Tuesday, 16 July 2013

the heart of the matter..

So a revelation came to me as I was slicing buns at one of the various festivals we have been volunteering at here in Norway. I don't know if you know of the "everything is meaningless" idea from Ecclesiastes but it started to come to my head as I looked at all the little and seemingly insignificant tasks we were doing. Really, do the 30 tents we set up or the dozens of pitas we slice, or the hours we spend checking arm bands during security shifts really matter in the kingdom of God? When we look at our actions in the midst of all that's going on in the world what we do even the bigger accomplishments seem incredible small. This is outreach. Where are we truly making a difference? It came to me a few days later "your good works are filthy rags before me". Wow. And here I was looking for significance in those filthy rags. God is teaching me instead, to focus on who I am. When I focus on my character, so called good works and actions that have influence will naturally flow, but then our value and significance is not found in those, but in our true identity. A talented creation of God made to have significance through LOVE. It is who we are that will make a difference in the world, not what we do, because it's who we are that speaks to hearts. Cutting buns and setting up tents may have been helpful for a moment but don't truly matter. The attitude with which we do them and the opportunities we take to encourage those we were working with during these tasks do. One of the ladies at the first festival we were at drove an hour and a half back from her home town after she had left just to have us pray for her because she noticed while we were putting up tents that we cared about her life enough to make conversation. Also, we can use small tasks and opportunities to help build my character and when i don't see them making a difference, can take comfort in the fact that some day they might. With this new knowledge I am trying  to get out of the habit of performing and striving. Ask The Lord if you are meant to do the same. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why Norway?

     In heading an outreach team to a first world country some questions start to arise. Should we be going somewhere with more poverty? Is it really worth spending so much money to go to a place thats already been reached by the gospel? and really, why would we go to Norway when there are orphan children we can feed in Africa or India? These are all things that have gone through my head over these past few months until recently God started his work in my heart and the paradime shift began.
     Two weeks ago I saw the movie "Trading Innocents" and later on in church that week heard some amazing men speak in church on the work they are doing with Muslim peoples in Indonesia. I almost expected to feel jealous of their testimonies thinking of my outreach to Europe, but instead was hit in an incredible way with how much people in general need love. I found my heart bursting with compassion, not just for these girls in the sex trade or people under the burdens of Islam, but for anyone and everyone I came accross. I believe I gained a sliver of Gods heart for the world that week and it was the starting point of a great heart change.
     In Matthew 28 Jesus tells his disciples of ALL nations. This morning I was reflecting on this verse and noticed some things. Firstly, he says ALL nations. Not just poor nations or nations that have heard the word, but ALL nations. In this I also remembered a sermon I heard a while back about the difference between just sharing the gospel and actually making disciples. Now don't get me wrong third world outreaches are extremely important. We NEED to preach the good news to the poor and show compassion to widows and orphans, but what has been highlighted to be is that there is also a call to make disciples of people who already know the gospel and have the resources to be a great force for the kingdom. A word I got for our team last week was "equipers". The people of Norway have tremendous resources to make a change in the world and I feel like part of what God wants to use us for there is motivating the youth and others to do something with those.
    The last thing that has been on my heart for Norway this past week is this: There is a significant emptiness that comes with wealth if there is not something more meaningful behind it. Yes the people of Norway are extremely well off, but without the rock of Christ which is the only thing that is steadfast, complete value trust and hope is put on a very unstable platform. Ultimately it doesn't matter how many vacations you can take in a year or the financial stability you have if you don't believe that you were created for a purpose and you have a heavenly father who's love for you is endless.
     This is why we go. To make the fathers heart known and empower people with that to make a change in our world.
     Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Friday, 22 March 2013

laying down judgement. picking up grace.

My heart is absolutely bursting with all I am learning here in Australia. Each day is full of life changing lessons and revelations and I wish I could share them all, but that would be way too much typing for me and probably more reading than you would like, so I will share some of what I feel is the most important. I have always been sort of a “goody two shoes” growing up, trying to do everything perfectly right away. I feel like I tried to manipulate people into liking me by  impressing them with my actions and found it worked for a significant amount of my childhood. I completely placed my value in what I did and how well I did it and found it hard to believe I was still worth something if I screwed up. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I had to start making significant life choices and it was at this time I started to realize there was no way I could please everyone with what I chose. Since then the Lord has been taking me on a huge journey, teaching me how to put my worth and value in Him and not in what I did or what others thought of me and has truly been showing me that who I am is based on who’s I am (His child and creation). Now, I thought I had pretty much grasped this concept after going through a year of working when all my friends were at university. During this time I constantly had to allow God to speak my worth to me because I felt none.  The next year when I was in school and still felt insignificant I re-evaluated this again and thought after much prayer I had overcome it. After this I did my Discipleship Training School here with Ywam and God brought this issue up again, continuing to teach me about my identity. After  that I was SURE I had a handle on it. Little did I know I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what God was going to teach me in this area. While being here on staff I have messed things up more times than I can count. With so much to do and nearly every hour of the day from 6am-10pm scheduled it has been impossible to do things perfectly. At first this made me angry. I had a very clear picture of the type of leader I wanted to be and the type of dance program I wanted to run and expected both of these to magically function perfectly right away. To state the obvious it didn’t happen that way.  I also discovered that I was also holding others to this standard I put on myself. Can you say judgment? Sheesh.  Then God began to remind me of something I was completely forgetting: Grace. Undeserved favor that is given to us WITHOUT earning it. Still being trusted with 1 on 1 relationships when I can’t be the perfect mentor, forgiveness that someone gives when I have snapped at them out of stress,  students still respecting me when dance work outs or classes don’t run perfectly, and God’s unfailing love when I have forgotten to make time for Him in my day. In taking up grace I have begun to be ok with learning. Ok with stumbling because I know it means I was trying to go somewhere. God does not require us to be perfect, if he wanted us to be he could have created us all as robots.  He takes joy in seeing us grow, discover and learn, and it’s often in messing up that that happens.