What is your Treasure?

aarrearkkuLast week I was given the privilege of teaching at the Youth Service here in Brussels. I am finding more and more that I love to teach the Bible, and that I am pretty good at it. Well, I just wanted to share it on here, like I did in the spring when I taught, so others could read it as well. Share this with others you think might need to hear it or would appreciate it.

What is your Treasure?

Main Idea:  If we were to truly savor and treasure Jesus Christ, how much differently would our lives look?

Matt 13:44 – “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only have 3 things with you, what would you have?
There are things that we cannot live without right? How about in your everyday life. Are their certain things you cannot live without?
Phones, Internet, Facebook, Music, TV, Certain People?
How much do we love these things?

Do you love them as much as the things of God?
Community, Prayer, Reading the Bible, Memorization, Fasting, Righteousness, Holiness?
Or do you love them more?

I am right there with you. I love movies and TV shows, so there is judgement here. I am constantly listening to music, and its not always Christian music. I can literally talk about TV and music for hours. I have wasted many days binge watching Netflix.
But can we do that with the Lord. Can you binge read the Bible for a whole day? Can you spend an entire day with the Lord in prayer and study? Meditating on his Word and memorizing passages?
What would you do with an entire free day – free from obligation and commitments? Would you fill it with the things of the Lord or with the things of the World?

Yes, its true that all of these things are not sinful, we we must evaluate these things based on the Bible and not just our own reasoning.
First – Evaluate if the things you are watching or doing are promoting Christ or the World.
This is a HUGE problem with TV and music – most shows are, at best, indifferent to sin, if not promoting it. We must guard what we allow in our lives regarding the worlds view of sin, or we can begin to become indifferent to sin as well.
Second – Maybe its not promoting sin – but in 1 Corinthians 10:23 it says “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”
So all things are lawful (he is not talking about sin – he was talking to the Jews about new freedoms in Christ and things that are permissible. He is NOT saying that sin is lawful!) but that is not our only filter when we act.
Is it helpful?
Does it build up? Yourself, others or the Glory of God?

We must be careful, because this tendency towards the things of this world, rather then the things of God, can be dangerous.
1 John 2:15, 17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
In this passage, Jesus is talking specifically of money, but this can go for anything we set up and worship other than God.
James 4:4-5 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
The world = Enemies of God.
And the only reason that we are not still enemies of God is because of Jesus and what he did for us – if you are in Christ and born again. If you are not, you are an enemy of God.
I don’t know about you guys, but I do not want to be an enemy of God.
But how? How do we come to seek the things of God over the things of the world?
I believe that one of the reasons we do not long for God, that we do not desire the Word of God and why we cling to the things of the World is that we do not have a right view of God and we do not treasure Him as we should and how He deserves.
I think we take Jesus for granted and do no see Him as He is.

Do you treasure Jesus?
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Do we give our all to obtain more of the Kingdom? More of Christ? To be in closer fellowship with Jesus?
We don’t. I don’t.  — It’s because we do not properly treasure Christ. We do not have a proper view of our Savior.
Matt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This is problem with our hearts.
To solve this heart problem, let’s take some time to look at Jesus – A true and honest look, and we why we should value him so highly.

Reason 1

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The Word is Jesus, and he was in the Beginning – he is eternal, existing before time – with God, and being God.
STOP: Think about that, not as something you have heard multiple times and has becoming normal for you to hear, but really think about it.
And all things, ALL THINGS, were made through Him. It says in Colossians 1:16-17 that all things were created by Him, and in Him all things hold together.
He is creator and sustainer – of EVERYTHING.

Reason 2

Revelations 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
He is defender and warrior. This passage is a terrifying view of Jesus, but a right view of Him. He is the one who will destroy sin and death – and all of those who are not His own.
To prepare a way for his people – those that He loves and that love Him. – to enter into this.
Revelations 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
This is the goal! – This is what we should have our eyes set on, and this is what we should  be valuing. Eternity with God, in full and unbroken fellowship – like Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Reason 3

Let’s continue to look at our Lord Jesus and why we should treasure Him.
John 1:14a And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
Jesus took on flesh and come to live among man.
Jesus – God, eternal, creator, sustainer, defender, and destroyer of sin and death – took on broken human flesh and lived among broken, sinful and unfaithful people.
He willingly chose to do this!  This was the plan since the beginning of time.

Why?!
Colossians 1:19-20 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
He did this to reconcile all things to himself buy the Blood of the cross. – He did this for US!
That was his purpose for coming… to redeem His people for His glory!
We are worth that much to Him.
He treasures us deeply – Why do not treasure him the same way?

We must remember what he saved us from – our bondage to sin, slavery and death.
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
So if you are saved and born again in Christ – we must remember that person we were and how Christ has set us from from that.
And we could not do this on our own – He had to be the one to do this!

Reason 4

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
Christ has given us, sent us, the Holy Spirit to dwell with us and in us.
1 Corinthians 3:16 [Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?]
We are a temple – His temple- because God’s Spirit dwells within us.
The God of all creation has chosen to dwell within us.
To be with us always -and to teach and guide us about Christ
It says in Romans 8:11 that this is the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! – That power resides within us.
How can we not treasure this? We are so quick to think, “Yeah, I know this” but do we really absorb this information and what that means for our lives. The Holy, Just, God of Creation willing lives and indwells broken, sinful, man.
This is crazy right?! How is this even possible?
In the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord dwelled in the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.
This was most Holy – There is a story in 2 Samuel of a man named Uzzah and this is what happened to him as they were moving the Ark of the Covenant.
2 Samuel 6:6-7 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.
He was trying to steady the Ark so it would not fall. He touched the Ark and died! He died coming that close to the Holiness of God. That is the only fate available to sinners when confronted with the Holiness of God.
And this same Spirit lives in us! The very same. And we do not die – because of the blood of Christ and his sacrifice to bring us into right standing before God. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our salvation and the proof that we have right standing before God, because it we did not we could die.
This is how we learn to treasure God more – by realizing what he has done for us – and praising Him for it.
This is why we must meditate on the Word – think about it – not just hear it.

Reason 5

Finally – Romans 8:26, 33-34 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. –  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
If everything else was not already more than we could process – The Holy Spirit and Jesus, Himself, intercede for us before the Father.
When we do not know how to pray as we should, the Holy Spirit prays for us – on our behalf.
And Christ is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us – rescuing us from the charges against us and from condemnation.
Why do we treasure Christ? – How can we not? – When we have a right view of Him!
The very God of Creation who has come into human flesh, the Christ who will end sin and death forever, for the purpose of saving and redeeming His people. More than that, Christ has sent the very Spirit of God – so holy that it cannot abide sin – to dwell within us, reveal truth to us and intercede for us.

This is how we treasure Christ – Look at Him!
My prayer for you is this: Ephesians 1:16-18 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and that the Lord would make this your heart –
Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Fight the Good Fight of Faith my friends.
This will not be easy, but its worth it.

Mo3

Engage the Outsider

What do you find is your treasure in your own life? What is that thing you cannot live without?

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A Full Apartment and Broken Hot Water Heaters, with A Cold on the Side!

What a crazy whirlwind it has been since we landed! So we landed after the constant delays and missed flights.

So once we landed, we came home to the apartment and we had an out of country pastor and 3 of this friends and ministry partners staying with us for the weekend. Spending time with these brothers and sisters was wondering, and hearing their stories of coming to faith, as they were all once muslim. Hearing the success their ministry is having and the joy in which our Father has given them was a joy for us. Saturday we had two services where the Pastor was able to share the Gospel with our immigrant crowd on Saturday morning, and the church as whole for a special event Saturday night and as part of our normal service Sunday morning. It was amazing to see the Lord at work in all of these services and see evidences of salvation for an individual who I have known for 3 years and who others have been praying for salvation for over the past 7 years. It was an amazing blessing to be present for such an event.

However, having to hit the ground running after all the mishaps in with travel and with no time to rest and recover from jet lag was very difficult. Our guest stayed with us from Friday until Sunday after service. Sunday after service, Jennifer and I came back to the apartment, had lunch and I was heading for my room, when I hear a booming voice yell “MORGAN”! It was one of my friends and he and 3 other friends has come over to have some of the leftover lunch and hang out. I was excited to see them, but also very tired and ready for a nap. So I talked with them for a bit, then we went to the couches to hang out and I laid down on my half and one of the couches and tired to nap, while hanging with my friends.

That didn’t work too well… as you can imagine. So once my friend left, I slept for about an hour and a half and then we got up and prepared our English Lessons for the week.

Monday was a big day with 3 English Lessons and another hours and half nap for me. I started feeling a little rough that night, but assumed it was no big thing. Had a nice Skype chat that evening with my little brother and called it a night. I was BIG time looking forward to our Tuesday rest day.

Well… Tuesday I woke up feeling like death! I literally only got out of bed to make little bits of food, get medicine, and go to the bathroom. I literally slept for over 10 hours, when my usual is like 6 and I am good, and spent ALL day in bed. I had some evil sinus mess, and then in the evening, my old friend the migraine showed up (and yes I mean migraine – I know the difference between headache and migraine. I get both often… this was a migraine). Overnight, the sinus stuff began to subside some (A BIG Praise to the Lord and shout out to my Prayer Warriors) but that migraine was still rock in full force. 635578591322705516-124488261So my roommate helped me draw a hot bath this morning (yes – literally draw, because we have not had hot water since we got here. We totally did the whole boil water on the stove and fill the tub, then cool it down the cold water from the faucet – thing. It is hard work, and it definitely helps you treasure the value a nice hot bath or shower. I would have killed for a nice hot shower last night… seriously though. It would have helped so much). After my bath, I at least felt clean.

My migraine was able to vacate my mind by 2pm today so that I could teach a youth class, which had 15 students! They were very well behaved and picked up on stuff very quickly. I am kind of excited about this group! I was able to come home for the rest of the afternoon and relax. My headache is gone, and I am starting to feel so much better!

Tomorrow should be a good day! In theory, I will be feeling better, AND we should be getting out hot water heater fixed (that’s also in theory… but ya know… Here’s to hoping!)

Some people just get you…

As we go through life there are always just a few people whom really get you. They get your humor, jokes, and nerdy tendencies (or in my case, put up with my full blown Nerdom). I have such a great group of these at home back stateside. I am not sure I have had shared before how some of my friends got together before I left to give my a note/letter everyday that I would be gone here to Belgium. That’s 89 letters they gave me. Some have been wonderful letters of encouragement, other just scripture to remember. Some are inside jokes and I even got an empty one on April Fools…  


Silly, and wonderful! I have just been so very thankful for these letters. They have been so helpful in remembered that I am not alone. I have people at home supporting me and praying for me, even if I don’t feel it. I have the best friends and such an amazing support system in them and my church. 

This was my card from today. It made me laugh out loud! A literal “LOL” y’all! Some people just get me… These girls do!  

 
If you have awesome people like this in your life, stop now, and Thank the Lord for them. Not everyone is this blessed. Do not take them for granted like I so often have. Love them, care for them, and pray for them! 

 

Portes Ouvertes

Friends!

There has been so much going on, sorry to have neglected you as of late. This was a very busy past week. I will be writing blogs this week to update you on the Youth Camp and my trip to Paris!

Today, I just have to tell you about an activity/conference/event we had at the church today. It was called Portes Ouvertes here in Belgium/France (Open Doors back home) and it was part of their Coccinelle Tour 2015 where they are celebrating 60 years as an Organization and reviewing the work the Lord has done over the past 60 years and encourage and motivate a new generation of Christians to support and care for the persecuted church. A woman shared about her faith, imprisonment and exile from an Islam controlled country. I have so often heard stories about my persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide, and my heart and prayers go out to them often, but on this trip to Belgium, I have had the immense blessing to meet several brothers and sisters who have personally endured extreme persecution for their faith. Being able to talk with this women was so encouraging. And it amazed me that she was so excited to meet an American. I was like, whatever, I’m just an American – That’s nothing special! You are in the Father’s hand! Your relationship and trust in the Lord is so convicting and encouraging! Oh to be used as the Father is using you! It was such a blessing and a gift.

For me, it was also really great to have so many of the students who has come to camp be there as well. I feel like they were able to get a really great view of the blessing they have here in Belgium, as well as the call and the weight of that call. It breaks my heart that so many people think that becoming a Christian makes things easier. They is just not true. If anything, in my experience it makes things harder sometimes. You end up facing a battle not only with the world but also with yourself, and dying to self everyday is not easy. However, it is worth it. I can’t imagine trying to do all of this without God. I literally would not be alive. He is my anchor, my hope, my joy, my all. It’s been unreal the transition, but one that I would do again and again.

We, in western cultures, too often hide the difficult parts of scripture and being a Christian, and because we do this, sometimes people feel as if we pulled a “bait and switch” on them. “Isn’t God supposed to protect me?” Then why did [insert illness, struggle, pain, life] happen to me? This must be God doesn’t not care about me or does not exist.

FALSE!

This is just not true! The Bible does say that God will protect us, but I don’t think this is always referring to our physical bodies and our comfort. He protects our soul, our hope, our salvation! He certainly holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), but I believe that He can use anything that happens to us for His Glory and our sanctification.

This should be our priority, not success, health or comfort. We need to readjust our ideas of Truth.


Here are some links that you may enjoy, going back to the Coccinelle Tour! Bedtime over here!! Free day tomorrow… I am so happy! Rest, here I come!

For Information about the Coccinelle Tour 2015 go to: 60ans.portesouvertes.fr/le-coccinelle-tour/

For Information about Portes Ouvertes go to: www.portesouvertes.fr

For Information about Open Doors go to: www.opendoors.org

Tools for the Fight: My Lesson from Friday Night

Readers!

I promised you that if my lesson went well on Friday night I would post the notes from it on here! So here they are.

Main Idea: We naturally drawn to sin, but we have ways to avoid and protect yourself from sin. 

  1. Our Never Ending Battle with Sin.
    1. The Bible tells us over and over that we are sinful to the core.
      1. Genesis 6:5 — “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
      2. Ephesian 2:1-2 — “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”
      3. This is an idea that most Christians are familiar with. Our relation of our sin drives us to our need for a Savior.
        1. There is nothing we can do to solve our problem with sin on our own.
        2. This is where Christ steps in.
          1. Ephesians 2:4-5 — “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved”
          2. 2 Corinthians 5:21 — “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”  
        3. Christ pays for the Eternal Consequences of sin for us!
          1. But does the means that we no longer desire to sin? By no means! Even Paul struggles with the impulse and desire to sin.
            1. Romans 7:18-20 — “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me”
          2. We are called to Fight the Sin in our lives.
            1. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 — But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”
            2. 2 Timothy 2:22 — “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”
          3. We must daily fight sin in our lives! But the Lord has given up two excellent tools to fight sin with!
            1. A New Identity
            2. A New Community
  2. Our New Identity
    1. Let’s start with 2 Corinthians 5:17 — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”
      1. When we are in Christ, we become NEW! (This happens when the Holy Spirit come to us.)
        1. The Old has passed away and the new has come.
          1. So what is this new that we are?
            1. Ephesians 1:3-12 – [This is a BIG chunk, but what is says about us as Christians, and its important.] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory”
              1. Blessed with every spiritual blessing. 
              2. Chosen
              3. Holy
              4. Blameless
              5. Adopted as sons and daughters
              6. Blessed
              7. Redeemed
              8. Forgiven
              9. Lavished with Grace
              10. United with Christ
              11. Obtained an Inheritance
              12. Hope
            2. This is what God says has been given to us, through Christ, that we are given when we become Christians, submit to the Lord and walk in the life He has planned for us.
          2. But why does knowing our identity help us fight sin.
            1. This world often bases our identity on others and how they view us.
              1. Have you ever doubted yourself and your identity because of what another person, or society, says about you?
              2. Or, have you ever done something you didn’t want to, or that you knew was wrong, to gain others approval?
            2. Do you see how our identity matters! When our identity is questioned, we question our worth.
              1. When we feel worthless, we will often stop at nothing to stop feeling this way.
              2. Some sinful ways that this shows in our lives are:
                1. Taking 100’s of selfies in order to look “just perfect” before posting.
                2. Giving up our standards and purity in relationships to please the other person.
                3. Compromising our morals to save a relationship.
                4. Giving up Church or Time with God for other things like school, sleep or video games.
              3. These situations can lead us into sins like these because we are looking to relationships or people for our worth and identity.
                1. Busyness
                2. Laziness
                3. Vanity
                4. Drunkenness
                5. Sexual Immorality
              4. But why? – We put the thoughts and opinions of other, and what they say about us, before what God says about us, we do not walk in our identity that God has give us.
                1. This is why we must remember what God says about us and believe the Word of God over the World.
                2. We must seek what God says about us over what the world says!
                  1. When we trust God’s identity for us over the world’s, then we are free from trying to constantly impress others.
              5. I can share from personal experience – When I was younger, I was so worried about what other people thought of me that it was all that I could ever think about. It caused depression, anxiety and overwhelming selfishness in my life, trying to live up to the image I wanted them to see, and to be enough for them. But when I gave it up and chose to Believe what God says about me instead, there was such freedom. I don’t worry as much, so I can think about others more. I am more aware of when others are hurting or more focused on what is happening around me, and less focused on what people are thinking of me. It is such a relief.
  1. Our New Community
    1. We were never intended to live our lives in Faith by ourselves.
      1. Even all the way back in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God does not leave Adam alone, but gives him a companion because it wasn’t good that he was alone.
      2. Ecclesiastics 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
        1. This verse shows how when we fall or are overcome, if we are alone we will fail. But if we have others around us, they can lift us up and help us withstand.
          1. We help strengthen each other because we need each other!
      3. God gives an great example of what Christian Community should look like.
        1. Acts 2:42-47 — “And they devoted themselves to the apostles ‘ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”
        2. This is a familiar passage for most of us, but let us take a deeper look at it. What elements are highlighted about this group?
          1. Devoted to Teaching (Studying together)
          2. Fellowship
          3. Prayer
          4. Provided for one another
          5. Attended services together
          6. Shared meals and life together
          7. Praising God
        3. It this what your friendships with other Christians looks like?
          1. Do you study the Bible together?
          2. Do you talk about what you have been learning in scripture together?
          3. Do you pray for one another often?
          4. Do we take care of each other when we need help?
          5. Do we truly share life together?
        4. Does another Christian truly know you and do you know someone else?
          1. When I say know, I mean does anyone know your struggles, the sins you battle, the doubts you have, the dreams your have?
            1. James 5:16 — “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
        5. When we are known by other believers:
          1. We stand stronger in our faith
          2. We grow stronger in our ability to withstand temptation to sin
          3. We are reminded of Truth when we begin to doubt, or question our identity.
        6. We need community to persevere. This is how we persevere. This close community is gift from the Lord, but one we ignore too often.

Well… There it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Coffee Shop Acquisition

I think I have finally found my coffee shop.

I love having a coffee shop. Sablon_Fotor

Seriously! I work at a coffee shop back stateside, I love coffee ,and I love the environment that a good coffee shop can provide. Enough comfort that I can relax and enough people around that I feel like I need to be productive. Sablon3_FotorIt’s it adorable!?! My friend showed me this place a couple of weeks ago, and then the students came and I life got a little insane for a bit. After that Oklahoma Tornado left, I was able to settle back in, and I thought about this place. This is my 3rd time here this week, and it is now official, I love it. It can get a bit busy, but if you get here earlier enough, you’re good. And there are little plug-ins in super convenient places.Sablon2_Fotor There are also excellent seat right by the windows looking out to the street for days that I just want to read and enjoy a cup of coffee. Oh! And did I mention that the roast IN HOUSE! This place! I am going to miss it in a few months.

That’s really all for today. Things are going well. I went to one of the open air markets for fruits and veggies yesterday and I was very proud of my spoils from the trip.

Market Spoils_FotorAlso, I am teaching tonight at Youth so… Exciting! If it goes well, I might just post my notes from it on here tomorrow.

Shenanigans with my Students

I tried guys… I tried really hard. But the students were only here for 5 full days and we busy all week. Their schedule was packed trying to get everything in. One of them said he’s take care of the update for me… so here is his contribution for us all.

IMG_0951Hi this is Jackson I’m not going to use any punctuation during this because I just don’t feel like it. Except for periods because they are necessary. Blog finished. 🙂 have a fabulous day, you are all beautiful… almost all of you 😉 jk all of the pretty ones.

Well… Teenagers. Gotta love em. – Isn’t he great! ❤

Sorry for the delay in updating. I had been prepping for the student team and then they were here, and now they are gone! So I have spent the past week with 9 of my wonderful students. Having them here with me has been so refreshing and relaxing. IMG_7856Here is quick run down of all that we did.

Sunday I spent the day having lunch with women from the Food Bank and it was Moroccan style so delicious and non-stop eating for about 3-4 hours. This was such an amazing time of being invited into this amazing woman’s home and getting to struggle through French and just share love with these amazing women. The students did prayer walking in the city and just tried to stay awake to kick that Jet Lag.

Monday the Students helped up with English Classes and set up a Doctors Office, Train Station and then a Restaurant. Student Team 5It was really great to see them be so open with the students in the class and bold in speaking with them. We also spent time prayer walking in the city in a heavily Muslim area and in a red-light district. This was a really great time for me because I got to really see the students hearts and one of the students and I talked for a long time about what God has been doing in her life and how He has been calling her in different ways.

Student Team 7

Tuesday the students has an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt where they ran all over town and had to find their way without help. It was interesting to see them get excited about their victories and then struggle when they got lost or frustrated. IMG_7929 I am so bad at not helping, but Dr. Willie kept me in check. It is a valuable skill for them to learn to be able to find their way through a city, ask or help and learn public transportation systems. Then that evening we did some prayer walking and had a night on the town.

Wednesday we had our Youth English Classes and the students just killed it again. That evening was probably my favorite night of the week. We had all the students get together, Belgian and American, and we played games and just hung out, but then we had a great time of sharing testimonies and of the students telling about what God was doing in their lives. The honesty with which my students from home shared with was amazing, and truly, the Belgian students too. I was just so amazed by their transparency and honesty, and by what God was doing in their lives.  IMG_0987I was also beyond excited to see my two guy students maintaining relationships this night and really reaching out a friend of theirs who is not a Christian and being intention in loving him and speaking Truth to him. I am so proud of those boys.

Thursday we took them to a Arab Market and just let them enjoy that cultural experience. Then we went to the food bank and the students got to serve and learn to struggle through language barrier and communicate regardless. I was so impressed with their willingness to jump in and go for it. Then we came back to my apartment and prepared for Next Level with the Belgian students. It was crazy doing a study of the Word in French and English,but it was great.Student Team 10 All the students were giving their input and being involved. It was wonderful.

Friday, yesterday, they flew out early. Now all I have to remember them is the memories, picture (as you can see) and this one lonely bag that was left with me. IMG_1009

I’ll stop there, but I could go on for pages and pages about these kids and how great they were and how much fun we had. I just love them. It’s kinda crazy.

Beyond what’s been going on the student team, I am just trying to figure out all the things that I am supposed to be doing and just trying spend quality time with the Lord. We always need the Lord, but for me, it is beyond apparent for me when I am here. I need Him everyday when I leave my flat to be able to be effective and intentionally. Distractions lie everywhere. I am trying to phase out my social media back some, but kick it up here in Belgium with the students here. I finished my study of 2 Timothy which was a really great place to start when I got here, and now I am moving on to Colossians.

I’ll be updating again soon, hopefully.

Praises

  • This was such an amazingly refreshing week for me with my students here. I don’t think I can even begin to thank God for them and the joy they brought to me this week.
  • I am getting more comfortable trying to speak out in French and being OK with failing.
  • I have been getting some positive responses to wanting to hang out and study the Word together so that should kicking off strongly very soon.

Request

  • That the students would not just return to normal this week as they get back into school and life. That this experience and time here will draw them closer to the Lord and that this change they way they look at their ministries at home and the impact they can have on their schools and communities.
  • I will be teaching at Youth this upcoming Friday about a sensitive situation that has come up. They sought me out specifically because of my counseling experience. Please be lifting that up.
  • Always, always…. LANGUAGE. Especially with Youth Camp coming up here in a few weeks.

Question for you: (I am enjoying getting to know my readers more and more!)

What was the most life changing experience that you have ever had?

How did it change you?

Pushing Back Darkness

[Note: This was written back few weeks ago (mostly) and I thought it had been lost, then I found it… so it was finished and posted… so the time delays are weird. Sorry, not sorry.]

This weekend, and currently, I am with my middle schoolers serving all around OKC. We painted, cleaned, take, tore down, edged and prayed all over this city these past two days. We also invited an apartment complex to a carnival that we will be throwing at their complex. Here are some pictures from our weekend thus far!

IMG_0125 2 IMG_0130 IMG_0131 IMG_0152 IMG_0175 IMG_0179

Then, this morning, we attended church at Frontline Church in Mid-Town.

IMG_0136 IMG_0138 IMG_0140

It was an excellent service on the difference between finding out identity in Morality and the law versus finding our identity in Christ. The difference in freedom between those two is insane and humbling.
A couple of great quotes…

The law doesn’t give you righteousness , it shows you that you don’t have any! — Andy Burkhart

“We are children of the promise, it’s a miracle that God saved us [all of us, not just the really bad ones]” -Andy Burkhart

We talked about how Christ was and is our only righteousness and that when we try to obtain righteousness in any other way, we devalue His works on the Cross, and we elevate ourselves to a status that we cannot begin to obtain. Thinking we can do anything to save our selves, that our works are anything more than mere “filthy rags” is absurd and defames our Lord. Our ability to follow rule and make things look good for everyone IS NOT REAL CHRISTIANITY. It’s a facade that stops us from interacting with others genuinely and limits our ability to look to others around us for accountability and strength. When we begin to depend on ourselves, I am reminded of Ephesians 2:3 where Paul talks about us following the “desires of the body and the mind” which leads to wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 gives a pretty good idea of where we stood before Christ intervened. Legalism and self-righoutness can very easily fall into these desires of the mind. It’s far easier to be focused on doing the right thing and following rules than it is to humble yourself, admit you cannot do it, and follow someone else to step in and save you.

We are a proud, proud people. We includes me, but it also included you. We cannot stand to fail, or be wrong. We HATE being forced to be dependent or anyone else. Any true and honest Christian will tell you that learning dependence on God is the most painful, difficult process that we face,but one that is so well worth it.

Absente

Man, sometimes like really catches up with us and we just get too busy! I am so sorry that I have been absent these past few days. I am trying write at least 3 times and week and really stay engaged in this blog and with you all!

So just for today, I have been absent because things are really taking off for my trip to Brussels here next month! I have about 6(ish) weeks before I leave and I am starting to get really excited, and scared. It’s going to be a great time, lots of fun, lots of struggles, lots of growth!

For those who do not know, I am traveling to Brussels Belgium this upcoming month to work and partner with a church I know there. I will be engaged in a variety of ministries there and helping the local church with their needs. For some more information about my trip you can visit the following website, and learn more about what I am doing.

www.giftforgood.com/belgium-bound

Finally, on that website you can give to help make this trip possible. I know I do not personally know many of you, and many of you may not be Christians or support what I am going there to do, but if you are willing, I would love any kind of financial support you can offer.

Your prayers are also highly coveted.

Oh, Broken Church!

There are times that I feel just angry. I don’t mean to, and I know that it’s wrong. I should be more patient, understanding, and encouraging. I just get mad though.

I should probably tell you why, haha!

I get really angry with American (or Western) Church mindsets, and how people can so easily get sucked into “Church Culture” rather than true and fruitful Faith in Christ. I can literally rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and RANT on this topic for hours, as those who know me in person can attest. This past week, at my church, i was thinking about this, and getting angry about this, and stated thinking about it.

I then began writing.

I was able to get out some of my anger in the poem below, and communicate how I was feeling, and call out those who I feel need to be called out (if they read it…)

It is long. I was going to apologize of it, but truly – Sorry, not sorry! I couldn’t stop… and I think it needs to be said. So take the time to read it please. So here it is.

Plunged deep in the world

Anchored by the Truth I know

Seeking a way to love the Tares,

Finding it easier than believed.

But as time progresses, love demands more.

My heart breaks as my treasured friends flail.

Trying to find happiness, joy and purpose.

Failing and left wondering Why.

How do I console and comfort

When my respite, my solace, is not what they want to hear.

Their deepest need and the completion of their desires,

They reject as archaic, narrow and just not for them.

“The hypocrites, the judgement, the culture that skewed,

The church doesn’t want them” They think and they cry.

And they’re not wrong.

The church is uncomfortable with friends like mine.

Their lives are messy and filled with grime.

Pain beyond measure, impossible choices,

Risky situations and problems we can’t solve.

How do we act with the lost in our way?

The Pharisees, that brood of vipers,

The religious “elite”, those Whitewashed tombs,

They judge, spurn and withdrawn in disgust.

The proclaim shallow praise for their “pious natures,”

While looking down on the broken with a sneer and a stare.

Rather,

Look to our leader, our ever Faithful Big Brother.

How does Jesus engage the lost?

Does He judge, spurn and withdraw,

Or does He love, move close and embrace?

Matthew and Mark both tell the tale,

Jesus was eating, living and loving,

The worst of the sinners, the tare, the lost.

THIS is our call, oh broken church!

To be a Christian, oh “Little-Christ.”

Our Lord would embrace, love and reach to meet needs.

Do you push them aside or cross the road,

or, God-forbid, attack and judge.

Do you assume you know their state?

Do you know their minds, their thoughts and their pains?

The lies they believe or the Truth they can’t see?

Christ came for the sick, the lost, the sinners to the core.

How quickly we forget that’s our state for sure.

Why do we think we can elevate our plight?

That we’re not “that bad” or never took it “that far”

But save the hand of our Lord reaching down

Our state would be sure and equal to theirs.

We’re indulgent, disobedient and seeking our own.

Sin breaks us all and drags us down deep,

Beyond what we think, beyond what we know.

Our desires, our lust, removes all our reason.

Don’t fool yourself, or think you’re above it.

Your state, you sin, without Christ is damning .

Not matter our sin, it removes us from God.

Separate from God, no goodness exist.

In order to love and serve the lost,

We must realize we’re not far from that heart.

Our culture, our nature, resist this approach.

We long freshen up, cover up, and boast.

To accept and speak of our weakness is shunned,

Hide the dirt and proclaim the good.

How funny, that sounds like the very attitude

The Good Lord rebuked the Pharisees for.

Hiding the truth of our sinful heart,

Claiming the glory for good in our lives.

Not realizing how hiding our sin just makes us look fake.

Promotes the idea that we are mere hypocrites.

Step beyond ourselves and how other see,

And be truthful and honest with those in view.

Don’t show off your “power” and “holiness.”

What good is that for struggling friend?

Rather boast in your weakness, and in your failings,

To show off the Glory, Power and Love,

Of the One who brings all Good to the world.

The One who saves all broken lost sinners,

Who cry out His name, and, oh, what a sweet name!

Live your life not to proclaim your goodness,

It’s worthless, filthy rags, as dear Isaiah calls it.

But look to the Good, with a capital “G”,

That comes from beyond ourselves,

Despite ourselves,

From our Glorious King.

We cannot fix and save the lost.

But we were never supposed to,

For that is not who we are.

Our purpose, our aim, no matter our pride,

Is to point the lost, the ones by our side,

Our friends and dear ones,

To the only one who can.

Jesus the Christ, the God-Man, the Savior of All.

Comments, questions and criticisms are welcomed.