Still Learning, Still Risking

Still Learning, Still Risking

The other week I had the tremendous honor of preaching at a youth revival in Delaware. It would be my first time doing ministry there and I was really looking forward to it. As the date approached closer, I took some time to seek God on how I could prepare myself for the weekend. Should I spend some time in extended prayer? Should I even fast? That’s when I felt like God said, “No, I don’t want you to fast. I want you to feast.” At first I wondered if that was really God speaking or my own flesh! Because of course, eating is easier than fasting. But a part of me wanted to fast because that was more “spiritual”, which meant a better outcome in ministry (or so I thought). Yet the best thing we can do is obey. So with that in mind, I did what anyone would do in that scenario. I went straight to my iPhone and opened up the app, Yelp! Being totally new to the area, I was hoping to find a spot that would represent “feasting” the best. I stumbled upon a BBQ place deemed the best in all of Delaware according to the Travel Channel. Also the name was so unique, I had to see for myself. Once there, my mentee, Danny, and I asked the owner what we needed to try, and she ordered for us. It was ribs, brisket, kebabs, and more. Truly a feast! As we were enjoying the meal, we started talking to the owner about the restaurant and how they began the business. From there God started...
Leadership is about Greatness

Leadership is about Greatness

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” — Mark Twain Recently I was catching up with a regional leader on what was next. I had recently transitioned out of my home church into a new season. He asked me what I learned the most while being there. As I tried to think about the last three and a half years, I knew I learned so much, but couldn’t pinpoint one particular thing. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t leaving with just more information or knowledge, but as a fuller version of who God envisioned me to be. I shared that more than what I gained or acquired, I was walking away empowered in my identity and purpose. That my time there was more about who I became than what I learned. This was in stark contrast to my previous experience, which was probably one of the worst times of my life. I saw the dark side of leadership where people’s own agendas and insecurities negatively affect everyone. It was indeed a difficult season, but not a wasted one because I did learn so much. I learned how to submit and to honor. In retrospect, I can honestly say that it were the bad leaders who taught me the most about leadership. They taught me what not to do, whereas great leaders didn’t necessarily teach me how to be a better leader, instead they helped me become my best self. Isn’t that what true leadership should be about?...
The Story isn’t Over

The Story isn’t Over

It had been seven long, grueling seasons in the NBA. Though this player was known for his abilities and athleticism, it had yet to have translated into a championship. He endured a serious injury early on in his career that made him miss practically a whole season. And lately many wondered if he could hold up physically from taking such a beating on the basketball court. There seemed to be a ceiling of how far he could lead his team. Critics and fans alike started to question him as a player. As a leader. Was he too selfish? Did he have what it takes? Can he actually get the job done? Now the athlete we are talking about is Michael Jordan, who many consider to be the GOAT (greatest of all time). Once his NBA playing days were all said and done, he would have won six championships as well as numerous other feats that would set him apart as an iconic figure in not only sports but pop culture. Yet if we judged him only halfway through his career, it would not capture the fullness of his legacy and greatness that was to come. The truth is God is not finished with you yet. The Bible says that He is the Author and Perfecter of our faiths (Hebrews 12:2). The good work He started in you, He will complete (Philippians 1:6)! Yet as human beings bound by time, it is hard for us to see beyond our past and our present circumstances. We wonder if the promises God has for us will ever come to pass. We think...
Being Used by God – Part III

Being Used by God – Part III

Final part of a three-part series. Read part one & part two. There’s nothing more automatic than driving home from a familiar location. You know all the turns to make as well as the shortcuts that even Google Maps doesn’t know. But when you venture to a place you have never been before, you are helpless without directions. You ever turn down the music so you can concentrate on what the GPS is saying to you?! So you can see the turn you have to make coming up? That’s what you call true focus and dependency! Often times the greatest hindrance of being used by God is familiarity. When we become familiar with Him and how He works, we inadvertently put Him in a box. We mistake the same outcomes and formulas with a move of God. Before we know it, we know how to minister and be “used by God” apart from God Himself. We start valuing performance rather than creating space for Him to move as He pleases. Soon being used by God is like driving home from a familiar location. Our greatest ministry will always flow out of a deep intimacy with Christ. Click To Tweet However, did you know that most car accidents happen within a 25 mile radius of people’s homes? In the same way, when we operate out of familiarity, we are headed for trouble. Our greatest ministry will always flow out of a deep intimacy with Christ. Yet familiarity is counterfeit intimacy. Familiarity and putting God in a box is the quickest way to turn a movement of God into a monument....
Being Used by God – Part II

Being Used by God – Part II

Part two of a three-part series. Read part one & part three. One of the caveats of God answering the prayers of being used by Him was that there was a price to be paid. The “more” of God always has a price tag. God will always give you the grace and empowerment needed to pay the price, but it does not change the fact that it is still costly. That cost is always the same. It is suffering. We might not suffer the same thing or in the same way. Suffering will come in many different forms and waves, but pain is still pain regardless. There was something about the pains I have faced that has allowed God to do His deepest and finest work in me and then through me. It was messy at times and brutal at others. Yet His mercy carried me forth each and every time. Pain is what allowed God to do is deepest work in me and then through me. Click To Tweet When I prayed those prayers as a new Christian, I never knew that it would cost as much as it did. Just as olives are crushed for oil to flow, it was the suffering that released the anointing in my life. When I saw how God used my pains to bring healing to others, there was no denying that suffering was part of the cost. Yet suffering without the cross reduces God to an evil dictator rather than a loving Redeemer. But there were times when, through the lens of my experiences, I thought that in order to reach a new level of...
Being Used by God – Part I

Being Used by God – Part I

Part one of a three-part series. Read part two & part three. Although I grew up going to church my whole life, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I surrendered my life to Christ. It was really a turnaround year where everything I heard about God became reality. It was no longer just information or religion; it was real. I encountered His presence. I experienced His love. I could no longer stay the same. My friends started to experience the same thing, and I went all-in. After deciding to follow Christ, my life changed. It was shortly after being saved, where I sensed His call upon my life. I remember how I couldn’t wait for school to end. Not so that I could hang out with my friends, but so I could go home and read my Bible for hours. Whenever I had free time, I also went to my local church. I would just sit with my pastor and try to get as much wisdom as possible. I would also go to pray and clean and vacuum the youth sanctuary not because someone told me I should, but I just wanted to be in the house of God. All I wanted to do was honor and serve God. I, of course had my doubts and struggles, especially with calling early on, but every time I prayed, the theme was the same. It was about being used mightily by God. I didn’t know what I was praying, but as a seventeen year old kid, I would pray that God would use me. Whether at church or at home, that was my...
A Personal Reflection of the Wilderness Season

A Personal Reflection of the Wilderness Season

Photo by Jesse Rinka Photography I entered a period shortly after having kids where I felt like I was wandering in the desert. I had my first daughter at 24 – much earlier than my husband and I had planned for. I quit teaching to stay at home with my two little ones. I battled discouragement and despair while doing ministry in the small church God had called my husband and me to serve. And I had very little community to process, grow, and do life with. I prayed that God would move with the same power I saw Him display all throughout the Bible. And in the secret place, I found hope in His promises over my life. But many times as I waited for fulfillment, it seemed as though He was working wonders everywhere except in my own life, church, and relationships. I stumbled over the temptation to envy others’ blessings, and fell deep into the rabbit hole of questioning His goodness and my identity in Him. It was after years of wrestling through cycles of promise and disappointment that He turned my attention to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Israelites directly witnessed miracle after miracle, provision after provision, yet “…they forgot the many times God showed them His love…” (Psalm 106:7). Their journey should have only taken 11 days, but by the time they reached the Promised Land, they lacked the faith to claim it, and instead an entire generation wandered in the wilderness I realized I was looking into a mirror. I was just as forgetful and “stiff-necked” as the Israelites, forgetting His great...
Where Can I Meet with God?

Where Can I Meet with God?

When I first became a Christian the Word of God became the Living Word (Heb 4:12-13). There is no other way to explain it than God’s Word became words of life. Every time I opened the Bible, the words would jump off the pages and stirred a fire in my heart (Jer 20: 9, Lk 24:32). I had never experienced anything like that before. In fact, I had to stop reading the Bible a few hours before I slept because it would keep me up all night. My heart would be so convicted and filled with wonder that it would keep me up for hours. The stories of the Bible would replay over and over in my mind, and my heart would burn with so much passion that I had to pray, “God, please help me sleep! I need to sleep to go to school, so please shut my mind off!” So after a few months, I learned that I had to read the Bible earlier in the day so I could get some sleep at night. Sometimes during school, I couldn’t wait until class would end so that I could run home to open the Bible and meet with God. That was it. I realize now what made reading God’s Word so intimate, powerful and life changing was that I read God’s Word to meet with Him. Not to know more about Him or to gain more knowledge to teach others, but literally to meet with Him. What made reading God’s Word so intimate was that I read to meet with Him Click To Tweet I wasn’t reading...
Going to Japan

Going to Japan

“By faith Abraham … obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” — Hebrews 11:8 I want to be a man of faith. There are plenty of moments where I wrestle with doubt, unbelief, and wondering how much smaller my faith is than a mustard seed, but at the end of the day, I still want to be a man of faith. In February I will be flying out to Japan in complete faith. For the past several months, God had been highlighting the nation of Japan through the strangest of ways (you can listen to the full story in a recent podcast!). Ultimately it came to a point where I could no longer ignore these “coincidences”, so I said “yes” to whatever God wants. I believe God has something there for me personally, but even more so for what is to come. For Pursuit NYC, for our region, and beyond. But at the end of the day, I feel as though God wanted me to go for no other reason than to go in obedience and faith. I will be flying on February 2nd with my best friend, Sam Lee, and will be returning February 18th. We will be in Tokyo then Nagoya together before flying to Korea, where I will spend my last few days visiting friends and family. I am not sure what to expect, but believe God will lead as He has up until now. I have no real agenda or need to achieve or accomplish, but am going in faith believing God is asking for simple childlike trust. I...
The Wind, the Earthquake, the Fire and the Whisper

The Wind, the Earthquake, the Fire and the Whisper

When I first started pursuing God I thought I would find Him in a big event. I started my journey with God about 12 years ago at the ripe age of 16. Since I was an atheist up until that point in my life (and didn’t have a satisfactory encounter with God up until then), I figured that God is probably somewhere out there and I have to find Him. I felt a need to put forth a good deal of effort in order to find Him and figured that encountering God would probably happen in some big way: some big ministry event/conference, some big missions movement, and something emotionally or intellectually stirring. I read dozens of books of philosophy and theology, attended every Christian conference I found, prayed between 1-3 hours a day, and participated in outreaches on the streets. A 2 month short term-missions trip in Cambodia during 2013 topped off my collection of encounters with God. In Cambodia, we witnessed people who had never heard of the name of Jesus encounter God through supernatural healing, dreams and visions. We witnessed a prison of 200 prisoners turn itself into a church as each prisoner encountered God, was baptized in the prison, and started a bible study in every prison cell. After a series of adventures, I realize that while God may have been a part of those big events He wasn’t in them. As I take a minute to reflect on life and dream of what may be ahead, I find that I’m not looking for my next missions trip, ministry opportunity, outreach or power encounter. I...