Archive for April, 2011

April 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

To the woman who loved me unconditionally from the day that she first held me, the woman who fed me, clothed me, encouraged me, disciplined me, laughed with me, cried with me, talked with me, supported me…

Happy Birthday!

I thank God for choosing you to adopt me into your family and into your heart.  There has never been a day I did not know that I was loved.  There was never a moment that I questioned whether or not you saw me as your “real” daughter.  Someday, should the Lord bless me with children of my own, I know that so much of what I know of being a parent will have come from your shining example.  I hope that today you know how loved, cherished and appreciated you are.  May the coming year be full of exciting memories (like becoming a grandma to my very first niece!)

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I love you and I am incredibly blessed to call you my mother.

April 20, 2011

Pray for MOVEMENT NYC

 Movement NYC is a new church launching on Easter Sunday morning in New York City.

You can see a short promo video at: http://vimeo.com/22152794

Or learn more about it at: www.movementnyc.org

Please pray for:
– All the details to come together for the launch
– Favor with the managers
– God’s hand of blessing and anointing to be upon it
– For the Holy Spirit to move, Jesus to be made famous, and God to be glorified.

April 20, 2011

Water Changes Everything.

A new three minute video from charity: water on the importance of clean water in the developing world:

April 15, 2011

My time is not my own.

Yesterday Nicole of Modern Reject posted a blog about discipleship.  I’d recommend reading it as it’s thoughtfully written, based in scripture and about something we as the Church should really be engaging in.

For me, it brought up another topic of discussion: how and where and with whom we’re spending (or not spending) our time.

In case you’ve been out of the loop for the last 3 years, I live in New York City [the greatest city in the world].  Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere and meet somebody to do something very, very, very important, you know?  Us New Yorkers are important people.  We can’t be bothered to walk slowly, allow someone to go ahead of us, wait more than one minute for our Starbucks latte to be prepared… you know, that sort of thing.  It just inconveniences us.  We’re very important people doing very important things. </sarcasm>

In light of all of the above, often times our relationships just plain stink.  And I’m talking inside the church, as well.  We’ll hang out all day Sunday, sure… but during the week we’re far too busy and caught up in our own lives and issues to truly sacrifice of our time and invest in each other’s lives.

I’m guilty as charged.  The work day is done and I want to come home and relax.  Some nights my phone will ring and I’ll ignore it.  You know, because I’m too “busy”… watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune (I wish I were kidding about this…)  After all, I deserve some time alone to not have to think about or deal with anything or anyone.  (Did I mention that sometimes I just don’t have time to read my Bible and pray?  I know, I’m just so busy with Facebook and Twitter.  Yikes.)

I don’t want to be honest with you guys about this because I’m not particularly proud of it.  Nonetheless, God is gracious and He’s teaching me.  Some days I’m a pretty teachable student, other days I make every excuse in the book and give Him a hard time.  But He continues to teach me, and I pray that I listen and learn and grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you might be thinking, What’s the big deal?

For me, the big deal is this: My life is not my own.  My time, my money, my resources… none of it belongs to me.  They’re all gifts from God.  And Jesus calls me to lose my life that I might find it (Matt. 16:25).  The Bible calls me to live a life of radical generosity and love and self-sacrifice.  The gospel frees me from my sense of entitlement because it declares that everything I have is a result of grace.  If I got what I deserved, I’d be dead.  So if none of this belongs to me (time included), why do I cling to it?

As believers in Jesus, we’re called to live counter-culturally.  The world says we deserve “me time”.  Our natural inclination is to be self-serving in our friendships.  As Americans, we live in a culture that is incredibly individualistic.  We’re self-centered.

Paul challenges our natural inclination to self-centeredness in Philippians 2 by pointing us to Christ’s example:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:1-8 (NASB)

Notice that Paul doesn’t give us a list saying, “Do this, but don’t do this.”  Rather, Paul says, “Look at Jesus.”  As I grow closer to Jesus and get to know Him better, I am challenged by His love, humility and sacrifice.  I desire to live a life that reflects who He is and what He has done.  His love is challenging me and changing me.

Relationships that are real and powerful and meaningful require our time.  They require us to give of ourselves.  We have to be willing to say, “You’re more important to me than I am to myself.”  Tim Chaddick (Pastor of Reality LA) put it this way in one of his sermons: “Love that doesn’t cost anything isn’t worth anything.”  We can merely give people our time when it’s convenient and easy for us, but it will not produce anything meaningful.  We will remain acquaintances, saying hello to each other at church or Bible study, occasionally grabbing coffee or lunch afterwards.  But what about when life gets tough?  Will we know that there are people we can call that love us, listen to us, and pray for us?  Or will we scroll through our cell phone contacts realizing that we’ve never formed friendships deep enough to feel that we can “inconvenience” one another?

Part of me wonders if there’s an element of fear.  True community calls us to transparency, and transparency can be scary.  However, if we’re in a community of people who believe in the gospel, grace abounds.  Avoiding transparency is never the answer.  I’d argue it breeds more fear, anxiety and shame because there’s always the risk of being “found out”.  Transparency aside, what if someone is struggling and we don’t know what to say?  What if our words fall short?  Friends, our words will fall short.  Our goal is not to fix one another and solve all of life’s problems.  Our goal is to build a community where Jesus is exalted, where prayer is integral, where ears and hearts are open and grace is shown.  Our hope is in Jesus.  Our salvation is in Jesus.  Therefore, the goal is Jesus.  We need to come alongside one another and say, “Look at the cross.  Look at Jesus.  Life is hard, but He is better and He is worth it.”

It’s funny, it seems to be that the solution to the issue of community is the same as the goal:  It’s Jesus.  As we draw near to Him, we’ll be compelled to serve others, love others and invest in others, and as we spend that time in community, we’ll encourage one another to draw near to Him.

Then again, I suppose it should come as no surprise that Jesus is the center of it all.  He is everything.  Isn’t that what this Christianity thing is all about anyway?

There’s a possibility of a “Part 2” of this post based upon your thoughts, ideas, concerns, struggles, questions, objections, etc… let’s get this conversation started:

In what areas do you struggle to build community?  What are some of the excuses you’ve either heard or made for yourself?  What are some practical ways we can encourage more selfless community?  Have you ever been blessed by someone who clearly sacrificed much of their time to invest in your life?  Let’s talk community!

April 14, 2011

Something’s not right.

Murder.  Hunger.  Cancer.  Hatred.  Addiction.  Heartbreak.  Disease.  Abandonment.  Abuse.

Something’s not right.  Something’s not right when little children battle cancer.  Something’s not right when women are forced to sell their own bodies in the hopes that their family might have something to eat.  Something’s not right when children are left to die by the parents that were supposed to love them.  Something’s not right when we use others and step on them in order to make it to the top.  Something’s not right when a child lives in fear of the next beating.  Something’s not right when people are dying in poverty and disease while Americans battle obesity and spend frivolously.

Something’s not right, and it makes me angry.  It makes me angry at myself, and at the world.  And while most of the world wants to blame God, or use these things to defend their view that He does not exist… I cannot blame God.  I will not blame God.  Why?  Because I know that He’s angry, too.  I know that He’s heartbroken.  I know that He laments over the fallen state of our world.

He created us to live in Eden.  He created us to live in His presence.  He created us to live peacefully and joyfully in communion with Him.  That is the place we long for.  That is where He longs for us to be.  So when we feel as though something’s not quite right… it isn’t.

I don’t have all of the answers, but here’s what I know: this world is broken, and that matters to God.  Please believe that.  And there is coming a day when He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no death, no crying, no pain.  Not only will we bid farewell to the ills of this world, but we’ll live without memory of them.  This is the world and the life God so desires for us.  And it is only found in Jesus.

He gives us hope for the future through His promises.  But He also gives us hope, joy, and life now.  It’s not always neat and tidy, but it is a gift.  He is a gift.

Hear Him when He says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Come to Him.  Cling to Him.  Rest in Him.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new ” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Revelation 21:3-5

April 8, 2011

Phil Wickham & Movement NYC

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God showed up in a big way Wednesday night.  I am overwhelmed by His goodness and His faithfulness and pray that we’re good stewards over every opportunity He gives us to bring Him glory and to make Jesus known in this city.

To those of you who joined us, I hope that you were blessed.  We love you and hope to see you Easter Sunday!

MOVEMENT NYC

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”

Jeremiah 29:7

 

Photos by Jon Macapodi – jonmacapodi.com

April 4, 2011

Let the morning bring word of Your unfailing love.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Yesterday morning I found myself once again overwhelmed by the fact that God loves me no matter how I “perform” on a given day.

I think for many of us, we have, at some point or another in our lives, been surrounded by people who are never quite impressed with what we’ve done.  We are constantly pushed to do better and to be better.  (Or maybe this is just me and I’m projecting it on all of you… Ha!)

Christianity is not a performance-based religion.  I don’t care what anybody tells you.  God does not say, “Do better and be better and then I’ll love you.”  Now here’s the thing: He probably should do that.  Face it, we aren’t all that good and moral.  We couldn’t uphold the law in full.  And even when we outwardly perform, the truth is that inwardly we’re full of filth.  We carry envy, jealousy, bitterness, hatred… all sorts of ugly junk resides in our hearts.

So what strikes me is this:  God does not shake His head at me and say, “Well, Brittany, today you weren’t so good.  Do better and try harder tomorrow, please.”

Instead, He sees me and looks upon me with pure, perfect love.  Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done on my behalf.  Jesus’ record is perfect.  He IS better and He DID better because I wasn’t capable.  Not only did He bear all my shortcomings and wrongdoings on the cross, but He also imparts to me His perfect righteousness.

And therefore God, seeing me as He sees His Son, loves me perfectly.  And nothing I do or say today, no matter if I perform horribly or if I perform well, can change His unfailing love.  And yet, by His grace and through the power of His Holy Spirit, He is sanctifying me.  He is daily conforming me to the image of His Son.

And if that can’t compel me to love and worship Him, I’m just not sure what can.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8

April 3, 2011

My friend Kat.

For those of you who don’t know her already, please meet my friend Kat:

How do I know her, you ask?  Well, Kat and I met for the first time here in New York City, at the Manhattan Diner on the Upper West Side in the spring of 2009 to be exact.  She was in the city looking at apartments because she would be moving here that July for grad school.  But before that happened, she and I, along with a team of other guys and gals, would be traveling to Ethiopia.

To make a long story short[ish], Kat has become one of my dearest, closest friends.  Besides the fact that she is hilarious and a great home chef, Kat knows and understands and loves something very special to me: Ethiopia.  For as much as I knew I would return there (and did… and will again!), I’m inclined to say I felt even more strongly that Kat would be back there.  She loves and cares for the Ethiopian people and their beautiful country so deeply.  The desire of her heart is to serve them.

Well, God has opened the doors for Kat to return to our favorite place this summer… for the WHOLE summer!  I couldn’t be more thrilled for my friend.  I cannot wait to hear about every detail and all that God does while she is there.  Would you please join me in praying for Kat?

Read Kat’s blog post HERE to learn more about the trip and how best to be praying for her.  She’s also giving you and I the opportunity to partner with her in financially supporting some of the organizations she works with while there.

Kat, I am so, so happy [and, ahem, a little jealous] that you will be back in Ethiopia loving and serving those that are always on our minds and in our hearts.  I am praying for you and praising God for all He has done and will do through you!!!  You inspire me, lady.  And I know I’m not the only one.  Love you!

April 1, 2011

Easter Sunday with Movement NYC

The Movement is finally here. (Note: More extensive blog post to follow.)

If you’re in New York City and are without plans for Easter Sunday, please come join us as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of a new church here in this wonderful city.

Easter Sunday with Movement NYC

When: Sunday, April 24 at 10:00am
Where: Cinema Village, 22 E 12th Street (between University & 5th), New York, NY

Join us for worship, a message from Pastor Mike Doyle, special music from guest Brad Corrigan (of Dispatch) and fellowship.  Invite your friends and spend Easter morning with us!