Thursday, September 20, 2012

I want to be dangerous

It's almost been three weeks since returning from Sabbatical. I, now, know why it is so easy to have those momentary "spiritual highs," or mountain top experiences, on retreats and such. We go away, have uninterrupted time with out distractions and busyness. We experience God in extraordinary ways, eat good food (usually), laugh like crazy, re-energize, and refocus on what's really important in life.

It's during some of those defining moments, where we truly believe life was meant to be lived in such intimate communion with God. But then those retreats, mission trips, or sabbaticals, in my case, have to end and we have to return home. We have to go "back to the grind," and "back to reality." And then we forget. We find ourselves in the same ordinary routine, rut, or schedule we were before. Others can't relate to our experience, or aren't even interested in hearing about it. We forget the fun, the freedom, and those moments of laughing until milk comes out of our nose. And sometimes, or maybe most of the times, we forget what God said to us, we forget the closeness we experienced, and we forget what happened wasn't just meant to be a week-long/end experience or three month break. What if, what happened in those moments, when God had our full attention and spoke to us in intimate ways, was the life pattern he intended. I believe he means to speak to us ALL THE TIME.
I wonder, though, what would happen if we really believe that?

This past Tuesday, our young adult community kicked-off with the reminder that following the way of the Rabbi, was meant to be NATURALLY SUPERNATURAL. Ordinary, compartmental, average, and nominal are not words in which would ever be described of Jesus and his early followers. In the book of Acts, I was brought to my knees this week. Like I said in my last post, I was reading of the disciples courage to speak up and live such lives that all who saw were either disturbed, filled with awe, or afraid to join them for fear of dying (See Acts chapter 5 and make sure to read verses 12-16 below).
Acts 5:12-16:
The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.  As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

That's radical and different! That's dangerous! This was the Church that Jesus was starting. A movement, and collection of radical followers willing to give their lives and take beatings for the name of Jesus. (Sound like your Church? Sound like a Church you'd want to be a part of?).  His people were never meant to be limited to one day a week, watching someone else worship, and constantly checking their watch so they don't miss a football game.
When people think of the Church gathering today, most,  (including followers of Jesus), picture something else way different that what we see in the book of Acts. And sure, some people have their excuses, or can intellectualize away why things today will never look they way they did "back then."

I cannot accept that.

I must be a part of this kind of community we see modeled through the scripture. This is the WAY it should be. Yet, if this is going to happen, it will require a radical re-shifting of our time, thinking, and the way do things. (I'm curious if any body would like to contribute boldy to this conversation in the comments. What would this look like? How would things have to change?)

When we believe the love of God is so real and his power is already at work within us, we become changed people and people's lives are changed around us. (This is actually PCC's mission).  In fact, people will either run to join us or freak out and NOT want to join us for fear of losing their lives like in verse 13 (IE because of Ananias and Sapphira read the whole chapter for context).

So, my readers, my friends, family, fellow followers of Christ. We have something to live for. We have a God who is alive and loves us. And this life is too short to forget his goodness, to short to settle for the ordinary and the mundane, and too short to think that it's only possible in short weekend or sabbatical experiences. So we, I, must remind myself of those truths and moments when I experienced God and knew his truth, so that ordinary moments are recaptured back for the holy moments they were created for!

So, as I say goodbye to my summer sabbatical, I choose to remember and reflect. So I never forget. Here's some truths and experiences that shaped my summer and gave me passion for the future.

1-God is here. Now. I don't have to pray he shows up. I have to show up. I have to choose to be present, and help and teach others (discipleship) that this is true, also! He is with me everyday, with all of his followers.  Matthew 28:20.

2-My wife is amazing. She serves our family day in and day out. There's just not enough words, flowers, or diamond rings that could ever fully show appreciation to a woman, a mom, who gives her all. Any mom that is home with three (any number of) kids daily, deserves a life-time supply of massages (and/or mani/pedis (yes, I know what those are), girlfriend time, and just the luxury of sleeping in)! I love her and grew to appreciate her in ways I never have. She deserves so much more than I can give her. I got a true gift in my marriage to her. Proverbs 18:22
3. Not wearing a watch is one of the best things ever.. I think of Jesus who just went about his day doing good as it came along. No appointments to rush to, days free of meetings, and open to healing people daily. Acts 10:38.

4--I love being a dad. There's nothing like it to humble someone to how selfish one can be, and nothing like it in the world that helps one understand the love of God. Proverbs 3:12.

5-God is not limited by our limitations. Summers are a bit challenging financially for us as we can make extra income through the year as my wife substitute teaches. This summer, with two big road trips, and two big airplane trips, we had a lot of extra expenses than normal. God provided all of our expenses in completely unique and supernatural ways. People who just gave because God told them, and God opened doors of blessing to make ends meet! He always provides. Philippians 4:19.

6-I grew more love for my family, near and far as we traveled to Illinois, Tahoe, and Socal. We spent a lot of time with family both in Chicago and locally. Family may be the best relational gift of this Earthly life time, as well as the best way to gauge if our love for others is real. There's no one who can see us for who we really are than those that have seen us over a lifetime.

7-I grew to enjoy an"American past-time". I've never really been into the 4th of July. Sorry, fireworks, parades...never been my thing. But, like I said in #2, #4, and #6, because of family, those moments are more than just holidays or traditions. They are opportunities to create cherished family memories. One of our favorite summer times was in the backyard of my brother's house, on a sweltering hot Chicago night. We sat there drinking iced tea, watching our kids run around with sparklers, and lighting off fireworks. We wanted to freeze that moment in time. It was perfect. Almost. We just thank the Lord nothing was set on fire, and all the neighbors were physically, unharmed. Emotionally scarred, maybe, but absolutely no blood was shed.

8-It's important to laugh at the craziness of life. It's important to expect your one year old to urinate so much in her diaper that in leaks all over your lap, within the first five minutes of a five hour plane flight.

9-This life isn't a game. It's a mission. And Jesus isn't so concerned with us being nice, safe, or comfortable. If we want to really follow Him,  and experience the Holy Spirit, we must expect the unexpected daily! This will either result in awe and wonder, and/or opposition from the Evil One and disgruntled people as we read and experience stories from the Bible (see #11) This is life! Ephesians 6:10-18.

10-Which leads me to my next take-away. Pleasing God is a much more fulfilling life goal than trying to please people. We must get over wanting people to like us and not being authentically who we are in Jesus. We have to be willing to led God really live through us, and make us dangerous. Take some risks. Pray for strangers, initiate spiritual conversations, prayer walk, stand up for truth, initiate change, call out apathy, and be willing to obey what the Spirit is leading. It might not make you popular, (even within the church), but you'll experience God! Galatians 1:10.

11-Although the Bible is a book, with  intellectual and literary value, it's much more. It's a collection of life-changing truth and stories meant for us to know God resulting in a heart experience with who he really is, not just words to enhance our heads and knowledge. If we miss this, we miss God, and we miss LIFE!. John 5:31-36.

I could go on an on. But, let me just stop here, get off this computer, and get on with being dangerous.
(BTW, that'd be a great name for a church).

1 comment:

Tracey said...

Tony, just read this post and the one before it and thankful I got to hear a little of this from your own mouth at the wedding.
All I could think about when reading these posts was how God is teaching you to simple worship him in the everyday AND by living into the person he has created you to be.
I have such a hard time with not separating my two "lives": my everyday life, and my spiritual life. When God sees us enjoying the walk to school with our daughter, holding her hand...we can be sure that the enjoyment of our life is a form of worship as we, in gratitude, enjoy the moments that he has given to us. My desire is to have the sweetness of my Father pervade everything about me so that there is no difference between my everyday and spiritual life. I get this sense that He is doing this in you: releasing expectations, beholding the moments that he has given to you with your family, simply worshiping him in the mundane. All of this is equally as important as the mountain top highs. So get out a stone, a marker, something tangible and visible as a reminder of that shift in you. Like I said at the wedding--God has AMAZING stuff for you as you learn to simply live and create and worship him in the way that he has fashioned you. Can't wait to witness more of your story unfold!