so much has happened in the past 12 months, and the last 1.5-2 months have been so crazy! so i thought it’d be good to make note of some of the major things that have happened.
feb ‘12 - start full time work as cashier at b.b.bop ricebowls
mar ‘12 - start sfg (seeking the face of God) small group; awesome times of prayer and accountability with grace n katrina!
jun ‘12 - start kairos college ministry, with grace n katrina on staff with me; amazing how God built strong bonds between us since march, preparing us to do ministry together way before any of us could imagine anything like it!
aug ‘12 - start seminary; one class: hebrew 1 at redeemer seminary in dallas
jan ‘13 - end kairos, end redeemer, end bbbop. move back home with folks. yikes!! the beginning of 2013 was the end of so many big things!
jan ‘13 - start full time @ southwestern baptist theological seminary in ft. worth; start attending new church: international baptist church of arlington
i was actually planning to transfer from redeemer to southEastern baptist theological seminary in north carolina by summer ‘13, and southWestern was supposed to be a single semester layover, but i’m enjoying southwestern much more than i anticipated, and i’m enjoying the community and ministry goals of my church. so we’ll see where the Lord leads after this semester!
God’s also been challenging me and leading me into a focus on evangelism in the past 6 months. when i transferred to southwestern, i selected ‘apologetics’ as my concentration, but i’ve been leaning more toward an evangelism concentration since then.
i’m thoroughly enjoying my contemporary evangelism class; i love the challenge i’m receiving along with the education. chatting with strangers about faith matters is such a joy and it makes me think more about the possibility of getting involved in missions in some capacity after i graduate. i’d love to do some kind of training/equipping+mission work abroad. that sounds strangely familiar… ywam?! haha!
walking around my neighborhood, I decided to do some evangelism. knocked on a door and an old lady answered the door. her hair was white and she had a warm smile. I awkwardly explained that I wanted to share the gospel with her and to my surprise she invited me in. I noticed that she wore a silver necklace with a small cross. the cross wasn’t thin, but short, flat and wide. she was so glad I came because she had been struggling in her faith. we paused in our conversation and left to get some coffee and the dream diverged from there.
I remember during dts that we were encouraged to write down our dreams bc God communicates thru dreams. I’ll be on the lookout for an old lady with white hair, a warm smile and a silver cross necklace and I’ll be ready to finish our conversation!
I’ve been confronted with a kind of limiting love whose horizon naturally stretches only as wide as what has been seen or known. Over the course of my DTS, I believe my perspective has been broadened by at least one degree. The effect of this to the shortsighted may seem negligible, referring not, of course, to those whose vision is diminished by that degree, for they see nothing, neither near nor far, of that which falls within. But I lived in the foreground of that one degree for five months in New Zealand and Scotland and began to look into the distance, attempting to bring into focus some certain and fantastic unknowns. Trying now to explain my vantage point to those lacking that degree is like trying to explain the color blue to a man blind from birth. To what could he possibly refer that could help him grasp the concept?
(Is it still arrogant to suggest that I see while others are blind if I acknowledge that there are many degrees and shades I have yet to discover? I only hope the few others can acknowledge the possibility of the same for themselves in this particular instance.)
I love that I’m allowed to dream as big as God among YWAMers, without constraint or second thought. I’m allowed to start with a dream instead of a balance sheet. It’s difficult to distinguish who starts with a dream versus a balance sheet because all dreamers must live in the reality of space and time for those to be realized. But the dreamer looks for that certain, fantastic unknown, that which lies outside the familiar, then begins to consider its plausibility as if God were real. This, I believe, is the thin line which brings distinction: Many confess that God is real, but practically live as if He’s not. And who is the qualified judge? We are. Take my life, for example. Is there evidence that I live my life fearlessly as if there is a real God who works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called by His name? As if I can do all things through a real Christ who strengthens me? As if when I ask of this God it will be given, when I seek I will find, and when I knock the door will be opened? As if when I seek this God’s kingdom above all else and live righteously, this God will actually give me everything I need? The answer is in there somewhere, rooted the details of my life, found in the way I make decisions, in my worldview, my speech, etc. You tell me. You are qualified to judge. Now how about your life? You are qualified to judge that as well. So what’s the verdict? Is God real or not?
Perhaps the one extra degree of vision gained wasn’t so much a revelation of a new or previously unrealized existential possibility, but rather of the reality of God Himself in my own life.
On or about Thursday, September 22 at THOP, I was praying about marriage and talking to God about finding the right person. This is one time that I can actually say, “God spoke to me.” And he spoke straight to my heart with a thought/revelation. Reflecting on my past, I was reminded of how easily I am distracted from my relationship with God when I am attracted to or interested in a particular woman. My thoughts get enraptured and my imagination is rocket-fueled by hope and optimism, exploding upward to the utopia in the perfect blue skies of my mind. Every waking moment becomes overrun with the constant celebration and replay of minutia.
When that time comes, I don’t want to wage war against all of that, yet I won’t allow myself to desperately grasp that fleeting excitement, forsaking the love relationship God has been establishing with me here in New Zealand. I realized as I was praying that a relationship that draws me away from God is destined for failure; that’s just the way it’s going to happen because I am a child of God with whom He is madly and jealously in love!
So on that Thursday morning at THOP, God spoke to me and gave me something very specific to ask of Him regarding my future wife. I shared it with my parents and Trish and Graham, as well as Joseph and Naomi recently, and wanted to share it with the rest of you because I am so excited that God taught me how to pray:
God, I want the relationship I have with my girlfriend/future wife to steer me dead straight into You. I want our relationship, that thing which is created when she and I come together, to constantly push me to You, and to constantly point her to more of You. Not that either of us should feel obligated or burdened to have to remind or nag or begrudgingly push the other, but that the desire in my heart, as well as hers, would be to know more of You in who we are as a couple, more of You in the other, and that when we’re together, we better for it because we are drawn into more of You. Be magnified in my marriage, that my wife and I would see you as greater and bigger and be filled with more awe; be magnified in our relationship, that we would see in greater detail the wonderful magnificence of your love and beauty; be magnified in our relationship, that we would continually and increasingly fall madly in love with each other and more madly in love with you! God, bring me not a woman who will do this for me, but a woman with whom I can live and love and grow. Thank you for teaching me how to pray. You are Good. I love You, God. I love the way You love me and teach me, and the way You bring me up and grow my faith and love for you.
On October 3 at THOP, I was thinking more on the fact that I know how easily I can get distracted from focusing on God and pursuing Him, and I thought, “Lord, please tame and rein in those wild affections that I know will so easily run after a woman.” And immediately following that thought, I felt like God said, “No! Those desires are healthy and how I designed you.”
So I said, “Then God, make those desires burn white hot! Increase and make it a raging fire! But may all of it be pointed to you! More passion and love for you God. More obsession with spending time with you, talking with you. More consuming thoughts of you that take up every moment of my day, celebrating and replaying all the ways you love me. Thank you for teaching me how to love you by the way you created me to long after intimacy with a woman. No woman could be a sufficient substitute for You, the One in whom there is no end or fading of intimacy, but only more depth and life-giving revelation and limitless pure love and satisfaction.
God loves me so much! And I love God so much! God talks to me, and I’m learning how to identify and listen closely to His voice.
Friday night, September 30, 2011, I fell in love with God. God’s been spending the past 8 months (Feb 1 – Sept 30) pursuing my heart.
It began with the forced closing of Rollerz, which brought about personal freedom to live my life for myself. That lead to an entrepreneurship course for 8 weeks starting in late February and going through the 1st week of April. That lead to a business partnership which lasted from mid-April to mid-June. I decided to pursue my own business idea, which lead me to begin researching the start-up community in Austin and I spent June 10-13 in Austin in order to network with Ruby developers and met James Higgenbotham on Monday the 13th at Mozart’s.
I went to Atlanta for 2 weeks from Tuesday, June 14 through Monday, June 27 and did a little job-hunting in Austin, but mostly it was a good time relaxing and hanging out with Chucky while his wife and son were in Houston. While in Atlanta, I began thinking more about whether or not moving to Austin immediately after visiting Chucky was the best plan. I did a lot of thinking about making the most of my time. I started thinking about taking advantage of my singlehood and the flexibility inherent to this life-stage. And I thought more about what I had spent the previous month or so pondering: full surrender and submission to God, leading me into a full, purposeful, abundant life. That became the paramount goal for my life during this life-stage. So I began thinking about how I could most effectively take advantage of my freedom/flexibility in order that I could become one who is fully surrendered and in full submission to God.
I started thinking about ways to pursue music and give it the shot I never allowed myself to take. Naturally, I began thinking about Christian music schools and programs, including CNFI, Hillsong and YWAM. And I was also considering spending time at a prayer mountain or at IHOP in KC. I actually planned to make the drive to IHOP with Gene from July 18-22, but we never pulled the trigger on that and ended up not going.
The week prior, July 12-15, I played drums at the BYG summer retreat, which was such a blessing. I was also talking to Jane since getting back from Atlanta about everything I’d been thinking about, and she highly recommended YWAM, so I was researching YWAM online, talking to Pastor Kye, Pastor Andrew, Pastor Paul and others (and I met a guy in Atlanta who just got back from YWAM, ironically we were going out to a club).
From Friday, July 22 to Thursday, July 28 I spent time with Rize Up Band, hosting them at my parents’ house until they left for the final stop on their tour in Houston.
In June and July, I had been looking into YWAM NZ, especially the Outdoor Pursuits and Music & Worship DTSs. I wanted to go to the DTS in Australia (Melbourne?) for the music and worship DTS but I missed the start date which was the beginning of July. So I looked for the next upcoming DTS, which was the iDTS (intimacy & impact) in Tauranga, NZ. The Outdoor Pursuits and Music & Worship DTSs were in Matamata and started late July and went into January or February 2012, while iDTS in Tauranga started August 1 and ended December 9. I felt most strongly about the iDTS because the dates would allow me to be back before the end of the year.
As I began correspondence with Josh Cole at iDTS in Tauranga, I realized that it would be very difficult for me to make it to NZ by August 1st; I had only 2 weeks before I would have to leave and I still had to sell my restaurant equipment and move my personal belongings out of storage and I still had to pay the balance owed to Rollerz for the final rent amount.
Discouraged, I began looking into the DTS at Kona which started in late September and went into February 2012. And although those dates were not what I wanted, I thought it might be good to go early and hang out with Peter Nishimura before the DTS, and I knew there would be many Koreans there, so I thought perhaps I would meet someone there. But thank God, Joeseph Donofro called me the week before iDTS began. I told him I really wanted to go (although I had already decided at that point to go to Kona), but I didn’t have enough time to finish everything in time. He told me it would be ok to arrive between a week and a half to two weeks late, so I told him I’d book my flights and get there as soon as possible (even though at that time, I wasn’t excited about iDTS because I was already mentally committed to going to Kona).
So I arrived in Tauranga, NZ on Thursday, August 11. From August 11 to September 30, God was loving me. He used the lectures, exercises, staff, the community, THOP, street evangelism, sight seeing, Sunday church services, and everything around me to tell me He loves me. I was being bombarded by His love every day. 51 days.
On Friday night on September 30, at THOP from 7pm to 9:30pm, I fell in love with God. I started off the night holding Seriah, Dana’s baby girl, but Bria come over after about 15-20 minutes and gently told me that the girl students were told they weren’t allowed to hold the baby during THOP, so she couldn’t allow me to hold Seriah either. By the end of the night, I was so thankful that Bria was gently but vigilantly guarding my time with God in this season.
After she took Seriah away, I immediately engaged in worship. I started thinking about the Church as the promised bride of Christ. I thought about the pain in a man’s heart whose fiancé is unfaithful. What pain and sorrow must Christ be enduring; his forbearance and mercy is amazing. I started praying for mercy and grace and repentance in the Church, and for her heart to respond in love to Christ and his beckoning. During one of the worship songs, I realized suddenly and clearly that I love God. And I prayed it, I said it, I told God, “I love you, God,” and I meant it. I don’t remember ever loving God like I love Him now. I’ve been struck with His love and I love now more intimately and genuinely than I have ever loved Him.
My story reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, how Westley loved Buttercup every day in his words when he said, “As you wish,” and in his actions when he served her and loved her through his actions. And one day, Buttercup was surprised when she realized that every time he said, “As you wish,” what he was really saying was, “I love you.” And what surprised Buttercup even more was when she realized she loved him back. That’s the story of God loving me in this season. Cheezy, huh? I love it! Hahaha! That’s what happens when you’re in love.
1 John 4:19, 21: We love, because He first loved us. … And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
I love God because He first loved me. I love others with the love I receive from God.
We’re getting ready to leave for Scotland. I can’t believe we’re already going into our last week of lectures. Excitement is building. My team is so awesome! We’re going to see God move mountains of stone cold hearts. He’s going to plunge them into the depths of His warm love. Can’t wait to meet the people God is preparing for us to meet even now.
Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. - AMP
Commit your works upon the LORD And your plans will be established. - NASB
Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. - NLT
Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place. - MSG
I heard a sermon referencing this verse earlier this year from Tim Keller. He pointed out that when we read this verse, most of us understand it incorrectly, thinking it says, “Commit your plans to the Lord, and your works/actions/whatever you do will succeed,” when actually it says the exact opposite.
I remember months ago, deciding to be intentional about committing my works and whatever I did to the Lord and holding onto the promise that my plans will be established and succeed. I was reminded of that verse today and I see how God has honored that initial commitment. I committed everything I did to the Lord, and I held onto the promise in Proverbs 16:3. Looking back on this year thus far, I see how my plans are conforming to His will and purpose. Although the details of His will and purpose are not yet fully clear, I am seeking Him and He has been guiding the longings of my heart these past 55 days I’ve spent in New Zealand. This is my heart:
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
Just reading those verses and seeing my heart affirming and rejoicing in its alignment with the longings of Paul, I get excited for what lies ahead for me. It’s an indication that my thoughts are becoming agreeable to His will. Praise God for His love and grace to bring me to the place where my heart rejoices in those verses.
Lake with everything around it being cleared; all trees, forest. I come down to the shore and see a huge chunk of wood, several stories high, on the shore and it’s been chipped away, chunks have been taken out, cut out roughly, and it’s sad. At the base is a wood carved fist, very large, and the face of a man, it was a statue. The man of whom the statue was made was drunk or in a stupor and didn’t care that they were destroying it. I went to him, he was barely hanging on a boom arm in a drunken stupor, we were on it, moving over the water, skimming the water. He had strong facial features like the guy that plays James Bond in the most recent movies.
Vision 4:35am NZ (10:35am U.S.)
Awake and lying in bed, I heard the silence and ringing in my ears with earplugs in, which is normal. I felt a familiar sensation of being hypersensitive and so feeling overloaded and bloated with the intake and processing of the sensation. It was familiar because I’ve had a recurring dream once in a long while, when I get really sick with the flu or fever. I saw across a vast valley, a single mountain was far away in the distance to the right. I zoomed into the valley toward the bottom right side, closer to, but still in front of the mountain. There were houses. I zoomed into a room with a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth and wearing a beanie. The mom was in the room. That was it, so I thought I should pray for the baby and mother. I turned on my laptop to type everything down; it was 4:35am. I tried to think if there was any connection with someone I know, but nothing came to mind, so I thought perhaps I should just pray for the child & mother and did so for a few minutes. The image wasn’t clear like what one experiences in a dream while sleeping, like the dream above. I was very aware of lying in my bed with eyes closed. The image was monochrome, not colorful. If you close your eyes now and try to picture the valley and the mountain in the distance, that’s about as clear of a picture I had. With more time and imagination, you yourself could add color to the picture, but initially it’s more about ‘seeing’ the content of the picture than the color. And that’s pretty much what I was trying to do. The interesting (weird?) thing about it was the sensation accompanying what I was ‘seeing’. The familiar feeling of hypersensitive hearing and ‘seeing’ and the overload on my brain of processing that(?) and feeling fat or bloated, not in my body, but my mind(?)… I’m doing my best to describe the sensation and it’s so difficult. Anyways, all that plus feeling like it’s not just me viewing an image that zooms in like a picture on your computer, but feeling like I am zooming in as the image zooms in was interesting (weird? new?). I’m trying to describe it in as much detail as I can hoping that in documenting it that I’ll be blown away if at a later time I am faced with that vision in person. If not, I guess it’s just one of those weird experiences where my mind plays tricks on me. But it’s interesting to consider the possibility of God speaking through dreams and visions and to be open to that as a way God speaks to us.
Acts 2:16-17 - AMP
But [instead] this is [the beginning of] what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams.
The recurring dream I mentioned above is one that I remember having when I was in elementary school, in jr. high & high school and in college, not all the time like every year, but only when I get really sick. In the dream, I’m a child and I’m in a small room that is packed full of people, packed shoulder to shoulder. My dad lifts me up with his two hands and he’s holding me up at arms length, but my back is to the ceiling, so the ceiling is very low. I don’t see any faces, but the room is full of people and I don’t like it. It’s not so much a feeling of claustrophobia, but it’s an overload of the senses that just made me feel so uncomfortable and scared. Next I’m crawling on the floor among the peoples’ legs. And that’s the dream, the same one. I always thought it might be from when I was an infant, being raised up high and being frightened and crawling on the ground just afterward.