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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Guiding Whispers and Simple Statements

The more I think about it, the more I think that God talks to me most in whispers. I have had a few times where God just blew my mind in the ways He’s spoken to me, sure. But I feel like more often than not He gets me to quiet my mind and overwhelming thoughts so I can hear from Him.

This makes sense because I’m a ridiculous over-thinker. The amount of analyzing, speculating, and reasoning I go through on a day-to-day basis has actually exhausted other people. It would make sense that in order for me to hear from God I would need to search for that whisper.

He shouldn’t have to compete for my attention, so He speaks to me in a way that makes Him the only thing I’m thinking about.

This is all to say that I had an experience from God that could only come from me listening to His guiding whispers.

Once a month AIM does something called “The Burn” it’s a 12 or 24 hour period of worship where there is always someone worshipping at the office. I love this kind of stuff because I enjoy going at the weird times of night/morning. I don’t know why, I just think it’s fun.

So I went to the Burn after it had already started. I sat down in one of the chairs and took in the scene. Someone was worshipping with a guitar on the stage and there were stations all around. Comfortable chairs and couches had been brought in, as well as rugs and cushions. Basically you could worship however you wanted to. The room was lit dimly.

After trying to get into the worship for a minute I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. For whatever reason, I was not feeling it at all. Instead of pushing through it, or just giving up, I tried something I don’t usually do.

I let God take the reigns completely. I prayed that I wanted to do whatever He led me to do. So I quieted my overactive brain and listened to the prompts.

There was a small fire outside for people to sit around, and I could not stop thinking about it. So I took this as a sign and went outside to the fire. No one was around, so I audibly said:

“Alright God, I’m by the fire. What’s next?”

After meandering around the fire a few times a clear as day thought popped into my head.

“It’s warm by the fire.”

With the kind of extreme clarity that only comes from God, I decided to dwell on it. But before I could get too far into it, I looked up at the sky. Then another clear and sharp thought came to the surface.

“Clear the smoke, see the stars.”

Hmm.

Another simple, but super clear statement. It was at this time that I noticed that the fire needed some more wood, so I walked over to replenish the hungry fire’s fuel source when I walked into a spider web. It was then that a third and final thought catapulted to the front of my consciousness.

“Avoid the webs.”

Look, I know what you’re thinking. And no, I wasn’t high or intoxicated in any way. Each of these three simple statements had deep meaning to me, once I dwelled on them for a bit.

I had been asking God what I could do to get closer to Him. How I could commune with Him the way I felt on the Race. What that would even look like.

“It’s warm by the fire,” meant that when I seek Him and His ways He will bring me joy. Or warmth in this case. It’s warm in His embrace. It’s good when I look to Him. It’s good when I see Him.

“Clear the smoke, see the stars,” meant that if I can clear the distractions from my life I can see His splendor clearly. The beautiful stars were being blocked by the thick smoke, much like I was missing out on the things of my Father because the distractions of my life were as that thick smoke. Keeping me from seeing Him.

“Avoid the webs,” meant that He was cautioning me to not get ensnared by the many traps that the enemy sets. Spider webs are hard to see, and thus pretty hard to prepare for. But if I am constantly keeping vigilant for the things that the enemy can catch me in, then I can avoid the pain and hardship that comes with those traps.

Basically, God answered my query in three simple statements. Isn’t that nuts? Isn’t it incredible how He works? I think so too. After receiving these statements I searched for verses to see if there was anything that correlated, but found nothing that jumped out at me. It was then that I noticed the art station.

I historically have had very little to nothing to do with art stations. I just don’t do art. I don’t get it. I’m logical, rational, scientific guy. Not artsy. So when I felt a pull to the art station, I knew it could only be by God’s promptings.

 
Upon sitting down I knew there was only one thing I would do. So I drew the three statements best I could (poorly). I actually kept it, too!


Pictured here, the worst art from the Burn.

I haven’t felt more relaxed or peaceful in the presence of God in a while. And all through a bunch of random, simple occurrences. It was like I was doing a little activity with my Father. Some bonding time.

I will always remember that time. Not because 1,000 people were saved. Not because he healed all the things in the room. Not because someone spoke in tongues or there was prophecy. Those things my have happened, but I wasn’t paying attention.

Because simply put, I was hanging out with my Dad. And that was the most important thing to me.

I encourage you to do that. Take time to hang out with good ol’ Dad. He’s gonna enjoy it as much as you do. Maybe you’ll have your own simple statements to dwell on.

In Christ,

Seth


Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Is The Body?

I love being a part of the Adventures in Missions culture. One of the many reasons is because of Monday morning staff worship. Every Monday the whole staff gets together and we worship for about an hour, just to start the week out on the right foot.

These times are refreshing and amazing. Not only for the worship, but the community overall. I’m sort of a reserved worshipper, so I like to sit back sometimes and watch everyone in action. It’s so cool to see everyone worship in their own specific ways. I’ve gotten to the point where seeing people in their worship element gives me a lot of joy. Even helps me worship a bit. But it’s also in these times that I contemplate the theme of the “Body of Christ.”

Often times you hear people use that term. I use it pretty regularly myself. But I think the term and the theme itself has been a bit skewed. The way I hear it these days (generally speaking) is that the body of believers is whomever you have things in common with. Those that worship how you do, that think how you do, that act how you do, and that believe what you do. It’s based on commonality rather than faith. Commonality rather, I would venture to say, than Christ.

I think this is one of the many, many ways that the church and believers in general can build walls of exclusion. Rather than building an environment of acceptance and inclusion. I think it’s a byproduct of a much larger issue, but it’s one I see day in and day out. And one that I am by no means innocent of.

I grew up Southern Baptist, and boy was I good at it. There’s nothing wrong with my denomination, my church, or the believers I was in community with growing up, don’t get me wrong. But I definitely did not accept differences of opinion well. Or differences in worship. I thought it really only went one way, and those who deviated were selfishly just looking for attention. I was something of a critical child. Either that or these people who danced, shouted, and ran around in worship were just on a completely different level from me. They had something I didn’t or were simply better Christians.

Both of these ideas are false and ridiculous. A fact I’ve come to realize more and more as my life has gone on.

I wanna tell you what I think the body looks like. I took a quick video of our most recent Monday worship session. Take literally 20 seconds and look at it.

video


I know it wasn't the best quality, but did you see that? 

Did you catch they were all doing? Did you see what they had in common? What singular quality they stuck to?

There wasn’t one! Every single person in that video worships differently. They think differently. They talk to God differently. They act differently. You’d be hard-pressed to find something in common with all of them. Except for one thing. They all love Jesus something fierce. You probably also noticed how they didn’t look awkward, or didn’t seem uncomfortable with one another. That’s because they aren’t!

What is recognized at Adventures in Missions is that everyone comes from a different walk. Everyone has a different view on things. Everyone operates differently. But we all love Jesus and want to see His Kingdom on Earth. And that simple truth binds us all together. The body is diverse. The body is colorful. The body is crazy looking.

I mean look at the literal human body. If all the parts of the body did the same thing, we would look like one giant eye. Or one giant hand. Or one giant stomach. Without diversity of form and function in the body, we wouldn’t be able to live or move day-to-day. We wouldn’t actually be alive.

Since this is true of our human body (and tons of other things I could get into if you asked), then why don’t we think this way about our Christian body? Why does every other body have diverse functions and appearances, but our Christian body has to look like a group of clones all doing the same thing?

I don’t think Adventures is a perfect example, or that they do everything right by any means. Nor do I think that I have suddenly stumbled upon some deep, factual truth. I’m just going off what I have been through personally, and what I see day-to-day. Regardless I think AIM exemplifies this trait. The body is not defined by what we narrow-mindedly, or even open-mindedly, think it should look like. It’s defined by what Jesus said it should look like. And He said it should look diverse.

I wanna challenge you this week to look outside yourself and see what you can see. To set aside your preconceived notions of the Body of Christ, and see what you learn. It may be a pretty cool experience for you. Or it could be tough. Sometimes those things go hand-in-hand.

Here’s to challenging the norms!


Seth