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Busy.

I’m busy.

In fact, those two words have become my standard answer when someone asks how I’m doing these days. I’ve got something on the calendar most nights of the week, weekends are booked for the next several months, and my to-do list is being added to faster than I can cross things off. Thankfully it’s just a season. I knew it was coming and I know it will end.

I’m busy. And if I’m being honest, some part of me likes it. I like the challenge. I like the sense of purpose. I like the feelings of accomplishment.

I like those things because something inside me believes that what I do is the best definition of who I am.

Enter #GoBold.

The Go Bold focus our church has for 2017 is exciting. The stories that have already come from this movement are not just inspiring, they are worth thanking God for! Love, kindness, generosity, and hope are showing up in new ways across our community. The more stories I hear, the more I want to take part in making a difference.

But Go Bold is also something I find myself getting excited about for the wrong reasons. The satisfaction that comes with meeting a Go Bold challenge, loving someone with purpose, and the sense of accomplishment I’m left with are great things, but they easily feed the false belief inside of me that says it’s what I do that is the best definition of who I am.

It is easy to believe that I am worthy or significant in God’s eyes because of the things I do in His name. It is easy to be more motivated by challenge and accomplishment than it is by the “why” behind Go Bold.

Why should we Go Bold?

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Jesus knew everything… and he still decided to step into creation to save his people. He knew the kind of people he was saving… selfish, greedy, proud, messy, busy people. People like me and you. We have been boldly loved by God.

Boldly loved by God is the best definition of who I am.

Having been boldly loved by God is the best motivation for Go Bold.

If you, like me, have a Go Bold challenge on your to do list as one more thing to accomplish, it might be worth taking a few minutes to think about the “why.” Story is a big part of Go Bold and I can’t think of a better way to be motivated rightly than to remind myself of the ways God has boldly loved me.

“We love because he first loved us.”

– Lance Lawson, Church on Wednesday Campus Pastor

Risky Business

I’ve always been a risk-taker. My whole life. More than likely, it could be traced to my family of origin, the brokenness of my life, part of my sin struggle, and just the consequence of living in a broken, fallen world. It looked different for me in different stages of my life.

As a child, a fight never scared me. I was always willing to put my reputation on the line, and chanced my pride along with my physical well being to get what I wanted. As the youngest of four children, it was commonplace for me to regularly engage in brawls with my siblings and fellow neighborhood kids. As I grew into adulthood, my risk no longer involved fist fights in the backyard (or at least not as often), but continued with a total lack of regard for the outcomes of my decisions. At times, that lifestyle proved to be very injurious.

But when I came to understand the gospel, I started to wonder how or what I would do with this risk-taker side of who I was. It was clear that I was a new creation in Christ. But was my willingness to take risks a broken side of me that would be uprooted and made into a pretty little Sunday morning package?

Not at all.

By the way, we all take risks. Some of us are calculated about it and some are reckless, but we all do it. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you give that up. Rather, Jesus welcomes risk-takers. Taking risks to further the kingdom of God are opportunities to do things that are so countercultural that the outcomes are no longer “harmful” but now leave us in awe of the faithfulness of the One who directs our ‘risks.’

So as we Go Bold this year it’s my hope that, from the risks you take, you will experience a deeper trust and faith in God, a deeper desire to love your neighbor the way you’ve been loved in Christ. It’s my prayer that any fear or aversion to risk would be replaced by a boldness that marks every area of your life.

Going bold might mark a new beginning for some risk-takers in 2017. Going bold might start a revolution in our community. Going bold might reignite our passion to make the gospel known as we remember time and time again the love we’ve been given so freely and boldly by God in Christ.

It might do all of that.

It might do more.

It’s a risk we’ll have to take.

– Karl Garcia, Clear Lake Campus Pastor

Go! Go! Go!

Go! Go! Go! was the verbal assault pounding in the back of my head as my friends urged me to take the leap off of the cliff into the waters below. I didn’t want to jump. Honestly, I was terrified. I didn’t like heights. I wasn’t sure how the impact of the water would feel on my bare feet and possibly on my back or stomach if I got a little off balance. I didn’t want to be brave in that moment and the fears in front of me were louder than the voices behind me. However, the fear of missing out and the stories of others who had gone before me propelled me off the cliff. It was exhilarating! I hit the water and came back to the surface exploding with triumph and pride over what I had accomplished. I conquered my fears and went for it.. and it was worth it.

Go Bold! Bold seems like such a powerful word. To actually go bold assumes courage and bravery, fighting fears, getting outside of my comfort zone. All of those characteristics I want to be true of me. But if I’m honest, too many times I can put on a brave face while on the inside rages a lack of courage. I can tell people to fight their fears but mine seem to keep me paralyzed. I know it’s time to meet new people, do something different, change my rhythms, but I am so comfortable just doing what I am doing.

To be totally transparent, my lack of courage, fears within, and my commitment to comfort, are the things I despise most about me. I know there is more life to live, more people to meet, more causes to fight for. I need to tap into the truth spoken by God to Joshua as he was taking over for Moses and leading the people of God into the promised land.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

I need to be reminded of these words as I go bold in 2017! What a great reminder as I step out of my comfort zone that “the Lord my God is with me.”

So for me, I’m making some space in my life, carving out some time, to go for it. To go for what, you ask? Whatever God prompts. It’s most likely different for each of us. I am practicing listening to the Holy Spirit as he prompts me to Go! Go! Go! across the street, into a deep conversation, to meet a need, to share the hope of Jesus. And in order to do this, I realize I need to do two things:

1. Creating Margin: I have to create some margin in my busy schedule. I need to do this before I even start listening to the Holy Spirit because it is so easy for me to respond by saying, “I don’t have time right now to do anything about that.” I know it sounds really selfish, but that can too often be my response. I don’t like it but it’s true. I realize I need to be proactive with my calendar to make space so I can go bold.

2. Listening: I know I can be too distracted on my own to notice who or what is around me in a meaningful way. I need to practice listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompts to go. Typically that looks like a strong feeling that I must do something about what I see or who I see. I need to get better at listening and obeying those promptings, but I am starting to see clearer. I am quicker to recognize a need and respond to it.

What about you? Are you ready to conquer your fears, get outside of your comfort zone and go bold? I’ve been praying for you and for myself that God would give us hearts of compassion like we see in Jesus as recorded by Matthew:

When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38

Go! Go! Go! You won’t regret it.

– Chris Alston, West Campus Pastor