Sunday, June 20, 2004

Now Exiting the Comfort Zone

Today was our Church Membership class.  I really believe in this church, I really believe that there is a mighty power of God working there.  Allow me to give you a little history.

Pastor Chuck Farina and his wife Barb were working at a church in Duncan, Oklahoma, a place where they'd worked for 7 years.  They were comfortable there, they were happy there.  The last thing they were looking for was change.

Barb's family lives in Abilene, so both Chuck and Barb had made many visits to our town.  In 1999, as they were driving down a south side street, Chuck heard the voice of God that he needed to come to Abilene and start a church on the south side of our town.  He turned to Barb and asked her if she'd ever considered starting a church in Abilene, she promptly turned to him with stark terror on her face and told him to Shut Up.

But the seed was planted.  After Chuck had returned to Duncan he couldn't get this new idea out of his mind.  He wanted to, mind you.  He wasn't thinking about making any changes, and if he did it certainly wasn't to come to Abilene.  And Barb wasn't much help.  She refused to pray with him on the matter at first, convinced this word was not from God.  Eventually of course she did end up praying and fasting with him to find out if it really was from God.  Most important to the story, they didn't tell anyone about what they were going through.

So when a speaker came to their church who has a prophetic gift, Pastor waited to see if the speaker brought it up.  He still thought it was entirely possible he was missing God (and I'm sure it was wishful thinking).  They had jobs, they had a home, they were safely ensconced in their Comfort Zone.

The speaker said he had a word for Pastor Chuck, but the time wasn't right.  So there Chuck dangled out there on the vine.  It wasn't until one very power packed evening under the anointing that his senior Pastor called him out and told him that he needed get out of his comfort zone.  That his ministry would never grow like he wanted it to until he did.  This Pastor had no idea the turmoil Chuck was under, but he knew God had bigger plans.  As Chuck left that evening, the speaker took him aside and told him the time was right.  That he was going to go and plant a church in a city God had already showed him. 

Needless to say, that was the brick.  Pastor Chuck told his Pastor what he felt God was calling him to do, and turns out that Pastor had a heavy heart for the town of Abilene.  He'd always asked God to send him, but that was not his assignment. 

Thankfully it was Pastor Chuck's assignment.  In August of that year, they came to Abilene, bought a house and started fellowship there.  In January, he and his launch team launched their first formal service with 53 people.  Their first sanctuary was at the local Girl Scout Council office.  When a change in management necessitated a move, they moved over to a Bank building and had services in the basement.  While they were there, a guest speaker told Pastor Chuck all he had to do was find a building and he knew someone who would buy it for them.

The building, an old Triangle Lanes bowling alley.  The estimated price, $2 million dollars.  The owner and founder of Hobby Lobby paid for this building and in October of last year New Hope Church had its first service in its new home.

Eventually this building will seat 900 people.  Right now we've grown from that initial 53 to over 300.  By joining yesterday, Steven and I will become charter members when they become an official Assembly of God Council Church next Sunday.

I'm really excited about what is going on.  I truly believe it is anointed.  A lot of people dismiss things like this as coincidence, but my definition of "coincidence" is two events happening simultaneously to suit God's purposes.  A lot of people also don't believe that miracles are for today, but I say they're just not looking hard enough.  Miracles surround us every day.  The only difference is negativity has a better press agent.  The bad news is always the loudest.

And that's why it's so easy for us Weight Loss Warriors to get discouraged.  Our very own negative voices drown us out sometimes.  Here I am in this membership class with other people eager and willing to join this church and all that entails, and I'm gripped with fear.  Fear of what will asked or expected of me.  Fear of how I'm about to be ripped right out of my comfort zone. 

You might remember me telling you several weeks ago that it was a daunting task for me to get out and meet people during the meet and greet segment of each Sunday service.  A lot of people see me as cold or rude, when really I'm just absolutely terrified.  Terrified of being rejected or ridiculed.  For me to feel that at this church is especially silly - they have always been ultra friendly and accepted me from the start.  But yet I do.

Last week during revival when Pastor Chuck said to go around and meet people you don't know I immediately stepped out into the aisle without thinking about it.  As I'm walking down the aisle suddenly it hit me what I was doing and I was zapped with fear.  My first honest thought was, "Oh my God what am I doing??!"  I turned right into Peter, realizing I was out walking on water.  I was stunned that my obedience overrode my initial fear - it was only thinking about it that gave me pause.

Being a member of this church means I get to share this love and acceptance they strive for with all the people who enter there - and that means meeting new people.  Initiating contact.  Getting over myself and my fear and jumping head long out of my comfort zone. 

I'm still scared, I won't lie.  But I also know I'll never get where I need to be without taking some risks.  In order to grow, I have to stretch beyond the status quo.  I don't know what's going to be asked of me as a servant of this church.  My son Timothy seems to think I should be on the worship team, but I am not sure I'm ready to find out of this is my call or not.   Only time will tell.  And I have to seriously smash down that negative talking Chatterbox whenever it starts to tell me that I have nothing to provide to this church. 

I think as I grow and learn from this Journey, breaking the bondage of fear I've lived under for almost all my life, my ministry will be to help others who are bound by insecurity and fear.  Right now I'm a student.  That means constantly challenging myself to go further.

It's like the Tae Bo tape.  It's challenging me to do what I haven't done physically.  I maybe can't do the whole thing yet, but each time I do it, I'm trying harder, pushing harder, doing better.  Just buying the darn thing was a huge gigantic major step out of my comfort zone.  I didn't think I could do it, and I surprised myself.

That's what life is about, I think.  Continually surprising my by what I can do or accomplish.  I know it's never going to happen until I get the guts to get out of my comfort zone.

And y'all get to watch me, whether I fly like an eagle or drop like a stone.

DAILY AFFIRMATION: I already have everything I need to succeed.

Calories: 1801 / 19% fat
Sodium: 2681mg
Calcium: 2146mg
Water: 100oz
Exercise: 30 mins Tae Bo

RED means I didn't meet goal



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