Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Document: Stuff

Has the mission been lost in the stuff?

Louise Summerhill knew what "stuff" could do to her mission.

Sally created this painting for Birthright of Salem.
"The essence of Birthright is love." - Summerhill
Her mission was singular: to prevent abortions by providing a quiet place for potentially pregnant women to experience support and friendship.  She founded the first abortion-alternative center in 1968 and subsequently wrote "The Story of Birthright."  At every regional conference I attended, the issue of "stuff" was discussed by Birthright's volunteers.  Someone would refer to Louise's book which depicts how she stayed on her mission.  Then they would report something like, "We just got rid of our clothing room altogether.  The women were coming in for free clothing and formula and telling their friends to come and get it here, and that's all we were being known for.  Lots of other agencies give away those things.  They can get them somewhere else.  We need to get back to what we're about, which is listening to women about their pregnancy."  If Birthright is going to achieve its mission of seeing women's hearts transformed to keep their babies, they need to be known for the right thing.

More than the women they serve, it's the volunteers who daily get the most challenge by the mission of Birthright.  As a volunteer I found it easier to ask a woman a barrage of questions about what stuff she doesn't yet have for the baby. It's easier to pile up stuff in her arms than it is to sit and listen.  The hardest thing is to ask whether her heart is happy for another baby and wait the awkward five minutes for a pregnancy test to result.  Staying on mission is challenging for those who are trying to achieve it.

I feel that this is analogous for the Church.  Jesus' mission was singular: make disciples, teaching them everything He commanded.  If we are going to do that well, who is teaching us and maturing us to do the most important thing?  If I walk into a traditional church, I get a barrage of stuff.  I have massive resources at my request, multiple bible studies and self-growth classes, a variety of places to "get plugged in and serve," and even entertaining attractions to invite friends to come to.  Don't get me wrong - I'm glad for the stuff.  People can be blessed by it most times.  I love to attend events and give stuff away and I'm thankful for the church for developing it.  How might we focus?  How might we depend more fully on God?  Luke 9:1-3,
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt."
Many Christians including me get lost in "Christian stuff" which supports the mission - but it is not the mission, itself.   At the Birthright regional conference they gave us training on "Equipment."  All that was written on the page were three things:  "Some kind of phone."  "Something to take notes."  "Ears, eyes, mouth, and your compassionate heart."  What would happen if this was most prominent in the Sunday morning bulletin?

From the document...


The structure is individualized mentoring and strengthening because it invests personally in believers to transform them, to raise them up into disciple makers. The proposal's operational structure is only enough nuts and bolts to get the work done. Its only contribution is making disciples at the relational level. The proposal is the work, and nothing more. It is most fitting to have the willing embark on this adventure, those eager to see the power of God. There is no space required to be rented out. The home and the phone call are the avenues to make and raise believers. We submit to the Holy Spirit to lead our hearts, and altogether we set before us God's Word to assure us of the work He has predestined for us to do.

We have the power of God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Certainly I am not going to be asked to do all things, and weakness is another essential element to giving God the glory due. The Body has many parts. Having the wisdom to know when to trust God to provide a help or service, and when to allow a professional to serve, is important. The persons mentoring and strengthening believers in becoming disciple makers will need counsel from the wise in the church. Setting all those protections aside, we trust God that the people of this city are tailor-fitted to find life and wisdom from believers who have entered into their life for the purpose of redemption. Redemption is a spiritual need but it is also a work in the practical problems of life. God has planned to redeem everything, and we encourage trusting God in all things to help us.

There is a secondary structure provided by this ministry. Individually we run out of time or resources or answers. This is a critical cue from God. Elijah got depressed thinking he was the only one testifying when God rebuked, “I have 6,000 who have not bent the knee to Baal.” As a new believer develops capacity for things of the LORD, we bring them to church if they are willing (the “attractional model”) where they can draw more broadly in community. Also, we familiarize them with other members in our homes and other locations in the city (the “missional model”) where their spiritual needs can be met. At some times we cannot take a phone call because of other commitments. To familiarize with others allows a network, both on the church campus and everywhere. This proves Christ's Body as family, taking some important glory away from the individual worker. Certainly there already are many in our own church who take the opportunity to share Christ, and this way we are aware of one another's work and able to support one another, praising God for it.


God is sufficient.  When the children of Israel were in the desert, they were led by God Himself in a pillar. Who knows how miraculous it could have truly been to have their bodies sustained as Jesus did when he was in the desert and did not eat or drink for 40 days. Instead, they believed that they needed water, so Moses asked God and he split the rock. They complained again, and God gave them what they asked so that they would continue to follow. "We need bread," they complained. That wasn't enough. "We want meat." So God gave them meat. Later in Psalm 73 God recounts it saying that His children "limited His power" because of their complaining thoughts that they needed more than God Himself to survive. Isn't our challenge like this? We understand that the Spirit is enough to help us accomplish the Great Commission to make disciples of all men. We're afraid that if with our lives we lift up Him alone to make disciples He will not indeed draw all men to Himself. We think we need additional provisions to accomplish this. We need an initial earthly draw: a fashion show, basketball, gifts to families of inmates, etc., to get them to want to come onto the church campus... and while they're here, we'll share the gospel. These avenues see a harvest, thank God! But it is also true that the Spirit's glory is in ways precluded by material production and human ingenuity.

Identity.  In this ministry, the natural draw is YOU (with CHRIST). The people of this city want to come with you while you're shopping, running errands, or doing yard work. They want to belong, they desire a permanent place on the inside. Being inside they see how the Way of Jesus Christ makes the mundane life-giving. You need not have a family or a spouse to do discipleship. As you share yourself, you share Him who dwells within. The Holy Spirit is satisfactory fascination and supply in what we do. Because we have entrusted our resources to God and His arrangement of God-seekers to come to us, we have more confidence. The benefit of knitting together like-minded disciple makers is further security that God and His Word is constantly at the center of our efforts.

Family.  Like the LORD our ultimate interest is people. Earthly families are about making and raising people. It is the same in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is about replicating people who are the image of God who do the mission of God. Luke 14:12-14 - "Then He also said to him who invited Him, 'When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'” Might we be careful to seek first people who "cannot repay us" - people who are immature in knowing Jesus Christ. When we impart a steady flow of the Spirit to them, they will not be able to repay us. But this is how we "make" babies, and "raise" babies so that they can know God in the depth that we do.  This is “Family Evangelism,” or “Covenant.” Family is something the whole world intuitively understands, and desires.

(in upcoming conclusion: a personal note)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Document: 4 Elements

"What makes your church different from any other secular philanthrophy?" I asked the Mormon missionaries.

the Mormons I met with want to know God personally

(A philanthropy is an activity or institution intended to promote human welfare.)

We had been reading through Galatians together.  We'd been meeting for a little less than a year, but a couple months ago our time came to a close.  One elder finally completed his mission and was going home.  The other received a new assignment to Spanish-speaking areas of the city.  Before they left I asked them again to explain how we obtain the Holy Spirit.  One of them took out a piece of paper and drew a picture.  "So, what you're saying is, we have faith in Jesus first.  Then because we believe we receive the Holy Spirit.  And then it is through the Holy Spirit that we have the ability to obey the ten commandments and please God.  Everything except the Spirit's work through us is to miss the mark of perfection; it's still shades of disobedience."  Awesome, Word of God!  I have learned so much from Mormon people through time; changed my mind on several things.  It is nice to have imparted something for them.

I contrasted our self-righteous works to the story of Abraham and the impossible promise of conceiving Isaac.  Faith is the heart of what it means to claim God.  "Your church does so many wonderful things," I said.  "However, so do many humanitarian organizations on the earth who have nothing to do with religion.  I can tell your church cares for people.  My church is no different - it also is known for its acts of care toward others.  So let's cut through to the heart.  Where is God standing apart from what people can accomplish?  Where is God alive, for you?  Here is where He is alive for me...".

The good works done by philanthropies and the good works done by the Church are dangerously close to identical.  Does anyone realize how easy it is to kindly mow someone's lawn and tell them about God?  Good works do not quite incarnate the Living God who offered a covenant to Abraham.  I can only know God if He does something that I am certain I cannot do for myself.  I am not accustomed to the power of God yet either.  But I count myself as someone who wants to live by it.  

(from the document...)

The heart of transformation and “knitting together” this ministry will provide for making disciple makers has four elements:
  • Prayer.  We trust God to bring us to His Bride-to-be. God arranges the people and the circumstances and prepares their hearts to receive the gospel. We trust God to bring these people into our lives. Experience proves to me that the ones we will meet are tailor-fitted to naturally and humanly connect with us as individuals. Each believer has been given a certain arrangement of Spiritual gifts, which we trust God to exercise and show the excellence of the power of God that they might believe the promise of eternal life and life abundant. We trust the Spirit, and we trust our Spiritual gifts to be the witness that God is alive. Not only does the power of God lead us to His Bride-to-be, but it leads His Bride-to-be to receive Him and not just follow mere mortals or doctrines or religiosity. “And when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the gospel of God. For I determined to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God(1 Cor. 2:1-5). The Spirit out ahead of us runs the whole show. Without it we will not find them and they will not see Him. Without God working, we have a false or weak ministry.  Do you wonder if God has His own high-five notecard?  We do well to pray for our “high-five,” however receiving those God has on His “high-five” card puts flesh and blood agency on immediate redemption. 

  • Courage.  Many believers want to share the gospel, open up their homes and open up their lives with others but are afraid or nervous to do it. This is also a work of the Holy Spirit which they will trust God to develop, and we pray alongside them that God would in fact take them in baby steps toward sharing their faith and their life with someone outside the church (Lk. 12:16-21). This is where some scriptures will be a helpful to strengthen a believer to boldly trust God. A small study in the mission of God and the image of God would be appropriate. Also a small study in the nature of faith and discerning the voice of God would be appropriate. Learning gospel scriptures and being able to illuminate them in power will be a central focus. 

  • A basic ability to refrain from judging others.  For this reason, I am wary writing this paper. I sincerely hope no one feels judged or limited by what I write. His interests are what matter. This issue is constantly surfacing even for those who have been making disciples for awhile.  It's not a program I want to impart but a way of life which is adaptive to the people engaged.  Unfortunately for our finite ideas of God and His righteousness, God wants to receive the glory, and He does not want our images of Him to receive the glory. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. Some additional scripture on how to view struggles with sin or brokenness in perspective to the process of sanctification will be very necessary. 

  • Family.  When the Spirit fell, there was identity in Christ and oneness of believers. We know that a person has come into God's presence by noticing evidence of joy and strength after being told the truth of God's standards and God's grace. This is enough that the Spirit is present, and therefore, there is oneness of believers even without their ability to yet articulate the gospel they have received. The Spirit falls in a way others notice in Acts 2:41 and it says that those who gladly received the Word were baptized, and all those who believed were together, and they took care of everyone according to their need. Family – it is a doctrine, yet intuitive. Peter asks when the Spirit falls in Acts 11:17 with Cornelius, “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Above all doctrinal disputes on the content of the gospel, when someone relies on Jesus and the Spirit falls, we must accept that whatever they are to us, God has nevertheless accepted them. We are now members of one another, forever. Family means “we are in this together, and what I have is yours: my time, my love, my stuff – whatever you need to know you belong and you have potential as an image bearer of God, it is all yours.” We practice what the abiding God does with us, with new converts. We simply enjoy their company fully, without regret (John 17:9-24). Once within the family, there are times when every believer chooses to walk in the flesh and it is critical to gently point out the difference (Col. 2:6).

(more in the next post)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ben is Better :)

We went to the doctor today and he was like, "Get out of here," in the way doctors usually are.  Don't you just hate it when you have to wait day after day, after day, just to talk to the doctor again and find out the answers to your concerns... and then they blow through the appointment in a measley five minutes?  Then you go out and get in the car and realize, it's over.  ...It is encouraging.

The doctor still does not know how the bleeding started or why it stopped, but said again that he had lost a lot of blood; it was a big deal.  I was able to share this testimony of the power of prayer at the coffee shop this morning.

There is no reason why he can't go back to work, but he still will take time before he can do lifting or have his energy back.  So we're pretty happy around here.  Yesterday was boring.  Ben had had the desire to "telecommute" to work as they say, but his company told him not to work until the doctor gave the ok.  So he came back into the house and got a snack and said he was going to watch youtube.
he rests his case: man-zone
 He's tired of doing that.  :)  Before he got sick he had been working on clearing out the garage so he could turn it into a man-zone.  It's not quite mannified yet, but the broken couch he likes to sit on definitely sets the tone.

I was not alone through this; I have the Church.  And the LORD gave His presence to me in a specially close way.  He shows me how close He is to me and how He is happy to be my Spiritual Head, and share His resources, His thoughts, His strategies, interests and purposes with me, even His authority.  Hmph.  I'm so blessed!  Not because I have this or that thing in my life, not even because I saw God work a miracle through my husband.  I'm blessed because He has commanded me to believe that "they will be my people, and I will be their God."  He is mine, and that makes me the richest person in the world.

A few days ago I wasn't clear headed.  After we got home from the hospital I was discouraged.  For a few hours I found myself thinking thoughts that are not aligned with God's will.  I am sad that I'm unfaithful in my humanity.  But I'm glad that I saw it for what it was and held still till the feeling and temptation passed.  It's okay to ask questions.  It's okay to be frustrated.  Are you going through some difficulty in your soul today?  Don't be afraid to name your disappointments.  If you can wait to see what God does in them, you will have passed the test and have so much deeper joy after the moment.

Ps. 119:11,
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
2 Tim 2:11-13,
This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
I am quite aware that Satan likes to keep disturbing me in the same tender spot, but the Light shines in the dark, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  I cannot wait to see more of God's power in my life and the lives of the ones I love.  It is a constant prayer!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Please Pray for my Husband

My husband Ben is still having some issues which concern us, and I'm trying to not worry about him, but it's difficult.  He has some unexplained pain today, and he found out yesterday that he is infected with Salmonella.

What happened began last Saturday morning.  He went into the ER when I wasn't home, with the kids with what felt like pain in his heart.  They tested his lungs and heart which were fine, determined it was the gallbladder.  By about 10 pm he had the surgery to have it removed, which is about the time I got home from Seattle having found out in the afternoon what was going on.  When we were settling down to sleep, that's when the trouble started.

They had put him in pediatrics which is odd, for recovery.  He was supposed to stand up every hour and one time he did, but got dizzy while the nurse and I were standing there in front of him.  An hour later he couldn't even talk almost, just sitting up.  I was sitting behind him to make sure he was supported from behind, and the nurse was in front of him.  He started passing out and then coming-to.  We tried to get him to lay down and he stopped breathing and I saw his blood pressure went down to 29 on the bottom number.  So we sat him back up.  The nurse asked me to hit the emergency response button so I stuck my knee in his back and reached up and pressed it.  Rapid Response is a crew of ICU nurses who came down and started monitoring his vitals.  They were trending (down).  They tested his blood, an hour later the results said he was septic.

We transferred his bed to ICU at about 4:45 AM.  When he got there I didn't say much and watched.  They spent the next hours taking more tests and hooking him up to various things.  They started antibiotics and more IVs and removed him to take a cat scan.  They found internal bleeding.  The doctor who performed the laparoscopy to remove the gallbladder came in at about 7 AM and looked frustrated.  He thought it was possible he had clipped an artery on accident to explain the bleeding.  He was going to have to take him back into surgery and find where the bleeding was.

By about 9 the surgery was done and Ben was back.  The doctor said when he went in, he couldn't find any bleeding so it must have stopped.  They removed a liter of blood which was causing trauma to his internal cavity.  They gave him a transfusion and we spent the day monitoring his numbers.

The next day they did another scan and found there was more internal bleeding again, and gave him more transfusions.  That was Monday, which is when most church prayer chains start getting up and functioning.  We weren't sure if there was going to be another surgery to find the bleeding.  The doctor couldn't explain why the bleeding was around the liver and the spleen since the gallbladder site wasn't near them.

Tuesday morning however, he had held his numbers all that night.  After eating and drinking, they started taking out his IVs and then they said they were going to release him!

The last information on his blood was that it was at "8.5"  "7" would have gotten him another transfusion.  "Normal" I guess... capacity is 10-12 for a woman and 13-16 for a man.  So he is pretty weak.  It will take him a month to recoup his blood to a normal level.  But other than that he is eating and watching tv and having a great time, except he's getting cabin fever.

The LORD has been very good.  I believe it is the prayers of the church which appropriated the power of God into Ben's body.  I have no explanation how the internal bleeding stopped.  From what I understand, most of the time internal bleeding does not stop, and an organ has to be removed.  I can say with joy,

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

Thank you Church for praying for Ben.  All the love, visits, phone calls, texts, facebook messages and service through babysitting and meals and lawn mowing and more means so much to us.  Praise God for his miraculous power!

Please continue to pray for him. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Document - Need

Most Christians know the commission to make disciples.  The question that everyone is thinking to themselves is, how?  How do I practically do that?

For the next several days I plan to share parts of my document.  Today's post concerns need, current models and a new proposal.

What does the word 'missional' mean?  There are probably several concepts of that word, and I haven't discovered them all yet.  Most any article you will read introducing the concept of the missional movement begins by saying, "The latest rage in the church is 'becoming missional,' but many people have little idea what being missional is."  While this may be true, I promise not to begin a discussion by pointing out the failures of those trying to learn it as they go.  My church pops up on a google search as a "missional church" in the Salem area but it's not yet "missional" as I have now learned that word to mean.  The story was the same in other churches.  About six months ago I spent some time visiting other churches in this city looking for a MC.  I asked pastors if they had ever heard the word "Missional Community" before and they had not heard the term.  In fact no one except I believe two people who attend my church had heard of it.

Reading below, please keep in mind I wrote it before hearing about Missional Communities (MCs) and what MCs mean by "missional".  Formerly, the best idea of what "missional" meant I defined as "Doing church off church campus."  You can see in what I wrote, I just dismissed this idea of "missional" didn't I?  (lol)  I didn't want just another method, but more of a mindset; a sense of identity out of the Word of God that affected my whole way of life.

Since discovering MCs I've picked up the word 'missional' again.  Now it means a whole lot more than what I thought I understood.  Some of those facets are described to the best of my ability in the next few days here on this blog.  I am still learning as you can see, what "being missional" is.  We can learn together.  Please don't think this is about me and my brilliant thinking.  It's not!  It's about the Holy Spirit speaking the same thing to many believers in many places of the world.  I trust the scriptures to speak to you even if you don't feel led to embrace a "movement."  I want to illustrate God's heart to perform His purposes according to scripture.  From the document....


(an older draft from last year)
“Do you really think we can make a difference in this city? After all we ARE just kids,” my daughter Grace asked in her script for their presentation of “God of this City” in kids' worship.  How can we touch this city for the Kingdom?  Christians want to make disciples, but do not know where to start.  Oftentimes they rely on the church to begin a ministry to the community.

(a newer draft)
Do you see people outside walking by the windows while you sit in church Sunday mornings?  Ever wonder about them?  They're not on my "high five" card because I don't know them.  Does any Christian know them?  What if they would come to church or believe in Jesus if some would pray and obey as the LORD promises to send us out as workers in the harvest?  Are we waiting for opportunities the church gives, or do we make opportunities by seeking God individually?  We embrace our Pastor whose heart is, "If you call me to Salem, we are going after the lost."  It's not a Pastor's responsibility to transform us; each must choose to submit themself to the Holy Spirit.  "Only 5% of Christians lead just one person to faith in Christ in their entire lifetime.”  What should we do?  Right now, I think about that and experience immediate spiritual warfare over how I've spent the last six months.  How about you?

Current Models 

There are two common models for making disciples.  One is the “attractional model.”  This model's objective is to lower boundaries and invite those who feel like “outsiders” into church where they will receive the gospel.  Examples would be AWANA, Women's bible study, First Bikers, the footwear fashion show, etc.  These are excellent at making disciples and they bear fruit, but they are limited to those who feel comfortable ultimately coming in to church.  Another model which is rapidly growing in popularity is called the “missional model.”  Under this model, disciple makers have church services in unconventional areas such as nursing homes or coffee shops or construction sites.  This is an exciting means of touching the city for the Kingdom, since it puts Christians in the midst of the unchurched.   The weakness of this model is that it is difficult to do all that church does, all that the scriptures teach us to do, in an unconventional place.  It still requires in essence, paid staff, a worship team, and a prepared location that is inviting.

New Proposal 

Both the “attractional” and the “missional” model are successful in accomplishing the commission Christ gave.  This proposal is to compliment them.  The solution suggested in this proposal is to knit together willing believers interested in making disciples regardless of their location.  This kind of disciple making will not come under the guise of services and programs to better the community, or a draw of entertainment, or a focus of ministering to a specific demographic, or a draw of short term missions to foreign places or even local ones.  This is a transformational maturing of likeminded believers to make disciples no matter where they are or what they do.  Christians need not go someplace to be a missionary, though they are welcome to do so.  Disciple making is for wherever we already are.  “Let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7:24).  Slaves for instance did not need to exit slavery in order to have won converts in their day; converts may be made wherever believers most commonly dwell, work, and play.

Scripture & Philosophy

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations...” (Eph 3:20-21). “...Speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head— Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:15-16). The heart of transformation and “knitting together” this ministry will provide for making disciple makers has four elements....

(more to come)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Missional Community: My Story

What do you hear God saying to you, through the Missional Community way of life?  I've seen many become born again through the gospel and now they need to grow with Christ.  Growing in our trust of Christ we call "discipleship."  I have about 7 adults and 7 children who primarily look to me since they received Christ through my testimony.  Frankly it's too much for one person to provide, but I can't just ignore them either.  I feel like the disciples who threw their nets onto the other side of the boat.  The catch was so heavy they had to call other fishermen to help drag it out of the sea.  We really don't need a church program to reach God-seekers, they're quite plentiful to find while just living our life!  I do know I wasn't meant to do this in isolation, and neither are you dear Christian.

My Story

About ten years ago my husband and I got married, bought a house and started going to church in Salem. I reached out to my neighbors with the testimony and love of Jesus Christ doing the sorts of ideas being suggested in the free book you can read right now called "Simple Ways to Be Missional."  I offered to help them out with things I could see they were in need of, and had neighbors (now dear family!) regularly in my home.  I did not see much fruit for several years.  Then in about 2007 my husband and I started a season of marital discord which isolated us out of patience for one another.  It was during these 3-4 years of separation that I saw over 30 people trust Christ through my life and testimony.  Wow... something remarkable was happening!  I didn't think consciously at the time, but one day toward the end I looked back and started counting.

God drew others not because I was awesome, but because I was broken.  I testify that it was ALWAYS when I was a wreck and crying, seeking to obey God's voice toward me, when someone would knock on the door and be searching for hope themselves.

In December of 2010 my Sunday school class prayed as a community for marriages and I believe it was at that time that it was the miraculous power of God that restored us.  In mid-January 2011 we reconciled.  The very week following this reconciliation I sat down and began to write a document.  I later titled it, "The Disciple Making Workhorse."  It was a summation of the lessons I had learned about ministry during these years.

For all of 2011 I continually worked on the document.  I was conflicted about sharing it.  Why?  Well first of all it's a piece of paper, and as a human being I think I make a much better substitute for intimacy.  What's more the whole point of what I wanted to say was meant to avoid the familiar route of self-determination and program and organization.  It's too easy to falsely emulate a movement of God in the power of the flesh.  I want show up where the Spirit is already moving.  (See Nobody Told Me About Good Flesh.)

However I wrote the paper because I didn't know how to find people who could join me or who I could join.  In October last year I began looking for a community of people who were more or less like me.  I prayed and prayed for God to help me find likeminded people, to open that door for this reality of my experience of God to spread.

It was last December 25th when God answered that prayer.  I was celebrating Christmas with Ben (my husband) Painter's family.  This is the day we celebrate the incarnation of God, and He gave me the best gift of all!  We sat around with the whole family after a wonderful time of eating dinner and opening presents.  Ben Joyce (my husband's sister married a man with the same name as her brother, different Ben; he is the narrator in the video of yesterday's post) began to share his story of what God had been leading him to.  I asked him to explain what it was all about.  Out poured the very concepts I had been writing about in my document, right down the list!  Now, I had a name for the thing I was seeing: "Missional Community."  What an unexpected way to answer prayer!

Within a two week period I had found a local variety of Missional Community called PAX, here in Salem.  The PAX community is gracious and I am deeply blessed learning with them what it's like to be on mission.  PAX has brought Ben and I together as a couple in ways I never dreamed could happen.  We are truly a team, serving others.  I'm so thankful for my husband and his heart for people.  He supported me all these years, even the difficult ones, to pursue God's work and I'm grateful!

What's Next?

What I have seen is an answer to prayer; amazing!  But what do I do now?  I can't really tell you more of my story without you the reader.  If you know me -- you're part of my story.  I need help to live the life God imparts.  I wasn't meant to make decisions regarding God's plans for me, privately by myself.  You are endowed with the same Holy Spirit I am and I rely on brothers and sisters to testify what God is saying to them.  Yes - I really care what you believe and the last thing I'm interested in is putting down someone or something.  What is the LORD showing you about the Missional Community way of life?

These posts are meant to create conversation.  I hope you will approach me, if you're reading along here, and tell me how the LORD is speaking to you so that I can obey the voice of God - we all can, as one, be caught up in God's story.

blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)