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I’ve been walking with Jesus since I was a little girl, and it is by far the most wonderful, frustrating, romantic and terrifying relationship of my life. It breaks all social norms, ideas, and patterns. The grace part makes it wonderful, the faith part makes it adventurous, and the unknown often forces me to put God at arms length. I risk everything when I sit before the Lord. I become aware of how exposed I truly am and that I have no control over how he sees me. He simply sees me, all of me.

In human relationships there are levels of disclosure that both parties must engage in for the relationship to cultivate and become intimate. There’s the first level, consisting of physical characteristics and visible behaviors. The next level includes information like occupation, hobbies, or anything you could “Google” about a person. However, in order for the relationship to become deeper, more disclosure must take place where values, beliefs, and feelings are discussed.  Further, intimate and healthy relationships need reciprocity in order to grow. Both parties must continue to reveal information on similar levels as trust is established through time.

With God, things get a little messy because he doesn’t follow this relational model. Because he is our creator, he knows information about us at the deepest level of our being; including things we may not yet know about ourselves. Meanwhile we are still playing catch up on the names of Jesus’s friends and family.

As Christians, we discuss the sacrifices of following God, the hardships and possibility of persecution. However personally, I think the scariest thing of all is the vulnerability it takes to walk with Jesus everyday. Allowing the Lord to love me and take care of me knowing my sinful nature, and having the humility to risk being seen for who I am and the faith to know that I am accepted anyway.  Author ~ MW

As I skimmed some past journal entries I noticed a few lines that were either circled underlined, or both.  Here are a few that impacted me a second time.  I don’t remember where they came from, but I know they are great thoughts.  I hope to add some content to each of these ideas in the coming weeks.

 

You can’t have a true relationship with people you are trying to control…

Control is about fear. Intimacy is about risk…

Jesus said come follow me…an invitation to take a risk and enter into an intimate relationship with Christ.

Transition…

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety…its connection….

Even when we know the truth – death is always difficult…

Mentoring is 75 percent listening 20 percent asking good questions and 5 percent sharing personal experience…

 The root of sin is control and the desire to control is fear…

 

orange13 is growing!  Orange13 has added a new fresh contributor to help see the vision of orange13 become a reality.   We hope there will be many more gifted and insightful contributors who will share their stories in hopes to encourage and inspire.  Welcome and thank you for sharing your insights, thoughts and story with all connected to orange13

This past few days have reconnected with some good buds.  In the span of three days three good friends called me on consecutive nights.  One is out East in school, one is down South in school and the other is 20 minutes from my house working and making some cash.  I know all three through youth ministry.  In my former life I was a youth pastor and loved every second of it…maybe not the early years when lock-ins were popular, but everything else was great.

There is a new Budweiser commercial advertising their beer, but its more then just beer.  They are capturing some regular people and asking them to round up some “buds” for the holidays. Great idea and probably a solid move for advertising. If I were to round up some buds, those three guys who I spoke with on the phone would definitely be on the list.

Life is relationships.  Good ones, bad ones, unclear ones, and a billion other combinations.  I met with a guy on Monday who is dealing with a few different kinds of relationships and some were going really well and others were experiencing some turbulence.  All our relationships matter, but some should be higher on the priority list.  The aspect of my relationships that I want to improve is investing in the right people, in the right way at the right time.

The people I know are moving through life and moving away, getting married or beginning new jobs.  Those are major life benchmarks and it seems like a good time round up some buds, deepen the relationships and walk with them in whatever ways are appropriate.  Maybe its time for you to rethink the relationships in your life?

A former student stopped by to talk.  He had been told God doesn’t  love him anymore because he listens to a certain kind of music and hangs around certain types of people.  The person who told him this loves him and was not being mean, but might have simply overstated their opinion…which happens everyday.  We talked and seemed to make some progress.  I said, “as you walk out that door there are a few things I am certain of:  1. God loves you, 2.You are ugly and 3. I love ya.”

Sometimes things we fear scare us into holding onto convictions that are not from the heart of God.  Our world is full of competing and opposite convictions that are constantly being played out all over the world.  There are so many people with ideas, thoughts, emotions and beliefs.  I am not an expert on your beliefs or even my own…but our time on this planet is so short.  Its precious. Most of us won’t invent something that alters human history.  Most of us won’t rise to superstar status or become president with the power to change our world.  But each and everyone of us has the ability to choose.  We can choose to love.  We can choose to impact lives and influence our world by choosing love.  I am certain love is the best choice.  No matter how much you disagree…love.  When you love everything changes.  That co-worker you can’t stand try love.  The parent who is driving you crazy…try love.  The couple in the bar…try love.  When you are not sure…love

 

 

A long time youth ministry pioneer wrote a book a few years ago titled “Messy Spirituality”  These few lines really helped me remember that what qualifies me to be His Child is Jesus…not my performance, not my efforts…

Spirituality isn’t about being finished and perfect; spirituality is about trusting God in our unfurnished-ness (pg.29)

…it turns out that what disqualifies you and me from “spirituality” – the mess of our lives and our crippledness – is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus… Some of us actually believe that until we choose the correct way to live, we aren’t choose-able, that until we clean up the mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us. The opposite is true. Until we admit we are a mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us. (pg. 37)

Last night I heard a message centered in the story of the rich young ruler found in Mark 10.  In my journal I wrote something the speaker had said,  “The gospel is about risk and costly sacrifice.”  As the speaker was finishing up he asked a few questions as a challenge for our lives.   What is Jesus asking you to risk?  It It is a great question!  Which made me think of availability and what God is asking me to risk.

It got me thinking about all the stories of people in the Bible that God asked them to go, do, speak, or die.  It made me think of Moses who was asked to risk his life, practice self denial, and endure extreme hardship…and he did it…because he decided to risk being available to God.

David stepped out of a multitude or warriors and said, I’ll be the one to fight Goliath…and he did it…because he decided to risk being available to God.

Isaiah proclaim his willingness to be available through a simple statement, “Here I am send me!”

Esther a great women of the Old Testament faced death, but said, “If I perish, I perish.”  She chose to be available to Gods call.

Mary, another great women of the Bible who was told as a virgin that she would bear a child; simple said, “I am the Lords servant, may it be to me as you have said.

Paul though at his trial everyone deserted him, Paul risked being available to God for the sake of the gospel.

All these people could have said no.  But they chose to risk everything in order to be available to God.

What is God asking me to risk and am I willing to be available to His call?

How about you?

 

Last night I was part of a group of guys who get together and hang, talk, and encourage each other to trust in Christ. Our discussion flows across a diversity of topics in the course of 90 minutes.  It is a highlight of my week and I am really thankful to be with these guys.

Last night the topic was about forgiveness. It was a good discussion that led to to other conversations. The night went well. As I was looking through some old studies the next morning I found a Forgiveness Test. So I thought I would throw it up on my blog for the guys and for anyone else who reads this blog…to think through and process.

Ask yourself:

1. Do you frequently experience God’s love for you?
2. As you consider God looking down on you, what is His countenance like?
3. After you sin, how long do you feel guilty?
4. After you sin, can you come quickly to God in prayer?
5. When others offend or hurt you, are you quick to forgive?
6. When you see character weaknesses in other peoples lives, how do you respond?
7. How moved are you by God’s forgiveness to tell others about Christ?
8. When you feel like you are “not doing well”, do you ever doubt your salvation?
9. Do you ever dwell on your past sins or the sins of others?
10. How frequently do you think upon the cross, Christ’s blood and your forgiveness?

A Little More:

Hebrews 10:1-2; 2:14-18
Col 2:13, 14
2 Peter 1:9
Ps 32, 130:3,4
Rom 8:1

Just returned a few days ago from backpacking in the Red River Gorge which is nestled in the Daniel Boon National Forest. Our expedition team composed of four solid dudes from various colleges…and even an international student from Hong Kong.   The trail was incredible and offered a diversity of huge rock walls, quick up and downs and changed with almost every step.  The guys I spent time with were great!  The laughter was often, the conversations were encouraging and the time together will be one of my life memories.  Thanks guys! The video below is a small attempt to capture the experience with a few pictures from the trail.

The series continues…My last few posts are letters e-mailed to me from college age students describing the status of their relationship with God.

God and I are in a special place. He just knows me so well, and more than ever I feel the pursuit of His heart in my life – to have all of me. I feel His movements in my arrogance, in my selfishness, in my disobedience, in my relationships, in my success. He is relentless. He is completely unsatisfied with any part of my heart being captive to lies. Even when I am growing, I sense His desire to take me even further… to a place I do not know. I do not feel pressured by Him, but I feel energized by Him. I really feel He’s leading me (in each situation) to a place of freedom and wholeness!

 I feel like I am in a place with God where I feel if I am not walking with Him, I am missing out. Seriously missing out. I feel like God is teaching me I can trust Him. That’s radical you know! To really trust and rely on this unseen God whom I seemingly have a relationship with! But I do. I have a relationship with the unseen God.  And that unseen God is teaching me to trust Him.

 Sometimes I think walking away and living my own life could be better, more fun. A lot more fun to be honest. Sometimes I feel like I get bored. And truth be told I have even tested those waters this semester. It’s hard- this whole relationship thing. It takes a lot of work sometimes. It takes a lot of me working to keep my heart open, and asking for His help (which I really don’t feel like doing a lot of the time). It takes a lot of community and digesting truth. To be honest, I really don’t know too much about this unseen God. I read about Him and I talk about Him a lot. But the one thing I do know: I have never been more satisfied or more whole than when I am walking with Him. So, I am going to keep walking with Him and asking for His help to do so. Because I really believe He’s worth it. His freedom, His wholeness, His love – He’s worth it.