It’s Not Too Late To Do What You Love

So, you’re staring at the ceiling; only to be waiting and wondering why things are going the way they are. That spot in the couch has become first base and you are in constant thought of how to get to where you want to be, but when you think about it, all that happens is that worry begins to make nest in most of your thoughts. I’m mostly describing myself right now, but in some form I’m convinced everyone has experienced this to some degree.

I’m finding that in my life, a lot of time I could have been doing something, except instead I have succumb to worry and trying to be thought provoking enough to in my minds eye construct a way to navigate to where I think I should be. It has only failed to do anything and left me wondering, “why God?” I want to make something clear though, because thinking is good and all good ideas come from God and planning isn’t necessarily bad either; but have you ever tried to move God? I guess it sounds a little odd, but really I think you know what I’m getting at. Moving God is obviously hilariously impossible and even more so I know I have missed His voice many a time because in my fragile state of mind, I know I have tried to do it.

We have all read and heard this Psalm, but I felt to include it with this post and helps me to realize that God in His perfect love is relentless to teach us and make us only more reliant on Him. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, bless His name!” Psalm 100:4-5. This psalm seemed to be read aloud every church service I attended in Brazil this year and after awhile I got a little annoyed when I would hear it. I tend to be someone who reflects a lot and tries to think of what I can do to change and how I functioned in situations and experiences praise is definitely something I miss often. When we aren’t praising God, usually we are too focused on ourselves and “our needs,” and God is mean for not giving them to us when we want them. A lot of the seasons I have been in recently could have been so much smoother if I would have just stopped whining and praised God. Even to myself, hearing a Christian say, “just praise God!” can sound so cliché, but it shouldn’t!

Whatever we believe about God is not only the most important thing about us, but is the atmosphere we carry and when praise is brought into the equation, there is an impartation of faith and joy that is released in giving up understanding and receiving God’s peace (see Phil 4:7). Praising God is how we take the spotlight off ourselves and be reflective back towards our Father.

Never will we be able to force the hand of God in all of His wisdom knowing past, present and future, so instead, we must praise and also remember that the perseverance can be a joy if our perspective is taking steps and doing things that please Him. When I used to thing of waiting on God, I used to think of just sitting there waiting like Ezekiel to receive a prophetic vision and while that has happened in the past, God is in no way restricted to formulas. When I asked this question to Danny Lehman (one of the elders of the Kona YWAM base) he gave the illustration of waiting on God like a waiter at a restaurant. Moving, but coming back and seeing if the time has come to take action in a certain way or not. Waiters never sit idle, but are always moving and I think it should be the same with us.

Finally, I believe God can speak in a variety of ways and I have only experienced a few, but I know it’s not too late to start doing what you love. I would rather give my all in what I think God is saying than do nothing at all because being idle never helped anybody. Recently God spoke to me and said, “Start doing what you love! Don’t just wait for the dreams I have given you to just happen. Start taking small steps!” It really is all we can do. God is in absolute control and there is peace in that. No one will ever have perfect theology, there will always be tension in sanctification and we must go through waiting to be released to enjoy the fruits of certain blessings God will give us coming out of trying seasons. Let’s be convinced God has our best even if it’s not what we think it should look like! I want to be satisfied in God no matter my financial or physical situation and want to seek to cultivate a personal life of praise that will only overflow and get on other people.

Take moments in your day to praise GOD †

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For Such a Time as This

If you have watched the news in any capacity recently and especially in America, it is clear hate seems to dominate peoples hearts. I don’t want to write a current event and necessarily comment on everything, but simply come back to what needs to be set fourth in motion to oppose the anger in peoples hearts.

I’m so glad that when I became a follower of Jesus that my hope was no longer in this world. This temporal shell is passing away and in place of it I have been given a heart that longs for the eternal. Anyone that lashes out in hate instead of love is simply speaking out of their own experiences and externalizing it to manifest in a negative way. When it’s all you know, it’s all you can do. Forgiveness becomes more overgrown and forgotten and self righteous pride takes over and sets root. But, we can be a part of the change so that this is not the case!

I’ve listened to pastors blast from their pulpits that God doesn’t heal so much anymore and that much of the gifts we see today in the body of Christ are a sham. This makes me sad because they are only speaking out of their experiences of being hurt by Christians who claimed certain things and now that Christian pastor pays it forward by preaching unbelief to his congregation. What if we were a generation that did not have faith in God based on our experiences and fleeting emotions. I‘m all for emotions and experiences often mold us into who we become; but what if our FAITH in God went deeper and no matter what our lives spoke a constant YES to God in belief and faith no matter how we feel or what our experiences tell us God can or hasn’t done!!

WHERE ARE THE REAL ONE’S FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?

The authentic ones that clothe themselves in God’s love and love the ones that need it most! The ones who don’t take advantage of people like many in the charismatic movements of the past and many still today that steal money from believers and promote their ministries. They simply forgot that love was the most important thing!

This whole post is kind of a rabbit trail, but hey.. It’s what is on my mind and I felt it needed to be written!

We need a generation of sons free from pornography to lead and stand up, daughters to lay down their cracked mirrors and receive the truth of their beauty, mothers to nurture and stand by their husbands while being a hand to young women and Fathers who love their wives and everyone around them like Christ loves the church!

In a society not just in America, but the world that promotes hate, it is not easy to follow Jesus and always live out the opposite in our lives. I remember last year when God told me to talk to a man in a Kona Starbucks, the man was deeply perplexed and kept saying, so you are 21 and you came over to me? Why me? As I told him it was because Jesus loved him I saw tears in his eyes and as we continued talking for a few hours, this man that had been hurt and wounded by many was receiving love from a Father through me he thought didn’t exist anymore. As believers we cannot walk by people and hope someone will do something, because that person should be us! Out of love we stop for the one and help those in need.

It’s love that overcame on the cross and this love still that is going to bring others into the fold of the Great Shepherd. All this being said, there will always be hate in this world and everything that hangs on it’s coattails; but we as believers must never waiver in always loving and never slandering. As many are protesting around America, whatever side you feel you are emotionally connected to about the recent events concerning our police force, don’t hate, but instead bring the love of God into it and be His voice of love to those around you. Don’t be a facebook ranter, but a closet prayer warrior, because all change starts with prayer and fasting! It’s almost Christmas time and many will flock your local church. I hope that God spurs you to talk to them and see change in their lives, because when we love fearlessly, nothing can stand in our way! GO and LOVE.

PROMISES

When we see or think of the word promise, despite the good or bad experiences in your life that this word has webbed, it is a word that holds weight. For some of us, it’s been a word that has been twisted and been accustomed with an empty or false hope of someone whom we have trusted that has mislead or even hurt us. From the beginning, the world tells us to trust no one and to look out for ones self. It can be very hard to trust someone when they have a track record; especially if it’s people who once stood beside us. If you’re reading this and most of your life has consisted of these happenings involving broken promises, chances are that you have deeply struggled with trusting God. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” So what if we as the church begin to actually believe this? This would affect everything!

In this short post, I simply just want to bring this issue forward amongst the many things in our lives that beg our attention, because this is something we cannot miss! There have been so many times where I have lifted my hands during worship, or at a church gathering and verbally stuck a stake in the ground and said, “God I trust you!” Now, that is all great and all and that doesn’t mean it’s not genuine. But… I have done this and immediately the next day when I am in the midst of what I was raising my hands and declaring about is eating at the pit in my stomach and I succumb to worry and anxiety. So, why do we as Christians live in this pattern at times? I for one am extremely hard on myself and my worst critic. I’m always one to mutter at myself how I need to have more faith or I’m just not adding up as I should. Because hey, everyone’s looking at me and I am supposed to be walking on the water, not fully immersed stretching my chin and hands to stay above it.

There more I have been pressing on in faith and seeking deeper intimacy, the more I am realizing a few reasons why this happens and want to point out how to combat this, in hopes to tie in and convey what God’s promises are and how to hold on to them. 

Whether you have been a follow of Jesus for quite some time or not, we all have heard the phrase, “mountain top experience.” The reason I bring this up is these are the kinds of things we declare and it is more or less an emotional response. Emotions are not wrong and our God created them and has them himself, but His actions are mirrored by a covenantal promise, not an emotional one. It is easy in a time of worship to reflect on God’s promises to us. This is a wonderful thing, but what we miss is that this same response is required in the midst of hopelessness; when we aren’t in that time of worship and it’s just us and God. So quickly we can disregard those promises, when what we must do is praise Him in those valley moments, even when it makes no sense at all to give Him praise or thank Him yet for what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Am I the only one that reads this and thinks, “But, how do I hope for something I don’t see?” And most of the time God’s timing is never what we think it should be; but He has never forgotten anything He has spoken neither to US as the body, or to YOU personally. 

Psalm 105:8 says, “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations…” So for a moment, think about the promises you believe God has spoken to you in your life. A moment when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He promised something to you, but you have yet to see the fruition and His timing isn’t adding up.

Stop reading and think about it.

So I just did and it’s so refreshing! I mean c’mon, we take ourselves so seriously sometimes and when we don’t get what we want we get mad at God! It’s so silly and what we have to realize is that when you said YES to following Jesus, you gave up your life to the most inconvenient and narrow road there is.

We can often look at the Bible and think, they had such faith! When in actuality, they were just like us and though many were proud and arrogant, became willing enough to be humbled and broken. This word promise, can be just as easily flipped around into something very beautiful. Jesus has already sworn all loyalty to us as His promise marked in His blood on the cross for our sins and when it is most difficult, we must cling to the promises He has spoken to us personally. We are men and women of faith, not ones of emotional response that lose fervor because we are’t reaping the benefits we think we should have.

Finally, here are some things I have done and continue to do when I feel like the grip I am holding onto what God has spoken is nil:

1) Praise God when you feel hopeless in worship to Him. Tell your anxiety’s who your God is!

2) Meditate on scriptures He has given you or verses you find flickr’s the fire of your faith.

3) Declare the promises God has spoken over your life verbally and in prayer.

4) Gather around believers to pray with you and contend for faith in belief that God will fulfill what He spoke to you.

Lastly, begin to cultivate THANKFULNESS, not just in your daily quiet times, but throughout the day, getting rid of the “I’s” in our prayers and replacing it with, “Thank you God that you are…”

Check out Your Faithfulness by Jon Thurlow. It’s catchy and helps remind me that I am just one part in His promise to all people who believe in Him. God’s really good guys. All the time and we can lay our heads at night knowing that. No matter what our lives look like right now, God always says what He means and never does the opposite.

A heartfelt devotion led by faith is all we have †

[ Relationship † ]

“The essence of Christianity is not about religion at all, but about the person of Christ.”- Deitrich Bonhoeffer

We live in a very different world than our grandparents and parents did. With a humungous rise in consumer choices and seemingly infinite possibilities worldwide, things like being patriotic and being passionate about Jesus aren’t always common. People are constantly looking for the next best thing to tantalize the instant gratification that is spreading faster in the first world than the fastest formula 1 car.

Recently, I have been noticing a common thread in many independent news websites of people leaving Christianity because either A) They felt deceived and didn’t have a contextual understanding of scripture, B) There was a nasty church split over money or a leadership figure that had a lack of transparency, C) They put all of their hope in “Christianity” itself and not in God and lastly, which made me the most grieved as I read was, D) They had and mentioned nothing of Relationship with God.

To think that there are thousands of people right now turning away for putting their hope in religion and not Jesus our savior is sad and more, it is opening an awareness that people still even churched their whole life do not understand the Gospel, the good news that sets us free! If you’re reading this and you have been churched your whole life, I am sure you can relate. Knowing all of the answers to put on an empty and cold facade that even the smallest ripple of darkness in our lives could uncover is stressful and a lot of work with no reward. I have been guilty of this growing up and has been something I have been thinking about as I have been reading the Bonhoeffer biography, (which is an inspiring and exciting read by the way), that again has been reaffirming truths I wholeheartedly believe. “The christian message is basically amoral and irreligious, paradoxical as that may sound.” Bonhoeffer believed that Christianity was something more and that is was fueled by the fiery love of relationship! This is something my generation and the upcoming ones need to know, that God is not boring because He is alive and since He is so excited about us, (Zeph. 3:17) then I think we should be the same back! A healthy friendship requires reciprocation and we need to begin to spread the reality that God is exciting to move from familiar to fascinated!

In these quotes, you will read how the people writing them never had a relationship with God and put their hopes in fallen people and religion. “Christianity was my entire world. From the time I was born till I came out at 44, I never existed in any other shape. Then, I stepped off a cliff.”(Salon; Valerie Tarico, quoting an ex Christian minister MacBain). The article goes on to explain that MacBain and many others have started atheist churches where they can come together and be a part of something to help their community and love each other. Here is another quote from a Malaysian journalist named Boo Su-Lyn; “At that time, I just pushed aside the illogicality of the church’s explanations. The close ties, the sense of belonging, the way everyone seemed so together in their worship gave me a sense of purpose at a time when my world had plunged into chaos.” In both articles they go on to say how they had disagreements with the church and so on. The point I want to make is that this world is looking for Authenticity; (defnition) real or genuine : not copied or false : true and accurate. People all over the world come to church who don’t know God hoping to find something and many are finding religion!

This has been a big wake up call for me and I hope it does the same for you in that, we need to actually fall in love with Jesus ourselves, or people turning their backs to Jesus who were once open will continue. Of course God is God and He can soften hearts and orchestrate circumstances, but we need to be the ones He chooses to place in those circumstances to not just get a soul count, but love them and preach the full gospel! That He lived the life we could never life, died a most terrible death on a cross, saved us from our sin by putting it on Himself and ascended to be at God’s right hand who is alive and now lives in us to reach the entire world as we prepare to join Him for eternity! That sounds like incredible news! So how have we tamed such the most emphatic and most powerful message the world has ever heard and seen? Have we in our efforts to try and theologically understand tamed God and forgotten who He actually is?

Remember the Jefferson Bethke, “Why I hate religion and love Jesus,” video? Whether or not you agree with everything he says, one thing we can take away is that people are tired of religion. They don’t want it and too many people even right now are getting burned by Christians who should be representing Christ. It must start with us! Like Bonhoeffer we must examine the way things are and what is being projected off of our own life and ask, “Are people drawn to my life?” Do they see Jesus? If they don’t, then what you need to do can’t be found in a building, but a man named Jesus Christ who is exciting and burning with furious love. Let us be a church that loves better and firstly, is in adoration towards the only One and thing that matters. To close, “Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.” Bonhoeffer

† You were worth it, so Go and tell people they are too.

Links to articles

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/11/christianity_was_my_entire_world_then_i_stepped_off_a_cliff_meet_the_minister_who_started_an_atheist_church_partner/

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/boo-su-lyn/article/why-i-left-the-faith

Stopping for the One. Inconvenient or Opportunity?

Hey everyone,

I am back from being abroad and just now settling in to being back in California with my family. Just a few days ago I arrived back from our family road trip to some of the South Western states; Arizona and New Mexico. Packing up again only two days after being home seemed natural since living from a suitcase and a bag has become more day to day than being in one place. Family road trips have always been fun and this one was definitely a good time as well as interesting considering I haven’t been in close quarters with my family in a long time.

Every time I arrive back home I realize that even though some things are different, most things are exactly the way you left them and not only that, but you have changed. It’s easy to feel out of place with a feeling of being adjacent or far away from things that used to be so common place and ordinary, but by God’s grace I am adjusting and seeking Him for what He has for me next. So with that being said, this past trip was a lot of fun and I am very thankful for my family. Gazing out at the Grand Canyon and being able to spend time with my 96 year old great uncle and grandparents was a huge blessing.

Going into what I felt to share and hoping to keep it brief, God has been doing something in my heart and showing me things about myself that I thought I had overcome. Recently I had been noticing that I hadn’t been operating in the same level of prophetic words as before. I later recalled a few weeks back praying to ask God to bring it back because I wanted to be available for Him in a greater way. Now yes I just got back from an outreach in Brazil, but even doing that, it’s easy to go through the motions sometimes with the best of intentions. So, there I was sitting at whole foods with my mom and seeing an elderly lady over her left shoulder, I heard a voice tell me that she was deaf in her right ear and I needed to go pray for her. I began to feel the warm rush of blood of anxiousness flow through me and after sitting thinking about it, I walked up to her. “Ma’am, I know this may sound weird, but can I pray for you?” lady, “I’m sorry son, I can’t hear very well out of my right ear.” “Oh, well, as I was sitting over there I heard God tell me you were deaf in your right ear and I would love to pray for you.” Her response, although God had told me right was, “I am deaf, but I’m ok and am quite happy with myself and the way things are.” 

Why would God give a correct prophetic word if the person wasn’t going to receive it? It got me thinking and I remembered how I had prayed for Him to bring it back. Over the coarse of the trip, there were a few more times where I knew something about someone, but because of the past experience I didn’t tell them and let fear grip me. Now let me share one more story and then shed some light on what I felt God reveal to me. A few days ago I was at a college ministry group and I got a word for a girl next to me I had never met. It was right on and the girl asked if she could talk to me after the worship ended. She told me that she was praying about letting a non-christian man pursue her, but she had been having second thoughts and came because she wanted God to speak to her. Go God right?! She left saying that she was going to say no because she wants to pursue God fully with nothing in the way.

Which brings me to close this already long post by saying that God is a pursuer and even if someone rejects His using you to be His voice to that person, He is still passionately and madly in love with that individual and will continue to send His people to them simply because He loves them. John 15:18 says, If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Even if we get rejected for the name of Jesus we cannot let what He speaks to us become a burden and cause us to hold back, but to persevere with joy because He wants to bring someone who is dead back to life! I have realized in just the past few weeks that I cannot let the precious words God speaks be inconvenient, but an opportunity to show that person love, because if we don’t then we have missed a chance to be a part of change in an eternal persons life! Eternity must be our mind set because wherever we are, God has called us to be missional just as much as someone in Africa as someone like yourself reading this wherever you live. Fear can’t be an option and even if the word you get isn’t as accurate as you thought, you still stepped out in faith to be obedient and that is what God is after anyway! He said that if we loved Him, we would obey Him! Let’s do it family; one person at a time.

Mainland bound

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Well, that settles it. With the students all graduated and us staff on our debrief, yet another season in Kona with Awaken DTS has been completed!

The picture above is all of us, staff and student and I am so proud of so many of them that persevered throughout the DTS and encouraged in how God met them. In many ways, this school held more challenges than the last one I was a part of, but God showed Himself faithful. When a group of people, Christian or not come together for 6 months to learn how to live out a Jesus centered Christian culture, there is always friction, but that is the beauty of what God does in DTS. People come in from all stages of their walks with God and all that us leaders do is guide the students as they encounter God. One student in general during our Monday Ministry night had an encounter he would never forget, which led him into transformation. He was praying and he began to feel the love of God come upon him when he realized that when he opened his eyes, he could not see anything! So he continued praying beginning to freak out a little thinking that maybe this was normal. He heard God say that he wanted him to see what He sees. He got a picture from God and washed his eyes in the vision and when he opened his eyes he could see! Now you may be thinking, does God do that?! Well, He’s God so I’m pretty sure He can do what He likes, but I know this young man and he was never the same.

This is just one story of how God brought real transformation and growth to the students over the past 6 months and is the reason why in any circumstance even in the difficult moments I can know in my heart that it is all worth it. Leading solo this year was one of the most selfless things I have ever learned how to do and the way I learned how to love has shattered most of my past perspectives. The revelation that God started in my heart in Nepal even before the school has continued on in me and I will continue to carry it wherever I go. Because it’s not about our ministry, how successful, or what we accomplish, if we don’t have love and we can’t even love our brother, then we have nothing. Staffing a DTS in itself is a selfless endeavor that has marked me for the rest of my life because it teaches you that it’s not about you, but the ones God has placed in your life to Shepherd.

The miracles I have seen Abba do this year have been so far beyond what I could have ever wanted to see. Sure, I could have done SBS in South Africa this year and not have experienced any of these things, but thank God that He knew better than I. The people I have met and with that the relationships I have harvested from this season have made the journey a better one. As I look towards the future, like every year there are an array of options set before me and some variables that I will be praying through, but I have confidence in my God that His plans are good. At this point I know I will be heading home to at least finish out the year in hopes to build better support and to really get on my face and dream with God. I have been asking Him for consistency and I am really hoping to be somewhere longer than 3 months at a time. I could always write more, but to save you the time of reading and getting on with your day I will simply say that this season of my life has been incredibly fruitful and I head back home with peace trusting in my Papa to guide my next steps and to do it with friends that I love.

† Love is unconditional

Life on the Amazon

I just found wifi (a rare commodity in Northern Brasil) and I figured I would right a quick and short update to keep you all updated on how this outreach is going, what God is doing and how you can be praying.

First of all; our time in Belo Horizonte was amazing! We were very blessed by the team at the Rescue House and built great friendships with them that made doing ministry alongside them extremely fruitful. Belo is a big city and it was an experience of a lifetime to be there during the World Cup and watching the game with locals as it was playing in their city! Although it was an embarrassing loss for Brasil, doing life in the community and spending time with them with the world cup being an open door to come and watch a lot of fun. 

Since arriving here in Northern Brasil (Para) in a small city outside of Belem, we have hit the ground running. With about a full day to settle in the next day we headed to our first River Community outreach for about 5 days. Each week we will be visiting a new community where we speak in churches, teach the local body, house visits with locals, health & dental care and simply just being available to The Holy Spirit and loving people. Our time in the first community was a lot of fun and my students got a taste of what our life will be like for the next 6 weeks or so. Life out on the river is so much simpler and even though there aren’t many amenities to make you feel comfortable, my students are realizing that what we are doing is so much Bigger and worth every moment of discomfort. In the future of going to communities, we now have a greater scope of what we can be expecting and we are very excited! Our schedule is constantly changing and miscommunication with people is the norm out here in the jungle, but my team and I are learning to be flexible. Love has a cost and requires us to do things and go places that we would not normally do or go so that Jesus would be made famous. Sitting in a church and being honored by an entire congregation is in itself very humbling and seeing their zeal and passion for God inspired me and my team. These people didn’t have much, but gave so joyfully and willingly. In my travels so far I am always learning from people and seeing that they give out of what they have.

Loving our own family can be exhausting sometimes and I experienced this on our past trip when Wellington and I (one of our translators) spoke and gave a teaching with application at a church where we were staying. We began teaching and mobilizing the congregation to form groups and realized that the men and women were not able to sit together, which made it difficult. It was hard to see certain things in the churches where there was so much legalism, but what I realized was that Gods love is what changes our hearts. By example by how my team and the others with us conducted ourselves, I could tell the way they have been taught to think was challenged. Not being judgmental of your own family can be hard at times, but what Jesus spoke to us was to get His heart and love them. When we follow Jesus we are leading others and in following His example we will always step on toes, but what matters is that we are humble and constantly being led by The Spirit to see Jesus touch His children’s lives which don’t know Him yet. 

Keep me and the team in your prayers and I am thankful for many of you reaching out and expressing how you have been praying for us. We will be at the Amazon Reach base for the next two weeks due to some setbacks and will be leading a youth camp, evangelizing in the local neighborhood and serving the people here with Amazon Reach.