
The next lesson revolves around participating in a giving speech one Sunday. I used what I thought was a silly example, but would be easy to remember. I ate half of a Payday candy bar and offered it to other people. Unsurprisingly, everyone rejected my offer. I finished with the tagline: “Just like you don’t want the left-over part of my Payday, God doesn’t want the left-over part of yours, either.” Literally, for weeks afterwards, I had people tell me how much they enjoyed that giving talk. To the point I would think to myself, “It was JUST a simple offering talk!” After one elder man’s words – I felt the nudge again, “Remember how good this is?”
Twice those words hit my spirit. Both times circulating around seemingly insignificant tasks. As I thought and prayed, I feel like I received insight on what the Holy Spirit was teaching me. He was allowing me a revival. Literally, He was bringing back to life dead parts of my spirit.
I began to remember the first times I was asked to be involved in ministry. I recalled when Pastor Joe Lyons asked me to come “hang out” at the church office with him. Hanging out meant that I spent the day with a spray bottle full of Round-Up, spraying the cracks in our parking lot. Followed with straightening the chairs in the sanctuary. As a 19-year-old boy with ministry aspirations, there was no bitterness in my heart when I was trusted with such tasks.
With the nudge, I recollected of the first time I was asked by Pastor Paul Strong to take up the offering on a Sunday evening. I spent an entire week preparing for those three minutes. It’s a giving message that I still use today. The day Pastor Paul asked me if I wanted to take up the offering and walked me through the process, I called my mom ecstatic. It was an honor to be able to participate in such a task.
Somewhere through years, I had lost the joy. Forgotten the wonder. Left first love. That love that made insignificant duties have the upmost of significance. That love that caused me to ruin a new pair of blue jeans when I got Round-Up on them. That love that caused me to call my mom with pride because I was asked to talk before the offering. That love that doesn’t cause you to crave recognition, it creates a desire to do whatever you can to make Jesus proud. That’s why spraying cracks in the parking lot, setting chairs, and taking up the offering meant so much to me. I was deeply in love with Jesus and honored to give something back to Him.
It’s the same love the disciples have in Mark 1:35-36:
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him…”
Jesus sneaks away to pray, and the disciples track him down. Important to the story is this: it’s the elementary stages of their interaction with Jesus. We’re in the first chapter. They are just getting to know Jesus. Their new-found love for Him created a draw to be where He was. Jesus didn’t have to prod them or provoke them. There was no snide comment about them needing to get up and pray. He ventures off to pray in the wee hours of the morning and they can’t stand the thought of being away from Him.
It’s that feeling that everyone in this room has felt. The feeling when we first met Jesus. When someone could sing “Amazing Grace” out of key and in the wrong tune – but tears still streamed down our face. Because we had finally experienced the grace of which was being sung. The love that drove us to a King James Version of the Bible and read every “thee”, “thou”, and “thumb.” We didn’t comprehend it all – but we loved the author. The love that brought joy when we were first asked to stack chairs and participate in offerings.
Unfortunately, passion is not a natural consequence of longevity. We learn that, like us, the disciples didn’t keep the love they had in chapter one. Mark 14 tells the story of Jesus praying in the garden, just hours before his crucifixion. Three times He has to rebuke the disciples: “Are you sleeping? Can’t you watch and pray one hour with me?” Three times He found them asleep. Why? They got used to, who they used to be in love with.
In Mark 1, they barely knew Jesus. In Mark 14, they had spent three years with Him. They had allowed the relationship to grow dull. They had left that first love. In essence, they were like pastors who lost the joy of their salvation. When the Holy Spirit nudged me, “Remember how good it is?” – it was the grace of God reminding me of how good walking with Jesus is.
I’ve set up chairs a few times in the last six months. I’ve participated in the offering a time or two. But, there’s been a new joy to it. I’ve felt like that giddy teenager filled with a real sense of pride. Proud to do something, anything for Jesus.
I could dive further into this, but I know how much Pastor Blake gets upset if we surpass two pages in our devotion. So, in closing, I’ll remind you of what I’ve re-learned my first six months on staff with you. Remember how good it is. In the hustle and bustle, in the tasks that seem insignificant, on the days you’re tired and a bit whiny – remember how good it is to serve Jesus.
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…” Psalm 51:12 KJV