Mishawn Gudipati • October 29, 2020
Sam Snyder • October 22, 2020
I'm not just talking about the second largest October snowstorm in the history of the Twin Cities...
It seems we are living in an increasingly polarized society. People are taking sides and choosing groups, identifying markers or ideologies to define themselves by. It is increasingly more difficult to have dialogue, even disagreement, while still loving our neighbors. It seems that what is preferred is to be divided and dehumanize the other side or the other perspective. In some cases, even demonizing in order to achieve the goals of being "right." Which is funny that in a world where everyone is supposedly entitled to their own truth every side wants to be right. How is it possible for one side to be right and the other side to be wrong if truth is only a matter of my perspective and my choice? Clearly the underpinnings of the way society thinks are not consistent with how they act. If we're not careful we can fall into the same traps and SAY one thing and DO another...especially in these polarizing times!
There is a great division in the world around us and there seems to be an absence of dialogue and even disagreement that could possibly lead to productive debate. Oftentimes people are resorting to dehumanizing the opposing side or even demonizing particular individuals or groups in order to "win." In fact, we all find ourselves in a very political moment where it seems that there are only two sides and we want "our" side to win. How DO we vote in 2020? How do we LIVE in 2020? How do we navigate the conversations and decisions leading up to November 3rd and continuing on into times with friends and family over the Holidays? How do we prepare ourselves for standing in the storm that may result from this polarization?
We know that who sits in the White House or in the legislature, or even in the courts, is less important than the one who sits on the throne of heaven! We also know that our primary citizenship is of the Kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of this world. Yet, as citizens of both The Kingdom and of this country we have the responsibility to "seek the peace and prosperity" of this land that is temporarily our home (Jeremiah 29). That means that we're called to PRAY for leaders, legislators and laws that will help bring peace and prosperity. We also have the responsibility to VOTE in ways that will honor God and help peace and prosperity to flourish in this land... and finally, and most importantly, we have the responsibility to LIVE as citizens of the kingdom of God who bring that reality into EVERY part of our lives here and now.
So, we must be intentional about how we vote AND how we live! It's not simply a matter of making sure that our votes line up with what we believe God would want us to vote for, but that the way that we dialogue and disagree with others demonstrates the character of God and the reality of HIS Kingdom. God wants to bring about the redemption, reconciliation and restoration of ALL people.
I want to encourage you to take time to think through and pray through your upcoming votes and your upcoming conversations. Not only as a citizen of this country, but as a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven. Here are some helpful resources that I have found in digging deeper into how to live and how to vote. It won't tell you who to vote for or what to vote for, but it will give you a helpful framework on how to navigate the complexities of the storm and polarization we find ourselves in:
(Check your email for the links...send me a message if you're not on our email list and want to join in prayer)
- Friday 10/30 from 7 to 8:30 PM with Felix and Sheila and the All Nations Family of Church leaders.
- Saturday, 10/31 from 9-10 AM with Jim Olson and Pilgrim Center online.
- Sunday, 11/1 in the Fireside Room from 4:30-5:15
- Monday, 11/2 from 6 to 7 AM with Sam online
- Tuesday, 11/3 from 6 to 7 AM with Sam online
- Thursday, 11/5 from 6 to 7 AM with Sam online
- Friday 11/6 from 7 to 8:30 PM with Felix and Sheila and the All Nations Family of Church Leaders online.
- Saturday, 11/7 from 9-10 AM with Jim Olson and Pilgrim Center online
- HOW WOULD JESUS VOTE IN 2020? | 6 Principles to Guide Your Voting! (15 minute video by Allen Parr)...check it out and give it some real thought to guide your choices.
- Check out Vote411 where you can click through a personalized exploration of your ballot. It is not perfect because some candidates have not responded to questions but it has links to their sites for further reading and you can at least have their names (like for judges city council and such) to do your own research.
- Star Tribune comparison of Republican and Democrat candidates around common issues for most positions in the state and country.
- The Guide to Dialogue in Divisive Times by Lead Stories (very short booklet).
- Faith & Politics by Eugene Cho (37 minute message)
- Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk - webinar with Eugene Cho and the Evangelical Immigration Table (1 hr)
+++ This Sunday Tyler Holman will continue our series on Revelation. We will begin at 5:30 PM. If you are unable to join us in person you can join us digitally on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. There will be an online discussion following the message (link in email)...I'll probably be joining you all on the Livestream as Sarah and I will be out of town for a Fellowship of Christian Assemblies National board meeting from Monday through Wednesday. +++
For His Purposes,
Mishawn Gudipati • October 14, 2020
Have you read the story of Noah recently? Genesis 6:5 highlights well why I have never thought to myself, "I sure wish I could've lived during that time." It states, "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." And the story goes on to talk about how even in the midst of terrible world conditions and even though he was surrounded by people with awful intentions, ALWAYS, Noah was still righteous, blameless and walked FAITHFULLY with God. And the best part, the part that I am chewing on is in Genesis 8:1. At this point in the story, Noah has faithfully carried out all that he was commanded to do in building the ark and getting all the necessary creatures in there, but in Genesis 8:1, we see a BUT GOD, "But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded."
Why am I focusing on a verse about wild animals and livestock? Is it because I'm looking for a career change? No. Or because I couldn't find a more encouraging verse to share? Maybe. But in all honesty, I think this is where we get stuck in our relationship with God often. I could be wrong, but I can relate. Noah is in the thick of walking faithfully with God, he's completed the directions God gave him and judging from the lack of comments in the text I think we can say he did it well. I say this because, I don't see any mention of him forgetting an octopus or iguana, or the Lord expressing frustration over Noah's work ethic so I think it's safe to assume he did it well. Noah has completed the task, he's fulfilling the plans God had for him, and in this part of the story he is on the boat. I wonder what it was like to spend ALL those days on a boated barn zoo. Not quiet, not easy and probably tiring are what come to mind. I don't see anywhere in the text where it states that Noah took a quick class credit in zoology to get ready for caring for all the exotic and strange creatures that came. There probably wasn't much of a break in the day to day as he and his family were stuck on the ark, and there was no end in sight of them ever getting off the boat. Noah didn't know the timeline when the Lord finally shut the door, we do, but he didn't. Have you ever felt tired? burned out? disappointed? as you think about what God has called you to and how it actually panned out? Have you ever said, "It wasn't supposed to be this way Lord?" "Where are you God? Didn't you ask me to step into this?" I know I have, many times.
Two Sundays ago, I lost my grandfather a true French Canadian who I was hoping to spend more time with, make one more visit, but it didn't happen due to COVID restrictions. It wasn't what I thought it would be like. And in the midst of this loss, Jessy and I were anticipating securing the building for an international ministry, something once again we both felt the Lord call us into, but it didn't look how we thought it would look. We were able, to secure it miraculously and are now working to bring in the final amount for it. I am so thankful for the BUT GODs. Just as the Lord remembered Noah in the midst of all the wild animals and livestock, the craziness that sometimes comes across our path in life and ministry. It's the But Gods that show us even in places that lack answers, certainty, or ease, God remembers, us, He meets us and He hears us. Just because things don't look how we think they should doesn't mean He is not still on the throne, good and faithful to us.
Eirik's message on Sunday was timely and powerful, if you missed it click HERE. Our hope, our security, our peace and joy is not dependent on anything we find on this earth, not on financial stability, ability, relationships, material possessions, government, the choices of others etc it is solely dependent on God and all that He is.
Where are the places today, where you need to shift your gaze from the "Where are you God?" or the "Why God!?" to the "But God?"
Here's a great Scriptures to meditate on the BUT GOD's Psalm 71.
Mishawn Gudipati • October 02, 2020
This past week I found myself not wondering why the turkey crossed the road, but instead why the turkey was walking down the sidewalk. And a few minutes later in another part of the city, I found myself wondering why the turkey was outside of the hair salon. I was not expecting to be considering these thoughts on a normal Tuesday morning as I drove into work, but I was. When I saw the two turkeys unexpectedly, my mind wandered to the thought, "Lord are you saying something?" Immediately I thought of Thanksgiving the holiday, but then I thought of thanksgiving, the spiritual practice. Thankfulness?! What does that have to do with my life at present?
Recently, I have felt challenged to find gratitude in some of the most difficult and uncomfortable places. I don't know about you, but I do not prefer those types of situations. They can be hard, miserable, tiring, undesirable, or even unnerving. And let me tell you that those adjectives are not requests I prefer to include in a prayer of mine. These randomly sighted turkeys were a personal reminder to me about the necessity for me to operate out of a place of thanksgiving in all circumstances.
How can we apply this today and in the days to come? Are turkey sightings necessary for each of us in the kingdom of God? While I'm not certain that turkeys are even mentioned in the Bible (feel free to send me a message if you find a verse), thanksgiving is. The best cure for anxiety and to weather a storm is thankfulness. It is through thankfulness that we enter His courts and through thankfulness that anxiety dissipates because it's through thankfulness that we are reminded that He is near, able, and bigger. God uses thankfulness to help us experience a mindset shift so that our perspective can be changed and we can open up relationally. I think an effective heart check for us in any and every situation is to ask ourselves, "Am I able to express gratitude even in this moment about the situation or for this person?"
Where are the places in this day and the days to come where you need to acknowledge a turkey sighting and challenge yourself to give thanks?
Mishawn Gudipati • September 26, 2020
As the election season is quickly approaching and early voting is becoming a big push I have noticed that political conversations can be electrifying, exhilarating and at other times almost electrocuting. How are we as followers of Jesus called to be salt and light in these times? What makes us different than Joe Schmoe next door, who not only puts thousands of yard signs in his yard, but has his own mini parade up and down the streets with a loudspeaker spouting his views at all hours of the day? Ok, that last sentence was a bit extreme, but seriously how can we love well in a politically charged country where the wrong view might leave you unfriended and ostracized from your community, friends, even family?
Many of us know the story of the Good Samaritan. It's that one story that teaches us the two greatest commandments, to be a good neighbor, and even who our neighbor is. Many of us have learned that our neighbor is not just those living in our neighborhood, but the people we find next to us as we go about our day. Anyone who crosses or walks alongside our path. Absolutely, I agree! But I want to challenge us here. Have you ever noticed the verbs of the Levite and Priest? The thing they did to avoid the wounded and suffering man? They crossed the street.
Now I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life where I have been walking on a sidewalk and made the decision to cross the street. It was in an effort to separate myself from construction, a situation or even a person. This is where I want to challenge us in this upcoming season. Who are the people that make you want to "cross the street"? You see them, hear them, read a post on social media, whatever it might be and you think to yourself "let me unfollow this person, ignore them, avoid them, or comment on the defensive, etc". Who makes you cross the street?
We are not called to cross the street in this time. The wall of hostility has been broken down by Jesus Christ himself. No need to rebuild it. We are called to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbor as ourself. We are not called as lovers of Jesus, who have been reconciled and redeemed to join in creating more division. When we are an instrument in creating division it causes de-vision in us and we loose sight of the truth that all humanity is made in the image of God and in turn significantly impairs our ability to reflect our heavenly Father to those around us.
So how are we to respond in these times of "unprecedented uncertainty and political polarization"? I was inspired by Matthew 5:45-47 in writing this. Here are some practical steps you can take in this season to be salt and light:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
1. Love & Pray- Love is active, it is a daily choice. Consider the checklist of love as you respond, interact with, and talk about others. Whoever the other might be. And pray. Talk to your good heavenly Father who bends to listen to you and ask Him to reveal His heart to you for those you may consider an enemy. It may take time, and conscious effort on our part to not speak badly about others, but He will do it, He will change our hearts and give us His perspective.
that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
2. Be Perfect?!- The meaning of this verse has to do with wholeness not perfection. Otherwise this command would be unrealistic and unobtainable. It means be whole as your heavenly Father is whole. This is doable, with His help. We often have fragmented lives where faith doesn't impact relationships, preferences, politics, actions, etc. This passage calls us to have an integrated and consistent life. This practically looks like being more informed by the word than the news, more led by the Spirit than the headlines, more in line with the Kingdom than a party or nation. And especially choosing to bless, pray for and love those you consider your enemies through your words and deeds. This includes digital and in person comments as well as stopping negative conversations and inviting those in conversation to pray instead. Prayer is powerful and effective. Venting is not.
Mishawn Gudipati • September 06, 2020
Church in the park this summer has been refreshing, meaningful and eventful. We've had new people join us from guests to interns, great discussions as we continue on from the book of Mark, and lots of opportunities to check in with each other and pray. While this summer may have looked different for a variety of reasons, gathering together has provided a great reminder that even if circumstances change our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And because He is unchanging, we can look to Him as our head and still operate as the body, loving on others and reflecting the characteristics of God to those we come across in the day to day.
Tonight will be our LAST night in the park. As we look ahead to the coming weeks and prepare to enter into the building here's a few things to know:
+ Welcome In Sunday: Join us NEXT Sunday, September 13th at 5:30 PM as we head back into the building for the year. Stay tuned for more details coming this next week.
+ Ministry Team: Looking to get connected? Interested in serving as a minister? We are working on setting up our ministry schedule for the fall. See Mishawn for more info or to get involved..
See you tonight for our LAST Sunday in the park.
Mishawn Gudipati • August 28, 2020
1. Acknowledge God's presence: Three times David acknowledges God's presence as he makes a request in three different forms for God to hear him. When was the last time you paused, sat and meditated on the fact that God is with? How would it change the start of your day, the way you prayed, if you paused and focused on His everpresence with you? Would it strengthen you to know that you are not alone as you begin your day? Would it quiet you to know that He is aware and bigger than the tasks set before you? Would it remind you that you are dearly loved, delighted in and wanted and because of this you can go forth and express that truth to those throughout your day? He is Immanuel God with us not God against us. And because His stance is for us, we too can take a stance of being FOR others. Even people different than us, those hard to love or understand.
2. Expect God to Respond: God responds to our prayers. Prayer is powerful and effective. This is truth. We aren't called to figure out the how, we are called to ask, seek, and knock. So often we become discouraged or disappointed because God didn't answer our prayers. God always answers our prayers. Sometimes we miss it because we assumed we knew how he should do it. What would if look like if we truly laid our requests before him and expected Him to respond in HIS WAY, trusting that He truly is working everything together for our good in HIS timing because we love Him?
3. True Justice: Often times when we pray or seek God we seek the absence of the negative in order to obtain the presence of momentary peace or things that are familiar and preferred. I don't know about you but I'm tired of all the counterfeits the world has to offer. Forget social justice, I want Kingdom Justice. Our God is a god after completeness and wholeness. He doesn't just make things right, he restores, redeems and reconciles. This is the kind of justice we as ambassadors of reconciliation are called to extend and walk in as we reflect God to those around us.
4. God abhors evil: All people are made in the image of God. To disagree with this through action or word is to go against truth. So whether you are interacting with the oppressed or the oppressor they both are made in the image of God. With this in mind, Psalm 5 tells us the wicked cannot dwell and the arrogant fall down in his presence. What will make us different in this time and season is how we choose to respond. We are not compelled by perfection, hate, political party or even justice, we are compelled by Christ's love and inspired by His humility. This is the place where true peace, true reconciliation, true redemption, true justice stems out of.
With this in mind, how is God inviting you to live out your calling in a manner worthy of the gospel in the days to come? Is it to love those who hate you? Is it to respond in love to those you can't stand? Is it to intercede for the oppressed and oppressors?
Mishawn Gudipati • August 22, 2020
When was the last time you started your day thinking about all the possible interruptions you may encounter throughout the day? And not only thought about them, but planned for them and looked forward to them?! I don't think I can say that I have EVER done that. But from our story on Sunday we saw that sometimes the BEST ministry can happen in the interruptions. As Eirik Rasmussen shared in summary from his group in the park, Jesus and the crowd were on their way somewhere, and meeting Bartimaeus was not part of the scheduled plan. But even in the midst of a noisy crowd and people shushing him, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus and Jesus not only heard him, but stopped, acknowledged him and ministered to him. I don't see anywhere in the text that alludes to Jesus sighing because of the interruption or getting annoyed.
What are the ways Jesus is inviting you to be interrupted in the days to come? Are there any places where you need to call out and interrupt the father on behalf of yourself or someone else? Not being quiet until you see him respond with surpassing peace, understanding or perhaps a miracle?
Here's a few practical ways to prepare for interruptions:
1. Pray Over Your Schedule- As you start your day, take some time to consider what you have scheduled and pray over the events, activities and plans you have. Invite God to make it obvious to you when he's interrupting you and to help you discern when it's simply a distraction. Committing your day to the Lord is a simple yet powerful way to reorient your mind as you prepare your day and consider the things that truly matter.
2. Add An Extra 10- As you schedule out your day, figure out the time you need to leave and plan to leave an extra 10 minutes earlier. This will allow you to not feel rushed, break any tunnel vision you may have in arriving at your destination on time and allow you to slow down and look for any opportunties the Lord may be bringing across your path as you journey.
3. Pray in the Parking Lot- When was the last time you prayed in the parking lot of your work or of a store you are about to enter? Ask Holy Spirit to use you for His glory as you enter that space and keep an open eye as you enter. Who knows what opportunities might cross your path for you to smile, get an item down off a shelf or offer to pray for someone who stops to chat with you.
4. Task Oriented vs. Relationship Oriented- Making task completion a priority is a huge part of our culture in the US, but it's not necessarily a priority in other cultures who value relationships over completing tasks. Want to learn more about this and what we're called to in Kingdom Culture? Click HERE to sign up for our upcoming Cross Culture Connection on Saturday, September 19th from 9-2PM.
Mishawn Gudipati • August 21, 2020
Quite a few years ago, I was in a place of discerning is God saying, "Wait"? Or is God saying, "No"? The two options can often look very similar and also cause confusion, doubt, or uncertainty. When the answer seems long in coming or God's response in the middle seems non-existent, at times we may find our eyes, our hope, or even our understanding start to wander. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I feel God is delayed or unresponsive, I often feel the need to help him out. I step into the role of God in my life and start trying options, making decisions, or even start doubting his character and deem myself kinder, more knowledgeable, and able. Have you ever done something like this?
This past Sunday we continued on in Mark 10:32-45 and once again the disciples missed THE plan. Jesus had just predicted his death a third time, and they had just come from an encounter with a rich man who chose riches and material possessions over eternal life. We also see two brothers, James and John, take Jesus aside and make a request. Keep in mind we've seen a constant theme of quarrels, conversations, and encounters where people are trying to determine their value or worth through status and wealth and here we are back at it again. These two brothers asked Jesus if they could sit on the right and left of Him in His glory. Jesus basically responds with a "No". Have you ever made a plan and hoped God would bless it even if it didn't line up with what God had for you? We can see that Jesus had more for James and John than for them living life the way the rulers of the earth choose to live. The ways of the world end when we die and honestly living for ourselves may be convenient, but not very fulfilling. Jesus had more for them than to settle in this thinking and way of living. He wasn't about to let them miss out on the better things, the eternal things, the abundance, and contentment that come from knowing Him and serving as He came to serve.
As you reflect on the places where God may have answered a prayer with a "No" or things turned out differently than you thought they would, can you see God's loving hand moving you into spaces that were better than you could've imagined?
Mishawn Gudipati • August 07, 2020
As of late I've constantly found myself at a loss for words, understanding and how to move forward. All the emotions, opinions, experiences, stories, news, past, present and thoughts about the future have been overwhelming and constant. Who do I listen to? What do I do? Should I stay silent? Should I stick with like minded people? Do I make a statement? Should I take action? Lots and lots of questions have passed through my mind. At times I felt unsettled, confused, off balance. Can anyone relate to this?
How are we as believers called to act in "unprecedented times" or when there's "political polarity" or when people are saying "we can't breathe" because of oppression or injustice?
We recently finished our Book/Video Study of The Color of Compromise as a church. Those who participated met last Saturday to discuss final thoughts and next steps. I wanted to share some thoughts and next steps discussed as we concluded this study and look ahead to the future.
1. We Are Called to Be Anti-Racist. The definition of Anti-racist is simply taking a stand against racist attitudes, words and behaviors that discount or disqualify a person based on the color of their skin. To be anti-racist as a Christian means three things:
- You acknowledge that every person regardless of ability, race, background, choices are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
- Remember our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). You choose to respond not react with the checklist of love to situations and people who may be racist. And choose to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing and good (1 Peter 3:9, Romans 12:9-21).
- Being Anti-racist is more than choosing to not be racist in your thoughts or actions towards others, it also means taking action when you see it happening through the interactions of others or in systems (James 4:17)
2. YOU are the Church. Have you ever thought, "The church should really do something about that"? I think we all have at some point. But it's time we realize that when that thought comes, it means we should consider how I WILL DO SOMETHING about that. It might just be that Holy Spirit is highlighting something that HE is inviting you into (Hebrews 3:15). This is not to say we are alone in invoking change, but we also need to consider our part and take the steps we need to rather than assuming someone else should do it instead.
3. Next steps. The book ends with very thorough, practical steps that can be taken to help each person get involved in ending racism. Among some of which include educate yourself. Get to know people different that you. Commit to not just knowing people of color, but to also using your spheres of influence to evoke change in systems and institutions that continue to be racist. Here are a few upcoming events to participate in:
Unity Revival March: Merge Twin Cities is co-hosting this march with Unity Revival Movement on Saturday, August 8th at 11 AM. Those interested in joining can meet at K-mart on Lake St and the march will end at Phelps Park.
Pray on MLK: Pray on MLK is an example of holy activism— a two hour, nationwide prayer and worship protest located along every Martin Luther King Jr. street or memorial in the United States (and around the world). Happening THIS Saturday, August 8th from 6:01PM-8:01PM. Click HERE to signup.
This conversation is important. If you have thoughts, questions, comments feel free to reach out. We, as a staff, are here to journey alongside each other as together we grow, mature and attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.