Contentment

Whether or not people will read this, I have some much needed reflection and thankfulness I need to write about because 2015 has been one heck of a year! WARNING, this may get a bit long, so scroll as you please 🙂

Top Things I have Learned this Year:

  1. Thankfulness Destroys Unbelief
  2. Sometimes it’s just Hard
  3. Our Alignment Determines our Assignment
  4. We ALL Need Community
  5. Our Private Life with Jesus Must Demonstrate Public Power
  6. The Best Things are Worth Waiting for   

Being able to travel quite a bit this year not only changed my perspective and stretched me, but taught me to learn again how to be content in ALL circumstances. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:11 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

In Nepal I saw those who had lost their homes and were recovering after the tragic earthquakes that struck the nation. Those of us that went saw seeds of hope planted with The Gospel that will in faith be harvested as many continue to go and serve in the body of Christ. I was also reminded of how not so glamorous being in other nations is that are poverty stricken; but what I am always blown away by are a few who are believers who live there where even in the midst of brokenness have a wildness in their hearts and a reckless abandon to Jesus that is messy and captivating. We saw spiritual warfare in many forms and the reality that we are all in a battle was right in our faces. We came away seeing peoples hearts open to Jesus and built the trust with villages that will pave the way for future teams.

I had to confess to God this year that I had put my identity and missions in a box where God couldn’t fit anymore. I had limited missions in my heart based on precedents and what others defined missions as, but missions is simply The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where it says,  18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In Nigeria, the JOY of The Lord was very prevalent wherever we went. Whether we were ministering to Christians or not, these people had an understanding of contentment that I didn’t have a grid for. Everywhere we went we were constantly shaking hands and being met by bright white smiles from beautiful people who were simply glad that we had come. I was introduced to another way of doing missions work and had to learn how to simply be available and serve. The fruit from that trip was in knowing we were investing with a ministry that is already helping save hundreds of lives daily and is rapidly growing by the obedience of individuals who just want to want what God wants.

So here is where it all hit me.

Setting down my pizza, a few of my friends and I began talking about Gods call on our lives. One of my friends began to cry because she said she was struggling with contentment and I realized something. When God calls us, many times He doesn’t explain the details, but simply wants our wholehearted YES because little do we know that there are blessings on the other side of our obedience. I thought about how Margo (my girlfriend) came into my life after a moment with God when I once again relinquished control in my life and surrendered to what He was calling me to in that season. The reality is, is that God gives us things to be faithful to and if we aren’t diligent and watchful in what He has given us, He is not able to give us more. Until we learn to stop for the one, we will never make an impact, let alone love. God is patient to wait and enlarge our influence, capacity, and abilities when we have learned what He wants us to. 

It all comes down to the “WHY”

If our roots are planted in anything but Jesus and His word, we must up-root ourselves to bloom where He wants to plant us. If we are fixated on chasing experiences and emotions that will fade, we will burn out and will never be ready for what God is calling us to. But, if we submit ourselves in love and obey, doors will open without us forcing it and experiences and emotions will come as a bi-product of our surrender and devotion to Jesus; and even if they don’t it never changes who God is.

God wants all of us and He can’t get it when we are in the way. It’s hard man and I’m often asked how to know when the right timing is and the how, but it’s all about loving Him. If ministry in our minds is limited to the stage or pioneering some new wild ministry that goes to every closed nation to bring Jesus, we are missing Jesus. Those two things are incredible and so needed, but our ministry is not the end all call of our lives. 1 Corinthians 2:23 says, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.

Being obedient to Jesus even when we have no idea what He is saying is the greatest act of faith we can take. This is all to say, the journey is hard and we mess up sometimes, but His grace compels us to keep moving forward. Don’t look back.

 

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Retrospect

It’s been awhile everybody. But I have always enjoyed writing and between the last time I wrote until now a lot has changed.

Since being back from Kona HI serving with YWAM for the past few years I sure did learn a lot, fall in love with Jesus Christ and made incredible friends around the world that will last a lifetime. Something I realized was how common it was that I would meet people from YWAM having such a difficult time readjusting to life some desperate to understand what God’s calling was on their lives. I have also met some that flourished upon arriving home and immediately joined ministries or university with a bright look on the future.

It seems I fell into the category of the first. Readjusting was the single most difficult experience of my life, but what I came to notice was just how much God still needed to do in my heart. Also, it was time to MOVE ON with my life and pursue Jesus. Going home doesn’t mean going back to normal, but I saw it that way. Through working menial jobs, feeling torn about going to school, missing my closest friends and not being fully immersed in a ministry I felt disconnected and out of place and I know I’m not alone. So I began to fight for community and sought change in my life. I realized there’s just too many Christians stuck in this “funk.” Instead of believing The Gospel and carrying the word of the Lord with faith in my life I was trying to figure out why my everything wasn’t going the way I wanted. Have you ever met someone who just wasn’t thriving because when you ask them about their life all they do is complain? I firmly believe now more than ever that God wants us to thrive in any circumstance.

Since I have been abroad two times this summer in Nepal serving with relief work with YWAMer’s and Jos Nigeria working with a medical team aiming to make healthcare in Nigeria a reality through Gods love, started a worship ministry called The Living Room and am now a Junior High Director at Auburn Grace Church. Once I stopped complaining and just sought getting right with God, things fell into place in a way that is hard to describe. Being home really has become better than I ever could have imagined and then some, but it took a whole lot of wasted time to come to this conclusion.

What I learned: God wants to meet with me and it is in now way dictated by where I am. I can have the fullest intimacy with Jesus as long as I am meeting with Him daily and establishing myself in His word. His plans for me are not on my timeline and He desires to have all of me not just more of what I do. I have to get vicious about removing all hindrances from my life and do WHATEVER it takes to get right with Him. Instead of moving around because I don’t know what God wants me to do and I am unsatisfied, maybe there is breakthrough of the heart that is needed therefore causing these things and I need to confront them head on.

How to move forward with God: Planting yourself in opportunities where you will be challenged, seeking new relationships and fresh perspective from God to try new things. Serve in a ministry that pushes your limits and spur others on to get in God’s presence. Keeping God’s word the basis of your life and praying in moments when reading seems dull, “God I don’t want you right now, but I want to want you!” Bringing community around myself is most definitely one of the biggest ways I have grown closer to God. Putting ourselves out there is scary, but the benefits of having iron in your life will sharpen you and push you closer to Jesus.

Finally, if it’s always about God healing you and you are not gaining the tools to move forward and grow in Christ there is something wrong. Healing is necessary and vital to God filing in the gaps in our lives, but we must equip and push ourselves to move forward to have more of God. I am constantly meeting young, middle aged, and older men and women who are not satisfied with their walk with God and have a negative outlook on our world. While we are wondering where God is, many are living out the Great Commission preaching The Gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons and loving others. A surrendered heart that says YES to Jesus are more powerful than 100 people serving God not from a place of love, but for the sake of works. My eyes are ever bright toward the future only because I am living in the present. I am growing, learning, failing, getting up knowing God is proud of me and He always sees my heart in trying when it is rooted in love. I am so glad for my past experiences and know many things will come together again, but for right now, God here and now is more than I could ask for!

No More Tiny Windshields

There is enough of God to have all that I could ever want today. There is no shortage of God’s presence or living water. It is all for my taking.

I heard a quote recently from my local pastor that so many Christians have an enormous rear view mirror and a tiny windshield; meaning that too many of us are looking back instead of looking forward. I have been really wanting to write about some of these things and highlight how God uses seasons to transform us, recognizing the signs and moving forward. So, here we go!

I still remember Jim Ored in Kona sharing a word about doing things where there is no recognition and how he put it, “not feeling the glory.” There are seasons that happen to us that coincide with pains and experiences most that can be unexpected. What I have been observing is that there are so many Christians going to church, working their 9-5 job and taking care of their families, but they aren’t living free. It seems they are still stuck in a season when God wants them to move on. I don’t mean to come off indifferent towards peoples hurts, because pain is real and Jesus was a man of many sorrows, but what about rebirth and new beginnings? Isn’t the Christian life about dying to live and losing our life to find it?

At my church The Rock of Roseville, we are going through a series called, “Finding God in your Next…” Essentially, whatever is to come NEXT we love the life God has given us and choose to trust Him. For us to walk in this revelation our faith must be tested. I think we as Christians have believed for too long that God doesn’t test us and He won’t give us more than we can handle. Both of these are lies. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” That verse alone has spoken volumes to me as I have realized that every circumstance is an opportunity to manifest Jesus and not my flesh. God does this because He loves us and wants us to purely be love and we cannot be unless the impurities are taken out with fire.

We also must stop misquoting 1 Corinthians 10:13 and realize that God never promised this life would be cookie cutter and while you can read what I said and think, “well yeah obviously” a lot of times that does not reflect our prayer life or our attitude. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is talking about temptation not suffering and as hard as life gets, we as sons and daughters of God have triumphant power to overcome ANYTHING! Think about it, as much as it boggles our mind, Jesus was a man just as much as He was God, but He never gave in to His flesh, nor did He fail to carry out His Fathers work.

Let us be vigilant and ask God, Am I keeping myself stuck in this season? God is faithful to answer and wants to have conversation with us. The reason why I bring all this up, is because too many times to count I have gotten stuck in a season or been unwilling to move forward. I truly believe that if every Christian decided to wholeheartedly believe the Bible and decide to let go of offense and give God all the pain, this world would change overnight. There are questions that God may never answer and there are realities that sadly are in our lives such as disabilities and ailments, but that should not limit our faith or trust in God. The most powerful generation will be one that simply takes God at His word and lays down their life just because they are in love and to follow Him anywhere. 

If ALL of God is in ALL of us by Holy Spirit, then that means that we truly need ALL of Him to live this life and nothing can be done on our own strength! So no more tiny windshields. Yes, the past experiences have helped form us to who we are today, but that does not mean we stay there. I have been reminding myself recently that I must love God just for who He is and not just because He gives me good things. Otherwise, when I have nothing my posture towards God will turn sour! I must attain more faith and be as reckless as Paul. This life will always throw at me everything at once, but I have God inside of me that can carry it for me. It will be a battle for you, but it’s a daily surrender and the peace that surpasses understanding is coming for you. Things will get better if you will get on your knees and trust He is in control. God is good because He is God and that’s it.

Standing Firm in the Unknown

 MATTHEW 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

Every time I read this verse and the latter after it, I have sometimes thought, well that is impossible! How could I never not worry about anything ever again? As I am doing a chronological study of the Gospels in my times with God, it has opened up chasm’s of revelation where I am coming out of them simply put, trusting Him more.

I know so many people who have relationships with God or say they are Christians, but their lives are filled with anxiety. It is not God’s nature to worry, in fact it’s the exact opposite, which means that when we frantically pray and ask of Him something in worry, we are missing an opportunity to receive the ever-present gift of peace from God. (Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith….) The Spirit is the bridge through Jesus Christ that we have relationship with God and when we try to avail in circumstances without the fruits and think we can carry the burden alone, we will always dry up and lose perspective.

When I think of longsuffering, it is not particularly a fruit that sounds sweet. It sounds like biting into a really sour or tart grapefruit. I am finding it is a fruit of the Spirit for many reasons and all of them lead to becoming more like Jesus Christ.

What I am discovering is, is to be like Jesus we must be tested and we must be purified to come out like Him. Without this sanctification process we would remain right where we started–death.

Back in Kona last year God spoke to me that if I went home for a season, that it would be better than I ever could have imagined. In being home since October, it has been altogether the toughest season I have faced yet. From being jobless, to getting braces, to trying to pick up friendships again, feeling aimless, to feeling alone and depressed, it’s been difficult. But God. Those are some of my favorite words in the Bible: “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26). It is this truth that set me free here at home. The realization that sitting idle feeling defeated like Jonah in the hot sun complaining doesn’t help at all. Even when God provides shade, like Jonah we can complain, even after what He has done in our lives and shown us time and time again He is faithful!!

Since being home, many of the things I am hoping to change have yet to, but instead of falling back, I have changed. I have to go after God and fall in love with Him outside of my experience. Experience can lead us to formula and God does whatever He wants, when He wants. If we as believers in a real way fall in love with God, nothing can tear us down. Things like clinging to words God spoke to me in the past are a way I remind myself of who I am and where I am headed. God cannot break any promise He ever made.

Be prepared for God to answer your prayers in roundabout ways than you expect. God enjoys surprising us and it is restful to know He is for us and loves us endlessly.

So, if you are reading this and are like me wondering, “God what am I doing and where I am going!?” You are not alone. No one can tell you how to fall in love with God, but it is up to you to get on your face alone and ask for Him to revive your heart. When the posture of being on your knees in prayer mirrors your life, everything changes and we begin to walk in heavenly perspective. Not only that, but trifling circumstances develop our character and intimacy with God. Even in the midst of it all, we must bless the name of our Great Father and love Him unto loving others wherever we are. This wisdom will change the way we live and instead of seeing obstacles, we will see opportunities. God must have been worth it to you to give up everything in the past and get this far, so don’t lose heart now. He is the same loving and perfect Father you fell in love with, but there’s just no glory in a lot of things we must do on this earth that seem mundane. But let God be Lord of the mundane things in your life and transform them.

I must daily fall more in love with Jesus and be love. †

BEING UNIQUE ( PT 2 )

It has been much time since my last post for a few reasons. I don’t even know if I have steady flux of readers, but I am glad and even humbled that many of you take the time out of your day to glance or read through what God is teaching me for a few moments. Moving on..

I am still stuck on this topic not just because it has been one of my biggest personal breakthroughs, but because I see so many young people who don’t know who they are, or what makes them special. You can have big dreams, but you will not get very far if you have a small god and even smaller knowledge of who you are in Christ.

Outside of my personal times with God, someone who I have been listening to for quite some time now and always seems to bring my heart to leap to its feet is Dan Mohler. He is the guy who mentored Todd White and if you don’t know who either of these two mighty men of God are, then click on their names and give a listen. Why I mention these two is for a few reasons, but the first being their identity. Both of these men know who they are and they walk in it. Now I don’t want to elevate man over God, but I do want to point out what they are doing that Jesus was the greatest at being. Jesus was fully God and fully man walking in a close communion with The Holy Spirit tied to The Father. Both Todd and Dan are normal guys, but when you listen to them there’s something different in their step, attitude and authority. Something that makes you want to burst and pray for everyone you meet for the rest of your life. It’s something that is impressionable.

Have you ever met someone who was so strange but so lovable where there was an ambiguousness or magnetic pull about them? Saved or not I know we have all met those people that we have been drawn to for one reason or another. One in particular was when I began to get close to a particular family friend who helped me greatly in 2012 when I was getting ready to leave for DTS. He became one of the most interesting people I had ever talked to and his relationship with God was strong and he seemed to have a lot of wisdom. But what drew me even more to him was his personality. There is no one more quirky and free thinking than this guy and our conversations would range from God, theology, sound waves to art. We would spend hours in his studio as I was busy making my t-shirts I was selling to fundraise and I learned so much from him. He was and is what I would call impressionable, because he knows what makes him unique and his relationship with God is rooted in that.

When we are less concerned about what the world thinks of us and especially the people around us, we become free and are able to enter into a greater level of intimacy because then we are only concerned with what God thinks of us. Now I know we may think a lot of what we would call “sold out Christians,” as weird, but who set that standard? Yes people have made mistakes, but why should that deviate us from being wild and in love outwardly for Jesus? I know that many can even make being overly different or unique as their identity by the clothes they wear or what they listen to, but I am talking about the sheep that rest beside still waters and know their Shepherds voice (Psalm 23 & John 10:27). What if being unique became a lot less about our style, tastes and trends and became more about being like Jesus. I know that may sound paradoxical sounding, but I guess it is in a sense. But the truth is, you will never be more unique and free in who you are when you become like Him and receive His dreams, purposes and work unto fulfilling His will. 

I enjoy looking funny to the world now in lots of ways that would have made me incredibly embarrassed a few years ago. But I don’t care anymore! In this, I am led to my final statement. In being unique and serving God,

How do we leave a legacy only leaving behind the finger prints of God?

Don’t feel you have to be so unique to the worlds standards or to please man that you veer from doing what you do for God from a place of being in love with Him and that alone. The last thing we need is another pastor or mentor who falls because they became more man conscious instead of Jesus conscious. We must not deviate from the Gospel, which is unique alone because it is the only gift with a promise with no strings attached! Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Let’s remember that we are special and that Jesus + nothing = Everything!

So next time you are wondering if you are special and unique in who God has made you to be, remember that Ephesians 2:6 says we are seated with Him in heavenly realms! We are royalty!

God is good Amen.

BEING [ UNIQUE ] pt. 1

I feel like doing a series, so a few parts should do.

I love writing, because it gives me the freedom and expression to make an attempt to portray my thoughts and perceptions, while learning how to not simply just vomit a bunch of words, but be articulate. To me, writing is fun and the way I do is part of how I am unique.

There are millions of people out there doing the same things and most of them are better than myself at many of them, but what sets me a part is how my Father created me and the purposes and inclinations I am built for. There has never been another me and there will never be another me again. I’m it. So, if this is true, why do we spend so much time trying to be someone else? Jesus was the perfect example of this and He is the ONLY One we should aim with everything to be like.

In today’s culture, to be successful, you have to be doing something different. Something that is noteworthy because that person is the only one doing it. When I look at design I am always looking for what sticks out because it’s different, but what I see is that much of it all looks the same, which is difficult because many times I find myself to be fearful to do things that fall outside of common trends and I doubt I am the only one. This for any artist is a challenge to seek new inspirations and challenge themselves to think outside the box as it were.

Until I truly came to the realization of The Gospel and who my God is, I really didn’t know what made me unique and I more or less didn’t have next to any goals for my life. But, once I had a revelation of my identity in Jesus Christ, that all very quickly changed and I became an entirely new and different person. When we live in this reality of who we are created to be by throwing aside insecurities and introspections, we actually begin to be the most unique version of ourselves we will ever be. Because until then we will only label what sets us apart by what we do like our occupation or our social circles, instead of the fact that we were formed by a Creators hands that took the time to be so incredibly intricate in how He made us.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Verses like these paint the most beautiful picture of who we really are as well as 1 Corinthians 5:17, which states that, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I love how everything in God’s Word is perfect truth, which means we can fully be reliant on who God says we are.

Let’s shed our old skins and embrace the uniqueness of who our Abba Father says we are and walk into this reality in our new and established identity that was paid for in blood by Jesus Christ. Amen.

Missing God: Doing Good Things

The title alone sums this up. If you have been walking with God for many or just a few years, this is easily something that can be taking place in our lives even unknowingly, but only leads us into our hearts becoming hard and doing the good things meant for God, for ourselves.

Colossians 3:23-24, Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

So, simple right? Man, I wish that I did this every time, but I know that many times I have to remind myself of why I am doing what I am, even if it’s a good thing. The reason why I am focusing on this, is because it’s doing these “good things” that most often I have become so disgustingly introspective and it becomes all about me and my performance.

Recently I was leading a worship time with some friends when this began to happen. I did all the right things and had prayed before for God to have His way as I played and for everyone to encounter Him. What my downfall was, was that pretty much right away I became introspective and started looking at what other people should have been doing and as this happened, I felt like I missed His presence and my voice literally vanished. Where was it? I know theologically based on scripture and experience that God will not leave us (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:18), but we easily forget that God absolutely and entirely HATES sin. So much so that even His own beloved Son was separated from God before His death as He became sin on the cross for us.

There are many instances in the bible where God mentions that He lifts up who is bowed down and humbles those who lift themselves up. I for one definitely have and do still struggle with pride. I hate that I hate that I do. Seeing this from His perspective, God showed me that while I may do everything right in my eyes to create a setting or environment where He is welcome, if my heart is not in the right place, all will be useless and I will fail to partner with The Holy Spirit.

So today, ask God about the condition of your heart. Has it become callous or hard? In my times with God, I am seeking to make repentance a daily thing to realize my own sin and to immediately be rid of it so it doesn’t corrupt more of my heart. Be real with Him and let Him undergo the much needed heart surgery that you have been putting off. Let Him in and give Him what you have by realizing it is nothing in comparison to what you will gain.