Purpose

My fervent prayer is every day I will love Jesus deeper, love His people deeper, and love His calling deeper. Every Day Deeper.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pressing Into The Prize


This summer I had the sweet opportunity to learn from a speaker (either a church planter or pastor) every Friday morning for a teaching. From each of these teachings I learned more about what it looks like to live on mission, how to contextualize the gospel in the context of biblical community, and how as the family of God we reveal the glory of God to others. One of the speakers a few weeks into the internship said something I haven’t forgotten, “run to the tension.” It soon became our groups motto as we ran into the tension of starting relationships, pressing those relationships further, and learning how to bring to the Lord other fears and insecurities that came along with those things. But we don’t run to the tension because it is easy, we run into the tension because even though “we labor and strive” (1 Timothy 4:10) we get to press into the prize- Jesus.

As we live life on mission for Him and as we realize how hard that can be sometimes- we press into Him. As we admit we are nothing without Him- we press into Him. As we humble ourselves to His will and acknowledge He is sovereign and He knows best we press into Him. We press into Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8.) Our sweet prize is knowing Him and being known by Him and it radically affects our hearts, our lives, and the paths we are walking. On the days we get discouraged, overwhelmed, and start feeling insufficient we can remember the tension is worth the Prize.

The gospel is offensive, no doubt. It says that you are broken, apart from God, and no works could justify you. But it is the most loving offense because the gospel also says that despite all of those things, Jesus made a way for you. A way to be whole, with God, and a way only Jesus by His grace could provide. He is the prize we absolutely don’t deserve, the prize we’ve done nothing for, and the Prize we get the joy of pressing into all of our lives until we are present with Him in heaven. And so believing in Him, living your life for Him, running in to the tension for Him is worth it. It is beautiful. It is humbling and sanctifying and redeeming and restoring. For me, it is worth sharing and worth rejoicing in - a race worth running and a Prize worth pressing into.

“Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Planting in PDX


Eight weeks ago I became a part of a team of students who moved to Portland, Oregon in the hope of learning what it looks like to form churches in the context of Portland and building genuine friendships with the people here- all in the name of Jesus. Eight weeks ago I could have told you what I thought church planting was based on books I’d read and experiences of those who had rolled up their sleeves and joined the harvest work. But eight weeks ago I had never tried to start a church.

In my last blog I opened up about what I have learned the church should be and how the church, the family of God, should embrace the fact we are the recaptured image of God on earth. A broken image that finds beauty in the fact its Artist is not broken, but whole and beautiful. As I have established more gospel-centered rhythms this summer, such as redeeming the Sabbath and learning to love people just for the sake of loving them, I have seen how God is building His church here in Portland and how I can be apart of it.

This summer my team was assigned the task to put together, based on the knowledge we acquire and observations we make in 10 weeks, a church planting prospectus. In other words, a model for a church someone could come and form in our area. At first this task didn’t seem quite daunting. Surely at the end of ten weeks I will have learned enough about the area I’m in that I could cast vision about how a church would work here. And in some ways I have. God has opened up beautiful friendships, conversations, and opportunities to see how His spirit is moving in the area of southwest Portland. But in some ways I haven’t. God has humbled my spirit time and time again and reminded me that I am always in a posture of learning. In the moments I believe I’m shepherding those around me He lovingly, graciously reminds me that HE is the Shepherd, I am the sheep. While He is allowing me to gain insight on the people and place I am in, I never have the perfect plan. He has invited me to be apart of His plan, to participate in the sharing of His grace to this world but not before I recognize the great need of His grace on my own life.

Now fast-forward eight weeks and my team is two weeks away from sharing our model with a group of 60 plus people. We have walked through identifying people, inviting them into community, investing in their lives, and increasing our family. We have wrestled with how to love one another, love the people we have formed relationships with, and love Southwest Portland in the way Jesus modeled. We have realized coming up with a plan is hard. Writing mission statements, forming discipleship plans, and creating ideas about how to practically meet as a church is hard. But thankfully we have realized the significance of when God says to His people, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” HIS grace is sufficient. When we admit our weakness and the fact we will never plant a perfect church, never have the best model, God’s power is perfected in us. His perfect kingdom is coming and in the meantime we hold fast to the joy we have in walking with Jesus and being apart of His plan.


I am so grateful for this truth and pray as this summer comes to a close and I continue to walk with Jesus in this life I am challenged to commit my ways, thoughts, and plans to the Lord. Realizing I know the voice of my Shepherd and I can follow Him in any season, anywhere because His grace is sufficient for me, always.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hallelujah Place

Church (n): a building for public Christian worship

This definition is the one found on dictionary.com, a uncomplicated- practical description of a place people either find hope or hurt. On the other hand, the definitions for church on urbandictionary.com are less concrete (and more hilarious).

“the best cure for insomnia”

“similar to a mental hospital with less physical restraints”

Clearly, the definition of church is not always easy to articulate. But when I look to the bible I don’t see a complicated, hard to describe definition for church, I see a beautiful one.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

When Jesus came to this earth to redeem His people, He left the church to be His tangible kingdom. Until we take our last breath and enter the kingdom of heaven, the church on earth is the closest we get to what Hallelujah Place will look like. A place where people are in community together, worshiping the One who gave them grace to do it. The church isn’t a place it is a family. A family with broken, hurting, confused people who hold fast to what Jesus commanded of us- to love Him with our whole hearts and love all His people well.

Oftentimes, it is easy for us to love God, or at least pretend to. But loving all His people? Loving them more then we love ourselves? That’s not as easy. Yet that is the call of the church. It’s simple but we miss it. We get so muddled in the routine of “church” we forget to live in it’s mission. The mission of Jesus that calls us to share our lives together, invite people to share in our lives, and increase the family. As described above, the early church ate together, they praised God together, they gave EVERYTHING to ANYONE in need. They served as Jesus did in His name. That is our call as the church.

In the last few years as I’ve walked closer to Jesus, I have seen how people opened their doors to strangers, loved relentlessly, and cared for the needs of many. In the last month I’ve lived with nine people and it has been a sanctifying process. When I’m at my most selfish and bratty, they’ve lovingly reminded me to get over myself and covered me in grace. Grace I don’t deserve and grace that points me towards Jesus.


As I continue in my summer here in Portland, as well as in my life, I pray grace overflows from me to those I call family and those I hope to one day call family. I pray I am challenged to share my life with others even when it is hard because Jesus gave His life for me when it was hard. As the honeymoon phase on this trip comes to an end and the days I feel weary, tired, and so unwillingly to host people over increase I pray His grace comes fast on my heart and Acts 2 comes to my mind. For the new friends my teammates and I meet this summer I pray we can be the church for them, in a way they may have never experienced- a way that glorifies Jesus fully and ushers  Truth.

Jesus loves the church, it is precious to Him. I pray it becomes more precious to me.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Summer in Portland

Portland, Oregon, a place near and dear to my heart. Near because for the last 10 years I have been only 30 minutes away and dear for one particular reason: Portland is AWESOME. Maybe I’m bias because I am a Northwest girl through and through BUT I think you would find many, many people who feel similarly. Not only is Portland beautiful and offers the outdoor adventurer constant places for exploration but it also offers places for readers, coffee drinkers, Chaco wearers, and self- proclaimed “foodies” alike. And maybe you are reading this and hate all of those things and that’s okay because Portland has something for you too, I promise. Even if its something a little weird like creating Pok√©mon characters into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because haven’t you heard…Keep Portland Weird!

Okay so now you are convinced right? Portland is wonderful. But why am I spending my summer there? Well, during this last school year I had the opportunity to apply for a summer mission’s opportunity with the North American Mission Board. After being accepted to the program and being asked to serve in a Northwest city, something in my heart felt uneasy. I spent time in prayer as well as talking to my parents full of wisdom and friends full of encouragement and advice. Before I finished my freshman year at Washington State University I felt confident God was calling me home for the summer and declined the NAMB position. When I got home, I had the opportunity to aid my Dad in preparing for his summer interns who would be spending 10 weeks engaging and serving the city of Portland, the Generation Send group and the Portland Parachute Project. While helping my Dad and talking to my parents, it became clear that this was more than an opportunity to help my Dad but an opportunity to fully participate in the experience. After a few emails and phone calls, I became an official participant of the Portland Parachute Project.

For the next 9 weeks of the summer (I can’t believe I’ve already had the joy of spending a week with these people) my team, a group of 11 other people, will live near the campus of Portland State University learning what it looks like to form churches in Portland, serve and love people the way Jesus would, and display to others what the church is suppose to be- a group of broken, imperfect people who are wanting more of Jesus and are passionate about loving others well so they will want more of Him to. This will be a time for personal growth as I lean on Jesus for strength and a time to learn more about what it looks like to serve people intentionally and sacrificially. A time of a remembering that everything I do- whether working, eating, biking, reading, or walking can be done for the glory of God. Each day there is opportunity to be lead by the Spirit and I am so grateful to be apart of a program with structure but also flexibility. At the end of the day, I believe I am called to live a life on mission. A life where I leverage my every action for Jesus and a life about identifying people on my journey, inviting them to participate with me, investing in them as we walk together, and increasing our numbers so following Jesus shifts from a ME thing to a WE thing.

I would love if you would pray for unity and peace between myself and my team that we would continue to care for one another well, for the people of Portland that they would feel known, loved, and cared for by our team and most importantly by Jesus, and that we would keep our eyes on Him- the sustainer of our lives. Feel free to email me at abby.beth@comcast.net to talk about my experience and so I can have a chance to hear more about your summer story and how I can pray for you!

With love,


Abby

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Promised Rest

"Come to Me, all you who are weary
 and burdened, and 
I will give you rest."


Lord, when the worry seems to tug me deep down, keep me focused on You. The worry, it tempts like a rocking chair. I sit and rock, rock, rock and yet I get nowhere. When I rest in my worry I leave exhausted. Help me to not rest in my worry. Remind me how You say "Give Me your burdens" because You want me to find joy in resting in You, not from sitting in my never-ending, soul-sucking worry. Every single one of my hairs is numbered by You because You can be counted on. No longer do I need to worry that I don't have anything figured out because You, my Father, can always be counted on. You give me my strength, You are my portion and my deliverer, I come to you knowing You are the heartbeat of my life.

Daughter, do not be afraid because I love you. The anxiety that makes you weak at the knees and sends quivers in your belly is not from Me. I have given you a spirit of peace and a spirit of joy, abide in this joy. Do you not see how I take care of the birds of the sky, how I cradle them in their nests, and provide them with their food? How much more precious you are in My sight. So do not worry because I provide for you. I delight in taking care of you because you are My creation, the work of my hands and the joy in my heart. Let Me be your daily bread and drink from My overflowing cup of grace, it will never run out on you- I will never run out on you. You are written on my hands, engraven on my heart. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Into Your Hands

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" Colossians 1:13

From Mine:

Lord, in your Great Love Letter it says you have rescued me from the dominion of darkness. Why would I ever want to run away from Your light? Affirm me in the days mixed with doubt and laced with worry to place my heart in the goodness of Your gospel. Allow Your Great Peace to wash over me. Let me praise You for giving me light, loving me faithfully, tenderly, and beautifully. May my own love for You reflect the sweet ways You have loved me and lead me through life. Help me be more like Jesus, match His words "I commit my Spirit to Your hands" with the rhythm of my heartbeat and stitch them to my lips so they are always near. Forever.

From His: 

Beloved,

I am Your deliverer, your rescue, run to Me who has captured you away from a life of fear. Sweet peace is promised to you if you anchor your trust in Me. There will be moments in this life where My Peace seems far and you will question where I am. But in those times, I will scoop up your vulnerable heart and say "My Love is enough." My love for you is powerful enough to help and heal and restore. I will always come to you as you are and I will be your Comfort and your Truth. Let My joy envelope you and warm your aching bones. When you feel anxious and fearful I am your I AM and you are Mine. You were bought by My blood, adopted into My family, and You have a place created for you in My Paradise. Remember that perfect love casts out fear. When I am your Perfect Love, there is no room for fear. Be sure of my love for you, it will never change. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beautifully Made


"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day." Psalms 139: 13-16 (The Message)


From Mine:

Lord, thank You for not being satisfied in leaving me where I was, stuck in my sinfulness. You called me up from the darkness, filling my dead lungs with the breath of life. You wanted more for me than a bandaged heart but a brand new one. A heart sculpted by you, One flowing with Your goodness and Your blood- blood that was spilt so mine could beat free. I can’t help but look with awe at all You have given, all these underserved mercies. How good it is to be loved by You, how beautiful it is that You love me for all my edges and imperfections, things other people are slow to love. It amazes me how You desire my heart even when I feel too broken and lowly to ever be used. What a testament to Your great, merciful, forgiving nature. Thank You for never pushing me away.

From His:

Loved one, when I created you, it was creation based on love. I saw your future in front of me, I saw the actions you would make-good and bad- and didn’t have a second thought about putting you on Earth. When you chose to follow Me, I gave you a part of me, My Holy Spirit. You do not always walk along side of Us, but we always walk along side of you. There is nothing about you unseen to Us and this is why we pursue you. We want your broken, messy, beautiful heart because it is the heart we created. Broken things were created for beauty. Don’t let yourself believe you are too scarred to be used. My son was scarred so you could be used, so we could be in relationship. There is nothing about you that pushes Me away. I will always redeem you, capture you, mold you, love you- always.