“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
When the name of your church is First Baptist Church of El Paso it is inevitable that you have a tendency to look back to the past. As a First Baptist Church we feel the obligation to honor our founders and to stand on the mantle of being the “first Baptists” to settle on the Wild West streets of El Paso back in 1882.
You cannot claim tomorrow looking back over your shoulder. One must learn to have the same tenacity of our founders as they risked it all to establish a church in “Sin City.” Our church found its life in the hearts of those who dreamed of tomorrow, and we would be wise to follow their example.
The prophet Isaiah challenged the people of God to “forget the former things—do not dwell on the past.” He knew all too well the last words of dying organization are “we have never done it that way before!”
Don’t get me wrong I know the lessons of history are expensive and even more expensive if you don’t learn from the past. I believe the driver’s seat of a car can be a telling parable about how to embrace the future and to deal with the past. When you sit in the driver’s seat in front of you is the wide view of the windshield and just to your right nestled just above your sight line is the small rear view mirror. The windshield opens before you the “big picture” of where you are going, and the “rear view mirror” reminds you to occasionally to check out where you have been.
The LORD declared to His people. “See, I am doing a new thing!” We worship and serve a creative, innovative God. True He is the same yesterday, today and forever, but one of the things that is always true about Him is His creativity—if you doubt it just take a long look around you the next time you are in church!
Embracing tomorrow begins by discovering what God is up to today. What new thing is He doing within us and around us.
The LORD challenges His people to open their eyes by saying: “Now it springs up—do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
In other words, “I am bringing life to the most unexpected places. It is bubbling up all around you if you will only open your eyes and see my fingerprints!”
So what is God up to in El Paso? In the valley we call home over 2 million people live. 665,568 people call El Paso home. 48% of the residents of El Paso are under the age of 30 years old. In other words we live in a very young city. 43% of the adults in El Paso are single, and 25% of our friends and neighbors were born outside of the United States. In addition, 80% of our population claims a Latino family heritage.
So assuming God is shaping us to embrace the El Paso of tomorrow and we are serious about reaching 1% of the population then our church will get increasing younger. We will intentionally reach more singles, and the face our church will become more ethnically diverse just like heaven. Can you see it? God can and does!