Weekend Away

img_8051One of our City Dwellers has been reflecting on her experience of our first ever weekend away. Here’s what she has to say.

 

WEEKEND AWAY

WALK IN UNITY

WALK IN LIGHT

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

These themes encapsulated these past 2 1/2 days at the Castledaly Manor in Athlone, County Westmeath (pretty much in the dead center of Ireland), thanks to Gary Ellison.

City Church Dublin ventured out on our first ever weekend away on Friday evening to return to our beloved city this afternoon refreshed – if not slightly tired – and edified. After spending a few weeks in church diving into the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Gary joined us at Castledaly with his wife Allison to expand upon and ignite deep thought about chapters 4-6.

These past 3 days welcomed 3 speaker sessions, 3 times of worship, 6 meals, endless snacks, team competitions, 1 game of Settlers of Catan: Cities & Knights, a few games of Uno and Spot It! and a few walks. The result is a fuller picture of the body of Christ and a deep desire never to leave my City family. But as we were sorrowfully reminded as we closed our last session this morning, “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Fortunately for me in this transient church family of ours, I am the first to leave (and thus will be crying just once) – May 10th – to be quickly followed by students and interns and workers who are all fortunate to call Dublin home for either just a short time or just a few months out of the year. To commemorate this together, we shared aspects of City for which we’re thankful and things that are hard about this time. The resounding consensus is this:

City Church Dublin does an exceptional job of teaching and seeking to learn from the Bible, God’s living Word, and living out the Gospel truths evident within. Members of City embrace every newcomer, not despite their residential timeline, but because of it: they recognize time is precious and that church is a body of believers meant to encourage, strengthen, and ultimately send one another out for the Great Commission – to share the good news. I can only pray I find a home church like City in the next place I go. And as Dave so beautifully reminded me, I now have a piece of City; I have been immeasurably impacted by its love and grace and now have the wonderful opportunity to grace the next place I go with a touch of City – of the body of Christ living out the Gospel thousands of miles away. The reflection on our thankfulness for City’s embrace of international brothers and sisters coming together, for however long, placed so much more beautiful emphasis on Gary’s teachings. So I’ll share a bit of his messages with you now. [some pictures at the bottom]

 

WALK IN UNITY {EPHESIANS 4:17-32}

We are different – set apart – called to live lives that consistently contradict the world around us. That set apartness brings unity among us who center our lives around Christ.

Outside of Christ we are corrupt: of futile minds, darkened understanding, and blind hearts. It is through Christ we are made new, lifted from our old selves into righteousness and holiness (being set apart) [vv.17,18,24].

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renews in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created.” -vv. 20-24

That’s all fine and good, but practically, where does a Christian differ from a non-Christian? How does the aforementioned transformation affect my everyday life, thoughts, and behaviors both in private and around others?

We must speak the truth. Any words that set out to convey false impressions are lies. We must bring unity in the church through honesty.
how are you? I’m good, how are you?
This is a classic false impression most of us give several times a day. How much richer will our communities be if we bear one another’s burdens and celebrate together through victories? This is a small example, but one that sets the stage for many other conversations throughout the day. Another one:
oh wow, I’ll be praying for you!*never or rarely or lacklusterly prays for them*

Our anger must be sinless. It is okay to be angry, frustrated, upset. When we see injustice, when we feel the brute of sin against us – these are examples of righteous anger. What isn’t righteous is holding bitterness in our hearts by letting “the sun go down on our wrath.” Forgive before the day is done and free your heart from any potential foothold for the devil to fill it with real hatred. When this seems impossible, trust your anger into the hands of God, the just Judge and perfect King – He deals fairly with all and brings righteousness to the unjust. Do not give in to gossip, bullying, retaliation, grumbling, hatred, or unforgiveness.

We must be given to honest hard work. In a world that will do anything to get ahead, we must be different, full of integrity, that we might give all glory to God and share the Gospel through our daily behavior. I’ll skip ahead to chapter 6, verses 5-9: God holds no partiality among His children – so too, whether we are at a managing level or lower employee level in our workplace, we must hold all men in regard and with respect. We mustn’t give in to gossip, bullying, retaliation, grumbling, hatred, or unforgiveness. In doing so, we strengthen our community and are also better able to provide for our brothers and sisters by the fruit of our labors.

Our speech must give way to the glory of God. In a world that so often both values and squanders freedom of speech, let our “conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Use it to edify the body of Christ “that it may impart grace to the hearers” (v. 29).

Ultimately I learned to ponder this question: Do I have the frown or smile of the Holy Spirit upon me? The Spirit Who teaches, Who convicts, Who reminds, and Who brings unity by binding us all to Christ and thus to one another. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit who brings you closer to each of these 4 ways to lives as a new man, as “renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v.23).

 

WALK IN LIGHT {EPHESIANS 5:8-14}

Holiness (being set apart) brings light. Therefore, we are lightwe must live as lightwe must confront the darkness.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ Hi Son cleanses us from all sin.” -1 John 1:6-7

Need I go on with this one? Use the tactics above in the Walk in Unity section and try to identify areas in your life where you can be the light of Christ in the darkness of this world. Start with home life and work life by examining Ephesians 5:22-33; 6:1-4; 6:5-9. These aren’t easy so seek pastoral advice, online bible commentaries, or reach out to me if you’re really struggling with these ideas. Remember that they SHOULD strike a chord with you – they’re calling us to live lives contrary to the world around us. It’s difficult!

 

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD {EPHESIANS 6:10-20}

I’ve always loved the strength we derive from these words, not of our own accord, but by a power far stronger, wiser, and more loving than we will ever be. But today, wow today, I was challenged and encouraged by the idea of spiritual warfare far more than ever before.

We have a battle on our hands.
We have weaponsin our hands.

Paul likens spiritual warfare and our tools against it to a Roman soldier’s tools in battle:

T R U T H is our belt, by which all our armor is secure. When we face temptation, we are facing lies – false teaching – and our job is not to fight these lies, but to be girded with the truth to bring light to the darkness.

R I G H T E O U S N E S S is our breastplate, protecting our front, our back, and all our vital organs in between. It is an essential piece of equipment and one we have only in Christ. Think back to the first section: we are corrupt without Christ and in Him we are “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

R E A D I N E S S is our sandals – Roman style – that stand firm in battle, with the finest leather doubled over and secured around our feet. “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

At Pine Cove camps, you must wear closed-toed shoes when serving in the kitchen. So there’s this sentiment that if you wear open-toed shoes to a meal, you’re essentially saying that you’re not ready to serve in the kitchen if called upon. Much like we are unsure when Jesus will come back to earth or when He will call us home, we can never be sure when or on how short of notice He’ll call on us to share His Word. We need to shod our feet in preparation of battle. To quote a sticker on the back of a car I saw one time, “if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready”

F A I T H is our shield, where we feel most safe and protected, impenetrable by the Enemy. C.S. Lewis said, “faith is the art of holding onto something your reason once accepted in spite of changing moods.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (v. 11:1). When our thoughts and actions support an intimate relationship with God, our walk brings light into darkness, and out behavior unity in the church, our faith will be increased throughout these experiences.

S A L V A T I O N is our helmet that gives us confidence to go boldly into battle. There is no fear of persecution or defeat in the battle against darkness – spiritual warfare – when salvation is ours to eternally live with God the Father and Christ the Son in Heaven above. Through Christ’s loving sacrifice alone, do we have our salvation and it is by that salvation we have strength to face whatever  attacks when we willingly go to battle.

Why would we go willingly into battle? Let’s recap – we have  a belt holding up our breastplate. Our feet and head are covered and we bear our shield before us. So if anything were to attack, we can defend ourselves. But see, we are called to do MORE than just defend ourselves. We are called to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 6:11). We are to fight the good fight and bring light to the darkness. So how do we do that? With our last tool:

G O D ‘ S  W O R D is our sword, to be used with all prayer and supplication, for the piercing of all veils and darkness and calamity. There’s no way to win a battle huddled in the fetal position waiting for your opponent to tire. If we are to bring the hope of salvation to untouched peoples and pursue holiness in community, we must put on the WHOLE armor of God.

This is so pertinent and the followup is so practical:
study His word. “Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8). Dive into specific passages and themes until you have a more complete understanding; then move on. Memorize Scripture, not just by the words, but by their intended meaning and instruction and value.

I IMPLORE YOU TO BE THE LIGHT WHERE YOU SEE DARKNESS. I URGE YOU TO “ALWAYS BE READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE TO EVERYONE WHO ASKS YOU A REASON FOR THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU, WITH MEEKNESS AND FEAR” (1 PETER 3:15). I ASK YOU TO JOIN ME IN PURSUING HOLINESS AND OFFERING OTHERS THE TOOLS TO PURSUE HOLINESS THAT IT WOULD BRING UNITY THAT IS GLORIFYING TO GOD.

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This blog post was originally from Kim’s, Meet The Road Blog.