|image from teresabraam.com
Wake up, O Sleeper! Rise!
the gates, that the King of Glory may come in!
Who IS the
King of Glory?
How will people know unless we open wide the gate… the door… the word… our lives?
You can also read Revelation 12:11 in a few different translations and see that those who have experienced Jesus were not lovers of comfort and self and would do whatever it takes to share His Love and Rescue.
“They overcame through the blood of the Lamb
and the bold word of their witness [word of their testimony].
They weren’t in love with themselves;
they were willing to die for Christ [do all that he required of them].” ~Revelation 12:11
Have you stood in a service or sat in your car and sang the words, “Where You go, I’ll go; Where You stay, I’ll stay; When You move, I’ll move? . . . Whom You love, I’ll Love, How You Serve, I’ll serve . . . If this life I lose, I will follow You?” If so, were you awake with understanding and desire when you let those words roll from your lips?
Mike and I have been talked of as “too intense” by some, and I have not made time for blogging sometimes because of that inner fear of what people think (even though I know how ridiculous that reasoning is). People keep asking for stories though, so it’s time to not let the opinions like that bother me.
If you ask people how they are doing and listen for only a few minutes, you will become intense about the Love and Rescue of Jesus, too. Perfect strangers will open up just for the asking, because the pressure is strong and the weight of pain is heavy in our world right now. People are hurting and if we are not willing to be real and unafraid to connect, holding forward the hope that we cling to, who will stand at the gate/the door and hold it open with Love “that the King of Glory may come in?”
Every week is quite a week at Cre8Home. In just one particular Friday night through Monday morning, these events
transpired: a request for a small wedding with two days notice, a logistical
mountain of final preparations for Mike’s new directorship of our Classical
Conversations community, the clean-up of the school supplies that were being organized and made ready for tutors (during which we
received an unexpected call that a ministry donation would be coming our way from
Atlanta — thank You, Jesus!), then the actual quaint wedding event, and the late-night ringing of the doorbell
by a neighbor who broke her toe and was asking us to take her to the hospital just as we were collapsing into our beds for the night.
Then on Monday we had Week One of CC classes. In the words of Mabyn, “You
really miss a lot without checking in on all that’s going on around here!”
we gathered with families to work on school plans for the “during the week”
times, and on the same evening, I found out that one close friend was
engaged and that another had filed divorce papers.
I wish you
could feel what I feel, see what I see, experience the deep joys and the
excruciating hurts that we experience. I wish it for many reasons:
awake. We are alive. Joy and Pain evidence an ever-constant spiritual pulse.
Scripture clearly tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to suffer with those who suffer. This is impossible without relational life connection; it will not happen in the same way from behind a church desk or from a platform. Period. We spent many many years discovering this.
When more people live this way, even sometimes, more people receive what they need. There is only so much that a small few can do, but together, no one will be without.
Lately, I have been missing some friends who went back to the comfort of “normal church,” and here is why. We overcome in two ways:
- We overcome by the blood of the Lamb which Jesus took care of for all the world on the cross. In the words of my son, “Jesus saved everyone. But only some want to be rescued.”
- And we overcome by the word of our testimony. Hmmm… the word of our testimony. What does that mean for you? For me? How is that overcoming power unleashed really?
Conversations. Conversations of the walking-beside-you kind, not of the analyze-the-most-recent-book-or-sermon kind.
It’s rather simple, and anyone can do this! I wish we didn’t complicate and decorate spiritual practices in a safe and easy environment that removes the simplest and most powerful weapon of relational connections. You may be thinking, “But, wait! I’m in a small group!” That’s great, but let me ask you, what do you talk about when you meet in that small group?
This little plot of land in the community is becoming known as a place where broken people can come to receive help, a listener, even support. We love that. But when a lame person has the ability to walk again, what I do not love is that sometimes they will walk (or limp) away and choose not to stay… and guess what walks away with him or with her? The word of the testimony! It leaves a hole. This makes me sad, not for us (even though we greatly miss them), but it makes me sad for what new, miraculous thing they are not going to get to see for themselves through the next relational connection. (I am not saying that everyone must always stay here with us in this location and become a sort of commune. Please don’t hear that. Allow me to explain . . .)
The couple who sits on the couch for hours at a time with a marriage near destruction begins to sit closer, talk more, fall in love again, and see their family begin down the road of a beautiful healing. They are connected to encouraging friends and are around a great deal during that time, but they soon feel like, “All right! We’ve got this.” Returning to a structured church experience, they drop off their kids, sit in chairs, listen to good music, and don’t notice that they have become less engaged in those deeper relational conversations, because they’ve now “got this.” Now, back to the connections they have left . . .
A new couple is sitting on the couches telling us a story that sounds just like the story that was told a year ago by the couple who now seemingly has it all together. Do you know who would be the BEST people to talk with? Oh, but they are no longer here; therefore the “word of their testimony” is not here either. We could share it, but it is not the same coming from us. The power behind it is silent and seated in a service, instead of actively serving this new couple who so desperately needs their living words to hold onto.
The most difficult part for us to watch is when we know that by giving to others out of that wellspring of the healing that God is doing, the person or couple sees their own healing solidified by God. Without sharing out of that fresh overflow to the next couple or person who needs to know that God is Who He says He is and can heal in every desperate circumstance, they begin to run dry. Pretty soon, they may find themselves wondering why they’ve not “got this” any more. The person or the couple may or may not return to try again.
Let me restate: I am NOT saying that everyone needs to stay in this living room on one of these couches. What I *am* saying is that healing people need to be connecting with hurting people and not hide behind programming in a place where being a Christian is not requiring a personal out-pouring of some kind. God fills us to fill others in order that we be refilled and refueled again. If this is already your active experience, GREAT! Keep it up!
We need to want to be rescued (Blood of the Lamb) and then give to those who need to hear of the healing that God has done (word of the testimony).
on the main road is still being worked on, and we are hoping to be moving
forward, have ministry signs up with the assurance that we are not going
anywhere by the time the road re-opens in November. Yet, it amazes me how much
happens while we are off the beaten path, beyond the road closed signs, and while still “sight unseen.”
Mike’s desire is to take families on a shared journey together. We love seeing families grow together, not
apart, and in order to share a spiritual journey together, we all need to be going somewhere. I
cannot tell you HOW HARD THIS HAS BEEN as we are living SO DIFFERENTLY from the
Sleeping Church of America. Now before you take offense with that statement,
please let me explain.
We have become the busiest group of
Scripture tells us of people who have ears but cannot hear, who have sight but do not see. We are experiencing much of that within our modern church culture, and I hope that we will awaken our senses to all that God is capable of doing, believing Him enough to be all that He has called us to be in our relational communities.
- Right now, men and
women are sleeping while opening the door on a greeter team or standing at the
end of an aisle. Smiles are great, but there’s more in the life of every person being seated. Do you see it?
are sleeping their way through volunteer efforts and youth group games, while wondering why they battle the thoughts and feelings they don’t want to tell others they battle. Do you see it?
- Children are
sleeping while they assume the “TV junkie face” during children’s church. Yet, Scripture tells us that the praises of children and infants (some translations say “nurslings”) is ORDAINED by God to silence the foe and to halt the avenger. Sitting in TV junkie mode, their lips are closed. Do you see it?
- Many are
sleeping while singing, sleep-speaking, or even playing an instrument without being spiritually awake and alive.
How can I
make this assumption?
beginning to see families come awake from such a stupor — families that “looked” strong in their volunteer positions, bible study nights, and worship services!
There is a
family Cre8ing with us [again, it’s a verb and not a place] that has wanted to leave so many times I’ve lost count.
It was far too intimate and hard. To have the realest of real conversations with others
is such a different feeling without the lullaby of programming for comfort’s sake. When people are used to things a certain way, it is difficult. Just as it would be difficult to drive the family to a new destination with dad asleep at the wheel, dreaming. The dreamy questions would
arise like, “But I want to lead a ministry!” to which we would say, “We want
you to minister to this family and develop a relational connection. They are the ministry and right now you are perfect for what they need. They need you.”
years in now with this couple, the husband recently told his wife, “I finally
get it! This is sort of a ‘do-it-yourself’ church and the only way we are going
to get the most out of it is by giving of ourselves.”
YES! Do-it-yourself church is a great way to say it because we are to BE-IT-YOURSELF.
And I want
to tell you all — it’s not complicated. In fact, it is as simple as can be.
Opening wide the gate to let the King of Glory in can
happen through asking three very small words to someone else, “Are you okay?”
If you don’t think you have time enough to give ear to the answer on the other side of that question, then I hope that my question from above was just realized.
words, “Are you okay?” were the ones that began the relationship that led to one of the most amazing awakenings and
miracles this ministry has yet experienced.
At the start of September, four children were baptized, a young couple shared their wedding vows, and a baby was dedicated. The very next week, another homeless man surrendered his life to Jesus; a child, her father, a young woman, and three young parents who are recovering addicts were all baptized. And all of them are clinging to the Hope found in Jesus daily.
I am praying with all of my heart that as people heal, they will stay and share the word of their continual testimony—the daily “Jesus is holding me together in this moment” kind of testimony—in order that the evidence of God’s active power at work may be seen.
- We love that the people who are growing the most are the children and those who are coming to Jesus in complete desperation, like children.
- We don’t love that the most difficult people to connect with are the professional sermon analyzers/note takers/message listeners.
- We do love that some of those professional sermon listeners are beginning to have ears AND hear, to have eyes AND see, and are starting to awaken to the active relational living, and find themselves no longer satisfied with a feel-good talk to analyze over lunch and then replace with new talking words to feel smart about at next week’s lunch.
- We LOVE that people are realizing that DOING the simplest things with the simplest messages of Jesus carries more power than knowing big theological statements and dreaming about them while walking in their sleep.
Not long ago, we heard of another young man who had been kicked out of a church a while back (this is more common than I ever realized). Ponder that, if you are willing. He had awakened to Christ in an intense rehabilitation program. When we met him, he was alive and excited about the Word of God, knew it very well, and did not ever want to go back to the life he had just walked away from. Men surrounding this young man’s immediate circle of influence were busy working their jobs and holding their volunteer positions in the church, but this kid needed to be believed in. He needed an “open wide the gate and let the King of Glory in” welcome home. We would hear people speak of his past, and we wanted so badly to help him believe that he IS alive, no longer dead in his addictions, purposed for greatness, noble, strong, and so… much… more. So any time we saw him, we would do our best to speak life. But the people he needed to hear those words of life from were beyond us. We just found out that he is becoming again exactly what those men of influence have continued to speak of him. And they were “right.”
Or were they?
You see, the story is not over, and Mike is reaching out to this young man. But my point is this: Wake up, O Sleeper! People need you to be awake! To speak LIFE. People need to hear YOUR story today — not just your story of yesterday, but your story of inner victory today — in order to have the hope that they, too, can overcome. And they need to be believed in and hear your words of life and worth spoken over them.
If we are self-serving with our church experiences, we run the risk of having the same effectiveness as the complacent people in the movie Wall-E, floating around in the atmosphere of gluttony on recliners.
That cannot be enough.
You are made for so much more.
Do not remain asleep and be merely a do-good-er either. But be a hearer and a doer of the Word, and come awake. You will be so very glad you did, and the people around you may just wake up, too.
I pray that you have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a daily awakening in your soul:
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
~Ephesians 5:13-14 (ESV)
Psalm 24 (ESV), The King of Glory
A Psalm of David.
24 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah