My Life Is Not My Own, It’s Yours.

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I feel like, even as a single woman, I’m starting to understand the whole “mommy blog shaming” parenting debate. You know, the one that goes along the lines of, “You’re doing it wrong… you’re poisoning your kids with Easy Mac… be more granola.” Sometimes y’all, I just feel like I FAIL at ministry. Ask my students, I’m no perfect missionary. And social media comparison is pretty much the worst.

It’s easy to look at other staff women’s Instagram accounts, at a pastor’s Facebook and feel like, “Shoot.. I do not even remotely measure up… Look at their discipleship chain… Why does my life feel so messy?… Can I just stop sinning like today, lord?” I literally feel like I was all, “Ha! I don’t have to be in the Mom Blog drama, suckaaa. Oh. Dang. Gina…. Social Media comparison is alive and well at every life stage.”

Luckily, I’m getting a a heaping dose of reality today from the actual source of life.

Some friends and I are doing a study over 1 + 2 Thessalonians. Now, I’m gonna be honest, because, well, to put it in Mom Blog terms, I like pretty granola and all, but I also like McDonalds… I’m a few weeks behind. I spent an extended time today trying to catch up, and dang gina. SO SO SO good. Talk about being challenged by the Holy Spirit, where there’s grace and truth, instead of through worldly comparisons that lack truth, or grace, and robs me of my joy.

 

I’ve been encouraged over and over again in how to walk with Jesus well, love others deeply and live life to be poured out as a drink offering. Godly conviction.

This has to start with me loving Jesus well. I will not love people (friends, family, students, co-workers) well apart from abiding in the One who is my source of life. Over and over again I’m reminded: Get in His presence. Take that time.

I used this example with my roommate the other day, as someone who struggles with anxiety, I feel like I have a fewwwwww holes in my cup. My cup runs dry so quickly when I’m not spending quality time processing with Jesus who He is, what His word says to me, who I am and how I’m feeling [I have a lot of feelings all the time]. When I allow these things to not be a priority, I burn out bad. Walking with Jesus in a deep way has to be number one.

Love people genuinely and well. Man, can I write about people in the way that Paul writes about the Thessalonians, with joy, emotion and an “all in” mentality? That’s scary to love people like that. Over and over again Paul expresses his concern and love for them and his JOY in the Thessalonians. He boldy proclaimed the gospel to them, with gentleness like a mother. He was affectionately desirous of them, ready to share his life (2:1-8).

Live life as a poured out drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of another’s faith. I think this one was the most convicting for me. In one of the questions, it had us cross reference 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 and Philippians 2:14-18. It asked the question:

Why exactly does Paul regard it as so important for himself that the ones he brings to faith should stand firm to the end? In what will Paul be boasting on the day of Christ’s coming?

Paul boasts in them. They are his spiritual children. His mommy-blog objects. Ha. It’s important in the same way you wouldn’t abandon your own children. This is a spiritual life. There is necessary growth, and things that can wreck havoc on one’s faith. It’s important to disciple and pour out your life into theirs so that they may stand firm. He was poured out for them, that they can shine as lights in the world and that they would hold fast to the word of life and cling to Christ.

The last question said, “How might it revolutionize our relationships on this earth to regard them in light of the end of the gospel story, the second coming of Christ?”

Dang Gina, again. I’m just given this picture of running onto a battlefield, rescuing people and we keep running together until we get to safety. Our safety is not ever promised here, but it’s promised in the coming Kingdom. I want continue to run this rescue mission of seeing lost students be turned into Christ-centered multiplying disciples. That we would reach the lost, run with them, see them continue in the faith, and have them grab more people to run with us until we either go to heaven or Jesus comes back. This vision must be kept in front of us.

I think keeping this in mind, would help me…

  • grow in grace and truth
  • persevere
  • greater faithfulness even in the midst of hurt
  • spur myself and others on to dip our hearts in the streams of life
  • spur people on to hold fast to the Word of life
  • urge, encourage, challenge and exhort people to live a life worthy of the calling
  • pour out my life for the sake of the gospel and…
  • push the edge of sacred space to all the nations

I’m so encouraged by this study and even though I fall so frickin’ incredibly short. I’m hopeful and thankful for growth that the Holy Spirit is doing in my life to push me to be more faithful to Christ, others and the calling He has on my life. Jesus is good.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”-Philippians 2:14-17

 

 

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The Undoing of The Tower of Babel

I love how intricately precise our God is in His redemptive plan. I cannot doubt the love He has for me knowing all the things and people He aligned in order for me to know Him. God is the redeemer of all the things that have gone awry through the fall. Here’s a few things I’ve been learning through the book of Acts and how it coincides with  Genesis 11.

And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with  the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:4-8

From my New Testament Survey class, I remembered to be looking for Acts 1:8 as a theme for the rest of the book.  One of the ways you can divide up Acts is geographically- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. We can see the expansion of the Church by where it began to spread, through whom, and how.

I continued reading and got to the Day of Pentecost. This was what the apostles were waiting for. Jesus, essentially, said, “Go back to Jerusalem, wait for this promised Holy Spirit that the Father is sending…” Now, I know this story. They were all together, hanging out, probably praying. Then this storm from Heaven came in through the room and everyone had the Holy Spirit fall on them and then they could speak in tongues. Cool. End of story.

Nope. Not even close.

As I was re-reading this, I saw a couple really cool things stick out that I wanted to share because it literally blew my mind.

1. God will plan an outreach without your foreknowledge and do it better than you would have.

The apostles + others just received the Holy Spirit and were uttering in these different languages. They created quite the stir and people from other countries that were in Jerusalem were drawn in. They heard the apostles and other Christians speaking in their native languages.  Now, before you’re like, “Maybe some of them were bilingual…”, from what I counted there were 11 nationalities represented. Eleven. I don’t even know what that would be.. Octolingual+1?

Not only are the apostles and other Christians speaking it, they are declaring the glory of God to them. They are preaching the Gospel to people of other languages  for the first time. Obviously Romans was written after this, but we see that faith comes through hearing. God’s heart is huge for the nations and for the people in your town, next door and the nations.

Y’all. This was the first international ministry outreach and it wasn’t even done on purpose. Well, God knew and planned it, but it wasn’t planned by the apostles. Peter stands up, preaches the gospel, and 3,000+ are saved.

2. The fact that “speaking in tongues” was the first thing the Holy Spirit did when He came to live in Christians is of great importance in showing the missional heart of our God.

Let’s remember, Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Synopsis: man wanted to make a name for themselves, so they all rallied together to build a city and tower that took them up to Heaven. They essentially, wanted to be gods and make a path to Heaven for themselves. So, God did the only loving thing a Heavenly Father would do and caused them to all speak different languages.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

Here’s the cool thing: God cares about all the nations. He cares about the people that you and I can’t communicate with because of this barrier. As He gave the first church this gift of speaking in tongues as the first gift, we see here that He is undoing the Tower of Babel. The people who built the tower of Babel were trying to make a way to Heaven. It was an unsuccessful one. God has given us a way through Jesus.

The apostles had this message of Hope, but they only had it in like Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew [I think.]. God gave them the gift of tongues to be able to share the way to Heaven and share the hope offered in Jesus. That’s really cool right? I mean, it could have been anything that God did, but what better way to advance the kingdom than the ability to proclaim it in all the world’s languages?

I love finding more and more glimpses of God’s heart for the nations, but also I love seeing how He loves to invite us into partnership with Him. It wasn’t the apostles that could have advanced the Gospel. It’s His Spirit that causes us to love Him. It’s His Spirit that moves in us and through us. God can redeem the whole world without us, but He chooses to involve us in His work. I am just so amazed at how awesome that is.

It’s late, so I probably could have done a better job explaining that. Thanks for sticking with me to the end if you’ve gotten this far. 🙂 Please comment below with your thoughts and if this post encouraged you, please share the link on Facebook! 🙂

DISCLAIMER: I’m not taking a stand for or against modern day use of speaking in tongues, by the way. I am just sharing thoughts on what’s in the Bible. So. Yep.

If then you have been…

Dearest bloggers,

I have so much to update you on! Business in the front: October 4th (this Tuesday) is International Day of Prayer. So, we’re asking that you would prayerfully come alongside our STINT team and Campus Pour Christ team that day.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for our students to arrive on campus safely. Some students are traveling from villages that are hours away.
  • Pray that their hearts would be softened to hear the gospel and that God would go before us.
  • Pray for our hearts to see these student’s needs and to not become hardened to it, that it may burden us for the sake of Christ!
  • Pray that God would provide support for the Senegalese staff families.
  • Pray for the health (emotional, physical, and spiritual) of our team, the Senegal team, and the Congolese team.
  • Pray for the upcoming elections (they are in February). Pray that riots/political deomonstrations would be limited and wouldn’t keep us from campus. This was a slight problem last year.

Ministry Stories: Last week, Whitney (my lovely, hysterical, and Spirit-filled roommate) invited a student over to our house to hang out. They hadn’t ever met, but this student was a contact from the summer project team that came for six weeks earlier this summer. The sweet Senegalese student, Khoudu, traveled over an hour by bus to get to our apartment to hang out with Whitney. I decided since both of my roommates were in the kitchen hanging out with her, I wanted to join too. 🙂  So, I invited myself along for the conversation.

Khoudou was SO funny. In the middle of our conversation she said, “You shouldn’t be called Campus Pour Christ. You should call yourselves the ‘Jesus Lovers.'” Whitney shared her testimony of coming to know God through Jesus with her, and sweet, little Rachel passionately shared about how she knew for certain that she will be in Paradise with God because He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  I feel like I said so much, and tried to explain so much, to Khodou but one thing in particular stuck out to me.

We started talking about the differences between different religions. She mentioned that all religions teach the same thing: be a good, moral person. The problem with that argument is the fact that Jesus, the person Christianity was founded upon, never said that. Therefore we have to eliminate Christianity from that argument thus making it different than the rest of the world’s religions.

One of the cool things about God is that He directs your path. I’ve been in the book of Colossians since July 27th. For those of you who aren’t familliar with Colossians, it’s only four chapters long. I’ve been there for a while because I fully believe God wants me to grasp this book in it’s entirety. The first chapter of colossians presents the gospel and the divinity of Christ. The second chapter goes through not being persuaded to another gospel, but the true one of Jesus and how to walk in truth. And the third chapter starts with how to walk in step with the God.

The amazing thing about chapter three is that if you are looking on from the outside, it looks like a “do this, don’t do this” chapter. For example verse five: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…”  But there are a few words in the beginning of this chapter that change the whole meaning. 3:1, “If then you have been raised with Christ…”.

This part of the book is not about how to impress God apart from Christ, how to earn God’s favor, or how to make yourself righteous before God. This part is about how to walk with God once you’ve been raised with Christ. The only way we can have a restored relationship with God is if we are sinless. All of us, especially me, are sinful. We cannot change our ways on our own and think we are acceptable in the sight of a holy and just God. The only way we can stand before God as innocent is through double imputation=Christ taking our sin, us receiving His righteousness. We cannot earn/be an active participant in the saving work of God. We can receive Him, and that’s it.

So, the application verses are only for the process of sanctification (becoming more like Christ) rather than justification (being made innocent/clean before God).

I thought it was super cool that God had me in Colossians for so long to be able to understand that what makes Christianity different is that we cannot do anything to earn His favor. It isn’t about us. It is about what Christ did for us on the cross, and about God loving us so much that He wanted to redeem us from this mess.

We have been in a country for almost a month where people are striving to make themselves acceptable before God. We see it everyday. We cannot earn God’s love. He freely gives it to us (that’s the definition of grace). I pray that the students we encounter this upcoming year will be open to hearing that Jesus paid it all, and all to Him I owe! I pray that Khoudou’s eyes and heart will be open to seeing God’s goodness and redemption plan.

So, that’s that. Sorry this is so long. Here’s some lyrics to a really great hymn called Rock of Ages that really brings to life the gospel for me. And here’s a modern version of the song. I love it. 🙂 And I love you too.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Chipping Away At The Polished Exterior

One thing I’m learning is how much I fall short. I’m not sure if this lesson is actually coming from ministry work or if it’s just coming as I’m getting a deeper and more full understanding of grace.

This whole week I’ve been putting all of my responsibilities on hold. I really can’t tell you the reasoning behind this. I know I need to continue support raising, finish my Doctrinal studies, and finish 4 books, but there has been a heavy exhaustion over me. I am learning that I ran the race well in some parts, but I’ve not finished well. I got caught up in what I thought I was capable of doing (not relying on God) and what I expected from others. When others weren’t meeting that expectation, I was getting bitter. Tonight there was a sin that God revealed to me, and I’d been fighting it for a few days. Without going into too much detail, it really was a heart issue that stemmed from a lack of trust in God and my own self-seeking pride.

I sat down tonight and picked up my Chris Tiegreen The One Year: At His Feet devotional and got hit in the face with some biblical truth. And as God is sovereign, it applied directly to my heart and my situation. It was over Mark 7:14-23:

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.  “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

“They (Pharisees and religion) all attempt to reform the visible result of sin without treating the internal condition. Jesus is the only remedy that cleans a person from the inside out, if we will let Him.”- Tiegreen

My heart is the issue here. I’m pretty capable of living within the “American-Evangelical Christian boundaries.” The polished exterior isn’t the issue. It’s truly what’s on the inside that counts. I have this circular effect/flow model going on in my mind. What I do, or my will, affects my heart, but my heart determines my will. What I mean by that is if I choose to deliberately go against God’s will or promptings through the Holy Spirit, my heart begins to become calloused, hard, and cold. Before this act of disobedience, my heart was probably not in the right place and it was not aligned with God’s. My heart was more than likely focused on self gratification, praise, and satisfaction and self-worth in other things other than the Lord Himself which resulted in my actions of going against God. Therefore, then, my actions of sin pulls me further away form Jesus which affects my heart which snowballs into a big mess.

How much smaller and less devastating would it be for us (preaching to myself) for us to catch the snowball before it starts taking off of the top of the hill? Humbling myself before God in repentance and asking Him to not only forgive me but to continue to change me to be more like Christ is the answer.

“The problem many of us have faced (or continue to face) is that we can restrain our outward behavior while retaining all of the evil thoughts within us. What we’ve changed is our appearance, not our hearts… (The solution is) the habitation of Christ Himself in our hearts by faith, and our constant, conscious reliance on Him (and cooperation with Him) to change us from within.”- Tiegreen

I can’t imagine what we would all look like if we didn’t restrain what we were entertaining in our minds and hearts. I can’t even begin to tell you what a mess I’d be, let alone how many times I’d be married. (You girls know what I’m talking about!) If God looks at our hearts, what does it say about my heart that I am entertaining these resentful attitudes towards fellow believers and not repenting of it? How can I just not “act out” my attitude and claim to be well? I am still struggling with the flesh, therefore, I am not well and am in a constant state of needing God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness (Luke 5:31).

I’m learning more and more that when I see something critical/harsh come out of my mouth it is an overflow of what’s going on in my heart (Luke 6:45). That is a sign that I need to check my heart and see what’s going on in there. Also realizing that my desires are to reflect God and honor Him and if they aren’t, again, heart issue.

So, I’ll leave you readers with this song. It’s super sweet because it was the first worship song I ever learned, and it carries so many precious memories alongside of it. And here’s the last bit from Tiegreen. Sorry this is so long and messy. Again, I am human and in need of grace just as much as the next guy. I appreciate the grace you’re giving as you read this. Please be praying for my heart and my attitude.

“If this is your struggle-and you are not alone- resist the way of the flesh. Do not be content with covering the outward manifestation of an unclean heart. Invite Jesus to do an inward work, conforming your heart into His pure image-not just once, but constantly. Believe that He will, and see what happens.”- Tiegreen

Motivation to Check My Motives

I read a really great devotional (Yes, it was Tiegreen’s!) that addressed something I’d been struggling with all summer. I have a tendency to forget about building the kingdom of God. I get into this mode of either just doing things thoughtlessly or intentionally doing certain things to make me look better. This summer God really showed me that there is no room for me to be building my own kingdom. I am here solely to worship Him and build His kingdom. Psalm 16:2 says,

All a man’s ways are innocent to him, but motives are weighted by the LORD.

I am trying to really weigh what my motives are behind the things I do. Keeping in this in check is such a hard thing for me. Hopefully, I can continue to do things for the glory of the LORD and not to be building my own kingdom. I feel like doing this parallels dying to self. If I’m not daily dying to myself then my selfish ambitions are going to come through. I’m sinful. I’m fallen, but He restores my soul for His name’s sake. Not mine.

God Speaks. We just have to listen.

Way-FM sends out this e-mail devotional every once in a while. Today’s devotional was taken from John 14:27 which says, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” The commentary/devotional part of this message said this:

Are you afraid? Afraid of taking risks? Afraid of the future, of what might happen, of what won’t happen? Do you look at the world and have no idea where you belong or what you should be doing? Do you sense God leading you in a direction, but to get there feels like jumping into the deep waters of the ocean without a life jacket? You’re not alone.
Everyone has felt that way, or will feel that way, at some point in life. Taking risks is scary. The future can be scary because you don’t know what lies ahead. Feeling like you don’t fit in is scary. Following God can be scary, because sometimes he asks you to do something that you don’t understand or feel ready for. But you’re not alone.
God is with you. The ultimate provider is with you. He provides peace and wisdom, guidance, understanding. He will direct your path and give you everything that you need to go on the journey.

The cool thing about getting this devotional this morning was that I woke up thinking, “What am I going to do if one day I wake up and Africa is not on my mind and heart? What would be next?”

The awesome thing is that God has it all planned out for me. I don’t have to worry about what is next. God has plans for me and as long as I’m seeking Him first and foremost, I can’t mess those plans up. (Ha, and as I am typing this Chris Tomlin’s song Love comes on. The Watoto Children’s choir also sings this song with him. God’s funny. 🙂

I realized yesterday I’ve been inching towards God. I feel like I’m hesitantly walking blindly, but not trusting God enough to take big girl steps. It’s time to start taking strides and being certain of God’s faithfulness to preserve me (psalm 40). If I slip, I know He has me in the palms of His hands. I can never fall in a place that God cannot reach. Psalm 31:3&5 says,

For You are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake You lead me and guide me.. into your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

He leads me and guides me not for my glory but for His. He leads me and guides me for His will to be done, not mine. I want this to be what I walk and live by. I’m ready to be stretched and grown. I’m ready to be asked to do things I know I am unable to do apart from God. I want to live a life that’s fully dependent on Him knowing He is who He says He is!