Our Suffering, Our Hope

4 08 2009

We have been feeling God leading us toward the preventative side of substance abuse which has also lead us to looking at healthy lifestyle choices in general.  As I have been spending a great deal of time becoming educated in this process, I have come up against a challenge I was not sure what to do with till this point.

My education has mostly dealt with spending time with individuals and families who are currently in pain due to poor lifestyle choices in the realm of substance abuse.  My challenge has come in the form of sensitive information.  I don’t feel I can share the stories of the families I’ve been working with, but I still want you to know the ministry we have been doing.  So I want to share what I’ve been going through.

Empathy is an unsurmountable mountain if you simply look at the mountain instead of begin to climb it activley.  Knowing families and individuals are hurting due to substance abuse interested me, but a great flame of passion has sprung up as I began climbing with those in pain.  The more involved I got, the more I hurt when substance abuse reared its ugly head.  Fighting for the answer to why it is happening is so hard when we were just trying to keep it from happening another time.  But the answer to why seems to be the only real way to stop the next occurance.  Then you through into the mix the need for groceries, rent, school work, and just the day to day issues we all face.  How do you find the strength to continue each day?  Where do you find the hope in continueing to put effort into this seemingly fatal battle?  What hope is there?  WHY DIDN’T WE DO MORE TO KEEP THIS FROM HAPPENING INSTEAD OF ALL THE EFFORT WE ARE PUTTING INTO THIS NOW!!!!!!????

Well I am hurting, tired, frustrated, and full of hope now.  Our church group is studying 2 Corinthians this month which has been helpful.  Chapter 1 verse 4 has this to say, “(God) Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”    I am in the midst of suffering with my extended family because God was there for me in my suffering.  And as I suffer with them now I am hopefull for the celebration we will get to share in when we are all consoled by Christ’s impact in their lives.

This suffering has fuelled our search for a way to impact these families before getting to this point which has given me additional hope.  We are developing a program to address unhealthly lifestyle choices as a way to love our community because God loved us first.  Our hope is in serving our community in such a practical way it will open doors for explaining that it is because of Christ that we have hope in our hearts and that He is the reason for our lives.

Thank you for supporting and joining us in this journey.

Love, The Neels


Journey toward Maturity

7 04 2009

The last time our faith community got together we spoke about the needs of the group. But the first step toward identifying a need is to know what you want the need to accomplish. So we did some searching there first.

We quickly came up with the idea we want our group to be a place to encourage those involved to live an active faith. Since then, I have done some real searching through the Bible and prayer and conversations and I feel I can better explain this now.

I’m starting back at salvation. I was looking into the differences of what Paul says in Romans that we are saved by faith apart from observing the law and what James says about how we are saved by what we do, not by faith alone (James 2:24) So I did some major searching as these two ideas caused a major car crash in my faith garage. At the end, here is the summary statement I came up with: We are not saved by faith and good deeds, but we are saved by the type of faith that produces good deeds in our lives.

I can send you more information about the research I did, but I want to continue. I believe the most important thing for all people is to live an active faith–the type of faith that produces good deeds. I feel just about every church would say this is the reason they exist–to encourage each other toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:25) So for our group, we are now looking at how to interact with each other and with God in a way that produces a heart bearing the fruits of love and good deeds.

But when it comes to faith communities anywhere whether it be home church, traditional mega church, missional church, or anything else, the basis for existing is to encourage those in attendance toward active faith.

So my mind went to, why are we doing something different if we have the same goal? The answer, not everyone arrives at active faith the same way. I know for those in our community currently, they felt something was missing when looking at how they are encouraged to live active faith. I also believe their are many different combos of activities that could bring this about depending on the makeup of the group. Our group is currently in the place of establishing that a person can live active faith aside from traditional church. NOT because traditional church is wrong, but because people exist in our society that will never learn about the type of faith that brings salvation because the traditional church doesn’t communicate this complex idea to them.

We are beginning to look at how to establish groups that are kind of partway between the two ideas but always with the most important foundation being to encourage each other toward active faith.

Thank you for journeying with us even as our knowledge and understanding of missional church matures instead of already being mature. We strive toward wisdom.

Love, The Neels

The Struggles

31 03 2009

Trying to figure out how to do something different than you have been doing it for years is difficult.  As we venture down this road of learning missional church we as a group are finding the journey to be one of difficulty to see with clarity but we are making some very important headway.  

We do know we have a desire to do church in a way that is different than what we know.  One thing we have learned is why we want to do things different and how those things should be developed.  It has most to do with who we are called to reach.  We want to make sure our church experience is influenced by the people we hope to reach with the good news that God loves them.  We feel this will help us in two ways, 1: We are intentional about looking at church as a place to be selfless by not forming it to best fit ourselves but to fit those we want to reach, and 2:  We have a tool to implement while we are reaching our friends with God’s love.  

I feel this mostly explains why we are doing something different.  We know traditional church is doing a great job of reaching a portion of our society, but we want to cheer that on while we attempt to reach a completley different portion of society.  And that portion we feel called to are those that don’t know God due to the hurdle they have found in traditional church.

But even as we set out to reach a different portion we are finding the natural draw toward some of the hurdles that keep our friends from meeting God face-to-face have a lot of gravity in our lives.  This means we must be very intentional about keeping those thing in the forefront of our minds and pressing on toward the goal of spreading God’s love in places it isn’t being spread.

We know we can’t reach the rest of society and we won’t be reaching the same amount as the traditional church anytime soon.  But our hope is to struggle through the hard times and join the traditional church in the greater cause of reaching everyone with the good news.  We will play our role in being all things to all people.

Thank you for making it possible for us to do this.

Love, The Neels

This has been on my mind latley

31 03 2009

We as a ministry are called to view life different. We want to be relevant to our culture, but we must recognize the culture has some inherent flaws that will keep it from truly communicating love to those within it. One very deceptive piece to this puzzle though is culture doesn’t usually openly admit its downfalls and even at times is deceptive. One deception I have taken notice of more as of late deals with the basis for love. Our world doesn’t say you can’t get love from it, but it does put some stipulations on how to receive that love. In the board culture you can graph a direct correlation to how good you are and how much love the board culture will give you. We all feel that pull to chase after attention based on how good we ride. Pretty much everything is based on an individuals skills rather than on the individual. That is where we as a ministry must not be lured by our culture while trying to be relevant. We must recognize we are called to love people without prejudice and this includes a prejudice toward skills. It is easy to be drawn into giving special attention to the most skilled person, but it is dangerous. We run the risk of placing value on people based on human achievement and not on who God made them to be. Going against the grain of culture this way is rough, but we are called to be different, to be set apart, and to love as Jesus loved. So we are trying hard not to be drawn in by the lure of skills and instead love all those God has allowed us to be in relationship with.

I just wanted to share some of what we are working on in our ministry.

Love, The Neels

Share Life, Share The Bible

5 03 2009

God must be a part of our lives as opposed to something we put life on hold to experience. He wants to be a part of what we live, not kept separate from the activities we find ourselves doing naturally. That is why through The Farm we find it so important to bring God into the lives kids are already living as opposed to asking them to put their lives on hold in order to come find God. One way we did this recently was our annual snowboard trip. We got to spend an entire weekend with kids doing exactly what they wanted to do and bring God into that. One of the best parts of this is how relevant our conversations can be. We get to see what kids are actually dealing with in life due to the fact we are sharing life with them and then we get to speak truth from the Bible into that situation. Sharing life as a way of sharing what the Bible says has proven to be a very effective way of learning God’s word.

Thank you for being a part of God’s word being shared this way.

Love, The Neels

Do I have to be a profesional composter to do it?

21 02 2009

So I was taking some stuff out to our compost pile the other day and I had this thought. I felt like I probably should just stop composting because I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’ve read a few articles and spoken to a few people, but I think I’ve learned just enough to know it is more complicated than I’m really willing to put the effort into learning. So as I was taking some stuff out to just throw it on the pile I started thinking maybe I was waisting my time–I mean I wasn’t even planning to turn it and put moisture on the pile and cover with 3 inches of organic material to make sure the pile stays hot. (See, I learned just enough to feel intimidated that I can’t do it.) But as I had this thought another thought entered my mind also. I know a guy that doesn’t do anything to his compost pile. He just puts stuff on it until the next year for planting season and then takes all he has piled and puts it in the ground. Seems pretty easy, in fact even easy enough for me to do. This makes me feel like I could compost–so much so I’m willing to give it a try and get involved with composting. So I don’t actually need to be a professional composter, just willing to be active in what I’m capable of both intellectually and confidence wise. You see, I don’t want to take on anything more than I feel I could actually do and I feel like I can pile trash till it’s time to plant.

I think this same mentality seeps into ministry. I believe we are a nation that has learned nothing can be done unless you are a professional at it. Or at least we have learned we will feel bad if we attempt to do something that others know way more about. This keeps us from attempting to get involved with a lot of things we could at least be a part of. Even if we won’t be the best, at least we could do something. But the fear of not ever being able to achieve as much as another person often keeps us from even attempting to achieve even a fraction of what someone else could do. This keeps a majority of people out of actively partaking in ministry. But this is wrong. Even if we can’t be professionals, we can at least pile some trash on the pile and use it later to produce some fruit.

So get out their and pile some trash, who cares if you don’t know the best way to pile it so that it produces the most fruit. It will produce fruit and you can let God determine how much and how well.

A little light shed on the video

17 02 2009

Snowboard CrewWe are making a snowboard video of local riders right now and I love it. This is such a great way to make kids feel loved and cared for, and even “wanted” as one kid put it. Today as I was thinking about a particularly tedious balance of the purpose of our video, I had the “lights” come on.

Snowboard and skate videos are made to show off the amazing skills the riders possess . . . the focus is on what people can DO.  But I don’t think we are called to focus on the same things the world does. I have always felt this way, but wasn’t sure how to voice these feelings. I feel we should focus on the people and not the skill–this seems more loving to me. This is also a characteristic of the skate and snow world I would like to impact helping more people value each other for who God has made them rather than value each other for the skill level they have achieved.  What I am trying to say is this, I love the people we ride with, not because of what they can do, but because of who they are and I want our video to reflect this love.  

Thanks for letting me share this.

Love, The Neels