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.

All Aboard The Struggle Bus Express

Leaving Sydney last week was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’m not one to be overly attached to people and friends to the point of not leaving them so that’s not what I’m talking about. My flight was scheduled to leave at 3pm (Sydney time) on Monday the 7th. 4am Monday morning hit and I was woke up with a stomach cramp of mass proportions. I got up and kindly left all of the food I had eaten the evening before in the porcelain dome.

I repeated this task every half hour for the next 6 hours.

I text my parents right away to let them know I needed prayer from every direction and let Facebook know I needed anything they wanted to give; kind wishes, warm thoughts, your shooting-star requests, prayers, hail Mary’s or the daily 11:11 dreams thrown into space. I needed anything that would get me well enough to fly for 17 hours. By this point we had discussed the possibility of rescheduling my flight(s) only to realize that airports are still TERRIBLE about rescheduling flights and it would end up costing 4x what we paid to book them in the first place. Thanks airplane man.

I decided to get on the train to the airport struggling between “What if I throw up everywhere?” and “G-d said if you pray He hears you and healing is yours”.

Believing in prayer AND practicality can be exhausting.

But I went. I reminded G-d of all the prayers that everyone was saying over and over in case He forgot that I really needed to make it through customs without throwing up. He remembered. I got to the flight and slept the majority of the way across the Pacific, taking NO opportunities to watch all the free movies or play the games on the personal screens. I asked for water, ice chips, a bread roll at dinnertime and ginger ale. before I knew it I had somehow made it to Texan soil. From Texas to Tulsa was only 45 minutes, which was pleasant until the landing felt like we ran over a large rock on a skateboard. But I was HOME.

Jet lag is a very real and very sneaky thing. Putting food into your mouth and thoughts into your head becomes a challenge as you try to convince yourself that it is in fact, not 3 in the morning but it is early afternoon.

Sleeping patters are also a joke for about the first 3 days.

The getting here was a difficult journey; a struggle bus if you will… but the reward of the destination is always worth it. Homemade chicken noodle soup and a warm bed is always worth it.

My housemate in Aussie and I frequently talk about (and I’m sure I’ve written about) what it is that makes some people maintain faith and some people walk away after many years. I suppose it’s a matter of still getting on the bus when it comes even if the ride looks like you might have to run to the bathroom a few times. I think it has to do with trusting that prayers were heard and even when you don’t feel you have the strength to do what you have to.

I think it looks a lot like holding onto commitments and convictions that you can grow unsure of but going back to the place you were called, the place you wrote out the promise, the place where you realized G-d IS REAL and you really will be ok.

Find the place you can breathe and sit there. Go home a while and sleep a few 11 hour nights. Find some comfort food, repair, and then board the journey again.

Keep going.

Wherever you are, you’re almost there so Keep Going.

I’ll leave you with that. Partially because my brain is still a little lagging and partially because that is all I had to say.

Much love for you all.

You’re Doing It Wrong

 

My Puerto Rican J-Lo (Jen Nieves) and I are Pastoral-Creatives. It’s that mix of people who care too much about people to leave them alone but still like to play with finger paints. Or if you want, you can join me in viewing our personalities as hippies. Love music. Love art. Love people.

Always.

At one point or another we (at the very least I) tried to run away from this very odd inner draw to help the A.D.D. Christians still love G-d. But it is who we are and there is no escape.

But G-d couldn’t just leave me alone with the desire to write music, sing and preach and teach… He also allowed my life to become introverted (I need to recharge without people) NOT shy (I’m too full of myself and my insecurities to carry on a conversation)((pride)).

Thanks G.

Oilvia [my sweet as drummer friend (I’m totally name dropping today)] and I were talking yesterday about the conclusion of our first year at Hillsong College. We were discussing what was difficult for us the first year that we still haven’t ‘dealt’ with… What are we still working on?

For me: which I’m assuming you want to know because you are still reading – this was community. I explained my thoughts on how I walked through my first year and how at the end of it, if I’m being as overly honest as I always tend to be, I feel like not that many people know me. Now – the KNOWING ME isn’t the important part, the GIVING MYSELF, my time, my energy, my investments, my open heart, my very unique part of the body of Christ is important. It IS important because I am also shy. I dealt this last year with being so concerned with myself and insecure that I didn’t give all I felt I could have.

Now, I’ve recently written about this so I don’t want to get too much into what I already wrote about… But I will reiterate the importance of being in community. We are better together and we were never meant to do this alone. If I could just encourage, challenge, tell you to, force you to READ the Bible… that would be awesome, but for the sad fact that the majority of you struggle to get a daily time to sit and process with G-d I’ll chop some up here for you.

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching”

Hebrews 10:SomewhereBetween24-25 (MSG)

Guys and Gals, I have NO idea how to encourage someone that I’m not around. Nor do I know how to encourage if I’m only concerned for how bold I feel that day or how crazy I think my hair is partying that day.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Galatians 6:1-3 (NLT)

Ewww… Pride isn’t pretty on ANYONE, especially shy-pride.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

 

//Changed and changing still//

Thank G-d I’m not the same that I was and thank G-d that I will not remain the same that I am.

I’m verbally and electronically committed to community – I’m committed to lunches and coffee dates. I’m committed to my housemates and practicum team. I’m committed to showing up, being there and giving me. And if the Lord is willing all of that will be useful.

G-d, as always, you have my permission to make me look more like you and less like myself. You have my permission to make me look more AT you and less AT myself. You have my time, my energy, my investments, my open heart, and my very unique part of Your kingdom. Here’s to all the people time I need next year.


*Random PSA I found online – if you feed the toilet paper to the back of the roll and not the front you’re an ignorant, inconsiderate person and you need to grow up.

 

Fun-Size Forgetfulness

As of late, I feel like my friends as a whole are in need of more strength than they have. I feel like I’m in that boat as well, I need more faith, I need more courage, I need more compassion, I need more grace and in general I need more of Christ in my life.

I find myself in the mornings waking up and instinctively realizing how badly I need him and almost even to the first second of consciousness calling out for Him to help me. With this, though I tend to forget what I said because I’m not fully awake. But thank G-d that He remembers and hears me and follows through with the requests we need more than the ones we ask for.

Please enjoy this short blog from 2012!


17.09.2012

Sometimes I forget that I can ask G-d for stuff like strength; I don’t forget when I need it – but I forget to ask BEFORE I need it. This morning I thought to ask G-d for strength for my day and it’s the first time in a while that I did before junk took it’s place in my day. What I am so grateful for is that He answers my prayers, in His time and wisdom and as He sees fit.

“Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.” – Psalms 6.8-9

Back up off Satan, G-d hears me. He accepts my cries for help and He is close to me. Giving His child refuge and strength. He restores me even while He is defending me cause He is all-powerful.

LORD, this morning I ask You for strength. I ask You for favor and blessing. G-d, I beg You for a new heart and a right mind that meditates on Your Word and promises. And here and now, before trials come I ask You to help in only a way You can. Mostly, G-d, help me stand out of the way.