Monthly Archives: November 2014

His Heart Our Goal, Together We Yield

His Heart, Our Goal, Together We Yield to Him

Have you ever felt left out?  Not part of the cool kids?  Forgotten or overlooked?  I’ve been there.  It wasn’t intentional, but I wasn’t on the radar of those that I wanted to have include me into their lives.

At what point do I need to put myself on their radar, and at what point is it just careless of the other to not even notice that I’m standing right here in front of them?

I grow weary and frustrated, unsure if I should take action or continue lurking in the spotlight waiting for their attention to shift to me.  It is terribly awkward and exhausting to mentally analyze this social dynamics trainwreck happening.

Suddenly everything changes.  It is a mutual shift.  I overcome my fears and awkwardness of being noticed, and their heart shifts to seeing more.

This is what happened for me, and what I have observed in the weeks following WHO Koinonia.

I’ve been touched to watch people who were previously unknown step forward just enough to say “here I am” as the body responds “we see you, we know you”.  It reminds me greatly of a song by Bellarive entitled “I know you”:

It is freeing to be in a group of believers that can see our deepest and truest identity with all our fears, failures, and insecurities laid bare and to know that through it all we, I, am loved, wanted, sought out, appreciated, and honored.  This fuels me to see and treat others in kind.

Several weeks have passed, and the temptation to return to our old nature is still very real. We can so easily slip back into the habit believing we are left out yet again.  We stop sharing our insecurities and accept that we aren’t noticed, or worse yet, we start overlooking each other.  Resist this old way.  Notice where that creeps back in.

We stand tall,
for we are daughters,
we are sons.

We bear the mark of our Creator.
Step straight in to this love.
I feel your heartbeat thump,
I just want to stay here, here where I belong.

Welcome home!
An invitation to a place my soul has known throughout the ages.
Here you alone
Are calling for all of me to take you in.


 

Hungry, Busy, Paralyzed, Dejected, Surrendered, Complete

Hungry: There have people among us that are so hungry for fellowship from years of being merely an observer rather than an active part of the body that they are ready to dive in full force and show up at everything they are invited to.  This is great.  Involve them.  While they are catching up, be mindful to build lasting relationships.

Busy: There are others who are so full, so busy, that while they want to be at every single possible thing… they need some time to rest.  They are neither overlooking members of the body nor obligated to always be present.  We want them in our midst, but we hold no judgements and apply no pressure about their availability.  Come and go as you can.

Paralyzed: A few have quietly shared that they have nothing to contribute after such a weekend.  They feel as though they should have something profound to share or bad that they haven’t.  The truth here is, you contribute you.  It isn’t words written, songs sung. What we need is your presence with us, no matter the distance. We hold only the expectation that we can experience who God has called you to be.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Dejected: Some other people have felt so neglected and overlooked that they have given up on this local body and sought out other places.  For them, my heart aches.  I was inches from falling off that cliff myself.  Wrongs of the past on either end must be let go and healing must begin.  I want to call them all home.  Yet – maybe they have moved on permanently and are well-fit elsewhere.  This is okay in it’s truest form, but not acceptable to let the past wounds go unhealed.  For those that have not moved on and haven’t found any other group to be in close communion with… it’s time to come out again.

Surrendered: For others, they are so drawn to the family that they are making every opportunity to be together.  They are learning the nuances of administrative organization. To be a true administrator means coordinating events that benefit all, hearing all inputs, and making the best choices.  At times, people may feel that their ideas or contributions are overlooked. That’s hard.  At other times, too many voices just make a bit of a mess of things.  The goal is to make things work for one common good, with no one feeling left out.  To get there, individuals must surrender their will.  We move as one body.  It is beautiful to watch this happen.

 

Complete: Finally, the global church body and people that will come to know Jesus – they have been left out for so long on what living in a state of koinonia actually means.  We spread this culture as we go and grow. We work together toward the completion of His body.


 

His Heart, Our Goal, Together We Yield to Him

In this place of truly seeing one another, loving one another, and doing family together, we have just one goal in mind.  We seek His heart.  We learn to yield to one another, to regard each other, and to be sure no one is left out.  We let go of our agendas and embrace His agenda.

I’ll leave you with one more song by Bellarive.  It’s entitled “The Father’s Heart”.  To me, this is a reminder.  We are one big family, one body… and I want everyone joined together in a common union – in communion – with Him. This is koinonia, this is family.

Like a child running wild straight into His arms, we will never be let go. Feel and dance to the rhythm of our Father’s heartbeat.


Whether you feel a part of the group or not is entirely your choice. No longer do we wait for others to make us feel accepted. We receive the invitation to bring all of who we are and be present in the moment. We start by accepting the identity of God in us, and by honoring that in each other.

You decide which experience you will have.

Will you wait to find your acceptance among others, or will you begin by accepting who you are (not just what you can do) and accepting others?

For years I hid in plain sight. I was waiting for others to accept me, want me… seek me out. I wanted to feel accepted… but all along I was hiding from people seeing and knowing what was underneath what I portrayed. I didn’t find acceptance in the way I sought it.

Instead… I chose to start accepting who God says I am, and accepting others into my space. I started accepting and seeking out others… and I’m changed to all else.

You are not the victim to your circumstances. You can make the change. You decide.

WHO Koinonia: Mars Hill, Klemmer, and Adulthood

Leading up to WHO Koinonia:

Preparations for WHO Koinonia were underway months before the event happened.  Hours of research, consulting experienced friends,  and setup went into making sure this monumental gathering had the biggest reach possible.   Yet days before, I was questioning if I would even be able to make it.

Following our second miscarriage and a lot of doctor appointments, my time had come for surgery to remove the septum (extra wall) in my uterus.  This was just a month before our Koinonia event, with a mountain of logistics to still sort out in preparation.  I managed to catch a cold just days before the surgery and felt better the day of, but in the days after that I had to just rest… a cough settled into my lungs.  Coughing so much junk out only exasperated my lungs, and the parts that were healing.  When the junk finally left, I was still battling a tightness just between my lungs and my throat that would not release.  Finally I went to see a doctor about it.

At the same time I was headed to the doctor, Matt was getting help from Les (a father we adopted) to fix the ongoing plumbing saga.  I was quite happy to leave the guys and go to the doctor myself because the house issues really needed to be resolved quickly.  In the moment of need, someone was there and ready to help.

The doctor sent me home with a strong mix of meds, and an order to get an x-ray stat to check for pneumonia.  Thankfully, I didn’t have pneumonia but the situation remained serious.  And, Koinonia was just days away. And all of the new gear was needing attention. And, all of the social media needed attention to keep the momentum growing and people connecting.  And, my house needed to be cleaned. And we needed the staple groceries. And I have a backlog of clients needing me to start their projects…. AND AND AND!

The day before the event I spent a full twelve hours sorting out why the video resolution looked squished and getting the computer we need for the broadcast set up.  I found a way to fix the problem most of the way, but the last few steps simply wouldn’t go away.  The top 10% of the video was looping back around to the bottom of the screen and nothing was working.  I gave up. I went home to sleep.  Then, I came in Friday morning and it just worked.  I don’t know what God was doing while I slept – but clearly things finally worked. YAY!

WHO Koinonia 2014

Koinonia defined:

Koinonia: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

  1. the share which one has in anything, participation
  2. intercourse, fellowship, intimacy
    1. the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)
  3. a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ~Acts 2:42

During WHO Koinonia:

Throughout the weekend, I was constantly amazed at how each person played their part.  The weekend gathering was not about anyone else creating the program, but each person having an opportunity to do exactly what God had called them to do in that moment.  If they were to share a word, the didn’t hold back.  Singers that often are more bashful were leading out with all of their breath.  Dancers were uninhibited.  People shared words with each other.  Everyone was valued and had a choice to step in and share with each other all of who they are.

Where had I last experienced this?  Oh – right… as a teenager at Mars Hill.

Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted

Mars Hill:

Mars Hill – something that forever changed the lives of those involved.  Mars Hill is how I got to World Harvest Outreach.  I was on the worship team and we were invited to lead worship while WHO met in a small room at Shalom Christian Academy.  I came in with my mandolin and violin, only to realize that I was a week early, but realized this group was home and came back ever since.

violin

Mars Hill was a youth ministry comprised of the kids that didn’t fit in elsewhere.  We were the punks before punk was cool. Many were kids that wouldn’t step foot in a church or weren’t fitting in with the youth groups that their church offered.

“Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted”

Our motto was “Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted”.  Truly it fit our group.  People that visited knew that they were welcome to join in this crazy ADHD-led madness and that they mattered.

The name Mars Hill comes from Acts 17.  Paul went to a place named Mars Hill to share about Jesus.  This location is where people went to honor gods, including one shrine to an unknown God.  Paul couldn’t help but say – let me tell you about this unknown God.  Mars Hill in the late 90s in Chambersburg was a place that youth came and learned about the unknown God.

Our normal schedule was large-group Sunday where worship blew us away and a short message often involved a lot of interaction.  Thursdays was Bible Study and/or small groups, and Friday’s we often had a show.  Bands from all around would come to play.  The Christian music scene was thriving, and we hosted bands that are still huge today. At any point, if people felt led by the Lord they would share what they have.  We took communion with water from the fountain on the square, prayed for each other as soon as the need arose, and most often practiced the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another.

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When we weren’t at organized events, we would still always be together.  After spending hours and hours together, we couldn’t get enough of each other.  We’d go to the Yeager’s for midnight milkshakes and ziplining, camp with Geoff, visit other venues for their shows (The Cave, Cafe Beracah, and Javacasa were common.)  Not everyone always gelled together, but it wasn’t a dividing factor among the group.  We were a huge family.  We helped each other with whatever we could.  We lived in a state of koinonia for several years.  His banner over us, is love love love…..(a rare recording of us from that season)

 

 

Then, we grew up… we drifted.  We went off to college, moved out of this town, decided Jesus wasn’t our priority, questioned our faith, joined in with other fellowship…. koinonia among this group had faded.

Yet – when I run in to friends from that season… there is often an implicit trust.  I still know them, though I may have been out of the loop on the last few years of life.  Should they need help, I’m still here to jump in.

Years before the Frey’s moved back to Chambersburg, their mom’s house burned.  I saw a tweet asking for help moving furniture and jumped in.  I barely knew them at that point… but having known Matt & David closely for years… I knew I needed to be there and help, even if it was just to drive a couch across town.

When Travis resurfaced in my life, I knew I wanted to coordinate with him on WHO a/v gear and that he was trustworthy.

Devin & Denver’s love for some good hard rock was so clearly and beautifully released during Saturday night’s worship. I need to experience more of that.

Seeing the bopping Brookens kids always calls to mind the time when Jason played drums for Carissa’s wedding.

When the Kudasik’s moved back to the area… I was elated to say hi.  It’s still on my radar to do much more than that with these good folks, but I am excited that they are even nearby. When  I see others of us from that season around town, I am just as excited to get a look into their lives now.

The Nance’s, who were the first couple married at the warehouse… came in for just a pivotal moment as we renew our vision for the name “World HARVEST Outreach” and the seeds planted in the early years coming to harvest.  They were such a part at WHO and Mars Hill.  I am so excited for them to have been with us for the event, but also just to have had a few minutes to talk with their awesome little men about the flags around the room.

We are now nearly 15 years past the end of the organization that was Mars Hill, but our lives are still joined together. Those that I wasn’t personally close to are still important to me.  I’d still want to help them in whatever way I can.  This was my koinonia of my carefree youth.

Now – we’ve grown up.  We have a whole different amount of relationships.  I spoke with the Kesslers and Frey’s about this at the Roat’s house about a year ago.  How do we do life like we did then but with adult responsibility?  We do Koinonia together.  We get together just to watch a football game or movies.   We bring meals for people. We make opportunities to be together.  In our times together, we honor what God is doing in and through each other. We see who He has called each person to be and seek out the greatness in them. We make a space for each other to be a part.  We have lots of chances for that in our daily lives, and in the semi-organized happenings at the warehouse.  There’s no stress in saying no, or obligation to always say yes.  It’s a chance to be together. Come join in as and when you can.

Any Mars Hill alum that has wondered where to find that family fellowship… come join in with us.  We are not reliving our past glory days, but are doing life together today. I’ve longed for it since I left for college and feel more alive now than I have since those crazy summer nights of getting kicked out of Taco Bell and Coldbrook Elementary school.

Klemmer & Associates:

About 10 years ago, a group of WHO leaders hosted a few events in Chambersburg related to personal development.  Again, there is a common thread in this.  Those that went through the programs have a deep and common understanding. Years can go by, and with just a subtle reference to something we experienced then can inspire deep insight into a current situation.

I won’t give out too many of the details of what we experienced through The Quickening, Advanced Leadership Seminar, or Heart of the Samurai because I want you to have your own experience.  I will say, the WHO Core gathering where I led an activity was very much a part of that program.  It led up to WHO Koinonia event in helping us see what part we each play in a larger body and that every voice matters.  We know now that we might see something and need to go to great lengths to share that effectively, or sometimes it just comes easily.

I’ve seen a few friends that went through this program resurface in our group lately.  Bold actions they took in the context of personal development workshops came to pass again throughout the Koinonia event, but now carry a context beyond the events themselves. They stepped up and let what has been dormant come to life.  There is an awakening to go all out in our worship to go, no matter how graceful your dance may be.

The mission of Klemmer & Associates Leadership Seminars, Inc is to create bold ethical leaders who will create a world that works for everyone with no one left out.

This leadership program fostered a common sense of experience, trust, and a challenge to let our greatness out.  Think about that… works for everyone… no one left out.

Courtney Engle Robertson during Klemmers Advanced Leadership Seminar

Our Koinonia gathering was an opportunity for each person to have their own experience, but also to participate in something for everyone physically present, joining us online from miles away, or those that are catching it as a replay later.  God was working every detail together for His good purpose.  No one was left out.  People realized they had a choice to stay in this moment and participate or to disconnect with any distraction they may have.  But, it was clear that no one would be left out unless they chose to be.  There was no forcing of a schedule or agenda.  In fact, it was the opposite.  We want to have everyone all in – one family with one heart while we each fit together to make up the whole.  We give and help one another as we see the need.

Post Koinonia Event:

At the end of the weekend, people didn’t want to go home. They wanted to remain all together.  When they finally found their way back to the comfort of their homes, they continued the connection with many text messages sent and a fury of Facebook activity related to still sharing in their experiences from the weekend.

In my own home and in the larger body of believers, we are making a space to do life together more.  We open ourselves to each other, and we jump in to help each other in whatever way is needed.

We are forever changed.  I get to live in a state of koinonia with you all.  This excites me greatly.

 

Talk about the body in action with all things in common….today I had the honor of spending my time waiting for Thijs with Dax & Aly. In the middle of all that, Autumn brought us lunch. Take out soup was precisely the thing needed in the moment.

Afterward Aly asked me about my babies today. I told her we want them soon but they aren’t here yet. She said that I already have babies and again asked about where they were. She saw my sadness and asked me more questions. I told her about losing both of our babies & surgery that should help fix the problem. She understood. She told me she saw I was sad because I didn’t get to deliver my babies that were in my belly. And she had us pray on the spot for when God would bring them to us again. She prayed for out healing too. Not later. Now we pray. And Dax insisted on giving me the biggest silliest hug.

Then when she saw me using my inhalers and taking my Rx pill, she directed Dax how to pray at that moment. The kids have wrecked me. So good.

From the time she woke up at 5am until she left to meet her brother, she kept saying “I love you” to me.

Her fashion statement today is entirely awesome.

I jumped in to help her parents but in the end in had the honor of Aly ministering to me.

aly

Hearing from God and Controlling Concreate #wcbalt

Hearing God and Controlling Concrete

It was the end of a long day.  I had gotten up at 4:30am, gulped down several hot mugs of coffee, and took a roadtrip to Baltimore to attend a WordPress website development conference.  The day was spent in a plush auditorium with many techies furiously typing notes and code as we received invaluable information related to our trade.

Now, a full 12 hours later, I was starting to feel the day wearing on.  There was one speaker left to go.  As Chris Lema took the stage, I had an eagerness to hear what he’d say but my tired eyes really just wanted a nap.  I am thankful that Chris is a dynamic keynote speaker.

I took three key points away from Chris’s message that really are kingdom principles that relate to hearing the voice of the Lord.  No – Chris isn’t God, nor always God’s voice. But God can speak in any form He chooses, and today, He chose to reach me through Chris.

To Better Learn, Teach and Share

Chris encouraged this room full of web developers to share whatever knowledge they have learned.  In doing so, we will more fully grasp the concepts. He related it to better understanding on how to do something to fix his website. By blogging, he not only more fully grasped the concept, but helped others with this very same issue.  And when the lesson had faded from his mind and he was again faced with how to fix that issue, a simple Google search resulted in finding out that he already had the answer (on his own blog).

Bring that into our faith and relationship with the Lord.  Whether we publish the knowledge for all the world to find, or keep it jotted down in a journal that only we will see, are we taking the time to document insights gained? Have we ever helped someone else going through something similar? And when we’ve forgotten the lesson, have we found our old journals causing us to remember the outcome?

The Goal Isn’t Control

In a conference full of web developers, you’d suspect that there would be some competition.  If one person finally figured out how to do something unique or fix that thing, wouldn’t they want to protect that knowledge or skill so that they would get more clients than the others?  This just isn’t the way the core WordPress community is wired. There really is no purpose in controlling or hiding the content, knowledge, or skills that you have learned.  In fact, by sharing it, not only do we help each other but we can move on to conquering new challenges together.

How often have I wanted to see this in the larger Christian community!

I have spoken with some that would prefer to limit access to some teaching that is too deep for new believers. They seek to control the information so as not to confuse someone who may not yet be mature.  Shouldn’t this work differently?  When a toddler can’t yet eat some types of food, the child will seek help to make it bite sized, or for food that is better suited.  A son still maturing that encounters information beyond current understanding has an ability to ask for clarification or help. Limiting access takes a position of control rather than a position of empowering the one in the maturing process to work through it.

Likewise, when we have some deep understanding or fresh perspective of the Lord, it sometimes feels like a treasure that we are not ready to share.  Like a child needing to learn to share our toys, we need to learn how to share appropriately.  This treasure we have is far to great to keep to ourselves. How great will it be when we all come into true unity about all topics, including rapture, baptisms, and any number of other hot issues that Christians remain divided about? There is so much yet to be done on this and so many that need to know what we have learned so far.

Within the WordPress community, we understand that the sharing of knowledge and skill benefits us all.  There are more than enough clients to go around.  We are not in competition with each other, but a much larger collaboration.  Shouldn’t this be so of the church? At some point, we all need help, and at another point, we all are in a position to help with something.

Concrete vs Abstract Thinking

Careers such as computer programming, engineering, and anything technically oriented are frequently challenged to find a solution that doesn’t exist yet to a problem that must be dealt with now.  Chris presented several mind game problems to challenge us to think about such things in a new way. He wanted us to get out of a concrete thinking approach to solving puzzles and see abstractly for a fresh view.

With God, it is easy to gravitate to seeing Him from just one view.  For many believers, they believe the only way to hear from God is by reading the Bible because He hasn’t appeared in a burning bush or a talking donkey that they know about in 2,000 years.  Others believe there is a formula to understanding God’s will for their lives, or bending His will to our hopes by praying “really hard”.  How does one pray really hard anyway?

How often do expect God to operate in a very concrete manner?  Do we make time to observe a more abstract encounter with Him?  This can happen in visions, dreams, hearing that still small voice, in art and music, by interacting with each other, or countless other ways.  We must make room in our minds for Him to reveal Himself freely.

How I Hear God In My Job

While Chris’s keynote was to inspire greatness among the WordPress developer community, the real take-aways for me were seeing kingdom principles at work and coming into a fresh perspective of how God speaks to me.  I saw three very powerful lessons from God in the span of 20 minutes at a conference about making websites.

He fashioned me and knows my inward thoughts.  He gets that I think about many things in life much as a programmer does their job. He shows up when my energy is tanking and gives me the energy to finish out that moment.  In this place, He meets with me and reveals Himself to me all over again.