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Fall is settling into Atlanta- almost. I’m still waiting until the weather is so cold that I can see my breath and the bright yellow sunshine somehow changes to orange. But the leaves are beginning to fall and I can see them even while I’m driving down the interstate. I don’t think I have ever savored watching leaves fall from trees like I do right now…

I often have internal Martha tendencies. Always thinking, always gaging and evaluating literally everything before I even catch myself doing it. That’s the first response from a life-long “coloring booker” who evolves into a “canvas painter.” Without those coloring lines to keep me in check externally in life, I try to remember where they are internally… Lines that take on the scary questions of… Am I doing well? Have I let anyone down? What can I do better tomorrow? I have a tendency to be hard on myself.

Is that how the Father speaks to me? Nope. Does He ask me those questions? Absolutely not! And that’s what He reminds me of to my deflating pride. That nothing depends on me. I have one beautiful responsibility- to know and love Him more- and to pass His love on to others.

You were probably wondering. This is where the leaves come in…

I love watching leaves fall. They are in no hurry. They float and flutter and thoroughly enjoy the journey. And every single one is different. There’s something so pure and simple about the process. It’s just life. It’s just the season. It’s just what happens with leaves.

At my core I am simply a maple leaf who this week was concerned with too many things. But I am convinced that as I continue to stay open and say an active, “yes” to what He’s doing, that there is enough grace to cover every time I fail instead of fall.  Be-leaf me.

 

 

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.”

I was completely bought in before I ever moved over here to Georgia. I remember having an honest conversation with God telling him, “I am wide open and ready to jump into deeper waters with you. I’m all in in every aspect.” I was expectant of going deeper with the Father. And as it turns out, He was also expectant of going deeper with me, deeper as in, “Let’s take a look at your roots, Sarah!”

1 John 4:18 talks about how perfect love drives out all fear. And that is what God has been telling me over the past month… That I am loved with a perfect love that can’t be more complete than it already is because his love is perfect! Love is not perfected in me, but I am perfected in it because it’s already whole. He is rooting me deeply in him and uprooting anything that is getting in the way of Him having complete Lordship in every area.

I live in an apartment complex that is a melting pot full of people from all walks of life. And I get the privilege of pursuing them and loving them with the love of Christ on a daily basis! The seeds that have been planted are growing here with 2 house churches already meeting in the complex on Sunday mornings. People are coming for the first time, second time, third time and are delving into this new thing called church or experiencing church for the first time in a long time and they’re seeing what following Christ and discipleship looks like in a real, genuine, non-hypocritical way.

Life can be messy. And in this ministry, as I am following Christ myself, I am teaching as I learn; leading as I follow. When I know who I am in Christ beyond a shadow of a doubt, I then, by seeing myself through his eyes can see others by that same truth. That they are loved and pursued and so, so, precious to the Father’s heart.

 

 

The first week in Georgia was spent on a friend’s couch and then my new roommate, Britt and I just moved into our new apartment 3 weeks ago! So if you do the math I have been here for exactly 1 month! I am now moved in and have my own bed and everything! And every stick of furniture except for our couch was given to us… Wow, God is so good.

The Lord is present in everything that’s happened since I’ve moved here and He has such a hand in what’s happening with this church plant that it is blowing my mind! I’ve always had this desire to be a part of a church that isn’t a building, but a people. And Collective Pursuit is that. We are not a proven church formula; we are a lifestyle movement of community toward Christ. I am still blown away at the goodness of the Lord for leading me into such an amazing testimony to what the body of Christ can look like! Thankfulness doesn’t even begin to cover it. Jesus is good, and faithful, and fuller of mercy, grace and love then I could ever measure. He is the very heartbeat of this church plant.

Since finishing the World Race 6 months ago, the Lord has been calling me into deeper waters. And that is exactly where I’ve landed. I feel like I’ve needed to pull up my big girl britches! Almost daily I’m face to face and toe to toe with loud brokenness and messy faith. And I have found myself being stretched by the Father in areas where I didn’t have the slightest clue needed a facelift. But something I’ve come to love about the Holy Spirit is that He always pulls me, He never pushes me.

Each week I have one-on-one discipleship with a mentor here and that includes memorizing scripture each week.  2 Timothy 316-17 that reads, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

After reading that I wondered what the difference was between rebuking and correcting. And my mentor told me this… Rebuking is where conviction happens. That’s the Holy Spirit putting a stop sign up in front of your face. Correcting is what happens after that when He shows you what correct road to take from there… So there’s rebuking and then there’s correcting.

It seems like the longer I’m here and the more I dive into His word, the more room He has to speak to me and call me out when an attitude or a motive isn’t pleasing to Him. A lot of growth is happening. And when there’s growth there’s always an opportunity to fear.

I once had someone tell me that the absolute definition of fear is simply, “the unknown.” The “what ifs” in life are always easy to focus on. But I like to focus on the “who withs” instead. Bob Goff, author of the incredible book, “Love Does” wrote, “When you trust someone, you don’t need to know everything.”

The things I know for sure may not out measure the unknowns in life, but they sure do outweigh them by a billion to one with truths and promises that reflect the faithfulness which is my God’s very character.