Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sharing my heart

The heart can be so fragile. Like a vase, a heart can hold much, pour out its contents, and be held by others. Vases even come with handles to be specifically carried. But hearts can be cracked, sometimes broken.

"Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

No passage of scripture is speaking to me more so right now with where I am than the above. As I've been praying about where God would have me after December (and I'm closer to making a decision) I've also needed to share this with my family.

"Well of course you need to share with your family" you probably say within yourself.

Except you don't understand just how hard that has been. Let me take you back to the fall of 2008. At the time I was praying about an opportunity I had to travel overseas to undergo a prayer journey through a country that is spiritually a desert. But as I shared with my family, I met resistance. Oh how much resistance I faced.

I never took up the opportunity. And for a year and a half since then, I've been reluctant to share my heart with my family, out of fear of receiving the same welcome. That's led to not telling then about short term opportunities I undertook stateside until just a few weeks before, sometimes days before. Those were choices I regret, the ways I handled telling my family that is.

Within the past few weeks I've been following some advice given me, and been sharing my heart with my family. A weekend or two ago, I shared with them while we were running errands in the car about all the things I'd been up to in college, and the things I'd seen God doing. That was a big step for me. At times I was just sharing, and my parents listened. I couldn't tell if that was good or bad. But then his past Sunday I was briefly home for my church's homecoming and I was once again sharing my heart. Then unexpectedly my dad asked "How have reaching out to the internationals been going?"

Within me, my heart leapt for joy! My parent's had really been listening that car ride!! I know they may never carry the same passions as I, and they may never understand my passions, but they are beginning to recognize them!

I still have more to share with them, but I've been seizing opportunities to share bits of my heart here and there. I'm seeking to finally come out of my shell.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Love is like Lasagna

Love is like lasagna, an invitation, or attention. Love is easier to receive than to give. A home made lasagna takes an hour to make, another hour to bake, etc (No rhyme intended there). Receiving the dish is a lot easier.

I myself find it hard to show people love sometimes. First I'm afraid to open my heart up. Someone wise once said that to love someone is to give them the ability to hurt you. Other times I wait to receive love before I give it. That's the world's definition of love. God's love is one that takes the first step, that doesn't act and wait to be reciprocated.

I can seem distant at times, and awkward/random I know. I don't intend to be. Its like I'm introverted on the surface but highly extroverted once you get to know me or when I become engaged in whatever situation I find myself in. God certainly made me peculiar, and I don't intend to change any of that, but I do desire to love more than I do.

Because I'm called to. Because loving is life to the full. I didn't deserve God's love, but He gave, and I received (that's still a work in progress). And there are other sheep that God desires to call is own, that I feel compelled to reveal God's love to.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Which are you?

Let me encourage you to check out my friend Ryne's blog. He recently put up a great post that came out of a discussion we had within our 2:42 group. I was going to share the same, but instead I'll refer you to his blog if you want a great read. As you read, ask yourself who are you?

Ryne's blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Praying for God knows what

This morning I found some quiet time at my apartment, and seized it to spend some time in the book of John, then followed that time up with prayer over the scripture I meditated on, then prayer for others. Lately I haven't spent much time praying for others as I've promised I would. Honestly sometimes I am quick so say I will pray for you in this, but slower than a snail in remembering to pray that request as the week and month moves on. Maybe I'm not alone in that. Maybe many others also promise to pray because is the christian thing to do, but never carry out the promise.

This morning I actually took some time to pray for some guys in a small group I co-lead. I started with requests they each had made known recently, then moved from there. Before I go further let me add that when I pray I like to pause. I don't do this as much when I'm praying for a group of believers in worship, but when the setting is more informal, you can expect me to pause in my prayers.

I picked this up first from a campus minister at UNC-W. I've noticed my own campus minister here at ECU doing this now (or maybe I just now noticed!) and I recall a great friend from Indiana doing the same. For me, I like to take time to pause for two reasons. One to enjoy the moment as I'm coming into the presence of God, and secondly, to listen to him speaking, as opposed to talking the whole time. My prayer times have become so much richer through that method.

Back to this morning. As I was praying and pausing, I felt God whisper, pray this over them, and I began to pray. Shortly thereafter, another friend sent me a text asking for prayer, but didn't specify any reasons. Not knowing what to pray for, I listened and prayed. God ended up taking my prayer and led me to pray over their spiritual well being. Later they confirmed that they were under spiritual attack.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-27

I firmly believe that if we give God time in our prayers, He will speak to us and tell us what to pray for. But check this out too, and I myself just noticed this, the Spirit prays for us! The Holy Spirit of God prays for us, and guides others to pray over us too (when they listen and act on his nudging)!

Next time you're praying, throw out the time limit, DON'T talk the whole time (LISTEN), and ask God what else you can pray for.

"Be quick to listen, slow to speak..." James 1:19

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dude, where's my bike?

As i shared in a previous post, I went on a retreat last weekend. Upon getting back into town, I discovered my bike had been stolen from the campus house while we were away. I had locked it up on the porch before leaving, but I locked it through some of the posts between the rails. Those posts as it turns out, can easily be pulled out.

I was very dismayed when I discovered this, especially coming off of a great retreat. The bike has been my main mode of transportation to campus, and other destinations nearby. Once I got a lift back to my apartment, I began to wrestle in my spirit on how to respond. I found myself praying and asking "Jesus, how would you respond to this?"

As I prayed, unpacked, and did some dishes to meditate on this, I found my spirit being led to Matthew 5 where it says to turn the other cheek, love your enemies, and in Matt 6, forgive others to be forgiven. But these are all hard sayings to actually live out!

The chances of the bike being found are small, unless they try to pawn it nearby. The chances of me meeting whoever stole it are very small. Regardless my spirit was chained to theirs through unforgiveness. I thus began to pray, and say Father, I forgive them, I forgive them for whatever reason they took it. Then God shed some light on the situation. "I don't know why they were desperate enough to steal the bike, whether they needed money or a mode of transportation, but I pray that you would come into their lives and meet whatever need they have."

I've since moved on in spirit. Been commuting through the Minges system which has added an extra 20 minutes to my schedule, and more gas used during the week. I've got a friend who's going to loan me a bike, but I may still commute, because despite the inconvenience, it forces me to slow down in my day, and places me in a context where I can talk to people.