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God is setting us up.

Did you happen to see the Reader’s Choice awards in Thursday’s Applause or today’s Columbia County News-Times?  The readers’ choice for the friendliest church in town is Mosaic.  Just so you will know … that’s not two Mosaic fanatics voting 100 times.  You can’t vote more than once and for the record, I didn’t vote at all because it’s sort of complicated and I couldn’t figure it out.  Our voters voted exactly the same way any other church-goer in town voted.  And I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we have this distinction.  I can’t think of anything I’d rather our church be known as.

If you’ve ever been part of a church before, you know friendliness doesn’t happen by accident.  It is a decision we make every time we open the door.  Kindness is a commitment.  It means loving people whether they deserve it or not.  It means going out of our way to make sure no one leaves unnoticed.  And it multiplies as we practice it.

Something that seems unrelated is sticking in my mind right now.  It happened on a recent Thursday evening at SafeHouse Outreach in Atlanta.  SafeHouse is a refuge for homeless people.  Every night, they host a worship service and a meal for about 200 folks on the street.

On this particular Thursday night, I was standing in the back of the room watching our kids lead worship at SafeHouse, when Adrian walked up to me and asked me to step outside.  Adrian is homeless.  He is also one of the most biblically literate people I know. He ran circles around me quoting the Bible.  He knew it by memory, and it wasn’t just the obvious verses everyone knows.

Just so I’d know that what he was saying was from God, he started with Zechariah 3, one of my all-time favorite passages and the one I’m pretty sure I’ve preached on more than any other passage of the Bible. It’s the passage I pull out when someone unexpectedly asks me to stand up and preach a little.  I know this passage pretty well.

I know most folks don’t hear a lot of sermons out of Zechariah so I don’t think it was a coincidence when this guy started prophesying over me using that passage.  He floated effortlessly from that passage to about ten others, prophesying over our church and calling me to take authority.  He said there are some things we are not able to accomplish because as a leader I haven’t taken the authority offered by God.  Wow.

At one point, he said, “You need to tell the people in your church to sit down, be still and listen when the Word is being preached.”  He said to tell you that it isn’t just about you … that whenever the Word is preached, God intends to touch a life and if you’re distracting that person, you may actually keep them from experiencing God.  That was profound to me, because just a couple of weeks ago I mentioned this very thing in worship.  It was the first time in eight years I’ve taken the time to talk with our congregation about being still during the preaching of the Word.  We’ve always had a sort of casual approach to things in our worship space, but I sensed that maybe we’d gotten too casual.  That maybe we were beginning to distract from God’s Word.

What are the chances I’d get on that subject within a week or so of a homeless guy telling me this was God’s word for our church?  Somehow these two things are connected in my spirit … this distinction of being of being known as a friendly place, and this word from a homeless guy about making sure our atmosphere makes room for the movement of the Holy Spirit.

You know what I think?  I think maybe God is setting us up for greatness.  I hope you are encouraged.  You should be.