Archive for October, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

All throughout my experience in AmeriCorps we would rush off to the next project, next site, the next meeting only to wait some more.  It seems like this is what we do every day, hurry up and wait.  We are told to do something now, but to do it we must wait for something else.  It’s a vicious cycle that claims the sanity of many individuals around the world. 

It’s not that bad actually.  It gives us a chance to breathe.  A chance to catch up on our thoughts. 

In a society where we are constantly running around, at times it is hard to slow down and actually notice what’s around us.  Or more importantly, right in front of us. 

Just as in life, sometimes we stop and notice that God is no longer telling us to go this way or do that, but sometimes He is telling us to stop and wait.  To listen.  To be still. 

Sometimes where you are is exactly where God needs you.  Exactly where he can use you the most. 

God tells us to wait so that He can work through us, within us, or show us something or someone.  Maybe we are in the right place to finally understand what God has in store for us.  Or maybe he just wants us to breath. 

So when God tells you to wait, don’t be afraid of what it means.  Just wait and see what He has in store for you.  For all you know, it could change your life. 

God Bless and PEACE

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Love

We’ve all heard the verses of what love is (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  We hear them at almost every wedding that we attend.  They are powerful verses because they describe God.  Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8).  But there is something more about these verses that we so often leave out. 

    If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 
    Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
    Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
    And now these three remain; faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love. 
 – 1 Corinthians 13

Love is so much more than patient and kind.  Without it, we can do nothing.  Love is from God and it makes us whole once again.  It defines who we are.

We cannot expect to do anything if it is not in love.  Yes, anyone can give charity to the poor, feed and cloth the homeless, comfort those who mourn, but what makes followers of Christ different is the fact that we do it out of love. 

When you walk down the street, do people notice something different about you?  How about when you are driving and stuck in traffic?  Or sweating on the work site?  Do you radiate love in everything you do?

It’s hard at times, but when we follow the teachings of Christ, when we are Baptized by the Spirit of God, we become new.  Transformed.  We gain the Spirit which allows us to live with Love in our hearts.  everything we do should be in love. 

All our conversations.  All our relationships.  All our activities. 

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
 – 1 John 4:7-8

God Bless and PEACE

This Present Darkness

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 – Ephesians 6:10-12

In the summer of 2009, I traveled with a group of college students to Uganda where I experienced Africa for the first time.  I saw things I never wished to see.  Experienced things that could not be explained with words.  I heard the silence in the night and felt the darkness creeping in around us. 

To deny that there are forces that oppose us (call them spirits, demons, fallen angels or whatever you like) is to live in ignorance.  They fight against us because we live out our faith.  They attack us with temptations, with struggles, through others, and they attack us physically when everything else fails.

We live in a world that justifies everything through science.  Our society no longer lets us believe in the spiritual forces that surround us.  There are things that cannot be explained, but are felt by those with faith. 

I’ve discussed the powers of darkness before, in how we cannot play around with spiritual forces of darkness and my own personal experiences with these powers, but there is something that has been bothering me recently.  I’ve been listening to stories, to experiences of battles with spiritual forces, with demons and I cannot help but ask myself if sometimes we give these forces too much power?

God has equipped us with armor and the sword.  He has given us the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14), the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14), readiness for our feet (v. 15), the shield of faith (v. 16), the helmet of salvation (v. 17) and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (v. 17).  But yet, we still stand in awe of the darkness that surrounds us.  We give it the power of fear. 

I have felt the cold hands in the night as I battled with the spirits of darkness in Africa.  I have prayed in desperation, when it felt like God was so far away.  I have studied spiritual warfare, read accounts of missionaries out in the fields and people of faith at home.  Yes, the experience still sends shivers down my spine, but I am no longer afraid of what happened or what may happen in the years to come. 

I have felt the darkness, but the light of Christ burns it away.  Our faith gives us the strength to no longer fear what is out in the darkness that surrounds us.  We have been given the arms for battle, now let us don the armor of God and stand against our foes flaming arrows. 

Yes, Africa is a continent covered in darkness, but within there are hundreds, thousands of flames that pierce through the night.  They understand what it means to stand in faith.  We can learn from their courage and strength. 

God Bless and PEACE

Letter to the Past

If you could send a letter back to a younger self, what would you say?  Would you tell yourself of all the troubles that you’ll face?  Or warn them of the coming trials that life will bring?  What advice would you pass on to a younger you?

Would you share the faith that you found throughout your journey?  Hope that your words would change something that you did, or didn’t do?  Or point yourself in a direction you were to afraid  to go?

Would you tell them not to mess up like you did?  To say the words that you never had the nerve to say?  Or to try to convince them to slow down when you never could? 

What would you say?  So many people already have… take a look

God Bless and PEACE

Roadblocks and Detours

There are times when I’ve felt like nothing was ever going to work out.  When everything I tried to do, God stepped in and guided me in a different direction.  When I was forced to wait, instead of rushing headlong into what I thought I wanted to do.  Instead of peering down the road of life, God has been teaching me to watch where I place each footstep.  One painful step at a time, one after another. 

When I first started following God, I thought that ment the road would be easy, that all the stumbling blocks would be removed.  That I could go sprinting down this road focused on what was ahead.  But God slowly taught me to focus on Himself, and not where I wanted to go. 

I was an alternate for a Residential Advisor (RA) position that I really wanted.  I thought that God wanted me in a position to lead, but I soon realized he was placing me beside leaders to teach me how to be a leader.  A few weeks after I was informed I was an alternate for the RA position, I got the call telling me that I got the position. 

The next year, after thinking that this was where God wanted me, I did not receive the RA position again.  Neither did I receive a leadership position in one of the campus ministries that I applied to.  Looking back, I realize that God was showing me that all leaders must humble themselves and learn to follow before they are capable of leading others. 

The summer between my sophomore and junior years, I traveled to Uganda with an amazing group of individuals.  The journey to get there was filled with trials and setbacks, starting months before we stepped foot on the red soil of Africa.  A friend and I spent weeks researching different organizations and made hundreds of phone calls and interviews, only to be turned away.  It wasn’t an accident stumbling upon Akia-Ashianut and serving at the Agule Community Health Center alongside 11 other college students for those four weeks. 

Again, I was put on the waitlist as an alternate to be a Corps Member with AmeriCorps*NCCC before I left last summer on my journey with Mercy Ships and the M/V Africa Mercy.  I spent most of those three months wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life before I received the call (well, e-mail) informing me that I was going to be in Class XVII of the NCCC. 

While I desperately wanted the position, I again became an alternate for the Fire Management Team.  And as I fell in love and found my place among my own team, I was called up to the Fire Management Team due to situations out of my own control.  From there, as we were put on our shuffle round teams, we all thought that we would be going back to the teams that had become our families, but again, life and God had other plans.  Deployed on disaster response, these strangers were now our team and family.  I wasn’t going back to the team that I fought to get onto.

God worked, and still works, in mysterious ways as I learned to trust and follow Him. 

This road we travel on is filled with trials and difficulties, but many times we see roadblocks and detours as more difficulties, until we look back and realize that God was always leading us on where we needed to go.  The roadblocks and detours were just God getting us back on track after we wandered off on our own. 

God is the lamp that guides our feet, but If we are to focused on where we are going we will stumble and lose our way.  Trust God with all the small decisions and he will guide you where you are called to go. 

God Bless and PEACE