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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Sometimes you hear a God story that just blows you away. My friends the Totra’s are a family that are living out their lives missionally. They get the gospel and they are all about Jesus. Even during some financial hardships they have been trusting God that He will provide. I have been in community with them for some time and Dallas has become a solid brother in Christ to me. Dallas and Sofia have two kids and are trying for a third. They thought they lost the baby until Dallas brought this prayer request to our group tonight. We all laid had hands on him in prayer and got this news the next day about baby Anya:

So at the beginning of January, Sophia had what we thought was the miscarriage of our third child. Three days prior to that we felt God had highlighted a name that we would use for our baby if it was a girl. Her name would be Anya meaning Resurrection. So three days afterward we were pretty shocked to think that we no longer had this baby. Not having gone to the Doctor’s since she wasn’t having any medical problems we decided that it was over and time to move on. Well Sophia’s belly was not getting smaller, but the opposite. I kept saying…”your belly is growing and it isn’t because of what you ate!” Before long God was leading us through some friends to really be fighting for our baby in prayer and have it checked when we can. So that was what we did and this morning we found our that indeed we have a 17 week old baby Anya Joy Totra growing very well! So whether it never was a miscarriage or a resurrection, God is always good and we thank Him because He is awesome! Anya Joy Totra coming mid July 2013

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Greg Haugen and Louie Giglio

If there is an organization making a difference in the world with the issue of slavery and sex trafficking, it is International Justice Mission. IJM is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Their vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible. IJM was founded in 1997 and works all over the world. I have been looking forward to this part of Passion all week as they had President Greg Haugen come and speak to us.

Greg spoke to us about how his heart was turned onto justice. In 1994, Rwanda experienced their genocide in which millions of people were murdered in a matter of weeks. The world watched and did nothing. People were asking the question “where was God?” Greg asked the question “where were God’s people?” Here are some key notes from his talk:

The World will know we are His followers if we have outward love for each other

Some facts: 27 million people in the world are being held in slavery. These people are being forced to work all day. In sex trafficking, abused and raped children are being sold. And it is in our own backyard…

We can be the generation that ends slavery. Not because we are awesome, but because we have an awesome God. We need to make the 27 million people in slavery a priority. The world needs to see that God is present and those in slavery need to know that our God is a God that saves.

DO JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY, WALK HUMBLY – MICAH 6:8

What is God’s plan? – WE are the plan (God’s people). He gives us the power.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves

Christ offers five things to us (because we don’t have a chance to change this on our own)

1. Extravagant compassion – God opens our heart to a hurting world. We wants to transform our hearts of stone to a heart of flesh

2. Moral clarity – Evil is confusing. God gives us His Word to tell right from wrong

3. Sacrificial courage – We will have to see and tell hard things. Jesus grows the courage in our hearts

4. Tenacious hope – We will see more defeats than mercy. God is the ultimate Lord of this world and justice will prevail

5. Refreshing joy – Joy is the oxygen to do hard things. He gives us good things to refresh us to do the hard things

Greg showed this video from the civil rights movement of 1961. I was very moved by it. Jim Zwerg (a white man) and John Lewis (an African-American man) rode these Freedom Ride buses together to fight against segregation. Jim was beaten up for his stance. This video of him in the hospital was recorded right after the attacks. Jim would also go on to say that he meditated on Psalms 27 the night before and that he gained his strength to stand up for justice from his faith. Hundreds would later join the Freedom Ride after this video was shown.

God can do immeasurably more in us

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

Here are some facts about this Beatitude. It is the last and longest Beatitude. Jesus gets personal with it because He is directing it to a particular audience. He doesn’t downplay it at all and repeats it. It has a commandment and it goes from third person to second. Jesus states the inedible – if you follow Him, you will get persecuted. But He also says that if we are persecuted, we are blessed.

I love this quote from Keith Stewart “If you want to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood.”

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

John 15:18-20

Persecution comes from following Jesus, not from making irresponsible choices – there is a difference. Meek people choose their response, not by reacting to their circumstances. People will always push our buttons and we have a choice to respond in the way Christ would. When we are persecuted, we are persecuted because the world hates Christ, not us. Understand that Jesus feels our pain (Acts 9:9 – Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting Him, not Christians). When we take matters in our own hands, we take them out of God’s hands. We can never get ahead by getting even (Romans 12:21). Just know that no one can take away our God-honoring response.

Jesus never enjoyed His sufferings. Rejoice in your sufferings doesn’t mean to enjoy them. Rejoice goes back to the source of joy despite what is going on. We can hate pain, but like the results it brings us. 1 Peter 4:14 asked the question if the world sees God in us and through our trials. Remember – all the disciples died of persecution.

Cassie Bernall was killed in the Columbine massacre for her faith. Here is a poem she wrote before she died:

Now I have given up on everything else
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The mighty power that brought
Him back to life again, and to find
Out what it means to suffer and to
Die with him. So, whatever it takes
I will be the one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead
– Cassie Bernall

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I LOVE LOVE starting every morning out with a coffee, pastry and my Bible!!!

Bible

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My Daily Prayer

Not one day goes by that I don’t pray for you. You are always on my mind and in my heart. I’m sorry I ever hurt you. I won’t ever give up on you.

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February 17-18   Mission Community Church

New Marriage, Same Spouse link

I think this will be good and I am prepared to step up to the challenge of what the Bible says is truth and what I am supposed to do as a man and spiritual leader of my home.

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    

Hebrews 12:1-2

Tim Tebow tweeted this before the Broncos won their playoff game in overtime today. He’s been getting a lot of heat for his faith. His team shouldn’t be this far in the playoffs. Yet they beat the Steelers in a great game and are now advancing in the playoffs. He has this courage about him that is inspiring. Tebow continues to just trust God despite all odds. I love his courage and his faith.

Our church laid out the goal for 2012. How ironic it is the same for myself and what my life is going to be all about for 2012.

Jesus / The Gospel

I don’t put much worth in the words of people, but I do have a tendency to be over-analytical and weigh out the pros and cons in making decisions because I think too much. I am living out my faith and what I believe the gospel says and what the gospel can do. God has given me a new mind and heart to where I am living in faith and not so much depended on my thoughts and emotions. My faith says to fight for what the Bible says is truth. I lived out my faith this past summer and I received joy. Despite all odds, I’m going to trust God and live out my faith and fight for what I believe in. I will fight for the ones I love. I will fight for the covenant I made and I will fight for joy because that is who God made me to be.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  

Psalms 51:10-12

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Joy in Trials

One year ago I was in ministry serving at a high level in a large mega church. There was a point of my life that I would flash that resume around to others to gain approval. Today it means absolutely nothing to me anymore. This past year I have been through one of the most turbulent, trial filled periods of my life.  Twelve months full of uncertainty, accusations, relationship issues, brokeness, etc. Yet I can say that this was also twelve months of the most spiritual growth that I have ever experienced. In this time God landed me in a gospel rich church, gave me a community to grow in, put me through both a break-up and marriage to an amazing woman, and used both old and new friendships to refine me for his purposes. Even though I’ve been through the fire, I am able to smile and say that I am excited to see what God has in store next.

The biggest thing I have learned about is God’s sovereignty. God is huge. I have been learning to keep an eternity perspective on life and not live in the circumstances of the moment. I am more and more embracing my trials and looking at them with joy and as teachable moments. In India, I saw God do huge things in a spiritually dark country through the faith and prayers of a team of Christians there. God has used my trials to help me see the big overall picture of him using these small difficult moments to develop me into the person he has in store for me.

God has shown me that I need a redeemer. Where I falter is when I give into taking control of situations and God is teaching me to trust him. His plans are better than mine and mine generally never work out my way. Christ is the only way. Even after spending years in the church, I have just recently discovered what the gospel means and what it means to need a Savior. He is my example and my hope.

Grace. I have always struggled with grace. In a world full of finger-pointing, accusations and blame, God gives us grace to let us know who we are in him. God gives us grace so we can find repentance and freedom from our sins. But he also gives us grace so we can model grace to others. This has been a big teaching lesson for me. It’s so easy to blame others when we are hurt. Yet Christ exhibited grace to those that accused and tortured him. He showed grace to those that weren’t perfect. God please continue to teach me about grace as I need it and need to show it to others.

I embraced community for the first time. I’ve always had friends and a large network of people to fellowship with. But to dive into a gospel centered community that I can be transparent with has been something totally new for me. I have never been received with such warmth and hospitality. They have taught me both grace and love. It’s the perfect image of Christ and how he calls us to love one another. The level of honesty and humility shown has really allowed me to have a group of people to see as an example for my own walk in how to treat others.

Tonight I spent my evening with my buddy downloading life over a couple of cigars. I was able to be a part of his life when he gave his life to Christ. In turn, he has been able to be a part of my life during my trials during this past year. He has been encouraged by how God has been working in me during these times and told me how I have been an example to him in his own life. We spent the evening laughing, crying, praying and talking about God. He told me that he didn’t have any theological spiritual wisdom for me. I in turn told him that’s ok because I see Christ when I look at him because of the love he has shown me despite my shortcomings. God put my friend in my life for this moment to be on this journey with me. We both prayed for strength with our trials in the upcoming days and celebrated our excitement to see how God is going to use us both in this next stage of our lives.

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Aaron Markus captured this powerful photo of a bride and guests of her wedding praying for another couple’s separation right after her own ceremony. It’s an amazing picture of the power of prayer and true Christian friends who understand God’s design for marriage and His sovereignty in the midst of difficult times.

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