When an Open Door ISN’T from God

We've all heard about how we shouldn't freak out when God closes one door, right? "He'll always open another. Or a window. Just praise Him in the hallway." they'll say. But no one tells you how to determine if that tempting open door is from God...

Most would assume if there's nothing inherently wrong with said open door, then it must be opened by God. But I'm here to say I've seen Wide Open Doors that were very tempting, with their promises of better pay, nicer neighborhoods, closer to family, less stress, ease of transition, and on and on. I've yet to find scriptural evidence that American Dream promises are part of God's will for our lives. Many will listen to your predicaments and try to offer wise counsel but most will still just look for the easy path thinking that must be God's will because things are falling into place.

Don't get me wrong, if we look for it, God's hand will be on and in what He has called us to do. When we seek where He is already at work, we'll easily find a rough path He's already blazed. BUT that path may look like a jungle to those on the outside and not everyone's path will be cut the same.

After chasing Jesus to a new town to plant a church, having our space wiped out by a tornado, and then being portable for three years, to say finding God's will is a little complicated would be an understatement. Although our church plant is now four years old, we are still in infancy stage yet few of the resources of a genuinely new church plant are still available to us. With that being said, my hubs and I still feel God is not done in this city. In the midst of what God is doing in this city, we see our part of it still playing out. We decided to give up our salary in order to afford our new space and to do ministry through the valley.

In our efforts to still give most of our time to ministry, we have been seeking job opportunities that will allow us that flexibility and still bring in enough income to provide for our family. Enter two weeks ago, where I received a message about the opportunity to sell a product I'd been ingredient by for quite a while. I read the message, thought for a while, and talked with my hubs about it. I stared through the open door and saw all the pieces falling into place. I spoke with my friend on the phone and her enthusiasm was contagious. I saw the potential for this business to not only provide for my family but to accomplish the dreams I had for us in the future.

I signed up and started full force. I'm talking, worked my way through the daily start up suggestions, checking off boxes, listening to training's...lots of training's, and feeling good. After the boxes were nearing an end, only a few remained: Share your story. Sell to your friends. Build your team.

The one thing I lacked was -passion- for what was being sold. Don't hear me wrong, the business I signed up with is selling quality products that work, they have a great business model, and it pays well! I respect each women I know who works for them; which is one of the main reasons I chose to work with this business. I just couldn't get past my gut. As I began messaging friend and family, creating posts to publish, and talking about it with my missional community---it all flopped. It flopped not for lack of effort but because of my lack of passion. None of it set right. I started going through how I got started and where I went wrong in order to make me feel this way.

Confession: I didn't pray about it.

What the smack! The door was wide open. I stared straight into it. All the pieces fell into place. It was smooth. It was a wise financial move. It all made sense. And while tempting. It wasn't God's will. It answered so many of my prayers in a nice neat little package. I could even validate it with the potential to attain my honorable dreams for my family. But it still was not God's open door. for me. at this time.

I swallowed my nasty tasting mouthful of pride and quit. Yep. Lets just call it like it is and I Q.U.I.T. Oh, how I love being a flake, not following through with things, disappointing people, and quitting one more stankin' thing. {end sarcasm}

Today, this is me, waving at you from inside a different, slightly cracked, open door my hubs and I chose to walk through together. Sometimes walking in the light isn't as clear as we'd like. Sometimes God's will and provision isn't all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes His open door leads into the middle of town, in a box on wheels, where God can show intentional love in a bizarre way while ideally providing a little income for your family.

Say hello to...The Frozen Eagle shaved ice truck. What What! This new adventure is already proving to be a fun family endeavor that seems to have been opened by God!

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Adventure Awaits {in a shoebox}

In March of 2013, God launched the valley church here in Vilonia AR. He set us out with a mission to make disciples. We plan live in authentic community, learn biblical teaching, serve here in our area, as well as through go there, where ever that may be across the world to do just that.
Clipping along through the story of the valley and what God's doing, we come to April of 2014 when a crazy tornado swept through our town, destroying many things including the building we were leasing. That allowed us to get creative in how to serve our community during that really hard time. 

I share that all so you'll understand the awesomeness of the upcoming date! 

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Since the conception of the valley, part of our attempt to make disciples across the world was to partner with Samaritan's Purse to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes that serve as an amazing, door-opening, tool to share the gospel with children and their families. In the years we've been portable, we still chose to make it a priority to commit to this campaign. 

We have had to let go of a lot of things because it's just too hard to set up and tear down big stuff for just an hour and 1/2 service once a week. This year, I decided to make a BIG display to show the importance of this campaign to our church even if that means a lot of extra work. As a bonus, I think it's helping put a little cheer in our people's already generous hearts.

This week and last week, we collected TOYS! We collect the 5-7 weeks {depending on the year} in preparation for our Operation Christmas Child 2016 shoebox Packing Party.  This year it will be November 13th. Our goal is 60 boxes but I think we May just surpass that quickly...😳 Eeek!

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::Collection Schedule::
10-2&9: toys
10-16: hygiene items
10-23: school supplies
10-30: accessories & boxes
11-06: catch up, bring anything you missed
11-13: PACKING PARTY!!!

The biggest news!? We are shooting for hosting the packing party In. Our. NEW. Building.

This space to worship in and serve from is just one small way God has continually reminded us that He is not done in this city, through us. He has provided *opportunities to build new relation ships,*unique ways to keep serving, *new families to join in our mission, and *faithful ways for us keep making disciples locally and across the globe.

The adventure awaits! You just have to be willing to take part. God's story is so vast and He invites us into it; isn't that inconceivable?! For many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world, their hope of being apart of God's adventure awaits in a simple [Operation Christmas Child] shoebox gift that might just come from us...or you.

Adventure Awaits! How will you respond?

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She Is Priceless | Mercy House Global

As I sit in my well-organized house, wondering when the next life will intersect ours through foster care in my state, I long for the day that my life intersects with the rest of the globe as part of God's bigger story.

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I like being a small part in a bigger story. Knowing I'm a part of something bigger than myself, that it started before me and will carry on long after, and that God is in control on my most hectic days among it all. When I feel like I'm failing at this motherhood, wife-hood, christian-hood thing I need only to be reminded that what ails me is the rockiest of salts in a wound. Not the fine grit salt that gets in the more piercing slivers, lasting long after the application, creating a lifetime of pain and suffering. No no! My salt just rubs across the wound and in reality, just the anticipation that it might hurt is the worst of my agony. I know nothing of real suffering, me in my American dream world.

Today, May 10th might just seem like a random Tuesday to you but today is the day we need to learn about the women of this world who are Priceless. Those God is seeking to be apart of His story. Alongside you and I are women, created by the same Loving God who desires for their lives to be intersected by care. The kind of care that fosters changed-life in the name of Jesus. The kind of care that can only be explained by gracious love that redeems what has been wrecked.

“She Is Priceless” Is A Campaign To Make A Difference In The Lives Of Oppressed Women.

A pearl is a healed wound.  An oyster protects itself from irritation and suffering and the result is a priceless pearl.  The women these 5 organizations support have endured unthinkable suffering in their lives and often feel forgotten.  We are joining together to remind the world that every woman matters.

She Is Priceless.

This is an opportunity to get to know some of the life-changing organizations that are out there to intersect YOUR LIFE.

  1. Choose an organization from the list on this page
  2. Click learn more and donate to the cause of your choice
  3. Grab a free image to share on social media or take a “selfless selfie” with your favorite pearl jewelry and use the hashtag #putonyourpearls
  4. Link back to "She Is Priceless" directly to let people know how they can join the movement.

You may think that buying a bracelet is superficial, fashionable, or selfish but jewelry purchases made from the right place can be THE intersection where God crosses your life with the life of a women in desperate need on the other side of the globe. Not only do purchases like that feed her and her family, they provide sustainable and reputable jobs that bread confidence, creativity, and entrepreneurship that changes their life, their family's life, the community, and eventually our globe shrinks and you're standing hand-in-hand with world changers across God's big story. Think I'm exaggerating? Read more about the "Have Hope" women of Mercy House Global, OR the gazillions of other But God stories from Beauty For Ashes UgandaCaring For KorahJoyCorps, and Freedom Firm.

My #putonyourpearls selfie was taken with a gorgeous Rahab's Rope pearl necklace from Mercy House Global and Fair Trade Friday. I just joined the Earring Of The Month club.

How will you be a part of this day of giving?

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Enjoying My Supporting Roll in God’s Story

Two years ago, a traumatic thing happened in our small town- an F4/5 tornado took out most of the businesses, tons of home including an entire neighborhood, and many lives were lost. This happened just over a year after my husband and I moved our family here to plant The Valley church.

We constantly pray for God to teach us how live missionally: to love the community we live in, show new ways of share His love right where people are at in their lives, and grant us favor so door will be open to lead people to Him. That night in April, God handed us just that, on a filthy, demolished platter perfect for serving the hurt and searching town He sent us here to server.

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The days following the storm, my husband and I were overwhelmed with the support from all the networks we had been apart of, long and short term. I was too much to keep up with. I often felt like I'd been given this huge responsibility and I was failing by not being able to manage all the help He was sending our way. Things have slowed down over the past two years...well, in comparison to those crazy couple months to after the storm.

This year as I scrolled through my archived private messages and "memories" on Facebook, I was overcome with guilt all over again. How I didn't answer some of the lost messages from friends and acquaintances, timeline post I wasn't sure I handed well enough, and most of all the lack of appreciation I didn't show those how fought through the pile off notifications to help us. I had high hopes of sending formal Thank You cards, letters of how prayers were answered, gifts were used, and just how very loved I felt. Even now, satan is making my insides hurt with remorse because I am so VERY thankful to be a minor character in this beautiful thing we are living.

God has taken these two years to reassure me that while we are all just supporting rolls, in God's story, that all points to Jesus, they're all important I have shared before that I often give up on things because I see someone else doing it, and likely way better. BUT God has plans and invites us to join the adventure of going on it with Him.  We aren't called us to compare ourselves to others but rather support one another's part in the story.

Don't become arrogant when God's story starts playing out in front of you.

That's where focus is changed from what's most important or players get pulled.

Don't forget that the sun doesn't revolve around you.

The ONE who created light without that sun is where our focus should remain so we stay in the light.

Keep at the front of your mind, that EVERY story in this world points back to Jesus; whether it's acknowledged or not.

I want to make sure the story I'm in gives all glory where it belongs.

I guarantee you that this high schooler in our town was organizing volunteers sent her direction way better than I was. BUT God sent certain people along my path in life for such a time as this. He ask that I play a part in their story involving my town.

I know many of the women who worked the Play Place with me after the storm could have run it better, shared our story better, and accomplished more. BUT God ask that I run with it amidst my poor relational, communication, and organizational skills.

I promise, there were hundreds of other kids in our town that could have offered input on the new playground. BUT God saw fit to have my daughter and I as part of that planning team.

From schools, trips, camps, ministries, neighborhoods, and places we've passed through in live all showed up when God was ready for things to pan out that He's been writing since before I was born. Do you ever feel like you're not playing the part you want in the story of life? Be encouraged! Every [seemingly] small part in a story is valued.

When God ask you to play a repetitive, type-cast roll, Say Yes! When God invites you to play an unexpected drop-in roll, Say Yes! Because you never know when your story will change and there will be a big BUT GOD right after your YES!

Enjoying My Supporting Roll in God's Story

Thank you, to at least 2 different countries, 14 different states, 37 different US towns, and MORE than 61+ different friends/acquaintances who shared a part in our Vilonia Tornado chapter through asking for prayer from their friends, collecting donations, sending necessities/gift cards/monetary support, delivered items, helped with clean up, and so much more! It's so humbling to be connect to each of you and really hope I didn't miss anyone. These are just the names I could find on my Facebook timeline and private message history not including my husbands:

  1. Brittany Thompson- Ervington, AL
  2. Kelsey Harris- Arkadelphia, AR
  3. Danna Magness-  Batesville, AR
  4. Morgan Smith- Batesville, AR
  5. Shadrack and Mellissa Black- Batesville, AR
  6. Amy Howard- Benton, AR
  7. Kathryn Doland- Bethel Heights, AR
  8. Jessica Colley- Centerton, AR
  9. Kim Stiles- Conway, AR
  10. Morgan Williams- Conway, AR
  11. Molly Jones- Conway, AR
  12. Janna Chaffin- Dalton, AR
  13. Cheryl Patterson- El Dorado, AR
  14. Craig Herring- El Dorado, AR
  15. Dana Rumph- El Dorado, AR
  16. Deedra Nash- El Dorado, AR
  17. Wanda Deason- El Dorado, AR
  18. Hannah Henderson- Fayetteville, AR
  19. Kelly Malancon- Fayetteville, AR
  20. Sally Acosta- Fayetteville, AR
  21. Johnathan Stoner- Floral, AR
  22. Brandi Shinn- Greenbrier, AR
  23. Cristin Jensen- Greenbrier, AR
  24. Terri Nicholson- Greenbrier, AR
  25. Amy Whisenhunt- Greenland, AR
  26. Cindy Brantly- Little Rock, AR
  27. Shane Harris- Little Rock, AR
  28. Samantha Grant- Magnolia, AR
  29. April Winn- Marmaduke, AR
  30. Cathey Griffin- Parker's Chapel, AR
  31. Fran Brotherton- Parker's Chapel, AR
  32. Heather Gilmore- Parker's Chapel, AR
  33. Jennifer McNab- Parker's Chapel, AR
  34. Rita Snow- Parker's Chapel, AR
  35. Rob and Amanda Waggoner- Parker's Chapel, AR
  36. Julie Beavers- Pine Bluff, AR
  37. Jessy Cutrell- Star City, AR
  38. Doreen Keim- Siloam Springs, AR
  39. Ashley Hall- Strickler, AR
  40. Anja Spadoni- White Hall, AR
  41. Candace Achorn- White Hall, AR
  42. Shannon Paldino- Orlando, FL
  43. Kate Stoner- Keokuk, IA
  44. Jam'e Brown- Wichita, KS
  45. Katie Archer-, Ruston, LA
  46. Rebecca Dorobis- Rockport, MA
  47. Patrick Sherrill- Alpena, MI
  48. Karen DeBeus- Hope, NJ
  49. Sami Roe- Midwest City, OK
  50. Scott Jenkins- Norman, OK
  51. Edna Cain- Sapulpa, OK
  52. Betty Lin-Fisher- Akron, OH
  53. MaryAnn Waltz- Milford, OH
  54. Kathy Metivier- TX
  55. Christine Hurt- Orem, UT
  56. Abigail Assam- Lynchburg, VA
  57. Heather Rennie- Aberdeen, Scotland
  58. Jenny Sim- Aberdeen Scotland
  59. Rachael Underwood- Insch. United Kingdom
  60. Betty Pennington- ?
  61. Justin and Crystal Murphy- ?

 Thank You for playing your part in God's story!!!

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On Andy Stanley and The Size of Your ‘Church’

I believe Andy Stanley's statement hit a cord with so many in a negative way because there IS an [element] of true in it and as most things that sting, it's because there's a hint of personal guilt.

*PERSONAL JOURNEY* October 14, 2012 Alpharetta - Andy Stanley preaches during the 9 a.m. worship service at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta on Sunday, October 14, 2012. Andy Stanley, whose father was the most powerful preacher in Atlanta, has now become the most powerful preacher in Atlanta. His North Point collection of churches has 30,000 members, and is growing.In his new book, "Deep and Wide, " he tells the story of growing up in the shadow of Charles Stanley, preacher at First Baptist, of the conflict that led to him breaking away to start his own church, and of his subsequent rise to lead the biggest congregation in the city, and one of the biggest in the country. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Stanley said:

When I hear adults say, “Well I don’t like a big church, I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,” I say, “You are so stinking selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids [or] anybody else’s kids”… If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church. Instead… you drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church. They go to college, and you pray that there will be a church in the college town that they connect with. Guess what? All those churches are big.

Read more of what Andy said HERE or listen to the full sermon HERE

Faced with the online outcry, Stanley apologized on Twitter, saying “The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend's message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize.”

A wise WISE friend once told me something beyond profound when I message her about a big hurt someone had caused me with what they said. Fully expecting her to defend me, be upset with the other person, and tell me how right I was and therefore wrong they were she did something even better for me, in the long run.

She said, "Well, first I think you need to step back and see if there is any truth in their statement. Then you can decide if that truth means you need to fix something. If so, do it and move on. If there is no truth in the statement, move on without worry." Then she went on to give me her opinion like a sweet friend after being the spiritual guiding friend I needed first.

The question in this situation seems to be: Did Andy Stanley mis-speak OR call us out as The Church?

Don't get me wrong, I think there was a lot of false doctrine in his un-thought-out statements. That happens to the best of us when we're not careful.

  • "Church" isn't something you do or somewhere you go. It's the group of people who have become bond-servants of Christ. I so wish this one would sink in for us and a LOT of our misconceptions would be fixed.
  • 20, 200, 0,2000, or 20,000 are all just a number and each can serve a purpose in The Kingdom's work. Just like in business, there are benefits on both the sides of large and small.
  • The next generation doesn't necessarily need what a larger church. Not every large church is Bionically sound just as not every small church is.
  • Division by age, stage-of-life, gender, or any other qualifier is often the easiest way to manage large groups of people rarely the BEST for them. Maybe we could use RACE as an example here and see how that played out for us.
  • Mega/large churches are a fairly new commodity and it will take years to have any concrete studies on wither or not there are long-term benefits OR detriments. In reference to this specific topic, that means, we have no real proof if children will grow into adults who love or hate church [attendance] based on the size of their church.
  • If you are dragging your child to church, that highly indicates other issues...not with your church. Most studies indicate THE main factor found in those who leave the church is a hypocritical lifestyle lived by parents/those raising them. Meaning, living one way at home and another in front of others, ie The Church.
  • When you send your child to college, if you have taught them to group themselves only based on self-service and who looks, talks, sounds, etc like them, then of course, a larger church is where they will have the most likelihood to find such a group. But people become "dechurched", leaving church from mega and small churches.

If you were like me and initially offended by what Andy Stanley said, I think there are some questions that need to be ask.

  • Do you have the wrong view of what The Church is and what it's purpose is?
  • Are you proud of or embraced by the average attendance of your Sunday morning service? {either can be unhealthy}
  • Are you intentionally keeping your part of The Church small for selfish reasons?
  • Do you enjoy knowing 'everyone' and therefor selfishly don't care if you reach out to know [or MORE] people?
  • Are you living missionally {intentionally for The Kingdom}, chasing the lost even if that means you might have to share you church/christian club?
  • Is the effort to lead more people to Christ more important to you than the number of members your church has?
  • Do you worry about giving your children everything they 'want' rather than 'need', contributing to the entitled generation?
  • Do you attend your current church based on what it offers you and your family or based on sound Biblical reasoning?
  • Do you group you and others like a preKer sorting by colors, size, shape, and purpose when it comes to church and other facets of your life?
  • Are you bothered by small children "disturbing" the church service with typical childish behavior?
  • Do your children enjoy attending church service? Are they apart of The Church? What's the real factor there?
  • Is your church partnering WITH you [not for you] to train-up your children in the ways of following Christ?
  • Are you fully preparing your children to chase after Christ and His will for their future or are you guarding them in hopes of them leading a watered down, comfortable version of the 'christian' American Dream?

 

I know Andy's statements made me have to reevaluate a lot of this stuff. I hope you'll mull over both sides for you and your family as well. Your thoughts on the matter?

 

 

Related articles about the DechurchedMissional Living, and Church Planting.

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