You know…there is nothing better than doing what you were called to do….what you were made to do. Sometimes this is a life-time calling. Sometimes it comes in seasons. I admire people who are led by the Spirit to shift from one calling and into another….even when they don’t know exactly what the new calling is…for sure. But, they walk away in faith trusting God. To some people…that sounds like craziness. To us as human flesh…it does sound foolish! Take 2 recent examples who were at the top of their game (based on American standards)…popular, huge, well-known, probably wealthy, and successful. To me…they are encouraging! 2 examples of leaving “success” behind and headed out in trust and faith for the “unknown”.
I do want to lay down my life….in my flesh I don’t. I want to cling to what I know…but God is calling us out and we can’t deny that….Pray for us…as we take a step of faith….but the Holy Spirit has said differently.
Then, today….the David Crowder*Band announced that this would be their last album and last tour. You can read their announcement here. In this announcement, they tell what led them to this decision. They aren’t breaking up. There isn’t a feud. It’s just time. In following the leading the Holy Spirit, it’s time for them to do something else. A new thing. Their letter states…
None of us is sure what’s next, but we’re not afraid. We’re, in fact, really, really excited!
But, there is nothing better than being right where you are supposed to be…and how desperately we want to be there…NOW. I think of our friends and heroes, April and Scott Salvant (link: Salvant Seven). The Salvant family wants nothing more than to be in Haiti working in the orphanage – New Hope Haiti Mission. Although they have already acquired a new home in Haiti, they are waiting desperately for their house here in the Richmond area to sell, so they can be on their way. (If interested in a beautiful home, check out this link.) The wait has been painful for them at times, as they desperately long to be “home” in Haiti.
Why is it that we have such difficulty in the “wait”? Waiting is doing something, right? I am often reminded of the Exodus scriptures when the Israelites followed the fire by night and the cloud by day. The fire and clouds weren’t always moving. Sometimes they were still. The scriptures also refer to them camping out. Sometimes, that is what we do….we camp out and wait for the cloud or fire to move. I need to learn to find joy in the waiting. But, what is it that we should be doing while we wait? We could sit…and look up at the cloud/fire….and say “It hasn’t moved yet.” or we can spend time in preparation. What does it look like to prepare? For Chan and his family, it was traveling and exploring. It was spending time in prayer and the Bible.
Louis and I also I feel like we have been called to do something new. I know some people think it’s foolish for me to leave the bank, but it is what we have been called to do. We have been in a waiting period for quite some time. Waiting for the burning bush…the writing on the wall…the cloud/fire to move. It can be so frustrating!!! I have to remind myself that in the waiting God has been preparing for what is next. We also have taken practical steps..
- by strengthening our marriage and our lives together.
- by praying together and individually and seeking prayers from our prayer warriors.
- by investing time and resources in reading and learning more about what we feel God has called us to do. This includes reading the Bible, although I confess I have often let reading books replace reading the Bible. I need to fix that!!!
- by learning to say “no” to things that aren’t God’s best. Good is the enemy of the best. I still struggle with this one!!!
- by getting our finances in order. God has blessed us in so many ways!!! We continue to look for ways to trim our spending.
- by learning to relax and recreate. We need to schedule more downtime in our lives for rejuvenation. Our lives are so full of ministry, that we don’t get a lot of time to kick back.
- We also need to learn to live a “simpler” life. Not exactly sure how to do that! Luke 10 tells the disciples to travel lightly and simply. He also basically says don’t get distracted. These are 2 areas we still are working on…making things more complex than they need to be and allowing distractions get in the way. We need to wage war against those 2!
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” Jesus in Matthew 25:23.
This week….5 years ago….I moved into Southern Barton Heights!!! WOW! What a wild ride it has been. If you had asked me 5 ½ years ago where I would be living…this would be the LAST place I would have said. Actually…I didn’t even know that this part of Northside even existed. When I first started looking for a new home, I drove through SBH quite by accident….following 2nd Street until it turned to the left and dropped me off at 1st Street. I was simply just trying to get to the other side of I-95….where you see those houses up on the hill to the right as you come from 64 to 95N. So…I naively drove through Gilpin Court/Jackson Ward and across the 1st Street bridge and into SBH. I remember thinking….this would be a great neighborhood…if only it was located somewhere else. I fell in love with the architecture and the community feeling of it. But, as I drove through, I just knew it was not for me….and kept looking elsewhere. Then, I came back…entering Battery Park by way of Overbrook…and seriously considered some houses adjacent to the park. Friends…both white and black/African-American told me I couldn’t move there….as a single white woman…that I would be a target. So, I stopped looking in Northside.
Then, I continued to look in other parts of Richmond…and placing contracts on houses…and getting totally shot down! Remember, this was the height of the housing boom. Somehow, I ended up back in the SBH area looking for a home. You can read more of that story in the following posts… In the beginning…, Daring God and Our House…..
Something (or should I say…Someone!!!) kept bringing me back to this area….and that was God. I had NO idea why!!! Nor did I ask, surprisingly enough. Walking in blind faith…or stupidity, not sure which I was doing at the time! Now that 5 years have gone by…I can see why the Lord wanted me here….for serving others….and changing ME! I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Only God could have made the changes in me. There have been times that I have tried doing this on my own…in my own strength and power. But I have learned that I am not capable of that and sustain it for the long-term. When I let the Holy Spirit guide me, and allow God to show off….(to use Christianese for a minute…I must decrease, He must increase…..)that is when the real stuff happens! That is when the impossible happens. I can name sooo many times when God filled me with His Power…the Holy Spirit…to do His work. I am so much more dependent on God than I was 5+ years ago!
This week, I’ve been reading this book called Radical by David Platt….and it has really been challenging me. Some people would ask….why are YOU reading a book called Radical? You could write it. What you have done is radical!!!” Yes…moving to Southern Barton Heights may be called radical…but not nearly radical enough….is what I am realizing. Platt writes on page 68…
In the Gospels we see how Jesus ended his time on earth by commanding his followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The letters are filled with the same emphasis as Paul, Peter, James and John led the church through persecution and suffering to spread the glory of God to the nations.
So…that same commandment is for us….today. So…what we do here in SBH is really not all that radical to Jesus…this is what he expects of us. Luke 10:1 talks about how while on earth Jesus sent people off in pairs to villages to prepare for him to come…as they didn’t have cell phones, internet, etc to announce it. In 2007, I prayed for the other ½ of my pair….to prepare SBH for Jesus to come! And that’s when I met Louis 2½ years ago. I truly feel like the Lord has sent us here…to prepare the way for Jesus to come. His presence is already here. You can see it…feel it…in so many ways. The revival that will take place will not be because of anything that WE did….but what the LORD did.
Platt also writes on page 46….
The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him.
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through. ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God
In addition, nowhere in the Bible does it say that it will be easy and glamorous. No one said that it would be a piece of cake. In fact…Jesus DOES say that we will be persecuted for HIS name sake….that people hated on Him before they hated on us. The Bible also says that we should find pure JOY in suffering. That joy part…I am still a work in progress there! I have a ways to go!
Later, I will share with you some of the suffering, persecution, or discomfort that we have encountered since beginning this work. Not to point us, but to point to how faithful the Lord has been through it. Please pray for wisdom and strength as we continue to be the Light on the City Hill.
Swirl. That describes what is going on inside my head right now. Louis and I have been in a bit of a Swirl lately, but I think it’s going just a little faster after the last week. So much information, so many dreams and thoughts just swirling after 3 days at Exponential 10. It is good to just relax, play and laugh after such an intense time. Louis and I had an AMAZING afternoon at Aquatica yesterday. Then, after a light dinner we took a dip in the hot tub and sat by the pool talking about what was going on in our heads and hearts…unpacking a little of what is swirling. (We are having to do that a little at a time.) Now, today we are off to SeaWorld in a few minutes today. Shamu! Shamu!
So, you are probably wondering what is swirling around. Let me give you a little peek.
We stayed with a large group of friends from the Titus Institute of Church Planting, who Louis met a few years ago at the conference. So, most evenings we were able to hang out with other like-minded folks and talk about what we experienced. In addition, we also got to spend time with Wayne Krause, Louis’ friend and church planter from Australia. What a blessing it was to hang out with and chat with all of Louis’ old friends and getting to know some new ones as well. I enjoyed this as much as I did hearing people like Shane Claiborne, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Matt Chandler (We are praying for you, Matt!!!), Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Louie Giglio, Ken Blanchard, Efrem Smith, Brenda Salter McNeil and sooo many others!!!
Francis Chan’s story was one of the most moving and convicting for Louis and me. The video from the conference isn’t available just yet, but here is his sermon from Sunday when he discussed how the Lord has been moving in his life and the lives of his family recently. It is very similar to what he talked about at Exponential. I think many of us would agree that God is moving in a lot of us in a very similar way. Sermon: Surrender Listen to it and….welcome to the SWIRL! Let me know if we aren’t alone in this….what you are thinking…
Swirling with the Lord, Mart
This was written about noon today, Although we arrived here about 6:30p, I just got online to post it! We just got back to the villa from a wonderful mexican meal with our friends Bill and Miriam…
On the road to Orlando, by way of Charlotte! It’s Sunday morning, and Louis and I left Richmond Saturday for Charlotte to celebrate Mama’s (Louis’ mom) birthday. IPod Genius Mix rocked Hillsong United, David Crowder Band, Mercy Me and Chris Tomlin. This morning, we are chillin’ to a little John Mayer and Steve Tyrell. This afternoon, it will have to be a little more energetic, as we continue this 8-9 hour drive!!!
It’s interesting how music plays an important role in our lives and makes a significant impact on how we feel. ..whether we feel like rockin’, chillin’, worshiping or enjoying the silence. There was a time in my life that I couldn’t STAND silence. Music or TV or something had to be making some noise all the time…even when I slept…the TV was on.
At some point early in my time living in SBH that I learned to really enjoy the quiet…silence. Now I come to expect some time of nothingness. It is during this time that I hear the gentle hushed whisper of my Lord. Before, He really had to YELL at me to get my attention. Now, I look forward to those quiet still times where we can commune together.
Even on the road trip…there are times when the car is full of silliness and laughter. There are others where we are chatting and planning. And still other times where it is just quiet. No music. No voices. Just us and the road.
We are heading to Orlando for a conference….Exponential 2010. Monday – Thursday we will be among 2-3 thousand other people at the largest gathering of church planters and leaders in the world. Louis has been a few times before, but this is my first time. We are looking forward to:
- Praising God for how He is moving throughout the world.
- Gleaning from the words of people like Francis Chan, Neil Cole, Dave Ferguson, Matt Chandler, Alan Hirsch and so many others as the Lord uses and speaks through them.
- Hearing what is new and exciting around the world in church planting?
- Catching up with some of Louis’ contacts and friends he has made over the years.
- Hearing from the Lord. What does He have for us? What divine appointments? What words of wisdom? What’s next, God?
- Talking to each other about our future in church planting.
We also hope to run into the Wagler’s and the Snook’s while we are there, too! I am so glad that they will be able to experience this conference as well and look forward to exchanging notes and thoughts with them when we return to Richmond and Commonwealth Chapel.
Then, we will take a few days off to just play around Orlando…chillaxin’ and sunnin’ pool side, heading to SeaWorld, Aquatica, etc. Bill and Miriam, our friends from Clifton Forge will also be in Orlando playing this week, and we can’t wait to have time to relax with them.