Michael B Linton

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Elisabeth Elliot knows what I'm talkin' about.

*edited 012208*

Etta sent me a blog post by a friend of hers where she quotes from Elisabeth Elliot's daily devotionals. If you don't know who Elisabeth Elliot is you can get to know her at her website. The quote is from John Coleridge Patteson, an Anglican Bishop and 19th century missionary to Melanesia, and is as follows:
"My objection to mission reports has always been that the readers want to hear of progress, and the writers are thus tempted to write of it; and may they not, without knowing it, be, at times, hasty that they may seem to be progressing? People expect too much. Because missionary work looks like failure, it does not follow that it is. Our Savior's work looked like a failure. He made no mistakes either in what He taught or in the way of teaching it, and He succeeded, though not to the eyes of men."

This so describes how I feel about Summerlake. We are missionaries to Summerwood. Our church is not a split or splinter but a from-scratch start. Thus, we have much different expectations and time-frames than your run-of-the-mill church split. I won't belabor the point because I feel I expressed it well enough in my last post. I will say, however, that regardless of whether no one funds us (though a few are), no church sponsors us (as it appears none will), and no convention supports us (wow, the red tape), we will continue to labor. Our success is not defined by land, people, or buildings but by faithfulness - faithfulness to the call of God. By that measure, we are already successful.

Let me say again: this is God's church and God's timing. Dear reader, it may look like we are doing nothing. Often, I would agree. But we are being obedient. We are not giving up just because the road is tough or the temptation to quit fighting is strong. Noah didn't quit building because of ridicule, Abraham didn't give up because of age, Jacob didn't give up because of trickery, Joseph didn't give up because of treachery, Paul didn't give up because of shipwreck, John didn't give up because of exile, and we will not give up because of qualms, hesitation, uncertainty, doubt, and misgivings - on our part or the part of anyone else. Others may not believe in our call, and sometimes we may not either, but we believe in the God that called us. We move forward "not by might, not by power, but by [God's] Spirit."

There is your mission report of progress.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The best laid plans of mice and men...often get reordered by God.

My apologies for going so long between posts. My goal is now to post every Sunday, I just didn't acheive my goal this week.

Now to the plans man laid...

If you click here, you will read all about the incredibly well-planned timeline for Summerlake Church. Of particular note is the fact that in the timeline it states that Summerlake will hold its first service on January 13. That's this Sunday. It won't happen. If you click here, you will go to a page that says we will hold our first service in September 2008. I'm not holding my breath for that one either.

Here's the problem:

God called me to plant a church and told me where He wanted it. I then proceeded to take care of all the rest of the planning. Without His input. Not a bright idea. I had figured out that the state convention and local association would think it was brilliant and would provide a landslide of support. I had figured out that 5-6 churches would be chomping at the bit to help start a church in a fast-growing suburb with one of them giving us about 20-30 people to serve as our core group. I had figured out that 20-30 people would want to give generously to this new work of God. I had figured out that we would have the funds, and I would therefore have the time, to have an all-out blitz of Summerwood, mass mailing, and phone contacts and have 75 people clamouring to be a part of a new church. I had figured out that we would probably launch our first service with about 200-250 people. I had figured out...I had figured out...I had figured out.

What I had not figured out was what God had figured.

After waiting all summer for all the above things to happen, and they not happen, I was more than a little discouraged. Then God said to go eat supper. What?!? Through a series of events, it became clear to us that God wanted us to eat supper at Manuel's.

So we did.

And have been.

And still have not started a church.

This is not what I signed on for. I signed on to start a church and preach and minister and baptize and plan and envision and lead and go and give and...and...and...Not eat supper.

But we have ministered. Read Tales from Manuel's to see how we've ministered.

It's just not what I had planned.

But it's what we are supposed to do.

Most weeks, I still wonder, I still don't understand. I pray that God will bring something else about, that we will move forward. But here we are at Manuel's, waiting on God.

One of the most difficult things is to explain this to people. We tell them we are starting a church. They ask if we have a building. I say no, that we are eating at a restaurant. They say oh. And they look confused. I understand.

But I also understand that God is ordering this whole thing. We are determined to do the last thing God told us until He tells us to do something else. I have to remember that this is HIS church, not mine. It is HIS plan, not mine. It HIS timing, not mine.

Turns out, He figured it all out. And that's all I need to figure out.