Hope for the Upcoming Leadership of the Commonwealth

If you know much about what I do in the city, you’ll know that I attend a lot of prayer gatherings. But I have to tell you that the gathering that I went to last Wednesday night was one of the most unique, inspiring prayer gatherings that I’ve attended in a long time. I came away filled with faith and hope for the upcoming leadership of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Here’s why:

1. It was a remarkable demonstration of the gifts and talents present within communities of faith in our city 

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

I find it significant that Massachusetts is a Commonwealth, which is a word meaning “political community founded for the common good.” At this gathering, various communities of faith all shared their gifts and talents, as a sign of offering and blessing for the upcoming term of the Governor-Elect Baker and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Polito. Each of the twelve leaders shared a reading that was meaningful to them, and then presented Mr. Baker and Mrs. Polito with a symbolic gift. The service also had musical selections from various churches ringing out with the passion and glory of God – each giving what they had to offer to bless the common good.

2. It symbolized the importance of prayer

One vision continues to resonate in my heart and mind, the image of various religious leaders coming together to pray for God’s anointing on Governor-Elect Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Karyn Polito:

Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi, Boston Globe

I was astounded to see the diversity of the religious leaders that were present, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, Metropolitan Methodios, Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston, Reverent Matthew Thompson of Jubillee Christian Church, Rabbi Ronnie Friedman of Temple Israel, and Reverend Laura Everett of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.

We might not all be able to agree on doctrine, but we can agree that Baker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Karyn Polito need the blessing of God to lead effectively. Coming together in prayer is a sign and a symbol of our hopes and dreams together for the commonwealth!

3. It indicated a narrowing of the gap between the church and the city

It would be easy for Governor-Elect and Lieutenant Governor-Elect to begin their term of office without joining in this prayer service. However, their presence indicates that faith is a priority for them; that the church and religious communities are a meaningful part of how they view the city and commonwealth.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe wrote “The eagerness of politicians in this largely liberal, secular state to form alliances with clergy such as Miranda underscores the continued importance of the institutional church in the city’s communities of color, and in the life of the city.” This gives me hope for the city and the church working together in future endeavors.

4. It showed a desire for this term of office to be characterized by humility and servanthood

What blew me away most from this evening was the scripture passage that Governor-elect Baker chose to characterize his term of office: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5). Baker shared that it is his desire for each person in his administration to live by this notion.

I was so encouraged by this because I have felt that what God wants most for us as His people in Boston is humility. I had the sense that God was really going to honor this time that we took to come together and pray a blessing on their upcoming term. May we as a commonwealth be known by our willingness to humble ourselves and lift others up!

To learn more, check out the Boston Globe article here:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/08/growing-hispanic-church-hosts-inaugural-prayer-service/m5GcCbW0gJjMeK6gKLu0jJ/story.html

What is God’s Name for You?

In many ways, names define us.

God gave a few significant names to Jesus, the baby lying in the manger. He called Him Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). He called him Jesus, which means “The Lord saves” (Matthew 1:21). He even said that the baby was the prince of peace and that the government rested on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).

The amazing thing is, in the same way that God spoke His identity over Jesus, a babe lying in the manger, He gives a name to us. What is God’s name for you? What is God speaking over your life?

In this sermon, I share about the significance of the name that he gave the babe in the manger, Jesus Christ. I also challenge each person to hear who we are to God, so that God can define our identity through Christ. In the end, the more we know who God is, the more we know who we are. Enjoy!

http://jcboston.org/child-part-2-gods/

 

God is Changing Lives at Journey Church! Here is Leah’s Story

Our vision at Journey Church is to help OTHERS experience the TRANSFORMING love of Jesus Christ. This is Leah’s story of finding that LOVE.

Leah BugdenFinding a home at Journey Church

I first came to Journey Church to reconnect with a friend. That Sunday, Kelly was preaching about the gift of being single. It was no coincidence that I was there. God wanted me to hear this message. Before coming to Christ, I felt imbalanced, incomplete. I suffered from the feeling of not being enough. That’s the worst feeling in the world.   I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was trapped in a world of indecision out of fear of change and making the wrong choice. I was afraid to let others in. What I craved for most though was a deep, intimate relationship with someone, someone who would love me for I am but I honestly was trying to figure out who I was. Although I didn’t fully understand yet, God was trying to start a relationship with me.

I immediately felt at home at the Journey Church. I felt like I had walked into an incredible loving family that welcomed me with open arms. I felt celebrated. I felt apart of something bigger than myself. I joined Kelly’s life group at Journey and built relationships with both community members and members of my church pushing myself out of my comfort zone to reach people through loving acts of kindness. Being a part of the life group helped me to start to become more vulnerable with people. I began to feel my relationship with God start to grow and my heart began to change.

Experiencing God’s Transforming Love

It took me a long time to truly let God in. Over the summer I was in a low place, overwhelmed with anxiety and self- doubt. I didn’t know what to do. As I stood in the ocean with open arms I cried out to God asking him to save me. God revealed himself and met me right where I was and pulled me out of darkness. That moment changed everything for me. God knocked down the walls that I had built up around me and invited me to embrace the vulnerability. I didn’t need the walls anymore.

God is transforming my heart. These past few months God has brought out the leader in me; where there was doubt there is now this new sense of confidence roaring out like a lion. I now really see that my voice has value. I feel more grounded. I don’t feel alone. I have the confidence to speak up for myself and shake up the status quo a little bit.

In these past few months, God has painted a very clear picture for me of my purpose in life. He has taught me through meeting me where I am at in the work that I am doing that my purpose in life is to be a playmaker. I am someone who leads a life full of love and joy and meets people, especially kids where they are at, creating environments that encourage them to explore, take risks and embrace vulnerability. This is something that I continue to challenge myself to do every day. I came to church deeply craving connection, deeply craving this desire to feel apart of something bigger than myself, to feel known. Through our blossoming relationship, God has helped me let others truly get to know me and I feel so blessed to continue to grow more deeply in his love. He has taught me that life is all about relationships; the rest is just details.

If you are out there today and are wondering if God is real, He is. He is real and loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. I encourage you to get involved. Get involved with a church that feels like home. Take a leap of faith; jump right in. You may be surprised by the grace you will receive.

God is the greatest friend you can have. He accepts you just as you are. You are enough.

Community: One Thing I’m Thankful For

Last weekend, we had the incredible blessing of having Jeff and Nancy Clark of Mutual Faith Ministries visit our church. Jeff and Nancy have had an incredible influence in the life of my pastors Kent and Gina and our budding church plant Journey Church here in Harvard Square.

One of the things they asked was, “What changes have you noticed since the church launch?”

The one thing that stands out in my mind is that I have seen a shift from Sunday services to everyone doing community together throughout the week.

As I count my blessings this Thanksgiving, the Christian fellowship that is springing up at Journey Church is something I’m so thankful for.

I must admit, in past semesters, small groups have felt a bit “annoying;” and I wished that I could be other places rather than studying the bible with my brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, it felt a bit like pulling teeth to get people to come out weekly. But there has been a distinct shift – we have gone from one small group to four, and two of the groups are going to continue meeting even though the required number of weeks has finished!

I shared a sermon last week on Christian fellowship, explaining the various ways that the first Christians practiced this koinonia in Acts 2:42-47. I also gave some examples as to how we can live out this koinonia in our lives today. I’d encourage you to listen to the sermon here:

http://jcboston.org/koinonia-essence-christian-fellowship/

May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Journey Church Launch Report

Here’s the Journey Church Launch Report, compiled by my pastor Kent Murawski.

I’d definitely encourage you to check out his personal blog including his new devotional “Rest Assured” at http://kentmurawski.com

Blessings to you!

——-

unnamed-12

Wow, what can I say? God has blown us away. He has begun a miraculous work in our midst. Here are some amazing things that have been happening since the launch:

  1. New people are coming to Christ for the first time and/or recommitting their lives to Christ every week!
  2. We have grown by 66% with an average attendance of 50+ people
  3. We have welcomed 9 new members to Journey Church over the last few weeks through our Next Steps Growth Journey
  4. We’ve had our best semester of small groups ever! Around 50% of our church is currently engaged in a small group
  5. We’ve had an average of 6+ new guests each week since the launch several of whom have said they want to be a part of the Journey

With all these wonderful things happening, we feel the need for increased prayer. My primary prayer has been, “Lord, just don’t let me mess it up!”

Points of Prayer
Could you please pray for us in the following ways?

  • Pray that people would continue to come to Christ for the first time and others would be restored to a vibrant relationship with Jesus.
  • Pray that our momentum would continue throughout the fall and into the next season. I am asking God that we would see 80 people coming consistently by years end.
  • Pray for increased vision and clarity as I set aside time to seek the Lord concerning 2015
  • Pray for wisdom as I look to readjust some of our leadership structure for this new season.
  • Pray for me as I decide about whether or not to go back to work in the New Year. My desire would be to continue being full-time with the church.

Thank you for your partnership in making this launch a success. The best is yet to come! We love and appreciate each of you so much!

-Kent Murawski, http://kentmurawski.com

10 Days is Changing Lives in Boston And Across the Nation!

photo 1-15 copy

Coordinators and regular participants from 10 Days Boston gathered together on October 17th for a culmination dinner to share stories of how God impacted our lives.  Here are a few testimonies:

Growth in Personal Relationship with God:

“My time alone with God was one of the most personal and intimate that I’ve had.” – Anne Freeman

“Many things were brought into my awareness and things hindering my relationship with God were broken off” – Anonymous

“I had a personal transformation in my understanding of people from the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, and I now understand how important it is to form alliances and friendships based around Jesus, not on our differences.” – Sung Yun Lee

Growth in understanding God’s work in Boston:

“Despite what people think, God is alive and well here. I love how God loves on His people.” – Derek Arledge

“I always love to worship with people who are not like myself. There’s a richness and beautiful harmony present when different groups come together.” – Kaci Norman

“I was able to hear of God’s work across churches and different parts of the city. Coming together for prayer and worship was and is what Boston needs.” – Kevin Ortega 

“I feel a greater sense of unity and better understanding of cultural attributes and realities of other ethnicities and denominations.” – Nicole Singleton

“My church doesn’t do all that much with other churches; it was new for me to see so many different churches cooperating, especially because Boston is so parochial. I think this is a move of God!” – Anne Freeman

“My biggest takeaway is the splendor and breadth of the church!” – Matt Crane

A Cool Scatterplot

We took the data from the survey that we passed out with the 10 Days participants (n=15) and then correlated the number of gatherings that each person attended with a “Spiritual Growth Indicator.” To determine the “Spiritual Growth Factor,” each person answered “Strongly Disagree,” “Disagree,” “Neutral,” “Agree,” or “Strongly Agree” to these three prompts:

1. 10 Days Boston helped me to personally grow closer to God

2. 10 Days Boston impacted my view of what God is doing in the city of Boston

3. Because of 10 Days, I now have a greater sense of respect for Christians of other denominations and ethnic groups.

Each answer was coded with a specific number of points (Strongly Disagree = -2, Disagree = -1, Neutral = 0, Agree = 1, Strongly Agree = 2)  Each person was given a “Spiritual Growth Indicator” based on their answer to these questions and plotted on a chart with the number of 10 Days events that he/she attended:

scatterChart_jpg-3

As you can see, the number of 10 Days events that people attended is correlated with spiritual growth! The people that went to more 10 Days events indicated more of an impact in their personal relationship with God and corporate understanding of how God is working throughout Boston.

The bottom line is: 10 Days is changing lives. Thanks for being a part of it!

For more details about each of the 10 Days evening gatherings, check out the

10 Days Boston Photo Gallery and Praise Report

I’d also encourage you to read Pastor Dana Baker’s word that the Lord impressed on her, “Are we willing to be interrupted?” I believe this word is the key phrase that God is speaking to us this year with 10 Days.

10 Days Testimonies Across the Nation

10 Days is part of a larger, nationwide movement of cities coming together to seek God. There were over twenty cities that participated this year! Here are some testimonies:

New Hampshire: Repentance and reconciliation between Catholics and Evangelicals; 95 leaders around Manchester coming together for a ministry leader’s breakfast!

Houlton, Maine: Many churches who previously haven’t been interested in partnership are now asking to be involved in praying and building the kingdom together!

Connecticut: This state-wide movement began with a night of worship with over 2,000 people and 100 worship leaders

Chico, California: “Going low” leads to God “lifting us up” – unity leads to Joy!

See the full 10 Days Nationwide report here:

http://www.10days.net/node/101

This is a season of fulfilled promises. God is truly up to great things, and the best is always yet to come.

I want to close with the concluding prayer recited across the nation during 10 Days:

Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, in the fullness of your kingdom!

Come, in the fullness of your victory!

Come, in the fullness of your glory!

Amen.