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The Beauty of Letting Go

Erik Cooper —  November 11, 2010 — Leave a comment

My 11 year old daughter flew out early this morning with her grandmother as a business trip tag-along. Helping man the Mission of Mercy booth at a women’s conference in southern Massachusetts earned her a plane ticket and a few days hookie from school.

She just called me from their layover in the DC airport. “Dad, we saw the Capitol Building!  And the White House! And the Washington monument off in the distance! Even took some pictures!”

She sounded so grown up. So confident. So sure of herself. Off living an adventure without mom and dad for the first time in her life.

That’s the beauty of letting go (even though a trip with Grandma is hardly much of a risk).  The older she gets, the less she will need me to guide and direct the steps of her everyday life.  The more she’ll be able to stand on her own, make some decisions, do the right things, and write her own story.

I’m beginning to morph from a voice barking orders and dictating her schedule (although I must confess, I do occasionally bark).  Hopefully, a piece of me now actually lives inside of her, and her choices are becoming guided from the inside out. Not just from my pre-scripted playbook.

That’s what God promises us, too. He’s not just a set of rules for us to live by.  He longs to send the Spirit of His Son, Jesus Christ, to live inside of us. To re-shape our desires.  To guide our choices.  To shape our adventure into everything He created it to be. From the inside-out.

“You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, ‘Papa! Father!'” (Gal. 4:6 MSG)

Honduras Day 2

Erik Cooper —  June 14, 2010 — 6 Comments

Every great adventure needs an element of danger, right? Well today we got it (unless you’re the parent of one of our younger team members or someone who may want to travel with us here to La Ceiba at some point in the future. Then, uhhhh…I’m just making all this up).

The day started simply.  Sundays are slow in Honduras, so the plan was to use our free hours in preparation for the intensity of the rest of the week. We rehearsed for our programs with the kids, sorted all our supplies, and prepped the crafts.  Then we headed out for an early dinner and a trip to a Honduran church service at one of our partner locations.

The sun sets early here in Honduras, but as the warm rays disappeared over the mountains, we noticed it seemed even darker than usual.  The electricity was out.  And not just for our area of the city, but for the entire country of Honduras.

All of Honduras was pitch black.

This became clearer and clearer as we neared the church in a primitive, poverty stricken slum on the outskirts of the city.  Rick Mitchell, the Mission of Mercy VP travelling with us, expressed his growing concern.  It was too dangerous for us to stay very long in this darkness. A bus full of Americans in these conditions was simply asking for trouble.

We decided to exit briefly with a small number of the team to greet the pastor and packed house waiting for us in the blackness of this one room, dirt-floor church.  The faces of the children glowed brighter than flickering candles.  The singing, cheering, and clapping nearly drowned out the darkness. It was a moment.

Crash!

A rock from an angry neighbor crashed against the tin roof of the church reverberating like a shotgun.  The entire room jumped at the sound.  But the singing never stopped.  Almost as if they expected it.

We did not.  Time to go.

We quickly greeted the beautiful faces hidden in the dark, hot room and then headed for the bus.  Hasta martes.  Nos vemos en martes. (we’ll see you on Tuesday).

Then somehow, in the rush of people, two of our team members accidentally ran into their sponsored child! Little Anna Sanchez appeared out of the masses of people to shyly embrace the Browns.  As we grabbed for cameras to capture the moment, the pastor suddenly and emphatically insisted, “es hora de irse. (it’s time for you to go).  They quickly pushed us onto the bus and our driver, a native Honduran, hit the gas like the Dukes of Hazzard outrunning Rosco P. Coltrane.

We’re still not sure exactly what went down, but in these blackout conditions, poverty-stricken areas already more prone to crime, can become very dangerous.  Word spreads fast and there’s no doubt the pastor of this beautiful little church was feeling a spiritual darkness moving in among the physical.

We’re all back safely in our hotel and the power has returned to Honduras.  Thankful for the Mission of Mercy leaders who work so diligently for our safety.  But then again, who said the Kingdom of God was safe?

Bienvenidos a Honduras.

I find myself somewhat reflective today.  CityCom is one (as in years old).  This “grand experiment,” this “adventure in Indy” we call City Community Church officially came to life one year ago today: March 1, 2009.  It’s still so surreal in such a beautiful sort of way.

But today there is no cake, no gifts, no party. Some birthday, huh?

Maybe we’re overly-sensitive, but we’re cautious of celebrating existence. Existence, just being here, really doesn’t mean much in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, God doesn’t really look too kindly on just existing.

Check out Jesus’ words from Luke 13 (emphasis mine):

6-7Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?

8-9“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.‘”

To put CityCom’s birthday in Jesus’ terms: we don’t want to celebrate that the tree is still standing, we only want to celebrate if it’s actually producing good fruit.

So, no church growth statistics today (although a few of them might impress you). Just people. Beautiful people. That’s what I want to celebrate.

People taking “one step closer to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

People accepted for who they are, but challenged to become all God created them to be.

People embracing a journey of risk, adventure, and transformation.

People longing to know what it means to be The Church, not just go to church.

This is the fruit. The fruit we long for.  The fruit that we celebrate.  The fruit we desperately hope is pleasing to God.  And we’re seeing signs of it.  Beginnings.  “Buds.”

I’m so grateful to all of you who, in one way or another, have made City Community Church come to life.  May we bear much fruit. One year down, and the adventure is just beginning.