Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
We went in the the generic discussion about how guys vs girls think. Guys are stereotypically like waffles and think in compartments. What happens at work doesn't affect home and vice versa. Women think more like spaghetti. Its all interweaved and intertwined.
I've never fallen into the waffle compartment. Everything is intertwined. But I've become really good at hiding the fact I think that way.
Phillip from my team described it best. We agreed that we both think like waffles but sometimes our syrup spill over into the other "compartments." Sometime there is an overflow of syrup. We are syrup (preferably warm) thinkers.
The past week I've let some really silly thoughts creep into the back of my mind and bring me down. Yesterday, the Lord spoke very plainly and clearly to me. Most (almost every) morning I ready the daily My Utmost for His Highest devotional by Oswald Chambers.
The devotional yesterday was about fretting. Now I've heard the word fretting before, but never in biblical sense. Chambers definition of fretting was "getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually."
I'm really good at getting myself out of joint. I would consider myself a heavy thinker. I read into everything more than I should. A lot of times I can totally get out of joint with whats going on and it's totally mental. I see things differently in my head....perception is reality. But perception really isn't always reality. Perception very often can be overtaken by deception.
Oswald nailed my personality. He says "Fretting always arises from wanting to have our own way. Our fretting....is cause by planning without God."
The places in my life where I am most affected by fretting are the parts of my life that I think I have the most control over. They are the parts that I don't want God to have control of because I think I know whats best for me.
I don't know what's best for me. I know what the world thinks is best for me.
Oswald's devotional is based on Psalm 37. Psalm 37 is a place I turn to often in scripture. The verse that says "Seek after the Lord and He will provide the desires of your heart," has always been something I have clung to.
But a new verse stood out in my mind. Verse 3 says "Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Cultivate means to grow. Cultivate means to improve by intention.
What if I gave up fretting for cultivating my faith in God? Improving my faith by intentionally seeking after Him daily.
My fretting would disappear. I would be awakened the realization that He has totally control and I am just listening for His voice.
If you read this, would you commit to praying that I don't fret over my future? That I would be so focused outwardly, I don't have time to fret inwardly. Would you pray that I am cultivating faithfulness in my relationship and work?
Saturday, June 23, 2012
This little excerpt out of the book of Ezra gives me chill bumps. This is during the beginning of the rule of the new king in Israel and this chapter starts with several priests and leaders rising up to call for the building of the second temple in Jerusalem.
This part of the passage starts with telling us that they gathered the young men, as young as 20, to supervise the building of the temple. In the building of anything, you must always start with the foundation. Once the workers had laid the foundation, the priests and leaders came and celebrated with horns and cymbals. They came to worship T the sight of the foundation being laid. The people of Jerusalem see that the foundation is laid and they begin to shout for joy.
They Rejoice in ways that we could never understand. They scream so loud that it can be heard far away. People are seeing that the foundation is laid and they are having a party! They are celebrating that the foundation of the house of the Lord is laid. Nothing has even happened besides the foundation being laid. The older people of Jerusalem see the foundation and are reminded of the first temple and begin to weep in conjunction with the people shouting with joy.
This has turned into a worship experience.....the spiritual leaders of worship bringing in the horns and cymbals and the rest of the people rejoicing through shouts and tears at the fact that THE FOUNDATION is laid. There isn't a building there. There isn't an altar for sacrifices. There's only a foundation.
This makes me look very intensely at my own life.
Where in my life is the foundation being laid and am I celebrating that? Where do I see God using experiences to prepare me for the work I will do later?
Where am I leading, and in those places am I celebrating the laying of the foundation by the people I am leading? Am I bringing in horns and cymbals to rejoice with them?
At the end of a week of camp, am I celebrating so loud that God has laid the foundation in that community through us for them to reach out in a greater capacity that the community next door hears me? What about you?
Where is God laying foundations in your life and are you rejoicing in them? Are you screaming for joy? Does it bring you to tears because you've seen God use this before?
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Love your neighbor.
It's a big deal.
Jesus talked about it.
This is something that I neglect more often than not. Too often, our up bringing and our culture makes it really easy to love other people neighbors. That's why we do incredible work on mission trips to different communities and countries, and sometimes don't think about the person across the breezeway from ourselves.
Love is important. It's powerful. It is so powerful it is a name for our God. He is Love. Love is incredibly intangible and incredibly tangible all in the same. Love is not something we can buy at a store or even pick up off of a shelf, but we cannot go without it. Our system will shut down. Love is powerful. Love is hard. Love is what binds together all things in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3) Love first binds us in harmony with God (he showed is love through Christ) and love can bind us in perfect harmony with the people around us.
Love is important.
When Jesus was asked by the greatest practicers of the law what the greatest commandment was....Jesus (like always) didn't have the most concrete and simple answer the Pharisees were looking for. They were looking for a shortcut into heaven. They were looking for what they could DO in order to receive His grace. They were looking to dethrone Jesus and catch Him off guard.
Jesus' answer was two fold. He said the first is to love the Lord God with all your heart. Let's not fail to neglect the importance of this commandment. He says it is the greatest comandment. Without loving God...we can go no where else. That's a requirement and of the utmost importance.
But Jesus goes on to say "and love your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus says that from these TWO commandments, everything else falls into place.
Some people would say that loving God is the only commandment and that loving your neighbor, honoring your parents, and all of the other things fall into place after that.
But if that one commandment was able to direct us 100% toward where we are called to be, why would Jesus have included the second one? Why didn't it end with "Love your Lord God with all your heart. Then everything else will fall into place."
Here's what I think:
Jesus understood us better than we understand ourselves. He knew that it was possible to love God completely and neglect the people surrounding us. He knew that even our worship of him could become self centered.
Jesus was always challenging human nature, and unfortunately it's in our nature to not love our neighbor as ourselves. It's in our nature to provide and make ourselves happy. "BUT GOD being rich in mercy" had bigger plans for us. He envisioned a world where we would humble ourselves before him and even our neighbors.
Love your neighbors tomorrow like nobody's business.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
The church was in the middle of a prayer series and the pastor was talking about prayer and the Kingdom.
Working camp is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, but Satan has a special tool he likes to use for camp counselors. Sometimes camp can bring out the "me monster."
I did this, I do that, what about me.....the list goes on an on. Sometimes on long days the "me monster" takes over my mind.
In the front of my production binder is the sermon notes from that Sunday. It was one of the fullest pages of notes that I had taken in a church service in a while. But the very first thing on it is that phrase: "Upward, Outward, and Forward."
That phrase has so much power behind it. It's saying that our prayers should be constantly Upward, Outward, and Forward. Upward-meaning that we give God our thanks and praise Him. Outward-meaning we praying for the people and circumstances around us. Forward- meaning that the decisions we make now glorify the Kingdom and prepare us for something greater constantly.
It's impossible to have the "me monster" rule your life when your prayers are always focused on being grateful, on others around you, and being future focused. The now doesn't seem so bad when there is so much future ahead. Your problems seem like nothing compared to the guy you met at sunday school in the morning that is battling cancer. It's hard to complain when you're too busy being grateful.
The bible says "seek the lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." What that means is pray upward, outward, and forwards always. Then your ways will align with His will.
---------------------------------------------------------How I'm praying-------------------------------------------------------
Upward-so very grateful that God created the paths in my life to lead me to the hotel room I am writing this from now. So very grateful for the paths that I have crossed in communities and on my team. So very grateful for the message we have to spread and the reason for spreading it.
Outward- Always lifting up my team. Praying for the communities we are in, and we are going to. Praying for the camper who we will come in contact with. Praying for the other teams that are working so heard toward the same mission.
Forward-praying that we help spread the gospel to campers who will one day lead in their communities. Praying that the wisdom, knowledge, and skills that I learn from camp help lead me towards my future goals. Praying for the communities we are going to later in the summer and that they would continue to prepare well.
Upward-Grateful to be in a place physically, and financially to attend secondary educations. Grateful for the staff and teachers at my university. Grateful for the way that God got me there.
Outward-Praying for the people on my campus everyday. Praying that revival breaks out and our campus of 25,000 would be changed. Praying the hearts of administration would be softened.
Forward-Praying that what I am studying leads me to where God's will has put me in my life. Praying that I am being a good steward and will be fiscally able to handle debts incurred from tuition.
Upward-Grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people who love me and would do anything for me. Grateful for the opportunities brought by friends and family. Grateful for those friends and family who are my brothers and sister in Christ and grateful for the one who aren't so that I can be on mission.
Outward-constantly for the health and decisions. Praying for their lives to be following God's will constantly. Praying for extraordinary things to happend in their lives.
Upward-so so so so so so very grateful for the community of believers God has put me in. So very grateful for the message they share. So very grateful for the way that God has blessed them, and the way they have handled attacks from Satan.
Outward-Praying that my community would be changed and filled with light. Praying that my church family staff is following in step with God's will and that they are provided for in ways they don't understand.
Forward- Praying that God brings the gifts and talents they need to keep spreading their message. Praying that they are thinking with God sized dreams and being good stewards. Praying that decision now would only cause the message to further spread in the future.
Upward-Grateful for what both of us are learning while we may not even know each other. Grateful for her life.
Outward-Praying that she would be blessed. Praying that she knows she is loved. Praying that she knows the Lord and is walking in step with Him. Praying she is provided for.
Forward-praying that God is equipping our hearts for what the future holds. Praying that I am becoming a man in order to be ready. Praying that I never give away too much of my heart, and same for her.
Upward: Grateful for the opportunity to live in a place where I can obtain a good job with good pay.
Outward: praying that God is equipping the people who will be around me for the work we will do. praying that I am able to be a tool to help fulfill a need.
Forward: Praying that everything I do now is only providing the skills for what that job holds. Praying that where ever this is, that God's hand is already on it and blessing it.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
If you didn't know, I work for WinShape Camps for Communities (day camp for 1st through 6th grade). Kids day camps are insane. We are constantly moving. In the auditorium we go through 10-12 transitions in 30 minutes. That's insane. It's loud, fast, fun, and interactive.
But today something different happened.
This week we are at one of the largest camps in WinShape history. We are serving over 500 campers as staff members this week and I have never seen anything like it. It has been the most encouraging week of camp I have seen.
Thursdays are always a little more rowdy. It's "village day" so there is a lot of cheering and masses of little people in red, green or blue. The campers are comfortable with their environment and with their new friends. It's always a pretty wild day.
The combination of it being Thursday, and the room being full of 500 1st-6th graders is what made this moment so real.
Our theme of the day is mission. "Don't just walk it, talk it." We teach the campers about working out their faith in Christ everyday.
The passage the camp pastor uses is Colossians 3: 12-17.
Friday, June 1, 2012
We begin our first week of camp on Monday which means that this weekend is major prep time. I'm so excited about what God has in store for us. We are easily going to be one of the largest WinShape Camps for Communities camps ever. We are close to hitting 500 campers.
As we go through our list of things to do, and supplies we are realizing just how big this camp is going to be. It gives me chills. Its going to be HUGE.
I was talking to a church staff member today and he boiled their success in registering campers down to one thing...a God Sized Prayer. Their staff came together with the goal of 300 campers and they said that it wasn't enough. They wanted something only God could accomplish in such a small town and they got it. Now we are maxing out their facilities and picking up a ton of help. There is an undercurrent here that I don't even thing we fully understand. An undercurrent of prayers, of a movement. of a town wanting to make a difference, of a people seeking out their community.
Before that, there were God Sized Prayers about starting the ministry that would one day become WinShape Camps for Communities. And before that who knows the God Sized Prayers that got us here today.
I've recently started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson after receiving it as a staff gift.
Batterson says "Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers." This up coming week is proof.
He goes on to say "The greatest moments in life are the miraculous moments when human impotence and divine omnipotence intersect-and they intersect when we draw a circle around the impossible situations in our lives and invite God to intervene."
We could easily see the huge hurdles in the way of the next week, but more importantly is for us to understand that where we see impossibilities, God sees miracles.
I cannot WAIT for the coming week and I would ask you to take time in your prayers to lift my team up as we embark on one of the most exciting weeks of our lives.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
I was informed of something profound by a new friend the other day. The word waiting, as translated in the old testament, comes from the hebrew word "qavah" which has a literal meaning of "to bind together like a cord." Weave if you will. The idea of weaving together string to make rope.
Why is this profound? I find myself in a period of waiting in my life. I am still in school, yet I know what I want to do with my life. I feel like a sitting duck, but this encourages me not to be.
Some of you may be in this similar situation. You can also apply this to relationships. Some of you are on the edge of your seat waiting to meet the person you are going to marry. But God has a reason.....
You see, God gives us times of waiting in order to "weave" together what we are moving toward. That can be God "weaving" us further into sanctification, but also mean us "weaving" together what we know God has called us to. A time of preparation. Not a time to sit back and do nothing. Prepare. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, etc.
A couple days after hearing this I was reading the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph had a dream that one day his brothers and parents would bow to him as king. Now, God's favor was on Joseph, so I don't believe this was something he boasted about and was prideful of, nevertheless he told his father and brothers.
They didn't like him much after that. His brothers ended up faking his death and sending him into slavery.
Joseph then went through some tough transitions and situations. In each of these situations, he ended up succeeding. He ended up being sold into Potiphar's household, and moved up to the head of the house. He was then tricked by Potiphar's wife, ended up in prison. Was so well regarded in prison, had little to no supervision. Interpreted a couple of dreams for some of the prisoners. Long story short ended up the right hand man to Pharaoh.
(this is a very shortened version of Joseph's story...read Genesis 37-42 for all the juicy details)
Famine came over the whole world, Joseph had a solution that caused the whole world to flock to Egypt for food. In the end, Joseph's family came to him (without recognizing him) and bowed before him for food.
I totally butchered how great of a story this is, and I highly encourage you to read it.
Here's my point, God gave Joseph a dream, and we know that it took at least 16 years to fulfill it. Joseph didn't sit back and become complacent in the situations he found himself in. He worked hard, became trustworthy, and moved up in each of these situations. We don't hear much about Joseph's character, but he had to be a patient dude.
Be patient where God has you in this moment, and give it your all. Whether its a vision for where God is going to lead you, or whether you are waiting for that person God is going to bring into your life, begin weaving and allowing Him to weave together your future.
Monday, April 2, 2012
One lesson I have learned through people who have impacted my life is how to inspire the ones who you lead. I have seen great examples and terrible examples. In order for any business or ministry to be successful, the people you lead have to believe in what your doing.
The question then is, how do you inspire the people you lead to make your organization even better?
Hopefully this will help you start.
1. BELIEVE. In order to create a following, you have to be passionate about what you are leading. No one will buy into an idea that you're not convinced will work.
2. LISTEN. People will become involved more in something they have a part in. Institute ideas from your followers. Listen to what they're saying. The smallest changes could mean the world.
3. DELEGATE. This is the lesson I have to remind myself of most, but you must give your followers something to be proud of. Delegation is a great way to get things off your plate and give ownership to your followers.
4. CELEBRATE. Wins mean everything to the people you are leading. Take the time to celebrate what your organization and followers have done well! Congratulate and encourage. Build a culture that cultivates innovation through the desire to do better.
5. TESTIFY. Tell stories. This is especially important in ministry. Too often we get caught up in logistics and forget why we are working toward whatever our organization goals are. Stories can expand your vision back out. This helps your followers understand their place in what you do.
Hopefully these ideas aren't too obvious and they are a help for you in wherever you have been gifted to lead.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I look for Him to answer prayers through the "open the bible to a random page" method. Or the "attend 1048392 church services" method.
I was reading through Acts 10, and (as I am writing this, I am proving to myself what I am writing about) God revealed something very important to me.
He uses different mediums to speak to different people, but His timing is ALWAYS perfect.
You have this story about Cornelius, who from how the scripture reads, led a life that to the Pharisees would be seen as acceptable. He regularly sought after God and gave to the needy. God sent an angel (medium 1) to Cornelius with very specific instructions. He was told, in short, to send for Peter. He sent three of his men to fetch Peter.
The next day, as the three men approached, Peter goes to the housetop to pray. He fell into a trance and had a dream (medium 2), much less specific than Cornelius' interaction. While pondering the vision, the men arrived at where Peter was.
While pondering his dream, the Holy Spirit (medium 3) spoke to Peter and told him to go down and find the men. Peter went with the men back to Cornelius. There, Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ (medium 4) and the Spirit worked through him in order to reach the people surrounding Cornelius who were living by the law. All who were there were baptized. Kingdom advanced.
Within this one story, God speaks to at least two different people in four different ways. Lessons this teaches me:
1. God can speak to us through supernatural means. The angel was what instantly got Cornelius' attention
2. God can speak to us through dreams. When we are walking instep with God, he can use our subconscious level to communicate with us. This is how great pastors and leaders come into visions and ideas.
3. God can speak to us through the Holy Spirit. Much like the idea of having an "angel" on our shoulder, the Holy Spirit can whisper immediate direction into our lives.
4. God ca speak to us through people. Whether it's friends or acquaintances, God uses people to speak to us. In this case the Holy Spirit was leading the people around Cornelius to Christ through what Peter was saying.
5. God's timing is PERFECT. Just as the men were arriving, Peter went onto the roof to pray and God gave him this dream. Plus, if you read the scripture, you see that Peter happened to be hungry and dream about food....
In no way is this an exhausted list. Proof: God speaking to me through the revelation of this blog post and you seeing this blog post on Twitter and God (hopefully) speaking to you through it.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I assist in leading a freshmen bible study with BCM, and this week we were originally going to talk about the prophets who predicted the coming of the messiah. But in studying I got stuck on Jonah. Jonah is the beautiful picture of salvation as almost a precursor for what God had to come. Jonah "flees from the presence of the Lord" just as Adam had done in genesis. Jonah gets in big trouble, seeks the Lord for his salvation and is rescued from the big fish after one of the most powerful prayers in scripture. And then he goes to preach God's grace and a whole city is saved. All of this in a book that is four chapters long.
But here is the kicker, in VBS or Veggitales we don't get the whole story. After Nineveh had repented and turned to the Lord, Jonah responds in a very peculiar way. Go read Jonah 4 right now.
Jonah wanted himself to be killed after he did what God asked him and prevailed. Now if you were called by God to go to Las Vegas to preach gospel and the entire city turned and repented, would your response be to ask God to kill you?
We are taught growing up that Jonah ran because he was scared of the response in Nineveh, that he would be persecuted or even killed. Or as in Veggitales slapped by fish. But if that were his motivation, why would Jonah say in chapter 4 that he fled to Tarshish because he knew the lord was good? He knew the Lord would be gracious and save Nineveh.
I listened to a message on thegospelcoalition.org that gave me one school of thought. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. They were not part of God's chosen people. Therefore if they were not a part of Israel, they were a threat to Israel. So in Jonah's mind, his nation would be better off without Nineveh so he wanted God to destroy it. So he fled.
Here is the beautiful part: Jonah was told to preach the glory of God to a city of idolaters. But really, Jonah himself had an idol, his nation. Jonah put the security of his nation over the salvation of this other nation. He put the security of Israel over God's calling. God used the big fish to break Jonah of his Idol worship. This moment can be found in chapter 2 verse 8&9. In his prayer he realized he needed to follow after Gods call.
What are the idols in your life? What are the thing that if they were taken away, they would cause you to ask God for your death to come?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I think a lot of what has caused this to happen goes along with the last one there. Putting my pride aside. Too often I set out to prove what I can do on my own. To prove my self sufficiency. To show the world just how much I can balance and how excellent I can do it. And a lot of what I am doing is centered around serving the Lord.
This season full of opportunity is also full of decision making. I randomly tuned my truck radio to a Charles Stanley message tonight. His main point in the message was basically asking how we determine what is God's will for our lives and the only way we can know is to really be in His Word and meditating on it day and night. The fact that I randomly tuned to this almost brought tears to my eyes because it was something I needed to hear. That if I ask of God, and what I ask is in His will for my life, I should be 100 percent confident it is going to happen. Powerful stuff.
After hearing this, I was excited to dive into the Word tonight. I am doing a one year plan that is already laid out. It breaks up the bible in four parts.
The first part was out of psalms. Psalm 16 to be exact. Powerful in my life right now because it's reassurance that God has a plan for my life. He will not abandon me. I have a BEAUTIFUL inheritance. He is my counselor and stirs in my heart even as I sleep. Powerful stuff.
So far, Stanley's set up for what God is teaching me tonight was already powerful. Then I moved on to Genesis where God proves that He can provide what seemed unreal to Abraham. In fact Abraham laughed, literally, when God told Him that he would have a son at 99 years of age. Nothing I ask is outside of Gods reach. So powerful combined with Psalm 16.
Well that wasn't enough for the night, my next reading was 1 Chronicles 17.
Part of something I am struggling is how to respond to blessings from the Lord. I don't have an answer to that. But David did. After God ,asking His promise, David didn't understand why he was being blessed so. But he DID know who deserved the Glory for it and he made it known.
Well so far God has led me to three passages, all of which taught me a valuable lesson about things I am going through. But then...
Next section was Luke 10 where we are introduced to Mary and Martha. In response to God's blessing...Jesus visiting them...Martha went into panic serve mode. She had to make sure everything is right. Mary fell at the feet of Jesus, taking in lessons he had to teach her.
THEN IT HIT ME
I realized that God is teaching me to put aside my Martha. Stop doing. Set it all aside and take in the lessons he is teaching me.In my obedience and willingness to lay down my pride and let go of some of my responsibility, God has blessed me with a season of sitting at His feet and learning. Just like through all the scripture I had just read through. And like David did in the passage above...I will remember to give Him all the glory.