micropolitan vs. cosmopolitan

I’m a city boy. I like big cities–the hustle and bustle, the active life, conveniences, professional sports, etc. So, imagine my surprise when God called us to Corbin, KY, in September 2009. It has been a bit of adjustment moving from the greater Atlanta metro area to rural, southeastern Kentucky.

One of the things that I have noticed here is that the effects of the curse of sin seem to be more obvious here. Don’t get me wrong, in the “squeaky clean” suburbs, the curse of sin is there big time! It’s just hidden underneath a veneer of perfectly manicured lawns, curb and gutter streets and pristine, up-scale strip malls. Underneath all of that lies the rotten and putrid wasteland that is sin–drug abuse, infidelity, addiction, domestic violence and the list goes on. You don’t really see it unless you happen to pick up the newspaper or serve on the grand jury, as I had the opportunity to do last summer. Boy, was that an eye opening experience!

But here in Corbin, it seems to be all laid bare before my eyes every day. I see the curse of sin all around me. We don’t have the perfectly manicured lawns and the up-scale strip malls to mask the ugly underbelly of our sinful surroundings. As I look around, I see people who seem to lack hope and purpose for their lives. I’m sure this same lack of hope and purpose exists in the suburbs, too, but it seems more obvious here.

I am reminded of Romans 8:20 and following, where Paul says, “the creation was subjected to frustration…” and “…has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth…” The effects of sin are all around us.

With the effects of sin so obvious to me, I have two thoughts. One, from 2 Timothy 4:8–I long for Christ’s appearing when this world will finally be released from the curse of sin. Two, from Matthew 9:37-38, there is much to be done.

I’ve taken several spiritual gift inventories over the years. At various times, one gift is higher than another as I believe God gifts us in differing ways to accomplish His purposes at various times. I think if I were to take an inventory right now, one of my highest gifts would probably be in the area of prophesy (no, not prophesy as in telling the future or some special revelation. Instead, I mean telling it the way it is according to God’s Word). As I look at Jesus, it was the pagans who loved Him and the religious people who hated Him. I think pastors and churches too often spend more time and resources appeasing religious people than loving pagans. Hence, Christians are more often known as unloving, judgmental, hypocritical and a whole laundry list of unpleasant adjectives.

My patience with religious people is quickly waning. If we could reach the world by showing up for Sunday School at 9:30am, worship at 10:45am, evening worship at 6:00pm on Sundays and prayer meeting at 6:30pm on Wednesdays, we would have already done so! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we’re going to reach our world for Christ, the salt has got to be out of the salt shaker!

The difference between the cosmopolitan areas I’ve lived and the micropolitan area I now live has caused me to develop a sense of urgency. I now see people groaning under the curse of sin not realizing that there is a better way to live–in the power and freedom that only Christ can bring. But God’s people–whether in suburbia or rural burgs–are too busy having church and thinking they are pleasing God.

What do you think? Post a comment.

how dark is the darkness

Yesterday, I fulfilled my obligation as a citizen of Fayette County, GA, and served as a member of the Grand Jury. First, let me explain what that is for those who might confuse it with a trial jury. The Grand Jury is made up of 23 individuals selected from 100 or so subpoenas. The Grand Jury serves a six month term (my term began in September and runs through February) and only hears the state’s evidence in felony cases. We do not hear from the defense attorney or witnesses for the defense. It is the job of the Grand Jury to ensure that the District Attorney’s office has gathered enough evidence to indict the defendant on the charges. Essentially, we answer the question, “Did this person probably commit the crime or not?”

I served two days back in September, hearing about 50 felony cases across two days. Yesterday, we reconvened and heard about 40 felony cases from 9:00am to 7:30pm with about a two hour lunch break. Needless to say, it was intense. We heard graphic details of some of the most horrendous crimes including many done to children.

As we embark on the journey of planing a church, it was a HUGE reminder of how dark the darkness is without Christ and of the total depravity of mankind. It was a HUGE reminder of the lostness that is all around us. Even in the seemingly safe environment of Fayette County, unspeakable acts are occurring. I was moved deeply by the experience and had a hard time even talking when I got home last night. I wanted to rush in the door, grab my wife and kids and hold them close. I was physically and emotionally spent last night.

Please pray with us as we seek to impact this darkness with the light of Christ. Especially this time of the year when we celebrate that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” we need to be the salt and light that points people to Jesus. Pray that we will be the instruments that God can use to bring His light to the darkness.