Why Working Things Out Can Look Like a Fight

The more I grow up and become more aware of thinking about bigger things and the bigger picture, the more things separate. They are starting to have more contrast. Granted, I am a black and white kinda person. "Yes or no answers are best", "I don't have time for miss-communications" and "Just tell me what you actually mean are common things that run through my head".

How does this relate to my spiritual life? I have all of a sudden been made aware of the separateness of my sinful flesh and the Spirit filled part of me. It's like realizing why you want to do something and seeing that that desire is not coming from the good, and while it may not be all together bad, it certainly doesn't look like the flip side--the feeling of purity that is of the Spirit that often looks like the harder choice, not to mention super counter-cultural.

With me being able see this difference more clearly--now it is almost overwhelming--I have a new perspective. I see that flesh-denial in your life is more often than not God-revival in your life. I see that some choices are more biblical, and that compromising is when we start to tread into gray areas. When you don't have the ability to separate those two very different things, no wonder life looks so confusing!

Even if you do begin to understand what I'm talking about it doesn't always make things easy. In fact, it's almost harder--you have to say no to your flesh-desires. If we are all being honest, this is where our pride and stubbornness come out. For me, I know it's the heart I have when feelings of entitlement emerge. Making the right choice anyway takes strength, strength that I don't always have. That is why so much of life is an internal struggle and why working things out can often look like a fight, or even an all out out war going on inside of us. It takes fighting that fight and wrestling with God to be able to really make the choice that reflects what we know and believe and to stay on the narrow path.

 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:19-20


So Much in One Week...

Here's a video of the excitement that a beach reach team had about pancakes...they totally got us pumped in the early morning hours after our late night.

Here's a few other things that I learned....

We are already equipped with your individual personal story, the God breathed Word, Jesus's greatness, faith and our family of faith.

People have to have practice to become better leaders. Let them practice. 

Always take your camera with you. If you don't have time to take pictures, make time.

It takes effort to serve.

Sometimes people don't want to talk to you, even if you are trying to tell them something important. And sometimes, there is only so much you can do about it.  

I could not go on a trip like this, as intense as it is, if I had not had mentors in my life that fostered the love of God and reaching people in me. 

Sometimes less is more. Your task and work is to reach out, but you have to be aware that there are other things that you may need to do first.

Understanding your own personal sin is key to getting to your next step in your walk of faith and having a more accurate understanding of God's great Grace. Who knew understanding the bad could help you so much? Usually we simply focus all on the good, whether it be ours or God's.

Sometimes it is simply your job to focus on being a friend with the right intentions.

You have to be able to communicate your genuineness for people to truly listen.

My prayer is often more "I believe, sweet Jesus, help my unbelief!". 

All in all, it was a trip where many souls were saved, and mine was in a way too--for I have been saved from myself and my selfish heart with the glorious protection of Christ Jesus my Lord!


So What Happens When You Get There...

When you are somewhere you don't really want to be, I've learned that its a necessity to check your heart--not just check it, but seriously keep tabs on it. Like, follow it like you follow your favorite person to follow on twitter or instagram. If you're not careful, you will find your own self creeping into the center of your universe, thinking that somehow this ministry that you are doing all depends on you...

But guess what?
Once again, it's not about you. It's not about me. 

It's not even about how much you can get done, how much ground I can cover in the shortest distance. Obviously that doesn't really translate to when you're directly dealing with people, but sometimes I get so obsessed with growth and measuring things and just simply being productive that I once again forget that I can't do everything, and I can't do everything at once. It's not even feasible, and it's certainly not very fun.

But guess what?
Sometimes less is so, so much more. 

And then the trip reached the point that brought forth the big question that God really brought to my mind. I was asked if I really believed that He was faithful. My answer? Well, let's just say it's not quite aligned with what the Bible (and the very good Lord himself!) deems as divine consistency.

But guess what?
It's okay to be in that place...sometimes you have to be there before you get to be somewhere else.

Although I am no longer in Panama, I may still be in that place. I'm not out of it yet. I still doubt and protest, feel selfishly entitled and can't seem to sit still to just listen, much less focus my attention on the things on the Spirit.

But guess what?
This new awareness of my sin increases my desire to be closer to the Lord, to know the truth of His Word and to truly experience His Greatness and the Grace that is for me and for you. All the time. Every day. Even now. For even you....

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."

Lamentations 3:22-23


The Beach Reach Post

So. The beach.

Guess what?

I don't really like the beach.

Don't get me wrong, the beach is not a bad place to be. Sometimes you do need to hear the waves and recharge your vitamin D levels, but I consider the heat unbearable, sand annoying and the salt in the ocean just plain gross.

But where did I end up for spring break?

.......the beach.

Panama City nonetheless. Our BCM went and joined other college campuses with the intent of giving rides to the college students down there (most of them were drunk to some degree.....), feeding them and ultimately sharing the gospel story with them. I have to say, there is so much to tell that I will be breaking this up into several posts.

First things first though, one of the things that this trip reiterated for me was the importance of obeying the Lord. Signing up for this trip was a bit easier when it was so far away and I was sure that God wanted me to go. This assurance, even thought doubts came, still stayed the same. You see, God knows that I don't like the beach, that the sleep deprived schedule we had is not something I work well with and that talking to drunk college kids is not  my choice of ministry, or even something that I'm good at. He just knows these things.

Yet He asks me to do them anyway.


How humbling is that? Let me tell you, I had to pray through for real a lot of bitterness weeks before we even left.

I came though, I obeyed. Because why? Because I know that He is bigger than me, that He probably had something up His sleeve, that He wanted to teach me things and that He can work in spite of me even when I simply don't believe He can.

Because He's just. that. good.

"Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; 
   he gathers the exiles of Israel. 
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
 The LORD sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground....
He covers the heavens with clouds, 
prepares the rain for the earth, 
makes grass grow on the hills...
the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, 
in those who hope in his steadfast love."

Psalms 147:1-6,8 &11


When You Feel Entitled....

Lately I've realized that I've been experiencing this certain feeling....it's called entitlement. Entitlement is where you believe yourself to be inherently deserving of something. It's an icky thing, a thing that is sin. We are inherently a bad and deserve living in Hell over and over again. Thanks to Jesus and His gift of grace (getting something we don't deserve ), that's not the way it is anymore.

Entitlement is something that is rooted in pride. I don't know about you, but prides is a struggle for me. It's funny because sometimes I even think to myself "Wow, that is a thought that is just so far from the truth!" yet they come anyway. From this, I've realized the importance of being aware....aware of your struggles and strengths and sins and just how you are. This is good to realize, but what comes after--your next step of action--is important too.

I'm not writing to give you answers, or reference sites and things that can help you do this or that.....too many times we expect solutions or "step-by-steps" to be handed to us. At some point, you just gotta do it. You may not have a plan, organized thoughts or anything else except for the will, but when it comes to combating sin  and temptation, you just have to do it.

It's a hard, long learning process, but once you start to see your sin more, that harder you are certainly motivated to work.

"Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own faith in fear and trembling,for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and work for his good pleasure."
Philippians 12:2