Happy New Year and stuff.
I just realized it’s been over a month since my last post. The Holidays got to me a bit, so it’s probably better that I didn’t post anything as it would have sounded depressing and dumb. I was missing our house big time, but God was so good to us over the break. He provided so much goodness to my family and I in the form of friends and family reaching out, that I just have to smile.
Year in Review
I was reviewing my journal from 2013 this past week as I look forward to 2014. It was interesting to see on paper where God takes a family in a year. Last January I was crying out for direction: “Lord, I need your direction again. I read Luke again yesterday: ‘Sell everything and give to the poor.’ Should we sell our house?” [1/16/13]
Last Feb I was perplexed: “Lord, I believe you are for me and you are involved. At this point, this is a statement of faith. I know my faith is small and weak, but I just don’t see evidence of your working in our lives. My contracts keep getting cancelled and checks keep getting delayed. I don’t know what you’re doing and I’m a little scared.” [2/22/13]
March and April were spent in deeper confusion. Then missionary families began moving in, which helped develop even more uncertainty: “So apparently we’re supposed to stay in our home for a while? Jesus, give direction…we need You.”
In May and June, God broke our hearts for the lost and our eyes turned to our neighbors. We began more intentional outreach to them. This was marked by backyard church and neighborhood park services. My confusion turned to being perplexed and curious about what God might do: “God, I’m pondering your plan and wondering what You’re doing. You are:
- teaching me to rely on You
- stretching my personal boundaries
- teaching me Grace
- giving me friends of faith
- touching nerves with family
[6/18/13: around this time we had 2 missionary families in our home, equaling 6 kids, 1 teenager, and 7 adults]
In July and August, God began to open my heart up to the need for a house of worship, prayer and discipleship where people can meet with Him and get to know Him. “Luke 17:8 When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? Will I keep crying out day and night for justice? Will I give up because it didn’t happen right away? Jesus, find me dressed and ready. Find faith in me.”
It was also in August that our friends confirmed their basement as a place of refuge for us, and another friend gave me his keys to a duplex in North Minneapolis and our house went on the market. By the end of August into Sept, our house sold, unsold, then resold.
Sept we packed. October I started an evangelism class and we moved. November was crap. December was depressing. And here we are.
Our family spent the New Year with some friends at a large worship conference in Kansas City called OneThing. It was a great way to end and look ahead. A couple quick thoughts:
- Community is really really important. We would not be where we are today without the help and prayer of our dear friends. We won’t get to where God wants us without them either.
- Continuous prayer and worship is dangerous. 2013 didn’t just happen. It began in 2011 with the understanding that Jesus wants us making disciples and the American dream doesn’t. We began focused, regular prayer with friends back then and it continues today. Being in God’s presence changes me and “makes me feel like I can scale any wall. Ps 18” In His presence I have faith, and I want to tell everyone about Him. When I’m not in His Presence, life’s just… ‘eh.
- Jesus is real. His love is real. His joy is real. His return is real.
- It’s too easy to forget that. This is why I want a house of worship, prayer, and discipleship. I want a place where other’s can meet with Him regularly, often, and intimately. For as long as they need. With others. In community. With respect to regular church services, it’s difficult for new believers (or old ones) to cultivate intimacy with God in a meticulously carved out program of 90 minutes. I met God in worship. I learned how to worship with other worshippers. I learned how to pray by praying with others. Community is so important, but it can’t be just a community for the sake of community. Jesus’ heart is burning with passion for his Bride, and I want fellowship with others who want to share in His passion.
I’ll wrap it up now with a quick story and a couple pics of my progress on the duplex.
I had the honor of talking through the Gospel with a homeless guy named Larry at this OneThing conference. His life was full of anger and rejection. As I retold the love of Jesus, he decided to surrender his life to Him. As he finished praying, he looked up and said, “I can’t stop smiling! Everything is so clear!!!”
This is how it should be. As I reviewed 2013, most of my journal was dark: “God where are you! What are you doing? Where am I going?” I tend to be overly pessimistic, and a past of working in ‘ministry’ has only served to fuel my cynicism towards people in general. Most of my past discouragement is probably linked to a faulty view of my role. Without being able to articulate it fully or accurately, I believe I’m guilty of looking at the Larry’s of the world as the enemy. The are lost, and it’s my job to save them and make them better. Then when they mess up, it’s somehow my fault. Or God’s. Or both. He should have intervened, or I should have shared more or invested more, ect.
I’m not pretending to understand much, but all I know is that when I’m in God’s Presence, everything is clear, and I can’t help but smile. I don’t have to figure out tomorrow, or Larry’s problems or my own. I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine, and that is enough. I want others to know Him this way, not because they’re so bad; but because He’s so good.
God is awesome, and I want the world to know about it. I want a house of worship, prayer, and discipleship so people can meet Him and see for themselves just how awesome He is.