Sunday, August 8, 2010

It has come and gone

I can't believe summer is already over. It's always so hard for me to leave Branson year in and year out. I might even admit that I cried a little when I pulled out of the mission house parking lot. I stayed home from church today cuz I told my mom I wanted to rest, but I really just wanted to spend some time alone and process my thoughts. (i.e. time for a blog).

So many good things happened this summer. Kids camp went well, Super Summer was amazing, and our groups (for the most part) did a tremendous job and came prepared for anything! My co-workers were great. We had an incredible time and all really got along most of the summer. Nadeine is probably the best boss ever and her investment in our lives can't be replaced by anything. The insight she gives and the leadership she provides is so encouraging and enriching. I have surely been blessed to have had a job up there for the past four years.

The good didn't come without challenges as well. As I have mentioned in a previous entry, there was a group that came in who was totally unorganized and the week felt like a train wreck. But our God is THE God in good times and bad, and His had was on every week of ministry.

So many things to think about and pray through after the summer as well. One group wants me to pursue a writing career in Christian literature based on my work in our devotion book. I laughed at it, but the more I think about it, the more appealing it sounds. I do like to write. And I like to help others through that. So it's something that I really have become interested in, and I am seriously praying about pursuing that. This group can also get me a hook-up at Lifeway, apparently haha. We'll see what happens.
Alsoooooo, I have taken an interest in a certain girl and we had a couple good talks this week, so this is something else for me to pray about. No name naming on here. Don't want to scare her off haha. But we're talking and praying about things, so whatever happens happens and hopefully at the end of it all we'll still be friends. Cuz I think she's pretty cool :-)

But enough of that.

Overall, the summer was great and now I gotta get myself ready for school. I'm still trying to get the balance paid off but I'm confident that that will happen. But above all, I just keep reminding myself this:

when my plans fail, HIS always prevail

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rejoice in the Lord always

Wow, it's been a month since I have posted anything and in that month just about the whole summer has gone by. So many good thing and just a few struggles. But I will say the struggles have been kinda tough for me. The first two weeks of our summer were just incredible!!! The mission teams came in well prepared and with a great day camp planned and ended up being really blessed through attendance. The third week was another phenomenal week because this group that came is a perennial attender to Branson and they do such a great job helping with the 4th of July! They do so well with their work projects and usually do tremendous with day camp. Everyone has been so excited and so pumped!

This week has been the proverbial train wreck. One mission team we have has clearly come with their own agenda and keep going over our heads to do things their way. It has really been a struggle for us and we keep asking the Lord for patience and guidance. I will say that the members of the group who lead the day camp are really in to it and on top of their game. Just some of the leaders are a bit of a struggle, and the younger boys are VERY disrespectful. Tonight at dinner, though, Lauren had a breakthrough with them. The things she was able to say to them and the spiritual conversation she started really struck a chord with them and I think may have rubbed them the wrong way, but it's something I believed they needed to hear. How she handled the situation was so bold and confident and it really encouraged me. It was such spirit-led and she just let the Lord use her. The whole time those boys were talking to her, though, I really wanted to come unglued because of how disrespectful they were. But again, she handled herself incredibly. I had to stop and think of my attitude at the moment.

I had so much frustration and anger welling up in me that I refused to speak because I was afraid what might come out of my mouth to those boys. This really disabled me from ministering to them and now it really bothers me. I did get a chance to go speak to one young man after I had calmed down, but nonetheless, I should have had that mindset from the beginning.

Before we went out this evening I read from Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it agian: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I think I read this and heard it, but failed to truly listen to it and take it to heart. The thing in this passage that really sticks out to me is "let your gentleness be evident to all." It took a lot in me (and mostly the Lord working through me) to reach this point tonight. I kinda faked myself into thinking I was prepared tonight and when the time came to act it turned into a fail. But when I did reach that point I think the Lord was still able to work through me to speak to this young man.

This has been a trying week but I know the Lord has a purpose for it all and will use this to mold us, and hopefully the members of this group, and continue to teach all of us to rely on Him and to continually live for Him. Jesus never said following Him would be easy, and this week is a testimony to that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Two of my best friends and closest brothers are probably as far away from me as one can get. I met them during my time in South Asia. They are there studying abroad because one is from Ghana and the other is from Nigeria. Both are strong followers of Christ and see this opportunity away from home as a great chance to further the Kingdom. Neither were sent by a denomination or had a commencement service before they left. Those aren't bad things, but they aren't die-hard requirements to go to other countries and take the good news. For them, it's not two different things to live life and then live for Christ. It's all tied together. I feel that so many of us separate these areas. They truly live missionally and I'm so thankful the Lord let our paths cross for four brief months. I can always count on them for prayer and encouragement and to just see how they live their lives for the Lord really lifts me up! It really is hard to be half the world apart from them but we chat on facebook, text, and even skype sometimes so that helps a bit. I'm looking forward to the day that we get to hang out again and talk about how sweeeeeet Manchester United is. I miss them every day. Here's to you, Michael and Nathaniel!

Instead of a Show

This week in Green Team Rik talked a lot about the difference between being religious and being a true Christ Follower. We walked through the beatitudes in a way I never have before (that's a whole different post in itself) and it was really eye-opening in how we are taught to truly be humble before the Lord and not seek after things of this world.

Jon Foreman's song "Instead of a Show" is one of my favorites and really portrays how we need to be different than those who are religious so I just wanted to share that with you..

Instead of a Show

I hate all your show and pretense
the hypocrisy of your praise
the hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show

Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when your
singing ‘em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood
of justice
An endless procession of righteous
living, living
Instead let there be a flood
of justice
Instead of a show

your eyes are closed when you’re praying
you sing right along with the band
you shine up your shoes for services
but there’s blood on your hands

you turned your back on the homeless
and the ones that don’t fit in your plans
quit playing religion games
there’s blood on your hands

Instead let there be a flood
of justice
An endless procession of righteous
living, living
Instead let there be a flood
of justice
Instead of a show

Ah! let’s argue this out
if your sins are blood red
let’s argue this out
you’ll be white as the clouds
let’s argue this out
quit fooling around

give love to the ones who can’t love at all
give hope to the ones who got no hope at all
stand up for the ones who can’t stand up at all
instead of a show
I hate all your show

Erase the chatter

Each night of Super Summer this year we talked about creation, the fall, the rescue, and the mission. So Monday was creation and we watched the "How Great is Our God" video where God blows everybody's mind using Louie Giglio. He begins by talking about the universe and the size of the earth compared to other starts and how far a light year is and how long it takes to reach certain places. If the earth was a golf ball, you could fill the Superdome 3000 times to equal the quantity of the largest star know to man. And if the earth was a golf ball, you would have to place it at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge and walk the span of the reach the closest star.

Geez, talk about feeling insignificant. But it doesn't end there. Louie then began to talk about birth. He showed a picture of an embryo at just a few days old. It was 16 cells on the tip of a safety pin. Then he told us how when the eye meets the nerve endings in the brain that 1,000,000 connectors from the eye have to match up with 1,000,000 connectors from the brain in perfection to achieve sight. Then as he continues to speak of different things he gets to this stuff called laminin. This is what holds cells together in the human body. Without this protein we would be a bag of mush. And the structure of it is all the more impressive:it's a cross. We are held together by a substance created by the Most High God that is shaped like the cross. I dare you to tell me that that was an accident.

So what it came down to was that we're walking miracles. For all this stuff to happen is impossible without a Creator God. And all through this the Enemy kept pushing on me and my feeling of insignificance and I remember thinking "you have been a waste of a miracle since January 25, 1987." The chatter was so loud in my head and I wanted to scream because I couldn't get rid of the noise. But in that moment, and I mean as SOON as the thought entered my mind, the Lord spoke up in the most comforting, peaceful, loving, jealous, caring, counseling, providing, strong, just, wise, conquering voice and said the two most powerful words I believe to ever be spoken:


Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am a Bona Fide Law Breaker (June 13, 2010)

I have broken all Ten Commandments. I’m a thief, a liar, a murderer, an adulterer. I have dishonored my parents, I have idols, I break the Holiness of the Sabbath. I misuse the Lord’s name and put other things before Him. And I am definitely covetous.

I have never physically murdered or never physically had an affair, nor have I erected an idol to bow down to. But as Jesus lays out for us, all these things become a matter of the heart. I have been dealing with the matter of “murder of the heart” here recently. He tells us that “if we have hate towards our brother then we have committed murder in our heart.” Let that sink in for a minute.

Murder. In. Our. Heart.

When we murder someone, they cease to exist. So when we murder in our heart, those people cease to exist to us. We have killed them off in our soul. The depth of this travesty didn’t fully hit me until this weekend. The dictionary gives the definition of murder by the Law. The part that sticks out to me (and probably fits “murder of the heart” the best) is this: murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation. There are other constituencies where it may be an accident, a result of another crime, self-defense, or of the non-premeditated category. Murder of the heart doesn’t occur by accident. When I choose to have hatred toward someone it is rooted within me and planned. Hatred of a brother does not occur on the spot or at random. It is a conscious effort put out by our feelings built up towards that person over time, no matter how short that time may be. It’s not like I walk into a room to find someone and say “ohh! You scared me! I hate you. Murder.” I laugh as I play this situation through in my head, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that in order for me to hate someone; to murder them in my heart, I do it consciously and intentionally. I’m not proud of it, but I can’t deny that this is how I act. It’s hard to love the ones who rub us the wrong way, or that we just don’t see eye to eye with. But Jesus demands this attitude from us:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even the ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. BE MERCIFUL, JUST AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL.” Luke 6:32-36 (NIV)

Yeah, about that… I just got my toes stepped on, a kick to the shins, and a punch in the gut. Gotta love it when Jesus pulls out the rhetorical questions. But as he is saying this, it is not condescending and to a point where we feel worthless and need to get our act together and fix this on our own. He is clearly encouraging us in verse 36 by telling us to be like our Heavenly Father through the mercy that we must show those that we don’t particularly care for. We aren’t supposed to do this on our own. He has to work on our hearts.

If I had to serve time for my murders of the heart, eternity without parole wouldn’t be a long enough sentence for even one conviction. But because Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and I have an active, healthy relationship with Him, He has taken away these convictions through his blood on the cross. And because of that He is able to work in my heart and through my actions to enable me to love those that just grind my gears. None of this is of me and none of it ever will be. I am nowhere near where I need to be as far as loving my enemies and honestly I’m still working on letting the Lord do his work inside me to even get me to the point of being ready to make that commitment.

I am a law breaker. But the steadfast love (that is, the fixed in direction, firm in purpose, unwavering, firmly established, adherent love) of my Jesus WILL break me of these wrongs and, I hopefully pray, will make me love the ones I put off by my own volition.

Jon Foreman writes: “Give love to the ones who can’t love at all, give hope to the ones who got no hope at all, stand up for the ones who can’t stand at all…instead of a show, I hate all your show.” Is my show done? Will my love be genuine? If we are truly going to believe the Gospel, then we must believe it for everyone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Busy Lah!!!

This past week and this coming week are so busy! Kids camp was amazing! So many kids made decisions and it was neat to have a part in that. Today we'll head up to Jeff City for Super Summer training then on to Hannibal for Super Summer and be home LATE Friday night. Prayers would be much appreciated!!!

For now, it's World Cup time! Kinda bummed that I can't watch the USA-England match tomorrow, but it's all good.

Keep it real, Yo.