Up, In and Out

We had a guest speaker at Kairos tonight named Chris. Apparently, my ADD kicked in at some point because his last name escapes me. I remember that he is a pastor in a church at Tuscaloosa and a self-proclaimed introvert, but I can’t for the life of me recall any part of his last name.

He said that the Christian life basically needs three parts– up, in, and out.

Up is worship, in is community, and out is evangelism. Any two without the other third is an incomplete faith. You need all three.

Without worship, you cut yourself off from the power source. Without community, you become easy prey for temptation (like the gazelle that gets separated from the pack when chased by lions). Without evangelism, what you learn and accomplish dies with you.

You need all three. We all do. Yet every one of us is weak in one of these areas. Chris admitted that his area of weakness was evangelism. I can relate. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to go up to a  complete stranger and share your faith.

Still, all is not lost. You can always pray for those in your circle of influence who don’t know Jesus. That’s a place to start. That’s where I am.

By the way, his name is Chris Brooks. I cheated and looked up @kairosnashville and saw where he was tagged in one of their posts. Thanks again, social media, for helping me appear smarter than I really am. That and google are my friends.

My takeaway is that you will never outgrow your need of spending time with God (worship), spending time with other believers (community), and sharing your faith with non-believers (evangelism). The best news of all is that God has already given you everything you need to succeed in all three areas. He’s given you Himself.

So basically, as long as you realize you will never outgrow your complete and total dependence on Jesus, you will be fine.

 

Being Patient in 2015

“Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand” (Henri Nouwen).

Patience is easy in theory and much harder in practice. As the old saying goes, you never pray for patience unless you want what little patience you possess to be severely tested. Or in my case, you find out how completely impatient you are.

I do think that patience is not passively waiting. It means you prepare yourself for the future God has in store for you.

That means you confess any sin that might hinder the work of God in your life and you stay daily surrendered to whatever God calls you to and to whoever He calls you to be.

I still suck both at patience and at waiting. Blame it on my ADD. Blame it on my passive nature. I wish I could say that at this point in my life that I’ve mastered these two disciplines. I haven’t.

But I also believe that even when I pray “Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief,” even that mustard-size faith– so small it barely registers as faith at all– can move mountains and change the world. It can change my world.

It has never been about big faith in God, or I’d be totally screwed. It’s about faith in a big God who can take the tiniest beginnings of faith and trust and work wonders with those.

Lord, as always, I believe. I want to believe. I try to believe. Help my unbelief.

My Oscar Acceptance Speech (Just in Case)

I wanted to let all of you know that I’m in a good place. In fact, I truly feel like I’m in a better place spiritually, mentally, and physically than I’ve been in for a long time. And I have you to thank for it.

I won’t be like the actual Oscar winners and name names, but I will thank you and hope you recognize yourself in this list.

Thank you for praying for me faithfully and consistently. There are times when I truly felt like I was carried by those prayers and times when your prayers and your faith in and for me sustained me when I didn’t have the prayers to pray or the faith to believe for myself.

Thank you for your spoken words of encouragement and all your texts and posts on my wall and facebook messages that always seemed to come at just the right moment when I needed to hear those words. God spoke mightily to me through you.

Thank you for meeting with me for coffee and conversation. Those times meant more to me than you knew because I know you cared enough about me to take time out of your busy schedule to spend time with me.

Thank you even if you said you wanted to meet for coffee and conversation but were unable to follow through. I know you meant well and I am flattered and honored that you even considered meeting with me.

Thank you for putting up with my occasional moments of insanity and weirdness and those times when I was overly needy or obnoxious. The fact that you stuck around when you could have bolted means the world to me.

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your community groups and Sunday School classes. Thank you for rooting for me and helping me believe in myself. Thank you for being amazing examples of Christ for me to learn from.

I know there’s so much I probably left out that I should have included. But with my ADD, I’m doing good to remember all of this.

Just know that I am eternally grateful to know each and every one of you and I pray that God blesses you as much as you have blessed me and that he brings you as much joy as you have brought to my life– which is way more than I deserved or could ever hope to contain. I’m so very grateful to have you play a part in the story of my life that God is still writing for me.

Thank you.

Amazed by God again!

amazed-cat

“The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

I was not prepared for what happened to me tonight. I went to Set Free Nashville tonight hoping to do more than take up space and be a warm body. I had no idea what to expect, only that God would be there. And was He!

I ended up having a really good conversation with one of the homeless men. He shared his life story with me and I listened, which is an accomplishment for an ADDer like me. I ended up receiving the blessing that I thought I would give. The guy I talked to and I are not that different– in fact, the only difference is a couple of bad decisions on his part. Apart from the grace of God, I very easily could have done worse.

I ended up praying with him and as he walked away, I whispered a silent prayer of thanks to God for this conversation. I think my frozen heart is finally starting to thaw and I am just beginning to learn what it means to love with the love of Christ. I know now that what God wants is simply my availability and flexibility. He wants me to show up and wait for Him to really show up! He did.

I didn’t do anything. God did it all. I like to close this blog with very appropriate lyrics from a Sara Groves song:

“Something changed inside me broke wide open all spilled out
Till I had no doubt that something changed
Never would have believed it till I felt it in my own heart
In the deepest part the healing came
And I cannot make it
And I cannot fake it
And I can’t afford it
But it’s mine
Something so amazing in a heart so dark and dim
When a wall falls down and the light comes in
And I cannot make it
And I cannot fake it
And I can’t afford it
But it’s mine”

That is exactly what happened tonight. All praise to the God who can use anybody anytime anywhere to reach out to anyone!