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!

Week 6 of 52: Reflection

Today is a day of reflection, over the past two years my life has transformed. It was this week two years ago that I put my notice in at Simpson University. At the time I though I knew where life was taking me. At the time I was content with the life I had dreamed up.

If I knew then what I know now, I don’t know if I would have taken the leap into vocational ministry. If I would have seen the tears and confusion, the loss and the hurt I have walked through the past 24 months, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to take the leap.

What started with a decision to walk in faith has led to countless opportunities to continue walking forward. Many of these moments didn’t make sense, some mountains seemed impossible to get over, only to get past and realize they were mere mole hills.

As I sit and reflect on this day I see how God has given me opportunities to be used in ways I never expected. This week I was able to host a prayer walk and daily morning of prayer and worship at LCC. Sunday I shared the gospel message with a man outside the doors of Little Country. Friday was filled with worship and praise at 4 different services.

I would not be able to experience this love being poured out over me, if I didn’t take that single step two years ago.

Over the past two years I was able to help bring Stephanie Fast, and amazing author and speaker to HBC 2016, where I was then able to see many young people give their life to the Lord. over the past two years I was able to see acquaintances become family, and see as God fulfilled promise after promise.

It would be a lie to tell you there are never doubts, that all times are good times. But it would also be a lie to say it isn’t worth it. God has been showing me each step of the way more about who He created me to be. Each step is difficult, by the reward is amazing. I am thankful I didn’t know how hard this journey would be, and at times still is. Each step of faith is drawing me closer to the Father, each step is showing me that He is good, and He is faithful. Each step reveals to me that even when we think hope is lost, Hope is always found in Jesus Christ.
He is risen indeed!

If you are on the brink of a step and don’t know how to move forward, move forward in Christ! He will direct your path!IMG_0963

Week 5 of 52: Perspective

Perspective:

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He Called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

In the wake of recent events, this verse has been bombarding my thoughts. The idea that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” What does this mean.

I want to make this short and to the point, so here it is.

“All things” work together! The hard, incomprehensible things work together for the good! I wish this was easy, I wish it meant it’s all going to be fine and dandy along the journey.

As a believer things are going to get difficult, there are days that you will wonder if it is all worth it, and there will be a lot of tears.

But I promise you one thing! God is good, His word is truth, and it will all work out in the end. You may not even see how it works out, but it will be worth it.

When we accept this, when we see that God is good, when we change our perspective, we will be so blessed to see God working in and through our lives! IMG_1155.JPG

Week 4 of 52: American Dream

In he spring of 2002 a new show swept the nation, leaving names like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson as house hold names. Year after year lives were changed. Ordinary people, getting extraordinary opportunities to live the life of their dreams. All it took was one audition, 3 judges, and a dream to make a reality.

I was in the 7th grade when Kelly Clarkson one that first season of American Idol. It was the story that swept the nation, a Texas girl winning over America, showing us all that the American Dream was not dead.

A few seasons later I remember sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room in Port Orchard, Washington as Carrie Underwood was predicted to not only win, but to do better than any other American Idol winner after she belted out a captivating version of Heart’s Alone.

These memories became dreams for me, not to win American Idol, but to find a job that I love, to find a life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So many people in my generation went from being stuck in their small to being able to live out their dreams. All because of a simple show 15 years ago.

Some trade their small town for a dream of adventure, some seek financial stability or a family at a young age, and some just want to make the world a better place. Over the last 10 years since graduating high school I have been on a journey to find out what my dream is, what my passion is, what my calling is. I graduated college, worked a couple different jobs, and two years ago walked away from it all and stepped into vocational ministry realizing that my dream was inside me the whole time, my calling was there, I just had to pick up the phone.

My American dream is being stuck in student debt knowing that God will always provide. My American dream is knowing that every Sunday I get to see live changed with a simple hello. My American dream is knowing that I get to walk each day trusting that I serve a God who is greater than I.

When stepping out of higher education I didn’t know how it was going to work. I kept a part time job at Kohl’s to make sure all my bills could be paid. Then I heard God ask my if I trusted Him. When I stepped into full time ministry, I realized that in keeping my Job at Kohl’s I was only half walking in what God had called me to do. I realized that in keeping my job, I was not actually trusting Him, but trusting that I could take care of my self. A year or so later as I didn’t know what was next I began to look at jobs across the US. Seeing if ministry was in my future. I remember sitting at the computer and again feeling that nudge on my heart, “Do you trust Me?” I realized that in my calling to ministry, I still had doubts and still wanted to make my world make sense to me, instead of allowing God to work as He had said He would.

Every time I submit to Him, He provides in amazing ways. Every time I submit to Him, I am able to see my dreams come alive.

Last week in my post I talked about the importance of prayer. How we must seek God daily, praying to Him. This week I want to encourage you to listen. What is God trying to show you, how is He trying to work in your life? Are you allowing Him to move in you, or are you trying to be the one that keeps your world making sense?

My life isn’t always comfortable, my financial situation may not be exactly what I expected, but I know that I am always provided for. I just have to step in faith, step in front of the 1 judge, and He will make my dreams a reality.

Take some time, dream, see what God has put on your heart, and know that He is good.IMG_1130

 

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.