Sunday, March 15, 2009

I left my heart and the Ambel Man in New Orleans

Well I just spent a week in New Orleans, LA and I definitely am fighting post-NOLA depression at the moment. I really and truly love New Orleans and always will. It is the coolest and I don't care what anyone says--I want to live there someday, even if only just a for a stint of 5 or 10 years.

There are many, many things God is doing in that city, and I could detail many of them here, but then this would be the longest blog post in US history, so I shall just go into a few. Last spring break I also was in NOLA, and this spring break I had the privilege to see what some of the work we began last time looks like completed. However, even as I type that, I am aware that God will be bringing it to even further completion until Jesus comes back again, so take that however you will.

Last year the church in Holly Grove (a neighborhood considered to be rather dangerous in NOLA) was just a gutted out house and this year it is a finished building having Sunday services. It is beautiful and the Spirit of the Lord is upon it. The house used for the church building was actually gutted by a group before ours last year, but our group did do some work gutting the house next door to it that will become the fellowship hall for the church. As I reflect on the process of gutting a house, I am struck by a few aspects of the nature of God as he guts our hearts...

Gutting hearts was the theme for this year's campaign, and I was able to do a brief devotional one night for our group. I took the theme of gutting hearts and compared it to gutting a house. Here are a few realizations I had that I shared, and I hope that they will bless you as they have blessed my life:

I think Ezekiel 36, verse 26--I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you [Robyn paraphrase]--sheds some light on what it looks like when God guts our hearts. Maybe he does it similar to how I approached taking out a door frame in the house next door to Holly Grove--great enthusiasm, lots of power behind each blow, joyfully prying out the ugly and useless parts with a crowbar and hammer combo. Or maybe he does it in a totally different way...gently pulling out the yuck, careful to not damage the actual heart (when gutting you still want the house to be standing and usable in the end!). How does God feel while he's doing it? Is he annoyed at me because he's having to pull out the same stuff again? Is he sad that he is having to do it? Does he have some sympathy pains, even if he doesn't agree with the things I am holding on to that he is trying to pull out of my life? Does he understand that even though it will be better when that which separates me from him is gone, that it still hurts for me to let go of it? I think he does understand, I think it does break the heart of God, and I think he will continue to gut my heart and yours until that day of completion when Jesus returns.

He loves us that much. He thinks we are worth it. John 3:16.

Isaiah 43:18-19..."Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

If there's something that it is time to let go of, or if there's something in your past that maybe you can't be too proud is time to move on, and more than that it is okay to move on.

Man that is really exciting, isn't it?

More on NOLA later...don't you worry. ;-)

Oh and I had a pair of earrings from Germany--the guys on there signs at crosswalks that tell you to walk or don't walk--one was the stop guy one was the walk guy. I lost the walk guy while doing a bit of demo work in the future fellowship hall. Oh well! Some very sweet guys on our campaign went back on a search and rescue mission to find him but no luck. Thanks to the fellas for their effort!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Been a Long Time Gone

Wow, it's been for-evah since I have written a blog post. I bet no one even reads this thing anymore. Which is really not a big difference from before, when I think about it. ;-)

Today at church we talked about the Scripture from Romans 15:7 that says "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." I now have that memorized because we sang a song on Praise Team this morning which came from that Scripture. The song is really cool, but more importantly, this Scripture is amazing. I mean, it's one sentence, but in that one sentence there is so much that you can take away from it.

A lot of times, I bet we would all say we do a pretty good job at accepting others. We may have diverse groups of friends, and maybe even we've befriended that one person that no one else will seem to befriend. But wait--did we label that person in our minds as "That-Person-No-One-Else-Will-Befriend?" God doesn't label us that way. He calls us things like "My Son" or "My Daughter" or "Beloved." So when we label did we accept others as we were accepted?

When I think of how much love (real Love like 1 Cor 13 Love) it takes to accept someone the same way Christ accepted, I know that I am falling way short of that goal. I need accept people and love them completely, even when they've annoyed me, hurt me, betrayed me, slandered me, let me down, hurt someone else I love, etc.

What's more is that when we do this accepting others thing, we're bringing praise to God. When I welcome someone into my life and receive them in Love, God is glorified, because the bottom line is I could never do that on my own. All the glory is due to Him.

I pray for opportunities this week, for myself and the rest of the Body of Christ, to bring praise to God in this way, and I pray that I would be able to know when I'm not really accepting someone the way Christ accepted me. He's forgiven me much, and shown mercy and grace beyond understanding. High standard right there.

Oh Shannon, dear, I am pretty sure you will actually read this blog at some point, and just cause I've been giving you a hard time about it, I want to know when you do read it. Like exact date and time. ;-) or should I say (type?) ;p