Tag Archives: God

What does God get for Christmas?

I’m in a store, and I’m singing!

Christmas is my favorite time of year (pretty sure that Buddy the Elf was modeled after me), so it’s easy for me to come up with what Christmas means to me. It’s fun. It’s full of better food and time off. I get to see my family more. I get presents! I get to sing more. I was singing along to Christmas carols while walking at Wal-Mart this evening. People smile more. The bell ringers make me chuckle. We get to make a new sign and take our Christmas picture. And that’s all just surface stuff. It’s also the big thing. Jesus came and saved His people from their sins! I was saved from my sins. I get to be friends with God.

But what about God? What does He get for Christmas? What does Christmas mean to God?

I believe God would say, “I get to be with them.”

That’s what Christmas meant and means to Him. His Christmas gift is a people that would be His. “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:14 (NLT) When I was a kid I would have a hard time going to bed on Christmas Eve. I didn’t think Santa would be there. I just wanted to go open up the presents and get the surprises over with. As soon as my eyes opened Christmas morning I’d run to the living room only to find that I had to wait as Nate woke up and for Dad to shower slowly. And then I grew up. Who am I kidding? I still do this, and the more I study scripture the more I realize that God does too.

God gets excited and not impatient but definitely eager and in a hurry. From the Old to New Testaments God has been in a hurry to open His Christmas presents. He wants to be with us. He wants us to speak to Him, to listen to Him, to just sit with Him. He wants our attention. While Israel was in the desert God asked Moses to build a tent of meeting. The moment he finished building it “The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” On the day of Pentecost the disciples were all together and “suddenly” the Holy Spirit filled them. And this is the Nativity, the First Noel. In the fullness of time God came to be with us. That is, He came as soon as He could, as soon as everything was ready.

So Merry Christmas, God! I’m so glad you get to open your presents. It makes me happy to imagine your smiles as we all sing about you and talk to you. Thanks for being in a hurry. Thanks for getting up as early as possible and coming to rescue us.

What if I’m not good enough?

IMG_1841-2-4Yesterday, as the girls took their naps, I felt drawn to our comfy couch, not to nap but to spend some time with God. On normal days I like to chill out by reading or watching a show that’s too “action-y” for the girls, as Bekah puts it. But no. The air was expectant and alive with the Holy Spirit’s company. I don’t think there was anything specific He wanted to say, simply that He just wanted to talk with me. We could talk about whatever. So I began reflecting on all my hopes, questions and concerns with this YWAM plant that is about to happen. It hasn’t been preying on my mind, per se, but I do occasionally wonder at God choosing little old me to co-lead this Big Deal. I am painfully aware of all my faults and my shortcomings and I do sometimes get that “Oh snap!” feeling in the pit of my stomach, although I try my best to ignore it as much as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking at the bright side of things where the future is concerned (I’m winking, if you can’t tell).

I’ve been tucked safely away in our home for the past few years, taking care of our girls and nursing a number of health issues. I’ve had minimal contact with other human beings and so minimal opportunity to  mess things up. I have no qualms with learning from past mistakes, but never has it seemed so paramount to get it right the first time as it does now. I have full confidence in Micah’s ability, his character, and his stamina to carry out this vision God is sharing with us –not so much in my own.

God encouraged me through 1 Corinthians 3. Micah felt I should share it here and spread some of that encouragement around to anyone facing a similar predicament. Click here to read the chapter.

When I first read this I said, “Wha–?” As in, “What? I don’t see how this applies to what we were just talking about, God.” So I read it again today at lunch and He helped me see what He was trying to show me yesterday.

Did you read it? Now skip down a few lines.

Ah yes. The good old  “I am of Paul” vs. “I am of Apollos” fight. The Corinthians were getting hung up on who was following who, and who did what first and a whole lot of nonsense. Imagine the growing Christian church of that day as a garden or planted field as Paul sums up, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Now skip to the end and read where it says God has given us all things and we belong to Him.

So in answer to my question, “What if I’m not good enough or smart enough?” God says He is doing this marvelous thing; this crazy vision for a YWAM Upper Valley is His. He is doing it, not us. He has given it to us, and we belong to Him. He is causing the growth. The weight is ultimately on His shoulders. Phew! Thank goodness for that.

On to foundations.

(1 Corinthians 3:10-15) I remember when we first came to School of the Bible seven years ago and telling folks, “We’re doing this school so we can have a firm foundation before heading out into the mission field.” I know foundations are actually pretty boring. Slabs of concrete that, as a homeowner, you never want to see or think about for fear of finding those ominous cracking lines. Boring or not, I’ve got a soft spot for them. It clicks in my brain when Paul says we have a foundation which is Jesus Christ. The-Sims-4-build-modeOn our SIMS-like journey to building the Kingdom of God, Jesus is our foundation and we get to build on it. Our add-ons are tested by fire. If we build and our work remains, hurray! We did a good job. Pats on the back all around! If the quality of our work proves poor and is lost in the fire, we suffer loss (in that bits or all of our house burnt down) but we don’t perish with it. A worst case scenario of blowing it big time is I get to start over with Jesus. It’s not the end. I’ll learn. I have the good foundation and I’ll endure. All is not lost and I can build again, all the wiser. “Relax, Beth.”

I walked away from lunch with these three think-points:

  1. Have a good foundation. Focus on that. Build wisely.
  2. Don’t be duped by the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). God sending out little inexperienced me to take on this big task will probably look foolish to the world, but the wisdom of the world is foolishness before God. People will think it’s crazy so just get over it.
  3. Consider this in confidence: God is in charge of all of this. It will be all right, come what may.

If God is handing you something big and scary try to relax. He doesn’t expect you to be good enough or smart enough. He’s making that garden grow. He’s holding the house up. He doesn’t expect you to do His job. He wants you to participate but not stress out about being in charge.

Movin’ On Up!!! To The North East…

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New England Outreach

Snow White and Doc McStuffins!

One night, as I was driving up a long mountain road to speak at a Bible study, I felt impressed to pray for God to send out people who weren’t planning on coming but needed to hear from Him. The sky was ominous, and if I didn’t have responsibilities I would have stayed home. We prayed and worshiped God inviting Him to speak to us. I spoke a message on repentance and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus. [click here to read about Lordship] A few minutes into this, another man joined us. He shared later that he was going to stay home but felt like he should come. At the end, our whole group (locals and missionaries) moved into a time of openness and surrender to God. This man spoke to God with such honesty, “God I’ve been in rebellion. Would you take me back? I surrender to you.”

Our team spent the month of July in New Hampshire and Vermont. We had several opportunities to preach, teach, and lead worship. We also ran a super hero themed vacation Bible school where we taught kids about God’s beautiful character!

One of our students, Mark, is from a nation closed to the Gospel. He shared a story of God’s providence. As he was preparing to come to School of the Bible his final step was to get a visa to come to the United States. He knew he didn’t have a good chance, but he prayed, “God if you want me to go make the worker smile at me when I go in. Then I will know I will get the visa.” As he walked into the room the man was smiling so wide it shocked him. He asked Mark very little and then asked, “How long are you wanting to be in America?” Mark told him hesitantly, “One year.” The man stamped his paper and said, “You can have five years!” Mark is such a joy to have and is constantly challenging me to walk in real faith through his testimonies of persecution and the true cost of being a disciple of Jesus in his country.

God has a heart for every nation. When He has people who are willing, He makes a way.

aaryn“Before SOTB a lot of what I believed was just repeated information from other people. I believed things simply because it’s what I’ve always been told. School of the Bible is giving me the foundation to stand on my faith from personal revelation and truth.” – Aaryn (SOTB 2013)

YWAM Upper Valley Update

Our hearts are full. We have been officially released to move to New Hampshire next Summer! So here it is, all of the hints and guesses are finally happening. We will be leaving Texas after this current School of the Bible in July 2014. Our team is now made up of seven absolutely committed staff and several more in the deciding/praying category. Our goal is to have somewhere between fifteen and twenty people when we really launch into ministry.

BINGO2What will Youth With A Mission look like in New England?

We will hit the ground running with evening and weekend teaching seminars open to the community, worship and intercession for the region and recruiting and planning for our first major endeavor – a Discipleship Training School. This is an introductory school into YWAM. It is five months devoted to learning and understanding who God is and who people are in Him. It consists of three months of lectures on foundational topics such as, Hearing God’s voice, Intercession, Biblical worldview, relationships, spiritual warfare, Lordship, The Father heart of God, creation, and sexual restoration. This is followed by two months of outreach to a foreign country or stateside, where students will be given the chance to put into practice what they learned during their lecture phase. This phase generally includes mercy ministries and evangelism.

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Does God care about civil government?

 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Scribe_Stood_to_Tempt_Jesus_Le_scribe_se_leva_pour_tenter_Jésus_-_James_Tissot_-_overallJesus commanded that we love people. There’s a problem here. You can not love your neighbor if you don’t know how to do it. Christians must take time to discover how to love people in all spheres of society. Every relationship we have must come into alignment with God and His laws of love.  This includes my marriage, my father daughter relationship, economic relationships of boss and worker or seller and buyer, education relationships of student and teacher, and yes even governmental relationships of citizen and representative.

You can not love your neighbor if you don’t know how to do it. I can’t operate in tyranny and be loving the people under my control.

Study the Bible on how to relate, and apply it to every relationship. The Kingdom of God will expand. The world will be different. .


My Wife Taught Me God’s Heart

muffinSeveral years ago my wife and I were in school together. At the time we had only been dating for a few weeks, and we were spending every free moment we had together. The thing was we didn’t have that much free time. Beth woke up early every day to go to breakfast. I slept until just before class started. One evening I decided that I would wake up early to eat breakfast with Beth and thus spend some time with her. I told her, and she was really happy about it. Also at this time in my life I was reading about giving more of one’s time to spend with God. So I told God that I would get up early and meet with Him for a while and then go to breakfast.

I set my alarm for 6:30 and went to bed at a reasonable time. I woke up at 7:40 the next morning. I had a few minutes to get to class, and I felt like crap. I had let them both down. I apologized to God and then started walking to class afraid of having to face disappointment from Beth for the first time. The sidewalks from the girls’ dorm and guys’ dorm were very long and met at a 90 degree angle at the parking lot of our classroom. Beth just happened to leave her dorm at the same time, and I saw her. I watched her as we walked to class, my face trying to smile. As we met in the parking lot I was ready to apologize, but she never let me. She smiled so big at me, hugged me and gave me a really big chocolate muffin. And she won my heart forever.

Beth was quick to forgive. She wasn’t angry. She was just happy to be with me. And then God touched my heart, and I knew that this was exactly how He felt. He was just happy to be with me.