New York, New York!

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Before you start, see my  Challenge of Change series.

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do ‘the best’ for us; we are wondering how painful ‘the best’ will turn out to be.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” ~ Exodus 14:12

IMG_0024-4 IMG_0019-2 (Central Park)

Preface:

I still can’t believe it as I type, but the Arnold’s just returned from NYC last week!  A thought and prayer beginning back in January, this is something we will be reveling in for weeks, if not months or even years to come!

*** This trip was NOT a Dave Ramsey-approved vacation, but it was an adventure from God.  It was not something we necessarily wanted, it did not make sense, and it was not in our budget, but we’re learning to listen and lean into God despite our circumstances or approval. ***

The silly Israelites thought the place of death was in the wilderness.  No, going back to Egypt when you’re called to Promise, that’s death.  It was our chance to “leave Egypt.”

If you read the previous entries in the New Journey section, you read that our first major change as a family this season was leaving a church where we were comfortable and serving, but you may be wondering how New York is connected?

New York is the birthplace of my utter transformation and faith resuscitation stemming back three years.  Back when I was done with God, He graciously revealed to me that He was not done with me.  He did this in many ways, but Carl Lentz (lead pastor of Hillsong NYC) was the primary catalyst.

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God has been moving in big ways in NYC, especially through Hillsong Church, and I started asking God if I should join Him in this kingdom work.

So after much trepidation, we were off to the Big Apple to check out Hillsong NYC and the Hillsong Conference (more on this next time)!

Taking three children, five years of age and under, across the U.S. is crazy!!!  Just in case anyone was wondering.  And then add sickness for the entire family…now God is working!

I’m still in recovery as I write, but as my clarity of thought returns, I am amazed at what God did during our trip.

IMG_9936-31 IMG_9934-30 IMG_9943-32 (9/11 Memorial)

Problem:

We all have faith-assaulting giants in our lives.  Mine seem mostly in my head, specifically my imagination.

For years I have been a person of faith, but I have cleverly weaved my way out of many situations that would require the use of it.  And during those years, I believed that the opposite of faith was doubt. (see John 20:24-29)

Now doubt certainly can work against faith, but take notice of that last verse.  The opposite of faith was not doubt but sight!

My wife and I struggle with fear, anxiety, and control; we like to “see” what’s up ahead.  And even though the primary goal was to “dip our toes in the water” of NYC and build bridges with leadership at Hillsong NYC, God had different goals.

Presently, I’m not sure if there are any greater “enemies” to faith than fear, anxiety, and control.  Further, I’m pretty sure these are the biggest idols I have cherished within my heart all throughout my walk.   

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(More Central Park)

Practice:

So flying our family 2,400 miles and staying in a completely new place for a week was excruciating to contemplate.

But we survived ten hours in the air at 35,000 feet!  We survived TSA, even after they displayed undergarments for the flying world to see!  We survived taking three young children to a completely foreign and remote place!  We survived walking the streets of Brooklyn at 11:00 p.m. multiple times!  We all survived despite catching a wicked sinus infection!

We survived…We survived!!!

Our God carried us through not only the circumstances (known and unknown) but He carried us over our fear-driven presuppositions!  NYC was actually far better than we expected!

And because we “survived” this step of faith, I believe we will thrive in the time to follow.  There are better and brighter days when people live free of their shackles.

Earlier I quoted from Exodus 14 where the Israelites pass through the Red Sea.  A couple verses later we read:

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ~ Exodus 14:14

Oh, how I enjoy this reality.  I wish it would last forever!  But God seems to be in the business of taking us beyond the silent passivity of Exodus 14.  That’s what NYC was for us.

The next step is the priestly prowess of Joshua 3.  Take a step…then watch the waters respond.  The initiation is not the completion here; the enemies still lurk behind big walls.  You now fight with God against the enemy.

In both stories, God moves on behalf of His people.  The seas part and the enemy is defeated, but there is a progression with the people’s involvement.

Fast forward to this side of the cross where we serve one greater than Moses and Joshua. (see Hebrews 3)  Our “seas” have been parted and our enemy has been defeated.  But Jesus totally changed the game; the waters don’t need to part anymore, He just walks on them and invites us to join. (Mt. 14:22-33)

My HOPE4Hipsters:

“You cannot have change if you are unwilling to do anything different.” ~ Christine Caine

Millions flock to #MondayMotivation.  We’re alive, but not living!  And there is no bigger adventure than to live for something bigger than yourself!  The gospel offers this adventure to us. (Mt. 28:18-20)

But as Steven Furtick says, God took manna off the menu.  Pursuing God is not something that falls into our passivity, but it is something that manifests out of our proactivity.

God came to our level through the cross, now we get to return the favor through His empowerment and equipping!

There is so much to do and God has given His children so much to work with!

In closing, I leave with a classic.  In the words of Sinatra, if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere!  If we can leave Egypt, that which is known and comfortable, we find He meets us in ways we could not imagine!

God bless you, Hipsters!

IMG_9945-33 (Night At The Museum)

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Comments

  1. Brandon, I have walked a very similar path. I had a situation in my life that ripped away every flesh security I had. I cried out to God and He used that situation as the catalyst to transform me. Not only that but the teachings He brought me (that I didn’t search out) but were supernaturally laid in my lap, transformed me more into His image and likeness a least more than I have been on this earth. My relationship with Him through these teachings and His Spirit (of course) went against some teachings that dear older believers in my life questioned. !!! How confusing!! On one hand I’m experiencing something spiritually amazing and I am growing like never before. On the other hand I am being accused of not truly hearing from the Lord!! I cried out to the Lord and through His leading have continued on the Growth path putting Him first and trusting Him. I have come out with a heart that LOVES more, Hopes more, and has Faith more than ever.
    Now does this mean you are moving to New York?? The Lord will lead you by His spirit! What an exciting life!!

    1. Author

      Hello, Terri! Thank you so much for your comment! It is so encouraging to know we’re not crazy as we see/hear others who have walked similar paths. I’m so happy to hear that what the enemy meant for evil God converted into a platform for His purposes in your life! So awesome! And thank you for sharing the unfortunate detail that pursuing Him led to conflict with other Christians…it’s so sad but seems to be inevitable. In those times you really learn about yourself and others. You find out which individuals will only ride with you in the limo and those who will walk with you when the limo breaks down. What an exciting life indeed!
      Regarding your question about NYC…we don’t know right now. We’re submitting that to the Lord and trusting that as we lean in more by faith He will dispense more wisdom and grace for what is needed. This is a very new season for us where we’re learning more and more that walking by faith does not coincide with many of the ideals our culture has handed down to us. We’re taking it a step at a time. More to come on this I’m sure!

      Blessings!

  2. Hey Brandon, first time listener and first time caller…

    Wanted to ask what did you mean by “God came to our level through the cross, now we get to return the favor through His empowerment and equipping!”?

    l don’t know your target audience here, so I thought perhaps you might unpack this further. Is this an oversimplification for the sake of brevity or do you assert that we have something of value to offer God?

    At first read this doesn’t jibe with my understanding of our new Covenant, but I don’t want to infer something you aren’t implying.

    It makes me happy to see your life in Christ take you all over the map. Following Him is such a wholesome disruption indeed! Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hey Danny!

      * This is from October 24, 2016. *

      First off, as always, I love your sense of humor lol. Thank you for your encouragement – a “wholesome” disruption…amen!

      To provide clarity, my “target” audience for Hope4Hipsters is mixed. It’s millennials primarily, but within that group there are believers & non-believers of all sorts from all kinds of backgrounds. This, however, is a much more personal entry.

      My simple goal with the posts in the “New Journey” category is two-fold:
      1) autobiographical as I struggle with certain things in my current season &
      2) encouragement to others who struggle as I do to “take up their mat & walk”

      To get more specific about that closing comment you quoted, what I simply mean is God gave us His life, so in the very least we owe ours in return. This journey, I believe, is what the Bible calls “discipleship.” Not all believers are disciples, in my opinion, and so this is why we see all 66 books constantly encouraging, warning, etc. the people of God to live as the people of God. It’s not automatic, but something that must be feverishly “worked out.”

      Further, there seems to be two general stances in how the Church relates to the world. These, at least, are what I observe in a church’s teachings & actions:
      1) They (the world) need to come to us (the Church) at our level. OR
      2) We need to reach out by going to their level.

      I am a huge proponent of option 2, in light of what Jesus did for the world. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we get to serve Him in amazing ways that only eternity will fully reveal.

      And in response to your question, I absolutely affirm that we have something of value to offer God. I believe a life of faithfulness is highly valued by God, something that brings Him pleasure & consequently reaps blessings in our lives.

      I hope this clarifies & thank you for your comment! Please feel free to respond here or elsewhere if needed.

      God bless!

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