Tuesday, December 20, 2011

9 is the number today

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was coaching a freshman basketball game in Murfreesboro, TN for Brentwood High School. We lost and I was ticked on the bus ride home. And then, Lindsay called..."Summar is coming today." We jumped in the car as soon as I got home and raced to Baptist Hospital. The drive was like those you have seen in movies. I was actually getting nervous she was going to come in the car because Lindsay had choice words for me at every bump we hit.

She was born very quickly after we got to the hospital. I remember a few vivid things: her think hair, my amazement at Lindsay for having her naturally, and that overwhelming feeling a dad has when he holds his little girl for the first time. For dads, it's different when we hold our girls. There's a tenderness I didn't know I possessed. And I was not expecting the new depth of love I easily went to for my new baby girl. We were overjoyed at our Christmas gift.

For reasons I don't pretend to understand, Summar is no longer with us on this side of Heaven. She was only with us for 2 very short months. Today, we celebrate her life and the gift she is to us. She would have been 9 today.

As I have shared with many others over the last 9 years who walk the journey of sorrow in this life...we grieve, yet not without hope. We believe hope is here...that it is near...more near than we can even fathom. So we hold onto hope today on Summar's 9th Birthday. There's an anchor for my soul. I can say "It is Well."

Here's why:
Jesus has overcome. And the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won. He is risen from the dead.

Psalm 9:9 is what we are standing on today...on Summar's 9th Birthday

"The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two Rivers Church, Fort Collins

It's been quite some time since I last posted on this blog. And now that Lindsay and I have followed the Lord's leading and opening of doors to plant a new church here in Fort Collins, I have felt an impetus to begin writing here again...

1. For friends and family to stay up with us to some degree about life here in Colorado
2. To process thoughts and offer some pondering questions for us to consider regarding life and faith
3. To share stories of how God is moving in our lives and what He is doing in advancing the Kingdom in our new neck of the woods.

We've been on the ground here for almost 2 months now and people keep asking me the questions like: "when are you starting?" - "where are you meeting?" - "do you have a building?"  And I answer: I don't know, we are not meeting yet, and no, we don't have building and probably won't for quite some time.

Our resolve is here: God is already working. We will listen and wait for Him to show us where to join Him.   We go out into the town and understand that we are missionaries. "God what you are doing?  Show us and lead us to people you want us to engage with."  It's actually working...God shows us things and sends people our way to talk with. Not every time, but a lot of the time. We just want to live with our eyes open and our hearts listening to the Spirit.

Formerly in ministry, I was ready with many plans and strategies...and drove very hard to make it all happen.  There wasn't a lot of listening. There wasn't a lot of praying. There was definitely a lot of depending on my work ethic and gifting. When I tell my story, I articulate that my gifts actually became a curse. The enemy twisted so much. We are not going to start a church this way...as I have experienced so much freedom in the last 5 or so years from my performance addiction. I actually believe that my value and identity is in no way wrapped up in how well I do, but in what Jesus has already done and says about who I am in Him. 

Lindsay and I are not on the ground here in Fort Collins being recruiters to a new church. We simply want to go "higher up and higher in" (thanks CS Lewis) to God's grace...and experience His freedom, hope, and healing in more and more ways. More of His Love, More of His Power as the song goes...We know that we can't give what we don't have. We only offer people what we have received and experience.

We simply desire to share our story of redemption...and to hear other people's stories. We are old Young Lifers who have long embraced the ministry philosophy that "people don't care what you know until they know that you care." And that out of relational trust, we get to share about The God who loves them and offers freedom, hope, and healing.

It's gonna be slow burn to start a church this way. We are ok with that. Relationships take time.

Lastly today, I'll invite you to ponder and consider the liberating truth many of you have sung in church before. I visit a new church each Sunday here in Fort Collins to get a better feel for the church culture here. I was blessed immensely by this song this past Sunday and wanted to pass it along to you.

What it would mean for you to not only sing these lyrics but also to allow God to renew your mind with these truths. Because when we believe in Truth, we break strongholds of lies and deception. When we embrace our identity in Jesus, our lives get transformed...

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!

Grace and Peace...You are Loved,