Posts Tagged ‘church’

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When I came back to Off the Wall after the summer I had the task of leading a whole new house of interns. I had some time before they all got here to settle in to the new house and just figure out what standards I wanted to set and what expectations I had for the house this year. I wanted to make sure I was leading these new guys like adults and not like the kids I lead at camp. These guys were adults and I expected that from them. I expected a commitment to learn and a level of teachablity to match. They were coming here, and I was going to hold them to the standard of the commitment that is discipleship.

When they all arrived my first observation was that this was a very young group. They were just in most aspects “young”, young in their maturity, some in age, and just young in life experience. For allot of them this was the first time someone wasn’t taking care of them. Off the Wall was the first real step outside of home. Off the Wall provided the bear needs and anything extra they would have to provide themselves. They quickly discovered what were needs and what were simple luxuries that they never thought about. It was interesting seeing them slowly discover how little we actually need.

I started to get a pretty good picture of what God had set before me. I knew allot of these lessons would take time and investment before they would accept criticism and truly take what I would present to them. I was not their main discipler and they did not truly give me that authority to really push them yet. Now they said with their words that they wanted me too but as the old saying holds “actions speak louder than words.” This was fine for the beginning of the semester but as time went on I began to be disappointed in the level of improvement. Off the Wall is discipleship and community, and what I was seeing was an extreme neglect in community. Community has a tight hold on discipleship and when community is failing it seems discipleship fails as well. I began to get frustrated because I was trying so heard to improve this community but I saw an extreme lack of participation and effort from the interns to make this better. There was so much talk of “we could do this…” or “I think we need to do this…” but no action was ever taken. It was allot of expecting things to just… well happen.. This ate at me and I began to question if my expectations were to high for this group we have here… We had a very tight and unique group last year and I began to question if I was expecting it to be the same.

Well turns out having the expatiation of this group being last years group was present. So I adjusted that, but in analyzing my goals and expectations for these guys I saw Godly expectations and I refused to compromise on those. I would be failing them as a biblical leader if I lowered these goals and expectations for these guys. I wanted them to grow in Godliness and leadership. To become inspirational men of God. I expect growth and I expect relationships to deepen. I expect a commitment to discipleship because thats why they are here. What changed for me was my acceptance of the fact that it is okay for these guys to fail. To fail and learn and not expect them to always succeed. I am not responsible for their responses to teaching and growth, it’s up to them and they will take in as much as they allow themselves. All I can do is provide a push here and there and speak truth and leave them with their responsibility. I am not responsible for what they allow God to do in their lives.

Now in this new semester I have seen an amazing transformation in this group. They came back from break with a whole new passion for discipleship and what God has for them. They are so much more teachable and it shows. There is less talk of what we should be doing and more doing! I see much better time management, more conversation is biblical, and I just see a new Love for each other. Now I am so proud of these guys, these guys now show the passion and the Love for Jesus that I had only seen in spurts. I see the boldness that is required from Godly men and all of this just excites me! It really has been a transformation and I thank God for the work He has done in these men these past few months.

I’m thankful that I was allowed to be a part of the transformation to these saints. They are becoming striving men of God and I could never be happier with what the Lord has done with these guys. I’m really proud of them and I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with their lives if the continue to fallow in obedience and be men of God

“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” Titus 2:2

“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.” 1 Timothy 6:12

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So for a while now I have been praying about the direction Ashley and I were going to take in living our lives together for Christ. What I mean is what were we going to do? were we going to stay in the states with Off the Wall making disciples, or were we goin to Guatemala and the Liga de Vida Nueva (New Life children’s home) to disciple the children there… both options were glorifying to God, both are lead by the command of Jesus to go forth and make disciples(The Great Commission Mathew 28:16-20) and both options are good (really there are three options because God could take us anywhere He wants and that could be neither of these options but that’s a whole other topic of discernment.) As I was seeking an answer in this decision I was making sure that I wasn’t choosing an option because it was the easiest or simply what I or Ashley wanted to do. I didn’t want to stay here simply because I was comfortable here and I didn’t want to go to Guatemala simply because that’s what she planned on before we got together, (I didn’t want to go there to just make her happy, because then my heart wouldn’t be in it) to go to Guatemala Jesus would have to break my heart for those kids because although I have a passion for kids and missions I didn’t break for these kids and I had an attachment here in the US. . We are becoming one so everything changes now, our previous commitments change, and our previous plans that we may have had for our lives change. We needed to find out now how we are going to best serve God together. We needed to find out how to have a united ministry. Through prayer and much Godly counsel and discussion it came down to these options; serving God here in the US making disciples, or going to Guatemala and serving the children’s home and disciplining the children and people there.

 

So this past week I attended “Mosaic” a young adult bible group where we come together to read the Word and be challenged. That night I was asked to help lead worship, Josh was playing the guitar and I was playing the cajon. So things started off normal we sang and worshiped and then Don came up to lead the discussion/message. The topic for the night was Discipleship, after showing a video Don got up and prayed to start things off. After he started with a question like “do you ever feel like all you hear is the pain of this world?” then something took him and he began to break down and cry, as I sat I began to cry with him. He collected himself and prayed a few more times, then asked what are we doing about it? Are we disciples? Do we act like it? he began to cry again. As I began to cry again all I could see was a child standing before me. The child and I were standing in the dirt and the child was looking up at me and smiling. I bent down to the child and put my hands on his shoulders looked into his little eyes and said “I want to help make you more like Christ, I Love you.” And I had children around me and I wanted to disciple them. My heart broke for these kids and somehow I knew that this represented the children in Guatemala. My heart was broken for these kids that I have only heard about and I wanted to help them, I wanted to invest in their lives and teach them how to be godly. Don collected himself finished his lesson with the Great Commission. Josh and I went up to finish up the night with a song and we sang “With Everything” and my heart just continued to break. By then end of the song all I could do was sit on my drum with my head in my arms crying, weeping for these children. I was filled with a Love and a desire for these kids, I knew now that this was the confirmation I had been praying for. The Lord did exactly what He needed to do to send me on this path, He broke my heart for the children that I will be going to disciple, He broke my heart specifically for them.

 

So now starts the final preparation of raising support and preparing to go to Guatemala with the Love of my life to do the work of discipleship in the lives of the children in Liga de Vida Nueva (New Life children’s home). This is going to be hard but I trust the Lord to lead me in the right direction and I trust Him to take Ashley and I through any challenge before us. I know this is crazy but here we go, we are going to Guatemala for a minimum of 2 years while facing the challenge of a newly wed life! But we Love Jesus and we Love each other so I think we will make it standing bright and strong for the Lord. I believe the Lord is taking us in this direction and I intend to obey.

 

Mathew 28:19-20– “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Sorry I haven’t wrote in a while… we don’t have internet at my house quite yet so its been difficult remembering to get this out when I have internet.

Any way moving on! It is so great to be back in Ohio, never thought I would say that coming from Michigan and all… But truly it is great to be back with my Off the Wall family. To be back in this community that constantly pushes me and asks hard questions. Questions that make me reflect on my actions and how to be a better man of God. I believe I’m where I’m most effective for the kingdom.

Being eternally effective, working for the eternal kingdom. What I mean by these words is doing things with eternal value, having conversation that go’s deeper than the here and now. For example lets say I go to Africa and put in a well for a village without water. Now you would say wow thats a really good thing and a great help to the people. I would respond with “yes it is good but its worthless! Its worthless because this world is but temporary, all these things will come to pass and return to dust “ All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?.”(Ecclesiastes 3:20-22) What I need to do is put in this well and tell them about something that could save their eternal souls! I need to give them the gospel! Because if I leave it at just a service of putting in a well what have I done? I have only served their physical flesh that will pass away. I didn’t feed the need of their souls! I didn’t tell them about Jesus our savior! I would have left without fulfilling the greatest command given to us as believers! “..Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”(Mark 16) If I were to just leave I would leave them condemned until God sent someone else or revealed himself to them another way. (Although He is always revealing Himself through creation but without instruction we suck at seeing it) If I Loved the people enough to sacrifice time and money then why would I not tell them about the greatest gift revealed to man! JESUS CHRIST! We need to do more than simply do things for people we need to tell them why we do these good things! We do these Good things to be more Christ like, to Love people, Jesus Loves YOU!”

I believe we as Christians have moved to doing many good things but we seem to hesitate to give the the meat of our service. In all that we do we need to proclaim Jesus, thats part of the Great Commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This “go” is an as you go type of phrase, so as we go and do these great acts of service lets make it eternally effective and tell them about Jesus!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”–2Timothy 4:7-8

The other day I stood in front of our houses ministry calender and I saw something that I really didn’t want to see. I saw that I only had about a month n a half left before the end of my first year at Off the Wall. So much time has passed and so much growth has happened. My love for The Lord has never been this strong and yet all I desire is to have so much more LOVE and so much more PASSION. There is so much more to be revealed to me in the word and I know that it will only increase my love for Jesus. My community here at Off the Wall has been the difference maker in my growth. They push me to be more like Jesus and they love me. We love each other. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We fight this battle together, this physical spiritual battle, this battle called life. We push each other every day to be more like Jesus and do our best to hold each other accountable. I love every single one of my new friends here. I don’t use the word love lightly and I mean it! This is why it breaks my heart to see that I only have about a month n a half left with them. In most cases people only come for nine months and then go into life, so at the end of this semester we will split and go separate ways and most likely not see each other in person for a long time. We go from spending almost all of our time together to meeting possibly once a year. Now I’m coming back next year so I will be coming back to a few of them but three forths of the group will be all new members. It will be a completely different community not bad but different. I have such a love for community, biblical community, and it rips me up inside to know I will be away from it. It will be good to find a temporary biblical community when I go back home this summer but it just wont be as strong as the one I have here. My heart will urn for its great return next fall.

I love the people God has brought in my life and I cant wait to share eternity with all of them. Together in the eternal worship of Jesus. My heart is heavy for all of you.

2nd Corinthians 13:11-14 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”