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I recently got back from a 17-day mission trip in Kenya, the second one on which I’ve been. I will be posting some amazing things God has shown me through this incredible experience. My heartaches…heartlifts…reality checks…and just God-in-my-face moments. I pray God will open your hearts and eyes to whatever He needs to in these next few weeks of posts.

Love

                In Kenya, you will find the worst possible conditions in which a person can be living (or as my American mindset would say, “If that’s even called living”).

Yet, nowhere else in my life have I felt so much love.

It’s crazy. It really is. This does not make sense.

These people have nothing. They are losing family members. Many of them are on their own, because everybody else they used to love and know has died. They work their butts off. They barely make any money, if even. Those that have homes go home to hot, muggy huts that often cost them more than they even make. Those that don’t have homes, like a young boy I met named Dulius, go back to their standard marketplace or street sleeping spot. Or like the people I met in the dump (a huge trash dump the size of a football field), who go “home” to their rut in the trash, or if they’re lucky, to their trash-cardboard-made, 3-walled enclosure. I am not exaggerating – I’m sure you’ve seen it on TV.

And the world looks on, saying, “See! Where is God? Where is God in all of this? If He is real – He would not let this happen!”

Yet these people I met in Kenya are the ones with the greatest joy and faith in God I have ever seen.

It makes me think twice about what really matters in life. It makes me think that the Bible is right when it says life is not about money, fame, me or anything else, but God. In fact, when I look at the two different mindsets I just listed above, it makes me think that we may have warped mindsets. Doesn’t it make you?

 

Psalm 138:6: Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.

Psalm 69:32: The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live!

Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
               
                YOU – seek Him. Now. Don’t wait – too often it is too late. Seek Him. Seek Him. Go…


                                    Jesus Christ is truly the only way to Life.  We only have freedom in him. He took everything and changed it. How beautiful! Start, or re-start, a relationship with God today. Only through Jesus Christ – His perfect, sinless, stainless, Son can we have perfect life with him and God. Why? Because He became our imperfect, sinful, stained selves. He took your sins upon himself – and was pleased to do it because he wanted you to have a relationship with the Father. Sin separates us from God – and Christ is the opposite of sin. Believe Christ is who he says he is – “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and you will be saved – it’s his words - “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

He is Life. Without him we have nothing – really – and with him we have everything.
 
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Hey Guys! The next few weeks I'll be in Africa on a mission trip, but two very good friends of mine will be posting! So, if you can, give them some great encouragement! They're great guys! (And please be praying for us in Kenya!)


Jesus walks on the water - More than One Miracle


" When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, 'It is I; don't be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."   John 6:16-21

When looking at this you are amazed at Jesus walking on the water! IT IS AMAZING!!!! But there is more to the story than what first appears -

The disciples were in a very scary situation - the waters were rough. They didn't know what to do. They tried to go on by themselves. Then Jesus comes up to them and says "Guys, I'm walking on the same water that you are walking on." They are terrified. THEN they are willing to let Jesus in the boat - THEN they are willing to give him control of the scary situation - THEN and ONLY THEN do they reach shore - safety - protection - the calm.

It's not a story of literallity - yes the event did happen, but the point of the story is not for us to think "Sweet! He walked on water!". The event's purpose is to teach us to to go to Christ in the scary situations. To accept him and his control; to trust him. He is saying to you "Hey, I'm going through _______ with you. Let me take the lead". You HAVE TO invite him in to take control - Only when you say that you can't control the situation and that you want him to have control and give it to him - ONLY THEN do you reach shore - ONLY THEN do you land and reach stability. ONLY THEN do you reach Stability through Christ.

Are you scared? Are you lost? Look around you – inside you – are you? Are you scared about eternity? Only when we invite Christ to be the Lord of our ship will we reach safety – the shore – home. Here’s the thing though, we can’t say Christ is the Lord of our life and then do whatever we want – that is hypocrisy and a lie. No, we must give Christ Lordship of our lives; he must be the master. ONLY when we give him this will everything become all right. ONLY when we make him Lord of our lives does everything become right. Only then.

To succeed we must secede from command and proceed by giving Christ the lead role. We must become smaller and he must become greater. If we give him control - literally tell him - "you have control of my life - please help me in this situation - I can't do it - you can - please..." and live it out - we will reach shore - we will gain direction and not feel lost. We will have stability.

STABILITY THROUGH CHRIST
He loves YOU.

 
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Beautiful - Hurts, Burdens and Problems  



So often in life we have those hard times we go through…you know the ones we wished never existed? The ones that sometimes make us say, “I hate life…”, “Why does life have to be so unfair?”, “Where is God??”

And to be honest, sometimes I ask the last question this way: “Where are you God? I mean, I know You’re here…but where?? I just need to see you!”

In fact, Jesus was faced with this situation when a woman named Martha had a brother who died. She approached Jesus and, looking at him, said, “Lord…if you had been here, my brother would not have died…” (John 11: 21)

                And I’m sure many of you have been in situations similar to Martha, where you have to say the same thing… Maybe it’s something easy to identify – maybe your family is going through a really hard time because of the economy – and it scares you – because you know this may somehow effect your college situation. Or maybe it’s more similar to Martha’s sitch - maybe your brother died, or your mom or dad or sister. Or maybe they’re dying…and going through pain in the process. Let’s switch gears: maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re in physical pain. Emotional pain. You’re going through such significant emotional pain that you even call yourself a shipwreck…and you’re so fragile that you’re like a glass of water filled to the top – if anybody says or does the wrong thing you just spill over and explode. Maybe you’ve been depressed…and you’re thinking, “Lordif only you were here…everything would be fine. Where are you???!”

You have a burden on your shoulders that you’ve wanted to be taken care of for a heck of a long time…and maybe, like me, you’re getting weary and tired. You at points feel drained. You say, “Lord…if only you were here…

                                Well, to understand why Jesus had not been there, we have to rewind the story a little bit. This takes us back to the beginning of John 11.

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “LORD, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.         John 11:1-6

Now why would Jesus wait two more days?? The only reason Jesus would stay where he was for two more days was because he knew it would bring more glory to God when he did this. He knew it would bring a better outcome! This is a very important point we must always remember: God’s will is always going to be better than ours. And in this case…Jesus actually waited until Lazarus died before he started heading his way – and we’re about to find out why.

So we continue in verses 14-15, just after Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus had died (this was now 2 days after Jesus had gotten the news about Lazarus being sick). After telling the disciples that they were going to start heading for Judea (where Mary, Martha and the deceased Lazarus were), Jesus “then…told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’”

Jesus said he was glad he wasn’t there. Isn’t that interesting? Why was he glad?

He was glad because he was going to show Mary and Martha something that was so much more insane than healing a sick person. He was going to teach the disciples his power and authority from God in a way more intense than healing somebody…he was going to bring life to a dead man – he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.

And he did.

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”

If Jesus had not waited two days…this beautiful miracle would never have happened. Granted, the people did go through emotional pain and heartache for those two days, but the joy in the end was so beautiful that it completely voided the pain.

You. Me. Your family. Your friends. Strangers. This teaches us all to remember: We are sometimes allowed to be in low times so that in the end God can really be glorified! Raising a man from the dead had so much more of an impact on the people standing around than healing him would have. So we see that Christ allowed this “bad” thing to happen because he saw a way that it could end beautifully.

God spoke to the apostle Paul when the apostle was going through a hard time. God spoke, saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So what does this all mean to you? Maybe God had more in store for you and others (and Him) when he allowed your loved one to go through a hard time or even die…maybe he knew it would be so beautiful because in the end it would raise someone from the dead: you. Maybe your loved one’s death showed you God and His power. Maybe you saw Christ as a result…

Because He says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness."

So, I leave you with this: right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (which is where many of you are in the same season of life – right before God shows His power) he said to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” This is significant, because it’s not the way many of us try to make it – “If I see the glory of God, I will believe.” No, he said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

And he says that to you. ________, if you believe, you will see the glory of God.

It all starts with believing in Jesus Christ. Only he had the ability to take your sins upon himself and die with them – because he was and is God’s perfect Son – and only God had the ability to raise him from the dead – signifying the same will happen to us when we die to ourselves (give him Lordship) and trust in him and his salvation (I encourage you to read Ephesians 1 & 2). “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

For God so loved you that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, that if you believe in him you will not perish. (John 3:16 personalized). He wants you to have Life! Eternal life! Not eternal death!

He loves you. He wants to be with you. He sees your heartache. In fact, the story we just went over above was the one where “Jesus wept.” He saw Mary crying…and it made him hurt too. So know that it’s okay to cry…to mourn for the death of a loved one or to cry about a situation that is really hurting you – and know that he’s crying with you. Know that he cares when you hurt. And He’s saying, “Here I am – believe in me – follow me - let me set you free! I want to be with you! I am the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one gets to the Father except through me.” Ask him to be your LORD and Savior. He is Jesus Christ.
 

If you have any questions about how to start a relationship (and continue it) with Jesus Christ, then please just start talking to him. Pray. Prayer is simply communicating with him. Explain how you feel. If you would like, I would also love to talk with you about it and try to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to talk with me, Message me here on Facebook, or text message or call me at 405-315-4837.

I love you. And know this: God does too. He’s standing at the door waiting for you to open it.

And I hope you can see now that God can work through difficult times, in a way we can’t comprehend at first, for the better. These situations can actually become beautiful.

 
*Discussion questions: What hard times have you gone through? And how has God shown you His power through them? What hard times are you still going through? We would love to pray for you and with you. And always remember:

        “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28

What are your thoughts/stories in response to the discussion questions?


 
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ForChrist!              
Beautiful - Nature

        I love nature and I love being outside. I do hate most bugs, but there’s just something about the outside experience of which you can’t deny beauty.

I find it interesting that when people need to escape, they usually escape to nature (vacations in still-natural locations); where people escape to says a lot about where they are escaping to. I mean it has to be so beautiful for that to be the place to which they escape.

And when I look at nature, I see God. I see Him! And I’m starting to realize why…

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

 
And then I realized why God even made earth beautiful. He made it beautiful because it brings Him glory! See, God created earth in the first place so that we could live. And then He made it beautiful. Why? So that we would praise Him. It’s just so beautiful! We are made for His glory! Earth is made for His glory! Everything is made for His glory…and you can start seeing it once you think about it and look for it…

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.  Romans 11:36

What I see in nature is a community experience God has set up with us. “Come over here…look at this!!” And then we praise Him. “Check this out!” Worship. Nature is a place where we can meet with God; have community with Him.

So, maybe you need to look up more – look up at the sky. Or look out  more – look out of your little box. Experience what God made for you to experience…naturally natural nature.

And then take what you get from it and remember: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.  Romans 11:36

 
Now’s the time to take that verse into action. Worship. Then worship by realizing that if “from him and through him and to him are all things…” then everything around you can somehow be used for His glory. Go ahead, use it! Now! Praise Him!

Trees are made for His glory. Every green leaf. Every blade of grass. Every horse. Every piece of sand. Every mountain, hill, valley and gully. You.


You were made for His glory.
And you won’t feel complete until you are with your Creator and doing what you were made for.
Jesus Christ is the key here.
We have access to God only through Him.
We have the opportunity to have a relationship with God.
That’s glorious.


That’s beautiful.

 

*What is one of God's beautiful qualities you have experienced?
*What are some of God's beautiful qualities that only you are hindering yourself from experiencing?


He gives us the ability to experience Him! He's beautifully reaching out to us! Cry out to Jesus! Only He saves. Only Him. And all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Cry out to Him. He IS listening.