Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boulderites

It doesn't get better than Boulder. If you're interested in the workings of this yuppie-hippie culture, check out this hilarious article:

Best outside towns: Boulder

Cardboard Testimonies

Definitely worth the watch. And if you're like me, make sure you have some tissue nearby!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Getting off the Soap Box

Interesting how I was suddenly newly convicted to be the church just yesterday.

Yesterday after a long conversation about what it means to be the church with a friend, I went into the Goodwill store I'm based at. On my way out, I was stopped by a woman who asked me if I could provide her food and shelter for the night. Immediately, I was both clamoring for excuses as to why I shouldn't let a homeless person stay with me, while also feeling the heavy burden of actually living out what I'm on the soapbox telling everyone else to do.

I'll be honest: at first I tried to dissuade her by telling her I live about 40 minutes away and nowhere near any sort of train station. She asked where I lived. I gave a cryptic answer. Then she asked for a ride to the train station. I said I'd take her where she needed to go. While she was getting her belongings from the laundromat, I give Jonathan a quick call to let him know that I was giving her a ride and might be inviting her to stay the night. My husband ROCKS and was like, "okay, sure!" (Also, thanks to my mom's teaching about strangers, I wanted to let him know what happened to me if I didn't come home that day. Did anyone hear about what happened on that Greyhound bus in Canada last week?)

Anyway, she got in the car and we started talking. Sarita is a 29 year old originally from Jamaica and in her last semester of graduate school. She shared some sad parts of her life with me, but mostly spoke about how God healed her and has delivered her. She quoted more scripture than most people hear at church. When I dropped her off, I told her I'd pick her up after a class that evening.

When I got home, I weighed the options of having someone in the house with us. Is it safe? Does safety even matter? Isn't it being the church just as much if I connect her with a homeless shelter and give her some money? There were some odd parts of her story that didn't add up, but after consulting some people, I decided we'd let her stay for the night.

So, last night a couple of friends and I picked her up and brought her to the coffee shop until Jonathan got off work. We brought her to our apartment and gave her a room and a towel for a shower, told her to help herself to all of the vegetarian food she wanted, and went to sleep.

Though it wasn't my best night of sleep due to a somewhat overactive imagination, everything worked out fine and I dropped her off at school again this morning. I offered our apartment to her for the rest of the week and she said she'd call me if she needed a place to stay again. And that was that.

It wasn't nearly as difficult or scary as I imagined it would be. It was pretty easy actually. God gives us the grace for what we need. I'm glad we had her into our house rather than dropping her off somewhere else, even though that would have been good as well. Who knows what what being the church will bring tomorrow!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Don't Go to Church...

I've been learning a lot about the church recently and as I shared before, I feel the Lord is redeeming my view of His Bride. Learning is a good thing, but can be so painful at times and inflict some serious blows on my pride. Seeing the bitterness and anger I've held against the betrothed of Christ and the body I'm a part of has caused me loads of grief.

Recently I listened to a podcast from Rock Harbor Church. The pastor, Todd Procter made a comment that really shook me and caused me to reevaluate many of my actions. He said,

"...everyone's talking about the white house. And here's another newsflash: God's plan to save the world isn't the next president. Can I tell you that? And it's not that this isn't an important thing for us as Christ followers to pray over and participate in. But that's not the big picture, you guys. The big picture and God's plan to save the world, is the church. [The church] carries the name of Christ, is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and that's what what we're here to do. That's our identity--to worship God in ways that takes us way beyond these gatherings, way beyond the songs, to wake up the world to who He is. And the kind of worship that's going to get their attention isn't songs. It's the justice, it's the service, it's the compassion, it's the mercy."

Somewhere along the way, I've given up hope on the church. I got overwhelmed in the theological debates, rules, elaborate buildings, and I got tired of dreaming of what the church is supposed to be, because it didn't seem to me that we'd ever get there.

I spent a few days last week with a very dear friend from college. She is the friend I always have in depth conversations with about all things controversial. And more often than not, our perspectives are different, so I usually leave feeling I've learned a lot. God, in His grace, used our time last week to allow me see things differently.

Elizabeth and I spent the first few hours of our time together talking about the war in Iraq, the white house, etc. She's in the army and spent 16 months in Iraq, and is hoping to return sometime this fall. (Yes, I said hoping. She told me she wants to go.) Seeing things through her eyes is so dramatically different than seeing it through the eyes of Egyptians, or Obama, or McCain. Elizabeth also has a love for and commitment to the Bride of Jesus that I rarely see in most people. She'll be the first to acknowledge shortcomings, but loves the Bride all the same. She wore a shirt one day that said, "Don't go to church. Be the church." It's great seeing someone wear those letters and knowing she's really doing it.

We spent last Thursday day trying to solve the world's problems: poverty, starvation, AIDS, education, clean water, terrorism, disunity, guns, etc. I explained to her how I think our country should be doing more to help solve these issues, and Elizabeth, in a strong and passionate voice said, "The only reason the government is doing any of this is because the church isn't."

And then it all came to me. I'd put my hope in the wrong thing. I'd started advocating in the government and expecting it to change the world, when the hope for the world is in Jesus Christ. God is HEALER, RESTORER, REDEEMER and He will not allow any government or entity to get His glory. The church is the one who is His hands and feet. We should be the first to do all of the things we're complaining the government isn't doing well enough. If someone is in need or not cared for, it's because WE, the church, aren't providing.

So, from this point on, my outcry is no longer going to be my name on a petition or a check box next to a presidential candidate (though I do believe they have a place of importance), but it will be with my body of Christ: the church and bride that I am a part of. God will use us to love and change the world, because He longs for all people to know Him. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10).

Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forgot to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb. 13:1,2