Posts Tagged ‘kingdom of god

30
Mar
13

whenever you’re ready

When I was in college and dating Jeff, I remember how hard it was to be away from him. I wanted to be with him all the time. I wanted to talk with him, hang out with him, just sit and stare at him. I could not get enough. Ever. Jeff graduated before me, so during my senior year of college, he came back to visit me on campus a lot. The hardest times for me were saying goodbye and having him leave me there. As he drove off one day, I almost ran after his car, but my dignity kept me from publicly making an idiot of myself. Although I resisted the urge to run after his car like a dog, I still sobbed as he drove away.

I could not wait to marry him. I could not wait to be able to be with him all the time; I was ready for us to start our lives together. And at the time, it seemed like it was forever away. It was painful…that expectation, that longing of wanting to be with someone so badly. It felt like it almost caused me physical pain. And, even still, thinking about it, almost twenty-one years and five kids later, it makes my chest tighten to think of that intense longing. Waiting was the hardest thing.

I still think waiting is the hardest thing. I’m not used to it. I’m no longer waiting to get engaged or to get married or waiting on kids to be born. But now, I’m waiting for different things. I find myself waiting for God to show up, to lead me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m holding my breath as I wait, seeing if He really is going to do what He says. And sometimes, I feel anxious as I wait because I say I trust Him, but my actions of making stuff happen on my own reveal that I don’t really trust as much as I say I do. And yet, as I walk through different trials and situations, I’m learning to entrust myself to a faithful Creator.

It takes strength and courage to wait and not just run ahead, and sometimes it looks stupid to wait. But He is teaching me to listen to His voice…to listen to His Word and obey Him. I’ve had to get rid of my busyness and learn how to be still. I’ve also had to get rid of the voices, including my own, that threaten to drown out His still, small voice. I’ve found that it’s much harder to be still and wait on Him than it is to do things that don’t amount to much in His kingdom, His economy. But He reminds me daily to continually fix my eyes on Him;  it’s the only way waiting is possible.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. Psalm 27

Right here, right now, I feel like I’m in the process of learning the bigness of waiting on Him. I’m waiting for His kingdom to break in and His power to be seen. I see glimpses of it here and there, and I want it so badly that it’s almost hard to breathe at times. In this wait, there is intense longing, not unlike the longing I felt as I waited to marry my husband. More than anything, I long for God to make Himself known to me and the people around me.

I long for You in expectation and hope…whenever you’re ready, Abba…

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him. Psalm 37

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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

30
Dec
12

Redemption of 2012

What started as a really rough year with much isolation and whining and wilderness wandering turned into something beyond my wildest dreams, something that God is now using for His glory. He took a year that looked like it was bound for disaster and turned it into something beautiful and redeemed it for Himself.

This year, 2012, has been taken back from the enemy. The enemy was out to destroy me and my family, but God in His mercy and kindness set me on a high place and turned my heart, my very life back to Him.

Just when it looked like defeat was sure to happen, when life looked the bleakest and most desperate, when the battle was sure to be lost, my Abba stepped in and drew me back to Himself. And I’ve been clinging to Him ever since.

Psalm 9 describes where I am these days.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,
I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

And my enemies weren’t actual people or Satan even, although he was probably part of it, but my biggest enemies were mostly my sin and my self. These fears, these doubts, these insecurities that I struggle with haven’t completely vanished, but they’re on their way out. Jesus is showing me daily the things I need to repent of, the things I have to be honest with Him, myself, and others about and confess these things, and they don’t have the same hold on me. They’re being defeated daily.

And not only that, He’s redeeming relationships and transforming people before my very eyes. How can I not shout His praise?

Jesus says that if you try to hang on to the life that you have, then you’ll lose out in the end. But if you lose your life for His sake, you actually find life. It certainly goes contrary to what we think. But it’s true.

I lost my life this year, the one I was trying to cling to and hold onto so desperately. But the one I got in return, the real life, this abundant one, the one that the psalmist describes…nothing compares to it. This new life now serves (most days) in His strength and His beauty.

So in 2013…come and die…the kingdom of God is here.

 

24
Dec
12

She Didn’t Even Hesitate

I don’t think Jesus calls us to live a comfortable life. I think He calls us to live the life He lived, an obedient life, one full of service and sacrifice. And Mary’s life was sacrificial and obedient from the beginning.

In one short meeting, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she, who had kept herself from being with a man before marriage, was going to have a baby. And her only question was, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

Denise Levertov says it best when she writes this about Mary,

                    She did not cry, ‘I cannot, I am not worthy,’

Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’

She did not submit with gritted teeth,

Raging, coerced.

Bravest of all humans,

Consent illumined her.

Mary clearly did not have a victim status. She did not rage and fling things across the room and worry about how everyone would think she’d already had already been unfaithful to Joseph. She did not seem to worry that there would be women whispering behind her back. She also did not seem to worry that Joseph would be angry and would think she’d been fooling around on him. As a young teenage, Jewish peasant girl, the repercussions of being pregnant out-of-wedlock were huge.

But Mary’s  immediate response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”  And God graced her with Himself, because that’s what He does. And somehow, Mary saw beyond her confusion and her fear and realized how blessed she would be to carry her own Savior…Consent truly illumined her.

Many times, I think we have this unrealistic view of Jesus’ birth, and we sing cute little songs like the “Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy” while dancing around the room. Every Christmas we listen to Andrew Peterson’s CD “Behold the Lamb of God.” On it is a song entitled, “Labor of Love.” The song is a vivid picture of Mary giving birth. It’s not the cleaned up version of Mary having Jesus, but a rather authentic one, where there is pain and blood and neediness…but there is also God.

So, this Christmas season, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, I’m also thanking Abba for that teenage girl and her brave response to an angel over 2,000 years ago, to give birth to Emmanuel…God with us…the Kingdom of God is truly here.

 

 

 

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

03
Dec
12

overflowing

I cannot believe where God has brought me. I cannot believe He’s using me. I don’t bring gifts and talents to the table. I don’t sing, lead, counsel, yet in my weakness He’s strong. I’m humbled and beyond grateful that God IS. And I just can’t even fathom this at times. In my wildest dreams, I had no idea that this, this community life centered solely on Jesus is what it’s all about. I mean, people say these words, but I’ve never really seen it walked out.

All around me, every day I see His kingdom breaking open and shaking loose. It’s beyond exciting. Last night at midnight after spending the entire day with people who desire Him and are seeking Him, I had this crazy desire to gallop around my yard shouting praise to His name. I’m serious.  But I imagined myself twisting an ankle in the dark, so I settled for the three hours of sleep I got and awoke to think and pray and laugh and sigh and cry and hardly contain myself over the things, kingdom things, that are happening in front of my very eyes.

As a former teacher of fourth and fifth grade students, many times I watched the light bulb click on in some of my students’ eyes as they grasped what a verb was or learned how to do long division. But this, this is way better than long division or English. This is a shot of pure joy to watch people in my community latch on to Jesus and not because of anything I did or said. It’s Him; it’s all Him. He is doing this work in us and through us. And I’m able to share in this…His kingdom stuff, and I’m overjoyed. If words could jump off the page in praise and joy, my own would be flying at every person reading this.

Jesus is real. And as we lay our stuff down in front of each other and ask for prayer and seek a Father who loves and understands us, I see some beginning to hold hands open to the things He has, and words cannot describe this. I’m beginning to see why His disciples laid down their lives for Him. Unspeakable, indescribable joy to be His.

I’ve never really been driven to do stuff, like have a career. I enjoyed teaching, but it wasn’t like it was my purpose in life. Teaching was available, so I just kind of fell into it. I enjoyed my students. But if you asked me what my dreams were, I couldn’t really answer that. I knew I wanted to have a family which is a calling in itself and one of the most important things,  but I didn’t have other dreams, as such.

And it’s God’s kindness that after 41 years, I realize I am walking in exactly what God has called me to with my family and also with other people. And I cannot even express the utter peace and joy and overwhelming desire I have to walk with others toward Jesus. This is it. This is my calling, to walk this out with Jeff, with my children, with women, with families.

Jesus said, come and die. I get it…following Him is worth my one wild and crazy life.

Do you feel the darkness tremble
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokenness

And here we see that, God, You’re moving
A time of jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide, you heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

-Matt Redman

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)

 




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