a few weeks ago my pastor asked me to write a few words for our church website about what god's been doing in my life this past year. i thought i'd pass it on as a bit of a summary... the tip of the iceberg, if you would!
feel free to check out the church website to see what else is going on!
I wasn't sure what life would be like upon returning to Regina. I had been overseas working for Athletes in Action for two years after living in the Queen City my entire life. I knew I had been called back, but to what I wasn't sure.
I had started listening to podcasts while living in Prague, namely by John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler. January of 2009 I started to regularly take in sermons by these pastors; I encountered a new kind of Christianity I had never experienced nor heard of before. I began to pursue reading theology and studying my faith for myself. I began to press into the scriptures and God began to work major changes in my heart. I had no idea that those changes were preparing me for something else very exciting at home.
My sister started attending an Acts 29 church plant in Columbus, OH. Acts 29 is the network started by Mark Driscoll and the staff at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. Through that network she found out about a church plant happening in Regina. I was thrilled. At the same time I didn't know what to expect. Through the webpage, I emailed a guy I didn't know who was starting the church, and showed up at his house for bible study a few weeks later.
On September 13, 2009, we had our first official service as a church - the Compass. Since that day my learning has been substantial. Each Sunday at church I hear truth preached in a purposeful way. It has been said that soft words make for a hard heart, and hard words make for a soft heart. I can definitely attest to this. While it has been my experience in the past that churches are often afraid of, or shy away from, talking about tough subjects, at the Compass the truth is preached regardless of your comfort. It's refreshing. My life is changing because my heart is changing. I can look back a month ago and see ways that my thinking, my heart and my life have changed to more reflect what I'm seeking to pursue in having Christ as first in my life.
I am being challenged to live out of a worldview centred on the cross and not on myself. To put first things first means to put Jesus first. I am learning that community takes work and effort and that God has called us to sacrifice for church. I am learning that life includes suffering, which God calls us into and blesses us in the midst of, simply with the gift of himself. I am hearing the truth preached and it's so applicable to my everyday struggles. I am realizing that life is not my own - it's not about me - and the calling from Jesus everyday is to live missionally and not out of my circumstances. Christ is a rock; I am not. There is no good in me except that for which God gives me out of his merciful grace. I cannot take credit for my faith because it's a gift from God. There is a focus on the person and work of Jesus that is causing me to see my life in terms of his. This worldview shift is huge - all of life flows from the lens in which I look. The question is, what is creating that lens?
I am a messed up sinner with no hope apart from Christ. Maybe that sounds depressing to you, but to me it sounds like freedom. I'm not good enough - even my good deeds are filthy rags in the eyes of God (Isaiah 64:4) - but Jesus has already covered me. Shifting my focus to Jesus and away from self is helping me to overcome sin that has been entrenched in my life for decades and for generations in my family.
We heard from the word and the book of Phillipians in the fall. These words of Paul's keep ringing in my ears: "to live is Christ, to die is gain".
In the end, all we need is Jesus.
The Podyum – On a Mission – Prague Lions
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