Sunday, January 10, 2010

We are Strong

One of my favorite movies is "Glory". It is the story of one of the first black regiments to fight in the civil war. It is about a group of men, united in their race, yet different in their approaches to dealing with a world that sees them less than human, without value, and as souless pieces of property. The story is about the formation of a new all black regiment, and their road to becoming a unified and strong group of men willing to sacrifice everything, to have freedom for all. They fought in the attack on Fort Wagner which was a near impossible battle for them to win. Yet knowing they would probably die in the process, they led the charge. The movies final scenes are so powerful, showing the charge up the hill to the fort, and the flag bearer leading the charge. Each time the flag bearer fell to gunfire, another soldier would pick up the flag to show everyone they were still moving ahead. As long as the flag was moving, everyone else followed. The Battle was eventually lost, but politically, it was pivotal in the winning of the war. It exposed the need for the strength of a group of people previously held without value until that time. It showed that the battle could not be won without the full army of men needed to fight. People who were kept locked away in the darkness of ignorance, hate, and fear, finally came to front lines to bring light and carry the flag. It was a dark time in American history, we were more divided than we have ever been. Yet through the sacrifice of so many, the oppresive darkness was illuminated, and America was changed.

We started the Able Church in order to begin a process of organizing a regiment. We are a group finding our way, learning to be leaders, servants, and soldiers. We have encountered judgement, disbelief, and even anger at our vision. Much like the fighting 54th infantry of Glory, we are endeavoring to do things most do not believe can be done, and even fewer are willing to try. We want to lead by holding the flag up high. We want give opportunity for our brothers and sisters with disabilities to use the gifts God has given them to illuminate the darkness of the body, to bring completeness to an an incomplete church. The world has put people with disabilities in a place very close to what the black race encountered in the Civil War days. We kill off our unborn because they may have a disability, we devalue millions of people because they don't look, talk, walk, or live up to bar we have set. We rule people out because of what is seen rather than what is unseen. In the process we are losing a part of our own body, a needed, life giving, and important part.

The church is the only place where this can change, where we can embrace and retain a part of "us" so badly needed. It is a dark time in America, it is a dark time in the church, we are as divided as ever, we need strength now more than ever. We need a group that appears weak and unable to lead to show God's strength, bring unity, and lead a charge.

We are thankful to Living Hope Church, who have embraced us and given us a home, a family, and opportunity to be part of the fight. We will fight the battle along side them, carrying the flag so the world can see our God, whom is our only hope, in this dark world. Together we are learning that We are Strong and if we fight the battles God leads us to then we can help win the war.

Little Tony

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

Many are the plans of a man's heart but it is the Lords purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

I have been reflecting on the year of 2009, as many have, entering a new year. It was a good year, a hard year, a growing year, a year God pressed on me to takes steps to move closer to him. This is good... yet growth hurts as it stretches and changes everything.
Our camp theme was "I am God's Plan". The camp theme is a big deal to me. I spend allot of time in thought, prayer and preparation before I present it to everyone. The theme over the last year has helped me to come to a place of acceptance of what I believe God is moving me towards in my life. A year ago as a cloudy vision unfolded, I did not like God's purpose for me and was unwilling to accept it, as I already had a plan. So 12 months later and I have grown and now can see with clearer vision how God will unfold His plan for me and others. I am scared as move forward, I have said before, that the man God has shown me down the road, seems like an impossibility for me to be. I see my self doing things I know I cannot do, nor really want to. But, above my fear and self centeredness is my love for God, and knowledge that He can accomplish anything He wishes through us if we just say yes.
So in 2010 I am resolving to be at peace where God is taking me, to act in His strength as I do the work He lays out, and to be relentless in conveying the message He gives me to share.
I share all of that to tell you our theme at Camp Daniel for 2010..."We are Strong" I know it sounds simple, yet it conveys what we need to believe in order to share God's love in way to shake the world. Our campers must know that they are strong, because God has gifted them with weakness, and it is easier for Him to show His power through already weak vessels. We must come to the church with this message; embrace those who seem weak, those the world hates, because they are strong.
I am, on one hand not looking foward to a year of embracing this paradox. It will prove to be hard, to say the least. But on the other hand I look forward to the challenge of leading the charge. I will, in the coming days share more about it. In the meantime I am thankful to God for His patience in dealing with me yet another year as I pursue my own plans and He laughs as He unfolds His purpose. I sure am weak... I mean strong!