Adventuring with Jesus

Above: Hanging out with youth in Travertine Falls, lower Grand Canyon

I’m thankful for the time that I’ve had in July and August to rest and rejuvenate and engage in a huge passion of mine for the outdoors. I spent time in Arizona with family and working as a riverguide with Grand Canyon Youth.


It’s been an adventurous summer – and indeed for each of us living every day with Jesus is truly an adventure.

In his book “Love Does,” Bob Goff says “Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trap where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.”

Similarly, through prayer and reflection, this summer I felt God asking me a question, “Kelly, what do you want?”

While there are many things in life that I want, at the deepest part of my soul, I always come back to one answer: I want to see the Church be the fully united, reconciled bride of Christ.

As God’s people, we are to be a sign of God’s kingdom which has come. Through Christ, God came to reconcile us with Himself, and as bearers of this message, we are the physical body of Christ here on earth.

Today’s world can be characterized by hatred and division, but the Church, like no other institution, can embody the reality of a dynamic reconciling love.

So, what do I want? Simply that all people who call on Jesus as the Lord and Savior would be one.

That is my greatest passion and my heartbeat. Despite trials and hardship, I can’t get away from it. It’s what drives me during the day, and it’s what keeps me up at night. Thus, I’m beginning to see that my life is a prayer with Jesus, yearning that we would be one, so that the world will more fully recognize Him as the Son of God (John 17:23).

There are small signs of this kingdom coming here in Boston. There was an article this month about UniteBoston posted on the Paulist Fathers “Koinonia” newsletter, which is super cool!

Also this month, there was an article about Boston from a nationally recognized ministry stating that “Many of Boston’s denominational and church leaders are passionate about unity and are sharing life and discipleship across Orthodox, Pentecostal, Catholic and Evangelical congregations. In fact, many churches blend the best from various church traditions. This is a trend that is taking traction in other cities, and Boston will surely provide fascinating models for unity.”

UniteBoston is just a small part of the unity that God is bringing forth here in Boston – and we’re so grateful to have you be a part of things!  The best is yet to come ~

Grateful Abundance

IMG_1718I had the privilege of visiting my family in Arizona last week, and we drove to Albuquerque to visit my Nana in her elderly care home. She carefully escorted us down to the dining area, where we sat in wooden chairs amidst dozens of walkers and chatty old folks.

As myself, my sister, her husband, and her new baby son entered the room, all eyes were drawn to us, and remarks about the cuteness and sanctity of the new baby came our way: “Oh wow, look at him!” and “How precious!“ That’s the great thing about having a baby in your company – it instigates a conversation starter with perfect strangers.

(Side note: A few hours later I carried bundled baby Tyler around Trader Joe’s. I embraced the attention given to me per their assumption that I was the mother, taking their questions in stride until someone asked me his birthday. I had to fess up at that point. Yes, I hope that someday motherhood will be a reality for me, but until then I will have to live vicariously through my sister.)

Back in the elderly home, I was struck by the stark contrast between this small little one with perfect skin and the women and men with age-old wrinkles that filled the rest of the room. And yet, both my nephew and my nana have a lot in common. It’s been said that we begin life and end life on our knees: In total dependence on others.

Life is full of beginnings and endings. Tyler, only 7 weeks old with a whole life ahead of him. Who will he be? What will he do? What challenges will he face and how will he overcome them? And my sweet Nana, 92 years old, with an amazing life behind her of raising my dad and his brothers, a life serving and loving others wholeheartedly.

Moments like these are powerful because you begin to see the fragility of life. We are born, we grow up and live for a few dozen years, and then we die. What will you do with the life you have been given?

Personally, I can live with great hope because of my faith. I take heart in living not just for this life but for the life to come. I live for a day beyond the grave, a day where there is no crying or hardship or pain, because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. And this redemptive vision enables me to live today with me great hope.

Seeing the generations together in one room helps you to appreciate where you are in the journey of life, and inspires you to intentionally live each day with renewed purpose: to love others with the love we have received from God.

But living in the moment is hard to do. For me, I tend to grasp after the “next” thing, longing for the next stage of life. I’m now thirty, which is maybe ⅓ of my life. What have I done so far? And what will I accomplish? It’s too easy just to run through life, looking towards the “next” to satisfy us, instead of embracing each day and finding the gift within it.

I recently stumbled upon a poem written by Jason Lehmen. There is great wisdom within this poem that was written when he was only 14 years old:

Present Tense

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

Ann Voskamp, author of an amazing book called One Thousand Gifts, writes that in the wake of all the rushing there are a thousand broken and missed things, that in the haste we think we are making up time but in fact we are throwing it away. She concludes, “Our fall was, has always been and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

So, my new year’s resolution is to appreciate where I am here and now, to savor the moment, to have the attitude that, “This is the good life.” We cannot live in tomorrow because the gift of today is all we have.

Someone recently said that we should live life like the way we appreciate a five course meal. When eating a delicious meal, you receive each course as it comes, savoring in the flavors of each and every bite. You don’t dwell on what dessert could be like, because all that you have in front of you is a delicious savory soup or a meaty steak. In a really superb meal, you are living completely in the moment, savoring each and every bite, as well as the rich conversation with the people around you. In this new year, I want to approach each day as a delectable meal that God has set out before me to enjoy.

My desire for 2016 is to grow in my ability to savor the gift of each moment laid out before me. Embracing the moment means that I am trusting in the sovereignty of God to lead me and provide for my every need, in His way and in His time. David writes in Psalm 23 that, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” It’s as we understand God as our shepherd and our provider that we can live in the place of grateful abundance.

10 Days Boston: Re-Igniting Fires of Faith

 

Above – 10 Days gathering at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston

10 Days Boston this year was amazing! But don’t take my word for it. :)

Christian unity comes down to our ability to see Jesus in one another. This year, we took videos of friends throughout the city sharing their story of how God changed their perspectives of the Church as they attended the various gatherings.

For example, a young man named Matt from Youth With A Mission felt led to share an encouraging word from God with a woman who was chanting at the Greek Orthodox gathering. Matt was hesitant to mention anything because he wasn’t sure if that was a doctrine that their church practiced. But, during the fellowship time, he shared what God had put on his heart about the gift that God had given this woman for worship.

After pausing to take in the words, she responded, “Sometimes I just go through the motions of singing, but because of what you said, you have just re-lit the fire of my faith.” 

With UniteBoston, our coming together across diversity provides an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to bring life to various parts of the church. We are individually ignited to see our own faith as a valuable part of the corporate whole. In fact, the original name that God gave me for this ministry was “Ignite.”

Listen to the whole story here:

More photos and video testimonies of changed lives are available on the full blog report here.

Yes, as the body connects together, we know that “We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Truly, God is up to great things in Boston – Thanks for being a part of His great work!

Update: Missionary Support Account Change

Hello!

God is doing amazing things through Journey Church and UniteBoston, and it’s because of you that I’m able to do what I do every day! (By the way, have you checked out our awesome new website www.uniteboston.com?)

We are in an exciting season with UniteBoston. Due to God’s grace and your partnership, we’ve grown more than ever before! Now that we’ve received our tax-exempt status as a 501c3 organization, I’m now able to receive the funds that constitute my salary through UniteBoston, rather than through Elim Fellowship.

We have a skilled finance volunteer with us to help process our finances, which means that more of the money that you give will go directly towards our work in the city, rather than the overhead processing fees that were charged through Elim Fellowship.

This is good news! I would be honored if you would consider joining the team of people that is supporting God’s work in Boston through this ministry!

To do this, simply go to uniteboston.com/give and click on “Staff Support” in the drop down menu. Recurring donations can be made for your convenience.

If you prefer to give by check, include “Kelly Steinhaus” in the memo line and mail it to:
UniteBoston
P.O. Box 961162
Boston, MA 02196

Thank you for your partnership in this ministry. I know there are many places you could give, so I don’t take for granted that you choose to invest in God’s kingdom through UniteBoston! I’m deeply grateful to be here in Boston and living out the things that God has called me to, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without you. So, from the bottom of my heart, seriously… THANK YOU!!

Be assured of this promise: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)

Much love in Christ,
Kelly

God’s Fun Side

As my bike tires sped along the gray asphalt path, spring green leaves canopied above and drizzly mist tickled my skin. I smiled, as the first-time-this-year pleasantly warm temperatures filled me with joy, inside and out.

All of the sudden, the skies ruptured open, flinging sheets of rain downward. I watched as large drops of water splattered onto every dry corner of my clothing, making it tie-dyed, then solid, until every ounce of me was solidly soaked. While other street-goers scampered for shelter, my legs continued pedaling, the water separating around my bike like the parting of the Red Sea. I actually enjoyed getting wet in a warm summer rain, and really, once you’re wet, you’re still wet.

I had been thinking about a lot of things that day, and came to understand that I had lost a bit of my sense of wonder of following Jesus. Somehow, amidst all the ministry meetings, bible studies, and Sunday services, following Jesus had become a bit dry – which is a sign that something needed to change, as Jesus is never boring.

So I prayed, “God, can you show me your fun side?”

A burst of lightning flashed above me, simultaneous with a deafening clap of thunder.

A few seconds later, my bike tire nearly ran over a red rose right in the road in front of me.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 6.45.06 PM

What a cool way for Jesus to answer that prayer! He is so fun, such a romancer.

Yet the most ironic part about this story is that when I got home and checked my email, my friend had written me, saying, “This morning I saw this beautiful red flower all by itself in this abandoned parking lot with lots of garbage everywhere. For some reason I thought of you. You are that beautiful red flower in all its greatness and glory among the world. Keep shining bright Kelly!”

Wow! Isn’t that cool? Yes, God most definitely has a fun side. I dried and hung the rose on my wall to remember that we must never lose our sense of wonder in following Jesus.

photo-20

Made to Sing

Lately, as I stroll into my ministry meetings with my helmet clipped to my backpack, I get many stares.

“You…biked here? Today?” As if I just cart around my helmet for fun.

“Yep. I bike in the winter. It’s how I get around,” I respond, nonchalantly. And I usually get a blank stare, as if someone told you they had just walked to the moon.

Yesterday, I was toodling along the road on my bike here in Cambridge, heading to the Journey Church office. My head was spinning with all the things I had to do that afternoon – the people to reach out to, the all-important meetings, the emails to respond to. Somehow no matter what I do, my to-do list never seems to shrink. Today there was something that struck me though: I noticed that all the birds were singing.on’t they know that it is winter? That February in the northeast is absolutely, positively bone-chilling? I’m pretty sure it would be warmer to crawl into a grocery store freezer and stand in front of a full-blast fan than to bear the chilly gusts of the New England winter.

In fact, I bike like a madwoman not to save time but to keep my extremities from freezing and falling off. As icicles form on my nose, my feet spin in circles generating a nugget of heat inside my down jacket. My greatest fear is that my body parts will suddenly stop moving and I will keel over, frozen to my bike, crashing to the ground as a living icicle for the world to laugh at.

In that moment I was so numb I probably wouldn’t even noticed the birds, except that they were positioned strategically on a stark stick tree at a stop sign, their tiny claws clinging to the icy brown branch, singing their little hearts out.

(photo credit http://3.bp.blogspot.com/)

And in that moment I said, “God, I wish I were a bird like that, that I was just made to sing.”

And I heard Him speak to me clearly in my heart, “You are.”

And that just wrecked me.

I was made to sing. Just like the birds, I was made to sing, to dance, to run barefoot through meadows with hands outstretched and scale big trees to watch the sun’s colors fall. Yet as we grow up, life turns into a never-ending to-do list, with more responsibilities and people to attend to than time in the day. If we’re not careful, we can be consumed with doing instead of being, with completing instead of singing.

Meadow near Tiraspol, Moldova

Life as a bird seems so much simpler. You just wake up each day, eat a bit of whatever food you find, then perch somewhere and sing to the world. In fact, the birds were one of Jesus’ greatest teachers. In Matthew 6:26, he tells his disciples, “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?”

Now hear me out. I’m not saying we have to neglect our daily responsibilities, or pretend that the realities of life don’t exist. I’m just saying that in the midst of life, we must make time to sing.

What do you do that makes your heart sing?

Sermon: Laying it Down

Our church is in the middle of a 21-day fast, and I’ve felt led to participate in a Daniel Fast, where I am eating solely fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (no meats, sweets, or dairy). There’s something about fasting that has a way of uncovering the things going on in your heart that doesn’t happen otherwise. And while this hasn’t been the most extreme fast that I’ve done, I sense that God has been doing something indescribable but significant in me these past few weeks.

Paul wrote: “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Questions have been going through my mind: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross, and what does it mean that we are crucified with Christ? Is Jesus really worth abandoning everything for? What in my life is hindering me from being fully surrendered to God?

Last Sunday, I shared about this and more in my sermon “Laying it Down” at Journey Church. You can listen to it on the link below:

http://jcboston.org/laying/

Have a great day!