Saturday, January 30, 2010

Potato Chips

“Will God still love you if you sit all day long in your sweat pants eating potato chips on your couch?”

What a challenge to answer this, truthfully; the theological-thought answer, “Of course!” But do I really believe this, six inches lower, deep within my heart?
This question attacks your view of God and knowledge of His promises.
However, each being comes to understand God with different experiences, borrowed legacies, and preconceived thoughts. A person’s deepest, most basic and often hidden self-concept, thought patterns, decisions, and nuances of belief all shape our understanding of God. We answer the question what is God like and who we are, based on these childhood tendencies, family traditions, and innate behavior thoughts.

What are my rocks of understanding?

One big one is my thought pattern “If I am _______, they will love me.” This stems from a torn family by divorce. Childhood experiences with friends that wanted me to steal in order to hang out with them. Or memorize “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” before I could dance with them. Etc.

My view of God is this “If I am_______, HE will love me.”

When we put all our rocks together, we can clog the flow of truth. Who is God? How does He view me?
Sweetly, despite the many rocks, a filter is made, the character of God and his affection for you is always the same. That’s a crazy thought, regardless of my present or past circumstances GOD IS THE SAME.

I pray I get this.

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 Minute Testimony

I come from a family of unbelievers, and so, many people wonder how I came to find the Lord. Or rather, how the Lord came to find me.
On the streets of Milwaukee…
Tragedy struck, as anyone with parents that divorce, would honestly say. My parents separated and divorced just as I was entering sixth grade. This literally tore my family into two. My mother and I moved to South Milwaukee and my brother and dad stayed in North.
Insecure, hurt and lonely- described my 6th grade year. I frequently had thoughts of suicide. I struggled as a child to feel accepted, despite my mother’s attempts at telling me, “I love you.” I took disappointments hard and a slight nub ruined days of my childhood life. The idea of escape became my goal. I escaped when I watched a movie for two hours. I escaped when I felt friends liked me. But in the evenings, reality shook my emotional heart, and I wanted out.
That summer, my mom thought it best if I left the big city and visited family. I drove out to small town Iowa, joining my aunt and uncle.
Shortly after my arrival, my uncle’s youth group traveled to Colorado for a youth convention. Vulnerability became my companion; I was the youngest of the group and unknown to anyone. This pain had a purpose.
The first evening under the Colorado stars probed my thoughts on existence. I looked up high into the night and screamed inside, “If nobody in the universe loves me, why do I exist?” I planned to return home and end this quandary.
Following the crowd indoors, I took my place amongst thousands of teenagers. They played weird music and sang with their hands up in the air. I uncomfortably shifted in my seat. When all these “crazies” joined me in their chairs again, a man took the stage. He began to tell the life of a man-god named Jesus, but the words that finally penetrated my heart were, “He loves you completely.” That Jesus spoke, “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). And said, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt 10:30).
Tears flowed as Niagara down my face and splashed into my palms. Loved completely, despite my failures, and without strings attached, I didn’t understand it, but I wanted to know more. I learned that man was created to know God, but that rebellion/sin broke that relationship. God desired a relationship restored, so he sent messengers to bring people back to him. Each time people refused. They claimed they didn’t hear his voice. For thousands of years God screamed his love for his people and wept as they rejected him over and over again. In a final attempt to declare his love, he sent his very own son. This time some listened, but many didn’t see. They crucified him, Jesus was his name, and the Earth shook when his last breath escaped. But in His glory and power, death could not hold Jesus; he burst forth three days later from death and returned to his father in heaven. Jesus died the death man was guilty of and through this “most humble act” we can have a relationship with God again.
In fact, God says, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
And so, I returned to Milwaukee a child of God.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Okay, last story….
With these 1,600 college students this past week, many of them new to the faith, we were able to partner with the local church to share boxes of food and invite them to a fellowship of friends. I went with the Key of Faith Church in North Minneapolis. Over 150 students filled the sanctuary and lifted praises to God, students from Eau Claire, Lacrosse, Grand Forks, joined with a congregation from North. They sang, How great is our God. The joining of nations gave me Goosebumps and a glimpse into how beautiful the praises to God will be in heaven when all nations bow together to God.
I stepped outside with a group from Grand Forks, two of the four students who had never gone out to share their faith before. It was amazing to witness one girl share for the very first time. She listened to the prayer request of an older gentlemen and asked him, what he wishes for in his life. He was struck by this girl from ND coming to give him a gift and ask him that question. Flushed and energized she spoke him the grace of God. I loved just being able to witness the conversation unfold. How Great is the God we serve that can bless each person in that room, an older man, a young believer, and a girl watching God move.

Holy Ambition

Another story, I just returned from a Christmas conference in Minneapolis, geared for college students involved in campus crusade for Christ. Over 1,600 students attended from all around the Midwest. While there, God spoke a clear message to me. I share this with you too, whoever you are, because I feel that it is meant for more than my audience.
I meet with the National Intern Coordinator for Here’s Life on Thursday morning. She said that during her first year she was asked, “What do you dream about?”
Not in “dreaming” about giant asparagus that sways and sings, eat more veggies.
What do you wish for your life?
Many people responded, seeing a certain people group come to Christ, or spending a year in ministry, etc. The leader who asked the question said, “I dream about being 80 years old and loving the Lord.” My leader thought this was a stupid, of course everyone here wished that they loved God and that they would love God at 80.
Later she was convicted. Many people in there 20s are sold out for Christ, devoting years to ministry. But slowly they trade God for treasures of the world. She even reflected on her father, who now, at 80, has salvation but no living relationship with God. She challenged me, Lauren in your 20s now, seek God and build a foundation with him by seeking his word.
Three hours later, I received a phone call from an 80 year old woman in my church. She said that she wanted to be a prayer warrior for me and that she received a word from the Lord to share. She told me that my generation is in danger, because we have thought our own wisdom greater than the word of God. She said that while I am young I need to humbly run after God’s wisdom and learn from him. She wanted me to seriously read scripture and learn from the Lord.
Three hours later, John Piper stood before a group of 2,000 people and shared a message he received from God. He spoke on how my generation struggles to grow up; we have prolonged adulthood to our 30s. We are focused on our self, in transition, unstable, confused, melodramatic, and disappointed.
He shouted, “Grow Up!”
He challenged us to get a HOLY AMBITION. As Paul and Timothy. (Romans 15:18-24). We are called to holy ambitions and Christ doesn’t like waiting until we are 30.
To get a holy ambition we must immerse ourselves in the Bible.
God does not lead us into pointless ambition, but Holy Ambitions are always filled with love and meeting peoples needs.
So, as cheesy as I feel that it is to have a new years resolution, I can’t shrug off this word from God. It is good to reflect on the past year and see what standard and ambition we are being led to, I feel pulled to jump into God’s word, know it, study it, love it, seek the kingdom.

I feel the need to record the latest moments of life, since I have felt heaven shake. Three have profoundly affected me, leaving me unpretentious to how God works and moves. I just returned from a trip with family to England. My prayer before leaving was that Jesus would be celebrated during our trip. Unexpectedly, we attended a Christmas service at Westminster Abbey.
A signed read, “Enter with reverence.” I wish that I saw this on every corner as a reminder that the curtain is torn and that God resides on earth, and he is to be revered.
We strolled up the aisles with a ceremonial gait, gazing up at the ribbed vaulting, rose windows, and flying buttresses. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, George Frederic Handel, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce were some of the Men of God honored, their names ensued a sense of God’s movement and creativity.
Maroon velvet choir chairs were opened to the audience. I sat in a throne that rose 6 feet above me. The music began, with perfectly architecture acoustics. Hymns spread through the apses, climbed lavish marble columns, and splashed together in the highest Gothic vault in England (102 feet).
It hit me, that God, who seems hidden so often, is worshiped. He is worshiped in England. I had this same feeling when I was in Ghana two summers ago. When the boxes that I put God in explode, and he becomes the God of all Nations.
I praise God! I thank God that he is beautiful and creative and that He can even bring my family to silence before him.