Monthly Archives: April 2011

Week 5: This No Longer Feels Like a Vacation

I’ve officially been here over a month and the reality of this adventure is just now sinking in. Maybe that goes hand in hand with the fact that in less than a week, the rest of the group from Brookings, SD will be moving here and the time I spent checking out local hot spots will be limited as we’ll begin working on solidifying the ground work for The Vine.

During this interim, I’ve found myself pondering several questions as I have no idea what any of the details are…other than that I’m playing keys and that the church will be in Minneapolis…somewhere. Will I play a vital part in this church plant? A part more than just the keyboard player? Or will that be it? What does God have in store for me; in this time/season of my life? Or, what does He have in store for us?

Week 4: Seeking a Healthier Lifestyle

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Finally!

That one word sums up my gym quest here in the Twin City metro area. I’ve been in the area a little over two weeks and haven’t been to the gym in over two months due to the chaos and last-minute tasks of my last job and the full time job it took to find the one I have. And, oh, how I’ve missed it!

I’ve struggled with my weight the majority of my life. I was a scrawny kid but once I hit the pubescent age, it was like the freshman fifteen several times over. Add to that the fact that diabetes runs in my family and you can see why I want to put an end to it now. I also want to do so to the glory of God, not just for my benefit.

Based on the Word, God created our bodies and instituted all of its laws and functions. God gave it life which was to be full and perfect, without pain, without disease and without end. The interference with that plan came when man chose their own route rather than following God’s, causing man to fall. Sin brought death and our need became life. Jesus came to give that life back, but due to the sin that still runs rampant in this lifetime, our earthly bodies are not perfect.

Scripture is also full of ways in which we are to take care of ourselves. Take 1 Corinthians 10:31 list above for example. I don’t want to be filling myself up with fast food and things that are not good for me. I would rather be healthy so I can focus on the greater work He has called me to.

God knows what is best for my body. It is my duty to take care of it the best that I can while on this planet and He’ll handle the rest. That means eating what’s right and doing something physical on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t created to sit all day. I was born to dance!

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
I wanna dance like no one’s around
I wanna sing like nobody’s listening
Before I lay my body down
I wanna give like I have plenty
I wanna love like I’m not afraid
I wanna be the woman I was meant to be
I wanna be the way I was made

– Chris Tomlin

Week 4: In Love with the City

I’ve never been in love…till now.

That opening statement gave you pause, didn’t it? Just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about a man. I’m talking about this amazing, vibrant city I find myself living in.

Minneapolis. A city full of vibrant colors and creative energy.  She’s full of art, culture and more; from cuisine to theatre, dance and art, there is something for everyone, no matter the taste.

Perhaps that’s why I love it so much.

I’ve spent the majority of my time here the last couple of weeks getting used to my surroundings and exploring the cities. I work downtown and exploring the streets of Minneapolis has quickly become a favorite thing to do, especially during those the thirty minutes of freedom I have to step away from my desk at the office. Not only am I out and about, moving after sitting in a chair at a desk for four hours, but I’m seeing the city with a new set of eyes. Not those of the aforementioned starry-eyed, eight-year-old child who fell in love with the skyline from a distance, but those of a new resident, starting over in this city.

It’s almost surreal, walking around downtown Minneapolis. All the concrete, glass and steel seem to be from some virtual realm, if only you could touch it. Up close, you realize that it’s just concrete, glass and steel. Rather bland and dull. But when you step back and see a portion of the bigger picture, your breath catches as you realize that you’re walking among art and creation…a God-given idea created at the hands of man. Seeing the whole picture of the skyline as I commute via bus gives me pause every day.

I’ve also seen other parts of the Twin City area – after all, I’m not living in Minneapolis, yet. J I’ve been to the sculpture garden, the Walker, a couple of different restaurants…but that’s about it in my last two weeks here.

But I’m called to more than loving this city.

I’ve been called to love the people here as well. There are so many lost and broken, those burnt out on religion and those who want nothing to do with it. God called me here to help plant a church with a few of my brothers and sisters in Christ and I pray, that whatever He has in store for this plant will be met exceedingly and no part of the city will be left untouched by His mighty hand.

Week 3: Spring in the City

Early spring

nature’s light

brilliant sky

and heaven’s light

 

Red breast

a bleeding heart

does not mask

a work of art

 

You return

to greet the dawn

you call

dance up on the lawn

 

Dew drops settle

one little jig

becomes a

spur of the moment thing

 

You flutter away

branches that sway

the young await

crying, awake

hungry for feeding

your joyous meeting

“The Red-breasted Robin”

~ AJB

I finally saw my first robin today, rather late, if I may say. There’s still snow on the ground and I think the pile in the old K’Mart parking lot by Penn Ave will take at least until July to melt completely. Ah, the beauty of an upper Midwest winter.

I say upper Midwest because it’s not just a Minnesota thing or a South Dakota thing (etc.). Granted, each state has its higher plains and lower plains (such as the Twin Cities…we’re at a higher elevation) so its location gets affected differently, but all in all, the general weather is the same. You never know when it’s going to snow or blow. It has even been known to
skip seasons entirely in this area. And yet…I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I love the change in seasons, with its extremes and non-extremes.

Spring brings to my mind thoughts of light, vibrant color, fresh air and purity. It’s a new start. A new beginning. Life.

A life of purity is only part of God’s calling on our lives and it is something we strive for and cannot attain on our own.  There are so many books on the market today speaking in regards to this topic. In spite of all that, I still find myself returning to God’s Word primarily, followed by a few of my favorites from authors I’ve come to respect and can turn to when I’m needing words of wisdom from someone who’s been there.

I recently finished reading And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh and still find myself digesting that book. She starts by bringing the reader to the attention of the truth in Titus 2:12-13: [God’s grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God’s grace does not mean we are automatically omitted from worldly temptations. We can’t even begin to know how to protect ourselves if we don’t take the time each day to kneel in His presence and learn from the One who created us. We cannot attain purity on our own. There is no secret formula. We aren’t born innocent.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We weren’t born pure. Only God can take us there.

The enemy likes to make us think that we cannot possibly wait for God’s wonderful gift and that if we were really intelligent about it, we shouldn’t have to wait. Take Eve for example. God had commanded that both Adam and she not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We have to believe that this was for a purpose. If only Eve had waited for God to
reveal His purpose to her in His time.

Or David, perhaps. Recall the story of his love for Bathsheba and the consequences that followed his adultery and murder. The consequences of sin can last a long time and be very painful, but that does not mean that God no longer wanted David to be in a loving lasting relationship with Him. When David came to Him, there was no hesitance, no delay. God
immediately took him back. We must be ready for Satan. Know that saying no to him is what pushes us in the direction towards purity.

In Sex 180, the authors (Chip Ingram and Tim Walker) write, “God’s saying, ‘These boundaries are all about my love for you. I’ve got a great plan…You can have a normal life that’s whole and real. You can have real excitement without all the baggage, shame, or guilt. I want to bless you…I want you to enjoy life like you’ve never imagined. That’s always been my plan. It’s why I put up guardrails. I gave a few commands. Why? Because I don’t just want the best for you—I want the very best.’”

And yes, the wait is difficult. We live in a world that seeks instant gratification. This is the 21st century and with the technology boom, we have instant gratification at our fingertips. We’re also surrounded by a physically sexual culture on a daily basis. It’s hard.

But we won’t go through it alone. You can rest in that. God will walk you through and make it possible.  Accountability goes a long way.

Week 2: Courage and a Daring Adventure

Helen Keller once said that “life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”

I would like think I’ve lived my life in that way (or at least am starting to). I’ve told myself to embrace change rather than fight it, not matter how terrified I truly may be. There are moments I actually thrive on it. I even found that God has a tendency to bring a masterpiece out of those moments.

A dear friend and mentor from back “home” told me the following shortly my most recent move to Minneapolis: “I knew few people with as much courage as you posess…” It’s such a blessing to have friends who live out God’s Word (Ephesians 4:29, for example) and are able to touch lives, miles away.

In my first week here, I’m still amazed by the difference between true followers of Christ, those who claim to be Christian and yet don’t live the life and non-believers. People have asked why I moved here (probably wondering why with the winter Minneapolis just experienced) as if I had never experienced snow before. I answer them with the real answer. I’m not here for just a job…God has called me to so much more than that. True followers think it’s great. Others…not so much and seem to think I’ll judge them based on their actions and shove religion down their throats.

I’ve only been in the Twin Cities area a little over a week now and have seen/experienced all of these responses. The hurt and pain I’ve seen make me ache for them. Jesus doesn’t call His people to scrutinize and judge those around them. I grew up with that — I know what it is to be judged the moment you walk in the door…whether it be by your appearance or the different way one chooses to live their life…until the moment you leave. I know…I’ve been there.

And it’s one way I refuse to live. Following Christ is not another religion on the list of world religions. It’s a relationship. One that liberates us from the world we live in…the bondage of sin…and offers the peace, strength and joy needed to live out our daily lives and the boldness to spread the gospel of His word…His Story.

I refuse to be reduced to our culture’s stereotype of what a Christian is and will choose to walk in love; to live in such a way that makes others stand up and take notice…and ask why.

Who am I to judge? Who is anyone for that matter?

I see this entire opportunity as one “daring adventure.” And I am so glad that I’m not traveling this road alone.

Related text: Galatians 5