YWAM Montana - Lakeside http://ywammontana.org Just another WordPress site Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:49:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 In Praise of Brokenness http://ywammontana.org/praise-brokenness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=praise-brokenness http://ywammontana.org/praise-brokenness/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:15:54 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3460 The past felt hard but the worst was yet to come. Thank God I was oblivious to this fact. In the exact middle, between hurt and more hurt, I ventured off to a 9-month, intensive, Biblical Studies program.

I wanted the learning for my future career in ministry but needed it for my own personal survival. In the wilderness of Montana I worked hard, day-in and day-out. Most days were between 8-9 hours with my nose in the Bible. Many days it was more.

The learning was mentally exhilarating. Emotionally, though, something new was digging in to me.

I remember the day clearly. In an effort to break up the monotony, a group of students decided to go to a local coffee shop to study. We all spread out to our own tables, ordered our bottomless coffee and began to pound away at the work to be done. The book of Romans was our current task. This is no small feat to grasp if you are familiar with the Bible. I remember the exact table and the uncomfortable wooden chair I was sitting in. While classmates around me were doing a theological CrossFit routine in their minds… I was reading the same phrase over and over and over.

“so death spread to all”
“so death spread to all”
“so death spread to all”

Then, the tears just came. They welled up and cascaded down, one after another. I wept… and wept and wept. My head dropped, I didn’t want anyone to see my face. My closest friend could hear me.

With confusion, “Lindsey, what is wrong?”

There was no reason for me to suddenly burst in to tears, especially for a committed non-cryer like me.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be ok” I replied.

The tears were now morphing with the snot. I was a mess and clearly not ok. That was my exact thought.

“I am not ok… not on any level.”

I wasn’t just talking about the past. I was not just fearing the future. After 16 years of following Jesus… at that moment, at that coffee shop, for the first time in my life I came to terms with my own brokenness and the brokenness of this world.

The Bible gave me permission to admit the stark reality. I had tasted, lived and dwelled with death more intimately than I wanted to admit.

I was not a good person who messed up a little bit. I was not someone who made mere mistakes. I was not a girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was deeply, deeply broken. Loved, valued… broken.

Jesus didn’t come to rescue mistakers. He died to give life to dead people. And I was one of those dead people… I knew it deeper than I ever had.

But the tears were not tears of condemnation. They were tears of collapse. Tears of a deep, deep sorrow. Sorrow at my hurt, sorrow at my own ineptitude to fix this mess. Sorrow at the pain around me. Tears of surrender and thus tears of pure joy.

I’ve never know such joy and gratitude mixed with such sorrow. I now new the meaning of the phrase, “such sweet sorrow.”

In the past I was looking for a Jesus who fixed mistakes. That day I realised I had a Jesus who made dead people come alive.

So I leaned in. I was tired and I pressed in to it. I was broken and I leaned in. I was hopeless and I pushed right in to the middle of it. I longed for a land I didn’t know or couldn’t name and I dwelled right there, looking for the unknown shore.

Not because I’m a masochist. I leaned in because God doesn’t pat mistakers on the back. God makes dead people come alive. As long as I minimise my brokenness; I minimise my hope, rescue and life.

For the past 14 years, I’ve been leaning in. It’s there I find Jesus. Jesus doesn’t look for self-help experts. He looks for inept, broken, dead people. American business experts suggest women “lean in” to success and greater achievements. The Gospel dares us to lean in to our failures and pain. It is there that we find something completely unexpected.

When I’m tempted to run away or minimise. I lean in.
When I fear for my children’s future. I lean in.
When I hurt others. I lean in.
When others wound me. I lean in.
When I face other’s brokenness. I lean in.
When I’m ashamed of my failures. I lean in.

The harder I lean, the more quickly I feel the embrace of the Father.

And so death spread to all. The lie is that the story ends there.

Where death increased, grace abounded all the more. This is where the story ends.

This is in praise of brokenness. In that land, God makes dead people come alive.

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The Gospel Brings Hope http://ywammontana.org/gospel-brings-hope-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gospel-brings-hope-2 http://ywammontana.org/gospel-brings-hope-2/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:56:43 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3430 So wat di, khap! (hello in Thai)

We’ve been in Thailand for about a week now. It seems crazy because it feels much longer than that.

In America, there’s a saying that says ‘there’s a church on every street corner’. Imagine that, but instead of churches it’s Buddhist temples, and I would say that there are even more of them here. In fact, there is a saying in Thai that says ‘to be Thai is to be Buddhist’. Pretty much everywhere we go we are surrounded by statues of Buddha adorned in fresh flowers. This country is about 96% Buddhist, with between .5%-2% of the population being Christian depending on who you ask. Very different than America.

With these facts in mind, I began preparing a teaching for one of our ministry days. Our contacts here in Ratchaburi started a ministry where they brought the gospel to a prison nearby. The ministry has grown and there are about 120 male and 40 female Christians that they know of in the prison. They’ve even run a couple of Discipleship Training Schools inside the prison with inmates as students. Our involvement with the ministry was to go in and provide some worship songs, a testimony, a dance, and a teaching.

There were probably 40 inmates in the worship area with us, with many more walking around outside who stopped to watch what we were doing.  They did a few worship songs in Thai and our translator, Pi Noi, gave a brief teaching. Then it was our turn.

I was in charge of the teaching. It was supposed to be about 20 minutes (about 40 when you account for the translation) and I could talk about whatever I wanted. When preparing, I really felt God saying that I needed to focus on the truth of the gospel. I felt that in a culture that was surrounded by a lot of spiritual oppression and fear, I needed to remind the believers in the prison of what they received when they accepted God in their hearts. The main point of my message was that there are many lies from the enemy and the world that constantly bombard us, but the truth of the gospel is what gives us hope as believers.

After I concluded my teaching, we began praying for the inmates. I prayed for a handful of men in English. I trusted that even if they couldn’t understand my words, the Holy Spirit would be communicating to them. As I was praying for a couple of guys, our translator called me over and said that there was a group of men who wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. (I didn’t even know there were men there who weren’t believers. I thought all of the men there had already accepted Christ. I wondered why God wanted me to focus so much on the basic message of the gospel. Here’s why!) He began to explain to them what it meant to accept Christ into their lives. In a Buddhist culture heavily influenced by Hinduism, it’s important that new believers know that Christ is the only way for them to be saved, not just another god in their ‘religion rolodex’. The translator allowed me to lead them in praying for their salvation. I had to fight back tears the entire time. I would pray, the translator would translate, and they would repeat it. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. I don’t know the exact number because I wasn’t keeping count, but we think there were about 12 men in the group that accepted Christ today.

I can’t describe the feelings of reverence, joy, and honor that I feel after being able to witness those men accept Christ. I got to be an instrument of God’s love today, and I was blessed with being able to lead people in praying the most important prayer of their entire lives. It was so incredibly awesome. God is so good!

I can’t even imagine what else God has in store for our team while we are here. Please keep our team in your prayers as we are still adjusting to the culture here. Also, please pray for more energy as we are working the fields for God’s kingdom. Whether we are planting the seed, fertilizing it, or reaping the harvest, we are truly blessed to be here with the sole mission of doing God’s work.

Thanks for all of the support and praise God for the awesome things He’s doing!

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What’s The Point? http://ywammontana.org/whats-the-point/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=whats-the-point http://ywammontana.org/whats-the-point/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:07:03 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3400 I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I could feel the pain in her heart.  Her mouth showed signs of drug abuse, with stained and missing teeth.  As my friend from YWAM Cheb asked her a question in Czech I picked out and understood one word of her answer.

Pět.

Five.

It was the number of my room on the eighth floor of the “Blue Tower” where we were saying in Cheb, Czech Republic. I had to know the number so I could get the key to my room.  It was the only number I knew in the Czech language at that time.

I knew what she was referring to by this one word.

She had five children.

I looked at her dark brown eyes and the glittery pink eye-shadow painted on her lids.  The pink sparkles gave some sort of facade of innocence and joy.

What a lie.

She was standing on the street waiting for a customer to buy her.  Buy her body, buy her time, buy her value.  She looked for a lost soul to try and buy what cannot be bought because she had five mouths to feed and humanity had put a price on the priceless.  So she gave that price what she had.  There was a lie fed to her that it was all she had to offer.

I wanted to hate everyone who had ever hurt her; her pimp, her customers; whoever it may be.  But God had gotten to me before the hatred.  He placed His heart in my heart about two months before.  He had given me compassion for every man who was trapped in the emptiness of searching for love and lust with currency.  I wanted to help them too.  Though it was harder to find, my compassion and heart for the traffickers and the buyers was just as deep as for the victims of this horrific crime humanity commits against itself.  Because in truth, everyone involved is a victim.

There wasn’t much I could get translated to her because my Czech contact spoke very limited English.  I could not think of a thing to say to her, she was the first prostitute I had ever spoken to.

What could I give her?  How could I change her world?

I am powerless.

I gave her a hug. I smiled at her.  I tried to convey with my eyes what could not be said with words; language barrier or not.  I wanted her to know that there was a Love that was better than life.  I desired her to understand there was a Hope and a future that did not consist of the hell she had been living in.

About a month later I was standing on the street talking with two teenage Czech girls.  They were out for a smoke on their break from school.  One of my team members, our translator and I had been speaking with them for awhile.  We had presented ourselves as students from America and Canada with a survey for them.  They were willing, but not interested.  That is, until we went deeper.

We talked about the possibility of heaven and hell.

I asked if there was a definite answer if they would want to know.  One girl jumped on it with an enthusiastic ‘Ano! (Yes!)’.  The other was more hesitant.

I took the first girl’s answer and headed into a series of questions.

I asked the girls – through my translator – how they would feel if someone had died for them, and in that death this person had paid for all the bad things they had done and insured for them that they would get to heaven.

They both said they would feel bad about it.

I asked them if it was an act of love if they could accept it more easily.

They said it would be easier, but still, no one should do that for them.

I asked them if they could be with this person after they died, would they want to be.

They both gave a definite ‘yes’.

I couldn’t help smiling as they said yes to Jesus before they even knew it.  Their souls were crying out for a love this good.

I then said, “What if I could tell you that someone did do this for you?”

I watched as the translation into their language reached their ears.  They’re eyes were wide and searching.  They wanted to know; was I speaking the truth?

I saw the beauty and life in the words I spoke.  I realized that the love I was presenting to these young girls was a love that by common phrase would be call “too good to be true”, except it is true.

I have been a Christian my whole life, but I’m not sure I realized how desperately people want what I believe in, until that moment.

I noticed I had a burning passion to say yes to this wonderful Savior that loved me – it was all I had ever wanted – even though I had said yes a long time ago.  I felt like I had convinced myself to believe in Jesus, even though I already believed.

I have always been worried about pushing Jesus on people.  So many people will tune you out the moment you mention Jesus, because they think of a religion soaked in rules without freedom.  But as I presented Jesus to the people of Czech Republic and let the truth of His grace, love and all that He is display itself, I realized I didn’t have to try and make being a follower of Jesus look attractive.  It already was.  Human error is what makes Christianity look so uninviting.  Jesus bought us for freedom. We are free.

I once heard someone say that trying to defend God is like trying to defend a lion; all you have to do is open the cage door and stand aside.   It’s true.  When we stop trying to shove God in a box that fits into our limited understanding people see the unending majesty of our King.

What’s the point?

In the moments that I stood on the streets in the city of Cheb telling souls about Jesus, my Savior, and His love, I saw that what I had been trying so hard to be right and perfect – the whole imagine of being a ‘good Christian’ – was not only not the point, but also not what I wanted.   It was simpler.  It was more beautiful than works.  It was grace. It was love.  It was what I wanted.

So as I stood before prostitutes and others who were searching, I could offer them a hope.  I could hand them what had been handed to me; free salvation.  I knew that I could completely stand behind what I was telling them, because I didn’t have a check list for them to fill out once they knew the Truth.

I didn’t care if – or want, honestly – the prostitute to become a ‘good Christian’ or the girls on the street to feel like they had to go to confessionals and services to fill out a Christian ‘to do’ list.

I want them to be free. I want them to know true, pure love. I want them to know Jesus.

That is it.

That is the point.

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Transition – Standing on the Solid Rock http://ywammontana.org/transition-standing-solid-rock/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transition-standing-solid-rock http://ywammontana.org/transition-standing-solid-rock/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:39:32 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3395 As one starts out in life, in the real world of adulthood post-college, life could be described simply as transitional. It’s the transition from studying to working, from borrowing to paying, from renting to owning, and from flakiness to commitment. It’s a time where one is already an adult, but not yet living out the extent of what that entails – slowly and by the grace of God eventually being conformed to fully living out all of which their new social identity includes. It’s living in a state of transition.

The transition mindset is one that is either looking ahead and anticipating what is to come, or dwelling behind on what has been. It is not wholly focused on the present, but in a constant state of transition. Our culture today has labeled this mentality as not being present, a negative connotation, but is it actually negative? Apart from Jesus, yes, but in Christ, this is not negative at all; I would actually regard it as commanded.

As a follower of Jesus, our lives are also lived in transition. We are living presently in a fallen world, being conformed daily more and more into the image of Christ, and anticipating the glory to come of eternity in the presence of God, worshiping Him.

 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

There is never a settling of permanence, because we are merely sojourners in a land not our Home awaiting our Savior to usher us into the eternal Kingdom.

In this life when we go through change it often results in a lot of stress, confusion, and shakiness; that’s expected, because Christians are made for the permanence that is glorifying God – who is unchanging, unshakable, and eternal.  When transition hits, there may be temptation to give heart to the anxieties of change, but for the Christian – there is permanence in the Unchanging. When this life brings occasions of transition, one can fix their eyes behind to the finished work of Calvary and ahead the promise of redemption, focused on eternity, and the one permanence that we can stand on: Christ the Solid Rock.

Living in transition is a great reminder for the saint that our physical state is indeed temporal (2 Corinthians 5:1-5), and the only thing permanent and unchanging is God himself. It is a time to offer praises to God as the Solid Rock, who is working through us the transition of being conformed into his image of perfection and wholeness (Romans 8:29) – which one day will be completed to the glory of God (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

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Bringing Hope to the Darkest Places http://ywammontana.org/bringing-hope-darkest-places/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bringing-hope-darkest-places http://ywammontana.org/bringing-hope-darkest-places/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:30:55 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3377 While watching mopeds zip by on one of Chiang Rai’s busiest streets, I wait to meet Kelli at a café. Kelli is the founder of Ezekiel Rain, a ministry committed to bringing restoration to children rescued from sex trafficking. Kelli walks through the door, we order coffee, and before getting into the details of her ministry’s construction project, she begins telling her story. Kelli, a wife and mother in her mid-thirties, started Ezekiel Rain with her husband and another couple four years prior. They moved from the midwest, leaving behind prestigious business careers, to establish this ministry in the northern mountains of Thailand. It seemed like a random career change until Kelli explained further.

When Kelli was in her twenties, she and her husband vacationed in Thailand.What they saw was unexpected and made a lasting impact in their lives. In the early 2000s, the sex trade in Thailand was thriving and blatant. Kelli recounts a day when she was sitting in a café much like the one we were meeting in now. She saw two young girls at a table sitting opposite older gentlemen. While the men read their newspapers, the girls stared intently at Kelli, and tears began streaming down their faces. Kelli recalls how everything in her wanted to grab the girls and take them away. Rescue them. At that moment, there was little she could do beyond crying and praying. Ten years later, her family has moved to Thailand, established Ezekiel Rain, and I am meeting with them to discuss expanding their ministry.

I tell you this story because I think back on it often, and I am moved. I cannot think about Kelli’s story and not be touched and inspired. God is showing me that He is bringing hope to some of the darkest places. Through my work, I am blessed to be a small part of re-establishing this hope. God is using Kelli and her organization to do marvelous things – like give new life to children. What is even more miraculous is that it doesn’t end with Kelli. There are so many people doing marvelous things everywhere you look – from the shady corners of Thailand to America’s suburbs. I am inspired by each of them and honored to work alongside a handful.

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Hidden with Christ http://ywammontana.org/hidden-christ/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hidden-christ http://ywammontana.org/hidden-christ/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 17:52:00 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3369 January 3rd,

I woke up early on a Friday morning and took a train from Michigan to Montana. The train ride lasted over forty hours which gave me plenty of time to question what the heck I was doing. I quit a job I had held for too long, sold a vehicle I loved, and would soon be signing over the house I purchased a year prior to my brother. I didn’t tell anybody at the time but I had been struggling with depression for a while. At that time I had no desire to live but still somehow found myself on the train that day.

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

Lecture phase was a time for healing. It was also a time of rediscovering the truths I once held onto so tightly. I had forgotten my identity but our Father is patient. It took time for the shame to wash away but soon enough I began to live again in the joy and peace that can only be found in Christ. His perfect loves amazes me. It doesn’t matter how far you have strayed his love for you is the same. People all around the world are looking for a love like this. They are searching but are coming up short. There is nothing on earth that will satisfy their hunger and thirst the way our Savior can.

People in Costa Rica wanted to hear about Jesus. They were hungry for him. We had very diverse ministry opportunities during our two month stay; Bible distribution, feeding the homeless, serving in nursing homes, working with children and single moms, a radio broadcast, service projects, park/street/beach evangelism, and more. It was an outreach packed with opportunities to love on people and be Christ-like examples to them.

One of my favorite moments came during a day of Bible distribution. Going from house to house I began to feel discouraged. That particular day it felt like what we were doing wasn’t making any real impact. So what changed? Eventually we reached a house and it was my turn to knock and hand out the bible. When the homeowner answered the door I told her what we were doing and asked if I could pray for her. She immediately broke down in tears. She was a mother and a wife but her husband wasn’t always around for her and their children. As she was sharing God gave me some words to encourage her. At the end of our ministry time that day our translator revealed to us that she had been praying for God to speak to her minutes before we came to her door.

Moments like that made it worth coming to Costa Rica for. A reminder that God can use you as long as you are willing to be used and that His love for His children is greater than we can ever imagine.

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God’s Perfect Peace http://ywammontana.org/gods-perfect-peace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gods-perfect-peace http://ywammontana.org/gods-perfect-peace/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:50:07 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3238 God’s perfect use of timing and testimonies is something I’ll never be able to comprehend, and I’m alright with that. Prior to my DTS lecture phase, God was working on removing shame from a certain part of my testimony. Part of my testimony that I kept a secret, until this past summer (2013), when I told some of my close friends. God is still working on that now, with me taking this step and putting it out there, where family, friends, and other people will see.

For years I had called myself a Christian, but lived a life opposite of such. Along with calling myself a Christian, I smoked a hefty amount of weed. I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I knew it was wrong, but was totally content with living the double life and didn’t want to hear all the criticisms. It got to the point where I would go to church high, or leave church early to smoke. It was a constant in my life and something that I could control. Something that was there to bring me peace, when nothing else in my life did. I assumed that everyone in my high school either hated me or had preconceived beliefs about me. It wasn’t a place where I could find peace. Having split parents wasn’t a place where I could go to find peace. The only place I could find peace was when I was alone and had a piece in my hand.

For a long time, even though I had quit smoking and had changed to living a God-centered lifestyle, I was still ashamed of my actions. God brought me through a season of showing me that, yes it was wrong, and no that wasn’t what He intended for me, but God still loved me and still wanted to use me for His kingdom.

I didn’t know why God wanted to remove the shame and have me be comfortable with sharing this portion of my testimony….

until I met Jorge. 

The other day, we went to downtown Heredia, Costa Rica to do some street evangelism. We spent the first half of the morning walking around in small groups to just see what God had for us and the people of Costa Rica. We later met up at the park to share some testimonies and for the girls to perform their dance. After the dance, we continued to talk to the people in the park. Thinking my day was done, I nonchalantly walked over to the trash can to throw something away.

There was a group of homeless men sitting there that I had seen earlier so I just said my embarrassingly, american-accented “hola”. One man turned to me and asked in english where I was from. I told him the United States. He kindly pulled me away from the other men and started downloading his life to me. How he had lived in Chicago, New York, and Miami for parts of his life. He told me about all of the drugs he did and all of the sad, hard times he has had. He then told me he has smoked weed for 30 years. And out of all the drugs he’s done, that’s the only one he can’t quit. I asked if I could pray for God to rid him of his addictions and he said “please”. So I did. When I got to praying against the addiction to weed, I asked God what it was. “Why does Jorge, need marijuana?” All of the sudden, I was filled with this anxiety that I had known all too well. I asked Jorge if he smokes to get peace. He started to tear up. “Yes,” he said. I then told him my testimony involving weed. I told him that I have so much more peace with God, then I ever could have had with weed. God brings peace, not weed. I asked him if he wanted the same peace that I had. He instantly said “Yes!” I told him that God wants to give him that peace, and that it is going to change his entire life. That he will be able to spend eternity in peace. I then told him, that if he does this, there’s no looking back, he’s going to have to get rid of his drugs and fully commit to this new life with Jesus. His next response was not something I expected to hear when I first walked over to that trash can, “I’m ready, I want the God peace.”

I then had the privilege of praying a new brother into the kingdom. Jorge will be spending eternity in peace. A full, complete, and true peace. A peace we can’t find in anything else on this earth.

A peace that only our One, True, Heavenly Father can give us. God’s Perfect Peace.

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The Love Of A Father http://ywammontana.org/love-father/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=love-father http://ywammontana.org/love-father/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:00:26 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3218 At 30,000 feet my head finally felt clear. This was an abnormal feeling for my introverted self. I was surrounded by people, closely squeezed in on a Boeing 747, and yet I felt at peace. Looking through the little glass window brought a smile to my face. I inhaled and exhaled slowly and fully. As I thought back over the last few months, and dreamed of what was to come, I was in awe. I never would have thought that my life would be like this. I had never really known what exactly I wanted to do with myself, but this definitely exceeded my expectations.

I was flying high above the puffy white clouds and headed to Mexico. I had never left the country before. Goodness, I had never even left the West Coast before. But here I was, on a two month journey across the border. The unknown was present and daunting.

Up to this point my life had been a mess of broken emotions and frustrations. I grew up in a Christian home and knew God and all the rules of do’s and don’t’s that come with it. But I didn’t KNOW Him. I constantly struggled with not being good enough. I believed I was a failure, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Compared to everyone else, my list of mistakes seemed much shorter. I had never been drunk, didn’t touch any sort of drug, didn’t mess around with guys, obeyed my parents, and yet I still wasn’t satisfied. I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. I still sat on my bedroom floor and cried for hours. I still didn’t feel God near to me. I never doubted that He was out there, but I believed I had to earn it for Him to be near to me. I just couldn’t do it.

This pattern of life hung onto me as I began DTS. I knew I was weak; I knew I was insecure. I was frustrated and desperate for answers. I knew there had to be more to my relationship with God. There had to be, right? I was on the edge of revelation, either good or bad. Looking back I can see that what happened in those five months truly changed my life  for the better.

About halfway through our lecture phase it came to the point where I finally had to make a choice. I had wrestled with God and the truth He spoke about my identity for too long . I wrestled with the idea that I didn’t have to earn God’s love. People would praise me and I would brush it off, unwilling to believe I had worth. And then one day, it clicked. I realized that I could either continue this life that I was living, and believe my own truth, or I could say enough and begin walking in God’s truth. It sounds so simple and easy, but when you live your life a certain way for twenty years, it makes it hard to break the habit. On that day I chose to no longer believe the lies that had surrounded me for so long. I decided to close my ears off to the lies that had been whispered into me for so many years; lies of condemnation, shame, and lies about never being good enough. I took a stand and chose to believe what God had spoken to me, that I am His beloved child ­ wanted and desired because of who I am, not because of what I do.

My life will never be the same.

Our two months in Mexico wrecked me even more. This trip was nothing like I thought it would be, but nonetheless God did an incredible work. My wounds from my past were still fresh, my heart still tender, but God held me close and didn’t let me go. For the first time in my life I understood that God is my Father; He is my daddy and I am His little girl. I didn’t have to work for it, I didn’t have to earn it or convince Him to give His love to me. It had been there the whole time, waiting for me to accept it. On that ordinary day I said no to the lies and burdens I had carried for so long and took hold of the love that God was giving me. I didn’t realize then just how much that decision would change my life.

Don’t get me wrong, this journey hasn’t ended yet. Every day I still have to remind myself of this truth and the decision I made. I still don’t understand everything, and I still have many struggles. But when I remind myself of everything that happened in DTS I remember that I am a different woman because of it. I remember that I have to choose HIM. Every day He says, “You are my beloved child.” When the world tries to take me under, I can rest in the secure embrace of my father. His freedom, healing and love wash over me in ways I’ve never experienced before. It’s been a hard, tough journey, but it’s been the best one I’ve ever been on.

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Always Good http://ywammontana.org/always-good/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=always-good http://ywammontana.org/always-good/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 17:00:26 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3185 Sometimes in our lives we are faced with circumstances that would not be considered our ideal. When we plan out what we want our lives to look like, seldom it includes walking through difficult things, and actually seldom our plan includes even moments that are among the greatest we have lived. I don’t know of a person who would plan their ideal life saying: “Oh, I think that when I’m in my twenties I’ll include _____  that sounds marvelous and life-giving, and I know I’ll really glorify God through it.”

It’s not what I planned… but something that I am learning is that His plan is actually much better than mine. His timing is better. His pace is better. And He includes lessons and moments in His decree that are far better than anything I could conjure up in my finite mind: because He is good, and apart from Him, I am not.

So, do I actually believe this? In the midst of the difficult things, I’m not going to lie and say I always believe that what I am going through is ultimately for good. I see the depravity of my behaviors, my thoughts, my motives, and all I can see is sin

I’ve actually been very discouraged lately; I am even finding myself questioning the goodness of the Lord-the sovereign goodness of God that I have been reading about consistently for almost six months now… because all I can see is my problem.

We assume that once we commit ourselves to following Jesus that everything is going to get better. I struggled with _____ (fill in the blank) before I knew Jesus four years ago, stuff like that is expected from a non-Christian; but a Christian who battles this… is that even possible?

Yes, it is possible. And it happens when our eyes unfix our gaze from the finished work on the cross. See, right now all I am able to see before me is my problem: I have lowered my gaze from the cross to the world and I have lost sight of the hope and the life that is found in being a Christian. No wonder I don’t see any good: I’m not looking at anything good.

Hebrews 11 begins, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Being a Christian is fixing our gaze, in faith, at the unseen.

I am a firm believer in the absolute sovereignty of God, working all things for the good of His elect, and ultimately to provide Him the most glory. It was mentioned to me recently, relating to a popular theological debate among us SBS students, how the concept of believing in the absolute sovereignty of God can give ground for skewed understanding of man’s role in relation to that, and thus result in behavior that is not consistent. Determinism is appealing in that it perceives to take away man’s responsibility for any action- “for it’s God’s will,” and give man the perception of having no obligation to walk out holiness in their life- “for God is working for good regardless.” Free will is appealing in that it gives man a perceived control, which appears as if ultimately man is in control of his life and decisions. I think that its unsafe to land on either extreme, or there will likely result behavior that is dictated by this theological misconception, or in other words: the book of James was incredibly correct if summarized as: “you behave according to what you believe.”

I believe that God is indeed working for good, and that it is Him who is in control, but with that we are given responsibility to walk it out. (Which I conclude is actually God doing it through our doing.) My favorite theologian, Jonathan Edwards, states it this way in his Writings on the Trinity, Grace, and Faith:

“In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, and we act all. For that is what he produces, that is, our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors.

We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active. In the Scriptures the same things are represented as from God and from us. God is said to convert, and men are said to convert and turn. God makes a new heart, and we are commanded to make us a new heart.

God circumcises the heart, and we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts; not merely because we must use the means in order to the effect, but the effect itself is our act and our duty. These things are agreeable to that text, ‘God worketh in you both to will and to do.’ (Philippians 2:13)”

I know that the good might be the lessons that others learn through witnessing the struggle, or walking besides us on the rough days: pointing to the Bread of Life. It might be the testimony that will once bear after having overcome. It might just be a daily lament before the presence of the Lord, giving His children what is always best: Himself.

I am, though, proclaiming to you today that I love Christ; I know He is actively working in my life, I know He is worthy of all of my life, and I know He is still good. Oh, how He is good.
With Christ in me, equipped by the Holy Spirit, I am equipped to live a completely sinless life in the Spirit. But I know that’s not going to happen, because I am not glorified yet. I am still sojourning in the world that is not my home, corrupt and fallen, but at the same time perfectly righteous before God. Why? Tension.

Look to none other than the Apostle Paul here in Romans 7: 14-25,

“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Paul recognized that there was a spiritual tension going on. His heart was filled with the Holy Spirit, he resolved good, but his body was a product of this world and a servant of the flesh. What then? How can you overcome such battle? This may sound elementary here, but I do have an answer for you: Jesus.

Because of what Jesus accomplished in his sacrificial death on the cross, I do have victory. Every day that my flesh wins the battle, I know that there is grace because Christ has won the war. He rose again defeating sin and death, and it was only through the sin of man crucifying Him, the most wicked of sins ever committed to my regard, that there is this goodness. The ultimate good was secured eternity for God’s chosen people, promised life with God forever; and it was only through sin that it could have been accomplished- the sin of man crucifying Jesus, God the Son.

With that, I know that despite the most-wicked of sins, there is always goodness for those who love God. There is always good, because God has promised to work all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. So who am I to define goodness in my finite regard to struggling or not struggling in life in our unglorified bodies? I’m a daughter of God, that’s who I am; and I know that God is good, God is totally in control, and I am totally secure in His promise of full sanctification on my last day. There is victory…there has been since three days after Jesus was crucified. All glory to God.

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Originality and Failure http://ywammontana.org/originality-failure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=originality-failure http://ywammontana.org/originality-failure/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 21:51:03 +0000 http://ywammontana.org/?p=3174 The thought of creating always brings a sense of trepidation. Even as I type this short prose on my laptop, I am filled with consternation. Why do I have any fear over writing a short article? Perhaps the source of unease is from eating that day-old sandwich too quickly which now, an hour later, is distracting me. Or maybe there are just too many brilliant thoughts inundating my mind. More likely, it is that all-too-familiar fear of failure. As many have already discovered, failure should not prevent anyone from moving forward. In fact, when an endeavor results in what seems like failure, it ought to be embraced as being part of the process to create or become something original.

When he was given a solid block of marble, Michelangelo could have considered the risk that he might fail, saying while shrinking back, “It really is a perfect piece of stone anyway.” Instead, though he knew that one wrong move could ruin the statue-in-process, he moved forward with the confidence that he could see the statue within the stone and created works such as his David sculpture. As perfect as this masterpiece appears at first glance, however, it becomes evident that the body parts of the statue are disproportionate—for instance, the right hand is larger than the left. This was a technique Michelangelo intentionally used to give the figure a dynamic look, making it unique just as the physical features of each individual truly are.

I have long understood the idea that imperfection and failure do not disqualify me from being a good musician, speaker, leader, or human being. Albeit this fear has continually kept me from doing, well, just about anything—and all the while, the choice is mine whether to give in to fear or to live in victory. I was again faced with this choice when I went on a two-month trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti with with a team of 20 other people last December. This presented a number of challenges: safety, unity, and uncertainty of what the conditions would be like in La Hispaniola Island, to name a few. Reality, it seems, often goes beyond even one’s most vivid imagination, and I learned that firsthand when the circumstances of our outreach turned out much worse than I anticipated.

We had arrived fully prepared to teach english, run health classes, and hold events in different parks, most of these events fell through due to issues beyond our control. Problems with our team’s physical health began within the first week. My hand blew up like an inflated latex glove when I was stung by a bee. The sting was incurred while clearing away foliage at the YWAM base where our team was staying in Azua, DR. Another teammate was the recipient of several such bee stings. Thankfully, her reaction was not as severe as mine. In the middle of our “open air” events in the park, the electricity would spontaneously cut out and we could not attract a large crowd. Such challenges are easy enough to endure, but the worst was yet to come. About one month into the trip, the team travelled to Haiti. Within days, virtually the whole team was overtaken by vomiting and diarrhea. These setbacks made it extremely difficult to be effectively involved in the work projects and revival meetings we were scheduled to help with. Complicating matters even further was the sad reality that hospitals in Haiti are poorly-equipped to handle malignant illness.

Everything we had planned turned out to be either completely different than what we expected or fell apart entirely. I instinctively wondered, “Was all of this a complete waste of time?” Much of what we came to do, we simply did not do. The remainder of our time in Haiti was cut short due to illness. Yet at the same time, the trip was immensely successful. The way the team met each other’s needs and encouraged one another in the midst of sickness was a living example of the Church in action not only to ourselves but to those around us. As soon as a team member recovered, he or she was back in action immediately. When technical problems arose, as they frequently did, everyone quickly adapted and kept the focus on caring for the people we were there to minister to. In that way, our work there was incredibly engineered, as only God can do. Through word and deed, the life-giving message Jesus offers was spread either through organized functions or individual connections.

Originality is often accompanied by failure. As C.S. Lewis writes, perfection is not the first step, for “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas, if you simply try to tell the truth…you will…become original without ever having noticed it… Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.” God did not wait for us to adjust our behavior to save us (see Romans 5:8). To walk in the freedom He promises, we must give up trying to make ourselves into something original and let God take over the endeavor no matter how messy it appears. We do not have the whole picture, but we must trust that God does. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, ESV). This is not some quaint platitude, this is the cost of becoming the true original you were made to be.

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