This moved my world tonight. Elevation Church has moved incredible mountains for Christ, and this is evidence of their passion and relentless pursuit of following and making followers of Christ. I’m speechless. No words – just tears.
Do you ever have brain freezes over a single word? A word that makes you ponder amazingly deep and profound ideas? It’s the power of a word. The momentum, the possibility of a verb, a noun, an adjective.
My recent juncture found me deep in thought over a single noun: “Ambassador.”
Ambassador. The dictionary grips my heart and translates this moment best with part three and four, of it’s definition:
3. An authorized messenger or representative.
4. An unofficial representative, “an ambassador of goodwill.“
Many adjectives come to mind when I heard this word in my heart. “Brand” Ambassador – as mentioned on my favorite reality show, Celebrity Apprentice by the hunky chef Curtis Stone.
We even have “National Ambassadors” given to the heads of nations.
When my parents were growing up, their youth were called C.A’s for “Christ’s Ambassadors”. If they were here reading this article, they would be lifting their hands in the air with hippy movement, singing a song that sounds like “Kumbaya’s” cousin.
When I was growing up, my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag accompanied me each summer to “Camp Ambassador.” We didn’t have a special song, but we did sing and have a competition for ‘Camp Queen.’ And I humbly wore the “runner up” title to my friend, Haley “future Miss America contestant” Spates…who at age make-me-sick-seven could sing perfectly like Sandi Patti. Ahhh, not bitter, nope not one bit. (haha! Haley is a dear friend, even still today, which makes our memories even sweeter!) Our election speeches were given on the back of a big old camp bus, called “The Glory Land Express.” Mine went something like this, “Hi my name is Jennifer, I’m from cabin number seven, if you vote for me, you’ll go to Heaven.” The little preacher even in 5th grade – guess you can see why “Sandi” won the crown that summer!
So this idea. Ambassador. Pounding in my heart. I responded as usual. Scribbled the word out on a 3×5 index card and jabbed it to a bulletin board for some pondering. My thoughts immediately went to charity, evangelism, missions and discipleship, which I sub-jotted below the giant word with my fine tip sharpie. A month later I realize why this blog has been in “draft mode” since April 17th. God has been preparing me for something greater than my own human mind could surmise as a meaning for that simple index card. He has opened the door wide for me to become what I can only imagine to be the greatest type of ambassador possible, a “Prayer Ambassador.”
Three weeks ago today, on May 11th, a journey began for me that has truly “renewed a right spirit in me.” The Lord simply asked me to launch a “call to prayer” and start a facebook group for a friend in my church who was having severe post childbirth complications, which developed into a blood disorder. She is still in the hospital. Her baby girl, who’s name is ‘Journey’ is out of the hospital doing wonderful! My friend however is still in need of a miracle. I was not sure who would join me in the prayer initiative, if any. Honestly, it felt like a crazy irrational, emotional idea but I pushed through that great wall of doubt and on Tuesday night at 7pm, the invitation opened and I sat hoping for “one or at least, God, please let there be two” who would join me! I literally started sweating and hoping for people to join me in this “if my people” type of cause. I’m super excited to say three weeks today, we have over two thousand who have joined our “little prayer group.” Look what God can do! Nothing less than a perfect miracle, and His amazing Glory working though us!
All God asks is for obedient hearts, and in return there are blessings beyond measure! We think we have to be the ones to bring the “measure” – but we are so wrong. We could NEVER accomplish His Measure! Not even if we tried. I have been overwhelmed by how much God can do with so little. What is the “little” that God is asking of you? The little whisper, the little thought? The one that seems so insignificant, that would surely be idiotic or crazy or worse…unimportant? Trust today my friend, that God is looking for those things…not our twelve hours of labor and sacrifice, he wants the small and insignificant things, so he can prove to us His Might, His Worth, and His Glory — through us.
This morning I woke up like any other Sunday, stumbling into the kitchen around 8ish, grabbing the airtight canister of my Starbucks Guatemala Antigua beans, with their “subtle cocoa texture and gentle spice flavors,” to help percolate my morning. With the beans freshly ground, and my Hamilton Beach coffee carafe filling up, I then turn around to prepare the oven for my 30-year standing Sunday morning tradition (thanks Dad and mom) of Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls, with icing. Yes, the 8-pack kind in the round refrigerated can. Mmmmmm. A tasty combo.
But as the morning progressed closer to our go-time, the subtle cocoa texture kicking in my brain alerted me that my millionaire man was not hopping into to his regular routine. “Bless his heart” the guy strained a big-bad muscle at work Friday morning, had to take a trip to the Doc and get some meds & has spent the major part of the weekend rotating shifts with the heating pack. Last night we went to our other job, “facilities management” (i.e. cleaning the church) and I think he over did it. Having just cranked up iTunes Radio to some get-me-going worship, I canceled my 20 minute makeup session with Mary Kay and sent texts to alert the media that we would not be in our usual ‘front row’ seats for morning worship. Then I settled in for Plan B: a long-loved adventure with going to church online.
Being the marketing thinker that I am, I started wondering ‘How in the world did I ever stumble onto Gateway Church Live today?’ Ok, lets trace back my (insert crazy backwards ‘Shorewood‘ YouTube video) random twitter clicking steps using a numeric list…
1. The ultimate “click” to Gateway Live, came when I spotted my new ‘follow’ Vince Marotte, @locustfist on Twitter, saying ‘we’re live @ gateway.”
2 which really was led by me logging into Tweetie and seeing a precious digital friend (we met through twitter last year, i think tweeting about reality TV?) – posting that SHE was visiting LifeChurch.TV (I am an avid fan of Craig Groschel’s weekly podcasts), and I thought OH yeah, that’s what i can do today – go to church online!! And I then I had a feeling that I wanted to look into a NEW place. —-> immediately after that post was Vince’s link to gateway, and I thought, “Okay, lets see…”
3. But why was I following @locustfist to begin with? Well, He’s a guest contributor for a new site I discovered just over a week ago, which I am absolutely enamored with called ChurchCrunch. I’ve even logged in on a few intense debate discussions, because i love it sooo much. yes churchcrunch.com, “like” – click.
4. What made me inspired to follow VM on TWTTR anyway? this article, of course.
5. What made that article so special? An end of the year “perspectives list” and conversation with God and my millionaire man, that my Greatest Focus in this new year should revolve around all things Voice – my ‘au natural, who am I down at the core, what did God create me to do’ gift. The first few days reflecting in the new year, I simply could not get past this term/concept “Voice.” I just kept hearing that one word. Nothing else. Whatever that truly encompasses- time will tell. But for this moment, the Church Crunch article struck a ‘vocal’ chord (haha) in me.
6. But how did I come to find this beloved ChurchCrunch? Glad u asked. Besides the fact that I love combining church with technology, what led me there? Well, I’ve been an active RSS-er of TechCrunch, a site for all things tech. For me it’s truly like trying to dog paddle through the Atlantic Ocean, but I find the ‘sparkly water’ of the tech world intriguing and exhilarating. And as I usually do, I pop in occasionally to ‘get my tech on.’ But 8 days ago, I opened the RSS link to watch the Crunchies (because for some reason winning awards and watching Award Shows just flips my pancakes!) I was so jazzed and ready to watch some great award ceremony, with shiny gold statues, and grand finale music, wardrobe changes, and out of this world graphics and lighting! Aaaahhhh!! — But, No-Can-Do, ultra geeks, I guess a little pomp and circumstance is not your thing. Needless to say, my twitter ranting says it all…disappointing indeed! While my TechCrunch RSS is still active, watching the Crunchies will never be on my list of things to do again, ever.
(hang on – i’m getting somewhere)
7. …so I’m so ticked with the disappointment of my Tech world lack-luster award show and I started thinking that night (Eight days ago) – I REALLY wish the CHURCH would offer some kind of “ChurchCrunch?” Man, that would be super cool – I wonder if someone already has? Google search. click. Really? Wow! sweet. An new RSS, that I even ‘allow’ to pop into my inbox!! Love it.
8. But I know by now you are wondering…But Jenn, what led you to go all techie and watch the Crunchies to begin with? Glad u asked. After surfing back through, my twitter clicks – I found where it all started…Da da da dummmm. Here, with this post, from @davidrussell – my all time techHero (2nd’d to dad, of course, the techGenius). The music is playing and a super-model like figure presents the lovely statue to our winner, but this time, Kanye is NOT allowed in the building. My ‘little’ brother, @davidrussell is a greatly anointed minister and church techie. I am certainly following his footsteps with this whole technology in the church thing. But I realized today, that my steps into ‘one of the greatest internet campus experiences I have ever had’ with @g8wayaustin, can be traced back 8 days ago to one little inspirational tweet. Thanks Dave. ~
There are so many articles, forums, blogs & coffee shop chats about church online, i.e. “Internet Campuses” – bottom line: Can they truly achieve real fellowship (church speak for social interaction or community)? Well, my fellow digital coffee shop friend sitting across from me today, I would have to ask – Have you ever been to an internet campus?? You’ll have to see this for yourself…
Personal Reflections about Gateway Live:
I’m not sure, but I think this might be a sort of new project for them, with a bit of beta testing, the graphics and interface were seamless and eye-appealing. I was actually overwhelmed at one point with a real sense, an actual feeling, of Community and belonging. It was definitely Holy Spirit inspired and anointed. the people/leaders in the “room” had huge caring hearts and a knack for socializing. First Impression: through the roof!
The lead pastor, whom I have never seen before or heard of, is a fabulous orator, I really enjoyed listening to his voice. He comes across very balanced, maybe even low key, like polite and poised, but from his message, we hear that he is all together like the rest of us creative peps, high strung and easily distracted.
A few thoughts from Pastor John Burke’s Message this AM @ Gateway Church life.
“if peter can be deceived – anyone can be deceived” Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way…psalm 139:23-24