Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Passion Misplaced?

A passion misplaced? 

"Is our passion to be used misplaced? Skewed a bit? Do we long to be used more than we long for God to move or for people to be saved? It's hard and complicated because these things are intimately woven together. But I can see how we would twist the passion for the advancement of the gospel into something self-focused. 
We focus a lot on how I am doing, how I am reaching the nations, what great things God is doing through me. All good questions to ask, but at the same time I'm beginning to question the motives for that focus. How are we making the fulfillment of the great commission about us? 
Well, the answer is probably: in a lot of ways. I think, though, that focusing on how God is or isn't using me in all my potential, as I see it, may be a degree off course. Yes, God PROMISES that He has prepared good works for us. He says it is His delight to use us. He even asks us how people will come to know Him if we do not step out and speak? All true things, and a message still deeply needed for believers today (me included). But the rest of the Bible seems to focus a lot on what God is doing, what He is saying, His will, His decisions, and HIS salvation. It is not our right that we would be given this ministry of reconciliation. It is a gift. It is not our right that God would use us to change lives or alter history. This is first and foremost, always has been and always will be, God's war. We are unfathomable blessed to 1. Be on this side, and 2. Be able to join the army. 
So before you complain that God isn't using you enough or doing enough in your ministry - ask yourself, who's ministry is this? Who is power? Who is God? And who are you?  We desperately need wisdom and patience and humility along with our gift of passion." 
- An entry from my journal last week 

My team and I have been discouraged at different points during this trip about what God seems to not be doing. It's caused us to ask a lot of good questions, and in asking those, the above thoughts were something I came to understand in my own heart. 

Additionally, I read John 3:22-36 yesterday and was touched by the message of that story. In it, John the baptist's disciples come to him complaining and worrying about how this rando Jew (Jesus) was stealing all John's ministry. They said to him, "Rabbi, tht me who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." [Can't you just hear the the deep concern, worry and misunderstood passion?] 

To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." 

The note in my Text says, "The words are true of both Jesus and John (and of everyone). Both had what God had given them [no more, no less], so there was no room for envy." 

John goes on to say, "You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens or him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." 

This encouraged and convicted me to really think on where I have been placing my greatest joy. Is it in my own ministry? My own success? My own perceivable usefulness? It should be - needs to be - in something much more constant than that. My joy, and complete joy, needs to be in the simple, yet profound fact that I know Jesus, and that He knows me. That is where it was created to be, and the only place it can truly be filled. 

I have realized that we have been placing our joy and hopes in the wrong places. We, unconsciously, have been placing our own agenda on God, and waiting to see Him fulfill our expectations. Teammates have been discouraged as we hear news from neighboring summer m-work trips where 20 or 30 people have found Dad. This focus is the wrong one. We both have what God has given us. There is no room for boasting not envy, for all is a gift from Dad, and all is for Dad. As John said, we need to wait and listen for God. 

In coming to these realizations and this confession, we have already seen God heal our spirits, empower our ministry, and answer our calls. Yesterday we saw our very first person PRC! (Pray to receive Christ.) AMEN!

In our morning prayer meeting today we took time to dream big and pray with boldness. Our unanimous prayer requests and dreams for our final week of min. were these: 

- For each team member to see someone PRC 
- to have 15 south Asian students join the movement here and plug in to Text studies
- that 5 people from our summer trip commit to one or more years continuing to labor in this city after graduation 

I'm excited for God to show up and continue to challenge us in this last week! 

Jesus Will Play Just Dance with You

I finally cracked. I finally cried last night.

Cry is a light word, I definitely more like wept. For a long time.

The past few months I’ve been praying and praying that God would reveal to me His love, for I knew that somehow, in some way, I was missing it.

Being here, I haven’t felt very loved by God. And it took my friend asking me the same question I’d been asking myself for weeks for me to put it all together.

She asked me if I felt loved by God, to which I responded not really. I told her I had realized that I believed how much I was loved was dictated by how well I was fulfilling my function(s). (I knew this to be a lie.) She asked if I knew where I got that idea. That’s when it all flooded in.

I started piecing together memories built up over the years, some very distant, some only a few weeks in the past.

I remembered multiple times where I asked people very close to me to do something with me, and they responded no. They had more important things to do. I remember once specific incident in asking someone and when they responded no, I pleaded with them that it was my birthday. They just looked at me and walked away. From this my internal message was: people don’t genuinely, intrinsically want to spend time with you. You’re not worth that much. People need a good reason to spend time with you.

I remember people in my past gossiping once I had become sick and asking how anyone could ever want to marry me, because they would be paying off medical bills for the rest of their lives. From that, I learned that I am a burden. And that the burdens I carry far outweigh any pleasure I could ever bring, or any worth I could ever hold. 

I also learned growing up that performance is most important. And I learned through the perfectionists around me that even though I tried hard, I could never do a good enough job. I always came up short.

Some reactions to my health situation told me that I need to push harder. That I can’t slack off. That being sick or not feeling well is never a good enough excuse to “be lazy”. Rest is for the weak. Those who don’t strive till their last breath are unworthy of the Kingdom. Because of that, after I slept in the other day due to feeling sick, I found myself repenting for my irresponsibility. It was physically possible for me to walk and to talk. Therefore, there was not one good reason why I should have allowed myself to be so incredibly irresponsible and lazy. My performance wasn’t enough. I was being disobedient to the purpose of my trip. I was making mistakes and wasting time.

Because my worth is relatively average/low, and the burdens I carry are high, I had a sad reaction to watching the movie Finding Dory. In the film, Dory, who struggles with short-term memory loss (a big burden to others), is looking for her long lost family. In one scene, she questions whether her parents would really want to see her. My reaction was: No. How could they? I saw myself in her. I saw how I was a huge burden on those around me and how I could not fulfill my function, as a good human being should. I have low productivity. Therefore, there is no sufficient reason for someone to spend much energy caring for me. My greatest (honest) guess was that they would be mildly pleased.

In the other movie we saw here, three men were forced to undergo a lot of difficulties for the woman they each loved. To me, it was incredulous. I could not understand why they would have gone through so much. To me, I could not fathom a man going through that much just to be with me. I’m not worth it! Please - don’t!

Because of all these lies, I always catch myself before dreaming too great about God’s love for me. Sometimes I imagine Him being with me while I do some activity or another, but I have to immediately stop dreaming. Unless I’m sharing the goods or doing something I deem as spiritually productive, like reading the Text or praying, there’s no reason for Him to ‘waste’ His time with me. He is GOD for crying out loud, He definitely has way more important things to do.

So, my top love language being quality time, I did not ever dream I could experience God’s love that much. Furthermore, I’ve never been able to comprehend why God would ever love me to begin with. There’s NO REASON FOR HIM TO LOVE ME. Because of the lies I believe about love, my view of God concludes like this: Yes, He loves me. But He doesn’t like me very much, or want to spend time with me, or want me anymore than that foundational, generic love.

So, in my own conclusion, I am unworthy of much love. Because I don’t have a lot of worth, there’s no reason to love me or want me around much extra. I don’t fulfill my function. I am disobedient and a disappointment.

Because of these lies, I desperately desire control over my desires and emotions, esp. in love. I cannot hope too much, I cannot expect much. I need to be independent and strong. Weakness and vulnerability emotionally or in my desires means heartbreaking disappointment.

This all has made being in South Asia on my m-work trip difficult. I cannot do what I was supposedly sent here to do. Dad’s deep and true delight in me amidst my inability is a concept unknown to me. I simply cannot comprehend it.

However, through those in my life here, I have been encouraged to bring my heartbreak and skewed view of God’s love, as well as my true, deepest desires to the throne of God. I beg my Father in Heaven to show me what His love is truly like. I plead with Him to reveal to me how “long and wide and high and deep is His love” (Eph. 3). I know it exists. People experience it. The Text talks about it. The cross proves it. But is a veil in place that keeps me from uninhibitedly seeing it.

Today in my discipleship meeting, I was explaining to my discipler how much I lovee playing the game Just Dance (after confessing all this about love). She looks at me and goes, “I bet Jesus would love to play Just Dance with you.”

That concept has run through my mind the rest of the day. God would want to spend that crazy, silly, “unproductive” time – with me? That’s what His delight is like in me? That’s what it means when He says He wants me, and loves me, and wants a relationship with me??

I have realized that I fall in love with people and I feel love in being fun, in laughing a lot, in being goofy, in addition to meditating on deep things and seeing people’s passion in life.
This is no different with God. If I am going to fall deeper in love with Jesus (which I so much want to!), I need to let Him pursue me in the ways He created me to enjoy the greatest! I need to trust Him when He says He DOES love me that much!

So tonight is Date Night with Dad. Instead of doing my usual of spending time in the Word and praying and thinking hard about Him, I decided to listen to the best dance songs I know and imagine dancing with Dad to these songs! It was SO great!!! We enjoyed the music and dancing like crazies together. He’s not afraid to be silly with/for me. That made me feel so pursued, so delighted in, and so worth loved.

Then I knew I needed to laugh with God. So I googled Who’s Line is it Anyway clips and watched them with Dad. We laughed so hard together. J
Yes, this is the stuff that I enjoy soo much. But this is also stuff He enjoys, things He created! He delights in me and spending this time with me more than I could ever hope or dream.
This is what I needed to see tonight in my date with Him.

I know continuing to grow in the knowledge and experience of God’s love will drastically change my life.

“What a man desires is unfailing love.” (Prov.).
This is what I was created for. Yes I am worth it, He tells me. Yes I am delightful in all that I am and all I am not. NO I am not a burden. I am not a mistake. I am not worth only what I can contribute. For God loved me way before I could “contribute” anything to Him.

Jesus, please continue to lavish your love over me; overwhelm me with how much You delight in me. I am desperate for it, after years of shutting You out.

"The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Prayer Meeting

I’m also on the prayer team here (prayer is definitely the theme of my summer haha). This was a prayer meeting I led the other week and wanted to share here on my blog, because it is something I’m really excited and passionate about.

“Main idea of the prayer time: Imagine yourself as really being in the presence of God. You don’t have to speak, though you can if you want to. But let him speak to you and move in your heart.

I think often that we shy away from imagining God’s presence, or Heaven , or the throne room, or the wedding feast of the lamb because we don’t want to be wrong, or do it injustice. But what if we treated God the same way in our relationship with him? We know we can’t ever fully understand Him or perfectly view Him in this life. But if we allowed that to discourage us from yet searching after Him, we would be SO lost and SO empty. We have ideas and pictures of God in His Word. WE also have screenshots of Heaven and Christ and the throne Room in the Bible as well. And this is what our hope is in and our aim is directed at! IF we don’t often meditate on these things, then we will rarely, if ever, get truly, honestly pumped for it or motivated by it as much as I think we should, and as much as God intended.

à “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Rev. 12:11. This exercise is to help us love and cling to our lives less, and to our future reality WAY more.

So I’m going to read some passages and then play some reflective music. For this half hour sit in His presence and meditate on your TRUE and COMING future and hope.

            Hebrews 11 is full of people who had great faith and followed God in crazy circumstances. The passage says that they did these amazing thigns because “they saw that which was invisible” (that being God and the world above.)
            Heb. 10:19-23 beckons us to come into His presence

-       Rev. 1:12-18, a description of Jesus
-       Rev. 4:2-11, a description of the Throne
-       Rev. 19:11-16, a description of Christ’s return
-       Rev. 20:1-8, a description of a new heaven and a new earth, what is to come”

I started doing this exercise at times when I was in severe pain. When the pain came I would begin to imagine Heaven and all that I am suffering for and looking towards. It was incredible – I would no longer even feel the pain, but would be overcome by the power and majesty of the Lord and His glory. I would become so elated that this was not just a dream, but was the truth of what is to come!

Since then I have done this at different times, and each time it refocuses me and sets my mind and heart on things above. It is the greatest comfort I’ve ever received in this life.

This past week during pretty intense pain, I put in my headphones, played the most beautiful songs I know, and imagined walking in the secret gardens of heaven with Jesus. He was leading me into beautiful courtyards, hidden from everyone else. The sun was coming through the leaves on the trees, there were butterflies and bunnies that God was delighting in showing me. He continued to lead me through all that He had made for me. I loved everything, but most of all I loved that He was choosing to spend time with me. He spoke tenderly to me, all the words that I was longing to hear. He dressed me in a beautiful gown (it was light blue) and put a crown (my crown) on my head. He was soooooooo happy to be with me and to love me like I’ve so desperately been longing for. Lost in the imagery of this moment with Christ, I was able to step out of my present sufferings and into the presence of God. It changed my attitude and set my hope once again on the glory that is to come, and to come very soon.

Sweet Opportunities

I haven’t been able to leave bed all week. I haven’t been able to go out and meet people and share the goods. It is an incredibly torturous thing: to know how desperately this city/these people need to hear about True Love and True Life, and having the truth and not even being able to TRY and share it. My team is discouraged too about no fruit and difficult seeds, but they are at least able to spread the seed. I can’t. But, God’s been sweet, and mazing. As always. I spend my days alone in my room, and since I can’t go out, or often get out of bed much, God literally brought someone into my room daily – my maid. And he made her extremely talkative and curious. So, even in my stupidity of missing the marks he puts in front of me, I could not in ANY way escape this one. Throughout this week we built a wonderful friendship. I was embarrassingly slow to catch on to God’s VERY obvious plan of “HERE’S AN INDIAN WOMAN WHO WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT ME SHARE WITH HER LITERALLY FROM YOUR BED.”

The first day I was just terrible sick. The next we talked more. The next we didn’t have her clean. The next we talked a LOT and it FINALLY dawned on me fully that OH SHOOT, this is from God. So, the last morning we chatted a bit and I askwed her hwo I could pray for her. I got her in trouble once for chatting an dnot cleaning, so I’ve wondered how to share the gods and puruse her without distracting her form her responsibilities. But I’d totally by lying if I said that’s why I didn’t share the gospel with her. (Though that’s a real lame excuse anyway.) I just didn’t I didn’t initiate with that much intentionality before she left that day. But, after she left, I wrote her a letter and shared the goods with her in that, and left a flower with the note on the bed for her to find. I’m praying over her and praying that God would use my mistakes (lack of boldness, lack of clear sight, etc.) for her good and ultimate salvation.

Also, I’m praising Him that again He shows me, He will use me how He wants to and when He wants to. And that He is sovereign to use my weakness and mistakes to finish His ultimate Master plan.

Prayer Ministry

Prayer has been amazing this last week.

After I had that revelation of prayer being my ministry, it seems to have erupted even more.

The next day after accepting that as my min, I had people walking into my room asking me to pray for this or that before they went out and I had people texting me throughout their day with all sorts of requests. It was incredible! I was consistently in prayer before the Throne that entire day (and the next few).

And, as a result, I have seen an even greater glimpse of the power of prayer and watched it re-shape my life and worldview. It has expanded my view of God (one of my own prayer requests/goals for this summer).

A few examples of how God has shown up:
-       Last Sunday I couldn’t go out to my friend-appointment. I had talked to this girl before though, so I knew where she was at. She was closed to the idea of God and was very firm in believing the big bang theory. I prayed that as my other teammates met with her that her walls would come down and God would give her an intrigue in learning who He was, that she would thirst for Him. When my teammates came back, they explained to me that she had expressed how interested she is in Christianity and how much she wants to read the Bible – in fact, she has it on her kindle already!! What!? Okay!
-       Another time last week, my teammate asked if I could pray for his ministry that day, that he would surrender control and let God move. He also asked if I would pray for his health (he felt pretty poor). I talked to Dad about it and later my friend came back and explained how amazing min had been that day and that he felt completely fine the entire day!!
-       My girl Abby here (a teammate) texted me while out at Starbucks one afternoon. She recognized a couple who had been there before, and the man was abusing the girl. Abby texted me to pray for them, though there wasn’t really anyway she could intervene. I spent time praying for them, and then prayed that somehow God would create an opportunity for Abby to be able to speak to the girl. (Though to be honest I definitely had doubt, and admitted that to the Lord, because when do you actually get to interact with those random people? The world just isn’t like that, usually.) In an amazing turn of events, the girl looked at Abby (Abby had prayed for that specific sign) 3 minutes before Abby had to leave. And she got to speak to the girl alone and express how she shouldn’t be treated like that, etc. It was amazing!
-       Friday my team was extremely discouraged by the fruitless ministry. People were irritated and upset. So as they went out that day, I prayed earnestly for the power of the H.S. to fill them and go before them. At one point I was standing on my bed, brandishing my water bottle, and intensely asking the Lord to change something – be it our attitudes, our perspective, or the reality of our min. I prayed that people would be able to share the entire package of the goods as and that one person would even PRC (pray to receive Christ) that day. After people came home, almost every single person got to share the goods, and one teammate talked to one man who didn’t PRC with him, but said he was going home to seriously consider all of this. For all I know, that man went home and had his life changed forever. (I’ll claim that one. Haha)

There have been more answered requests, but those are a few of my favorite ones throughout this week. It’s been incredible for me to see and experience this here.

I’ve never been SO prayer oriented, ever. I’ve had a heart for it, but never has it been my FOCUS in ministry. It’s changing everything! I woke up the other day and thought about going out that day. Immediately my heart was like, “Wait no!! You cannot go out without praying and spending your time with the Lord! Your ministry will be fruitless!” The fact that I had that intense of a reaction is evidence of how my view of life and God and min. is changing. 

In Colossians 3 it says to set your minds and hearts on things above. Whenever I’ve read that before, I’ve always thought about desires and hopes, and how we should always have our greatest desires be God and things that are eternal. But when I read that this week, I thought of how I need to set my mind and heart on God’s power.

I realized that usually when I pray, I expect God to always work within the rules and limits of this world. There are natural patterns and laws set in place here. I know these and I pray with regard to these. I pray with my mind and heart submitted to the powers of this world, not the powers of the world above. I’ve had to repeat to myself this past week that my God has power over death, my God raises from the dead, my God is above this world and this life. For some reason, it takes a lot for me to really see this. But in the way and the frequency with which He’s been answering my prayers this week, it has become way more clear to me who He is, and who I am.