Write Your Story

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“The North American way – and maybe it’s just the human way – is that we write our story and ask God to edit it. But God does not offer to be our editor. He wants to write the story. He wants to write us into an epic story that He has been writing throughout history with the whole human race.” (Steve Saint, The End of the Spear: Let God Write Your Story Sermon).

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I thought I was writing my story to become an amazing teacher, until my dreams and plans came crashing down. I took 5 years to get my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree in teaching. The best job I could get after graduation was a janitor/teacher’s aide at an elementary school. I thought, “I’ll work my way up and prove myself and next year I’ll be teaching.” Budget cuts ruined that dream in one day. Then, I was offered me a full-time custodian job at another elementary school, which was the funniest and most insulting job offer I every received. As, you might guess get I didn’t take the custodial job offer. About a month later, I accepted a 5th grade teaching position in Uganda. Six weeks later, I left for my great adventure.

My great adventure quickly turned into a scary and lonely adventure that I wished I could escape from. However, The Master Author had other things in mind. He protected me over and over from danger though I often had to shop, go to church, and go venturing by myself around a place that wasn’t home: the bustling city of Kampala. Again and again, God protected me from illness, boda boda (motorbike) accidents, matatu (taxi) accidents, and men that could have taken advantage of me. The following verses became very dear to me and I posted them on my wall:

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:8-11, ESV).

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I unexpectedly found out what unconditional love really was when people so unlike me from other cultures were the ones who showed me what Jesus’ unconditional love really was. My students taught me to how to love unconditionally even though they drove me crazy. I wept over their behavior, but loved them all the same, just as God loves me. God wrote a story of protection, unconditional love, and a passion for Uganda that I could never have imagined.

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Upon my return home, I grabbed hold of the pen to my story and obtained what soon became a nightmare teaching position that I quit after six weeks. I then sought out a new job, prayed and honestly told God how I felt for a couple months. God then provide a job working in a university registrar’s office where I mostly answer emails and process numerous requests. This was not what I planned or wanted as a chapter of my story. However, the Master Author knew I needed the job to make a new friend who would invite me to his small group and then lead me to my current home church. Now, I have a church family that has helped me grow, a small group that I minister to, and a younger girl I’m mentoring. God has even written international friends into my story that are such amazing gifts! While I often try to take back the pen, I long to sing the following words and let God have the pen instead:

“I’m an empty page

I’m an open book

Write Your story on my heart

Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope

Maker of the stars

Let me be Your work of art

Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story

Come on and write Your story, write Your story.

Won’t You write Your story on my heart (Write Your Story, Francesca Battistelli).”

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Unshakeable Kingdom

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Unshakeable Kingdom

I often forget that one day, I’ll be living in an unshakeable kingdom! Isn’t that amazing?? I’m looking forward to living in the Kingdom where things won’t fade, rust, crumble. Where I won’t be tired, sad, or angry, but instead there will be unending joy, worship, and peace. Hebrews 12: 28-29, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

I have to remember where and WHO to set my hope on: I Peter:13, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”

Psalm 42: 5,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

But for now,  we have to remember where to fix our eyes, Hebrews 12:2-3, ” fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

God’s Will Maybe It’s Not So Complicated

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God’s Will Maybe It’s Not So Complicated

What is God’s will for our lives? Sometimes I think we make it more confusing that it actually is. There are lots of verses that give us pretty clear directions on following God’s plan. It doesn’t have to be nebulous and mysterious as we often try to make it. I’m not trying to downplay the fact that making decisions about life can be hard. It really can be hard to know if we are choosing to do what God wants in the bigger decisions in our lives. Sometimes we think we have discovered the “calling” God has put on our lives and we worship that “calling” so much that we are devastated when it all falls apart and we don’t end up doing what we felt “called” to do. This can lead us back to following his everyday will for our lives.

2 Corinthians 10: 5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (KJV).

Micah 6:8, “ He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV).

Deuteronomy 30:6,  “For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess” (NIV).

Luke 10:27, “He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV).

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

I Thessalonians 4:3. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (NIV).

So in summary:

Get Rid of Idols

Love God

Obey God

Love People

Stay Surrendered to God

Stay Sexually Pure

“To follow God, sometimes He’s not interested in us following a grand plan, I think He’s actually more interested in us taking the one tiny step in front of us.
Maybe He isn’t worried about us knowing some big idea of His will for our lives, and He’s much more interested in us allowing His life and ideas to change our will.

It’s almost as if, God cares much more about the posture of our hearts, than He does the success of our careers” (Mike Donehey, from Tenth Avenue North).

“But how in the world can I find out what God wants me to do, if I don’t know what I want to do? The logic of this question escapes me, but is one that I have heard more than once. Why not start by simply telling God you’ll do anything He says? You’re the servant. He’s the master. It’s the only reasonable approach isn’t it? Furthermore, there is the possibility that what He says will be something you’d like” (p. 48, Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot).

“It is manifest that the anxiety that shadowed too many of my days was that I should miss the path of righteousness. Better that anxiety, perhaps, than a cavalier carelessness, but the years since have proved to me over and over again that the heart set to do the Father’s will never need fear defeat. His promises of guidance may be fully counted upon. Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting his sheep where He wants them to go than they care about getting there?” (p. 49, Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot).

I John 2: 15-17, “ Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (NIV).

“Every High Thing Must Come Down”: Strongholds

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“Every High Thing Must Come Down”: Strongholds

The Easter service at Oasis Church compelled me to think about strongholds in our lives. It can be easy to think as we grow as believers that we don’t have any or that we have one or two that don’t affect our lives very much. However, stressful circumstances often bring to light the fact that many of us do have strongholds. I know I have struggled with some of mine this week: anxiety, fear, anger, and bitterness when things I was hoping for didn’t work out. Granted these things weren’t small, yet God is bigger and better than those things. My mind knew better, but I let my heart control me instead. When life doesn’t go as planned we have a choice, we can take every thought captive:

2 Corinthians 10

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

We have his divine power to live our lives:

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3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (NIV)

What if we can gave our strongholds over to him and instead let Him be our stronghold?

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

    whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

    of whom shall I be afraid? (NIV)

Victor’s Crown (Please listen to this song!!!) It was the one the choir sang on Easter!

2 Corinthians 10 

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV)

Are you going let Christ bring every high thing down in your life and become the highest in your life? May this be our prayer!

Are you going let Christ bring every high thing down in your life and become the highest in your life? May this be our prayer!

Blown Away By Ministering and Being Ministered To 

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I don’t claim to have it all together. I don’t say the right thing all the time and my motives are messy mix of Jesus and my own selfishness, yet I’m striving to love Jesus and love people. I still worry about what people think, but I’m learning to let that go in order to love.

Going up to the front of church during prayer time at the end is intimidating…people are watching! It is scary to vulnerable if you are the one in need of prayer. It is also scary if you are praying for someone else, because again people are watching. Two conversations bounce around my head:  “they’re gonna think I’m amazing” or “I’m so not amazing and why am I doing this when I’ve still got all my own issues?” yet, following the Spirit’s leading is more important than following my own conflicted emotions. I was able to pray for someone else this morning instead of sitting in my seat wishing I had obeyed the Spirit’s leading. Then, when I was done this person who I went to help asked how she could pray for me. Humbling…truly humbling to have someone you know is struggling look beyond their own struggle and ask to pray for you. I’m finding those who struggle the most have the biggest hearts for ministering to those of us who try so hard to look strong, but still struggle. When you are leading others, it’s easy to forget to let your guard down and let others minister to you. So thankful for God’s grace and mercy to us when we minister; He ministers to right back to us through his people. So, God took all my mess and willing conflicted heart and used it for his glory!!!!

Easter Kampala

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself: Standing on the Promises

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The older I get the more I realize how much pain, anguish, depression, and sin can be avoided by simply repeating, believing, and holding on to the promises of God. When I look to myself for answer or the world for answers, I will always come back empty, half-satisfied or discouraged. When I look to the Word, I will return convicted, forgiven, assured, and reminded of the Truth that has saved my soul (justification) and is saving my soul (sanctification). I like how Paul Tripp puts it, “Preach the gospel to yourself.” That’s not a new or novel idea, however. The book Joshua often mentioned about meditating on God’s laws as being key to success in life (Joshua 1:8). The Psalms also spoke about meditating on God’s promises in the midst of trial and suffering and the key to avoiding sin (Psalm 119).

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I go back to these words from the old hymn, “Standing on the Promises”:

Refrain

Standing, standing,

Standing on the promises of God my Savior;

Standing, standing,

I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,

When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,

By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

Standing on the promises of God.

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Standing on the promises I now can see

Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;

Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,

Standing on the promises of God.

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Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,

Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,

Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,

Standing on the promises of God.

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Standing on the promises I cannot fall,

Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call

Resting in my Savior as my all in all,

Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain

And these words from “Promises” by New Life Worship:

Singin’ all your promises wont let go of me

Singin’ all your promises wont let go of me

Singin’ all your promises wont let go of me

Singin’ ll your promises wont let go of me

I surrendered my life to your ways

I have learned what it means to obey

Jesus my heart has been changed by you

I am walking the path you have made

I am seeking the truth every day

Jesus my heart has been changed by you

His promises aren’t going to fail! He kept them to Israel and will do the same for us! Remind yourself and remind each other of his Promises and His Truth!

Joshua 21:45New International Version (NIV)

45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

1 Kings 8:56New International Version (NIV)

56 “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.

 

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Obedience Equals JOY

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Obedience is a word most of us don’t like. However, God delights in our obedience and gives us joy when we do obey.

I decided at the end 2014 that I needed to be more intentional with reaching out to visitors at church and life group. In all honesty, doing so is not something that is always easy for me to do. Some Sundays I’m not feeling it. I want to stay in my happy little group. Or I’m really struggling myself and don’t feel like getting outside of myself. Other Sundays, I’m feeling it and it’s easy to be friendly and welcoming. However, it shouldn’t matter how I feel. It’s about obedience and obedience brings blessings.

The past two Sundays, I decided to obey despite wanting to sit with people I knew. Despite getting up during worship and feeling conspicuous and awkward to make someone new feel welcome. Despite that fact that I received a funny look because someone thought I was leaving. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling it this morning. I was sitting by myself as I tend to do sometimes instead of inviting myself to sit with people I know. Despite my hesitance, God brought joy each time through allowing me the opportunity to make new friends and show his love to new people.

Deuteronomy 30:16

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Psalm 19:8

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

John 15:9-11

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

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