Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016: A Year of Humility

Humility is a trait that is necessary to shape our character 
so that it reflects the character of our Heavenly Father.

            Humility was my word for 2016. I struggled for weeks to accept this word.  Even though I knew becoming more humble would be good for me, my pride kept me terrified to accept this word. In just a matter of days after accepting this as my word for the year God began to humble me, chipping away at the wall of pride that has been building for years as He forms me back into His original masterpiece.  That chiseling hurt, terribly!  My pride did not want to accept what this year was meant to be but thankfully God gave me the power to keep it in check (for the most part, I still had my days).  This has been a difficult year but so worth it.  I exit the year 2016 thankful that I said yes to humility. 

Lessons I learned:

I. Pride has ruined so many relationships and opportunities in my own life.  It has kept me from being happy.  It has kept me from opportunities I wanted and were given to others instead.  It has kept people I wanted to know better at arms length.  It has kept me from really knowing how much God loves me and experiencing that love first-hand. 

II. Luke 14:11 says, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled.  And all those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Often we don’t realize when we have exalted ourselves until we are humbled.  I do this regularly.  But when I look at the life of Jesus, I see that He took on the heart of a servant.  He had every right to exalt himself but chose instead to serve.  It’s important to remember that when I don’t feel like I’m being treated fairly.

III.  Self-justification is dangerous.  It is confidence in yourself and your abilities.  It is pride.  Humility is confidence in how God sees you and confidence in God’s ability to use you.  Self-justification is idolatry in appearance, caring more about appearing righteous rather than being righteous.  God hates it when I prop up my holiness on the failures of others.  God hates it when I read scripture and try to justify my behavior by comparing myself to others.  God hates self-justification and even tells us throughout scripture to allow Him to vindicate us.

IV.  The opposite of love is SELFISHNESS.  Pride has caused me to be selfish in the way I show love to others.  It has fooled me into thinking that I have loved others well.  1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”  Loving people with pride has caused me a lot of heartache because I put unrealistic expectations on others.  When they don’t meet those expectations I am let down by no ones fault but my own.  Humility is doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.  (You can read more about this lesson by clicking here to read a past blog I wrote.)


            As I reflect on this year my question for God is, “Have I learned all I can this year about humility?  Have I taken every opportunity to grow in humility?”  I know I still have a pride problem.  Pride is a sin I’m constantly going to have to keep in check.  But I do believe I have changed.  I feel like a better person.  I feel more alive, freer, and more open to love and to be loved.  This is the way life is meant to be lived.  Humility should be driving the way we encounter, love and respond to people, not pride. 

Even though 2016 is coming to an end, and I will take on a new work in January, I ask that God continue to help me overcome pride with humility.  I don’t want to be afraid of being wrong.  I don’t want to be afraid to be last.  I don’t want to be afraid to love.  I don’t want to be afraid to hold whatever position or job I have been given.  Lastly, I don’t want to think of myself more highly than I ought to think.  God’s truth has the power to transform us. May I never go back to pride, but always pursue humility. 

Where I was afraid to make this my word for a year I now want to make it my word for life because of how much better I feel.  Even when I’m stuck in a crappy situation by thinking about how I can make the best of it, instead of thinking about what I deserve, I find contentment, joy, and peace. 

This is a video I came across as I was deciding about my word for 2016.  It also popped up randomly a couple times during this year.  It is done by The Skit Guys.  The title of it is "God's Chisel Remastered." You can learn more about them by clicking here.  I hope it encourages you as much as it has me. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

My DTS Testimony

Priscilla Shire once said, “It is possible to be a disciple and not know God.”  This quote describes my life perfectly.  I grew up in church, was saved and baptized at a young age, but never really understood the truths I was being taught and raised on.  It wasn’t until this year where God helped me realize I have perfected the role of Martha but He wants me to learn how to be Mary.  (See the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10).

I have loved God from a very young age.  Since I was 12 years old I have been serving faithfully in my church, community, country, and the world.  This service has helped me grow in my passion for helping the weak and vulnerable. While I have served with passion I still felt so empty inside.  After some time, the good feelings I had from helping others would go away, and like a drug, I would want them back, more and more, giving every free moment, and every extra dollar I had to helping others. Believe it or not I was addicted to helping others.  You may think, “well this isn’t a bad thing,” but it really can be!

While helping others is good it shouldn’t be our priority.  I unfortunately spent many years neglecting my relationship with God.  This neglect caused me to doubt God’s love for me, leading me looking for love from the people I served, which was a HUGE mistake. 

My quiet time spot in Nepal
All God has really wanted is for me to spend time having a relationship with Him, to experience and be overwhelmed by His love for me. I was looking for love an acceptance from broken people and constantly being let down, causing the fear of rejection and abandonment to grow inside.  I knew in my head God loved me but that truth never made it to my heart. I made service to God an idol, because I put it before my relationship with Him.

Every year for the past 9 years I have prayed and asked God to give me a word for the year.  This word usually ends up being the theme of my year.  In November 2015 God gave me the word “humility” for 2016.  And in December 2015 the lessons I was to learn from that word began.  God humbled me, allowing everything He had given me to be taken from me.  This forced me to do something I should have done a very long time ago, attend a YWAM DTS (Youth With A Mission, Discipleship Training School). 

In this 6 month school I learned how to be Mary.  It forced me to be still and sit at the feet of Jesus.  Here I learned about the character and nature of God, His desire for all of creation, and His heart for Justice.  Most importantly, this school helped me move the truth that God loves me from my head, to my heart!  God used this school to complete me!  Before understanding God I never felt like I was complete, but now I feel whole, as well as emotionally and mentally healthy.

This school has helped me gain a better understanding of what justice looks like which will help me be a better advocate for social injustice and human rights.  In the past, passion is what has driven me to serve and help others when it should have been the love of God.  Because I didn’t understand the character and nature of God and I never experienced His love for myself, I wasn’t able to care for others with the authentic love that the people in this world need. 

Passion is great, but when there is no love behind passion it’s like someone playing the violin for the first time.  They may have passion to play but they don’t know what they are doing.  While their desire is to make beautiful music the screechy noise they are making instead is extremely annoying.  They need to be taught.  As they learn they will become better at playing the violin.  Because of their passion they will be successful at it, never quitting when it gets too difficult.  Most importantly, once they learn how to play that annoying noise will become a beautiful sound. 

It’s incredible the different sound you get from a beginner learning the violin to a professional violinist.  I believe this analogy also applies to me.  Now that I understand the character and nature of God, now that I believe in my heart Jesus loves me, I am able to serve others with the authentic love of God as the driving force behind my passion to see the vulnerable set free from injustice. As I look to God, the greatest teacher of love and advocate of justice in all of history, I am better equipped to help others find the wholeness and healing they are searching for.  God is pursuing each and every person.  My hope is that I can help others stop long enough to be caught by Him like I was!

My DTS at graduation

Friday, October 21, 2016

Villains Matter to God

This past week I had the opportunity to share about my 1½-year experience living and working in Thailand at a High School in Germany.  For those who are reading this blog that don’t know, over the past 4 years I have been doing social justice ministry in S. Korea and Thailand, mostly with anti-trafficking NGO’s.  

The theme of my presentation to the students was “Every Life Has Value.”  I would also add that if I had to put this past 1½-years into a theme I feel this would be an appropriate title.  That is because this theme is true, every life does have value.  Every life matters, even the lives of the bad guys.  This is one of the points of my presentation that I’m going to focus on in this blog. 

Now some of you may be thinking, “the bad guys who do these unjust and corrupt things to the innocent of this world deserve to have horrible things done in return to them.”  This is how I have thought for most of my life at least.  But during this journey God has helped me to understand that He loves the villain too.   

While He absolutely abhors what the villain does to the vulnerable, He ultimately desires to see their heart changed, for them to repent, and their desire to be in a relationship with Him, pursuing justice and righteousness.  He desires all of His creation to worship Him and experience His love, even the villain.  

I have met several of these villains from pimps, to Russian Mafia, madams, stepfathers, uncles, and johns.  It can be easy to get angry or be afraid of these people because of what they do and the power and control they have of others.  But they need Jesus’ love as much as the vulnerable I work with.  All of them have a story and all of them are loved by God.  

             At the end of my presentation one of the students asked me a really good question that left me thinking for many days, which in turn became this blog. “How are you able to have compassion for the bad guys?”  That was a really tough question for me because I honestly never thought about how I got to this point.  My response to this question was, “Pray for them.  The bible tells us to pray for our enemies.  Over the years, as I have prayed for my enemies, usually the thing that happens is God begins to help me develop compassion for them.” 

This question lead me to really think, pray, and try to understand God’s heart for the villain as I speak about how “Every Life Has Value.”  Here are the things that I came up with during my time processing this question.  I want to just clarify first that this is my understanding and so it may be wrong.  Or maybe my understanding doesn’t work for your thinking.  I want to encourage you to seek out the answers for yourself as well if this is a question that bothers you. 


God did not create the villain.  Even Satan himself was not created as a villain.  Satan chose to be Satan.  No one is born with the desire to hurt another human. Every person is born with a sin nature but every person has the option to choose sin or righteousness. 

God gave each human the right to choose; with His desire being we would choose Him.  Every choice we make is a choice to live for ourselves or to live for God. When we choose to live for God we end up living a life that helps others, a life that is full of compassion, joy, and love.  But when we choose to live for ourselves we usually end up hurting ourselves and or others.  The villain decided to make the choice to live for himself or herself, over and over again, leading them down the path of becoming the person they are today. 

Maybe you are thinking the villain can also decide to make different choices and begin to pursue justice and righteousness, but it’s not that easy.  The villain needs help.  Just like the vulnerable are enslaved to the villain the villain is too enslaved to the power, money, and control they are chasing.  They are a slave to their bad choices.  They are a slave to their sin and their pride is what keeps them locked up. 


Another thought I had was that I cannot go around preaching and saying “every life has value,” if I don’t mean it for the villains too.  Saying this sort of thing and not believing it for all people would be hypocritical of me. 

In the bible there is a great story that can be found in John 8.  It is the story of a woman who is caught in adultery.  The religious leaders who brought her to Jesus wanted to stone her because the Law of Moses commanded this as the consequence for her sin.  But Jesus replied by saying, “Let he who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Each person began to walk away one by one until only Jesus was left alone with the woman.  Jesus could have stoned her.  He was without sin. But he didn’t.  “Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either.  Go.  From now on sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11)

I too have broken God’s heart.  I too have chosen to live for myself at times and it has caused hurt to others.  I have said words to people that have cut them deep.  I have betrayed and let people I love down.  These things disappoint God just as much as selling children for sex.  I didn’t deserve to be forgiven but God had compassion on me and hasn’t given up on me even though I make mistakes all the time by choosing to live for myself instead of God. 

The great news is that more and more people are beginning to understand this concept.  Organizations new and old are starting to reach out to the villains and they are having success.  People who were once causing injustices to the vulnerable are now living their lives for God.  Prison ministries are finding great success as they go to prisons and share that God wants to give them a second chance.  Pimps in villages in Cambodia are changing their ways and no longer selling children because of ministries that work with the vulnerable and the villain.

This is the result I hope to see become more prevalent as people continue to fight against the injustices of this world.  I realize not everyone will choose the path of righteousness but my hope is that more will choose to live for God than don’t.    

Monday, September 26, 2016

Outreach Lessons Part 3: Perfect Love

During Outreach Phase of DTS we went to 3 places.  In each place God taught me a new lesson.  When I look back however I see how all 3 lessons relate in someway. 

This is the third lesson I learned, during the third part of outreach in Nepal.  The first was on the importance of abiding in Jesus so I can produce fruit that is good (John 15:1-17).  The second lesson was about how I abide, through devotion.  This third one will talk about the fruit that should come from abiding in Christ, which for me is PERFECT LOVE! 

As we were flying to Nepal and I was praying to God about an specific thing He had for me in Nepal I got the word “EVERYONE.”  I asked God what that meant and He spoke to my heart, “I want you to love EVERYONE on this trip, regardless of how they treat you or what they are like.” “I want you to love every person I put before you, no matter who they are.”  I’d like to say I did love everyone like He asked.  While sometimes I did, unfortunately sometimes I messed up.  Still, I learned something from every situation and this is what I will share in this blog.


Love is pretty important.  The world love is mentioned over 538 times in the bible.  In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that, “love is the greatest.”  The first fruit mentioned in the Fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).  Jesus taught us to “love” our enemies.  The greatest commandment is about “loving” God and the second is about “loving” others. 

In 1 John 4:7-21, it talks about how “love comes from God.” “God is love.” “God shows us love through His Son.” “That we need to love others because God loved us.” In verse 12 it shows that all people can see God on this earth when they witness true acts of humble, authentic, love. 

So how can I access this “perfect love?”  Well, the way I understand it is by abiding in Christ.  When I do this I gain access through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (vs 13-17). 

As I taught this lesson I used the example of me giving my iPhone to someone as a gift.  Not many Nepali people have smartphones, especially in the rural villages so this analogy worked great.  I asked the student to turn it on but she didn’t know how.  Then I asked her if she would like to learn how to use it?  She said yes and I asked her ways she could learn. Examples given by the students were to contact the creator of the phone, go to the store and ask a representative to help, ask me or another person or friend who already had experience using one, or read the instruction manual.  Then I said “The more you use your smart phone the better you will get at knowing how to handle it.”

Learning how to use perfect love is the same as learning how to use a new smartphone for the first time.  We don’t know how to love perfectly until we ask the Creator of perfect love, God, to show us.  We can also go to church and learn from pastors and elders.  We can ask our veteran Christian friends to help us understand and pray for us.  Lastly we can learn by reading the bible.  The more we love others, even our enemies, the easier it will get to truly love others with humble, authentic love.


·      *When I only point out the flaws in people it only makes their flaws greater in my eyes and sets people up for failure.
·      *When I only point out the flaws by being critical of others, it prevents love from happening because fear, anger, and hate fill the heart of the one being criticized. 
·      *Perfect love is loving someone regardless of their flaws and patiently helping them get on track.
·      *Perfect love gently rebukes the flaws and boldly proclaims the strengths.
·      *Perfect love is gracious remembering all life has value.  It treats all life that with value, even if the wrongdoer doesn’t repent.  It remembers I too am a sinner in need of saving grace. 
·      *Perfect love restores. 
·      *Perfect love pleases God and gives me confidence. 
·      *Perfect love is not prideful.
·      *Asking for help doesn’t make a person weak.  It actually makes them better because it humbles them and gives them the chance to be blessed and learn from others.  By doing this that person asking for help grows in wisdom and humility.  They can learn to do things the right way; the first time.


            Things in this world are constantly going to let me down or break my heart.  Some of those things will be things that break God’s heart like injustice, abuse, or lostness.  Other things will be things that try and distract me from God, like a break-up, a broken friendship, consequences from bad choices I make, or abandonment and rejection from friends and family.  I can’t fix my heart.  I can try to super glue the pieces back together but it will never be whole again.  When I abide in Christ, and trust Him, then He will give me a new heart with the capacity to love and trust again. 

            Love is perfected the more I show genuine love to others.  Love is perfected the deeper I abide in Christ and the more I am devoted to Christ because love abides in God.  When I tap into God’s love by spending time with Him, the love I give is made perfect because God is perfect.  God created love and He should always be the example I look to when giving love.  He should always be the refuel station I go to when my love tank is running dry. 

*********To read about the DTS outreach in Nepal click here.