Here is a short video featuring a tool we use in our Discipling Tool Kit for learning how to hear God’s voice.
Here is a short video featuring a tool we use in our Discipling Tool Kit for learning how to hear God’s voice.
I got home from being away with family. I brought my bags in and set them in the floor of the living room. Usually I put everything away as soon as I get in. This time the first thing I did was go sit on the front porch of our apartment building. I look straight out and there sits the Parthenon with downtown skyscrapers in the background. Centennial Park is bustling with runners and tourists as normal and traffic is buzzing past. The scene gets blurry as my eyes fill with tears.
Going back a few days ago, while in Alabama with family, I received an email from our new property owner telling us that all residents must be out by September 30th. Just like many other places in Nashville someone wants to tear down this old building to make way for bigger and newer. This was surprising and not surprising all at once. We always have been in awe that this old building is still standing at the rate they are building new ones around here. I have been sad thinking about it while away but thanks to God I have remained in complete peace about the situation. And as I arrived to this place we’ve called home for almost 4 years I needed a moment to let it sink in.
So as I sat on the porch and my eyes filled with tears, I began thinking on this gift of a place we’ve lived. God told us prior to signing any papers that he was giving us this apartment as a gift. Reflecting on it…that is truly what it has been. I understand the building is old and less than desirable for many, but this place has been perfect for us. The location is not only fun and enjoyable but it is very strategic and central. The park has not only given us walkable access to some of the best urban green space, festivals and free music in the city but also has hosted many intimate and revelatory moments with God. The hill next to us has been my most consistent, favorite ever “secret place” to spend time with God. Not to mention all the great walkable places to work, eat, or enjoy. Strategic in its perfect alignment with the Parthenon and state capital… hundreds of prayers have gone out from here. Prayers against the principalities and powers of darkness and proclamations for the kingdom of God to come in Nashville.
I spent the next few minutes thanking God for how he led us here and gave us this space to live, work, enjoy, and carry out the ministry he has called us to here. It has been a perfectly good space for us personally as well as to host OneLife and all those God has brought into our orbit. So, all of that, in short, is why I’ve been a little sad as I think about moving on. But as I sat there, with the city buzzing as usual, I felt a rest so thick I could almost touch it. A safety. A peace. Then I prayed for the city as I have so many times.
As I think ahead… I have no clue where we’ll end up, how fast, or how we’ll get there. The things I do know… God gave us this place when we thought it nearly impossible and He can give us another even better place for this next season of our life and OneLife. We know, as clear as ever, that He wants us here in Nashville to build extended families of disciples of Jesus that live on mission together. He has provided every little thing we’ve needed so far in our journey here. It hasn’t all looked like we expected but He has been faithful to speak to us and lead us all along the way.
I feel that Tim and I are fairly flexible in our living conditions but our apartment has become a safe place for people to come and visit throughout the week and it hosts weekly gatherings for OneLife. I’m asking for you to please pray with us. That we stay attuned to The Spirit’s leading to know what to do, where to go, who to ask, etc. That God will open up doors that nobody can shut and that He will provide and show us how to receive an even better place to live and for OneLife to continue operating from.
Honestly, it seems even more impossible to find a place now than it was when we were first moving to Nashville but I know the One who has called us here and how He has already made the way… and I know it is possible.
Thank you for your prayers and all the ways you have already joined us in what God is doing here!
Over the first part of this year it has become more and more obvious to me the importance of perspective. More specifically, the importance for me to seek out God’s perspective in life. It’s true that I wouldn’t be where I am or doing what I’m doing without His perspective. Though, recently I’ve felt the Holy Spirit has given me a stronger desire than usual to want to know the perspective of God (Father, Jesus, and Spirit) which I, Tiffany, know I need more of in my life. Tim has also, maybe in a different way, felt an increase in his desire for God’s perspective, often picturing Jesus with him and listening to what He’s saying.
I have felt this desire for divine perspective show up in many ways – from larger world or cultural patterns (often that I find discouraging) to just wanting perspective on how to work through a personal situation or how to relate to a person. So, at times when I was feeling disgusted or discouraged at something in the world, I turned to the Father and saw that He was filled with compassion and love. When I have felt frustrated or grumpy about a situation, I looked and saw Jesus just as jolly as could be. And in each situation… just that glance to look at God and ask what He thinks… it completely changes me – how I’m thinking, acting or reacting, or what I’m doing.
I think we all probably know that we need God’s perspective, but I have never turned to Him this often to seek it in big and small things. I’m realizing that I need to do this even more. When I see His perspective it brings more peace, more hope, more joy, more love, more kindness…wait, this sounds like the fruit of the Spirit. I guess that makes sense because this is who He is. He fills me and the situation with all of these things and more.
I’ll end this thought by sharing a little of Jesus’ heart for this city. One day last month I was praying for Nashville and asked Jesus for His perspective and prayer for the city. I wasn’t feeling down about it or anything negative. I was just praying and wondering what He was wanting and thinking. Here’s what I felt He shared with me…
Unity in diversity.
That bridges will be built between different people groups.
Not for the sake of unification but for the sake of people.
That there will be more paths for all people to walk toward Me…
Toward My love, My power, My peace, My hope, My abundant life for them.
That my Kingdom will reign.
Not for the sake of reigning but for the sake of the people.
That My transformative light can shine into all people
so that they can live into the fullness of their potential.
Yes, Jesus. Yes… that! I know it’s a better prayer than whatever I was praying!
Many of you have been following our journey here in Nashville for the past 3 years. So we wanted to share a significant revelation from God about the nature of his calling in my (Tim) life, and the implications it will have for us moving forward.
God has confirmed time and time again that he has called us to this city. We love Nashville, the people, and are passionate about making disciples and starting new expressions of the church here. Our first assignment from God in that regard has been to start a missional community in the Osage neighborhood of North Nashville. While our progress has been slow, it has been steadily marked by God’s supernatural provision and favor. We know this is where God has anchored us, and we are anticipating a fruitful year in 2019.
While Nashville is the city God sent us to live in, make disciples, and start new expressions of the church, God revealed to us early on that we would be doing mission in multiple contexts. Initially, we weren’t quite sure what that meant. At the very least, we knew it meant the scope of our calling would reach beyond the boundaries of that neighborhood.
The first context God opened up to us beyond the Osage neighborhood was in Huntsville, AL – 120 miles away. My mother lives in Huntsville, so we were already making periodic visits(often monthly) to tend to her needs. Long story short, a church down there that had been experiencing a trended decline invited me to come in and help them work through some of the foundational challenges they were facing. Over the past two years I have been going down there once a month to invest in their leaders, set up leadership structures and discipling processes, and conduct various training’s and workshops focused on discipleship, community, mission, prophetic ministry, and women in leadership, to name a few. God has done absolutely amazing things in that church. Their leaders have been Spirit-led, courageous, and incredibly wise in the ways they have served and led the community there. Transformation is taking place, new life is emerging, and we are so excited to see how God will carry out his plans for this church.
At the time I started walking with them, I really didn’t consider Huntsville as one of the “multiple contexts” that we would function in. Yet it seemed like God was opening up more doors in Huntsville than he was opening up in Nashville. In fact, for the past two years I have consistently asked God if he wanted us to move down to Huntsville. However, the more I asked God that question, the more he said, “No, stay in Nashville.” I was so puzzled by this. Why would God open up a door for us to work with such an amazing group of people in Huntsville, but not open up that kind of door for us in Nashville? In fact, when I would get really frustrated with how slow things were going in Nashville I would think to myself, “God should have sent us to Huntsville, not Nashville!”
It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that I started to understand what God has been up to all this time. As I was complaining to God one morning in my prayers, I heard him tell me to start reading 1 and 2 Timothy. For the next few weeks that’s all I read every morning. At first, I wasn’t sure why he had me reading these two books. So I asked him, “Why are you asking me to read these books?” I heard nothing. I asked him the same question over the course of the next several weeks…and still…I heard nothing. Then one morning, as I read these first two verses from 1 Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, To Timothy, a true son in the faith…”, God revealed to me something really significant about the nature of my vocation. This is how the conversation went:
God: Did I command you to be an apostle like Paul?
God: Then why do you feel like you have to be that for me?
God: You are a little “a” apostle, like Timothy, and the others. You don’t have to do what Paul did, or be what Paul was. I am releasing you from that burden. You answer to me. Your calling is from me.
This was a big revelation for me because I have always known that I had an apostolic gifting, but I had assumed it was of the Pauline variety – that my primary calling was to start new expressions of the church, from scratch, in multiple contexts.
Did I mention I had made an assumption?
God knows us better than we know ourselves. And to be honest, if God had spoken this to me a year ago I probably would not have been able to receive it. I assumed I was a Pauline apostle because I have always struggled to work at the center of an organization. I am drawn to the wide open spaces of the frontier. Also, there has always been a part of me that has thought the most effective way to participate in the mission of God was to start new churches from scratch. And to top it off, I really enjoy starting things from the ground up. If you leave me alone long enough, I’m going to start something. But God always knows when to reveal things to us, and how to reveal them in a way that we can receive it.
This insight about my apostolic gifting being like Timothy’s has opened up new levels of clarity as to how I most effectively participate in the mission of God. For example, I have really enjoyed the kind of work I have been doing with the church in Huntsville! In fact, God basically told me the nature of that work in Huntsville is very similar to the nature of Timothy’s apostolic work. For example, Timothy not only established new churches (with Paul, Silas and Luke), he was also sent into various fledgling and flourishing churches to examine the existing culture of the church (Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi), encourage greater faith development (Thessalonica, Philippi, and Ephesus), exemplify what it means to live and lead as a disciple of Jesus (Corinth and Ephesus), establish new leadership structures (Ephesus), educate God’s people about the foundational mystery of the gospel (Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus), evangelize (Ephesus), and expose false teaching/teachers (Ephesus). Basically, Timothy’s work was focused on helping churches become both sustainable and scalable. When a church developed those capacities, Timothy would make an exit, leaving the church in that area more healthy and missionally fit than when he arrived.
The obvious next question I had for God was, “How does this affect what you have called us to do in Nashville?” This was God’s response, “It doesn’t. You are still called to Nashville. Keep moving forward.” We were excited to hear this! The next thing I asked him was, “Then what needs to change?” He said, “The way you measure your fruitfulness.” You see, as I mentioned before, our journey here in Nashville has been slow…sometimes excruciatingly slow. To be honest, at times, I have been really discouraged about this. In fact, when people have asked me how things are going in Nashville sometimes I often cringe because we do have “fruit” from our work here, but not a lot – numerically speaking.
By way of contrast, when someone asks me how things are going in Huntsville, I have all kinds of great stories to tell. The leaders in the church there are experiencing genuine transformation, they have established scalable leadership structures, and the church overall is developing a focused capacity to walk in the power and guidance of the Spirit. There is a real momentum starting to develop there.
Now that I know the scope of my ministry is larger than Nashville, my metrics for what counts as being fruitful is changing. I’m no longer just going to “count” what’s happening in the local Nashville scene. I’m also going to start “counting” what’s going on trans-locally as well.
I am still working out the practical implications of what it means to function within a Timothy model of apostleship. I’m confident the Father will reveal more about the nature and function my vocation as I continue to walk in it. My request is that you pray for me to fully receive this revelation so I can walk in the fullness of what God has called me to.
I’ll be honest, this is all a little uncomfortable to put out like this but, in order for me to give God glory as He deserves, it feels necessary. About this time last year, God began a work in me. Well, really He was continuing a work to grow me from having a worrisome, penny-pincher mindset to fully trusting Him as my Father (with unlimited resources) who would absolutely provide for me. You see, I’ve always been a saver and very careful with money which has been mostly a good thing. Long story short, God, in a funny but most gentle and kind way, showed me that I was living like a rodent. Scavenging, over-thinking purchases, worrying too much about finances, and sometimes stingy if I’m honest (and I had improved some by this point.) I repented and allowed Him to work in me and by the time the New Year rolled around it was noticeable that He was reconstructing my perspective. He was also making it clear that in 2018 He wanted to prove to me how He could be my provider.
Tim and I moved to Nashville and, for a long time, largely lived off our savings along with profits from selling our house. We both knew that was what God was asking us to do when we moved here and we both felt at peace throughout that time. We did receive support from a few friends in that time, which we are so grateful for, as it prolonged the length those resources lasted! That money, however, was dwindling around the time God started to speak to me about my mindset and His ability to provide. Basically, this time last year, we could live maybe another month on our savings and we had one usable vehicle with 300,000 miles on it. We, somehow, instead of freaking out and fretting (as we’ve done before) retained peace and trust in Him. Perhaps God knew He needed to intervene before I had a chance to lose that. He was pressing in – telling me that I should not worry about spending or money and reassuring me that He knows how to provide everything I need and more.
If this were several years back and I had heard this idea (use up our savings and then just trust God to provide), I probably would’ve thought it was pretty foolish and unwise. But a year ago, somehow, we decided to trust God and what He was promising. Though we’ve never all-out trusted God in this way for our provision, He has always been faithful so I guess there was no good reason not to trust.
I can’t tell you how often the scripture in Matthew 6 was brought to mind over the past year when I saw a bird. “26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” It made me smile every time. And, a few verses down it says “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Along with a few other scriptures, God wanted me to read this aloud each day to be reminded and proclaim His promise.
And here’s what I’ve been leading up to… PRAISE TO OUR GOD! HE HAS BEEN SO FAITHFUL! HE HAS PROVIDED OUR EVERY NEED AND MORE over the past year! Not only our personal needs but also the cost of ministry expenses. My mind is still blown thinking of all His provision in this time. Though there were a handful of days anxiety tried to creep in…we never had a need to worry. He orchestrated a church to collect donations for us. Months when bills rang up more than our bank account, we’d get a check in the mail from someone in plenty of time or He’d provide extra opportunity to make money. Somehow, through Father God’s goodness, there has always been enough. He also led us to get a second vehicle by selling our old, unusable truck and replacing it with a properly working CRV. Then, a friend graciously decided to gift us his awesome car, allowing us to replace our well-used 300,000+ mile car. Wow, only in God’s kingdom economy do these things happen! To God, I am grateful beyond words. He has led us in what work to do and has sustained us just as He promised. All while keeping us in peace and consistent reassurance.
And to YOU, I am so very thankful for you. We are grateful for each of you who have chosen to generously give and participate in this work He has called us to. To you who have consistently given each month and to friends who have mailed just-in-time donations. To you who have given us gifts, bought us things, taken us out to eat, or given us a car! To all who have believed in us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us… we give thanks to God for you and ask Him to bless you in even greater measure! Your kindness and generosity has, many times this year, moved me to tears of thankfulness and awe.
This past year has been such a faith-building and humbling experience. It has been so good to learn to trust the Father more deeply – to trust that He will provide and a joy to see how He does that.
I have a confession…
First, the back story. If you’ve read our previous posts, you know how God led us on the path to Nashville, and how He orchestrated putting us in the apartment we are currently in. A seemingly weird but successful way to get an apartment in a prime location! Well, when we moved in, one of the first obvious things was the Parthenon – You can see it directly across the street from our front window.
Quick note about the Parthenon: It’s the centerpiece of our Centennial Park and is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon located in Athens, Greece. Inside is a full scale, 42 ft. replica of the statue of the Greek goddess Athena. For many this is purely ornamental, but we later discovered there are some who sit at the feet of this statue and pray to her. Yes, we talked to a lady at a park event one time who said she does this very thing. So to break it down, this is a goddess temple, and it is certainly not one representing the name of Jesus.
Back to our apartment location. Within the first day or so of moving in, Tim noted he had read that the Tennessee State Capitol is in perfect alignment with the Parthenon. So let’s add this up: our apartment is in direct alignment with the Parthenon, which means our very apartment is in direct alignment with The Parthenon and the Capitol building. We’re on a hill higher than both of those locations so we can see the tops of both buildings. As soon as he mentioned that fact and I recognized it with my own eyes…something inside me shook and was like “Woah. This has to be significant for some reason.” I knew God placed this exact apartment into our laps as a gift and I knew that it was not a coincidence that it happened to be above and directly aligned with these two major buildings in the city. Notice how the building tips line up in the picture.
This fact boggled my mind and for a long time I kept asking God what was up with this. Why would He place us in this exact spot? I continued to ask but it wasn’t until over a year later that I finally felt like He answered. I was sitting on the front porch one evening praying for the city and talking to God about various things. I once again asked Him about this. Here’s my journal entry from that day:
Me: Why did you place us directly and perfectly aligned with the Parthenon and capital? What is the meaning of this?
Answer I hear: You are more powerful than the principalities and powers. Than the evil spirits and government. You are above all of that. In me, you are greater. Greater than the enemy. Greater than any other force. Greater than those that lead and govern. You, in me, have more power than all of that.
I believe that God set us here, living on this hill situated above and in line with the Parthenon and Capitol to be a constant reminder that there are many powers and authorities in this city but there is not one above Jesus. None greater or more powerful than our God! And the Spirit of God lives within us! This spot was more strategic than I could have imagined, and I have felt the call to pray with the authority of Jesus’ name over and for Nashville and all that influences it.
Here is where my confession comes in. Since the time of this revelation I have not taken full advantage of this strategic location and my authority in Jesus to pray over Nashville and its influencers. Sure, I pray for Nashville regularly concerning many different things, but not to the extent, intentionality, regularity, or intensity that I feel that God is calling me to. This location He has placed us in has been a wonderful blessing. Honestly, we love where we live! However, I want to use this strategic location, in this time, to pray powerfully and boldly for Nashville. Calling on God to reign, to demolish strongholds and barriers that are keeping the city from Him, to do away with evil spirits and powers that are at work, to pray for leaders and influencers, to proclaim His will and name over any other.
So why am I telling you this? Well, I do want to be honest, but also, telling you brings some accountability for me to walk in this calling to pray over the city. I also want to ask you to pray for us that God will continue to reveal to us his desire and heart for Nashville. That we will see His vision for the city and proclaim His power and way here. Yes, we currently have a specific mission in certain areas but there is also a city at large. God certainly has a greater mission for this city as a whole and I believe He wants us to stay reminded and keep our eyes in line with His greater vision.
In a previous post, we shared a diagram that maps out a pathway for doing incarnational mission. The first step is Immersion – spending time in the neighborhood. The goal is to be present and quietly participate in the life of the community. We’ve been doing this for about a year now.
The next step is Interaction with people. This is basically about connecting with people who live in that context. We’ve met lots of stakeholders in the community, people who really care about the future of that neighborhood, and people living there.
After spending time with people in that context, we pulled back and went through a process of discernment. We asked ourselves “What are we hearing?” and “What are we seeing?” We asked this from both a practical and spiritual perspective. The goal was to observe, reflect, and discuss our insights about the cultural and spiritual realities of that context.
With that insight, we moved into the Imagination phase. We asked ourselves the question, “What would it look like for the kingdom of God to come in a fuller way here?” After a time of prayer and discussion, we felt like four focal points emerged:
Each one of those focal points provided us with a starting point for the Innovation process. These are some of the things we started doing as a result:
Each one of these focal points has opened up opportunities for us to participate in what God is doing in this community.
After about a year and half, we are stepping into the Improvisation stage. This is where you look back at what you have been doing, and make adaptive changes based on what you have been experiencing. This too requires a process of discernment, so we want to invite you to help us do that. Here are 4 things we are requesting your prayers for:
Thank you for investing your time and prayers in what God has called us to do. You’re a blessing!
Since before we moved to Nashville I have had this thing with hammocks. We talked in another blog about a prayer retreat we went on that led us to move to Nashville. Well during my quiet time on that retreat I had an experience on an old hammock and the Lord used that to speak to me about our upcoming time here.
We were at our friend’s cabin and they had an old rope hammock hanging on the front porch. I decided to try it out and as I slowly put my weight into it… it kept sinking lower and lower and lower. Finally, I laid back and it held me up… but barely! My behind was just a few inches off the ground. I laid there sort of chuckling at the situation and was reminded how I would lay in the hammock back home (which was much more comfortable) and tell God that I trust Him. That is what my hammock moments had come to symbolize over the previous months…my trust in Him.
As I remembered this symbol, I felt God start to speak to me. He said it (this new direction He’s taking us) is not going to be so comfy like the hammock back home. It’s going to be stretching. Even when it seems that He is barely holding me up… He will hold me. I must completely trust Him despite how it appears. I will be able to rest in Him and have peace because I know He’s got it. Then I settled in for a few more minutes and even dozed off. I was somehow at rest in the discomfort.
It’s hard not to tear up as I remember and type this because that hammock experience so well represents our experience here in Nashville and leading up to us moving here. We’ve had to exercise trust in God more than we ever have in our lives. It has been stretching at times and at times can easily seem like the Lord isn’t going to hold us up. Despite this, we are all in. Laid out on the hammock in complete trust. It’s almost weird the level of peace that I’ve been able to enjoy as we continually try to rest. Resting in our God. In who He is. In who we are in Him. In His promises to us. In His provision. In His love. In His faithfulness.
I’m writing this now because over the summer months the Holy Spirit has led me back into taking times in the hammock. In fact, recently, almost every week I feel the pull to go lay in the hammock even if I only have a few minutes. I use that time to tell God how I trust Him. Taking a moment to rest in Him. That no matter how our circumstances may feel or appear that week… He’s got it. He’s got us. He knows what He’s doing. I can rest securely in my God, knowing that He’s at work and will do what He said He’d do. There is no place I’d rather be. In complete peace.
Proverbs 3:5-6 is a verse that the Lord has given me to I read aloud daily, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Whether you have a hammock or not, I hope you will take a hammock moment soon… May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
As we mentioned in the previous post, we had the chance to have a mission weekend with some friends in late June! You heard from Dustin in the Part 1 post, but we also wanted you to hear from our two friends from out of town, Jason and Jon. Here are their interviews with Tim about their visit to Nashville.
We had the amazing opportunity to do a mission weekend at the end of June. We had two of our friends from out of state, as well as our local friend Dustin who has been hanging out with OneLife for several months, hang out with us for a weekend of prayer outreach and prayer walking. Here is a video of Dustin talking about his experience from that weekend.