Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Impossible Dream?

I have heard it said that if a dream isn't so big that God is the only one who can make it possible you aren't dreaming big enough. Well, lately a dream has become more and more clear to me, and I think it is impossible.

I have been thinking about this dream a lot lately and even realized that I have been dreaming about it much longer than I thought. I have had bits and pieces of the dream over the last year and half, but I didn't realize it until until just recently.

What is this dream? I dream of a church. Okay, that doesn't seem impossible. Well, that isn't it. I dream of a church like no church I have heard of, at least not in modern times. I dream of a church that is always open. I mean 24 hours a day, every day. I dream of a church that may or may not be in a traditional church building. I actually dream of it as a house. I dream of rooms where people come together and study the Word. I dream of a large room where people come and eat meals together. I dream of a room where people can go and pray one on one with the Lord. I dream of a room stocked with clothes for those in need. I dream of a pantry full of food to give away. I dream of a room full of books for people to sit down and read in. I dream of a place where people come together to know more about Him; to share with those in need; and for those seeking Him will come and find Him.

Does that sound like a commune? Because I don't dream of that. I don't dream of some sort of separate-yourselves-from-everyone place. I dream of a place that people know about and go to when they have needs, whether physical or spiritual. I dream of an open place where people feel they can come no matter what.

I think of the church in Acts and I want to see that kind of church today.
Acts 2:41-47 The Message
41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
 43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
 46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

Once again, some people would take this verse and run off and create a commune. But these people didn't separate themselves out from others. They did sell what they had to help others, but they lived this life right in the midst of Jerusalem. They lived this life right in front of others and they were liked by many. They lived this life right in front of others and their numbers were added to every day.

That is the kind of church I dream of. I think it is impossible and I certainly don't know why God has given me this dream. Yet I know that this impossible dream is possible for Him.

(Can I just say that I actual fought writing this post. I knew for days that I should but I put it off. God woke me up, wide awake in the middle of the night and I knew that I had to write it. I hate that I still struggle eith knowing and not doing what I should. I know God will continue to work on me to help me learn to obey the first time.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

How Do I Get a Life Like That?

Lately I have been drawn to find out what the early church was like. I love reading about how God spoke to them. God told Cornelius, a captain of the Italian Guard, to send men to Joppa to find a guy named Peter and bring him back. So he does it! No "why? what if he won't come back?". No questions at all. Now you might be thinking, "not that we know of." I admit I think that often too when I read some Bible stories. Yet a few chapters before this God told Ananias to go and find Saul and he questioned Him. Others have questioned and I think God includes those questions to show that it is normal to ask.

Cornelius' men went to Joppa and found the house and God told Peter to go with them and he did. Cornelius told Peter what God told him and Peter was excited because it confirmed a vision God gave him. In the vision God said that Peter could eat any kind of food, even non-kosher food. Peter realized that it meant non-Jews were also called by God and could be added to the Christian faith.

There are other stories of Peter speaking to a dead woman and she was raised from the dead and telling a lame man to get up and he was healed. Philip ran alongside a chariot and an Ethiopian ended up baptized. God told them to do something and they did it. They spoke to the lame and dead in Jesus' name and they were made whole again.

So the question that went through my head was, "why did they have so much power? Why did they have such influence?" In Acts 2 I think I found the answer. "They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers." and "They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved."

Daily they did these things. They didn't just do Sunday church and occasional group meetings. They made this a daily part of their lives. They came together and were taught, worshipped, prayed, and ate together.

Now sometimes I thought, "did they have jobs?" Well, Simon the tanner is mentioned, he must have been a tanner and that's a job. So they worked and did all this each day. How? Weren't they exhausted at the end of their day? Their lifestyles were not like ours. They were hard workers but they weren't work-minded. I know that I am work-minded most of the time. I love my job, well most of the time, but I let it fill my days. Families fill their days with work, activities, sports, etc. Is there anything wrong with working, doing family activities and sports? No, but we have replaced the daily time with God and those He has called us to spend our meals and prayer time with work, activities, sports, etc.

So if we asked God what is keeping us from living the life of the early church, a life that was general liked and people wanted to join in, I believe He would tell us. So, I guess it's time for me to spend some time with Him and listen to what He says for me to give up, to change.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Can I Do?

What can I do?

I saw something today on the way home and it made me want to cry. I will not describe it, but it was suffering, that's all I can say. It filled me with questions. I asked them of God. The why questions. The ones we have all asked at some point.

In the end the only question that brought any sort of sense. What can I do? That seemed to be the right question. I can ask all the whys in the world, but what really matters is doing what God wants me to do.

It isn't easy to do what He asks, at times. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense. Sometimes there is no way to explain it to anyone. Sometimes it hurts, but only for a time and then the hurt is totally worth the outcome, the change that takes place in me.

So even thought I don't know the answer to the question I will keep asking it. God, what can I do?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Because I am Not a Fan of Jesus

I know that walking with Jesus is not popular. I know it costs me. It has cost me friends. It has cost my things. It has cost me self, so much self. But I will not be a fan. I will not just "like" Jesus on Facebook. I will not follow the crowd, especially not the religious one. I will not just talk the talk and not walk the walk. I will trust His Word even when so many call it out-dated, irrelevant, and narrow minded. I will take the road less traveled by, the narrow way, the way that many will not take. I will sacrifice partying and using things to satisfy me. I will not choose the easy way. I will not give in to my own selfishness or the listen to the advice of others who want nothing to do with God except when it suits them. I know this post will cost me, but it is nothing compared to what I have cost Him.

I am far from perfect. No where near a "saint". I will miss up. I will say things that hurt, sometimes by accident and other times on purpose. I will look at the easy way with some longing. I will be quiet when I should speak. I will be selfish. I will be unkind. But I will know that when I have been, have done, and have wanted what isn't from Him that I go to Him for forgiveness and strength.

His Word is full of promises about what He thinks and says about me. He rejoices over me with singing. I give Him no reason to. He calls me a coheir with His Son. I am unworthy. He loves me, forgives me, leads me, and longs to fellowship with me. I am nothing. He will call me and I will have to choose to listen and obey or look the other way. He will ask me to let go of "just okay" for the what He has planned for me. He will separate me, prepare me, and even use me. How my flesh fights against that but my spirit longs and rejoices in it.

Why? Because He died for me and rose again to redeem my life. Because He called me to follow Him. Because He loves me enough to not let me stay where I am, but to become more like Him. So I follow Jesus!

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus (an oldie but a goody!)
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back

Friday, May 4, 2012

Climb into the Chariot

"Later God's angel spoke to Philip: "At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza." He got up and went....The Spirit told Philip, "Climb into the chariot." Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, "Do you understand what you're reading". He answered, "How can I without some help?" and he invited Philip into the chariot with him" Acts 8:26, 29-31

I read these verses yesterday and God spoke to me through it. It is short passage but the message was powerful for me. God tells Philip to go to a desolate road. He never gives a reason. He doesn't give any more details. He just says, "go". He gives Philip a time, noon, and a how, walk, but no why, no what for. Philip does it. There is no verse that says that Philip said, "why?" He just does. I admire his faith, but it gets better.

Then He tells Philip to climb into the chariot. Now, that line seems strange to me. I mean the first one had some details, when and how. He was told to walk over to a desolate road and he is told when to walk there, but in this verse he is just told to climb into the chariot. I would be thinking, "how? How am I going to just climb into some person's chariot, some person's I don't even know?" Then of course there is the slight issue that the chariot is in motion. I don't know how fast it was going, but fast enough that Philip had to run. So Philip, with no more direction than just "climb into the chariot", sets out for a run, asks the eunuch a question, and gets invited into the chariot. Now to me that shows faith!

God started this with a little more detailed instruction. Then when Philip is obedient and does it, God gives him another instruction with very little detail and one that seems difficult to accomplish. But Philip is obedient and acts out of faith. I love that Philip runs along side the chariot. He doesn't stand there and think, "I wonder how I can get the chariot to stop so I can climb in." He just starts running!

How many times has God asked me to do something and given my enough details that I can accomplish the task easily enough? I am sure plenty of times. Then when I act in obedience He gives me another instruction, this time with very little instruction. My answer often is, "how? How am I supposed to do that?" I start questioning and doubting. I start playing scenarios in my head. I usually end up not doing it, not "climbing into the chariot".

But God calls us to do so much without any real clear details and I want to grow enough in my faith that next time He asks I do it, I not only do it but I run. And I want to grow more so the next time, and the time after that, and the time after, and so on, I just do it.

I have this crazy, I think it's crazy, dream swirling in my mind. It is crazy because I am not equipped and I am not qualified and I'm not even sure I want to be, but it is there and it excites me anyway. I know that it isn't my "noon time" yet, but I believe He is asking me to walk into a place, maybe even a desolate one. I don't know how soon or anything else really, but I believe He is preparing me for it.

Philip didn't just wake up one day full of enough faith to run next to chariots. God prepared him to do it. I believe that I am in such a preparation place. I know, with a peace that I don't understand, that I am in that place. And I am looking forward to the instruction that tells me to "go" and I hope that I have enough faith to climb into the chariot.