Saturday, May 24, 2008

Praises and frustrations

Wow, a lot has been going on recently. School is really rough. I don't really understand what I'm doing wrong, but it's not going well. I wish God would tell me how to make it better.

As you can see from my last few posts, God has been telling me some cool things.

Support raising has been interesting. The first month the support flooded my mailbox. After I sent in the checks for my first deadline, it stopped. I didn't get any responses for a few weeks. Then I started to get a few. I'm not worried so much as I am confused and just wondering what God is doing (or what I'm doing wrong). On a better note, I received an email from our project director this week saying that he fiddled with the budget and now we only need to raise $4,200, a difference of $500. So, I guess my new goal is $4,600. With that new goal I am at 58% of my goal, with $1,920 to go. Amazing.

One of the tasks the project directors ask us to do is to write our testimony, memorize it, and then practice sharing it in a group setting, large or small. Well, I've worked on my testimony quite a bit, and actually just updated it recently. I've memorized it pretty well and practiced with friends over lunch or dinner. The practice was greatly needed. The first time I practiced with a friend was horrible. I kept stopping, messing up, laughing. It just took way too long to get through it, but I appreciate her patience with me. The following day I practiced two more times, and there was great improvements. Then, that night, I shared my testimony with our Summer Crusade meeting of about 100 people. Everyone said I did really well, my voice wasn't shaky and I had everybody's full attention. I feel good about it. I had class right beforehand, and as class was coming to a close I started to get nervous. Immediately I began to pray for God's peace. I placed it in His hands completely and rested in Him being in control. I put on some music as I walked across campus to get my mind of the nervousness and to help me keep praying. By the time Summer Cru started, I wasn't nervous at all. Praise God for hearing my prayer and answering me. It will be interesting to see if and how God will use it in the coming weeks. My prayer is that He use it to break down walls that people have built around their heart. Some of the things I said are taboo in the church and no one has ever really mentioned it at Crusade before. It was scary to be so vulnerable to judgment, but I know that ultimately God is my Judge and He sees me blameless and pure. At the same time, it was really exciting, because these are real issues that exist that need to be talked about and discussed. I hope that by my vulnerability those taboo barriers would be demolished. I want to see people freed from their pasts so they can worship God with their whole hearts and whole lives, not just the parts of which they are unashamed.

That night, Matt (our speaker), talked about what a disciple is. He said that a disciple finds their identity in Christ, and that that identity expresses itself in worship, community, and mission. I found it perfect, because the theme of my testimony is identity and how God has changed my identity. I could easily see in my life how my changed identity has impacted my worship, community, and mission. I hope others could have seen that concrete connection too.

But more than that, our church communities need some serious help. It's not a community at all. How many times do we run into someone and say that everything in our life is peachy keen, when in reality we are in a deep struggle with pain and/or sin. How can we welcome in broken strangers, when we are unwilling to be broken before each other, our brothers and sisters, family!? How can we expect strangers to come into our church bodies and be real with us when we are fake with each other? I freely share my testimony, first of all to praise God and give Him the glory, and secondly, to be real with my brothers and sisters. There is great encouragement that comes from knowing the struggles and weaknesses of others. We realize we are not alone. We can talk about our lives and experience healing. I praise God for the life that He has touched already by my testimony. There is too much judging that goes on in the church. That is why we are often fake, because we are afraid of judgment. If a member of the body is afraid of judgment, why do we even wonder why new people never come to church, they are just as afraid of that same judgment. We need to get off our high horses, admit our own faults and weaknesses, and welcome in those who don't know the forgiveness of God. It is not our place to judge, but it is our place to love like Jesus loved. It makes me so sick that people don't want to go to church because they think people would look down on them for their lifestyle and choices. Who do we think we are? The saddest part is that they are right. There are so many Christians who look down on others and think that they are so much better. Are they any better than the pharisees, whom looked down upon the "sinners?" We have such pride issues. I tell you the truth, that those who look down on others are worse off than those upon whom they look. We are a bunch of idol worshipers. And you know what that idol is? Ourselves. We meditate on ourselves and all that entails, rather than God and his goodness. Who cares if we are broken? I'm glad that I'm broken and I want to tell the world about it because all the more will God get the glory for fixing me. I think I better stop ranting now.

So as for prayer requests for me, please please please please please pray for whatever is going on this semester with school. Ask God to reveal to me what I need to be doing to be successful. Continue to pray that He provide financial and prayer partners for me and for those on my project. Also pray for the relationships I have in which God is working right now, a friend and classmates. I feel like we're on the brink of breakthrough in someone's life and am so anxious for Him to just hurry and get on with. I guess I need some more patience in waiting on His timing. One of my biggest struggles right now is giving up time on schoolwork in order to spend time on these relationships, which is one reason why school isn't going so well, because my work is not getting done like it should be. So frustrating. Pray for encouragement, because I am getting discouraged. Thanks.

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