Saturday, December 12, 2009
I am in a good place right now...my house with a cup of chai tea (w/ milk and honey) in front of my space heater, feeling good because of my 2 hour nap this afternoon!! Only thing better would be watching White Christmas, but instead I am studying for our scripture write out on Monday and trying to get ideas for my newsletter due Monday as well. Writing is my break :)
This morning was the second ever "Come Together," from 8:30 to noon, which is an initiative our church is taking to beautify/bless the people and properties of the neighborhood surrounding our church. So we are going one block at a time. There are different teams (Work crew, hospitality, prayer, pastoral) and I chose to do Hospitality. It was a fun time. We basically just cooked lunch for everyone involved and other little errands. It was a misty cold day, but luckily the rain didn't get too crazy and work was still done. Mainly raking yards and sidewalks, since the ground was too wet to mow.
One of the guys in my Elevate class is one of the visionaries for this event and I think it's a great idea. Bless people practically, then let them know why you love the way you love. Point them to Jesus. And to be honest, our neighborhood needs some major TLC!
There's also this really cool thing going on this Tuesday called the "Christmas Store" at ACC where people can come to our church and buy NICE, BRAND NEW Christmas gifts for about 20% of the cost. Church members donate the toys and each family gets to buy 3 gifts. My lifegroup is helping out with that on Tuesday instead of our regular meeting at my house, but Liz and I have EPM that night...our Christmas party/dinner (Olive Garden!)/talent show/regular teaching time. Jenny and I are planning the party and it's gonna be a blast! It is a little overwhelming tacking that onto all of the other things that are due this week, but still so fun and it will be our last class before Christmas break.
BREAK. I NEED THEE!!!
I have soooo much to do in these next few days. Once I get to Wednesday I can cool my jets and enjoy friends again!! I've done some Christmas shopping but am probably only halfway done.
Little story of God's faithfulness: Liz lost her debit card for a few days and we were retracing her steps, etc. Well we decided it would be good to go to the last place she used it, which was Burger King. We were praying hard that it was there, because we had checked everywhere else. If it wasn't there, then it probably got thrown away with her BK trash or something random happened, like it fell out in a parking lot or something.
So we sheepishly asked the lady at the counter, and she goes went back and pulled out this STACK of abandoned credit cards! I was in shock. And she flipped through and found Liz's within seconds! We were soooo excited. We told her how we'd been praying it would be here and that the Lord answers prayer. Asked her if she believed in Jesus and she said yes, she went to Catholic School all her life and loves God. We prayed for her as she was having financial struggles and wanting to spend more time with her 3 kids instead of working, but has a hard time doing so because she needs the work. Bless her life and her family, Lord! She was Liz's best buddy today!
I went through a couple weeks of feeling paralyzed every time I go to share Jesus with someone or even pray for them...but I have been asking the Lord to change my mindset about it and since then I have found greater freedom to make little efforts here and there. I am so grateful for grace and also for Holy Spirit promptings. I knew God was giving me an opportunity in Panera the other day because this woman just started jabbering away to me in line about all the sweets and how she can't have them because she's diabetic. She was an older woman and the first thing I noticed was this HUGE purple bruise under her eye/right side of her face. It looked pretty bad. She told me her husband fell and she tried to help him, which made them both fall. :( So I prayed for her and she was blessed. I think she even hugged me! hm!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
"So often our repentance is needed in our relationships with others. We are only as close to the Lord as we are close to the person we love the least."
This insight is based off of the following scripture from 1 John 4:20-21: "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whome he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."
Wow. Help me, Lord!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Ok, for reals...God is soo good!! I had a great great Thanksgiving. Got to see Lindsay (cousin who goes to school at Liberty in Virginia), and got to see my mom's cousin, Jackie, and Jackie's new husband (from Maine!) and all the rest of my mom's side of the family in the glorious Cleveland, TX.
We had a fun time hanging out...played Cowboy Golf, watched football, made homemade cards, ate, ate some more, went to a Stoney LaRue concert in Spring, and went shopping. I am saying no to pie until Christmas!
Church on Sunday was good. I like their pastor. He's bold! He said that usually by the second worship song in a church service, he's like a caged animal; he keeps it in because he doesn't want to freak anybody out or make anyone think he's Pentecostal. I just laughed and thought about all the "freak" expressions of worship that abound at my church. People don't hold back, that's for sure.
He gave a statistic that only 5% of Baptists will ever lead a person to the Lord in their lifetime. I don't know how accurate that is, but I'm sure it's in the right ballpark. That's kind of crazy. He said he knows a lot of us in the audience think that that's only the pastor's job, or the music minister's job...but then he said we are ALL ON THE HOOK. While many of us, (myself included), are afraid to share our faith with people, the reasons for not doing it are almost always FEAR-related. The pastor reminded us that when we step out in obedience, we have no reason to let fear stop us, because God is WITH US. He's working on the heart of the person, so there is no magic in our words. He doesn't call us to do these things in our own strength. The key thing is to make sure we are focused on him and listening to his spirit as we speak out.
God challenged me with this in my quiet time this morning:
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
LIVE BY THE SPIRIT. Seems to be an impossible command, especially when coupled with having to reject the desires of the flesh. Almost as impossible as "Be perfect, for I am perfect." Yet, when God gives these commands, he has most certainly not called us to do something that we are incapable of accomplishing (with his help).
Could the spirit of God really encompasses every avenue of my life? Well, I am certainly NOT holy!! However, the holy one lives in me. I like what Joy Dawson says about this process: "If we choose to walk in obedience to revealed truth and the next thing He tells us to do, His holy life will start to be manifest through us (no matter how unholy we are now, or how impossible it may seem for us to become holy)."
By the way the scripture is worded, the order is not to find Life, then go searching for the Spirit in Life. I need to find the SPIRIT first, and then every part of my Life flows out of that place.
So that's my challenge this week: to LIVE BY THE SPIRIT. Feel free to join me in it.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
At the reception, Erin called all the single ladies into this one room and had married women hand out roses to each of us. This was in place of the traditional bouquet toss. Each rose had a promise attached to it and a blank side for us to ask God to speak a promise to each of us later. It was a really neat idea. It made everyone feel so valued as a woman and not depressed about being single. It was especially cool being encouraged by Erin, who is in her mid '30s and has been to many many weddings wondering when it would be her turn.
The rose I got had this attached: "For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God will be without power or without the impossibility of fulfillment."
I asked God for a specific promise I could cling to and this is what he gave me: "I AM THE KING OF YOUR HEART, AND I WILL SURELY RULE WELL OVER THE MATTERS OF MY KINGDOM IN YOU."
Thank you, Lord!!! I relinquish all rights to control. I relinquish the right to be married by 30 years old. I give you the freedom to guide and direct my future. Life is worth the living just because you live! Thank you that you see me as your bride and that you are ravished by my beauty. Thank you that you truly satisfy me and that I find contentment in you for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health...You're so good to me, Jesus!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
So now both of my roommates from the Colonial house are married off. Well, Anna and I are still the single ladies, and we are ok with it, although...just FYI I caught the bride's bouquet! It was kinda weird, like unnecessary attention on me. Two ladies asked me if I had a boyfriend and I was like um...no...but you can start praying that one in!
The BBQ paled in comparison to Lockhart's finest, however the pumpkin cake was sooo delish! We had a blast dancing and that ranch was extremely nice. It was just fantastic all around.
Well then our friends Amy and Sky from Lifegroup were to be engaged later! It was hard b/c we saw them at the wedding and knew all about the proposal that night. I was nervous for Sky and bubbling over with excitement for Amy! I bet today felt so long to Sky. Then we gathered at a family's house for a surprise engagement party, which was also really fun. So the theme of today was love and marriage...go together like a horse and carriage...
Speaking of horses and carriages, Rachel rode up in one and it was awesome. She looked amazing and Ben's face when he saw her reflected that she really is the girl of his dreams. Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin D'ardenne!
Got in a lot of quality time with Maddi, Liz and Anna this weekend. Priceless. They are such a blessing and a joy in my life. They're gonna make awesome bridesmaids one day! Anna said she wants me to sing in her wedding :) I wonder the order of when we all will get married. Sorry, marriage is on the brain...I usually don't dwell on this subject for long, but this weekend's made me think about things in new ways. It's good! Erin and Charles' wedding is next weekend. Tis all for now friends. I am beat! Hope each one of you is doing well.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Reading in Isaiah this morning and thought I'd share this passage from chapter 12:
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
In that day, you will say:
'Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
Make known among the nations what he has done,
And proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
Let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel among you.'"
What that says to me about my role:
Replace fear with trust. When I trust in his strength, I will have no fear of inadequacy or fear of man. Sing and shout what he has done - which is rescued me from the pit of hell and from power of sin over my life and given me living hope. Proclaim his name to the world (and College Station) and tell them what he has done for us. Have a heart of thanksgiving and prayer (call on him).
God's role in this deal:
Dispenser of strength, song, glory, joy and best of all salvation. He offers his perfect salvation without prejudice. He is real and active in our lives, and puts praise on our lips in order that we might share His glory with those who know not of Him.
I think of the Samaritan woman at the well and how Jesus read her mail and then offered her living water. He didn't condemn her sin, but called her to return to her husband. While everyone avoided this woman with a bad reputation, Jesus went out of his way to meet her where she would be. And it wasn't church, y'all!!!
I think everyone draws water (life) from something. It could be drawing from the opposite sex in order to get the love and affection one needs; drawing from the well of education/knowledge for satisfaction; drawing from a well of religious acts and good works; drawing from the well of selfishness, of fame, etc. But there's a well that holds ETERNAL LIFE and when one drinks of this well, he will never thirst again. Hence, God is the only thing in this world that I've found that truly satisfies. And we will draw with JOY. We will live a good life when we choose this well! I think too many times we think Christianity will be a boring life of "DO NOTS." Yet we are more free than we think to live rich lives in Jesus. It is us, not God who imposes all these religious rules. In a sense, we trap ourselves to live these "lifeless" lives. For God always has more than we could ever ask for or imagine.
That's something the Lord is teaching me right now...that too many times when we speak of "revival," we want to plan all these meetings at the church and hope people will be drawn to them. Isn't that kind of like going to our familiar well and waiting for sinners to miraculously come to us? They are nothing like us and many feel uncomfortable with the way Christians behave or have treated them, and wouldn't dare to come near. So...the alternative calls us to proactivity: to GO WHERE THEY ARE just like Jesus did. God is calling us to be a people that go outside of the church walls instead of being so church-centric. I often feel that in the church community life, we are so busy attending this meeting, that service and the other that we are neglecting the great commission and have become self-serving. It's awesome to get fat in the Lord, but if we don't share the food (love, grace, etc) we've received, we are just being spiritual gluttons.
Even in speech, we lose non-Christians with words like "sanctification, living by the spirit, salvation, edification, justification," etc.
So Lord, let me speak simply and purely of your love this weekend!! Lead me to their wells to offer living water, just as you did. I am no higher than any other, for we are all saved by your grace. Salvation is simply "deliverance from the power and effects of sin." It is "liberation from ignorance or illusion" and "preservation from destruction or failure" (Merriam-Webster).
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We heard about this at the VA today and everyone was talking about it. It's such a tragedy and so unexpected. I always wonder what's going on in a criminal's mind. I probably don't want to know. But I just don't get it.
As one lady said about her daughter who was injured, "I thought I was more worried about her going over to Iraq than here, just doing training in Texas. She just got there yesterday." The number killed and number injured kept rising as the story developed, and as far as I know, 12 are dead and 31 wounded. Lord, bless and counsel these people's families and surround that place with your protection. Bring justice.
It astounds me that on any given day there are 25,000 plus people on that base. It's the largest Army base in the U.S. We have a few people employed by the VA that work at Fort Hood and they are all safe, so that is good news.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Hey all! Hope your Halloween was...non-paganistic?...lol.
I didn't do much Halloween related except went to a 7 course meal dinner party on Wednesday night and the theme was orange and black. Posting a few pics to entertain ya. That dog is a pomapoo (pomeranian/poodle mix). The pumpkin outfit was TOO MUCH! Loved it. We had a great time and some wicked good food too. Like for real. I had to bring store-bought pumpkin pies b/c I ran out of time to make them. If you know me, you know that made my heart sad...but what can I say, I'm a busy gal.
This weekend so far has been excellent! Helped a friend shop yesterday, then met up with some others for coffee (pumpkin lattes are the bomb!) Much needed time with my covers and pillow until 11 a.m today! Then some Elevate reading, a wedding shower, then a fajita dinner and bonfire at Maddi's house with a bunch of awesome people. Tomorrow's menu: church, walk with Maddi, more Elevate reading, birthday party, healing and prophetic service. Far from dull huh?
I got complimented on my eyebrows today by one of my girlfriends. Random! I've gotten that comment one other time from a guy when I was in college. Hey, I'll take it :).
Can I just say...I LOVE it when the high is 75. Perfect. Thank you Jesus for these lovely, lovely days!
God is teaching me to be patient and wait on him. He's teaching me to not move until I've heard from him. So I'll pray, and wait, and expect. Expecting is key...that's where faith comes in. Believing in the unseen. Lord, I know you will speak. I know you love it when I call on your name. Holy you are. Friend you are. Mercy giver you are. Ruler of the universe, thank you for being concerned with my very breath. You are my everything and I will adore you.
I'm also pretty excited about our Fall Outreach at A&M next weekend!!! I believe God's gonna do big things. BIG things. The ACC College Station church planters (Ashley and Tyler Hardy) came and spoke on Thursday and imparted their evangelistic giftings to us. Wow, after their talk and prayers, I feel much more empowered to share the gospel. I was feeling pretty sheepish about the whole thing. I go through that a lot...just wanting to avoid evangelism because it weirds people out and it can be pretty uncomfortable. Well...God said he's gonna get me over that, that all the power I need is resting in my bones through the Holy Spirit. I have everything I need and he wouldn't call me to do something that I cannot do. If God can use Moses, he can use me! Tyler Hardy said that we were made for evangelism. It has nothing to do with our personalities. Declare with me, "Boldness is my personality! I am a person that changes the world."
I'll have a weekend unhindered by distractions to just really GO FOR IT and make His name known in the College Station area. The church plant there is doing really well from what I hear. They meet in the Hilton and are averaging like 200 people each Sunday morning. That's pretty good since they just started this summer. So please pray for me, my classmates, and the people in College Station who are about to get rocked by the love of Christ. I want to be so full of God that I spill over!
Ashley Hardy had some good practicals about evangelism:
1. Believe that the kingdom of God is inside of me. Believe that we truly have what they need.
2. Go out with direction (seek the Lord for words, pictures, etc). Ask God who he has already been working on!
3. Love the next person set before you.
4. Compliment people to strike up a conversation
5. Figure out how the Lord uses you best. What's your sharing style/what works for you? Figure that out and do it confidence.
6. Move in the opposite spirit. In a place where no one interacts, start talking, etc.
7. Whatever it takes to break off the fear of man...DO IT.
8. Burn in the secret place with God. Contend to burn brighter each day.
John 6:40 - "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Cor 15:54b -58)
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tonight in class, Kevin Johnson came and talked about the Holy Spirit. The passage of the bible he pulled from was 1 Corinthians 12-14, which I am going to read more in depth in my quiet time tomorrow so I can continue processing. Paul talks about love and prophesy, and other gifts of the spirit. He says that we are to desire prophesy over any other spiritual gift. Yet without love, we are nothing.
Think about that. Without love, you are nothing. A clanging of symbols. In this state, we would still have substance (and noise!), of course, but in our relations with others, we are dead. There is no life to speak into another. I'm sure we've all met people that have little love to give. What a sad lifestyle of bondage and despair. For love brings life! It brings growth, connection, warmth, intimacy. It makes us feel known and valued. It lifts us up from out of the quicksand and sets us firm in our identity, making it more natural for us to love others out of the abundance we have received. How can we truly love another when we don't love ourselves?
I want more love and I desire to give it too! I know I can never be loved more by God, for he is 24/7 enthralled with my beauty for my whole life. WOW! But I can certainly work on deepening my love for him. I think it starts with a hunger to know him in unconventional ways. How can you know a person unless you set aside more time (consistently) to find out who they really are? Beyond the surface. I want to push my boundaries with God. To ask more of him, to see how he responds. To ask for more of his spirit to pour out upon me. I want to know the yearnings of his heart, that mine might fall in line. I am confident that each prayer, each acknowledgement of his presence, each praise, each song, each loving thought towards God draws me into a deeper revelation of who he is, thus enhancing my love for my heavenly father. Even when I cry out in my weakness, he does not condemn me. He just pulls me in closer.
I don't know how people call their parents "mother" and "father" when "mom" and "dad", "mommy" and "daddy" carry such a nearness lacking in the former terms. Less blood relation and more relationship. I have heard people call God "Papa." It's so foreign to say that. Even to call God "dad" is new for me. But I like it. And I think it makes him smile. Not that he doesn't want to be feared and revered as well; after all, he is Holy. But as children of the Most High, we have inheritance in his kingdom. Why not call out to him as the coheirs and children that we are?
I was burdened tonight that I need to pray more for the people in my life who I know need a fresh touch from God. Some of them Christians, fallen away, and others seekers, and others, the very ones who think all of this stuff I am saying is hogwash. I want others to experience the God I know. The God I am discovering. The God who is exciting, who has a plan for me and who gently prods me along in that process, refining me with fire and encouraging me with his presence and other believers.
So I will seek Him while he may be found. I pray the same for you dear ones.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A newer attendee of our Lifegroup received from the Lord a curve in her neck, and also one of her legs grew out to match the other one. Yep, that's right! We prayed for her because her neck was hurting; and visibly, her cervical spine was straight, lacking normal curvature when she came tonight. She had been experiencing hip and back pain forever because of the leg length discrepancy. That was healed too! Unfortunately I didn't get to see the leg actually grow out because I was praying for another one of my friends...but suddently everyone got super loud and excited and the girl just was sobbing uncontrollably. She was so thankful and so touched by God in a physical way that she literally was wailing. She couldn't even control it! It was amazing the work the Lord did. And then when we were praying for her inner healing, God just brought even more things out to the surface and I really believe God moved deeply in her heart, healing up old wounds and depositing peace. She said later that her whole life she had dealt with secret hurt and shame and not told anyone what she was going through, but that tonight she was set free and given a new heart and new body parts too. It was evident that God's spirit was on her because her worship was completely unhindered and she could care less what anyone else thought of it. I couldn't help but laugh with joy. God you do crazy things! Let us never put you in a box!!!
P.S. This is just ONE of MANY testimonies of how God is moving. He's doing something radical here in Waco, TX. It secures me in my wavering about whether I was supposed to be here this year doing Elevate. I have such a rich community of people here that are all growing in the Lord and seeing signs and wonders. Renew them in our day, God! Let people see that healing and miracles still happen today and that you are not a God of the grandfathers of old.
I was really down on myself today about various things and just not feeling near to God, so I just prayed that in my weakness he would be all the stronger. I was so encouraged by tonight and my faith level has been raised to the Nth degree! Thank you Grady for your affirmation that you do see me as a bold person who would have no trouble witnessing. That was uber encouraging.
Please pray for me this week as I share his word with people I encounter. I am kinda stressed and I've got to make sure I am not being self-centered, and that I don't miss out on opportunities. I need true confidence to share like the believers in Acts. I need the Spirit of God all over me, so that I can touch others with his love. So that it is not anything that I can claim to have done, but that it was all God. Show me who needs you Jesus, and let me be your hands and feet. Let me not wrestle with my fallen nature this week, but be completely abandoned to you!!
Monday, October 12, 2009
For my amazing parents: You lavish their love on me and help me develop my character and my talents. Enjoyed singing with you this weekend dad! You are so gifted and I respect you so much. The faith you have is immovable! And mom, you are the bomb! You are such a nurturer, kind and compassionate, teaching me about God's heart with the way you live your life.
For my friends here in Waco: You are the best community a gal could ask for! Seriously. I have never found so many people that I loved so much and I am still getting to know more people so that's exciting! Thank you for encouraging me and pointing out the good qualities in me.
For my friends scattered all around: you have all been so important in my life...at different phases of my life you have shown me a different part of who I am and have caused me to see things differently than I would've had I not known you. You have shown me what love is, and that it stands the test of time and space. Although I may not see you much, know that you are precious to me and will always be a part of my story and who I am today. May we keep in touch better!
For my two sisters: You will always be my best friends. I love you deeply and always enjoy our time together. I miss it!! I think the world of both of you and I see so much potential in your futures. Not only are you outwardly stunning, but you are so creative and wonderful and funny. I love your personalities and funny faces and how even though we are all different, we bear the mark of each other in even our expressions.
For my fellow Elevate classmates and administrators: you guys spur me on to know God more intimately! Thanks for taking the time to invest in me and in the kingdom. Thank you for your prayers and words of knowledge. Glad we are in this learning process together and can't wait to see what the rest of this year holds!!
Ha, so as I was doing that, I feel like I just won an Oscar or something! But seriously, I am soooo sooo blessed and I think it's important to remember that and to recall it. My life is rich with what matters most: family, friends, God...and chocolate? mmmm.
Friday, October 9, 2009
What an amazing testimony of faith!!! This song will now hold such greater depth when I sing it. I pray that I will continue to always sing and choose to worship like Jill when I don't always feel like it or when I don't sense God's presence. As she said, "God is still God. It doesn't change what he's called me to be or what he's called me to do...He's still on his throne!"
As Kim Walker says, I don't wanna talk about God like he's not in the room. I don't want to segment my life into "God times" and "me times." Ashley had a word last night for me at Elevate that God wants to pick out my outfits in the morning for me. She saw a banner with "FREEDOM" written on it over my closet.
At first I thought, well that's kinda cool. Sometimes I expend too much effort and time in the morning on that, which can be frustrating! Then I realized the underlying message is that God wants to be involved in every part of my life. It's not like I only enter into his presence when I am praying in the morning, or when I'm at lifegroup or church. No! Jesus is with me and in me. "He always lives to intercede for me." (Hebrews 7:25) Hallelujah :).
I am loving the rain this morning!!! It makes me want to keep writing and staying in my bed. Good day to you all, it's time to get moving!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
*p.s. Days 2 and 3 of fasting went well! I was so full of joy, especially during worship in my quiet times and corporately. Broke the fast at the Olive Garden and ate too much but had a good time celebrating Carmen's b-day with work friends. We gave Carmen a hard time about her obsession with James Pattinson from "Twilight." She likes jokes and sarcasm, thank goodness. Seriously though, I do love that girl and am thankful for her friendship!
No major stories to tell, (tonight anyway), although I've got some stuff brewing. Hmm...I wonder if my mind auto-selected the word "brewing" because this morning I forgot to turn off the coffee pot and had to come home during lunch to turn it off...boo.
...ya k, I know...time for bed!! Goodnight before my mind gets even more riled up!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
So about that question, "What am I being called to do as a response to the Poverty Simulation?" and I had resolved that I would make more efforts to interact with the homeless.
Yesterday, during my lunch, I did just that. I wasn't able to eat, but I wanted to take a break/get out of the office building and do something. I thought about reading my book for Elevate in my car, but quickly heard the voice of God saying, "Go where you learned about being homeless, and practice what you learned."
I drove around the restaurants by work looking for a homeless person. Found my guy at Whataburger sitting under the awning. I found out his name was Yan, and he sounded educated in speech. I gave him a water bottle I had on hand, then asked if I could buy him lunch.
Yan's story quickly began to unfold. His family is from France and he moved here at 3 years old to Sugarland. He went to Texas A&M and got a degree in civil engineering, started working nearby and got married. Had a daughter (Alexandra Marie Kogevnikoff), which I thought was very pretty and French).
"I don't really know why I am on the streets. I guess it's my own fault because I was a wimp and didn't fight for my marriage," he said ruefully. He said he went through a bad divorce and then spiraled into a deep depression.
I asked how he dealt with the depression, and he said he would go to a pastor for prayer when he felt really depressed. Yan said he knows Jesus personally (and now goes to Church Under the Bridge). He said that he never got into drugs because he had seen too many friends get "messed up" and ruin their entire lives.
While we were in line, he said he was planning on asking the employees at Whataburger if he could clean their dumpster for food. He said it was a mess.
He ordered his burger with "Ranch style dressing." He kept stating it that way as he went on about how much he loved "Ranch style dressing" and how it goes with everything. He never would just say "Ranch" or "Ranch dressing," which I found amusing.
Then Yan and I sat down waiting for his food and just had a normal conversation. (I did see a coworker give me a funny look, which is understandable.) Yan told me that the reason he doesn't have a job is that his ankle is hurt badly. He rolled up his pant leg and sure enough, it was really swollen. Also, he has pretty bad seizures. He said when he "starves himself" that his seizures get worse. He was very thankful that I bought him lunch. He said if everyone was as nice as me, the world would be a better place.
We then talked about his daughter and I asked if he ever gets to talk to her. He said not often. The mother has full custody of course. Alexandra is a sophomore at A&M and is studying to be a vet, so I talked about my youngest sister who just started going to school there. I felt prompted to ask him if he wanted my sister to pass a message along to his daughter from him...that is if my sister or myself could find her on Facebook or through e-mail. He said yes and his eyes lit up a bit. He wrote, very slowly and deliberately, her name on the back of my receipt and gave it back to me. I asked what he'd like to tell her. His message was this:
I love you. I'll try to get ahold of you somehow. Have a good semester in school.
At this point, I believe I saw a tear well up and a drip from his nose onto the table. It was a very tender moment and I realized that, again, you never know what one's story is until you take the time to ask. I had to get back to work, so I said goodbye and I was glad to have met him. He looked up toward the ceiling and said "Thanks God!"
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Well I started to write out all the interesting details of what happened this weekend, but I realized that to tell it all would take something away from it. The experience can't be summed up that way. It was more than just a series of happenings. There are deep things that I am going to be stewing on for a while...
Our class was encouraged to ask 2 questions:
1) After this experience, what is God wanting ME to do?
2) And what does he want US to do as a class as a response?
If I am to understand God's heart for the poor, then I need to know what His Word says about the poor. I have read so many scriptures about money and the lack of it, but I really need to read them in a new light after this weekend. So here's the first one I found:
"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (Proverbs 14:34).
When we speak badly of the poor and treat them wrongly, not only are we dishonoring God, but we are saying that what He created is not good and is not valuable. We are placing ourselves high and the poor low.
I'll share a cool story from the Poverty Sim:
On Saturday morning, we were put into groups of 5 or 6 and given a Scavenger Hunt list and a time limit. Our first task was to "find lunch." At this point I was getting hungry b/c I didn't have much to eat the night before and no breakfast that morning. We were not anywhere near a fast food restaurant, but we thought we could get a free lunch at the Salvation Army, which is downtown. So we walked for what seemed like forever in the heat, and even started running b/c we weren't sure what time they closed. When we finally got there, a sign on the door let us know it was too late. We even went into the office and asked if there were any meals left over, or if the person behind the desk knew of another place we could get a free lunch. He said no, but that we could come back for dinner at 5:30.
So we had to come up with another plan. As a group, we felt like we should go to the Fast Food Junction (not really the name...but some fast food around BU/I-35 area). We all split up and went in search of a handout. Liz and I asked at Sonic if they had any leftover food they were going to throw away. The lady said, "Oh, is it for the homeless?" We said yes. B/c we were! I think she thought we were going to take it to the homeless, b/c at that point we weren't that smelly or gross looking. Anyway she said it would all be in the dumpster. Liz had already jumped in the dumpster and hadn't found anything except a few coke cans (which we had to collect 100 of).
Then Anna went into Fazolis and Davin and I stopped to talk to a homeless guy pushing a cart of stuff. One of our check-offs was to talk to a homeless person. So we introduced ourselves and asked J.D. about his story. He tried to ask us for money, but we said we were looking for money and/or lunch as well...and that if we found lunch, we would definitely share with him. So he told us how at age 18, he got in a really bad accident and had head trauma and injured his leg. He was in a coma for 9 months and didn't think he was going to live. He said he can't read or write now because of the brain damage. He hitchhiked here from Mineral Wells, TX in search of his dad, who supposedly lives in Waco. Said he's been here 12 years and hasn't found him. We asked if we could pray for him that he'd find is dad and he let us. I felt like I was supposed to lay my hand on him as we prayed b/c I felt like God was saying this is my child and you are not above touching him. He was a gaunt little man. About that time his friend came up with his shopping cart and applauded us for praying for J.D. He said that he was a hurricane Katrina victim and lost several relatives b/c of it and was subsequently brought to Waco. They both said they knew the Lord and would be at Church Under the Bridge on Sunday. We said bye to them and that we would see them the next day at church.
So then Anna comes out with 2 pieces of pizza and 6 bread sticks that the manager gave her. We were so excited! But it still wasn't enough for a lunch for all of us. Liz came over and had obtained 2 dollars from a lady in line for the bus. Go Liz! Ashley and I got turned down for food in Taco Cabana. We were all in survival mode, being bold and really going for it. Then we decided we needed at least one or two more dollars so that we could all have a meal and the plan was to get something off the Wendy's dollar menu. So Liz and I went to the Valero and asked an older guy, (who had just done a bike race in Waco), if he had a dollar he could spare because we didn't have money for lunch. He hesitantly said yes...but this was after he looked us up and down. We had all been in a few dumpsters collecting cans so we all felt slimy and gross. Dumpster juice on our clothes...yuck. Then he went to his car and only had a 5. Before he handed it to us, he said I don't have a dollar, but I have a 5...but first I wanna know...are you being honest with me?
Talk about humbling. It was hard enough to ask for money, especially since we didn't look legitimately starving or anything. Then we got the stare down, then the call for honesty. We said yes, we are, and thanked him generously, to which he didn't really reply you're welcome. I wondered if he was a Christian. Liz and I felt convicted for all the times we have judged the homeless or given them a dollar when we had more we could've given. Nonetheless, we were so grateful that even in his skepticism, he gave! Lord, bless that man!!
What's cool is that while Ash and them were waiting on us at Wendy's, she had prayed that God would give us $5!!
So at that point, we had gotten 7 bucks. We gave the pizza away to 2 girls that were doing poverty sim in another group because they hadn't had any luck and looked pretty worried. Then we each got a double stack cheeseburger from Wendy's!
We had a little money left, but not enough for dessert, and somebody mentioned Subway cookies were 3 for a dollar. Liz then asked some young guys at Wendy's if they had any change and they gave like 2 or 3 dollars! But they did question her what it was for, etc. And I went up to a table of youth who were just talking but were done eating, and asked if they had anything left over that they didn't want. They gave me half a carton of fries, which meant we each got a few. Then as that group left, 2 girls came over to us and gave us the remainder of their fry! Also, Wendy's made an extra burger by accident, but gave it to us, and we were able to give that one away to J.D., who Davin and I had prayed with earlier! Cool! :)
We felt over-the-top blessed and taken care of...and by the time we all had eaten dessert, we were full! Then, to add to the blessing, while we were on Baylor's campus, digging through more dumpsters and recycling bins for cans -(we were out of the dumpster at this point) - and a guy walking from the cafeteria said, "Hey, I know it's really hot out here. Do you guys want some ice cream? Thank you for recycling! God bless you!!" and he gave us 2 Bluebell ice cream bars!
We were all just appalled at our good fortune. It could've gone the complete opposite way. We experienced God as provider in a new way that day. That was probably the most powerful experience for me of the weekend's events. I'm still reflecting about everything, and I'm sure you'll hear more about my thoughts on poverty in blogs to come as I begin to dialogue with the Lord and he re-orients my heart. I think it stirred up in a lot of our group members that we are just the same as the poor, but were given a different deck of cards to play with. Granted, bad v. good choices are a factor...but imagine growing up in a slum. You are pretty powerless and who knows if you'd rise above.
We watched a few videos that brought it into perspective even more. My whole life, I've been empowered and encouraged...by my family, church community, opportunity for education and career, etc. People were there to push me and inspire me to reach for my goals. I got to go to college and now have a good job to pay off those loans. But not everyone gets that blessing. The marginalized are not always to be faulted. And I am so quick to make that initial judgment without knowing anything about the person and what they've been through. It made me want to know more homeless people's stories. I want to start loving and understanding them. And how can I really understand them if I never interact with them and if all I see of the poor is that they are lazy and just take advantage of people. So far I think I've mustered up some pity on the poor...but not mercy. How would Jesus treat the poor? Would he yell in their face that it's their own fault? Would he see them as roadside trash? Or would he meet their needs and minister to them in their place of need?
Did Jesus join in and stone the woman caught in adultery in the Bible? No. He instead challenged that if any man amongst the crowd has not sinned, that he should cast the first stone. Romans 6:23 says we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
What I love is that Mission Waco really empowers the poor. They haven't just preached Jesus at them, then left them in the streets to die. They have so many programs that can help people get on their feet if they want it. And sadly, not everyone wants to get on their feet. But God bless Mission Waco and their staff for humbling themselves to be in a place of availability for those in our community who do want help out of addiction, out of unemployment, out of a life of poverty and despair. I am so thankful that through the ministry of Jimmy and Janet Dorrell, mouths and souls alike are being fed. It makes me wish, after meeting them this weekend, that I would've taken the Poverty in Waco class that was offered at Baylor.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'm quite convinced that we are all a mess! Think of the person you idolize, whether an influential political leader, an intelligent man, a historical or social figure, a Sunday school teacher, pastor, relative, or even Superman.
Ya...that person is a mess too.
How do we deal when we feel like things are messy in our life? When we feel overcome by the crashing waves of confusion, when we look at the clutter in our life and wonder how in the world we got here and how in the heavens we can get out of it. When even the once easy relationships are hard, and all we can do is whine and ask "Why?" When we surprise ourselves by our own behavior. Doing what we don't want to do, and not doing the very things that we want to do.
Even Paul had this struggle! I'd say he's a bit of a hero in my eyes. In the New Testament he challenges the believers to break free from the sin they were once enslaved to and walk in the resurrection power of Christ. Yet time and time again they cried out against God and Moses, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did you just bring us out here to let us die? We had it better there!" And Paul, a strong and devoted follower of Christ is confessing that even he doesn't have it down yet.
So how is it that we really grab freedom by the love handles? ;)
I mean...REALLY. We need to hold on to freedom like it's the desperation of life or death. Because if we don't, if we place little value on it, then we will revert to slavery and bondage again...our God will be our stomach and our idols will be of the old man: money, fame, success, works instead of faith, recognition, approval of others. What little spiritual effort we offer will be nothing more than mere religiosity. And we know from the Old Testament that God saw right through false sacrifices. He judges not actions, but heart motives. And he detests dishonest scales.
Oh Lord, how could I even begin to love you with Pharisaic love? Let it never be so!! You said yourself that if my faith does not surpass that of the Pharisees, I will not see the kingdom of heaven. How could I love you this way when your love towards me is a gut-wrenching love that actually cost something...the dearest and most precious thing to your heart?
The Lord reminded me the other day that loving him is easy and natural. Why? It's easy because he's already pursued me from day 1. And he's still doing it. It's natural because I was made for relationship with Him!! We love him because he first loved us.
Ya know that feeling when someone really loves you and they come out and say it? How you just light up and feel all warm inside? Sometimes you might even cry at the very expression of it! Even if someone says they like you and the feeling is not necessarily mutual, you are still as we say "flattered." And downplay it as we do with that word, deep down something in the way our heart was oriented towards that person changes in that moment. That person has taken their thought from a hidden love to an expressed love and we feel validated. We are moved by love!!
Can I just say that any human love PALES IN COMPARISON to the perfect love of Christ??
That is all. Happy reflecting and sweet dreams.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
We went to the bookstore and I bought a shirt for the game, a long sleeve alumni shirt, and a decal that says "Baylor Alumni." Been meaning to get a decal for a while now. I'm actually really surprised that the Call Center has not hit me up for $$ yet. I don't feel I owe Baylor anything right now since I've got student loans to pay. I did have to pay $35 for a ticket. There, I contributed. The game was fun, had 2 groups of friends there and kind of flitted between them. We lost to UCONN. Boo.
So our Elevate readings right now are Leviticus and Numbers and a book called "God's Chosen Fast" by Arthur Wallis. I just read the first 49 pages of this book tonight. It's pretty basic so far, but hopefully I will learn some things about the physical and spiritual aspect of fasting.
There were many types of fasting in the Bible. The longest was Moses' 40 day fast when he was given the 10 Commandments, then he came down from the mountain for a day and saw the ppl were worshipping idols and went right back up to be with the Lord and fasted another 40 days. We are talking NO FOOD and NO WATER. Yikes, an absolute fast. All I can say is, God must have supernaturally equipped his body...I mean he WAS meeting face-to-face with the Lord Almighty. I love that scripture says the Lord spoke with Moses clearly and not in riddles. Sometimes after he was done meeting with God, Moses had to wear a veil over his face b/c he was too bright for the Israelites' eyes to behold!
Moses was a humble dude. In fact, he was "more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Wow, yet the Israelites wanted to stone him, choose another leader, and not listen to the words of the Lord even though they had every reason to fear God seeing how he didn't always hold back his wrath from them for their rejection of His authority.
One good thing Wallis has noted thus far is that there's a new generation arising that wants the apostolic power back in the church. His point was, "But how can we recover apostolic power while neglecting apostolic practice?" (in reference to the practice of fasting). Come on folks, fasting kind of seems like a way of antiquity to today's society, even today's church. Truthfully, it kind of scares me, especially the effects of long fasts.
Matthew 6 reflects Jesus' expectation that his followers would fast...he says WHEN you give alms, WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast.
Oh the Pharisees had it down in practice. But they flaunted it, and had false motives.
Of course, historically, there have been different reasons for fasting. Sometimes when a nation was in great turmoil, or other times in mourning, or other times to seek understanding about a vision or clarity about some pressing dilemma, etc.
Anyway, I hope to learn more about fasting b/c I'll be honest, I don't like it. I usually fast on Mondays and my work friends that I eat with know it, but they kinda think it's weird. Not that they chastise me about it, but they do have questions that I don't always have great answers to and it can quickly become an uncomfortable subject. Just wait until I have to explain my week long one! eeks. The most I've done so far was 3 days with just juice and water.
And as far as Leviticus and Numbers...well they are challenging as far as extracting a message that would appear to be relevant to my life...but I am hoping the Lord changes that. God says it's useful:
"And from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:15-17)
Gotta have that down by tomorrow!! Ok goodnight for now. I need to finish up my reading and get to bed!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
On Sunday, Liz and I decided after a Sonic Run, that before we got into reading for Elevate, we wanted to reach out to our neighbor who lives on our right in the "potato salad" house. On the other side we have "easter egg" neighbors who will soon get hit with the love of Jesus too!!
We went over and Joyce was there, with her granddaughter who I believe was in 4th or 5th grade. Joyce was open and inviting to us even with the details of her life and we quickly found out that she was bound by anxiety (is OCD, can't sleep well at night, is at unrest with neighborhood happenings and has a gun!), missed her twin brother who died this year, etc. We also found out that she is a believer and attends church and has her whole life. She does many service related things such as Meals on Wheels and visiting the Nursing Home where her brother stayed before he died.
But Joyce, like all Christians, needed a touch from the Lord. A fresh revelation of his Love and his rest and peace.
So we prayed for her and she shed a few sweet tears. We also talked to her granddaughter, Abriana, about Jesus. Liz shared her 90 second testimony (a technique we were taught in Elevate) and I got to walk through her through the life and sacrifice of Jesus. She said that she had never accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I asked her if she wanted to do this. She timidly said yes. Joyce said, I think she understands and wants it even though she doesn't know what all it means right now. We asked her again and she said, a little louder this time, that she wanted to accept Jesus! So I prayed her through and she repeated after me, a salvation experience!!! Wow! I have not done that since once or twice when I was a counselor at Sky Ranch in 2004. Praise Jesus, because a simple act of kindness led to the crowning of another daughter of the King!
It was exciting to do that. To step out. I was glad Liz was there too, we were a good team.
In church we have been focusing on the verse:
"You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence, there is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." -Psalm 16:11
We took brownies over and I wanted some sort of encouragement to go along with it, so I saw this notecard on my nightstand and decided to write that verse on a card. So before I wrote this on the inside, on the outside I was going to put our neighbor's name, but I have never known her name. But God gave me the word "Joy" and I almost wrote it on the front. Turns out her name was JOYCE and she was in need of JOY!!! I just thought that was neat.
It gives me hope that when we share the truth about God, people are changed. She seemed much more peaceful when we left and the cool thing is, Joyce and Abriana are coming to church with us on Sunday! :)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I am lovesick, for my Beloved
My Beloved and my Friend
Only YOU can satisfy
Try as I may to chase another Lover,
I find there is, there is no other
For only YOU can satisfy
And happy am I, to live a hungry life
Blessed am I, to thirst
Disillusionment, it is my gift within
I am blessed, I am blessed among men!
To be lovesick, for my beloved
My beloved and my friend
Only YOU can satisfy
Try as I may to chase another Lover,
I find there is, there is no other
All the other Lovers fade away
Only YOU can satisfy
And happy am I, to live a hungry life
And blessed am I, to thirst
My desire for You, it is my gift within
I am blessed, I am blessed among men!
This is the generation that's tried everything
This is the generation of Jacob
This is the generation that's done all those things
Only YOU can satisfy ( x2)
This is the generation looking for the face of God
This is the generation of Jacob
This is the generation
Searching for the face of God
And only YOU can satisfy
The Spirit and the bride say, come!
We say come
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Got a little sunshine and water fix. Geez I love the water/sun combo. Got to go waterskiing which I have only done once and it was in 2004. I did pretty well too, I was proud! I still can't believe we drove through the night on Friday and landed at the cabin at 7 a.m.! At 5 a.m. we were getting backed into by an old woman in the rain at a gas station!! What the heck??! But all was good, no scratches luckily she was slow and cautious enough to not ram the car too hard.
We did end up chasing some crazy rabbit trails (unintentionally) looking for Starbucks and Chick-fil-a. Charis' TomTom was not the most helpful device as it often led us to stores that no longer exist. Anyways, I feel a lot closer to Abby and Charis and feel blessed just to have that quality time and be able to open up. They are both incredible!!! Great great friends.
Tonight, Carl Gulley came and spoke to our Elevate class. That man is a firecracker!! He's the kind of speaker that makes you wanna rethink everything you've ever thought about God and Christianity and take action! Lord let me not be just a hearer of the word, but a doer!
After he spoke, we were given time to ask God what he wants to change in us, or what risks he wants us to take in response to his extravagant love. I specifically heard the Lord say that he wants me to be obedient and consistent to tithing at least 10% of my income to the church...and the rest as directed for specific mission related things or as ppl have need and the Lord compels me to give. I have been fighting him on this one for a while...making up all kinds of excuses as to why I am not tithing or what the money is being used for, etc. I've tried to ignore the nagging sense that I need to be doing it and I have finally given in. Why? Because giving in to God is geting free!! By being obedient and giving my finances to God (they're not mine anyway), it allows me up to serve him and love him more wholeheartedly, and I also trust that he has a treasure waiting for me either on earth or for sure in heaven. I don't want to be stingy with the blessings he has given me. I want to give to those in need out of the wealth that I have. Ok...so I am not in the least bit wealthy, but hey in a 3rd world country I certainly would be! The hardest thing about tonight was that we were challenged to publicly announce to the class what God told us to do so that we would be accountable by getting it out in front of people. I went up first but getting there was so so so hard. I probably fought the urge to go up for like 5 minutes. And no one else had broken the seal of vulnerability. I felt glued to my chair. But finally, God gave me the grace to put one foot in front of the other and make my way to the mic. So I did it. I committed my finances to the Lord and told my peers that I would be tithing faithfully in response to what I heard Him say. Our simple steps in faith are so pleasing to our Father. He has so much in store for us if we just allow our mind's attention and our heart's affection to be on Him above any other person or material thing. I really think when we get in that place, because we are right with God, our viewpoint has shifted and we begin to carry burdens with more grace and are free in his presence to walk in the light without fear or comparison or condemnation or shame.
I check my rights at the cross.
I check my time at the cross.
I check my finances at the cross.
I am yours and you are mine.
Jesus, give me fresh revelation of what you look like. Erase my old picture of you (ha like an etch-a-sketch!) and re-illustrate it. Let me not stand before the cross and your sacrifice and be...emotionless. After all, you sure get excited when we are victorious! Show me the "Touchdown Jesus" who gets super excited and jumps with joy when I make steps of faith for you. Each day when I spend an hour with you in the morning, let me feel you rejoicing over me.
"An extravagant act of love towards us demands an extravagant response." (Carl Gulley)
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
A few of them we came up with were: I am ugly, I am fat, I won't ever be married, I am not smart, I don't hear the Lord's voice, people don't love me, they just tolerate me...I will always be on the outside, I am not spiritually mature like (insert name of person).
Obviously those thoughts are far from the thoughts God has about us!! And they do sound more ridiculous when you say them out to other people who know they are not true and who can confirm that they are lies. When we believe these statements about ourselves, it's like a weed and it spreads and chokes out all the good and new growth that the Lord is trying to do in us.
One word that a friend shared with us is that we need to have "lane integrity." Meaning, as in a race, it is not beneficial to look to the right or left at the other runners, because then we start veering and losing our focus. So when we put people on pedestals for being godly, or being intellectual or talented, what we are really saying is that we wish we were in their lane. When clearly God wants us to run at our own pace in our own lane, as marked by him.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The orientation service with all Elevate (Day and Night schools) was awesome! Everyone is so deep and I really enjoyed hearing the testimonies/encouragements from the staff and leaders. After that, we all enjoyed worship led by James Mark, and just really basked in the presence of the Lord. The first song played was "So Good to Me" by Cory Asbury. One of my favorites. I was dancin' and jumpin' around and it was so fun, I just didn't care. The joy of the Lord was so real and it just bursted out of me!
I had the epiphany today that I'm not who I was. A year ago, 6 months ago, 3 weeks ago. And the funny thing is even before I had that realization, other people have noticed the difference. The purpose in doing Elevate is not to get all my t's crossed and i's dotted for God. It's not to earn my way to heaven, thank the Lord! And it's certainly not for show. It's b/c God stirred in my heart and told me he had more for me. That he wanted to take me into a deeper revelation of who He is. Deeper revelation of who I am and what it looks like to really know my identity in Christ and walk out in it. To know my Creator and Savior in an intimate way.
Today I dialogued with a coworker, Eric, who used to bring my files to me at work before I switched teams. At first I thought he was kind of a strange guy, and that it was better not to get too involved in conversation b/c you could just never get out! (At that time, I had more production demands on my job and talking time was limited, but now I am mentoring so there's more leeway.) Well, I'm not sure it all happened, but I just started sharing about how I was busy (oh it was b/c he had asked if I was still biking)...and that led to me talking about Elevate and my faith. I then asked him what he believed and if he was a Christian. He said he believes in a higher being b/c it would be stupid not to, but he didn't want to pin a name on "the being."
He talked about his uncertainties with the accuracy of the bible. He was of the opinion that it was just another book. I asked him if he believed it was a living document and that it could change people's lives...to which he replied yes. He said the heart of the bible is good and if you can get past all the denominational discrepencies and find that meaning, then it's good. I told him how the bible had transformed my life. It does have those crazy books like Leviticus where so and so begat so and so...but it also has the words of Jesus, the words of life! And sooo so many promises from God to his people in the Old Testament that we can still hold onto today.
So without getting too into apologetics too much, we discussed heaven and hell and how you get to heaven. Talked about the difference between “good works” and “faith.” I talked about my experience growing up in the church and having to redefine my faith even now and not put God in a box. I told Eric that God designed him for a specific purpose, not just to work at the VA, but that his ultimate dream for Eric would be for him to put his faith in Jesus. Fullness of life cannot be found apart from God. Jesus said he died on a cross that we might have abundant life. But it’s a choice. God won’t make us puppets or slaves to his love. He wants us to choose to love him. Thus, it’s our own free will that frees us to love God or makes us choose a life of sin and death. I think I had a greater understanding of this after reading The Shack.
Anyway, we talked for a while but halfway through he said, “I usually would not say something like this b/c I don’t believe in the supernatural…but when you were talking, your face and around your head...it became radiant! You have such a confidence and assuredness about everything you are talking about and I respect that so much.”
I was grateful when he assured me he wasn’t trying to come on to me, he pointed at his wedding band and said I am a happily married man and I love my wife, but I figured I should tell you that you are radiating.
The last thing he said was that he doesn’t know God is real. I encouraged him to ask the Lord to show himself, to provide some sort of sign of his love for Eric, and he will! I had no problem challenging the Lord to that b/c I know it is his desire anyway! He kind of nodded and then walked away.
My whole body was shaking!!! It’s like the Holy Spirit had so much power in me, and as it was coming out it was evident both to me and to Eric. I didn’t expect him to notice too! Thank you God for using me as a vessel, and for finding me fit to share the gospel even when I don’t think I have the right things to say. Thank you for the boldness that you gave that was so not of me. You are a good God and a loving Father!
Monday, August 24, 2009
I remember the first romance
I remember the first dance
When I fell in love with You (repeat x2)
When I fell in love
I thought that I would never know love
And maybe I would never know touch
But then You came and awakened me
And then You came unlocking me
I've never known a love like this
You've shown the truth behind of the myth, the mystery
When it's all been said
When it's all been done
When the race is run
And this life overcome
I will remember Your love (x4)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I just want to record these words that people have for me as I go so I don't forget them and so that I can look back on them later and realize where the Lord has taken me, and maybe even answer that oh so familiar question of "WHY?"
So I feel like the Lord FILLS me even when I don't FEEL it. He does reward faithfulness though. I have been consistently spending a good chunk of time worshipping/seeking him/reading the bible each morning, and he has given me the grace to get up and do it even though it's hard.
Today when I was driving to work, I just prayed that it wouldn't be another mundane day at the VA where I don't share what God's doing and who he is. So I prayed in boldness that the Lord would give me an opportunity.
And he did! Almost right away! When I logged in my computer, one of my trainees came over to ask me a question and he said I looked tired. I said yeah I really am. Then I went into why...(waking up early to pray) and just stated that although it's a sacrifice of my time, it's completely worth it. He, (Willy), seemed receptive so I kept going and told him about Elevate and before long he was telling me about his church (that he drives an hour to!) and his pastor and how he was fasting today b/c his pastor challenged him to. So wow, that was cool!!
So I was assuming he was a Christian at this point. I mean who fasts just for kicks? I asked him how long he had known the Lord and he said well I am not actually a Christian (and I believe he used the word YET...but I might've implied that ;)
I was shocked! Ok Lord, well here's my completely open door, I thought. And he was really attentive as I shared about my spiritual journey and how I've found he's the only thing that satisfies and brings hope both now and for the future. I shared with him how I grew up in the Lord in college, but still wasn't totally sold until I started going to Antioch and began to have people in my path who challenged me and edified me and just loved me really well. Shared with him a little about my call into Elevate and how I really was fighting the Lord about it until I just decided that I wanted him so desperately and I knew I'd grow so much if I would just devote my time and energy to training and discipline. He wants to have a divine encounter with me. There's a reason I met Anna, who introduced me to my now roommates, Anne and Liz (who moved here to do Elevate). He had paved the way so clearly that I ran out of excuses to not say yes to Elevate.
Willie says he struggles with having fear and doubts about giving in and becoming a different person or becoming a pushover. He said he wrestles with God about going all in. He has been going to that church for 2 years now and still has not accepted the Lord as his Savior! Jesus come pursue him!!!
I told him there is no fear in the Lord, but that HIS spirit brings FREEDOM. I have found to be soooo true in my life. He has filled my life with a gladness and meaning that is completely new for me as of late. I also told him, Willy, the Lord is after you! He wants your whole heart, just as you are, and he loves you, just as you are.
A tear started to form in my eye as he walked away. I really sense that the Lord is knocking hard and wants to invite Willy into the kingdom. He's got the door cracked and that's a start. I am so glad I spent time getting with God this morning and am definitely encouraged that the Lord would want to use as a vessel in his pursuit of Willy. Lord I pray he has visions and dreams of you tonight, God. I pray that you spoke to him as he fasted and even in the morning tomorrow that you will reveal yourself to him so clearly that he will confess with his mouth that JESUS IS LORD and believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and he will be saved!!
I choose your way, Lord Jesus.
This is what I want.
You are worth the sacrifice!
I love because you first loved me.
The dimensions of your love
No man can fathom!
The Father of Lies shall gain no more ground!
For the Lord is my defense
And his Truth is the eternal victor.
I am a new wineskin
I yearn for your presence.
Holy Spirit, fill. Overflow.
I place my trust, hope and future
In the hands of the Almighty One,
The maker of heaven and earth.
Come Lord! Be my dwelling place.
Everything you're doing in me is good,
My life has purpose and meaning in you.
Let me dream your dreams and
Carry your banner wherever I go.
Be exalted among all nations, God!
When I utter your name,
Darkness tries to hide,
But cannot find refuge from your glory.
Let salvation awaken with the dawn!
Convict hearts that are far from you
Lord, may your kindness bring repentance!
Empower me, in your name, to heal,
Bind up broken hearts, and speak truth into falsehood.
You are the vine. I can do nothing without you.
Jesus, you are my joy,
Hope, delight and strength.
You are the ruler of my heart.
Lying prostrate at your feet of mercy,
At your throne of grace,
Is where I will be lost and found in you.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Last night I prayed for a friend of mine who is searching for God. I felt like I was rambling and had no clue if she was receiving anything I was saying or if she just wanted me to shut up. She is not a Christian, but she says she is searching for God. I asked her why she continues to come to Life Group every week. She said she feels like there's a better chance of God being at Life Group than any other place. To which I immediately responded that it's not some probability or chance. Where 2 or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, he is there!!!! In the words of Kim Walker, "I don't wanna talk about you like you're not in the room. I wanna look right at you...see right through you." Anyhow, she was not open to much discussion, so I just prayed for her with all I had in me and when I was done I was literally overcome with passion and longing for her to know the Lord personally. Jesus, come and overwhelm her by who you are! Sweep her away with your timeless, relentless, unconditional love. Let her choose you, b/c only you can satisfy.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
In case you're wondering, I've extracted the title "Lily among thorns" from the Bible book, Song of Solomon, in which the Lover tells the Beloved: "Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens." I just really like that.
I have decided to put blogger.com on a trial run. I already don't like the limited layouts, but we shall see. I have also decided to re-try blogging b/c sometimes I have a lot to express and don't wanna take the time to manually journal. Plus, I want to share the amazing things that are happening in my life...like how the Lord restoring to me a much needed 518 dollars via a random check/credit to my account from Bank of America! Praise Jesus for his perfect timing, his pursuit of me and his desire to increase my faith in what He alone can do! (If you want details to this story, just ask!)
Just watched Man on Fire with Anne. (Great movie!) We've just been chillin' together today, which has been nice. I quite like her :). I took her to the Olive Branch and Bloom and Bee Swanky, which are 2 personal Waco faves of mine.
Got unexpected news today. My heart is heavy for a close loved one. How did it get this far? Lord, grant me wisdom to know what to say, how to heal/restore and guide with words of grace that are too profound to have come from my own understanding. Jesus, thank you that you never leave nor forsake us, and that your love endures FOREVER. Let me love with your love. Would you woo her spirit back into communion with yours. Show her that only you can satisfy.