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0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ To Jesus/ Uncategorized

My Sticky Faith

I was a senior in high school, and it was 8 AM on a Saturday morning. My youth leaders had invited me to come along with them to attend a seminar on youth ministry, and even though Saturday mornings were valuable sleeping hours for a high school senior, I agreed to go with them. I felt out of place, and I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. It was a small group of people but everyone else there were adults, then there I was a small, confused, and very sleepy teenager. The speaker was Keegan Lenker, and he was talking about a book called Sticky Faith. I can’t remember a single lesson Keegan taught that day, but looking back I’ve come to realize that a seed was planted.

Fast forward six years… I’ve graduated college, I’ve traveled the world, and I would maybe consider myself an adult. I’m currently a preschool teacher, I have my Bachelors in Child and Adolescent Development, and sleeping in on Saturday mornings looks more like waking up at 7 AM than waking up at noon. I’m a semester away from graduating with my Masters in Youth, Children, and Family Ministry, and the last book I have to read for this term is Sticky Faith.

As I opened to read the first page of the book I cried… I put the book down, stared at it, and realized that for the past six years God has been cultivating a passion for youth ministry in my heart while I least expected it.

I still feel out of place, and I still feel like I’m not supposed to be here. There are people much more outgoing and more personable and even kinder than I am. There are people who can speak in front of crowds without getting a lump in their throat the way I do. Yet that still small voice that whispers in my head and tugs on my heart comes around every now and then and reminds me that one day I’ll be the pastor that God wants me to be.

My friend’s dad once asked me why I’m getting my Masters in Ministry. I’ll admit that I was pretty stumped. The quick and easy answer I give most people is that I’m interested in ministry, so I wanted to continue learning about ministry. But my uncle wasn’t looking for the quick and easy answer… He was waiting for the real answer.

And the real answer is this… I see the world teenagers are growing up in today. Adolescence is no longer a four-year time span from the age of 14 to 18. In this day and age, adolescence spans from the age of 12 to 22. We’ve gone from four years to nearly a decade. For an entire decade, individuals are trying to understand who they are, what purpose do they have, and what role they play in society. And for most of those individuals, that transition is not easy. I see the way society tries to influence them and tell them how to be, how to look like, what to own, how to talk, what grades to have, what sports to do, what colleges to go to, and so on and so forth. And having gone through that identity crisis, I know now that no opinion or influence matters nearly as much as standing firmly in the knowledge that I am created by a loving God who knows me far better than I’ll ever know myself. That’s why I want to tell young people that there is no path quite as rewarding or fulfilling or fun or adventurous or exciting or good as the path God has for them, but I know it doesn’t work that way. No matter what I say, they have to experience it for themselves. I want young people to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel called adolescence, and if that means walking with them until they reach the end then I will be right there with them.

That’s what my ministry looks like right now. I don’t have an office or a title or even a position at a church. All I have is my phone to answer calls late at night when Lynn is afraid racoons will attack her on her way to her dorm and a car to drive teenagers to and from the beach. Maybe one day I’ll have an office and a title and position at a church, but today I have a heart that longs to see young people seek out their identity in Christ rather than in the world. And though I often forget that God has laid that calling upon my life, He doesn’t hesitate to remind me through small signs like the book Sticky Faith.

0 In Daily Life/ To Jesus/ Uncategorized

Jesus’ Sign

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

People say it’s good to know the surrounding areas before taking your behind-the-wheel driving test. The first time I failed my driver’s test I turned right on a ‘no right on red’ intersection. I didn’t know the area, and I didn’t follow the signs.

Signs are meant to help us. Road signs tell us what are the safest speeds to be driving in a given area. Construction signs tell us where not to park and what roads to avoid. Restaurant signs tell us if the store is open or closed. My favorite sign is the one at Krispy Kreme that lights up when donuts are being freshly made.

A long, long time ago God gave the world a sign. He said the virgin will conceive and give birth to a child. This child will be called Immanuel.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

Immanuel means God with us. In His sign, God is clearly telling us that Jesus will be God on earth. So it’s no surprise that Jesus would live a perfect life. Through His life Jesus teaches us how to be compassionate, how to love, how to care… He tells us how to pray, and He shows us how to serve. He washes the feet of His disciples, and He feeds 5000.

God gave us a sign that Jesus would be born, but Jesus himself is also a sign. Jesus is a sign to us of how we should be living. His perfect life is the model of how God intended for humanity to live. He’s the sign that points which direction to go and which turns to make in our lives so that we may join Him in Heaven.

If I had followed the signs maybe I would have passed my license exam on the first try. Signs guide and direct the people that are trying to follow them. They also try to help you get to where you’re going. I want to live my life in a way that is always following the sign of Jesus. Sometimes I may fall short and sometimes I might completely miss the mark, but the beauty of God’s love is that it will never be revoked. I will never fail that test no matter how terrible I feel for not being closer to God.

Let all signs lead you to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Look out for the signs. They’re meant to help you.

0 In Daily Life/ To Jesus/ Uncategorized

Great Joy.

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“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

For all the times I’ve waiting up until midnight eagerly awaiting Christmas day, I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated it with as much anticipation as I did this year. I was raised in the church but have never really understood the meaning of advent until now. I’ve spent the past month waiting in expectancy for Christ’s birth. Each week celebrating and embracing in the love, joy, hope and peace that comes along with the birth of Jesus. And now on Christmas day, I can finally understand in my heart what was taught to me so many times before- God gave us the greatest gift of all.

God gave us His son to have on earth. The gift of Christ isn’t just that He was born, but it’s because God allowed us to have Him on earth. Jesus let the blind see. He walked on water and invited Peter to join Him. Jesus taught us how to love and how to trust. He showed us what it means to shine the light of God. Then he endured the cross. He sacrificed himself so that we may have a relationship with God. In his crucifixion the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. He gives us the opportunity to meet God in Heaven. Because of His life, death, and resurrection we can have great joy.

On the night of Jesus’ birth an angel appeared to the shepherds and brought them news that would bring great joy to all people. The angel spoke out to shepherds of all people; the angel didn’t speak to kings or queens or the richest of the rich. The angel spoke to shepherds. And the angel didn’t say the good news was only for the shepherds, the angel said the good news was for all people. The good news of Jesus’ birth was for everyone to celebrate. It was for everyone to take great joy in.

So whether I get the new sweater I want or the fancy camera lens or I get nothing at all, I can take great joy in knowing that Christ was born today. He was born to be God in human form. He was born to rescue the world and all of the nations. He was born so that I might have a personal relationship with God. He was born to give me a chance at resting in Heaven. Christ was given to me by God. He’s a gift that I can celebrate every year. A gift that has changed my life in more ways than I can ever imagine. A gift that I will forever take great joy in.

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2 In Daily Life/ Point Loma Nazarene University/ Point Loma Nazarene University Reflection/ To Jesus

Step Out In Faith

Recently I did something that completely terrifies me. It’s something I wouldn’t normally do, and it’s definitely something no one ever expected me to do. I ran for the Director of Spiritual Life position.

The Director of Spiritual Life holds an influential role on our campus. It’s a person who leads students closer to Christ through coordination and organization of Wednesday night chapel services. It’s a person who sets an example of what it means to live Christ-like. I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be intentional and work on forming spiritual life on this campus.

But I didn’t get it- I didn’t win. And it hurt. But it was kind of like stubbing your toe on a piece of furniture. At first it’s this frustrating pain of knowing you could have done something differently to avoid getting hurt, but then the pain goes away and everything is ok. I didn’t win, and I was ok with that.

For weeks I stepped out in faith. I trusted in God no matter how scared or doubtful or nervous I was. I trusted in Him when I had to sign the declaration papers, and I trusted in Him when I spoke in front of hundreds of my peers. I said yes to God even though inside I was so, so scared. I accepted my calling and followed God however far it was that He wanted to take me.

So yes I didn’t win, but at the end of it all, I did win. I won the love and support that I never saw coming. Friends texted me with words of encouragement, people responded positively to my campaign, and strangers voted for me. I won an experience I will never forget. Most importantly, I know that God is looking down at me smiling. There is not a doubt in my mind that He is proud of me.

0 In Daily Life/ LoveWorks/ To Jesus/ Uncategorized

Thank You DR Congo.

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When I first arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all I wanted to do was leave, but when we left all I could think of was how thankful I was that God allowed me to spend three weeks serving Him. Everything was so different- the lifestyle, the culture, the setting. I kept praying that God would allow my entire heart to be in the Congo, because I wanted to be more than physically present. At the end of the trip my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation, because God worked through me in ways I would never have expected.

In the three weeks that I was there I learned how to love, how to be thankful, and how to be happy. To love my neighbor, though he or she might be a complete stranger. The children of the DR Congo loved us with all that they could give. They hardly knew us and we hardly looked like them, but every day they would come running at the sight of our van to greet us with warm hugs and hands reads for high fives. To be thankful no matter what my situation may be, because it could be worse. I used squatty potties for a toilet and a lit candle rather than electricity for three weeks. It was far from what I’m used to, but it made me realize how many things I take for granted back home. I would never think that sitting on a toilet or getting to use the faucet when brushing my teeth was a privilege, but now I know. To be happy throughout all my long and wonderful days. Pastor Celestin smiled in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. He smiled after a long day of meetings, and he smiled during the whole five-hour church service. He never complained about work or said he was exhausted, but he always laughed and danced his worries away. He would always tell us that God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

So thank you Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thank you for teaching me even in my uncomfortable positions. Thank you for welcoming a complete stranger into your community and loving with all the love you could give. Thank you for showing me God’s light and making me realize that He truly is everywhere. Though we are miles and miles apart, we follow one God, and under Him we are one.