Thursday, January 29, 2009

Magic Friendship Serum

Wouldn't it be nice if there was just a special, magic friendship serum the you could put on someone and turn them into the answer to all your relational needs? It would be so much simpler than what ACTUALLY has to take place in order for friendship to happen.

I would love that. Then I wouldn't have to spend time praying about who God is leading me to. I wouldn't have to put myself out there and ask someone to have a cup of coffee with me. I wouldn't have to order my life to make time for others. I wouldn't have to get over the relational hurts of my past and give it another shot. And that social event that I'd really rather skip, but I know friendships just might happen? Yep, I could skip that too. And I wouldn't have to apologize when I hurt someone I love. I could just go on with my merry day.

Too bad that's just not the way it works. There is an inescapable intentionality to friendships and Biblical community. If I know someone is longing for friendship...along with offering it of myself, I point them toward seeking where God wants them to connect. I point them toward ordering their life in such a way that friendship is possible. And I point them toward taking an intentional approach that means we not only open ourselves up to relationships, but we sometimes have to step out of our comfort zones to find it.

One thing I know for sure, the intentionality is worth it. There is nothing like a friendship of two people who are on a similar path helping each other become who God created them to be and bringing out the best in each other.

So here's my question...How do you pursue friendship? How would you help someone find the relational connections they crave?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Last Night's Movie Night

We had a great turn out at New Hope for the movie last night. Thanks to Steve and Shannon for coordinating everything.

"Fireproof" had some great take aways. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check it out. It goes against the common, American attitude that says "Love is a feeling. Go with your heart. If you fall out of love, just get out." It speaks to a deeper reality of love. This true love is not dependent on feelings. It is a love that is exemplified in what Christ has done for us. This love is worth fighting for and can stand the test of time.

If you are looking for someone to process stuff with, Leonard and Betty Perdue would love to talk with you. They have a heart for seeing marriages thrive and they have covenanted together in their own marriage for many years. You can give them a call (330.549.2215) or you can find Betty on Facebook.

For me, one of the most powerful parts of the movie was a song by John Waller, "While I'm Waiting." Much of my (of our) life is spent waiting. What do we do as we wait for things to happen? What do we do as we wait for the pain to be over? What do we do as we wait for things to turn around? What do we do as we wait for God to show us our path?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Movie Night This Friday

Don't forget:

New Hope is showing "Fireproof" this Friday at 7.00pm.

Free Childcare, Free Popcorn.

Comment this post if you want to use the childcare.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Growing a Movement Lunch - Sharing Dark Days Together

So... Because Paul's message this week was on Compassion: Loving as Jesus Loved, we began our lunch asking the question "how is God breaking your heart?" I threw the question out there because I'm always listening for where God is working and where he might be calling New Hope to join him.

Immediately three New Hopers shared heart-wrenching stories of friends or family members who are going through the darkest of days...days where ending it seems more of an option than living.

If you are reading this post and you have been impacted by suicide, please let me say that I am sorry. I've seen how heartbreaking it can be. May God's peace and love surround you in an amazing way. Please know that you are not alone.

It would be great if none of us ever had to face the dark days, wouldn't it? If I could remove the pain, I would do it in a heartbeat. Since that is not to be (at least not yet), I am so thankful that New Hope is a real place with real people, real problems - no false faces. We spent some time talking about and praying for each situation. It is my hope that some of the friendships fostered that day will continue and we will give each other strength. Our hope is not of this world. What an honor and responsibility to share that hope with those at New Hope and in our community.

If someone in your family has committed suicide and you are looking for support check out these Survivors of Suicide Groups:
1. Third Wednesday of the month - 7pm - at Disciple's Christian Church (565 Boardman-Canfield Rd.)
2. Third Thursday of the month - 11a-1pm - Columbiana Counseling Center (40722 St Rd 154, Lisbon)

If you are helping someone through a suicidal time, here are some resources to check out:
1. Turning Point Crisis Center (330.744.2991)
2. Help Hotline (330.747.2696 or dial 211)

Next week the focus is the Journey: Living as Jesus Lived. I encourage you to pick up some fast food and join us after the second gathering on Sunday. We'll explore what it means to live in Christ's humility, with God's strength, in community with each other.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update on the Growing a Movement Lunch

When we decided to have a "Growing A Movement Lunch," I really had no idea how it would turn out. For me, the most important components were that people felt at home and everyone had the opportunity to share their thoughts about Jesus. My hope was that it would be a big enough group that new friendship could begin, casual enough to be comfortable for all personality types, and simple enough that it could be replicated with little effort.

From a personal standpoint, the time together positively impacted my walk with Jesus. If you've been following my blog, you've seen that I've been going through a pretty dry time recently. I didn't realize it until last night, but I had kind of fallen into a 'habit of dryness.' I was talking to a friend who was sharing that she is going through a dry time. I just started to say that I echo her thoughts, but then God checked me. I stopped mid-sentence to share with her a couple of "God-happenings" that I've experienced in the last week. One in particular was a realization that I had at the "Growing a Movement Lunch."

I don't know about you, but I am very susceptible to life-overload. I go through much of my week doing all there is to do without much thought to where God is, where he's working, where I can be involved....It was fun to see that lunch go beyond just the hour or so we spent together to really impact my week.

At the lunch there were all ages of people there from young families to grandparents and everything in between. We talked about how it must have felt for those first followers when Jesus came in and claimed to be their way, truth, and life. We talked about how people may feel today as they see him as those things for the first time.

We talked about some of the practical aspects of following Jesus....We asked the question, how do we keep Jesus in the forefront of our minds throughout the day? Sometimes it's an email that sparks our thought, sometimes it's a conversation. Part of the equation is that openness to see where Jesus is working - even if it looks different than we expect.

One of the things we began to talk about how Jesus has a knack for challenging the status quo. He challenged it back then and he challenges it today. What do we do with that? I look forward to continuing that conversation this week as we look at the topic of Compassion: Loving as Jesus Loved. What does that mean to us, right here in Ohio, right now....

Anyone is welcome to join us. It's very simple, really. Just bring some food from home or pick up some fast food and meet us in the main room after the second gathering on Sunday. We'll push some tables together and hang out. One request: if you have kids you'd like to have watched at that time please let me know (330.565.4167), so we can plan accordingly.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let's Do Lunch This Sunday

This weekend Paul will begin the foundational series for New Hope. We will talk about why we do what we do and where we go from here. In particular, this weekend will focus on Jesus. Who is he, REALLY?

After Sunday's Second Gathering, we're having an informal lunch. Just bring some food from home or grab some fast food and meet us in the main room. It will be a chance to connect with others and talk about what we've learned.

There will be childcare. Let me know if you need it (330.565.4167).

I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday's Pondering

There are a few verses from the lectionary that I'm holding in my hands today.

The first is Psalm 147.11
His (the Lord's) delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

The next is Revelation 2.4
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

The last is John 2.11
Jesus did this, the
first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and
his disciples believed in him.

Today I'm thinking through what it means for me to fear him, to hope in his steadfast love. Because I have been experiencing a time of quiet, I think I am called to just do what I know to do. I am called to offer myself to be used in whatever way God sees fit to use me. I will allow my hope to grow naturally. And I will rest assured that it is not my 'abilities' that God desires. God desires my heart.

The second verse calls me to remember the love and the decisions it prompted. My covenant with God is no more negotiable than my marriage covenant with Steve. Steve and I will fall in and out of love hundreds of times throughout our life. The key is falling back in love each time. The same is true of my relationship with God. So in my relationship with the Lord, I take time to remember. I take time to reminisce about God's hand on my life.

Lastly, the disciples were able to see Jesus' first sign which revealed is glory and they believed in him. These are the questions I am asking myself today. Where am I seeing Jesus' glory? Am I putting myself in situations where Jesus' glory can be revealed? How can I be open to miracles today?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Jumpin' 0n the Bandwagon

I realize it is pretty cliche to post a New Year's Resolution Entry. But, I'm still comfortable with stating the obvious, so here we go...

I really did not even consider making any resolutions until this past weekend. Steve and I made a quick trip to Fort Wayne with some friends for an amazing (Non)conference on missional communities (more about that later). On the drive home, we began talking about resolutions. For me, once this holiday season got going, and the girls were out of school, I didn't spend much time thinking beyond the present. Usually I spend some time reflection on the year, looking ahead to the next..nope, none of that...

So last night I had this urge to clean out my night stand. As I worked, I kept a notebook nearby, so I could jot down any 'resolution-type' thoughts I might have. It's in rough form, but here's what I came up with:
1. Find opportunities to purge the excess.
2. Focus on what's real.
3. Incorporate small choices/changes.
4. Seek simple and significant memories.
5. In the speed of the moment, don't overlook something important (I almost threw away a whole set of calligraphy pens mistaking it for trash...).
6. Take the steps that PROVE I am not willing to let life pass me by.
7. Make play a priority.
8. Get to know God just for the sake of knowing God.

Happy New Year to you! I trust you'll find some time this month to take what you need from 2008, and look ahead to what 2009 has to offer. I appreciated what Bill had to say in the gatherings this past weekend. None of us know what 2009 has in store - surely it will be a mix of highs and lo's. But we know who goes before us. We know our strength lies in Jesus. He is who is creating us.