...is a difficult thing...especially if fighting is all you've known for your entire life.  this is the reality Joe faces tonight as he sleeps in the prayer room.

last night Joe came to the house and joined us for our house meeting...not the most opportune time if looked at from a "getting things done" standpoint.  and yet, i am now convinced that he was meant to be there, just as he was meant to be there on Monday, and Saturday and all the other days he's come by drunk more times than not.
and i am now convinced that he was meant to be here today.

last night, i will admit, i was on the verge of being annoyed that Joe had stopped by. Couldn't we just get through a meeting without an interruption.  i went into the prayer room feeling very uneasy.  i chalked it up to starting school again the next morning...but of course it wasn't this. it wasn't this at all.  in the prayer room last night, i was deeply convicted that my attitude towards Joe was less than kind and i was being less than true to Christ.  My selfish attitude kept me from truly loving Joe last night.  My heart must be changed.  Less of me and more of Christ.

so today while i was sitting in class, i couldn't get joe off my mind.  i couldn't get joe off my mind.  i couldn't get joe off my mind.  and it was clear that God was prodding me to talk with Joe.  On my drive home from class, i knew...i just knew that i had to talk with Joe today.  when i walked through the door of the boiler room, there Joe stood with a snarly-toothed grin.
and i am now convinced that he was meant to be here today.

i saw him and immediately said: we need to talk.  and so we talked...for two and a half hours.  we talked about his life, his past, his present, his future and his addiction that keeps him from moving forward...and we talked about surrender...and his struggle to succumb to the still small voice that is calling his name in love.  Joe...you are loved.  Joe...come back to me. Joe...I love you.

and at the end of that conversation, Joe and i prayed.  Joe prayed...for the second time this week, after nearly ten years of silence.  and he stepped closer to surrender.  he is ready to surrender his addiction.  surrender to Jesus...not yet...but he is close.  he is very close.  

and so he sleeps in the room below mine tonight and i am struck with the nature of surrender.  the difficulty of surrender and yet the brilliance of victory that accompanies it. it is not weakness, though we are all very weak.  instead, it takes much more strength than all of the years combined that Joe has been fighting.  Joe is still fighting, but i think he is so very close to surrender.  and so we will continue to lift him up.  we will continue to bathe him in prayer.  and i ask the same from you.

without surrender, Joe would not be sleeping where he is tonight with a new hope and a McDonald's Big Mac and strawberry shake in his belly.  without surrender, i may have remained annoyed and uneasy about Joe.  i may have missed an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  without surrender, none of us are able to truly by true to Christ.  

surrender is sweet.  it is difficult.  but it is good.  and it is what we all must do. it is here that we respond to that still, small voice that says:

you are loved...come back to me...i love you.



Tonight there was music coming from the garage.  Beautiful music.  And it wasn't simply music coming from Chip and James' radio as they continue to put up foam board or whitewash the walls...but real, joyful and pleasing music.  Songs sung by some fifty or so worshippers as they celebrated the God we serve, the love feast just shared, and life together.  And it provided another picture of what was and what is now and the in-between of hours of prayer and waiting on the Lord and hearing his voice and seeing HIM establish these things here in the small beginning. 

For some reason, the worship tonight was loud.  And while some may say that the acoustics of the garage gave way to a louder sound, I'd like to think that it was more than that...and I really think it was.  I think there was a true joy and amazement of God's provision in that place.  Amazement of the prayers answered over the course of the year.  The giving nature of those who came with food in hand for the love feast.  Excitement for the new faces who came to join us.  Thanksgiving that Marty and Kat (with a capital "K") stayed for worship.  And pure joy when Bill, Debba and Jeff walked into the garage and were greeted by loving people ready to welcome them in and give them their seat and a cup of hot soup and coffee.  And the music played on.  And it will continue to play on.  

I wish I could explain to you the feeling I got when I heard the music coming from the garage and knew, just knew, that our neighbors could hear it.  I know this because Jen, who was reading B a bedtime story heard it and had to come and see.  And so I know that there will come a day when our neighbors will no longer be able to just hear it and wonder...no no...they will need to come and check it out.  And I am praying for that. We are praying for that.

And I know that God answers prayers because tonight there was music coming from the garage.  Beautiful, joyful music that wasn't there even four months ago when it was filled with trash and the house was used for dealing and doing drugs and for prostitution.  

This house has been redeemed, and He is using it as a place for broken lives to be redeemed as well.  And I cant wait...I just can wait to see that prayer continue to be answered.  Because that will be beautiful music as well.


living community

I've been reading a couple books on my break from class this past month.  Once book that I have just recently started reading is Bonhoeffer's book, "Life Together."  I thought it appropriate to read because of the nature of my life these days.  Living a somewhat "monastic" lifestyle can be wearing and yet, so fulfilling at the same time.  I began reading the first chapter and was immediately met with the reality of what life has been here in the boiler room.  I am learning a lot about living in community here...real community.

I say real community because there is an aspect of community that we see in our workplaces, churches, and friendly circles this word "community" popping up everywhere.  It has in many ways become no more than a buzz word that we as hip and up-to-date Christians like to use to refer to our gatherings.  However, do we truly know what real, honest community is?

It is this question that I have been asking myself ever since I began this season of life, discovering the essence of community (and by no means to I have it figured out yet).  For some time, I wondered about the status quo that seemed to be placed upon community as it relates to the success or health of a community.  Would a true, Christ-centered community endure difficulties and strife and humanness if it were genuine?  While being a part of this boiler room community, I think the thing that has been placed at the forefront of my mind has been the reality of the humanness that I possess, as well as the humanness of all others within our community.  The failings of all of us in this community has kept us from reaching the unnamed utopia that often lingers in our minds as it relates to community...the so-called picture of harmonious life together.  But as of late, I have been wondering if that is truly the goal of community.  And I have come to the conclusion that, I don't think it is.  I am struck with Bonhoeffer's words as he writes about the nature of true, Christian community.  He says that

"Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.  The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all out community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it."

This truth of Christ's hand in community as that which comes solely from his creative imagination cause me to approach community from a completely different perspective.  I am beginning to realize the beauty in the seemingly weak and insignificant aspects of community that, while unattractive, may be that which God treasures most in our community.  It is the realization of our humanness as individuals and yet the unifying work of Jesus Christ in community.  A community centered on the bridegroom, Christ, will see the reconciliation and sanctification of broken and sinful hearts that are joined with Him.  

I have begun to really appreciate this beautiful community for its brokenness, genuineness, love, support and focus, and yet beyond that, deeper than that, there is a continuing appreciation for Christ's presence in community and his plan for it.  

And I will continue to learn about what it all means.



tuesdays are one of my favorite days of the week.  they are the days that i feel God's pleasre in a true and deep sense.  tuesdays aren't days that are often talked about.  mondays are the dreaded beginning of the week, wednesdays signify the beginning of the end of the week, and fridays are hailed as the beginning of the weekend.  but tuesdays, tuesdays are often overlooked because of the ho-hum nature of the day.  however, they have now become my favorite day of the week.  

tuesday is the day that i meet with two men who are running hard after Jesus and we talk. laugh. pray. challenge each other. and count points (can divulge).  but is the time that I have learned what accountability is.  it is the time that I have learned what it means to show brotherly love.  and it is the time when i have really learned what it means to build friendships completely on the basis of the love of Christ.  and i love it.  and it moves me.  

but then tuesdays have now become the day that i also play with kids from the neighborhood.  we play tag.  we play spider in the web.  and although i had a thermal on and two other layers, i agree to being the spider over and over and over again.  and it is grand.  the kids laugh, they throw tantrums, but it is in those small, quick teaching moments where a whisper of correction or a quick nudge or a quiet mention that jesus...and i love them, and it has become one of the most anticipated times of my day...and my week.  and i can't wait for these times to continue.  

and perhaps my favorite things about my tuesdays is the meal that takes place at tony and jenn's home.  it is the dinner where all of us get together and talk loud like an italian family (although i don't think any of us are) and eat "land before time food" as chip, my roommate puts it, and talk about what we love the most and what we want to do when we grow up.  we eat well, drink good coffee, indulge in obscure desserts like zucchini cake with brown butter or pumpkin chipotle flan (who knew?) and go deep into one anothers' lives...and i love it.  because it is community.  it is family.  it is the body.  it is, as i picture it, joy.  and i love it.  

there is a certain ambiguity to tuesdays in the general sense.  but when i really look at tuesday, i wouldn't trade them for the world.  tuesdays have seemed to become the highlight, recharge, joyful, and most anticipated time of the week.  for what happens on these days is a deep sense and awareness of God's pleasure as I see him in the friendship, scripture reading, prayer, accountability, encouragement, ministry, tag, whispers, screams, food, discussions, dancing, and family...and i love it.