More people come or go from churches, jobs, living situations, etc. based on whether or not they feel connection with a purpose or people. If connection matters that greatly, then perhaps it deserves our sweat equity. What if community was right before you, waiting for you to take a step?
The phrase “making disciples” in the context of evangelism is often hard, confusing, and pressure laden. Which is interesting, because why would Jesus commission us to do that if it were so taxing, even to the point of crippling?
If I am being completely honest, most days I operate with a “me centered” attitude. Don’t we all? But in the midst of my selfishness, I noticed in scripture this constant call to look up!
There is this common thread of looking up to Jesus and away from myself. I believe that when I finally stop acting as if I am on the throne and enthrone Jesus to his rightful place, I see how He gives me everything I need.
At one point or another in life, we find ourselves anxious, worried, or in turmoil due to various circumstances or situations. I tend to identify this feeling with being unsettled in my spirit, and as I look back over the years at unsettling moments in my life, I begin to see a common denominator…
What God is teaching me...
I’m learning that the best moments are often juxtaposed by the worst.
Our family adopted a precious little spark plug named Alexandria. God knew when she would come to us and us to her. He knew that the last season of vocational ministry would be more taxing than any of the previous twenty. He knew that as pressure, stress and disappointment waited with baited breath outside of our “home,” our family would lean in closer to one another rather than implode. He knew I’d see a deeper level of beauty in my bride during this season. We haven’t had it worse than most and some of the struggle was self induced, but for us, the weight nearly fractured our pure hearted ability to Pastor a local church in this part of the world. That didn’t last long though. I’m learning, the past season of pruning, which my priceless spiritual advisors remind me “may never be over in this life,” has produced unprecedented fruits in our community of faith, and I hope, in me as well.
He knew the gift of friendship and support – like the seasons – would wilt and fall before yielding Springtime crops. I’m learning, although I have been surprised in the last year, possibly more than any before it, God wasn’t surprised for a moment. Life is a wine press. It’s a grinding stone. It’s a wood plainer. It’s a fire. I’m a grape. I’m a stone. I’m an unruly board of wood.
I’m learning, this is the only way true character is revealed and made–through fire.
God brought a rare, humility-saturated, voice into my world over the season of pruning who taught me the grinding, the plaining and the fire is present not because I’m trash, it’s calling out the treasure in me–calling out the gold. Thanks friend, your friendship and partnership in the gospel outside the walls (of church) have restored purity and meaning to life inside the walls (of the church). I’m learning God knew just what I would need; I’m learning He wasn’t surprised, I was.
I’m learning there has always been, at most, two kingdoms–light or dark. The kingdom of fear, revenge, deceit, self preservation, self promotion, the false reality of social media, self pity and the like are, and always have been, part of the dark-side–never descriptions of Abba’s house. I’ve dwelt in that kingdom–the dark-side. I never want to step on the doorstep of that world again–except for rescue missions carrying the asphyxiated out of the burning house.
I’m learning His grace is great. Grace sustained me in this long wintery season. I’m learning grace is one of His gifts and it is great but He alone is greater than any of His gifts. I’m learning I want and need Him only, everything else is His goodness to me.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
-By Chris Armfield, Lead Pastor of CITYLIGHTS
So many of us feel like we get caught up in our responsibilities and bills, and frustrations have overtaken our spirits, causing us to feel that we can’t do anything. What do you do when life is swirling around you and you’re lost in the shuffle?
Recently, I attended a worship service in Los Angeles, California. Actually, I “attempted to attend.” As I arrived, I saw a line, which started at the front door, had wrapped around the building. I hadn’t seen anticipation like this for a Sunday morning worship service in a long time, maybe ever. The thing I discovered next inspired me to write this blog.