Category Archives: September 2021 Chips

Authenticity Precipitates Sanctification

Authenticity Precipitates Sanctification

Once a week my family meets with three other families in someone’s home. We all eat and catch up and tell jokes. After dinner the kids loudly play in the basement while the adults circle around to discuss life and faith. We have a chosen curriculum we are following, though that will change with the seasons. It’s in this small group that we wrestle with how to live out our faith given life’s circumstances. We all face challenges on a weekly basis that make us wonder how to walk by faith as we move towards the chaos. Together we discuss how to accomplish this.

Each of us is at a different place in our faith journey. Some of us are mature believers. Others are brand new to their faith. It’s in these conversations (and prayers) that we are crafting the next steps: What to do at work or with a family member, how to approach someone with a loving attitude, and how to live with both truth and grace.

It’s in these conversations that we slowly learn to trust each other. Here as the trust is built, the conversation becomes more vulnerable. It’s because of this authenticity that heart matters are shared and believers can encourage and give guidance in the things that really matter. Authenticity is the pathway that allows the sanctification process to move forward. The process of moving towards holiness is our desire. Living life in authentic community is the way to live out the gospel.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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    A True Soul-Friend

    A True Soul-Friend

    Authenticity is at the heart of our current teaching series, LIFE TOGETHER. I want to share with you a story from The Walk by Michael Card. Michael had been going through a difficult time having recently broken up with his girlfriend. One Monday morning, Michael’s mentor, Bill invites him out for breakfast. After they are seated Bill makes a bold but loving statement:

    “I’m worried about you, Michael. This is perhaps the third young woman you have dated since we’ve known each other and now you’re breaking up again. I’m concerned about your ability to sustain a relationship.”

    Wow! That is being authentic about your concerns for a friend. Also, being bold enough to say it, even if you know they might have difficulty receiving such truth. Michael goes on to explain that out of his own immaturity he responded:

    “How can you say that to me! After all, you are divorced. At least I never did that!”

    Ouch! Burn! Michael shares this story in his book so that we could all see Bill’s response:

    Bill grew quiet. He had risked genuinely loving me and, like so many others, I had hurt him for it. “Worked at that relationship as hard as I could for as long as I could.” He said, almost in tears, and there the discussion ended. Anyone else would have decided, at this point, that walking with someone like me was not worth the trouble. Not Bill. As best I remember, he never brought up the subject again. A few months before his death, I recalled the incident and asked for his forgiveness. It was obvious from his response that he had forgiven me long ago, although I could tell he still remembered the sting of it. All that remained, he said, was for me to forgive myself.

    Authenticity opens us all up to pain. The pain we experience when someone lashes out at us, reminding us of our biggest regrets or mistakes or when someone weaponizes our honesty against us as Michael did. The hurt we experience when someone breaks our trust. However, real, deep and lasting relationships are built on authentically sharing our lives with each other. I hope you are as encouraged and challenged as I am by this story. Michael Card ends the chapter by saying:

    A true soul-friend is willing to endure the inevitable pain that is caused by being in a relationship with another human being. “We are fragile and fallen people,” Bill would say. “Often we hurt each other.”

    Who are those people in your life who know you authentically and can speak the truth in love to you the way Bill did?  Who in your life needs you to be their “Bill”?

    Steve Poole
    Director of Youth & Young Adults

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      French Fries, Root Beer, Monkeys, and Management

      French Fries, Root Beer, Monkeys, and Management

      The other day I met with another mom trying to get to know some of the families in our kids’ school. We took our kids to the trampoline park and then headed out to lunch. Four boys total ranging in age from four to eight years.

      I’ll admit, I don’t really like taking my kids out in public, especially when I’m outnumbered.  It’s kind of like herding wild sheep. They do great one-on-one, or even just two, but all three at once? (What in the world will I do when the 4th arrives in December!!!) Things go a little crazy, but especially when lunch is delayed.  Everyone is crazy hungry and that napping hour is already upon us.

      This mom I was with has much more experience than I do at the parenting game. Her youngest is eight and her oldest children are out of the house, married and have kids of their own. She’s a pro.

      When things started to wind out of control, (picture fries being spilled and scattered, an entire root beer spilled on the floor and a monkey of a four-year-old climbing over all the seating with lots of hooting and hollering and crying in between) we were reprimanded by the management and asked to be quiet. My greatest fears of being out in public with my kids came to life.

      Why my kids? Why now? Why, why, why when I was trying so hard to break out of my introvert shell and make a new and much-needed friend?

      Instead of reacting, she calmly continued talking to me, seemingly oblivious to the noise and the chaos. She was unfazed by the reprimand from management. I can only wonder what was going through her head, but it didn’t matter. In that moment, she didn’t judge my parenting or lack of child-herding skills. Instead, she recalled stories of when her many kids were younger and the noise and the chaos. She was exactly the friend I needed.

      As much as I felt like a screw-up of a parent that day, it meant the world to me to be so fully accepted and understood in those few moments and to find a friend not alarmed by the true mess of my life.

      As we move forward in authenticity as a church, I pray that we all can find such a friend and fellow believers who accept us, understand us, and stir us in faith in those tough moments when our best selves are not on display.

      Leah Carolan
      Director of Worship & Media


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