Book Review – The Cross and the Switchblade

I read The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson, a long time ago–which is why it can be found on my resources page–but I picked it up again recently to re-read. It’s a true story about the beginnings of the Teen Challenge ministry; a ministry originally dedicated to bringing inner-city youth into relationship with Christ.

There’s so much to learn from Wilkerson’s prayer life, and his obedience to the Holy Spirit is one to aspire to. I love to see his prayers answered in unexpected ways, over and over again; it’s an amazingly beautiful, and powerful testament to the power and authority of God.

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While this book is great for any believer to read, I feel if you have an interest in urban missions or with those struggling with addictions, this book is particularly for you. It’s an honest representation of the challenges and hard work you may encounter. Although, written in 1963, I don’t think much has changed, as far as gangs and drug use goes; if anything, it may have gotten worse over time. I know when I was working on my master’s just a few years ago, I learned a lot about at-risk youth, and the things which they face is heartbreaking. Not to mention, there’s also the ever-growing problem of human trafficking, in addition to drugs, violence, and poverty. So, if you haven’t checked out this book, be sure to find yourself a copy!

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Learning to Appreciate the Silence

Silence is uncomfortable. Well, sometimes it can be. I believe it’s so, because silence gives us opportunity to think, to ask questions, to contemplate the world around us; and that makes us uncomfortable. Therefore, we tend to avoid it. Instead, we fill the air with the sounds of music, television sets, YouTube videos, or our own voices, and our mindseye with images from Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram (just to name a few). We’d rather listen to (or read, or view) insignificance than be forced to ponder anything of real importance. However, as believers, it’s often in these moments of silent contemplation that God reveals to us His greatest lessons.IMG_3503

Lately, I’ve been reading “Missional Motherhood,” by Gloria Furman. In one section of the book she talks about how God created us to be consumers of His Word. However, the devil, knowing that God designed us to be consumers, works at getting us to feast on things other than the Word: on stuff. Let’s face it, between social media and television, there’s no lack of exposure to “stuff.” Whether it’s material things, relationships, vacations, children, new recipes, organizational hacks, or makeup how-tos, there’s no shortage of “stuff” to preoccupy our time, energy, or thoughts. In fact, in our attempt to avoid silence and our own thoughts, we’ve become very good at silencing and drowning out the voice of God.

I know I’ve been guilty of this. Particularly as a new mom, it’s easier to sit in front of the television with a sleeping baby, or mindlessly scroll Facebook or Pinterest while nursing, than it has been to turn the pages of my Bible or talk with the Lord. But this needs to change. If we want our children to seek the Lord, then they need to see and hear their parents seeking the Lord. If we want them to have a heart for the lost, then they need to see our heart for the lost, His heart for the lost. If we want our children to live the Word, love the Word, and be consumers of the Word, then that’s what they need to see in us!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. ~ James 1:22-25 (ESV)

Yet, let’s not stop there, the gospel message is something our children should both see evidence of and hear.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

In conclusion, let’s not be afraid of the moments of silence in our lives. Let us instead, appreciate them, make more opportunities for them and use them appropriately. This year–and every year, for that matter–let’s strengthen our relationship with the Lord, let’s listen intently for His voice, and let’s teach our children to do the same.

Book Review – Revolution in World Missions

As I waited four hours at Sears a few Saturdays ago, for mechanics to change the brakes on my car, I finally had the opportunity to finish reading K.P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions. Yohannan isn’t really an author, he’s a missionary and founder of a ministry called “Gospel for Asia,” but he does a pretty good job of getting his points across in this book. Yesterday, as I was thinking about this book review I thought that the book’s title should have been Revolution in World Missions: Changing the Way You Think About Missions.b1-cover

The first point of the book may be difficult for United States believers to hear. Yohannan starts the book by discussing the abundance of gifts and freedoms we have in the U.S. that God has poured out on us and we often take for granted. For instance…

  • “In 1998, personal expenditures in the United States averaged $19,049 per person of which $1,276 (6.7 percent) went for food, leaving a comfortable $17,773 for other expenses. In India, the average person had only $276 to spend, of which $134 (48.4 percent) went for food, leaving a scant $142 for other needs for the entire year” (p. 44).
  • “The United States has about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores, carrying varieties of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible published in their own language…” “Besides books, 8,000 Christian magazines and newspapers flourish. More than 1,600 Christian radio stations broadcast the Gospel full-time, while many countries don’t even have their first Christian radio station. A tiny 0.1 percent of all Christian radio and television programming is directed toward the unevangelized world” (p. 50).
  • “The United States, with its 600,000 congregations or groups, is blessed with 1.5 million full-time Christian workers, or one full-time religious leader for every 182 people in the nation. What a difference this is from the rest of the world, where more than 2 billion people are still unreached with the Gospel. The unreached or ‘hidden peoples’ have only one missionary working for every 78,000 people,’ and there are still 10,000 people groups in the world without a single church among them to preach the Gospel” (pp. 50-51).

Yohannan’s point? That the abundance God has blessed is with should be used to build His kingdom and reach the lost.

The second point of Yohannan’s book? To remind the reader that providing for people’s physical needs is not the same as providing for their spiritual needs. “Substituting a bowl of rice for the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will never save a soul and will rarely change the attitude of a man’s heart. We will not even begin to make a dent in the kingdom of darkness until we lift up Christ with all the authority, power, and revelation that is given to us in the Bible,” writes Yohannan. He goes on to provide examples of ministries and teams that have gone out with the intent of reaching the lost through education or humanitarian relief, but end up failing because they get sidetracked by these other things and forget to keep the Gospel of Christ the center and focus their mission. His point: we must remember to keep the main thing, the main thing; providing for other human needs is important, but even more important are their spiritual needs.

Yohannan’s final point is that the best way to reach these unreached people groups is by training national missionaries—people already living there—and providing them with the financial support they need to reach as many people in their hometowns, neighboring towns and countries. This makes a lot of sense. First, because it’s less costly to support national missionaries than it is to send missionaries from other countries and provide them with the financial support they find necessary. Second, because people are more likely to listen to those they are most similar to and feel connected with. A wealthy American family, for instance, will have difficulty understanding not only the language, but also the perspective and culture of the poor migrant farmer of India. Lastly, because those of other nations have difficulty trusting those from the U.S. due to various historical events (i.e. imperialism, colonialism, proselytizing) and because of what they’ve seen of our culture (based on television programs and news).

Yohannan’s point is not that U.S. missionaries give up on serving in foreign countries, but that they leave behind a group of nationals that can be self-sufficient and will continue to develop and grow the church. When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of Paul, since this is what he did. He shared the Gospel with the lost, mentored them, sent them letters, and encouraged them, but he never stayed in one location for too long (until he was imprisoned). He allowed the churches that were established in each city to grow and develop under local leadership. As I finished up this book, I thought of the two churches my local church has been supportive in establishing in Ghana and El Salvador, and recognized the significance of local, national, leadership in their formation.

I definitely recommend that you read this book with a spirit of humility. It may seem that the author is simply criticizing the U.S. church; however, I don’t believe that he writes these things to insult us, but to correct our course and to make our mission—to share the gospel to the ends of the earth—more effective. If you’re interested in missions–and I believe we all should be, to some extent–I recommend you read this book. Take care and God bless!

P.S. You can request a free copy of this book here.

For All to Hear

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

The words above were spoken to the prophet Samuel, after he took one look at Jesse’s son, Eliab, and immediately assumed he would be the next king of Israel. God gently chided Samuel by telling him not to judge a man by his outward appearance and reminded him that He (God) sees the parts that truly matter. This weekend, as I was praying during one of our church’s worship and prayer services, I heard the following words spoken to my spirit: How dare we pick and choose who we will share the message of the gospel of Christ with! His spilt blood and broken body are far too precious for us to keep to ourselves.

Now, for most of us this may seem common sense and we’re thinking to ourselves, “I don’t judge anybody by their outward appearance!” But honestly…how do we usually decide who we share the gospel with? Do we only share the truth with those we think will be most receptive to hear it? Do we only share the message with strangers and overlook our friends because we’re afraid of changing the status of our relationship? Or perhaps we only share the gospel with our friends and ignore strangers or people who seem different from us? I know I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another.Until the Whole World Hears

Whatever the case may be, the truth remains the same. Christ died for all. And our responsibility as believers is to share the good news with everybody; not just those we believe might accept it, or just with our friends and family, or only with strangers. I hear you asking, “But what if they don’t accept it?” Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe. And here’s where we need to be reminded that no one has been, or ever will be, won over by the gospel of Christ if we’re rude, pushy, judgmental, or hateful. We’re called to speak in love and truth, to live what we believe, and plant the seed, whether or not we ever see any fruit firsthand.

How many people will miss out on the saving knowledge of Christ because we’re afraid of being rejected, mocked, or persecuted? How many people will miss out on the single most important relationship they’ll ever need or want—with Christ—because we’re afraid to modify the status of our relationship with that person?

You know, when Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that if we wanted to be His disciples we must hate everybody else, He didn’t mean that we actually were to hate them; He meant it in comparison to Him. The whole point is that we are to love God so passionately that everything else we love pales in comparison. He should be our everything and the only One we should be worried about displeasing. Therefore, when we put relationships with others before Him, we’re actually being disobedient. Furthermore, don’t we want the people we come into contact with every day to have that opportunity to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!? What’s more important, the relationship, or their eternal soul?

Lastly, since fear is the obstacle I face most often when it comes to sharing the gospel, I like to keep Hebrews 13:6 posted in my cubicle at work (and continually in the back of my mind) to constantly remind me that God is always with me, just as He’s always with you. Now…”go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and remember He is with us always…”even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, NLT)

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, AMP)

Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, The Message)

Wednesday’s Worship – July 29, 2015

Today’s worship is inspired by Matthew 9:37-38: Then He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”



Days of Elijah written by Robin Mark

These are the days of Elijah/Declaring the Word of the Lord/And these are the days of Your servant, Moses/Righteousness being restored

These are the days of great trials/Of famine and darkness and sword/Still we are the voice in the desert crying/Prepare ye the way of the Lord

Behold He comes/Riding on the clouds/Shining like the sun/At the trumpet’s call/Lift Your voice/It’s the year of jubilee/And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes

And these are the days of Ezekiel/The dry bones becoming as flesh/And these are the days of Your servant, David/Rebuilding the temple of praise

And these are the days of the harvest/The fields are all white in the world/And we are the laborers in Your vineyard/Declaring the Word of the Lord

Behold He comes/Riding on the clouds/Shining like the sun/At the trumpet’s call/Lift Your voice/It’s the year of jubilee/And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes [repeat]

There’s no God like Jehovah [repeat]

Behold He comes/Riding on the clouds/Shining like the sun/At the trumpet’s call/Lift Your voice/It’s the year of jubilee/And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes [repeat]


Hear Our Praises by Hillsong Worship

May our homes be filled with dancing/May our streets be filled with joy/May injustice bow to Jesus/As the people turn to pray

From the mountains to the valleys/Hear our praises rise to You/From the heavens to the nations/Hear our singing fill the air

May Your light shine in the darkness/As we walk before the cross/May Your glory fill the whole earth/As the water o’er the seas

From the mountains to the valleys/Hear our praises rise to You/From the heavens to the nations/Hear our singing fill the air [repeat]

Hallelujah [repeat]

From the mountains to the valleys/Hear our praises rise to You/From the heavens to the nations/Hear our singing fill the air


Tear Down The Walls by Hillsong UNITED

Tear down the walls/See the world/Is there something we have missed/Turn from ourselves/Look beyond/There is so much more than this

And I don’t need to see it to believe it/I don’t need to see it to believe it/’Cause I can’t shake this fire deep inside my heart

Look to the skies/Hope arise/See His majesty revealed/More than this life/There is love/There is hope and this is real

And I don’t need to see it to believe it/I don’t need to see it to believe it/’Cause I can’t shake this fire burning deep inside my heart

This life is Yours and hope is rising/As Your glory floods our hearts/Let love tear down these walls/That all creation would come back to You/It’s all for You

Your Name is glorious/Glorious/Your love is/Changing us/Calling us to worship/In spirit and in truth/As all creation returns to You

For all the sons and daughters/Who are walking in the darkness/You are calling us to lead them back to You/We will see Your Spirit rising/As the lost come out of hiding/Every heart will see this hope we have in You

And I don’t need to see it to believe it/I don’t need to see it to believe it/’Cause I can’t shake this fire burning deep inside my heart

This life is Yours and hope is rising/As Your glory floods our hearts/Let love tear down these walls/That all creation would come back to You/It’s all for You

Your Name is glorious/Glorious/Your love is/Changing us/Calling us to worship/In spirit and in truth/As all creation returns to You [repeat]

For all the sons and daughters/Who are walking in the darkness/You are calling us to lead them back to You/We will see Your Spirit rising/As the lost come out of hiding/Every heart will see this hope we have in You [repeat]

Your Name is glorious/Glorious/Your love is/Changing us/Calling us to worship/In spirit and in truth/As all creation returns to You [repeat]


God of this City sung by Chris Tomlin

You’re the God of this city/You’re the King of these people/You’re the Lord of this nation/You are

You’re the Light in the darkness/You’re the Hope to the hopeless/You’re the Peace to the restless/You are

There is no one like our God/There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city/For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city

You’re the God of this city/You’re the King of these people/You’re the Lord of this nation/You are

You’re the Light in the darkness/You’re the Hope to the hopeless/You’re the Peace to the restless/You are

There is no one like our God/There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city/For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city

There is no one like our God/There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city/For greater things have yet to come/Greater things are still to be done in this city


Hosanna by Hillsong UNITED

I see the King of glory/Coming on the clouds with fire/The whole earth shakes/The whole earth shakes

I see His love and mercy/Washing over all our sin/The people sing/The people sing

Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest/Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation/Rising up to take their place/With selfless faith/With selfless faith

I see a near revival/Stirring as we pray and seek/We’re on our knees/We’re on our knees

Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest/Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest

Heal my heart and make it clean/Open up my eyes to the things unseen/Show me how to love like You have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks Yours/Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause/As I walk from earth into eternity

Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest/Hosanna/Hosanna/Hosanna in the highest [repeat]

The Power of Presence

This week has been a little rough…Hahaha, that’s putting it a little lightly. Let’s face it I’ve been an emotional wreck this week. What started it? Oh, I don’t know, I suppose I started taking stock of my financial situation (as I began working on my taxes), which turned my attention towards my job, and then I started feeling a bit left out of certain discussions and decisions that were being made, and frustrated regarding some ministries I’m involved in. So, it’s just been a tough week.

Friday morning, I didn’t even want to get out of bed to go to work, I was feeling so low. I messaged my boyfriend in the morning, about how I was having a “my life doesn’t matter and I don’t make a difference in the world” type of week, and he did his best to tell me that that’s not true. Now, I know this isn’t true, but sometimes I really need to be reminded, which is what happened as the day progressed…

Last night, while meeting with a few young women for a Bible study (we’ve been working on the final half of Multiply, by Francis Chan; check out my previous posts for the first half of the book), we were talking about Moses and Israel’s exodus from Egypt; and our host/leader commented on how as Israel crossed the desert towards Canaan, they complained about how good they had it back in Egypt—where they were slaves! She asked us, what things are we holding on to back in Egypt that are preventing us from taking over our Canaan? I had to think long and hard, and ultimately decided that it’s my fear. Fear of failing, fear of not meeting my own expectations, fear of being left out and not fitting in, fear of never accomplishing the visions God’s given me, and never making any sort of impact on the world.

Which brought to mind a message I heard this week, by Judah Smith, titled Jesus is With You Always (yes, I was doing a lot of thinking this week and last night about how all of this fit together). Judah actually talks about how one of his chores growing up was taking out the garbage and how afraid he was of going outside in the dark alone to do this. However, when a friend went with him to throw out the garbage, his fears went away. Judah called this “the power of presence,” and referenced 1 John 4:15 which states that “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Bam! The power of God’s presence. I suddenly recognized that if we could truly grasp the fact that God is with us in every circumstance and every situation, and recognize that we are never alone, what a difference that would make in our lives, and how different our perspective of the world would be.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The Multiply study is based on the Great Commission, which is our calling, as believers, to share the love of Christ with the world; Judah calls this missionary living. Basically, we’re called to be missionaries to our neighbors! And let me tell you something; the enemy doesn’t like that! Judah tells a story about a seasoned pastor taking a younger pastor hunting, and the younger pastor asks the age-old question: why do bad things happen to good people? The seasoned pastor points to a dead animal in the field and says, “Do we shoot that animal? No, because it’s dead; only the living are hunted.” We have a target on our back (and this week I felt like this season’s game).

Next week, our new Young Adult ministry, The Gathering, will kick off, and I feel like the next point explains my week. I know that there are times when I feel like I’m not making any type of headway or difference in the world, but then God reminds me that I have a very unique perspective of the world and have experienced some situations that not many are willing to share or understand. For instance, because I often feel like an outcast, I never want others to feel like an outcast, so I make every effort to make everyone feel included, heard, and loved. It’s not wrong to feel different, but as another friend of mine recently wrote in her blog (Fire and Refinement) don’t let your differences isolate you, but let them be used for God’s glory, because it’s our uniqueness that opens doors to reach those in our life that others couldn’t connect with. God will use me (and you) to reach a specific audience and as scared and uncomfortable as I am, I know that God is with me.

Let Your Light Shine

Welcome back y’all! I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and have really wanted to share with you. This year is almost over and I’ve been going over my posts and realizing that when I first began this blog in 2012, I started out strong and posted very often, but this year I’ve posted very little. It’s not because there haven’t been things I wanted to share with you, but simply because things have really started to kick off this year and I’ve been pretty busy.

Believe

At the beginning of the year our church decided on the theme “Believe” for 2014, and we started out by filling out these little “Believe” cards, on which we wrote down things for with we were believing God to do in our lives this year. For me, the areas that I was praying over and believing that God would take care of involved my relationships, ministry opportunities, health, and a job. Since then, the only one that I’m still waiting for God’s hand to move in has been career wise.

I began dating someone from church back in July and have been working on strengthening my relationships with other women, as well. I got good news from my doctor a few months ago, that some cell abnormalities finally came back normal—I hugged my doctor and left the office praising God. Then the ministry opportunities began springing up! I’d been involved in the worship team, but then I decided to also help out with the children’s worship ministry, and then I was asked to teach our Young Adults class on Wednesday nights (score!). If you’ve ever read my About Me section you’ll find out that I love to teach; that’s why I began this blog to begin with! I still feel like God isn’t done with me, yet. My heart for young adults and the vision I’ve had for them include a Young Adults worship team, small group meetings outside the church, and students with such a passion for God that we’re unashamed to share the gospel with those around us and moved to be involved in outreach and services to others, which brings me to my next point.

The Great Commission

Just a few weeks ago, we began studying the book of Hebrews. This book begins by describing who Jesus Christ is (Hebrews 1:1-4):

  • The heir of all things.
  • The One through whom God made the universe.
  • The radiance of God’s glory.
  • The exact expression of God’s nature and being.
  • Sustainer of all things by His word.
  • The One who made purification for sins.
  • The One who sits at the right hand of Majesty on high.

It also talks about Jesus being greater than the angels and how important it is to obey what He commanded so that we don’t drift away; as well as the importance of Christ coming to us in human form. According to Hebrews, Christ’s purpose for dying on the cross was to destroy the Devil, give us freedom, and to reach out to us so that we would have opportunity for relationship with God (Hebrews 2:1-18).

In my personal Bible study I’ve begun the book of Revelation, of which the first three chapters describe the state of the 7 churches in Asia, which really had me thinking about the state of our churches now; and the state of the American Church, in particular, as I read Revelation 3:14:22 regarding the church at Laodicea being lukewarm.

Furthermore, in the world around me, I’ve noticed recently an excessive amount of sickness, tragedy, and death that has been pricking at my heart, basically screaming at me to share the Truth before it’s too late. But how? Do you notice that the question is not “why,” but rather, “how”? Because the why has already been answered…because of these Truths that I’ve just mentioned! Because of Who Christ is, because He suffered and died for us, because He took on the wrath of God for our sin (Hebrews 2:17; propitiation = wrath-bearing sacrifice) so that we might be reconciled—our sin debt paid for—to the Father. He loves each and every one of us—even those who have done horrible things—and wants us ALL to turn away from the things that we’ve put first in our lives to follow after Him.

So, back to my question, “how”? To be honest, I’m a much better writer than speaker. I always seem to have trouble searching for exact word I want to use, when speaking aloud. I have shared my testimony with a few young women from my church, but now I think I’d really like to share it with you all. I’ve been making some changes to this blog, and I feel that after I finally finish my testimony, I’ll be making a few more in light of my testimony. I want y’all to realize how much God loves us, how much He’s done for us, and how He’s called us to be a light in this dark and dying world. As believers we are called to be different, called to be set apart, but we are also called to love and serve those around us; and what better way to love those around us then by sharing the most important gift God has given us? I encourage you, if you have not already done so, write out your testimony and share it with those around you. In today’s world we have so many platforms in which to do this…in person, through blogs, books, videos, letters, art, song etc. How will you share your testimony? And with whom will you share it?