Growing up I attended a strict Christian school. Guidelines  were everywhere. I knew exactly how I was doing by where I fell inside the guidelines. I’m not talking just rules- I mean attitude, behavior, dress code, timeliness, work ethic, ect… I was being molded by a very strong hand and I didn’t even realize it because I had nothing else to compare it to.

But I was a good kid. And I excelled at coloring inside the lines.

As an adult I have continued to excel at coloring inside the lines in whatever area I’ve been assigned. In work, in ministry, in relationships even. In my early twenties I was on staff at a large Baptist church and I thought that that would give me some experience and insight into moving here and working with house churches.

It has not helped me out a bit! Because I’ve realized that I don’t have a coloring book here…! I have a canvas.

I have kept looking for a “how to” book on starting a church so that I could make sure I wasn’t messing up- which is a completely fear based mentality. But the Father continues to lay those fears to rest in ways that illuminate my heart again and again to the truth that I am loved beyond belief. And because of that Fatherly assurance I am finding new ways to pass that truth on to others.

There is not just one way to do community or fellowship or pursue the Lord. Can you imagine how boring that would be if everything was simply black and white? But it’s not! And that’s where the canvas comes in… There is so much freedom and space and colors to use in how this church is being stitched together. The atmosphere is charged with what seems like a million electrons that are about to culminate and splash onto this white sheet of canvas in a masterpiece of colors, personalities, giftings and passions; all for the one purpose of loving God together as a family of believers.

As a house church we are being called to step into the reality that “church” was never meant to be a building; but a people. God is redefining some words in my life; the same way He’s redefining what it looks like to paint and to color.

On Sunday we were discussing Jonah and how in the belly of the fish he had finally come around to saying yes to God. He went to Nineveh, preached and then sat down outside the city to see what God would do to it. He was hoping that they would be destroyed.

Jonah was used by God but by the time that he had preached and was sitting outside of the city walls- he was living off of a day old surrender. He had said yes to God in one thing and at one point in time, but his willingness was getting older by the second.

I want to be a living, breathing, yes. And as I say yes to letting go of the safety and simplicity of doing things “by the coloring book…” I am embracing a whole new way to paint, a whole new way to be a part of church and a whole new adventure in following Christ.

Because you see, at the same time that the church became a canvas- I became a canvas for Him to work on as well. And I say, “Color me crazy. Let’s do this thing.”

HABIT: a settled to regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

Recently, I heard someone say that habits are a lot like throwing water in the dirt. At first, the water is unsure of where to go. It kind of scatters in various directions, a drop here, a trail there. We can see it lying on top of the dirt, specks of dirt beginning to blend in with the water. Give it about a minute and the water begins to soak into the dirt. Now, if you throw water again, now it has somewhat of a path to follow. It’s not running as aimless. The new water seems to be attracted to the old water. It’s not interested in creating a new path, why would it? There’s already one to follow. Give it about 20 seconds this time, and see how that dirt is quickly becoming mud and how that path is becoming really noticeable. Now, do it a third, tenth, twentieth time, and watch how that water takes that same path, only each time, it gets deeper and deeper into the ground until eventually, well, now we have ourselves the grand canyon! 😉

This illustration really grabbed me and made me think about the habits I have. Of course immediately I go straight to the bad habits. I began to think how long it took for them to become a habit. Take coffee for example, I’m not saying coffee is bad by any means, but for me, it has been something that I find myself depending on in order to give me my energy and life for the day. THAT is when it begins to be a problem for me. To be honest, the last couple months I haven’t really even enjoyed the taste of it, it’s wholly the HABIT that makes me believe I need it. It has power over me.

As I reflect on my bad habits, I also reflect on my good habits, and habits that I want to be in my life. This means that the things that are hard for me right now, I want them to be things that are hard to give up, hard to NOT do. The way our world seems to work is that the good things aren’t easy or quick to grab, we always seem to have to run and hurdle and climb and climb some more to get to them. “Good things take time,” is what they say. I think most of us will agree on that, but for whatever reason, we still settle for those easy, quick things that will suffice us in the moment.
If the illustration about the water and dirt is accurate, which for me seems to hit it right on the nail. Then I would say this is also accurate; that if we believe our habit is no good, or unhealthy, and we are able to see that it’s time to create a new, healthy, life-giving habit, or a new deep trail of water, we need to become disengaged with that first path. It would be really difficult to throw down some water near that path and expect it to sink in and create a new deep path, without it running into the old one. We almost have to turn our backs to it, walk some distance away, and try there. It doesn’t sound very appealing, but honestly, I don’t know if we could mess it up. The only thing we have to do is stay in that new place, and just watch that water get deeper and deeper until eventually it becomes our habit.

It’s funny. This whole analogy. How you take water (life) and dirt (mess) and commitment (a continuous “yes”) and all of a sudden something becomes part of us. Part of our nature and being. There is so much to that, that I feel it’s only the first throw of water on the dirt.

I recently had the privilege of leading a webinar hosted by Adventure in Missions in Gainesville, GA. The topic was “Building Community with Kingdom Purpose“.  The information I shared is a good description of what we do here at 320 Network. Why don’t you give it a look and let me know what you think?

Hey, would you consider a couple of things for us? First, would you please remember us in prayer? God has already acted supernaturally on our behalf in so many ways, and it is because of prayer. Second, would you prayerfully consider supporting us financially in this ministry? Just click on “Support our 320 Network Planters” on our website. Thanks!