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Being With Jesus

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So first off, I’m sorry for not posting last week. July has been a crazy month for me, full of vacations, Bible Clubs and my birthday. But during all the hubbub God has been teaching me something that is really important and I thought I’d share it.

To give some context, I’ve been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship and also reading through Luke and several of the New Testament Letters this month. That’s part of where I’ve been learning from God. But I was also heavily involved in my church’s outreach called Great Adventure which involves Bible Clubs (similar to Vacation Bible School for those who don’t know what that is). And in the craziness and busyness of it all I realized that I was focusing on all of the little details of a club: how presentations went, if the leaders were connecting to kids, and if the kids were having fun or bored. One day I was focusing so much on all these details and what could have gone better, that I realized I was missing the point.

That night I read in Philippians about all the things Paul did that he now considered rubbish.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ… I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-“ Philippians 3:7-9

And in the next chapter he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

I had been so focused on works that I hadn’t remembered to rejoice in what God was doing. So I changed my perspective, and instead of looking at all the problems, I looked for all the ways God was at work. He was connecting students to kids, teaching students that He answers prayer, and showing us all that it wasn’t our effort or work that mattered, but His power.

But God wasn’t done with me. As I was reading in The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer dug deep into this passage:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matthew 7:21-23

Just as Paul said his works were worthless, these great deeds of casting out demons and healing people were worthless. My own efforts in doing Bible Clubs would be worthless too, if I missed the whole point. Why am I doing these things? If I’m not doing them with Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus, then they are worthless.

Fast forward to this morning and I found myself reading Luke 10 and the last section jumped out at me:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know God isn’t impressed with my works but all of these passages really reinforced that message. Jesus doesn’t care how much I do for Him, how many Bible clubs I help with, how many times I share the Gospel, how many people I serve and love. Those are all great things, and following Jesus does mean doing these things, but the whole point is being with Jesus, loving Jesus and knowing Jesus. If I forget that, it’s all meaningless. So I thought I’d share that with you today. Don’t forget to be with Jesus today.

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Lessons from Haiti: The Body of Christ at Work

Hello blog readers, I’m still reviewing my trip to Haiti, and all the lessons God taught me while I was there. We’ve made it through the first few days of the trip and are currently on Monday, the first workday of the trip. Hope you enjoy!

Day 4: The Body of Christ at Work

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So far on my journey, I’d felt that I was mostly receiving things. I was given delicious food, time with people, joy, even several valuable lessons from God about prayer and the unity of His church. And, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but our team had spent the previous afternoon at the beach. But it was a Sunday, a day of rest, and we were recovering from all the traveling. Still it didn’t feel quite right.

Thus Monday morning started with a new kind of energy; finally we would be able to work, to do something productive or beneficial, to give something back. In a sense, this is what you go into a mission trip expecting to do, and it felt odd that it wasn’t until Day 4 of our adventure, that the “real work” was starting.

Eagerly we awoke at 5:30am to begin helping with the soccer ministry in the village. We all carried bags stuffed full of soccer balls, cleats, and uniforms to the wide field outside the church. However, once we had handed out the equipment, most of us ended up standing around with not much to do. I’ve never played soccer, so I felt a bit useless as I watched the training begin. I ended up trying to interact with a few of the children from the village along with a few other girls from our group. We couldn’t say much, but we were still able to laugh with the kids.

Soon the training ended and we packed everything back up and headed back to the camp, which is called Jacob’s Well. (I’m tired of calling it the camp, so we’ll refer to it as Jacob’s Well from now on). We ate some breakfast and then began on a fencing project. I didn’t feel like I was doing a lot of work. I mean I carried a few cement blocks, or passed some buckets full of cement down the line, but mostly I was standing around, not knowing what to do, or taking a water break. The most beneficial thing I did was remind other people to drink water so no one got overheated.

So far I had felt pretty inadequate, like I wasn’t very useful for any of the projects going on in Haiti. But as we took a break for lunch, I looked at what the team as a whole had accomplished and realized just how much God can do with very little. I didn’t feel like I had contributed much to the fence, but there it was getting longer and put together. It was a lesson in God’s provision. Even if I didn’t know the first thing about building a fence, God had provided other team members that did, and he used the whole team’s effort to accomplish something I couldn’t have done alone.

Thankfully after lunch, I was able to start work on a painting project that is more in my field of expertise. But I’ll never forget that God uses a body, of different people, with different skills to accomplish His work. We all have purpose, we all have value, and we all can be used by God.

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