to reach the lost

When we told people we were moving to Boulder, everyone thought we were crazy – crazy to leave full-time jobs, comfort, family and friends.  We’ve floated in faith since we got here.  It’s been one challenge after another; each challenge reminding us that God is faithful and steadfast, even when we are faithless and shattered.

Perhaps we thought that it was enough to leave our comforts to plant a church in a very uncomfortable city, but today it doesn’t feel like it’s enough anymore.  I am wrestling with the idea of comfort, faith and sacrifice.  Have we really given everything?  A few months ago it seemed like the answer to that question was a resounding YES!  Today, it doesn’t.  To be honest, I don’t think we’ve really given up much.  We are far from comfortable and every month we have no idea how we are going to eat or pay our bills, but is that the essence of the Gospel?

We are learning to cling to God in the midst of darkness, but that’s (our) lesson –(our) journey.  That isn’t the Gospel.  We didn’t come here for (our)selves, we came here for the lost and broken.  It’s felt difficult focusing on others in the midst of our own battles and struggles, but ultimately we came here to lay our lives down, not to cling onto them.  I’ve been wrestling with God on this.  What does it look like to surrender more?  What does it mean for “us” to give everything for the Gospel?  Who are we not reaching?  Where are we not going?

I admit ­– I have let my fears keep me “inside” my house.  I have allowed myself to be shackled to the only comfort I know… my tidy home in my safe neighborhood.  When we felt called here, we started praying for the darkest hearts and the most broken lives.  I am convinced that we are called to have a church of societal misfits.  I do not believe that we are primarily called to reach the “healthy”.  Our heart has always belonged to those who are “unfixable” by society’s standards.

Knowing this I must wrestle with my own life.  Have I laid down my life for these treasured souls?  Have I given up everything to reach them?

… with all my heart … may a future blog tell the story of a life surrendered and a lost people found.

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idols, asherah and surrender

I’ve been reading through 1 and 2 Kings lately.  I love these two books in Scripture.  They are so convicting and challenging.  They are full of heroic endeavors, miraculous wonder, and prophetic warnings.  But what I love the most about them is the story they tell about a sinful people and their gracious God.

These two books tell of king after king, and how each authority leads its people to and away from God.  You have kings like Joram who did evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 8:27).  Then you have Jehu, who carefully constructed a plan to destroy the baal worshippers, but did not walk in the law of the LORD with all His heart (2 Kings 10).  {This appears to be the story of many of the kings.  They made strides to devote themselves to God, but they allowed certain sins to remain in their lives and in the land, which led the people away from God.}  And then you have a few precious kings, who act like my personal favorite – Hezekiah.  Of these kings it is written about them that they “did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3).  These men didn’t take any chances.  They were not only devoted to God, but they also took measures to keep that devotion in the land.  They destroyed anything that would turn the people away from worshipping God.

Every time I read about the kings of Israel and Judah, I am left to ponder my own heart.  I rule my own life and my own heart.  I am keeper of my land.  I am the protector of my home.  Where do I lie?  I desperately want to be like the kings who emulated David. These were not perfect men, but they were wholly devoted to God and the sanctity of His worship.

But I fear that I too often fall in the middle.

Sometimes I like to take inventory of my heart.  What’s sitting on a throne in this precious space?  Am I lover of money?  Do I covet others’ possessions?  Have I allowed entertainment to elevate itself?

Even good things can quickly become idols in our lives.  Ministry can quickly bump our devotion to God as we seek success rather than intimacy.  Family, although entirely good, can sometimes distract us from our First Love.  I don’t want to be someone who has mini idols set up in my heart.  I want to be fierce about destroying all that seeks to destroy my devotion to Christ.

I love the Hymn, “Come Thou Fount”.  The plea in this hymn is a constant prayer of mine…

prone to wander, Lord I feel it;

prone to leave the God I love. 

Let your grace, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee!

May I be a woman who takes my authority seriously by refusing to allow any Asherah or Idol to compete against the sacred worship to Jesus Christ alone!

not a hard Master

“How very kind of the Lord, not merely to send us the necessities of life, but even such things as, on account of the weakness of our bodies, or the want of appetite, we might have desired!… We have indeed not served a hard Master.”

George Muller penned that statement after he witnessed God’s amazing provisions in his life.

I have come to a very still place in my soul; I neither awake with extreme excitement nor do I wrestle with discouragement.  I am content.  Perfectly content in the season of life I am in.  Each day brings new joy to me – as a mother, wife, church planter, and child of God.

There are days when I question God’s involvement in my life, but those days have become more frequently submitted to the days when I anticipate God’s involvement in my life.  This has been the result of being brought to the revelation that we do not serve a hard Master.  It is not a sacrifice to serve a God of such insurmountable love and grace.  When He took on my sin at the cross, He did so to gain the Father’s reward.  He saw me as a Reward – something worth giving His life for.  And yet, all too often I do not see my own cross in the same way.  I do not count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds.  Maybe it’s because I esteem my comfort above my God.  But serving God is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice; this doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy, nor that it should be.  However, the way in which we carry our cross determines how we see God.  God is not a hard Master, and whatever I go through for the sake of Christ is not a sacrifice, but pure joy – Joy because of Whom I am living for!

disillusionment

The words spoken by God to Job keep reverberating in the deepest part of my soul…

where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?   who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band?      have you commanded the morning since your days began?        Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail?    can you lift up your voice to the clouds that an abundance of water may cover you?  Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are?’       who can pour out the bottles of heaven?      can you satisfy the appetite of the young lions?    who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food?   have you given the horse strength?   does the hawk fly by your wisdom?      does the eagle mount up at your command?   Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.

I’m silenced.  Somewhere along the way I lost sight of who God is and my own understandings of who I am.  Can I contend with the God who knit me together in a secret place?  How do I question He who knows the depths of my soul, better than I?  My own disillusionment is crushed by the weight of nothing less or more than the fact that God is God, and I am not.  And while the temptation lurks to question God as to why He’d bring me here to “die” – the only appropriate response to Him is utter silence brought upon by the humility that is caused when something small beholds that which is truly great.

 

a joyous labor

I remember going into labor with Arrabelle.  There were moments throughout the labor where I wanted to quit, but I knew that there was only one way to end the pain… to go through more.

There are no words to describe the first time I embraced her.  I didn’t know I would love her as much as I did.  I really didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed.  I looked into her eyes and saw mostly Ben, and a little of me.  I was awestruck.  God gives us the freedom to create life – to make something miraculous from practically nothing.

I often feel like we most reflect God when we are creating.  The first thing we see in God’s character in the Bible is His amazing ability and passion to create.

Yesterday was tough in all ways.  It was one of those days I wished I was never called to plant a church.  I desperately wished Ben was the CEO of a major company, instead of a lowly church planter.  There were moments when I grew overwhelmed with the task of planting a church.

Today I received fresh vision for what it is we have been asked to do.  I thought back to the day when I brought Arrabelle into the world.  I alone know the sacrifice it took to get her here.  No one else bore the pain, no one else carried the cross of nine months of nausea.  And no one else got to sigh the relief of holding her for the first time, knowing… every moment of discomfort and pain was more than worth it!

As Church Planters, God calls us to carry the pain and discomfort of scrutiny, insecurity, financial hardship, disappointment and fear.  And yet, I know that in the midst of the journey, we are reflecting our Father in the most miraculous way – we are creating something from nothing.  God placed a tiny seed in our hearts and from that, we get to create.  At the end of the laborious journey, we will be able to physically embrace the fulfillment of what is now just a dream.

We get to create.  I feel humbled and overwhelmed that God would call me to bring His dreams to fruition.  I am thankful that I get to be the one to see His desires brought to life through my tiny hands.  The labor will be worth it and in the end, we will get to embrace those who God has given us, and we alone will know the tears that were wept to bring them into our arms.

obedience

two days ago my friend posted… Our job isn’t to get results; our job is to obey God’s voice.  i am so convicted when i read this.  why is this so hard?  why do we constantly struggle to get results, when all we are really asked to do is obey God.  i confess that my focus is usually on the results and not on my obedience.

abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to him – but it was fulfilled. i’m always challenged by this.  jim elliot was a missionary who was martyred on arrival.  he never saw the fruit of his journey – an entire tribe in love with Jesus.  he’s just one story, there are many more.  i’ve read stories of missionaries who gave up everything for what became the salvation of ONE person.  i’d be lying if i didn’t tell you that i struggle with this.  i don’t want that to be my story.  but the reality is, at the end of the day, praying for an entire city is not nearly as meaningful to me as praying for our 80-year old neighbor whose days are numbered.

our obedience is most pertinent in the daily grind of life.

as i prepare for Bible study tonight, i get anxious about who will show up.  i grow concerned that no one will come.  i worry about the results, because i am not completely convinced that our simple obedience is enough.  i worry that others are looking for results and i wrestle with that.  what if others think we failed?  i fear being marked a failure.

in the midst of these worries, i must take a deep breath and remember – my job is to obey God’s voice.  what He does with that is off me.