Community

Keep Showing Up

There's no magic potion to walking in freedom. Most days it's just putting one foot in front of the other, as we discover more of our inheritance in Christ, being renewed by every revelation that we unearth in the richness of HIs great love.

"If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard his truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus! And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self-life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him!” Ephesians 4:21-24 TPT

The truth is, we simply have to keep showing up to our own lives, taking responsibility for our heart, emotions, thoughts, and actions with Jesus and with one another. There's an old song by Sara Groves called, Just Showed Up For My Own Life, and it couldn't explain better what it takes to walk in the life that we already have in Jesus.

Spending my time sleep walkin'
Movin' my mouth but not saying a thing
Hopin' the changes would take
By workin' their way from the outside in

I was in love with an idea
Preoccupied with how a life should appear
Spending my time at the surface
Repairing the holes in a shiny veneer

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up
For my own life
And I'm standin' here takin' it in
And it sure looks bright

I remember first hearing that song years ago and feeling wide awake to the possibilities; that freedom was actually possible. I also began to understand that community was designed as a context for transformation. The authors of Gospel Centered Community say it like this, “The agent of sanctification is the Holy Spirit. The tool of sanctification is the truth of the Gospel. And the context of sanctification is community.”

I love family dinner. Something crazy and profound almost always takes place at the table. The table represents a place of conversation, connection, learning and communion. We change when we keep showing up to our own life and to the table with others.

We have a choice every single day. Here is an excerpt from my book, She Is Free.

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"Family dinner in our house can get pretty crazy. There’s laughter, stories, interruptions, prayer, life decisions, jokes, inappropriate behavior (the phrases “butt cheek” and “booty” come from our youngest more times than I’d like to admit), tears, discipline, encouragement, and, of course, food. The table is a place where we engage as a family. Our children get to tell stories and discuss what’s important to them, as do we. We talk about our highs and lows of the day and encourage each other as we go around the table. We teach our kids that interrupting doesn’t bring honor and that some behavior is not for the table. Sometimes, a poor attitude or poor behavior will keep one of our children from coming to the table until they are ready to engage. They know that there is always a place for them there; they are a part of the family.

In order to step into the fullness and freedom of what God has for every one of us, we need to cultivate a willingness to approach His table and engage with family. There will be laughter, tears, encouragement, confrontation, life decisions, and, most of all, a safe place for you to be yourself in the presence of God. At the table, you will learn your identity as a son or daughter of the Most High God. But you have to choose whether you’re willing to come to the table to engage in your personal transformation.

There will be days when you’ll feel like it and days when you won’t. Many times we disqualify ourselves from coming to the table because of pride, insecurity, weariness, lack, apathy, fear of failure, or a host of other hurdles. Before you go any further in this book, you have to decide that you’re worth the journey. Even if you don’t feel like it, you just need to keep showing up—keep coming to the table. Too often we dream about life in the palace but are unwilling to walk out of our prisons. We are deceived into thinking it will be embarrassing to admit our flaws. Pride will continue to torture us in captivity until we lay it down and humble ourselves before God, admitting that we need Him.

In light of this truth, ask yourself, “Do I really want to be free, or do I just like the idea of freedom? Am I willing to do what it takes to get free, or do I want someone else to do the work for me?”

We all desire freedom, but it’s often more complex than a simple yes or no answer. Freedom means something very different to each of us, depending on the landscape and shaping of our lives. How was your relationship with your mother and father? Were they both around? What about siblings? Did you experience abuse or trauma growing up? Shame? Fear? Anger? Discontentment? Anxiety? What about walking through dark seasons that have stuck to you like they still own you? Broken relationships? Loss? Pain? The sad reality is that everyone can identify with something on this list, however incomplete it may be. As we each look back on our lives, even if we had two loving parents, a white picket fence, and a healthy church environment, the enemy has still tried to weave a tangled web of lies to keep us in bondage and make us believe that we're cut off from our relationship with God. The good news is that our God has given each of us a way out of that bondage. The question is, do we actually want to partner with God to do what is necessary to live free? Or are we content with putting on a show for the rest of our lives? It’s up to us.

There is no question that God wants you to live a free life, but He respects your free will enough to allow you to choose. There is always more ground to take, and once the ground is taken, it’s time to pour it out and give it away to others so that they may attain the measure of freedom that God has stored up for them as well. As freedom germinates, grows, and blossoms in your life, by its very nature it must bear fruit and reproduce. You will begin to transform the culture around you."

Keep showing up friend. You've got this because He's holding you through it all. You're worth it - and there are lives on the other side of your freedom that need what you have to give. Don't give up!

xoxo Andi

For more my NEW book She Is Free, get your copy at www.sheisfreebook.com

The Trap Of Isolation

Some of my greatest wounding has come from imperfect humans in my world, yet some of my greatest healing has come from being in Godly community with, you guessed it - imperfect humans. We're all imperfect people tryting to walk this life out in Perfect Love. 

I'm sold out to building a loving, Christ centered community, and truth be told, some days I still want to run - but I wont because isolation is a trap. It provides us with a false sense of security from others, leaving us to our own devices while often cultivating an orphan spirit that is fixated on survival and self rather than abundant life and others.

Here is an excerpt from my book, She Is Free from the chapter called, Freedom From Isolation.

"A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. - Proverbs 18:1 NKJV

Lie: Isolation from honest and vulnerable relationships will keep me safe from rejection, betrayal, and pain.

“Good news, your heart is normal!”

Tears filled my eyes as I read those words from my cardiologist while sitting in my office in lower Manhattan. I turned to look out my window, gazing up at the Freedom Tower (as I still like to call it even though its official name is One World Trade Center), laughing and crying at the same time at the symbolism right outside of my window: freedom.

Two days before, I had been at an appointment with my cardiologist getting an ultrasound to learn whether there were any abnormalities in my heart causing the constant, disturbing heart palpitations I had been experiencing that year. At those times, my heart felt as though someone was holding it in my chest and rattling it around, taking my breath away. Along with the heart palpitations, yet another bout of shingles had erupted on my hip. I felt chained to the reality that my body would react every time we went through a big season. In my head, I knew this was a lie and wasn’t in the character of my beautiful, loving God. The counteracting truth is that He sent Jesus to heal my body, my heart, and my mind with resurrection power that is at work within me. Because of this truth, I started to ponder what my responsibility is in partnering with and living in that healing.

Truth be told, it had been a rough year. It was a year filled with much goodness, joy, triumph, celebration, and love, yet the hard and painful things were trying desperately in my head to outweigh all of the good. Heart-wrenching moments kept dancing around in my mind like a creepy circus clown trying to get all of my attention. Friends I thought I would have forever were dropping like flies and stepping out of our lives and into new seasons. I felt rejection set in and started to act as a victim of my circumstances while unhealthy thoughts swirled in my head: It’s not my fault; I’m a target for this stuff; this always happens to me. My heart was filled with such heaviness that it may as well have been tied to a weight and dropped into the ocean. Subconsciously, I began to isolate myself from connection to others because it seemed safer to detach than to love deeply and be hurt again.

For years, isolation has been a strong tower that I’ve hidden in during times of pain to separate myself from reality. If I ever felt subject to circumstance, misunderstood, or unable to control others’ free will in causing pain to those I love or myself, I’d subconsciously cut them off by drawing an invisible line in the sand because that relationship was now unsafe. For years I allowed what others did to rob my heart of the peace that is my inheritance to walk in, come hell or high water. The problem was, my strong tower was man-made, not God made.

 

Choosing Loneliness over Potential Pain

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, slept through storms unaffected by fear (Matt. 8:23–27), and because he lives in me, I have access to that peace at all times no matter what others do, say, or think about me. No matter the political or socioeconomic environment. No matter the state of my marriage, the state of the church, the state of the nation, the president that’s leading our country, the horrible things I saw on the news today—circumstance does not have the authority to steal my peace and isolate me from love unless I surrender that authority.

Isolating ourselves so we’ll never be rejected is simply a different way of being hurt. It’s choosing the pain of loneliness over the potential pain of loss. By isolating ourselves, we attempt to stop others from rejecting us, but we simultaneously reject the love of God. In turn, we also reject the possibility of thriving in community, friendships, and relationships that are a part of our purpose.

As we consciously choose to move past our desire to self-protect, we go willingly into the pain, hand-in-hand with the lover of our souls who heals us and keeps us safe in the secret place (Ps. 91:1 KJV). I love those words, “the secret place.” The secret place is a secret because it’s unknown and untouchable by the enemy and his lies. In the secret place, his lies are broken down and void of power as we discover the truth that sets us free."

For more my NEW book She Is Free, get your copy at SheIsFreeBook.com

Doers or Deceived?

I am often slow to post anything on social media in politically and emotionally heightened times - not because I don't care, but because I am accountable to God for every word that flows out of my mouth. With every finger I point in assumption or judgment of others motives and actions, I personally feel the weight. Whatever scripture I post, call to action or quotable quote I grab from someone else, I live in such a way knowing that I am personally responsible to go and do something with what I have said or written. I am also keenly aware that I answer to God at the end of my life here on earth for every heart motive, idle or active word (Matt 12:35-37 NKJV) and deed I do or don't do. Heavy, but true nonetheless. 

A few months ago, my husband was speaking to our church and read out James 1:22, followed by a throw away comment that has stuck with me:

James 1:22 NKJ
“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
“Hearing but not doing is a form of deception” - Paul Andrew

These last few weeks I have "heard" a lot of opinions. Heck, I've even had a few of my own but have chosen to keep them to myself.  It can be crippling to take in so much information, yet feel like there isn't a clear path to help those in need, or so it seems - because let's be honest, we only need lift up our eyes from our phones to meet a need. I want to step away from the anonymity of my computer or iPhone screen and get my hands dirty. I want to look people in the eyes and place value on them. 

I want to be educated, equipped and then activated to go and do something.

While we don't yet see certain injustices reconciled here on earth or perhaps we do see first hand how an executive order affects our loved ones and it feels like confusion and pain seem to reign, I'd like to put out there that we as followers of Jesus can all SIMPLY be about the Father's business in our day to day lives (Luke 2:49, Matt 12:46-50, John 4:34-38). I'm sure we could all use some "simple" in our live right now. We will always live in the tension of the "NOW but NOT YET" where life is unfolding before our eyes as we simultaneously hope and work towards a better future. The times we live in are a wake up call to the global Church to lift up our eyes and really see people and then do something about the pain unfolding before us. Let us all be deeply loved by God and in turn give Him all of our love and adoration. Let us then love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt 22:34-40), reconcile hearts to the Father (2 Cor 5:16-21) and actively make disciples (Matt 28:16-20). 

Opportunities to be about our Fathers business are unfolding right in front of our eyes every single day. It's in the breakthrough conversation with that cafe owner after years of patronage where they begin to seek the heart of the Father and ask us to lead them there. Or the moments where our kids ask the big questions about eternity where we get the honor of discipling them and telling them about the goodness of the Gospel. It's in the moments where we take someone out to coffee whose world we don't understand and never could unless we walk a mile in their shoes. It's the moments where we step out (even if we're scared) and pray for someones healing. It's in showing up at your local community center and sitting with that young, marginalized, world changer while believing in them and showing them that there is a way to step into their dreams. It's choosing to be generous with encouragement and compliments instead of keeping them to ourselves because kindness is good for the soul. It's leading that neighbor of yours on their deathbed to Jesus because hell was never created for God's children to spend eternity. It's finding out how you can see systemic injustices reconciled and bridges built by serving in or volunteering in programs that your local church or community centers have to offer. It's in putting your hand up to tutor that underprivileged genius that may never get the opportunities that others will because of their upbringing or the color of their skin - but your simple act of kindness could break through a barrier. It's giving your finance to causes in places where your feet may never be able to tread. It's in each of us us putting our money, hands and feet where our mouth is. 

What will cost us? Is it just our words or will we let it cost us our time too? We are all accountable.

Ben Smithee, one of our Liberty Church Union Square Team members posted the below picture and quote this week:

"Regardless of political beliefs, religious belief, or roast beef, let's just freaking love each other and the world would immediately be a much better environment. We expend so much energy in fighting, hating, and spewing vitriol that we forget the Great Commandment. @andiandrew 's message this past week really drove it home. I mean, what if we all just did one loving act for another person this week. One simple act of love, rather than take the ease of contention. Call it a dream, but I believe we were meant for more and that God's words were not just a set of optional guidelines for life. Live like you mean it, love each other, help those less fortunate, and for gosh sakes - wash your freaking hands!" - Ben Smithee (@smitheeeeee on Instagram)

What I love about Ben, (and he doesn't know I'm saying this until he reads it) is that he is a part of the Big Brothers and Sisters program and has been for years, he serves at Church every week, runs his own business and does amazing charity work without any fanfare. He lives this stuff week in, week out and every single one of us can make a difference with the "neighbors" that are in our world. 

I feel the weight of these times as a leader in the Church and it's enough to take me out some days... My hope is that we'd be equipped, educated AND activated in our faith. May we keep it simple with our eyes fixed on the ONE. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry (James 1:19). May we choose to take a breath, seek wisdom and respond instead of react. 

Rise up oh Bride! Humble yourselves and unite under the name of Jesus Christ! Wake up you sleeper and put your hand to the plow! Step away from your computers, phones and all forms of distraction and GO! Be about Your Fathers business...