Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Consistency = Humility

One thing that has become clear to me over the course of my life is that "consistency of spiritual life" requires humility. In order to consent to God's leadership, I must admit that I am weak but He is strong. If I refuse to deny my own strength, I refuse to rely on God for everything. When pride takes over, I praise myself instead of God. In these instances where God's power is mightily displayed, humility will come whether I like it or not. Sometimes I forget that displaying humility up front is a lot less painful than having God humble me later. When I understand verse 9 (My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness), I begin to crave intimacy with God more and more.
Today I began reading through my journal. It's something I do frequently with large gaps in-between. (AKA- I journal every day for two weeks and then take a few months off). In an attempt to reach some sort of humble catharsis, I started going through and crossing out everything I wrote about other people. My pride allowed me to, in my time spent with Jesus, point out and "pray for" faults in others rather than focusing on what God was trying to do in my own life. The ironic (though not at all ironic) fact is that every time I focused a significant amount of space on other people, it was almost always preceded by a significant lapse in disciplined quiet time. Spending time with the Lord, consistently, allows me to engage in conversation rather than attribute sporadic bits of wisdom to other people.

Galatians 2:17-21

Part of today's devo came from Galatians 2:20. I love the passage it's set in.

17 "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 10 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (NIV)

On Sunday in the ski boat, Andy asked me what would hold me back from giving 110% of myself this summer. My response was this sense of not being good enough, which I now relate to what Paul calls "observing the law" in Galatians. Observing the law is not what brings righteousness, it is the grace of God. The grace of God has made me good enough, and Andy and the rest of Sonshine have reassured me of this time and again. To re-word my response to Andy in the ski boat, I don't give myself the grace that God gives me, and that holds me back. Then Andy turned to me and said, "I wouldn't be sending you out if I didn't think you were ready. It's not about skills and abilities, it's about character and behavior." That is so true. Like Reid said on Monday morning, this is where we have been called to this summer. God has prepared us for this and continues to do so through His grace. So hold on to that grace, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Friday, May 27, 2011

In discipline there is freedom.......

A great motto that I learned in my years at Sonshine and now pass on to countless students in my classroom. Although I know in my head that this is a true statement there are times in my life when I want to skip the discipline and get to the freedom, we all know how that ends up....not well. The juxtaposition of that statement throws people but it logically makes so much sense. Like so many things in our faith, "when we lose our life we gain life", "in death their is life". It is interesting that there is this need to flee discipline and turn to run away when in actuality it is what we need and what will sustain us. I then turn to the idea of fight or flight and how in the midst of discipline we can choose to go one of two ways, fight or flight and I hope each time I decide to fight through the discipline and work through it as I grow closer to Christ and closer to freedom in Christ.

Having to Explain

Now that I am on summer break, many of my days have been getting together with friends and catching up on life. A lot of my friends want to hear about my time serving on Shasta and what looks like for me. I was telling my best friend the other day about the devotionals and how great they have been. She asked me if I take solo times every day. I told her yes and she then proceeded to ask why. She asked if I took solo times with God because it was something that was required of me. Her questions caught me off guard. This is a friend who has grown up in a Christian home. She and I have grown up in our church together. To be completely honest, she was the last person I thought I would have to explain this to. But that brings me to my other thought, why should I have to explain myself? I thought it would be obvious. I make sure to have my daily time with God because I know what it means. It means freedom, it means love, it means to be challenged. I know what impact having time with God has on my day. If you could have such a profound time with God, then why wouldn't you take that time? It felt odd explaining this to my friend but I know that it was probably something she needed to hear. By encouraging her to take that time, there are doors opened to her.

There isn't someone official regulating our daily time with God, it is up to us to be disciplined and make sure that we get that time. When my friend asked if it was required, I said no in the traditional meaning of the word. But I should have said meaning it is what is required of me in my walk with God.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do you truly believe His grace is sufficient for you?

Over the past couple months I've been feeling a frustration with my walk with Christ. When I sat down and spent time with him, I got this momentary feeling of true life and security, and then I was back in the world again, feeling lost and insecure. I was praying about it, but the feeling stayed there. I knew God was using it for his glory, showing me my anger and need for Him. In the midst of it I didn't get it, but about a week ago I felt the Spirit calling me just to rest in His love and grace. It was such a small but important thing that I had lost focus from. Jesus calls us to full dependance and full surrender, and guarantees us he will provide what we need. I felt Him asking me, why are you looking to other things for what can be only found in me?" It hurt to hear it, but the truth is, He really does discipline those he loves.

And also during worship last night God totally gave me another Spirit moment, telling me the same thing. He said "Do you believe my grace is sufficient for you? Do you really, truly believe it?" I thought about it for a while, and then read the verse that we were studying that night: ephesians 2:8-9. "By grace you have been saved, through faith, not of works so that no man may boast...." And man, I gotta say, I was humbled. It hit me like a train wreck. Sometimes we try so hard to play God in our lives. We make following Jesus a checklist and think that by doing everything on it, we are good with God. Well, God totally showed me that I was doing just that, and He gave me a big ol' slap in the face. When I was at the point of doubting God, he was there and in control, and he was trying to get me to look to Him. Satan was fooling me into thinking that what I was doing was right. While it looked right, God was there all along saying, "you're never going to be satisfied anywhere else but me." Its about Him working through us and changing us, and the Spirit living in us. We have a good God. Amen?

See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Hello Sonshine Staff!  This is it baby!  A few more days to THE Memorial Day Retreat. Below are the run jog walk totals thus far.  Remember our goal is $500.00 from every staff.  We are still $17,000.00 short! Please keep talking to people and ask, ask, ask! Keep it up people!

 $$$ Name
 $         345.00 Aaron Cardinio
 $         300.00 Allie Sherrod
 $          50.00 Alyssa Barlow
 $         750.00 Alyssa Holloway
 $      1,329.00 Amanda Morris
 $      1,450.00 Amanda Potts
Amy Brown
 $      1,069.00 Andy Clayton
 $          20.00 Anne Towles
 $         200.00 Anneliese Dion-Kindem
 $         922.00 Brad Hogenson
 $         550.00 Brianna Salvatore
 $         495.00 Caity Dickson
 $         100.00 Cassie Hanlin
 $         315.00 Chris Brown
 $         300.00 Cody Schulze
 $      1,120.00 Connor Drake
 $         340.00 Elizabeth Sherwood
 $         537.00 Emily Ferree
 $      1,050.00 Emily Williams 
 $         400.00 Emma Grager 
 $         474.00 Eric Wyne
 $         225.00 Esabeau Kendell-Bell
 $              -   Evan Smith
 $         430.00 Frank Sprauge
 $         205.00 Haley Ross
 $              -   Hillary Rush
 $         445.00 Hope Frankian
 $          30.00 Jackie Kabel
 $         315.00 Jackson Reimers
 $              -   Jacob Temple
 $         230.00 James Hansen
 $         245.00 Jamie Sickler
 $          75.00 Jenna Gailey
 $         680.00 Jennifer Harnet
 $         415.20 Jonathan Beltran
 $         140.00 Jonathan Hale
 $         155.00 Jordan Costa
 $         500.00 Jordan Leonard
 $         150.00 Joseph Lee
 $         325.00 Josh Vance
 $         200.00 Josiah Auer
 $         660.00 Joy Brusenback
 $          25.00 Kaitlyn Bonne
 $         160.00 Karly Nelson
 $         100.00 Kate Stipa
 $         110.00 Katie Anema
 $         110.00 Katie Jameson
 $          10.00 Katie Lind
 $         505.00 Katy Conlin
 $          10.00 Kayla Neal
 $         705.00 Kelly kurtenbach
 $         185.00 Kevin Ganon
 $         900.00 Kevin Straw
 $         485.00 Kira Thornley
 $         150.00 Kristen Anema
 $              -   Kristen Brandsma
 $          50.00 Lauren Green
 $         390.00 Lauren Stack
 $         150.00 Lauren Traurig
 $         300.00 Lauren Whitney
 $         285.00 Lexi Prior
 $          20.00 Logan Daily
 $          20.00 Mackenzie Hittle
 $         590.00 Mallory Bockwoldt
 $         400.00 Megan Obrien
 $         780.00 Micaela Saqui
 $         190.00 Michael Corsetto
 $         316.00 Michael Obrien
 $          10.00 Molly White
 $         400.00 Nikki Smith
 $         770.00 Nina Huckabay
 $         830.00 Pearl Snow
 $              -   Rebekah Bujanowski
 $      2,010.00 Reid Delgado
 $         595.00 Samantha Lotti
 $          65.00 Sarah Cardona
 $         440.00 Sarah Josephson
 $         100.00 Sarah Thomas
 $          10.00 Sean Pierce
 $         235.00 Shane Anderson
 $         332.00 Stefanie Woodruff
 $              -   Stephanie Draeger
 $      1,125.00 Stephanie Machello
 $         533.00 Steph Fry
 $      1,070.00 Steve Mann
 $              -   Tony Dunn
 $         165.00 Tyler Moore
 $          10.00 Wendy Whitcombe

Knitting the loincloth

This week I had the opportunity to grab dinner with my best friend who I don't get to see very often. She goes to school in Santa Barbara and neither of us are home often, but we always seem to be in similar places. She works at Hume Lake during the summer and we enjoy sharing camp stories. As we dove deeper into conversation, we discussed how we have been gearing up for the camp life. We talked about the joy last summer brought us and the nerves we had for this summer. We were talking about how we felt unprepared, like we had to be in a certain place in order to serve God the way He needed us to. When we got to this point we realized how dumb we were being. Who do I think I am that I need to get somewhere before God will use me? Why do I think I have anything to offer at all? "Heroic faith is an oxymoron unless Christ is the hero." I need to step aside and let God be the hero He has always been.
You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with the title of my post. Well today's devotional references Adam and Eve in the garden post-fall. The pride that I exercised in the above situation stems from original sin. In this, I have a tendency to "hide" things from God. In my women's group this year, our first semester focused on sin. We talked openly with one another about sins that afflicted us and how we have been relying on God to overcome them. When we studied Adam and Eve in the garden, we quickly saw the parallels of pride in our own lives. This led us to coin the phrase "knitting the loincloth." Much like Adam and Eve hiding their nakedness from God and each other, we knit our loin cloths when we reject vulnerability and embrace pride. The discipline of daily, hourly, minutely connecting with God is what heals us from this brokenness of deceptive wholeness. When we think we are full but are not relying on God, we are knitting a loincloth and putting up a wall. It's like God wants to fill us with premium gas and we are settling for diesel. He gives it to us for free but we are still concerned about the price. Craving intimacy with God is essential to receiving His gifts fully. When we see and understand all that is belongs to God and all that we are and have is a gift from Him, we move beyond abundance into the extravagant love of a Creator who desires a relationship with us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Come, sit with Me

Over the past few months, I have really struggled to just sit with the Lord. I know I don't need to be perfect to come and sit with Christ, but for some reason it felt (feels) hard to just sit at His feet. I often feel ashamed to sit with Him when I know that I am struggling with so many things.

Just a few weeks ago, He revealed to me (still is) that I am not coming to Him as I am. I wrote this in my journal: I don't need to be perfect to come to Christ. Yes, I am struggling with things not of Him. He doesn't want me to not spend time with Him because I feel ashamed. He doesn't want me to feel ashamed! I cannot heal myself. And not spending time with Him is not allowing Him to deliver me from my dead heart. I must stop focusing on my struggles and how hopeless I feel to change, and rather start focusing on my relationship with Christ.

I again was struggling last night to sit with Him. I journaled last night: So much of me wants to believe that my struggles can fill the emptiness (reading over this today, I realize it is not me, it is lies from the enemy), but another part knows that everything apart from Christ leads to emptiness.

And as I was journaling, I heard Him say to me "Jenna! Stop focusing on how to change yourself, but rather let ME love you! Come, sit with Me."

I must stop focusing on how to change my struggles, and rather start focusing on His fullness and allow Him to "fill the secret, empty recesses of [my] soul" so I can reflect His fullness.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I am empty He is full

I remember sitting in this staff characteristic all last summer. And a year later it still is sitting heavy and whirling around in my head.

"The more you focus on your creator's fullness, the more you perceive your own emptiness. As the creator fills the secret, empty recesses of your soul your countenance reflects the creator's fullness...The challenge is that the fullness of your creator is not something that you acquire. It is freely and extravagantly given. What lacks is the discipline and resolve to commune intimately with the creator's abundance."

Father, show me how to wear the person of Christ like a garment or sweet perfume. Open my eyes to let me be in your abundance grace. Thank you for extravagantly giving and giving your fullness into my emptiness.

God is Good

Oh man, I have been in love with the devotionals. I've been thinking a lot about committing yourself to the Lord and giving yourself to Him. I have been reading "Captivating" and WOW it has been amazing along with the staff devotionals.

I have gotten to the part when it talks about how God is longing to be loved by us, and it made me realize that I am longing to love Him too. I want to deepen my relationship with Him and just consume myself in His love and want others to experience His love as well. As time approaches near and we are about to do our training, I am so excited to be surrounded by staff that is in love with the Lord.

I feel as though my heart is being changed by the Lord and am ready to see what He has in store for me up on the lake. I just wanted to share how amazing these quiet times have been with our super ultra packet. Our transformation has just begun and the summer will be arriving fast. It will be amazing!!!

Half Empty? Half Full? No, EMPTY!

Today has been a day of coincidences. And by coincidences I mean 'Those moments when God says 'SHAZAM!'" Having not read the material for today until now, I was amazed to see how all of my thoughts today resembled the words written in the devotional.
I decided to go on a run today, something I don't think I've done since... Memorial Day last year? Of course, I thought it would be a good idea to do an uphill run. As my legs were giving out, my heart bouncing out of my skin, and my face forming all kinds of bizarre expressions, I remember the words that I have been telling people all year, that I remember so vividly from last summer, and that I heard God saying to me at that moment, "How do you expect me to fill you when you're not empty?" Yeah, I was just running and we're talking about literal energy here, but isn't it the same thing? How can God fill is up with Himself when we're not emptied? Sure, we can pour out half ourselves and let God fill the other half, but then we're just mixing God juice with nasty human toxins. Instead, wouldn't it be a better idea to empty ourselves completely and let ourselves be filled completely with God?? How much better would that be? It would be the best way of cleansing your body ever! Forget asparagus or artichoke... or whatever foods they tell you to eat to detox your body; let's have God detox our bodies!
Anyway, so I'm running and getting tired, wanting to give up. I'm almost to this spot on this hill that overlooks the bay, so I thought, well since I'm almost there, I'll just walk. Then, SHAZAM. I see this barren tree ahead of me (by the way, just refer to Kira's post, this is like part 2). At the top of this tree are two branches going off in opposite directions. Of course, there's the cross laid out right before me. Christ is waiting for me. Are you going to run to me, Josh? Or are you going to walk to me? Do you want me to fill you up because you are so drained or do you want me to just sprinkle a little bit of myself on top of your Josh milkshake that you have made for yourself? I want ALL OF YOU, Lord. ALL OF YOU to fill me up ALL THE WAY. I saw myself sprinting up this steep incline to make it to the foot of the cross. I get to the top of the hill, out of breath, tired. I sit down, pull out the Bible and open to Joshua (not because I'm stuck up and want to read about myself). I read over Joshua 1:9 - Be strong and courageous...the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. I sit there and think about that. He is with me wherever I go.
Then I come home and read the devotional. "The fullness of your creator is not something you acquire. It is freely and extravagantly given. What lacks is the discipline and resolve to commune intimately with the creator's abundance." Discipline. What does that even mean? Yeah, sure, disciple can mean be running and striving to reach a certain goal. What is that goal? Yeah, the goal is reaching the cross, finding Christ, having him fill me up because I have realized that he is the bread of life and he gives me life. But, why am I running? Am I scared of something? "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." No, I'm not scared. I'm joyful. I'm getting thirsty and tired... yet I'm joyful? I realized that I was not just running with the Lord, but for the Lord. To reach the Lord and to have others reach the Lord. This year I have more RJW sponsors than I have had in the past. I continued to think about this joy - this joy in exhaustion. This joy in pain. This joy in thirst. Others need to experience that joy! Why should I experience this and others not? I realized that I was running for discipline. The more I run, the more I trust, the more joy that others can experience.
We hear throughout the summer at Sonshine that we don't want to get to the end and feel like there was more we could give. Give everything. Well, I don't want to get to the end of the RJW thinking there was more I could give, more campers I could have helped find joy in the Lord just as I was blessed to have been given the opportunity to do so 9 years ago! Because a Sonshine staff member raised money to help me go to camp, to experience love, and to experience the joy of the Lord!

Simple- Go out and run, just don't stop.

[17] Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
[18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
[19] GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

It's funny that the longer I've followed God, the more I see patterns in what I learn, in what I'm told, and in what I say about God. He is good, He loves, He is justice, He is mercy. As a Christian I must love, I must yearn to know him, I must follow his commands. I've said these things in a hundred different ways, (no really, read my journal) and heard them in thousands more. When it comes down to it what we are called to do is relatively simple. But that doesn't mean it is easy. Take joy, because even when the fig tree doesn't blossom, and the vines bear no fruit, we rejoice in the Lord, and be patient for him to fulfill his promises, and to know that he is there with us. Part of that is based in discipline. Patience is hard, listening when you might not even know what to listen for is hard. But it is simple.

The act of running a marathon is physically and psychologically very, very difficult, but the concept of it is relatively simple. You go out, you run, and you don'g stop until you hit the finish line.

That is the difference between what I sometimes feel Christianity is, and what it actually is. It isn't a riddle to be solved, it isn't a winding maze of theology, or an overwhelmingly loud noise with no discernible message. It is hard, but that difficulty doesn't mean complexity. I tend to over think everything so this can be particularly difficult for me. There's got to be more to it then that! But this simple task isn't a short or easy one, so it takes discipline to make it to the finish line. Even the easiest things cannot be finished without discipline.

We aren't sprinting here, we don't have an end in sight (no matter how many people told you that Jesus was coming back on Saturday). But the way we are going is straight (and narrow!), it's just going to take discipline to keep moving.

The fullness of the creator

Today's devotional writing on the culture point might be my favorite out of all of them. To focus on the fullness of the creator means we turn our eyes on him and him alone. In that action we perceive our own emptiness. Our eyes are still on the fullness of our creator. What a gift from the creator to perceive our own emptiness. I know that sounds weird but without that gift we would not know him. Without knowing how empty we really are we would have no need for a savior. When we focus on his fullness the great gift of our emptiness is perceived to the glory of god! That is why we can't earn his fragrance, that also is a gift!! Oh how marvelous this god that has created us is!! I spent the last week in Boston and was blown away with how many people there are in the world. "how does He do it?" I kept asking Kelly my wife, "how does He know and care for and desire such intimacy with all these people?". It blew me away how full he is! Praise god that his fullness is so much larger than all of our emptiness


Considering finals were the last two weeks, my brain has been thinking uhh educationally. Two of the passages we read stood out to me because they changed my view on college and why I am in school at all. I find it easy to focus on getting good grades and being bummed when it doesn't happen. While yes, I am full time student and my parents would be the first to say "my job is to get good grades" thats not my purpose. My purpose is to go to school for God. Weather that is through the relationships I build in class or light that Christ shines through me or the papers i write about God for my professors, my purpose is to glorify God. 1st Corinthians 8:1 talks about knowledge leads to selfish ambition. While this isn't to say knowledge is bad but when it is my main goal, it totally is. Also, in 1st Corinthians 8:9 it says that we need to be careful that our freedom doesn't cause others to stumble. While knowledge is important, the most important kind of knowledge is how to bring others to Jesus, it's not about how much I can share with a camper, or a friend, it's about how I can be there to help them learn.
For me, when school is no longer about academic perfection, and simply another opportunity to serve Jesus, theres a whole lot of less stress.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Moment Past Pride

Sensitivity and pride go hand in hand, for without pride, we would be willing to be sensitive with anyone, or at least nearly anyone. Sensitivity is also a balance though, for becoming sensitive to the point of being vulnerable with anyone and sharing your deepest thoughts, secrets, or fears crosses a line into becoming selfish. And selfish ambition is not what we want when we deal with those who we are ministering too. The place where this becomes hard is when this is to be balance and then applied towards those who we dislike or who dislike us. Luke 6:32 says, “… Even sinners love those who love them.” The only thing that stops us from doing something like this is really our own selfish pride, our inability to accept that we are not better than others. When you think about it, it means more than just being friendly towards those who do you wrong, it means that you are laying it out there for them. It is not always for their benefit or for your own, but it is for the glory of God that you are open, sensitive, and vulnerable with those who will listen.

Lately I have been thinking about how this can be used in application, and toying with it a little bit while working with middle schoolers. As it turns out, they do respond better to an open heart and acceptance. Taking this a bit further, what does this mean for working this summer? It means I have a lot to work on is what it means, and you may too. I know that I can separate myself emotionally from people, whether that’s a personality “flaw,” who knows, but what it does mean is that I need to work on opening up and tearing down some walls that I can put up when dealing with those who are not necessarily complementary to me or my personality. To put it quite frankly, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), and I know that I never want enjoy people shutting themselves off from me.

Unmet expectations lead to frustration.....

How true that has rang in my life. When I set expectations on people, things or situations and what I expect to happen doesn't...well let me tell you it is a rough day in the life is Steph Fry but when I leave people, things and situations to be in the hands of Christ and for his "expectations" to be met well there is no better day. Freedom is Christ and expectations are chains that hold us in a place that may not be where Christ has called us to be. I love the Luke verse 15:1-10 alongside with the idea of reckless servanthood because to go for one sheep or rejoice over one coin seems crazy and well reckless but that is exactly what we are called to do. Each person, thing and situation matters to Christ and that is where we can have great expectations is in Christ.
as i went through this past weeks devotional, some of the things that have been on my mind are love, selflessness, and respect. jesus shows us that we need to follow his example and exercise these characteristics in our lives and as we serve. we are serving for christ and his kingdom, for his glory. we are imitating christ by selflessly loving those around us, but we need him to do that. we need to surrender and obey. reckless servanthood.
i was also reminded of loving unconditionally. even though it maybe hard, we are to love and share christ with all of the campers we come into contact with. sometimes that can be hard, and some are not easy to love, but often those are the ones that need it the most.
wednesdays devo was so challenging. are we shining as brightly as we could? are we looking only to the lord to satisfy? may we only look to him to fill us up, and his character will be evident to all.
i couldn't help but think of a song that we would sometimes sing last summer, called the blessed light. it talks about the lord being the sun and us being the moon. we merely reflect the light that comes from him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Open Up Your Ears

As I was reflecting on this week of sensitivity, I realized that I need to add/change my definition. I realized that sensitivity in itself is something that depends on others and goes way beyond the self. Being my nerdy self, I looked up the actual definition of sensitivity. Every single definition that I found related being sensitive to an external/outside source. It is not about us when it comes to sensitivity. It is about those around us and what is going on with our surroundings. Being sensitive is being aware of the thoughts and feelings of those we are with. Being sensitive is about listening and keeping an open mind. My roommate this year had a piece of scripture and a reminder about what the scripture meant pinned to the backboard of her desk. I remember thinking about it every time I saw it. It said that she should be slow to speak but quick to listen to others. One of the things that I admired about my roommate was how devoted and caring she was for her friends. Often times I would walk into my room and find her sitting with a friend having a deep conversation. I was generally asked to leave the room so they could have time alone which I was happy to give. The interesting thing is, each time this happened, it was always with a different person and it was never my roommate who was talking. My roommate was always listening. I think listening is something that we have a tendency to overlook. I don't think we realize just how important listening can be. I don't know about the rest of you, but I know that I need to listen more. I am not just talking about with my friends or my family. I need to listen more to God. So much of my relationship with Christ is too much of me talking and not enough of my listening and hearing what He wants me to hear. Not to say that I don't listen to God, I just think I need to listen more. Listening is such a huge part of sensitivity. When we are on the water this summer, it is critical that we listen. Whether it is listening to a camper share their story, a youth leader give the message, listening to fellow staff or dockhands, or listening to Christ we need to listen. I know I am probably stating the obvious, but its true. Listening is key.

The Ongoing Lesson of Prayer

I am often reminded of how important of the Lord's prayer is. Even though praying is about God, my selfishness takes over and makes it about me. Taking the focus off of God, I think about how He is going to speak to me, or my needs, or countless other things that are focused on me, but that's not what prayer is about. God knows our needs and he does want us to bring those before him and he does and will provide.

Since the beginning of this year, what seems to grab my attention in praying is wondering how God will speak to me. For some people, they hear God or get visions and I sometimes wonder why God doesn't speak to me in those ways, but I have mistaken the complete absence of clear words or visions to mean that God is not speaking to me at all. That is definitely not true. This has been something that I have struggled with because I have limited God to only speaking in those ways. I have come to realize through praying is that God leads me in different ways and is speaking to me. The Bible is God's word and he is speaking to us through it. God's words are there for us and I shouldn't be thinking that God is not speaking to me.

My prayers should not be half focused on what I'm praying and half focused on how he might speak to me. My focus should be on Jesus. Even though I struggle with that distortion of prayer, the Lord's prayer is here to teach us what prayer is and why we pray. It is a lesson that I am continually learning.

Getting Messy

This week we learned about sensitivity. Through these devotions, I feel as though I have an updated concept of what exactly this entails. Before, I would have told you that being sensitive is being sympathetic to someone's state, however, it is now clear that sensitivity requires empathy as well. Sensitivity extends not only to our relationships with others, but also our relationship with Christ.
As I reflect on the story of Lazarus, the importance of sensitivity in the latter relationship becomes clear. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he waited a few days before He went to see him. Lazarus' sisters then get angry with Jesus when Lazarus dies because if Jesus had been there it wouldn't have happened. As I was reading these passages, I couldn't help but feel irritated by the way they were speaking to Him, as if the Son of God owed it to them to save their brother, as if it was all Jesus' fault that he died at all, as if they new better how to handle the situation. I think about that last part, and I realize that I am not all that different. How often do I desensitize myself to God's will and His timing and think that I know what I need to do? Or, possibly worse, get clear instructions from God and ignore them altogether. My relationship with Christ must stem from a firm foundation of sensitivity.
The term "reckless servanthood" has also been on my mind. When I was interviewing to be a barney, I remember telling Andy and Tommy a perspective on the good Samaritan that really inspired me. The idea is that when we treat others as the good Samaritan treated the man on the road, we get messy. This man was beaten up, his clothes torn apart, laying as a mangled, bloody mess on the side of the road. In order for the Samaritan to pick him up and ride him into town, he would have gotten that blood and sweat and dirt all over himself. He wasn't afraid of the mess. He was sensitive to the man's condition. This is exactly the kind of attitude I want to display. One that not only helps the hurting, but one that allows me to clothe myself in their filth. Jesus didn't save us by sitting in heaven and sympathizing. He bore all of our sins in His death. He picked up our mangled, bloody mess.


By the looks of it I'm assuming others have had trouble posting as well. With that said, these thoughts/reflections will probably be somewhat jumbled and misplaced.
It was funny, the other day Andy sent me a text talking about how it's okay to be an extremist of love. Well, I was thinking about just that thing at that time. I had just finished reading MLK Jr's Letter From a Birmingham Jail where he says:
"But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus and extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like am ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God."
Jesus was not only Captain Awkward, but he was President Extremist! In today's reading of Luke, Jesus reprimands the Pharisees...again! And he tells the people gathered that His Father will give what is asked of Him. In his humility, he totally disregards the woman's praise of his name: "27As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!" 28But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!""
I was thinking about what it means to be an extremist of love. It means to love in a way that amazes others. That makes them wonder where that love comes from. And we can all be extremists of love. Isn't that what Christ calls us to do? The two greatest commandments: Love God, Love others! It's all about love. And with love comes patience, understanding, sincerity, sensitivity, etc.
This summer, it is our job to be Extremists of Love! We love in everything we do. We love the youth pastor even when they don't like the boat name "Grandphotha'lk". We show love to every single camper, even those that continually leave the door to the Mikey open. We show love to our barneys, trainees, admin staff, dockhands, etc. We love, love, love. When we need to eat because we're hungry, but we see a camper sitting by him/herself, we put aside our desire for food and we talk with the camper. When we're exhausted from the day, but we realized we forgot to cover the ski boat, we get in the boat and quietly cover the ski boat, because God uses that ski boat to show His love. When a camper can't get up on the wakeboard and it's Friday afternoon (Thursday for Deltoids), we don't get frustrated, yet we continue to encourage and show love to that camper. We high five him/her when they get back in the boat and encourage, love, encourage, and love! Our job this summer is to love! No matter what! This summer, we are servants! We serve with love. We don't serve because we feel like we should or because we enjoy being on boats... No, we serve because we love. And because we love, we show that love.
In today's reading, Jesus also mentions how our whole body ought to be light. We must radiate that light. When we are filled with the Light, the light of Christ, whom has NO darkness at all, then we also must strive to keep darkness away from us, because we ought to be holy as our Father in Heaven is holy! We must radiate love. When we are filled with Love, the love of Christ, whom has NO hate at all, then we must also strive to keep hate away from us, because we must strive to love God and love others and God has loved and does love us!
Mother Teresa put it well: Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
This summer, we will continue to give, give, and give. We pour ourselves out, because when we are empty, God can fill us! If we keep trying to stay full, then how can God fill us? We must be emptied and broken so that God can then fill us up! Fill us up with His unfailing love! How good would it be to be filled with God's amazing, unfailing, perfect love? As Amanda Potts' would say, it would be "Sooo goood!"