Psalm 139:23

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of the everlasting."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Let God Brag On You

Wow! What an amazing week at Contact! There has been so much going on that I haven't even had time to blog lately. The kids get out of school June 2nd, so we are busy planning our summer camps, activities, small groups, & various house studies. God is blessing the work at Contact tremendously! 

Our staff was blessed by an opportunity to have lunch with Park Plaza's staff, as well as a few others, including a group from Little Rock Arkansas & the McMillon family from the Memorial Road Church of Christ. I was so encouraged by the excitement everyone brought to our Church! I was blessed to grow up at Park Plaza with many examples of how to do ministry. Park Plaza has supported me every time I step out into the mission field regardless of where it is. I could never thank them enough for gambling on me & trusting that God would be at work in spite of my faults.

After our staff meeting I had a small group Bible study with one of my girls. We are reading the book "A Search for Significance." I have been so inspired by the depth of insight that our girls have into a relationship with God. They truly do convict me & teach me new lessons every day. Today I was studying with one of my fourteen year old girls. Ron talks a lot to people about how our kids walk around with boxing gloves. They are so hard-hearted & always ready to fight simply because they have seen things in this life that we could never even imagine. This fourteen year old has the biggest gloves i've ever seen! She can't admit that there are things in her life that hurt her so instead she emotionally shuts down & becomes bitter & angry! We talked today about how being who God wants us to be requires not being angry, but instead expressing our emotions in a healthy way. I asked her what she hates the most about her life. She replied, "Kayla, I don't even have a bed to sleep in at night! I sleep on the floor with a sheet! I hate it!" I can't imagine how difficult it must be to not even know where you are going to sleep at night. It has to be so painful to have no stability whatsoever.

As the night went on we discussed who God is calling us to be & how to get closer to Him. I asked her to pray over us. She prayed "Lord, help us to reach out to hurting hearts & help us to stop looking for people to brag on us! We want to let you brag on us!" What a beautiful reminder that we are not to be of this world, but simply in this world. Too often we make stupid decisions because we are looking for the approval of those around us, rather then our Lord. From this day forward my prayer will be that God teaches us to allow Him to brag on us & that we will not search for anyone's approval but His. Her prayer convicted me to the core! There have been so many times in the last year that I have asked myself if I am really accomplishing anything with this young woman? But days like today remind me that life isn't a snapshot. I cannot decide that one failure gives me the right to walk away. God starts over with me daily & I have to start over with my kids. He is doing amazing work in the life of this young woman. Boxing gloves & all, the ability to love him & love others is still in her. She has an ability to lead that far exceeds any ability i've ever dreamed of having. These mountains of success are such a recognition that He is at work in every opportunity He gives us. It is such a blessing to watch as He changes hearts & allows us to have relationships with hurting people.

Today I was asked why I love my job so much. There are so many things I love about Contact. There is not enough room in any blog to fully describe the way my life has been changed forever through working at Contact. However, what I love about Contact the most is that I am given the opportunity to love the kids where they are at, not where I want them to be. Most often when I begin working with the kids I want more for their lives then they want for their own. As time goes on I am able to watch as their plans for their lives become His plans & because they are His plans they begin to want something better. It truly is life changing!

Thank you again for all your love & support! I appreciate so much everyone's interest in what God is doing at Contact! It is an exciting time in the ministry He is doing here. We are a blessed staff & a blessed congregation! 

"If you do good people will accuse you of having selfish ulterior motives...DO GOOD ANYWAY!"

Ephesians 1:11-12 "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rules & Regulations Or Real Relationships?

Although there are several things that I want in my Christian walk, what I desire more then anything is to have a personal relationship with God. In the last year, more then ever before, I have learned that sometimes having a personal relationship with God is messy. It is not always as clean cut as I feel like it should be. Even though I do believe that we are given rules & regulations to follow in having a relationship with God, I no longer believe that He wants me to be "correct" in how I handle my relationship with Him, but He wants me to be genuine. 

Like any other relationship in my life, my relationship with God is like a roller coaster. There are days when I can feel his presence encompass me & I am completely fulfilled by him. On the other hand there are days when I find myself so wrapped up in sin that I can't even begin to see past where I find myself on that given day. Still yet, there are days when all I can see is the tragedy that encompassed our lives when our little Lexi passed away. Based on these three different phases of spirituality in my own walk I have been able to see that God always meets me where I am at. When I am angry He is there to listen. When I am broken He is there to heal. When I sin He is there to cleanse me. When I am at my highest point He is there encouraging me to dig deeper. All He asks is that I be honest with Him where ever I find myself. God wants a genuine, heartfelt, every day relationship, even if at times that involves being passionately honest when for one reason or another I am not where I should be spiritually.

The more I work at Contact, the more I am able to see myself in the individuals that I work with. As a minister I have been called to be the hands & feet of Jesus Christ to the children He has entrusted me to lead. Because of this I want to have a real relationship with each person I work with. I want to be able to meet them where they are at, whether it be in the midst of sin or on a mountaintop of spiritual growth. I want them to be able to openly share their heart with me & know that I will love them regardless of where they find themselves. I strive to walk into Contact every day with the realization that I am a sinner that falls short of God's expectations daily & because of this I need to deal with my own lack of commitment before I judge the people I work with. 

Although there are times when the kids do things that I do not & cannot condone, I believe wholeheartedly that God is at work in their lives even in their shortcomings. God made rules & regulations for our own protection. There are natural consequences to our sin that we will encounter accordingly, but His love for His child remains the same. He has never turned His back on me & I will not turn my back on these kids! He is still at work when a girl must deal with a teen pregnancy, when the kids end up in jail for one reason or another, & still when they are disrespectful & lash out on me. I have to be open to allowing Him to work in me & through me regardless of circumstance. I am blown away by His ability to teach me through His children even in the midst of sin. I am blessed immensely by my job at Contact & could not ask for anything more! I love stepping back & watching as He counsels others & changes them into who He desires for them to be. 

Matthew 7:5 "You hypocrite, first take the plank our of your own eye & then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Purpose Driven Life

Today I began another internship at Contact. Ministry always has a way of humbling me & causing me to view things through my Lord's eyes rather then my own. Last summer when I began interning never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Contact would be some where I would pursue doing ministry long term. I am such a planner. I plan everything! But often I am guilty of living out my own plan for my life rather then my Lord's. I had been involved in missions in Honduras for a few years & truly believed that God was calling me to mission there full time. I even told Ron, one of the ministers that I work with, when I began my internship that I was heading to O.C. in the fall to pursue degrees in ministry & secondary education, & that following graduation I would move to Honduras. God used last summer to completely change my life. He broke my heart with the work He allowed me to be involved in. He grew me & changed me into a completely different person. He opened my eyes & more importantly my heart so that I could see that ministry truly is everywhere! I was guilty of overlooking the plan that He had for me right here in Tulsa. 

I would never demean foreign mission. I love the work that is being done in Honduras. It is such an amazing experience! I developed many lifelong friendships with the Hondurans that I am eternally grateful for & will continue to pray for them, as well as the missionaries that work so hard daily! When Jesus gave the great commission He clearly calls us to go into all the world. Unfortunately, I often forget that sometimes He is calling me across town, across the street, or even across the room. His plan for our lives as Christians is not to simply go on a mission trip, although they are beneficial for both the kingdom & my own spirituality, the trip is not my only purpose. He wants my heart 100% of the time! He wants me to be willing to step up & speak out for His glory where ever I am. Ministry is not about being comfortable, but about being useful! We were each created to worship Him. 

He has blessed me so much by allowing me to be a part of the ministry at Contact. I know without a doubt that working with the children at Contact is the purpose He has given me. He pours out spiritual gifts on His people & we can choose whether to use them or waste them. As I begin working at Contact full-time again I am striving to live a purpose driven life every day. I want to be exactly who He created me to be! I want my every breath to worship my Father & in doing so bless the people that He has been gracious enough to put in my life. He has blessed me with incredibly amazing children that I get to work with every day & I want to equally bless them. This summer I am going to do everything in my power to help these kids find their gifts & where they can benefit the church the most. I believe we all hit a point in our lives when we feel like our life has no purpose. My main goal this summer is to help these kids find His purpose for their lives. I want each of them to live up to their full potential. I am absolutely ecstatic about what God will do at Contact this summer! I love watching Him move mountains in the lives of His people & look forward to helping the kids find who they are in Him.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who is supporting me & making another summer at Contact possible. Please continue to keep the team & our whole church in your prayers as we strive to live purpose driven lives for the Lord.

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Therefore ask the God of the harvest to send out workers into the field." Matthew 9:37