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Devotions on Grace

Hello!

This last week a couple of us from Ogden headed over to YWAM Salem for leadership training and visiting friends and family. If you are looking for a place to do a DTS or take some training as a YWAMer they have a lot of opportunities over there! I’ve benefited from their team out there a few times now and love the whole lot of them.

Grabbing the Grace We Need for Leadership

One of the speakers on my DTS, just for a night, was Jim Stier – he and his wife were some of the first YWAMers to Brazil and gave leadership to the pioneering process of YWAM there – he spoke about quiet times. The next time I heard him speak he also spoke about quiet times. At other times, he led discussions at big leadership meetings, I remember him challenging us to go before God in our quiet times. And this last week was really one big corporate quiet time. Each time he taught there was a depth to the topic at hand, but it always comes with the challenge to take time out of you day to intentionally spend time with God.

The point of the leadership gathering was that if we ourselves are not actively seeking God’s grace for continued grace we are going to run ourselves dry. We processed the question of how do we seek God’s grace and it was a fun discussion that caused us all to do a lot of processing.

The big point that I felt God drawing us to is that we find grace when we find Him.

Finding Him may look different for each of us, but it should be real. When Jesus came He really did come. When He sent the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit really did go. He’s created each of us, uniquely demonstrating the image of God, and each of us have really been created. We found God when He revealed Himself to us – it wasn’t by our own effort, bloodline, or spiritual heritage – and when we found God it turned out that He was full of Grace and Truth. He is still filled with Grace and Truth today. As we continue to serve Him, He shows up and changes the desire of our hearts from evil to love.

We can tell when it is real or not – when it is by our effort that we try or when it is by His presence that our heart undergoes its transformation from a heart filled with darkness to a heart ready to love His light.

That’s coming from John 1:1-18, Luke 17:5-10, and several passages of Paul’s letters.

Walking away from the conference, I’ve found that it helps me put both my own commitment to quiet time and walk with God into perspective – and it helps inform what I am looking for in outreach.

Try it out!

We spent our time looking at scripture, asking God to speak into our lives, and then sharing it with the group. Jim would give commentary and share pioneering stories, add some depth to the topic. It was something that was really good for me to reflect on again. There were lots of take away points, but it started with John 1:1-18.

If you’d like to check it out, I’d challenge you to read through that bit of scripture a bit slowly, ask God what He’d like to share, and check back in on the insights I’ll write down below. I’ll share what I got and it will be fun.

Ready?

Jesus, through whom God created the world, who John the Baptist spoke of, came among us.

The people who received Him and believed in His name – to them He gave the right to become children of God.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth.

The Law was given through Moses (which was true), grace and truth came through Jesus (because that is who He is!).

What are some of the things that stood out in a special way to you?

Creating through Communication

Last night we had an awesome time with our life group and as we were closing we had this question to pray through and meditate on – what does total surrender to Jesus look like to you?

We were encouraged to ask God about the season we are in right now.

As I closed my eyes I had a memory of a cave in Indiana. It was the third cave of the trip and it featured a 30′ rappel right into its mouth. I would like to say it was just like the movies, but I haven’t seen any movies where the actor just bounces against the side of the cave and gets scraped up. Others were more successful at rappelling than I was that night. From there we hiked and climbed further down and I got to lead a couple excursions. Being the first light into the darkness is an incredible feeling. The one cavern I headed into dropped another 50′ – 60′ feet to the floor, fallen jagged rocks were every where, at the bottom was another hole going another hundred feet, and the scene would repeat over and over again.

That beauty would have remained hidden had someone not gone there, and it would have remained unknown to the world unless that person opened his mouth and shared what he or she saw in the cave.

That is where I see total surrender worked out in my life.

Some of the scariest things that I can think of aren’t the things that you can’t do anything about, but rather the ones you can do something about when God prompts you to do them. The whole goal may be impossible or outlandish, but the individual steps typically aren’t.

For example, seeing a person’s life transformed from someone living on the streets in despair to a life of gratitude, provision, and helping others in turn on your own is impossible. That said, being obedient to love the guy on the street isn’t impossible, rather, it is very possible.

Part of our call in Utah is doing impossible things through starting on the possible ones. And, when my life is in committed surrender to Jesus, He consistently calls me to impossible things.

The most possible start to almost anything God tells us to do is opening our mouths and sharing what He has told us to do with others. That is one of my greatest points of weakness. It is the point where you throw yourself into what God has said, what He has prompted you to do, and trust that He will be faithful with the rest. It may be the prompting to reach out and talk to the guy laying on the sidewalk (what will the other people think of me?) or call out the person on their morning run (what will this person think of me?), or maybe the person is obviously well out of your league (am I breaking social protocol?), or they are on their tablet siting next to you on the train, on the bus, or standing in a line (this person obviously wants their privacy…) – fear and insecurity can tag us out of obedience.

More often than not, I find that when we do throw ourselves into whatever God has told us to do He does work it out for the best.  A lack of trust on either our part or on the part of the other greatly impacts the effects of our obedience, but God is faithful to back up what He has said.

The only thing that didn’t bounce against those cave walls so many years ago were the bottoms of my feet – face, hands, arms, shoulders, chest, knees all bruised – and that was because I didn’t trust the guy on the other end of the rope. Many of the dreams and hopes God has for this world remained unexplored and unheard of because we are unwilling to really trust Him in committed surrender.

If our trust falters, it gets harder, but God is still willing to take us there.

By the end of our moment of prayer at life group I had a couple of ideas of where God wanted me to go and this principle, trusting Him to communicate what He wants to do, was key to that. It also reminded me of my young heart for making stories and the desire to share those with others. So, that desire and call really has been there since I was a kid. I may go ahead and sign up for National Novel Writing Month as well – there is a project that I’d love to finish and it will be good prep for our creative writing side of the Discipleship Training School.

Looking forward to an awesome season of committed surrender!

 

Praying for the Hindu World

Lights, smoke, incense, food, colors, water, and beauty – these are some of the first things that come to my mind when I think about the Hindu people I met in India. The cultures spread throughout the Hindu world are immensely beautiful, they are vibrant, and they are celebrated. And, they have a worship to contribute to Jesus at a deep spiritual level.

That is what the Hindu Prayer Guide is about – or at least that is my take on it.

As I’ve started reading through the guide I’m struck by how real the book is. So many times our own insecurity bleeds through our good intentions that we disparage the people and cultures we reach out to.

This guide doesn’t do that.

Where there is anything to be honored it jumps out at it and asks us to champion the good in our prayers – and that should challenge us to look at the way we do things too!

If there is something that steps in the way of life, like the fear that cripples a life or valuing one gender above others, the guide doesn’t step around it. It asks us to understand why these things are and pray for a deeper truth to be revealed to those caught in fear or confusion.

We have a billion Hindu neighbors that are looking for a light that is true, one that can finally win over all the darkness in the world, let’s join in prayer that the Light of the world would be known by our Hindu neighbors and that their worship, beauty, and celebration would be championed by the One who created them and loves them with a devotion that passes our own!

Days 1, 2, and 3

Pray for Hindu families, the influence that they have on the world, and that their beautiful worship of Jesus (Yeshu in Hindi) would set people free.

Ruth 4: 18-22

Lord, I pray that you would bring the line of Yeshu to Hindu families. Even when the family story isn’t good (as it is in these verses) we know that you seek the best for all peoples! Bring your blessings and your grace to the Hindu families and nations!

Psalm 96: 7-9

Lord Jesus, I pray that you bless the worship leaders in India to ascribe glory to your name. The bhajans sung to you are beautiful, the people who sing them are beautiful, they are filled with your bhakti (devotion).  When we draw near to you, you drive the enemy away from us and we get to join you in that!

Feel free to pray along with these prayers or wait on God and pray out what He places on your heart!

Fear

What comes to mind when we think of fear?

Is it a reaction? Is it a way for our body to respond to something that startles us or maybe to protect us from imminent danger? If this is the first thing that comes to mind, then, no, that is not the sort of fear that I am thinking about. That sort of fear is healthy, and if you push it a little bit it might even get fun. It is definitely something that God gave us for our benefit.

This was the only definition of fear that I knew about growing up, though, the world of reality around me seemed to share that there was something more out there. This sort of feeling is often brushed off.

In the first couple chapters of Genesis we see the creation of the world and the creation of mankind in God’s image. We are created, breathed into, spoken to, given instruction, given responsibility, wondrously made not alone – this was what God desired for us. There was something special about these people He created. He had already gone above and beyond for is by creating us in His image, but to be a part of our lives – this is what he wanted.

Inside of that creation fear hadn’t been felt by the first of mankind and it was beautiful.

But, that was about to change. One of the instructions given by God included one simple request, “you may enjoy every tree in the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” The first of us heard this, they understood it, but when another came and questioned the words of God they disobeyed the one request.

Up until this point they had only each other and God, everyone had been good to them. Perhaps this really was a hard test. How many of us have heard some one say something negative about someone else? It is certainly within us at this point for our heart to give pause and question someone, even a friend, just by hearing the words of another.  The first of us followed this other’s voice and disobeyed God.

The response was immediate and terrible – the words of God were true! At that point fear, shame, and guilt flooded into the lives of those who had sinned. Their relationship with God was separated, driven apart by disobedience, and the fear, shame, and guilt bore fruit in their lives. They hid from God, they were ashamed of being naked, they accused one another to shift the blame away from themselves.

These three things that had no authority in their lives were now present and wreaking havoc.

When we step away from God’s instruction and desire for our lives death follows in the wake of our decisions. We may think we can master it after it has come, but that isn’t the case. The only thing on our part we can do is say no while we still can, but we were past this point in the story.

When God reveals Himself He shares what will now happen and the world begins to change. It isn’t what He had hoped for, but the changes in the world are for our own good. He addresses the other in the conversation as well, the serpent in the story that had accused God, to the serpent He promises defeat – that someone from the woman would come and defeat the serpent. It is a loaded statement, a prophecy that takes the rest of the Bible and mankind’s history to reveal in its fullness.

Today, we are still having a hard time because of this moment – fear, shame, and guilt are still present in this world, but that victory that God spoke of has come and is still coming in its fullness.

There is certainly that sort of fear that God has given us, the startled jump or the burst of adrenaline that can keep us safe from danger, but there is another fear that we experience in our lives – it isn’t a fear that God desired, but it is present. In Christ, we can master it, but it does take mastering. It is difficult to explain, but one of my teachers shared it this way, “When you are afraid it’s not that you are feeling fear, but it is fear feeling you.” In our own disobedience we can give such a vile sort of fear authority in our lives.

As a child this was the sort of fear that bit at the edges of reality, as I grew this was the sort of fear that could incapacitate incredible young men and women from making right decisions, on outreach this was the sort of fear that showed up when you went to speak and couldn’t find your ability to speak. It is strange, but this is the reality I’ve seen over and over again.

However, there is hope!

One of these hopes is that God is fulfilling His promise through Jesus Christ – as we stand near to Him, as we cling to His Spirit in intimacy, we find ourselves surrounded by His authority. This returns us to a second hope – we are still created in the image of God! One of the instructions God gave us in the beginning was to aggressively defend the creation He was giving us. We still have that command and it can be found again in our relationship with Jesus.

In this world we will need to stand against all sorts of fear – the fear of sharing our faith among them, fear of rejection included, the fear of what others think but don’t say. This isn’t our fear to deal with – we can stand with Jesus to reject that fear’s authority and bring something better in its place.

Let’s not wait around for fear to show itself – we can take the fight to fear on the ground that God desired for us, in relationship with Him and in good relationship with each other!

Communication in Genesis

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – earth had no form, it was empty; the Spirit paused in ready anticipation for what was to come next. Then, God spoke light into existence.

And so the story goes.

The first section of Genesis has always been one of my favorite portions of scripture. It is simple and it speaks poetically of things that will have ripples throughout our human history. The incredibly powerful God speaking things into existence until He comes to mankind. He takes dirt into his hands, forms us, breathes life into us, and creates us in His image. His masterpiece that He gives such strength to is small, weak, and frail compared to the creatures, trees, oceans, planets, and stars that He has just spoken out of Himself, but this one is special in a different way.

In our frailty we show of His nature, being just an image of it. In our freedom we have the we have the opportunity to share His character with each other, the families that we create, and the world that we form.

Our history is enough to show that our story could have been better than it now is, but it also shows a God who is willing to keep speaking life into His creation to bring us back to Him. When we hear His words and live by them we get to walk in that original hope and bring His life and beauty to a world that is broken. When we reject Him and His words we add to the destruction of everything we love until there is nothing left to save. We are able to justify ourselves in this until we look just like the very enemy of God.

This battle of communication starts in Genesis and continues throughout scripture. God speaks life – it is accepted with blessing or it is rejected with destruction. This happens with the first of mankind, the nations that spring up following the great flood, and over and over again through to present day. This is still the world that we raise our children in – the world where they will grow up in, find husbands and wives, create families, and form their part of world in the love of God or in the rejection of Him.

This communication is what Genesis is all about. We get to see God’s heart in intimate detail as He addresses sin with Adam and Eve, when He pleads with Cain to choose the good and reject temptation, when He shares His broken heart with Noah, when He consults with Himself at Babel to preserve mankind, and when He speaks a blessing and a promise over Abram that will put the words of God into the family of Abraham.

We enter into this battle when we speak.

Do we speak words that are true to God’s heart? Do we speak with His heart and with His passion? Do we seek His values in the world around us?

Whether we speak plainly or poetically, with common sense or intellectualism, our words will leave ripples in the lives of those around us, in the families that we raise, and in the world that we are forming. The best place to start learning the difference is in the Bible and in His presence.

I’ll share more about that later.

Communication

Hello Friends,

We’ve been pretty quiet over here and we are hoping to change that soon!

The ACTS school was a success – a success largely credited to the students, staff, speakers, and friends of YWAM who pulled the school off! My thanks go out to you!

We’ve spent the last couple months resting, visiting our families, and continuing to learn about what God wants to do out here in Utah, as well as, in our own lives, families, team, communities, and world. I’m really excited for what the future holds. God is doing a lot in the world and now isn’t the time to spectate, but rather to engage. Each of us have been created for this time – not to watch it drift by, either bewailing it or passively agreeing that “yes, those were the good old days” to our children. Rather, this is the time that God has invited us into to create the world that our children and grandchildren inherit.

It is August, right?

Let’s see, September, October – yes, ten years ago next October several friends and I were standing around a map up in Warm Lake, ID. In case you’ve never heard of it before, there is a YWAM campus out there. It’s a beautiful place in the Boise National Forest. As we stared at that map God did something in our hearts – we felt a tug to go. Incredible places with foreign names, culture, and food – and the promise of great risk.

I had figured that we were alone in that tug, but I would keep finding it in other places and with other people too – the most surprising place for myself was in eastern Germany. We were visiting a family that my Father-in-Law had known for a long time. I had heard stories about their family, but this was the first time meeting them.

As they spoke the I found myself somewhat shocked – they swapped stories of trips that they took beyond the Iron Curtain. They’re eyes grew youthful as they joked about the risks they took and remembered how far they had gone and what they had done thanks to God. Incredible places with foreign names, culture, and food – and the promise of great risk, a very real, great risk for all of them. They’re risk helped create the world that I now know and the world that my children will know.

We live in a world with the promise of great risk – if we are willing to take it.

We live in a world of incredible beauty, culture, and food – if we are willing to go.

If you feel that tug on your heart to go and change the world, to create a change in the world with a God who loves to communicate and change the world through what He says, then we want to help. Keep yourself posted about what is going on out here in Utah and ask questions, pray, ask God where your place is in this world.

He has created you for this time!

Many blessings on you all!

In Christ,
Troy – Campus Leader

ACTS: Multiplying YWAM

Throughout the history of the Church we see it spreading through multiplication – not just addition – it grows where people make sacrifices and give their hearts to Jesus. We read about this in the book of Acts.

The Risk

For my part I felt that God had given me an incredible vision for my home.

Michigan was where my family was,  it was where all my relationships resided. Everything from the roads that we drove on to the kinds of grass that grew along them helped me know who I was. I won’t even get started on the fields and trees. A year before I couldn’t even imagine leaving my county let alone my country for a foreign land – missionaries were the crazy ones. Now, I was one of them.

I was considering leaving all of this again so that I could bring something back. Taking the discipleship training school with YWAM was incredible. I wanted the people in Michigan to experience that too. And, I wanted to be a missionary.

In the back yard of my family’s home I prayed again.

Before me was the opportunity to take a school that would help me become a pioneer – someone who would go where there wasn’t already a YWAM base and start one.

My friends had invited me to come back to India to take the school, it was their second time running it and the first time it would be in India. For twelve weeks we would learn from speakers that had already pioneered. We would work together to build our pioneering projects and then we would head out. It sounded kind of easy, but in reality pioneering something new is at least as difficult as they all said it would be. I didn’t know that yet.

At some point during my night of prayer I felt God say to go for it.

Looking back on that night I can say it changed my life, and I am grateful for that.

The Sacrifice

The Church, in its many forms, has consistently grown when people who love Jesus give up what they know for what they do not. It grows when we take risks. It grows when we hear God say to do something that doesn’t make sense, but in our heart we know it is Him saying it and we do it anyway.

We do not always get to conform to the culture around us, hardly so at times, and we will be considered crazy. That is not a bad thing because so was Jesus, and He turned the world upside down by listening to His Father’s voice and doing what His Father said too.

Now, I am not in my home state of Michigan.

I am in Utah, the home of many other people. I have been setting out on this path for the last nine years to make it back home to do what I headed out to do. During that time God has been faithful. He has shown up in the nick of time and provided for us. He has been faithful to give me time to learn and the time to enjoy the people around me. I have a family that He has given me.

Utah is the home of other people, but I remember my heart for my home and it has multiplied to make room for this place too. It has multiplied to make room for India. It has multiplied to make room for the Syrians who I first started paying attention to five years ago.

As often as I hear His heart break my heart multiplies to make more room for His.

When we make a sacrifice God is faithful to multiply it.

The Response

What is on your heart that you are carrying with God?

How is He telling you to go for it?

There are no small sacrifices in the kingdom of God – He is faithful to see it. If you stay true to His path He will keep showing you where to go next. If this is the life that God has called you to then I challenge you to take that first step with Him – it is worth it, and even more, He is worth it.

Discipleship Training SchoolApostolic Catalyst Training School 

Thank you for your dyingness

We were sitting at the table, waiting for dinner to start, when our four-year-old son surprised us with a prayer: “Thank you for your dyingness, so that you could save the world.”

It was a simple prayer, grammatically incorrect, but it warmed my heart as a mother as it showed me that he is getting something from the Bible we are currently using and from the video we watched that morning.

You see, it has not been easy for me to find a Bible that engages my children. Though my kids love reading stores, the Bible seemed to be the last book to catch on.  The first Bible we tried had pictures that were too scary, the second one had stories that were kind of boring and was not very Biblically correct. Then my mom bought a new children’s Bible for us from the bookstore at our church: “the Jesus storybook Bible” written by Sally Lloyd-Jones & illustrated by Jago. I had seen the Bible before and had been unimpressed with it’s accuracy. With our other Bible’s out of the picture, however, and with our kids being interested in “the Bible grandma bought,” I decided to give it a try.

We loved it!

With much fewer stories than many children’s Bible’s, this Bible ties all its stories together to point to Jesus and to God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” (Lloyd-Jones, 2007, p 36.). No, it doesn’t specifically stay close to scripture and it adds quite a bit at times, but it doesn’t make the stories less true. And after just having finished our Bible this morning, I am more than happy to start on our second go-through.

So why am I telling you all of this? It is not because I want to talk all of you into buying this specific story Bible, although you may feel free to give it a try. No, my reason for writing this lies deeper.

Here at Youth With A Mission, we do our work because we want to “Know God & Make Him known” and I am sure that many of you want this same thing. But no matter how important and powerful outreaches and later-life discipleship can be, we cannot forget to also disciple our own children. Yes we have Sunday school and our kids might be going to AWANA or another club, but it doesn’t take away from the precious time we could spend with our kids by just reading 1 Bible story a day from a Bible our kids can like and understand. Because our children do take away a lot from the times we spend with them. And because their views on the Bible are not just precious to us, they are the starting blocks for getting to know God more in the future.

I pray that you may all be blessed and may we all have the privilege of seeing our children grow up to love our Lord.

YWAM Utah Campus staff

Ps. The video I watched the morning of my son’s prayer was from “Buck Denver asks… What’s in the Bible?

Let there be light!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NIV). This is how our Bible starts. A clear introduction, that by itself could be enough. But it doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning of the wonderful account of how God first created the world out of nothing, followed by His relentless pursuit of the human heart after we decided not to trust in Him. One concept seems especially important in this account, the concept of light:

And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day. (Genesis 1:3, NIV)

Light; the first thing God created. We don’t always think much about the importance of light in our lives. Usually, it is just there and, if it is not, we turn on a lamp. Around this time of the year, however, when the seasons change and we start waking up while it is still somewhat dark outside, we are reminded of the light in a way that we are not when it is more readily available.

It is also the time of the year where other things can remind us of the necessity of light as well. Halloween is coming up. Though most of us still like to celebrate this holiday, as Christian’s we are aware that Halloween is not by nature a celebration of light. While dressing up, often as darker creatures, with symbols of death abounding around us, light too begins to become more important. But this time we hope for a different type of light; a light that penetrates the darkness from the insight out.

In John 8:12 it says: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (NIV). It is a wonderful promise, but it might lead us to wonder: Could this be true? Could we truly walk with Jesus in such a way that the darkness has no effect on us? And could we instead affect the darkness around us? Jesus says that this is possible and he showed it with his life. Wherever he came he brought healing, hope, and life. Could we really follow in His footsteps?

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

Ask. Ask for more of Him and seek relentlessly for His light. For it is there, all around us. From glimmers of hope in a dark situation, to the good we see in a person that we didn’t thought could have anything good going for them. Jesus is active in this world.

I challenge you this season to look for it. Look for His light, in even the darkest of situations and ask Him to use you to increase the light you see in the world around you. And though some things may remain dark around you, I pray that you may always be reminded of the light.

Update: Cancelled school & next steps

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since our last update. In the last couple of months, we have gone from promoting for the Discipleship Training School (DTS) to deciding it is not yet the time to run one here. Instead, we have been back to Idaho for our yearly staff retreat; we have been to Kansas City for the YWAM Together conference; and our family has even been to Michigan to visit a new cousin. And now, as even in Utah fall is setting in, we are waiting on God and seeing what he has for YWAM in this place.

Of course this doesn’t mean that we don’t do anything. Right now we continue to get connected; we help people whom God puts in our path; and we meet as a team to talk about vision, structure, and all the other foundational units to running a YWAM location. Without a DTS, the beginning may seem small – but we are thankful. Thankful for our God who has been so faithful through it all.

Please pray for us as we continue to walk with God and as we pursue His dreams for this place. And if you feel yourself drawn to Utah, either as a student or as staff, know that we would love to have you. We may not have a set date yet for when we hope to run our new first Discipleship Training School, but we are positive that such a date will come in the future. First, however, we would like to see more staff come and join us here. So whether you feel called to Utah, or if you are just curious and would like to ask some questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. And again, even if you cannot come yourselves – your prayers are always appreciated!

Blessings,
YWAM Utah Campus Staff