Saturday, January 2, 2016

Looking back on 2015

For the last year I have pondered the word “intentional”. It has become a word that recurs in my mind over and over again. It is a word that is vexing and intriguing. When I look into my own life I wonder if I live an intentional life? A life that is with purpose and direction.

As I have pondered this word, I have found that others are doing the same. Collectively, we are asking questions of whether this Christian life is one that is to be intentional? or is to be haphazard and a guessing game? Can we accidentally do this thing called discipleship? or is there more to it?

The life of a Christian has to be more than just sitting in the pews and listening to the great orator; the great orator that pontificates about all of the intricacies of what it means to be a “good Christian”. It has to be more than going to our well heated buildings, that have comfortable padded seats, and a staff that can invite us to enjoy the service. This intentional life of discipleship must involve more than seeking our own comfort, and seeking a “worship” service that fits our needs. This life of intention has to be more than an expensive ad for something cheap – it has to be more than a country club for like-minded folks – it has to be more than being spiritual but not religious – it has to be more than saying all the right things which comes off as empty and apathetic – it has to be more than professional Christianity being top-down management – it has to be more than using the Bible as a weapon – it has to be more than mediocrity and indifference – is has to be more than a self-enrichment exercise – it has to be more than finger pointing and political maneuvering.

The intentional life is a life that Jesus calls us to. A life that is devoted to loving God and loving God by loving our neighbor. It is a life that is centered on Jesus Christ, while at the same time it is a life that gives itself away for the common good of all. It is also a life that we oftentimes mess up, but with joy and tenacity we find the on-ramps that allow us to get back on this path of intentional discipleship.

It has been with great joy and tenacity that my family and I have walked out 2015. It has been a year of intentionality. A year that we continue to refine and hone in on what it means to embody hope in the context God has placed us. A year that has allowed to to be the exegesis of the gospel imperative to be disciples that make disciples. We are humbled by the fact that we get to journey beside some of the most gifted and passionate people we have ever met. We have had the distinct privilege of walking hand-in-hand with people that are living this life of intentionality. This has changed us and has expanded our family.

In this last year of living out the word intentional I have found times where I have been exhilarated by this simple call to embody hope – times where I am standing in the water baptizing people that have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ – times of listening to complete strangers share heart-wrenching stories of heart ache – times of holding the scriptures in my hand, while at the same time words coming off the page into the circumstance that is at hand – times of looking into the face of death and finding hope – times of joy that breaks my heart as we say good-bye to great friends – times of laughter where the city tells us that was way too many signs – times of looking in the offering basket and seeing $10 and reminding God that this thing called The Anchor was his idea – times of hugging someone who has had way too much to drink and reminding him that God loves him just the way he is – times of great Bob Marley music drifting across the Cape Fear River – times of sitting in front of a reporter and sharing the gospel message – times of standing in Hell's Kitchen with a candle – times of simplicity and healing.

Thank you to everyone that we have had the honor to journey beside in 2015. My intentional prayer is that we can embody hope in profound and riveting ways in 2016. I look forward to the creative and imaginative challenges the Holy Spirit invites us to participate in.