Moving Away

I found out yesterday a friend of mine is moving away and it made me more sad than I expected. As a native Cincinnatian, you get used to people leaving and I don’t see him often now that we don’t work together but it still sucks. He’s not the only one leaving or considering leaving.

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”
Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven 

I used to want to get away from Cincinnati, you know? I wanted to get away from what felt like a tiny town with suffocating people and go… anywhere but here. Looking back, I can see that was more about how I felt than it was about the city. I doubt I would have been happier anywhere else. At the time though, when God put His finger on my heart and on this city and said, “Abide in me through them,”  my gut response was, “Shit.” I mean it’s not a classy response but it’s how I felt.

I’m locked into this city and saying no to money? Sounds like sacrifice. Yet here I am over two years later and I LOVE Cincinnati and her people. I praise God for the community He has blessed me with and the opportunities He’s provided me to build into others and be built into. I still want to travel, I want to see things. But I’m not running from or to anything anymore. This is a city that God is moving in and I am excited to be a part of it.

Not everyone feels that way about Cincinnati and I get it. Maybe Cincinnati isn’t part of their story. My last class I read this book written by a man who was dying (paper posted earlier). In part, I think he was saying what I believe: that life is not all “live, love, laugh…” It is suffering and sacrifice. For instance, the cost of love, particularly when death is involved, is loss. Does that mean we do not love? No, we should love all the more fiercely and profoundly; let this life be something that is a tragedy when it ends. The REAL question is, what do we sacrifice and suffer for? What are we giving our life over to?

“Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives to little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it…and then it’s gone. But to surrender who you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying – even more terrible than dying young.”
Jeanne d’Arc

For me, it used to be promotions and money. Relationships outside of work suffered for that and I was willing to leave my family and friends halfway across the country for a pile of paper. Not even a passion! I wasn’t invested in my industry; it was just money… But now? Cincinnati. The possibility of building into a community where I hope to someday have my own family surrounded by these people I love dearly and of course my sister and parents? These things are worth dedicating my life towards.

 

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Prayer of Thanks and for Clarity

Abba, the grace and love you pour over me is without end. I see the love You have for me even as I grow frustrated at my own weakness and shortcomings. I give thanks that you teach me to love others the way you love me, as imperfectly as I might execute this. I praise God that I witness in Cincinnati a city being transformed by people who are being transformed by you. Abba, Love that Moves Us, Hope that Gives Us Breathe, we offer all good things as proof of your love. Please guide myself and my community in this time as to our purposes; provide us with clear vision and passionate hearts that ache to move the world. We are your people, Lord. In your name I pray, amen.

God is Entrepreneurial

I went to a Christian entrepreneurial conference late last week,  the Unpolished Conference in Cincinnati, and it really made me think. The truth is,  I’m not particularly entrepreneurial. I would say walking away from it I’ve learned what I really enjoy and am best at is helping expand, execute and realize the ideas of others as well as problem solve. And yet I also do some very entrepreneurial things. Why is that?

I think it is because if we are in a deep relationship with God, we feel called to do things that are far beyond our current resources, require abnormal risk, and often either grows us or fulfills a need within our community. My friend, who doesn’t see herself as a home builder or entrepreneur, bought land and is looking at ways to build in the city. A man I know who is resistant to growing his business (he is a liberator of God’s people, providing transportation to the disabled) opened up to the idea of adding a person and is now seeing the abundance God provides on the other side of His promise. I feel called to do an art installation project to create a deeper sense of community in Cincinnati (a project of which I am wholly unqualified for) but it will grow me outside the corporate world.

I think if you asked any of us if these are things we particularly want to do, we would probably tell you we were instead doing what we felt called to do. That doesn’t change the entrepreneurial characteristics required of us. It just means we lean less into ourselves and more into God and our community, giving the glory to them.

Race Issues in America: “Every Life Matters” or “It’s In God’s Hands”

Hashtags can become dangerous things. Some people hear #blacklivesmatter and hear the implication that only black lives matter. That is not the point. They respond with #everylifematters but, often the posts associated with this hastag come across as callous, racist, or entitled. The fact is, this issue is far too complex for a simple hashtag argument that further divides us.

Yes, black lives matter. Every life knitted together by our Creator matters. There is not one person out there who doesn’t matter. Beyond His love for us, God calls us to care for and protect each other. He wants justice.

It is irresponsible at times when socially and politically we are all called to repent from our old ways and begin reconciliation to just say, it’s in God’s hands. No, we are called to be God’s hands and feet. We as Christians and Americans have a responsibility to make sure justice is given to those who are not receiving it in our country. Martin Luther King Jr. said at the Sermon at Temple Israel in Hollywood in 1965, “We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.” King knew action must be taken.

I would say that much like when King marched and practiced other forms of non-violent protest, if people feel that there is systemic racism and discrimination as has been shown in Ferguson, they should express that. Sadly, their frustrations boiled over and violence seems to beget violence, further dividing our nation. I would argue that this violence is the work of the Enemy and not individuals. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Therefore, I believe we are called to make sure freedom and justice are for all our brothers and sisters in this nation, uniformed or not, and that as Christians we should work beside all of them in making sure there is justice for everyone.

Cincinnati

My Lord, my Father, Redeemer of all who receive your sacrifice… I praise you. You are without flaw and your goodness is beyond measure. Your patience is unquestionable and the depths of your love is unknown. Tonight I pray to you for my community, for my city, for my nation, for my world, under attack from the Liar and his forces who comes to kill Your flock, even if still some are blind to You. Cover us with Your armor, arm us for Your battle, send us Your battalions so that no evil can break through. Let us in this city be Your testimony to the world, shine Your light through us as evidence of Your greatness and the power of Your healing. Lord, bless us all to be used by you as you see fit. Amen.