(200th post! happy time. happy reading.)
there really is so much from this past week, and in a lot of ways it is still sinking in. i think i have a lot to process and allow myself to engage with. which is perhaps why i'm no longer going to colorado this weekend. God kept pressing it on me tonight that i'm not supposed to go, though i really want to and think it would be a lot of fun. but i can't shake it so it must be what God wants and here i stay. the empty house will give me lots of time, hopefully good.
i had some strange dreams this morning. two on the same subject. i haven't been remembering my dreams of late, ...ok i'm rambling. what was this post about anyway?
this last week was the bridgeway leadership pilgrimage. i was a pilgrim for a bit--we ate turkey and made those funny shoes. ok not really but it was definitely something of a journey for me. i think as a whole the week held some of the most extreme downs and ups that i've ever experienced. a lot of it was personal, a lot of it was about the church and what God is doing and how i'm a part of it. a lot of the technical stuff was pretty familiar so i won't go into that--more the questions i've been asking and some of what i see happening.
a big theme of the week was health. a quote i liked was "people like our sermons because they're making us smarter--the kingdom is not growing because they're not making us healthy." Jesus so often answered people's smart questions with healthy questions. i think God is asking me some healthy questions right now, which is so good in the midst of all these external changes and leading i've been doing with ichthus.
one of his questions is, "are you dying to success?" some of you might think that is a funny question for me--i mean, but don't you know i am mr. ambition? i am all about making tons of money and climbing the ladder. no, in a previous post i linked an article about the real prosperity gospel, and that has deeply affected me. it is something i have felt in my heart and wrestled with over this last year moving into full-time ministry. the article is mostly about personal happiness and contentment, but i struggle with it more on the level of blessing and success for the church.
there is so much talk about the kingdom, revival, see great works, etc. and it seems like God has just been saying to me "until you are satisfied with the least of these..." why do we need to be the early church or the church in china? it has happened twice in all of history, and i have my serious doubts about trying to make that happen in this culture. or even if it does to an extent--can something that rapid truly be deep and impacting in the lives of the people changed, esp. if they are just one out of several thousand? i don't doubt the Holy Spirit, but often i think it is not in his name when we are trying to build some sort of movement. the slowness of God, the patience--we miss that a lot for sure.
we say it is for God's glory, but probably more accurately it is for our own frail faith that we need great signs and wonders, great stories. i wrestle there because i still long for that stuff--but i want to be ok with something less than a culture-changing revival. i love people and want to see them come to Jesus, but i want that to be because of them and not because i need to see it happen. i don't want church leaders just set up for disappointment because of un-relievable pressure. again, not doubting the Holy Spirit. it just has to be because we love the people, not because we are accomplishing something. and while i watch this die in me, it's hard when so many still have this mindset. shoot and that's just one thing.
i also was reminded of the concept of spiritual mothering and fathering. i want to offer this. i want to receive this. i want to be a part of a spiritual family. our generation craves this so much. who will adopt us? who will take on the responsibility? who is looking for that from me?
did you know that "radical" actually means "at the root"? not the fringes, but actually the heart and center of a thing? interesting.
i saw the most incredible transformation concretely--a building that was on the worst street in okc and was the worst crack house full of gangs and prostitutes, with murders happening in it regularly. a man in california bought it as a bad business investment not realizing what it was, he went to okc to visit it and God called him to stay. he and his wife moved there and began going in there and praying and eventually holding a bible study. and people were afraid of the power they brought with them. and the darkness fled. now it is being refurbished and turned into "the refuge," a place that will be a housing grounds for sending missionaries into the city and many other things. unreal stories there that could be written about for hours.
it was so good to see right before me an example of God's power and transformation. and to see how it was all initiated and done by the Spirit. a good and needed boost to my faith.
i heard a man speak who is a church planter in okc, and his heart was gold. his major premise was "love your city, not your church." he asked some really good questions for me to think about: what do you love that is worth weeping over? or rather, where (as jesus wept over jerusalem)? what do i have to offer the world? a city? what are the ways in which you've been wounded, in a good way? things that you will never recover from and change you--things like poverty, world hunger, more personal, etc. what does it mean to be the church? where is God already at work among us? what does it look like for us to join him there? "the church is only the church when it exists for others" --bonhoeffer. who do you exist for? what is the kingdom role you are supposed to play in your city? could you tell someone where God is at work in your city?
you could spend a lot of time with those questions and it would be so good. not to be overwhelming though, one at a time is just fine with God.
is God calling me to something new in the near future? that one you'll have to ask me about in person. it might be one of the biggest things from the weekend and one of the highs, but it's quite early--we'll see.
bravo to you if you've read all this way. there are some other deeper and more personal questions, doubts, and wrestlings. but not for here. i've been missing good conversations i think. i had one earlier this week that was just so good and life-giving. so if you're up for a fireside chat, perhaps with a stogie or a beer--or not, let me know.