Feeling Trapped in the Busy-ness of Life?

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve looked around at everyone else and thought, “nobody is as busy as me.”  I’ve compared my life to another’s, reassuring myself that I was busier and somewhere in my mind I thought that made me better.  My value came from all of the “yes’s” I could give to people.  And why shouldn’t I say yes?  Usually, it was to things that encouraged my talents and gifts. Though, if it wasn’t, I’d made it work because it was a need I could still fill.  But, soon the once a week commitment spiraled into being gone every night of the week (after working an 8 hour shift).  I would even try to say no, and people wouldn’t hear it.  I’d explain my no, like people needed to hear my reasons, but they still wouldn’t get it.  Everything I was involved in and nearly all my relationships were filtered through my “I’m so busy” filter.  It was breaking me apart and stretching me too thin.  But, it was how I survived – definitely not thrived – through my early twenties.

I needed permission that saying “no” was okay

I wouldn’t say I’m a completely non-busy person nowadays, but I put a much greater effort into not using the word “busy.”  In fact, I’ve swallowed the word more than once because it is such a norm to just be busy and tell everyone about that busy.  When I say I’m busy, I think I’m busy; when I think I’m busy I get stressed; and when I get stressed I start to judge everyone else – thinking I’m the best at being busy and no one else is as busy as I am.  You see how it snowballs into a giant, out of control, doesn’t-melt-until-summer-is-over, snowball?  I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this, and I’m ready for it to stop.  But, I recognized that it started with me.  I needed a mindset and attitude change.  I needed to not be busy, and just get organized.   I needed permission that saying “no” was okay.  Everything in my life needed to change from a dragging chore to joy-filled purpose.

Life shouldn’t pedestal the busy.  Life should respect the yes and value the no.  So, how can we support each other in this?  Here’s a few ideas.

1.When someone says yes to you, be sure to thank them.

How many people are feigning for your attention and involvement?  Probably a fair few, and you know you can’t say yes to them all. Therefore, do not expect everyone to say yes to you.  When someone says yes to you, they made the intentional choice to do so.  Be grateful!  A simple thank you card (nothing like snail mail!) goes a long way.  I remember when I was applying to go to the School of Biblical Studies in Montana, I sent a check to the base inside of a thank you note – those girls in the office do a TON of work; they say YES everyday to students who apply and have their hundreds of questions, so those ladies needed to be thanked.  I figured they probably got a lot of thank you’s for all of the yes’s they give.  When I got to Montana months later, I was in the office taking care of some business when the Registrar says to me, “Oh you’re the one who wrote the thank you note!  Look, we put it on our wall!”  A little thank you goes a LONG way, so be sure to thank those who say yes to you.

2. Hear the no, accept the no, and realize that it’s probably not personal.

Just the other day I was saying no to a customer at work about something, but for the life of her she just wasn’t accepting it.  She kept pressing me and pressing me, rewording her question and standing around as if her persistence would make me change my mind.  That lady just wasn’t hearing or accepting my no – and it’s not like I even wanted to tell her no!  I realistically just didn’t have the means to supply what she was looking for.  I used this example specifically to say ladies, I think we’re the ones who are really guilty of this.  We ask the one person on our ask list to fill the need we have and when they can’t do it, we take it so personally that we push and pressure as opposed to accept and affirm.  And there’s a really good chance that the reason the person is saying no to you (and they don’t need to explain or justify their no) is because they legitimately cannot help at this time.  When we’ve got a need that has to be filled (i.e. volunteers for the spaghetti dinner, more leaders for your ministry, a chaperone for the kid’s movie night), be sure to have some back-up options – and be sure you’re good with them.  This will make hearing and accepting a “no” significantly easier.

3. Choose words wisely.

Sometimes all it takes for us to feel less busy is to use words like “no” more and words like “I’m busy” less.  I really think our busy lives are reflective of busy attitudes and of living in a culture where busy is valued.  A couple of years ago I was encouraged to start planning my weeks, including slotting in things like “Sabbath rest” and “social time.”  At first I thought I was being ridiculously OCD, but as my mentor assured me, “you’re just being wise with your time!”  In fact, as I penned into my week the things I needed to do I found that I was much less stressed and I had more free time to invest in relationships that had so long been ignored.  I started saying no to things when it fell the same day as “Sabbath rest,” and I limited myself to being involved in significantly less ministry opportunities.  The reality was I wasn’t needed everywhere, and in saying no to people I stopped hindering others from excelling in their gifts.  Whereas I previously thought I was the “best,” I soon came to see that there were several others who were better, and that was a gift all in itself (it’s a gift called delegation; a whole different blog!)

So, how about it?  Shall we be more grateful, accept the no, and choose the words we use more wisely?  You have permission.  You’re allowed to take a break.  You’re allowed to recharge.  You’re allowed to spend a Friday night on a date with the man you fell in love with all those years ago – kids, ministry, homework and busy free.  You’re allowed.

God is more sovereign than our no

God is faithful to us when we invest in our relationship with Him and the ones He’s given us to love especially.  God is more sovereign than our no, and if whatever you said “no” to is supposed to flourish, then it will flourish under His will.  Don’t you worry.  Really.  Take a deep breath (really, take a deep breath)…hold it there for a minute…you have permission to not be busy, and to just say no.  I dare you to try it sometime soon (like…later today?)

Wanting to learn how to say no and stop relying on “busy” as an identity?

Come join us for a Discipleship Training School where you can learn about God’s faithfulness and your identity in Him apart from what you do.

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Can One Word Change Your Life?

God spoke one word clearly during the lecture phase; “Montana.”

When I was 19 I left England and eagerly boarded a plane for The Netherlands to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at YWAM Heidebeek. As the oldest of four, I couldn’t wait to finally leave home and do something that was just mine. God spoke one word clearly during the lecture phase; “Montana.” I heard it once again on outreach in India and then in random ways over the next few years.  At the time I had no idea YWAM was even in Montana, this was obviously before the Internet ruled all. Having never been to the USA but being of prime American-movie-watching age, “Montana” conjured up 3 thoughts: rural, cowboys, and borders Canada. I’ve since discovered the other 49 states pretty much feel the same way. Like most young Brits, the USA was the cool aunt you always wanted to live with and I couldn’t wait for my turn. Montana would be as good a place as any to start.

Fast forward four years and the now 23-year-old-me left London again to start the first leg of my journey for what would become three YWAM schools. Fun fact: in July 2005 a one-way train ticket from NYC to Whitefish, Montana was $72. Guess who spent 3 full days riding coach with Amtrack?!

As it turns out, that single word God spoke to me at age 19 in a tiny Dutch village, in a multi-purpose classroom filled with Dutch and international missionaries-in-training, with bi-lingual everything and a lot of stroopwaffels, was a glimpse into over a decade of life I was going to spend in another tiny (but similar) place on the other side of the world. I didn’t fixate on it much, I just knew that one day God would bring me to Montana for some reason and that it was an important part of His plan for me.

That’s what lead me to DTS and then ultimately to Montana, where I still am…

I spent my later teenage years in the church trying to wrap my head around how to live a Christian life that was worth something:  trying to be a world-changer and earth-adventurer while I’m here, and trying to please God and have purpose beyond what my culture was funneling me into (university at the time).  That’s what lead me to DTS and then ultimately to Montana, where I still am 12 years after getting off of that train in Whitefish with 2 suitcases, complete confidence God was going to rock the next year, and needing a shower ASAP.

There are only a few times I remember when I knew I heard God absolutely, and for some reason they have usually been just one word.  If you have ever heard a clear word from God about anything, you know that He exists. And just like working on your health is key to having a body capable of carrying out what you are doing in life, working on your ‘Christian skills’ is also paramount to finding success in your walk with Jesus through everything the world is going to throw at you.

I know that I know that I heard His voice…

DTS changed my life in many ways – those ‘skills’ included learning how to be quiet before the Lord, listening to Him, thinking outside the box through a biblical lens, being part of something greater than myself, seeing God in cultures and people different from me, and that’s just scratching the surface. Mainly DTS changed my life because it was the place I got clear direction from God, which has since silenced any doubts I’ve had about His goodness and grace. I know that I know that I heard His voice then and, although He could have said it any time, He chose to do it in a place He knew I would hear Him and have the faith to wait for that word to be fulfilled. That one word has since transformed into another that will forever mark my life: “Home”.

If you need direction, if you struggle to hear God or even doubt that He’s real, if you long to see miracles, to find people who understand your fears, to somehow have your faith grow and your heart set on a path of healing, I encourage you to pursue DTS. No matter your age or current situation – if all it took was 5 months to bring life-long change, wouldn’t you drop everything and go? It’s worth it all to find out.

TAKE THE LEAP AND JOIN US FOR OUR FALL DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL! 

Starts September 18th

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The Crux of Self-pity

Within a rock climbing route, there is often one spot defined as the crux.  The moment of truth.  The technical portion that once one is able to move beyond it, they can be certain no part of the route will be as challenging as what they just passed.  The crux is the critical point of the feature that demands the most of the climber.  As I reflect on the idea of a crux, I am better able to see my current battle: the feature of self-pity.

Self-pity can be easily dismissed by most as a struggle they don’t have, yet I am sure that there are many thoughts we daily entertain which would fall under this category.  I have found self-pity to be perpetually knocking on the door of my mind in small, seemingly insignificant moments. When left unchecked or corrected with Truth, self-pity manifests itself in more critical junctures that affects my perspective on the people and circumstances around me.  The tendril of self-pity sinks deeper into the mind when left to its own devices.

Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”.

A knock so faint, I barely hear it – the irritation of always finding the garbage overflowing to the floor….so I re-bag the items and clean the mess.  The knock grows louder as situations are brought to my attention of people acting purely out of self interest and harming the group for the sake of themselves.  The knocking becomes more persistent as I dwell on the frustration of seeing people as immature or self seeking rather than self-sacrificing.  And there it is: the doorway is opened and with a fateful swoop “ME” enters the door and sits promptly in the center of the living room in my mind.  Me.  The self-seeking idea that insists, “’I’ deserve more than this, that ‘I’ shouldn’t always be the one mediating, ‘I’ shouldn’t have to parent and lead, ‘I’ should get a break…. I, I, I.”  Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”.  Both flow fluently through our minds and both find lodging in our hearts.  Both are equally poisonous and spoil how Christ has called us to live.

I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux.

So, here I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux.  As I eye this critical point, my practiced understanding of route finding immediately identifies the way to move beyond it:  I need Jesus.  I need Jesus desperately and with all that I am.  I need the richness of God’s mercy to bring this tendril of self-pity to death and bring new life in it’s place.  Self-pity has no place in my heart and mind, and while there are cracks and areas of weakness that it could potentially settle into and take root, I refuse to spread the welcome mat for the destructive vices that would move in with self-pity.

By the rich mercy of God, I have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection, through which I can anticipate and take joy in the life that WILL come forth from this open hearted cry to the Lord. This crux of self-pity will not be a technical feature by which I allow myself to be defeated and thrown down.  No matter the number of times I lose my focus, or my grip weakens and fingers begin to slide off of my place of progress, or legs begin to shake in fatigue from fighting upward, I will look at this crux of “Me” and ask Jesus to raise my eyes higher still.  I believe that through His rich mercy, I will walk in new life and later on find myself looking down at the crux in joy of having overcome it. Then with a deep breath I will continue to climb upward.

Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux…

There are some climbing routes where the crux is at the beginning, some the middle and others the end.  Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux, and I choose to climb them over and over until the crux is no longer the sticking point that still causes my adrenaline to race or my mind to fight for a way through it.  With practice, your body knows the demands of the crux and it no longer causes you to exert tremendous amounts of energy to move through it.  The practice of moving through the crux includes dismissing affirmations of others who see your efforts and chide others for their neglect.  Moving through it means that we consistently choose to act through the foundation of God’s love and servitude – who did not come to this world to be served but to serve and give His life as ransom for many (Mtt 20:28).  Will we choose to be conformed to the image of Christ even in painful acts of servitude, which require carrying our cross and dying to self, just as He bore all of our iniquities on the cross that we might have life (1 Peter 2:24). We have a choice to climb and persevere through the route, regardless of how many times we fall back down while attempting to move through it. We have a choice to be a victim or valiant.

I choose to be hopeful that while the crux of self-pity will still exist within my life, it doesn’t have to be a taxing and extremely challenging endeavor to climb through.  I will be able to look at it with victory already shining in my eyes because Jesus has delivered me and He will yet again.  The faithfulness of Jesus far outweighs the anticipation of the crux that presents itself.

 

FINDING YOURSELF STUCK AT A CRUX THAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM WALKING IN THE FULLNESS OF THE LIFE JESUS PROMISED?

COME JOIN US FOR A DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL TO LEARN HOW TO LET GOD HELP YOU THROUGH EVEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ROUTES. 

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What If God Isn’t Telling Me What to Do?

…but as life continues, you realize just how out of control you are.

Life is always full of transition. Whether it’s moving, a new job, relationships changing or ending, or even a perspective shift. Transition is inevitable and in many ways, unwelcome. We enjoy stability and knowing what tomorrow will bring. It brings us security and a sense that we are somewhat in control, but as life continues, you realize just how out of control you are.

As a Christian, at times, God gives you a direction for your life. He will tell you what to study at school, to go on a missions trip, or tell someone about Him. While this can be quite terrifying at times, there is always a sense of peace. It is black or white – you either obey or you disobey. To some, that brings comfort because the decision is made, you simply have to follow.

But what about those times in your life when God doesn’t give you a clear direction? What then? Do you simply continue to live your life or search for something more? These times, I’ve found, are almost crippling. Why would the Creator of the universe give me a choice, or worse, be silent as I seek direction? I am nothing in comparison to Him and yet He would allow me to decide? So In those times the simple question is, “What do I do?”

You never want to hear your mother say she has breast cancer, let alone six days before your wedding.

The past year has been a whirlwind of transition in my life. In the matter of a week, I found out that my mom had a rare form of breast cancer, I got married, and I finally laid down a dream I had had for years. You never want to hear your mother say she has breast cancer, let alone six days before your wedding. You don’t want to lay down your dreams, however, you are also willing to for something better. It made for a long, confusing, scary, and also terrific week.

That time in my life was very difficult and I had to make big choices constantly. Walking through cancer with my family and deciding where that would take me, as well as my new wife, while also grieving giving up my dream that I thought my future would look like. And through all of that, God was letting me decide which steps to take.

I found no clear guidance from my Father in heaven on issues near and dear to my heart – He simply let me choose. Choose what dream I wanted to follow in my life, choose where to live, choose what to do, and choose the kind of life I wanted essentially. One year later, and through many decisions changing, God is proud of what I have decided and I have learned many valuable things through making those decisions.

Letting you choose is God’s way of letting you know that you are mature enough to make decisions for yourself…

The pinnacle of what I learned through this time of stepping up and deciding what I wanted my life to look like is simple:  When God gives you a choice, rejoice. Letting you choose is God’s way of letting you know that you are mature enough to make decisions for yourself and shows that He truly cares what your dreams are. He is such a loving Father that He will let you decide which path your life will take and wants to bless you.

Through these times, always remember that even when God is silent and seems to be absent when you are struggling with life’s choices, He is always there. And the good news is that He will give always be there for you when you need Him, it just might not look like what you think you need from Him.

*Scriptural support comes from Proverbs 1:1-7 and 16:1

ARE YOU IN A TIME WHERE GOD SEEMS TO BE GIVING YOU CHOICES (FOR YOUR FUTURE)?

COME JOIN US FOR A DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL TO LEARN HOW TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE AND HOW TO TRUST HIM EVEN WHEN HE GIVES YOU CHOICES!

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Can WE change lives?

Reaching out.

In the past 6 months, I’ve seen this phrase play out in Scripture repeatedly. In Luke chapter 8 Jesus was on his way to the ruler of the Synagogue’s house to heal the ruler’s deathly ill daughter. As they rushed through the crowded streets to reach the young girl, there was a woman who sought out to find Jesus. She had been sick for over a decade, and as she saw him she reached out for his cloak. This was an act of complete faith. She believed that merely touching the Messiah would bring her healing – and it did. As soon as she touched him, she was healed. Jesus then sought the woman out of the crowd, knowing that someone had touched his cloak.  This story shows us that in the middle of all the busyness, Jesus stops. This woman would have been just as in awe of Him if all she received was healing, but Jesus stopped to acknowledge her, to call her daughter, and to tell her that her faith has made her well.

Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.

Before my involvement with ministry, my definition of “reaching out” would have been casually saying “Hey I’m here if you need to talk!” But let’s be real, that’s an invitation that, unless said genuinely, is hardly ever taken up on. In the past year and a half, my definition of reaching out has been redefined. I would define it as a bit more literal. Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.

In Thailand, I experienced reaching out in a way that shook me to my core. While working with the Ruth Center, a ministry committed to investing into the elderly in the slums of Bangkok. Towards the end of my two months in Thailand, I prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His and that he would allow me to see the Thai people with his eyes. The following morning, I’d almost wished that I hadn’t prayed so boldly because God fulfilled my request in a very real way.

We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us.

It was a normal day of ministry where we went to the slums and would talk with the elderly people living there. When we were there, my translator pointed to a small shed, telling us that there was a woman there that we could choose to either go see or to keep walking to the next house. I looked at my friend Carly, and without words we both knew that we needed to go see this woman. As we climbed over piles of metal scraps and garbage to this tiny shack, we questioned how it was even possible that someone lived there. We approached the opening of the shed and laying on the ground was a woman. She was naked and frail, her skin was dry and she laid on the hard wooden ground, covered in her own feces. We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us. In that moment, we had no idea how to pray. We had no idea how to tell this woman that there is hope in Christ and that he wants to save her.

On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen…

In one moment I was outside of the shed looking in, and in the next I was on my knees next to her. I tried to give her water but she couldn’t sit up, she choked the water right up and laid coughing in front of me. Out of a total lack of words to say, I grabbed her hand and her blind eyes seemed to have looked right at me… But it wasn’t me that she saw. I believe that the woman saw Jesus that day. On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen, but praise Jesus that He is better than I am. He stepped in using my hands and feet to tell this woman that she is loved.

Since this day, the image of her hand replays in my mind. I dream of her and instantly grieve because of her need for Jesus. In studying the Word, God has shown me that this woman is a picture of the condition of which He sees His lost children. He has challenged me to look at the lost in the same way. At some point in each of our lives, we have all been in the condition of this woman in the slums. We are no better than the homeless man down the street, the murderer in prison or the prostitute on the corner because without Jesus we are all in the same condition of spiritual bankruptcy. We are lying in feces, frail, exposed, and absolutely blind without Him.

So what do we do about that? The answer is not all that profound. It’s actually pretty simple. Our response to humanity’s condition without Jesus should be to repeatedly fall face down on the ground in prayer and boldly ask God to show us how He sees His lost children.

Our Father loves us by giving us His time, by the touch of a hand and by speaking truth over us. There are lost people everywhere, some of them are in shacks tucked away behind garbage and others are right in front of our very eyes… Knowing this, we are called to love simply and to know that we are simply loved.

Lend somebody a hand, pray for a stranger and know that God will use the ways you reach out to restore hearts.

Wanting to see lives changed but realizing it’s not possible in your own strength?  

Come join us for a Discipleship Training School to learn how God sees His lost children and then watch as He works through you to restore hearts.

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What do I do with my life now?

We have all been in that place…

“NOW WHAT?”

“What direction do I go?”

“What am I supposed to follow?”

I was 19 and at the end of my rope with God and with myself. I felt empty, lost and alone. I was stuck in the place of “now what?”, searching for meaning for my life because I felt that God was distant and didn’t want to communicate with me. So I was searching for direction, meaning, and answers. Out of the blue a high school friend of mine called me up and told me about this missions thing he was doing where he got to go to different places in the world and serve God. He called it YWAM. He went on saying it was a place where he got to tell people about the reality of Christ and what Christ did for us, and that maybe I should think about doing a Discipleship Training School. It didn’t take me long to think about it.

God was answering my question of “now what?”

I was jumping at the opportunity to go, believing that if I went my question of “now what?” would be answered. Through seeking the answer to that question, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, encounter different cultures, and eat strange food. But what I didn’t expect was that I would truly meet God. YWAM created an environment where knowing God was safe and highly encouraged. With a deeper understanding of who God is, I began to have my question answered. God gave me the verse Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God was answering my question of “now what?” with “follow me and you will see”. So I followed.

Now 2 ½ years later, I’m still following Him and along the way I’ve gotten to see all the things He  has done. I have been on outreaches overseas and around the States. I have seen people come to know Him for the first time. I have seen families restored because of the power of Christ. I have seen thousands of people encounter God in amazing times of worship. But most importantly, I have seen God show up time and time again to answer people’s question of “OK, now what?

He gives us answers, direction, and meaning.

If you are fresh out of high school and feel like you don’t have direction…

If you are working and feeling stuck and purposeless in life, no matter your age…

If you have a heart for missions and want a team experience in missions…

If you just want your questions answered…

Know that God is paying attention. He won’t leave you stuck. He will give you answers. Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” I understand now that God isn’t distant, He is listening to our questions, our frustrations, and our prayers. But the best part I have learned is that he responds. He gives us answers, direction, and meaning. So I implore you if you feel stuck, ask “now what?” because I bet you God will answer.

Interested in getting more direction for your own life? Consider doing a DTS with us!

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How God Spoke to Me Through a Pineapple

Recently, God has been speaking to me through the use of Pineapples. Yes you read that right, Pineapples. How has a simple, common fruit become the source of Heavenly revelation you ask? Well, let me tell you.

First, did you know that pineapples didn’t use to be so common? In the 1600s, pineapples were so rare that only the richest of people would eat them. Sometimes, they would not even eat the fruit, instead they would have viewing parties and display the pineapple until it rotted completely. Later, pineapples became a sign of hospitality in the new world. If a hostess were able to get her hands on a juicy pineapple, she would be the talk of the town. Everyone would be lucky to attend said party because they knew that the hostess had spared no expense for them. However, today pineapple are some of the most common of fruits. Any grocery store you enter usually has a pile of these prickly pines. So what changed over the years to cause pineapples to become so common?

God kept asking me to change my perspective on the situation.

Change Your Thinking 

One could say that pineapples haven’t changed but people’s thoughts on the fruits have changed. This is the first area in which God has been speaking to me. I recently come out of a season of being truly busy. Not the kind of busy where you just want to look busy to look important, but the kind of busy where I barely had a hour of free time during my daily day. In this season, I kept having some very negative thoughts about the load that had been placed on me. I was struggling and didn’t know how I was going to accomplish all the work, but God kept asking me to change my perspective on the situation. Although the situation wasn’t going to change, my thoughts and emotions on the situation could change. I needed to remember exactly how special the job I have is and that I needed God’s strength to complete the job anyways. I needed to choose joy in the midst. So although I was busy and overwhelmed, I could make it through. I just needed a mindset shift.

Slowly, I have been starting to realize that I truly need the repetition and the slow process.

Slow Down

Second, did you know that it takes a single pineapple three whole years to reach maturation? That is a LONG time for a single fruit. Through this, God has been showing me the importance of not rushing things.I love seeing a task finished. I love being able to check things off the to-do-list. I love the end of a project more than the start and the middle, but God has been showing me that I need to stop rushing to the end. He’s been doing this by repeating the same thing to me over and over, even when I feel like I should be done with that lesson and able to move on. He keeps speaking “hope” to me. Slowly, I have been starting to realize that I truly need the repetition and the slow process. Even when I think that I have already arrived, I begin to see how much I need to keep relearning the simple truths. I will never outgrow the simple gospel.

We need a solid community around us who will call us to higher things.

Be Rooted

Lastly, once harvested a pineapple will not continue to ripen. That means once it is removed from the root source, its growth is stunted. Through this, God has been showing me the necessity of being rooted in community and in Him. This idea is scattered all throughout the Bible. In particular, John 15 reminds believers that we need to abide in the vine of Christ because He is our life source. When we are cut off from the vine, our growth will be stunted and we will start to decay. Likewise, we need a solid community around us who will call us to higher things. Iron sharpens iron, as the saying goes. Because of these truths, I have been intentionally pursuing community with others and with God. My happy place of community with God is in worship. Nothing allows me to sense His heart and direction more than worship does. On the other hand, community with others isn’t always easy to fight for, but it is necessary. I need the strength of the roots of community around me, so I have been pursuing deep and meaningful friendships. As winter ends and the sun comes out, I’m fighting against isolation and pulling more people into my life so I can experience the true joys of community.

So the next time you see or eat a pineapple, remember there is a lot more to that simple fruit than meets the eye. And as you look at the world, never underestimate the power of God to speak to you through the most unexpected of places.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the life God has for you, come join us for a DTS!

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Are You Willing to Take the Leap This Spring?

I walked into the office of the grocery store I worked at and turned in my two week notice not knowing exactly what I would be doing after those two weeks ran out. I had started an application to attend the Discipleship Training School (DTS) run by Youth With A Mission (YWAM) that started on January 2nd, 2016. The problem was that date was approaching in less than 3 weeks! As this problem weighed more and more on my mind, I started to doubt that I would be able to attend this school. I didn’t have the money together, and I didn’t have my application turned in yet. I rushed home after clocking off from work, finished my application, and hoped that it was not too late to be accepted. As I clicked ‘submit’ on my application, my fear turned into relief as I remembered what God was asking me to do – to dive deeper in my relationship with Him.

I’m so thankful that God gave me the courage to submit my application after I thought it was too late because DTS completely changed my heart, my view on God, and the way I want to walk out the rest of my life!

DTS was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Coming to a place where everyone is invested in the advancement of the Kingdom of God was exactly where I needed to be. The first 3 months I learned about the love and passion that God has for me, my friends and the whole world! I started to see more of who God has called me to be as a man, a friend to others, and a follower of Christ. After these 3 months, we all went on a mission to Ukraine for 2 months to spread the truth that there is hope in the name of Jesus! Seeing others give their life to Christ on our outreach deepened my desire to do whatever God called me to do. After my DTS ended, I felt God calling me to continue chasing Him and help others do the same! I applied for DTS staff, was accepted and now I’m continuing to grow in my knowledge of God’s heart and I get to help the nations of the world know God’s heart too!

If I had believed that it was too late to attend a YWAM DTS and given up on my application, I would not be where I am today. I am forever thankful that God pushed me to submit my application even though I thought it was too late. If you are reading this and want to follow God on an adventure this Spring, I want to encourage you that it’s not too late! Maybe God is calling you to apply to the Discipleship Training School in Montana starting April 3rd, there is still time! Sometimes God’s calling for our life seems to stretch us beyond what we think we can take. But keep in mind that the Lord knows the plans He has for you! Are you willing to take the leap to follow the plans God has for you?

I want to take the leap and find out more about the Revive Discipleship Training School:

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Let’s Be Real: We All Want to Succeed

The term “success” may only have secular connotations in the minds of most Christians, but we cannot deny that every one of us has some concept of success. Success, in itself, is not a bad thing; it is man’s skewed concept of success that causes problems. I do not, in any way, exempt Christians from this generalization, nor do I exempt myself from it. During my short time in missions, one of the most difficult, yet rewarding and growing experiences I have had is the realization of the conflict between my concept of success and God’s.

During my relatively young life, I have been in many stage performances. I have acted in plays, performed in classical musical settings and engaged in public speaking overseas. But I can say with full confidence that I have never before been so thoroughly observed by critics as I currently am. Never in any stage performance have I felt such caution as I do now that I am a leader in YWAM Montana’s School of Biblical Studies (SBS). I do not hesitate in the least to compare my job to a performance. If I have learned anything about leadership, it is that there is most definitely an element of performance to it. In no way do I mean to imply that one must be artificial. A leader’s performance must be genuine. Genuineness, however, is part of why leadership can be so difficult.

Many times I have heard the statement, “Everything you do teaches.” In other words, a teacher can say a number of things that are good and true, but what really matters to people is the goodness and trueness of his or her actions.  As an SBS staff, I give a 2-3 hour Bible teaching in front of my students about six times a year. A teaching responsibility presents a challenge in itself, but it is not the 24 hours a year of prepared lectures that I am referring to when I speak of a stage performance. It is, however, the 45 or more hours a week of contact with others that is closely observed and carefully critiqued by an interactive audience. Personal interaction is what truly displays the quality of one’s life to those who are watching. This is the “performance” I am referring to. In my opinion, leaders in a Christian circle are always on some form of a stage, and it can be very tempting to make that stage as comfortable as possible by attempting to remove any sign of imperfection. What I mean is this: I don’t want those who look to me as their leader to see my imperfections. I don’t want them to have any chance to criticize me because, in my mind, revealed imperfection equates to failure. I fear that if someone who looks up to me sees my imperfection – if they see that I struggle – they will no longer respect me as their leader.

 If revealed imperfection equates to failure, then success must equate to efficiency in concealing my imperfections. In other words, I will make an effort to hide my imperfections because, if I don’t, people (namely, my students) will not love and respect me. If they see the side of me that struggles as they do, they will no longer look to me as someone who can walk alongside them in their struggle.

 Having brought into light what seems to be a complete and utter failure of perspective, I must acknowledge that my outlook is quite different when I consider those who I see as my leaders. If a leader were to be open and honest with me about his or her shortcomings (appropriately, of course), I would walk away having even more respect for them. For instance, if a person were to be honest about their sexual struggle with their leader, they would have most likely assumed beforehand that he would be able to relate with his protégé in some form. If a leader implicitly communicates to his protégé that he has had no real sexual struggle in the past, he would have much more difficulty walking alongside the person within their struggle. I want my leaders to be open and honest with me.

There is clearly a dichotomy between what I expect of myself and what I expect of others. Why do I have such a mindset? My most practical conclusion is that I struggle with social fear. About a year ago, I read a book by Donald Miller titled Scary Close. My biggest takeaway from this book was the truth of the nature of vulnerability. Miller explains the relationship between being known and being loved. It is impossible for someone to love us if they do not know us deeply. Our hearts have an understanding of this concept, but our hearts also understand that it is not impossible for someone to know us without loving us. Therefore, being deeply known by others is one of our greatest fears. At the same time, one of our strongest desires is being loved by people, which is only possible if we allow ourselves to be known by them.

 We as the church find ourselves faced with an almost romantic challenge: In order to achieve what we truly desire (love), we must overcome what we truly fear (exposure). How does this pertain to success? If, in God’s eyes, success were the immediate transformation of a person to a flawless state that will be seen by others who will then strive to be flawless with that same immediacy, the Gospel would also have been communicating the same message for the past two thousand years. But the Gospel has never communicated that message. According to the Bible, the weaknesses of man now testify to his desperate need for God (2 Cor. 12:9). I strongly believe that God does not at all want His children to be seen as void of weakness. At the same time, we must not accept our weakness and assume that we are being conformed to the image of Christ if we choose to be complacent regarding our shortcomings. A person with a drinking problem will continue to have a drinking problem if their acceptance is not followed by effort. Our shortcomings must be acknowledged out of a desire to change, not a desire to remain the same. Man’s weaknesses should communicate the fact that God alone is good. In reality, man has never hid his weakness out of a desire to give God glory. Man hides his weakness out of a desire to glorify himself. But It is not man’s self-image that must be preserved; it is God’s. Man is successful when he gives glory to God, when he is honest about his weakness, for his weakness boasts of God’s goodness and trueness.

I can be a very vulnerable person, but the motive behind my vulnerability is not always genuine. I have chosen to be vulnerable in order to be known and accepted by others. I have also chosen to be concealing so that I could avoid being known and rejected by others. As I walk into my second year of staffing the SBS, I intend to be vulnerable for the purpose of glorifying God rather than being accepted. This will entail trust in God more than anything. In choosing to be vulnerable, I need to trust that I have properly conveyed my need for God. I don’t want my students to think for one minute that I don’t need Christ just as much and just as often as they do. Vulnerability gives God a chance to use other people to bring redemption to our lives. He speaks truth to and through His children. Life will always consist of stages and performances. May we see these as opportunities to show our critics just how good and true God is.

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