• Stefan Youngblood

Bench With a View

Hey Friends,

Last Sunday, three year old Bishop sat beside me on the stage during our first song of worship. All I had to do was ask, and he was there. I think kids probably make the best worship leaders anyway. Uninhibited, free, joyful, expressive. There’s a unique view from the stage. It’s an interesting vantage point. For instance, if you were there this past week, you know that from the stage, our beloved pastor Ned couldn’t read the words on the new back screen. (Sorry Ned) They were too small and he was too far away. Perhaps our same problem with God at times.

First, we see Him too small. And so we struggle to trust, not realizing how able He is. His reliability track record is quite good you know. Parting seas? Been there, done that. Water to wine? No problemo. Broken lives made whole? His specialty. Yet someone once said, “ God created us in His own image and we decided to return the favor.” Whatever you think He is, He’s more. (Check out our new song at http://www.estreetgathering.org under Media.)

Secondly, we see Him from too far away. He says come close. Think about it. If God said to you,”Come close. Sit right here.” Would you do it, or think of all the reasons you shouldn’t? The Bible says we are to “Draw near in full assurance of faith…” If you don’t hear anything else, please hear this. One of the greatest schemes of the enemy is to make us feel we are not welcome. God has rejected us. We are unworthy and don’t measure up. Closeness is not an option. The opposite is true. When you give your heart and life to God, He is your Father. Access granted. Distance gone. Talk about radical hospitality for strangers. He’s closer than your next breath. All of His joy, peace, power and strength at your disposal. If that’s not a reason to sing, I don’t know what is!!! (BTW, if you’re so close you think you know everything about Him, take a few steps back)

As I sit behind the piano, I see people lingering outside laughing, talking, and getting their fill of, “not Starbucks” coffee. Hospitality everywhere. You often hear the words on Sunday morning, “Come as you are.” This past Sunday I talked with a young couple who got up early and rushed to church, the husband saying to me, “I didn’t even have time to dry my hair.” I love it. Come as you are. Another friend of mine who had first visited on Easter, said she awoke and called her girlfriend at 9:20 am and said, ” Hey, get up. Let’s go to church.” And there they were. (BTW, not at all looking like they only had 20 minutes to get ready)

What is it about the Gathering anyway? Maybe it’s the fellowship. Maybe it’s the joy of being in a place where people admit that they are a mess. Maybe you come for the videos, or the message, or even the donuts (OK, that probably is a bad reason) but I urge you, come close, and see/experience the limitless, boundless, liberating, refreshing God of grace and mercy. It seems that each time we “gather,” we see the amazing. The hurting and hopeless see a reason to hope. The lonely see they’re not alone. And the lost and wandering see the way home is clear, with Jesus holding the door wide open. (BTW, that same God is there with you right now as you read this). Well, in the words of my friend Bishop, “Okay, I’m done now.”

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