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Archive for January, 2015

Haste not rash.

Ever get to the fork in the road and make what felt the best decision for then, and perhaps not for the eternal plan of God?

I did.

Both forks–or perhaps this was a 5-way intersection in my life–seemed to honor the call of God on my life and serve as a time to grow in understanding of His Word for application in the future.

I made the choice.  With that choice, I was given vision for ministry and for community.  By faith, I believed I would have a roommate.  By faith, I believed I would have a job.  By faith, I believed the LORD was calling me into a calm environment and would infuse my life with knowledge, hospitality skills, and responsibilities.

I asked to walk on water, and it was said to me, that this move was my water.  I took a bold step.  But was that Jesus’ only answer for me?

In creating a life in Charlotte, packing my car and traveling 2/3 of the way across the country I have come to see a need.  With the thoughts flowing through my head in a methodic, visual way these past hours, I find myself believing God knows how to glorify Himself.

If I were to stay with the initial plan of the past months, I would have a house as a smaller scale retreat center, with a room of solitude, and  a yard filled with worship and praise.  The ministry: inviting people from the city who don’t feel safe or welcomed in the church and allowing them the place to revel in God’s glory.  He would have been pleased.

I am not concrete on my personal theological undertaking of this concept, but believe God accepted my plan B, but now, I’ve returned to His plan A.

If I make this decision, as I believe I am,  God will bring me into intimidating environments, intimate fellowship, and beautiful community worship.  The ministry already is here.  I am not creating anything.  It exists, and there is a need.

Months ago, I stood on the shore day after day asking for boldness.  I wanted to walk on water into the unknown, with the faith in Jesus that would not let me sink.

Walking the streets, making God known to the girls in human trafficking in this city, praying with a school that knows the desperation of this city, and tending to the ground with a woman who knows hospitality.   God has created this without my brain getting in the way.

Charlotte, for me, I rationalized and made work for the kingdom of God in my life.  New Orleans, just happened.  I’d never been here before.  Although the city has been in my prayers since reading David Platt’s Radical last April, I did not search for my place here.

IMG_4385It was introduced to me yesterday morning.  I simply asked God to put my thoughts at bay by showing me there was not a counseling program at the seminary.  There is.  I called, He moved people to work diligently for five hours straight.  I have been asking for community, there is.  I have been asking to maintain and grow my heart for serving human trafficking victims, He is.  I have asked for opportunity to care for the ground with tenderness in preparation for the gardens and groves of the future retreat house, it’s here.

My favorite theological philosophy on finances comes from centuries ago.  A man, who maintained a life of service to the church all his life, vowed to honor God with all his money after a certain amount.  As his income grew, his offerings grew.  He never increased in size of housing, in wardrobe, or in fine dining.  Rather, he saw the blessings given to him and paid them forward to his community. That man was John Wesley.

This is a vow I hope to take.  I recognize my life is far different and the necessities of it don’t permit such a vow.  However, a house for ministry while still paying off my undergraduate studies was a far cry from this desire.  Living in a dormitory, in my mid-twenties, resembles this desire just a bit more.

I appreciate all your dedicated prayers and thoughts.  Please feel affirmed.  The church has prayed me into ministry and here, here there is a need.  As I told my pastor, “my hands, knees, and feet will be plenty dirty.”

Where before, I settled (according to my father) on a calm environment for my studies, here it has been revealed and prayed over me:  Shalom.  Peace.  Clarity.

“And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:27-29).

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A banner found in the main square my very first day in New Orleans (before considering it as a place for temporary residency)

Yes Lord, I will follow you.  You are my greatest joy and under your provision, I celebrate this desire to obey and live with You.

Jesus,  I thank thee.  You have allowed my ears to be open and I have received your call.  Although I do not survive on the approval from others, I thank thee, for I have the support and encouragement of people who love me, who love You.  Jesus, as these hands and feet work diligently to serve you, I ask I see this place with Your eyes.  May I never judge, as I am unworthy of such a thing.  May I embrace.  As you have wept over Your city, I too have wept for the girls, the boys, the families, who feel stuck, abused, imprisoned.  Jesus, Your name alone gives such authority, and by Your guidance, I have turned my cheek and am walking, to what I perceive, to be Your voice.  Thank you that whichever path I did choose, that You made it a means to bring glory to Your Kingdom.  God, thank you for revealing to me, in this short time, the initial plan.  I do believe You had all this written in Your Book long, long ago. Thank you for letting me read that first line of this chapter.  Praise be to Your name my Mighty Savior.  Rescue this city.  I continue to ask for boldness,  for peace, and for clarity.   But, Father, I am eternally grateful for all You have revealed to me, through me.  Amen.

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“My favorite thing to do when I travel is…”IMG_0962

As my friend and I enjoyed the sulfur hot springs outside Reykjavik, Iceland, we met a young man who completed his graduate degree in Idaho and took an adventure before finding himself in the real world.  His trip served the opposite purpose of mine–a transition from real world into graduate studies.

“My favorite thing to do when I travel is sitting in a church and looking up.  I don’t think about God, I just like it.  I don’t know what it is…”

My body held in the shout, “GOD, it is God!”

But my mouth opened, and upon my lips, I spoke, “Peace, a peaceful presence.”  After he agreed, I continued to speak about how when I visit a mosque, I respect the culture I am in and adapt to their customs and wardrobe in the presence of Allah, but indeed I am thinking and praying to God the Father, Jesus Christ.  But indeed, it is the presence of worshipping, a peacefulness, that draws me into a church, cathedral, synagogue, temple, or mosque.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20), I do believe, this young man was encountering, in essence, the presence of the Holy Spirit amongst the people gathered in the name of Christ Jesus.  Perhaps, one day as he finds himself in an international church, he will humble himself before God.  

For us, I see this as a reminder to cherish our time in a House of Prayer.  May we shout “Praise be to You, Abba Father!” as we are free to worship in our travels, to pray in our homes, and to gather in the name of Jesus.  People see God’s House as a site to see, to photograph, when they travel.  If there are stained glass and sculptures in your meeting place, or if it is simply a place that seems safe and peaceful, you will have people coming into the gates.  Remember our call to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) and keep in mind, that in this modern world the nations are amongst us, every day.

Jesus, give us the eyes to see wanderers as you see them.  Provide us the courage to speak boldly of your grace in our lives.  May we gather in your name, lift your name in praise and worship, and ask for the hearts of those who have not yet turned their lives to walk with you to submit to getting to know you as Father, Peacemaker, Savior, Teacher, and Friend.  If it would please you LORD identify the sheep you are bringing home, teach us how to share your Truth with them, where in their lives they require your healing power, and in which ways we can serve them.  We adore you Father, and ask boldly, by your standards, not our own. Amen.

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I remember hearing once that “what you admire most in others, is often times what you most aspire to be.”

When we perceive an individual as outspoken, wise, kind, near-perfect in expressing childlike faith, I would argue we often fail to see the rest of the human that is before our eyes.

Everyone has their flaws.  I am not recommending we see each other only for our weaknesses, but rather, when we see someone is a brilliant evangelist, a humble servant, or a welcoming host, that we look through the window, instead of the reflection in the mirror.  Each of these attributes is a display of Christ within the human.

Christ is the perfect image, and as we draw nearer to Him, we become more like Him.  As we begin this year, perhaps fasting the first 21 days, let us separate ourselves from the worldly tendencies and connect with God through prayer.

In spending more time in His Word, becoming more familiar with the whole being of Christ, Abba Father, and the Holy Spirit that resides within, we are able to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on (our) own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), because it is the Spirit within who affirms the knowledge and speaks the Truth into life as we serve the Lord, our dear God.

So as John Piper spoke, may you too see yourself looking through the mirror.  Don’t be caught up in the mishaps of yesterday or even the last 10 minutes.  But if you catch yourself looking at your reflection, ask God to move your eyes to see deeper.  May you see through your “Jesus glasses,” as a dear sister spoke over me just this morning.

If you would like to be more outspoken, wise, kind, or better at expressing your childlike faith, ask the Spirit to teach you.  In recognizing the Spirit in them, ask the Spirit in you to move.  Start the climb, and don’t look back.  It may be intelligent to bring help along the way and ask your sisters or brothers to encourage you, to keep you accountable in your growth.

Jesus, our Good Teacher, I thank you for going before us.  For living a life of devotion to our Father God.  I thank you that your parting has left us, each, with the presence of God residing within us.  May this be a year of growth.  I place before you all that I am, and ask you to mold me into Your likeness. May I learn to depend on you and not my own ability.  May I be kinder to those who beg for help, to my neighbors, to the cashiers, and to my family. May my heart be inclined to pray for the missionaries as they continue to work despite persecution.  May I too learn to speak boldly of Your merciful love and grace.  Make yourself known through my life.  May your light shine brightly through each and every one of us.

Amen.

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As I continue to say my farewells, I often hear, “this isn’t goodbye, just a see ya later.”  A dear gal at church this morning said to me, “I can’t say goodbye, so I’m gonna say, ‘See you next Sunday.'” She did, and walked away.

For weeks now, I’ve been caught in conversations, semi-jokingly, with friends and associates attempting to convince me to stay.  And yet, I did give this journey a second thought, for a moment before realizing I was foolish to second guess the call of God.

Today, was the day.  My final Sunday at church, Pastor Josh spoke of a basecamp being a place of preparation, where you develop the discipline, the techniques for the journey ahead, you must continue the climb.  He spoke, and the call was confirmed. Seminary is my basecamp.  I had recognized it years ago, months ago, weeks ago, and again today.  My call is far beyond seminary, and yet, my call is to move in the now.

The purpose? God continues to call me into the world, so that I am able to return to the ministry He has envisioned for me, with a perspective beyond that of my immediate environmental influences.  It is not a retreat for Southern Californians that He has set forth, it is a retreat center for peoples of the world to seek His counsel, His anointing purpose for their lives.

I will return, I believe.  The Solana Beach house may be a test of faith, as I continue to pray over the specific residency.  But I do believe God has a plan for a large property with an olive tree, small vineyard, and natural baptismal pond.  I believe it.

And so.. with only 3 days left, it is now time to pack.  Initially I delayed it saying, ‘moving to Charlotte is next year’s journey.’ Now it is 2015, and the move is next week. I do know and will carry with me the love, encouragement, and support of my “West coast Family” as Pastor Josh wrote to me, as I gain an essential “East coast Family” in the journey ahead.

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