Monday, February 28, 2005

A Glimpse of Victory

We're now two weeks into the trip, and we'll be home one week from right now. I'll admit, I'm looking forward to driving through Nebraska. Well, not really. But I am looking forward to what that drive will accomplish.

The last two days have been very meaningful for us. On Saturday, we had a reunion of sorts with my old high school friends from my dad's church. It's been years since we graduated, and we all have exciting, constantly changing lives (most of us, anyway). The thing is, we all reconnected immediately. There was none of the usual reunion awkwardness. When I thought about how rare that is, I realized something- our high school youth group experienced years of real community. It made me realize how centrally important that value is in churches.

Yesterday, we had a chance to attend the church I helped plant in the mid-90s. This was the church where I taught for the first time, where I led worship for the first time, and where I moved equipment to and from a high school gym many times. In 1994, there were 12 of us in an apartment clubhouse. By 1998, there were 800 of us in the Grayslake HS gym. Today, there is a building with a couple thousand people who I saw desperately engaging God. They have had over 400 people come to Christ in the last 8 months. We had a great time, shocked a few old friends, and made peace with other old friends. It was awesome.

But I kept having flashbacks to the early days. When we had no idea if people were going to come to this new church. When we seemed to lose more people than we were picking up. When we were fighting zoning commissions and cutting the budget. When leadership challenges were almost a daily fight. But to see it from the side of victory was phenomenal. And it's not the building. And it's not the 'bigness'. It's the ability to change lives- and being there to watch God do just that. And of course, my life was changed from being there for 7 years, so I guess the victory was glimpsed all along the way.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Falling into Place

Before we left Colorado, we made a list of everyone we wanted to see on this trip. We took the list, a calendar, and a phone and began the arduous task of scheduling a meeting with as many people as possible. At first we were optimistic, until we remembered a shocking fact: people work for a living. So we were faced with trying to cram in as many appointments as possible in a short time, without having access to daylight hours.

One would think (as we did) that one would have to cut one's losses and take what one could get. Alas for one's lack of faith.

Wouldn't you know it, every single phone call we made resulted in a get-together that fit perfectly into our schedule. When we finally reached the last name on our list and said that Tuesday night was our only option, they replied, "Great. That's our only option, too." Hmmm...

I think there must be a fine line between faith and stupidity. Not that faith is stupid- quite the opposite. It's just that when we step out and trust God for things that couldn't possibly happen, for a time it seems that we've got to be out of our minds. Then they miraculously happen and we're left with the shock (although it shouldn't be that shocking) that God's power really is shown in our weakness.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lake Michigan Diaries

I saw Lake Michigan today. I looked out over the expanse in cold wonder with a taco in my hand. We're in Kenosha, Wisconsin today with some old friends, and we were on our way back from the local Pizza Bell (or is it Taco Hut?) when we drove to the "beach". It's about 35 degrees today, and both the sky and water were a pale grey.

Yesterday, Abby and I sang a duet in a church in Wisconsin, after which I gave a 5 minute devotional. My talk was on 2 Corinthians 1, the passage from where we get our 4th Pillar (Compassion). It was good to feel like I got to "work" on a Sunday again.

We've been receiving a great response about Harvest, and we're excited to head to Chicago to continue spreading the news! Keep praying for us.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Harvest on Tour

We are currently finishing up our week in Minnesota. I must say that only a couple years in Colorado have softened me to midwest temperatures. I haven't been this cold in a long time.

Still, the trip has been fun and fruitful. We've seen old friends- you know, the kind of friends that refuel you and within minutes you feel as if you're on a deeper plane of connectedness than you've been with anyone for far too long. It's going to be tough to leave.

But leave we shall. Tomorrow, it's on to Wisconsin for the weekend. Abby and I will be singing at a church on Sunday, where I'll also get to present the plan for Harvest and give a mini-sermon. On Monday, we'll make our way towards Illinois and settle in for 10 days with my brother and his family, as we continue this whirlwind trip.

So far, we've been able to confirm some monthly financial support from folks, as well as build our prayer network. People are excited to hear our vision and see our plans. Most of all, though, it's been great to see old friends who feel like family.