Circle

An ODC Story: Jen Farrar on Learning to Listen

If you haven't heard, there was a workshop hosted by Melissa & Zach Anderson a couple of weeks ago that focused on equipping us to truly listen for the voice of the Father.  I knew it was going to be a huge moment for those who participated, but I couldn't have anticipated the seismic activity that is rippling in and through Open Door as a result.  Below, Jen Farrar reflects on the experience of the workshop and what shifted (and continues to shift) in her life as a result.  For those of you who missed the first one or who want to freshen up on your listening tools, Melissa is hosting one-day workshop Listening Workshop this Sunday, March 30.  Contact Melissa (melissabelleanderson (at) gmail.com) to register.  Here's Jen's reflection: Several months ago I received an email from Open Door asking if they could use my house for a workshop.  It was easy to reply “yes” to the email, however, I had no idea what I was replying yes to.

More emails arrived in my inbox to prepare those signed up for the workshop.  To be perfectly honest, I didn’t fully read them, as I wasn’t committed to attending the training.  With three small kids and a husband who was going to be away for part of the weekend, what more of an excuse did I need to not engage?  I find myself entering into this type of excuse often, when I’m tired and the laundry is piled high, “I don’t have time for you God, there’s too much to do and I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” 

God had a different plan for the weekend.  Melissa & Zach Anderson and a crew of folks came in Saturday morning and took over my house, in a good way.  They had baby sitters, coffee brewing, snacks, and months worth of prayer and preparation to get folks like me to pay attention to what God was trying to say, no matter how “busy” we think our lives are.  

35 people came into our home that weekend for prayer, worship and to really learn to listen. 

The focus of the workshop was on listening to the voice of God.  My 7 year old often asks this question, “How do you hear God?”  It’s such an important question, one worth spending time learning and listening whether you are an adult or a child.  The workshop gave me tangible opportunities to listen to God speak.   One thing I’ve always longed to hear God say are the words, “You are my daughter, my precious little girl.”  My earthly father has never said those words to me, rather he’s told me how I never measured up to his expectations.  

Spoken, sung, prayed, whispered, I kept hearing I was loved and precious from God.  I felt God wrap his arms around me.  I saw the sky open up with doves flying and heard God say, "You are my beloved and precious daughter, whom I am well pleased."  My heart is still overflowing with joy from the singing that took place in our dining room.  It truly felt like a choir of angels singing together.  

The biggest shift for me was to feel God’s love.  Simply put, I know I am loved.

Over the past month, I have heard God speaking to me more clearly.  Not words of condemnation, but of acceptance and Love. 

Several weeks have now passed since the “high” of the weekend workshop.  Like any retreat I have ever been on, entering back in to reality is always a little difficult.  There’s often a little doubt that it all could have been true.  Could God really love me?  Is it really His voice I heard and hear on a daily basis, telling me I am precious?

I am on a quest now to keep hearing God and to find ways to hear I am loved. 

I have a strong desire to hear His voice and for it to replace Satan’s lies in my mind.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated, unworthy, I have heard God say to me, “I have given you the task of caring for 3 children and serving your husband.  Do this with joy and gratitude in your heart and in return, I will give you joy!”

The change that occurred in my heart was directly related to my connection and intimacy with God.  The ability to listen to Him speak to me is a tremendous gift.  I feel empowered and I feel like I have the authority to dispel the lies from Satan.  

In no way do I feel as if I have arrived or have become the confident, strong and faithful Proverbs 31 woman God created me to be.  I have made a small shift, however, in how I look at my life.  I am grateful for God’s love. I am grateful for all His blessings. 

I am His daughter and I hear Him whisper, “you are precious and loved, no matter what.”  

The Lent Project :: Descriptions & Details

Lent is a 40-day journey in which we practice denial in an effort to recognize the distance between who we are and who we’re becoming in Christ.  It’s an ancient practice designed to help us embrace our humanity, recognize our ongoing need for a Savior, and encounter grace in refreshing ways.

This year, Open Door will practice Lent in a unique, communal, and experiential kind of way:

The Lent Project: Six Practices of Intentional Denial.

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Throughout this journey, we will engage in six different practices of denial and, in so doing, create margin to commune with Jesus in silence and solitude, community with others, and solidarity with the majority world.

Here’s how it’ll work:

At each Gathering during the Lent Season (March 9 – April 20), we will initiate that particular week’s practice.  Then, for the next 7 days, we’ll live it out (Sunday evening to the following Saturday evening).  For those of us in Circles, we’ll meet together to process, storytell, and learn from each other throughout the week.

If you’re not currently in a Circle but would like to join one to journey through the Lent Project with others, contact Heidi & Clint.

Here are the 6 Practices of Intentional Denial:

  1. Media Fast :: Turn off all media (Computers, TV’s, iPads, iPhones) from 8pm-8am.  Replace the time that would normally be spent engaging media with silence, rest, and community.  This first experience will prepare you well for the next five. Media Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 9th.
  2. Essentials Only :: Reduce your spending to the essentials: bills, toiletries, and 3 simple meals/day.  Simple meals should be prepared and eaten at home (brown-bag @ work) rather than out and should include pot-luck style shared tables with others.  This experience will help us face our consumerism and convenience spending while also helping us to consider budgeted and generous living.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Essentials Only will be launched on Sunday, March 16th.
  3. Majority World Diet :: Eat on $3/day by utilizing Trade As One’s majority world diet kit.  Each kit contains enough rice and beans (& preparation instructions) for one person for five days.  This experience of intentionally simplifying your diet will help you stand in solidarity with the majority world and will help you understand how much money you actually spend on food every week.  Note: the average savings per person will be $75-$100. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Majority World Diet will be launched on Sunday, March 23rd.
  4. Comfort Fast :: Give up either your bed (sleep on the floor) or warm showers (cold showers are acceptable) for the week.  As we stand in solidarity with the majority world, allow Jesus to awaken us to our preferences for convenience and luxury.  If you’re really up for a challenge, give up both! Comfort Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 30th.
  5. Environment Fast :: Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by at least half.  This could include utilizing public transportation or the casual carpool and/or walking and biking rather than driving.  This may include tele-commuting rather than heading into the office and turning down your water-heater. No doubt, this experience will continue to help us confront our convenience and should reduce our commitments for the week.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Environment Fast will be launched on Sunday, April 6th.
  6. Extras Purge :: Take an inventory of all of your belongings.  How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have?  Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras.  Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away.  Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale.  Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with.  If money is raised, what will you do with it?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Extras Purge will be launched on Sunday, April 13th.

As you engage this pilgrimage as an individual and in community with others, here are some questions to take you deeper into the experience and into intimacy with God, self, and others:

  1. What challenge am I / are we experiencing?
  2. What does this practice expose about me / us?
  3. What is helpful about this practice?
  4. What is one highlight from this week?
  5. What is Jesus saying to me / us?
  6. What am I / are we going to do about it?
  7. What will our Circle do with the excess $$$?

 

Listening: The Gateway to Identity & Mission

How are we to know who God is, who we are, and who others are if we're not familiar with the voice of the Father?  How are we to understand how to join Him in His reconciling work here and now if we don't know what He's saying to us?  In a new Circle launching on Feb. 15 & 16 and guided by Melissa Anderson & Alison Knox, we'll explore these questions and others and be equipped with a practical tool to help us listen for the Father's voice.  Below, Melissa reflects a bit on her own journey of listening.

As a little girl, we had an exchange. I’d sing to Him as I looked into the sky and I’d feel Him smiling back through the warmth of the sun on my face. I honestly remember feeling Him, knowing Him, hearing Him, loving Him as young as four. What I had with Jesus was sweet, it was simple and it was true.

By the time I was ten, I had endured years of shame, fear, control and abuse in a household that claimed Jesus as their Lord. We would dress in our best for church every Sunday and after a morning of violence, in we would file. My parents would teach, lead and serve as elders and my siblings and I learned to play the part of, ‘happy family’. I was bitter. I was angry and I was done singing.

 Religion was a game I played. I knew all the rules, asked no questions, knew who was in charge and how to look just fine, all the time. No one knew the dark, angry girl I was. I laughed at the existance of God and hated the church. By the age of fifteen, I had already decided that I wanted to take my own life. I still hid very well and not a soul knew.

The summer before I turned sixteen, waiting for the right time to go through with my plan, I was forced to go to a summer camp with a group of teens and Youth Pastor I did not even know. This was not your typical summer camp. They didn’t have normal campfire, or ‘cabin’ time to share a bible verse or, two. We had church! The Pastor would preach and the kids would worship, really worship; hands raised and all! They spoke in tongues and answered altar calls! This was all a bit overwhelming as at this point I did not even acknowledge God’s existence. However, each night I experienced things as I clung to my seat, that I could not explain. After several nights of this, I was clinging particularly hard as I tried to resist walking up to the front of the room where the Youth Pastor stood. It was in vain. I remember not knowing how I had gotten up there as I looked into the Pastor’s eyes. He began to recite my life story and he told me that God did not want me to go through with my plan to end my life. He somehow knew all that I was ashamed of and yet, he also knew that Jesus just wanted to be close to ME. It was then that the words reached my heart and washed over me like nothing I had ever known before. I saw my first vision that night. It was simple and sweet and true. I saw Jesus and I, hand in hand, skipping rocks on the lake, walking and talking together as friends.  

Walking out of the room that night, I knew two things; someone who was able to hear God’s voice saved my life and that that same God loved ME. Those two things changed the course of my life forever.

I was absolutely enchanted by the thought of being as intimate with Jesus as He suggested in that vision and I wanted to be able to touch someone as I had been and possibly save a life.  I immediately began a journey of learning to listen. I studied, I was mentored, taught, and challenged in this practice and I was given tremendous tools. I am passionate about promoting Intimacy with Jesus and sharing what I have learned with anyone who asks.

The tool that has been by far, the simplest, most tangible and easy to replicate has been the one I will be sharing on February 15th and 16th. I continue to experience God's transformative Love through this regular practice. The first day of the workshop, I will share with you a bit more of my listening journey and help activate you in this practice. On day two, using this practice, we will begin to dip our toes into capturing His heart for the ones around us and sharing what we receive with the utmost honor, Love and respect.