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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blessings in the Blackberries

 My car broke down this week which is pretty upsetting considering that I only just recently have been able to drive it. But I'm believing that God is going to fix it because it was Him that gave me the car after all. In faith, I've been walking half a mile to where my car broke down to see if it will start. Today as I was on my way to go test it, I saw a big blackberry bush and I was overcome with excitement. I couldn't help but say, "Oh thank You God, thank You God." over and over again. As I walked to my car I knew that even if it didn't turn on that I'd still have blackberries. 

I love blackberries. For me, it is one of the flavors intrinsic to summer. Just the sight of them makes me flashback to when I was a kid. My Grandma and I would always go on walks after dinner, when I would spend the night, and along the dirt road sometimes we would find blackberry bushes. It was as if we had stumbled upon a candy store. We'd pick them, talk, laugh, and eat all the while and then when we got back to the house, I went to sleep knowing that I'd be woken up by the smell of blackberry muffins. I also hold so many fond memories with my mom and I picking blackberries and her making all kinds of goodies with them. In my heart, blackberries are gold. 

As I jiggled the key in the ignition over and over, praying for it to start, all of these memories and more were flashing through my mind. So I got out of the car and said, "Still I will praise You." I went to the trunk of my car to try and find something to put the blackberries in and wouldn't you know it that the drug dealer who stole my car left behind a reusable shopping bag?! Well there ya go! Blessings in the storms. 

I went on and began picking my blessings, making sure that I got every one. You see so many times we are so focused on what we want or what we need that we miss out on the most precious blessings that God has for us. At first I was so diligent about picking every single one but then I'd see bigger ones a few steps away and so I'd go and get those. Then I'd look back over where I had come from and from that angle I could see more big ones that I didn't see before. So I was constantly going back and forth back and forth; sometimes getting so sidetracked with what was next to me that I missed what was in front of me. Sometimes so occupied with the ones within reach that I missed the jackpots amidst the thorns. 

I had to leave a lot of blackberries behind because the sun was going down and I didn't want to get back to the base too late. So I got back, washed them, and tried one...they were SO SWEET that I grabbed the bag, more people, and went back to pick more blessings. 

I'm going to keep going to my car everyday to see if my car has been healed and if not...well there's always blackberries. 

 

Prayer. Rooms. Thoughts. Encouragement

New prayer room design for this week

 The prayer week was a huge success, not that you can go too wrong with prayer, but people really responded to the pray wall and it was successful in encouraging everyone on the base. I found myself, every morning if I could, stopping by the prayer room on my way to breakfast to see what people wrote. It was so good that I had to think something up to keep it going, to keep the culture of encouragement running. So what I've come up with are these telegrams that people will write on and place in people's boxes. Look forward to seeing how it goes. It's really my heart to leave behind a culture of prayer on this base and to hopefully inspire people to think outside the box.

 I must say the role of prayer and worship has really challenged me in my prayer life. It's funny how half the time I'm praying, I don't even realize it. What I'm finding is that I talk to God during the day a lot more than I realize and in different ways too. VBS has kind of indoctrinated this image into our minds as to what the posture of prayer looks like, but our talks with God take on just as many different forms as our talks with people do; we text, we email, we Facebook, Skype, call, visit, and some still mail ;). But think about all the different ways you communicate with God; your thoughts, writing, talking, singing....there's got to be more! If He's the God of communication, the same God that spoke the universe into being, then surely there must be more ways to communicate with Him than on bended knee with hands folded and eyes closed. 

Paul says all the time in his letters that he never ceases to pray...., that he always prays.... And I always wondered, "How in the heck is that possible?!" But I think that half the time our mind is not conscious of our soul's conversations with its Maker. Think about when you are crying; you may not be praying allowed in words, but you are communicating with God. And what about when you are angry and maybe even sinning? Do you not also think that that is communicating to God; praying in some way? Prayers are not always reverent and holy, friends. If prayer is just talking to God then we talk to Him a lot more than we realize. I'm reading a book called "Unceasing Worship" and his point is that we are always worshipping something, sometimes it's God, sometimes it's ourselves, sometimes it's the world, but we never stop. I think we, in a sense, are always praying and that it's just a matter of what we are saying in thoughts, deeds and words throughout the day. 

Funnily enough that's not at all what I intended to blog about but hey that's good so I'll leave it at that for now. Cheers! (not the drinking "cheers"; they say it a lot here in Australia lol...then again maybe they do mean the drinking cheers....I don't know. We don't speak the same language all the time.)

 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Prayer Week Design

 This week coming up we are doing a week of prayer to cover our staff team for the new year of work, life, and ministry ahead with a real focus on encouragement.

For the week there are 19 cardboard frames on the wall, all unique and different, for our 19 staff. Everyday there's a different task for the one praying with different directions on things to write in the person's frame. At the end of the week, these frames will be given to each staff member to remind them of what God was speaking about them during this week.

One thing that God has really been speaking to me about is creativity's relationship to inspiration. If you look at the things that are trending right now, such as pintrest, instagram, twitter, etc, you will see that people are searching for inspiration; we want to believe that we have things worth sharing and spreading, we just need a little spark sometimes. So if we, who are in positions of influence, can angle our creativity to inspire then imagine the magnificence that would unfold as a result. I think it's time to get more creative in how we do things because it's not tradition that puts us to sleep, it's monotony. 

If you would like to recreate this in your own home, church, small group, or work place; GO FOR IT!

 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Holdfast

Last week I was at the beach where I was facing some of the biggest waves I have ever seen much less been in the water with. I was attempting to boogie board, wanting to ride the same massive waves the surfers were getting. The water was strong and although I could see the waves, I could not get to them. I looked to my right and I saw the same size waves, much closer to the shoreline, but right in the middle of a massive riptide with waves closing in from every direction. God spoke to me in this moment showing me that I could fight for the waves that I knew would be better for me in the long run or I could go for the waves that were closer but far more dangerous. I'd like to say that I fought through, caught the biggest wave imaginable and had the best ride, but I gave up because I couldn't push through this one wall of waves; the waves kept crashing and pushing me back, making me loose whatever progress I had gained. When I quit I tried to just let the waves push me in, but what I didn't realize was that while I was fighting to get to the big waves in front of me, I was keeping myself from getting sucked into the riptide. I ended up getting caught in the very riptide that I had decided not to settle for. Thank God I've had enough experience in the water to know how to escape those types of places and I managed to get out of the riptide safely. 

I failed to see, at the time, that what God was showing in the water was a glimpse of what was happening in my own life. Much like I was fighting to get to the big waves, I've been fighting to get to my dreams here in this place. I had my eyes set on what I wanted, what I knew God had for me, and I've been fighting against everything, including myself at times, to get to that. And much like my frustration with not making it in the water, I felt the same frustration with fighting against the currents I've been facing in Australia. Recently I began to hit a wall that kept dragging me down and so last weekend I made a decision to quit and leave the base here in Adelaide. And just like that I got sucked into a riptide of my will; no progress can be made in this place unless you know how to get out. So I prayed and the word God gave me was "holdfast." A holdfast is much like an anchor, it's something that secures one thing to another, a clamping, a strong grip; and God told me that His words are to be my holdfast. An anchor is no permanent thing, it goes up and down, but it holds you in the place that you are meant to be at the time you're meant to be there. When I decided to quit, I made the call to pull up anchor when it was not my place; His words have been to "not worry about where the finish line is but to keep going" and I decided that it was time to sail to other shores. Fighting for what I knew was better kept me from getting sucked into the riptides but when I stopped fighting I succumbed to its pull. The only way out of a riptide like that is prayer. Thankfully I'm out safely now and I've recanted my decision to quit and am holding fast to God's words here in Adelaide for however long He will have me here. 

When I thought later about that day at the beach I realized that I was trying to get to those waves the wrong way entirely. There was a point in the water where the surfers stopped walking in the water and they laid on their boards and paddled out to the waves, riding on top of the waves that would otherwise push them back. I couldn't get past that wall in the water because I kept trying to walk to the waves, facing them head on, rather than rising above them. 

I'm not exactly sure what "rising above them" means for me practically, but I'm learning that it's not the desire to quit that defines our mission but it's perseverance that defines our legacy. So long as His words are my holdfast I can't be sucked into riptides or get pushed back to shore; His anchor is my assurance to reaching the waves I long for.

 

I hope that some of you may be encouraged to not give up, to make His words your holdfast and to persevere and rise above the waves that are pushing you back so that you can hold onto your dreams and God-given desires. I share these experiences, yes because I want to be open and honest, but more so for the opportunity to encourage you; we are all different people in different places but our struggles are, at their core, the same. Be encouraged brothers and sisters, He is for us.

 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012

  • I believe that this will be a year of new things
  • I believe that this will be a year of blessings and fulfilled promises
  • I believe that this year will hold higher levels and deeper roots
  • I believe that this year will be a year of expansion and growth
  • I believe that this will be a year of victories and dreams becoming reality
  • I believe that this year will transform, renew, restore, revolutionize and challenge
  • I believe that this year will be a year of beautiful beginnings and sober ends. 
I really believe that this year will be measured by the basket we give to the Lord; however much we give Him is how much He will fill. If we bring small baskets, He will fill our small baskets; but if we bring as many large baskets as we can, I believe He will fill them. I believe the Lord is going to begin asking us, "How much do you want?" 

I believe....help me with my unbelief.