Thursday, October 17, 2013

More life

I’m not sure it ever looks the way we think it will in ministry. I’ve learned to not only expect more from God than I can visualize, but also that it will happen differently than I expected. That’s not discouraging though, God always wow’s me with what He has planned. I’ve found it’s always been more than I can do without Him, but never more than I can do with Him. Ever faithful!
Even in these last few months He has come through for my ministry more than I could ever expect. In our own weakness He is so strong. In my own lack, He has an overabundance. With the extreme highs, and extreme lows, this month has been a roller coaster. I can say with confidence though, He will provide, even the things I need but can’t get right now.
I can’t explain how broken I felt the other afternoon, feeling so isolated from people, and having been left so empty from everything. It had probably been almost two months since someone had wanted my company other than just to get help with something. I just wanted more, it felt like starving. I wanted deeper experience at church, deeper friendships, deeper life, and I had no idea how to get it. I wanted to not feel used by everyone. He was there with me though. Looking up through the tears He told me He would provide, and I trust Him. I don’t have all those things today, but what I do have today is hope, and it feels so good. I fasting the next morning, and just allowing Him to feed me that “more.” A few days later two friends reached out, wanting to spend time with me, just because. I feel blessed. 

As I prepare for new decisions, for a new year and think about desire, I keep asking myself and God, what is it I want? What do I need and desire from this experience?
-To make a difference
-To let God use me and my gifts
-To change
-To draw my church into serving, to help them find a desire for it themselves
-To help the youth see the world in a different way, and give them the opportunity to see options for their life they may have not considered before.
-To see God and His heart more clearly. 

What do I want? More. More than all of that. More than this world has. 
C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity says, "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists... If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world". In the end I know everything of this world will leave me hungry, starving for more God, ready for real home. Ready for heaven. But I thank God for giving me what I do have, and providing what I really need.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who Am I?

I have a letter on my desk, I wrote it to myself while I was at work last week. It says,
No one is “just a,” When the homeless guy walks in, don’t think “oh, it’s just a homeless guy,” Greet him like everyone else, he’s a person, a soul. EVERYONE is important and worth my time and love.
Maybe you can understand the trouble I’ve been having. Every day, we have the same homeless guy come in and take a free sample. In the beginning I would greet him, but I started just ignoring him. Maybe getting a little frustrated, it took me time to put those out, and he just comes and takes one... Every day! It was the day that I thought to my high and mighty self “ugg, it’s just the homeless guy again.” I could literally feel myself looking down on him. I made myself sick.
Did I really think I was better than him? How could I be that judgmental? I reminded me that I was doing that some of my customers did to me; look down on someone. It’s the worst feeling when someone does it to you. We are all children of God, and Jesus says “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48. The Kingdom of Heaven looks at people differently, and if we claim to be part of that, we need to look at people differently too. A short story by Flannery O’Connor called Revelation, shows a woman who is judgmental seeing a vision of souls marching to Heaven. To her dismay, her and the “proper” people she approves of being at the BACK of the line, and the people she felt were beneath her at the front!
I know humility is not something well thought of in modern America, our fiercely independent selves wholeheartedly fight for our superiority. We daily have to prove we are the best, and deserve our positions/grades/places. When life is ranked and scored and paid according to best and better, it is hard to look at someone and just see a soul. It is essential that we break out of that though (me especially! No one likes a good grade more than me). We need to really SEE people.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kiss from Heaven

It was a long day, mostly full of being an adult even when I didn’t want to. I got home upset, tired, and sore from a pulled muscle, and sat on my bed to prepare for having coffee with a friend. Taking deep breaths I readied myself to do my thing; listen, have good questions for them, and serve/uplift them in any way I could. You can imagine how surprised I was then, when they beat me to it! My friend insisted on driving, opening doors, making me go first, and even bought my coffee and pastry. They sat patiently listening to me, and asking about my life. My friend really truly cared! Sitting here now, I could just about cry thinking about how weird and fantastic it felt to have someone actually care about me the way I usually care about others (and probably do it better!). It was like I was special. Really special, someone worthy of special attention. I felt totally unworthy of such love. Even if it never happens again, I savored every moment. I was so blessed, it was like a kiss from heaven. I'll make sure to pass that on to others. :) 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And God Moved in Us; Jars of Clay

The spirit moved on us some time ago (see April 7th), and the Lord never fails to do as He says. More than we even imagined by far. This summer we ran over 120 teens for Revolution, it was amazing. We prepared the place, and God brought the people. To say we were prepared is a gross overstatement, but as a tight knit and hard working team we bolstered up each Tuesday night for six weeks to make it happen. After that we brought over 80 teens, four hours to our district youth camp. I am amazed and humbled by God and how he gives us what we desire, and what He has told us He is planning. The season is here, and I still don’t know what my roll is, but I am excited for it, even just to support in a small why what He is doing. I wish I could do this instead of work and get paid! If I could do this for the rest of my life, I think I would be ever so happy. Still, I find myself a little ill content. This is probably a failing of my own. I want peace, now I must pursue it with some effort.
Part of my discontent is also the jr. high ministry though. While we run good numbers, quite good despite the summer months being upon us, we struggle to facilitate a real passionate group. There is nothing in me that is content with it being a program; something to occupy them while their parents worship. I want for them to truly see Jesus, a Jesus most of them still don’t know or understand. Why risk? Why give it all if you don’t know Him really? I want to show them, but I don’t know how to. Maybe I need to learn to risk more, to think outside the box. I have ideas, but no idea how to practically bring them about. In my opinion we need three things still: Salvation, Cohesion, and Vision/Passion. They need to see Jesus, meet him in a real way, connect with each other (though service one has less problem here), and truly buy into the vision.
No one promised this would all be easy, far from it, we were promised a fire-storm. God is always there though, and we work toward His aim, facilitate His love and His mission. What else is there for me to do? 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts... But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Cor 4

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where Beginners are Welcome: Starting to Understand True Worship

“Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’[a]
who was, and is, and is to come.’” Rev 4:8

Worship. An exclamation, a proclamation of worth. Proclaimed through actions, words, thoughts, and consistent adoration. Giving up something of yourself to show how great another is.

Worship, in many modern church's, seems to work on a formula. It goes something like: catchy, slightly repetitive song + dim lights = worship.This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we (the ones desiring to be a true worshiper) have a responsibility beyond halfheartedly bobbing our heads to the music. What many “worshipers” (or those distant participants in the formula) don’t seem to realize is, that true worship can’t be CREATED by a formula, or by anyone else, it can only be created by us; our own hearts. WE, as worshipers, as forgiven people, create in ourselves an altar and our own lives as the sacrifice on it. Noah built an altar, Moses built an altar, Isaac built an altar, and they did not expect someone else to build it for them, in the same way we build our own "altars" of worship.
Don’t get me wrong, I love worship music, I often leave it on during the day to help me focus and meditate on God. But worship itself flows out of the deepest parts of ourselves. Sometimes our grateful hearts find it easy; it just comes, and other times it’s a struggle. In those times that we don’t “feel” it, we need to realize that He still DESERVES it. Sometimes I just stand during worship segments in physical or mental pain and speak “Jesus” over and over.  Sometimes I stop and ask Him for more passion, for more desire. If I only know how to love, because He first loved me, it follows that He also helps birth in me more passion.
This week examine yourself in worship. Make up your own lyrics. Meditate on the words, and what they truly mean to you. Make a fool of yourself for Christ by dancing if you feel worship rushing through you. Worship when there is music and when its silent. Worship; proclaim out loud or in your heart (or through your actions, your boast in Him) how much He means, how great He is, every time He comes to mind. I am going to, or try to. I know my worship is still an offering of filthy rag’s compared to what He deserves, but He sees it as beautiful because we are in Christ. Be willing to make the sacrifice, and don’t expect it to always be easy. We're all beginners it seems, but He welcomes us to his holy place, ready for us to spend time with Him, how can we resist?

Thoughts on helpful worship progressions: Ask for forgiveness (so you do not try and enter the throne room dirty) -> ; meditate on the joy of forgiveness and the greatness of the sacrifice -> ; use the words to songs to help voice the thankfulness and elevation of God -> ; when those words are no longer sufficient, create your own words to lift as praise.