Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the beginning

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Inigo Montoya is on a mission to find the six fingered man, but has taken a job with Vizzini to pay the bills. After being bested by The Man in Black, Inigo does what Vizzini said--if things fall apart, go back to the beginning. When told to leave by a member of the Brute Squad, he refuses, saying, "Well, this is where we got the job, so it's the beginning. And I am staying till Vizzini comes."

That sounds exactly like what the disciples did. Jesus tells them to hang out in Jerusalem until they get the Holy Spirit, then disappears into the sky. But rather than drinking themselves into oblivion, like Inigo did, they prayed.

This wasn't a dinner prayer; it was a continual supplication. Show us what we're supposed to do, Lord. Send this Holy Spirit thing you've told us about.

That's where we're at too. Ironically, our Wednesday night small group Bible study (of other people in the same boat) is meeting at the house where we first started. On Sunday morning, after the weekly"can't we go back to the church with donuts" conversation, Patrick explained that just like God told Noah to build a boat, God told Mommy and Daddy we're not to go back to the church with donuts, and we're obeying. But now we need to pray and listen closely to see where God wants us to go...or if He wants us to start a house church.

So we visited a church in our Jerusalem (we've been commuting to Samaria for church). The worship was ok, the sermon was good, a little more Pentacostal than we're used to (a time for speaking in tongues during the service, forced raising of hands), but they're growing and Spirit filled.

So we'll continue to pray and listen...back to the beginning, you could say.

Give us ears to hear and eyes to see...and patience to wait for your call.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saying goodbye

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

I hate goodbyes. I hate even anticipating goodbyes--somehow knowing it's coming is worse. I especially don't like being the one left behind--it's much easier to be the one going than the one staying home.

I don't think the disciples saw this one coming. I can see them staring into the sky, thinking, "what just happened?? Where did He go? Didn't he just come back? Will he be back again?"

We just said good bye to a church. It's the first time we've left without knowing where we were going first, so it's a little unsettling. It's also unsettling in that we felt so strongly called to it, then so strongly repelled by it. So I kind of feel like those disciples, wondering, "what just happened here???"

At least the disciples had the angels to explain it. While we don't have that reassurance, we do know God is still moving and working among us, and if we're lucky, we'll get to see his return.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Help us keep looking for what you're doing and join in, church family or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

I'm thankful that we don't know everything...and that's ok.
I'm thankful that God is God, and He is the one with authority.
I'm thankful that we WILL receive power WHEN the Holy Spirit comes. Our God is not an if/then, He is a WILL/WHEN!
I'm thankful that we're sent in concentric rings--first where we are, then to our neighbors, then to the ends of the earth.

And I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my thankfulness with the blogging community at Grace Alone--thanks for hosting, Iris!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not getting it

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6

They didn't get it. Even after Jesus conquered death and spent a bunch of time explaining the upside down priorities of the kingdom of God, they still thought he would restore and rule Israel as a physical nation.

Sometimes I don't get it either. It couldn't have been more obvious that we were to go to our last church...but God's purpose in that was neither for that to be our forever church home, nor to plant a church in our town out of that church.

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

Jesus knew they didn't get it. But he knew explaining it wouldn't help...instead he sent his Spirit to empower them.

Send your spirit, Lord. Empower us to do Your will, not ours.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going to church vs. being a church

One day I hit a spiny bush and got a thorn in the back of my hand. I thought I got it out, but over the next three years, a lump formed in the area, and eventually it burst, expelling the embedded thorn.

I'm discovering that attending a church without being part of a church is kind of like that can hang out for a while, but sooner or later you'll be expelled. When it's done right, church isn't something you can just attend. It's a body; either you're a part of it, or you're a foreign object, and sooner or later you'll be rejected.

This is really challenging when you have kids; even though our most recent church no longer exists, we're trying to give them at least some consistency in church attendance. We've been going to a church in our neighborhood on a semi-regular basis, but Hubby and I know what it's not going to be our church home--we're just attending.

But even our 4.75 year old daughter knows it's not our church home--she asks me several times a week, "Mommy, when are we going to the church with donuts?"

The donut church was more than a place that we attended on Sunday morning; we were a part of the body. And even if we were only a fingernail, it hurts when you get ripped out....even when you're only four. And although we see some of those people on a regular basis, it's different having lunch instead of worshipping with them.

So that's our challenge right now--to figure out where God is moving in our community, and plug into that church body...even if that means building our own.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Kingdom of God

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

It is so cool that Jesus talked to the apostles about the Kingdom of God. One of the things I love the most about the Vineyard Church is it's emphasis on the Kingdom of God. I had originally planned to write a series of Kid's Church lessons on the Kingdom of God for this spring, but that's not happening, at least not for the time being.

So what might Jesus have talked to them about? Perhaps he explained all the things he had already told them, like:
--the parable of the seed and the soil (Mark 4)
--the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4)
--it's righteousness within you (Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17)

Lord, we want to see your kingdom come in powerful ways. Send your spirit to make our soil fertile and give us that grain of faith to live out what you've called us to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dead or alive?

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. Acts 1:3a

A friend's grandmother passed away this weekend. She's having a hard time convincing her six year old son that great grandma is dead--he thinks she's on vacation in Europe.

Imagine how hard it would be to convince adults that the reverse was true--Jesus ISN'T dead, at least not any more.

I saw him die.
I helped bury him.
Someone must have robbed the grave.
You're an imposter--dead is DEAD.

I wonder, what were the convincing proofs Jesus gave? We know he showed Thomas the nailmarks. He probably continued just being Jesus, healing the sick, bringing sight to the blind, and totally turning over their definition of what the Kingdom really is.

Butthe most convincing testimony was the Holy Spirit...the same Holy Spirit that gives us a glimpse of that other Kingdom, that gives us a mustard seed of faith that blooms and grows.

Jesus isn't on vacation in Europe; he's alive and well!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sitting in the dark

Tonight the wind was blowing, and blowing HARD. Hard enough that the power went out...and we were suddenly sitting in the dark. It was a little bit scary, to say the least.

It made me think of the first Christians after the cruxifiction--what's happened? How'd we end up in the dark? Is He ever coming back?

They were scared. They were angry. And they didn't even have the reassurances we have in the New Testament, that Jesus IS returning, and this world is His...He just doesn't do it our way.

We eventually lit some candles, and our eyes got used to dark, and tried to make do. It's hard to hang out in the dark for long.

So tonight I pray that the Light comes soon, that the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing.

Thankful Thursday: Act 1

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach... Acts 1:1

What I love about this passage is the word "began". Jesus' ministry on earth was just the beginning--more was to come. It wasn't over when He died on the cross or even when he ascended into heaven; it was just the beginning...Act 1, you could say.

So with this first post, I'm thankful that God's not done with us yet, that He continues to send his presence and work through us.