Posts Tagged ‘community

06
Feb
14

Courage: I Can’t Do This Without You

We have huge opportunities in our neighborhood, in our community. But honestly sometimes I’m a little afraid. I’m nervous that I won’t do things right, that I will zone out when someone is telling me something important, that I will be confused and won’t have any idea what I’m supposed to do. And yet, God is opening doors and placing opportunities to go outside my comfort zone and offer myself. To show up. Are we willing to step beyond our little spaces and offer a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty? (Matthew 10)

I like the thought of helping people. I like the thought of volunteering and being useful, but for me the actual doing it is the hard part. Finding the courage to step out and maybe not do things the right way, admit my lack of common sense, admit that I have a directionally challenged brain and just be willing to do what is needed and to be able to a laugh out loud at my limitations and see what God can do with them is still hard for me. But it’s really not about me or my fear, my pain, my insecurities. But what I’m learning is to show up with open hands and an open heart and see what God can do with them.

Some of us from Trinity volunteered a couple of weeks ago to help in our local school with a vision and hearing screening. We had no idea what we would be doing going in there, and I have to admit I was nervous. I talked with one of our church people when we were at the school, and she admitted she had been nervous too, and that after she originally signed up, she thought, “What in the world am I doing?” But she showed up anyway, and she did her job well. Her courage amazed me…she’s 79.

The task that I was given for the screening is one of the things I’m no good at; I had to pay attention to what I was being told and then go find different classrooms. My brain does not work at all with directions and finding stuff. I totally freeze up and cannot even pay attention to what I’m being told. But I honestly did the best I could, and I walked around and around and up and down halls and eventually found what I was looking for. It was good for me to have to try to find my way around; it was good for me to be uncomfortable. It was good for me to have to walk around the building and “own” it.

During church last week, we talked about several more opportunities to volunteer and help in our local school, and a friend came up to me and said that she wanted to do things like that, but she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to do what was asked of her. And this is what I told her…I’m scared too. But what if we do this thing together? What if we face our fears and “kumbaya” it together? There’s not only huge encouragement in it being more than just myself, but there can be real community in serving together, knowing that we’re not left alone with our fears and insecurities, knowing that the people around us are facing the same fear, different situations maybe, but the same paralyzing fear to see beyond ourselves to the world around us and to actually show up in this life we’re called to live.

We’re really in this thing together. Matthew 18: 20 says, “When two or three are gathering in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus sent His disciples out in groups of two. And it’s pretty amazing when believers are gathered the things that God can accomplish through them. He works individually as well. No doubt about that. But the sense of togetherness, the courage that God can build in a community of people who are focused on Him can be pretty amazing. The energy, the strength, not to mention the excitement of being involved in something that is bigger than ourselves and not for our own glory but for His glory is just a downright “jumping up and down for joy” kind of thing.

Paul and Silas, beaten and thrown into jail, prayed and sang praises together at midnight. The result: the jailer and his family came to know Jesus. Together. There’s something about doing stuff with other people that gives us a boost of courage. A “we’re not in this alone” kind of thing.  We’re serving Jesus together. If I fall down, there’s going to be someone there to help me get back up. I don’t have to do this stuff alone.There will be someone to sing praises with to God.

Even when Jesus went back to heaven, He told His disciples that He was not going to leave them alone. He told them that He was going  to send a Comforter who would be with them always…the Holy Spirit within them, within us to give us courage to be bold and do the things that we cannot do alone, on our own. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2)  But it still takes courage to take the first step and the many steps thereafter. But we don’t have to do it alone.

So whether it’s just me and the Holy Spirit or a whole bunch of people and the Holy Spirit, God can do this thing that He’s called us to do. It’s His kingdom. He’s in charge, and I may not know the specifics of what I am supposed to be doing all the time, but I know this: God has called me to this life, and He’s called me to give this life away for Him, and this absolutely begins in my home and with my family. He may be calling me to other things as well, but it starts with the people closest to me and works its way out. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that we are to let our light shine, so the good works (you know, the ones that God created that we just have to walk in) point people to God and bring Him glory.

I don’t have a lot of courage. I don’t particularly love doing new things. But I know God can do this thing through me (whatever the thing is He’s calling me to do at the time), and it’s even more exciting to see when He does it through others. And then, when we all join hands and hearts and do it together, I almost come out of my skin with joy.

Courage bleeds neediness.

Courage sees hope in dark places.

Courage leans heavy on Jesus and moves in the middle of fear. –Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways, 136

22
Aug
13

where do I even start?

Where do I even start? That’s what I feel like when I write this…it’s been so long, and God has been doing so much that I don’t even know where to begin.  So I’m going to begin with Him. He is good. I know this goodness; I’ve tasted it, felt it, experienced, clung to it. And because of His goodness and knowing His goodness toward me, I started spending more time looking up and looking out.

I’m finally realizing there is no system for this. There are no ten steps to finding God (which is good because by step 3 I’m bored and overwhelmed anyway). But I think this is good for everyone, because there is nothing anyone else can put on you or put on me that ends up becoming a burden and not the easy yoke that Jesus intended.

But as far as “how to” seek Jesus and His kingdom and His righteousness, I know it’s happening for me right now, but the way it happens for me may not be the same way it happens for the people around me. I really thought I knew, but I just don’t. Which is good because when I thought I knew, pride settled in and took over.  I know for me He used a camping trip and someone listening to my long story and openness to Him, but I don’t have the answers, and I’m finding He uses different things to open other people’s hearts.

Not long ago, I came across a passage that pretty much said, Love instead of talking about what you know;  and if you think you know stuff, you don’t have a clue yet; and God really knows who loves Him. (my paraphrase, of course).

I know there is openness and yielding and surrender and waiting and leaning in and repentance and belief and laying down your life and “help me” prayers or whatever other words and ideas begin to open our hearts up to a big God, but I don’t believe this is a scavenger hunt to try to find God. He is there, and I don’t have to make it into a ten step program to get Him to pay attention to me. When I do this, when I make knowing God about a “how to” lesson for me and for those around me, the program, the agenda, the formulas always seem to take over, and I seem to lose the very thing I was after. And many times it seems God is nowhere to be seen in all the organization and practicality and boring-ness of it all. And I’m beginning to start to think that God just isn’t all that practical.  I’m not saying God is not a God of order; I know He is; it’s just not my order, and I don’t get to determine the outcome. And He began to show me that I really wanted to be in control, which is really quite laughable.

So this is my story…my finding Jesus or Him finding me in the midst of all of my junk and my self-righteousness and even my formulas for finding God that didn’t work. It’s just a story, not a prescription or a recipe…

In my early thirties, I struggled to know God, only to see small glimpses of Him here and there. I began to taste grace and freedom, but I didn’t seem to pay attention for very long. I knew He was good; I knew He was God. But in the last year, I feel like I’ve been taken hold of by the Master of the universe, and I now know that He will never, ever let me go. And in Him taking hold of me and me surrendering myself to Him (becoming His slave), that’s where I’ve found freedom.

God began by tearing away some of the doubts and the lies I had believed about Him, about myself, about people, and about my marriage (Marriage: Being All In) that I had allowed to seep in over the years. I began being in community with other people and began to really hunger for God which I believe He gave me, and little by little I began to submit to God and the things He wanted for me. Even though these were such tiny, tiny baby steps, I struggled immensely with letting go of what I thought I wanted and allowing myself to fall into Him.

God also began speaking to me through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. I had a thirst for His Word and for Him that was almost unquenchable.  Some of the words that I couldn’t get out of my head that began to reach down and take hold of my heart were:   Stop saying you love people and do something about it. (my paraphrase again) So what in the world does that look like? What does it mean to truly love God and love my neighbor? Because loving my neighbor is loving God. The two go hand in hand.

So, one of the first things He worked on me about was gentleness. And the hardest place for this mom to be gentle? My own home. “Be gentle” showed up everywhere I looked for months. I realized I was powerless to do this in my strength, so what did it look like to do it in His strength? Honestly, I’m not really even sure. It took months for Him to make it go from my head and sink into my heart and gradually I noticed “gentleness” began to really be a part of every day.

Even after God’s gentle treatment of me, I started to think that I knew something or at least more than other people did. So, I got this whole self-righteous thing going on, and it manifested itself in bragging about reading the Bible and pushing other people to do the same. What is it about us humans that want to take the good things we are learning and shove them in other people’s faces? We want to be the “haves” and show the “have-nots” that they don’t understand God’s grace and love. Which again is just laughable, not to mention ironic. But God is good, and He opened my eyes to my sin, and I was able to repent and ask forgiveness from one friend who had taken the brunt of my holier-than-thou attitude.

During that time, God took away every source that I had to lean on, and I learned to really lean into and depend upon Him; I took everything to Him. I had no one else to take stuff to, but I realized in my frantic journaling/praying that He alone could take my stuff and give me peace in the midst of whatever I struggled with at the time. Sometimes my anxiety or anger still threatens to overwhelm me, and giving those things to Him sometimes takes longer than I think I have, but I continue to sit until I am able to walk away in peace knowing that He will take care of my heart much better than I can take care of it myself.

I’ve begun to be thankful for everything, even the things that don’t look so great because I now realize that difficulties are the opportunities to really grow and lean heavily into God more and more. This is no big deal, but our washer broke a few weeks back, and I had been putting off going to the laundromat for weeks. I finally loaded a few basket loads of dirty laundry in the back of the van early the other morning and drove there. I haven’t done laundry in one of those places for close to 20 years, so I was stunned to walk in and see that to use the largest washer cost 9 dollars, and that price did not include hot water!  I couldn’t do it. To use even the very smallest washer was over 3 dollars, and that would have washed about ten items on cold. I walked out. As I got home, my heart did a turnaround, and I realized that this washer dilemma was no longer about me, because God showed me that this is what the poor have to do all the time. They have to go to the laundromat and pay, what I think are, exorbitant prices to just be able to have clean clothes. I got angry, and then I started crying for them. Over laundry. Yep, that’s what God used this time to get my focus off myself and my own dirty laundry.

So that very morning, the washer opportunity led Jeff and me into a discussion about boldness and what it looked like to love our neighbor. So we began to pray for boldness, and three hours later we were driving near our home in north Nashville trying to see if we could help our most recent flood victims. God showed us the needs and directed our paths in a neighborhood that I would have formerly driven through with my doors locked. A day later, our family was able to go back and help these families. The physical part of the job we did was important, but the spiritual aspect of encouraging people who had just lost everything and praying holding hands in circles in their front yards is kingdom stuff. And this is what God does. He takes my shock, my outrage at the poor being taken advantage of, and He uses this to get me off my couch and out of my comfort zone for one moment. And things happen, and my eyes open to His love, His crazy kind of love for me and for all people, and that makes me want to shout for joy and thank Him forever.

I realize more and more that everything God does is for our good and His glory. And, some days, that’s all I’ve got. But it’s enough.

This I know: God is for me. (Psalm 56:9)

10
Jan
13

Community, Discipleship and Courage

Jeff and I are called to do two things. We are called to start small communities that meet in homes, and we are called to do discipleship. We believe that both are vital to living in God’s kingdom here and now.

These communities consist of 20-50 people. The people within these communities eat together, pray together, love each other,  and commit to one another. These communities are small enough so that all the people in the community are able to bring their gifts to the table and use them for the Body’s benefit and for God’s glory.

This is not a spectator sport, where we cheer others on to do the work. We all do the work together. No one gets lost or ignored because these communities are small enough that each person is equally important. These communities meet in people’s homes, where life takes place. Simply put, a Community Group is an extended family following Jesus together by doing life with missionary purpose.

We have an active community that we are already involved in. We share a meal together weekly, help each other, and support each other by being an active part of each other’s lives. The relationships within our community are covenant relationships that require time, energy and commitment.

Our community started as the Holy Spirit called on us to do the small acts of obedience in opening our homes and lives to each other, and this community has become our extended family where each week it feels like a family reunion in the very best sense of the word. I long to be with these people, and I miss them when I’m not able to.

We are looking to start other communities similar to this one as God brings together people who are desperate for Him and who desire to share their lives in community. These groups will be similar but also very different in that they will be led by people who have different missional outreaches. We are ministering in such a way that these communities can be started all over Nashville and led by the people God raises up. Once a few community groups have started up, we will have celebration gatherings where this network of communities, who want to serve Jesus and the people around them, will come together for praise and worship and times of teaching. These groups will be the basis for New Life Church Network.

Jeff and I are partners in this work God has called us to. Really, our whole family is doing this work together. We are seeing our children embrace the people in our community. And they are active participants in loving and serving those around them.

The second part of what Jeff and I are doing is discipleship. The way of growth in the New Testament was discipleship. Jesus chose His disciples, and He spent three years discipling them as they walked with Him. At the end of Matthew, Jesus said to His disciples that He had been given all authority and then commanded His disciples to go make disciples. We believe that we are following Him in obedience by doing discipleship with people, Jeff with men, me with women.

Discipleship is NOT a Bible study.  Discipleship is meeting on a weekly basis with 1 to 2 other people who are reading the same Bible passage, NOT to study the passage but rather to go to the Word to see what God is calling them to do in repentance and obedience. It goes back to John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ message:  “Repent and believe. The Kingdom of God is here.”

Discipleship is simple in that anyone can do it. We are discipling and training our children, because we believe it is essential to growing and maturing in Christ. We have already seen lives changed because of what Jesus and His Word can do with people who are willing to submit themselves to Him in obedience and humility. When Jesus came and took  on our flesh, He emptied Himself, took on the form of a slave and became obedient to the point of death.  He calls us to do the same…to come and die.

Simply put, discipleship is listening to what God is telling us to do in the context of community. It is following Jesus. And it really comes down to two basic questions. What in my life do I need to repent of? And what is God, not man, telling me to do about it? Neil Cole calls this process exhaling and inhaling: exhaling our sin in repentance and then inhaling the Word of God and seeking Him in obedience. We have to expel the junk and sin of our lives before we can breathe in the Gospel.

Eugene Peterson talks about this in his book Eat This Book. He says, “Obedience is the thing, living in active response to the living God.  The most important question we ask of this text (the Bible) is not, ‘What does this mean?’ but ‘What can I obey?’ A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to this text  far more quickly than any number of Bible studies and dictionaries and concordances.” (71)

Community and discipleship work together. It’s meeting people where they are and growing up and maturing in Christ together. We’re walking side by side with people in their journey to Him. I have this sense of urgency and mission within me to do discipleship with others, because I now see hope where there was none. It’s hope in a God who changes people, not fixes them or makes their lives better, but actually transforms them into a new creation.

We can spend years trying to figure out who we are with numerous self-help books, but change can only happen when we’re ready to come to Him in repentance and belief. The same message that John the Baptist and Jesus preached still applies now.  Six or seven months ago I said to Jeff, “I’m not doing that discipleship thing.”  I know He can change lives; He is changing mine.

Please pray that we would be courageous and obedient and let God do His work in us and through us. We also need God’s people to come along side us and support us in this thing God has called us to. We are all called to serve and make sacrifices in the kingdom of God. And we are excited that others are joining us  in their prayers and with their money. We are, in fact, spurring each other on to love and good works. And that’s what kingdom living is all about. So, thank you, for acting courageously and sacrificially on our behalf and on behalf of the kingdom.

Soli Deo Gloria…to God alone be the glory…

Jeff and Kim Darnell, 1045 Fontaine Drive, Goodlettsville, TN 37072

lovegracepeace@gmail.com

14
Dec
12

Walking With People Toward Jesus

And He began to send them out two by two… So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. (Mark 6)

This is what Jeff and I are called to do. We are being sent out to walk with people towards Jesus. We are doing discipleship with people, showing them how to repent and believe, urging them to listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling them they need to repent of and what He is telling them to do about it (not in a legalistic kind of way, but rather Holy Spirit-led, growth kind of way).  And this is done only in the context of community.

God has put us in community with other believers who are seeking Him. This happened almost overnight. He called us to take small steps, and we simply had to listen and obey. This was not easy. It felt like there was much opposition; there was fear and doubt and insecurity on my part, but we obeyed and put one foot in front of the other. And God is flinging His kingdom wide open here in Nashville. We are letting our light shine so that people will glorify God and the great things He has done in us and through us.

In the eight weeks since our community started, we have seen God’s Spirit break in, and there is life. Beautiful, abundant life. The people in our community are starting to really love each other, not just in word but also in action. And Jeff and I are committed to walk the journey out with these believers.

And this is just the beginning. God has put in our hearts to start these small communities of 20-50 people all over Nashville. One of the guys Jeff is doing discipleship with already wants to start one on his side of town. We are excited to be a part of God’s kingdom here in Nashville…we are simply blooming where we have been planted.

The word for what can happen in our culture with these small communities, focused on Jesus, loving each other and caring for one another, is virus. If people get a whiff of the life that happens when surrender occurs, following Jesus with other believers in these small communities could go viral here in our cities, states, country. This is the way it’s already happening all over the world. I’m humbled and grateful that He has called me to give my life for this.

He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.  (Mark 6)

Jeff and I are called to put on our walking shoes, take our walking stick and put on our jacket. But how does this translate in our culture? How do we “earn” a living doing this?

Simply put, God’s provision. The expectation is 100 percent on Him to show up to provide for our family’s needs. However, He uses His people to share their resources with those who are ministering, and as Paul urged the Philippians, he said it was to their benefit to share in the work of the ministry. I’m excited to see how God does this. Because this is not done out of duty or obligation but the Holy Spirit working and His people listening.

Our family is called to this. And everything else is a distraction. I feel an urgency to share our journey with others and see others grow up in Him. I am very much in process, but I know this–that Jesus and His kingdom are worth giving my life for.

Please pray that we would continue to stay grounded in God and the things of God, that we would have listening ears and receptive hearts, and that our community and the others that are started would bring glory to Him. And consider being a part of what God is calling us to do. We’d love to hear from you.

For the love of Christ compels us…that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor 5)

Jeff and Kim Darnell, 1045 Fontaine Drive, Goodlettsville, TN 37072

lovegracepeace@gmail.com

14
Nov
12

act two: on the other side of this wild ride

Last year, my story was the age-old story of walking around and around the wilderness, like the children of Israel, bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t leave but trying my best to get out, sort of.  I couldn’t stop wallowing around in my own brokenness and believing the lie that Jesus wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t release the idols that I had begun to think were part of me. And I was thirsty but refused to come to the well. And then, I couldn’t even find it anymore and complained that it had been moved. I felt numb and unable to pray or really even care.

But, enough with the clichés about where I was…

This is act two of my continuing story, and this is the story of freedom and grace. This is a story of the love of God and His marvelous work. This is a story of being set free.

I can’t tell exactly when this happened.  I can’t give a prescribed treatment of how this all started or how to get here. It’s not like I did something. I certainly didn’t earn my way here.  It’s God who led me back to the well. And I can’t get enough. I think God just started breaking me apart little by little. And because of His great love, I slowly began to lean in again.

I’ve been in this spot before. I’ve tasted His goodness. I’ve had my hands open to what He has. But this time, I realized I had people to lean in with. And I think that’s what made the difference. I have this little bitty community covenanting with me to love and good works. Other believers are so very, very important to what we our called to do. We need each other so desperately in the Body of Christ, and yet we don’t act like we do. We’re called to encourage each other daily so that we won’t succumb to the enemy’s lies and sin’s hardness. And as long as I’m grounded in the things of God, others can lean in too, because He cannot be shaken.

For we have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith. (Hebrews 4:2)

So, the  isolation that I assigned and resigned myself to for the last year was not a God-thing. It was my own selfishness, refusing to reach to God and to others for help. I was the one who was needy and struggling, and I was disobedient  and threw a whopping big pity party. I believed the lies. But, I believe, everything can be redeemed.

A month ago, I got on my face, and I repented of my sin of isolation and lack of trust. I trust God, and I’m in process of letting go of everything but Him. It’s uncomfortable at times, but He is making all things new and absolutely beautiful. I’m so thankful for this God, my Abba,  who loves me this much to draw me back  to Himself and to His people.

Go in peace to love and to serve…And take to the world this love, this hope and faith; Take to the world this rare, relentless grace; Go, and go far; Take light deep in the dark; Believe what’s true; He uses all, even you. May the bread on your tongue Leave a trail of crumbs To lead the hungry back to the place that you are from.  -Derek Webb

But we can’t give away what we don’t even possess. So, I’m here. Ready to receive once again from His hands what He has…no matter what. It’s His burden, His yoke, and I’m having the time of my life walking in that, but this time I’m not walking this thing out alone…welcome to act 2.

11
Nov
12

grateful beyond belief

A month ago, I went camping with some friends.  I can’t believe it’s only been a month since that camping trip. God used that trip to change me. He cracked me wide open and spilt out everything that has been bottled up for the last couple of years.

During that camping trip, I met some new friends, reconnected with some old ones and told my story and heard others’ stories. I felt connected. Finally. After being almost completely isolated for almost two years, with the exception of walking with my neighbor most mornings, I finally found community with other believers, centered around Jesus. Not just hanging out with no real purpose but really wanting to walk this thing out, good, bad, and ugly, and do life together. No matter what that looks like.

Since then, we’ve been breaking bread from house to house. And I have been loving it. But, many of us have been under attack. The enemy does not want us meeting with other believers to celebrate and talk about Christ and pray for each other and with each other. When believers come together and unpack the gifts that God has given them, I believe we’re going to finally see the power of God, the stuff that we cannot see on an individual level.

Everyone longs for community on some level. And many people rally around stuff like ball teams and politics and other stuff, but what if we take our energy and go after the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? What does that look like? He says in Matthew that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. But most of us are still dragging around what looks like a whole lot of crap that doesn’t in any way reflect His power or His glory. I’m signing up for His burden and yoke.

What if we’re freed to release everything and run after Him? To invite people into our homes and our lives and do community in a very purposeful Christ-centered way, allowing Him to be magnified above everything else.

Since that camping trip, people who hadn’t even met before have met and prayed together, hiked together, and will serve someone in our own little missional community next weekend. Serving and doing house stuff really isn’t my gift as such, but I’m super excited about coming together as the Body of Christ to encourage a family in our midst, eat a meal, and  work on their house, even if they have to put me on pine cone duty because of my serious lack of skills.

I cannot wait to see what God has in store for His believers, not just in this community but all over Nashville. Because, I have a feeling, when you begin to taste His goodness, you cannot get enough of Him or His people.

So I just got home from eating a meal with other believers, praying and talking about Jesus. And I am just grateful. Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2)

 

31
Oct
12

Truth, Lies and Community

Last Friday, I wrote the first part of “Truth and Lies,” not realizing then that all of the lies had not yet been exposed. After I had finished writing, Jeff read my post, hugged me and said, “I had no idea you were struggling today.” And then I realized the other lie I had believed. I had refused to let anyone walk with me in my struggle. I had refused to let anyone pray for me, even my husband.

I was proud. Because I really thought that I was more mature, that I should be beyond all the fear and doubt and insecurity I was feeling. But I’m not, and I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to have the appearance of being fine when I really wasn’t.

So the enemy pounded and pounded. And I walked away battered and bruised.

But I have this community around me that I need to share my struggles with and not after the fact. I need to be prayed for right then and there in the midst of my struggle. But I think I heard and believed the lie that if I reached out and asked, then I was being clingy and needy, and so I did run to the Father, which was the right thing to do because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” But I still needed the people around me to lift me up to Him. Because I also needed to know that I am not in this thing alone.

So I’m learning this interdependence, which can only happen in community, and this is hard because our culture teaches us from a young age to be independent and self-reliant, and that we don’t really need other people. We desperately want to look like we have it all together. But none of us do. So why do we isolate ourselves and allow the enemy this advantage?

For me, I don’t want to wear out my welcome…stay too long, talk too much. I don’t want to run the risk of being open and vulnerable and people turn it down or use it against me. I don’t want my heart to hurt because people don’t accept me for who I am.

But I have to take these risks. I have to be who Abba is creating me to be. And I have to trust that God’s grace will abound, even when the attacks and the wounds come. And they will.

But this is what I want. This is what I think God is calling me to. To live in real community where Jesus is the center, where the focus is not on me,  and the community is not there to make me feel better and affirm me. But we should be there to encourage each other, point each other to Christ (who can and does heal all things). We’re there to spur each other on to love and good works. And to focus on God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail for healing a girl who was demon possessed, they worshiped God together. They prayed and sang praises, and the prisoners listened. In this trial, God gave Paul and Silas each other to praise Him together, and the jailer and his household were saved.

But not only were the jailer’s family set free, the other prisoners listened…people are watching to see how believers are treating each other, how we love each other, how we worship God together in the midst of our difficulties and struggles. In Acts 2, “they ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.”

This kind of stuff happens in community. No doubt about it, we need each other, friends.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.(Ps. 34)




time flies

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