If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed a post about Nora's first bike ride on the beach. Ahh! Just remembering it brings a smile to my face. She was so cute in that little helmet, and sitting behind Eric on the bike made her appear so teeny. I wish we were back there right now, on that beach, fighting the wind with every pedal... Who knew that riding bikes on the beach was so hard? (If you want to see pics, go here.)
Well we are going back in October for a women's retreat. I am sure some pictures will result from that trip as well, and will be posted here. Come back mid-October for an update!
Anyway, in the bike post, I promised to share a bit of what I learned on that mini-retreat, so here I am delivering.
I am involved in a church plant here in Northern Virginia, and we are doing things a bit differently. It's a lot to say in a single post, and it would likely bore or overwhelm you, but the thing I love most about our church is its emphasis on discipleship. We believe that every Jesus-follower is called to be a disciple. Whether you disciple one person or thirty, God has given you the skills and grace to speak into someone's life.
For me, this concept was life-changing. It's not profound, but many churches in America have forgotten about how important discipleship is. And I can understand why. Most churches start to grow and when they realize that they are getting large, want to scale it back and find a way to get "small", with small groups. Only, it's so very hard to adequately get "small" once you're big. As our church is still very small, this is one thing it has been able to do well. (Sidenote: Big churches versus little churches, it's all personal preference in my mind. Every church will do some things very well, and struggle in other areas. This post is not to say that I think big churches do it all wrong - far from it. The discipleship that I am seeing come out of my small church plant is simply what is exciting me at this moment, therefore, you are hearing about it).
Anyway, our church plant *stumbled* upon a ministry called 3DM and it has proven to be so helpful. They've come alongside us in a sense and taught us how they are doing ministry and discipleship. So this retreat down in South Carolina was with them. It was my first time going down there, even though my pastor, his wife and even my own husband have been several times.
The retreat was very laid-back. We only had teachings in the morning, followed by time in a huddle (a sort of small group, though different. More on that later). And then we had the afternoons free. Hence, our bike ride on the beach.
But the teachings were phenomenal. Mike Breen, the pastor at 3DM, was inspiring and I loved how each of his points were so founded in scripture. There is so much that I could say about this short week, but I simply don't have the space or time, or likely, attention-span.
So I'll just jump ahead.
At the very end of the week, my huddle leader asked those of us at the table, what we would take away from the week and what we would leave behind.
During Mike Breen's teaching, I was shocked to find that he focused so much on healing. As this was a pastor's getaway, I thought it would be much more practical and how-to stuff. But, he spent a lot of time talking about our misperceptions about healing in the Bible. To try and be brief, he explained that, in the Bible, every reference to "suffering" deals with persecution, not illness. That all of our spiritual fatalism, the "God wants me to have this disease because he is teaching me something," or, "I've done something wrong in my lifetime and so God is punishing me," cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. That's not how our God operates. It's not about us at all. If it was, then those times that people are healed, we could say the same thing. That it is our faith that heals us. But it's not. It's only God. He alone heals.
Mike emphasized over and over again how God wants us well. How do we know this? Because in heaven, there is no sickness, no sorrow and no pain. How else? Because every single time someone came to Jesus in his ministry and asked for healing, he gave it. He never once said, "Sorry, this is your cross to bear." He always healed.
Now, obviously, we know that on earth, we won't always receive healing - but we do know that in heaven, we will be given new bodies. Whole and perfect. But should we stop praying for healing on earth, just because we aren't seeing it? Waiting, passively for that healing in heaven to come? To be honest, sometimes this is how I feel. I get tired of praying for the same thing over and over again, and being disappointed each time God doesn't answer my prayers (at least, the way I hoped he would). But the way Mike Breen said it is this, don't stop praying for healing until either A) you receive healing, B) you pass away, go to heaven and receive healing or C) Jesus comes again.
A lot of this wasn't new information to me - I know that God wants me and my loved ones well. But it was such a good reminder. And sometimes we need that. Now, as I pray for healing, I have joy again rather than just cynicism. Whether that healing happens on earth or in heaven, I know that it is good for my soul to pray and believe. And wait in expectation.
That is what I came away with from the week. So good, right?
- ▼ 2012 (20)