Tuesday, March 22

Living in love

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I obeyed 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.” John 15:9-11 NIV

“We can beat our heads against the wall,” a friend wrote me in a little novella when I asked her for feedback, “Or be open to other directions...”

A pastor once told me to jump in to the volunteering in the community called church and let God lead you to where He would have you be what He has designed you to be, purposed you to become and equipped you to work. I am a j-o-t (jack of all trades) with enough knowledge to be dangerous in many things and good at a relatively few select ones.

February 14th, 2004 I surrendered to Christ. October of that same year, I was so involved in the community that was my ‘home’ church that they invited (and paid) for me to go to a conference for “Acts 2” churches at Willow Creek. I’ve told the story of my calling so many times and yet, I can still feel the energy in the air, hear the reverb of the microphone as Gene Appel spoke and the gentle, wave-like murmur of the conferencees talking in quiet tones around the sanctuary. Much like I can when God finally got my attention on that February day.

In the moments where God is revealed….even if it is His back we are able to glimpse (like Moses)….these stay with you forever, engrained upon your soul and picked apart in the darkness of isolation when it seems to be nothing more than just a dream that happened to someone else.

We pull them out in moments when we are afraid again……for comfort, for strength and for affirmation.

“Maybe God is taking you in a direction that may have never even considered,” my friend continued. (As I told you, she wrote a novella. Aspiring writer?)

My sweet spot, that place where I ‘pound my fists’ in passionate debate or fevered oratory, is and will always be preaching and ministry. What began as a simple, “This you’ll do for Me” picture of Gene Appel on-stage preaching about the neighborhood ministry he does has developed as I have been developed and discipled to be a Men’s pastor to the homeless, specifically Veterans (I am one). It is with this realization of why I’ve come to Ann Arbor, who has a larger-than-most concentration of homeless veterans who are men because of the location of the VA Hospital next to the University of Michigan’s hospital complex.

Of course, as seems to have been the case on all aspects of my “God moments,” it seems He’s only given the vision to me and hasn’t dissimulated it down the ‘chain-of-command’ of the organism called Church.

Its enough to make you want to throw it in and walk away from the whole mess. After all, why bother bloodying yourself upon the wall of disbelief for the purpose of nothing more than to be bloodied?

“The Enemy will whisper to you that you are not wanted...and having gone through some of the rejection you've endured in your life...” my friend writes, “it touches a wound for you.”

Part of my rejection of the whole corporate concept of the western church, far beyond its pretty modeling of how to ‘do church and succeed,’ is the uncomfortable feeling of isolation I have standing in the community that ebbs and flows within its brick and mortar walls. For some reason, I have never felt at home there surrounded by those who profess the same foundational beliefs as I do even as we stray from commonality with some doctrinal discussions. I crave this community and yet haven’t found a community that is ‘strong enough’ to endure my ‘integration’ into its life. I fear the rejection that has always come, and continues in some ways, in that community that I crave for the most.

Maybe the Hutterite or Mennonite communities would be a better choice for me to seek the aspect of community, or the strength of the same, that I crave for even as I realize the loneliness of being a loner. There, life is lived in community in all aspects and the health of the community is dependent on everyone who calls it home.

“You are a good man Jim...” my friend concludes her missive, “You are not your mistakes and failures... You are not your wounds...you are not your past. yes they are a part of you..but they are not you. Also you are not your expectations or the expectations of others...you are God's and His expectations are the ones that matter.”

And until God’s expectations are realized by those He’s equipped to send me where He would have me go, I’ll be chaffing at the bit. God continues to compel me to realize a life uncomfortable and as I remain uncomfortable, He moves further into the purpose He realized and set aside before I was born to be done in His strength, with His grace and through His mercy.

Learning to live with the rejection of those who can’t see it is something I’ll continue to learn how to deal with.

As I have all other things God has brought me through thus far.

I will never be a servant who hides the talents his Master has given him to be increased…..

I dare to dream impossible dreams, because I am loved.

Yes, I am worthless and fragile. I am destined to failure and prone to defeat. I am invaluable and useless. I am a broken piece of pottery and ugly. I am completely without merit and have rejected the wealth of my father's house. This the devil knows to be true, and in all honesty I cannot deny it. For I was all this and still am.

But through the grace of God and the love of His Only Begotten Son, I am not those things. I have been redeemed and strengthened by His sacrifice. I have a destiny to greater things than He Himself had done and the assurance of success. I am a King's son, adopted and inheritance-bound, and purposed to do the work of my Father's kingdom vision. I am valued beyond the wonders of His creation and looked for along the hills and valleys of the approaches to His home by He Himself. I have been restored to the wealth of my Father's lands and have found favor in His eyes. This the devil knows is true as well. This is what I am and what I was meant to be.

I will dream impossible dreams, because of who I was and who I was meant to be.

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