Week 15 of 52: A Journey Not Complete

IMG_6365The story is not finished.

The the page is yet to be turned.

We often wait for the last page, realizing if we skip to the end we miss out on why the end happens the way it does.

We must embrace the storms, we must conquer the mountains, we must endure the hardships to truly appreciate the peaks.

This past weekend I was able to lead program for 165 students on Lake Shasta. We set 13 houseboats strategically on an Island where we proclaimed the gospel, sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ.

IMG_7095Every year we see countless lives transformed as we pack 4 days with friends, food, fun, and Jesus. This year was no different and I was able to be a part of seeing students experience God in a new way.

This year as I process the weekend, I look at my own process in ministry. 7 years ago on this Island a man I had barely met sat me down by a tree, it seemed as if we talked for hours, but the only thing Iremember him saying was that I was called to youth ministry.

I laughed in his face and let him know that I had no intention of stepping foot on a church staff. Over the next 5 years he reminded me of this conversation, he reminded me of the call that was on my life. A call to be an influencer in the lives of High School students, walking day by day, side by side as they experience God in a beautiful way.

This weekend, I am looking back at two years of vocational ministry. A journey that has been anything but easy. But an adventure that I would take again and again. This weekend I watched as students gave their lives to the Lord, I listened to the stories of those that have been broken, and prayed constantly for restoration.

IMG_8802I can’t believe I would ever deny that this is what God has called me to do. I don’t know where this journey is going, but I am seeing that the hardships, though not over, are all a part of me growing into the man God created me to be.

I am overwhelmed by the stories, and I cannot wait to see God move in the lives of these students as we continue growing as a body. Seeing God move in a huge way.

Thank you to each student that reminded me of the calling God has placed on my life, and thank you Chad for seeing it in me so many years ago. I will share more stories next week about how God moved in my life this past weekend, but I wanted to share how God reminded me of where He is taking me. I don’t know the time and place, but I know that God has given me a passion for high school ministry, and I needed this to remind me that this journey is not over.

God is good, all the time.IMG_9023

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Week 13/14 of 52: A Tribute to Graduates

This post is all about the graduates in our lives. I had an opportunity to speak this week at an 8th grade graduation. That combined with Swan Wedding 2017, I have been crazy busy this past week. So here is a post to make up for the last two missed posts.

This is the speech I was able to give to the 8th grade class at Country Christian School last night. I hope you enjoy.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

 

Congratulations 8th Grade Class at Country Christian School.

I am so excited to be a part of your day, sharing what God has placed on my heart.

I want to take a look at the poem I just read. In this poem, written by Robert Frost we see a man coming to a fork in the road. At this junction, the man must make a choice, this choice is between a road that many have taken, one that is easy, one that will rarely be lonely. This road is wide, this road is even, and the scenes are what we can expect. This is the road we are told by society to take.

The other path is a path that is narrow, a path that is overgrown with branches and shrubs. This path is not taken often, the end result is unknown, and there will be times that you may want to turn back dueto the tough turain. This path is a mystery, a path that the world tells us not to take. This path can often be lonely, this path may lead you wondering why you took the path in the first place. Each step forward is a step into an unknown place. But when you walk fervently forward, you will get to see what few see, you will grow, you will be stretched, and in the end you will see how God blesses those taking that path less traveled.

As you look around this room you are surrounded by those that love and support you, you see your friends and family who have all had to make that same choice. Will I choose the road with a destination I can see, or will I choose that path that is less taken, will I trudge through the wilderness, seeking the life that God has called me to.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

As students at Country Christian School you have had an amazing opportunity to build your educational foundation in the truths found in scripture. Each class showing how Christ works in all and through all. This foundation is a launching point into your future. A catalyst into this journey we call life. Each of you responsible for the decision you make and the consequences that come with those decisions. Each of you being grounded in the truth of the gospel has prepared you for this fork in the road.

Like in a race, we must prepare ourselves for this journey.IMG_1308

What happens when the path we take gets too hard, what happens, when we are left alone standing firm in our convictions when those around us seem to be drifting away. The road I challenge you to take will not be easy, are you ready. Are you ready to stand firm.

I believe you are!

As each of us have seen throughout this evening, you are prepared, you have been trained, and you are ready to take on the road not taken. You are surrounded by a support system that loves you and wants to see you succeed. Each of you are surrounded by people who believe in you, who know that you have what it takes to run in a way to win the race.

As the summer turns into fall, each of you will have an opportunity to choose a path to step forward on. Will you choose the path that of least resistance. The one that is easy, the one that will get you a participation ribbon. Or will you choose the road not taken, will you endure the hard times, knowing that in Christ you can run a race to win the prize.

We believe in you,

McKenna

Bryleemae

Demi

Kaden

Marita

Dylon

Georgia

Ryan

Abigail

Emily

Presley

Irisa

Drew

Tristan

Lily

Elijah

We Believe in you!

Take the road less traveled, and though it may be difficult at times, I promise you, it will be worth it.

Thank you.

Week 11 of 52: A Week of Humility

IMG_1259Praise the LORD all you gentiles!

Praise the LORD all you peoples!

For HIS merciful kindness is great toward us,

And the truth of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD !

This week has been hectic, so much so that this post is coming out about 4 days late.

As I sit here writing this, I look back at a week full of life, a week full of anxiety, and a week full of God’s continued faithfulness.

This week started off as I had some work done on my mouth. The process was nothing too extravagant, and it brought about two months of pain in my mouth to an end. Though any time you have any work done there is a bit of angst that comes along with the the journey, more so I was overwhelmed with the financial burden of having dental work done.

I don’t know if I realized what it really meant to be an adult until I had to trust fully that God is going to take care of the finances that come with the procedure.

During this time I have also been house sitting for a family at the church who have two very energetic dogs. I didn’t realize that dogs could be nocturnal, but these dogs proved that I don’t know everything. From barking and jumping on my bed to lick my face, my sleep pattern has been an adventure.

I don’t think that any one of these items would bring me to my knees, but the combination of life, lack of sleep, finances, and dogs constantly testing my stability and patience, I am brought to a place where I realize that I have nothing, and the LORD has everything. I am brought to a place of humility where I am reminded how blessed I am to be able to walk step by step, knowing that I have a good Father who desires to know me in a deeper way. IMG_1290

Through trusting HIM, I am able to see how God is continually drawing me closer to HIM, how each step that I take, He has built me a firm foundation to move forward in.

I wish I could say I have have it all under control, but that would be prideful and not true. What I can say is that HE has it under control, HE has my finances, HE has my hope, HE has my future.

Psalms 117 is very simple, praise the LORD, HE is kind, HIS love endures forever.

I am so blessed to know that even through this week filled with anxiety I am not alone, and I can, in peace, give that anxiety to the God who cares not just about me on a surface level, but cares about my finances, my mental well being, my dreams and passions. I get to serve a God who is bigger than my fears, He lives outside my understandings, and truly desires the best for HIS children.

So my prayer is this…

Lord, may I sing praise in the good and the bad, may I see your faithfulness when I don’t know what is next. Lord may I bring you glory in how I walk, each step moving toward you, even when I don’t know what that looks like. Lord may you be my foundation, may my life reflect your will. May I be a light in darkness, may I be truth where truth is not the accepted dialect. Amen

Week 10 of 52: My Dirt Road Anthem

IMG_1258Some days are meant for country songs and back road drives. These days aren’t planned in advance, they have no agendas, and have no schedule. Sometimes these days last a quick minute, sometimes these days last a weekend. On these drives a person is transported to a simpler time, a time where there are no deadlines, and tiredness is wiped away, you are reminded where you came from, and the dreams of the future flow like a river.

I am realizing the importance of these days in my own life. Days to rest, reflect, and to see how blessed I am to be doing the work of God daily. So often in my pursuit of having a relationship with Jesus I forget to observe to process. Seeing how each moment has lead up to now, how every failure has led to moments of triumph, how every unanswered question has led me into a deeper understanding of His unconditional love for me.IMG_1233

The purpose of these drives is not to dwell in the past, but to remember how God is continually doing work in our lives. Allowing us to move forward, seeing that through the highs and lows He is ultimately in the drivers seat. Sometimes the road doesn’t make sense, sometimes the road seems like it’s going in the wrong direction from what makes sense in our minds, but in the end the destination is just around the corner.

A year ago I knew that I would be working in youth ministry, I knew I would be planning camps, and that I would be stressing out over speakers and if the lake was going to be high enough. A year ago I figured I would be making a little more money and be able to start making a dent in my student loans. A year ago I thought that I knew the path that God had placed in front of me. Today, I am seeing how God has used this year of switchbacks and unknowns to draw me closer to Him. Today, I am seeing that by not working with high school students I am able to make a larger impact on the body of Christ, creating community, bringing people together, hearing stories, and getting a glimpse of how the body is meant to work.

IMG_0829It’s these back country roads that reveal to me that where I am today is not the destination, but where I need to be to continue on the journey that God has placed me on.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit interceded for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. “

Romans 8: 26-30

These unknowns, these times of doubt and questioning if I had heard God correctly, have purpose in my life, they have purpose in the Kingdom of God. For all things work together for good.

IMG_0951I know that I used this verse a couple weeks ago, but it’s a verse that God has put on my heart these past couple months and one that not only hits me where I am at, but one that speaks truth. The storm you are walking through has purpose, and I pray that when we look back we see that the drive was worth it.

Today i don’t need to write pages, instead I am going to take advantage of the beautiful weather, my Whiskey Town parking pass, and the abundance of back roads in Redding, CA.

Week 9 of 52: A Dream

This morning while I sat drinking my coffee in a local cafe, I had an opportunity to share my story. I entered the door carrying “Peace Child” a book written by Don Richardson, a missionary about a tribal community that went from “Cannibals to Christ Followers.” To be honest I am still working on the first page, but it opened up an opportunity for the young man sitting behind the cash register to ask the questions whirling through his head.

As I drank my coffee and ate my bagel, we started talking about the importance of international missions, how one person can step out of their comfort zone and transform a nation by simply being obedient to the call. He shared his experience doing short term work and how he desires to one day step back into the mission field spreading the word of God across the nations to unreached people groups. He is just waiting for that door to open.

IMG_1255.JPGAs we discussed life the conversation turned to me, what do I do, what is my passion, what is my dream?

These questions made me think, vocational ministry is still a new avenue I am on. As I sit here just two years into my journey at Little Country Church, I often forget to look back on why I took that first step. As we talked I was able to share my role of Community Life Coordinator to him, how God has allowed me to walk in my gifting, creating community, building a culture of hospitality, and being a part of stories. I was able to share my heart for KOINONIA, the idea of coming together for one purpose, having community and fellowship that point towards Jesus Christ.

It was in sharing these things that I was reminded of the answer to the second question. What is my passion?

My heart and passion is to see lives transformed. We live in a place where the average person has been broken down and beat up before they even leave the house. I want to see hope found for the hopeless. Not just a sense of hope, but truly realizing that through Jesus Christ there is hope! I want to see those that have been told they are worthless to realize that through Jesus they are made worthy! And I want to see those without a home to see that they are home in the Body of Christ!

We have an opportunity as believers to show our broken world that it is not too late. We can love greatly, speak life, share the truth, and trust that God is good. This leads me to the final question…what is my dream?

My dream is to not get lost in the walls of the church bubble, but to live as Christ. How we live speaks much louder than how we say we live. Will we talk about loving the least of these, or will we love the least of these. My dream is to see the Church be a place where restoration can take place, and through Jesus it does take place. My dream is to see people coming together in KOINONIA, coming together for the soul purpose of giving praise to the one true God!

As we talked about these things I was reminded why I stepped into vocational ministry two years ago. I took that leap of faith because God has given me a dream, and through that dream He has given me a passion. I love that I am able to walk in these passions, that God is using me to bring HOPE to a generation that lives without hope. I am able to LOVE deeply, not just believers, not just the desirable, but all people. Lastly I get an opportunity to show people that Jesus is alive and is moving!

Sometimes we lose sight of the journey we are on, but when we take a step back, we are reminded that God has us exactly where we are supposed to be! We just need to take that step, and see that our God is doing work!

Week 8 of 52: The Serial Groomsman Part 1

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s amazing that in the past 10 years I have been in 16 weddings as a groomsman. With those 16 weddings I have been able to witness some amazing moments as two become one. Each time it is a moment that reminds me how powerful a connection between two people can be. In these weddings, at that moment, it doesn’t matter what has happened earlier in the day, or if there was family drama the day before, at that moment, nothing else, no one else, matters.

As I prepare for wedding number 17, I am reminded of these experiences, and recognize the honor it is to be asked to stand by the side of a friend as they enter into a covenant with the woman of their dreams.

So in honor of the 16 couples that have been blessed to have me by their side, I want to share one of my most memorable moments that will one day grace the pages of my future book, “The Serial Groomsman”. I am hoping this book can be a Rom Com similar to 27 dresses, I just have to figure out the end.IMG_1252

The year was 2014 and I was about to walk down the aisle for the 3rd time in a period of 6 days. You could say this was the center of wedding season for me. My schedule was full, and thankfully the bride and groom were understanding. The grooms mother picked up our clothes from the local JCPenney, and we were ready to go. We spent the day before at rehearsal dinner eating amazing grub, sharing stories of how we met the couple, and spending the rest of the evening in prayer for the future of this amazing family. As we dozed off to the images of sugar plums dancing in the air, and the smell of freshly made cake wafting in the distance. This was sure to be the Wedding of the decade.

In the morning we woke up early in attempt to get ready for a day full of pictures. We picked up our assigned outfits in preparation for the day, the ones that were picked out for us, and we went our separate ways to get the day going.

We realized quickly that there is a reason Men’s Warehouse fits each one of their suits to the person who will be wearing their suits. As I put on my pants one leg at a time I realized that this was going to be a tight situation. Slowly as the situation became more bleak, a second realization occurred, in the scurry of wedding preparation we realized that these pants were missing a crucial part of any wearable pants. You see there is part of a zipper called the Slider that allows you to close the pants with ease. Without this, the zipper itself is deemed useless by those in the zipper industry.IMG_1253

With panic a trip was made to the local JCPenney to hopefully find an alternative pair, only to find that the pants were the last of their kind, and somehow, this will all have to work out.

When we returned back to the house we were greeted by the photographer ready to get images of the preparation process. After a long session of brainstorming in pants that didn’t quite fit, and couldn’t quite close, it was determined that the pants must be sewn shut, and because the pants just barely fit over my badonkadonk, the best course of action would be to sew these pants closed with me inside them.

For the next 15-20 minutes each of the groomsmen took their attempt at closing the barn door, all quickly realizing they have never sewn, or even attempted to sew. After each of these failed attempts, as the wedding seemed to approach quicker and quicker we began to give up hope. These pants may never close, so we sent out an SOS to all those involved with the wedding.

After what seemed like an eternity we received a text from a woman that was overseeing the girls house at this wedding. At this point I had heard stories of this lady, but I had never met her, the thought of a stranger sewing my pants closed with me in them terrified me to say the least, but I remembered that the day was not my own. My job was to stand by my friends, and if that meant taking one for the team I was going to do so.IMG_1249

We drove a quick minute over to the house the bride and her bridesmaids were getting ready in. As the rest of the men sat outside the door, remaining their distance from the bride prior to the unveiling later that day, I stepped inside to a woman standing at the stairs with a needle and thread. Without words she stepped up to me, and with a stern serious face, in a less than empathetic voice proclaimed, “Don’t worry, I’m a nurse, I’ve done way worse stuff down here.”
Here is to another season of Weddings, here is to another love story, and here is to the unsung heroes that really make a wedding happen.

I am thankful for the memories, and hope to never have to be sewn into pants again.

Week 7 of 52: Climbing Mountains

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If you were to ask me 10 years ago when I walked out the doors of Hidden Valley High School, where I would be in 10 years. The words Redding, California, would probably be the last words expected to come out of my mouth.

Yes Redding has some beautiful lakes and streams, but there is nothing alluring about 110 degree temperature throughout most of the summer. Redding is hot, and besides it’s terrain, all it has to offer is In-N-Out. I didn’t see myself making Redding my home, I didn’t see myself finding a community of like minded Christian people, and I didn’t see myself making myself at home at a not so little church, barely in the country. I didn’t understand the appeal 10 years ago, I didn’t know that this adventure called life would lead me to a place I just didn’t understand.

Ten years later I have come to a place where I am starting to understand the appeal. I admit the beauty does not compare to Grants Pass, but again Oregon is God’s gift to America. I am starting to see why people move to Redding, despite it’s horrific summers. The trails and waterfalls, lakes and streams declare a creator, the town has a charm filled with history, and the body of Christ is alive and well.
What a difference a span of 10 years can make. The journey has brought me all over the world, living in 3 different states, at least 10 different residences, at least 10 different jobs, and many unanswered questions about where the journey is taking me. Over the past 10 years I have made countless connections, building relationships that have changed me for the better, seeing how we were all created differently but with one common purpose, to see that God is given the glory.

Saturday  I had an opportunity to spend the evening sitting around a camp fire near Whiskeytown Reservoir sharing testimony, IMG_1212spending time worshiping through music, and seeing how we can come along side one another in encouragement. This night was planned, but unexpected. Each of us came from a different place, a different back ground. Each person brought their own experiences, their own journey, and had an opportunity to lay it out in front of the creator.

As we went around the circle giving praise to Jesus Christ, for what He is doing in our lives, a friend of mine shared a statement that I want to share with you. “If you are climbing a mountain and only focus on the top, you miss out on the way up. What happens if you get turned around because of weather, are you going to focus on what you missed out on, or focus on what you got to see, what you get to see?” The quote isn’t exact, but the heart behind it is hopefully there.

Ten years ago I didn’t know what my life was going to look like today. I don’t know what my life will look like in 10 years. I don’t know what my life will look like tomorrow, but I would like to say if things don’t work out as I plan, or how I expect I will still be able to see how God is working in my life. I look back on these past 10 years and I see how each moment, each change, each unexpected twist, has helped me to be where I am today.

I look at the friendships that have formed me, encouraged me, driven me deeper into my walk with the Lord. I look at the houses full of roommates that have shown me how to live life with people, and how each co-worker has given me a glimpse into human nature.

This journey isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always clean. Like climbing a mountain, there are always snags along the journey, but with each snag comes a moment of beauty, a vista point that allows you to see a glimpse of the artwork of the Father formed with us in mind.

When the storm comes in and we are turned away from the peak, are we going to focus on that missed opportunity, or are we going to focus on what we got to experience. I am realizing that we aren’t always meant to get to the top, we aren’t always meant to stand at the peak, sometimes, it is the journey that God is using to reach us, it is the journey that God speaks to us, and when we are so focused on the top, we miss what He has planned for us.

I didn’t end up the man 18 year old Adam expected, instead I am becoming the Man God created me to be. It wasn’t the mountain tops that got me here, it was the switchbacks, it was the unexpected waterfalls, it was the caverns and walls placed in front of me. Sometimes we just need to pause and take a look at what God has for us here and now.

Take a moment and see what God is doing in your life. Are you the man or woman God designed you to be, or are you focused on the mountain top you didn’t get to stand on. Are you so focused on the missed opportunities, that you are missing the countless things God has placed in front of you? Take a moment, look around, and know that you are not on this journey alone!