Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So why do I feel different? And what do I even mean when I say that? Somehow it seems I am a little more dreamy these days, and less practical; a little more laid back and less on top of things. What if my whole life escapes me? I fear that I will never have a career I enjoy. That I will never meet someone who is a good match for me that I can marry and have a family with. It's hard with my 20 year old sister getting married in May and my 23 year old sister ridiculously happy and in love and headed down the marriage path.
Am I...different? At times I wonder if it's worth all the criteria. They must be this way, and do that, and have these goals in life and be this tall. Am I aiming for Neptune? Maybe I need to come down to earth...yet they say don't lower your standards, don't "settle." I definitely could've been married by now, but I knew in my heart it wasn't right.
I feel different at work too. There is no drive, no motiviation. I find my mind escaping to far away lands and wondering if I am in the wrong location, wrong profession, etc. Maybe my dream job AND soulmate are in California, and why shouldn't I move there? Ya I'd be away from family and it'd be expensive, but I could manage and live simply. Find some roommates and work at the VA in San Diego. Even job hunt on the side or look into graduate school.
I'm about to be 26 and things just feel different. I feel way more mature than I did this time last year. I have much more insight, foresight, and hindsight. I think a lot more and weigh my actions more carefully. I might've lost a little spontaneity, a little craziness...and I kinda miss that sometimes.
I look at my little world here in Waco and I start to feel like the walls are closing in. When I drove back in from Christmas break with the family, I thought to myself that things just feel "different." I really don't want to be here anymore. I'm so over Waco. I love my friends here, but I feel this instinctive thing telling me it's time to move on. It's like the tide is trying to carry me out, and I keep trying to swim back to shore...to what's familiar. I keep finding reasons to stay. Yet my heart longs and wonders for what is "out there" in the deep blue.
I've always had a sense of adventure, but I haven't been the best at taking risks and entering into the unknown. I'm tired of holding back. I want to live life! The thought of retiring with 20 years of service at the VA makes me want to vomit. I want to have many job experiences and live in different locations. I long for diversity, for delicious ethnic food options, and learning new skills. I want to open a jewelry business with my sisters.
Who knows when I will get married, but I want to look back on the years of being single and know that I didn't waste them. I want to know more. See more. Do more. Enjoy more. These things that I allow to stress me out are really not worth it. I am seeing the picture through a pinhole right now. If only I could see the whole panorama of my life. Wow, I think it would be too much to take in! All the beauty mixed with despair, unmet potential paired with realized opportunities, dead ends, little victories, tears, laughs and just all of it! How will I die, I wonder? God's got good plans for me while I am here, and I want to go on an adventure with him to find them. Being safe is kinda boring.
I just want to feel free. I want to be in love. Madly in love. Is that so much to ask for? I'm trying not to expect and just live. I need to live with hope, though, not self-pity or pessimism. I don't think God is discouraged by my un-married state. My parents may be, but God is not, so why should I dwell on it?
Jesus, lead my life. You say that if I trust you and acknowledge you in all my ways, you will make my paths straight (Prov:3:5-6). Help me not to get wrapped up in the worries of this world so much so that it chokes out my joy or makes me want to give up. Put a spring in my step that would lead me toward a new direction. I pray you'd open a window for me.
Monday, August 16, 2010
First of all, this video is ridiculous and I have to share it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOgALTFzFbQ
What's funny is that after my roomies and I watched this video, we tried to mimick her dance moves. And towards the end she's going "Musty-musty-musty-musty" and swinging her head/hair around in a circle. Maddi did this and the next day her neck was sore. To make it better, she said (jokingly) that she probably has meningitis and in the middle of the cafe at IKEA, Maegan goes, "Get out of here with your meningigits." Hope no one got fearful.
Man, IKEA is insane!! It's so cool, but it can also be stressful and it takes forever to get through the store because I like to look at EVERYTHING. It's a huge realm of possibilities. I ended up with a few random kitchen knick-knacks and a cool lamp for my nightstand. I'm Swedish, therefore I like IKEA! And it's so cheap...well most of it. My favorite sections were the lighting and the kitchen showrooms. Their bedding was not impressive...didn't find any pillows for our living room/my room like I'd hoped. Maybe someday I'll get to go to Sweden!
So I love my roomies: Maddi, Maegan and Chelsy. We have a ton of fun. It's been a nightmare only b/c of all the problems we've had with the house: Alarm system not working/beeping incessantly, almost 2 weeks without hot water, Maegan's sink falling off the wall causing a flood in our house, all the dehumidifiers frying a circuit and starting a snall electrical fire in our attic...ya you get a mild picture I'm sure.
Our living room is completely blocked off with plastic today and I have no idea what's going on in there. I think they're replacing part of the ceiling (the flood came down through Maegan's upstairs room into the living room and caused water damage to the ceiling and carpet). So we've had service-people of all sorts at our house for over a week now. But Maeg's finally back in her room and has electricity again. Now lifegroup this week...ya we need another location.
Maeg's starting Elevate tonight! I'm so excited for her. I think it's neat she started a blog. I started this one for the purpose of having a memory of what went on in Elevate...but as you can see now, it's just a life blog now that Elevate is over.
I've been thinking that since Elevate has been over, it's been awesome to have free time. I've stopped semi-neglecting my family and friends, and have had more time to be intentional and thoughtful (as I prefer to be). I've been able to do fun things like sailing, going to the gym, riding bikes, cooking, eating out with friends, watching movies, reading, decorating our house, having people over, etc.
Some things I still want/need to do are paint, get more organized, get curtains for my room, re-work a budget, study for the GRE/research grad schools, go to the river (possibly very soon!), shop at Laverty's, go to a concert (possibly Sufjan Stevens in October?), and play my guitar.
Ah so many things to enjoy in life! A glass of wine. Watching the food network (what I'm currently doing). A good cup of coffee. The first refreshing breath of fall after this dreadfully hot summer (For this, I can't wait!). Making smoothies instead of buying them from Jamba. Homemade pizza with salad and a chocolatey dessert. An evening walk (maybe one day with a puppy, but for now a friend is better!). A good healthy sweat and vitamin D from being outside. Getting into good music like Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Ray LaMontagne, Mutemath, etc. Pandora on my Iphone makes work so much more enjoyable. :)
Life is sweet. Jesus is even sweeter...and the best part is that will always be constant. His nature is unchanging and he's always good!
Oh! That reminds me, this song rocks, especially the lyrics. When I listen to it at work, I about lose it! I wanna burst out in song and raise my hands up to God...but I don't lol:
FOREVER REIGN lyrics
You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin
You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost it's sting
Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go
Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
My heart will sing
no other Name
Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
There is no Greater Thing
You're My All, You're the Best
You're My Joy, My Righteousness,
And I Love You Lord!
Emboss that on my heart, God! I want to know you as my all. I want to truly believe there is nothing more satisfying, nothing that is better in life than being in close fellowship with you.
I break off the lie that people don't need you in this generation. That people are living content lives without you. You made us to know you. You came to give us abundant life...and if we don't know you but have a lot of cool friends, possessions, and education...we are missing it!
I resist your love no more, God. Come and rush over me. I get low and open my soul to receive this love that covers me like a warm blanket. I lay down my pride and "right" to live how I want to live with no regard to whether or not it pleases you. I also lay down my tendency to try to live for other people...to please people. It is your approval and affirmation I seek. Once I have that, I'm good! I can be more free to not care what others think if I have run it by you first. It's okay if people don't like me. It's ok. It really is. That's hard to really mean, but ultimately bringing you glory is more important, more lasting that someone's temporary praise.
Oh so thank you so much for all who donated to my Indo trip! I have raised the $3100. I am so thankful and blessed. I had a lot of fun making/selling jewelry for the trip too. It was super time consuming making it all, but of course, it's something I love doing. It was neat too that God spoke to me often about how I am hand-made, how he put in the time and effort to make me beautiful and unique. He fashioned me and said "She is good!" When I get my next chunk of free time, I am gonna put some of my jewelry that I still have on sale at etsy.com. I will update you when I do!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
May you swell up,
May you well up inside me
Making me uncomfortable
Because growing is hard
But what's my alternative?
I don't want to be stunted
For the sake of the familiar
Enough of me, enough of me
You must increase,
I must decrease.
Help me sort it all out,
You are the one with all the answers.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
1) I am a woman who will feast on the word of God/Bible and hide it in my heart. I will speak into others lives with a place of authority because the words I will speak will not be my own, but will be words that God has already spoken (so much more powerful!) And I will know his character based on what he's said in the past.
2) She also had a picture of me like a dove, representing the Holy Spirit. She said I will be one who brings the good news of God's promises. Just like the dove who brought the olive branch back to Noah, assuring him that the flood was decreasing and there was dry land, I will be entrusted with the promises of God, will see them on the horizon and gather people to tell them of God's faithfulness to what he has promised! She also said that wherever I go, I carry the Holy Spirit, and people will be drawn to the dove-like peace that I have.
I felt like especially the second word about the dove/Holy Spirit/promises really hit home. I don't experience the Holy Spirit's manifest presence as some people I am friends w/ and around do...however, I know that he lives in me and is working in my life because of the fruit I am bearing. And I do sense his presence, it's just not in a way that would make me twitch or speak in tongues, etc. And being in the body of believers I am in, that can be kinda frustrating just to be honest, when it doesn't look a certain way. I often have felt like, gosh am I missing something??
I'm not saying the Lord has completed his work in me. Ha, what a joke! But what I am saying is that God uses us where we are. He doesn't want us to compare our progress/status to others, but rather he just wants us to MOVE FORWARD. I don't want to get stuck. And as long as I am seeking, surrendering, and spending time connecting with God, I will not lack any good thing.
Matthew 7:11 says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Ephesians 2:10: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
That's something I felt God was trying to tell me tonight during worship is that I don't quite understand his GOODNESS. He wants to reveal to me that he's not just "good" in the bland sense of the word...like...that meal was good, but not great. Or...he's a good friend, but not a close/best friend. God is the re-defined essence of GOODNESS. And I wanna learn about that so I can resemble his goodness more!
His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life! He is good and he has good plans in store for my life...and yours too! We have to believe that! Lord, help our unbelief.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Your crown of thorns my helmet of righteousness
Your blood and tears became a river of living water
Your death brought me to life.
Were you slaughtered in vain, O spotless lamb?
Why did you have to endure it alone?
Even the Father turned his head at Golgotha
The heavenly chorus hushed their song.
Death and darkness, it is finished!
Hear redemption's voice cry out as it
Drowns out Mary's sorrow with resurrection joy.
Jesus is alive and he suffers no more!
His robes are white and I am made clean
His stripes paid all of my debt
Oh the everlasting love of Jesus!
Friend of sinners, Lord of All.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I don't know where I am going to live come July, but I can think of plenty of friends I'd like to live WITH. Liz and I talked about how it's definitely more ideal to have an even number. Funny thing is, I've always had the three thing going on, even right now. It can be a problem sometimes, as someone inevitably feels like the outsider.
Something interesting is that lately God has given me much more confidence in being a leader. I got elected for VP of the VA Employees Association and accepted that position although it was a bit scary to me. I started discipling someone this year (not having a clue what I was doing), and am now starting to see the fruit of that as Maegan is totally going deeper with God and praying with coworkers and getting over fear of sharing Jesus with people and I'm not even totally over that either! Thank you Lord for using imperfect vessels. It's so awesome! And yet...I'm still afraid of being in leadership. The thought of leading a lifegroup makes me anxious. Sometimes I think I don't have the right personality for it. Other times I just doubt my abilities or feel there's someone more capable to do the job. But Jesus, I can do all things through the strength you provide. Show me how I can be a leader and when is the proper time for me to be raised up. Show me the areas you want me to step out in and give me the faith to do it. I don't want to miss out or sell myself short. I'm noticing that all the people I admire have taken the bold, non-easy route. They have sacrificed somewhere along the way to get to the good stuff.
During the last part of Elevate, we had our first real team meeting for the Indonesia trip (I'm going to East Java, Indonesia in June for 2 weeks to share the gospel with Muslims there and hopefully see house churches planted). Our group is pretty stellar! We had a powerful prayer time last night. God gave me a picture as I was praying of a dam. God said that he is sending us to this country to remove the barrier (dam) so that the knowledge of Jesus, salvation and love of God can rush like a tidal wave...like a tsunami!!...into Indonesia. Or if you prefer a volcanic reference, the face-melting power of God is going to erupt all over the islands of Indonesia! haha.
Shoan shared some really good scriptures to get us fired up. Here's a few:
"...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
"And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)
"God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out." (Acts 19:11-12)
Jesus, I want to see your miracles! Even in Waco, TX it can happen. And does. There are weekly testimonies of God moving. Healing, restoring, providing, empowering. He is for us! He is for YOU!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
What's neat is how God is highlighting both of those individually and even as a pair.
I love to worship God!! It is in that place, where there are melodies and heart cries and praise and humility and adoration, where I truly connect with God. Worship has the potential to bring people before God, and worship leaders, like doorkeepers, assist by standing at the door and welcoming people into God’s presence.
So it's a fusion of hospitality and worship leading. Coolness.
I feel like God has called me to both. And specifically I want to focus on worship leading. I want to learn more about chords and I want to resume practicing the piano. I want to write my own songs. Bummer is that I don't have those 88 keys at my immediate disposal. I went to Baylor's Music School the other day and wandered around until I found the practice rooms. It was so fun to revisit old songs I used to play and come to grips with the rusty but alive musician inside me. I left with a big smile on my face knowing that I want to pursue music for the rest of my life in some fashion.
Over the past week, God has really been highlighting that desire in me and it has been coming up a lot! He's been getting my attention :). Sunday's sermon last week at the Encounter service was on the subject of ANOINTING. I still don't know much on this topic, but one thing that struck me is that God has anointed ALL OF US with unique giftings and things that he has prepared in advance for us to do. Everyone wants an awesome spiritual gift or two. Something they feel they are naturally wired for and can use to support the church. While some mentioned in the New Testament are healing, wisdom, discernment, speaking in tongues, etc...Paul says we are to desire prophesy above all other gifts. But why do we desire these things? Why does God want to deposit his Spirit in us and work it out in various manifestations? I am convinced it's not to puff us up and give us a big head, but to edify others. Our anointing is not to be hoarded. It's not to be left undiscovered either. Therefore, if I have a voice, I do not use it to gain approval from men, but to glorify what God himself has given me, and to ask God how he wants me to use that gift...i what capacity. I learn about that gifting and step out now where I am even if I feel like it's insignificant or I don't know enough about it.
I am learning that worship is an offering and that each day, what I bring into his presence and what I leave with is not the same. When I have truly met with God, I know it. It can look so many ways though. There are times of joy in the Lord, and I can dance and sing loudly, even laugh! There are times where I can't help but be still and let his presence saturate every fiber of my being. When he calms the storms in my heart and brings an incredible peace. Then there are times when God is stern and reminds me of my sin. I am led to repentance and needing to get low before God and then I might be on my knees or even prostrate on the ground. Mostly in the Old Testament when they worshipped, they immediately fell flat on their face when they encountered the holiness of God. I believe that what we do with our bodies affects our souls. Just like what we declare with our mouths bears such a connection with our belief system. So it's good to thank God for his goodness and faithfulness OUT LOUD. There is no power when we just have a fleeting thought of thankfulness and we quickly move on with no expression of that gratitude.
It's so awesome when I feel like God is speaking clearly on something! On Monday (next day), Anna called me right before class (Elevate) and asked if I wanted to help lead worship with her (me singing, her playing guitar). Of course I was delighted! It went really well and God's presence was there...along with his grace since we didn't get to practice!
Then, God spoke again by arranging for our speaker that night to be none other than James Mark Gulley, who is our amazing worship leader for Sunday morning services. I've never heard him speak, only sing and play! But he had such a stellar message about "Normal Worship." I liked what he said: "How we worship should ask God the question, 'What would make you happy?' NOT...'What would make me feel most comfortable?'"
God has created us to be worshippers through our words, emotion, expression and lifestyles. Whether we direct that devotion and love towards him or other things/people is our choice. But we have to be ACTIVE. Another JMG quote, "IF YOU DON'T ACTIVELY GIVE GOD THE GLORY FOR THE GOOD IN YOUR LIFE, YOU WILL PASSIVELY TAKE ALL THE GLORY FOR YOURSELF." Soooo true. This is crucial for when we feel like we are getting good at our giftings!
I want to sing like I'm saved, dance like I've been set free, weep in his mercy and clap my hands with all of creation in order to show God that he is worthy and that I need him desperately! He will ENCOURAGE ME when I seek his face.
The Christian faith is not just a slow dance with God. He doesn't want our same bland offerings. He wants our renewed passion. Just like in a marriage.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
By Your perfect love
And so I'll pick up my cross
And follow hard after You
Your grace is more than enough
Please help me get through
Teach me to die
That You might live and reign inside
This Heart of mine
Is Yours to keep
And Yours to define
O Lord I accept this gift of grace You offer me
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A lot has been going on and, as always, I am a busy girl. Elevate (2nd semester) is in full swing and I'm back to the huge chunks of reading. Which, actually, I absolutely love reading. Ask my parents! I was such a bookworm in the summers of my childhood...reading up until dinner all the books on the Book It list. Hey it was worth the free personal pizzas from Pizza Hut! The prizes were always dinky, but when you're a kid, you only think they're kind of goofy...not totally lame.
Anyway, I am currently in 2 Chronicles and also reading Jimmy Seibert's book, The Church Can Change the World. I really love all of his stories and it's so cool to hear the adventures of our pastor and how his ministry evolved through a series of him and his wife listening to and obeying God's voice no matter how much it cost them. That man has seen God move in WILD ways and in lots of countries!
Last Thursday after worship, our Elevate class went out to share the gospel. My group of 4 went to the Bellmead Wal Mart (well actually several groups ended up there). When we got there, we split up in pairs and walked around prayerfully, asking God who he wanted us to speak with. Ashley's back started hurting as we were walking by this woman, and so we stopped and talked with her. We introduced ourselves and asked her if she would like prayer for anything going on in her life. She immediately said we were sent directly from God to her. We were like yes!! We were actually! She said she wasn't even wanting to come to Wal Mart at all, but she got a new puppy today and had to get him a bed. She was so encouraged as we prayed for her. She said, "What church do y'all go to and who is the pastor? He needs to know they're doing something right at that place, that you guys are truly sharing the love of Jesus with people and not just saying you are Christians!" She was eager to share our method with her church (of how we asked God for a specific place to go and specific people to talk with). She actually did have back pain so we prayed for it and she said it was better!
Our second encounter (we had a word about a person in the produce section standing by the tomatoes)...sure enough we found one! It was a man with sunglasses on and his little baby. Same intro, and the man said we could pray for him but he didn't give any specifics, so we just prayed for his baby and his family, etc. He said he didn't need any healing in his body. He didn't seem encouraged, but was not hostile either. Just seemed closed to hearing about God.
Then we prayed for a woman and her son who had already been prayed for by another group! But they said they could use more. We gave her Antioch info since she didn't have a church home and invited her to the church service.
We also had a word about the color "red" and a heavy-set black woman. Well we found one wearing red in the medicine aisle and prayed for her. She was so abundantly joyful that we had heard from God that she needed a touch from him that night, which she said she really did. She was a single mom trying to make it and pay bills, etc. Her friend came up, eager to tell us her story and even more eager to be prayed over. She said, "You're lucky you didn't find us up by the cash registers for this, because I would've grabbed the microphone for the store and let everyone know you guys were offering healing and prayers." Ha, that might've actually been awesome! They went on and on praising us. The lady who made the microphone comment said she at first thought Ashley and I were makeup artists and that we were so pretty! lol.
So about the time we made the decision to pray for the ladies above, we had been torn because on the other side of us, there had been a woman in a motorized scooter. But as we rounded the corner after talking to the ladies, the other woman from before was scooting along so we still had our chance. We talked with her and she explained her situation. She was Catholic and believed that God could heal her heart and mind, but probably wasn't going to heal her body. As we prayed for all aspects of her life, she began to cry and was so touched by the Lord. We had her test her leg and so as she stood up on it, she goes, "Hmmm!! It actually feels better. It really does!" She kept praising us, but we kept pointing the glory up, because we can do nothing apart from Jesus and his power! She said the true test would be when she went to her car after she was done shopping. We didn't see her, but I wondered if she walked out of that store completely healed!
When we all got back to EPM, we testified. There were some more healings and 7 salvations too...all in 2 hours time! Some of the stories were pretty awesome and our faith was built once again to keep sharing about our Jesus.
7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I have been overwhelmed by the dynamic duo of spirit and truth I have encountered in my first semester of Elevate. Each speaker who has taught in our class has ushered me into greater knowledge and revelation about God, his timeless character, and how he is continually relevant to me and to those around me.
Most interesting was it when our beloved Pastor Jimmy Seibert, out of his traditional Sunday morning sermon attire, came to share with us his journey of learning how to be “faithful in the little.” I resolved to love the people in my life whom I find harder to love. The Lord commanded me to love out of his eternal reserve rather than out of my flesh (a finite supply)! Exercising the principle of love with this group of people has become easier as I receive more of the Father’s love and begin to feel his heart beat for “the least of these.” Through Jimmy’s example of David’s devotion to tend his sheep daily and be responsible for what was his to look after, the Lord showed me that I am to be committed to who and what God sets before me each day. I also learned that to be a leader is to be faithful to minister in all seasons, rather than “taking a break,” when I am at my lowest point and feel I have nothing to give.
Joe Ewen completely redefined prophesy for me. “Prophesy is encouragement, and the word is the base of anything prophetic.” So many times I have hit the wall because I cannot “feel God.” I was thankful to come to the realization that way beyond the importance of my feelings lies the “realm of revelation,” where God is constantly revealing his truth in new ways to us not only through His voice, but by utilizing the voices of fellow believers. With these “human reports of divine revelation,” the church is edified and the enemy’s schemes to steal, kill and destroy are rendered powerless. Joe’s prophesy over me confirmed that I am as a blossoming rose for Jesus, which is a fulfillment of the promise that if I gave up fleshly desires, he would produce in me a sweet aroma and new buds of growth. Wow, was it (and is it) worth it to go through the fire!
I thoroughly enjoyed the lively teaching of Jon Peterson, who spoke on the kingdom of God and church planting. His diagrams of the “Kingdom first paradigm” versus the “Church first paradigm” helped me to realize that the church has to reach out to the city and nation, rather than expecting the people of the world to come to a revival service to find Jesus. A list of “Do Nots” and weird religious standards that we ourselves create have caused a non-godly segregation of the sacred and secular, leading people to believe that God only lives in church edifices and not in the hearts of men. The kingdom and God reside in us, not in any church building! This gave me hope for people I have talked to who say they would rather die than step foot in a church. I am now actively praying for opportunities to show them the real Jesus in me in a secular setting such as work or the grocery store.
Hearing Fred Nelson speak multiple times on the Old Testament themes of God’s covenantal history with the Israelites and their repeated idolatry has shed much light on my limited understanding of the Old Testament. The characters are a lot like you and me, actually for as Paul wrote, “there is no sin uncommon to man.”
Fred not only laid a foundation for why each book is important to us and helped give us a grid of the chronology of these events, but he began to unveil how God was working through the successes and failures of his people the entire time. I was able to see how different men responded to God, and how God either raised them up, such as Abraham, or brought them low, such as Saul, depending on their obedience. I also have a much greater grasp of God’s balanced nature, which previously seemed paradoxical: He is dually just and merciful. Fred also taught us how to read these 39 books through a New Testament/Jesus filter, which has been a great tool in studying God’s word in it’s entirety and drawing upon parallels and promises that were fulfilled with time. It is so awesome that His plan and character have never changed nor faltered!
I can still hear Steve Backlund’s deep chuckle filling the room as he recounted how the Lord brought joy to his grumpy soul and it how joy changed his life. He said that how you see yourself determines how you will live your life. “Will your giants crush you or will you conquer them?” I want to have the mindset of a conqueror, like Joshua! I set out to ask God what lies I was believing that were hindering me from walking in the joy and freedom of knowing the truth. God revealed them to me, and gave me power to recognize their falsehood and demolish the strongholds in my life. I learned from Steve to receive from God by faith not feeling, and also that my known experiences thus far do not define or limit my current or future identity. Something else Steve said that convicted me was, “False humility is not godly.” God wants me to be confident in him instead of putting myself down and incessantly pointing out my flaws and failures. When I allow him to instill righteous confidence in me, I can experience (with JOY) all that he has for me.
The most amazing aspect of these teachings, aside from the intimacy brought on by the ideal teacher to student ratio (rarely employed in a church auditorium or classroom setting), is that these words of truth and revelation have changed me, marked me in a big way, and allowed me to see that God always has more for me to discover of Him and how he wants to use my life to bring Him glory!