Family? Start Acting Like It!

Community.  It is the word that has driven my passion the past few years.

Community.  Each of us craves a sense of belonging – to be known and loved for who we are.

Community.  It’s what we were created for.  Literally.

So why is true, authentic community so hard to find?  Because community is hard work.  It’s extremely messy.  And sometimes it is easier to just….not.

Church, we are called to BE community, to be the example the rest of the world lives by.  If we get it right, it will be beautifully attractive.  After all, most people, especially millennials, are seeking a sense of authentic community.  The fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35)!  Now is the time to be the community that Christ has called us to! Now is the time to be the community that the world needs.

We have to start getting this right!

When difficulties arise, when the messiness that comes with community starts to show, people walk away.  It is happening everywhere!  It is easier to leave than to work through the mess.  But here is the truth: people are imperfect!  You are not perfect.  I am not perfect.  ______(insert the name of anyone)________ is not perfect!  And when imperfect people come together, there are bound to be issues.  Sooner or later someone will get hurt, or offended, or left out.  Maybe not intentionally….but, because we are all imperfect, it happens!

These are the moments that can define who we are as a church, as a family.  These are the moments that make the difference.  We can be like the rest of the world and give up on “community” at that point.  We can walk away without handling the problem or issue biblically.  Or we can push through, work through as God’s Word dictates, and come out as a stronger community on the other side.

This is a soap box I have been standing on for awhile.  Recently, I was able to read the book, Accidental Pharisee by Larry Osborne (HIGHLY recommend).  It challenged me and made me reevaluate a lot of the ways I behave.  There is a section on Biblical unity where he put into words and images much better than I have tried to do on my own:

“Our biblical unity is a lot like the unity we experience in a family.  When my kids were young and crammed into the back seat of our car, they didn’t always get along very well.  At times they wanted to kill each other.  At times I thought they might.  But it didn’t matter.  As I reminded them, they were stuck with each other.  They had to learn to get along.  They were united by birth, not by choice.  And nothing was going to change that.

In the same way, if I’m saved and you’re saved (even if I think you barely snuck in), we’re family.  It doesn’t matter if we don’t like each other, if we vehemently disagree…  We’re stuck with each other.  We have to learn to get along.  We’re united by Jesus, not by choice.  And nothing is going to change that.

Our biblical unity is rooted solely in our relationship with Jesus…  It exists even when we wish it didn’t…

Unfortunately, when family members refuse to get along, it’s not just the squabbling siblings who suffer.  The whole family suffers.  It brings shame to the family name.  It dishonors the parents.  Think back to the last time you saw somebody else’s kids having a meltdown in the grocery aisle.  My bet is that you didn’t think too highly of the children – or the parents.  Even if your own kids have had their fair share of meltdowns in aisle 6, you probably walked away thankful that you weren’t part of that family.

The same thing happens in the spiritual realm.  When the world sees us loving and bearing with one another, like the sons and daughters of God that we are, they’re drawn toward us.  We gain credibility to speak into their lives.  It reflects well on our heavenly Father.  But when they see fisticuffs and shouting matches breaking out…they can’t help but wonder, ‘What kind of heavenly Father would have a family like that?’

It’s no wonder they’re not too interested in what we have to say about life, Jesus, or the salvation that we claim we have and that they so desperately need.”

When we choose to walk away instead of dealing with the hurt, the offense, or the problem – what does that do to the witness of the Church?  When we choose to speak poorly of the church, of the people, we left behind – what does that do the credibility of the Gospel?

It isn’t about being right or wrong.  It isn’t about you.  It isn’t about me.  It’s about family.  It’s about the Good News!

If we are truly a church family, if we are the family of God – then we had better start acting like it.  People are watching.  And their very lives depend on it!!

Family, Community, Offense, Hurt, Church, Witness

Though the Mountains May Crumble

Since things have pretty much been silent for a couple of months, I thought it was time for an update.  AND I needed to write…  🙂

(Want to get caught up?  For the whole story, start to finish, head here…or for the short version, start here.)

So, about that update…

First – we did not get the coffeehouse grant.  Which was a bit of a bummer.  However, I never thought it was about the money, I wondered through the whole process, if it was God’s way of forcing our hand and casting the vision to our church.  I believe, without a doubt, because of the series of events that occurred, that God brought us to that grant.  He had a purpose for it, and quite apparently, it wasn’t about the money.  But, now, instead of a small group of people on board – we have handfuls of people in different walks of life who are excited about it, and talking about it, and wanting to be involved.  And that is exciting!  While our $0 budget has expanded very minimally, the vision itself has increased 10 fold.  And, the most important part, we are moving forward!  We officially have a board started and have begun the process of narrowing down a location.  I would ask that you would continue praying for us as this journey has still just begun.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store once it all comes to fruition!!

Personally, this season has been difficult.  Not because of the grant.  But because of life.  Justin and I are struggling on multiple levels with adjusting to two kids.  Balancing their needs while prioritizing our marriage and jobs and still trying to get this coffee stuff up and running has proved to be beyond exhausting.  I have somewhat recently entered a season of postpartum depression and, consequently, Justin has been struggling as well.  The irony of so many other people being excited about the coffeehouse while we are simply in survival mode and unable to thrive, or be excited about pretty much anything, is extraordinarily disheartening.  But we are pushing forward and fighting back the dark.  And, lately, I have had more good days than bad, which is helping.   But, again, prayers are more than appreciated.  As we keep discussing, the enemy is real and active and he will do whatever he can to isolate us from others in our lives.  We are in the midst of a battle and many days, lately, it feels as if the enemy might win.  Thank goodness, the war is already won!

Recently, the Lord reminded me of His goodness with the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the driver.”

We will remain strong.  We will live to fight another day.  And, with God’s strength, we will accomplish the mission He has set us on.  I am trusting the driver while we remain in this dark tunnel…but, truth be told, I think I’m beginning to see the light at the other end.

Isaiah 54 has also been a source of constant encouragement.  I’ve included that chapter (all 17 verses) in its entirety below, with my emphasis added…the words that keep me going:

1“Rejoice, childless one, who did not give birth;
burst into song and shout,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of the married woman,”
says the Lord.

“Enlarge the site of your tent,
and let your tent curtains be stretched out;
do not hold back;
lengthen your ropes,
and drive your pegs deep.

For you will spread out to the right and to the left,
and your descendants will dispossess nations
and inhabit the desolate cities.

“Do not be afraid, for you will not be put to shame;
don’t be humiliated, for you will not be disgraced.
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
and you will no longer remember
the disgrace of your widowhood.

Indeed, your husband is your Maker—
his name is the Lord of Armies
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of the whole earth.

For the Lord has called you,
like a wife deserted and wounded in spirit,
a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
says your God.

“I deserted you for a brief moment,
but I will take you back with abundant compassion.

In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but I will have compassion on you
with everlasting love,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.

“For this is like the days[a] of Noah to me:
when I swore that the water of Noah
would never flood the earth again,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
or rebuke you.Isaiah 54:10, Struggle, Depression, Mountains, God, Jesus, Overcome, Love, Love of God, Promise, Shame, Disgrace, Fear, Disheartened

10 Though the mountains move
and the hills shake,
my love will not be removed from you
and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
says your compassionate Lord.

11 “Poor Jerusalem, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I will set your stones in black mortar,[b]
and lay your foundations in lapis lazuli.

12 I will make your fortifications[c] out of rubies,
your gates out of sparkling stones,
and all your walls out of precious stones.

13 Then all your children will be taught by the Lord,
their prosperity will be great,

14 and you will be established
on a foundation of righteousness.
You will be far from oppression,
you will certainly not be afraid;
you will be far from terror,
it will certainly not come near you.

15 If anyone attacks you,
it is not from me;
whoever attacks you
will fall before you.

16 Look, I have created the craftsman
who blows on the charcoal fire
and produces a weapon suitable for its task;
and I have created the destroyer to cause havoc.

17 No weapon formed against you will succeed,
and you will refute any accusation[d]
raised against you in court.
This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants,
and their vindication is from me.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.