Week ? Of 52: The Good Old Days

img_0004-1“I Wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

-Andy (The Office)

Over the past two weeks God has shown me so much about who I am, the community He has placed me in, and how each moment over the past 28 years of my life have built up to where I am today. I have spent time with family, I have seen friends I haven’t seen in years, and I have been surrounded by amazing people I get to do life with every day. In these weeks I have begun teaching a class focused on community, and have spent time dreaming up the possibilities of writing a book focused on community in the church.Through it all, I have realized more than ever that I am exactly where God wants me, and His plan is very much alive in my life.

I began this post with a quote that so many of us can relate to. We look back at the times when “life was good” often realizing that years from this moment we may look back and think, “dang, life was good.”

There are many moments that stand out to me in my life. I can look back at moments with my family up in Oregon, Christmas’ with Grandma and Grandpa as we decorated the house and made sugar cookies. Fast forward a couple years, and I can remember making it to state in swimming as a freshman in High School, or getting the lead in the school musical as a Sophomore.

These moments were great, amazing, and they lead me to opportunities to find out more about who God create me to be. Later I was introduced to a group of people in college that became family, these could easily be referred to as the “good ole’ days”. Trips to the bay with Matt and Garrett, or late night mischief with Guz, and Jordan, Carl’s Jr. Runs with Ian and Kyle, or just long talks with my RA team about what God is doing in our lives. How could this not be the best it’s ever going to be.

But as I spent this weekend with family, and some of those friends that became family, I was brought to a moment with the Lord where He reminded me of the promises that He has for me. I began to look around, and though each moment is met with fondness, I am thankful that it only gets better from here.

Though many of us can relate to Andy, I would like to take a moment and remind us that when we are walking with God we can know that His promises reign true. We can walk in confidence that even in times of struggle, even in times of tribulation, we will look back with fondness of how God has worked in each of our lives.

Reflecting on those memories is not wrong, but when we dwell in those moments as “the good ole days” we miss out on the moments God has for us today.

I am so thankful for weeks where I am surrounded by people who I truly love and know love me, but if we were still in those moments of long ago, I wouldn’t be blessed with 5 Nieces and 2 Nephews. I wouldn’t get to see friends live out life long dreams and pursue vocational ministry. If we were still in the “Good Ole Days” I wouldn’t get to pursue creating community at Little Country Church, and God wouldn’t be placing writing a book on my heart. If we were still in the “Good ole days,” Jud and Scoot would still be running around as dinosaurs not realizing their amazing wives were just a building away.
So no matter what you are walking through, what ever struggles are knocking at your door. Remember, there will be a day when this was “the good old days,” and God will use this moment too to draw you closer to Him, and this moment will be a moment you can look back on knowing that He is preparing you for something great.

Week 16 of 52: God is doing work!

IMG_1368HBC 2017

A week has passed, and I still don’t feel like I have fully soaked in all God has done through HouseBoat Camp 2017. This weekend was one for the books. Between the rain and hail, we saw that there is always a silver lining. As we sat under tarps filled withlanterns, and soaked in the the nightly teachings, we were reminded that God is in all, and through all. Thisis the great adventure.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to see God working through 165 students lives. These students ranged from graduating 8th graders to graduating seniors. Each student with their own story, their own journey that God is taking them on. IMG_1376

Over the past 7 days I have purposed time to reflect on each of these stories. As I have sat looking back at each face, at each story, at each journey, I am reminded that we all have a story needing to be told. These students reminded me that we are here for the person, not the program. As I sat down with students sharing their heartbreak, I was overwhelmed with a desire to see their lives transformed, to see them experience God in a big way.

These students stories don’t end here, their transformation is not complete, and some are still lost, looking for something more, someone more. I continue daily praying that the seeds planted in their hearts do not come up void. These students have potential, they are strong, they are courageous and kind. These students have pain, they have been broken and hurt. Their hope is not in this world, our hope is not in this world. My prayer is that they discover this hope, a hope found only in Christ Jesus.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:19-20

I am challenged to look past the surface. As I sat with these students I was reminded that each of us has a story to tell, sometimes we just need an audience.

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When we make ourselves available to be used by God, He will use us. It isn’t because we deserve to be used, but because we realize that we have nothing to offer, and it is only in Him that what we do is used for the Kingdom. There are people around you that are hurting, people that look on the surface to have everything together. These people have a story, and their story is important. You have a story and your story is important.

I am challenged to be an avenue for the voice of those around me to be heard. Will you be a minister of the gospel, placing people over program. Will you be a place where stories can be told, where Christ can be shown.

I am finding the silver lining, I am learning daily how God is using me in ways I never planned. Sometimes all you need to do is be open and willing to the voice of God, even when it doesn’t make sense.

I am so thankful for the students brought into my life, those that were willing to share their stories with me. I am thankful for a God that uses me in ways greater than I ever dreamed. And I am thankful for Holiday Harbor Marina who rescued a generator after it plummeted to it’s demise in front of me. IMG_1366

Week 3 of 52: A Challenge to Pray

IMG_1041A friend of mine recently made a comment to me that blew my mind. We were talking about depth in relationships, and how it is easy to create surface level friendships, but it is often difficult to go deep, especially as guys. We tend to keep to topics that show that we care, without forcing depth. The comment, which I don’t want to misquote, but probably will, went like this, “if you want deep friendships, you need to have deep prayer for your friends.”

BOOM, mind blown, I should probably stop here!

How often do you pray for your friends? More specifically, how often do you pray for deeper relationships with your friends? How about deeper community with your family, or those you work with? How often do you pray for those things?

In my journey to find deeper community at LCC Redding, I am reminded by this conversation that we must pray specifically for depth in relationships. As I dream, and strategize how to move “numbers” to “people” in the body, we must do so with a heart of prayer, a heart praying specifically for depth, for walls to come down. We must take time out of our day to pray for connections that point toward Jesus Christ.

This post is a short one, but to me a heavy one.

I want to move this conversation I had with a friend to be a challenge for you. Are you praying for those in your life? Are you praying for deeper connections? Are you praying for healing in relationships? I want to challenge you to pray!

It’s amazing what God will do, when you simply ask.

Week 2 of 52: Sitting in a Coffee Shop

If you know me, you know that I don’t do well in a room by myself. When taking the Meyer’s Briggs personality profile, when it came to extrovert, I received a score of 100%. I was never a straight A students, so this number was just as much a surprise to me as it may be to you.

I realize a test does not determine who I am, and in no way will I stay confined to what Mr. Meyer’s and Mr. Briggs describe me as, but this is a glimpse of how important people are to my life. Even a test knows that I need people to stay energized, to stay motivated.

As I sit in a coffee shop in Shasta Lake City, watching as a grown man walks the streets in a  bunny costume, yeah, that’s a real thing, I am reminded of how if I am able to score 100% extrovert, some other person is capable of scoring 100% introvert.

If I am on one extreme of the extrovert introvert spectrum, there must be some crazy amount of combinations in between. This is just one aspect of who I am, of who we are as people. My favorite color is blue, yours might be red. I love hamburgers, you may like hot dogs. I like coffee, you may enjoy a cup full of earl grey tea. There are so many details that determine our make up, determine what makes us happy, and what makes usmike-wilson-223615 sad.
As I sit in a coffee shop in Shasta lake city, sipping my coffee I am reminded how diffe
rent we all are, and how important it is to not shy
away from differences, but to embrace
them, to find out a person’s story, finding out what makes them the person they are. In
community we must not surround ourselves with people who think and act exactly how we do, always agreeing with what we have to say but instead it is important that we embrace those that challenge our thoughts, driving us deeper into scripture, deeper into God’s word.

I had a friend in college who demonstrated this idea to me. We always joked that he could make an argument out of nothing. I remember times that he even disagreed with h
is argument, but it was important to him that we look at all angles. This friend always challenged the norm, he challenged the way we thought. At first this was frustrating, I didn’t get why he always had to have an opinion, I didn’t get that it was okay to not agree. Over time these arguments helped me realize that we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. It challenged me to discover why I thought the way I did, it made me dig deeper, it made me have a defense for my beliefs. I no longer was able to blindly believe, but instead, I grew in my relationship with God, I read His word, I spent hours praying for guidance, I started understanding what I was raised to believe, and this life I was living became everything to me. It was in our differences that we were both able to grow.

Ephesians 4 talks about walking worthy of the calling. We were called to one body, one faith, one Father and God of all. Our job is to take this walk together, in unity, we are one body, one church. We may worship different, we may be hand raisers, we may not be able to clap in rhythm. There is one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ, instead of tearing other believers and other Christ following church’s down, let’s walk in unity, challenging each other to dig deeper into the Word of God, so that we can know Him more personally, more intimately.

These difference are what make the body, our thumb cannot replace the function of our nose, just as my role in the Kingdom is no more or less significant than a person who travels the world sharing the word of God. We were all created with purpose, may we choose to grow in these differences us, challenging each other to go deeper.

As I sit in a coffee shop in Shasta Lake City, I am encouraged to know we will not always have the answers, but we will have the answer. I am encouraged that I serve a God who desires to know me personally. I look forward in anticipation to see how He works in my life, and my prayer is that this post challenges you to be stretched, that it encourages conversation, and that through it you may be challenged to seek God in a way you have not before.

1-of-52: Living in Community

IMG_0774I read in an article last week that one of the main reasons that a young Christian leader gets burned out is because they don’t have an outside community speaking into their life. Two years ago I would have seen this and put it in the “maybe I will need this one day” category of my filing cabinet and then never looked at it again. Now I look at this article and am blown away by the idea.
As I have stepped into my role as Community Life Coordinator at LCC Redding, I have realized more and more how crucial community is to life as a follower of Christ. The idea of walking through life with a group of believers who, in their own way, are trying to just get by.
Community isn’t just a weekly list of highs and lows, it isn’t a cup of coffee as we laugh about the awkward moments of walking into walls (I have learned I am really clumsy this past year) though those can be a part of it. It’s about going deep, having real conversations, sharing real struggles, and taking down the walls that we have up in our own lives. Community is real life with real people.
As I am studying this idea of community within the church body, dreaming up ideas about small groups, deeper discipleship and events that promote community, I have realized how I have been going about it in all the wrong ways.
At this point in my life I have been in 17 weddings as a groomsman. 17 tuxes, 17 walks down the isle, 17 rehearsal dinners, 17 receptions. Friendships are there, I am not lacking in friends, but what I am realizing is, though I love each one of these friends, and family members, the deeper side of friendship is lacking. I have taken these friendships for granted, they mean the world to me, but I haven’t let it go past that surface level. There may be a time or two that I start to go deeper, but the walls inside me go up as soon as it goes too far.
As I read this article, and I am reminded of how God created us. God didn’t want Adam to walk this earth alone, so he created Eve (Gen 2:20-22). God in the Garden of Eden created companionship, friendship, relationship. God allowed in that moment for Adam to have someone to share all of who he was with. In the same way God does not want us doing life on our own, He has created community for each one of us.

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
God did not create us to walk the streets of our town surrounded by people, all while carrying the weight of our world on our shoulders. He created community, people surrounding us to take on this weight, to share our burdens, to cry with us and laugh with us. He created community so that we don’t have to stay in the shallow end of the pool, we can take off our life jacket and dive on in.

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As I walk forward in my roll of Community Life Coordinator at LCC Redding, I am reminded of the community God has placed me in. The friends who are my family, and my family that have become my friends. I am thankful to have friends who know me so well, they no what I say when I have a lot on my heart. I am excited to the body at LCC and encourage those who are in hopeless situations that there is Hope in Jesus, they aren’t alone, and He who created the earth, created a community for them to walk in.
I am in the process of learning what community looks like in my own life. I am realizing that I can’t just stay shallow, but I have to go deep. I must pursue strategic community, those people who I can do life with, going through the trenches of what ever comes up in this adventure we call life. In this community I cannot hold up walls, but remain vulnerable, realizing that it is in the moment’s that we try to do things on our own, we are keeping the body of Christ from working.
I want to encourage you, if you have read this far, don’t try and do life on your own. Get plugged in, find a home fellowship, ask a pastor or another leader at your church. Realize that by holding the world by yourself you are not allowing those around you to fully embrace what God has for them, and you are not allowing God to use you how He plans for you to be used.