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Posts Tagged ‘inspirational blog Atlanta GA’

His Timing, Not Mine

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Wrist Watch

HIS timing is perfect!

Music is an integral part of my life. I listen to just about any and every kind of music (although I just can’t get into country or southern gospel). Certain songs have had more significance in my life during a specific season. At church, from time to time, we sing Always by Kristian Stanfill. We sang it again last night at Night of Worship and it really spoke to me in a new way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

Up until recently, I was listening to the lyrics and thinking “God will not delay?! My God will come through always?! Yeah right! I don’t think so…He isn’t doing a thing in my situation.” I let my circumstances (being without a job for almost 16 months) determine my view of God’s movement (or lack there of in my mind). I couldn’t see who God truly was because I was blinded by what was going on around me.

Something happened on Wednesday of this week to change my view of the above lyrics. I had a job interview and later that day received (and accepted) a job offer. Thursday night when I went to Night of Worship, I focused intently on these lyrics and realized the error in my earlier mindset. I was using MY timeline to determine if God was delaying or coming through on HIS part. It felt like God was saying to me “You know…I was delaying until I thought you were ready. I wasn’t doing it to be mean or to hurt you in any way. Remember, I know what’s best for you!”

Watch the video below – may the lyrics of the song encourage you and help you remember God’s timing is perfect.

Photo Credit: By Blake Patterson

Conversations of a Life Unexpected

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment
life tiles

Life never goes as we plan.

I will be celebrating (okay, maybe “celebrating” isn’t quite the right word…more like “dreading” right now) a milestone birthday in less than six months. Last night I was talking with my roommate about all of these things that I had hoped to have accomplished or done by this upcoming birthday. We all have our “bucket list” of things we want to do by a certain age and my list was more out of feeling a sense of entitlement (like I deserved these things) – “Why am I not married by now?” or “Why do I not have a house of my own now?” These ideas brought more questions, but no answers.

Donald Miller’s blog Storyline has a great post by Jeff Goins on this very topic – “When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Expect” and I felt like it was written specifically to me. Goins compares our life to that of a story where we are an important character, but not the MAIN character. God is the MAIN character in our story. Things happen in our life that we don’t plan – job loss, death of a friend or family member, car problems…and the list continues. We get frustrated because more often than not, we have no control over these situations.

One thing we are quick to forget – when we are on the other side of our respective situations, we will be stronger and a better person because of them.

How has your life turned out differently than you planned?

Photo Credit: By Wes Peck

Londrina – It’s Been Amazing!

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment
Guys at Bus Station

Adam and I with the Brazilian guys.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow (Friday) will be our last night in Londrina. The time has gone by so fast as it seems like we just got here. Tuesday night we helped them create an environment called Muvuka (our definition was “A relevant gathering for building community” but in Portuguese it means “a mob or large gathering”). This night was much like our Singles Gatherings at Buckhead/North Point Community Church, but it was geared more towards their culture.

Wednesday we had an amazing Brazilian BBQ (steak marinated all day and then cooked on the grill along with several traditional Brazilian side items) at the home of our Brazilian friend Ely and his family. On Wednesday, we also spent some time sight seeing in Londrina and were able to see a really cool Catholic church that is a big part of Londrina’s history. Tonight (Thursday) we ate dinner at a restaurant in the bus station (believe me, it was MUCH better than it sounds) and then we enjoyed fresh squeezed fruit juices while we talked for hours with several of our new Brazilian friends. Tomorrow (Friday) is a holiday in Brazil (their equivalent of our July 4th) and Capella is having a picnic and doing baptisms (around 15 people will be getting baptized – including our new friend Carlos).

We will be leaving Londrina at 11:00 PM Friday via bus headed to Iguazu Falls where we will arrive around 7:00 AM on Saturday morning. We will spend all of Saturday at the falls and then will begin our travels back to Atlanta. It’s been an AWESOME time seeing God at work in our Brazilian friends and their church…it will be very hard to leave them tomorrow evening, but we will be keeping in contact with them via e-mail and Facebook. We hate to leave Londrina, but we are exciting about getting back home to see our friends and family.

Please continue to keep our team in your prayers as we travel to Igauzu Falls and then back to Atlanta.

Other Posts From Our Trip

Londrina Update – Monday

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment
Paulo, Kelen, and David

My Brazilian “nephew” and his parents.

Our luggage (okay, the luggage that belonged to the ladies – Adam and I were fortunate enough to have our luggage from day one of our time in Londrina) arrived bright and early on Sunday morning, so that was a great sense of relief. Last night we went to a Brazilian hamburger restaurant and ate entirely too much. I was playing with Pastor Paulo’s son David (he is 2 years old) last night at the restaurant by swinging him around in my arms like I do my nephew. He would laugh hysterically and when we were about to leave, he said something to me in Portuguese but I couldn’t understand him. I asked Pastor Paulo what David said and he replied “David said to you, ‘Goodbye my American Uncle!'” and that just made my heart melt!

This morning Saulo (the Singles Pastor) took us on walk around the lake and brought his dog Mona Lisa along with us. After another wonderful meal we met with the Singles environment volunteers and during our meeting we shared some American candy with them. Tomorrow evening we will be doing an event for the singles in the area and we can’t wait. We are having a great time in Londrina! The food is amazing, but we have been going constantly without much rest. It’s getting late, so we need to hit the sack.

Other Posts From Our Trip

 

Only 4 Hours and 45 Minutes…

August 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Singles_Brazil_GlobalX_team_photo

(L-R): Elisabeth, Scott (me), Courtney, Valerie, Krista, and Adam

I can’t believe we have to be at the airport in 4 hours and 45 minutes. This will be short and sweet because I need to make an attempt at getting some sleep. I am packed and ready to go; my AWESOME friend Jennifer and her dad are coming to pick me up at 3:00 AM (now THAT’S a true a friend!) and we’re heading to the airport. Keep our team in your prayers as we travel over the next day to reach our destination of Londrina, Brazil.

I wanted you to be able to put names and faces together with the people on our team for whom you will be praying, so I have attached a copy of our team photo to this post. For those of you who have contributed to our trip (both financially and through prayers), we greatly appreciate it! Please continue to pray for us while we are on the trip. I will be updating my blog while we are gone, so make sure to check back here to see what we have been doing.

It’s time for me to get some rest!

When The Enemy Attacks

August 25, 2012 2 comments
armor

When the enemy attacks, put on the armor of God!

When you are in the will of God and doing what He has called you to do, the enemy will attack. This is a promise – just look at James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Notice this verse doesn’t say “IF you face trials…” it says “WHENEVER you face trials…” so they are a guarantee in the Christian life. When we do what we are supposed to do, it irritates Satan and he will do everything in his power to make us fall.

In preparing for my Brazil mission trip, something happened the other day that can only be explained as a spiritual attack from the enemy. This situation came completely out of no where and the details are not important as to what exactly happened, but I could definitely tell I was getting push back for doing what God was wanting me to do. More often than not, our initial reaction is to just give up and given in by attacking anyone else involved, but that is exactly what the enemy wants. In my situation, I didn’t want to fire off words that I would later regret or do something that would hurt the other people involved so I stopped and immediately prayed about it – that God would give me patience and understanding with those involved in the situation.

The Lord woke me up early one morning after everything had transpired and put Ephesians 6:11-20 on my heart to pray for myself, my fellow Brazil mission trip team members, and the people of Capela in Londrina as we prepare for the trip next week:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

What do you do when you feel like the enemy is attacking you spiritually?

Photo Credit: By Neeraj Raj

Why Am I Here?

August 24, 2012 2 comments
You Are Here

How are you embracing your “here?”

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those philosophical “Why are we all here on this planet? Where did we come from?” posts. I went to a meeting at church last night for small group leaders and there were a lot of individuals who would be leading a group for the first time. Mark Shull, the Director of Men’s Groups, shared something with all of the leaders (both new and old) that has resonated with me today. “You are here for a reason!” He was talking specifically about why all the leaders who were in attendance last night were at the meeting, but it could be applied to life in general.

God has put you in the place where you currently are for a reason. We may not understand any of the details as to why or what is going on, but HE does. Don’t get so caught up with thoughts like “Why am I still living in this city?” or “Why am I still at this job?” or even “Why am I still without a job right now?” Focus on what you can do while you are in your current “here.” Who are the people around you? How can you have an impact on their life by serving them?

Personally, I get so frustrated with my current situation – I’ve been unemployed for almost 14 months, I’m not living in the area of town where I want to live, I am not married, and I do not have a family of my own. I am approaching a certain age where I thought all of these issues would be resolved, but apparently God has another plan in mind. I truly don’t understand one bit of this and I’m trying my best to do what I can, but more often than not, I let the current circumstances of my life get the best of me. I am trying to be like Paul in Philippians 4:11-13:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

In what ways are you trying to embrace where God has you in your life now?

Photo Credit: By Jorge

Blessed Are Those Who Come With No Agenda…

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment
personal agenda

Don’t serve with a personal agenda!

It’s hard to believe that we will be leaving for our Brazil mission trip in only 9 days! We have only about $600 left to raise in order to meet our team goal on fundraising. We’ve also had a change in plans as to what we are going to be doing when we get there. The original plan was to show them how to lead the Singles environment (Singles Gatherings) we do at our church and then help them modify it to make it relevant to their culture. We have since found out that they already have a Singles environment (Lounge Capela) and they want us to come and experience it and give them feedback. One of their biggest concerns is that only 30 or so people come each time they have it (once a month) and it’s never the same 30 people. They want us to help with suggestions on how they can help grow the environment.

The format of Lounge Capela is simple – people come in and grab some food, the band plays some fun music (typically associated with the monthly theme), they have a guest speaker or two talk about the theme/subject for the month, the audience gets to ask the speaker(s) questions, and then at the end they encourage the audience to continue talking about the theme/subject with others who are there. We will be there for the September 1 Lounge Capela and the topic is bullying. In April of 2011, a young man (about 23 years old) went on a shooting rampage in an elementary school in Rio and killed several students. It was later discovered that he was bullied when he was a student and he was out for revenge. The exciting (and also stressful) thing is that I was asked to be one of the guest speakers (I was bullied in middle school) and they would like for me to share my experience as one who has been bullied and also share what bullying is like in North America (including why do people bully others). They are also supposed to have a Psychologist as the other guest speaker and have him/her share about bullying from a medical professional’s point of view.

What I am learning through this experience is not to go into it with my own agenda. I don’t know if what I will share with the Singles in Londrina will have an impact on them or not, and I can’t go in with the agenda of changing their lives. All I can do is prepare what I am going to say and ask God to use it for His glory. Not having my own personal agenda is something I am learning through both preparing for my Brazil mission trip and in taking a class at church called Dignity Serves. Most people are familiar with The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). I feel like God is revealing a new Beatitude to me – “Blessed are those who come with no personal agenda, for they will not be discouraged when their unrealistic expectations are not met.” It’s like the magnet I have on the refrigerator in my kitchen – “We plan and God laughs.”

My friend Stephen Redden reminded me of a verse several years ago, and that same verse is definitely pertinent in my life even more so right now.

Proverbs 19:21 – “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Photo Credit: By Rooey202

Spark Takes A Much Needed Risk

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Spark by Jason Jaggard

Spark is a great read!

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church and we would frequently sing the hymn Pass It On – “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…” Little did I know the concept of “spark” would take on a whole new meaning in my later years. In his new book Spark, author Jason Jaggard defines a spark as “…a choice. A small risk. It’s a flash of light that brightens the everyday routine of your life. It’s a decision to move from inaction to action.” A spark is finding something that would make you, someone else, or the world as a whole a better place and actually doing that thing.

Jaggard’s organization Spark Good encourages people to form Spark Groups (a group of about 8-10 individuals who meet for five weeks encouraging each other to take a small risk each week) with their friends and family. The book talks about why we need to take risks and tells the stories of several individuals (including Jaggard himself) who took risks and how they bettered themselves and others as a result. It is definitely an easy read and I got a wealth of information from it. Here are a few takeaways that impacted me:

  • “Sometimes doing one imperfect but beautiful thing can lead you to more beautiful things later on if you are listening for God. Contrast that with doing nothing. Most of the time doing nothing leads to more nothing.”
  • “Sometimes God calls us to wait until He speaks. Other times He is waiting for us to act. And other times still, He won’t speak UNTIL we act. It’s in the acting that we hear Him speak. It’s when we move that we begin to see God more clearly.”
  • “When God moves and you stand still, God becomes blurry. Oftentimes the only way to see God clearly is to move along with Him.”

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with finding the next step to take in their life (after being unemployed, dealing with tragedy, or if you feel like you are in a rut). My only problem (and this is very minor) is the style of Jaggard’s writing – he writes a sentence or two then puts a space, then he’ll write another sentence then put another space, then write two more sentences and put a space…it’s not your “traditional” writing style and that kind of annoyed me. One of my friends described it as “writing down his thoughts.” This may or may not be a distraction for the reader (it was a distraction for me because I myself am a writer) but other than that it was a great read.

You can read the first chapter of Spark online. Watch the video for the book trailer below.

Photo Credit: By Parable.com

I Love My Church – Singles Leader Edition

August 10, 2012 Leave a comment
Hotel view

View from my room this weekend

What an organization does (or doesn’t do) to equip its leaders is a reflection of that organization. I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of a church that greatly invests in its leaders – Buckhead Church. The staff is always doing something for us to help us grow and become better leaders – whether it be giving us a book, spending one-on-one time with us, or having a guest speaker come and share with us. This weekend was yet another example of the giving nature of not only the church, but the Singles Ministry: The Singles Leader Retreat.

In its second year, all of the leaders and staff in the Singles Ministry came together for a weekend (this year it was held at Cohutta Springs Conference Center in Crandall, GA) of teaching, social time, and some alone time with God. This year our speakers were Rodney Anderson (Singles Pastor at Buckhead Church) and Jeanne Stevens (she and her husband Jarrett Co-Pastor Soul City Church in Chicago, IL). One of the messages (given by Rodney) was on Psalm 139:13-16:

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

This passage has been at the forefront of my mind lately, as this was the third time in a couple of weeks that it has brought to my attention – Day 11 of 40 Days of The Jesus Creed used this passage, my roommate and I were talking about this passage the other day, and now Rodney spoke about it at the retreat. As leaders, we get so caught up in leading others that we often neglect ourselves. God took the time to create and care for us – we are of great value to Him. As a result we need to care for ourselves: eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and take care of ourselves spiritually and mentally.

What are you doing to take care of yourself as a leader?

Here are a couple videos they did for us this weekend at the Singles Leader Retreat. Enjoy!

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