Monday, October 10, 2011

The Church has left the building...

What if we stopped talking about it and finally just got to doing it??

That was the question we answered as a church yesterday on our first ever "Be the Church" Sunday.

Yesterday, there were no church services in our building.  Rather 450 of us served at 18 projects around our city!  So cool, huh?

We were able to meet needs at a few food pantries, some thrift shops, some schools, a large rescue mission, a soup kitchen, the Salvation Army, a few retirement homes and some city parks.  We sorted, labeled, painted, prepared food, roofed, landscaped, picked up trash, listened, hugged, swept, and pulled up carpet in the name of Jesus.  We let people know in a tangible way that God sees them and loves them.

Last fall, our church had a white envelope project in which we gave money away.  Last Sunday we were handed white envelopes again, but this time they didn't contain cash--but rather a service assignment. We were to report to that assignment yesterday morning rather than coming to church.   Everyone was quite excited and embraced the idea.

Not everyone would have chosen the assignment they were given.  Some had passion for different areas. Some were in their element, some were out of their comfort zone.  We put all of that aside and just did it.

My family ready to go!  Aren't they cute?
Our family had a pretty comfortable assignment--we were assigned with 11 others to a local ARC thrift shop.  We shelved a lot of books, put many items out for sale, swept a lot of floors, cleaned, and straightened/hung a ton of clothes.  I think the most important thing we did was encourage the manager at our shop.  She couldn't say enough about how much work we saved her...and what a big help that was.  It was EASY, when working together, to make a big difference there...even if just in her heart.

Bubba returning book bins after we emptied them.

Dave doing his thing  (which means I'm not sure what he is doing right there...)

Pickle working in the accessories department--how appropriate!

I found something I should consider buying...heehee.
more of our group at another site.  they were doing the sweaty kind of work... :0)
We ended the day with a celebration service and dinner together as a church family.   Let me tell you, the energy was palpable.  We worked hard, were pretty tired--but absolutely energized by serving in Jesus' name.

I had several requests after the service (I'm on staff at church) that we do this every year, every quarter, even every month!  And maybe we will do it again one day.  But that wasn't the point, at least not from my perspective.  In my opinion, the point was that we all did it.  We all served.  We got to experience how relatively easy it is to give some time and energy, how big the need is, how big the impact is on hearts when they learn that God sees them.  We stopped talking about it and just did it.  We got to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and it felt good.  My hope is that this experience was a catalyst to much more service to our city by individuals, families, and life groups.  My hope is that our city is transformed by the love of Christ--and that we are all part of it.  Because, honestly, we are called to be.

Let me encourage you that you don't need your church to hold an event like this to get out into your community.  Pick an organization and call them--see what they need and if there is any way you could meet that need.  That's all there is to it.  Push aside the thoughts (I know them well) of finding the ideal setting to serve, your impossible family schedule, your concerns about your abilities.  Don't wait until your life calms down, or your kids get older, or move out,  or you feel ready.  Don't wait for some audible word from God--we already know what is close to His heart.  

This is my family's challenge now.  So now what?  How will we serve next?  It doesn't have to be perfect, we just need to do it.  If your family is serving your community...I'd love to hear about it!  And I'll let all you bloggies know what next step our family takes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Letting go of the safety ropes.

Do you get stuck?

I am learning that I am easily stuck where I am when I can't see the whole way through something.  I'd like to see all the steps to where I'm going--and then I'll start moving.  If I can't see how something will work all the way through, I can be immobilized until I get all of that information.  Can anyone relate??

This hasn't been wildly apparent to me--cause I push past it enough to not have it completely disable me.  Yet a wise mentor has called it out a few times in regards to my leadership and ministry, and I see the truth in it.  And I've begun to recognize it in myself emotionally as well.  God is gently showing me.

(It's good to recognize our "stuff", don't you think?  Only then can we address and push past those obstacles to Abundant Life.)


Late this summer, during one of my-listen-to-God-and-write-it-down times, God spoke to me about moving forward.  As I journaled about the things that were heavy on my heart that day--there were many unknowns ahead of me.  Many emotions swirling through my head.  I listed it all out in my favorite fabric covered notebook.
That's my favorite notebook cover on the right.  It makes me happy.
And then I listened.  And wrote down what the Father said.  He said, "Trust me and move forward.  I will lead you step by step.  Seek me and follow me."

(I sincerely hope you don't mind me sharing these intimate conversations God and I have.  It is not my desire to make you uncomfortable, but rather to encourage you. )

He went on to say, "Lean heavily on Me so you do not fall.  I have you.  I HAVE YOU.  You can let go of the safety ropes."

What??  What safety ropes?  What are you talking about God?

God brought to mind the ropes course I did on a women's retreat this past spring.  I've done ropes course adventures many times, and they don't really intimidate me much.  But as I was finishing this course, friends cheering me on, I got a bit stuck.  OK, more than a bit stuck.  This part of the course had me on a wobbly cable that I needed to traverse from one tree to the next--maybe 25 feet away.  To make it possible, there were poles attached to the cable I was walking on and the cable above me--but they were spaced further apart then my reach...and my "coach" from the camp said it would need to be a leap of faith.

This is a friend on that part of the ropes course.  She was not stuck at all.  Of course...she could reach the poles.  I know it doesn't look THAT scary. 
I was on belay and the belay rope was easy to grab for some stability on the shaky cable (made more shaky by me!).  However, I couldn't reach ahead to the next pole, and move ahead unless I let go of my belay rope.

I hope you enjoy these pics of me at my best--purple helmut and a little overwhelmed.
Aaah...I'm starting to see it Lord.  You want me to move forward, and it will take a leap of faith--right out of my comfort zone.

Let go of my safety ropes.  Hmmm.  What are my safety ropes?  I began to list...

People liking me.
Approval from important people in my life.
The sure and known.

Ugh.  God, I don't think I know how to let go of these things.  My knees shake and even though I know you are there, it's so hard...

"But you are stuck if you don't let go.  You don't get to move forward.  Stationary.  Boring.  My plan is always ahead...keep stepping forward and keep asking what the next step is in each of these situations you've brought to Me.  I am the only one who truly knows.  The rest are only illusions of safety.  I am the only TRUE SAFE.  I've got you.  Do you trust me??"


I don't know if you get easily stuck like me.  I don't know what situations in your life are hard to move forward in.  I don't know what safety ropes you are tempted to hang on to for dear life.

God's plan is always ahead.  Even if the next step is to wait--God can tell you--it is still moving forward in His plan for you.  Ask Him.  Trust Him.  Let go.

I am.  It's part of the Good life.

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