This past Sunday I was able to share our Vision for 2016. And I got a little... animated (bless my heart). I got excited (and I am still excited) because of what we believe God is calling us to do. We feel like He is calling us to rise. After 4 years of toil and tears, as elders we believe God is calling our family to get up and move to a higher position.
At the end of each year, the elders and leaders of Normandy get a way and ask God what He is up to for the next year. There were so many things to celebrate in our family - salvation in the youth, single mothers being cared for, a great Wired Conference. We all had a lot of encouragement for 2016 and had a hard time summing up what we felt God was saying. Eventually we landed on the word RISE.
In essence we believe in light of all that God has done and the overarching vision for Normandy, He is calling us go to a higher, to rise, in our faith, identity and action. In Ephesians 5:14 - Paul exhorts his readers, in light of all Christ has done, to "awake... and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". We believe God is calling us to rise up and embrace His calling on our church.
The first place we believe we are to rise is in faith. Faith is commitment without knowing. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. In order for faith to rise, this probably means many of us will be thrown into situations that are beyond our control in order that we might learn to see with the eyes of faith. God is giving us a wonderful opportunity because without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6)!
This one is probably the most personal for me. Over the years I have been wrestling to understand who I am as a man. So many times I catch myself trying to be someone else, trying to live someone else's life. It can be exhausting. I am easy prey to the sin of comparison ("you are not as good a preacher as ____"). On the other extreme, sometimes I find myself passively not walking fully in my calling. Whether it is in word or deed, sometimes I avoid who God has called me to be as a father and a leader.
1 Corinthians 13:11 comes to mind - "When I became a man, I gave up childish ways". God is calling all of us to rise into our identities as sons and daughters and put away childish things. And identity isn't formed in a vacuum. You don't simply decide who you want to be. Our identities are formed through attachments (a deep emotional bond that endures across space and time). And you and I are wired to attach. We are designed to form relationships. So in essence we are called to form a deeper bond with Jesus. That is because what we attach to forms our loves and what we love forms our identity. So let us rise in our identity by interacting and attaching with the Living God!
The last place we believe God is calling us to rise is in action. We felt strongly that it is time for us to embrace the vision of Normandy - to do what He called us to do:
This vision, which is something so big only God can do, will not happen unless we take action! We have to put our faith to the test, walk in our identity, and take seriously the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:17). And this year, we believe God is calling our family take action, to do work, and actually attempt to make disciples! It won't always be pretty or perfect, but by His grace we will see hundreds upon hundreds of men and women discipled and trained to become learners, followers, and reproducers.
Spirit of Adoption
One more thing... I am often asked in a not-so-direct way, "what makes Normandy unique?" Or another version, "why the heck plant another church in Dallas?" I am starting to believe it is because God wanted a church that would be marked by the Spirit of Adoption. I do not believe that everyone in our church will do foster care or adoption, but that our church would be marked with a type of love that brings people into their family. I believe that is this tool God has given to us, our weapon of warfare, is the Spirit of Adoption.
In his last sermon as an elder, Joshua Sorrows said that "it is easier to build a building and invite people to the building than it is to build a church by inviting people to become a part of your family." That is how God loves us - just as we are and not as we should be. He brings us, sinners, into His family. And I believe God has called us to use this tool, this Spirit of Adoption, to advance His kingdom by bringing people into our family.
God is speaking to us! The question is will you rise or will you fall back? Will you fight to exercise your faith or give up and live the standard Dallas life? Will you fight your demons and act like God is telling the truth about how He sees you? He is calling us to rise!