church, Church planting, Courage, Faith, Inspiration, Lift Church, Social problems, Uncategorized

Call Me a Pioneer

I get one of two main responses when I share our vision for Lift Church:

1) A glazed over look and a patronizing or confused smile that says, “Awe, poor thing.  She doesn’t get it.  That’s nice, but we will see what actually happens.”  You can tell our viewpoint is either so foreign to them that they just can’t relate or understand.  Or, they really DO think we are crazy; or naive; or short-sighted.

2) An excited face and ‘edge-of-her-seat’ body language that screams, “I want THAT!” Some people hear what we have to say and it’s like a breath of fresh air to them.  They get so excited and can’t wait to ask questions and how they can be a part of what we are doing.

It’s not hard to admit that not everyone will see what we see.  Sometimes we are just planting a seed.  For some folks, they will not grasp “it” until the groundwork has been laid- when we have hundreds of people and and comfy chairs, amazing kids’ programs, coffee, flashy lights and amazing bands.  Other people will never  be excited about anything related to Jesus!  Yet others will come alongside us even in this inaugural season where all we have to show the way is our spearheaded conviction and our word.  Seven amazing families have already decided to pioneer alongside us (Praise God)!

I’m reminded of the start of our AdvoCare business in 2000.  All we had was a $50 investment and a vision for how the products and company could change our lives.  People thought we had gone mad!  We lived everyday with negative opinions about network marketing.  However, with hard work and God’s favour on us, we continued to share our vision and ONE BY ONE, we built a team.  That company has paid us over $1 million.

Here we are again, only this time, the stakes are much higher.  We have eternity in mind every time we initiate and instigate.  When we preach and promote the cause of the local church, our own avant-garde family’s legacy is tied to this dream.  All our chips are on the table and no matter the risk, despite the “no’s” we receive or disappointments along the way, we will lead the way.  We are forging a trail so others will have a clear path to find Jesus.

Day after day, we keep pitching our vision and sharing what God has placed in our hearts.  The idea of a church that impacts this city and raises up leaders, disciples Christians and molds the next generation isn’t hard for me to see. Partly, because I experienced it firsthand at Celebration Church.  Secondly, I know people everywhere are hungry for what we will serve.  No one wants his kid to grow up a failure, on drugs or without purpose.  Most people just have no idea that the answers they seek can be found in the church.

The Bible says when people lack vision, they are unrestrained.  One version says, “they go wild!”  Take one look at our Western society and the word “wild” could easily describe our morals, theology, and young people.  Even non-believers will agree with this.  A hunger is raging for a leader who knows where he is going and whom one can trust and follow.  Our desire is that we will continue to press on despite the critics, despite those who don’t see what we see, despite the temptation to settle in and accept the status quo.  We are pathfinders blazing a trail and chartering new territory.  One by one, we know God will draw people to this vision.

No matter what role each of us fill, as Christians, we are called to advance The Church on the earth.  Let us not shy away when the path seems unclear or we get scratched by the underbrush.  We can’t turn around or back down when the climb is steep or the weather changes.  The mission is too important and the eternal rewards are worth it.

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; Psalm 127:1

Australia, church, Church planting, Faith, Lift Church, religious, Uncategorized

No Turning Back

Today is a landmark day for Greg and me.  It ends our time on staff at Celebration Church as well as our time as distributors in AdvoCare.  Both have had significant impact on who we are as leaders, pastors, and entrepreneurs.  Both provided us with community and relationships that will last a lifetime.  Both have given us fulfillment and purpose.  To close the door on those two chapters in the same day feels somewhat like we have closed one of those huge floor-to-ceiling bank vaults; neither of us have the code to re-open it.  No turning back.

All day, I have been singing the old hymn:

I have decided to follow Jesus

Verse 1:

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 2:
Though none go with me, still I will follow,
though none go with me, still I will follow.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 3:
The world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.

The words are significant and powerful. I feel like we are jumping off a cliff into an unknown abyss.  No turning back!  Whether anyone goes with us, still we will follow.  No turning back!  Soon, Texas will be behind us.  Only the cross, our calling, and Australia will be before us.  No turning back!

Sometimes “following Jesus” scares us because of what we think we will have to leave behind or give up.  What we don’t realize is great peace comes in knowing you are right in the center of God’s will for your life.  For every thing I can think of that we are giving up (and trust me, I’ve thought of them all; there are a lot), I can think of 5 possible replacements God might have in store. As a matter of fact, Ephesians chapter 3 promises that God has more planned for us than we can even think up or imagine.  That’s exciting considering I have a great imagination!

The Bible tells us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.”  This is contrary to everything the world encourages us to do.  Hollywood, TV, and self-help books will tell us to “follow our hearts” or to do what makes us happy.  We are encouraged to deny ourselves nothing.

Did you know God created each of us for a purpose?  Whatever your “gift and passion” are, they were given to you by God Himself.  He desires nothing more than for you to step into that passion and change the world for Him.  Taking up our cross and denying ourselves just means deciding that even if His path seems less convenient or harder, we are willing.  It means that even if we initially feel ill-equipped and worried about the details, we will follow Him anyway.

You can bet moving across the world feels quite inconvenient.  It feels hard and lonely.  I feel like I have no business “starting a church” when I don’t even exhibit the “fruit of the spirit” in my own four walls when it comes to patience with my kids.  Even though the Bible tells me not to worry, you can bet I’ve been up half the night more than once worrying about finances, schools, my kids, losing my friends, and more.

The thought of not walking in my calling far outweighs the weight of all this.  The thought of looking back at my life and knowing I let fear or worry stop me from taking a leap of faith with God is unbearable.

To know that the God of the universe, the ONE who created me, has given Greg and me vision, desire, and training for Lift Church outweighs the sadness I feel about closing that vault.  I remind myself that if God is for me who can be against me ?  This propels me to jump off the cliff.  Knowing there are hurting people living in Newcastle whose lives and eternities will be changed because of our obedience makes me want to run forward as fast as I can.  No turning back, no turning back!

ARC, Church planting, Inspiration, religious, Uncategorized

It’s Up to You… And God

If you are a driver personality type and tend to “make it happen,” in life, you can lean on your own understanding to get stuff done.  I have always enjoyed taking something small or non existent and working to establish and grow it.  Whether it’s growing leaders, a department at the church, or my AdvoCare business, I have a track record of strategically putting together plans and goal setting to make something successful.  I would call myself entrepreneurial, a self-starter, and a visionary.

My husband and I have worked very well together in our business for years.  We love and enjoy building people.  We have a passion for seeing them grow and find their gifts and callings to serve the Lord.  We love helping others and serving families.  All of these characteristics coupled with our training and experience over the last few years on staff at our church would lead us to believe we have the perfect “resume” for church planting.  We have the skill set and on paper, if we were placing bets, I think our odds of success would look pretty good.

There’s only ONE BIG PROBLEM:  We are dealing in the supernatural.  Last I checked, I’m not God and I wasn’t raised from the dead!  The Bible says that we plant and sow, but it’s only God who makes things grow (I Cor 3:6).  The seed itself is what holds the power to become something great.  It’s God who created the seed with all its potential.

This week’s ARC training is full of the most amazing information any church planter would ever need or want.  We feel like we are well equipped to “do” what God is calling us to “do.”  What we will DO, however, will ultimately not be what impacts lives and changes people.  It’s what God’s supernatural power that lives in us will do as we sow and water the seed God gives us.  The people in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, waiting to hear the life changing message of hope found in a relationship with Christ will find it through our efforts of providing an environment of love and acceptance.  They will find it through relationship and encouragement.  They will love our kids ministry and our church services because they will be excellent, fun and full of life.

Ultimately, the supernatural work that will be done is going to be through the Holy Spirit.  It’s Him who sets people free.  It’s Him who delivers us out of darkness and sets our feet upon the ROCK.  It’s the Lord who will make our church grow and the people inside it come into the saving knowledge of Christ.

As scary as it is to move forward in faith and step into planting a church, the pressure is really off.  We will do all of the things we have been taught.  We will work hard, that’s for sure.  We will make wise decisions and strategically put together our plans.  We will budget well and spend money responsibly.  We will cast vision and recruit strong teams.

But unless the Lord is in it, we labor in vain.  Unless we give ourselves to HIM and chase after His voice each and every day, we toil with no return.  The discerning has to come through the Spirit.  The power of God comes through His supernatural work.