Moving: Up

Ascension I recently had a conversation with a co-worker about where Heaven will be when Jesus returns. My current eschatological view tells me here on earth. Some think its elsewhere, still others think it’s nowhere, and some rightly perceive that somehow it is also within believers. But anyone that talks about heaven would likely agree that no matter where, it is somehow a few if not many steps up than our current lot.

 
Talking about the wonders of Heaven is one of the things that makes loving Jesus so appealing. I don’t feel too pressed to write about Heaven but I do about the Ascension. Do you realize how awesome/strange/even silly it would have been to watch Jesus ascend in the air whether it be very slowly or very quickly and to look around at the group of people standing there trying to figure out how to discuss or explain what just happened? Had God not sent two angels to let them know what happened and what to expect they would have been left scratching their heads.

 
I would have experienced all the similar sorrow and fear that came with watching an innocent savior die, the joy and adoration that comes with seeing Him resurrected. Then, I would have been left in a stupor seeing His Ascension. It’s harder to comprehend then the transfiguration because that at least revealed His glory. In this case gravity was defied, for him ceased, here on earth and He majestically moved up past the clouds without flapping his arms or anything. And He didn’t even do it secretly.
In fact read, the first chapter of Acts and tell me Luke the Physician doesn’t just treat the whole thing nonchalantly. One second everyone’s eating talking and being taught. And a sentence later in verse 9 He tells them the last thing He needs to say and disappears. Then by verse 12 the apostles are walking back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives either saying a) well I guess we have some harvests to reap for the kingdom or b) why does He keep doing these crazy things? I definitely don’t remember this part in the scriptures, must be in the psalms because they’re so stinking long, lets pray through the psalms together until this makes sense.cartoon ascension

 

By the time you’ve arrived at a conclusion you hardly even remember how you got there. Where you formerly were is not forgotten but now your shadow casts over it. You reflect back and say it really wasn’t so confusing or difficult after all, precisely because now you are in a place where you can see things more clearly or in a better light. In Acts chapter 1 the disciples are reassured that one day Jesus will return the same way in which He left. I think that motivation helped them to rise up and move up because they found that together God and men were moving closer together again. When Heaven does finally invade earth, we’ll likely find that moving up was not something we initiated.

Moving: Down

James 4:10 “HumblThrowing Thingse yourselves before the Lord, and he will life you up.”

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

This initially was going to be titled “Moving: Up,” then I heard a whisper that said “what comes first?” Then I remembered how God’s kingdom works. He doesn’t exalt the proud for sheer effort and what they are willing to do to get to the top at any cost but He does exalt the humble, those who pour expensive perfume on His head or shed tears at His feet.

God watches and delights in the choices we make in the secret part of our heart, and He helps us see them through when they are meant for public display. I’ve become more grateful for opportunities to make humble decisions. I even find myself yearning to make them, especially the ones that involve my closest relationships. In scripture Jesus, Mary and other unnamed individuals may not have lived up to worldly expectations placed upon them, but they did things that revealed the heartbeat of God to those who knew them, sometimes though it took a little while.

In my last tidbit of writing I mentioned how I felt God called me away from my understanding of a typical ministry mold to venture out to PA to work and reconnect with the One who loves me. I find amongst my closest friends He’s done that too. One of my best friends has a strong desire to be a long term missionary in Mozambique; while praying when to go, God called him to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and maybe more than that. He was obedient through his struggle and has been blessed because of it.

Another dear friend was on tYoung Adultshe mission’s field for several years and came home to obey God’s call to study skin care and serve people by showing them that God made them beautiful. She’s obedient and confident as God continues to speak to her about His plans for her.

I have many friends that are pastors and remain obedient by making humble choices or have found that easy choices have found a way to keep them humble in their serving. One day I hope to write about all the people I know that love God in different settings because they are the ones that are revealing the kingdom of God. Even if some people were to look at them and feel they haven’t accomplished much/enough, these people are my heroes/celebrities (the ones me and God celebrate).Pastors

I see them and know how low they’re willing to go to serve, what kind of ridiculous things people have said or done to challenge their callings, the time they have to sacrifice to show mercy, and the battle with their flesh they endure to walk according to the Spirit. In my eyes and heart God has exalted them and I pray I will look at them and delight more and more in who Jesus made them to be.

Pray with me and for me today for humility and that we’d not consider ourselves higher than we ought and not be afraid to see others in a light burning brighter than we might be.

Moving: On

next-step1Last week I deleted an email I sent this time last year inquiring about a job as a Laundromat attendant. I should have saved it because it was a humble reminder. Not because I was applying for a job at a Laundromat; instead, I was humbled because of the realization of how I got here. God calls some people out of a successful career and into ministry, and they talk about it like they sacrificed a lot for Him. They run the risk when sharing that testimony of failing to remember how much more He sacrificed for them and that there sacrifice pales 100% of the time in comparison. With me, God called me away from the burden of service to Him for a season to rest in an atmosphere where I was too busy working to consider trying to earn His approval.

And thank God He did. 6 months ago I moved to Pennsylvania thinking one way, with certain expectations. Ultimately I made the decision to go quickly because I felt like it was God’s leading and I knew I needed to move on. There is one tricky thing about moving on though that some people don’t face and usually it catches up with them. Moving on and running away outwardly look the same yet are inwardly worlds apart. You can move on and still be at peace in your heart, yet in running away you can only try to escape fears and problems.

I realize my initial onward motion had a mixture of both peace and escape until I realized the people I had problems with didn’t easily leave my life, especially the thought of them and the perception of wrong they had done and I had done them. In fact the reminders of what one is running from can plague a person more as they run further away distancing themselves from reconciliation which is ultimately what our hearts yearn for. So if I could summarize running away and moving on in one sentence each it would go like this:

Running away is when you desire to be “done with” or escape from something usually rooted internally yet you remain unsettled until you allow God to deal with the problem within you.

Moving on is when you desire for reconciliation and to be at peace with those around you in spite of persistent problems, circumstances beyond control and even if things don’t change, you can go wherever and remain hopeful for restored relationships and want the best for those who hurt you and those you’ve hurt.

Lastly, moving on always seems to happen at a slower pace than running away. When you “move on” your steps are methodical. You tread softer so as not to hurt anyone or face a familiar wound. You’re more careful and hesitant about making the same mistakes but it doesn’t mean you don’t. Whenever I have tried to run away I end up being desperate to find rest from what I’m running from but end up being reckless, making hastier decisions, typically hurting myself more at the expense of avoiding hurting or experiencing hurt from others. Notice, running away keeps you wounded. Maybe you’ve noticed this. I’d love to hear what you think today. A good reminder is that God directs our steps which helps us move on without looking back.

Moving: In

lovesacMovement and excitement go hand in hand. This past week has been busy. I forgot that not only do I have to furnish a house but also buy everything that a house needs: cleaning products, pillows, food, and toilet paper. I was going to try to get by without the necessities. In the midst of it all, the apartment is freezing, 57 degrees which I admit isn’t freezing but it’s still cold. I called the landlord every day this week. The result is I bought 2 space heaters after he said he would take care of it. And then I hit a parked car (in an almost empty parking lot), with someone else’s truck and destroyed the parked cars front end. See, moving is exciting and I’m not being sarcastic.

What I’m realizing is when you are busy and on the go there is greater margin for error but things stay fresh. The cold and the car I broke are inconvenient, especially since my own car is breaking it to me gently that it is our last year together. She wants to retire; she’s hinted at this several times recently. Once, when I noticed she was having trouble getting up small hills in the snow and turned off on me, then when a large piece of metal ripped off her front end; now she is unbolting on her back-end (I think it’s the tire rods) around the part that keeps one from wobbling or so I’m told.

The last thing I noticed about moving is it keeps you too busy to be very upset or very anxious about other things. I think it’s because new things take up your attention and they are initially fun. This is probably why God spends so much time convincing us we are new. Today your new, still you but something is new/renewed. He’s never done with us; He didn’t check me out of the library, read me in two weeks and sit me back on a shelf. He searches me, re-reads me, underlines, highlights, edits and tells others including His angels about me never complaining about me being boring or slow. Only stands on my behalf and corrects me with loving discipline, not afraid to tell me this is blatantly wrong and that He has decided before I knew about it to change it.

In that newness today tomorrow doesn’t seem too intimidating, there’s too much excitement for one day. But God has been up to something lately in my world, good things. I know He’s always been here, that whole conundrum, where He is dwelling in me. But I’m feeling this greater sense that God Himself is moving in. Thankfully for His sake my largest room the living room is still empty, except for a very comfortable giant memory foam bean bag chair. I hope He likes it; after all He’s a wild God, one that actually wants to move in with me.

Moving: Out

Initially, I wanted to continue writing along my “long engagements” theme; then I read Jeff’s New Year’s post and wrestled with changing the tone to something a little lighter, which is why I haven’t written in a while. I don’t get writer’s block, I block myself from writing. I can’t say I’m gleaning from much to inspire me right now. But I did move… again. Since I graduated in 2010 I have moved 6 times. I am now living in the 7th place, the first of which I have to furnish. I was initially prepared to live alone, also for the first time, but God apparently felt like that wasn’t best so Joey moved in with me.

I find moving bearable, I like lifting things, setting things up, and I like getting rid of things. I don’t like buying things, especially things that I will keep for a long time, things that I hope put in a “home”. What I mean by “home” is the place I want to live with my imaginary wife, and family in a city where I’m committed to serving a church filled with people that I share the love of Jesus with. In moving 6 times, I have been part of now my 4th church in 2 ½ years. This has been more trying on my heart than moving living quarters. Why? Because as the psalmist says I find myself “planted in the house of God.” To be uprooted from that or hurt in the midst of it is terrible, but it’s also very sweet to experience reconciliation and peace to move on and find it’s relatively easy to be planted elsewhere.

This verse in John 1:2-4 has tickled me recently: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Jesus says these things to comfort His disciples to prepare them for His death, resurrection, and ascension (aka His moving out).

Jesus was a pretty good carpenter.

Imagine: What if He is literally crafting a home for us? What if part of His intercession is building/creating His kingdom, preparing a home. When He’s finished and ready or maybe when He sees we are ready He will come back and take us to be with Him in simply constructed Kingdom where He is which will ultimately be back here, where we’ve always been.

What if in this season, my hope that renting and furnishing an apartment is Jesus’ answer to my prayer to prepare a home as a He prepares me for marriage and family and the desire to stay in one place for a longer season? And what if in the midst of all of it no matter how many times I move houses or churches no matter how long I wait for a bride and family of my own, He’s just been showing me that He has me with me where He is and doesn’t want me to be so uptight about where I am. That’s what I’m taking into this year, that though I feel like I haven’t been able to rest my head in one place and at times get what I want, I have the encouragement from Jesus who is convinced that I know where He is and that my movement is towards Him.

What are you moving out of/into this year? I’ll stick with this “Moving” thing for a little bit too.

Happy New Year!

Well 2012 was certainly an eventful year for the DeRouen bunch. As I launch off into the new year, with a new family and a new career I have no choice but to fly high on all of my blessings and the promise of this new season of my life. With that said I can’t help but consider that some did not have the same exciting finish to their 2012 as I did. I know I have had really bad years. I just want to tell anyone who may be in that situation that one of the greatest promises that God has made to us is that he will make all things new. He can make our hearts new, our futures new, our lives new if we let him. Isaiah 42:9 “Behold the old things have come to pass and new things I now declare..” 

This isn’t only a promise though, it’s a mission for the Lord. He desperately wants to strip away all of the things that keep you from being happy, content, excited, or healed. He wants to do it because the things that cause unhappiness, loneliness and anger keep you from experiencing the greatness of him.

I know it’s hard to hear this from a guy who seems to have everything and I won’t even argue with you I do have everything. This is only because one year when I had nothing but an absolute mess and had enough, I asked the Lord to save me from myself. He didn’t just hear me, he came running straight for my heart. I urge you that before you spend time worrying or wondering why, you spend time asking Jesus to make you new, to wash it all away and start over. He can do that, He loves to do that. Then watch your world turn upside down just as I did. I guarantee you will look back 2013 in absolute amazement.

-Jeff