January 23rd, 2015

Adventures in Evangelism

Brandon Pullen

I don’t like ordering pizza.  It’s not the pizza, it’s talking to a person on the phone.  I don’t like it at all.   I have this fear of talking to people that I can’t quite explain but it’s in me.  I love online ordering, reservations, and shopping simply because I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t know.   I am completely happy being in my own little world all the time but I have this real problem.  It’s really not a problem it’s the biggest blessing of my life. -  I love Jesus.  The reason that’s a problem is because Jesus loves people and wants me to share all the wonderful news someone shared with me, with others.

So today I decided to go out on the ASU campus to talk to people about Jesus, not because I wanted to exactly but because I love Jesus and therefore kinda sorta the  people he loves.   Driving there the battle began in my heart:  “I am so tired.  I don’t want to do this.   None of the students are going to want to hear anything I have to say.  I have a headache.”  I truly didn’t feel good but I trudged all the way until I reached the center of campus.  Sitting down I wondered if there was any way I could get out of this, but Jesus’ will seemed clear.  “Why is this part always so hard?” 

Eventually I got out of the seat and talked to students. 

The first was a Chinese student whose English wasn’t great.  We started talking but when he learned I believed in God and Jesus he visibly didn’t like it and our conversation soured and he left soon afterward.  The conversation though emboldened me, why exactly did I do all this moaning about having conversations with students who clearly don’t know anything and haven’t been exposed to all that God has shown me.  

The second was a student named Brad who grew up in a nondenominational Christian church and went to a nondenominational school even.  He said he experimented with different types of Christianity and eventually threw them all away.  He was now an atheist.  We didn’t get to talk long but I think Brad’s story makes Jesus sad and I know there are words God would love to say into that soul.   

I felt good and why did I now all of sudden feel so much better?   I knew the answer was a spiritual battle because Satan never makes obeying God easy.  I will enjoy watching him thrown in the lake of fire. 

The third student grew up Lutheran but didn’t understand the gospel.  It was such a grand privilege to share with him Jesus’ death on the cross for salvation.  It was amazing that in front of me was a student probably like most students were 40 years ago.  They had grown up in a Christian church but they just hadn’t put all the pieces together yet.  After I left him my soul was full of this truth:  I had come for a reason and it may have been for this man.  It still takes my breathe sometimes that what I do can affect eternity even in the slightest way.  It brings so much meaning to life. 

But I also had other thoughts walking away.  “Oh I should have pushed harder to get his number or gone further into his spiritual life right now,” and other thoughts like that.  What am I to do with these thoughts?  My answer was take them to prayer.  “Father I know that if there is a man skilled in his work he will serve before kings.  I realize there are things I can get better in, but I also recognize that you are pleased with me.  My sinful self could find all the reasons all the time why you are critical and unhappy with me, but Father I recognize the victory of obeying you and that you can use what was said.  Your powerful spirit does not need perfect words to redeem.  I trust you that you will use my words for good in those men’s lives.  In Jesus name.  Amen.”

What a lie from the pit of hell that there is nobody that will listen to people sharing about Jesus!  Satan loves intimidation and lies but as soon as you fight he runs away.  James 4:7 “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  

January 16th, 2015

True Beauty

Desert's End Church Community

 If you were to picture something beautiful in your mind—it could be anything… a loved one, a slow sunset, maybe your favorite song—what would it be? Pretty much everyone has a different definition of what beauty really is, but when I was younger, I had no idea at all. If you were to ask me what a beautiful woman looks like, I would have come up completely blank. I desperately needed to know what it meant to be beautiful… but the truth is, I had no idea where to start. 

Now, before I went to Frontline, I had long since given up on searching for a definition. For a time, I even wondered if there was one. However, at the conference, John Meyer gave a sermon about manhood and womanhood. In his teaching, he talked about God’s purpose in making male and female, and he said that the fullness of God’s image couldn’t be completed in just Adam. It took both Adam and Eve to be able to represent the full character of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His point was that femininity and masculinity must unite in relationship before that picture is whole. Now, it wasn’t anything that I hadn’t heard before… but, in all of that, I realized that there is a part in a truly beautiful woman that even a perfect man, untouched by sin, cannot express. 

Okay, then. So what is this “part” in a woman that is supposed to reflect God’s beauty? Well, after the teaching, I decided to go back to our hotel room and dig a little deeper in the verses the pastor gave us. So I grabbed every single one that I could find about what Biblical femininity looks like, and I threw them together to make my own little outline of what the Bible says it means to be a woman. Here’s what I wrote: 

A woman is a daughter, a daughter of a King. (Eph 1:4-5) She is noble (Pro 31:29) and speaks with wisdom. (Pro 31:26, Titus 2:3) A woman is a corner pillar, carved like those in a palace. (Ps 144:12) Pillars are a support and a helper, (Gen 2:18) and are rooted and established in love. (Eph 3:16-19) A woman guards her heart, (Pro 4:23) and is clothed in strength and dignity which comes from the intent of her heart. (Pro 31:25) A woman’s strength comes from her trust in the Lord (Is 30:15) and her dignity in quietness and submission. (1 Peter 3:1+5) Her fear of the Lord is her crowning jewel. (Pro 9:10, 31:30) Her beauty is not in her form, (Pro 11:22) but in her gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4) and purity. (Phil 2:14+15, 1 Peter 3:1+2) 

Through all those verses, I think God helped me realize that by thinking that femininity didn’t matter, I pushed aside a part of myself that’s beautiful and who God created me to be. And now that I understand what beauty really is, I think I know how to pursue it better in my own life, for God’s glory. God showed me a lot of things this Frontline, but one of the main things I learned was that being a woman isn’t easy, but it’s also definitely a goal that Christ wants me to follow. Although I don’t fully recognize all the ways in which God wants to shape and mold me in the future, I think I know what it means to be a woman, now. And I think I know what true, feminine beauty is.

A guest post by Alena Janss

January 7th, 2015

Momminess at Frontline

Desert's End Church Community

 I originally didn’t want to go.

Like many, I had heard that it was a conference for younger single men and women, and figured that this was not the conference for a mom with a 16 month old who would want to run around and be noisy. There were too many obstacles, too many details to figure out, and what was I going to get from it anyway? But my husband was going and desired that I would join him, so about 3 weeks before Frontline, I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” I must confess, though, that I had very little faith that the Lord could do anything with me there. I was simply going to be too distracted with taking care of our daughter, so I thought. And again, how many teachings was I going to be able to hear, anyway?

But God is much bigger than my faithlessness and doubt.

I knew that this conference would be different than the previous Faithwalkers I have attended over the years. Being a mom at a conference means that your attention is divided and I cannot be fully focused on the teachings and worship as I would have been in previous years. But, silly me, to think that God would be limited to teaching me within the confines of an auditorium.

I was able and blessed to hear the majority of teachings through a speaker they had set up for parents in a side room. The encouragement and conviction that can come from hearing truth after truth after truth is hard to match. I was also blessed to make some new mom friends while our kids played together in the side room. Kathleen Nelson later encouraged me that those friendships could be something that I can treasure and look forward to for many conferences to come.

But I think one of the thoughts that most impacted me is that there is something really special about getting out of my daily world and daily distractions to be in a place where God wants to speak to his people. Regardless of how many teachings I may or may not hear, God can still personally meet me and teach me. And I don’t want to let the difficulties about being a mom at a conference prevent me from applying faith, retreating with God’s people, and allowing God to come and do as he pleases. I almost missed out on what God had for me there. I'm glad I didn't.

I arrived there with a stubborn and hard heart, but I left with an encouraged and convicted one.

This is a guest post by Jen Smith.