pressing on

Well, okay then! It’s been a six-year hiatus since my last post, and on the eve of 2019, I’m drawn to articulate thoughts again. I have several threads in my head, not sure where this goes yet, but not wanting that to hinder the restarting.

I’ll pick it up from the dangling thread I left in “fresh starting…” on 2 Dec 2012. Indeed, the last 6 years have been formative. I notice these words in my last post, “…stepping out of the regular gathering that we were part of…” and “There are many types of gatherings in the Puget Sound area, and I’m in touch with several of them.” I would say that one of the biggest adjustments in my thinking about church life is coming to see that the Lord has a lesser focus on group “gatherings” than I previously thought (“thought” because I didn’t know anything different, it’s what we did…) and more on individual relationships themselves. In Matthew 18 we read the familiar words of Jesus, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Without planning it, that’s been the primary church-life focus of these years – regular encounters with one or two others to touch the Lord together. Over a burger, at our house for dinner, dropping by for a quick visit on the way somewhere, a hallway conversation, a phone call, etc. These are precious and life-giving moments for me. Some have been ongoing for almost 20 years, some got started within the last 5 years. And there’s a rekindling of sorts, where we’re finding each other again. Thinking that group meetings are “required” for church life to happen is another reminder that the detox from the traditional model is deeper than I know. I suspect that the group meeting orientation of church life is rooted in the business model – it’s where sermons happen, buildings & equipment get used, the various church-business roles manifest, all of which is important validation for the giving of funds to the enterprise. I guess the unraveling of the church business model in me is still happening, now 22 years since I left it! I have another suspicion – it won’t be so for those who didn’t spend so much time in it. Thank you Lord!

All that aside, I’m encouraged to press on. I find myself so grateful for all that God has been doing in my family, friends, and I. Here’s believing 2019 will be better than expected, in the things that matter most. So, let’s know him. Let’s press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn (can’t stop that!). And he will come to us like the refreshing rain, like the Spring rain, watering the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

fresh starting…

I’m at a “fresh start” kind of place in my thinking about church life these days. We’ve made some adjustments some months ago in our regular routine, as far as stepping out of the regular gathering that we were part of for about 12 years. We have some regular patterns of fellow believers that we regularly meet up with, there’s always new connections being formed, and we sense God with us in this journey.

As I think and pray over these things, and discuss it with my wife, I believe that I need to make an effort to articulate where my thoughts have come to as far as what church life is all about. There are many types of gatherings in the Puget Sound area, and I’m in touch with several of them. One of the things that God impressed upon me in the last “chapter” of church life with the “12-year” gathering is how valuable it is to work things out in the context of community. So I welcome the response of others on these matters.

letting God be huge, wise, and in control

I had a friend recently write me about some really honest questions he was wrestling with – such as, “In my heart things are stirring…but is it me or is it God… wondering sometimes if I have missed it completely…makes me wonder what my life is about right now, and if the hunger I feel is true or what…”
I was encouraged by the raw honesty of this.  I too have had been doing some soul searching over the last 18 months.  It’s being a time of re-evaluating:  what I believe God is speaking to me about the direction and investment of my time, energy and resources.  Re-evaluating my skills (and lack thereof) in the work place – albeit, this came in the midst of probably the most challenging season of my adult working years in terms of the requirements placed on my time and the need to “step into bigger shoes.”  I’ve been confronted with a more honest assessment of the limits of my love for others vs. myself.  And during this same time period I’ve been very quiet on this blog.  There’s been less time for it, and I got out of a writing pattern.  But it’s more than that.  I think I’m slowly getting a new grip on what my life is really about, like my friend wrote.   I wrote back to him:
Dear Friend,
I commend you for the courage to ask the hard questions, and to look at things squarely.
The Lord once gave me a thought about this, when living in southern cal, and thinking about how we naturally bop around in the surf on the beach to avoid the impact of waves so they wouldn’t knock you down.  We jump up, dive, turning our bodies to the side and lean into the waves – of course!  We want to stay upright, on our feet.  He was showing me how I was approaching life, and he wanted to show me a different way.  He wanted me to turn over the full responsibility for whether the waves of life knocked me down or not, and not use any of my own cleverness to avoid things that are important, or my own strength to sustain them.  So the image he gave me, and he takes me back to it periodically over the years, was to simply stand there in the surf of life, facing forward and not sideways, letting come what may come, being willing to get knocked down by the waves, leaving all that in my loving Shepherd’s tender care.  Oh, that I would stay there.
Ps. 51:6 – and I like NASB here – “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

I believe that ruthless honesty you speak to is so important, so that what remains is only what comes from him, and is sustained only by him.

I too find myself wondering what my life is about these days.  I sense I’m in some kind of in-between place.  I guess I used to have answers but don’t anymore, but either way, I wasn’t even asking the questions I now have.  And the questions I have now are more simple and fundamental.  Like, “okay, what now?”  And somehow, this seems good and right – thank you, Lord.  I take comfort in feeling small in this season, letting him be huge, wise, and in control.
Your friend,
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a call to war

I laid awake in the middle of a night recently, right after a gathering of our home church gang, stirred up by some challenging spiritual things several of us sensed were in our midst that night.

It brought me back to being mindful that we are in a war. There is an enemy and he is crafty. I’m aware that God, amazingly, has made us warriors of this battle, the ground on which this battle is fought, and the prize for which it is fought. Of course, we know Jesus has won the war, but that doesn’t keep many battles along the way from being yet undecided. And at any moment, there are some that look like we’re on the winning side, and others where it’s not looking so good.

Battles for the kingdom of God to move through us. Battles for our own personal victories as the saints walking in the authority of Christ, rising up in all that he has called each one of us to. Battles for our children to chose wisely how they will live their lives. Battles won as, by his grace, we press in to the presence of the Lord in our daily lives.

Pressing in by making ourselves available to his loving overtures. Pressing in to knowing ALL the truth as he so willingly discloses it to us by his word and Spirit. Pressing in to all of his heavenly blessings, which are our inheritance. Pressing in to his presence as worship warriors. Pressing in to our authority in prayer. Fighting this war on our knees.

I’m feeling a call to go to battle for the kingdom of God in and through us. To pray over all that God is doing in each of our families and marriages. To pray for what God is doing in this area, our domain of work/friends/neighbors/others in which we mostly live our lves. And to pray over what he’s doing in the world at large. And to break through barriers in our relationships, so that we are reaching the places that God is wanting to take us. I’m not wanting to fabricate anything that isn’t what God is doing, but only do what he’s doing. But wanting to see strongholds of the enemy broken that keep us from living stronger lives of worship, prayer, the gifts of the Spirit, seeing his Kingdom moving in the lives of others – getting free from lies that hold us back from living in his freedom, grace, love, mercy. Seeing this same reality of God spread to those around us, our families, etc. as he prompts us to give it away.

I layed awake for hours that night a few weeks ago, feeling stirred up, and called to war. I’m sure many of you have already been sensing this, and many have already been dwelling on various aspects of the battle and are in prayer about this. Bless you! I’m stirred up to pray, and ready to pray over these things in every setting we may find ourselves together.

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life begets life…

I had an email exchange with someone who asked:
Hi Page,

Can you tell me about the forms of discipleship that happen in simple church? I am looking for a community of faith that is intentional about discipleship–learning and growing as disciples of Christ and making new disciples…easier said than done.

My response:
Hi Friend,
My observation is that the thinking on discipleship is all over the map in simple/organic/home church groups just like it is in the traditional religious business church model. It’s been a particular interest of mine over the decades, so I can certainly understand your interest. There’s structured to unstructured. I see this as a matter of each of us working out with the Lord, and the body of believers we are with, how he is leading and following him on it (I guess that pretty much applies to any matter).

Someone else once said it, but I like it – there are times when we have a Paul in our life (an older brother, an elder for us), a Timothy (some one we can provide coaching/mentoring to), and a Barnabas (someone who comes along side and encourages). Not that you always have all happening at once, but as the Lord grants them, for he is the one, true, Discipler. I find that most of what happens in simple church life, where the kind of relationships are happening that he desires, is that he uses these relationships to disciple all of us at once, like iron sharpening iron. It’s the intentional living out our callings together over the years, as the body of Christ, where he shapes and molds us, often without us even knowing he’s doing it. And there are regular times of intentionally speaking into the lives of our brothers/sisters, as he gives the words of wisdom, knowledge, prophetic insight, etc. And all of this happens best in the context of the natural flow of trusting relationships. Our experience is that this kind of relationship are much easier to find over time in the context of simple/organic church life than the business model.

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