Saturday, June 14, 2014

Want the Fire of God? Be Careful What You Ask For...

During my teen years I used to always pray for the fire of God in my life, for an all consuming passion to overtake me. The truth is that at the time, I didn't really know what I was asking for. Often times we think the fire of God is an emotional drive to evangelize, or a passion that is visible when you look into someone's eyes. This may be symptoms of someone who has been touched by the fire of God, but this is not what we are praying for. What exactly are we praying for, then, if not this? We are praying for a refiner's fire.
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord as in days gone by, as in former years." Malachi 3:3-4.
When we pray for that fire, we are praying for testing and refining that is painful, not just an emotional high. It is a transformation from the inside out. It takes time. It's not something that God just gives you. It takes time to develop righteousness and be refined. It's a stripping away of everything that you love more than God, which is a lot more than you think. It's not a tingling feeling, but a refiners fire that burns away every other lover but Jesus. It's a breaking away of the flesh. 
So do we know what we are asking for when we ask for the fire of God? God will give it, but it is a long, painful process, but oh so worth it! 
"So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." Deuteronomy 4:23-24. 
He is jealous for you, beloved. Pray for that fire. Pray for it every day. Know that the deeper relationship you will have with Jesus is worth the fire you will walk through.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Let's Just Do Life Together

As this summer starts to speed on, faster than I thought it would, I'm learning some interesting things about people and about God. I think I very often get stars in my eyes and I desire to do extraordinary things. But often the things that make the difference are in the mundane, and in the flow of life.
When I was at Elim I was so busy all the time. I loved every minute of it and I loved the people that were around me. But very often I wished I had more time to invest in those friendships. I know that that was a season in my life. Sometimes life is busy and there's not too much you can do about it. But when I came home I was afraid that the lack of business would drive me crazy. Who would I hang out with? What could I do in my free time? How will I stay productive? All these questions raced through my mind, but I forget one important question: In what way can I do life well?
You see, it's not about the big things you can do. It's about the little things. God has been showing me that it's so important to just live life with people; to share in their joy, their work, and their sorrow. As I've been home that's what I've been trying to do with my family. I live life with them. I try to help around the house as best I can, and I try to enjoy the time I have with them. Why? Because I know that very soon I'll be on the opposite side of the world and this will be hard for them, and for me if I didn't take the time to make those memories with them.
I also am realizing God has put friends around me. Friends that I have had for so long that I forget how special they are sometimes. I've enjoyed living life with them too and doing spontaneous romps through the forest and crazy junior high-ish sleepovers. Once again it's those little moments that seem so simple and ordinary, but there is something extraordinary about them. They are little gifts from God to never be ignored.
Living life together. This is something God is showing me He enjoys doing. Very often I go for a walk with God through my field. I remember this one time I sat on a hill and watched the sun go down. I didn't say much at all and I almost felt guilty. I mean, after all I was going on a walk with God and I had nothing to say. But it was then that I heard God say, "Kelsey, I enjoy just being with you. You don't need to say anything. We can just be together and enjoy each other. Sometimes silence is more beautiful than words." It was then that I realized I organize my time with God too much. Yes, I need to have time to study the Bible and to worship, but more than that, God just wants to live life with me. He doesn't desire a schedule, but a relationship. He enjoys it when I share the little details of my day with Him. He likes it when I tell Him everything He already knows. He wants me to tell Him about all that is concerning me and all that is exciting me. He desires to share my life with me. He wants to take a part in everything. I think I might just let Him.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Books You Should Definitely Read!

I just finished reading the Canadian West Series by Janette Oke, and it was so encouraging to me. I read the first book ages ago and always told myself that I would read the rest of the series, but I just never seemed to have the time. Since I've been home from college I've had a lot of free time, so I thought, why not! I should just read the whole series.
I was in for a surprise. I thought that these were Christian romances. The first book is definitely that in a lot of ways, but as I got further along into the series, I realized this was actually a missionary story in a way.
The series is about a girl and her husband, who is part of the West Mounted Police and he gets posted it different remote places to watch over the people. So the whole story is her traveling from place to place and learning how to adjust to different cultures. Then she starts sharing her faith with people, and it's amazing! Some times I forgot that this was a fiction, because her struggles just seemed so realistic.  After living in a remote place she would then have to get used to society again. I was just realizing that this is the life of a missionary. Things are hard, and things don't always go the way you want, but God gives you the grace to love people and to be present where you are.
Adjusting from place to place and learning to love different people I'm sure is a real struggle. I appreciate how these books are real about the struggles. Being someone who feels called to many places, I could relate with this story. Sometimes I'll be surrounded in a community of people, sometimes I won't be accepted and I'll be alone a lot, and other times I'll live in American society trying to remember how to eat my food with a fork and dress like a normal person -- not a mountain woman. I think these will all be very real experiences I will have, and these books portray this struggle.
A quick side note: these books aren't all about the struggles, but there are joys and little humorous things that happen in the midst of all the rough times. I had a chuckle quite a few times!
Two words: read them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fundraising in Full Swing

I think I mentioned in previous posts that I am going to Asia as a missionary in August. What a stretching experience it's been since I started fundraising! I've never had to do it like this before. I don't mind sending out letters or speaking at churches, but because I need monthly support I go and meet with people one-on-one. I procrastinate so much in this! God puts these people on my heart to ask and I just don't want to ask them sometimes. They aren't the people I'd pick because I either haven't seen them in ages, or I know their financial situation isn't the best. The funny thing is, is as I meet with these people God always does something! One lady couldn't give money because she is unemployed, but she knit me a prayer shawl. Another person couldn't give but knew of someone else who could. God is just so creative in how He cares for me!

Do I like fundraising? No, I hate it! But I know God will provide everything I need in the time I need it. Right now I need to just keep plugging along, keep meeting with people, keep sending out letters, and just wait and pray. God's not going to send me somewhere and not back me up with support. I'll do my part, and He'll do His part. We are a team.

If you know me at all, you know that I can drastically change subjects, and that's what I'm going to do right now. The first few weeks home have been really rough. I graduated from Elim about a month ago,
and the transition from Bible college to normal home life has been the strangest thing. I've gone from a lot of people everywhere, to much time alone, and brief times with family; chapel services four days a week, to one church service on Sunday; seeing my boyfriend everyday in person, to a skype call or phone call everyday (thank goodness for skype...I mean seriously!); sharing my room with an awesome roommate and best friend, to sharing my room with a giant teddy bear (whom I do adore) and maybe a few spiders if I'm lucky (that was sarcasm in case you didn't catch on); and finally having friends to hang out with almost anytime I want them, to searching for people my age.

It's been an adjustment from seeing all the negatives to seeing all the positives. I'm learning that the free time really is great! I've been cooking more (If you are wondering, those pictures are things my mom and I cooked together! An authentic Chinese dish and mango carrot cake. So good. I couldn't help but share the masterpiece!), playing music, and even gardening a little! My church is also starting some new outreaches and I've been able to get involved in that. New people are coming to my
church so I'm able to make new friends.

 I also feel needed. When I was at Elim there were so many people who wanted to lead worship or had a heart for outreach. Here my church is so small that they need a lot of help. It's so amazing to realize I'm filling a role, no matter how small it is. I know I can be a help and that God has put me here for a reason. Even though I'm fundraising in order to be a missionary, it's amazing to know I can be a missionary right here. This is my training ground. This is where I'm called to right now. I'm not just in a waiting period. This is part of my journey and I don't want to miss out on anything lesson God could teach me this summer.

 Instead of thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, take time to water your grass. The measure you put into it will be the measure it comes back to you usually. God has put you where you are for a reason. Wishing you were in some other time or place is just wasting your time and God's time. You can make a difference where you are, you just need to step out. Never believe the lie of the enemy that says you can't make a difference where you are. You can if you rely on the grace of God.  Be present.

"God is preparing a place for me tomorrow so I can be present today." - Jason Upton.

Be present today, and see what God will do in your life. Never shrink back from serving. Discover the needs around you and meet them as best you can.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When Christ Shares His Heart with Us...

Today was a day that I could see the hand of God in a special way. I'm graduating on Saturday, so my roommate and I decided we needed a girl day. We will be away from each other for a long time, so this was much needed. It started out lovely. We drove, listened to music, looked at fun jewelry, got a green tea creamy drink (which was AMAZING!), and then we drove some more. The GPS randomly stopped working so we just started driving around. I didn't realize this, but my roommate was listening to God about where to turn and where to go. It may sound strange, but it was really happening. We ended up driving through this beautiful neighborhood, so beautiful that I wanted to live there.
After this we ended up at a Jewish Community Center. I'd never really been to a community center, so we went in. We came across two different art pieces. They both were menorahs, but each was marred and had barbed wire in the piece. It was in memory of the Holocaust. We went outside to a courtyard, and there on the wall was a list of names...people who lived in the area and how many loved ones they had lost in the Holocaust. There was one person who had lost ninety-four relatives...ninety-four. I can't even wrap my mind around such a huge number! My heart became heavy, and I suddenly realized we were there for a reason. I felt the heaviness of God's heart for His people, even now as they are hated by so many people. My roommate and I decided to pray. As we began to pray, I began to cry. These people whom God loves so much, are hated so much. They don't even know about Jesus, their Messiah, either. God longs to comfort them through His Son. As we were praying for them to know God, I was reminded of this verse: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me." Matthew 23:37. I suddenly realized that God gave me the privilege of knowing His heart. His heart was burdened for His people, and so my heart became burdened. I cried with my friend today in front of all those names of people who had been hurt deeply by others simply because they were Jewish. I was overwhelmed, not only because of the great pain that Jews have experienced over history and even today, but also because God trusted someone like me with the hurts and concerns of His heart. Who am I that He should confide in me? But today He did. 
As we sat and prayed there, suddenly my favorite Christmas song came to mind. It took on a whole new meaning as I sat before those names and sang, 
"O come, o come Emmanuel
 And ransom captive Israel
Who mourns in lowly exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall come to thee o Israel." 
This beautiful Christmas song suddenly became a prayer for the Jewish people, that they may see the hope that is being offered to them and that they may see God's great, deep, wide, and unconditional love for them. 
Today I learned a lot. Don't forget to pray for Israel, Church. They are still God's chosen people!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Here I Go Again....Forgetting I Have a Blog.

Well it's been quite awhile since I've written, and so much has happened. I'm not going to try to fill you in on all that has happened, but I will tell you about my life now as if you were a close friend to confide in.
I'm not sure what to write about, since God has been teaching me so much, but I will do the best that I can. I recently sent some of the songs that I wrote in for a professional review. I received a very helpful review on them, and I have a new drive to better the songs that I write. I am taking all of their advice to heart and I'm beginning to improve my songwriting skills.
I am excited, once again, about my music, when I was discouraged for so long. One thing I don't know is how this goes with the plan God has for me. I'm planning on going to Asia next fall for 9 months to do missionary work, then possibly start a family and perhaps make plans to go back on the missions field. How does my dream of recording line up with all of this? I know God has given me songs to share, but when will I ever have the time to invest time into this? I've learned that I need to just walk. God has put an enormous amount of dreams in my heart, but He is faithful to fulfill them all. I often ask: How can someone be a missionary to Africa, Asia, and everywhere and also be a wife, a mother, a musician, and live in an Amish community at one point, (don't worry I'm not planning to become Amish, only live amongst them for a time) and have a children's ministry and a deliverance ministry? It seems far fetched, right? But I know my God and I know that He will not put a dream in my heart if He didn't have every intention of making it happen. I may be 90 years old before some of these things happen, but I believe they will. Why? Because my God doesn't make mistakes and I believe He places dreams within us at the same time that He creates us.
As time is winding down at Elim Bible Institute I'm realizing that I have to go out and live all this stuff that I've learned. I'm a different person. I don't say that lightly. I didn't just grow up. My whole life and everything about me is different. I am more confident, I am living with Jesus in a way I could never imagine, and I am filled to overflowing with all the goodness of Christ. God keeps telling me it's time for me to step out, but it's a scary thing. I've been forming in this safe cocoon for so long, but now it's time to fly. Who knows what I will encounter, but I know God has put everything inside me that I need. Elim is a safe place. It's a shielded environment to grow in. But eventually it's time to step out and shine the light. God places the light in the darkness. I have to accept the fact that I will go to dark places...places people my hate me for my testimony. What is the truth? I think I'd rather die living the dreams God has put in my heart and loving Him with all my heart, rather than live with no conviction and no love for my Jesus. I have nowhere else to run to. God has always been faithful to me and has always been there for me. I'd follow Him to the darkest place, not only because I love Him, but because I'd be lost if I stopped following Him. Fear is still real to me though. I doubt I'm strong enough to live in this dark world. I doubt I will have the courage to stand up for what is right, and I doubt I'll have the guts to walk into an African village and let them hear the message of Jesus for the very first time. I have GOT to believe, though, that God will give me what I need when I need it. I've got to believe that He is my security. He's never let me down before, so why would He start now?