Am I Hipster Yet?

My housemate Krysia and I have had coffee dates every semester since school started specifically to discuss what we are expecting for the semester coming. As well as the ‘pre-semester expectations’ that we set up we have follow up meetings to see how those expectations went. I’ve had ‘themes’ and sentences impressed on my heart for the semesters that have tied with different scriptures that have carried me through the very crazy seasons that emerge at Hillsong College.

At the end of last semester as I was thinking about what I wanted for this semester it wasn’t an opportunity or to even grow in a particular area of college or church leadership. I simply want to know G-d more this semester than I have in a while. I want to focus on the Word like I haven’t in a while and spend time learning about the Lord. The songwriting and lectures and learning curves will happen and somehow everything will get done this semester that needs to, but my desire is more Jesus and more of the Word in my heart. 

On a recent trip home for my brothers wedding I inherited my dads Nikon camera. Short of having another ‘Daddy teach me’ blog I will say that trying to figure out how to use it today has made me realise a few things:

  1. Learning new things, and more than that, learning ALL about new things involves more reaching out to people who know more than it does you trying to just guess. 
         By this I mean, I went ham on Youtube tutorials for this specific model of Nikon and watched all the things. I didn’t rely on and can’t rely on myself and my thoughts on how the camera should work in order to take the best pictures but I SHOULD research and see how people have used it and how they’ve best figured out to take those classic hipster shots that get so popular on Instagram (shameless plug). But really, learning is best done in community and I don’t see how that differs to learning about G-d. We should be discussing what passages mean to us and the best that we understand how it applies to whom it was addressed to and to us. We should be reading and researching what the scriptures are actually saying and we should be giving them a chance to say it. 
  2. Learning involves time – but the learning goes quicker if you focus your time. 
    I’m the QUEEN at multitasking… and by multitasking I mean today I did laundry, watched youtube, did make up on half my face, finished my laundry and then washed my face, straightened 1/3 of my hair before I realized I didn’t like the texture of my hair so I washed it then redid the whole thing and blogged. I also took one photo I was proud of but it was with my iPhone. I tend to get bored halfway through whatever I am doing so it sometimes takes me a while.In other, more related words, sometimes getting to know someone or something intimately involves time given up to focus JUST on that thing or person. This is more just a reminder for myself of what is required for my expectations
  3. I would love to have a number 3 because 3 points is good but I’ve really said what I wanted to.

Sometimes I don’t know why I post stuff on my blog that just belongs in my journal.

Thank you if you’ve read this – and if you will just pray that I focus and get what I’m expecting this semester. Love you all.

 

“Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”

So, I’ve been reading the Bible lately as previously stated in my last blog. I’ve finished Exodus and started reading all the introductory information on Leviticus (the avoided book) which is extremely helpful in creating expectation on a previously perceived “boring book”.

Exodus has been helpful in opening my eyes to more of the details of our story as Christians. For example, you have ‘The Exodus’ (the exit or leaving) of the children if Israel out of the land of Egypt and of slavery. THE PASSOVER – which I couldn’t write enough about – full of symbolism and justice that makes me cry when I think about it. The Israelites were to take a pure, spotless lamb once a year for their passover feast and slaughter it and place the blood of the lamb over their doorposts to be safe from the judgement of G-d. GUYS. Jesus, our pure and spotless lamb spilled his blood over that tree at Calvary to forever cover the price of our sins so that judgement would be replaced with mercy in our lives.
I cry. I weep. I write blogs about it. 

The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai and then immediately broken (literally and literally) by the people sinning downstairs and when Moses threw the tablets to the ground in a hissy fit of justice-rage. But, Moses was given reminders of the covenant promise of G-d redeeming His people and Moses reminded G-d of His own promises as well. We see redemption over and over in this narrative.

The BEAUTIFUL and precise instructions were given to our main man Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle (The Holy meeting tent that the Lord decided to dwell in so that He could be with the children of Israel and that they could worship Him in). Peoples hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude and generosity and began to give to the building of the temple to where they had far more than they needed. The Lord showed his compassion to this group of people by sending His Spirit (end of chapter 35) to equip His people with SKILL to complete the building of the tabernacle.

I find it reassuring to know that the Lord doesn’t always EQUIP the CALLED but He equips those in the line of His COMMANDS. We find two men here in chapter 36, Bezalel and Oholiab, along with others in ‘whom the Lord put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary… in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded’ (v.1 ish). We see no reference to the Lord speaking directly to them and telling them that they are ordained to build this sanctuary… We just see them in the path of a need that the Lord was going to accomplish. By being willing to help with whatever, they were equipped by the Holy Spirit to be useful.

G-d I want to be in line of your commands. I don’t have to be ‘called’ but I do need to be available and I trust that in my availability and being where You are that You’ll equip me for whatever YOU have commanded on the earth.

After all of this is said and done in Exodus it leaves me with such a reassured ease as I try and read Leviticus. You see, I know the end of the story and the completion of the prophecies in the New Testament. I know of the New Covenant and our immediate access to G-d and the lack of all animal sacrifices I’ve ever had to perform in my life. I can look at the Israelites wandering the desert and think, “The best is yet to come! Just hold on and keep believing!”

This all ended up rolling through my head as I made my way downstairs
to see our house sign say “Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”.

I think G-d often smiles at me, I feel it when I’m laughing at myself after ‘ah-ha’ moments come and I realise how blind I am without the guidance and revelation of the Spirit. I was reminded of the expectation I’m bringing to Hillsong Conference. I was reminded of MY story with Him and how much I’ve grown in the last 5 years. I was reminded of all the prayers that I’ve prayed and still pray and the ones I’ve forgotten that I asked for. I think G-d smiled at me and reminded ME that The BEST is YET to come…
I can look at the past all day and mentally help those people in hardship and tell them, “Wait, your story isn’t over” but in looking back and reflecting I can sometimes forget that the Lord is looking at me saying the same thing.

Moving into Hillsong Conference ISN’T same ol’ same ol’. Starting another semester with a whole flock of new students isn’t same ol’ same ol’. Each and every service and chapel isn’t the same… it’s progressively THE BEST.

Pastor Brian Houston coined that phrase for our church but I’m just starting to REALLY GET IT. It doesn’t matter if your last week was crap or the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re still sitting in emotional slavery waiting on deliverance or you were just given everything you’ve been asking and praying for. THE BEST is still to come.

Hillsong Conference is another opportunity that we as college students have to refresh and serve our hearts out – I pray that our expectation is heightened and that we follow where we feel the Spirit is leading. I pray that we end up in the path of the commands of G-d and even if we don’t feel called that we begin to accept the equipping of the Spirit and move forward knowing we have what it takes to change something. I pray that no matter how difficult it is, or how tired we become that we don’t lose sight of the BEST that is still coming. I pray that no matter how amazing and life-changing it is for us that we realise that there IS STILL more.

Many of those reading this aren’t college students here in Sydney, Australia and to those I pray that your jobs come through – I pray your children come back to Christ or find Him for the first time – I pray that you are set free from emotional bondage of an abusive partner – I pray that you see a little bit more hope in your situation but also that you know that even in the beautiful times, the birth of your children, the promotion at work, the marriage of your best friends… that there is STILL more.

Thank G-d for hindsight and THANK G-D that I don’t know everything.


The Exodus and Leviticus links you find in this blog are from guys called
‘The Bible Project’ – They summarise the books of the bible along with explaining other key topics in a comic sort of way that keeps us creative types entertained.
Check them out.

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

Jesus Is ESL

 

In class we were given the assignment to come up with a 2-minute explanation on some scriptures as they relate to pastoral care. I’m bias but my class did incredible with their findings and presentations. One person in particular, Gabe – a Brazilian man who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for the last year and a half – always has some of the best thoughts on Jesus, the Word of G-d, or life in general. I love hearing him speak his heart, even though he doesn’t have perfect English he expresses himself clearly and always seems to change my perspective about whatever he is talking about.

Gabe is ESL (English as a Second Language) so not only has he braved moving across the world to do college, he is also succeeding at college in a language he didn’t grow up with. After Gabe spoke I leaned to my very American friend and wondered, “Dude, what if we spoke Portuguese?” he sort of chuckled at my inquiry but I continued, “Seriously, Gabe is THAT intelligent and wise in English – but we don’t fully KNOW the guy and his personality because he has to limit himself to our (sometimes terrible) language.”

I’m limited in fully understanding Gabe because I don’t speak Portuguese, and I can only imagine how much more of him and his personality I would see if I did.

((If only we could speak his language…

All at once as the Lord does, He reminded my heart that the same is true of Him. G-d didn’t create the heavens and earth in our faulty English nor does He actively continue to communicate His personality inside of our limitations. The limit on understanding G-d’s language falls in my court. I began to wonder what parts of His personality I was missing out on because I hadn’t taken enough time to learn the language of heaven. I haven’t sat long enough to fully enjoy who He is and what He has to say.

I think the language of heaven is love and kindness. I believe the language is justice and peace. I long to know more of WHO my Saviour is and the only way I can think to do that is to invest into learning what He is saying.

This language doesn’t equate to a Biblical Greek or Hebrew uttering – this equates to an international, intercultural, interdenominational, intergenerational cry to the Lord of Hosts saying “Holy, Holy, Holy”. And although it may sound different from the different voices we have on the earth I believe there will be a resounding understanding of who HE is and not what WE are saying.

I want to sit and know the parts of G-d’s personality that I’m missing. I want to stretch my understanding and tune my ears to His voice, His language, His love.

“When God went out against Egypt, he established it as a statute for Joseph.
I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud…
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”

Psalms 81 (NIV)

 

 

Worship – Worth and Response

Could it be that I took the time write a 7 minute spoken word on worship?
Could I construct that much of a presentation and explanation of heavens touch on earth and keep it theological enough to get competent?
Yes I think it’s quite absurd because sometimes spoken word is hard
But when I think of worship and begin to praise it becomes clear that no day will come when I will ever run out of what I could say of His glory. Worship is our story living and breathing inside of His and anything I could ever say will never be enough for what is and that is HIS worth – and my response.

I had to opportunity to present my take on worship for an assessment the other day. I researched and found that one of my beliefs is that: Worship is an awareness of His worth and our response because of that.

Jesus is the author and prefecture of faith; He is the only one worthy to cover the cost of my sins. He was literally the only one whose personhood was worth enough to pay for what I’ve ever done or will do and that alone will always be enough.

So what are the different responses?

Sometimes our response is posture – sometimes it’s turning up to the house of G-d even and raising your hands even when your heart is broken. I remember having to go through a series of nudges from G-d that had everything to do with my posture. I lived through a season that was engulfed in fear, to the point of me being emotionally and spiritually paralyzed. My first calling in that season was to simply move. Move from where I was back into the house of G-d and trust Him and the people in my life. Then I felt like my next response was to jump – arms open in surrender and in a free fall into His goodness and love. Then I finally felt the conviction to learn how to get on my knees. Jesus taught me how to sit with Him as you do with a close friendship or a parent and child in conversation. My worship in that season was posture because that’s all I could give.

The Bible talks about worship and the framework that has been set for our year as worship students here is from Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Our worship and response to G-d includes mindsets.

In the season of being fearful of my past and future, my cries to G-d to stop anxiety was worship. My cries to G-d to stop insecurities is worship. I was allowed to ask G-d to set my mind on things above and not on earthy things and HE accepted that as worship.

Another response is to live inside of community and letting that be your worship

Acts 2:42, 46-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

G-d has gifted us with this beautiful response of living inside of a community and allowing our lives inside of that to turn into praise and a life of worship. Do you trust your community and pour enough into it that you can let your meals and coffee dates be worship unto G-d?

My final thought is something I learned from a friend in the states that changed my practice forever.

My friend Taylor makes journals, beautiful journals by hand with the most incredible looking leather and super hipster rope to keep them together. He learned to make these at a retreat and in that as well learned about TRULY treating your craft as your communion with G-d. He allowed his discipline become worship to G-d and set his mind on Christ as he would work. I had heard it before to the point that I was numb to the thought of living your entire life as worship to G-d. Romans 12 explains this beautifully in the Message version:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Sometimes our response is communion with the Spirit – sometimes this bleeds into our craft, our discipline, our practice and our passions. We have the chance to let our mundane be worship if we let it. 

So, my response to G-d’s worth and what He has done is worship in position, mindsets, community and craft.

Lord, help me everyday to be aware of the opportunity I have to praise you in the middle of my ordinary life.

 

Winds In The East, Mist Coming In – Something Is Brewing About To Begin

“Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me”
-Hillsong Music

So, I missed posting last Friday because March in every way kicked my butt. It was a beautiful month full of serving and giving and making sure our church was set up for Colour Conference and Easter Sunday. Now it is time to refresh and breathe a little bit until we vamp up into our Conference for July.

Today in our 2nd Year Chapel we had a beautiful opportunity to worship as a body of students and to sit in G-d’s presence and be refreshed. One of the songs we sang today had the lyrics I listed above (also click here if you want to take a listen for some nice background music whilst you read). Now I’m a good ol’ girl from one of the fifty United States of America – Oklahoma. When you’re from Oklahoma this song means something entirely different to you. I stood there in worship thinking about my Facebook feed recently being bombarded with pictures of a tornado that just hit back home. A few little things I know about storms:

  1. Storms cannot hit an area without changing everything about the area.
    ((Even if it’s just a ‘bad storm’ and not a tornado it still tends to bring an abundance of rain that changes the very look of a town. I’ve never seen the outdoors look as peaceful and vibrant as after the storm; the greens of the earth are richer and the sky reserves a crisp blue for these moments. And in cases of tornados and strong winds you see the very foundations of buildings moved. Things never remain the same after a storm. You’re given an opportunity to rebuild things that may have been unstable in your life and to build better than before.
  2. Pics or it didn’t happen. You can be one of two type of people in Oklahoma, you can be afraid and hide in the closet even though the tornado is in Pryor and you’re in Oklahoma City. Or you can be like the rest of us out on the front porch with your fancy camera phones out taking a picture of you smiling with the storm in the background. People notice when the wind shifts and when change is happening. People stop to take note of G-d I promise you that. When is the last time you stopped to really focus in on what G-d was doing in your life?

Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul

When I think about what I’m truly praying – Lord STIR within my soul – and I think about what this could actually do to my life as I know it I realize it’s a terrifying prayer to pray. I’m asking G-d to come in and shake the foundations that may need rebuilding in my life and to cause me in that moment to never be the same. I stood in worship pondering what these lyrics truly meant and I realized I didn’t want anything else.

Lord have your way, Lord have your way in me

It’s hard to keep this in focus when you’re human though, I fail probably daily but I also had a subtle reminder that I’m no longer who I was but I am not who I will be. G-d is GRACIOUS and so faithful along the journey and I am so blessed to call Him mine.

G-d move in my life to where people notice and have to sit back and make a memory of who You are and what You’re doing in me. Move my unstable foundations and cause me to have to rebuild with the truth of Your word to something different, stronger and more lasting than what I was holding onto before. Bring the rain and then bring the spring of all the new things you want to do in my life. Lord have your way. I surrender.

I Belong In The Fire

“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king [looked and] was astounded, and he jumped up and said to his counselors, “Did we not throw three men who were tied up into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He answered, “Look! I see four men untied, walking around in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the blazing furnace and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out [of there]! Come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s counselors gathered around them and saw that in regard to these men the fire had no effect on their bodies—their hair was not singed, their clothes were not scorched or damaged, even the smell of smoke was not on them.
Daniel 3:24-27 (AMP)

I hated this story for a hot minute once upon a time. I read until the king saw the fourth man in the fire, shut my Bible and gently tossed it aside. I can remember crying and praying, “G-d, I don’t want to be the one in the midst of the fire with You, I didn’t ask to walk through this and I surly don’t want to do it with You”. At that point I completely disregarded the faithfulness of this story AND even the end of the sentence that I was reading, “and they are not hurt!”.

Nothing looked as big to me as the flames that I was facing – they were seven times hotter, higher and more lethal than ever and I wasn’t having any of it.

But, G-d is a redeeming father. He not only redeems my thoughts but my time as well. The trials always end and I start to realize that even in the moments where I tried to push Him away, He never left me. He is still the one standing with me when it seems impossible to walk away alive, and yet, not even the essence of what I’ve been through can touch who I truly am WITH Him.

Not even the smell of smoke was on the men.

Lately at church we’ve been singing the new Young & Free song, When the Fight Calls the bridge lyrics are:

I won’t let the storm weather my heart
Won’t let the darkness beat me down
Sing in the night my hope alive in You
I’ll walk through the fire and not be burned
Pray in the fight and watch it turn
Jesus tonight I give it all to You

These play over and over in my head whether the song is on or not. I’m reminded of the times I didn’t want to see the journey with Jesus. I sometimes try to pad my attitude and language towards G-d but even this week writing out some of my frustrations, I realized how ridiculous I was being and how dumb my words sounded towards the creator of heaven and earth and the provider of everything I need. But I felt a nudge, I felt a question in my heart asking me if I was going to leave that hurtful and ridiculous sentence out because I felt I had to protect the Lord, or if I was going to be honest with Him and myself. I reminded G-d of the times in the past that I didn’t want to face something with Him – and HE reminded me in turn of His faithfulness.

They are not hurt.

He has actually never allowed my test or trials to consume me or harm me. He HAS allowed me to learn to trust Him and maybe even tarry in the fire sometimes.

The men in our story were walking around in the midst of the fire for a few reasons:

1) I assume the furnace was sealed shut and they couldn’t just waltz out

2) They had to be there long enough for the king to notice that something was different

3) G-d had to be made known

((My place is in the fire because my witness is for The King.