Mortality

Death. Something we all face, but not something we often ponder or dwell on, most likely. Especially not our own death. However, I’m in deep thought about it lately. See, I stared death in the face one year ago this week, and didn’t even know it. I mean, I knew I had excruciating pain, knew I was taken to the ER in the middle of the night, even knew I was having emergency surgery, but was too medicated for pain to care why or ask any questions. It wasn’t until this summer, when I chose a new general practice doctor and he reviewed my records that I even knew my official diagnosis, “cecal bascule”. Came home and googled it and found out it has a 50-85% mortality rate! Sobering reality! I sobbed and praised God for another chance! It is no accident that I am still here and I want to use every day well, glorifying God with my every action and word!
I took the kids to a free concert last weekend, a Christian group called For King and Country. We have several of their songs memorized and enjoy the sound and message. One of them spoke about why they wrote our favorite off their first album…he had a near fatal gastric issue (possibly cecal bascule?!? I don’t know) and realized he was given a second chance at life while young. This prompted him to write this song during his recovery and it is my current life anthem, in Lowry and beyond! I pray my life is proof of Gods love, to my family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers and those more difficult to love! I pray your life is proof, too…let’s don’t waste a single day, as it can be our last!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b-2dKOfbC9c


Prayer

A few years back, I read Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels.  If you are anything like me, then you get too busy for just about anything.  I constantly need to fight against the busyness of life.  I can over commit in a heartbeat and before I know it, my schedule is running me.  I have been in that exact place this month.  But I have found that when stress is high and I have too much to do and not enough hours to do it in, I need to pray more than I do at slower times.

In the midst of a full life, I found myself calling out in the words of the Psalmist, “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace” (Psalm 86:6)   I need to rest in the Lord and find my strength not in my actions, activities, or self but in the One who created and sustains me.  Once I noticed my need to take time daily to spend time in prayer and ask God for His power, movement and plan, I have seen the overwhelming subside and God providing what I needed to make it through the long days.  In the midst of my crazy life, I can rest in the Lord.  Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”


Prayer Walking

The neighborhood of Lowry is four square miles and contains around 4,000 housing units.  There are 73 streets not including alleyways.  As a practice, I have divided the neighborhood into 4 major sections and I spend time once a week prayer walking one of the sections of Lowry.  It takes me about 2 hours to cover every street and pray over each house, condo, and apartment community and park that I come across.  It is my prayer that God will work in the lives of those who live, work or play on the streets where I walk and pray.

Lately, Amanda and I have taken on a new form of prayer walking.  We are prayer walking through open houses in our neighborhood.  One day we would love to own a home here and put down roots but, until then, we are asking God to move in the current homeowner’s life and the lives of the next people to call this house, “home”.  We pray for more believers to move into the neighborhood, that God would use us to communicate love and truth to them, and that if they are not Christ-followers that God would use us to bring them into the family of God.

I want to encourage you to pray for your neighbors, pray that God would use you to communicate the Gospel to them, pray that God would bless them and move in their lives.  Plan a time each week to prayer walk through your neighborhood, take time to prayer walk open houses, or spend your exercise time praying as you run or walk.  Be creative and constant in asking God to move in miraculous ways in the lives of those around you.


Mission Serve

This past week, I had the opportunity to serve as the speaker at Mission Serve’s Denver, CO project.  The theme of the week was Viral: the Good News of Jesus Christ can go viral when His people are the church and are making disciples.  The week consisted of the students working on various work projects from striping a parking lot and preforming general maintenance for a non-profit resource center in the area, to working on a rental house for a church plant so the space can be used for meetings, to helping Habitat For Humanity build a house, and working for a catholic school who is without a custodial staff.

Mission Serve drew groups from Colorado, California, Missouri, and Arizona.  The students worked hard to accomplish tasks that the different groups could not do on their own.  We are grateful for their energy and effort during the week.  I had the privilege to work with some amazing people this week.   I always walk away from a week like this tired physically but encouraged.  As I re-enter, real life I am reminded that I too must make disciples and I pray that God uses me to impact the lives of many in the neighborhood of Lowry and beyond.

 

If you would like to know more information about Mission Serve click here.


Freedom Fences

Earlier this week, our 7 year old daughter asked me, “Mom, why do people put dogs in fences if they really love to be free and just dig out anyway?” What great discussion followed! For years now, Eric and I have discussed authoring a book on this very topic and relating it to spiritual growth and struggles in the Christian life. You see, the simplest answer is that the fence gives the dog a boundary of protection, but within the boundary, the dog is truly free! Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”. Oh, if I and all of us would learn to love the boundaries/parameters God has given us and live completely freely inside them, rather than living as slaves to the law. Oh, that our parenting/discipling would reflect that! Moreso, may we stop crossing the boundary and questioning why negative consequences befall us. Christian friends, let’s live like the truly free folks we are, within our “freedom fences” and let’s praise God for true freedom today!


Urban Garden (Update)

IMG_7316A couple of months ago, we started an urban garden. I want to update you on the progress and some of the spiritual lessons I have learned in the process.  We have planted basil, cilantro, spinach, parsley, thyme, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, garlic, bell peppers, and okra (can you tell we are from the south?). Our back deck is packed and our garden has spilled out on to the front balcony and the front porch.

IMG_7315We have learned a few things in the meantime.       1) Hail, diseases and bugs are detrimental to plants.  2) Not all seeds take or survive.  3) Gardens take time, work and the right mix of sun, water and fertilizer.  As I think about these lessons, I view these things through spiritual lenses.

Here is how I see these lessons applied to my life and church planting.  1) The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  But so many times we forget the rest of that verse (John 10:10).  Jesus has come to give us life and life to the full.  We have an enemy but we have a Savior who is greater and gives life.  We must turn to life, not death, and be willing to live to the full of all that Jesus seeks to provide.

image2) Jesus speaks of a seed and the sower (Matthew 13:1-23).  There are four types of soil discussed in this parable and though some seed falls on every type of soil, only one produces a harvest.  We are to be spreading the seed of the gospel and allowing God to move and bring about the harvest.

3) Cultivation of relationships, gospel conversations, and making disciples take the right mix of time, prayer, communication, and God’s move in the lives of others.  We are in the midst of this working and waiting process.  The fields are being worked and we are seeking to provide all that needs to be given for growth and we know that God must bring the increase and the harvest.image_1

I pray that as our urban garden grows and produces, so will our ministry.  Pray with us to that end.


It’s time!

It’s time! Time for what, you say? Time for God to build His Kingdom here in Lowry! You may hear me squealing, no matter how far away you live! After having a mission team on the ground with us in Denver for a week, we’ve met enough folks interested in being part of Journeymen Church and gathering for Bible study and worship and service, that it is time! Praise God that very soon, we will begin hosting a weekly shared meal and Bible study, prayer and worship time in our home. We now know a few Christians in Lowry and we know God placed us all here for His glory and to help build His Kingdom! We will likely be hosting 2 different weekly gatherings with different groups, but more on that soon!
I’m studying Galatians in my quiet time and it is rich! I’m having to digest it very slowly and really pray for it to sink deep into my heart and spirit. So far, God is continually leading me into relationship with people much different than myself. He is stretching me way out of my comfort zone and my norm. He is breaking down walls and changing my perceptions to be more like His! Oh, that our family and the people of Lowry would get past the differences, look to Christ and be lovers of all people, knowing we all need grace and mercy daily! May our home and Journeymen Church reflect Christ and believe that we are all one in Christ Jesus! Pray, folks! Please pray! The attacks of the enemy are numerous as God begins to move in this neighborhood. Pray we will run with endurance and not grow weary and that the harvest will be plentiful! Get excited with us, because it is time!!


What is Missional?

Missional is one of the hottest terms in the church. And if you were to ask ten people you would get eleven or twelve definitions. So below is my attempt at explaining how we are Missional and how we intend for our church to be Missional.

Missional is not a program. Missional is a lifestyle. We will have missions as part of our church but we are to live on the mission of God daily. This mission includes loving our neighbors, serving others, and discipling our children. All of those things require daily considering others better than ourselves, laying our lives down and being a servant just like Jesus.

In our increasingly secular world we need to live more like the first century church than the nineteenth century church. The first century church lived in community with other believers, lived in the margins of society, and served God through their lives.

Missional is not something that can be learned from a weekend seminar; it is something that must be lived out and caught rather than taught. We are building the foundation for our church by practicing these same principles. We will infuse the Missional lifestyle into our Missional Communities through serving the community in a way the group is gifted and by serving other members of the group.

One of the other tenets of Missional is seeing all Christ followers as the priesthood of believers. Too many times we rely solely on the paid professional holy men to minister, serve and provide discipleship. But the Bible is clear that all believers are Saints, Ambassadors, Servants, and Disciple Makers. Part of being Missional is seeing ways we can minister to others, lead them toward Jesus and live completely for Christ.

The journey toward Missional living has consumed much of my thoughts and struggles over the last four to five years. I am excited to have an idea of how to live, love and lead. And I am excited to see how God will use this type of life to build His kingdom and His church.


Receiving End

For the first time in forever (to steal a line from a popular movie), we will be on the receiving end of a mission team.  I have gone as part of a team to Nicaragua and Romania, and lead teams to Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and inside of Alabama but I have never been in this role.

I have a deep passion for missions born out of my experience as a teenager and college student.  I am grateful for the leaders who provided opportunities to see the big “C” church and to challenge us to serve and minister in all types of environments.  God has used those people to shape me into what He is using now.

I cannot wait to see what God does here as the mission team hits the ground, interacts with the people of Lowry and shares God’s love.  I am praying that God would move in great ways.  I am excited to be on the receiving end of a mission team and pray that it is not long until I take a team to serve His Church.


Honored and Humbled

Before we moved to Lowry, like WAY before we moved to Lowry, I battled fear that I wouldn’t make friends, wouldn’t be liked, would be shunned because I came to share the Gospel and be a Biblical “neighbor”! I prepared for war and began to pray when I felt these fears, began to use scripture as my sword in this battle. I am truly humbled by what God has already done in answer to my desperate pleas for friendship and opportunities to show His love to my neighbors! I’m so honored that His love in me is drawing people into friendship with me, rather than pushing them away! Jesus is a friend to sinners, a friend to the friendless, a friend who loves at all times! I’ve prayed that He will help me be that kind of friend and will give me love for each neighbor, no matter who they are or what they’ve done! I’m pretty speechless that after 5 short months here, several neighbors trust me to watch their children, have invited me into their homes, call or text me just to chat, and make comments like “You’re the only neighbor who has ever invited me over,” or “You’re the only one we trust with our baby”. The best part is…it’s not me they’re noticing…it’s Christ in me! Without Him and His love, I’m nothing!
Love the song “Let My Life be the Proof” by For King and Country, especially the part where one quotes 1 Corinthians 13:1-3,
“If I can speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
But don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rust gate
If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all of His mysteries
And making everything as plain as day
And if I have faith to say to a mountain jump and it jumps
But I don’t love, I’m nothing
If I give all I earn to the poor
Or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr
But I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere
So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do
I’m bankrupt without love”! No matter how many times I’ve heard it, it always prompts me to action and reminds me why I’m here in Lowry! Thanks be to God for answering my prayers and for equipping me for His work!