GOD IS GOOD!
Okay, so there's been a lot going on, and I will try to share some of it on here. So about three days ago, two young men, Ryder and Marten, came over to live with us at the intern 'House of Troost', because 'Student Cpx' has started. CPx stands for, 'Student Church Planting eXperience', a 10 day training which equips people to start Simple Churches in their neighbourhood/campus/highschool. Simple Church is just people getting together to get to know God. If you want to know more about Simple Church, please check it out. Here's a video that explains it a little bit:
And here's a link to Student Cpx: StudentCPx.org
The other people who are doing the CPX are G'Tavias, our neighbour, and Ben, a dude that God organized Myles to meet a day before we started doing the CPX, and he was really interested, has totally committed to coming and is learning a lot! Ben is a really awesome dude. So glad to have met him. Yes, and everyone is young people, under age 30.
|Almost all of us interns and CPxers and neighbours! At the local fountain.|
|Marten, and Ryder, crazy Americans - living with us for Student CPx! :)|
|Ben, G'Tavias, and Tommy, chillin at the Boiler Room before digging into God's Spirit, and His Bible.|
But anyway, Simple Church in a nutshell is just some people who believe in Jesus Christ, God the Father, and His Holy Spirit, and that get together and seek Him together in a simple way. I'll try to paint a picture of what a regular church time is for us.
Every time we do church together, it has been different! There isn't one time I can tell you of, where we had the exact same structure, AT ALL!!! So I'll just tell you what happened last night, because then you can have a picture at least. Nearly every single time we meet up for 'church', we invite, and have some people come who do not know God, and eat a meal together. So last night, we were all hanging out in the living room, and Khrystal, my housemate, one of the interns (she's on some of the pics on here), asked a head of time to be the 'facilitator', the person who helps direct, and guide the conversation, they don't preach, or take control of the conversation, but they just facilitate, so that we all can stay on the same page, and not loose track of the focus: GOD.
So, anyway, before we started, Khrystal explained what we were doing: that we were just going to hang out with God for a bit, and hear and listen to His voice, because we know that God speaks to all of us, and He loves to. And she explained that if we open ourselves to Him, He will speak to us. We prayed to invite the Holy Spirit to lead, and then we read a Bible verse (a section in God's book), Romans 12 verse 1-8. All about God transforming our minds, and how we each have our own special talents, and how it is pleasing to God when we all function in our abilities. And a whole bunch of other stuff. If you want to check it out, please do so: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12&version=CEV
Oh, and I have to add, whenever we read the Bible together, we pretty much always have it so that not only one person reads it, but a whole bunch of people get to. And this time we pre-printed this part of the Bible that we were going to read, so that everyone got to have a copy, and everyone had the same translation, and there would be no confusion, or feeling bad because you didn't have your own Bible. Because a lot of the time we get people who never read a Bible in their lives. So, we try to make it as inviting and on equal basis with everyone as possible. We reach them where THEY ARE AT, instead of expecting them to fit in, be like us, or just learn our church culture on their own.
It can be very uncomfortable and uninviting and strange for people to come to a church or meeting, or place where everyone is doing and understanding something, that they can't relate or understand. There can be a lot of unspoken rules and ways of doing things, which can cause them to feel alone and slightly rejected because they really, really don't fit in or understand what's going on. They may not know why people are doing and saying things, that they've never heard of before.
Today we were just learning about how there are so many 'Christianese', or religious words that Christians use, that the average Joe, would have no clue what that means. Like:
- the blood of the lamb
- holy spirit
- great commission
- the cross
- Jesus' blood
...and a whole pile of other ones that as 'Christianese' Christians, wouldn't necessarily realize that they're speaking a whole other language! Not that those words are bad, but that they must be EXLPAINED or interpreted into regular language so that everyone can understand.
So instead of saying those words, we can say other more regular words like
- 'followers of Jesus' instead of Christian, and/or disciples,
- 'people who don't know God' instead of gentiles or pagans
- and other simple things like that.
I'm sure that if you know what the 'Christianese' word means, then you can interpret it for people. But the thing is to try to remember to do that. So that everyone is included, and knows what's up. The main reason for including people is, yes, to have them feel comfortable and invited, but also to draw them in to what is going on, and to help them hear from God, SO THAT THEY can CONTRIBUTE to the group!!!
Lindsay Ellison, who has lived here in Kansas City Missouri for quite a few years, doing simple church, said that some of THE most amazing revelations she has gotten from a gathering is when a person who doesn't know Jesus says something relating to what God is leading in the group!! Like, a observation of the scripture, or something that the Holy Spirit tells them, or just a remark about God, or something that is like God. She would be able to tell you more about that, but I'm just 'nutshelling'.
So yeah, Lindsay was emphasizing the importance of explaining, explaining, explaining!! It's okay to over-explain what is going on, and what we are doing. And if at any given point, someone notices someone else using 'Christianese' word(s), then to jump in and explain. Also, if you notice that there is someone who is not really getting it, or who needs help, or who just needs that extra bit of attention, you go over to them and help em out.
EVERYONE is at the meeting to give, and to receive! NO ONE is only giving, and no one is to just receive. That's one reason why we all read the Bible.
How do we do that? Oh, you can do it in a variety of ways. But I'll just say what we did it last night: we read one verse (section) each, and since there were more people than verses, we read it twice. But we usually do that: read the Bible section more than once. Sometimes we read it many times, like about 8 times, until we really get it. We can read it privately, we can have one person read the whole section, and another person read it, and another.... and then have a discussion time, and then read it again... etc. It is freely led, and freely received.
One of the biggest things, is that we have to get comfortable with silence, and with letting the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God lead, and tell us what to do, and guide us. To be free and open to Him, God's Spirit, which is alive today, right now, and in those who have let Him come into them.
... Continuing the story of what happened last night: After we read the Bible section, Khristal suggested to everyone that we just be quiet and let God's Spirit come and speak to us. Then Tre, another housemate/intern explained shat that was: What it means to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Tre explained basically what I already said above, and also said that we like to open our hands on our laps or wherever so physically show that we are opening ourselves up to Him, and that we are in receiving mode, ready for God to come and speak to each person. And Tre said something like, 'embrace the awkwardness, and just invite God to speak to you'. Hahaha! Luv that. Reminds me of Myles' quote: 'Blessed are the awkward, for they shall see cool things'. Anyway, so that's just what we did. We all just sat there in silence and let God come, for about 3-5 min. And then, after waiting there in that way of receiving mode, we started talking.
Khristal asked if anyone noticed anything pop out at them, or anything that they had a question about. At first, not many people had anything to say... but the conversation pretty much always starts to get going when we ask what people think, or what they want to say about the Bible section. And so people talked a bit about it. But this whole time, G'Tavias was sitting there looking through a Bible, and then, when he got the chance, he said, 'I have something I'd like to read from Corinthians.' Corinthians is a section of the Bible). And Khristal and Tre, and everyone who knew G'Tavias were thinking, 'WHAT!? How can he know about Corinthians! He's only been reading parts of the Bible for a few weeks! And we know exactly what parts, and Corinthians wasn't one of them!!!'. Then G'Tavis read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, where it says 'Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen shall pass, and what is unseen is eternal.' http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%204:16-18&version=NIV
It was an awesome section. But just after he read that (and a bit while), Khristal was squealing and jumping in her seat and was exclaiming, 'Oh MY GOD!! How did you know to get that verse!!?? I totally wanted to read that verse today, but God was telling me NOT to, and told me to have us read this other verse Rom 12, instead!! How did you know to read that!!!'.
To which G'Tavias responded, 'When we were quiet listening to the Holy Spirit, I heard a thought in my head and it said to look up 2 Corinthians 4:16.'
WOW! G'Tavias is our neighbour, and this was the first time he heard, and operated out of what God said to him personally!! WOW! And then as a group, with a whole bunch of other people contributing, we found out that these two verses connect because:
Another dude, Ryder, who's here for the Cpx, heard God telling him that that verse that G'Tavias read was for Khristal, because she was asking God to do a miracle, so that she would still believe in Him, cause she wasn't sure about believing in God as much, unless she saw a miraculous physical healing. And Ryder then said what he realized: that that verse was for Khristal to hear, and to receive because she needed to hear and know that God is a lot about the unseen. And a lot of times we have to focus on the unseen, instead of the seen, because the seen is temporary, and the unseen is eternal.
THEN we all got the revelation that these two verses matched up right there at that moment! The scripture really came alive, because that exact verse in Romans said that everyone contributes and all that, well we were doing that RIGHT there, right away, without even realizing it! God was leading! And it was because we LET HIM LEAD. :)
We were all getting really excited, and freaked out because God had done that all so quickly and obviously.
So, then later.. after more discussion, and revelation, we did a neat worship thingie. That is another thing we've been learning: there are many different ways on how to worship God. We learned that worshipping God is defined well in this phrase:
Our mind's attention, and our hearts affection towards God.
That is worship. So, worship doesn't always have to be singing or music. Singing and music are wonderful, and we all love to do that, but it's not the only way. So we've been learning from others, and the Holy Spirit how to worship, and new ways of doing it. So, Khristal learned from the Holy Spirit (he just gave her the idea), to praise/worship God in this new and awesome way. We would clap our hands and knees, all in the same rhythm, and then one person at a time would say to the beat,
'I like to praise God with my _____ by _____ ing'. And each person would have to make up a new one. So for example, you could say,
'I like to praise God with my hands by clapping'. And the next person, right away, would have to say theirs, while maintaining the rhythm! And if you mess up, you're out. It was fun. And then after we prayed, and the Holy Spirit really came, because we realized that all the things that we were saying about how we like to praise God, were all aspects of Him, and how many good things He is, and how He loves us etc.
Then we didn't want to quit, so we started jamming with some musical instruments! :) Just freely, and there really was hardly a beginning or end to the songs... it really was one big intense, Spirit filled song. That's how we do a lot of our songs... we just keep going, and it changes as we go. But it is all about being in tune with the Holy Spirit, and what He wants to do. Even when we worship.
And sometimes, during a song, someone will break out in a prayer to God, something that is on their heart, that they want to say to God. And we keep playing the music, just quieter, and let it all flow together. Because there is more freedom, and comfort in speaking out because it's family.
Actually, that is one of THE KEY aspects of what we are learning! Meghan Strickland, one of our AWESOME leaders, has been emphasizing, that us as people of God living together in community, and oneness with each other and God, WE ARE A FAMILY. And family is not uncomfortable in speaking out, and in telling each other what is really going on, and working out differences, and sticking to each other, even through hardships. Also, FAMILY naturally reproduces!! It's not a difficult, or unnatural thing for a family to grow. And so it is with simple church. When the people get mature in God, they go off and 'get married', if you will, and start a family of their own. It's not that complicated. Another thing is too, is that, when they go off and start their own family, they are still connected to their old family!! So they can still fit in, and be comfortable with that family, and be mentored, and helped out by them. But they are also, just as connected to their new family!!
And the glue of it all is God's LOVE! I already wrote a lot about that, cause that is the center of all of this. It's just like every human baby is designed to be born out of intimacy and love between a man and woman, God's churches, or people gathering, and meant to be born out of HIS divine LOVE. There really is no other way around it!
A lot of times people just focus on the goal, and that we need to get a church planted, and get God to come. But really all it is is His people LOVING each other, and then that love will naturally spread.
So I suppose I will do a separate blog post on the miraculous healings, because this one is really long.
|Tre, Marten, and Melissa (a fellow CANADIAN), talking about God together at the Boiler Room.|