Thursday, December 20, 2012

heart transformation

The first semester of Link Year is over. I cannot believe how fast time flew by!! I could not have picked a better way to finish off the week than hearing from DA Horton. DA spoke to us while we were volunteering in Kansas City! I absolutely Love listening to him speak! He is very engaging and keeps you awake and thinking! DA grew up in inner city KC, so he knows the "hood language" if you will. So when he speaks he often flips back and from speaking ebonics to plain english. Its pretty amusing! So DA spoke to us on heart transformation and maximizing moments. Personally I took more away from the "heart transformation" section, so that is what I will be writing about today! I thought the timing of this topic is perfect. As we all head home for a month long break we will be faced with temptations the world will throw out. Now more than ever we need the constant reminder to focus on heart transformation. DA based his talk on Romans 12:2 and Psalm 51:10. He began by breaking down Romans 12:2. I love this verse, and its always been one of my favorites! Adam Donyes based Link Years purpose off of this verse as well. It reads "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." God calls us to be different. He calls us to renew our minds, and to not let the world influence who we are.  By doing so we can better understand His will for us. If we are caught up in the world and worldly thoughts and actions we are no longer focused on the Lord. When our focus is off God and put on the world, it's pretty hard to see God's will for our lives. If we refresh ourselves with God's word and renew our minds daily, God will slowly begin to reveal his good and perfect will. When we have all been in Branson surrounded by endless amounts of accountability for so long, it will be hard to go home and face all the worldly temptation. But if we fix our eyes on Jesus and focus on renewing our minds in Christ, we will be able to face them. Psalm 51:10 was the second verse DA talked about. Another one of my favorites. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." This verse is also perfect for our class and this point in our lives. We all desperately need Christ in our lives, and in the past 2 years it has hit me how dirty and full of junk my heart is. Only the Lord can give us a clean heart and a new spirit. So, as believers we have to ask for God to come in and remodel our hearts. Remodel them into hearts after Him. HEART. This process takes place in your heart. Not in your actions. You can talk the talk and not walk the walk. Me, I want to talk the talk and walk the walk with Jesus Christ my savior. I just love how straight forward these verses are. There is no mystery to what you have to do. DO NOT CONFORM. easy peasy. Do as Jesus does, not as the world does. Renewing your mind is done through asking God to clean out your heart and make it new.
Leaving to go home with these verses on the front of my mind will make life a lot easier when I am faced with new temptations in the next three weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Luke 9:23

What does Luke 9:23 mean to you? That is the question Brian Wang asked us the first day of class this week. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” What stands out most to me in this verse is the word DAILY. God calls us to carry the cross daily. Not just on Sunday or whenever you make time, but everyday! 
Brian broke this down into 3 things. Self denial, complete dedication, and willing obedience.  He started with self denial. In Luke 9:23 it says “let him deny himself”. To me this means that we have to give up our own wants and desires and open our hearts to God’s will and desire for our lives. 
The second part of  following Christ daily is complete dedication. Often times we love Jesus Christ but we are not always ready or willing to give things up just as Christ did. Jesus carried his cross and just as Luke 9:23 tells us, we must take up our cross daily and follow him. Dedication means devoting or setting aside time for a particular purpose. Brian had us ask ourselves what we are dedicated to. Are our priorities in the right place? Maybe. But are our RIGHT priorities in place? To be completely dedicated to following Christ we must make time to spend in His word daily, and rid ourselves of all distractions so we may better focus on His calling. 
The last part of following God is willing obedience. There is a difference between being obedient because you have to, and because you want to. To be obedient means to comply with submission or authority. Brian asked us “How obedient are you willing to be?” He used the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac as an example. No one wants to sacrifice their son, but Abraham loved God and was completely dedicated to following Him. Because he was completely dedicated to following God, he was also willing to be obedient and submit to Him even though Abraham didn’t really want to do what God had asked. “So Abraham went as the Lord had told him.” Genesis 12:4. We just have to trust in God’s direction and timing for our life, and to do that we have to be willing to obey his calling. 
I really loved Brian’s talk this week. Considering the stage on life we are all at, I believe that it was just what we needed to hear. It is important to me that I know exactly how I am going to successfully follow the Lord before I get thrown into the crazy world of college. And through self denial, complete dedication and willing obedience, I believe that I can reach that goal. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Path Toward Greatness

This week here at Link Year, we had the joy of getting to hear from Kyle Unruh. The first thing he said to the class was "I believe by making the decision to attend Link Year, you all are now on the path to greatness." Path to greatness? Really? Having no clue where I want to go to college or what my life will look like in the next year represents a path to greatness? Well according to Kyle Unruh it does. I believe that we just have to trust that by being here God will place us on a path towards greatness. The first stop on this path is experiencing a clear calling. Kyle used the fisher men in Mark chapter one as an example. Jesus appears to them and calls them to follow him and become fishers of men. In that instance, it was pretty clear what Jesus was asking them to do. I mean, he was standing right in front of them. If Jesus walked up to me and told me my calling I wouldn't argue either. So Kyle tells us this and I think "okay, no big deal, I just have to hear my calling. Sounds easy enough to me!" Wrong. God's calling for our lives is not only heard by the ears. He can stir your heart as well. I'm done for. How am I supposed to "hear" this calling if he may not actually speak to me? I don't know what kind of stirring in my heart I am supposed to feel. When God calls, we will know. It will be so clear that we cannot ignore it. You know how you can screen calls? We've all done it. Your phone rings and you check to see who it is before you answer it. You can't screen his calls. When God calls, you answer.
The next thing on the path to greatness is a clear understanding of sacrifice. Kyle described sacrifice as a privilege of the mature. We are not called to do something Christ hasn't already done himself. Sacrifice is good!! It can be very hard and scary sometimes, but it's always a good thing when done with a pure heart. In times of sacrifice we are most like Christ, he did not come to be served but to serve. With serving comes sacrifice.
Next up on the path to greatness is steadfastness. God tells us to not return to our sin, but to flee from it and follow Him. Stay on the course of steadfastness and it will lead us to greatness! To stay on the course is a daily struggle. This is where steadfastness comes into play. To be steadfast means to fixed in direction and firm in purpose. When you are steadfast, you aren't turning back. Put our faith in Christ, follow him, and then we will have strength to be steadfast.
Lastly, we have to allow our weaknesses to bring us strength. Kyle told us the story of the boy who carried two pots to get water from the well each day. On the way back down the mountain the pot with a crack lost half of its water. But the boy carried that pot on the same side every time, and he sprinkled flower seeds on that side of the road. Slowly flowers began to grow. That pots weakness allowed for beautiful flowers to grow. The pot allowed for the boy to turn his weakness into strength. In the same way, we should allow Christ to turn our weaknesses into strength.
Follow these things, and God will use us on the path to greatness.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where is He?

How far away is God for you? Is he right next to your side every step of the way? Or have you placed him in some far distant place you can't ever reach? For so long I felt like God never bothered to show up in my life. I now know that is because I chose to place him far away and run the other direction. It was all on me. God didn't remove himself from my life so he could take a break and watch me struggle from afar. I made the decision, and lacked the desire to keep God close and establish a more intimate relationship with him.
From the very beginning WE are the ones who flee. Not God. In Genesis 3:8 Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord. It was their decision to hide. So, we cannot say "God isn't here" or "he didn't show up", reality is, He is with us every day through everything. We have just placed him so far away that we can't feel his presence or experience his power. So many things can keep us from experiencing that divine power. I know personally that I am selfish and allow my pride to get in the way. I decide that I am plenty strong to handle  something on my own and push God out of the way. When I fail, which I always do in that instance, I blame God and become angry at him for "not being there", which is selfish. I want more than anything to have a more real and intimate relationship with the Lord. But it is all on us. Like I have mentioned before Christianity is a point not a process. Each day requires discipline to have a quite time and sit and meditate in God's presence. Prayer is another way to build that relationship. The more we pray the more chances you give God to respond. God LOVES to hear our voice. I am currently trying to spend more time in prayer. It is amazing what I learn from being in solitude and taking the time to feel God's presence and watch him work in my life. My goal is going to detach myself from all things that distract me, and attach myself to Godly thoughts, concepts, and lessons. Through this discipline I hope to become even closer and grow even more in my relationship with God, so that I can begin to experience his power in my life.

Boy Meets Girl

Relationships. We all want one. But do we really know what a truly pure and God honoring one looks like? I know I did not! Thankfully Adam Donyes knows a thing or two and was nice enough to share some of this knowledge with the rest of us! Adam had so many awesome things to share, I had a top few that really stood out that I want to share with all of you!
First things first. Girls are treasures. Sorry boys, but we are. Treasures are meant to be hunted. Boys, that's where y'all come in. Y'all are the treasure hunters! Girls, TREASURES DON'T DO THE HUNTING. Have you ever seen a diamond going after the treasure hunter....your answer should be no because that is just stupid anyways! The boy needs to be the leader in all things, that begins by taking the lead and pursuing you, not the other way around. Make sense?
So now this boy has stepped up and made the decision to pursue you, now what? What is the point of dating? The entire purpose of dating is to find the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. Plain and simple. So why would you waste your time with a boy that is a God fearing man? Personally I don't think we will ever know the answer to that question...if they don't love their master, they won't ever be able to love you. Way too often girls and guys get way to caught up in dating. Often times the more we chase a relationship with someone, the less we chase Christ. Our relationship with others should be an overflow of our relationship with Christ. Hebrews 12:1-2 talks about running with endurance the race set before us, with our eyes fixed on Jesus. When you are running hard after the cross and completely focused on Him and fulfilling His will for your life, you will be able to look to your side and see a boy just as in love with God as you are. That is who you want to date. Because that is who you want to marry. Not some schmuck you have to drag along that slows you down on your race to the cross.
Relationships should increase your relationship with God. So when you look at a boy think about what he has to offer. Does  he love Jesus? Is he constantly growing a spending time with God? Does he love like Him? These are what Donyes called "non-negotiables". I took the time to write down what my non-negotiables are. Having these written down will help you keep your standards high! Don't settle, hold out for proven character, NOT potential. The "projects" are not going to help you grow if you are having to help them grow. The man I marry will not be potential. I have made a promise to myself and God that I will be faithful and trust that when God sees fit he will send me an incredible God fearing man for me to marry. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Urban Entry follow up

This is a blog post I wrote for Link Year's website, so I thought I would share it with all of you! Enjoy! I also attatched a picture of all the us in the church we cleaned out!
Last week Link Year had the privilege to volunteer at the Hope Center located in the inner parts of Kansas City. I have never participated in work like this before, so personally I was very excited! There are many benefits to volunteering in the inner cities. You have the opportunity to touch so many lives and encourage so many people. I never even considered the benefits volunteering can offer me. The second day we were in KC the staff told us they had prepared lunch for us. This was a relief because all of our other meals had to be purchased using tickets that we were given! So a free meal had never sounded better! We got into our family groups and were told to draw a piece of paper from a bowl. Each piece of paper had a 1, 2, or 3 written on it. My group was the only group with a number one, so we went first. Adam walked us into the room, and as we entered I noticed three different set ups. On one table there was all you can eat Chickfila, another area of couches with plates of pb & j, and on the floor were two big bowls of rice and beans. My group drew #1 so we were directed towards the chickfila table! Awesome right? Out of all the food choices chickfila was the best one, so we got lucky! Or so I thought… We sit down and immediately are waited on hand foot by the link year staff. It was sort of awkward but I got to eat chickfila so I dealt with it. I loaded my plate with nuggets and was just about to stuff my face when the second group walked in. When I saw their faces of disappointment and anger, I felt uncomfortable eating in front of them. And that feeling only got worse when the third group came in and saw their community bowl of rice and beans. At that point I was told that I couldn’t share the surplus of nuggets, and I was facing out where I could see everyone watch me eat. It’s safe to say that this illustration was starting to set in. As I watched the other groups eat, I began to realize that this is how our world works every day. It’s so easy to not think about the starving less privileged families when they aren’t right in front of your face. But when those circumstances are happening in the same room it begins to hit home. I know have a whole new view on how our society works and how I can help change it. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Urban Entry

This past week was unforgettable. As a class we took a road trip to Kansas City and did some inner city mission work! We stayed at the K-life houses and each day we drove in to work at the Hope Center. We began our first day with a tour of the “hood” (for lack of a better word). The leader of the Hope Center took us past his house and gave us a run down on what life in that area looks like. He had story after story and each one was more tragic than the next. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how these people live. For us, our lives seem so normal and routine, but for these people gun shots and sirens are a part of their routine. It’s sad that it takes being put into their world to feel the need to do something to help.
After our tour we went back to the Hope Center and helped them clean out an old church next door. This was such a fun experience! All 32 of us working together to complete one task. The true colors come out. I really got to see everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. It was so fun to run back and forth from the dumpsters to the church! Everywhere I turned people were encouraging each other! It was fantastic! A job that would have taken months took us two afternoons! Its crazy how much work you can get done when you all work together and encourage one another!