11 August 2014

To Be and Not To Be

In Deuteronomy 31, Moses encourages Israel as they are about to enter into the Promised Land. The last forty years were spent in preparation for this very moment. Now that moment has arrived. Israel stood near the boarder of the desert and their promise. They could see it in the distance. Before them stood Mount Nebo, and beyond that ran the Jordan River and their entrance into the Promised Land. 

Moses, knowing he will die shortly after this, gives a five hour long sermon to encourage and exhort the people he led for the past forty years. Toward the end of this he says, "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic... For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you... (Now speaking to Joshua he says) Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you" (Deut 31:6,8 NLT). 

There are two things I want to point out here. 

1.  Know your stance. What is your role in this circumstance? What are you to be or do? What are you not to be? For Isarel, their stance was to be one of courage and not of fear or panic. Moses first pointed out their true stance before pointing out their current one. The truth about Israel was that they were brave. They had courage. Now was their chance to try it on and use it. 

2. Know God's role. Who does God want to be for you in this circumstance? As Israel prepared to enter into their land of promise God told them he went before them. He is the Way Maker, and He is present. He promises He will not leave His people nor will he forsake them. This means He is not going to let His people fall. He will not let them shatter. They will not be abandoned or marrooned in a foreign land (or in the desert for that matter). He will not dishearten them but tells them to be the courage people He sees them as not the fearful people they feel like. 

So what is your response? Who does God want to be for you right now and what is your role in all of this? 

God always tells me my stance is as daughter and my role usually isn't as involved as I thought I should be. For example, I often think my role is as the puppet master of my circumstances but God often reminds me my role is to rest or to worship. I may have some practical steps I need to take but I'm not the one who needs to make the impossible happen. 

06 August 2014

Personal Update

Hello to my readers!

I want to thank you so much for visiting my blog. I wanted to give you an update on some exciting news. I have this amazing opportunity to attend King's College in London this fall. I was accepted into their one year biblical studies masters program.

In all honesty this wasn't something I thought I could do. I have some amazing friends who have patiently listened to me and supported me while I tried to figure out if I could go.

So why this degree? One of my dreams is to raise up Bible Study leaders, church planters and missionaries in the church. I want to equip people with the knowledge of the Word of God so they can confidently teach others about the Bible. I am currently part of a group that has a similar vision, and in the evenings we get to learn more about God together. This degree will better equip me and will grow my understanding of the Bible.

Here is a breakdown of expenses with a total of £28,376.

£16,250 tuition
£8,078 housing
£4,048 transportation and livng expenses
£28,376 total


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and making this possible. Click here to donate.

28 June 2014

Shipwrecked Hope

We all have been given promises, and we all have hopes and dreams. We long for that moment we will see them fulfilled and for that moment we will feel like we are finally doing what we were created to do. That is all well and good, but what do we do when our dreams are still in the works? There is hard work in dreams and a lot of that is holding onto hope. 
There are times when dreams appear to be shipwrecked. They are dashed on the rocks of disappointment (cliché, I know, but I like the imagery) and we do not know if we can ever rise from that. We are faced with a choice in those moments—we can let go of the last bit of hope we have and float out aimlessly into the stormy sea, or we can hold onto hope like a stranded sailor holds onto driftwood and slowly make our way to shore. The pathway to our dreams never looks like we imagine it would. It can look like island hopping until we reach the Promised Land or it can look like a switchback road through a mountain range.
I am finding life, and dreams for that matter, looks much more like a choose-your-adventure book than a straight path. To go to London proceed to page 50. To learn about family proceed to page 110. Recently, I have been looking back at the mental photobook of my adventures thus far. Each path includes snapshots of random adventures and stories I never thought I could be a part of. It has also taken a lot longer than I think it should. Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the time he was my age. What have I done?
Growing up I heard the stories of the great men and women in the Bible and in history. For some reason pastors and speakers thought it was encouraging to tell us about the people who accomplished great things by the time they were our age. I was told of the great battles Jonathan won when he was fifteen. I learned with slight horror and shock about Mary’s age when she became the mother of Jesus. How could I ever live up to these people? I used to think I peaked in my teens. I have greatness written on my heart yet the greatest thing I have done this far is, well, I do not have an answer for that. I have accomplishments I am proud of but what about great accomplishments? I have never been in a battle much less won one. I have not conquered the known world, though I am working on that. I am not a ninja, though I would count myself as one in training.
I have an epic dream and that means there is an epic story. Epic stories always start with ordinary men destined for greatness, mainly because they are the protagonist of the story. The author chose them to be great. As a writer I get to control the way the story moves and can slow down or speed up a story for the sake of character or plot development. For some reason I often forget God does the same thing. He is the great Author after all.
My roommate Emily often has incredibly profound encouragement for me in the moments I am on the verge of letting go of my driftwood hope. The other day I was grieved at my current place in life’s story and was angry at things that happened in the past and completely unsure of what the future had in store. In other words, I was long overdue for a meltdown. Her response was beautiful: “Courage in battle means not running away. It is planting your feet and standing your ground. Courage in pain means not making assumptions about your identity, who God is or what your future looks like. It means sticking your feet down and not going anywhere.”
Our identity does not change even though our circumstances can be a kaleidoscope of fun—ever rotating, constantly changing yet the same substance. Our identity remains the same but our function within that circumstance changes. It looks different from the previous season. In one season we learn what it is to be a son and in another we learn what it is to be a warrior and yet another what it is to rest. We are still sons and warriors when we rest and still warriors and resters as sons. We are just acting out of a different function depending on the season. As we grow we learn how to go deeper into that and learn new facets and new moves but we still act out of that core identity as a son.
My perspective changes as I realize it is about learning new ways of interacting with God and not about me surviving a circumstance in order to make it to the holy grail of dreams. With all that being said, I want to leave you with a few questions. What is God’s perspective on your circumstances/ dream? What is God teaching you about interacting with Him in this season? What is the reason behind your dream? Why are you holding on? Remember and keep pushing through.

03 June 2014

Timed Perspective

God puts dreams in our hearts and we often assume they are for right now. Joseph is a great person to look at in regards to this. 

When he was seventeen he had a dream that he would be a ruler. Being the favorite son, he figured it was a dream for now and took matters in his own hands. Unfortunately, he did not have the character or the fortitude to sustain the dream. He told his brothers (who were already jealous that he took all their father's affection), and they tried to kill him but settled on selling him into slavery. 

I imagine Joseph had moments of deep despair as he realized he was a slave instead of a ruler and a prisoner instead of a prince. He must have thought, "Is this all it's supposed to be?" as his heart longed for more. Even when he oversaw the prison I believe that deep down Joseph knew he was created for more. 

Joseph grew in character and wisdom over the next years and decades. He learned what it was to serve and what it was to manage a household, then a prison and finally a nation. He learned what it was to push through his difficult circumstances. Thirteen years after becoming a slave he stood next to pharaoh as a trusted advisor. I can only imagine the moment It sunk in for Joseph that he was second in command over the nation of Egypt. 

Was this the best route for Joseph to take? I don't know. Did God intend for Joseph to go the route he did? I don't know. Either way, God got Joseph into the position He planned for him. 

Often I stress about the right decision. I have to make the right decision so I stay in God's will and get where He wants me to go. I want to choose the best path so I can avoid unnecessary detours. I am often told "it's not the destination but the journey" and to an extent I believe that is true. But don't forget there is a destination. Don't forget why you do what you do. Your dream may not look at all what you think it should be, but don't worry. God will get us where He wants us even if we are doing the opposite of what we thought we should be doing. We might feel like we're in a prison cell but that doesn't mean God won't get us to the king's court. 

Hope is a dangerous business. It creates vulnerability to disappointment. I am learning to ask for God's perspective in circumstances and to change my perspective. I am seated in heavenly places with Christ which means I have an entirely different view than the horizontal view on Earth. You might be serving Potiphar or the captain of the jail or maybe you feel you're sitting in the dry well in the desert wondering what is going to happen or if you'll ever make it out. 

The brilliant thing about our position in heaven is that we can see more clearly what is actually going on. When you stand nose to nose with a wall you can't see around it. It seems huge and looming and ominous. When we change our perspective then we can see the ladder down the way or a door or Jesus with TNT waiting to blow that sucker.  

Hold onto hope. Ask Jesus what he sees when he looks at your circumstances. 

26 April 2014

Desert living

A few years ago I began a series on Moses but never finished writing it (you can read them here and here). The story resounded with my heart more than I expected and not wanting to deal with it, I avoided that part of the Bible until today.
 
The story of Moses is one of dreams and hope restored. Moses had a dream of social justice. His people were enslaved and he wanted to help them. He thought this was God's call on his life. He ended up killing a man in an attempt to defend his people. He quickly learned they did not want his help, and Pharaoh wanted to kill him for this act of violence. He was rejected by both people groups.

Moses sat in the desert by a well wondering what he was doing there. Had he totally missed what his call was? Did he even have purpose anymore? He was surrounded by sheep and sand nowhere near where he thought he should be. He thought he was to free God's people but instead was running for his life. I imagine he was feeling like he failed God. 
 
It is at this point seven girls come with their flocks to get water. The shepherds try to run them off but Moses stands up for them. Their father invites him in and makes him part of their family.
 
The significance of this part of the story is the father's name. He actually had two names: Jethro and Reuel. Both names are significant. Reuel means "friend of God", and Jethro means "his abundance". Jethro is only called Reuel twice in the Bible, this time and later in the book of Numbers. It is significant that he was called Reuel here beause of the meaning of his name: friend of God. Moses wanted nothing to do with God nor His people. In fact, when Mosrs met God at the burning bush forty years later, Moses again tried to hide from God. So God gave him the next best thing, his friend. 
 
Moses thought he was running from God but in fact was just being sent to God's friend. Moses got to spend forty years with God's friend and be part of a family he thought he could never have. 

There are times when we don't want to face God and He honors that. He let Moses camp out for forty years. It is important to note that Moses was never hidden from God. In fact, God goes after those who hide. Adam and Eve hid when they sinned and God went looking for them. Moses hid in the desert when He murdered a man. And God met him in that desert. Don't believe God won't come find you. He never loses sight of you. 

Moses thought his life was over. He was content living in the desert with a bunch of sheep even though he knew deep in his heart he was destined to lead a nation. This was only the first half of his life and only a fraction of his story. There was still so much more God had in store for Moses. He wanted to restore those dreams and hopes Moses did not dare to dream again. 

Do not lose heart if you are in the desert right now. God is not done with you. He has so much more for you.