Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Developing Ministry

1:51 PM
This week in my School of Ministry Development, we spent a week with Dean Sherman learning how to develop our personal ministry. Pretty important week for this school, I'd say! And it was truly great! I learned so much about true ministry and how to minister that are definitely shaping how I view things. One of the most foundational truths I took away from this week is that ministry needs to come out of my lifestyle more than my training. Ministry isn't a bunch of classes and applications, but a lifestyle that changes other people's lives. It's being able to show people how an experience with God revolutionizes someone's life. The greatest aspect about Christianity is the fact that it's not a list of rules and good ideas with a prize at the end, but its a shift in our entire mindset that brings peace, contentment, fulfillment in this life today through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Heaven is just the completion of eternity in relationship with Him. So it's not how much I know that's going to give me an effective ministry, but how I live my life. We looked at the Biblical example of a developing personal ministry through the life of Paul. Other than Jesus, no one else's ministry shaped the early church more. Paul exemplified ministry as lifestyle in every way. Paul also recognized who was the center of his ministry....Jesus. "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." - Acts 20:24. If we are selfish in our ministry, or only serving for ourselves, we will burn out! Jesus himself said "And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27. Jesus wasn't trying to make it rough on His followers, but telling us it would be impossible. We won't burn out if we are doing what God calls to do the way He calls us to do it. "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" Isaiah 40:31. Ministry and serving [which is the same thing, by the way!] should be a joy, not a chore!

Once we had the right perspective on what ministry IS, we discussed what it is NOT, the different focuses of ministry, different ways to minister, the categories or functions of ministry, the foundations of the church [or ministry], the different giftings given to believers by the Holy Spirit, and how to launch our ministry. It was a week packed full of information that I'm still processing and praying through, but its information that will transform any future ministry I'm part of, and the ministry I get to do daily. The best part of the week was the discussion about how if you are a believer, you are part of the Body of Christ and therefore have a function in the body...which is your ministry. Every Christian has a ministry and is called to serve! Isn't that just so freeing?! So minister this week in your job, in your family, in your neighborhood, and in your community. Use your life to point others to Christ, and watch what the Spirit will do. You'll be in for a great week!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Debt Free

8:32 PM
This weekend is Easter weekend. Unless you live under a rock, you probably knew that already. Sometimes I like to state the obvious. But I also like to state the less obvious. Easter is my favorite holiday. Not for the candy, or the eggs, the bunnies, or the terrible pastels, but because its a celebration of the day I became debt free.

In my adult life, I've acquired some debt. Thankfully, not a huge amount, but enough to know what it feels like to owe someone something I can't pay back. And I've felt the freedom of making the final car payment and no longer having that debt weighing me down. Easter isn't the celebration of when I paid off my car, but when Jesus paid off my sin...the ultimate debt. Since sin and death entered the world back in the days of Adam and Eve, humans have carried this they are unable to pay. And in God's infinite love, He did not chose to eradicate the world of sin and death, which would have resulted in our eradication. Instead, He sent His only Son to bear the payment. A payment of death, that only blood spilled could cover. His resurrection 3 days later conquered death forever, allowing us to enter into an eternal relationship with God, the Creator of the universe. Which is exactly what He wanted all along.

This is why I love Easter.

"The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay." Matthew 28:5-6


Friday, April 22, 2011

Fractured Souls

1:38 PM
This week in SOMD we had the great Steve Shamblin as our speaker. He also taught in my DTS, so I knew I was in for a week of great Biblical teaching and Spirit-filled times of prayer and ministry. Our topic this week was Identity, and more specifically, Healing of the Fractured Soul [Steve's book on the topic is also available on Amazon!]. Steve walked us through the Proverbs and what the Bible says about what can wound our spirit, and the pain and sin that can result. We even looked at Jesus' life and how His spirit was wounded, yet it never effected His character. Why is this? How can Jesus experience the same painful circumstances we experience, but it never caused Him to retreat into sorrow, rejection, mistrust or abuse? Because Jesus walked out in forgiveness and confidently knew His identity was in the love of the Father. And that's where we as humans fall short. We look to everyone but God the Father for our identity. From the culture around us to our friends or family or ministries, everything shapes who we are. And because those are all broken or imperfect sources, it's no wonder we find ourselves lacking in self-worth and self-value. In Psalm 139, the psalmist talks about God knitting together our "inmost parts"...which are fearfully and wonderfully made! It wasn't our bodies that God was praising, but our souls. The part of us that gives us life and character and personality and identity. The part of us that can live in eternity with Him forever. The bodies, or shells, will turn to dust and fade, but souls live on. Yet we spend so much time focusing on keeping these shells looking a certain way, and judging our shells to other people's shells. We should take care of our body as best as we can, but not put all of our stock there. We also talked through two cycles people live their lives in...Rejection and Performance, and the woundedness that can result.

So as you can see, it's been another great week here in the YWAM Orlando SOMD. I'm learning not only awesome principles that are bringing me closer to God, but are also skills that I can use to encourage others in their journey with Him. It's a great place to be.


Leviticus Reading Party

12:27 AM

Tonight, me and some of my friends decided to read the book of Leviticus out loud to one another. Now, reading the Old Testament is required for my current school, SOMD, and I thought what better way to get through a seemingly dull book than to make a party out of it! I invited my two other SOMDers, Rebekah and Corey, and Lori, one of my roommates who just recently moved back to YWAM Orlando after 9 months studying at YWAM Taiwan's School of Biblical Studies. She provided alot of background and great contextual information on Leviticus. We made brownies and coffee and dove into a book all about the Law.

I've never actually read Leviticus all the way through before, and I must say I judged it poorly. While God is extremely detailed in His instructions for the Israelites, it's not without purpose. This generation was coming out of slavery in Egypt, where they had lived for 430 years. All they've known is oppression and Egyptian customs. They never lived as their own people. God gave them these specific and detailed laws to set them apart from the Egyptians from which they came, and the surrounding peoples. Over and over again throughout Leviticus, God tells the Israelites they are to "distinguish between the holy and the common" [Lev. 10:10], He separated them from the peoples because they are His [Lev. 20:26], and He is the one who sanctifies [Lev. 22:31-33]. His laws were a beautiful picture of the distinction between the sacred and the ordinary, and the standard to which God calls us to. There is incredible foreshadowing of Jesus' role through both the Azazel scapegoat [Lev. 16] and how only life-giving blood can be accepted a sacrifice for sin [Lev 17:11]. Pretty much I was blown away with how much truth I walked away from this book. I love how alive and active His Word truly is, and every book and every verse is written for a reason. Plus, it was a good reason for a party!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Property Pics!

7:34 PM
FINALLY got around to taking some pictures of the awesome property we have here at YWAM Orlando, and all the hard work that's been going on around you can have a better idea of what its like out here!

The entrance to our property

The inside of the "tree house" [because there's literally a tree in it] that we've been using for meals, meal prep, worship, prayer times, and staff meetings. So functional! I love it though...the tree and the HUGE window make it uniquely beautiful to me

The gorgeous lake on our property. Already set up with chairs ideal for sunset viewing!

Corey and Rebekah in our "classroom", which is the living room of my house!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sex + Money

10:52 AM
This is an incredible video I ran across a few months ago highlighting some of the all-too-true statistics of the global sex trade. I still watch it and it brings tears to my eyes. I watched it again this week as my SOMD team is praying about our options for the 8-week outreach we have this summer. All 3 of us feel a specific burden for this injustice, and perhaps our outreach will be in this area. Watch the video and say a prayer for the victims of human trafficking in your own country, and what you can do to stop modern day slavery.

Sex+Money from crown media on Vimeo.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting the DNA

10:02 PM
This week in my SOMD classes, we watched videos from the YWAM DNA Conference from 2006. Co-founders, Loren and Darlene Cunningham, and international leader David Hamilton taught a week-long conference on who we are as YWAM, what are our values, how does that influence our character, and where is God taking us. Now normally videos are not my favorite way to learn in the classroom, doesn't leave much for interaction. But these videos were great! I felt so much more connected to the YWAM family after this week. I was able to hear big success stories of God's provision and humbling failure stories of man's pride. The successes encouraged me to press on and the failures reminded me of my journey...and the fact that God is still faithful. Some of the highlights from the teachings:
  • Discernment is knowing what's right and what's almost right. For me, I can usually identify the "wrong" choice, but its those choices that seem right or pretty close that I get stuck on. That's where discernment kicks in.
  • "I gave you the gifts you have and the gifts you don't have are part of my design." - God. I'm pretty confident in my giftings and knowing my strengths, but I can also think of so many times I've longed or wished for other, seemingly better, talents. But God didn't give me those for a reason! He didn't create me, then realize whoops! she was supposed to be musical. The gifts I have AND don't have are all part of His grand design.
  • We must have enormous respect for the gifts of God AND the variety gifts in every person. Learn to celebrate their uniqueness and differences, instead of emphasizing their flaws. It's beautiful.
  • Our goal in this "race" [Heb. 12:1-2] is not a "what", but a "who". And that's Jesus. Our goal in this Christian life isn't eternity in heaven. It's about a intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Heaven is just where we get to spend eternity with Him.
There was so much more that I walked away with from this series. I really enjoyed this week of teaching and discussion with my school. Each week brings us closer and closer to each other. What a great experience!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Wise Counsel

9:27 PM
This was my first official week of classes here in my School of Ministry Development. We’ve already hit the ground running with some awesome topics and discussion.

This week in my SOMD, we had John Bills teaching us on how to include God in our decision making, conflict resolution, and trauma counseling/debrief. I absolutely loved this week’s teaching, it was so practical and I know that I will be able to incorporate all of these new skills almost immediately into ministry.

We first looked at what each person brings to the table in a decision making process, such as personality, background, character, understand of God, and the ability to hear His voice. Each person is different in this area, and when making corporate decisions, one or more of these could be affecting their ability to make a decision. So we spent some time identifying these things in ourselves, so we can know what we are bringing to the table. We discussed the different elements we bring into decisions, like our spirit, conscience, mind, will, emotions, and flesh and the role each of those can play in our decision making. Then John gave us this great list of questions we can ask ourselves and pray over to determine if we are including God in the decision making process.

We also spent some time discussing conflict and how to resolve it. Because ministry always involve people, there is no doubt that at some point in my ministry experience, I will have to resolve some conflict. So this week I learned some great practical strategies on how to handle that, as well as the Biblical model of conflict resolution and how Jesus handled conflict.

Finally, we spent some time focusing on trauma and grief counseling. An inevitable part of ministry and life is dealing with grief, and if we can be more equipped on how to walk people through it, we can experience healthier ministries and teammates.

So this whole week was just full of great knowledge from a man who has seen a lot in his 37 years in YWAM. John Bills taught in my DTS last fall on hearing the voice of God, and that teaching was just as foundational. I’m so excited for what other great things I’ll be learning in this school and turning around to put into practice.


My Life as a Pioneer

8:52 PM
Remember reading in history books about the pioneers? They worked hard for everything they had, which wasn’t much, and lived off the land. They made this country what it was as they set off for new land, not yet explored. Images like wagon trains, Daniel Boone and Little House on the Prairie usually come to mind. Well, these days I feel like I can relate to these early American pioneers.

YWAM Orlando has been in the process of restoring its new 198-acre property that was purchased last fall. During my DTS, we worked this property regularly striving to make it inhabitable. With their previous being rented facilities, and 15 homes spread out through several neighborhoods, YWAM Orlando has been steadily outgrowing its space. With this new property, which happens to be an abandoned church camp, all staff, students and schools can be in one place! It’s such a blessing! Last quarter, two schools were living and training out at the property, and this quarter all five schools moved out to the property. While that in and of itself is super exciting, here’s a few other things about the property I’ve left out. There’s still no electricity out here, as the process with the power companies has just taken an extremely long time. We’ve been running our buildings and kitchen off of generators. That works great, until you factor in water and sewage. Two things we also don’t have on the property. So its refillable water tanks and porta-potties! There’s one double wide trailer that has been set up with running water, which makes it a hotspot on campus. The majority of the staff out here are living in campers and RV’s as well. I’ve been lucky to be in a house [with 15 other people], that’s about 15 minutes away from the property, as there’s still just not enough finished space for all of us students. So that’s been the status thus far. It’s been challenging, and a learning experience, but we’ve been dominating each struggle.

Then yesterday we get this curveball. The city decides to tell us that we cannot “inhabit” any of the buildings without power. So all the students, staff, kitchen, offices, and classrooms now have to be moved to….where. But nothing can keep YWAM Orlando down for long! We made a pantry out of a trailer, and moved our “kitchen” into an outdoor picnic area. All male students are now in the double-wide, and classrooms have moved to homes. My new classroom is my living room. Should make getting to class on time a breeze!

And this is week two. Pioneering a new base is an adventure I didn’t realize I was signing up for. But what an incredible opportunity to see God provide in amazing ways. Also on yesterday, we found out we’ve finally been invoiced for the electricity, which means power lines can go in! We’ve been praying for this for 7 months. So God is definitely on the move here at YWAM Orlando and you can literally see it on the campus. I just hope I can keep up.

*Photo fail. These are all from the fall 2010 quarter. More current pictures to come on future blogs!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Romans 12:2

7:51 PM
Every week during my SOMD lecture phase, I'll be memorizing and meditating on a different Scripture verse. I thought it would be fun to share these verses as I am learning them. Enjoy!