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Life in Light of the Resurrection.

Life in Light of the Resurrection.

How do we live in light of the resurrection? How ‘bout bringing a lil’ life to another? Our grand total from the New Normal Lent savings is $1516.00! Well done!

Here comes the fun part where we attempt to offer encouragement and support to those around us.

Pray. Ask neighbors. Talk with friends. Pray some more. Listen for ways YOU can help, bring hope, encourage, and support people around you. Is there a family at your kids' school? Is there an immigrant we can sponsor at the community college? Who needs medicine? A single mom need car repair? A foster family could use a season pass to something fun? House cleaning? Do we go buy a bunch of school supplies for the fall? 

On Easter, we passed out $500 worth of HEB gift cards in hopes of seeing an opportunity, learning a name, and hearing story. We ALL wanna hear that story!  Seriously, WE NEED YOUR HELP! I want all of us to celebrate the resurrection in the most tangible ways possible!! We have AT LEAST $1000 to invest and bring Light to darkness. So, please, share your ideas and opportunities within the next 2 weeks!

Thank you for being part of the this beautiful experiment in faith, community, and mission!  Heaven on Earth…it’s what we live for!!

A Normal Idea

A Normal Idea

We often think of fasting as an extreme form of spirituality, like it’s reserved for the ’spiritual green berets”. In reality, we all “fast” all the time! We fast sleep, workouts, quality time with friends & family, returning messages, fried foods, favorite hobbies, and doing our taxes. The difference is that our sacrifice is often for personal gain, busyness, or procrastination. Christian fasting is a voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of spiritual focus. So, what if we were more thoughtful about a daily offering as we prepare our hearts for Easter? What if we had small ways, each day, to remind us of our faith, hope, & love for God?

A faith Experiment for Lent & Loving More. Consider what simple ways you can save money for during Lent. Keep a running total of how much you save from your usual spending habits and operating budget. At the end, we’ll pool our savings and announce our grand total on Easter Sunday. Since the resurrection offers new life, we’ll leverage funds together to bring life, care, and compassion to others!

It’s been said that forty days is enough time to create a new habit. What if this experiment could also affect the way we see God’s provision in our life and also create a new normal?

For ideas on simple ways to save and participate, check out our Lent Experiment. You can (re)start at any time and can turn in money each week but all monies to be collected on Sunday, April 14, 2019. Because Hope is rising & New Life is a promise for all!

A Holy Visitation.

A Holy Visitation.

Yesterday was a beautiful day not because it was easy, but it was a good. For nine months, we’ve responded to Austin's growing immigrant community. After visiting some of the same apartments, people’s stories and needs linger. The visits become personal.

On Monday evening, eight of us re-visited the home of a young mom from Myanmar – Ma Tee – who died of cancer last Friday. She leaves behind a husband and three kids – 12, 8, & 6. He quit his factory job two months ago to care for his terminally ill wife. She also left behind a sizable Burmese community of friends who, like her, were forced to make a life here. 

We showed up with a bowl of fresh fruit, cards with a little money to help with funeral expenses, and a desire to comfort. Most immigrants struggle to assimilate because they often don’t have any American friendships. Being overwhelmed in a new culture, high cost of living, and language barrier…most crave the familiar, something that feels like home.

Thankfully, we were recognizable faces yet we also shared a recognizable faith. Before we were done, the apartment began to fill. Their extended community show up each night in solidarity to grieve, pay respects, and pray. The only way I can describe our prayer time is as a vibrant, full-participation “Concert of Prayer”. It was a chorus of agreement, calling on the name of the Lord…in sadness, through tears, with hope, and in unwavering faith. It wasn’t easy but it was so good!

It occurred to me, this is what happens when“Sunday School” leaves the classroom and becomes an exercise in humility, community, and hope. We simply can’t wait for people to show up to our parties, our worship, our small group meetings. We are sent people who can – and called by God — to bring the church to others! 

Here’s to new life, faith becoming a Rhythm, & being changed from the inside out!

Compassion Compulsion

Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, CA is one of the great local surf spots. It sit in the shadow of a light house just below winding cliffs. Santa Cruz also has a notoriously territorial surf culture - high in attitude and low in hospitality.  Over last Christmas break, it wasn’t very crowded, it felt safe, the swell was 4-6 feet, and sounded fun. So, I took my teenage son and niece to surf this spot even though it’s not really a beginner surf break. 

Famous last words.  

My niece is from Colorado who’d only surfed a couple times before but my son would also paddle out as I watched atop the cliff. Like life, the surf has a way of pushing you in a direction you don’t want to go, much less control. At first it was fine but she ended up getting pushed aggressively toward and into the rocks. In a panic, she found small cut-out along cliff as waves pounded. This was not the adventure-instagram-moment she/we had in mind. She was in trouble and I was in no position to help her.

But then a surfer–turned–angel saw what was happening. He paddled over and began to lead her out of harm’s way. Leaving her board behind at his command, he guided her a couple hundred yards - using his longboard - against the surge to safety amid the cliffs and crashing surf. Her board was in pieces. She was tired, shaking, and scared. But the care of this local surfer was amazing. It seemed to do more for him than the thought of any missed waves. He chose another’s care and made his (and our) day. He sacrificed what was valuable for something that was precious. In this way, I believe his action was, in fact, sacred.

This stranger came alive – like he had a purpose – beyond his own surfing enjoyment at the thought of caring for another. Compassion is a remarkable gesture in that it can bless or renew life to both the giver and recipient. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a chance to experiment with acts of compassion – from saving daily expenditures to handing out gift cards to seeing needs, opportunities and our own resources differently. Perhaps this might inspire a New-And-Sustained Normal.

The New Normal-Experimenting with New Life & Compassion

In order to experience New Life we need to create a New Normal. What if we experiment with small sacrificial acts and gestures of compassion believing that God can use us AND wants to give us New Life? This “faith experiment” is to help us see needs, opportunities, and our own resources differently.

Creative ways to save money from our daily expenditures:

Consider what simple ways you can save money for a week. Keep a running total of how much you save from your normal operating budget. At the end of the week, we will pool our savings so that together we can practice small acts of compassion and kindness.

  • Pass on Starbucks for office or home brewed coffee
  • Plan a dinner menu for the week and forgo the Drive-thru or eating out.
  • Pack a lunch in lieu of eating out.
  • Rent a movie instead of going to the theatre.
  • Wash your own car wash.
  • Have a friend or spouse trim your hair.
  • Change your own car oil.
  • Avoid impulse purchases at the checkout stand or gas station.
  • Stick with just water if you eat out.
  • Skip a lunch meal.
  • Avoid the snack bar or concessions.
  • Put off a round of golf, happy hour after work, or special outing.
  • Use coupons to shop, keep track of what you save.
  • Buy sale items, note the savings.

Interrupting our Normal

It’s been proven that if you write something down, we’re more committed to following through. In an effort to express our faith in small-yet-compassionate ways, take a minute to consider what changes in your daily spending that you could adjust over the next week (i.e. bring a lunch vs eating out, buying coffee vs brewing your own, etc.).

What’s an area of spending that you’re willing to make a change (i.e. Starbucks, bag lunches, etc.):  __________                                                                   

Estimate how much savings that could mean over the course of 1 or 2 weeks:  _____________

***Another option is to find other small ways to save in daily expenditures and involve your kids. The key will be to keep a running tally of your savings so that we can leverage it together for others. Make notes in your phone or check register during this time. We will collect all monies on Sunday, April 24th.

A New Normal: A human(e) Response to the Resurrection.

Now that Easter’s been properly celebrated, what does the promise of new life mean for our daily lives? Easter reminded us that we can begin again. Being spiritually "born again" isn’t supposed to happen once, but regularly and often. It’s a continual process of renewal.  II Corinthians 4:16 in The Message says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace."

Our world is so full of needs, injustice, and abuse that it appears as if our only hope is to survive. Certainly, not thrive. Honestly, it’s hard to let ourselves be too affected by the plight of others YET – at the same time – we’re mindful of God’s unfolding grace in our own lives. Because of the resurrection, new life is promised but it's not automatic either. 

We often look around at our lives and this world wondering, “where’s God…?” or “how could he let that happen?”  We feel like God should be more active.  But, I'm suspicious that a large part of what we feel about injustice, greed, scarcity, abuse, wealth, accomplishment is supposed to help us see what God sees?  I think our emotions are supposed to help us experience something, something that God already sees and wants to remedy.  Perhaps what we see and feel is God’s invitation is to be a part of a solution.

So, what if — as a part of God’s plan for us — is to use the need and brokenness in this world to keep us spiritually alive? 

New life means re-sensitizing our hearts. With a little effort and encouragement, I want to suggest a “faith experiment” to help us see needs, opportunities, and our own resources differently. It's a chance to recondition our hearts.

For most of us, in order to experience New Life we need to create a New Normal? What if we experiment with small sacrificial acts and gestures of compassion believing that God can use us AND wants to give us New Life? 

Over the next month, we’re going to explore the Rhythm of Compassion. And we’ll do it together so we’re not alone in our effort. The idea is simple: One week where each of us sees what we can do without — We trade Starbucks for office brew. We plan a menu and forgo the Drive-thru. We pack a lunch in lieu of eating out. We pass on going to the movies and rent at home. There’s lots of normal activities we choose to bypass for a week. And, with the money saved, we pool it together. The money saved then becomes a way for us to practice compassion – meeting simple needs as they arise in your neighborhood, at the gas pump, the grocery store, at your kids school, downtown, in the park, or on the news. We’re not trying to solve any one issue. We’re simply trying to be part of God’s response AND allow our hearts to be re-sensitized as part of our everyday lives. That feels like the makings of a New Normal.