Tag Archives: Minneapolis

19. my home

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24.15bhome2

Whom do you serve?

Who has the leadership role in your life?

You?

Or God?

I struggled a bit this morning as I contemplated what (or how, rather) I would write about when it comes to thinking about the roof over my head.

You see, I’ve been blessed with a good-sized apartment in downtown Minneapolis, not to mention at a great price with some pretty decent amenities. My commute to work is just ten blocks, so I hike; it’s easier and free…not to mention, better for my health, overall. I also have an amazing view. For that, and so much more, I am thankful.

Those things pale in comparison to who I share my home with…or rather Who.

Jesus has taken his rightful role of leadership in my life (most days…I do fail occasionally) and through that, I am also blessed in opening my home to others.

I was blessed with the gift of hospitality.

I love hosting and planning and having people over…more Martha than Mary, I’ll admit, but Jesus and I are working on it. I also lack the space to hold bigger gatherings.

Someday

But, if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24.15

No matter who sets foot in my home, they know where I stand when it comes to my faith and who I follow. And in spite of the bad rap Christians get these days, my hope and prayer is that all who enter will feel the love and acceptance of Christ through me rather than feelings of judgment and condemnation.  I know not where their hearts are, but I do know that they are loved, just as I am loved.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 8.1

So I’ll ask again.

Whom do you serve?

Who leads your life?

Seek Him first, always.

home

3. my church: The Vine

I heart my church. Not the building. Not the space where we meet. The people. The community God has blessed me with and continues to bless me with.

In March of 2010, my pastor and friend, Rick, asked if I would like to be a part of this adventure. God has an amazing way of working things out. You see, since I was a kid, I had dreamed of living in Minneapolis, MN…I’d had visions of walking around downtown Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs…of working here. How crazy-cool is it that I know call that my home?!?! Blessed indeed!

I immediately said yes…feeling that nudge well up from deep within my soul…and moved here in 2011.

September 2012 brought with it the official start of our church….The Vine. It’s been quite the adventure and growth process for not just our church, but each of us individually since. We’ve gone through the study of James, experienced the wonder of Christmas through fresh eyes and are now learning what it means to live life on the Vine (Jesus).

Growth is happening.

My faith is deepening.

I’m beginning to understand how deeply I am loved by the only One who could save me and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

And I am thankful for my church. Without that body of believers, there would be no growth and life would have limited purpose in things that don’t last…in other words, it would have very liittle meaning and I would always be seeking something more. I’ve been blessed immensely in having such a real, genuine and humble church to be a part of!

You can check out our website here or our Facebook page here. Or, if you’re like me and have branched out into the world of Twitter, here. If you live in Minneapolis/St. Louis Park area and are looking for a church or are curious, come check us out! We’d be happy to have you!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15.1-17

the vine

Week 40: An Evening of Music


“The whole idea of my music now is honesty and really being who I am. It’s not really something I decide, and it’s not something that you learn.” ~ Jim Brickman

Last night, I enjoyed my annual concert event…one artist I would splurge on (granted, the tickets were the cheapest I could find): Jim Brickman.

Jim was joined by Andrea Cochran, Tracy Silverman and Benjamin Utecht (a professional football player who made it to the Superbowl with the Colts in 2006 turned singer). The latter is also from Hastings, MN and now lives in Minneapolis (thought that last tidbit was pretty sweet).

All of them were amazing…as was the Minnesota Orchestra. This was the first time I had heard them and Utecht before and both were great.

What made the evening even better was the presence of my grandmother. Being able to enjoy the evening with her prior to another milestone in her own life (turning 80) was an honor.

Below are some tracks from YouTube – enjoy!

   http://youtu.be/vWyUYsdRwJk

Seen in the link above with Anne Cochran…but this…wow. http://youtu.be/L8-oNdc-T0g

    http://youtu.be/_euWqcWCBE8

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