To Change the World

I want to change the world.

For me, my world is not the people on the streets, or the children living in poverty on another continent, oceans away from me.

That world is much too big for little o’ me.

No, my world starts with those people who are the closest to me.

My family, my friends, my coworkers, my former schoolmates, my neighbors, my acquaintances…

People I interact with and do life with everyday.

I want to be surrounded by so much love; by so many people who live life for others.

I want my children to be brought up in a community that is for each other, and not against.

I dream of a day, where we all move as one body, doing the works of Jesus. Bringing heaven to earth, to reach out to the people on the street, and the children living in poverty on another continent, oceans away from me.

I don’t care what church they go to. Or don’t go to.

I don’t care, what city, state or country they live in.

I don’t care who they voted for. Or if they did.

I want to see my community move, not because the church tells them, but because Jesus moves them.

I want to see a community where the Spirit dwells within them, richly.

I want to change the world by encouraging, supporting and showing.

It’s so simple, but it’s not so easy.

Many people are full of good intentions or excuses, but good intentions and excuses do not fulfill transformation!

The Spirit of the Lord is not silent, still, or too busy.

I dream of a day where my community not only reaches up, but also reaches out. A community that not only listens, but obeys. A community that stops acting like sheep and starts shepherding.

Every. Day. All day.

Serving the Lord is a full time job. It requires overtime. Sacrifice. It’s sometimes grueling, but most the time rewarding.

It’s a lifestyle.

It’s a lifetime.

And one day the opportunity will be gone.

Make this day, and everyday, count. They are numbered and are running out.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Is the thief stealing, killing and destroying your time? Or are you living your life to the fullest? Are you living out all the opportunities Jesus has made for you?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. – James 2:17

My life is not my own. I was not put here for my own gratification. I am not here to see how successful I can become, how many riches I can aquire, or how much freedom I can possess.

May the Lord use me as he sees fit. May he take all that I have for his glory. May I be emptied so that He may fill me. May there be less of me and more of him.

I live only so that one day I may hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

So are you with me? Can you help me?

If someone reaches out to you, will you pick up the phone? Will you help them move? Or watch their kids? Will you ask those who are hurting, how you can help? Will you LOOK for who has a need, and fill it? Will you welcome those who are pushed aside, or shunned from society? Will you give second chances and offer forgiveness? Will you cry with your neighbor? Will you do more than just pray for them?

Will you stop being offended and serve them instead? Will you stop sitting in a pew and start representing our King? Will you stop saying, I’m too busy?

Because, we can all can ask, and we can all listen, and this IS following Jesus.

We are on assignment!

Will you be the church with me Every. Day. All. Day?

I want to change the world. And my world starts with you!

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Hey Lucy!

Last night I facilitated the start of a new life group.

My husband is so awesome. He did everything I asked him to do.

We had food, and food, and more food. He cooked everything on the BBQ for me. He sliced up the veggies for everyone’s hamburgers, and displayed them very nicely on a platter.

He put together all the gift bags I wanted for everyone to have, that included their Participant’s Guide, a journal, a pencil and a couple pieces of candy.

Everything was set up perfectly. The kids had done their chores and the house looked nice.

By the time our first guest arrived, I was happy. I was satisfied.

But I was still nervous. I was still afraid. After all, even though everything looked and felt great, it would ultimately still be just me standing in front of everyone acting like I had it all together.

For years I was criticized for being who I was. I was meant to feel stupid. I was dumb. I shouldn’t draw any attention to myself because I may say or do something that would embarrass myself or someone else.

Frequently, I would be in “trouble”, for dropping stuff, running into something, or not understand a joke.

I felt shame. I felt less than. I felt I should just be quiet, and let someone else do the talking, because I would just screw it up.

Since becoming a devoted follower of Jesus, things have certainly changed.

I have learned I’m surrounded by people who now laugh with me and not at me. They celebrate me. They accept me who I am and encourage me to share myself with others.

I have a pastor who affectionately calls me Lucy, as in, I Love Lucy. (Yes, he had to explain it to me.)

I have spilled Jesus, during communion. (I was horrified!)

I have nearly knocked things off the walls, trying to walking pasted them, or picking something I have dropped, under them.

I have forgotten to show up to fellowship events I have organized.

And once, while watching a video presenter, I leaned over to tell my pastor I was having trouble finding the speaker on Google. He had to stop church because he had been consumed with laughter, and once he was able to talk, informed me (and the church), we were watching FRANCES Chan, not JACKIE Chan.

Sometimes, I still get scared I’m going to be yelled at or punished because I forget to turn the water off in the backyard when I go to work.

Or for all dings I have under my car because of all the curbs I hit.

Or for buying ravioli, instead of tortellini for tortellini soup.

I know my husband looks over my shoulder as I look in the spice rack for something, and I’m determined I’m am going to take every single one of these spices out, along with each oil and gravy packet until I find what I’m looking for because I’m tired of feeling like a screwup.

Or I’ll leave to specifically get my husband a candy bar at the convenience store and come back with five sodas for all the kids and a water for me.

“It’s OK, Honey.”

It’s not OK. Not for me. I don’t understand why I keep doing stuff like this. I really don’t try to.

But my husband loves me! And he doesn’t think I’m an idiot. He doesn’t punish me for forgetting something, or not understanding something, or losing something. He smiles at me because he knows if he laughs, sometimes, I might cry.

I facilitated a new life group last night. I’ve done it before, but this time the group was different. Instead of it being focused on our strengths, it was focused on our weakness. It was about our fears.

I can’t express the overwhelming feeling of acceptance I had on the first night after sharing how much fear I have in letting people know me, the real me, the Lucille Ball, me.

I don’t have to pretend I can pray.

I don’t have to panic when I read out loud and say Jesus when I meant John.

I don’t have to cry when I run through all the kids’ names before I get to “Tank, get down!”

Because I’m ME, and God made me…me.

He never intended for me to feel shame, or less than.

His plan was never to have me remain quiet, and let someone else do the talking.

I’m not a screwup.

He finds great joy in me.

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. – Psalm 149:4.

 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.” – Zephaniah 3:17

So I can’t wait for next week to come, so I can screw it all up again!

🙂

This is My Church

This last week, I had this super epiphany of what my church is!

It has taken me awhile to understand exactly the kind of church I’m going to. Honestly, I still don’t understand it completely, but I’m encouraged by it daily.

It’s an upside down church. We are not measured by the number of our Sunday attendance. In fact, there is nothing glamorous about it. New comers are never wowed because of it. If anything they think it’s kind of weird.

Our Sunday service is in our pastor’s house because we don’t want our tithes to go to our mortgage, but rather to our community.

If anything, our new comers are wowed by what we do. We have life groups that meet throughout the week, we serve and build relationships.

Our church is based on three things. Three things Jesus commands us to do.

Did you know, throughout the whole New Testament Jesus tells us only to do three things?

I’m serious. Go check it out.

He commands us to love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31), and to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

That’s it. That’s all. It’s that easy.

No hoops to jump through. No boxes to check off. No T’s that need crossing or I’s that need doting.

Now, there are still things we do because Jesus did them, like baptisms and taking the Lord’s Supper, but other than that it’s pretty simple.

Our pastor is not responsible for our growth in Christ. It is our own responsibility. And then it is also our responsibility to go out and grow others; to disciple. It is not all up to him. It’s up to us.

So what is he responsible for?

Well, growing himself, and growing others, naturally. But he is also the one who empowers us to dare to step beyond our comfort zone.

He enables us with tools to love God and love others.

He keeps us out of the box when we start to cuddle back up inside of it. Often we slide back into the habits of the church traditions we were brought up in, and pushes us to examine what we are doing and why.

Usually, when you think of a pastor, most people generally like them for the most part, without any questions. You have a few preconceived notions of what he is like; holds himself to a higher standard, doesn’t cuss or swear, easy to talk to, compassionate.

While going to a church that breaks with tradition, why wouldn’t it’s pastor do the same?

Generally speaking, people either love or hate him. He’s okay with that. He doesn’t understand why people take him so serious or why people take what he does so personal.

So, the epiphany.

Our mission is to love God and love others and to go and make disciples. Exactly what I stated above.

The epiphany is the click. And I don’t even know if I can describe the click that happened inside my head, but it’s something about understanding how all three things work together.

If I love God and love others and I encourage others to do the same, not once, but over and over and over again; two things are happening.

One, I am growing closer to Christ by my obedience and two, I am discipling. The important part, the part where the click happened to me is in the doing it again and again and again.

I can love God and love others, all day long, everyday, every day of the year. That would allow me to grow closer to God, but it’s not discipling. Discipling is encouraging others to love with me.

Even if it’s different people each time. Even if someone doesn’t love with me next time, it is always and forever, encouraging others to love God and love others.

The fun part. The part I’m responsible for in my church is deciding how I’m going to love God and others and disciple.

Yes, it is an interact church. No spectators. No one sits on the bench. We’re all active players, playing on one team.

I love God by praising him, teaching my children about him, reading his word, praying, sharing my relationship with him to others.

I love others by making hats for a shelter in Flagstaff. I make sleeping mats for the homeless in the valley. I raise funds for pediatric cancer.

But I also love by helping friends organize their classrooms, and help move their houses and sit with them to have a drink at a coffee shop.

And I disciple by inviting my friends to Feed My Starving Children, and to donate to Harvest Compassion Center, and to join my life group and to help with Girls’ Club and…and…and… To love WITH me.

Because my church is about loving God and loving others and discipling. It’s about showing God love by obedience. It’s about loving others by serving and developing relationships. It’s about making disciples by encouraging others to live like Christ…which, here’s the kicker, IS loving God and loving others!

Isn’t that beautiful?

My dear Heavenly Father,
You ARE awesome!
Amen