Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Foundry Reflections

I would like to reflect for you a little of what it has meant for me to be here at Grace Church and in the Foundry. This has been the best 4 1/2 years of my life. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be a part of the Foundry. Being here with all of you and Kurt and Julie has caused unimaginable growth in my spiritual life. It would literally take me all night to even give you a summary of everything I have learned in the past 4 years, but I will try to summarize a few of them.
The most important life changing times for me at Grace have been every Sunday morning sitting under Kurt’s preaching. His preaching is so contagious, inspiring, and convicting that my heart is truly changed after each of his sermons. I find my self asking “How can I change” and “What should I do now?” His sermons about having an eternal perspective and concepts of regret and tears we will experience in heaven from missed opportunities. Sermons about how loving Christ means loving the Church and the people in the Body of Christ by being there and engaged in seeking those in the Church to love, encourage and exhort- thinking NOTHING of your own interests but ONLY in those interests of others; Sermons about extravagant devotion to Christ; Sermons about dating and how wisdom in dating is like wisdom in any other area of life- its all about character, humility and willingness to seek “expensive” counsel- also not going to a counselor with your plans but seeking an unbiased opinion of your life and next steps.
I have also been changed by the retreats and Resolved Conferences. At first when I moved to Grace, coming from a smaller church, I couldn’t believe that a retreat was going to be over $100 but it didn’t take more than the first retreat I went to with Mike Fabarrez that I realized this is not a retreat I was used to. It was a retreat where the focus is on growing spiritually in HUGE ways and glorifying and serving God by dicipiling each other and digging into each other’s lives. The amount I grew spiritually from retreats and Resolved is something I never could have expected or imagined. I can’t really even put it into words except to say that now looking back I would pay anything (literally I would take out a loan) to be able to have this life changing spiritual growth.
I would have said before I came to Grace that I believe in the Sovereignty of God, but like so many Christians that claim to belief was not manifesting itself in my life. Being here at Grace has shown me how to live every minute trusting and rejoicing in his sovereignty. I learned this through watching people here live this out, and seeing how it affects their attitude about everything.
I would like to end with an encouragement to you. It is my experience that all too often people in the foundry ask questions like “how are my needs being met here in the foundry?” “is core group right for me? is it helping me or causing growth in my life? is the fellowship here worth it to me?” If you have asked these questions you are not alone: I have first hand experience with people in the foundry and I KNOW FOR SURE that when you come into the Foundry expecting anything of your own interests or desires, you will be disappointed. I would submit to you that you need NOT EVER look out for your own spiritual needs. When you are focused solely on looking out for the spiritual needs of others and give NO THOUGHTS WHATSOEVER to yourself, you will grow and flourish in the foundry or any fellowship you are in. God is the one who takes care of your needs and HE will be faithful when YOU are faithful. “My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus”
On a side note, being in a singles ministry with children people have asked if we get enough exposure to other “families”, while Justin and I never gave that need of ours a second thought... in turn we have had the three... honestly.... GODLIEST FAMILIES WITH SMALL CHILDREN I HAVE EVER MET: the Gebhards, Smalls and Becks as our dear friends to look up to as an example. Anywhere else I go I can assure you we will greatly miss our exposure and deep friendships here in the foundry to amazing Godly families.
I would like to end with letting you know that you have THE BEST pastor in the universe, and as the Vice President of the Kurt Gebhards Fan Club (my husband being the president) I encourage you to soak up everything you can from Kurt and Julie. They have been amazing friends and mentors to us. Often when encouraging, dicipling and counseling, I find myself using “Kurtisms” and saying “Well Kurt says...” and “One time Kurt mentioned...” etc. Kurt will ALWAYS be my pastor no matter where Justin and I go in the world. Even if I have to ride a broken bike with no shoes and three kids strapped to my back for 10 hrs to get to an internet cafe to wait 5 hrs for a download... I will continue to hear Kurt preach on Sundays!!
Soooo... appropriately I will end with a Kurtism I have always wanted to say...
MUCH LOVE FOUNDRY I will see you Sunday!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Looking Back...

Although I will not miss stressful deadlines and the constant pressures Justin faced for papers and tests, I will miss many other things about the last 4 1/2 years of Seminary. We have been building relationships that will be life long friends and prayer partners. The amount of growth we have both gone through here is amazing. Our spiritual growth and walk with the Lord has been so refined and strengthened. It has been an amazing journey for us both to truly look into the deep concepts of theology and be taught things we didn't even know we needed to learn. Although all this head knowledge we received was amazing and we are so thankful for it, it wouldn't have been solidified in our lives without the practical experience of ministry we were blessed to be a part of in the Foundry. Kurt Gebhards and his leadership team (or should I say "teams" throughout the past 4 years)have shepherded our souls and taught us how to lead others with passion and fervor. The blessing of watching Kurt for these amazing years has taught us more than a seminary education ever could. It is hard to put into words what his ministry has meant to us, and it brings me to tears just to try. This has been the best 4 years of our lives and we will never be the same. Our effectiveness for the Lord has been increased because faithful saints have invested into our lives. We are eternally grateful. Praise God!!