The uncomfortable places

I was sharing our story with a new friend yesterday. He asked how we had come to reinvent ourselves as a church and how that led to the building of the coffee shop.

As I shared our story with him, I was reaffirmed in our calling as believers. Not just Heights Church. Believers.

We are to engage our culture. We are to enter into the tough situations and have the hard conversations. Our consumer-drive Christianity has inoculated American Christians from that process. We think we’re “challenging” people, but we’re not. We are sheltering people in our political/theological ghettos and lobbing theological grenades at straw men for arguments. (Excuse me… straw people, since we’re good at being equal opportunity grenade throwers.)

Over 18 plus years of ministry in my city, I have come to a place where I see incredible opportunities in places most American Christians now fear. Last year I remember a conversation with a couple while traveling who actually thought Minneapolis was under sharia law! Why? Because FoxNews told them so.

You know what I see? I see an opportunity for the Prince of Peace to actually have an encounter with a lot of Muslim friends now… because of ISIS. And I see it because I have Muslim friends. I have these very uncomfortable conversations. They are “uncomfortable” because it challenges me. It puts me in “tough” places. I have to think more about my answers, my tone, my language… and as a result it takes me deeper into Christ rather than farther away from him.

What I was reaffirmed in by the Spirit in that conversation yesterday was we are calling believers to a new level of engagement. It is almost always uncomfortable. But those are the places where we get to know Christ more. 

I have an incredibly brave church. It’s not “one of the bravest.” I am not ignorant. There are far more dangerous places in the world. But brave in the sense that this church chose to move away from comfort and trust Christ. It is the opportunity to trust Christ not just for themselves… but for a community that needs Christ. We get to walk that out daily.

Over the years of ministry in our city, I find ways to get out and meet new people all the time. In the past three days I’ve expanded that circle far more than I could have imagined just by sitting in the coffee shop we created. It’s a new level for me. Whole new areas of possible discomfort. But this adventure is great. And it’s all because Christ is great. I don’t want “comfort” in this cultural sense of “normal.” I want the Comforter empowering me every day in the tough situations because it is there I know his presence even more.

It is in these “uncomfortable” places I have become more secure in Christ than I could have thought possible. Ministry is engaging, empowering, and energizing once again.

All because we chose to be “uncomfortable.”

sailing_c3a5land_aerial

The opportunities before us

One thing we should learn in life fairly quickly is this: you don’t get all “good” days or all “bad” days. You get a mixture. There are days when one or the other seems to “win out,” but be thankful we really don’t get all of one or the other.

The mixture teaches us. The mixture humbles us. The mixture matures us.

However, these days in life for me are currently days of excitement and anticipation. Our church has been in the process of remodeling space to bring a retail coffee shop to the community. We are very close to opening. There is anticipation and anxiety all at once. The “good.” The “bad.”

These are days of spiritual harvest as well. We pray for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit in our city. We pray for all our churches in the city to experience the power of God’s presence and may their churches be filled to overflowing!

We cannot let the anxieties deter us from the opportunities.

Ramadan is coming to a close for Muslims this year. This past week has been a week FULL of anxiety in the Muslim world. There was the attack at the Istanbul airport, then at a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and just this morning word of yet another ISIS attack in Baghdad.

Anxiety.

I could hear it in the voices of two very good Muslim friends as I sat with them this week. There is a weariness of how they are seen in this world with news like this. There is a weariness of trying to be men of peace and all around them violence only seems to increase.

Opportunity.

This is a time for increased prayer. As I heard their hearts speak this week I cried out to the Lord that his Spirit would come to them and reveal himself! I prayed on this past Friday, which is the “night of power” in Ramadan, that the Spirit would reveal JESUS in power to them.

If we did not know the obstacles and anxieties, we would not know the victories.

Every day we have anxieties and opportunities before us. Let us not ignore either one! Let us move forward in FAITH to see what God will do with those anxieties as they are turned into opportunities.

 

The big 5-0

In a few days I will be 50. FIFTY. 5-0.

49 has been good. It’s been a great year.

Our family has added a daughter-in-law. We also celebrate our first grandson.

It’s been a great year.

Our church has made a big leap of faith, moving from it’s old facility into a new building and we’re trying to get all permits lined up to get a coffee shop built. It’s an intentional step to keep blessing our community and it has stretched us. God is bringing favor to us.

On this particular birthday, I am going to do something I try not to do very often, especially on this blog. I am going to ASK for something.

The coffee shop has been trying to gain some traction in funding to make sure we have every possible cost covered and then be able to add some nice things right from the start if possible.

For my 50th birthday, while I don’t ask for gifts or presents, I would like to impose on you and ask if you would give to the coffee shop GoFundMe project. It would mean a lot to me personally.

Make it the “FIVE” project, if you like. Give in increments of 5.

$5, $25, $50, $500… you get the idea.

It would mean a lot if on my birthday (January 1), there was a new surge in funding for the coffee shop. 2016 will be a year of ABUNDANCE. It will also be a year of HARVEST. Would you consider helping me get it off to a great start? Click on the highlighted link above and consider giving. As you give, also please consider passing along the link in your social networks.

THANK YOU!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

b80c6-coffee

6 minute prayer challenge

This morning I woke up far too early. When that happens, I know my challenge is to prayer. It’s more of an invitation, really. It’s a challenge to meet the invitation!

I have taken up the invitation and think of part of this time as my 6 minute prayer challenge. On some mornings where I don’t have time to drink a big amount of brewed coffee, I will use my stove top espresso maker to make a couple of couples of espresso or an Americano. It takes about 6 minutes.

In that 6 minutes I will take up a bold prayer, or my whole bold prayer list, and concentrate on the audacious requests.

This morning it was revival for North Central University, where I teach part time. It has been a challenge from the Lord for several months and he woke me up early this morning to remind me of that challenge.

In the short bursts of opportunity, I can’t look at them as inconvenient times any more. I need to see them as invitations in the Spirit to rise to a challenge.

What can we do with 6 minutes of concentrated prayer?

2015-10-12 03.34.39