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New Normal

Heaven rising.

Heaven rising.

John Paton was an American missionary living in what is now the island country of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. During a dry season, the missionary awakened the curiosity (and the laughs) of the natives by DIGGING (?!?!) for water. They insisted water always came down from heaven, not up through the earth. But Paton revealed a larger truth than they had seen before by discovering that heaven could give them water through their own land. 

Some insist on waiting for God to send down answers, guidance, help and blessings from heaven in some super-normal way.  In his book, The Meaning of Prayer, Harry Emerson Fosdick tells this story, then makes this point: While God provides an abundant supply, we must learn to retreat into the fertile places of our own spirit where, as Jesus said, the wells of living waters seek to rise. “Mining" for heaven on earth attempts to dig for deeper levels of trust and obedience. It’s being willing to ‘un-earth’ the Spirit’s prompts that invite us to respond to a need, an opportunity, a stranger, or a neighbor, and the church.

As citizens of heaven living on earth, we awaken an imagination for the hope of something better. The New Normal has been a way to experiment with planting small seeds of heaven, here & now. But the hope is this will create a new normal for the way you combine faith into daily and normal life.

What's your story?

What's your story?

Creating a New Normal requires, well, a new approach, a different practice. This faith experiment is about finding simple opportunities to bring encouragement to others. However, it's also about learning to respond to the prompts of the Spirit. The Rhythm of Renewal is about increasing one's awareness of the presence of God. The more we respond, the more sensitive our hearts become. It’s how we draw near to God and sow seeds of heaven on earth.

If you received an HEB gift card or $50 envelope, you have a story to tell. Perhaps it’s a story YET to be told. Either way, I want to encourage you to pray. Ask neighbors. Talk with friends. Listen for ways YOU can help, bring hope, and support people living in our city. The resurrection means new life is available, and begins with each of us. So far,

  • A co-worker of Laurel’s, in the midst of divorce legal fees, received $50 for gas money, so that she could drive to the coast to visit grandchild and son for their birthday weekend. Another Tribe mate leveraged their $50 so that she could show up with a gift.

  • Jess and Kristin organized a brunch with ESL moms – all living on food stamps. They invited Shannon & Natalie to ply their trade a dietitians to offer introduction on healthy eating, shopping on a budget, and supplements that make a big difference for aches and allergies.

Please come ready to share your story at Tribe weekend on June 1-2. Just start with prayer, look for opportunity, and imagine if we all practiced yielding to God’s Spirit? That could be a transformational story. It feels like a New Normal. Get ‘ur done, friends…in Austin as it is in Heaven!

 

In the Hands of the People.

In the Hands of the People.

The resurrection means that New Life is available for everyone for all time. The chance to begin again, heal, overcome, bounce back, retrace your steps can be part of our human experience. Like prodigals returning home, we have a chance to create a new normal for ourselves and for others. 

In response to New Normal, we raised $1500 by ‘fasting’ normal and everyday expenses. With those savings, we distributed $500 worth of HEB gifts cards on Easter. The idea is this: The resurrection means new life is possible for all of us. Jesus said, Kingdom of heaven is like a seed…” so yesterday we passed out ‘seed money’—$50 to every family, couple or individual in hopes of discovering ways to sow seeds. In Christ, we can bring encouragement and support to others. It’s not simply about finding a ‘needy’ situation but looking for an opportunity to ‘seed’ heaven on earth.

Even though new life is possible, it’s not automatic. Our Rhythms invite us to practice a living and resurrected faith! Renewal is the Rhythm to encourage a growing awareness of God’s presence. We become spiritually alive the more we yield to ‘turn’ to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. The reason we practice Generosity or Compassion is a way to see how God is the Source of all that we have. Perhaps this practice might ignite a new way of seeing our own resources and everyday opportunities to ‘seed the kingdom of heaven”.  This is just another way we can Apprentice or share what following Christ means with those closest. If you find an opportunity that requires more than $50, find Community with friends and Tribe mates—The money is in the hands of the people!

Becoming.

Becoming.

My uncle David is a bit of a Renaissance man - bright, resourceful, well traveled, with an array of interests. He’s one of the people I like to listen to ‘think out loud”. I once asked him an open-ended question, “What Advice would you give to an 18-yr old leaving home?” Without hesitation, “I’d say, ‘Manage who you become!’Life’s like a train station and opportunities are moving in and out. You need to choose opportunities that cultivate health, faith, education, interests, character, and disciplines. For instance, you don’t need to worry about all A’s on exams. If you get a B but understand the material, it’s okay! Don’t over-emphasize academics and miss out on other valuable opportunities to develop”. Impressed with his insight, I pushed further, “What advice to a young couple for marriage?” Again, without hesitation, he said plainly, “Oh, it might be too late.” What?!?!  He continued, “If you haven’t managed who you want to become, it’ll be a difficult few years of undoing and re-learning.”

Like a good artist, Paul paints in a similar contrast: “Be very careful, then, how you live…not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Eph.5:15-18). In other words, the foolish person has no strategy, plan, or practice for life and faith. Without a plan, one will only miss opportunity to live for God in an evil environment. He’s instructing them on how to live in light of their new identity. To do so, he talks about being wise and making the most of every opportunity.

Here’s where it gets interesting: In Exodus 31:2-5 we find God’s people saved from slavery in Egypt. God’s forming a covenant to live in light of their new spiritual identity. “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri…3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

Did you catch it??? The basis for wisdom in the bible is not IQ or how smart you are. You don’t need advanced degrees to be an artisan! You just have to be good. And to get good, you do it a lot!  In this case, God is animating a skill set through this guy.

Regardless of your day job, Wisdom is a skill you cultivate by bringing potential out of something.  Apparently, God takes great joy investing His personal presence to inspire us to create great things! The Spirit is the bible’s way of describing the personal rapport you hold with Jesus, we can sense him in our midst, especially as we bless others with our skill. We’re challenged to ‘Manage who we become’ with the Spirit’s help! The more we respond, yield, &/or turn to the prompts of God’s Spirit, the more our lives are transformed. That sounds like heaven on earth. That sounds like the beginnings of a new normal.

Think 'fast' for Lent

Think 'fast' for Lent

Ever set out inspired by Lent only to see it become an UN-inspired chore? What if you had small ways, each day, to be reminded of Hope? And, what If you could go through Lent as family & with friends? Sounds like beginnings of a New Normal.

Let’s iron out a couple of ideas of what fasting is and is not. Christian fasting isn’t a way to suffer for God or to demonstrate how devout we are. Maybe more importantly, it’s not a way of trying harder in hopes of getting God to respond. Rather, Christian fasting is intentionally withholding something we’d normally enjoy in hopes of seeking a greater awareness of the presence of God.

Because of the resurrection, new life is promised but growth is never automatic! In creating a new normal, we’re using Lent to give up normal items and activities to save a little money. Then, we’ll find ways to practice generosity, compassion, and bring Life to others.

Lent is also about seeking God’s presence. Christian fasting is about growing in Wisdom. If you don’t have a devotional plan, download the App ReadScripture and begin daily reading & watching videos starting with Jesus & the Kingdom. 

Christian fasting is Practicing. It’s the indirect effort that gives us access to something we can’t try or make happen on our own. So use this time to, perhaps, create a new habit. And, Christian fasting is about Surrender. It is a voluntary “making ourselves weak” so that we can know the strength and power of God (2 Cor 12:9-10).

The power of community is when a whole group of people does something together. You can start at any time. All monies to be collected on Sunday, April 14, 2019. 

Easter is coming! SPOILER ALERT: He’s Alive!