Better Counselor

John 14

Freedom

I had a baby.

Last October.

Being pregnant is not an excuse not to write, but I putzed around on things, feeling very much like everything was coming to an end – but also that there would be new beginnings. Boy was I in for a shock. I had studied up for and was ‘prepared’ for marriage – it was a deliberate decision. But this baby came out of left field, and for me, pregnancy was a lot easier than having the full responsibility of caring for this beautiful, confusing little person.

I wanted to follow God and do whatever He wanted me to do. Oceans by Hillsong became my song:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

Except in laying down everything I am and do and making my life a total sacrifice for someone else. Huh. That sounds like what Jesus was called to do. The person I’m trying to be like.

But I’ve been viewing it as a stereotype: Motherhood. Stay-at-home-mommy. Something you do only when you can’t succeed at something else. “If you can’t do it, you teach it.” My mom was a great home educator – I always say she could have given me an equivalent college education without the $30,000 debt but with a job at the end. But that seemed to be her take on things, and it’s been mine too.

“How can you know God through your job right now?” I was recently challenged. So I think I’ll work on embracing the rest of this song:

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”

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College Kids and Outsiders

There was a reason I began this post in September of last year and didn’t finish it.

I was afraid.

I didn’t know how it would go. I had felt God prompting me to get involved with the local college in my area when I first moved to this town. I wanted to go prayer walk on campus when I was bored. I just never did. Then we got to play soccer there and meet some of the folks who frequent it’s paths. Then we went to a student experimental theater production about what it means to be human that was really well done but ended in meaninglessness. Then a student committed suicide. And I know I was being disobedient out of fear.

Fear that I wasn’t really supposed to be involved. Fear of rejection. Fear of suspicion of wrong motives; what’s this outsider doing on our campus? Fear of failing. Fear of being ineffective. Fear of butting in. Fear of wanting to do something out of pride or self-improvement – not out of love. Fear of partnering with a certain ministry I wasn’t sure I liked.

I e-mailed the ministry leader. We’re good friends now – our whole families. I wasn’t sure how I should be involved, so we decided I should try coming to the weekly meetings. We went early and prayed – it was an awesome time of prayer – and I left the first meeting having started some relationships and feeling used by God. The second meeting started the same way… but in the time of activity transition I got lost in the flow and ended up going home, confused and dejected. I had asked God to use me. I had the right motives. The Spirit was working. What was going on?

I didn’t have faith. I went back, but this time I decided I was going to act on the truth that God would be at work, He would move with power, and I would be a part of it. God was at work whether I was there or not, whether I believed or not. I had to have faith that this was where God wanted me to be, and I would be there whether I felt awkward, out of place, intrusive, judged, or not. It’s always hard to break into an established community when you don’t fit the bill of what a community member should look like. But when God has called you to do something, you’d better do it, and you’d better believe He wants you there and He’ll use you.

This semester, I’ve already had two amazing conversations and God willing, will be leading a Bible Study called Life to the Full. May God bring those He wants on this journey and continue to give me the faith and courage to do what He has prompted me by His Spirit to do.

Elusive Calling

Ah, I didn’t do one of these in December. Not because I didn’t have stories…

I’m not very good at praying. For some reason, it is hard for me to focus my mind on an abstract list; I need to visualize it. So my mother was gracious and got me two journal books to write my prayers in. These help a LOT, and it is exciting to see God answer prayer in as little as two days! I’ve come to expect it now; that faith works. 

But what about those longer-term projects, like the salvation of a loved one, or a new job? Ones that seem to take days and years? Those answers come too. On 12/13/13, I finally got a clear word on my calling. 

I’ve been bashed over the head with that idea – calling – for seven years. I took a lot of tests, wrote a lot of papers and had a lot of conversations. I read books, studied Scripture, and took courses. I love so many things and could pursue so many avenues; how was I to know which to take? But since this fall, I’ve been learning who the Holy Spirit is and how to allow him to take control in my life; how to listen and follow. Adding a dose of an all-powerful spiritual being is such a change from trying to figure things out through reason alone. But that’s what happens when you have a relationship with the Creator and King of the Universe who loves you desperately. He wants what is best for you and takes the time to show you – even if you have to learn some lessons along the way. 

So I bet you’re wondering what I figured out, and I won’t leave you in the dark. I’m not 100% nailed down, and I don’t think I ever will be, BUT. God is taking all my tangential interests, passions, skills and talents and forming them into two over-arching goals. Church unity; restoring broken relationships; truth about God, food, health, history, anything; communicating through things like word, film, web, art; they all fall under the umbrella of Restoration and Relationship. These are huge tasks, not something someone like me could handle. That’s why God desires to fill us with His Spirit – to empower us to do His work here on earth. 

I am more at peace now, even if I’m not sure what to do next; schooling, stay here, get a job anywhere else, wait for Peter, etc… I know God is calling me to restoration and relationship, and I can do these wherever I’m at. And He will do it through me. 

The Altar

I was walking home in the cold, looking for opportunities.

The sign was lit up, so I went down.

And I got to pray for an hour in front of an awesome map that prompted so many prayers.

Being led by the Spirit is awesome. This was a good time. It is good to listen.

Go pray there.

http://www.thealtarihop.com/

Shoveling

After more deliberation – and I’m pretty sure the Spirit’s prompting – I’m not going to let Beth Moore do the teaching for me. I’m going to dig deep and do this thing myself.

That sounds awfully selfish and elitist, doesn’t it.

I knew I was sort of relying on this new Bible Study I found to do the dirty work for me – help someone else grow in their knowledge and relationship with God. I will let the study teach and grow me, but use it only as an aide in my teaching. Now I have this awesome opportunity to dig deep and be led by the Spirit into more truth, more growth, and more… just everything, including frustration. I foresee this being very hard; the only way I can think to do this so I don’t miss anything is do find all the verses in the Bible that talk about the Holy Spirit and study them in context. And I really have no clue how to organize all this information. I feel like I’m going to be writing a huge research paper, and what I need to be culminating in is a Bible study. Maybe my friend I’m sharing this with can just come along for the ride; this project won’t be done in 2 weeks 🙂

But the biggest thing I want out of this is real, live application. I was suddenly reminded of the old worship song by Michael W. Smith,

“More love, more power
More of You in my life
More love, more power
More of You in my life.

I will worship You with all of my heart
And I will worship You with all of my mind
And I will worship You with all of my strength
For you are my Lord
You are my Lord.

More faith, more passion
More of You in my life
More faith, more passion
More of You in my life.”

That’s not all the lyrics, but that’s all I really want out of this study. For me, but mostly for her and anyone else I come in contact with.

Living Beyond Yourself

So it appears I am terrible at being consistent with blogging. We’ll work on that. In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been learning…

It was time for a new Bible study, and although I’m ashamed to admit it, I don’t do too well with just sitting and reading my Bible. I need to go deeper, and I’ve found that the more structure I have the better. When I discovered my church had a stash of Beth Moore Bible studies I could borrow… I got giddy. I learned SOO much about God in the Patriarchs study, got to memorize a bunch of scripture and apply specific truths in James, and watched God work wonders when it seemed like He was absent in Esther. Next, I wanted to reach for the Psalms, but God put the study on the fruit of the Spirit out in front, and I was in a hurry. 

It’s exactly what I need right now. And if I move before I finish it, I’m taking it with me and returning it in the mail. It’s also exactly what I need for the friend I’m helping disciple. 

At first glance, I thought, “Oh, it’s another study on how to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I know I need to work on these things; here we go.” But it’s not like that at all. The very first verse mentioned was John 14:17 – Christ’s promise of the coming Spirit. The theme of the study is Living Beyond Yourself – Christ came so that we might have life to the full – Jn 10:10. We have a purpose and we are called, and it is revealed by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the living, active power of God, and He resides in US so WE can have POWER and do mighty things in GOD’S NAME!!! 

We’re SUPPOSED to live with power. We’re SUPPOSED to live beyond ourselves – in the day to day – traffic, dishes, forgetting the keys, work, dinner – and the big things too – job, marriage, kids, calling.

I hate that saying: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

IT’S A BIG, FAT, LIE.

God delights in giving you more than you can handle – then you go to Him, and He gets to show up in power and glory. As Beth Moore put it, “God will put us in situations to live beyond ourselves – it is for us, not against us.” It’s what is best for us. We’re not supposed to do this life with our own energy, our own talent, and our own emotions. We’d wreck everything. Instead, we get to be a part of a world-wide plan to love, redeem, and restore people to live the best lives possible. And it’s all through the Spirit. I’m down with that. 

Coffee Date

I asked a Godly friend I respect once how he knew whether something he was thinking was of God or of himself. He said the more time you spend with God, the easier it becomes to recognize His voice. I won’t claim I’m there yet, but when something in me says “you really should go talk to that girl” when my personal desire would be to keep to myself, I know it has to be of God.

I’ve been playing pick-up soccer locally for the past two years now, and haven’t hung out with anyone I’ve met from it yet. That’s partly because most of the players are male, and partly because you can tell in a small town whether someone drinks or not, and that’s how most people hang out. But this was a girl, and she’s come several times now. We’d never really chatted; just exchanged some comments on the field. And after I went over, I found out she’s about seven years older than me.

With the Holy Spirit and a cup of coffee, who knows where this might go. Maybe we’ll only meet one time. But I pray the Lord uses me to be a blessing to her in some way, even if it’s only getting a free cup of coffee. I pray for you that you’ll listen to that nudge, go over and talk to that person, and invite them to a cup of coffee. 

Better Counselor

“I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you… When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 16:7-13 & 14:17

This was one of the last things Jesus instructed his disciples on. This was the fuel that fanned the revolution of Christianity. This is the least known member of the God-head among Evangelicals today – unless, of course, you’re a wacko who probably isn’t a Christian and is just under the influence of euphoric tendencies. *note sarcasm*

Are you guided into all truth? Are you told what is yet to come? Do you know him because he lives in you and is with you? Or are you like me – you search for the truth on your own, treat prophecy with skepticism *cough contempt*, and feel like you lack being in God’s presence a lot? Welcome to the club. Let’s break out.

Join me as I undergo this journey to break out of mundane Christendom and find the truth in God’s word on the Holy Spirit – knowing Him as a being, listening to His leading, and obeying.

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