Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lessons learned the past year

I've come to this page so often in the past 6 months and just sat staring at the blank "new post" page. What is there to say at this point? I wish I had blogged all along so that the journey God has taken me on would make more sense to my one reader but I really couldn't do it for fear my words would be seen as negative, dividing, critical. I had to be certain what I was saying was from the Spirit and not my own emotion just so others who might read wouldn't get hurt.

There's way too much to even begin to try to catch up on.... yet I can't sit here and talk about any harvest of seeds or even much fruit other than what God has does *inside* still. I believe the last year has been an incredible time of God impregnating me with a wonderful dream/vision whatever you'd like to call it - of what could be and how true church/community could look like. I am literally pregnant, due with my second child, a girl in March.... yet as good friend Minnow describes... I do feel very much God is forming and growing a dream in me as well. He does continue to plant plant plant seeds in my heart and grow them yes but what is happening I find is that that growth is not forming 'things' or having dreams come to fruition yet --- the growth is truly growth in self and in clarity and direction to know where God is leading us. I am not sure if it's possible to encapsulate everything I've learned in a year in bullet form but I'm going to try. So here I go.

  • I realized I am as passionate as ever about the Body of Christ. Truly reconciling with others and learning what it means to be built together... with Jesus as the capstone.. into God's temple and His family. To become Jesus' beautiful Bride which *He* will cleanse and present to Himself. (Eph 5:25-27)

  • I realized this past 6 months has given me even more confidence in God's Spirit in me. The same things He is showing me now - He was showing me 6 months ago. The past year, I didn't listen to Him as I should have nor trust that voice entirely. Now, I recognize His voice and I will pray for Him to help me not make the mistake again of not following it. Even when what He's asking of me is scary, weird or illogical. I will trust Him in me and know that I don't need a degree, a title or an ordination from man to be full of the Holy Spirit and worth listening to. I will ask Him to continue to surround me with people who see the same and will value what He is doing in me no matter my gender, age, title, personality or position.

  • In the same breath, I must say I have sooo much to learn. I need people of wisdom around me to listen to. I will continue to have my eyes open to whom God is going to put into our path to be strong men & women of God to keep us accountable to His Word & His Spirit in us. I know that these fellow travelers on the journey would naturally come out of being part of a close church community the way I see possible... I patiently seek and wait.

  • I learned I am at a stage where I need something more than what "the usual" offers. I remember Brandon and I in our previous 'place' saying that we clearly heard God telling us that to truly have a different outcome, you have to do things totally different. We are ready for that. We haven't found it yet but we are not scared to take a radical, risky path. We are *that* desperate for something different... and God has prepared us to be able to go against the flow.

  • I learned that I don't care if I'm labeled needy, weak or whatever for the following statement....but I need people and I don't mean a bunch of strangers that know my name and hear about my week. I am ready for full reconciliation and healing with others that takes commitment, time, shared priority and effort. The Word is so clear about this to me. Maybe God doesn't show others what He has shown me but I can't open it up without hearing from Him our need for Him and others. That we are carry to each other's burdens (Galatians). The importance of teams and truly learning to love and work with others very different from us in background, lifestage. That the Holy Spirit can unify anybody despite frictions in personality and such. The only thing in this world that will last for eternity is people, souls --- are they most important to us next to God? Are they our treasures?

  • I learned the importance again of the Word. I can't believe how much God has shown me through His Word. I can't open it up without words screaming to me about God's love and His desire to find people who hear His call of loving Him and loving others, simply that.

  • I understand that to be part of a community like this that is so people-focused and relationship focused will not be growth-focused or even 'popular'. Although I see how God is using attractional churches and I'm happy that many of the leaders there are so happy.... God has instilled in us something different. I don't even think it's about what is right/wrong. I think it's about what is right for US. Even back from notes I took in 2005 - I see God has given us a passion for multiplication, not addition. And what that means is that it takes time. It takes a lot time to "prepare the soil". Lots of time and effort. Much like Jesus took years to prepare His disciples before they were sent "out" on their own. Much like Jesus had 30 years on this earth before His 3 year earth ministry took place. Addition is important - but I am willing to sacrifice addition for multiplication. More on that in a later post.

  • I know that attractional churches are bringing many people "back to church" and I don't want to undermine what God is doing there. Many people *are* attracted to this...... but many people are not. Many unchurched/unsaved are not. I don't have accurate statistics anymore but I think it's safe to say most of the people attracted to these churches are christians or grew up in a church environment. Nothing wrong about that - just a fact. And God uses different church environments for different people. Nothing right or wrong about - He is just a God that is not limited and will use so many different forms/ways to bring people to Him.

  • I learned that I need to lay down at the cross my own selfish ambitions and how much I care what others think about our decisions. I do not answer to others and I am actually quite honored when the majority don't truly understand what God is doing in us. I believe that the dreams God has given us are only possible if we walk opposite of any crowd or mass surrounding us at this point - because of what I have seen, heard and the direction others are going.

  • I also learned that there is no reason to be bitter regarding anything that has happened the past year. This has been an incredible time of learning for us. We hold no negative feelings about anybody we have journeyed next to. We love each of them dearly. I did very much mourn at the realization we are on different paths with our current people we are surrounded with but that's okay.... I really thought this community was where God would allow some of our dreams to come to there was mourning that took place.... but there is hope. I know God wouldn't give us these beautiful dreams if they were not possible. (side note: I do see God at work in each of their lives and I will look back at each of them with thankfulness for the time we had together. Not that we are parting ways entirely... many of these will remain people of influence in my life and vice versa.)

  • I learned it's rare to find people who are Spirit-filled elders or whatever you'd like to call leaders. All of us as christians are given the gift of the Holy Spirit - we are "indwelled" with the Spirit --- but I am pretty sure I can only count on my hand the number of people I have encountered in my real life that are Spirit-filled or Spirit-lead.

  • I have re-learned how truly wise & Spirit lead my hubby is. I love that he is my pastor. I learn sooo much from him and really believe so much in God's spirit in Him. To me He is the quiet still voice like the Spirit that many don't take the time to listen to --- and boy are they missing out. He is my leader and I won't make the mistake of not journeying right alongside him again. I didn't like being split from him in our community. Things feel 'right' when He is the leader in our home and when we are working side by side together in our community.

  • I have learned that it's actually really normal to be lonely in a community of 100 or room of 50. It's really possible to be in a group of people that you might have even contacted and then connectd with each other... for everybody to know you... and still you yourself be totally unconnected. I am still as passionate as ever that that is NOT okay even though it's normal. To not be okay with it is the key step to allowing God to get you out of it.

  • I realized that although I messed up sooo much of this journey the past year - I have done things right. I am proud that the Spirit kept me in line to protect my words and keep to myself anything that would be negative about the team I was on. I am proud how I protected the team and kept in the team what was happening in the team. I waited for opportunities to speak to those people only what God was doing in my journey or what I saw with those that were involved in the situation.... and since those opportunities didn't come often, I kept quiet. Those were the only people I really could be community with because so much of what I had to process and what God was doing involved them and things that were going on... so I couldn't process this with others in community. So even if it meant being really lonely, I kept my journey to myself waiting to see if those that I *could* talk to would ever be filled with the desire for the same. We never had the opportunities I desired to share all God was doing - and that is what it is. God allowed me other places to process and other people who were outside of the whole picture that would help me take this discontent and turn it into fuel and not frustration. He taught me how true community can look. He kept giving me desire for things and then I'd go ask how others would do things - and I find that all over the world He has given others the same desire. There are people out there journeying together how He has shown me is possible. There can be regular places to process, time to discuss disagreements, check in, check out, so many different things to help with building authentic relationships and journeying together! :) There is hope!

  • I learned that true biblical church (ekklesia) is extremely hard work and doesn't come by default. I believe it takes workings of the Holy Spirit over time and effort and intention by the leaders. I also learned that some environments actually work against how the Bible describes the (New Testament) church intentionally or not.

  • I learned that a church's structure and decisions that do not seem to be community-impacting are always community-impacting.

  • I remembered once again that God is way bigger than anything ever and He loves me so much He will not let me box Him in. He is not concerned with my comfort as much as He is ME. He is not concerned with letting things go according to the plans I design... as much as He cares about helping me trust Him. He doesn't care about giving me knowledge as much as He does teaching me to accept His unconditional mind blowing life changing love.

  • I learned how beautiful and powerful things can be when things are kept simple.

  • I learned that God has so much work to do in me. So much molding to be done. So much changing... yet I know He loves me just as I am. I know He accepts me and I know that the work is complete. The striving is finished. (see potter and the clay post)

  • I realized there are sooo many changes happening in our country and in our culture and God is doing something different. I really believe He is asking us to do something different than what has been going on in our churches since the industrial revolution especially. I won't get into my thoughts on all this..... but I believe there is a huge movement of God happening and it requires us to do things differently...

  • .....yet nothing is new under the sun. Nothing is "new" about any movement He is doing and I don't see what He is doing in Brandon & I as any label or part of any movement 'group'. Brandon and I fit in nowhere really at this point.

  • I see what is going on in the American church today as a cycle of life. A cycle of dis/obedience just as shown throughout the Bible. The people are stagnant and losing their spiritual compass. The priorities have shifted. They are trying to erect statues and buildings for God to dwell in again as they create their own idols... so God is having to change things up. The shepherd is calling people out and telling many to MOVE. To get rid of your idols, turn back to Him. Who will listen to His call? There is no set path on what He will ask YOU to do. Moving doesn't mean to necessarily LEAVE where you are...... what He asks is for obedience and it will be different for each situation/person. What it's all about is abiding in Him so that you will recognize His voice and grow in submission and obedience to Him. It starts that simple. Allowing yourself to be wrapped in His consuming love again.

  • I learned that God is a lot less concerned about what I know about Him than He is about me being with Him and growing in loving relationship with Him and others. The same lesson He spoke to me 6 months ago. He is a lot more concerned with a full heart than a fat brain. Although I will continue to study and pick up 'doctrine' in my studies.... I will not give it higher importance than relationship. In our finite minds, we will not understand this infinite incredibly mind blowing God. Anybody who is striving to do just that... or worse thinks they have reached that goal is not fun to be around. There's not a lot of peace, grace & love oozing from them. It is all about transformation - not information.

  • God loves people and is looking for leaders who will allow Him to stir in them the same passion.

  • Smiling at and making sure people are greeted once a week at a gathering is not love. That is the beginning of love because it's the beginning of relationships - but that's not enough. Others-focused love is putting others first. Putting people first above yourself. Putting people above things, systems, goals. Making others feel valued, important, accepted and loved... not for what it will do for you or how it will make you feel. Not for what they can do for you.... but because of what God has done in you. People matter. I'm tired of surface love. I want God to bring people into our lives who are willing to learn basic people skills that help us focus on others above ourselves. I desire to be part of a team focused on learning how to have an unselfish, radical, foolish love for others. I KNOW that I can't expect an entire church Body to see what God has opened our eyes to as far as community/relationships --- BUT I DO expect Him to bring us to a community where all the leaders do and are headed in the same direction/focus with the same priorities.

  • I'm tired of going through the motions. Life is so short. So many times I hear myself asking, "what is this all about anyway? what are we doing?".... if I can't answer that and feel right in my own heart that it's something GOd is asking me to do... I have the freedom to STOP and MOVE. If it's not clear to me how what we're doing ties into us loving God and loving others above all else.... Working toward being His family, His Body, His Hands & Feet and Jesus' Bride..... something isn't right and I'm not on the same path/direction as what I'm involved in. I don't have the same vision for the way things are being done.

  • So knowing that - I learned that God is asking us to move position/location so we can readjust our spiritual compass back to Him and what path HE desires us to be on. (Thanks Noele for that lesson - if you can't see God from where you are - you have the authority/right to get up and MOVE)

  • and I learned that is really hard. Because I love people - I love being around people and it's hard to step away from relationships even if it's not where God wants you to be.

  • part of me wishes I could just quiet this dream/vision He has given us and fit in SOMEWHERE. I wish I could go through the motions of how things have always be done and be happy.

  • I learned that seeds take a lot of time to grow.

  • Finally, I re-learned that the 2 greatest commandments are the 2 greatest commandments.

1 comment:

carebear said...

I miss you. :(