Posts Tagged With: learning

 
 

Don’t Fill in the Blank

“There are times when you cannot understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.”

-Oswald Chambers

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So often I find that God has erased all my plans for the future and given me a clean slate. A blank space. And the hardest part is looking at that space and realizing that I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. I naturally want to fill it in. And many times I do. The space that was a clean work area for God to make and mold and move me becomes a cluttered mess of notations, desires, plans, and calculations. If you ask me, I’ll tell you I know where I’m headed; but that’s about the time God comes along with an eraser and wipes away each one of those ideas. He again gives me the space that begs the question: “Do you trust me?”. I’ll say that I do, and I might even wait a few days for God to do something. But eventually my patience wears thin. I wind up with a metaphorical expo marker in my hand. And I’m drawing something new. Why?

Part of the reason is that there has to be the seamless unity of believing and doing. I must say that I trust God to fill it in when He wants to, and then prove that I trust him by waiting on his timing and not filling in that blank space myself. It’s not that my plans are necessarily bad plans. I might have been planning to go to India and be a missionary for the rest of my life. It was the fact that God has something different and God has something better and I have to still myself and wait for him to give me direction. I should never run before God’s guidance. When he takes the time to erase my plans, it means I should take the time to wait on his plans.

Right now, I have a blank space. Not to long ago God erased all of those plans I had made and began to show me why they weren’t part of his plan. I wanted to do this to please this person. I wanted to go there to meet that person. I wanted to stay here to become this version of myself. I had hidden intentions in each one of those carefully crafted ideas. And God saw those, even when I couldn’t. . He penetrated through the murkiness of my imagination and sorted the stuff I had piled on top of my plans to make them seem more appealing. He showed me what he was seeing as I sang “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go”.  Sometimes following God’s will means waiting on him to fill in those blank spaces in His timetable; not yours.  His will for our lives isn’t some incomprehensible theory that we have to struggle and strain to somehow get on board or grab a glimpse of. He says in Leviticus 19:2 “…Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

When we wake up committed to following him and growing in him, we become more like him each passing day. His will isn’t for the future, it’s for now. It’s that process of maturing in holiness and righteousness that sets us walking in the right direction, in his will for our lives. Even when we may only see a blank space in front of us, rest assured that God has plans for it, and wait for his guidance. Don’t rush to fill in the blank. “When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.”

Categories: Bible, blank, Change, christianity, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, space, Trust, waiting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Following: Leading Well (Part 2)

Proverbs 14:28 (MSG)

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

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This is the second lesson that God is teaching me regarding leadership. The verse really speaks for itself, you are not a good leader if you have no followers. It makes a lot of sense, you don’t to talk to people you don’t want to hear speak. You don’t hang out with people you don’t like. You don’t follow people who don’t lead well. Because this next year, everything will be new to me, I will see how many people follow me.

I will post things about Youth camp later this summer, but I wanted to shine a light on the commitment that I made to my youth group while I was there. Each night, we would have a worship session and then the speaker would stand up and give the message. That night, the message centered on this question, will you be able to walk across a graduation and have people say about you, I can follow her because he/she follows Christ. He/She constantly seeks after what God desires of him/her and I know that he/she is going to be on the right track, I know I can follow him/her because of their relationship and closeness with Christ.

My youth pastor posed this question, and what I heard was a call for leaders to rise up in the youth group. I stood. It is a big responsibility to have an entire youth group looking up to you and watching your actions to see if Christ is evident in your life, but for a while I could hear God calling me to do something more with my youth ministry. The teens in the youth group were being poured into, but it was hard to tell if they were pouring anything out. It was time to start a revolution, beginning with me, because I was willing to let God use me to change the church attitude both in myself and in others. I asked for accountability, because if I’m leading, not only do I need people following but people alongside me to point out things in my life and bluntly tell me; Mackenzie, if you carry this on any longer, you are going to be leading people into sin.

I’ve been gone for most of the summer, and I haven’t had a chance to notice if my commitment had produced any followers. I may not ever see the people who seek after Christ because my relationship with him changed them. I hope I will be able to look back across the graduation stage and look back at people who have followed me as I followed Christ and know that even as I step out into the real world, I will continue after what he asks of me with all I am, no matter the cost.

I want to be able to lead the people at my school this next year and the people in my youth group this summer and for the rest of my high school years, and if I notice that I have no followers, I know it’s time to back off and let someone else do the leading, while I follow.  With Christ at the center of everything I do, I want to lead people to walk in his ways, and get up people out of the pew and onto the road. If you always live your spiritual life in one place with no risks, you’ve never really lived at all. And besides, I need some followers. You can’t lead if no one is following.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, learning, life, people, purpose, School, students, summer, teens, Trust, Uncategorized, words, youth group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

I’ll Be With You: Leading Well (Part 1)

Exodus 3:9-18 (MSG)

9-10 “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11 Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”

15 God continued with Moses: “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites: ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.’ This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.

16-17 “Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I’ve looked into what’s being done to you in Egypt, and I’ve determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey.”’

18 “Believe me, they will listen to you. Then you and the leaders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness where we will worship God—our God.

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For a long time, I’ve been behind the scenes working for Christ on campus. I’ve been there, I’ve led in my own subtle mannerisms, but never noticed a big group following behind me, or was ever entrusted with the care of their spiritual growth.  I prayed, was outgoing, witnessed, all of this leading in its own way, but never truly led. This next year, I have the chance to lead. From what I have heard, I am a very possible candidate for a leadership position with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You have no idea how excited this has made me. I get my chance to lead people. People will look up to me and I’ll challenge them in their faith. More witnessing will happen and the school will be turned upside-down because of the call he has placed on my life. But I’ve never truly led.

The reality of this hit me one night and I was suddenly asking myself, “How is it possible that I could be leading others?” I wondered what I would say to get their attention. How I would say it? I planned out all the things I wanted to get done and everything that needed to be done. And I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of leading actual people. Even more so, people my age and older than me. Of course the cute Christian girl praying at her Dad’s college meetings is enough to inspire a Christian college student, but not lead them. I’m not teaching Bible Stories to five-year-olds either. After moving, I hardly had any friends. In middle school, I integrated with the “outcasts” of middle school society and felt a whole new way to stand up for what I believe in , from a bunch of atheists who hated god, a bunch of skeptics who didn’t think he existed, and a bunch of hurting people who couldn’t accept a God who had never done anything for them and allowed them to feel pain. My faith dwindled and then grew as I was able to tell them what they needed and was able to stand apart from them, but allow a safe-haven for them even though I believed in something different.

I was still left out sometimes, most being of the popular Christians crowd.  As the two groups of us moved further away from each other, a fear began to grow inside of me that kept me from going back and finding Christian friends. It was a fear of rejection. We were only 3rd and 4th graders when we met. I didn’t know one person my 3rd grade year who had  felt what it was like to be new someplace and have no one to welcome you.

My story turned out for the better, I stepped outside my comfort zone and the haze of lies the Devil had fed me to keep me away from the people who might help to grow and encourage my faith the most. The Christian people like me. Of course, the giant gap remains between my group of lesser on the popularity chain to greater on the popularity chain. I feel like I can’t relate to  Christian people sometimes. These people have always had Christian friends, they always seemed to be accepted by everybody. I haven’t. So it was this that I came to that night. That I had a chance to lead the people I had been afraid of and bridge the gap between my group and theirs. Where do I begin? What do I say? They won’t listen to me! I’ve never led anyone before. Near tears, God spoke to me. He said “I’ll be with you, believe me, they will listen to you. I gave Moses the words didn’t I?” . I remembered this passage and read it over and was so overcome with joy.

That night he promised me that he would give me a full training in how to be a leader. I know it will make me better equipped and a better leader than any “how-to” book on the market or any year-long seminar. He’s the best leader there is. I love how he gets irritated with Moses. He says that he will be with him through everything, that he will give them the words and the victory, yet Moses doubts God. My favorite line is one I’ve said myself many times, ““But why me? What makes you think that I could ever _______________________?” And every time God answers me,  “I’ll be with you.” He’s with you too, whether it be leading an entire body of Christians or overcoming the initial shock of something extravagant he asks of you. He says,  “I’ll be with you” and proves it to be true every time.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, prayer, teens, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Completions and Complications

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog, and before you go off on me about not writing for a few months, hear me out. I have this class that was a little behind grade-wise in AP U.S. Government and Politics (most of you know where this is headed) but before you go thinking that I’ve failed the class, I want to clarify that we are talking about a perfectionist (me) who “failed”. In other words, I was making a B and my 4.0 average began to slip down the drain. I’m not bitter that I was temporarily grounded from my blog, because I felt the same. Taking an AP class consumes a lot of your time, and like the usual me, I couldn’t get my priorities straight, and so my parents straightened them out for me. You have no idea how glad I am to be back and how glad I am to be able to write about the pieces of my life you missed this past month, and also about all the experiences I will have this summer. It’s going to be epic, just saying.

I titled this “Completions and Complications” because it sums up life for me right now, pretty well. As I have had the chance to read other’s blogs and let them pour into my life, I realized that I enjoy reading blog posts where people are real. Not the fake “I’m doing fine” not the teaching of what they learned about Jesus this past week, but when they sat down and said, look, my life is a mess. I don’t know why you’re reading this, but it’s for a reason. It’s hard for me to write this. It’s deeply painful to sum up what’s going on right now, but healing can be painful and I’m going to write and learn and listen until the very end. Join me if you want to. It inspires me. Because I never for one moment think; “wow, they don’t have it all together” or “their faith must be really weak because they can’t trust him with this”, instead I think, “I want faith like that”. It takes a lot of confidence to put out the things you are struggling with at this season in your life. You suddenly become more vulnerable than you’ve ever been, and it’s scary. Like stepping out on a limb that you’re not sure will hold you up. I’ve made the decision to write like that. I’m stressed. I’m worn out. I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions. I don’t know why you’re reading this, but it’s for a reason. It may be hard for me to write like that. It may be deeply painful. But healing can be painful and I’m going to I’m going to write and learn and listen until the very end. Join me if you want to.

The school year has ended and I cannot believe how many close friends I have made just in this school-year alone. This summer will be difficult to begin, I’m going to miss those dear friends so much, and they will always have a place in my heart. I’m finally beginning feel that I have accomplished something. I still have so much that I have to learn, and so many things that God has to pull out of my life. Just as the school-year ended, he put a pin-point on a fear I had lived with for a long time, and I was able to begin to overcome it. As this summer begins, expect to see shorter posts with more content, for as many days as possible. Thanks for coming on the journey this far, in June my blog will be 6 months old.

Categories: AP Civcs, Change, christianity, communication, converstions, failure, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, people, prayer, reality, relationships, School, speech, stress, summer, teens, Uncategorized, vacations, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Work in Progress

I’ve had people ask me a lot of challenging questions this week. I’ve gone through many faith-challenging things these last few weeks. I found that through my walk with Christ, I’m able to give things to God more easily. When something comes up that I feel like I don’t know how to handle, I’ve learned to give it to God. It’s still a work in progress. That phrase, “a work in progress”, describes me well. My tennis skills: a work in progress. My gym class tolerance: a work in progress. My faith: a work in progress. Mackenzie: a work in progress. There are many things I need to work on, and many things God needs to work out of me.

I find that people often say “be strong” when you’re faced with hard circumstances, but I’ve found God tells me just the opposite. He tells me that through my weaknesses, he is made strong. Basically, he says “be weak.” When you become weak, you become flexible to God’s schedule as opposed to your own. You’re giving him control, letting him turn something into a masterpiece, instead of trying to make it on your own, without even knowing how. You’re trying to make something perfect out of nothing. Have you ever done pottery before? Imagine an instructor sitting a ball of clay before you and saying, make a flawless teapot. I don’t want to see any cracks, and make sure all the air bubbles our out and make sure you use the spiral method. Oh, and don’t forget to wedge and knead the clay before you hollow it out, also score and slip the pot before adding the handle. Unless you really know how to make pottery, you might be a little lost.

I’ll explain. If there are cracks in the clay you are molding with, it will be hard to shape and falls apart easily. If there are air bubbles in the clay when you fire it in the kiln, your masterpiece will explode. The spiral method of making pottery is difficult and it usually comes out lopsided if the clay “snake” is not rolled out evenly. You wedge and knead clay to get all the air bubbles out so it doesn’t explode in the kiln. You must also hollow out the inside of your pot because you couldn’t use it if you didn’t and also because there is a great chance there are air bubbles in that clay and it will explode in the kiln if you do not knead them out. You score and slip pieces of clay that you want to attach together, because they would not stick otherwise. Slip is a mixture of clay and water that acts as a glue for pieces of pottery. Scoring refers to the process of roughing up the surface area of the two objects that you want to attach, where you want to attach them; scoring is like making scratch marks in the clay with a utensil such as a plastic fork before slipping it and attaching it. If you do something wrong, your masterpiece will either fall apart or explode when you try to complete it.

I wonder how many of us, would have known exactly what to do, without being told any of that information. How many of us could have made perfect, flawless teapots? And yet we treat our lives like a piece of pottery that we know exactly how to mold, which is the biggest lie. Does a pot know how to mold itself? So for God to accomplish his purpose in us, we must first become weak and willing. We are all works in progress. None of us are perfect. I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I look at people who don’t seem to have any problems in their life and wish I were them. Comparing myself to a broken, useless person who God has fixed, isn’t perfection. It’s a broken useless person who God has fixed and given a purpose to. I’ve misunderstood and undoubtedly misplaced perfection. We have God’s full attention. He is intent on making us into something wonderful. We never take the time to notice that our creator is perfect. We never take the time to compare our own lives to his. We are too caught up in comparing ourselves to “perfect” people. Like I said, I’m a work in progress, and only when I become weak, can God turn me into something breath-taking.

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 (MSG)

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle.

Categories: beauty, Bible, clay, clay pot, comparision, Corinthians, creations, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, people, perfection, potter, pottery, purpose, relationships, Self-esteem, Thoughts, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Learning to Listen

I’m a chatterbox. There is the plain truth in black and white. If someone asks me how I am, I’ll tell them. They will hear much more about my life than they ever wanted to. It’s comical really. But I also have a tendency to be a chatterbox to God. I talk and talk and talk about my problems. Why this, why that, I wonder about this, I wonder about that, on and on and on. It’s good to pray. It’s good to talk. But sometimes all the talking drowns out what the other person is trying to say and you miss something important. When my mouth isn’t moving, there is something wrong with me physically. When my heart is talking, there is something wrong with me spiritually.

Why is there something wrong with me spiritually? It’s because I’ve completely ignored what God is trying to tell me. I’ve interrupted and kept talking. “Be still, and know that I am God.” For me, God is trying to tell me in that verse to stop being such a chatterbox and just quiet down and listen. He is God! He holds the entire world and my problems are nothing compared to him. One of the first steps toward having gentle and quiet spirit is to be quiet. Many of my friends are quiet people. That leaves me to do most of the talking. But when me and another friend both like to talk, it creates serious communication issues. You try to talk at the same time and all the words are jumbled together. When you tried to say “my fish is sick” and they tried to say, “I bought some tuna” you wind up with something like “my tuna fish is some stick”; not at all what you were trying to get across. It’s the same thing with God, though with a not nearly as funny outcome.

When you talk so much you can’t hear God, your almost saying “what I have to say is so much more important that what you have to say, therefore you must listen to me before I’ll hear anything from you.” It’s a detrimental spiritual disease called selfishness. It grows in your soul and has to be weeded out by a professional gardener; otherwise, it spreads and you think you are entitled to everything because the world revolves around you and what you want. This is what I’ve done when I needed to listen to God. Because I don’t, I wind up completely and utterly confused and lost. Because I don’t focus on his directions, I lose sight of the way he wants me to walk. Being quiet takes practice; it takes vigorous spiritual exercise to listen. When all you want to do is tell God about your problems, you forget that he is trying to tell you how to fix them. Spiritual chatterboxes don’t make strong Christians; they make confused Christians who have a selfish slant to their lives.

Praying is a wonderful thing. But prayer is a conversation, not a journal you’re keeping. With prayer, you talk to be heard and you talk to be answered. Spiritual talking is almost like a cheat prayer. You just talk to talk and whether anyone responds isn’t your concern. Each trial we face in our lives, is for us to learn from, whether we want to learn or not. The trials build up our faith and the more you learn from it, the stronger you faith becomes. But how much you learn depends on how much you listen.

Categories: Bible, Change, chatterbox, christianity, communication, converstions, encouragement, Faith, garden, God, God, hearing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Journals, learning, life, listening, love, people, prayer, reality, relationships, selfishness, speech, Thoughts, Trust, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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