Tag Archives: testimony

Thanksgiving in March

For the last month and a half I have been trying to get healthy. I’ve been eating smaller portions and healthier food, taking vitamins and probiotics, and stretching and doing yoga daily. I’m especially fond of the hilarious Adriene of “Yoga with Adriene.” Her motto is “Find What Feels Good.” Now, as a Christian, I know that saying cannot be applied to everything. Many things that “feel good” in the moment are not good for us in eternity, but it works for yoga and stretching. It basically means, don’t over-extend.

In life, I am learning, however, that it’s important to not only find what feels good, it’s important to find what fills us. Over the weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Costas*, a man from Haiti who lives near a park where I was attending an event. Our conversation started when he mistakenly told me “Happy Thanksgiving” and I corrected him, saying, “I think you mean happy Easter.” This led to a long conversation about assignments from God. Though, on first glance, Costas seemed like a disheveled wanderer, it turned out he was a man literally on a mission from God. All the trials and tribulations of his past had brought him to a place, geographically, financially, and spiritually, where he could serve the very place where it all began. He allowed God to take the pain of yesterday and turn it into the joy of the present.

After escaping his home country, Costas entered a world that was new to him. The language was new. The culture was new. Everything was new. In this place of deep need and emptiness, much like Job of the scripture, he encountered people on assignment for God, people of many different cultures and religions who had made the humble decision to serve refugees. As a recipient of such generosity and kindness, he thrived in his new home. He created a life for himself, even purchased the house he once shared with 11 other refugees.

His story could have ended there with a big fat “Happily Ever After,” but it didn’t. Instead God called him back to where all the pain began, where the running began, where the terror began. It must have been as profound for him as it was for me listening to it because he made a point of saying, “God often sends you back to where it all began.” He gave examples like that of Moses who had to go back to Egypt to set the Israelites free. Costas, in the last 15 years, decades after escaping Haiti, decided to go back to build a school where there was no education and serve thousands of people in rural Haiti.

His story really resonated with me. For the first 25 years of life I lived within 30 miles of where I was born. At 25 years old I decided to move to the Bay Area for 3 years until I finished school. Now 10 years later I am still here, and constantly wondering why. I love Oakland. I love my church, the food, the culture, but I often miss home. Maybe God took me from home to learn something to take back home someday. Perhaps there’s something I will find here that I would have never found at home, and when I return I will bring with me something someone needs.

So maybe there is something I could gain from this conversation with Costas that I could use years from now when I return home, but what I can I take from it today? Later that day, after talking with him, I felt so energized. I’m sure it was partially due to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in our exchange, but it was something more than that. I realized afterward that I am energized by one-on-one conversations with people. I walk away feeling like I have gained insight, learned more about culture, the similarities and differences. I feel as though the words spoken to me are the most precious gift.

Through this conversation with a complete stranger God reminded me that I need to have these individual conversations in order to be filled, energized. I recognize now why I sometimes feel unfulfilled in my workplace where there’s little time for individual exchanges or deep conversation, where the majority of my day is spent conversing with a computer screen.

Perhaps Costas had a point. It may not have been Thanksgiving, but Sunday was truly a day to be thankful.

 

*name changed for privacy

 

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Let Them Inside

Each Wednesday I go on a walk, and I always make it a point to stop by a certain spot to pray and breathe. So today I decided to listen to one of my favorite “quiet time” songs “What a Friend” by Kathryn Scott before praying. As I listened with my head bowed and my eyes closed God reminded me of part of the lesson I taught to the kids on Sunday. The last thing that was mentioned in their lesson booklet was that Jesus allowed Thomas to put his hand in his side.

As I reflected on this part of the lesson it was clear to me. God was telling me that when Christians don’t share their wounds, their scars, those places where God has worked in their lives, sometimes horrible and embarrassing secrets, they are denying the seekers the proof of God’s existence. Think about the humility and vulnerability it took for Jesus to give Thomas permission to put his hand in his side, to see that he, in fact, was the resurrect Messiah. If Jesus asks us to be his ambassadors, to yearn to be a reflection of him, then why should we shy away from giving our testimony in a vulnerable and personal way?

When Jesus told Thomas to put his hand in his side, even knowing his doubt, and that had to be a big, stubborn doubt to have walked with Jesus and still not believed, perhaps he was speaking to all of us to let those seekers, even those most doubtful, inside. When we reveal that we have had struggles, we have been broken, but now we are made whole by Jesus, we are giving the best proof of Jesus’ existence, not as a prophet and healer, but as the life-changing Messiah. So feel free to share, be vulnerable, be open, God will honor that and use it in some way. If not for the person with whom you are sharing, He will use it to work in you because as you share you will come to love the Thomases of this world despite their doubts.

Hope you have enjoyed this post. Please leave your comments by clicking “reply” at the top, or like this post on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. I’d love to hear from you.

Hide and No Seek

When God created man he was free to do anything but eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of course, we all know that they did eat from it, and then tried to hide from God. All too often we do the same.

I can think of 3 main reasons we hide from God:

1. We don’t want Him to see our sin. This is when we do the same as Adam and Eve. We hide because we are ashamed/guilty and afraid of the consequences. If you have been around kids you know this is often what they do. ‘I don’t want a spanking so I will hide under the table.’ Mom and dad are ripping them away from the table leg in order to properly discipline them. Why are we doing the very things we find so juvenile?

Lord, help me humble myself before you in confession and repentance (turning away from sin), that I may accept your grace and mercy to forgive me. May your Holy Spirit convict my heart of those sins I have committed but not realized, that I could confess and repent of even those. Amen.

2. We are afraid of our calling. If you’ve truly lived a life after God’s own heart he’s asked you to do some difficult things. I remember once I was at a conference of all pastors. I was the furthest thing from a pastor, but my pastor cared enough to take me with him that night. At the end of the service some of the pastors were going through the crowd to pray for each person. Suddenly a pastor stopped at me and placed his hands on my shoulders. He prayed in tongues so I wasn’t sure of what he said. Then he looked up and said, “God says… Does that mean anything to you?” At that moment I knew I had been healed from a condition I felt was destined to get worse.

Here I am in a crowd of people I don’t know. The service is ending. It’s late at night and people want to get home, and God calls me to go on stage and give my testimony in front of that huge crowd. I told God no, but just as the doors were opening for the crowd to leave I ran up to the stage and asked to speak. I faithfully gave my testimony, and I have been healed ever since. I don’t know why God called me to do that. Maybe it was to encourage someone in the crowd, or maybe it was just so I could hear myself say that God healed me. I will never know, but I am glad I had the willingness to obey instead of hiding from the call to share.

Lord, help me remember what you have already said to me. Let the Holy Spirit remind me of just how I fit into your plan. Help me except that my calling may seem impossible, but that it is also HIMpossible. I need not hide from what you know to be best for me. Amen.

3. We don’t know we are hiding. This past weekend I attended the BASS Convention at Redwood Chapel Christian Church in Castro Valley, California. I had the pleasure of hearing a message from Pastor Derwin Gray of Transformation Church, South Carolina. He said something along the lines of, if you are going to church four times a week you have to ask yourself if you are hiding in your church. God told us to reach the unreached and the Christ-less. So why are we hiding in church? It seems good to go to prayer meeting, Bible study, cell group, Sunday service, but when do you really reach outside those four walls to reach the brokenhearted, the needy, the abused? When was the last time you served someone outside your church, shared the Gospel through your actions, prayed for a coworker? God does not live in a building. When He talks about the church He is not referring to the building. He is referring to the people in the building who have the Holy Spirit IN them. In them. That means you can go out on the streets, whether it be in the inner city, overseas, or in your own neighborhood and live out the Gospel and make that your church.

I’m not saying to stop going to church. I’m only saying that perhaps Christians should change their perspective to see everywhere they go as a place needing God, needing the Holy Spirit, and since Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit lives in us, guess what, we get to it bring wherever we go. Let me say it again. Wherever you are is your church, is where you share the Gospel by your actions and your words, and where you give Him the glory. Notice Jesus did most of his teaching outside the four walls of a church. We find him teaching at a well, on a boat, at a home, (and yes) in a temple. Did He ever stop teaching?

Lord, how I want to step out of the safety of my church and into the mission field. I dedicate my time, resources, heart, and mind to the unreached and the Christless. Give me strength to face the unknown, the difficult questions, a cruel and unkind world, and live a life after Jesus, an extraordinary life where I can see your work unveiled. Amen.

 

If you are hiding you may as well give up because it just looks silly to God. It’s like hiding behind an open window. He is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-LOVING.

If you think of another reason people hide, or you would like to share your own struggle or triumph in this area, please leave a comment below.

My Testimony – Part 1

As you may have read in “The Author” page, I have been in the church since I was about 7 years old. Though I have attended church for the past 25 years, my road has not been straight. As the Rascal Flatts song goes “God blessed the broken road.” Though I did not walk on a straight path, God was always with me and in the hardest of times I found that He was the only constant, my loyal partner and guide. It’s hard to admit you are wrong, to accept His grace and mercy, but when we enter into a place of humility we can fully experience the depth and width of His love. 

Always an innocent and a late bloomer, college hit me like a ton of lead. If you throw a ton of lead onto a paper boat what do you think happens? That’s kind of what happened to me, but as I was sinking I always looked up through the layers of heavy water to the one thing I knew was true. Temptations and peer pressure sunk this paper boat, but at the floor of this ocean people gathered around me to push me back up to the surface. A great mentor, Kim Davis, who I showed little to no appreciation to at the time kept me from scraping my hull on the ocean floor. And as she exited another Kim and her husband Michael entered giving me the most non-judgmental encouragement possible. This refining process was not an overnight job. It took many years, many miracles, and many people to bring this boat to the surface. 

Now that I am back afloat God is strengthening this paper boat through His Word, His children, and prayer. God knows I have a long way to go, but he uses this paper vessel everyday, if I allow it, to speak life and truth into others. Who knows? Maybe one day this soggy paper will be a giant barge for Jesus.