At Aspen Ridge Church, we dreamed of having events several times throughout the year where we would feature speakers who would appeal to our local church and the community at large with lunch afterwards. Pastor Jeff asked me to spearhead the project and I gladly accepted.
Now normally I would have jumped right into this project, formulated a plan, and presented MY ideas within a short time frame. At first my mind started to race. What do we call it? What’s the format and vision behind it? How do we promote it effectively? Etcetera, etcetera, etc…
Slow down, I told myself. I wanted God’s ideas and his guidance FIRST.
To some readers this may sound like the spiritual common-sense approach to all decisions in life. Pray first. It is certainly Biblical. But for me it is counterintuitive to both my legal training and my blue-collar Cleveland roots of getting the job done as efficiently as possible. Waiting and listening are not strong suites for most lawyers and if you have ever had to hire one, you know what I mean. I usually just pray as I go rather than pray, listen, pray, then go. I am learning and it is a “growing up” process for me in the ministry world.
But I wanted to make sure I was hearing from him on the name and vision for the event. So, I talked to God, prayed, and listened. And listened some more.
Listening well when there is not an audible voice is hard. We hear God through his word in the Bible. We even hear him through other genuine followers of Christ. Believers also learn to ask and tune into the inner voice of God. The inner promptings and senses in our hearts is how God speaks to us intimately and guides us if what we hear does not contradict scripture and produces good fruit. After all, he lives on the inside of all who place their faith in Jesus (Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 3:17).
Over the course of a couple of months praying and listening to God on the idea, some thoughts, ideas, and plans came to mind. Themes, titles, and content. Some good, some not so good, but they all seemed to be of me not him. My mind, not his heart. Ugh.
More praying and listening…
After a while, the words “Shining City on a Mountain” came to my mind and heart along with the words of Jesus “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 15).
Over time, a picture came to my mind surrounding the very words and heart of Jesus and what I was hearing inside my heart. It was a picture of a mountain.
On one side of the mountain was darkness covering what seemed to be more and more of it. On the other side of the mountain was the sun, shining brightly overhead. The sunlit side of the mountain had a community moving about, working, serving, laughing, and playing. Nobody was moving around on the dark side of the mountain although a sense that there was work deep within. It was very dark on that side, however, there were a few houses scattered about the hillside with golden lights on inside the homes.
I crudely sketched out a picture of this idea while describing it in as much detail as I could to Fressia, our communications director. She took the vision to create the fantastic design and words above. I am so grateful to be part of such a vision oriented and creative team here at Aspen Ridge Church!
Aspen Ridge Church is a shining city on a mountain. We know of churches and people in the surrounding community who are that light as well. Sometimes it is out in the open on the sunny side of the mountain. Other times, it is from within their homes, hearts and work deep behind enemy lines on the dark side of the mountain. We want to celebrate these shining lights at our community talks.
Our very first Shine On! community talk will feature a shining light speaker from deep within the dark side of the mountain. Dr. Jeff Brodsky, a local abolitionist and author, from Joy International will speak about child trafficking. I cannot think of many things darker or eviler than child trafficking. It is where our spiritual adversary has a vested interest in killing and destroying many precious young lives through the depravity and greed of men. Yet Joy International is fighting that fight with the light of Jesus, rescuing, and rehabilitating enslaved children throughout the world.
They need our prayer and support. Please invite a neighbor and join us on Saturday June 19, 2021, at 11 AM to hear stories from the frontline of this battle and learn how you can make a difference! A free lunch will be provided afterwards for all who attend.
Shine with us,
Director of Small Groups