The Road is Coming Clearer

October 23, 2009

Jesus has changed me.  In fact, he has made me totally new and now I will never be the same.  Every day my new identity in Jesus is played out, growing in new ways to take root in every part of my existence.  This life is no checklist to be accomplished.  It is holistic and leads me in to a new way of living.  My family, my understanding of myself, my priorities and every other area of my life will be changed.

At the same time I am continually formed and reformed through my relationships with other Christ followers.  We form a learning community together as we pursue Christ and the restoring of all things in our own personal lives and relationships.  Together our love for Jesus marks our identity as his followers.

Besides my own personal formation, which is constantly being played out, and the life I lead in support of and supported by my triad, I am also banded together with a larger group of Jesus followers on mission to renew our city and community.  Together we have the ability to engage larger projects of renewal in our city.  My life in Christ and triad are enriched by others in the group who know God’s story and have begun to participate in it in ways that stretch me.  This larger group does not bear the same kind of near constant presence my triad does, though we still meet regularly.

Finally is my extended family.  God is at work in many ways in my region and city and so I also gather with an extended group of believers to celebrate our God and to seek him together.

My dream is that one day the above testimony, or some cognate, would be spoken by a Dutchman on the other side of Holland.  The long beneficiary of today’s renewal.

“How do we understand our mission biblically–Old and New Testaments?  How does my identity in Christ, formed by mission, form me for mission?  How do we organize around what God is doing and joining him?  Where is the balance between Spirit and form?  What are the rhythms of life that my new identity in Christ leads us in to as an individuals?  as a community?  How do we re-join God in the restoration of all things?  How do we make our lives about this restoration, trimming back the excess?

These are the questions we are facing today.  And, these are the questions we just beginning to answer as we step out in baby-step like answer to God’s gargantuan call.

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To Holland With Love

July 18, 2008

Since Shey and Arto’s arrival July 1st I have been marveling at the effect of their presence here.  Without question I knew that their time here would impact their lives.  During their time they’ve been submerged in youth ministry at Crossroads (including leading small groups at summer camp), they’ve experienced the fourth of July at the Fort, they’ve seen the American church at work and at play, and a million other things.  What I didn’t expect was their effect on the people around them.

Over the ppast three weeks I’ve watched as our two friends, by their very presence, have been pulling everyone they meet into a global experience.  All of the sudden people are asking about Holland and Europe: “What is the Lord doing over there?” “What do you think of life here?”  and “How are things different over there?”  Without even realizing it, they are making people do exactly what we’ve been inviting them to do: think globally. 

The question nags in my mind as Kate and I prepare to leave for Holland in just twelve short weeks: how can we connect as the Church across 5,000 miles to make a difference for the Kingdom of Christ?  How can we continue inviting Christ’s Body to remember its other members?  

Certainly an answer must be heard or attempted, but there cannot be just one man to speaks it.  Again it must be “The whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world.”  For me Shey and Arto’s visit has been a reminder that the Gospel requires not only go, but receiving as well.  Only when I have opened myself to know the full extent of the Church–which is Christ in us–can I begin to see the fullest manifestation of the Gospel–which is Christ in me.

Kate and I continue to tear apart the little home we’ve made for ourselves as we take one more step in the long journey to Holland.  Right now we are probably about 2/3 done with the process.  It is amazing all the things there are to be decided on: “What do we take?  What do we leave?”  It all tends to wear on you after a while.  It is kind of weird, because I’m not sure it is the moving that is the stressful part.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but in part I guess the stress is in the definition.  Moving is uprooting and uprooting brings uncertainty. 

In some ways moving our stuff has been a microcosm of our lives, which have ranged from chaotic to exhilerating in recent weeks (especially with Jude a little more than four weeks away!).  One thing that has been phenominal though, has been receiving support from the people around us.  Besides the actual help our support team has brought–including packing supplies, meals, actually helping us pack, etc.–there is something intangibly helpful about someone who is not going reaching out to help with our going.  It feels something like a rope being tossed to us in the middle of a overflowing stream, or a rock in the middle of a raging current.  Its almost like their stability rubs off on us for a bit and reassures us that, yes everything is going to be fine, even if things are a bit crazy just now. 

Last week I was sent a link to noisetrade.com where I downloaded a song by Alli Rogers called “Things We Can and Cannot Keep” (listen to it here).  Here is the chorus:

What can we carry, What will stay with us

What will shine like gold when story’s told

Somethings will tarry some will turn to dust

There are things we can and things we cannot keep.

Originally inspired by a post on moving, I’ve been listening to this song over and over this week as we sift through those things we can and cannot keep.  Looking back over the journey that has brought us to this point, thank you to those of you who have made your own contributions and given us what cannot be taken away though they require nothing to keep.  You help us press on!

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