The King on High

“Today is the day the Lord has made,
I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

As the sun rises in the morning, as we wake up in every season of life, we have two choices. Today can be one more day we barely survive, one that we get lost in the waves, a day that will consume us.

Or today could be a day that you choose joy, a day that you see God moving mountains, one that you see that even in the midst of the storm, if we keep our eyes on Christ, we too can walk on water.

Last week I had an opportunity to share with Country Christian School’s middle school students. The theme I was given was “The Man Behind the Curtain,” looking at Daniel 2:21 “He determines the course of world events; He removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.”

During today’s current cultural climate we are surrounded by waves ready to knock us on our butt’s. We try to walk eyes focused on Christ but instead are consumed by waves that the enemy uses to drown us in the same places the Lord has prepared for us to fly.

As I began to study for this message a had a few thoughts come to mind. First, the journey that Dorothy took to find the Wizard isn’t he Emerald City, was anything but smooth. It was filled with distractions, flying monkeys, and a very wicked green witch.

Along the way there were many moments that she should have stepped aside, taken off those shoes, and just cried on the side of the yellow brick road. Never actually meeting the man behind the curtain.

The Lord began to remind me of different Bible characters who went on their own “Yellow Brick Road” experience. I was reminded of a young man who was called to defeat a Giant on a battlefield of his superiors. A young man who was just bringing lunch to his brothers, a young man that would one day become king.

David was a man after God’s own heart, but his journey was not over night. The world around him wanted him to fail. His own father-in-law set out to kill him, hunting him, chasing him for almost 15 years. There were many times that David could have quit, he could have gone back to the hills where his sheep sleep at night and he could have let the waves of distraction sink him before he even stepped forward into God’s calling. He could have left that battlefield, but instead he sought the heart of the Lord and was obedient.

We look at the story of Joseph, the story of his beautiful coat, and the story of how his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph had every right to be bitter, he lived in shackles, was falsely accused of horrendous things, and yet at the end of the story, at the end of his “Yellow Brick Road” instead of acting out his anger or bitterness he blessed his brothers. There were many times Joseph could have quit, there were many times he could sat in his own pity. But instead he continued to focus on who God is, and he knew that God is good.

What are your waves, what are your prisons, what things are keeping your eyes off of God?

Matthew 14:28
But Immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come” and when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Each of us our on our own “Yellow Brick Road” experience. We are all given opportunities to step out of the boat. We are surrounded by waves and flying monkeys, we have our own Potiphar’s wives to deal with. The world is surrounding us. When this happens are we going to walk forward, or are we going to sink in the waters, are we even going to step out of the boat?

I look at all the moments in the Wizard of Oz that Dorothy and her little dog too could have quit on the trail. Moments where life was too difficult, she didn’t like what she saw, and was over whelmed with all life threw at her. David had many moments that he could have quit, just given up on life, allowing the enemy to have early victory in the land of Israel. Joseph could have died in that well, or given into temptation, and peter could have stayed on the boat.

“Today is the day the Lord has made,
I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

We don’t know the end results. We often walk up to mountains and wonder how we are going to get over them, only to realize God not only can get us over them, but He will move the mountain as if it were never in front of us.

We must keep our eyes on Him and know that even when the journey seems without hope, He has a plan so much bigger than we can imagine, and He is using these things in our lives to show us who He made us to be.

We can walk on water, we just need to keep our eyes on him.

Daniel 2:21 is a reminder to us that even when things don’t make sense we are not the ones in control. God has a plan, and even when it doesn’t make sense, or you are frustrated with someone in leadership. God is the one that placed them there, and He will be the one who makes sense of it all.

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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 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.