Overcoming My Miscarriage

Dear World Changer,

We’ve been doing an “Overcoming” Series lately. Some of these posts have been about overcoming past events, and some, like this one, is learning how to overcome while you’re still walking through it.

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One month ago Kyle and I lost a baby.

It was devastating as we looked at the ultrasound and didn’t see a heartbeat. We were so excited to be parents. Every decision we had to make, we had this little babe in mind.

I told Kyle by writing “I’m pregnant” on a pizza.

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We told our parents with signs and Starbucks mugs.

 

We told our IntenCity leaders and close friends.

I’ve learned recently how many families suffer in silence when they miscarry. They tell you to wait 3 months before sharing the news for this reason. But more than anything, I’m glad we told a lot of people. I’m glad there were people to be excited with us and to mourn with us. And like any other situation whether it’s a miscarriage, going through a parents divorce, bullying, depression, anxiety…you should never suffer in silence.

We’ve learned a lot through this. A lot about ourselves, about faith, about healing. We shared this with our youth a few weeks ago and if you want to hear the “live” version, head over to IntenCity Youth’s podcast on iTunes.

We (Kyle and I), don’t share this for the “I’m sorry’s,” or the attention, or any other reason than we just want to be role models. And being a role model doesn’t mean JUST being an example in good times, but it’s being an example in the rough parts of life too. And we haven’t handled it perfectly. Not at all. But when I was younger, I would have died for someone to model how to cling to Jesus when life sucks. Because when I looked around me, when life threw a curve ball most turned to drugs and alcohol.

I don’t want to see a Christian go through good things, I want to see a Christian go through bad stuff because that really shows how tight you are with Jesus. And being tight with Jesus doesn’t mean you handle things perfectly, but it means that as you’re walking through the journey imperfectly, you’re walking with Him.

So here’s what a miscarriage has taught me.

Peace is a Thing…A Great Thing 

So often people pray that you’d have peace through sucky stuff, but rarely do we say “I accept that peace.”

I see a common pattern in how God works through cancer, divorce, death, feeling like our dreams have fallen apart etc.

It’s that a lot of the time, he calms you before He stops the circumstance.

I mean, could you imagine if He just babied us and stopped everything and attended to our every need right away? We wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t get stronger. All through Bible College I heard the phrase “God cares more about your character than your comfort.” And boy does that ring true! And I’m glad He does. He really is a good good father.

Ever heard the term “storm” for rough seasons of life? Well, God gives peace while it’s still raining. 2 days after the ultrasound tech told us there was no heartbeat we were sitting in the doctor’s office to discuss options on how to get the baby out. And peace filled that room. Peace filled our hearts. And peace doesn’t mean you’re not crying or hurting or broken. But peace is this trust in God that you know everything is going to be okay and that He’s working behind the scenes to make everything come together for your good and you can’t see it at first but you know it’s there.

God gives peace that goes beyond our understanding. What that means it that you’re going to feel peace when it doesn’t make sense to have peace. Your world is crashing down yet you’re calm. And that’s a blessing. And I’ll say it again and again…I accept that peace.

Get Your Hopes Up

God brought me back to the story of when Jesus walks on water and Peter asked if he could walk on water too.

Peter asked Jesus “If this is really you Jesus, let me walk on water too.” And as he stepped out of the boat he saw 2 options. He saw the giant waves that could cause him to drown, and he saw Jesus. And seeing 2 options of how this could go (drowning or Jesus saving) caused doubt and that made him begin to sink.

 

We need to see one way…Jesus.

 

4 days after we got told we were miscarrying I got called into the doctor’s office immediately. My doctor looks at me and said “I’ve never seen this before, I’m 99% sure you’ve miscarried but there is this small chance your baby is alive.”

And at that moment, I had a decision to make.

Now most of you know my past. I’ve been a part of the stats since I was a kid.

I was in the 50% of kids whose parents divorce

I was the One in 20 who will experience death of a parent

I was in the 50% of families that are blended families

I was the 1 in 6 who get sexually assaulted

 

And so I just figured I would be the 20% of pregnancies that end in miscarriage.

 

***But you can’t base your theology off of your experience***

 

I was seeing 2 ways instead of one. I was seeing my baby dead and I was seeing Jesus. All my life it just seemed like if something bad was going to happen, it was coming MY way. So as a kid, I made the decision to never get my hopes up, then I would never be disappointed, and I would never have to grieve again.

I didn’t want to get disappointed. I didn’t want to get my hopes up that this baby was alive. I even told my doctor “I have zero hopes.” I didn’t want to believe in a miracle then have to grieve all over again. But I pushed myself to just see Jesus. To have the faith the size of a mustard seed and to get my hopes up (to be honest, it felt like my faith was a quarter of a mustard seed). But I prayed every 30 seconds that God would breathe life into this child. I got my hopes up.

Because faith is a RISK.

Next day it was confirmed that the baby had been dead for 3 weeks. It was a miscarriage. And I had to grieve all over again. But getting our hopes up wasn’t for nothing. It brought us to a new depth with Jesus, a new faith level.

Remember the woman in the Bible who was bleeding for 12 years? She had tried everything. She spent ALL she had on doctor’s visits getting her hopes up that she would be healed. Nothing worked. She heard Jesus was in town. I bet she had to make the decision, do I get my hopes up? There’s going to be a huge crowd, will I even get close enough? Will I even get to see him? Do I want to go through the disappointment of not being healed again?

But she got her hopes up. She fought through the crowds and crowds of people. This type of disease made you an outcast in the town. I bet she got nasty comments and hurtful glares as she ran to Jesus.

All she did was touch the edge of Jesus’ cloak and she was healed. That was worth getting her hopes up. And Jesus said, your FAITH has healed you.

Her story and mine are different. Both worth it. I got my hopes up in Jesus, he didn’t heal my baby, but he did heal Kyle and I’s heart and continues to do so.

I’ve learned not to discount the small miracles. We only see miracles one way, and if it doesn’t happen that ONE way, we don’t say it’s a miracle. But there are ALWAYS small little miracles happening. The doctors thought there was a cancer that caused the baby to die which would mean a lot of testing and doctors appointments for me. I got the results two week ago, and it was a normal pregnancy! Be grateful for the small miracles.

Your situation has to look impossible to know it was a miracle.

If you look at all the miracles in the Bible, each looked impossible. People who had lived with diseases all their lives who were so much considered outcasts that they weren’t even allowed in the town.

There was the little girl who was pronounced dead, Lazarus who was pronounced dead and even put in grave clothes!

We always think “God you showed up late, why didn’t you come WAY before this.” But it has to look impossible for us to know it’s a miracle. He is always right on time. And because of the impossibility of the situation, Jesus’ name was brought everywhere. People started to say, truly you are God!

Sit with grief

As a kid, I was the type of person that wanted to do everything perfect. So when I lost my Dad or went through anything else, I would just numb myself and act sad for “the right amount of time”, then get okay at the “right time;” the time that everyone told me. WRONG WAY of doing things!

Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. I used to think in my head, “stop telling me how I’m doing everything wrong, it’s not like I practiced loosing my Dad.”

And recently someone very wise (shoutouts to Pastor Shelley), told me, “sit with grief.” So this time around. We sat with grief. I picture grief like one of these guys (don’t make fun)

Inside-Out-Collage

And you need to sit with grief in your bedroom, living room, wherever. You need to cry to grief, yell at grief, ask the why questions. And eventually grief will get out of your bedroom or living room and it won’t be there anymore. But if you numb yourself to grief and ignore it, grief will always be there. And it will start to look like anger and bitterness in you.

And everyone needs to sit with grief for however long you need too. Don’t worry about people pleasing, this is YOUR life, YOUR future. Deal with grief right.

Bear each other’s burdens

Never go through something alone. We’re not built for that. We need people. And it doesn’t mean that everyone on your Facebook needs to know, but SOMEONE needs to know!

Like I mentioned above, I am so thankful people knew about this.

And because people knew, we didn’t cook a meal for over a week, flowers and chocolate were brought to our house, gifts were brought to our house, family came over and cleaned and ran errands for us.

And although it’s been one of the toughest months of our lives, it’s been easier. We’ve felt like Moses. When Moses and his army were in war with the Amalekites Moses had to keep his arms raised, he had to hold the staff. And when his arms got tired, Aaron and Hur got him a rock to sit on and they each held an arm up for him, making it easier. They took some of the weight. That’s what it feels like when we bear each other’s burdens. We NEED each other! Never suffer in silence. Don’t keep things hidden and in secret, been there and done that! And the hurt and pain lasts longer.

There has to come a time when you LET GO

It’s crazy how quickly you get attached to an unborn baby. I was SO attached! For 9 weeks I had been pregnant. I had this embryo that went everywhere with me. And when it was time for surgery, I looked at Kyle and said “I don’t want them to take the baby out. Like I’m attached to this baby. It’s mine. I didn’t want it gone.”

And it painted this picture that we get attached to our storms.

But the sooner you let go, the sooner you can move on. The sooner that baby came out, the sooner I could get healthy again.

Jesus died so we could be free. Free from the burden of losing a child, or losing a parent, of the effects of divorce, of our sin, our shame and regret. Letting go comes at different stages for everybody, but it has to come. You have a purpose, God has this huge plan for your life and you can’t do it while holding onto your past.

Turn around

Remember the story of the 10 lepers?

There were 10 people with leprosy. And this disease made you an outcast in society, so much so, that they weren’t allowed inside the town so they stood outside the gates.

Jesus came by one day. And those 10 lepers stood outside the gate yelling and begging for Jesus to heal them. And he did. Jesus said “Show yourselves to the priest, you are healed.” And as they all walked away, only ONE leper turned around to thank Jesus.

Picture the one thing in your life that you really need a miracle for, or need healing from, or that one family member. And for years and years and years you’ve been praying for that. You beg God every 5 minutes and then one day, that miracle, that healing comes. And you never thank the God who did it. Imagine how that feels?

We need to turn around and be grateful. Even if the miracle doesn’t come like mine, I was taught by God to turn around for the health I’m in – a lot of stuff could have gone wrong but it didn’t. I thanked him for my husband, for the roof over my head, for our jobs, for food.

We have a lot going for us. Turn on the news for 2 seconds and you’ll realize how much we have to be thankful for.

A Friday night (Youth) or a Sunday morning shouldn’t be the only time we thank Him. TURN AROUND

Lord I will Still Love you

Even if the healing, or the miracle doesn’t come, will you still say “Lord I will still love you?”

If you lose all your money…

If you don’t get into the school you want…

If you get diagnosed with a disease or disability…

If you lose the people you love in your life…

Will you still say, Lord I love you.

I tell our youth this all the time. Jesus needs to be more than JUST Saviour, he needs to be LORD over your life.

Yes Jesus is Saviour, but that’s not all He is. If He’s only Saviour, than to you He can fail. If you only come to Him to ask for something (save me, do this for me, redeem this, give a miracle) and He doesn’t do it, He’s failed in your eyes. But when He is also LORD over your life, He can never fail because you KNOW he’s working everything together for your good whether it looks that way or not. Whether the miracle comes or not. Whether you get healed or not. He wants more than just “do this and do that.” He wants this personal relationship, this deep connection.

Put your life in his hands. Make Him LORD over your life, not just Saviour.

 

The cover picture for this post was a photo shoot Kyle and I did not too long ago. It was supposed to be the shoot where we would announce our pregnancy. But instead, it’s a reminder that my God is good. It’s a testimony that we’re okay. Okay enough to still do the shoot. Okay because we trust in God and His plans. And okay, because when our baby first opened their eyes, they saw Jesus.

What a perfect life for that child. And one day, we’ll get to meet our little treasure in Heaven.

Pastor Natasha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Pride

“I don’t struggle with pride. Maybe other people do, but pride has never been a problem for me.”

 Remember when you were in grade 8 and you felt like you were at the top of the food chain? “I’m graduating this year! Goodbye, suckers! Muahaha.”

Remember how you felt when you entered grade 9? “Look at those grade 8’s…they think they’re all that!”

And then grade 10… “Puny grade 9’s! They know nothing!”

… and so on!

And it doesn’t just end after highschool. I’ve recently found myself falling into the mentality that “I have a kid now: no one else understands life at all until they have kids!”

THIS IS PRIDE. When we put ourselves above someone else in any way, it is pride. Who gives you the strength to get through school? Who gives you family? Who gives you gifts and talents, intelligence, and a brain? Who gives you breath in your lungs and allows you to live another day?

Is not everything God’s? So then we should live like it!

If this is you, and it was certainly me, I’m here to tell you that EVERYONE struggles with pride.

In my last blog I talked about overcoming fear, and in this blog, I want to share with you some insight on GOOD fear; the Fear of the Lord. In other words, when we acknowledge, respect, and revere God, it keeps us from falling into sin.

“Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.” Proverbs 16:6

“Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
Let’s take a look in the bible:

 

Ever heard of King Nebuchadnezzar? He was King of Babylon when Israel was defeated and captured. He was the one who had a strange dream that only Daniel was able to interpret. And he was the one who threw “Rack, Shack, and Benny” into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to the idol. After all this he knew that God was the One True God, and yet he still took pride in believing that he had built up Babylon and that its majesty should glorify himself. But then he had another dream and Daniel interpreted that one as well. And it came true one day when King Nebuchadnezzar stood on his rooftop and proclaimed “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Immediately Nebuchadnezzar was driven away from people to live with wild animals and eat grass like an ox for 7 years! And at the end of that time, Nebuchadnezzar raised his eyes toward heaven, and his sanity was restored. Then he praised God and honored and glorified him and was restored as King. (Read the full story in Daniel 4)

Now fast forward to when Nebuchadnezzar is dead and his son, Belshazzar is now King. King Belshazzar worshipped the gods of silver and gold and partied a lot. Even though he knew all that his Father Nebuchadnezzar went through, he became full of pride just like his father had, and did not acknowledge that GOD was the one who allowed him to be in power and that GOD was ultimately King over ALL nations. One night he had a party – and this particular party was happening WHILE there were armies outside the walls of Babylon preparing to attack. Belshazzar knew this but put too much confidence in the protection of the city walls. (He had the attitude of entitlement, since he did not have to fight for the kingdom but inherited it from his dad. This is another form of pride.) So God sent a warning to King Belshazzar by writing on the wall of the palace. Nobody could explain the meaning, and guess who he had to call to interpret….. Daniel! And still Belshazzar in all his pride acts like he doesn’t even know who Daniel is! “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah?”

Uh, rude! Daniel was his father’s Chief Advisor, how does he NOT know who Daniel is?!

But Daniel interprets the writing anyways, which, to sum it up, basically tells Belshazzar that God has his days numbered and they’re up, and that the Babylonian kingdom will be divided.

And what happens? King Belshazzar continues to party! And later that night, the Medes and Persians attack and capture Babylon, and they kill Belshazzar. (Read the full story in Daniel 5)

So here we have two stories of pride. Father and son stories.

The father’s story teaches us that pride cannot be dealt with on our own. Only God can humble us, and if we are willing to listen to Him, he will restore us.

The son’s story shows us that pride, not dealt with, comes before a fall, as it says in Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

To sum it all up, here are 3 steps on how to Overcome Pride:

 

  1. Fear God – acknowledge and revere his power and authority over ALL CREATION. “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORDestablishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

  1. Confess Pride – “However, you must confess that you have done wrong, and that you have rebelled against the LORD your God. You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree, and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:13

 

  1. Learn humility – Janet Chismar says it well: It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to ourselves and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.

“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”’ Luke 9:23

Miriam

Overcoming Fear

Dear World Changer,

Fall is such a busy season, for everyone, for many different reasons! For many it’s the beginning of a new school year, along with preparing for upcoming holidays such as thanksgiving and Christmas! (Woops, I said the “C” word :P) And many of us really don’t want to be thinking that far ahead. But I just LOVE fall. It’s my favourite season; the colours of the trees, the smell of the crisp air, the warm drinks and desserts, and of course, the cuddles! Not only do I love the way it looks and feels, I also love what it represents: a new season! However, there are many negative things that come with a new season; the fear of change, the fear of failure, the fear of rejection… the common denominator being FEAR.

How can we be ready to do what God is calling us to do if we let our fear hold us back?

I mean, there’s so much to fear in life, right? What do others think of me? Will I say the right thing? Will I do the right thing? If I mess up, will it ruin my life? Where will I end up? Will I make enough money? Will I be happy? Do people even care about me? How do I make a difference?

It’s overwhelming. Fear is the sole reason for all of our worries, and we’ve become so accustomed to feeling worry and fear that we actually believe it is okay because everyone fears and worries, and how can we not?

Well, I’m not a bible scholar or a seminary graduate of any kind, nor do I consider myself perfect. But today I do hope to share with you some insight for how to overcome the natural human tendency to fear. And as I remind you of these things, I am also reminding myself. For it is seldom that I go even a day without consciously realizing I’m stuck in my negative thoughts of worry.

First of all, we can be sure that God did not create us to worry. In the beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, everything was as it should be, and our relationship with God was flawless. It even talks of them walking WITH God through the garden! However, when the Devil (or serpent) tempted Eve and then Adam to sin, their eyes were opened to their nakedness and they hid from God out of FEAR. (Genesis 1-3) So from this we see that fear came from sin and that it was not meant to be.

It was fear of the ‘giants’ that caused the Israelites to wander in the desert for 40 years instead of entering into the promised land. (Numbers 13:17-14:35)

It was fear that caused Peter to begin to sink when he was already walking on the water toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:22-33)

It was worry that caused people to sin because they would put too much emphasis on the things they didn’t have or the things they needed rather than trusting that God will provide. (Luke 12:22-34)

Sin causes fear and fear causes sin. And we begin to reap the consequences of our actions, such as not being at peace, struggling with anxiety, getting physically sick from stress, and even such things as depression if we dwell too long on the things that we should not!

 

So how do we stop ourselves??

 

Here is one of my favourite passages of scripture on overcoming fear: (I know it’s long but please read the whole thing, it will be such a blessing!)

Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

 

This is amazing imagery! God is our Protector no matter what we’re going through! If that doesn’t give you confidence – that Jesus always has your back – I don’t know what does!

Not only does this passage give us a vivid explanation on how He will deliver us, it also is quite clear on what we can do to keep our thoughts from wandering to fearful and worrisome thoughts: Calling on Him! We are to admit aloud that we need Him and constantly remind ourselves of His promises.
So here are more of His promises:

 

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

“Fear not, for  I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

 

“[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 

“The weapons we fight with are the not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

 

Therefore, make every effort to attain self-control, control of the mind and of the spirit and of the body, memorizing scripture, and calling on God to keep yourself from fear, anxiety, and worry. Learn to be content in any and every situation that you may be focused on praising His name rather than worrying about what’s coming next.

 

Overcoming fear is a constant journey but it makes change and transitions so much easier when we trust in God to take care of all of our needs. Oh how the world would look so different if no one ever worried.  I pray this for you and for me today and always, that we may be the change and all would see our peace and joy. I know that “my God will meet all of your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:19)

 

“To God our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:20)

 

Miriam

 

Advice on Going Back to School

Dear World Changer,

Tomorrow is your first day back at school so I thought I’d share some advice with y’all that has stuck with me through high school and post secondary. Here’s SEVEN things I want to challenge you with for this school year:

  1. People don’t like you as much as you think they do. Ouch right? Let me explain this one. In high school, all I wanted to do was people please. Many of us want people to like us right? I went through so much anxiety, worry and stress trying to get everyone to like me. I would wear the right things, say the right things, act the right way until one day someone blurted this phrase out. I’m trying to please all these people and I’m thinking it’s working, but over HALF of them won’t ever think about me at night, ask me how I’m doing on a bad day, text me when it’s a rough week, or even ask to hangout outside of school. I’m turning into someone else trying to please people that actually aren’t real friends and to be honest, I didn’t respect ANY of them either! Tip: Be yourself, and true friends will be drawn in. Friends that will text you, that will stand by you, and that will like you no matter what clothes you have on. The rest – aren’t worth it!
  2. Be a leader not a follower. I’m at the stage of life now where I can clearly see where everyone from my high school ended up in life. What blew my mind was that the popular kids/leader of the path/”cool ones”/ones who peer pressured everyone into doing drugs and drinking —- they are all still living at home with their parents unemployed. They don’t know what they want to do in life. Why? Because they spent four INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT years pleasing people and focusing on being the IT person, that they weren’t focusing on who they wanted to be and where they wanted to go. The only goals they had in high school was how many people they could hook up with and how much they could drink before passing out. They were called the leaders of the pack, but they were really just following people’s expectations. Advice: Be a leader not a follower. Don’t follow the crowds but instead lead yourself into someone of character, integrity and wisdom. Someone who works hard. Someone who had values. Someone who has dreams. And people will want to follow THAT!
  3. Hard Work Gets you Places – In school, many just show up. I’m challenging you to SHOW UP WELL. Be all in. Work your tail off! We’re a generation that likes the easiest, fastest way possible. Advice: Don’t take the lazy, easy, fast route. Put the hard work in. Proverbs 12:11 says – “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Work your land and you’ll reap the blessings.
  4. Curses could be Blessings – You may be put into a class with no friends, you may have the worst teacher, things may not go your way, you may be put WAY out of your comfort zone. Let me encourage you  – the most scary/hard times could be right in the middle of God’s will. You may have that mean teacher because they need encouragement and God has chosen you to bring it. You may be put into a class with zero friends because then you’ll be willing to see other students who have none and God wants YOU to talk to them. Jesus doesn’t care about your comfort, he cares about your CHARACTER. Character is sometimes built in the scary moments. What we think is a curse – might just be a HUGE blessing.
  5. Drama isn’t worth it – Oh the drama. It’s going to happen. It may not happen the first week back, but it’s coming! Here’s advice from proverbs. Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Drama turns up the heat. It gets you angry when people spread lies about you. BUT I’m challenging you to be the bigger person. You get hot-tempered, and you make the flames higher. You stay calm and speak with gentleness, you put out the fire. One word….character. Have character in all you do. Be known as the person with integrity and kindness.
  6. Don’t revert back to old habits – For many of you, you went OVPC, you were a part of the Forge, many awesome encounters happened over the summer and I’ve heard SO many testimonies of how you guys have gotten a solid consistent devo life happening! Don’t revert back to old habits now that school is starting. When Moses went up on the mountain top to hear from God, the Israelites got impatient. Now every time Israel got impatient – they did something stupid, then they begged God for forgiveness, God showed up, all was well, and then they would get impatient again and repeat the whole cycle. This particular time was no different. Moses was taking too long for their likings, so Israel built a golden calf and started worshipping that! They revert back to their old habits every. single. time. Let me challenge you – when you start getting impatient with God, or you start getting really busy again, don’t revert back to your old habits of not reading scripture, not showing up to youth, not meeting up with your mentor etc. Busyness is never an excuse for giving God your leftovers. In the busyness of school – praise him. When He’s not showing up fast enough for you – praise Him. When you don’t FEEL like reading your Bible – still do it. WHY? Because your faith shouldn’t be based off your feelings. It’s deeper than that.
  7. You could be the only Jesus your school sees: I’m going to start this one with a Bible story.

Story of the 10 Virgins/Bridesmaids

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

To understand this Scripture, you need to know how weddings worked back then. When a couple got engaged, they didn’t spend the next year picking out napkin designs and flower arrangements. Nooooo, they actually didn’t see each other at all! The groom would take off and the bride wouldn’t know when he was returning #nocellphonelife. So the bride would wake up every morning, bathe, put on her dress and put on perfume as if today was the day she was getting married! Her bridesmaids would do the same! Plus, they had another task. Their job was to keep lanterns lit to light the path to the bride’s house so the groom would know where she was! 5 bridesmaids were wise – they were prepared for his return ANY day. 5 were foolish and instead of working hard and being prepared…they fell asleep! The groom shows up one random day, and only HALF the community was lit because 5 bridesmaids were sleeping instead of getting ready! It sent a mixed message to the community!

Many of us go to church, read the Word, talk about Jesus in our connect groups but when we get to school, we’re quiet. We act a different way. We talk a different way. But we still say we’re Christian if anyone asks. But what kind of message does that send to our schools? They see people going ALL IN for Jesus and starting up Christian groups, and sharing Jesus with everyone, but then they see the other half that says their Christian but acts different.

This sends the same message as those bridesmaids. The community is only getting half lit. Our schools are getting a mixed message about who Jesus is.

Jesus could be coming back ANY day now. If he was coming tonight – would you be happy with how you’ve lived? Have you represented Christ well?

Go all in this year. Don’t get caught up in drama, people pleasing, laziness and peer pressure. Live for Jesus. You could be the only Jesus your classmates see.

I’m praying for ALL of you this week! Can’t wait to hear how God is using you in your schools!

If you guys have any questions, need advice for this year or want to request a certain topic for the next blog post – go to the CONTACT page! Also, keep your eyes open for our “Overcoming” Series! This upcoming weekend we’ll be talking about “Overcoming Low Self-Esteem.”

Pastor Natasha

 

 

Don’t Tap Out

Dear World Changer,

For me summer is an interesting time of year for two reasons. On one hand, it’s a season that calls for slowing down a little more and doing things we usually don’t get to do. However, summer can be very busy managing things like part time jobs and doing additional schooling. These two opposing forces I think tend to work against us sometimes into a place of making excuses. The area of our lives that I think suffers the most from excuses is our relationship with God.

When I was a teenager, I saw summer as an opportunity not just to relax but I also used it as an excuse to tap out of my relationship with God. In my teenage years, I was September to June Christian. I pursued God during the school year and weeks before school started I would spend time with Jesus. When I look back I was shallow to approach my relationship with God in that way. I’m thankful for God’s mercy and grace towards me to be patient to teach me the following lesson: following Christ isn’t a trend, it’s a way of life.

One day I was doing my devotions in Luke 9:57-62 and it talks about the cost of following Jesus (I’d encourage you to read it when you get the opportunity). An additional verse that went along with the passage is found in Luke 9:23 (NLT) and it says:

“Then he said to the crowd, “if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross daily and follow me”

 There are two things we can learn from this passage. First, following Christ means that we set aside our ways for His. Secondly, following Christ is a daily choice we make. It is not a one time event, it is something that continues over our entire life. With those lessons in mind, as we enter the thick of summer I want to encourage you to not let your relationship with God fall by the wayside. God is never done. There is so much for us to learn. There is so much He wants to say. We need to posture ourselves to consciously be aware of God’s presence.

If summer is the period where you get the most rest or it’s a different time of year, my message is the same. Don’t tap out on Jesus because He certainly doesn’t stop chasing after us. Whether you’re working, resting or having fun recognize that summer is an opportunity to grow in God in a way that is different during the school year. This summer is presents a great opportunity to restart your devotional life that can set you up for the upcoming school year (I know too soon to mention this!) and beyond,

I challenge you to take your relationship with God to the next level this summer. Be mindful of how you spend your time I find during summer the days can just pass you by if you’re not intentional (I mean can you believe we’re in August!!). I love this expression that says ‘stop counting the days and make the days count’. Don’t settle for what you’ve already experienced of Him because there is so much more!

XOXO

Ahiney

#SheReadsTruth

Dear World Changer,

As promised at Radiate, we are posting the break out sessions on our blog so you have the chance to sort of “attend” them all! Here is #SheReadsTruth by Ahiney…

In life, there are very few certainties. One thing I have come to know to be true is that cultivating a devotional life is integral to our spiritual growth in our walk with Jesus. I am going to share what I have learned so far in leading a devotional life into two parts.

Part One: The importance of leading a devotional life

 An example I will use to demonstrate the importance of leading a devotional life is a man named Daniel (he also has book in the Old Testament named after him). Before I turn to the scripture, I’m going to give you some background.

Scripture Background

Daniel was a highly regarded leader in Babylon. He was known for being incredibly wise and for his godly character. Prominent people of his time such as royalty sought is advice and counsel. One day, the King of Babylon King Darius issues a decree that said a person who prays to anyone except him shall be punished by being thrown into the lion’s den. It’s crucial recognize that in Daniel’s time, when a king gave a decree you had to obey. A decree from the king was a big deal.

With that context it leads me to the passage Daniel 6: 10-13 where it says the following:

10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

 From this passage, we learn that Daniel is clearly in a difficult situation. His praying to God has just landed him in the lion’s den.

It raises the question of what sustained Daniel to confront being in the lion’s den?

 The answer to that question is his devotional life.

 The bottom line I want you to take away from this post is:

 Leading a devotional life isn’t about developing a routine. It’s about actively engaging in a process of becoming who Jesus has called us to be.

There are two things Daniel 6: 10-13 teaches us about what is required to have a meaningful devotional life:

 

  1. Consistency
  • Read verse 10
  • Daniel’s devotional life with God involved praying.
  • Despite the trouble he was facing, it did not stop him from spending time with God.
  • There is a difference between consistency and routine. Consistency demonstrates a level of commitment to completing something with excellence. Whereas routine is about getting something done out of obligation.

 

  1. A heart of submission towards God

 

  • Once again going back to verse ten. I want to turn your attention to the phrase: “…and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously”
  • This part of passage demonstrates is posture of Daniel’s heart when he came before God. He was humble and thankful. His regular time with God wasn’t just a good habit. It became a way of life.
  • For us to have meaningful devotional lives it must be motivated by our hearts, not our heads. As I mentioned earlier, leading a devotional life is about being actively engaged in a process of becoming all that Jesus wants us to be.
  • Jesus transforms us from the inside out and the heart is place where it all happens.

 My devotional life/thoughts

 Now, with Daniel as our example. I want to give you a glimpse into my devotional life.

 

  • The location of my devotional time is my room
  • I do my devotions in the morning before I do anything else.
  • I use the app my Our Daily Bread and go through the devotional for that day.
  • Prayer
  • Spend time in worshipping in song

For me, I’ve learned that leading a devotional life is not a one-time thing. It’s a daily practice. What I’ve noticed that more I consistently spend time with God it anchors my faith and who I am as a person. Having a devotional life brings us the godly perspective we need in our lives.

Part Two: How do you lead a devotional life?

 Tips on how to lead a devotional life

 

  • There is no ‘right’ way to lead a devotional life. There are many ways to lead a devotional life and it looks different for each person. Do what works for you!
  • Share your devotional life with others. As much as your devotional life is about you and Jesus, share what you’re learning with others. You can teach others something but they can teach you something too.
  • Write about your devotional journey. It’s so important to write about what you’re learning in your relationship with Jesus. It’s a way for you to track how you’re growing and can help to identify where you still to grow.
  • Be consistent. In ways, such as: time of day, what you do (i.e. reading a chapter in the bible, a study etc.). Like anything else in life, leading a devotional life does require discipline!

 Examples of resources you can use in your devotions

 

  • She Reads Truth (an app that is on iTunes) –however, you have to pay for certain plans but they are very affordable.
  • Our Daily Bread (an app that is on iTunes) –I use this one personally have done so for the past two years. When I bought the app, it was 0.99 cents.

 

  • She Reads Truth and Our Daily Bread apps are resources that have reading plans that are designed to make you read the Bible. I would choose resources that lead you to do that. There is nothing like reading the Bible for yourself.

 

  • Propel Women – this online forum was founded by Christine and Nick Caine. It contains fantastic articles and other resources that champion women of all ages and stages in Christ. Here is the website propelwomen.org
  • Subscribe to churches and Christian artists on YouTube – this is something I do personally. Some of the churches and Christian artists I subscribe to on YouTube are:
    • Bethel Music, Elevation Worship, Hillsong (United, Worship and Young & Free), Vertical Church Band, Kari Jobe, Housefires
    • Elevation Church, Hillsong Church

 

  • Propel Women and YouTube subscriptions are resources I would characterize as supplementary resources that can help to enhance your devotional time. I would be careful to use such resources as the primary source of doing your devotions. The reason being it’s important to remember that the speaker/pastor, or writer has gone through a process with God to create thing we resonate with (i.e. sermon, song, article). I’m not saying you cannot be blessed a sermon or an article. As individuals, we too need to be in daily interaction in the ways in which Jesus wants to grow us. Therefore, you cannot rely on someone to develop your relationship with Jesus.

 

My dear world changer I leave you with these final thoughts:

 

  1. NOW is the time to cultivate a strong devotional life. Don’t wait till you’re older to build your foundation in the Lord. What you do now will serve you well in the future.
  2. A meaningful devotional life is a lifetime process you engage in Some days will be hard, some will be amazing. Do not give into your feelings, pursue the Lord for who He.
  3. You have to choose to spend time with Jesus. The question is not whether Jesus wants be in relationship with us. He made His decision when He died on the cross for humanity. The question is do you want to be in relationship with Him.

 

No matter what life brings, know that Jesus wants you to come before Him just as you are. You do not need to prove you’re worthy to come to Him. He died so that you can access Him freely with no barrier.

Ahiney

XOXO

I Feel Like Moses

Dear World Changer,

Exodus 17: 11-2 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

There are a lot of days where I feel like Moses when the Israelites were fighting this battle against the Amalekites.

All he had to do was keep his arms raised and they would continue to win. But as soon as he dropped his arms, they would lose. Can you imagine the pressure put on Moses in that moment? And I don’t know if you have ever tried raising your arms above your head, but after about 5 minutes it becomes pretty difficult.

I feel like God has asked me to step out and overlook a battle. My battle, my friends battle, the battle of the souls of those who don’t yet know Jesus. All he is asking me to do is raise my hands in worship and trust him. He wants me to trust that we will win.

So, I raise my arms. But after a while, it becomes really hard. At first, I was doing so good! My hands were straight up and I felt strong and confident that we were going to win. Then, as time wears on, my arms are so tired and my eyelids got so heavy and I can’t stop yawning and I feel like I’ve lost feeling in my legs and my knees might buckle any moment. But every time I start to lower my arms, we are losing! And I can’t let us lose, everybody is counting on ME. Everybody is watching ME. I CAN NOT FAIL. Because it feels like the entire fate of this battle rests on my arms.

Eventually I can’t stand anymore. I drop to my knees, but still I keep my hands raised. They aren’t raised very high anymore, just barely above my head, but they’re raised. After a few hours, I start to get really hungry. I haven’t had food or water in a long time. As I kneel there, with my hands above my head, I start to question God: Why did he bring me here? Why did he ask ME to hold my hands above my head? Are my raised arms actually even helping the battle? Do I even care what happens anymore? Someone else can probably raise their arms better than me. Maybe I should just stop and let someone else stand here, or kneel here. This is really hard work and I would rather be fighting that battle down below with swords than standing up here raising my arms and trusting that it will help. God what are you doing? Do you see me here?

This is how I imagine Moses. These are the thoughts that I believe were running through his head, because these are my thoughts. This is how I see myself on a lot of days. But still, I don’t lower my arms. Not completely.

Eventually, Hur and Aaron come by, my friends. And they want to help me. But this is something I have to do on my own…isn’t it? So, I tell them I’m okay. And for a little while they believe me. But they stay anyways. Eventually they can see that I’m really not okay. My arms have almost completely dropped. I’m barely awake. I’m so hungry and thirsty. I didn’t ask them to, but they brought me some water and some bread. They even fed it to me because they knew I had to keep my arms raised. Eventually, they realized I really couldn’t even do that anymore. My friends and my family, they offer me their support and at first, I don’t want to take it. I don’t want to admit to them that I’m weak. I need help. But they aren’t judging me. They find me something to sit on and then, they raise my arms for me. Straight up to the sky. As I sit here with my friend on one side and my family on the other, I realize that it’s okay that I need help. It’s okay that I am weak, it’s okay that I can’t stand. I am still here, my arms are still raised, and I am still doing what God asked me to do. No, I’m not strong enough to do it by myself. But maybe I was never supposed to be strong enough. One day, I will be able to stand back up and raise my arms for myself. But for now, it’s okay that others are helping me, and it’s okay that I have to sit down. We are still fighting the battle, and eventually, it will be won. Because I have my arms raised and God told me that would be enough.

Often in the mission field or at home or wherever life takes me, I feel like I have to do things on my own. Like I have to be perfect all the time. I feel ashamed if someone recognizes that I’m struggling or if I have to admit that the “Christ-worshipper” life isn’t easy for me. There are many times when I struggle and falter and feel like I can’t worship God anymore. A lot of times I feel like God shouldn’t use me. Because who am I?

Whatever stage I find myself on, I have to remember that God is still with me. I’m not the one fighting, I’m not actually controlling the battle. Whether I’m going strong in my relationship with God – standing straight up, arms fully extended, or kneeling in pain with someone else helping me raise my hands for me. It’s God who’s working through me. It’s God who is taking my act of worship, my act of obedience and using it for HIS glory and HIS victory.

That battle, was never about Moses. This battle that I’m in, it’s not about me. It’s not about anybody else. It has always been about God. About the victory that He will bring about when I am obedient to what He has asked me to do. No matter how ridiculous it might seem, no matter who may doubt what I am doing. No matter what level I’m at.

God wants me here. God wants ME here. I am fighting this battle the way God has asked me to. “…so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” There are a lot of days where I feel like Moses. But the sunset is coming and I will not lower my arms. Not ever.

Celeste

A Dope Soul

Dear World Changer,

Came across this pic the other day, and God just spoke to me!

IMG_2174

“Dope soul” is my personal fav! Mind you, in this 2017 it’s probably more like “lit soul!” That being said, and in the words of Judah Smith: How’s your soul?

I was reading 1 Timothy this week and couldn’t seem to shake this “…TRAIN yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8

I don’t know about you, but when I first read the word “train” my mind immediately went to working out, running a race etc. That’s what makes sense right? None of those come easy, and with training they get easier and attainable. However, question for you: did you ever think that your spiritual life (your soul) needed training too? Let’s be real, nobody but Jesus was just born with a dope soul!

In a society consumed with the latest sneaks, the healthiest options, and gaining that muscle, don’t forget that your soul needs some training too. (I say this to myself included. We’re human!) It’s so easy to get both upset and frustrated when we aren’t where we want to be spiritually or when we walk through “dry” seasons and let our walk with God slide. That’s where the good old word TRAIN comes in. Preachers don’t just get up on a Sunday without the preparation, without the constant diving into God’s word that IS alive and relevant today. They train – in the spiritual sense.

So, have you checked in on your soul lately? Are you lacking in spiritual muscle? Maybe it’s time to start some training. To get your prayer warrior on, to challenge your Bible reading, to listen for HIS voice in the daily. Training for godliness will not only impact this world, but far outlive it. Remember that we aren’t called to be perfect, but we are to care for what God’s given us – that being both body and spirit.

Go strive for that dope soul! #GetIt

Jenn

xo

Take Courage

Dear World Changer,

This past Friday I preached on courage and thought I would post my sermon up for all you wonderful people! Here it is!

Take COURAGE

When I was 5 years old my teacher made my class watch a video on what would happen if we got into a strangers car – at 5 years old I realized this world is risky.

When I was 7 years old I watched my best friend “date” a boy for a whole 5 days. She was convinced she was in love and then he dumped her because she didn’t have shoes that lit up when you walk. At 7 years old I realized love is risky.

At fourteen years old I tried out to be in a musical and got rejected. At fourteen I realized putting yourself out there and trying something new is risky.

When I was 17 years old I had a group of my classmates ask how many times I’ve had sex and when I said 0 they said they were going to drug me and change that – at 17 years old I realized standing up for what I believe in is risky.

When I was 18 years old and heard that whisper from God to stop my car and pray for someone I realized sharing my faith is risky.

 

Life is risky. We all know that. And most of us play it so stinkin safe that it’s preventing us from thriving/flourishing/succeeding – doing what God wants us to do.

We took three students to prodigy days over March break and the theme was courage. I was going to preach on something else tonight but God kept shouting COURAGE! And so tonight we are talking about COURAGE. Because to do something big for God it’s going to require just that.

 

We have a skewed view of courage. We picture courage like a super hero. Those who swoop in and save the planet. It’s those really strong muscular people who have no fear.

But courage isn’t about the absence of fear, it’s actually about fearing more (Definition by Jeremy Albrech).

 

Let me explain.

I watched an interview with Bethany Hamilton- the surfer who lost an arm from a shark attack – and the host asked “Weren’t you afraid of getting back in the water? Weren’t you afraid of encountering another shark?” And her answer was – yes but I was more afraid of not surfing.

 

BOTTOM LINE – it’s the definition of courage I just gave you; courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s fearing something else MORE.

There are tons of courage stories in the Bible – David, Samson, Solomon, Moses. But all those men were already considered warriors and Kings. This story is about the lowliest of lowliest. A nobody. Someone who wasn’t defined by strength and leadership but was actually defined as weak. And that is Gideon.

Judges 6 (summarized)

God allowed the Israelites to be taken over by the Midianites because they had begun worshiping other gods. The Midians took everything – livestock, crops…everything!

So the Israelites prayed for God to deliver them. One day an angel of the God shows up under a tree where Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. [So the Midianites are out there attacking the Israelites and Gideon is hiding in a pit!] And God looks at Him and says “The Lord is with you Mighty Warrior.” I like that part – God called him a mighty warrior before he ever did anything.

And Gideon says “Pardon me My Lord, but if you are with us, why is all this happening. Where are all your miracles and wonders our ancestors’ told us about? Didn’t you get us out of Egypt? But now you abandoned us.”

God said “Go in the strength you have” – super important. “And save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Gideon: “Pardon me my Lord, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest and I am the least in my family.”

God said “I will be with you, and we will strike down all the Midianites together.”

And then Gideon is like, umm one more thing. I want proof this is really you, I’ll go make an offering to God, and you light it on fire. And that is exactly what happened!! And that gave Gideon the courage to fight.

Later on in the story Gideon had gathered many men and God said the army is too big. So they got rid of some. Again he told Gideon the army is still too big. So they got rid of more and were left with only 300. And if you’re familiar with the story – Gideon and his 300 men defeat the Midians.

 

So here is what Gideon teaches us about courage. Here are 5 steps to have more courage.

1. Labels are TRANQUILIZING – Gideon was labeled the weakest clan and He himself was labeled the least in his family.

When people call you something over and over again, you believe it. You buy into the label and you become that label.

Personal Story:

I got bullied in school. It was grade 6, the time when everyone is changing and people are insecure. And so everyone made fun of each other to get the spot light off themselves. I happened to be the target. Every time I spoke they all called me stupid. Didn’t matter what I said, they would laugh and call me stupid.

So I stopped talking. I figured getting called a mute or quiet was a lot better than being called stupid. And they called me a mute, they told me never to get a job public speaking. And I believed them. I believed I sucked at talking. I believed my words were stupid. Not only did I accept their label – I lived out that label… until my senior year.

I did a presentation and I got told I was an excellent public speaker. I went to Bible College and they told me I could preach. They gave me an award for preaching and suddenly I had the courage to rip that label off.

Let go of the words people are putting on you. Labels are tranquilizing. They immobilize you. They freeze the path God has for you. Imagine if I never tore off the label mute, sucks with words, cant public speak?

The labels people place on you and you place on yourself will stop you from achieving God’s plans for you life.

My brother Justin got a label put on him by doctors, ADHD, ADD, personality disorder, learning disability, wont be able to achieve anything he dreams of. And he believes it. So he quit his job, and hangs outside Canadian tire all day drinking beer and smoking.

Take off the label weak, stupid, unfocused, weird, drug addict, going nowhere in life, alcoholic.

Other times people place labels on us because of who our parents are…Oh you’re parents are druggies – you’re going to be one. Oh you’re parents didn’t graduate from high school – you’re not going to graduate either. But let me tell you – you’re not your parents. You’re not going down the same road as them. They may have given birth to you but the almighty God created you. You were born in HIS image, not your parents’.

For us to have courage, you have to rip off the label that’s stopping you from hearing what God calls you. God called Gideon a might warrior before he did anything. Gideon was a farmer, known as the weakest and the lowest of all the land. And once Gideon listened to God, he changed the world…he had courage.

Labels are tranquilizing.

2. The entourage – get rid of people who bring discouragement.

Gideon had his army all ready to go to defeat the Midianites and God said hold up, there’s too many. Tell all those who are afraid to turn around and go back. God said that because those with fear would discourage the rest. “Oh you know it’s too dangerous, we’re going to get killed, do you want to see your family again? Gideon’s gone mad, lets get out of here.”

 

Who needs the devil when you’ve got other Christians to tell you oh that’s not safe, that’s stupid, what are you doing.

 

Don’t allow those people to have a voice in your life. Sometimes God’s plan is going to look insane, unsafe, stupid and crazy – and you need solid discerning people to give you courage to run that race.

When I said I was going to Bible College – a lot of people looked at me with disgust. My grandparents for instance. You know the crazy ones I told you guys about? Yeah they said that girls can’t be pastors and I should make something useful of myself and go to business school.

But my Mom countered back later that day and gave me courage; you’re called, God’s got a big plan for you!

You have the power to give courage to people – encouragement. You also have the power to suck away their courage.

Gideon thought a larger army was the best way, but it was going to hinder him not help.

Don’t let people hinder you, and don’t be that person that hinders others. Are you that person that when someone tells you their dreams you’re like – okay good luck with that! That doesn’t seem very logic? Are you sure you want to waste your life? And sometimes we say things like that because we’re insecure. We’re not confident in what God has for us, so we don’t support those around us.

Give people courage not fear. But if those solid, God-fearing, discerning people in your life say hold up! Listen to them!

3. Is that the fear talking? Are you led by fear or are you led by faith?

 

Gideon said “Where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Where are all the wonders? You’ve just abandoned us God! Moses parted the red sea – why aren’t you doing that for us God??” And it’s because the miracles God wanted to do were in the places Gideon was avoiding.

See, Moses would have never parted the Red Sea if he hadn’t taken courage and fled Egypt with the Israelites. That would have never happened if they didn’t choose to have more fear about staying in Egypt than leaving it. They had to step out, they had to obey, then God showed up. God often shows up in the middle of our obedience.

What miracles are you asking for? What answers from God are you asking for? What prayers do you want answered? You may not be seeing them because you’re avoiding the place they are going to occur in.

 

STORY: I had wanted so badly to get into this gymnastics program. I went to the try outs and a few weeks later got a call of acceptance into the program. They sent a booklet in the mail outlining what the program would be.

The last time I received this acceptance letter, my parents said no because we couldn’t afford it missing my chance at making it far in this sport. If I said yes this time, it would be an awesome couple of years but I was already too old to do anything big in the sport. I was 15. 15 in gymnastics is like 50.

Fear crept in. I thought – I’m too old now for this, it’s going to be a really tough program, I can’t really go far at this point. I’m going to be so much older than the other girls, I’m scared of the hours I’ll have to put in.

I said no. My Mom turned to me and said “is this the fear talking?” In my mind I was like heck yes! But I still said no.

Let me ask you this question? Is the fear talking in your life? Are you allowing fear to dictate your decisions?

I had a great fear of Bible College but went anyways. If I said no, if I let the fear talk that time, look what I would have missed! I would have never been with you guys, I would have never been apart of the organization Tattered Tiaras, and most importantly I would have never met Kyle!

You never know whose on the other side of your courage!!

I’ve let fear say no way too many times. Don’t make the same mistake.

 

4. Go in the strength you have – God said to Gideon “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

He didn’t say – go workout so you’re super strong and muscular, work on being more mentally capable, work on your capacity level and then go fight the Midians. No he says – Go in the strength YOU HAVE.

Something God taught me just recently is it doesn’t matter how big your capacity is, what matters it what you’re doing with the capacity you do have. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, what matters is what you’re doing with the amount of strength you do have. And God says He’ll take care of the rest.

 

What are you doing with what you have?

 

With that little bit of strength you have left – where are you putting it? With that bit of energy you have – where are you putting it? When you give God your 100% – whatever that 100% looks like – He will fill in your lack.

He told Gideon – am I not sending you? I’ve got you. You can do all things through Christ. Even if you are the strongest most talented, biggest capacity out there but you don’t have God – you wont accomplish even a tenth of what you can will little strength and Jesus.

5. Confirmation

Gideon asked for confirmation – he said is this really you talking Lord? If so, light this offering on fire.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend asking for that kind of confirmation, but do ask God for something!

I’ve asked for that multiple times. I moved around a lot and I always asked God to show me that I’ll be safe here. I always had a dream about the house we would buy.

In Bible College I was like – God- was it your voice that sent me here? And he would send professors to confirm my calling.

I was scared to get married after my past. But as I grew closer to God I said “God I want everything you have for me, including marriage. BUT if I’m supposed to get married, you better point this guy out in flashing neon colours.” And you know what he did? The day I met Kyle, he was wearing a bright orange neon shirt. If you don’t believe me, just look at his student card. We had student card photos the day I met him.

Kyle and I were scared that we made a poor financial choice by buying a car – and then we won a car! Confirmation.

And every time doubt and fear creep in – I go back to his confirmations.

Now that’s not saying he will confirm things every time. Sometimes we got to walk in faith.

ALSO – All my confirmations came after I had stepped out. After we had bought the house and moved in, then I had the dream.

After we had already bought the car we won another one.

After I had moved into dorms and begun classes had God confirmed that I was meant to be there.

Sometimes it will be the middle, sometimes after, sometimes before and sometimes not at all. But there is never a harm in asking him!

Confirmation may be through someone else, it may be a dream, it may just be this quiet whisper in your heart.

 

RECAP: So…Get rid of the label, get rid of those who discourage you, don’t let fear talk, go in the strength you have and ask for confirmation when you do.

 

If I was anyone in the Bible, I would be Gideon. I’m a scardy cat if I’m being honest. Courage doesn’t come naturally to me. When my world is falling a part my first thought isn’t lets go out and fight, my first thought is let’s hide. Courage is a choice…one that is worth making. And I pray that it is yours!

 

PNAT

xo

 

Seasons = Significance

 Dear World Changer,

Seasons = Significance

Think about where you are in this moment in time. Reminisce about the journey that has brought you to this point in your life so far. There are things we love to remember and even want to relive again, and some things we’d like to forget. Consider this question: would rather get through life or thrive in it? Here is a perspective I believe if you choose to adopt can change how you see your life and affect how you live.

It is well known that we have four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. In winter,

nature takes a rest. In spring, nature begins come alive again. In summer, nature maximizes its full potential. And in fall, nature reaps its final harvest and makes preparations for the season to come. Many organisms on earth rely on seasons for their survival. In each season, plants and animals do certain things which prepare them for what is to come.

In the same way organisms rely on seasons to sustain their life, Jesus calls us to approach life in seasons. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it says “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (NLT). Where you find yourself in life now has eternal impact. The season of life you’re in currently, and the ones to follow are important and play a purposeful role in the destiny Jesus has anointed you to fulfill. Each season will be different. Some will be harder, longer, quiet or busy. Regardless of what it may look like, we need to adapt to where Jesus calls us to.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the bigger picture. It’s much easier to give in to where you are now. Just to be clear, it’s critical to be engaged in the present but the thing is it’s temporary. World changer, you are not simply a human. You are a heaven breathed creation. I encourage you that if life is hard now, Jesus is still with you. It may feel like He has left you but His word promises that He will be with us, and will neither abandon or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). If life is great for you, that’s wonderful. However, remember that your need for Jesus has not decreased. A great season of life does not give us permission to check out of our relationship with Him.

I find it amazing that seasons begin with the letter S. Do you know why? Because Jesus has called us to lead lives of significance. Romans 8:28 says “and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). This verse teaches us that seasons need to be savoured not breezed through or else we risk missing what Jesus is doing. Every season influences how we’ll impact the places and people we are called to affect.

Always be aware of the posture of your heart towards Jesus, it is key to doing all seasons of life well.

With love, Ahiney