Over the break I've also been thinking about what we've learned in our journey so far and how God might have us build on that as we invite him to lead us into 2015. I had a couple of thoughts that might be helpful to share, but first here's Nat's clip :) ....(this time with full soundtrack)
Our first questions were weather anyone else would be up for this mad journey at all; then it was figuring out how to do and be church in a fresh way together and break free of the religious mold most of us have grown up with. Then it was the breakfast club, working bees, holiday programs, Halloween Parties, social events and an Action Cafe...things we can all do now in our sleep.
God has called every disciple to a life of wonder, way beyond their comfort zones. That invitation sits before all of us but we only find the life it brings - what Jesus called life to the full, or eternal life - when we step beyond the status quo and into a life of faith. So few people really do this - and it's something our enemy is desperate to prevent. Disciples who overcome fear, overcome this world. Those who overcome this world end up transforming it - that's what the book of Revelation is all about.
That's the journey I hope we're on.
As I look back over the last 12 months it's awesome to see how things that challenged us a year ago - things that were outside our comfort zone - have now become natural to us. Our sphere of authority has grown and extended.
This journey has been described by some wonderful authors in the sphere of creativity - Peter Senge, Julia Cameron, Robert Fritz and Stephen Pressfield among others. I thought I'd close these thoughts with a couple of quotes from Stephen Pressfield's wonderful book The War of Art (by the way if anyone's seen Will Smith's movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, it's based on one of Stephen Pressfield's books).
When Lucifer deceived Adam and Eve and they obeyed him and their lusts rather than God, a curse was unleashed in this world - like a virus that overwrites the code God placed in creation. Ever since then the universe leans against us. This is the curse that God observed and described in Genesis 3. We all feel this. It pops up in our language in phrases like, 'it feels like the universe is against me,' 'it's such a weight on my shoulders,' and all the classic variations of pushing water or different forms of excrement uphill without shovels :)
Pressfield refers to this opposing force as 'Resistance.' He sees it as an invisible, but very tangible, force of oppression that comes against anyone who seeks to release their creative gifting or calling. John Eldredge (author of Wild At Heart) describes a very similar opposing force in Waking the Dead (err, not to be confused with The Walking Dead), which he describes as Satan's 'war against our hearts'.
There's the general pressure of the curse that we all live under until Christ returns - a subtle force that leans against us (Revelation 22 looks forward to the day when the New Heaven joins the New Earth and "there shall be no more curse."). Then, as if that isn't enough, there is a specific force that moves against anyone who tries to do something creative and walk into their calling - if you think this is imaginary, try starting a new business, making new commitments, building new habits or changing old ones, or fighting for or achieving anything that really matters...you pay a cost for any meaningful success.
I think this is partly the opposition of the demonic kingdom, working to oppose us finding our destinies and bringing more of the Kingdom of God into being here, and I think it is also partly an opposition that God allows to test our commitment and our character. How much are we willing to pay for the fruit we seek in life? How much are we willing to sacrifice? As we seek to expand our influence and our authority, are we really people who are worthy of the authority and influence we seek - has our character been tested and proven enough to ensure we will only use it to serve others, not our own egos or ambitions. If we're mainly in it for ourselves, we won't be prepared to sacrifice ourselves to find the real life. In Matthew 10:39 Jesus warns us that those who seek to really find their true life must first lose it. Not everyone is up for that. But when you are...and when you prove it by persevering through the trials that move against you when you try to do something creative and step out of the mould, something amazing happens.
Stephen Pressfield puts it this way: “[W]hen we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose….When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us….Just as Resistance has its seat in hell, so Creation has its home in heaven. And it’s not just a witness, but an eager and active ally.”
The forces of Heaven move to assist us once we push through. We build authority in spirit as we endure trials and we gain power over the curse...that's why it's so much easier to repeat things than it is to do them the first time. You've grown in stature and gained power of that area of life...in that sphere at least, you've become to overcome the powers of the world. This process has also been referred to as The Hero's Journey (a term made famous by Joseph Campbell) - and its principles can be seen in nearly every epic story, movie, play, and poem. We'll talk about that a bit more another time.
I'm excited to think we've had a year of pushing against the curse in new ways - and we now find those things relatively easy. Let's see where and how God wants to build on that foundation this year. But keep this process and these principles in mind - understanding what is going on makes it much easier to endure the hard times.
Let's make the most of the new spheres we've gained and build on those, but also stay humble in the process and allow the Holy Spirit lead us into new challenges. I'm up for it if you are. God certainly is.
As Stephen Pressfield also writes: "There is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist….[but he] knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he’ll be okay.”
“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become….Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
Let's see where God leads us and who he would have The Local become in 2015.
Looking forward to sharing the adventure with you :)