What I Learned About God Through a Game of Golf

I recently celebrated my 24th Birthday here in Montana, which is something entirely different than what I’m used to in Long Island N.Y (shout-out). My best friend Patrick (also, shout-out) kindly took me to go golfing. Being the old man that I am now, this sounded like the perfect day. Just my best friend and I on the course, perfect weather, great conversation, and the excitement of driving a gas powered golf cart for four hours. Patrick has a strong background in golf, with over 50+ golf games under his belt, top notch clubs, and the kid lives on a golf course back in Florida. Me? I’m a master at mini-golf and this one time I drove the ball over 150 yards. Anyway, I thought I could hold my own. I mean, how hard could it be?

So the time was finally here and we get to the course after finishing our homework for the week. I remember the anticipation being overwhelming. We practice for a few minutes, retrieve the keys for our cart, drive to the first hole, place the ball on the tee, wind up and….WHAM. The ball slices far right and nearly hits the couple on the next hole.

I slowly turn around and BAM, the beauty of God’s creation hits me.

It’s fine, it’s fine…first hole, right? I brush it off, we head to the second hole. I place the ball on the tee wind up and….DING. Ball slices far left. This goes on for the rest of the game. At this point I’m furious, and begin to question why I would ever want to go golfing, is it even worth it? Yeah the golf cart is fun but, after a while, I contemplated driving it into the creek. Finally after 4 hours of torture, mean words and a thrown golf club or two, we arrive at the last hole. Same scenario, I walk up to the tee, place my ball down, wind up and…”Wait, look at that view!” I slowly turn around and BAM, the beauty of God’s creation hits me. Mountains and mountains, big blue sky, large crystal clear lake and in the midst of it all…the presence of God.

It wasn’t until my first real tribulation that I realized this walk with God is hard.

Christianity seems to have a similar theme. When first becoming a Christian at the age of 16, this was the expectation I had – that it would be easy sailing from then on. A golf cart ride everyday, peaceful, exciting and easy. It wasn’t until my first real tribulation that I realized this walk with God is hard, and the golf cart isn’t going very fast. I was ridiculed for my faith, family situations were a constant issue and questioning if this is what I actually wanted had become routine. Was it worth it?

There will always be hardships in life, things that push you past your comfort-ability and question your faith. There will always be people that are more skilled than you or have different gifts and there will always be times when you simply want to quit. Being a Christian never came with promises of an easy life, rather Jesus warns his children to expect the opposite. For example, John 16:33 says “in this world you will have tribulation…but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

That small encounter of God’s presence on the golf course changed everything about my day. I can only imagine what eternal life with Him will be like.

You may be on this golf cart that seems as if it’s going nowhere, you might be playing the game of life thinking that it’s just way too difficult to go any further. But, if there’s one key thing that I learned on the golf course, it’s that the end is worth it. Yeah, I may have had a couple of bad shots but who doesn’t? If we define our lives by the bad shots that we take, we miss the fascinating message of grace and love. That small encounter of God’s presence on the golf course changed everything about my day. I can only imagine what eternal life with Him will be like. If you feel like you’re on this same ride, please, please, please don’t give up! Because I promise you that the view at the end will be everything and more. It’s worth it.

If you feel like this walk with God is more difficult than you expected, come join us for a Discipleship Training School to learn how to rely on God in the midst of the challenges!

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What If God Stays Silent?

The silence feels devastating.

If I lack these things when God speaks, you can probably guess how my heart is when I feel He is silent.

There have been moments in my life where God speaks so clearly to me. I find myself either thankful for His words or not happy because I wanted to hear something else. I have prayed the same prayer over and over again in hopes that He will speak differently. It’s such a selfish way to pray. It’s like I pray for confirmation or assurance, but never for truth. I have come to realize that God does not change His mind. God is constant. And when I doubt, it’s not because He is changing His mind but because I completely lack trust, faith, and peace. If I lack these things when God speaks, you can probably guess how my heart is when I feel He is silent.

Silence is what I have been struggling with for a while now. I pray and pray, and hear nothing. Or I pray and hear all things, giving me absolutely no confidence or direction. It has been so frustrating! I am one who thrives on wisdom,  I absolutely love it! And when I feel like I am desperately seeking it and find nothing, I truly don’t know how to move forward. I began asking many questions during what felt like silence from God, the main one being:

“If God is not speaking, how do I know whether I am walking in obedience or disobedience?”

In the past, I spent way too many years living in disobedience and falling further and further into sin, which has made me fear falling into disobedience again. So this incessant need for God to speak began to consume my prayers and fill my heart with such confusion.

I looked back at the beginning of this “silence” I felt and found that God was doing something the whole time.

But, there’s something I have finally come to realize (mostly by studying the Bible):  God speaks not only through words, but even more so through action! The other day I looked back at the beginning of this “silence” I felt and found that God was doing something the whole time. I see now that He was teaching me, He was helping me to grow, and He was humbling me. I do not get to live as an entitled daughter to a beautiful God. I do not get to believe that I deserve His answers and understanding whenever I ask for them. I do not get to victimize myself when I don’t feel him speaking, because the truth is He never stops speaking!  The reality is that I just didn’t trust that He could be working in my life even when I felt I heard nothing.

Proverbs 3:5 “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

God MAKES straight our paths if we surrender control. It doesn’t say He will tell us how, it just says He will do it.

If God wasn’t “silent” (and when I say “silent” I mean in regards to me hearing Him) then I would have never looked up to see Him at work. And He deserves that! So I acknowledge Him now and forever! I acknowledge that even when I hear nothing, I know He is speaking through His actions.

I am not alone. I am not unheard. He is always moving.

The “silence” is crucial.

Does God feel silent to you?  Come join us for a Discipleship Training School and learn how to recognize that God is always moving and speaking!

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Is Perfectionism Hindering You From Sharing the Gospel?

About halfway through my Discipleship Training School outreach, my team spent a week in a Cambodian village (during Khmer New Year). It’s a week I won’t forget. In the mornings, we usually walked to houses in the village, visiting and talking with people. If we visited with Christians, we prayed and encouraged them. If we visited with those who didn’t know Jesus, we asked if we could share about Him. Sharing Jesus is where I struggled.

    Perfection complicates sharing the gospel, and I’m still learning to let go and replace it with trust in God. Through outreach, Jesus was teaching me to trust Him and His Holy Spirit in everything I do. A verse that He highlighted to me was Romans 11:36 which says, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

I forgot that He saved me through His grace – not anything I did – and He saves others the same way.

    Before my DTS, sharing the gospel was a terrifying idea. I told myself that it needed to be perfect because if I missed something, or made a mistake, I would prevent the person from accepting Christ. When given the opportunity to share the gospel, I held back and allowed others to step forward. I mistakenly thought that my human flaws were too great for God to overcome. I forgot that He saved me through His grace – not anything I did – and He saves others the same way.

    One day, we visited with a woman who was a believer, and her mother-in-law, who was not a believer. Her mother-in-law was very sick, so we prayed for her. Afterwards, one of my teammates shared the gospel and asked if she wanted to accept Christ. She said yes, and we led her in a simple prayer. It was incredible! Jesus saved someone and I got to be a part of it! Yet…I walked away skeptical. Was her prayer genuine? Did she understand what she was doing?

    We continued on to the house of another believer. After encouraging her, we shared the gospel with her sister-in-law, who also decided to accept Christ. We celebrated and praised Jesus for using us in two salvations in one day! But, I continued to struggle with doubt. The enemy spoke lies and said things like, “it’s not that simple…there must be more than saying yes and a prayer.”

I might not know how Jesus has worked or will work in a person’s life, but I am blessed to have a part in their salvation!

    After a morning of feeling challenged with evangelism, Jesus reminded me that the gospel is simple; it can change a person’s life in five minutes. I might not know how Jesus has worked or will work in a person’s life, but I am blessed to have a part in their salvation!

    Thankfully, God is greater than my mistakes and grace and salvation come from Him. He is the One who saves, not me. I still struggle with sharing the gospel, but the more I share the easier it becomes as I learn to rely on God more. Each time I listen to and obey Jesus, sharing the gospel brings joy and freedom to me and to those around me.  

*Editor’s note: We believe salvation is the beginning of the process of following God. When we send our outreach teams out, we always make sure to serve alongside long-term workers so anyone our teams lead to the Lord will be followed up with and discipled.

If you would like to learn more about letting go of perfectionism and trusting God to work through you, come join us for a Discipleship Training School!!

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What Led Me to do a DTS

It wasn’t until I was nineteen that I actually gave my life to the Lord. I had grown up in church and had plenty of opportunities to hear about Him, but my life was transformed when I “met Jesus” and had a real encounter with Him at nineteen. I couldn’t believe that I had missed out on the awesomeness that was life with Jesus for so long. I had heard about Him my whole life, but there was something completely different between knowing about Jesus and actually knowing Jesus! I was determined that other people needed to know Him like I knew Him.

It was after giving my life to the Lord that I heard about places and people who have never heard about Jesus before. I had grown up hearing about Him all the time, but many people have never gone to a worship service, heard the name of Jesus, or even had someone pray for them. I was shocked (and I still am amazed) at the reality of our world 2,000 years after Jesus rose from the dead. There remain places where literally hundreds of millions of people in the world do not yet know who Jesus is! I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. So I asked God, “What can I do?”

I wanted to be a part of the answer of reaching those people who had never heard His name.

It wasn’t because of a specific teaching or message that I heard about missions and the great need overseas – I just had this desire in me. I can’t explain it, and I didn’t know how to satisfy it. I just knew there was a need and I had to do something. God’s answer to the question, “What can I do?” was missions. I never had a great “call” or “the heavens split open” kind of sign, just a deep desire to fulfill God’s dream that everyone would hear the gospel. I knew I wanted to do missions but had no idea where to start.

I was in college and at the point when I needed to choose a degree, and God just kept highlighting missions. One of my closest friends and mentors knew what I was thinking through and suggested I look into a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I had no idea what it was – I just knew I needed to respond to this longing inside of me to go. I wanted to be a part of the answer of reaching those people who had never heard His name.

When you don’t know where God is leading you, continue to trust Him.

I took a semester off of school and did a DTS. It was absolutely life changing. I spent three months being trained and equipped, then two months overseas on outreach. After my DTS, I moved to Southeast Asia and volunteered with YWAM. God is doing amazing things among the nations and I have seen His dream of people hearing His truth coming true. Before my Discipleship Training School, I was struggling with what I was going to do with my life. After my time in Southeast Asia, I knew I wanted to serve overseas so I went back to my university with more clarity and motivation and finished my degree in International Studies. Since graduating, I have been serving with YWAM both in Southeast Asia and in the States. I’m so thankful for my mentor who encouraged me to pray about doing a DTS – my life has never been the same!

It is amazing to look back on my life and see how God was leading me through the various decisions I had to make. When you don’t know where God is leading you, continue to trust Him. God has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful to you as you look towards the future. For me, taking a leap of faith and doing a DTS changed my life and it will never be the same. If you are at a decision point in your own life, or feel that longing to do more, then trust Him! He may be asking you to take a leap of faith and be a part of His answer.

If you’re feeling the same call as Stephen, come join us for a DTS!

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What’s the Point Anyway?

Purpose, Joy, and Satisfaction. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we want to see produced in our lives through what we do and who we spend our time with?

I’ve thought about this ever since I could remember. As I was growing up, I can see that I attempted to try to find something, or someone, that was going to give me purpose, real joy, or satisfaction. My career choices ranged from becoming a Canadian Mountie (cops on horses… don’t ask) to being an astronaut, all the while searching for Mr. Right. These were the things I assumed would bring me purpose, joy, and satisfaction in life. However, looking deeper I realized that these things would not fulfill my desires: A job would simply be something I do, money would be something I temporarily have, a man’s brokenness together with my own brokenness would not bring fulfillment, but only more brokenness. Excuse my dreariness, but at the end of the day it all kind of seemed well… pointless.

In my 11th-12th grade years of high school I was really feeling this sense of pointlessness and I found myself asking questions like,

“What does my life actually amount to?”

“Why do I have these desires if they are impossible to obtain?”

Then, God broke onto the scene. I had been a “Christian” my whole life, but believing in Jesus didn’t make much sense to me beyond the avoidance of hell. Suddenly, the God of all creation gave me purpose by telling me that He loved me and that He had a plan for my life. A few years ago, He asked me to let go of my path to college and go do something called a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Montana for 5 months. I’ve been in Montana ever since and I’d like to share why.

I developed a relationship with Jesus and what I have discovered is that the desires I had (for a dream job, the dream guy, and the dream life) have been fulfilled in my relationship with Jesus. I now know that my purpose is to love Him and to love others, because He first loved me. I have experienced actual joy in the midst of circumstances that should only have made me hopeless, and it’s because His character is unchanging and His promises do not fail. He has become my satisfaction as I’ve come to realize that what my heart truly desired is actually Jesus. He fulfills it all. He is the only way, the only truth and the only life (John 14:6).

So what am I doing with my life?

Whatever He asks me to do. If the reason why I wanted to pursue those things in the past is already completely fulfilled in Jesus, then I have freedom to go wherever He is leading me without a fear of losing Him (who is my fulfillment).

I mess up and look to other things to fulfill me, but He faithfully brings me back to a place of remembering that it is only in Him that I am fulfilled and made whole.

I am not perfect, so I’m still learning how Jesus is my fulfillment. I mess up and look to other things to make me happy, but He faithfully brings me back to a place of remembering that it is only in Him that I am fulfilled and made whole. This is an ongoing process, but the more I look to Jesus the more I stop looking to other things. Now, whatever I do with my life, whether I someday pursue a career, get married, or live in the middle of a jungle giving the gospel to an unreached tribe, it will be centered around Christ, because He is where true fulfillment comes from.

So I want to challenge you to think about this:

Do you see Jesus as your fulfillment and purpose for what you do with your life?

Or are you trying to make what you do give you your purpose, joy, and satisfaction?

Yes! Tell me more about a Discipleship Training School:

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How Do I Know That I Can Trust God?

I have been a Christian since as long as I can remember. I was blessed to grow up in a home with two godly parents who taught me from the moment I was born that Jesus was THE answer and, more importantly, walked this out in their daily life. However, watching someone live their life for God and doing it yourself are two very different things – not to mention adopting a lifestyle that is 100% dependent on another being is, frankly, unnatural. Even as children we rebel against our parents because at the heart of all humanity is a lust for independence. Despite growing up in the church and calling myself a Christian, it took me a long time to come to a place where I truly depended on God and trusted him with everything. Honestly, I’m still working on it.

The question I had (and often still have) is, “How do I know I can trust God?” I wasn’t convinced that I could surrender everything to him and still land on my feet. How could anyone have that certainty? For me, the answer came through one of my favorite apostles, Peter. In Matthew 14, Peter steps out of a boat to walk on water towards Jesus. This is an act of faith and trust in God (because most people have a really hard time walking on water). My question is, “How did he know it was going to work?” How did Peter know he could walk on water? I’m guessing he didn’t know if he could, but he knew Jesus, he knew Jesus was good, and he knew he wanted to be with Jesus. For Peter and for us, the key to trusting God is knowing God. He stepped out of the boat because he had faith in Christ to enable him to get where he needed to be, which was by Jesus’ side.

For Peter and for us, the key to trusting God is knowing God.

For all of us this is the answer. Our faith in God is entirely dependent on our knowledge of God, which comes through proximity and intimacy with him. If you are wrestling with trusting God, I encourage you to spend time in the Bible, even if it is just a verse a day. Also, come to him in prayer. When you pray don’t make it some grand speech, just talk to God as a friend and leave time for your friend to respond – wait upon the Lord.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:4-5

Commit yourself to God, set yourself before him in the Word and in prayer. Get to know him, then you will have the faith to move and you will see him act. The more we understand him, his nature and his character, the more apt we will be to step out of the boat towards him. Step out of the boat even if, like Peter, you panic and start to sink. Jesus will be there to pull you out, save you, and set you back on solid ground or…water.

Our Discipleship Training School is a great place to learn how to trust God more.

I want to hear more about a Discipleship Training School

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Sex Is Bad – But It’s Great!


In recent years I’ve had countless conversations with Christian young people – some married and some unmarried, who have expressed a lack of conviction when it comes to sexual integrity. The difficulty has come with what their Christian circles of influence have taught them. One thing they are being told is “Sex is bad, unless you are married; then it is great.” I remember hearing this partial truth as early as the 7th grade. Sex itself is not bad and it is, in fact, great. The gaping hole in the quoted statement is the unspoken answer to “why sex is bad” outside of marriage and “why sex is great” inside the perimeters of marriage, and the following article will try to explore this tension.

Many couples I’ve conversed with have been left floundering along feeling shame for something that is not sinful nor even disrespectful within the confines of their marriages simply because they were not educated on how to be people of sexual integrity – of accepting the concept that sex is good and not bad – before their marriage, whether they saved the act of sex for marriage or not. A person needs to be given time to accept the truth that their sexuality is a created aspect of God’s image, and furthermore, that sex was a part of God’s original, perfect creation. We are hardwired for covenant relationships, not only with our Creator God but also with others who are a part of His creation. God designed marriage as a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman, and a sure benefit of that relationship is sex. When a person chooses to have sex outside of marriage they are choosing to write their own covenant rather than submit themselves to God’s design for marriage. Sexual integrity is compromised when a person does not understand the reason why they should keep safe the act of sex until they are sheltered within a covenant marriage. The idea that sex is “bad” but “great” is a confusing statement with no tangible challenge to help someone develop conviction on keeping their sexual integrity intact before and through their married lives.

You see, after God created man He offered them His blessing saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” The implications of Genesis 1:28 aren’t hard to figure out: have sex. In all of perfection God consecrated sex as a fundamental enough directive to be the first on the list. “Here we have a specific mandate to exercise human sexuality, accompanied by God’s blessing. The creation story tells us that we are both spiritual and sexual beings,” says Catharine Clark Kroeger. People are both sexual and spiritual and both aspects come with responsibility. The biggest responsibility that a person has to being both sexual and spiritual comes at the end of the creation story in Genesis 2:24-25: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Becoming one flesh, engaging in “sex as great”, isn’t an idea to be taken lightly, yet so often sex is taken lightly because that is the prominent message people seem to hear.

Sexuality isn’t shameful, but something God designed, intentioned and purposed, offering sex as something to happen within the covenant of marriage to show the world how He sets His people apart.

It is a misconception among believers and nonbelievers alike that one’s personal choices will not affect anybody else, especially if that choice is done in love of oneself or another person. The world suggests that if two people are mutually consenting to sex in their relationship there is no problem. This idea, contrary to Biblical ideals, permeates into the lives of believers, leading them to forget that Jesus not only saved from death the woman caught in adultery but also commanded that she go and sin no more. If adultery is defined by a spouse having sex with someone who is not their spouse, then believers, accordingly, need to ask themselves the question: “Am I having sex with my spouse?” The question is not, “Am I having sex with the person who will one day be my spouse?” There is a vast difference between the two questions! One seeks to be obedient while the other seeks to justify selfishness – the absolute definition of what sin is! While the world would say love exists between two consenting partners, Paul would argue no true Christian love exists when selfishness is prevalently in the forefront. When a person knows God as holy they will walk in the holiness of sexual integrity resulting from obedience being worked out through one’s faith in Christ.

Holiness, being set apart, will always be the result of obedience, and sexual integrity is how a believer stays unmistakably set apart when it comes to any cultural sexual norm. Being set apart was the whole point of the Old Testament Law to Israel fulfilled in Christ and spoken to the first century believers when Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The nature of the redemption process for a believer is to become more and more like Christ, and one cannot submit to being redeemed while living disobediently. One cannot submit to being redeemed while choosing to fulfill their sexual desires selfishly, both outside and inside the covenantal marriage relationship.

Sexuality isn’t shameful, but something God designed, intentioned and purposed, offering sex as something to happen within the covenant of marriage to show the world how He sets His people apart.

Our sexuality requires a response that includes being people of integrity, a people who will choose God in the face of compromise.

We need to stop saying that sex is bad but it’s great, and rather offer each other practical ways to keep sex between a husband and a wife (unmarried couples, think sitting on separate couches; not ideal, but effective!). We need to choose obedience in that moment when our desires are telling us to compromise. We need to be people of sexual integrity in order for the world to see the love and light of Christ in us as professing believers.

Do we value our sexuality and sex enough to be a people set apart?

Don’t Ever Let The Plate Pass By

Letting the Plate Pass By.

This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me…. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor. 11:24-25, 27-29)

This passage is familiar, often read before our monthly (more or less) participation in Communion; its sobering tone meant to guard against abuse of the Table. To be sure, the Lord’s Supper is sacred and mysterious. Self-examination postures us to receive it rightly. But I wonder if fear of judgement leads us to misapply this Scripture at times and, in fact, prevents us from taking Communion in the hour we most need it. As a teen, I watched a friend let the plate pass by because she had argued with her sister that morning and did not want to incur wrath. Years later, a close friend who was struggling with doubt withdrew from participation for over a year for the same reason. However, as the passage above also states, Communion is an act of remembrance, a biblical understanding of which shows us that it: (1) makes us participants of God’s saving acts; (2) preserves us through difficulty; and (3) offers us a sense of God’s presence. In this way, God uses the Eucharist to sustain the saints, giving grace to conquer doubt and sin. It should therefore most especially be kept by those who feel least worthy of it.


Communion as Remembrance.

It’s easy to identify what the bread and cup help us remember: Christ’s body and blood. Peter explains the significance of Christ’s body: “He himself bore our sins in his body…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). As the bread is broken in Communion, it is remembered that Christ’s giving over of his body healed our sin-problem and made a way for us to become righteous. Further, the cup reminds believers of Christ’s blood, which Jesus specifies as the blood of the “new” covenant, indicating his inauguration of it. Jeremiah describes the new covenant as one where: (1) God writes his law on hearts; (2) all of God’s people know him; (3) and he forgives their sins. Thus the cup, representing Christ’s blood, reminds us that we are participants in the new covenant, meaning obedience is possible, knowledge of God is accessible, and sin is forgiven!


What Does it Mean to Remember?

But the question remains: how does remembering the body and blood through the elements help believers conquer sin and doubt? And should it be avoided when one becomes aware of shortcoming? This is where a biblical understanding of what it means to remember helps: remembering as participation, preservation and presence.

First, participation. The Catholic Catechism says that the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events, but that in the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. The witness of Scripture affirms this. Israelite children were taught to remember God’s historical salvations by participating in them. When each generation asked about Passover’s meaning, parents answered, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt” (Ex. 13:8). The manner Passover was to be eaten (belt fastened, sandaled, staff in hand, in haste) related them with the first generation, who had to be ready to leave Egypt immediately. Sojourners wanting to participate in Passover even needed to be circumcised, because it was not a dead ritual! It identified one as having been saved by God and therefore belonging to him.

Second, preservation. Deuteronomy often repeats the command for Israel to remember in order to live, well-indicating its preserving quality. By contrast: “if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods…I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish” (Deut. 8:19). They were warned that forgetting God’s saving acts would lead to destruction. Unfortunately this did not stop them from it, which ultimately brought judgement through exile, demonstrating that those who remember the Lord are remembered by him and are preserved to and through the end.

Third, presence. That remembrance brings a sense of God’s presence can be seen most clearly in the Psalms. In Ps 42 the psalmist is asked, “Where is your God?” He responds, “My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you”. Afterwards he declares that the Lord’s steadfast love is with him. In another Psalm, David, surrounded by enemies, questions God’s nearness using figures of speech, “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”; but his soul will be satisfied when he remembers. In other words, remembering was the way the psalmists affirmed that God really was with them.

Remembering was an act of participation, preservation and presence for Israel; so too for believers in Communion. Later generations recalled the Exodus event and declared themselves participants; through Communion, we recall the cross and declare our participation in it: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (Rom. 6:6). Remembrance as participation confirms that we really are a new creation, no matter how many mistakes we have made! As remembering served to preserve Israel from destruction, so Communion as remembrance preserves believers. Luther professed, “He is worthy who feels most miserable and destitute of grace.” He further argued that believers are more able to repent after the sacrament than before. We do not approach the Eucharist because we have conquered sin and doubt; we leave equipped to do so! Finally, remembrance as presence is also experienced in Communion. The blood and the flesh (remembered in the cup and the bread) made God’s holy presence ever-available. In addition, Jesus’ assertion that the bread “is” his body and the cup “is” his blood causes us to consider how/if Christ is actually manifest in the meal. Catholics teach that “he is present…most especially in the Eucharistic species”; Luther, that Christ’s presence was “in” and “with” the bread. Though differing on how Christ’s presence is manifested in the meal, nonetheless, both maintain that he is in the midst of it. The Lord’s Supper as remembrance, then, is an affirmation of our right to approach God and a means of experiencing the presence of Jesus.


Don’t EVER Let the Plate Pass By!

The Lord’s Supper as “remembrance” means it is more than just a mental reflection on what Jesus has done. When remembrance is defined biblically, we discover that Communion accomplishes so much more! Remembering the body and blood affirms our identity as new creations because of our participation in Christ’s death. Observance preserves us through doubt and sin, as it is a means through which God communicates his grace to us. As well, it affirms that God’s presence really is with us, even made real in the elements. When we understand what the Lord’s Supper as remembrance entails, we will not partake of it only when we feel deserving. Rather, we will rightly receive it when we are most aware of our need. Thus, it is important that believers regularly approach the Lord’s Table, most especially when we feel least worthy of it. We need Jesus in order to be made like Jesus. And at his Table, he gives to us of himself. Who knows…it may be on that Day when the kingdom is finally fulfilled, we will find that as we were faithful to keep Communion, it was actually what kept us.

Intentionality and Hospitality: They Go Together

It was January 12, 2016, and I was having a rotten day. I’d just gotten an email from my best friend in the world and she was having a hard time. Back home, friends were getting sick, breaking up, moving away, and everything seemed hard. As for me, I’d been in Taiwan for about a month and I’d just gotten over 4 days of an awful fever. I was discouraged, my heart felt heavy, and the last thing I wanted to do was ministry.

As a team we split into two groups to do ministry at The Rock, a cafe ministry we were working with. We alternated days and it was my teams day to go help people practice English and talk to them about the Gospel. It was a slow evening and as people trickled in, one of our local friends started teaching us some Chinese explaining how confusing Chinese characters are and how to combine them to make numbers and some of the origins of the numbers. It was interesting and made me forget that I didn’t really want to be there.

As the evening progressed, this friend had to leave and we were left talking amongst ourselves. That is when James came in the door, walked straight to our table, and pulled up a chair. He was holding slips of paper, which he handed out to those of us who were at the table. On the papers were simple sentences, teaching us how to say and pronounce sentences like “I like to eat bread.” or “I don’t like eggs.” James spent at least a half hour with us, teaching us how to pronounce the words, which tone we should use, and how our mouths should be positioned to get the right sound. As he explained, we learned a little more about James. James is a retired elementary teacher (which explains his patience with us westerners and our horrible pronunciation!) and has two daughters who are 23 and 30. He’s been retired for 10 years, and he wants to learn more English, but he’s worried he’s too old to learn. After spending a while practicing my Chinese and his English, we parted ways. I left the Rock encouraged and uplifted.

I never saw James at the Rock again, but the life lesson he taught me has stuck (The Chinese lesson, not so much).  James taught me about hospitality and intentionality. James, we realized, had been sitting in the Rock as we learned about Chinese characters and asked questions about how to order food and use numbers. He went home, typed and printed out sentences, and came back to give them to us, knowing that he was about to invest a chunk of time teaching us pronunciation.

This night was a turning point for me in my outreach. This was the start of a week where I really listened as God spoke into my identity and took me deeper into who He is and who I am in Him. This was the point where God said to me, “Ya know, kid, I love you and I love them. You need to love them like I do. Put down all the things and just follow my heart.” I think, going into my outreach I expected all good days. I don’t know why, because I’ve been on other trips and they’re not all good days, just life in general isn’t all good days. God is showing me that what matters is my heart attitude on those days that aren’t so good and we grow in that as we continue on our walk with Him. Some days, though, He’ll send a James along to help.