Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week 9- Music in Missions

Journal Entry no. 8 (week 9)

This week we really tackled the 'music' aspect of this "Music and Worship DTS".
It was quite fun :) Our speaker was an awesome musician named Stevie Lujan. (Check out his album, "Welcome Home", It's pretty great!
It was fun to have Stevie as a speaker because he seemed more like a friend, just hanging out and giving us good advice while telling us awesome stories about what God has done in his life.

We talked about all sorts of things relating to music and ministry.
Ways of worship, callings, (more) Lordship, God's resources vs. ours, influence in the music industry, communication, social media/promoting yourself,
we even had a day of songwriting, in which we broke into small groups and took about two hours to write a song. Then we all gathered back in the lecture room and performed our songs as a group. It was fun! It was also interesting to see how everyone's different styles came together to create something unique.

I don't know if I've mentioned it yet on this blog, but since one of the first few weeks here I've felt like God is actually legitimately calling me to be a musician.
 When I first felt Him telling me this, it really threw me for a loop because at that point I was still feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.
I reacted like this: "Okay. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the idea, God"
And I think He kind of smiled at me and said, "You'll see".

Ever since then He's been telling me (quite frequently, I might add) that He wants me to do music.
Let me tell you, I've fought and doubted, and said "nah, not little ol' me" a whole lot.
But I'm pretty sure He's not going to let up.

A few weeks back, my friend Ashlee and I had written a song together about how the enemy tries to come and get us and pull us into the dark. But more importantly, how we have the authority to say "forget you". When we wrote it, we said "we should do this at the next 'Open Mic Night'".
Well guess what? Open Mic Night snuck up on me.
I woke up yesterday morning in an inexcusably grouchy mood. Evidently, my nerves translate into grumpiness. I commend my dear friends for encouraging me, rather than telling me to pack up my mood and hit the road. (I'm half joking.. It wasn't that bad).
But I certainly wasn't excited.
I had a solo part, for cryin' out loud. I was freaked.

But I knew that this would be more than just singing a part in a song... It was actually a kind of warfare. I absolutely had to be obedient to God with this, even though I was ready to head for the hills. I guess that's why I was grumpy, I literally had no other option than to do this thing.
Isn't it appropriate that the song was about spiritual warfare?

So basically, Ashlee and I got up there in front of 40-50 people (even guests from the community!) and we did our thing. My voice wobbled during my part and I forgot to finish a line, but that was a part in the song where Ashlee and I were doing a 'call and response' thing anyway. (Ashlee was the 'victim', and I was the evil thing that was after her. Hehehe!)
So yeah, in all honesty: it could've gone better, but I don't care! I was obedient to God and I took that first step. And you know what? I do believe I'll do it again sometime.
My roommates had warned me that performing is addicting, I think they were right :D

So that's that.
I also spent a few hours on Thursday afternoon in the shade of a giant tree, under the clear blue skies, with big purple mountains standing off in the distance. And I wrote a good start
to a song that I believe is going to be awesome when it's finished! I'm actually psyched to finish it and share it with people.
So I'm starting to get excited about where God is taking me.
Life. What a cool adventure :-)


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 7- the Lordship of Christ

Journal entry no. 7
The Lordship of Christ

This has been the best week of DTS thus far.
It was also the most difficult as far as lectures go.

On Monday, I didn't know if I'd make it through the week. Lectures were intense and long and they convicted me in all the right areas.
And our speaker had the to-the-point style of teaching that I didn't particularly care for at first, but knew the whole time that I needed.

The things I learned this week were 'life lessons', not just information to keep in my head, but new perspectives on life itself and how to live it to the full.
That's my kind of lesson!

So the main points that hit me hard this week were these:

1. Maturity
Our speaker (Mark Parker) was very passionate about the subject of maturity, Spiritual and otherwise. And rightfully so! Because our attitudes, ability to control feelings and emotions, body language, the way we interact with other people, and our  sense of responsibility are all based on our level of maturity.
This hit me really hard.
My biggest struggle is with the attitude, which Mark pointed out much is harder to get over than drugs and alcohol.
Hello, conviction! We talked about maturity the most at the beginning of the week, which was good because that gave me the rest of the week to work on denying myself and choosing to be cheerful even when I didn't feel like it.
It's been good for me, and it gets easier all the time.
Not just with attitude, but every area of maturity. :D

2. Being a useful part of the Body.
I feel like over this week we students and the staff have become a family all over again. Somehow we've been unified in a whole new way and on a much deeper level.
It's awesome!! Mark talked a bit about how the parts of the body must work together and how each member should not just do it's own 'duty', but assist and encourage the  other members as they do theirs.
One thing that Mark said that also really convicted me was this:
"Everything that you do affects the entire body"
I suppose I had been thinking that my problems were my problems and only sometimes would they effect others. Wrong!
Every single word and action and certainly my body language effect everyone around me. This certainly helped motivate me to adjust my little "woe is me" attitude.
Far be it from me to drag others down!

3. Laying things down/demolishing idols
In anticipation of the subject of Lordship, many of us would make comments like "watch out, Lordship week is coming up. You might just have to give up that chocolate!" Because if Christ is really Lord over your life, you've got to be willing to hand everything over to Him if He asks for it.
That's why everyone feels so free this weekend :) we're not all holding on to our precious little idols anymore.
Friday was a very long, full, exciting, exhausting, amazing day.
We started at 9am and ended at 1am. Yes, really.
We did a 'tabernacle' process. Thanksgiving, praise, publicly handing our lives over to   God, giving things away, repenting publicly, laying things down, breaking off bondages, praising more, praying, overcoming obstacles as a body, encouraging one another through the hard things.
It was absolutely awesome.
And I've never felt more free and real and alive and in love with Jesus :)

I know it's not always going to be so fantastic to lay things down, and I won't always have the awesome community around me like I do right now, but another point that Mark made quite a few times was that we have to live today. Not being held back by yesterday, not being afraid of stumbling tomorrow. Just do what you know you have to do today and trust the Lord with it all.

Next week we tackle the subject of Spiritual Warfare. o_O
I don't know what to expect with that, but I think I'll just live today while I have it here. And I do believe I'll enjoy it, too.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Week 6— Evangelism

Journal entry no. 6

If you were to come to this DTS as an observer, I'm certain that one of the first things you would hear someone say is, "it's about to get real".
'Getting real' being that moment when someone is completely open about something that's bothering them, or they don't understand, or spilling something they've kept locked inside for ages.
We do it a lot around here, and I'm about to do it with you.
Because this week was pretty rough.

I can't say that I was thrilled about the subject of evangelism when I saw that it was our topic of focus for this week. I'm an introvert and the word 'evangelism' instantaneously sends a wave of fear, even dread, through my system.
(Yes, I am aware that I signed up for two months of outreach in Thailand)
I guess when I decided to come to this DTS, I figured it would be a good opportunity to get over my fear of people ;-)
It has been very good for that, but guess what? I'm still an introvert, therefore evangelism still holds very little appeal to me.

I suppose that I, like most people, immediately think of street evangelism when I think about it. You know, I get this image of someone walking up to a random person, pointing at their nose, and demanding, "Do you know Jesus?!? You NEED to know Jesus or you'll go to hell! Here, have a tract" and my mental images. I know that that's not what it's supposed to be like, but I'm getting real with you here. That's my first thought when I hear the word 'evangelism'.
Immediately followed by, "no thank you, I want no part in this". Which, if that's what evangelism really WAS, then absolutely, count me out.
But that mental image belongs in the rubbish bin.
It and evangelism have nothing to do with each other.

I was encouraged to hear that evangelism can be something as simple as buying a stranger's coffee for them. Because, as God would have it, evangelism is all about loving people.

One thing about loving people is that you cannot see yourself as better than they are in any way. We Christians tend to think that we are somehow 'above' the guy on the street, because 1. we're not on the street 2. We've got Jesus and we're not dirty anymore.
It is so easy to look at someone who is in need and without even realizing it, thinking "oh, that poor person! If only they had Jesus in their heart, they wouldn't be on the street!" 
Sometimes, we might as well wear a hat that says "I'm better and I know it".
Guys. God sees every sin the same way. They're all dirty and deserve punishment.
I could think a nasty little thought that only God and I know about, and be every bit as deserving of hell as the murderer in prison.
The only difference between me and the person on the street is that I've accepted the grace Jesus paid for, and they haven't yet. That's it.
I'm every bit as deserving of eternal death, but I've been shown my need for forgiveness and taken hold of it.

Yeah so, if I'm going to love someone, I need to make sure that I'm not wearing my superiority hat.

I'm going to be honest with you now, though, and let you in on what was really eating away at me this week. (I did learn all sorts of cool things and I could list every note that I took, but this is my journal, and journals are personal)

I felt a rain cloud over me all week long, but couldn't exactly pinpoint what was going on until I spent some hours today pacing, thinking, crying, asking God questions, getting real with myself, thinking some more, and pacing some more.
What a way to spend the afternoon, right? Talk about taking care of business!

God showed me that my little guilt problem was creeping back in.
See, my less than enthusiastic response to evangelism was quite the contrast to most of the other students. At least that's what it seemed like.
Some are even going into town on a weekly basis to evangelize and experiencing such cool things! So my lack of excitement immediately cast an almost imperceptible sense of guilt over me.
It was so small and unrecognizable that I didn't think much of it all week... Until today when God and I dealt with it.
But all the while, it was growing and making me more and more miserable, and therefore incapable of even being happy for those who are reaching out, much less excited to go out myself and talk to people.
I mean, really. By now, I felt like the LAST person God would want to use.

Then He straightened me out.
1. He doesn't love me any less now than He has before.
(Unconditional love. Best thing ever.)
2. I can't learn to love and care about people if I'm too busy feeling guilty and incapable.
3. God teaches people at different times and in different ways... Patience is important.
4. I don't have to be the one out on the streets! The people seeing all the action need prayer, too.
5. It's not about me having a load of really good faith. It's about me having the amount of faith that I have in a really good God.
6. If I'm willing to do what I can within the faith that I have, God is more than willing to make my faith stronger. But the key is not focusing on me at all, just Him.

Needless to say, my rain cloud has moved on and I'm trusting God to work with me just as I am. He knows what I need to learn and how to teach me.
Thank goodness!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Journal Entry no. 5 (Relationships)

Week 5- Relationships.

So this was the week to discuss all things relationship related.
We kicked off the week with an awesome lecture on 'the joy of singleness',
Which was really cool. Our speaker for that one was Letitia Shelton. she is the leader of many women's ministries here in Toowoomba.
She made the point that for many people, singleness is like an illness or something, they treat it as if it's going to kill them. They act out of desperation and end up wasting a bunch of time.
"Just stop worrying about it, and do something that matters!", she said.
Which I think is the perfect answer to the "woe is me, for I am single" mindset, because we tend to be so self-centered about it. If we put our time and effort into doing things for the good of our community and stuff, we'll automatically stop thinking so much about self and singleness.
Basically, what stuck with me from that lecture was: Being single may not be what you're aiming for, but if you are, so what? It's a season of life that God blesses in so many special ways. Make the most of it!

Then we moved on to relationship stuff.
We spent a good bit of time talking about the importance of forgiveness. (It's really important, guys) because you really shouldn't go into any relationship with a bunch of baggage.. When you do that, you end up passing it on to the other person, and you're both worse off than before.
So we talked a lot about that.

We also read in Ephesians 5, where it talks about how husbands and wives should act toward one another. Typically, you'd start thinking about the whole "husbands and wives" subject at verse 22, because that is where the "husbands and wives" heading is. But it was strongly suggested that we cross out the heading and start reading at verse 21, where it says "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ"
Because so often, the verse is misused to say that husbands can have complete control over their wives. I'll just say this: control and authority are two different things.
Authority is what the man ought to have, and he is instructed to use it in such a way that honors his wife. She, being blessed by this, ought to respect her husband. Which will give him more motivation to honor her. It's a never ending cycle, provided that both husband and wife submit themselves to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Makes sense to me.

We talked about the characteristics that a godly husband and godly wife ought to have.

The wife should be respectful, servant hearted, gentle, kind, honoring, and submissive. (Just to mention a few) she should look for ways to encourage her husband and support him in his efforts. She should be the one to keep the home in order and care for the children (of course, the husband has a major part in that, as well. But the wife is usually the one to take care of the immediate needs, like if the child is hungry).

The husband should love his wife so much that he's willing to give up everything for her. To lay down his life, you know? Like Christ did for us.
He should always be looking for what is most beneficial for his wife. He is the protector, he should be the one watching out for her and making sure that she's okay. He is the provider, he makes sure that his family is okay before doing anything else.
He has authority over his wife and children and will lead them in the way that is best for them.
The husband's list of responsibility goes on and on and on.

It's been interesting thinking about what qualities are found in a real man. There are so many guys out there who only care about themselves and what they want.
It makes me sick. 
I'm so thankful to know and interact with real gentlemen.
At my church at home, here at this DTS,
And of course, I've grown up in a family where my dad really is the head of the home and is a great example of what a real man is.
I guess this is why I've always known not to settle for 'just any guy'.
Naturally, this week has inspired many interesting discussions among us students.
After one such discussion, another girl told me that she loved that I know how I'm supposed to be treated as the girl, and will not settle for less.
This was awesome to hear... I just wish that we girls in general weren't so darn focused on attention and emotion and desire that we let ourselves forget our value and preciousness.
It would be so amazing if girls could be secure in who God made them to be and not try to fill the void for love with stupid things by making stupid decisions that end up hurting them.

Sorry for ranting. This is just something that really pushes my buttons.

So anyhow, there's my thoughts on relationships week.
Next week: Evangelism.
Totally different, right? We'll see how it goes!