It's Monday morning and I'm at my mom and dad's for a bit. Yesterday (Sunday) morning at Naomi and Tim's church, we met after worship for a learning community -- about 15 people stayed to begin a video and discussion series. We heard a short video challenge from Francis Chan related to the Holy Spirit.
As an example of this Francis starts the video by telling about a time when he felt he needed to hear from God. He went to a beach to have quiet time, sitting on a blanket with a coffee and a muffin. He looked out on the ocean, and he asked God what God wanted from him. "What's your will for my life?" And he heard God. He heard God say --
Aw that's cute. Look at you on your little blanket... with your little coffee and muffin... I hope you're comfortable."I think it's pretty obvious," said Francis, "about what God says in His Word about His will. I remember telling the church, 'Look, I don't think we're even close to being serious about loving our neighbor as ourself."
Meanwhile there are millions of people that I created on that planet and they will never get a chance to do what you're doing right now. They'll never stand on a seashore and ask "What's your will for my life?" They're just trying to stay alive today.
Think about the earth and all those millions of people and what do you think my will is for you... when there are people who just want to feed their kids?
There's a lot more to learn. You can see the rest of the little video that we saw yesterday morning at this link < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwTuKucJFkc > but I'd like to stop right here. I'd like to stop here and say something that I think is pretty obvious: We North American Christians are pretty good at focusing on ourselves.
Francis says it like this:
Sometimes we try to experience God in quiet places... but think about what scripture teaches... Jesus says "As you're going out making disciples I'll be with you... When you feed the least of these it's like you're feeding me... When you give them water it's like you're giving it to me... You see, I'm with the poor."+ Now, the point of all of this isn't to get us to do things in ministry with the poor, though that's a great thing and one of the central teachings of God's Word and a great blessing for everyone.
Sometimes we think "I've gotta find God by getting away from everyone, but it could be that God's Spirit is saying "No, find me by going and ministering to other people."
At about the 8 minute mark, Francis gets to what I think is his main point, he says:
"...I just want you to be open. ...Pray that you would be humble enough to the possibility that just maybe you've missed some obvious teachings of the Spirit, that you haven't applied those things to your life."He goes on:
"I've gone to Bible studies where I just want to go and impart my knowledge to other people. It seems that at every study there are people that want to just come an spew out all that knowledge. I'm not saying that we don't share what God's taught us, but sometimes when we talk so much we miss out on learning, we miss out on hearing the Holy Spirit."----------------------
God has led me (and Toni) in unexpected ways over the last 5 years. I say 5 years because it was in 2010 that some of the biggest changes came. The whole journey has been one of moving out of established patterns of a life that Toni and I had together since 1986.
I woke up a little after 2 AM today (Thursday) thinking about a particular piece of that journey and then was reminded of another part when I saw that someone had "liked" something I posted on facebook on March 21, 2010. Usually when I wake up in the night God uses the time to do some work in me. I think what God wants to do tonight is to reinforce in me the unexpected ways of His Spirit and re-open my eyes and ears to what He wants to do in me.
I reflect on this now in relation to the video that we saw at Naomi and Tim's church on Sunday. I still wonder whether we are willing to hear everything God wants to say to us--including about our finances and our relationship with those in need.
We're about ready to move into a home that is being purchased by (pastor) Paul Anderson. The closing on that house is set for Friday. We'll pay our rent and move in on Saturday. The place we're moving into is very nice. It's smaller than the place we sold in Cokato and two young men will be living in the lower level so we'll actually have a lot less indoor space than what we did there.
We're moving into that house and, in some ways at least, will move into a partnership with Paul an his work with young adults. I trust that we are following God's plan in this. But as we do, the words Francis Chan brought to mind on Sunday.
As we move into yet another comfortable home, I ask if I am (and if we are as a couple) open to everything God wants to say to us, including about our finances? Like I did in 2011, when we purchased our Cokato home, I have a real sense that this move is God's plan for us. But are there parts of our life that are still outside God's plan? And because I woke up thinking about finances, I ask if God has something he wants us to do in that part of our life, perhaps in relation to the poor (as in Francis' example) or in some other way.
Pray for Toni and I, that we would dare to hear God clearly and then act in harmony with what he has to say. Pray that we will seek Him together, perhaps especially, as Francis says, as we are called into ministry with others in this new place.