Revived

Can these bones live?

God can raise up our dusty dreams, our brittle hopes, our valleys full of discarded ideas. The Spirit breathes on us. He burns away what we don’t need anymore. He revives what we thought was dead.

Maybe you have carried with you dead limbs, negative words and curses spoken over you throughout your life that have held you down, and made you doubt your value. Maybe you carry around shame from your past, or shame at who others believed you were. Maybe you carry around lies that are so wound up in your identity that they have become comfortable covers under which to hide.

Jesus died to set you free of all of that. He gives his life to you. He gives his strength and courage and righteousness to you. He lifts you up and renames you.

It’s Ascension Week, and we are celebrating Jesus’ return to Heaven. So in the words of the song from the musical “Hamilton” we rise. We rise with Jesus. We rise up from dead limbs. We rise up from dusty valleys of negativity. We rise up from shame, we rise up from lies, we rise up from the burdens of the curses that were put upon us. We rise up with Jesus and LIVE!

Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up

Standing up like Jesus

I saw a quote the other day. It said:

“Christians need to stop standing up for Jesus, and start standing up like Jesus.”

That’s my prayer this week. I’m praying for the words and the heart and the wisdom to be salt and light. I’m praying for the gentle kind of love that turns people away from ugliness and drives them towards God’s embrace. I’m praying for justice, for a thirst for justice that parches the Christian community and leaves them panting for real refreshment. Jesus places the people on the margins, the borders, the edges of community in the center of his relationship. He gives each person dignity. How can I be more like that?

The biggest challenge we face, every day, is to shine light into the darkest corners of our own hearts. I have my selfish moments. I have my fears. I have my judgments. What does it mean to give those up, leave those things behind and follow Jesus? Are we changed people? Is there anything different, softer, more true about who we are and what we do because we know him?

I want, I desperately want, that answer to be yes!

In an “age of outrage” (a term from Ed Setzer), the church has great potential to paint a different picture, of a different way. The church can paint a beautiful picture of God’s Kingdom Grace if it chooses to demonstrate sacrificial, hard, unwarranted acts of love. The church is us. We can be examples of God’s love and redemption when we do the hard things, and love in the hard places.

Lord, make me a means of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (St. Francis Assisi)

 

For the Love…

“A branch is simply a bit of wood, brought forth by the vine for the one purpose of serving it in bearing its fruit. It is of the very same nature as the vine, and has one life and one spirit with it. Just think a moment of the lessons this suggests. There is the lesson of entire consecration. The branch has but one object for which it exists, one purpose to which it is entirely given up. That is, to bear the fruit the vine wishes to bring forth. And so the believer has but one reason for his being a branch–but one reason for his existence on earth –that the heavenly Vine may through him bring forth His fruit.” (Andrew Murray)

We have a purpose: to bear fruit. The sap, the life, comes from the vine. But our job is to be pliable and responsive to God’s pruning, to grow stronger, to allow Jesus to fill us up, and to give ourselves over to the great amount of fruit God has planned.

The central work of God is the work of sacrificial love. It’s not a love of equal relationships, or community respect, or of dinner obligations. God’s work of love in Jesus reaches out to show the world a love that is unearned, undeserved, and sometimes unreciprocated. This is the transformative kind of love that can even lead to death. We are witnesses with the disciples to the love of Jesus Christ. Through his love, through loving others IN HIM, we will be able to bear great fruit in this world, to the glory of God!

The Dream

Technically, it’s still winter.

Here it has been a relatively mild season, and today the sun seems as strong as the cold. I’d imagine that’s not going to last. January in Michigan is still January.

We are done dreaming of a white Christmas. Now we are dreaming a bigger dream, a better dream.

We are dreaming the dream of peace.

We are dreaming the dream of justice.

We are dreaming the dream of love.

Jesus came into the world to bring the seeds of these dreams, the spores of God’s Hessed, his Right Relationship, his Community of Wholeness.

Come with us, as we live into this Kingdom of God. Come with us, as we speak grace and hope, as we bring GOOD NEWS.

Jesus came, saying:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

Good news. Freedom. Recovery. Favor.

Do not be discouraged or distracted by the words of the world. Be transformed and transforming! The Holy Spirit will renew us together in the love of Jesus Christ!

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

It’s beginning to look a lot like it’s time for the Messiah to come!

Every generation sees people in pain. Every generation feels the effects of sin and the sadness of calamity. Every generation hopes for the Lord.

It takes faith to hope for Jesus. It takes faith to look out at the suffering in this broken world, and believe that God loves his children and wants his creation to flourish. It takes faith.

In Hebrews Chapter 11 it says:

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

God prepared the way for Jesus through the faith of generations of believers. The faithful did not all see the fulfillment of their hope. Later on in Hebrews 11 it says:

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

They may not have all seen the completion of God’s plan, but the promises of God are certain. At the perfect time, Jesus came to his people in a way that no one could expect, to a people who were desperately waiting and praying for deliverance.

God is preparing the way for Jesus to come again, through us! You and I may be imperfect, we may be broken, we may feel small or weak or mediocre. In God’s eyes, however, we are each planned and strategic instruments of his grace. He hears our prayers for deliverance. He hears our hope for this broken and suffering world. He is making a way.

It takes hope. It takes faith to get up every morning and pray for the Lord to come!

This Advent, pray and believe that his will be done and his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven! He is faithful, and will do it!

Quiet Space

It’s the height of summer. The breeze trickles in over the blanket of humidity, making tiny ripples in the air and through the leaves. I’m watching out the window. A car slowly drives by. The grass grows. I find myself daydreaming about the lake, or the campfire, or the woods. I find myself waiting. I am waiting for a quiet space. I can physically feel my own restlessness. It seems like there is so much to do; except I haven’t taken time to do the most important thing.

Until we stop to do the most important thing, until we stop and acknowledge God, we can’t be still. God is the center of our concentration. God is the center of our productivity. Our focus comes directly from him.

In Jesus’ ministry, prayer comes first. The presence of God IS the ministry.

Mark 1:35 – In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Mark 6:24 – After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

Luke 5:15 – But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

We, too, need our time on the mountain and in the wilderness, in the watches of the night and in the pre-dawn quiet. This isn’t just a vacation need. We require the daily food that comes from time spent in the presence of God. We need that even on the busy days. We need that especially on the busy days.
I pray that for all of you this week… that your busy times will be centered in the peace and quiet of Jesus Christ. Let him fill you with all serenity within your work this week. May your work be truly productive and molded to the purposes of God!
Peace and Joy,
Pastor Traci

 

May the First be with you!

I am thanking God for this amazing day!

We have survived a long winter here at the Drive-In. But this is certainly a beautiful reward for perseverance. Worshiping the Lord in the glories of the spring reminds me of promise. It reminds me of resurrection! We will one day be in that fully restored creation, in a new earth, with resurrection bodies that don’t hurt, and with no reason for grief or loss. These times on earth are a glimpse of that.

If you have never been to the Woodland Drive-In Church before, COME AND SEE! There is no better time to meet God, where you are, as you are, in the beauty of his creation!

We have much new life to be thankful for at the church right now, beginning with this new website! I hope it becomes a tool of outreach, but also a way for us to connect during the week. Our Children’s Church grows each month, bringing activity and joy to the whole community! We just celebrated our many volunteers with a beautiful recognition dinner! And more good things are on the horizon! God is PRESENT with us in this journey.

Now is the time of great harvest. The love of Jesus is hope in a world that needs hope, purpose for people who need purpose, and healing in a place of struggle. When things look dark, we look to the true light. Because really, there is so much promise and potential in the world around us! We can’t grow weary now of doing good! Now is the moment to do more!

It’s funny, a lot of the verses about “doing good” are actually directed at women. I think it is a recognition of the unseen work, the unannounced love. But the charge is for us all. GOD ALREADY LOVES US TO THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT! We don’t try to win God’s love. We DO bear fruit.

We bear fruit keeping with our love for the one who loves us.

That is my prayer for all of you this week. Bear fruit!

It is my prayer for the church. Bear fruit!

“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

May you persevere this week, in all of God’s grace, to serve him in all that you do!

Much Love in Christ,

Pastor Traci

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website! The sun shines for longer, the deep freeze begins to thaw, the birds begin their echoing game of Marco Polo. It’s the season of Lent. We can’t see the promise yet, but it is coming. God is coming. God is coming to his people.

Through this season, we traditionally think about turning back to God. The Hebrew people called out to God, and he knew them. He rescued them. He dwelt with them. I encourage you to cry out to him this week. Confess your heart-sins. Give him those burdens. Let him know your fears. He will know us and rescue us and dwell with us, too!

Isaiah 43:1-3

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

For some of us this is a season of promise. For some of us this is a season of loss. At the Drive-In, we are traveling this road together. But this world is not our home. Travel with us through the raging seas. Travel with us into the desert wilderness. Wait with us on our God, who is faithful!

Grace and Peace to you in Jesus Christ!

Pastor Traci