Lie #2 – This is just the way I am

By: Kristan Dooley

Ephesians 5:8-13, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

 In this passage Paul has approached the Church of Ephesus with some concerns. The Ephesian Christians are having a hard time remembering who they are. They used to live in darkness, stripped of the ability to produce any type of fruit, but now they are children of the light. Now they have the opportunity to know Jesus and to show Him to the community they are a part of.

Paul simply puts it, “Stop living like you were and start living like you are.”

Sometimes I catch myself in this same rut, living like the slave I used to be instead of the daughter of the King I am.

We were once in darkness. We were once lost. We were once stuck in sin. But, now we are children of light. We have been found and handed the inheritance of the King.

I wonder if Paul’s words might still ring true in our lives, “Stop living like you were and start living like you are.”

This is good news! With Jesus we never have to stay the way we are. With Jesus there is always hope for change.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Emphasis is on “ALL THINGS”. There is nothing you cannot accomplish with the assistance of the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Partner with Him and change the impossible. You used to have no power. You used to live defeated and alone, empty of all possibility of change. But, now you are children of the light, heirs to the throne. Therefore, embrace the inner strength you have been given and move towards change.

Where is it you need the power of the Holy Spirit to produce a change in you? Invite Him in, ask Him where to start, ask Him which way to turn. Then take a step in the right direction.

 

Lie #1 – I have to be strong

By: Kristan Dooley

I swore I would never canoe again. To say I do not thrive in nature would be putting it lightly, but here I was somehow organizing a canoe experience for over eight hundred students and of course my team felt it would be impossible to organize the trip without first experiencing it ourselves.

The objective of the experience was to hear God’s voice in nature. You could say my rowing partner, Dana, and I were good at canoeing because we sure did work harder than anyone else on the water that day, but the harder we worked the further behind we fell. Instead of paddling downstream like the rest of the team, we struggled, going from one side of the river to the other for hours.

We lacked the rhythm needed to thrive with the current of the river. I paddled too hard. She paddled too soft. I steered one way, she steered the other. We knew what we were supposed to do and tried our best to make it work, but it simply wasn’t happening.

One of our other teammates, an experienced kayaker, suggested we stop trying so hard. “It just seems like you’re forcing it. Can you just stop paddling so intently and allow the river to carry you down stream?” Sounds like a simple enough question right? “Sit still and see what happens.” Desperate for anything we put our paddles on our laps and began to float downstream being carried effortlessly by the waves and current.

In that moment, I felt my heart connect with the heart of God and heard what He might have been saying to us, “Stop forcing it, stop trying to work so hard and allow it to just be. I will take you forward, just sit back and let me do what I do.”

My inability to control my canoe left me defeated. Victory came the moment I placed the oars over my lap and allowed the natural current of the river to carry me downstream. Likewise, as I fight against what’s broken in my life I often feel out of control and defeated, but when I lay my fight down and let God lead me on the journey towards the unknown plans He has for me,I find victory and peace, even on the hardest days.

Isaiah 40:30-31, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;but those who hope in the Lord
 will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
 they will run and not grow weary,
 they will walk and not be faint.”

 

2 Corinthians 2:19, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Where in life are you striving to be strong only to come up short time and time again?

Might God be inviting you to lay down your oars and allow Him to lead you down the water currently rocking your canoe?

 

Leading

It’s the story woven all throughout the Bible. It’s His story, the story of God meeting us where we are and leading us to the place He intends for us to be. We see it over and over again, with multiple people, in multiple ways.

Jairus was a synagogue ruler. This meant, even though he had probably witnessed some miracles of Jesus’s, he would still have had a hard time calling Jesus the Messiah. Then one day, brokenness hit too close to home and everything changed. Jairus’s twelve year-old daughter was dying. He was desperate. Being a synagogue ruler he spent a large part of his day fixing things, but he could not fix his daughter. He could not overcome death. As his world came crashing down around him, he ran to Jesus. In his desperation, he cried out for Jesus to fix the broken.

Maybe the sinful woman didn’t notice her brokenness anymore. Her brokenness knew her name. It perhaps had become one of her closest friends. If we are not careful there can come a point when we become so accustomed to what’s broken, we stop noticing it all together. Brokenness can become who we are. Brokenness had become who she was, but Jesus didn’t see her that way. He was too busy seeing her for who she could be. He recognized how those in her community rejected her. He recognized her avoiding them at all cost. He recognized the well from which she drew and how thirsty it left her.

Her brokenness didn’t scare Him. He sat with her in it and even offered to help piece it back together. He offered her living water, the chance to be made new. As He talked, something inside of her burned. Her perspective began to change and she wonder, “Could what this man is saying be true? Could I really receive healing from this pain?”

The hemorrhaging woman had been an outcast for twelve years.   Her brokenness forced her to live on the outside of her community. She had a disease she didn’t ask for, and it cost her everything.  She wasn’t even welcomed into the Temple to worship. Anyone she touched would be unclean, and so she touched no one. Lost and alone for years, she tried to find help. Spending all her money on doctors who could do nothing for her, she found herself out of options. In her brokenness, she recognized the power of the Messiah. She knew if she could just touch Him, He would heal her. She knew He was her only hope. He was the answer she had been seeking. He was her rebuilder and getting to Him was absolutely necessary.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He was a wealthy man, which meant, he was good at what he did. He robbed the people to benefit the government and himself. Everyone hated Zacchaeus. They hated him for what he took from them. They hated how he profited off of their vulnerability. When he met Jesus, his eyes were open to the brokenness in his life.  For the first time, he saw his sin for what it really was. He saw his choices and how they hurt those around him. He saw his selfishness. He saw who he had become. That evening as Jesus ate with him, Zaccheaus perspective changed.

Brokenness always leads to bigger when we hand it over to Jesus. We are not equipped to put the pieces back together. We were also not meant to step over the rubble and ignore it either. We serve a God ready and able to take that which is broken in our lives and work it out for bigger. On the other side of our brokenness, we have a bigger understanding of who He is. On the other side of our brokenness, we have a bigger faith in what He can do. On the other side of our brokenness, we have a bigger ability to face the future.

What’s broken in your life? That’s exactly where Jesus wants to go to work. Don’t allow the brokenness surrounding you define you. Instead, hand it over to the master rebuilder and allow Him to turn it into a the beautiful piece of art it was meant to be.  

Focus

Often times the key to a successful life is when things are in proper perspective and proper focus. I’m not talking about balance, I’m talking about focus and priorities. Focusing on God, Family and Everything Else — In that order. On the flip-side, the shortest route to failure is a life that gets out of focus.

How Do You Know When Your Life Is Out Of Focus?

When you begin to ask yourself questions like, “Why am I feeling this way?”, “Why doesn’t this feel right?” “Why do I feel like I’m going nowhere” and “Is my life out of focus?”

You will know your life is out of focus:

When you begin to focus more on what “so and so” is or isn’t doing than focussing on what you need to do.

When your work gets more time and attention than your family.

When your cup is always half empty.

When you can’t seem to find peace.

There are many signs and symptoms that your life is out of focus, the key is taking the time to ask the tough questions. Ask your family, ask your friends and take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “Am I Focused On The Things That Matter?”

Embrace the journey, stay focused and you will reach a proper destination.

An open letter to students.

I found this amazing letter written by a student pastor to their students. It’s a fantastic letter I believe we all need to hear.

Take some time to read this today and see what God says to you.

 

Dear Student,

I see what is going on.  You might think it’s invisible to the people around you, but I see it.  I see how you are working so hard for approval from those around you.  I see the clothes you wear, the things you buy, the music you listen to, and the way you act around others.  Sometimes, I wonder if these things really add up to equal YOU or just some version of you that is “presentable” to the masses.  You have so much of your identity wrapped up in what others think of you, and I want you to know that what they think really doesn’t matter.

You might wonder how I know these things.  Well, it’s because not that long ago, I was like you.  I know you probably think I’m way too old to understand, but I remember going through Middle School and High School.  I remember entering the school every day, hoping that I didn’t do anything stupid that would draw the ridicule of the “popular kids.”  I remember the uncertainty of the lunchroom, a virtual gauntlet, the caste system with tater tots.  Where do I sit?  Who are my friends?  Who can I trust?  I know it’s sometimes overwhelming, and I know you want so badly to fit in, but I think I’ve found a better way.

Instead of wrapping your identity around clothes, music, popularity, and how many “likes” you get on your Instagram, why not try putting your trust in Jesus?  You might think that sounds hokey or ridiculous, but here are some truths that I have come to find pretty powerful from God’s Word.

1.  God created us in His image.  We are His.


Genesis tells the story of Creation.  God crafted the world in six days.  Everything we see around us was crafted by Him.  Yet only one thing He created was confirmed as being “very good.”  It was us – humanity!  So, the solar system, the beautiful sky, the most incredible animal you can think of…all of it pales in comparison to you!  God created you, and you are His!

2.  God’s love for you is unconditional.


1 John tells us that God is love.  John 3:16 reminds us that God loves us so much that He sent His Son for us.  But I think Romans 5:8 says it best.  “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  The world is all about what you bring to the table, what you provide.  God loves you unconditionally.  God’s love isn’t dependent on what you do, He loves you for who You are.  You can’t earn more of God’s love, and you can’t escape it.  God loves you…period.  Read Romans 8:38-39 if you don’t believe me.

3.  Trusting in God gives you purpose and direction.


One of the best truths that God gives us is that of purpose.  When we trust in God, we believe not only in His unconditional love, but also His divine plan for each of us.  God has something in mind that only you can accomplish, that only you can do.  He created you, He crafted you to be the person you are, and gave you your gifts, abilities, and personality to accomplish His purposes.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  God has a plan, so you have a purpose.

I have found great joy and solace in knowing that I have a God who loves me unconditionally, who created me in His image, and who has a plan for me.  With these truths firmly in place, I am free to follow Christ, to focus on what He has in store for me, and to rest my identity in the One who will never let me down.  And that, dear student, is a beautiful place to be.

In Christ, Your Student Pastor

SOS 2014 Recap

ARISE 2014

SOS RECAP

 

Well, another SOS has come and gone. Hard to believe it’s over, yet at the same time, it feels like forever ago that 800 plus students took over the Vineyard campus and allowed God to use them to love on the people of Cincinnati in crazy ways. It’s probably safe to say you experienced a lot of things during SOS 2014. It’s probably safe to say you heard the voice of God in some way, shape or form. It’s also probably safe to say some of the intensity felt during the week has subsided as life has gone back to normal.

Is it possible to allow the momentum gained during SOS week to carry us into a life transformation that changes the trajectory of our futures? I believe it is, but I believe this kind of transformation takes work and strategy. One of the biggest mistakes we make concerning our faith today is to think we can haphazardly follow Jesus. We do not accidently follow Jesus. Following Jesus is an intentional decision that really will change our futures.

Friday morning of SOS, Dana Cochran gave us an awesome look at what it takes to gain the endurance necessary to follow Jesus for the long haul. Her advice: develop a plan. Put some thought into it. Write it down on paper. Don’t leave anything to happen by chance. The Student Union wants to help you develop your plans. We would love to read them, hear them and share them with each other. There is power in developing your plan and sharing with others. We are all better together.

Lets go through Dana’s points one more time. Grab a pen and paper. Honestly walk through the points, allow God the space needed to work in you. Answer the questions honestly and authentically. Authenticity will best prepare you to walk forward.

 

  1. There are no short-cuts
    1. We can’t skip spiritual formation. God will do the impossible through us, but first He wants to do the impossible in us. He wants to do a work inside of you that will empower you to handle the work He wants to do outside of you.
    2. Are there any short-cuts you are trying to take right now with the development of your faith?

 

  1. Small things matter
    1. The small things make a difference. You might think it is no big deal to get up 15 minutes early each morning, but over the course of a year 15 minutes adds up to 5,460 minutes. That’s a lot of time with Jesus!
    2. What is one little thing Jesus has been asking you to do concerning the development of your faith?

 

  1. Control your breathing
    1. Learning to control our minds and bodies is essential in the development of our faith.
    2. What happens to you is 10%, how you respond to it is 90%
    3. Are there places in your life you feel a little out of control? Where do you give in to the temptations around you? Who in your life seems to have more power over you than the Holy Spirit that lives within you? What can you do to take control back?

 

  1. Own the hills
    1. Sometimes we avoid big hills because we know they take so much work. Though the hills do take more work, it is often on the hills we learn who we really are.
    2. What is one hill you might need to start climbing right now?

 

  1. Don’t look too far ahead
    1. Looking too far ahead can bring panic and unnecessary anxiety. It’s nice to always know what’s coming, but there is something to be said about finding the faith to trust God square by square or step by step.
    2. What is the future worry consuming your thoughts right now? How can you best trust God with the future? Is there a scripture or thought you can train yourself to recite when you notice yourself looking too far up the hill?

 

  1. Don’t go it alone
    1. Having someone to journey with you is crucial. We were not meant to do life alone. What is the name of the person on this journey with you?
    2. If you don’t have a person journeying with you who might be a person you could talk to about this?
    3. It is also important to have someone ahead of you, speaking into the development of your faith. Do you have someone running ahead of you? If so, who? If not, who might you ask?

 

  1. Run your own race
    1. It is true, we journey this better together, but we cannot allow someone else’s journey to become our journey. We must avoid the temptation to settle our eyes on the things God does in the lives of those around us. Playing the comparison game is dangerous and will leave you missing out on the exciting things God is doing in your own life.
    2. When do you most find yourself playing the faith comparison game?

 

  1. Never, ever, ever give up
    1. There are going to be days when you want to quit. On those days, sit down, have a good cry, go for a run, punch a punching bag (not another person) but don’t quit. God has plans for you. His plans will blow your mind. He is the way, the truth and the life. Nothing compares to the love He offers to you.
    2. Is there an area concerning your faith development where you have thrown in the towel?
    3. Can you muster up the courage to pick the towel back up and start again?

 

These 8 truths are a crucial part of your journey towards spiritual transformation. God will do the impossible through you, but first He wants to do the impossible in you.

Don’t just hear from God, do something with what you have heard. Here’s an easy way to start – big church is reading through the book of James this month. Find a partner, sit down with them and map out the book of James. Figure out how much you will read per day. Take note of the things God says to you as you read. Share it with your person, share it with the person ahead of you. Don’t avoid what God asks you to do, instead charge your way up the hills, be faithful in the small and never, ever give up. God has a plan for you, but it won’t happen on accident.

 

The Student Union staff believes in you. We are cheering you on and excited to watch what God does in and through you on this incredible journey.

 

You are a leader

 

#ARISE

Unselfie week 3

He read Matthew 5:14,16 which says “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden…Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven”. We are called to be “celebrities” for Jesus by allowing our words and our actions to draw people closer to Him.

Philippian’s 2:15 says “Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world,”

Adam then taught about the 4 Steps to bring people closer to Jesus

1. I will do my part

  • Phillip. 2:12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”

In working out your salvation, God has already done His part, but we need to work out our own.

Are you willing to serve/honor God with no strings attached?

2. I will depend on God

  • Phillip. 2:13 “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

What God demands He will supply

3. I will not complain

Phillip. 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”

Don’t walk into a situation only focusing on the negatives

You want to be different so you can make a difference

4. I will live for others

Phillip. 2:16-18 “As you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me”

What are you going to be known for at the end of your life?

Unselfie Week 2

Unselfie
By: Dajah Siplin

This week is the second week in our #unselfie series and Kristan talked about Humility

The main verse for the week was Philippians 2:1-5 and from it Kristan said our objective is to mirror Christ and in our relationships. To do this we must have the same mindset of Jesus.

Through this, humility leads to unity-unity leads to love and love leads to Jesus.

Our actions are out biggest weapons

The amount of likes we get on Instagram confirms something inside of us and that’s pride. God is the only person who can confirm something in us and that’s not being prideful

We are born with a natural desire to do what we want to do
In Philippians 2 Jesus was still born and has the same tendencies as us in wanting to do whatever He wanted but He MADE Himself nothing

Humility is a choice, it’s something you train yourself to do

1.) If you want humility you must first: make yourself nothing

 Mark 10:45
You cannot be selfish and humble

2.)  If you want humility you must: become a servant

Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He made His Father’s name known by the things He did for others.
What happens when we start serving those we are in biggest conflict with? What happens when we walk into each day asking God to show us who He sees and to use us to spread His message of love in our world?

3.) If you want humility you must: be obedient

You need to be submitted and surrendered to Jesus no matter what He may be telling you.
On the hard days it was the voice of the Father that Jesus submitted to. He was in a relationship and recognized His Father’s voice. His commitment was to be obedient to that voice.
Sometimes God is going to ask you to step out and do things that don’t make sense in the moment. When these times come will you be more committed to the voice of God or to our natural desire to make it make sense?

Unselfie Week 1

“Unselfie”

Yesterday we kicked off a series titled, “Unselfie.” The world seems fascinated with selfies. Pictures of themselves are everywhere, but the Bible tells a different story. Jesus was a man fascinated with others. If he would have had an instagram it would have been filled with pictures of other people. What happens when we take what the culture says is “acceptable” and flip it upside-down?
We are going to spend the next few weeks focusing on others. “Unselfie” is a life other people benefit from. “Unselfie” is represented in a life sacrificing for others. “Unselfie” is a life of serving others.
Philippians 2:3, “Don’t be selfish: don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude as Christ Jesus had.”
“Unselfie” is a life that mirrors Jesus. it is a life that seeks to be humble. The culture says live for yourself, show off, make your name known. The example Jesus sets says, humble yourself, take on the nature of a servant and put other people first.
What would this week look like for you to clothe yourself in humility? What if humility found it’s way into your routine? What if it actually became something you did naturally? When we humble ourselves and serve others we allow God to move in us and throw us. When God is moving in and through us we are able to reflect his glory.  This is God’s will for you – that you would reflect His glory for all the world to see.
Take the Student Union challenge this week and “Unselfie” yourself. Live a life that reflects Jesus by noticing and serving others first.