Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Am Deeply Sorry Sunday...

I think we owe an apology to Sunday. We've robbed it of all that it was intended to be and instead placed it at the back of the line. Most every calendar in America puts sunday at the beginning of the week, where it was meant to be, but who actually puts it there in their head? Definitely not me, and most likely not you. Christ rose again, proclaiming new life, on a Sunday which is why the early church switched its worship day to Sunday. It's supposed to mean new life, new beginnings, aliveness. We were meant to START our week off worshipping God so that we can remember all that we experience throughout the rest of the week! Instead we tag it onto the back end of our week and we start monday morning all things that before then go into "last week" in our minds and are put aside.

I do the same thing every week and I work at a church! We sit around each week planning for "this sunday", and what we think God wants the message to be for our church "this sunday"....NO! This sunday was the sunday that started at the beginning of the week, "this sunday" should be what we are still talking about as we live this week and seek to be His servants! As I prepare for the coming sunday it should be instead "what does God want for us next week?" And that is what we plan for that upcoming sunday!

I believe that if we started seeing Sundays as the beginning of the week instead of the end, we would see a change in how going to church impacts our lives, how worshipping together impacts our lives, how God impacts our lives. We need to apologize to sunday for what we have done to it and return it to its created, destined, and rightful place at the beginning of our week.
Today is Sunday night and I am praising God for the amazing way He has started this week, I cannot wait for the rest of it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Wait....I want my ark back now!"

2 Samuel 6:5-15
5 And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household. 12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

We see that God is not safe here by the way that he deals with the priest Uzzah. I find David's reactions interesting though...first he is angry with God and then he is afraid. So afraid, in fact, that he does not allow the ark to enter his city. He sees that God is not a safe thing to have around and is afraid to let him dwell so near to his own home!

I feel that we often respond to God in a similar way. When God does something that shows that he is not safe to have around, we get angry and afraid and do not let him close. We close off our cities from allowing his presence in until we get wind that he is blessing someone else and suddenly we want Him back to bless us!

God is not always safe, but we learn that the only safe place from God is to seek to be as close as we can to Him. We need to pray that we would not be afraid when God seems unsafe but instead march him even more quickly and praised straight to the heart of our city that we might be blessed by His presence. Lets cut out the time of sending God away cause we know we will only want Him back again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Arguments or Obedience (from My Utmost for His Highest)

. . . the simplicity that is in Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:3

Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly until a long time passes, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and . . . every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25).
Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating, because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Gospels...

The modern day gospel says "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps and you can be saved." Meanwhile the biblical gospel says "You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do."

The former sells books and draws crowds. The latter saves souls. Which is more important?

-David Platt (from the book Radical)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Czech 2010

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." Habakuk 1:5

This verse pretty much sums up the last week. My friend Nathan shared this verse during a prayer time that we had the friday night before camp started and for me it has become a theme verse for this camp. I don't want to make this a long post describing how ever part of our trip went...if anyone wants to know they are free to ask! I just want to talk about the way God worked.

Ways God worked (that I know):

1. We had twice as many students at camp this year...half of them were returning and about half were new campers! We also had about half as big of a team this year....but we prayed for strength and energy and God gave it to us. Every one of us made it through camp without crashing and me this was a huge answered prayer.

2. Each night after we would tell a story from the Bible about someone who had been redeemed we would have discussion groups. These discussion groups went better than any camp I have ever been at. I don't even know how to write about this to truly say how awesome it was. Students were asking questions about God and really thinking about their lives and what they believe like I have never seen. Usually there are a few students at each camp who you can see God really working in their minds but at this camp about 95% of the students were really interested! God was working mightily in nearly EVERY student at camp. Each night it seemed that there were not enough of us to talk to students who had even more questions after discussions!

3. One of the biggest praises for this camp was about a student who has been coming to camp for the last 3 years. He is a totally crazy but fun kid and he likes to go by Bob. He lives a lifestyle that is far from God but I have seen many guys pour into him over the years and seen him wrestle with this idea of God. But last wednesday night (not even on the night we present the gospel) he accepted Christ. This was a momentous occasion for many of us especially the Bohumin youth pastor George. He was crying after that night as he led Bob in a prayer for salvation. The coolest part was that some of the change in this student was instantaneous...the rest of the camp he had what I can only describe as a new life inside of him. He was still the same crazy Bob but there was an overwhelming sense of a a feeling of being loved behind it. It was utterly amazing.

4. That same night I had an awesome experience with another student that I found sitting on a bench. Its important to note that this student was in one of the lower level english classes and so I was little hesitant to really engage him in real convesation without any translator near. But I felt I should, and so I did. I asked him what he was thinking and told me he was thinking about God and then asked me "how many years been a christian?" So I prayed a little prayer and began to tell him my testimony and he listened intently. He asked a question or two here and there which led our conversation into presenting the gospel. After I had sat with him and we talked for about an hour and I told him the gospel and my whole testimony he just looked at me and said " Its amazing, I understand everything you are saying"

5. There were numerous other conversations people had with students where they got to answer questions about God and what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and it was absolutely amazing. And it never seemed to matter what the level of english was, truth always got across. :) Many students at our camp went from saying there is no God to really thinking that maybe he does exist and if he does, what He is like. I have never seen so many large steps toward christ at once. Even though Bob was the only student we know that accepted christ with one of us I am almost certain that there were a handful that accepted Him in their mind or are about one more conversation away!

6. Another highlight of our camp was the fact that we had a baptism ceremony. I have never been to anenglish camp where someone wanted to be baptized. The crazy part was we didn't just have one student...we had 6 people come to George and say that they wanted to be baptized. Bob was just one of them, but also several of the students who were in the youth group were moved to take that step in their faith and also a few students who had accepted christ in the last year or so. It was amazing. We invited anyone from the camp who wanted to come to come see the baptisms and everyone showed up. So got a chance to explain the meaning and show this great symbol of new life and faith to all the students...whether they believed or not. And it was a moving experience for all!

There were many more moments and experiences of God working at this camp I could talk about but these were the main ones for me. I remember thinking one of the nights about that verse I quoted at the beginning and feeling just like that. God was showing us the work he was doing and I could barely believe it! Thank you all who supported us on this trip and know that your prayers and gifts did not go in vain. They went to one of the most amazing english camps josiah venture has ever experienced.

Please continue to pray for the czech youth group in Bohumin especially for the leaders George and Pajin for God has given them a great gift of all of these students who are interested in God and church and thye will be following up with all of them. They will definitely need patience and strength to do it, but as we know, the same God who worked in their lives, saved Bob, moved many of the students, and gave us all strength for the week is with them still and will continue to work through them and their church. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Czech update #1

Its our last day in Malenovice for english camp training and training has been great! There were so many teams here that they actually had two trainings going on at the same time staggered which seemed crazy at first but really it didn't seem as busy as I thought it would. Our team got to spend a good of amount of time hanging out with each other and laughing and also praying and preparing each other for camp. Its been a good experience and I am excited to move forward to camp! We leave today for bohumin where we will be for one day and then on saturday we leave for the camp and get started! I am so excited, I know God has great plans for this camp (we have twice as many people as last year!) and I can't wait to be a part of them!

Please keep us in your prayers, especially as we start camp. We will need a lot of supernatural energy to keep building relationships all week and as we start camp just pray that connections are made quickly and easily so that they can move quickly during camp and we can have the opportunity for many deep and lifechanging discussions!

Thanks you all for your continued support and prayers!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Living, breathing hope.

1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.."

Peter describes a life that is born again as "living hope" -or "hope" in living, breathing form. I am floored. If I was asked to describe what hope looks like would I say myself; would I say you? When people look at my life and how I act would they describe me as "hope in human form" ? I am not so sure they would most times.

So then what does hope look like so I can look more like it? I think probably like the wind....wait what, you don't know what the wind looks like? So how do you know the wind is around? Oh by observing the effects..I got it, so for something to look like wind the effects need to be present. So what are the effects of hope? I think they are probably love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

Would you be described as living hope? Lets let the Holy Spirit of God, that is given to us by faith in Jesus Christ's conquering of sin and death, help us be the embodiment of hope. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to” -Gandalf

Habakkuk 2:3 "For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay..."

Don't worry about when/how God's plans will happen, because they will just as they are to; count on it....they will not delay. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

God-Sized Questions Require God-Sized Answers

John 5:1-17
"Do you want to be healed?" -This is the question Jesus asks a man who has not been able to walk for 38 years. "Do you want to be healed?" When i first read that my answer is HELL YES this man of course wants to be healed! BUT, that is not the answer the man gives.
Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed and instead he answers "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me." The man simply answers that he needs someone to help him in and out of the pool so he can have temporary moments of healing every once and awhile. It seems to me he has completely lost all hope that he could ever be healed so instead he just asks for small human sized answers to his God sized problem. He simply asks for a temporary fix instead of believing that true healing is possible.
I think I do this often in my life. I have a problem and then when God asks if he can help I tell him "If you could just do this small thing that would help me feel a little better..." NO. God asks only questions he knows he can answer. He would not ask "Do you want to be healed?" if he knows he could not heal totally. I cannot allow the world to dull me so much that I lose the mentality that ALL things are possible. And in order to see those things I must start asking and expecting God sized answers to God sized questions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Come in the Name of...?

What or who do i come in the name of? Watch any medieval movie and someone will undoubtable come "in the name of the King". They come in the king's authority. Or what about songs like Pride by U2: "In the name of love, one night in the name of love..." We as people come in the name of things all the time. In the name of love, in the name of honor, in the name of peace, in the name of revenge, in the name of lust, in the name of the president, in the name of all that is good! What do I come in the name of?

Some things like love, honor, peace aren't bad though right? What is bad about doing something in the name of peace? I mean, its peace! But no. Peace isn't in itself worthy of authority. Peace, love, honor...these things by themselves have no authority. But Christ does. God does. And who is God? He IS peace, He IS love, He IS peace. So in everything we must come in the authority of Christ, and Christ ALONE. He is the only one with the authority. And by the Holy Spirit I have that authority! Its amazing, the same power that lived in Christ Jesus lives in me and I can come in the same authority that Christ Jesus did, and He conquered death and the world! Thats some authority.

I come in the name of Christ Jesus. Watch out. :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Two Thoughts

I have two thoughts today....

1. Sometimes we have to tally the things we do know about something to figure out what it is we don't. Similarly to how scientist measure how much "dark matter" is in the universe. They measure what they DO know first and see whats left from the total. If you are confused by life just recite the things you do know (ex: your close friends do agree, there are people who like you, you do have power to do some things, God IS good., etc) then see what is left. Sometimes you might find that what was left "confusing" you is quite a small amount and not as big of a deal as you thought.

2. God likes to party. As I continue through Deuteronomy, God commands a lot of celebrating...sometimes a week at a time! Can't wait to see a party thrown by God in Heaven. :)

That is all my thoughts for now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Its Time to Change My War and My Wardrobe...

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

God is inviting us to join His war. This battle against the powers of darkness. But what war are we really fighting? I feel that many times I am fighting my own war against what attacks me. Really its probably not suited to be called a war but rather a series of meaningless bar fights against things like anxiety, pressure, insecurity, temptation. But they keep us occupied enough, don't they, that its our whole world.

We all learn to suit up in preparation for these encounters in things like the collared shirt of pleasing others to feel important, the jacket of alcohol to forget worry, the shoes of running away from pressures, etc. I've learned what I think works best for me and wear what I feel best will give me the upper hand in each battle.

But thats not what God calls us to. He has asked us to join a much bigger problem...a full on "war" against all forces evil in this word. This is a much different battle than the ones I face in my life. Its the reality of the world that I am missing while I am busy dealing with my own problems. This war is the real cause of the problems. I need to start fighting for something bigger than myself...why? Cause its my nature. Who doesn't secretly want to be Aragorn or Gandalf and enter into a situation that is bigger than themselves. It makes life worth something.

But this is a different kind of war that requires a different wardrobe. My old clothes won't do any good in a real battle. I need the armor of God. To put on the true uniform of a soldier designed by the mastermind and general himself to defend and conquer in this war.

Its time to change my war, and my wardrobe.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Obey with purpose!

Dueternonmy 6:1 "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it..." 8:1 "The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may lie and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers."

Over and over again God tells the Israelites to obey His commandments...but why? So that they will go into the lands that he promised them and possess them and it will go well with them. God doesn't call us to obey his commandments just because, but there has always been purpose in them. That we may go into the lands God wants us too. The question I must ask myself is where are the lands that God is calling me to go into and obey His commandments? Are there lands I am to afraid to go into that he is calling me to...are the men of that land too big? Am I obey his commandments in all the lands He is already brought me into? I can't just sit around and obey, God gives us purpose to obey and I think for me, that really makes it easier.

I have purpose today so I shall obey the Lord :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Look Again And Concentrate

"If God so clothe the grass of the field . . . shall He not much more clothe you?" Matthew 6:30

A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us if we are not simple. How are we going to be simple with the simplicity of Jesus? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, obeying Him as He brings the word of God, and life will become amazingly simple. "Consider," says Jesus, "how much more your Father Who clothes the grass of the field will clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him." Every time we have gone back in spiritual communion it has been because we have impertinently known better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed the cares of the world to come in, and have forgotten the "much more" of our Heavenly Father.

"Behold the fowls of the air" - their main aim is to obey the principle of life that is in them and God looks after them. Jesus says that if you are rightly related to Him and obey His Spirit that is in you, God will look after your 'feathers.'

"Consider the lilies of the field" - they grow where they are put. Many of us refuse to grow where we are put, consequently we take root nowhere. Jesus says that if we obey the life God has given us, He will look after all the other things. Has Jesus Christ told us a lie? If we are not experiencing the "much more," it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us, we are taken up with confusing considerations. How much time have we taken up worrying God with questions when we should have been absolutely free to concentrate on His work? Consecration means the continual separating of myself to one particular thing. We cannot consecrate once and for all. Am I continually separating myself to consider God every day of my life?

-Oswald Chambers (from my utmost for his highest)