We just entered month 7 of Your Church +Portland! It’s been another big month for our website, and we’ve had 6 people join our Missional Team. Each week the church continues to have new guests coming out as word of mouth continues to spread. It doesn’t always seem like it, but progress is definitely being made. Our attendance continues to be somewhat of a ‘roller coaster’ with some weeks seeing more guests than others, but I am thankful to have people coming out every week. We’re hearing more and more from people in the community that they plan to come and check the church out. Our Missional Team has also been great about handing out our business card to people they talk to, putting posters up around town, giving financially and inviting friends and coworkers.
We’re starting to move towards gathering on Sunday mornings, and a local pastor is on-board to help supply the necessary equipment/gear to get started. My heart desire is to have 20 or more individuals become a part of our local Missional Team, to help with Sunday morning and evening gatherings. As always, a big shout out goes to Coyote’s Bar & Grill and their amazing staff - the venue is fantastic, and creates a perfect atmosphere for our evening gatherings.
If you have any questions, prayer requests, or want to know how good Voodoo Doughnuts are, email us at email@example.com
At our gathering last week, I shared a couple of verses from the Bible with everyone:
John 8:34-37 (The Message Translation)
Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. 35 A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.
Gal 5:13-15 (New International Version)
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Let’s remember that when God set us free from being bound to a life of sin and selfish ways, it was that freedom which enabled us to truly love ourselves. In a sense it almost appears that loving yourself would be a sinful selfish thing, but in the economy of God’s love and grace, loving yourself is the necessity for freedom. You see it’s only when we learn how to love and accept ourselves that we begin to learn how to love, accept and serve one another. And according to the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5, that is what freedom is all about.
The more we focus on our issues, problems, and day to day life stuff the more inward and isolated we become. It happens to all of us. If life continues to knock us around day after day, like waves hitting a small craft on a blistery sea, than soon our focus becomes only about the waves. It’s lifestyle I refer to as ‘Quadrant 1’ living. It’s a place where every issue every day is urgent and important. I know firsthand how this works as I’ve been an on-again, off-again addict of Quadrant 1 living more times than I care to admit!
The biggest problem with living life this way, besides the stress, is that your world becomes all about you. Before you know it, you trade your freedom (and pretty much 90% of your brain) for slavery to the gerbil wheel. Your life soon becomes busy with running every day from one thing to the next. You don’t have time for others because you don’t have time for yourself. Ironically, it even goes for those of us in the people business. Now don’t get me wrong, the desire to help others is there in all of us, but asking us to take the time to know others long enough in order to effectively serve them, is huge. And, pretty much impossible. Yes you read that right. Impossible! (Unless of course you’re a philanthropist setting out to win the Noble Peace Prize this year…which is about .0001% of the population.)
In order to turn this impossibility into a possibility, you need to experience the personal freedom that comes from Jesus Himself. A freedom that begins, or for some of us, starts with letting Him love us the way we are. You’ll know His freedom is taking root when you let Him love you this way, and you respond by loving yourself this way. As you do, you’ll start experiencing a new found freedom to get up each morning and be yourself all day long. You’ll experience a freedom to not be bound by what you have to do, but by what you get to do. A freedom over your thoughts and over your feelings. A freedom from what others think and what is said about you. A freedom over your habits and addictions. A freedom from being bound to life’s gerbil wheel and quadrant one. Then as you begin to live and enjoy this freedom, you’ll begin to accept, appreciate, love and value others for who they are, and before you know it you’ll be serving those people with this freedom and love. Without seemingly any effort this newfound freedom will cause you to love and serve your neighbor to the degree you love yourself! That’s the entire law of God. That’s freedom.