Message Recap: Real Friends

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Do you remember your first visit to mosaic? I remember mine.

When I first came to a Mosaic Sunday Service almost 7 years ago I was 18 years old and I had just moved from California to go to school and I was looking for a church. The church that I had come from was huge, I think over 3,000 people. So my experience that Sunday at Mosaic with 50 people was extremely different from what I was used to.

At the time Mosaic was meeting in the Queen Anne Community Center Gymnasium.

  • My church at home used their basketball gym. To play basketball but Mosaic was using it for a church.
  • My church at home had over 300 high schoolers in our youth group. Mosaic had about 3 people under the age of 18.
  • The stage at my home church took up more space than the 100 chairs set up that day.
  • The worship band at my home church had dozens of team members for multiple services in different age group ministries. I heard that sometimes the same guy that preached led worship because they were short handed.

My my first visit to Mosaic was so different from what I had ever experienced before. But can I tell you the thing that stood out to me the most that day? The thing that was actually the most different from what I was used to?

The people at Mosaic were real friends. That Sunday I remember meeting so many people and walking away with this sense that these people really loved each other. That they were really a community. I hadn’t seen that in church before.

The practical difference between the space and the service were significant. But what was really most shocking was the way these people were real friends.  That’s what kept me coming back, it was the people that were committed to each other and I wanted to be part of something like that. No matter how dingy the gym was. No matter if the sermon entertained me or not, no matter if the worship band played the songs I knew. I saw a family and I wanted to be part of it.

Seven years later and I’m still going strong. I love our church. Mosaic is like family to me. I’m so thankful that I get to call this church home.

We are in a really exciting season as a church. Purchasing our building on Aurora, beginning demolition and renovation in a few weeks. We have missionaries all over the world seeing God do incredible things. We are planting churches. People are putting their trust in Jesus across our city. It’s an incredible time to be part of Mosaic.

As our impact in our city grows, which I believe it will with our new building. As we continue to grow as a church and see God move all over the world. You know what would make all those accomplishments so much sweeter?

If we were real friends.

I really want Mosaic to be part of loving our city, bringing heaven to earth in our region and around the world. But you know even more than that, to do all that and gain real friends in the process. Where we get to the end, look back at all that we got to see God do and to look around me and see real friends… Deep friendships.

I think there are churches that are all about the mission. They’re seeing incredible things happen all around the world. I think there are churches that have deep rich friendships, a family feel. I want both. Why not?

Why can’t we be real friends on mission for God?

How do you feel about your friendships at Mosaic? Do you have real friends here? Are there people that you could go to for help, to talk, or to have fun with? Do people come to you for help, to talk, or to have fun with?

Do you have real friends at Mosaic? I imagine this morning if each of us shared our answers to that question we’d have quite the spectrum of answers.

FIRST TIME – Maybe this is your first time to Mosaic and you’re like “I actually haven’t met a single person here. My friendships here are terrible!”

NO FRIENDS – I bet some of you have been coming, you’ve been part of Mosaic for awhile.. Maybe even years and can’t honestly say that you have real friends here. It’s been mostly surface level. There’s no one that you’d call a real friend.

LOTS OF FRIENDS – and I know there’s folks here that have deep, rich friends within Mosaic.

Do you have real friends at Mosaic? What do I mean when I say real friends?

 

It’s intangible. But when you have them you know.

Did Jesus have friends? Have you ever wondered if Jesus had friends? What were his relationships like? You may know that Jesus had the 12 disciples but do you think he had a best friend?

Jesus was committed to the mission of saving the world but I have to think he was real friends with some of the people in his life.

I love how this is depicted in the film Passion of the Christ.  One of my favorite scenes from that is when Jesus was building a table and interacting with his mother, Mary. This scene is not recorded in the Bible and the Director is clearly using a theological imagination. But I love how it depicts what Jesus friendships may have looked like.

Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_6tJ9qk9SY

Not at the cost of the mission. Jesus didn’t have to give up on the mission to have real friends. He actually had real friends because of the mission.  Right in the middle of fulfilling what God was calling him to, he made real friends.

Jesus gives us a definition for friendship for us in John 15:12-15. He’s speaking to his disciples at the last supper.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus calls his disciples his friends. Not merely servants to do his work but friends. These people he’d spent the last three years with travelling, teaching, laughing, eating, spending time together. These were his friends.

How does Jesus define friendship for us in this passage? He says, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Real friendship involves sacrifice. It actually costs something to be a real friend. It requires us to give of ourselves for another. Additionally, Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

It’s easy to read this as a conditional friendship. Like follow my rules and we can be friends. But I think Jesus is actually saying something much deeper. I think Jesus is telling his disciples, when you live on mission, when seek first the kingdom of God, you gain marvelous friends in the process. He’s telling the disciples we’re friends because you’re living this mission with me.

Jesus friends’ were the ones he lived the mission with. The mission was to demonstrate the love of God to the whole world. That’s the same mission that he has invited us into.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

What if that’s what people said about us? When they watch us love one another, when people see us being real friends. They’re drawn closer to God. When we love our friends we advance the mission of God: people knowing his love.

We’ve created this false dichotomy where it’s either deep friendships or it’s accomplishing the mission of God. Why not both? Why not us? Why can’t we be the ones that take Jesus at his word, live on his mission to love the world and grow real friendships in the process.

How do you feel about your friendships at Mosaic?

Our answers would vary drastically, I’m sure of it. Friendship can be really hard and life can be really lonely sometimes. I just want to say if you feel that you don’t have any friends here and you’ve never really felt connected here. I’m so sorry. Life can be really lonely and the fact that you don’t have that here. I’m sorry.

Friendships also often happens in seasons. For whatever reason people move, people leave, relationships change. It’s hard.

However you feel this morning about your friendships at Mosaic I am hopeful. That when we look to Jesus, when we follow his lead we can and will develop meaningful and lasting friendships. It can be really hard. But I believe it’ll be worth it.

For the first 18 years of my life I didn’t think this way.

I grew up attending a church.  I would go to the events, to the gatherings. But I thought of church more like an organization or an event. I didn’t think church like we think about church. Like a family. 

I went to school in a town about 20 minutes away and most of the kids in my youth group went to the school in the town our church was in. So I was like, I’m the outsider here. I’m not really looking to be friends with these people. 

Is that how you think about relationships here at Mosaic? Has church been an attendance. Or observational activity for you?

Not like, I have my friends over here and then I have my church over here. But like, my friends, real people that I rely on, who rely on me. Like my church is a family to me. Have you allowed yourself to be in the vulnerable position?

We need it. We need real friendships in our church. Without real friendships we aren’t being the church that Jesus intended. I don’t mean you’re best friends with every person that’s part of Mosaic, that will never happen.

But having real friends

  • The friends you can call when you run out of gas and need someone to help you.
  • The friends you can ugly cry with when you experience heartbreak.
  • The friends who give you money to pay the bills you can’t afford.
  • The friends who make you laugh until you cry.

I believe we can do it Mosaic. I believe we can be a church that lives on mission that gets to be part of incredible things all over the world all the well developing real and lasting friendships.

How do we get there? Have you experienced the friend cliff? I bet you have. What’s the friend cliff? The friend cliff happens when you have a life change, you move, you graduate, you start a new job, you get married, you have a kid. And you have to commit again to friendships.

For most people. You don’t really have to work that hard to make friends until after college. Young adult life is the first time you’ve really had to go out and figure out this friendship thing. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college. You have classmates, teammates, floormates, roommates,  a lot of times friendships just happen. But then you get to the young adult life and BAM friend cliff!

 

Every season change requires us to commit again to friendships. To try again to figure it out again how to have real friendships.

WANT A FRIEND? BE A FRIEND Being friends takes work. Finding friends, making friends, keeping friends takes work.

 

But the answer isn’t waiting for someone else to be your friend. The answer is you going to be someone else’s friend. To commit to being a friend even before it feels good.

You know a familiar passage for us at Mosaic is Acts 2. We get this really clear picture of what the early church looked like Acts 2:42 says that the early church was DEVOTED TO THE FELLOWSHIP. The early church was committed to being real friends. Not friends on convenience but friends because they knew that was God’s plan.

Why do we think of community only happening in small churches? Why not us? Why not when we move into this new building? We can only do this, because Jesus did it for us first.

Jesus is the perfect friend because he sacrificed himself for our sake. He died so that we might live. He invited us to be friends with others around us because he wants them to know his love. He loved us first. So that we could love others.

Being real friends is a great key to accomplishing the mission God has called us on. And as we be the church together in Seattle. We can’t miss God’s invitation to the church to be real friends together.

Will Aufhammer

Questions

  1. How are you being a friend? What are areas you can grow in the friendships God has called you to?
  2. What would it look like to be friends on a mission? How would that deepen, strengthen and grow your friendships?
  3. What would our church look like if we were more than just a building, but a community of friends called to carry out the plans and purposes God has for our city?
  4. Are there any practical steps you can take this week to walk out in biblical friendship?

Sermon Recap: Kingdom Ambition

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For the first Sunday of the year, we met virtually as a church to watch the Selah service online. It was an incredible way to reflect on 2016, and look toward 2017 with fresh perspective and to ask God what he has in mind for the coming 12 months. This week, we were back to meet in a physical space and to hear about Kingdom ambition. Jim Larson – a deeply devoted disciple of Jesus and member of our church – blessed us with his Spirit-filled wisdom in this week’s sermon.

Firstly, let’s acknowledge that ambition of the Kingdom and worldly varieties are vastly different. Kingdom ambition is rooted in the fact that we have a highly ambitious God (exemplified by His creation of at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe).

Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” As beings of His creation, we were made in his image, and piece of that is His ambition living within each of us. Not only were we created to look like him, but he invites us to co-labor with Him; such an invitation for us prompts ambitious excitement!

Matthew 25:14-30: “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

God is pleased with those ambitious for His Kingdom; He voices it so clearly. Using this passage from Matthew, we want to be like the first two servants, and unlike the third.

In 4 categories, we can acknowledge and identify our Kingdom ambition (Kingdom-focus x ambition):

  1. Low Kingdom-focus x low ambition: similar to a rudder-less ship. It’s near impossible to move a ship that is docked.
  2. Low Kingdom-focus x high ambition: this is what culture tells us is right, fulfilling, and satisfying.
    1. According to the world, high ambition has nothing to do with loving God or loving your neighbor.
    2. We can become harmful toward others when we have too much worldly ambition; we might become greedy, selfless, envious, or find it easier to step on others in order to climb the social or financial ladder.
    3. This category might apply to people who believe in Jesus but who don’t allow Him to permeate their lives.
      1. If this is you, get in community and walk with Jesus together. It’s so much more encouraging to walk with others, and this is the intention of God.
    4. Or, this category might apply to people who have found that they have drifted away from God over time.
      1. If this is you, rededicate your life to Him. Ask Him to speak to you, and ask Him for help. He wants you near to Him and wants to again be part of your life!
  3. High Kingdom-focus x low ambition: faith that is not action-oriented.
    1. We are held accountable to the things that we do in our time on Earth. Make it count!
    2. Cultural individualism perpetuates this category.
    3. If you find yourself in this place, start by asking God, “who can I bless today/this week and how can I bless them?”
      1. Decide, commit, and execute.
      2. God will show up and change your heart in your faithful first step.
    4. Some of us in this category are not individualistic, but we feel unworthy of helping others. This isn’t true! Each of our identities is critical to advancing the Kingdom of God.
      1. Ask, “What are the callings of my life?”
        1. Dream with God.
        2. Listen to the myriad of ways in which he speaks (because, though it might occur this way, it doesn’t always happen through a burning bush).
  4. High Kingdom-focus x high-ambition: we get to this place by:
    1. Believing that God is who He says He is.
    2. Believing that we are who He says we are.
    3. Devote and direct your ambition toward loving God and loving others.
    4. Identify and take the next step in faith.

No matter where you find yourself (and not everyone fits into one category alone – we all have different Kingdom ambition according to different parts of our lives), God wants us to live abundantly and ambitiously. Dream with Him, trust that He will speak, and know that He will be with you wherever you go.

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Sermon Recap: The Fullness of God by Joe Ewen

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We had the honor of hosting incredible speaker and Kingdom warrior Joe Ewen on Sunday, April 9th. A well-known prophet, Joe traveled from Scotland to Seattle to speak life and truth into the body of Mosaic Community Church.

The more we give to Jesus, the more He gives in return. Far beyond our comprehension, though, Jesus gives us more than we can see whether or not we deserve anything from Him at all. He is the ultimate Giver. Joe narrowed in on Ephesians 3 to exemplify the fullness of God and the vastness of His goodness toward us.

Ephesians 3:19-20 states, “And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” 

Joe Ewen then poses the question: what is this fullness of God for? In what ways does this manifest in us while we are on Earth?

  1. To worship Him.
    1. Further, the fullness of God does not mean that our worship begins and ends on Sunday mornings. It is a consistent praise of His glory and presence in our lives.
  2. To bring others to worship Him, when they see the power working through us.
    1. Acts 3:4-6 reminds us of this very power that lives and works through us: “Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'” 
    2. We are often focused so heavily on the heavenly good that we forget the earthly good. God is so good so as to give us tastes of heaven, even while living on Earth. He wants to use us for good!
    3. Luke 10:9 furthers this point that the power of the living God resides in us, when Jesus tells his disciples, “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.'” This power is for us and in us, for our good and for the good of others.
  3. Fullness comes from knowing the one who is able. He is able to do exceedingly above anything we could ever do; when you think of fullness, it is imperative to think exceedingly abundantly. Because He is God, He is able to do superabundantly above the greatest abundance.
  4. We have the fullness of the power of the Godhead behind all we could ever ask or think. God wants us to do work in the realm of the impossible! The things that we can do ourselves, we should do ourselves; what God wants to do is the impossible, and he wants to do superabundantly more than our humanly capabilities so that He is glorified. “For in Christ the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…” Colossians 2:9.
  5. This power is a power that works inside us. Releasing that power is the key to the salvation of the city and of His people.
  6. To know the fullness of God is so that there will be glory in the church. If we’re saved solely for a ticket to heaven, we are missing the point (and life abundant).
  7. To understand God’s fullness is to lead the church to fulfill its generational responsibilities.

God’s fullness is so far greater than our human comprehension will ever grasp. But we have a God who shows his face to us, that we may know Him and His superabundance.

Ocean

Interested in more from Joe Ewen? Check this out.

Easter Sunday Wrap-Up

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Luke 24:6-7. 

We celebrated the glorious resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday with worship, service, and barbecue. Check out our photos from the day here (and try and spot your smile!).

Curious about Easter Sunday’s service? Peep our podcast. 

No Place Like Home – Men’s Homeless Shelter

 

7:30 rolls around and the men start funneling in out of the rain, stopping at the staff members desk to sign in and blow a zero on the breathalyzer. Once inside, each man is free to make himself at home. He sets his things on his bed and then beelines for the table by the kitchen. While scoping out the food for the evening, he weighs the options of what to grab and save for later while getting a hot plate of food to satisfy his hunger in the moment. He sits down at the table, cracks a joke, and dives into the food, ready to talk about nearly anything and everything.

Welcome to the Phinney Ridge Emergency Shelter – an old basement-turned-shelter in the bottom of the Emmanuel Church building. Every night from November through April, twenty men fill the space on the other side of the gym wall. Union Gospel Mission has a few shelters like this around the Greater Seattle Area, but the men like to call this one the “Cadillac” of shelters.

Why the “Cadillac” of shelters?  One guy explains it this way, “It’s clean, we get spoiled with good food from you guys, the staff actually really cares about us, and it feels like a safe place with not too shady of characters. Everyone’s actually pretty decent believe it or not.” Since the men get their spot held for them each night, it tends to be the same crew of men for the season, which allows consistency and a fairly quirky community to emerge. The men even have their names written on duct tape above their beds to give them ownership over their space.

The overall purpose for UGM’s emergency shelters is to provide a space for the homeless to spend the night during the wet winter months. However, beyond just a dry space, the deeper desire of the staff is to support the men as they figure out the next step. Whether it is getting a bus ticket for the next day, beginning the steps of finding a job, or connecting them with a treatment program, the staff is there to help.

I love that Jesus would be hanging out with these men in the shelter. I imagine Jesus cooking up something delicious, enjoying the food with the guys, joking around about pop culture, and talking about the latest game. Then he would naturally use simple conversations and stories to reveal the heart of the God.

The desperate places we like to hide and cover up in our lives actually allow us to meet with Jesus. In the shelter where facades (good and bad) are stripped away, you can either experience Jesus up close and personal or purposefully ignore him. But when you have no control, you are desperate for something hopeful and real.

The realities of homelessness can be shocking and hard to fully comprehend. It isn’t easy to walk alongside people in addiction or to see friends pass away from heart failure and cancer. It’s not a light matter to celebrate with someone the victory of being clean and sober, only to see him trip up months later and spiral back into addiction. The realities some of the guys are facing can be completely out of our control or experience. In all honesty, we don’t have the solutions or ability to make a measurable change in any of their lives. How do you respond when a man tells you his wife died and he couldn’t handle it so he ran away and ended up homeless on the streets? In each of these uncomfortable places I’ve continued to learn one thing: in every desperate situation there is still hope because Jesus is there. It is in the hard conversations where I am at a loss for words that I have to look to Jesus for how to respond. The guys don’t need our wisdom or solutions, they just need someone to care and walk alongside them.

I love that Jesus would be so proud of these men for fighting hard and he would want to do anything he could to see them succeed. When a guy decides to share his extra blanket, Jesus rejoices in the generosity of such a simple gesture. If a guy opens up about a drug addiction, Jesus is so proud of his vulnerability. Jesus is their biggest fan, rooting and fighting for them even if no one else will. If Jesus is doing that, I want to be as well.

This past year we saw an amazing thing happened in the shelter – the men started referring to the shelter as “home.” At first we overlooked the gravity of what they were saying but then it dawned on us. Home is where you can settle in for the night, have a good meal, enjoy conversation, and fall asleep knowing you are safe and protected. Home is where people are able to fully be themselves. Home is where each person is always accepted, welcomed, cared for, and never overlooked. Home is a safe place to let down one’s guard and begin steps towards healing and restoration. The shelter had become a home for each of these men with varying stories, dreams, and challenges. If we’ve had the smallest impact on helping make the shelter feel like home for these guys, then every meal, conversation, and slightest interaction is totally worth it.

Despite the success of last year, UGM staff says that this year is the best yet! Not because of success rates and measurable changes, but because of the way Mosaic Community Church has partnered with the shelter more than ever before. UGM finds it is these kind of partnerships that are essential to produce lasting change in the men – building friendships that are authentic and go beyond a structured program.

You may have forgotten, but earlier this winter Mosaic Community Church wanted to bless the men of the shelter in a tangible way – by buying new beds and boots for the men! Holy cow, were the guys shocked, overwhelmed, and thankful that Mosaic Community Church cared so much. The night the beds arrived at the shelter the men came in and were speechless. It was funny to see guys try to keep their cool as they tested out the mattress and gave a child-like nod of approval.

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Above: The old “beds”
Below: The new beds!

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More recently the special-ordered boots arrived, with each man getting his perfect size. A few of the guys passed by at first, stating that they didn’t need new shoes. However, when they realized they were new waterproof boots they stopped in their tracks, turned right around and eagerly accepted them. The men were all smiles as they tried on the boots. One guy, Paul, had just gotten a new job that day and the one thing he was lacking for it was a pair of sturdy boots. He was giddy with excitement when the boots fit, exclaiming how it was perfect timing! The men wanted me to pass on their thanks to each of you who gave this year to help make the new beds and boots possible.

Thumbs up from Scott on the boots!

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As the winter months are winding down, the men are starting to search for their next “home.” The shelter closes at the end of April to reopen again in November. It’s always a hard time for the men and staff as they know the clock is ticking before they are out on the streets again. There is no better time to stop by, bring a meal, and change the atmosphere of the shelter for an evening. Literally, every meal and conversation that happens makes an impact because the men know you are taking your personal time to hang out with them. Rally your friends, lifegroup, or coworkers, make a meal together and sit around the table with the men. Hear their stories, laugh a lot, and catch a glimpse of why Jesus thinks these men are awesome.

If you want to learn more or or sign up to serve at the shelter, email shelter@mosaic-seattle.org.

Written by Sarah Slegh

Responding to Lent

Lent has started and Easter is coming.

On February 10th 2016, Ash Wednesday, Lent started. By many in and out of the church, the beginning of this amazing period went unnoticed. And so the days keep ticking. And I believe the church is missing an incredible opportunity to grow in faith and encounter the Person of Jesus in the midst of their weakness.

What is Lent?

There are so may thoughts and answers, but typically it is a time frame of 46 days. From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It begins with Ash Wednesday reminding us of our own mortality and need for repentance and ends with the resurrection of our King of Kings. The in-between period is for fasting, simplifying, repenting, praying, and in general preparing for the amazing day of celebrating the risen King on Easter.

The already, but not yet.

As Lent has started, and I have reflected, Lent has taken on a new meaning. Two things have struck me this year. First, the picture of standing in the already, but not yet we Christians continually live in the tension of. A fascinating thing about Lent, is that each Sunday is considered a mini-Easter. A day of celebration in the midst of repentance, fasting, and mourning. Isn’t that life.

We live in the midst of victories while still being affected by the sin of ours and others in this world that has not yet become the new heaven and new earth.

We live in the already, but not yet. This time frame started the first Easter Sunday and will continue until He returns. And so, I live in this constant struggle of faith and disappointment. Being ones called to live like faith, often times feels like Peter walking on water and being overwhelmed by the wind and the waves. The struggle was real then and the struggle continues and will do so until the day my tears are wiped away by the Gentle One.  Babies are born and loved ones die. Freedom from addiction is found, and relapses occur. Unexplainable healing and cancer diagnoses. Extremes acts of mercy and selfishness. In the same day, hour, minute, breath. Our world is so fickle. Our circumstances so shifting. Me included.

One day, the already will not be followed by the not yet.

This Lent, instead of floundering in the tension and getting sucked under by the disappointment, I am letting it root me deeper into Him who is not a shifting shadow. He who does not change. He who I can find rest and refuge and gifts of faith and expectation. Waiting for with a raised face and lifted hands for the already but not yet that is in front of me. On the days when the not yet, the fasting, the repentance, the reminder of my mortality is what is in front of me, I will look ahead to Easter Sunday. In so many words, in so many places, “it is only Friday, but Sunday is coming.” (S. M. Lockridge) Because, dear ones, we know the end of the story. It isn’t a secret. He wins. Death is defeated. One day, the already will not be followed by the not yet. Church, let us be the ones who rise up in faith and believe this Lent. In the midst of the tension, the discouragement, the despair, let us in hope and expectation celebrate the mini-Easters all around us. Because, truth be told, He is already making all things new. He is always turning ashes into beauty.

Secondly, Lent is a continual reminder that it is not about me. This whole thing, this whole life, it is for Him. For His glory. Lent in its practice is about fasting and simplifying and praying, which helps us humans to remember that we are here and dependent on the all powerful Father.  And so, this Lenten season, I would challenge you to fast. Fast from food, from coffee, media, Instagram, candy, or fast from lying, anger, bitterness, resentment, control, jealousy, discontentment.  Fast from something that will drive you to your knees and into His Presence. And as you do so, you see that Lent is not only a helpful, but a powerful tool.  It exposes our weakness to let His strength be exposed. The fasting and praying is to help discipline us into remembering He. Is. Here. And when He is here, nothing ever stays the same. We easily decrease so He might increase, we die so He might live, we choose the narrow, knowing that it leads to full, abundant life. With Jesus, we die, not to die, but we die to live. It is a privilege.  It is the best life.

When we choose to die so that He may live, we watch the impossible happen.

Instead of being annoyed by disturbance in our daily routine, we see them as a door for Him to work through. The Ethiopian eunuch becomes saved (Acts 8:26-40). Instead of getting stuck in our hardships and defeats, we give them to Him. Our shipwrecks become peoples places of deliverance and salvation (Acts 28). The mundane and ordinary small things He has called us to, do not bore and weary us, but become chances to let Him use our broken vessels. Then our homes will become places where the sick are healed and blind see (Matt 8:14-16). God knows us. He sees us. And still He invites us. When we through fasting, praying, simplifying, or whatever other means, think of ourselves less and Him more, we are apt to hear the invitation. And then to say yes to it. It truly is a glorious adventure. Waiting in the field with the buried treasure. Will you find it? Will you sell all to get it? Nobody can keep your from it. Truly. It is yours for the taking.

This Lent, in the midst of the fasting and the praying and the believing and the celebrating.  I will remember the mini- Easters, and raise my feeble hands once more. Asking for a fresh breath of faith. And I will again, say, Jesus come. And I will ask, where is my story not Your story. Where have I drawn a boundary and said, this is mine and the rest is Yours. Where is my life being played out and I am asking You to sit on the bench. And then give that part to Him. Watch the miraculous happen. Watch that death, turn to life. Watch the hopeless days become filled with faith. And then with empty hands, but a full heart, celebrate freely, wildly, undignified, the King of Kings this coming Easter.

 

Written by Carrie Bach

 

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