Sunday, January 31, 2010

He's Bigger than we ever imagine

I wanted to blog to tell a cool story of just how BIG our God is. He's shown me on a couple occassions lately that I can't even begin to imagine how BIG He is. I get little glimpses with the Holy Spirit's help.

I have a project due for a class where I've chosen to support some church planters through prayer, service, and financial gifts. I was sitting in the car alone about a month ago, waiting for Dennis and Faith so we could go to church. I was thinking about the church I'm supporting and wondering where the money would come from for my financial gift. We have a balanced budget -PRAISE GOD! But extras are not generally in it. In my head I was asking "Do we give from our normal offerings to our own church?" And then a strong thought (easiest way to describe the Holy Spirit's prompting in this case) was that maybe we'd get money from somewhere else for me to give. Proverbs 3:5 comes to mind right now. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" because I couldn't see how that might happen. Within what felt like just a single minute, my mom called and asked if I do any outside (meaning outside of our home) work anymore. She had bookkeeping she needed done and she wanted to pay me! God is sooooooo good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The journey's not over

So is that all there is to this blog?? Nah. I decided to write it because I know the journey's far from over and I'm hoping to provide encouragement to someone who may have a similar experience and be in a time where what is next in your service to the Lord has not yet been revealed. Or maybe you're getting pieces of the picture and it's difficult to be patient. Or maybe you're dying to serve and it seems like nothing is happening, almost to the point where you want to bust, and again it's hard to be patient. Maybe God is saying "not now, you've got fish to fry at home" like I know He's said to me a few times in reference to ministering to my own family. Whatever your particular situation is, I know this for certain -He is with you.

Lessons learned

I shared my revelation with my husband and mom. In retrospect, I would've waited alot longer before I told that to anyone because it changed our direction and set the wheels in motion for all of us to try to "figure things out" and get the job done. That in itself is not bad, but God needed to stay in the center of the project and somehow He did not. The doors for evil were opened and the result would be that the bookstore opening would be postponed.

One of the things that is important to know about the bookstore/church at this point is that our inspired mission was to "demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ through acts of service". We were there to serve a small community of 300 in one of the poorest towns and counties in the state. In case you're a person who knows the "church" as a building, I just want to clarify that the "church" is actually the entire body of those who put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It actually has very little to do with a building except that "churches" (groups of believers) choose to purchase buildings. In America we're so accustomed to "going to church" that we may not understand this important distinction.

The other thing that's important to note is that the bookstore itself was an act of service because the books were being made available to people on a "pay what you can" basis with the coffee being sold at regular retail to sustain the church. Understanding the economics of the area, we didn't want anyone to not have access to a book due to ability (or lack of) to pay.

My husband and I did find a church home last year after the opening was postponed. Actually it happened the same weekend as we were due to open, which is pretty interesting. Shortly after we started attending, one of our pastors made a kind of sarcastic joke about how "it never happens that someone tries to plant a church and evil moves in". That gave me alot of peace, knowing that what happened was normal and that here my pastor was talking about something we'd just gone through. What happened shook all of us, but I know that it especially tested mine and my mom's faith. It didn't test our faith in God, like we questioned whether He was real. It forced us to take a hard look at where we put our trust and where we were in our own relationships with Him.


So I said "OK" and we waited and waited. It would be a couple months before God would move us forward towards the bookstore and in the meantime I visited quite a few coffee shops to see what ideas we could gather. I put my "business owner" hat on to start putting a business plan to gether. I'd spent my entire adult life in business and studying business and it seemed like God kept saying we didn't need all that.

At the same time, my husband and I were without a church home and in fact went through a period where we didn't go to church at all. To me those were difficult days. I knew we belonged in a church. God had specifically guided us out of our previous church home because we weren't growing and it was time for us to get into relationships with other Christians. So we struggled and "wandered the desert" as I like to refer to it. When I got God's invitation to open the bookstore, I had decided I was going to try churches, even if I had to go alone. And on one occassion I visited this fantastic church in Maple Grove Minnesota called The Edge. The church was in a shopping mall and had all types of people from all races and all classes and they served coffee and treats in church for free. This would be a life changing visit because after I left there, God revealed to me that the bookstore and coffee shop would be a church. On the surface that might not seem like an earth shattering revelation and for most people that may bring up questions like "how does a bookstore and coffee shop become a church?" To me it was undoing. I simply wept and I can't explain how I felt inside. I had once hoped to work in full-time ministry and at that time I received lots of messages about being where you're at and came to the conclusion that at least then, I wasn't meant for full-time ministry. I didn't believe I ever would be actually, so when God said the thing He invited me to start would be a church I was completely overwhelmed with joy. I guess that's the best way to explain it.

Heeding the call

It was April of 2009 and I had just finished 2 intense weeks of something called "Brain State Conditioning". To keep on topic, I won't go into the details of what that is but you can do a google search and find lots of information about it. The result of my Brain State Conditioning was healing from trauma and a much deeper relationship with God. A day or two after my Brain State training was complete, I was sitting in a shop having a cup of coffee and a danish. I started chatting with God (in my head, not aloud of course!) and He asked me if I'd be willing to open a coffee shop and Christian bookstore in my mom's town. I remember having lots of questions and to understand what those questions might be, you'd have to know that my mom lived 3 hours from where my husband and I and our family were living. The town was in Northwest Wisconsin and had about 300 people. I'd love to say I just jumped up and said "YES! Anything You ask of me Lord" but that's not exactly the way it happened. The "logical" side of me asked the questions and when I got the answers, I said "OK God, what's next?" and the Holy Spirit prompted me to "Say yes!" and I was absolutely floored. The God of the Universe who could just command me to do something and I would certainly do it was giving me a chance to accept or not accept this amazing assignment! This is something I was in awe of for quite some time. In retrospect, I see it as proof of God's unbelievable love for us. We are His children. This was a dream assignment because I loved my mom dearly and it had been difficult at times to live so far from my parents. But now I was going to get to serve the Lord and have a reason to be closer to her! Heaven was coming to earth....