Breakthrough

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I don’t know if it’s just me or the fact that I was raised hearing, breathing, living missions, but whenever I hear stuff I usually try applying them to a missional sense.

When we picked Breakthrough for the theme of July, I thought back to the mission stories.

How many times everything seemed to be against the missionaries at some point or another.  And then something would happen, most of the time the thing that would happen would seem to be some type of disaster, but it would open up a huge door to the place they would be reaching out to!

It only happened after they had endured attacks, hate for God, and just plain uncomfortable circumstances.  The thing that helped them last till the end was that they had purpose & passion from God for what they were doing, and a hope for the future because they believed God had greater plans for these people. They received a breakthrough from what ever trial or culture block they were having with the people they were ministering too.

(The below is from Perspectives, work books.)

Purpose

We were made to live for purpose. God himself lives for purpose.  The way to live with significance is to devote yourself to a purpose that is larger than your life.

Passion

Passion is the heart set free to pursue that which is truly worthy.  Those who set their hearts on what is most worthy- the glory of God- live with joy-filled abandon. Their hearts are both seized and satisfied with the ambition for Jesus to be ardently worshiped. That love comes to domination and integrate all other desires so that they live in the freedom of single-minded purpose.

Hope

God has called us to live our lives as a bold act of hope. To hope is not merely to wish for small improvements of personal circumstances.  Hope expects all things. large or little, to be overwhelmed and filled with the immense glory of Christ. Thus, true hope pursues global glory and total triumph over evil.  Lives of hope can face great evil with relentless courage, since there is no telling how soon God will break through with ultimate victory.

Breakthrough

To breakthrough is to begin the finish.  From Satan’s point of view, a missiological breakthrough permanently penetrates the darkness of his domain.  From God’s point of view, He is at long last welcomed. known and followed.  From people’s point of view, breakthroughs introduce enduring hope.  Breakthroughs are turing points in history. It’s hard to imagine being part of anything more enduring significance.

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Not A Coincidence

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Some people believe in chance or coincidence but I believe in Gods divine plan… A plan much bigger then anything I or anyone could ever see happening. This past week I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to an Indian reservation located in Eagle Butte, South Dakota! My youth group went through an organization called Youth Works and honestly, we had one of the most amazing times.  What a great chance for all of us to bond together as friends in Christ. We did various things from kids clubs to cleaning out their local high school and from painting houses to working at a day care! But there was one thing we did that really stands out at the front of my mind. While we were there, my crew had the opportunity to work with a local soup kitchen. The one day we were serving we had spaghetti, salad, watermelon, cookies, coffee, and water! It was a super hot day so the good folks of the town were a little slow coming and I personally said to myself, “Wow, we did all this work to prepare this food and no one is showing up to enjoy it!”  As the day went on, more and more people started filling the tables. As part of our jobs we were asked to sit with people, talk with them, and really let them know they were important and their lives mattered. A lady from the town came in and got her food but the place was getting a little crowded so she went and sat outside under the shade of some trees. I decided to sit with her. While we sat and talked another man came and joined us.  He had a bulletin in his hand from a service of a little girl who had recently died and with that moment a new a new conversation started. The lady who I was talking with told me how she didn’t believe in God but had never really thought much about it. When she saw the bulletin I could tell something was wrong. I asked if she was ok. She told me that just 3 weeks ago her daughter died. She started to cry. It was no coincidence that God had me there. It was no coincidence that God had that woman there. It was no coincidence. God had it planned all along.  God had a plan that I would be able to share that my baby brother had died. He had it planned that I would be able to pray with her and tell her about God. It was no coincidence, He had it planned.  And I’ll be honest, it was scary to follow God’s plan. I was afraid she would get up and leave and I was afraid she would yell or be put off by my asking to pray and share with her! But God had it planned. She didn’t react in any of those ways.  She actually was grateful that I took the time to pray with her.  Don’t be afraid to follow God’s plan. Don’t be afraid of what will happen while you are in the midst of following His plan.  It may not be the easiest thing you have ever done, but God will be walking with you each word and step of the way.  Speak out and speak up! Be bold, have faith, it’s not a coincidence.

 

 

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The Mountain in The Desert

A Narrative of Provision from Miriam’s perspective

The tent flap hit gently against the pole with a dense and rhythmic sound. Strands of hair clung to her cheek from the humid air inside. She needed to begin the day, but wondered how long she could prolong her laziness before someone in a neighboring tent would come running to beg for her help.

She stretched and stood. The Earth beneath her feet in her little tent was warm and damp with morning humidity. There were things that needed to be tended to. Water to fetch, food to ration. Perhaps today the group of women she took with her to try and gather a meal for tonight would be more willing than yesterday. For all their work, for all their methods of survival in the captivity of Egypt, nothing had prepared them for this wilderness. They did not know how to survive on their own, and though their God had proved his provision, and had kept them protected this long, many in their band of refugees doubted.

And why not? When He was not a present face. When He only revealed himself in miracles so outstanding that they were scarce to be believed. How were they to understand Him?

But, she thought, maybe in His miracles He was trying to show them that he was more watchful than they assumed. Perhaps He knew of their fickleness, and even in that had not abandoned them. What then was in then that he saw fit to preserve?

She wound her hair up and stepped out onto the cracking ground of the desert. This morning, a thin cluster of clouds hung above the camp, though the sky past the camp was clear. The clouds moved like steam rising from a hot bath. She watched the tendrils of vapor curl, as if churning up a storm that was unseen.

That morning, she noticed, the ground was not as hard and unyielding as the days since they had come to this desert. It was cool and damp, and there was something she could not define that felt different in the air. Something that felt promising.

For two months now they had wandered, and the people had become restless. She had seen the weary look on her brothers’ face while they tried to console the worrying people, to ensure them that they should trust and not doubt that their God knew their needs. But in poverty it was easy to forget His words. The further they traveled from Egypt, the more she noticed that their group walked with more distance from each other. Families grew apart. Friends found fault in one another. Like animals growing fearful of each other. With tensions between their people rising, she sensed that a promise was not far away. And yet she could not bring herself to cling to it and dwell on when it would come.

The camp was silent, tents unmoved. While they still slept, she could steal away for a moment to herself before the morning of chores began.

Away from their cluster of tents, the ground here was rough and rocky like she remembered. Maybe it was imagination, or coincidence that clouds had drifted to cover their tents to provide a cool reprieve.

Her walk took her out towards a cleft of rocks, some distance from the people. She climbed, trekking for the highest point to sit a few moments in peace. But ahead of her, a figure was there already. He sat with his sandals untied beside him. She recognized his wiry beard when he glanced toward her, the eyes that had unchanged since he was just a child, though the rest of him had grown to be so different. The eyes that never ceased their wonder though his face had grown old. She wondered if he had expected any of this; that they would be outcasts among their own people. That unhappiness would be bred from fleeing a life of only death. That he could not solve all of the problems they would face. That she would not be able to watch for his safety like she had done by the river all those years ago.

They watched each other, unspeaking for several moments. For this moment, they were not confronted with problems to fix, not facing the uncertainty that the humid desert air hung on them like a mantle.

Then something in his eyes switched and he peered back over the camp where the whispy cloud still loomed. An excited cry was growing there, rising toward their asylum on the highest jet of rock. She could see specks of people milling around there now, like hungry ants. The ground of their camp was covered in a ribbon of white that was visible even from their distance. The cap of a mountain in the middle of a wasteland.

Her brother was standing now, leaning heavily on his staff.

It could’ve been snow, or frost. An impossible thing to see here, in this land that had brought them nothing but derision. The two journeyed back to their camp on separate paths, and when he reached the people before her he was swallowed amongst them when they fought to show him handfuls of this strange substance. People had brought their baskets and some had even used cloth folded as sacks to gather whatever this curious gift was.

She bent to gather a handful for herself, and was surprised to feel that her hands were not burned by the cold rime. It was soft, yet crumbly. It cracked easily in her fingers. Bread. This was bread. From the sky. From their God. A reminder that He had not yet left them. That He still saw them, and knew them, and wanted to know them.

And when she finally tasted the flat and crumby bread, she couldn’t remember wanting for anything more wonderful.

A Note from Cori Roberts: I have always identified a lot with Moses in my walk with God. I seem to get put in a place of having an opportunity before me to speak for Him, but I can’t or at least I don’t trust myself to. Miriam intrigues me as well. She’s one of the first female leaders we read of in the Bible, and I get the idea that she was an optimistic person, but later grows weary and turns against Moses (as we read in Numbers 12). She is not a perfect leader and neither are her brothers and so many others we read about. We don’t get all the details for the actions they took so we have to draw our own conclusions. I wanted to write this piece to reflect the not-too-detailed narrative of the Bible and still be able to explore characteristics of Moses and Miriam that we might not have seen. My walk with God has been filled with time after time of breakthrough, when I am in seasons of change and feel separate from God. But when I look back to Him, our relationship is so much deeper. I do not think God inflicts distance or trial on us, but promises it as a learning experience, and promises us that He will be with us through it and draw us closer through it. A major theme with the story of the Israelites finding their Promised Land is God constantly trying to draw them closer while the people tried to pull away. I think even Miriam and Moses had those qualities.

 “And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’” – Deuteronomy 3:12

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Learning What to Trust

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My arms weakly, slowly lifted my body to an upright position. I sat, swaying back and forth on my unmade bed. I brought my hand to my face, then through my unkempt hair onto my clothes, which were wet from tears. Grunting loudly, I got out of bed. God was supposed to hear my (dramatic) grunt. I wanted Him to hear my distraught disappointment with what He is doing in my life.

“God, I trusted you!” And look where it left me. 

 

What is it like to trust God? From my experience, trusting God can result in disappointment or complete satisfaction. There is one main factor determining which of these I experience.

This determining factor is: WHAT am I trusting God to do?

This distinction of trust is significant. If I am trusting God to provide happiness for me, for Him to give me an easy life, and for Him to never take away things I hold closely, I am most likely going to be disappointed.

This has been my story for years. I prayed for a miracle just to receive the opposite. As a result, I determined that trusting God was pointless. It took so much effort to trust that He would take care of me and answer my prayers, and then I would be ignored (or at least that’s what I thought).

BUT, to put it simply, I was trusting in the wrong things.

God never tells us that trusting in Him will give us a painless, perfect life. I knew this in my head, but not in my heart. The way that Christian culture speaks of God’s provision only leaves room for God’s blessings to be what we want, not what He knows is best. We often speak of God’s blessings as marriage and friendship and new jobs. We don’t consider that some of God’s greatest blessings to us could be breakups, layoffs, and time to ourselves.

God wants to answer our prayers, but only with what He considers ‘good.’ No matter how much we ask for a less-than-the-best thing, He will not give it to us. I could beg God for the chance to marry Leonardo DiCaprio. After all, marriage is a Godly request. Even if He says “no” to my marriage with Leo out of His love for me, I could see Him as cruel and never trust Him again. I could be disappointed and determine that prayers don’t work. The only reason we can accept His “no” as a blessing from Him is by trust. This is true for accepting his “no” in all things: we need trust. But trust in what?

When we trust God to give us only what we consider good for us, we will likely be disappointed. This is not what God promised us. I would constantly feel let down by God for not giving me things that He never promised me.

He promised me even more. 

God IS trustworthy, and here are some things He is trustworthy to be and give:

 

1. God works for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

It’s hard to trust in this when we experience pain or worse yet, when loved ones die too early. How can God work for our good when loved ones die? There are many mysteries in the world, but we know that God sees death differently than we do. He never wanted pain and death for us…BUT He never wanted us to live in this imperfect world forever. His goodness wouldn’t allow it. He wants to offer us heaven and wants to show His glory on earth. Those good things will forever eclipse our idea of good. Even if my life is hard, God knows that a hard life knowing God is better than a perfect life without knowing God.

2. God wants all people, loves all people, and will pursue all people.

We can trust that He wants to offer His salvation and eternal goodness to everyone. He wants every person to Himself and He will endlessly pursue all. We trust that He knows what we do not. He knows people’s hearts and people’s futures. I have complete trust that God does not sit in heaven, waiting to end our lives the first moment we fall away from faith. He is not trying to trick us. Maybe God, seeing every man’s future, will not cut a man’s life short if He knows (like only He could) that His conversion is coming. (Or) Maybe He somehow appeals to people before they die. WHO KNOWS! BUT, I do know that God loves all and wants all, and I trust that He handles issues like this fairly and gracefully, as only He could. I also trust that He is almighty and wise. He knows what He is doing, and we better believe it is in love.

3. While on earth, God wants for us to be with Him. 

He wants us to know our worth and to be a part of His kingdom with Him. He calls us “coheirs.” We can trust that God did not send us to this earth to be purposeless wanderers. Even more, we can trust that He wants us to have endless joy and peace. He enables freedom. He knows how much heaviness is on the world and He WANTS us to be free from that fear and depression. He gives us His Spirit to help.

4. There will be pain.

Though He offers to deliver us from despair and depression, He tells us that there will be trouble on earth. We can trust in this. Though there is pain, we know it is temporary. We also know that, somehow, God will use it for good. He will show us more of Himself through any kind of hurt. We can trust that there will be death and sin, but we can also trust that He empathizes with us and uses even our worst pains to bring us closer to Him- enabling the greatest joy of being with God.

5. The pressure is off of us.

We trust that God took the brunt of our sin. We no longer have to be perfectionist strivers. He has told us that, because of our belief in Jesus, He is with us and does not need us to be flawless in order to earn His presence. He covers our sin and forgives us. We are clean! We can trust that nothing we ever do will separate us from His love.

 

When I realized what I was trusting about God, I began to put all of my choices in His hands. Now, when I trust Him and I am hurt in return, I do not recoil my trusting hand. I know that His goodness is inconceivable to me at times, but completely trustworthy. When I pray and God answers with a breakup, layoff, and time alone, I want to be so trusting in God that I thank Him for the provision that I cannot see. Though I believe He wants me to pray for what I want (what would make me happy), I have full trust that when the opposite of my request happens, God is not ignoring or hating me. God wants to answer our prayers, but only when they lead to His ultimate good. Though we do not understand how this could be true at times, He asks us to trust that He does understand. He asks us to trust that He works for the good of those who love Him, that He pursues all people, that He is with us, and that regardless of pain experienced, He saves us and the pressure is off of our own deeds. I have experienced this kind of trust in the last month, and along with it, I have experienced joy tenfold. Trusting God’s goodness on His terms has given me hope. I feel freedom to ask Him for things in prayer without fear that He won’t answer. I KNOW He will answer in the way that is best, and for that -despite my confusion- I am thankful.

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Vulnerable Protection

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How did I find protection within being vulnerable? Good question. I have become familiar with keeping things to myself, having my own back, and hiding what is going on inside my head to protect myself from a multitude of things. However, I am finding that “staying safe” becomes unimportant when I am in love with Love Himself (God). Love has become my Protection, and love is vulnerability.

Protection for my physical body and safety for my heart have completely ceased to matter to me when the reputation of my Love Himself is on the line. I am now discovering a hidden treasure about Protection — He demands vulnerability, otherwise He is not needed. Plain and simple. Relating to Jesus’ pain has lead me to completely dismiss the process of considering any harm that might come to me on account of my endeavor to love people.

Love is not a very widely known person. Perhaps because vulnerability without “healing insurance” is terrifying.  I have discovered where I can find Protection and it is in the place I least expected it. Within vulnerability. But here is the kicker, He demands vulnerability for the sake of Love’s reputation, not yours. So this will not make sense to those who are not in love with Love Himself. What people often don’t realize is that just as Protection demands vulnerability so does vulnerability demand Protection. We must trust God. Nahum 1:7 says He KNOWS those who TRUST Him! Psalm 91:7 is practically guaranteeing that everyone around you could be falling dead to the ground but you will remain standing. Everyday, missionaries walk into what onlookers see as the heart of danger but they are rather walking in a protection that simply demanded vulnerability.

Love has made me a student, and something has been happening while I’ve been coming to this realization. I no longer even stop to think “Is this worth it?” or try weighing the value of love’s exchange for probabilities of harm. In fact, I think somewhere along the way I completely forgot to do that anymore. It took some long hard thinking in the great outdoors but now I know this is because of how strongly familiar I am becoming with love overpowering harm, the more I become vulnerable. No matter what comes to attack Love, the harm done can always be healed BY Love.

So why do I call this protection? Well I suppose knowing that I have what heals anything is the literal obliteration of fear for me. Without fear, vulnerability is simply not a problem! It makes me think of when kids these days get on those “kill and conquer” type video games and they run their character forward excitedly, despite the fact that they will very likely die. It isn’t a big deal to them because they know how to come back to life. Unlimited lives. Eternal life. I think learning how to be completely vulnerable for the sake of Love and learning to intentionally run forward excitedly into what people call certain death situations and conversations, is what has led me to hold the hand of Love himself. THAT is when I realized the protection and ease of knowing how to come back to life from any amount of vulnerability.

Being vulnerable is what revealed healing without limits. Any level of harm is not a big deal. Love’s literal “How To” handbook instructions on healing IS simple: Love itself . . . or shall I say Himself? Once again Love is protection and Love is vulnerability. So why even waste time considering the risk levels? I can be as vulnerable as I need to be with such a protection as He is . . . As for my next thought process I’m asking myself this question: To think that someone’s hate for me should increase my love for them is a foreign thought, right? Well that seems to be what Love has been teaching me to do next. As my vulnerability has been developing for the sake of Love, His protection has become unbelievable. It creates fearlessness. I would describe it as limitless oxygen for my mind, heart, and soul.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

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