Monday, April 21, 2014

Your Kingdom Come

Asher: Mom, I feel sorry for those kids with sores on their feet. I'm glad we're sending them shoes.
Me: Me too, bud. But the reason we're doing this is because Jesus loves and cares for us AND them. We want them to know that.
Asher: Yeah, we want them to know how much Jesus loves them.
Me: Yes! Because when Jesus comes back and makes all things new, there will be no more tears and no more sickness and no more pain. Since we're part of Jesus' kingdom, we want to help his kingdom come now as best we can. One way to do that is to help heal these little feet so that they don't have to endure the infections and pain from the bugs that dig in.
Asher: Yeah. It's kind of like Jesus is our King and we're his servants and we get to do stuff for Him, like bring Him food.
Me: Yes! Except Jesus is a different kind of King and we actually serve and love Him by serving and loving others.
Asher: Yeah, like those kids with sore feet and no shoes.

Sometimes kids just get it. They understand that if Jesus is our King then that makes us His servants and that means we do stuff for Him. It's a simple truth that we seem to complicate as we grow older.

After participating in the IF:GATHERING and pursuing women's brunch plans, I wanted to get my hands on some of Jennie Allen's books. She is a Bible teacher and speaker and the dreamer and orchestrator of the IF:GATHERING that brought women from around the world together to find their place running hard after Jesus. The first book I read was Anything in which she recounts how she and her husband were tired of living normal, mundane lives pursuing the American dream and how they longed for something more. Together, they prayed a prayer of anything to God. A prayer that asked God to use them anywhere for anything at anytime and in anyplace. A prayer of absolute surrender and probable sacrifice. After being willing to give up and be anything for the sake of God's glory, Jennie and her husband have seen doors opened that they never dreamed of including adopting their youngest son from Rwanda.

I am currently reading Jennie's most recent book, Restless, gifted to me by a sweet, like-minded friend. I can't get over this book. I am processing and praying and overwhelmed and encouraged by how God has used the truths in this book to push me deeper into His kingdom. Jennie encourages us to seek out and recognize what she calls the "threads" that make up our lives. When we allow God to weave together our threads-our passions, our people, our gifts, and even our sufferings- we are better equipped and able to find our place in His Kingdom for His purposes. She compares the members of the church to pixels in a flat screen TV. If one tiny pixel is flickering or isn't working, then the whole image is off. However, when we are all shining brightly in our unique ways and colors, we contribute to the big, beautiful picture and make it complete.

Most Christians know where we stand in God's kingdom- as sons or daughters redeemed by the grace and mercy of God displayed by the shed blood of Christ on the cross and then by His resurrection bringing us eternal hope and life. However, many of us are not certain of how we should be serving our King with the few short years we have been given on this earth. Many of us are wasting our time pursuing things that aren't eternal and won't last. Many of us are hiding scared because we don't want to pray anything because we aren't sure what God will ask of us. Many of us know our gifts and passions, but we aren't using them to bring glory to God and, my goodness, what better way is there to use them?!

If Jesus is our King and He has already inaugurated His kingdom when He was here the first time, then while we wait for Him to return and reign forever, as Asher said, we get to do stuff for Him. I am praying that God would allow His Spirit to reveal my stuff. I want to be running hard and fast and well after what God would ask of me. I don't want to get to the end of my short life and weep at what I've wasted. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about what I'm learning, hoping to encourage others of you to run your race and throw off your fears and fetters. This stuff that God gives is lasting and eternal and the only stuff that really matters. For His glory and for our good, let's make His Kingdom come as best we can until our sweet King comes to finish what He started. Let's do work together and cheer one another on to find our different places and pixels in God's wonderful story.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

June 7th

Back in February, two ladies from small group and I gathered in my house for a weekend of sharing food and thoughts as we studied God's word by simulcasting the IF:GATHERING women's conference. The theme of the conference was "if God is real, then…" We were encouraged and taught to think about how we believe in a Holy, Living, Limitless God Who is real and active in our world and in our lives and the implications of that truth. We were encouraged to use our gifts, resources, and personalities to find our place in God's story and make Jesus shine in the darkness. That weekend, our discussions were long and our hearts were moved. We desperately wanted to be an active and aware part of God's eternal story.

Our first order of business was to plan and set in stone a women's discipleship brunch for our church. It was an idea that we had been tossing around and vaguely praying through trying to think of a way to promote ladies fellowship that was more than just light and fluffy, but was real and deep and earnestly seeking God. However, it was also an idea that was foggy and far off. Encouraged to pursue what the Lord had set before us after the conference, we decided to run hard after this idea. Instead of a year down the road, we planned it for 4 months later. Instead of calling in people from the outside, we decided to use the gifts in our group to fulfill roles in teaching, leading worship, decorating, and serving. Instead of limiting the event to only our church, we designed and printed flyers to send out to the community and other churches in our association.

This was certainly not what we had planned. It was terrifying. Could we pull this off? Did we have the resources? Were we enough? Turns out we weren't (and still aren't!) enough and neither were our plans. But God uses people who empty themselves of their own agendas and trust in Him to lead. When the goal is to bring glory to our Holy God and what He has done in Jesus, then He is faithful to equip us with His Spirit and His provision. We are learning to follow where He calls no matter how outrageous or impossible the journey may seem.

We are SO excited to see what God will do on June 7th. He has already taken a hazy idea and crystallized it beyond anything we had imagined. Our plans were a small function in the distant future geared toward a group of ladies within our own church led by who knows who teaching who knows what. But our Living, Intentional God has shaped our obedience, our wills, our gifts, and our ideas into something much more. If you're a woman in the area on June 7th, we would love to have you join us to  learn, discuss, and sing about who we are in Jesus. Come and be encouraged to find your place and purpose in Christ as part of God's eternal, wonderful, living story.