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Gratitude, Your Dehumidifier

Back home from college for Thanksgiving, and so ready to get some rest from the continuous onslaught of work and activity I’m presented with at Olivet Nazarene University. With all the work God’s been doing in me and around me, I was certain that going back home would feel like a missionary journey where I could tell everyone about the amazing things He’s done and what His work in me and through me has looked like. At least, that’s what I was ready for…

To my surprise, I returned home to a significant feeling of lack. Lack of drive, lack of passion, lack of strength. It felt like I completely reverted back to when I was first leaving for Olivet, and I was eager to find out why.

Up until this point, I’d been on fire in my pursuit for Christ and seeking His face. Day and night, I’ve been obsessed with knowing more of Him and showing others what I learn. The amount of ministry the Lord had been doing on campus was incredible to say the least. So when I arrived home to a feeling of complacency and mediocrity, I was disturbed.

Why am I telling you this? Because as I was praying on Tuesday afternoon, it hit me. He told me why all of this was transpiring, and I was glad beyond words that He’d revealed it to me. And here it is: I need to use this time back home to take a step back and examine the truest and most raw parts of my character, without the interference of public image and distractions. And in the midst of it, I realized something else while reading Marios Ellinas’ Warrior Material and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: It’s an attitude of praise and gratitude that turns any situation, any adverse circumstance, any trial, into a training ground that we can gain immense blessing from.

         Ok, allow me to explain….

      In Warrior Material, Marios Ellinas talks about the various virtues a Kingdom-Worker for Christ needs. He uses the analogy of a dehumidifier to describe the effects that gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord can have on the atmosphere when things aren’t exactly…favorable. Just as a dehumidifier sucks the excess moisture from the room so that it’s easier to breathe, a heart that’s thankful in all things sucks the heaviness and sting from the atmosphere, making room for a new perspective. Every moment is a training opportunity if we’re willing to learn and be opened to His teaching. So what was I to learn from this seemingly lackluster faith I had returned home to? What good could come from this? In Jesus Calling, November 21’s devotional sees Sarah Young speaking from the perspective of Jesus Himself, telling us that a stance of thankfulness and humble acceptance from Heaven opens the way for Him to move and freely act in us and through us in any difficult time. I realized that this wasn’t a shortcoming, or something to beat myself up over…It’s a season of growth to prepare me for what’s ahead.

So, that’s my thanksgiving story. I came home to my pet dying, my faith weakening, and my family making me feel as though I should’ve stayed in Illinois this time around. And yet, I realized that it’s all for my good, because He loves me. My story will continue… What about yours? What’s that situation that you’re not happy with? What do you wish was different? Do you think that maybe if you stopped to ask your Father what you should do, you’d get an answer? I think you will, because I know what Jesus has promised you, promised me…promised us.

Happy Thanksgiving you guys, and thanks for reading!

2 Corinthians 4:17 says “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”                        1 Thessalonians 1:16-18  says “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”              Philippians 1:6 says “‘And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

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Run the Race, Press On to the End!

For those of us who walk with the King every day, our life is comparable to a marathon, the end prize being the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) And as many of us know all too well, the race track is full of stumbling blocks; some by God to strengthen us on our journey, and some by the enemy to halt us altogether. So, no matter where they come from, what does the Lord have to say to His Church about getting past these obstacles, which stop us from pressing on towards the purpose God appointed you to?

1) Well, for one thing, we shouldn’t be troubled by them. Being hurt or betrayed by someone you love, finances going through tough times, uncertainty over our future and purpose, what seems like perpetual singleness, and struggling to find your identity are all things that we can all agree would cause us to stumble in fear and pain quite easily.

But the Lord has not given His people a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of a sound mind! When we allow the peace of Yeshua (Jesus) to guard our hearts and minds as we stay diligent in prayer before the Father, we will start to find that such obstacles will no longer shake our joy and peace, which the Lord Himself said no one could take from us! So, first and foremost, don’t let these obstacles psyche you out. They are Divinely appointed training tools to refine your heart into that of a Warrior for Messiah!

2) Once we have the proper perspective on the hurdles that stand between us and the finish line, we can take the next step in being diligent in prayer. Calling for help in our journey with the King is far from impractical and useless, it’s the very thing that’ll keep us alive!

In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that they are channels, of which He is the Source, and that they can’t ever hope to do anything worthwhile for the Kingdom apart from Him. The same is true of His disciples 2,000+ years later! And how do we stay connected to the True Vine? By entering into His presence, and kneeling before the throne of the King daily, and without ceasing! As Daniel showed us, our prayers are heard by our Heavenly Father, and He causes the very forces of Heaven to go to and fro in response. We need to view our time in prayer (adoring and praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins to Him, and presenting our requests to Him) as powerful, substantial, and effective in the power of the Holy Spirit!

3) And lastly, remember that the Lord Jesus has left us, and entrusted us with being about His business. That means that He’s going to return soon, and expect to see the fruit of our labor in Him! Let this be a strong encouragement for us to faithfully press on towards the work that He has rescued us for, or as Paul puts it, “But I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12)

He has given us authority to be His witnesses, appointed us to our own particular ministries, and called us to watch the door carefully, because He’s coming back! Therefore, draw hope and strength from the knowledge that when He returns, we will be rewarded for our faithful stewardship, and diligent efforts for the Kingdom!!

So for all of you who may be struggling with the forgiveness of that loved one who hurt you, trusting that God sees your situation, knowing that He has a plan and purpose for your life, or being established in your identity as God’s own chosen people, His special possession, I exhort you all to rise up, and with unwavering faith command the mountain to move in Jesus’ name! I love you all, and pray that we all are open to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice, as He guides us through these challenges, and leads us to the finish line in Jesus, our King, the Messiah!

Ministry of Two

        “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” -Psalm 37:4

During Thanksgiving week, I told you guys about my excursions back home, and how God was blessing me in the midst of my seemingly bleak and gloomy season of self-evaluation. I also told you guys that one of the reasons I felt the Lord was calling me to take a good look at my own character was because of a girl. Well, in the past week, that girl and I decided that we would pursue Christ together, hand-in-hand, in spirit and in truth, as a couple. A ministry of two, if you will…

The road we walked to get to this point was one that drew me closer to my Father than I’d ever been before. Just as any parent would try their very best to advise their child before they decided to date, our Father in Heaven certainly made sure that I knew He had much to say before I jumped into this.

Prior to all of this, things weren’t going too well to say the least. We had become VERY close in the  summer, and planned to wait a bit once we started college so that we could be sure God’s plan would shine through, and not our own. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened, but not in a way either of us could’ve imagined. Before I knew it, after wanting to hang out with other guys and not be around me so much, the girl I was so in love with suddenly wasn’t in love with me.

Our plans crumbled like city walls around me as my efforts to keep everything together failed. After two months of being on an emotional, spiritual roller coaster, I had finally hit a limit to my patience and was ready to just cut her off completely for both of our benefits. And it was there that God stepped in and began to work in ways I could’ve never imagined. See, up until this point, I had been praying for her to experience the fire and passion for Christ, like the one I had experienced weeks prior.

After a week and a half of not speaking at all…a text. It was her. She explained to me that she had seen what the Lord had been doing in my life, and how she wanted to be a part of it. But then, she said something that took me completely by surprise: “…And maybe even give this another chance, put the past behind us and do this again as redeemed and changed people.” My heart twisted with pure shock and awe as I read it, and yet I was completely overjoyed at the same time! From then on, we took things slow, and I prayed harshly for discernment, wisdom, and guidance in order to please God, and be the person that’s needed for this to prosper.

That’s my experience with Jesus, how about you?

          I’ve learned that being in a relationship with another person that’s honoring to the Lord is indeed a ministry in itself. We have to be so completely solid in our relationship with the Father that we’re able to give and love with all our hearts and expect nothing in return. We have to be willing to forgive offenses, strive for peace, and be rid of all jealousy and deceit. We have to be whole and complete before we can ever think of walking with someone, lest we begin to lean on them for affirmation and attention. For all of you reading this who are seeking a relationship, I ask you…are you firm and grounded in Jesus’ love and truth? Can you keep your eyes on Him, even when someone else is intimately placed into your life? For everyone reading this who’s already in a relationship, I ask you…are you loving the other person at your own expense? Are you fighting to maintain peace and unity? Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus, and asking Him His thoughts on things?

Thanks for reading if you made it this far!!

  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty Hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:22 says “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts

 

Pop Quiz!

…Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (Romans 12:3)

In our life-journey with Jesus, there’s many things He wants us to discover and find. Whether it be opportunities and blessings He’s waiting to give us, more sides to His glorious character that we can adore, or people we pass by everyday that He longs for us to learn more about, our Lord and Best Friend eagerly points different things out for us to uncover!

And sometimes, that includes the parts of us that are still under construction, the parts we’d rather not dive into, the parts we’d like to keep covered…

November 2nd. There I am, sitting in chapel, and the speakers are Danny and Kristen, a famous Youtube couple or something who wanted to talk to us about relationships. What they discussed and how they presented it was amazing, but one of their points really stuck with me: We have to get our vertical relationship (our relationship with our Father through Jesus) solid before we can ever hope to have solid horizontal relationships (our interactions with other people). The Sunday prior, in church, Pastor Scott talked about the same thing, using the cross as imagery. Call me crazy but, I’m takin’ that as confirmation!

This moved me to ask Jesus for help as I evaluated myself completely to see what parts of myself were still in desperate need of His transforming love. I looked at the good and the bad, celebrated my progress and examined my weak points. And here I am now, pressing on towards the goal, waging war against my sin, and diligently seeking His help and guidance as I stumble along this path of self-examination and renewal. Part of my reason why is because recently, Jesus led someone into my life, and as we pray and seek His will concerning whether or not we should seek Him together in a relationship, I made it my goal to strive to be the best man of God I could be for her. That required me to get down into the gutter and start from the bottom.

That’s my journey with the Lord so far, now how about you…?

          If you’re thinking about starting a romantic relationship with someone, this is a good place to be. Dealing with someone else, their shortcomings, and their journey really shows you where you’re lacking. If you’re feeling like you want to be closer to God and do His will, but there’s still habits you have that are hindering you by causing you to feel guilt or shame, then maybe it’s time for you to sit down with Jesus and say “Hey Lord, this is the stuff that”s still in me that I don’t want there, will ya help me get rid of it?”. How so? Well, you need to have a reason, and remember it. The girl that God led into my life was the catalyst that sparked this endeavor, and my desire to grow in the Lord is what sustains it. What’s your motivation? Why do you want to be more mature in Christ? What’s your why? From there, simply rely on the Spirit

I challenge you to be honest in your evaluation, and test yourself, because no matter what…you pass!

Thanks for reading!

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago”.

Romans 12:2 says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Lamentations 3:40 says “Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord .

Philippians 1:6 is my personal memory verse throughout all of this, and says “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”