Monday, May 16, 2011

I am Responsible to Be a Part of the solution

Sometimes we hurt because the church is struggling. Or we hunger because something in our spiritual community is lacking. It's easy to look to the church for our needs or to criticize during hard times. God designed the body of believers to be a place for spiritual growth, healing, and fellowship, and we often expect the church to design the perfect situation for certain types of spiritual experiences. Yet, the responsibility of spiritual growth and connectedness does not fall solely upon church leadership. We, the bride of Christ, must accept our own responsibility in fostering community within the church.

We follow and submit to godly church leadership by giving of ourselves. We grow in fellowship by serving and gathering together. That should happen within the church building and beyond--in the places we work, live, and play. Our yearning for community may never be satiated by attending service at a megachurch on Sunday morning. We need to be in Christian fellowship in deeper, face-to-face ways where both accountability and celebration happen between believers.

The leadership of the church cannot facilitate this for every person. Programs and events may help, but ultimately the climate of the church and the community fostered among the people depends on the congregation as they grasp their biblical role. Yet, honestly, we often want church leadership to foster community for us or to be selective about the types of believers we rub shoulders with.

Let's face it. Greeters at the door are wonderful in setting the first impression and welcoming. Severs at the coffee and information counters help us feel served and important. But sustained fellowship and belonging in the community comes from one's personal investment. We sacrifice for those things we find most valuable.

I guess I have been exposed to many conversations and witnessed much change as people long for community and set out to find the perfect fit in other local churches. I'm plugged in and serving, but felt the desire for better connection myself. I considered leaving. But ultimately, I decided with the Lord that I want to be a part of the solution for my church. I could go elsewhere, and would feel more comfortable in another setting, but I'm up for the awkwardness if it means we grow together. This mix of people; the normals and the crazies, the loosie goosies and the rigids; are my church family. We share Christ in common among our community.

And I am responsible to be a part of the solution.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love that Never Fails

A few months early, you welcomed me into the world. My first breaths sustained by your hand, and you gave me a name that finds its fulfillment in you.

Though my earliest memories include hurt and fear and learning to hate, you patiently waited--longsuffering because your hand would redeem.

On a farm you trained me to be free, to dream without limits, to love family, to see you in creation, and to run. And in a small town you taught me about a Savior named Jesus who died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. But you must have seen the trials ahead, because you breathed into me that day a peace I'd never known. A memory to mark my path.

You transplanted me in Kansas and welcomed me into the family of God. I never had to search for you. You drew near and affected the world around me, enveloping me in the great joy of my life--your church, your children.

You were patient to let me grow and fail. You trained my heart and mind in your ways, though we spent our time acquainted with failure. And the enemy fought hard. I often went to him, though I loved you. Life became a torment, but like Hosea, you stood your ground next to this adultress.

Days of blackness and sin prevailed. I asked you to die and hated the life that you breathed into me each day. You refused to quit. You are a jealous God.

You continued to love me. And your patience came to an end. You sent your representative and gave me a choice. I chose to live.

Affirmed that my life would be spent knowing you, responding to you, learning to love you...I prepared for a life of service. But you had to change my hands and heart.

You gifted me with discernment and showed me the reality of my union with sin, my eyes opened wide. You stepped with me into the lion's den, but did not let them prevail nor allow fear to consume. Terror looked me in the face, but friends came alongside me.
The sins that entangled me became their entanglement, too. They shared with me in the fight for life and the putting on of a new garment. Because of your children I am no longer a slave to sin. You taught them to love like you, and so they have loved me.

Your discipline, your love, your name breathes life into me.

What more could I attest to than your unfailing love? To what could I give my life outside of your relentless pursuit? My life is hidden in you.

To my friends, my family, and to any I meet. Please keep in mind the order of love that I now know:
The one whom I love has first loved me.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I tie my shoes with a double knot

Need more faith. Wisdom. Boldness. Singleness of heart. Vision. Relentless passion. To lay all things aside. And pick up my calling. To run the race that is uniquely mine. To suffer road rash and fatigue with hope. No looking back. Running toward my rest. And jumping the cliff. Free falling. The power of God my confidence in weakness.

I tie my shoes with a double knot.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who is God?

This morning I asked my 5th grade girls, "Who is God?" They wrote their answers on paper and gave them to me:

My savior and messia
Our creator and leader
God is are savry
Our lord creater and savior
The alpha, the omaga, the mighty creator
Are savior
Our saviour
King of all kings
My savour
God is the creator
God is our creater
My savyor all myty, Jahova, love
God is the creater of all
God is are wholey father that created us and loved us instantly
The Lord all middy
God is a savior

What great voices these young people have! I pray that their hearts will learn to love Jesus with everything they've got.