Friday, January 20, 2012

Pure & Holy Passion

In keeping with my "Passion and Purity" theme for 2012, enjoy some worship on this lovely Friday:

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Stand in Awe

And I can’t believe what’s transpired in a few short hours…That a nineteen year old kid came up to us wanting to tithe to our ministry in Downtown Orlando. Saying he trusted us more than he trusted his church. Saying he had prayed about it. And after all this I’m starting to believe that we may be making a difference. That this kid is God affirming us. Reminding us to keep going. To be steadfast. To finish the race. 

And was this all it took? Bringing a few meals to them? Listening to them? Trying to appreciate them? Telling them they’re important? All this time did they just need to see that our actions lined up with our words? That we could be trusted? That we would stay the course?

And then an opportunity to finally find a niche in homeless ministry Downtown. Because I know what I’m good at and I know I can cook. And meals aren’t just food. There’s a theology to them and Jesus knew it. Weren’t they at the heart of his ministry? And if I'm not with people then I don't feel like I'm really doing ministry.

And a third blessing, to find a large cheap house that can hold many beating hearts. Because who wants one that doesn’t? To do ministry the way we want to do ministry you must have a place to house the broken and bleeding. And could this one be the one?

And this church planting thing has never gone like we anticipated but we’ve stayed faithful. What we really want to plant is the Gospel. And it’s working. God had a plan all along. And it’s nights like tonight that he reminds us that the church is people, not a building or a time on Sunday mornings, but people. Lost people. Found people. Coming together right where He always finds us all.


166. A basset hound to pet first thing in the morning while I'm still waking up
167. A crock-pot to have dinner waiting
168. My husband working a job where I can eat dinner with him every night
169. At least four nights a week to spend among the lost
170. An older wiser couple to enjoy a meal with
171. A new opportunity for homeless ministry

Friday, January 13, 2012

Resources for My Friends

Happy Friday, ladies! I thought I'd sneak in here and share some goodies I've discovered on the web to help you unwind for the weekend and prepare for a new week.

Brian at Fulfill shared a list of resources for woman on mission. I know you're that kind of woman and I know we can never have too much help.

The Nester shared some resources for intentional living and you know how I feel about that.

Jenna at Everyday Clever shared a confession and a lovely free printable of 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Finally, Paul, at d2design shared a list of church planting conferences for 2012. I'll be at Ignite 2012 and Exponential. Let me know if I'll see you there.

Praying God gives you renewed strength and joy this weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Passion and Purity

A new doorway for 2012

As a rule I usually don’t’ have a theme for each year. The only exception to this was in 2009 when I focused on speaking the truth in love. I expected 2012 to be no different until last week. I was leaving work where I support and resource church planting throughout the US, when God gave me a clear focus for the year.

I was thinking about the message that I most needed to communicate to the young men and woman we minister to in Downtown Orlando. What was revealed to me was that they needed to know that a woman can be both outrageously passionate about her pursuits in life and remarkably pure in her pursuit of them.  “Passion and Purity.”

This flies in the face of our Downtown culture where young men perceive woman as tools to fuel their own passions  leading not only to a flawed view of woman but also life scarring problems of porn and sex addiction.  Meanwhile the young women play into this role which leads to sexual abuse, eating disorders and overall low self-esteem among other things.

So how do I reflect Godly passion and purity in this environment? Well honestly I’m still trying to work out what this next year will look like. But I have done some things up to this point that have provided me with a good foundation for my focus in this new year. First I try to take pride in the way I look. The girls have remarked that I always look “cute.” At the same time I’m always modest in my dress. I hope this reflects to them that you can be fashionable without compromising values. I’ve also had several meaningful conversations with the girls and guys. I’ve tried to be encouraging and a source of Godly advice. Additionally I try to appreciate them through meals, homemade gifts, etc. at least once a week.

My goal in this year would be to build on this foundation and the relationships I already have in Downtown Orlando. Do you have any ideas for how I can communicate the idea of passion and purity in a very secular culture? Anything suggestions you have to offer would be greatly appreciated.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why I Am a Church Planter

 An interview with Amy of Dandelion Seeds

(This is the first in a series of interviews with church planter's wives. If you're interested in sharing your church planting story for the encouragement of others please leave a comment below.)

You moved to Detroit Lakes, Minn., to plant a church. What were the special circumstances surrounding the move?

After attending the Church Planters Assessment Center, my husband Mike served as the church planter in residence at The Journey North in Brainerd, Minn. We had no idea where we were going to plant a church, but pastor Mark Bjorlo had a list of 10 prime locations in the upper region of Minnesota.

Just picking a place seemed to take God out of the equation. So we waited, despite the questions about “Where?” and the anticipation and our impatience. We heard nothing. God was silent, but we completely trusted in his timing.

We asked 10 people to fast and pray over the 10 cities for 10 days. That eliminated some of the cities, but we were left with a few. So we loaded up our tribe into the van and over the next few weeks we visited the places left.

Eventually Mike felt God leading us to Detroit Lakes. I, however, was not convinced. I had sent out more than 20 requests for housing, and either received a “no” or was ignored.

I remember very simply stating that God couldn’t possibly want us to go to Detroit Lakes because he hadn’t provided a house. I then read my email, and there it was: one “yes” to a 950-square-foot cabin on the lake that we could lease for 9 months. It was the final confirmation.

You were pregnant and moved into a 950-square-foot house with seven children still at home. Are you crazy?

Yes, but I’m in good company. Hebrews 11 is full of men and women who were “crazy.” Who did something different and took a risk.

Faith is an action word, and when we put our faith to the test we see how ready we are to trust in God to do what he asks.

How did you know God was calling you to plant a church?

When we went to the Assessment Center, we were at a crossroads. We would either pursue planting as suggested by pastor Jeff Gauss -- whom we were serving under at the time in Cushing, Minn. -- or we would start a new career in a different direction. We went and literally put our future in the hands (and prayers) of the assessors.

When we were asked, “Why do you want to plant a church?” Mike looked at the assessor and answered, “I don’t.”

Everyone was completely dumbfounded. It was true though. Mike wasn’t there because he wanted to be. He was there because that’s the door God had opened.

I explained that my husband was exactly the kind of man they should have plant a church. He does what God asks, not what he wants. I told the assessors that if planting a church is as hard as everyone says, then a man who will press on and do what God is asking would be better than one who only does what feels good or is easy.

What is your role in the church plant?

I’m right next to Mike in this thing. We are a team and best friends. What one lacks, the other makes up. As my dear friend Kelly Dykstra said, I could be considered the “mom of the house,” meaning I oversee it all and make sure it runs well.

Some of my duties have included recruiting and scheduling volunteers, marketing, overseeing the kids programming, preaching a few messages (one with Mike on relationships), creating video bumpers for the talks and graphics for the message series.

eXperience church recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. What are you looking for in the future?

When we launched, we had 139 people -- our launch team consisted of only nine families or singles. We moved to a bigger space for our first Easter service, and 250 people attended. On September 11 we baptized 19 people. We went to two services on September 18, averaging more than 225. More than 100 people gave their lives to Christ within the past year!

We have incredible numbers for being only a year into this, but because of the people we are reaching, they simply don’t understand tithing or giving yet. We are praying for more outside supporters to help carry eXperience church through the next year so we can focus on our mission to eXpose people to Jesus where they’re at and eXcite them to move one step closer to him.

Read the rest of Amy's interview here.

This interview originally appeared in the Winter 2012 Edition of Converge Point Magazine.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Have a Sinful Heart

It’s Christmas morning and I’ve tried to spend the entire advent season preparing my heart for this day. Or so I thought. My husband and I knew our gift exchange would be a meager one this year. There was our traditional exchange of pajamas on Christmas Eve followed by one stocking stuffer each on Christmas morning. I was ok with that. I enjoyed my husband’s clearly thought out gift choices and was happy with them. But the truth is that I found contentedness in that moment knowing that our large family gift exchange would be just a few hours away. 

When I had finished opening all the gifts later that day, it was official. I did not get what I wanted. For a moment I was angry. The thought even crossed my mind to travel to other family’s homes and do a postponed gift exchange early in hope of getting my desired gift. And then it hit me. I had an ugly sinful heart. My heart was full of greed and had completely missed the real Christmas. I cried. 

I cried because of the truth of it all. The truth that the more I thought I wasn’t materialistic the more I realized how stuff centered my worldview had become. I cried because despite the ugliness of my heart my Savior had shown grace to me and revealed my sin. Also the church we’ve recently been attending was holding a Christmas night service, yet another gift of grace from the father. My husband was so gracious with me that day and the service was like a cleansing, reminding me of the real reason we celebrate. 

On the 27th I had some anxiousness as I prepared for another family gift exchange. Would I be ungrateful for what I received? Would I have trouble showing genuine emotion for gifts I did not deserve? Would I have to relive Christmas morning all over again? Once again I did not get what I wanted but this time was different. I was able to be genuinely thankful even for the gifts that were not ideal…

What a great God we serve that he would not just reveal our sin to us but also work in our hearts to free us from it!