November 21, 2017

You faith family matters! The journey more than the destination…#TWO

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

With my last blog entry, I decided to continue from there with a series on the idea of family. While simple to consider, this blog text focuses on discovering community through Christian relationships, through a church if possible.

I currently attend Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta, Georgia, just a few miles from where I live. The church focuses on house churches, or perhaps better thought of as organized small groups. While I live about three hours from my father and mother and then about four hours from my sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews, out of my normal every day reach, I thrive on the next best thing, my second next-of-kin circles at church.

Grace Midtown is unlike any church I ever attended. With my outgoing personality, I tend to be the one who pursue friendships with other people. I find the exact opposite to be true at Grace; others will find you.

As Christians, I believe my current church home sets an example to emulate, how churches should outreach to newcomers and communities who need some light in the midst of adversity.

If lonely and shut-in, I urge you to find a community of believers and connect. Watch yourself never be the same ever again with personal and intentional involvement. If never tried before, give a specific church practicing a real life of abundance (a body of contemporary, relational Christians living in the present) one year of your life, and I promise your life will change forever.

Those who commune in the name of Jesus build an eternal brotherhood and sisterhood, blessed way beyond what a casual relationship will ever live up to. Build a body. Build a bridge. And watch slowly as you grow into the person you always wanted to be simply because you decided to surround yourself with the right people.

I found the following Christian series by Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa, (author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God) extremely insightful as it relates to building meaningful relationships with others. Enjoy!

PART ONE

PART TWO

My Best Christmas Gift This Year – A New Home in Grace Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia – Video Imagery!

12 It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
Psalm 55:12-14 (NLT)

You know – coming to a new place and town can always be somewhat daunting for those taking the pilgrimage for new opportunities. I have backpacked around the world through Europe, South America, and the continental United States. However the move to Atlanta felt like a move to China for me. I stressed about it in both unusual and unique ways as I was about to experience a test unlike ever faced before; however that is not the subject of this blog and journal entry, even though adversity has been withstood.

In the last two months, I radically experienced two different spectrums of faith: religious churches versus real churches. When I mention a religious church, I mean a legalistic body that follows protocol, rank of title, and certain constitutional procedures and policies. We live Christ in the confines of these guiding principles, placing Jesus in the realm of a box or church structure.

On the flip side, I experienced a real church with real people in the relationships evident at Grace Midtown Church, the home I will inevitably join if I am granted my wish and blessing to make Atlanta my permanent residence for a few many years. Grace is not solely defined by a box of rules. This body of God is defined by the teaching of a real and live Jesus Christ.

Probably more than ever before, through the internet, face-to-face interaction, and phone calls, I have felt more called (literally and spiritually) to this church for growth in addition to security and comfort in an unfamiliar place with recent troublesome and turbulent circumstances. The following video gives a slight feel for how this church rises up to higher heights, much like Birmingham Church of the Highlands, another purpose-driven real community.

I took my home church, Church of the Highlands, extremely for granted when I firsthand experienced a really bad religious institution here in Atlanta upon first moving here. While some might think it wrong to blog about any such church, it became increasingly apparent between stagnant structure of so-called faith versus a life-breathing organization that brings fresh air to our lungs in relationship, small fellowship, and Big Time plays for heaven size purposes. When I escaped the perils of that lost freedom of boredom and routine, I found Grace Midtown House Churches through the referrals of friends in Auburn, Birmingham, and an unusual phone conversation with a rather special college junior obsessed with Arabic culture and building the firm foundation of house churches within Grace Midtown.

And so as you can see in the previous video, I found a home of real people with real worship and real intentions to ask me about me and invite me to activities without my lead, a very unusual social approach. In other words, I am used to introducing myself and meeting others. It was nice to have others do that in my direction, in my favor, and in pursuit of joint relationship with Christ. More people prayed over me at Grace Midtown in six weeks than a year anywhere else I have ever been. Now that is a Christmas present of fellowship worth blogging about! Have your way with me here, Lord! Have your way with me!

Grace Midtown, I owe you an extreme multitude of many thanks and appreciation. While I am not sure where God will place me in 2013, I am so firmly glad and grateful for the meaning you restored into new life relationships, strengthening my faith for a firm presence of mind to rise next year as a new creation. I am ready and willing to be a part of your family once my destination is set, delivered, and whispered into existence. Thank you for the best Christmas present I received this year – your body of believers!

If you, as a reader of my blog, find a faith community like this, you will truly never be the same as these videos illustrate including this past Christmas service at the Gwinnett County Civic Center and Arena. I challenge you this Christmas and this New Year in 2013 to find something that will never make you feel the same again as you live and pursue Christ in the present in real community. Find a body of believers to celebrate holidays like this!