"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near ... you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands ... this will be for the Lord's renown" [Isaiah 55:6,12-13]
As you read through the latter chapters of the book of Isaiah in the Scriptures, you see the prophet paint a vivid picture of life, joy, peace and security returning to the city of Jerusalem and to God's people. It demonstrates God's glorious love and compassion as well as his desire to be with his people. Our God does not change, and I believe his heart's desire for his people here in Austin is just the same, though ultimately we look forward to the city that is to come (Heb 13:14).
My family and I have lived on Floral Park in Great Hills since the end of 2001. Originally from the UK, we felt called to the United States and ultimately Austin, TX to help in the work of many to see lives touched and changed by the power of the good news of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. For some time we have longed to see our community in Great Hills reverberate with the sounds of singing of which Isaiah speaks.
This is all for the glory of God which we believe will come through a united, humble and prayerful Church. Not any particular church or denomination as we recognize them but by the one Church that Jesus recognizes, for there is truly only one Church, represented by many gatherings.
God's ultimate purpose is to build a 'house' where he can dwell, take up residence. That started after the Exodus with a box (the ark) then a tent (the tabernacle), then a temple (in Jerusalem) then a person (Jesus Christ) but ultimately in a Body (the Church). I believe God wants to make his home, his resting place in part, in the Body of Christ here in Great Hills, Austin. That means the believers, those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is through this Body of believers that Jesus wants to show forth his glory, beauty and splendor.
For that to become a reality here, in a way that transforms our community through the power of God's love, we need to be a people of one heart and mind. A people who recognize and give expression to our oneness, our unity in Jesus and who demonstrate our total dependence upon him through prayer, especially coming together in prayer, so that the Lord can manifest himself through the Spirit who is within us.
I believe that the Lord wants this to be a model for his Body throughout the city, people of differing backgrounds (racial, social, denominational, etc) coming together as the one true Body of Christ. There is a growing movement of unity in our city, highlighted by an annual Pastors Prayer Retreat and the Day of Prayer on Pentecost. But I believe the Lord wants to 'earth' this into our communities through the shared lives of ordinary believers like you and me. I heard just recently of how Richard Wurmbrandt, leader of the Underground Church in Romania when the communists banned Christianity after World War II, said that the persecution faced by the Church caused them to overcome and forget about their denominational differences, and simply to be the Church together. Sometimes it takes persecution for us to see what is of true worth to the Lord.
This is not an attempt to draw people away from their respective churches, but to enable us, despite our differences, to give expression to our unity in Christ, for the building of his Kingdom. Part of that expression could be the establishment of 'Lighthouses of Prayer' (part of the bigger House of Prayer) throughout our neighborhoods. It would be exciting to see the saints gathering for fellowship and celebration occasionally at one 'highpoint' - Great Hills Park. What would be equally exciting would be to see how the Lord might lead us to serve our community and the needs of people within it through loving, selfless acts of kindness and generosity.
- Do you believe in one holy, universal and apostolic Church?
- Do you want to help give expression to Jesus' prayer that we be one as he and the Father are one?
- Do you want to help overcome the current divisions in the Body of Christ?
- Do you want to see the Kingdom come in Great Hills and the city of Austin through connecting with other followers of Jesus Christ?
Mike & Carol Watson
10636 Floral Park Drive
PS Please pass on the link to any other believers you may know in Great Hills - thank you.
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)