my adventures in ministry along Aurora Avenue North.

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“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”
-Ovid

Livin’ It

I found myself reading this morning Paul’s words to the Christian people in Philippi.  He was making an appeal to them to stand firm, to continue trusting God the way they had in the beginning.  How often do I slowly slip down a path of losing trust and allowing my foundations to melt away?

He exhorts them to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, always always always.  Not only when they feel comfortable or provided for, not only when they feel invincible and confident, but ALWAYS, in the moments of doubt and despair, or lust and loss, of pain and confusion…. ALWAYS.  I love that.

I struggle with this ALWAYS concept. It is easy to acknowledge God when things are going well, but when I am really hurting, I must continue to rejoice in suffering, in trial, persecution.  That is where my faith is really tested and purified!

He says, instead of being scared and reckless, to pray and ask for whatever it is you need. To stop letting the fear control and manipulate and build up walls and doors in your heart and to just PRAY.  Then he talks about the peace of God, strong enough to guard our hearts and minds in Christ.

More than anything, it is a spirit of FEAR that I continue to battle.  But it’s not really even the fear itself, but the source of the fear, and often I can’t even fully find the root of it all.  That’s where sins truly clenches it’s grip and pulls on us – in the root, the deep dark spot that no one else sees and often we don’t even allow ourselves to see.  What is it that I am really afraid of? What does Christ have to say about that thing?

And finally, he says, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Beautiful.

 

Good versus Great

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’”

— Stephen Cove

Update on Seattle

Merry Christmas everyone!

I am so thankful for the last several months of my life.  It has been a fun – sometimes scary – adventure of trust.  I have been learning a lot about myself – my heart and hopes, and the insecurities that God has challenged me to do deal with.

The Lord has been so good, providing multiple opportunities for Epic Life Church to share in Jesus’ call to minister among the broken, the poor, the hurting – and even to be intentional in the community among friends and neighbors.
We hosted a North Seattle block party – with over 400 people from the community throughout the day.  Businesses came with booths, a live musician played, kids jumped on bounce houses, a local news station filmed the day, and the Seattle Fire Department even came out to play with the kids.  The greatest success of the block party in my eyes has been seeing the continued business friendships that have developed as a result of the initial interaction for the block party.
We have been blessed to meet Chaesun, local grocery store owner, who has literally allowed God to use her work to bring a family back to Jesus through Epic Life Church.  She also gave us the go on a beautiful community mural project this fall – with the chance for us to partner with some neighborhood and sustainability organizations.  Nothing like art to cover a gray and dreary street like Aurora.
We have had other opportunities to meet business owners along the street – one whom we have been able to do some work projects for, and another who has allowed us to establish a Community Garden on the nearby property he manages.  The Aurora Community Garden has been a work in progress – but our hope for this coming year is for it to be a place where weekly barbeques, live music, house churches, and community gatherings can happen.  We hope that it will be a sustainable source of fruit and vegetables for our neighbors.
Our house churches have been busy doing amazing things in the city – like cleaning trash off the streets, visiting people in the motels who are down and out, spending time with the elderly and shut-ins, and serving each other within the Body of Christ.
We have had four ministry groups and two summer ‘interns’ visit us from around the country to serve and learn the vision and heart of Incarnational Ministry here at Epic Life Church.  The way these teams have encouraged and established us in the city is phenomenal.  We are so thankful.
As followers of Christ, we are called to love others and to serve them as brothers and sisters.  Without the partnership and support of our family and friends all across the country, we would not be able to do nearly as much as God has allowed us to.  My prayer is that every life that is touched by the ministry here would know the true hope that Jesus offers.  It is the best thing we can give.

Love is the movement
Love is a revolution
This is redemption
We don’t have to slow back down

The stars are alive
They dance to the music
And all of the world
Is singing in time
As the heavens are caving in
Mysterious ways
Why God gave his life
To put motion inside my soul

It’s bigger than cold religion
It’s bigger than life

We’re starting now
We don’t have to slow back down

This is a revolution

Get up, get up
Love is moving you now

Switchfoot – Love Is The Movement

Love Project, Day 7

Keith continued his series today on 1st Corinthians 13, this time really emphasizing ‘love in action.’  It was convicting to hear William Booth’s vision for starting the Salvation Army, and was a reminder to my inner self what true love should be.

I have always resonated with the compassionate love of someone like him, like Mother Teresa – like the way that they see people just makes sense to me.  One of my favorite things Mother Teresa ever said was, “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

I am learning that this kind of love has to be focused enough on the stuff of life that is eternal (outside of our own selfish wantings), and this kind of love reminds me why I am here.

Love Project, Day 6

“What He is after is us – our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts.  Remember His lament in Isaiah, that though His people were performing all their duties, ‘their hearts are far from me’ (29:13).

How few of us truly believe this.  We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our truest self, not really, not for long.  The thought that God wants our heart seems too good to be true.”   -Brent Curtis