Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is so great! Get all kinds of good food, watch some football, and get to see the whole family again. It's also a time to really reflect on the past year and everything that I have to be thankful for. That's one thing I love about holidays is the time to reflect. This past year has definitely been the biggest growing experience that I have had.
It's hard to think about all that has taken place in one year. I could not even start to describe everything that has happened (actually I have, but it's turned into a 35 page paper). I have developed my faith and have really challenged myself in what I really believe. I have been so challenged by friends in my faith and this past summer was such a great growing experience. Not having anyone there to keep me accountable, I had to challenge myself to keep faithful in my faith.
This semester alone has had enough growing experiences to write another 50 pages. God has made me take a hard look at myself, my goals, and where my heart really is. Before last school year, I completely relied on those around me. Over this past year, I have slowly begun to trust God for my every need.
This semester I have learned a lot about friendship. I have had to fight to keep friendships for the first time that I can ever remember. I have not done a great job of doing this, instead I have many times thought I just wanted to give up. At times I have been so frustrated with my friends that I don't really want to fight for my friendship. Over the past few weeks I have discovered how special my friends are and how much they have done for me and how I really do want to fight for their friendship. Between fighting for friends, developing new friends, and the changes in other friendships, it has been a test, challenge, and adventure. God has shown me so much through them.
There is so much to be thankful. God has done so much. I'm so thankful for everything, and for being able to have a personal relationship with the One who created everything we see. God is good, all the time!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Perfect Love!

What an incredible past week it has been! I have learned so much about God and have been filled with His peace. God just took my pride and humbled me. At a point where I was being very prideful, I had one of the most humbling experiences. Sounds nice, but definitely not an easy thing to have attacked. It's so hard to throw yourself into something, and not end up achieving what you set out to do. I became so focused on my own desires that I failed to look to God to lead me and guide me and use me as a vessel to lift others up. So the experience was painful, and even now, it does still hurt, but I have been humbled.
I turned to God and spent more time in prayer and reading the Scripture that God has given me. In a time where I always thought I would be angry and have no peace about the future, God filled me with His incredible peace. When we struggle to achieve something and come up short, it's so hard to trust God that things will work out even better. And this has been a struggle for me over time, but this past week I felt God wrapping His arms around me, saying "I love you!!" I watched Rob Bell's Nooma Rain this past week and that's what I felt like. I'm going through a huge storm and I'm scared, but God pulls me close to Him just repeating, "I'm here with ya, I love you, your going to make it!" What a feeling.
Tonight I was reading through 1 John, and really looked at the love of God. One topic that several people have told me they are struggling with is fear. So many times I find myself falling into fear of so many different things. Many times I do not know how to respond, because I find myself struggling with it. Sure we know that God is in control of the future, but Satan comes in with his lies and gets us to really question ourselves and question God. But the topic of Love has been so strong, and tonight as I talked with 2 of my friends, the topic of Love came up and I stated how I can not even fathom the Love God has, because it is so perfect. Our earthly definition of love is so far from perfect, and the term becomes more and more loosely used, giving it even less significance and less meaning. God's Love is PERFECT! It's so awesome to know that I serve a God who created everything, but yet is personal enough and cares enough, to have a personal relationship with me and to pour out His Love for me. 1 John 4:16- 18 reads, "God is Love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Dealing with fear, God has given us His perfect Love, and if we live in Him we have nothing to fear. Easier said than done, but God's plans are so much bigger than our own and we can't even imagine what is ahead of us. It's so exciting all the things that God will do. It's so exciting the things He has done.
This past week has just been a time for me to seek out the greatness of God. I have spent so much more time in silence in the past week than I normally do, and it has been absolutely incredible! Constantly surrounded by the noise of this world, it was such a great blessing to just sit in silence. I went to the Prayer Chapel here on campus several times, and just sat and gazed upon the sculpture of Jesus praying in the garden, committing himself to the task of dying for our sins. As I sat in silence, just remembering what He has been done and how Satan has been defeated, God just filled me with a sense of peace. In the silence, that is when God has been working in me. When I just give Him time to speak, instead of me always asking for something or talking, allowing Him time to come to me.
The image that has filled my head this past week is me, walking towards God with my head hung low because of the sting that I received. At the time feeling so weak and like I failed, God ran towards me and wrapped his arms around me. As I sat in the prayer chapel the first time thinking about this, as God wrapped His arms around me I just felt myself place my head against His chest and I literally wept. Feeling so weak and like I was not worthy of His love, He held me and kissed me saying, "I LOVE YOU!" I realized that I did not fail. God did not want to see me hurt, but it was something that had to be done out of Love. God has been telling me, "My plans for you are so great, better than you could ever imagine." This has been a time of growing and learning how to Love. Through it all, God is there and I take joy in knowing that no matter what, God Loves me with the Perfect Love.

"But He said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." There fore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding God in Silence

Over the past 3 days I have spent a lot of time in silence. It's hard for me to do this as the world is just filled with clutter. We constantly surround ourselves with noise. We listen to iPods, watch television, we surround ourselves with friends, listen to the radio while driving. There is constant clutter. At school I have found so much peace in just shutting off music or the television and just finding listening to God. On the way home from school last night, I was listening to the radio and the music was just cluttering my mind, so I rode the last 45 minutes in silence. It was so good to just talk with God in silence. Though maybe I did not receive any answers, I was able to just talk with God and it was so good. It allowed me to get frustration out, and to just tell God verbally my feelings. Sure I know He knows my heart, but it's always good to say it out loud.
Today I went for a nice, somewhat hard run. This is where I find God the most. At one time I liked running with my iPod, but lately I have left it behind and have just used running as a way to talk with God and find silence. A little before the halfway point of my run, a light rain started. I absolutely love running in the rain. It is the best feeling in the world. The silence is so good, as I'm more observant of the creation around me and I'm just more in awe of God. It gives me a chance to listen to God and also just talk with Him.
I've tried to be more consistent in my time with God and make sure that I'm making time for Him, and over this past week, I have learned so much. I challenge everyone to just find more time in silence, and just listening to God. It can be hard, cause we want to always be doing something, or find it uncomfortable to be in silence, but it is so peaceful to have silence and it allows God to show you so much. Take joy in just being able to spend one-on-one time with our Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

God's Guidance!

So much happens in just a month's time. It's hard to even remember everything that has transpired over the past month. It's been a good semester of school to this point, and the workload has finally started to pick up. I really am learning a lot in my education classes and really have been improving in areas that have been points of weakness as far as teaching.
Last week I found myself sick with the swine flu, so I went home and missed three days of classes, so I'm trying to get completely caught up from that. This whole semester has been full of good experiences and I have found myself in many new situations.
These new situations have caused some confusion for me though. Trying to seek out where God wants me to be for my future has been hard. I feel like I know God's call and I have felt confirmation from many different areas regarding this circumstance. I don't understand a lot of things right now. I don't even completely know where I am at right now, or what I should do. I know what I feel, but I don't know if this is personal desires or if this truly is something from God. At points I feel completely at peace with everything, knowing God is in control. At other points though, I know that God provides opportunities for us and that we have to take the next step. It's hard to know when the time is right to take the step or if patience is needed and to just wait.
So where to next? One thing thing that I have been lacking is a consistent prayer life and reading of the word. In fact even a existence of this would be nice. I struggle so much to take time away from my day to really meditate on what God has for me. So as it is time to decide which way I should go, I'm trying to dedicate my time to prayer and listening to Him. Pray for me over the next two weeks as I listen for God's guidance and direction. I need clarity of mind and to just open my heart up completely to Him and allow Him to mold me. I thank you all again for the support of me and all the encouragement that I have received over the year. Thanks so much! God bless!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Peace!

Wow! What a last 2 weeks! Seriously feels like it’s been a month since I was at home. It’s just been such an incredible 2 weeks of joy, growth, and most of all, peace! One thing that I have been searching for in the past year is complete peace with everything. Starting about two weeks ago I have had more and more peace and at the beginning of this week I finally gained complete peace about everything. After a tough summer spiritually, God has just wrapped me in His arms, telling me well done. This summer was such a big test for me. During summit last night, when Dr. Tim Elmore told us to just imagine going to heaven and seeing God face to face, I imagined myself walking towards God with my head down just completely exhausted and God just wrapping His arms around me telling me well done, you passed the test. It is the best feeling ever, and I just wept as everything I have struggled with over the past year was just thrown away with God saying, “I LOVE YOU!!!”

What an awesome feeling! Last night was just such a God night. God broke me down and brought me to a point where His Holy Spirit just filled me, and I was so at peace and just relaxed. Going into one of the most nerve racking things I have ever done in my life, God just filled me with His love, and I was so calm and relaxed, in a time where I always thought I would be tense and nervous. That was just the Prince of Peace working in me.

God has just surrounded me with the most incredible friends that I could ever ask for. Through everything over the past year, when they probably just wanted to slap me and say get over it, they instead stood with me and just poured out their love and encouragement to me. Oh what an experience it has been.

Ever since I got home from North Carolina, I have just been filled with joy. The past 2 weeks I just feel like I’m overflowing with joy, just knowing that the God I serve really is bigger than anything I will face. Knowing that God, the creator of everything, is in control of my future. I have nothing to fear. I have read the back of the Book, and we WIN!!!!!

Since I have returned to school I feel like a completely different person. Never have I experienced this kind of joy in my life. The Holy Spirit has just been working in me. The Sunday I spoke at church was when I really did tell God just to take total control of my life. Saturday before I spoke I was so sick and I could not think clearly. I seriously could not put a complete sentence together and it was at this point where I fell to my knees behind the pulpit and just told God to take complete control and just use me as His instrument.

Sunday morning God just completely took over cause I was still sick and I could not make sense of anything, but once I started speaking God just took over and I don’t even remember anything I said. It was incredible! And since then God has just continued blessing me with His words and movement in my life. There is so much I could say, story after story of how God is just working and moving and transforming. It’s so awesome to have this complete peace. Last night just lifted so much weight and stress off of me and the whole situation has just been so filled with prayer, and I have seen the power of prayer. So thank you everyone for you prayer and support. It means so much! I love you all! God Bless!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Experience

So I have arrived at the end of summer with only one week left of work before I head back home to Indiana. This summer has been a great experience and I have learned a lot about living on my own and taking care of expenses. This is my first time that I have had to actually buy my own food, pay for housing expenses, among other things. It’s been fun though, traveling a little, getting to meet lots of people, and living on the coast.

My spiritual side has been a roller coaster this summer, as I found it hard to get into the word and into a routine prayer life. When at school I’m constantly challenged by my friends to stay strong in my faith. Its also easier being at a Christian University where it is much easier to discuss issues with faith and it is somewhat expected.

But through all the struggles, I have become stronger. In order to grow we have to experience some struggles. I have learned how God uses things to bring us back to fully trusting Him. It’s been a good experience to learning how to challenge myself to stay close to God and not rely so much on friends to keep me close to God.

It’s been great getting to talk with so many people though. I have had many great conversations with people. It’s also been fun getting to know the guys that I work with. Working with each other for 4 months, I have been able to develop some good relationships with guys and now I have connections all over the country, which is always good.

But my next semester has been changed so many times throughout the summer. As many of you know I was planning on attending Focus on the Family Institute next semester. I missed a meeting in the spring for study abroad students so I was not able to attend. At first I was angry with IWU and extremely disappointed with not being able to attend. Now though, I’m so excited to be back at IWU. God knows what He is doing and I think I will get so much more out of it next year. I’m so excited for all that God has planned this next semester. I even got into the lodges after everything, which is exciting.

Going to Costa Rica was such a good experience for me. Through this experience I have felt that God is calling me overseas. I do not know if this call is for a lifetime or just for a year or two, but I have felt called to overseas missions. We’ll see where this call leads and boy am I excited to see what God has in store for me over this semester. Through all the things that have happened regarding this next semester, I know God has big things in store for me.

So I thank all of you for your many prayers and your support over the summer. All of you have meant so much to me and have all been a big part of my growth over the past year. To those of you that presented challenges to me and letters of encouragement, thank you so much. It’s been such a great experience, but I’m ready to see you all again. Until then, take care!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life on the Coast!

So it's been a little while since I have written, so I figured I''ll write a little about how things are going.
So I moved to Wilmington, NC this past Sunday, excited to be by the coast, but ready to be home. I'm still ready for school to start, excited for what the semester has in store for me. But I can't say that I hate living here. Our apartments are about 7 miles from the beach, and there is all kinds of things to do here. I have been to the beach every day since getting here, and I plan on going everyday till I leave. Here is how the past 2 days have went. Wake up at 8:30, go to the beach till around noon, come home, eat some lunch, take a nap till around 4 or 5 when someone gets a job, go to the job, work till about 9, come home, eat, and sleep. Ah, what a tough life.
But as great as it is to life here I struggle to find time for God. It's something that has been a struggle all summer. I really don't have those right here to challenge me in this area. That's one reason I'm ready to be at school, I find it easier to stay up on my devos, and to have those good faith talks. But I'm excited for the ways God is going to work this semester. The thing I'm most excited for is to go through The Truth Project again. That has been one of the biggest tools that has helped my growth over the past year. Even now, I think back to that and am still discovering new things through what was presented to me in those videos. I feel that God has some purpose for me not being able to go to Focus this semester. So that's what's up with me! Peace out!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Costa Rica!!!

Like any mission trip, I again experienced God's faithfulness and experience His great love for us. Something about other cultures just gives me a sense of how big my God really is. I told the rest of the youth group how I just felt at home when I got there. It wasn't anything really special, I didn't feel nervous and never felt uneasy. I felt so comfortable with the culture and really felt like I was home. This was the same feeling I got when I went to Africa as well. It doesn't really feel like anything out of the ordinary or crazy, to me it just feels normal.
Before going I was kinda of worried about the language barrier, but once we left that was no longer a thought. I knew God would use our group to reach them. Once we got to Upala, where we served for 5 days, it was something beautiful God had created. It was awesome communicating outside of words and the challenge of communicating was exciting. I surprised myself with how much I could understand, or should I say that I understood anything. The people there are so open with their homes. One day we split into groups of two, me and Andrew were together, and we went to a families home. Neither of us spoke Spanish and the people we went with didn't speak any English. It was the best experience I had out of the whole trip. It was so awesome to communicate and see the beauty in their culture.
Another awesome thing was working with the kids. Those of you who know me well know my heart and passion for children. Also I have a passion for people in need, so working with the kids was awesome. Costa Rica is not a third world country and by many cultures standards they are well off, but they still had so much less than I did. It's awesome to see the joy in the kids faces and how the simplest thing's bring them the most joy.
Then the last 2 days in Costa Rica our group was able to experience and fulfill our need for adventure. We were able to see and enjoy the work of God. On Thursday we went zip-lining in the morning and then in the afternoon went white-water rafting. It was such an amazing experience and it was absolutely incredible. Then on Friday we went to the Pacific Ocean all day. Me and Andrew rented surfboards and I went surfing all day. It was incredible. The first time I went we had little 2 foot waves. Here we had 6 foot waves, and the surf shops were saying that they were some of the biggest waves they had seen. Needless to say I got the crap beat out of me, but I was able to get up 3 times and rode plenty of waves on my knees. It was such a rush and for me, there is no better way to soak in the beauty and power of God. It was incredible.
This is getting really long so I'll wrap it up and you can ask me more about it if you want to hear some stories. Through this experience, I felt my heart in the mission field. This may have just been a result of being on the trip, but over the past 3 or 4 months I have been feeling a stronger and stronger pull to go into full time missions. No matter what though, I know God is going to do incredible things in my life. So many times I plan out my future, but God is just laughing saying, "You of little faith, I have so much more in store for you. I have huge plans for you, if only you trust and rely on me." So that's where I'm at now. Continue to pray for me and for our youth group, that we could take this experience and the passion of the people there, back to our home church and light a spark in our church. God bless!

video

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Time for a Revolution!!!

For the first time in a long time, I finally gave myself a chance to just relax and meditate on what God has given me. Saturday night around 3 in the morning I went outside and just sat for about 45 min. It was so good to just gaze and marvel at all God has created. It gave me a chance to just think about all God has blessed me with. After coming off a hard week it was just what I needed.
Earlier that day I started reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. This book has challenged me in so many ways. He is so radical in what he does and many times I questioned if it was too far out there, but then I started thinking about Jesus and the disciples and how radical they were. Jesus hung out with the homeless, the disciples gave up all they had and walked away from their jobs, and many were arrested. So why is this so crazy for us Christians? Why do we look down on people like this?
One statement made in the book was from a different author saying that Christians try to make the Bible sound complex so we can sit and try to understand what is being said, but honestly the Bible is clear and straightforward, but we don't want to read it like that cause then it convicts us to take action. Then I started thinking why I am not more bold about my faith. I'm scared of rejection and humiliation. So that's how I show my gratitude to a man who suffered more humiliation and rejection than anyone who has ever lived. He served with his life and here I am scared to serve.
It's time to step up and take action, to really die to myself and to serve my God with all I am. To testify to all I meet about how great of a God I serve. It's easy to say this though and quite another to act upon this. So this is my challenge for all who read this, along with a challenge for myself. Maybe your sick of all the challenges that those around us give, but think about the God we serve and how mighty He is, and then think about the sacrifice Jesus made so we could have eternal life. The least we could do is share what we believe. It's time to step up and be bold, no matter what the cost here on earth, I'm looking at an eternal life!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Story!

Intro

Though my life may not have the excitement of others, and I never really had a wild stage, my life has been full of twist and turns. Many of my struggles are mind games that I play with myself. I pressure myself to live up to expectations that I placed on myself. As I struggled through many sins, not admitting anything to anyone. Finally I opened up this past year, and my world has been turned around. God has blessed me with some of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for as they have encouraged me and supported me through everything. My how God has worked in the past year.



I have my whole story written down, but it's too long to put on here, so if you want to read more, ask and I'll send it to you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Half way through summer!

So here I am, halfway through my summer experience. It's been so good for me to experience life on my own , and life away from the Christian environment. It's the first time in my life that I've really been outside the bubble and have had to really challenge myself.
Over the summer I've definitely struggled to read the Bible and pray. This has always been a struggle for me and that struggle has only increased by being here. I never really have time on my own, which at this point in the summer is really hard. I'm a guy that loves to just relax on my own and out in nature. Living in the city makes that hard to do, and working all the time. Working six days a week is starting to take it's toll on me. My body is starting to fall apart, and spiritually I have really been hurting.
This past week has been especially hard on me. Last weekend was great, going to Carmen's house was really good and really gave me a spiritual boost. Now though I've crashed and I'm ready to be home. Emotionally I've been struggling, physically I haven't been taking care of myself, and spiritually I am far from where I need to be. Right now I just feel like I'm not really having an impact on anyone and right now I really have the desire to do missions full time. I really do not know where God wants me in the future, but lately I've been feeling that I need to be in full time missions.
I know that God can use me in a mighty way, but I get down on myself so easily that many times this gets in the way. I struggle with self-doubt a lot and I let my mind take me down and that is one of the ways Satan attacks me.
So right now I'm really struggling to find where God wants me to go and how I can best be a disciple for Him. God has taught me a lot this summer, though I have not done a good job staying in communication with Him. It's been a great experience and a good way to get out of the bubble. I know God will use this experience and will continue to work in me.