"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God...
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives'...that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it...
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
it's been quite a couple days. last night was truly such a cool experience. this past month at ichthus we have been praying and forming communities around different missions, and yesterday was the launching of them. there were so many cool groups and good things that will be happening through them. people were excited and had a hard time picking just one--i also wished that i could be part of the other ones as well.
afterwards we went out to tuttle and had a bonfire--something that came about because of images God gave us in prayer. people wrote sins and barriers and entanglements on pieces of wood and tossed them into the fire. people confessed. people received prayer. we sang. we worshipped. it was more than just an emotional experience. people found freedom, healing, and release. oh, and rocks exploded in the fire--luckily no one lost an eye.
something feels new today. last night i released some things to be consumed by the fire, by God. i think one of the biggest things i released was control. my life is not my own, and i so often forget that. it's not my own not because it was taken from me, but because i have given it over with joy and gladness to him who can truly keep it.
in the last two years i have been learning how i seek to control people and situations much more than i had realized. as i've been finding myself growing in that at least some, i've given other people more freedom--but i haven't been giving that to God. i will follow him when he directs me, but that doesn't mean i will necessarily like it. because in a way, complaining is a very subtle undermining of control. it is saying, "you can have control, but if you mess up (in my eyes) i'm not going to like it and i will doubt your control." it is a way of holding onto myself as my own. i still hold the control over judgment. and i feel like that's the thing to work on now.
i also tried to burn up despair, and that might be something of a hope. but it's connected to the other--and there is no need to despair even in grief, because there is that trust of giving up control over what i see is going to lead to good and what isn't.
there's something else new today as well--fear. one of the biggest surprises for me in this whole journey of ichthus lifegroups is that i'm going to be leading one now. God just told me yesterday, in the morning--so i had a good 8 hours to know before i announced it. i have been and am really excited about it. the group will be about going to the tough places in and around manhattan--the places where there is good soil because people have a lot of fertilizer in their lives. that's the name of the group actually--fertilizer. courtesy of neil cole in organic church. it's those sorts of stories that i want to be a part of and experience.
it's going to give the gospel--not in a shove it down your throat way but also not in a passive here is a tract i'm leaving now way either. it is asking people if we can pray for them, and when they say asking who in their neighborhood they think would need prayer. it is getting doors slammed in your face 30 times but having it opened once. no suits with nametags or presentations, but prayer for the broken and the needy. we will go to trailer parks, low-income housing, campus(?), bars(?), parks--wherever God leads us to go.
we might seem a little crazy. a little fear there. but we won't be offensive any more than the gospel can be. we might get shotguns pointed in our face. a little fear there too. no i have no idea what might happen. but i have no idea what might happen! i get excited when i think about it. but i also am fearful when i realize i have no idea how to do this or lead a group like this--i do not have the gift of evangelism. but there will be some cool people with me pushing each other along. and at the very least i'll have some crazy stories to tell people and write on here.
it's a cool time, and tomorrow i leave for oklahoma for 5 days for a retreat that should be really refreshing--which sounds so good right now. i'm sure i'll have lots of thoughts and such from that which probably means more long posts. i'll pause for your collective sighs.
it's time for something new, a new season. not everything is changing and i still have lots of hopes from things in my life in the past. but right now this is what God has set before me, and i will not complain. no, i will rejoice and be thankful. and i'll probably be a little terrified too.
ps i hate my new blog colors. changes soon.