How many of us have heard this in our lifetime? I know I have. I’m not even sure I was fully aware of its meaning either. Of course I figured it meant I need to verbalize my requests to Jesus. He knows that they are hidden in the depths of my heart but I need to trust Him enough to say it out loud. This is partially true. The Lord has been showing me a new truth to this common phrase and I am so excited to share it with you!
Turn to 1 Kings, read chapter 3 verses 1-15. Solomon has just become King. Around verse five the Lord tells Solomon to ask Him for what he wants. Solomon continues to praise God for His goodness and blessings over Solomon’s father, David. Solomon knows in his heart the faithfulness of God’s word and BOLDLY ASKS with confidence and assurance for God to grant him “an obedient heart to judge… and to discern between good and evil” (v. 9).
The way Solomon approaches the throne of God with confidence astounds me!
The Lord answers Solomon’s request with joy and love! This is the God we serve! In verse 13 the Lord again proves His desire to give his children abundant blessings! “In addition I will give you what you did not ask for.” Because Solomon was selfless in his requests, because he included God and knew His wisdom was the only true way to lead, God looked to Solomon and rewarded him for his faithfulness! God wants us to trust His promises. His promise to work all things for good to those who love Him!
In this way, Solomon shows his love to God. Do we approach the throne of God with that kind of boldness? Do we trust that God WILL and ALREADY HAS blessed us abundantly?
This passage in 1 Kings teaches me that God knows my requests come from a good and selfless place (most of the time, I’m still broken by sin but saved by grace). It’s teaching me not to ask God for help with a timid spirit but a spirit of BOLDNESS. Challenge yourself to see the ways God has already blessed you. Ask yourself if you typically go to God in confidence or in fear that He will not answer. TRUST that He has an abundantly blessed life planned for you.
Reflect on Solomon’s request. Continue reading verses 16-28 to learn how God specifically answered Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. Have confidence that God knows YOU! He created YOU and the desires in your heart!
Recently I’ve been going through a book on discipleship called Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram. They have been teaching me a lot about MOMENTS. The Greek word for this idea is “kairos.” You may have heard of it. It is a special word. It does not simply define the event itself that happened during a certain “moment,” but it deepens the effect the moment had on our lives. Breen and Cockram define this kairos moment as a moment “when the eternal God breaks into your circumstances with an event that gathers some loose ends of your life and knots them together in His hands.”
Wow. Kairos doesn’t just happen and then fizzle away. It sticks.
Kairos changes you. It embodies something Christ created and gives you access to it.
Kairos . . . kairos. I keep saying it to myself with a sense of awe.
Our creator is so involved within our lives that He can take the smallest, simplest moments and pull us towards Himself. Can you think of “kairos” moment in your life? As I look back on twenty years, I can easily recognize the big moments, but what about the everyday moments we tend to overlook? How is God using those moments?
I can think of a moment that happened this past summer. I was attending a church conference and learning about the power of God. I began to think about the really hard theological questions I had. I’d heard of the gifts of the spirit, the healings and the speaking in tongues, but I’d never experienced any of these things personally. Immediately the Spirit began to speak into my heart. He told me I needed to speak with a certain friend. I met up with her the next morning. What I didn’t expect was for this to be a life-changing breakfast conversation for the ages. This friend is older, wiser, and more mature in her walk. I trusted what she was telling me. As I began to learn more and more about the works of the Spirit, I dug through scripture, specifically Acts, and was astounded by the Holy Spirit. As I continued reading, John 14:12 stuck out to me.
“I assure you: The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. AND he will do even greater works than these.”
So let me get this straight, Jesus just told me that if I believe in Him, I will (and should) be doing the same things He did during His ministry. This verse has become one of my favorites as it has opened my eyes to the power of the Spirit today. God still works. He uses His followers and He blesses them with gifts from the spirit. This opened my eyes to the power of God. My kairos moment happened as I read these words. My knowledge of the Lord was expanded and my eyes were opened to how BIG He is. These words are not simply an encouragement to me. They are a command; a command to seek and heal the broken. Find the lost and show them Jesus.
This was a kairos moment that I will never forget. God took the loose ends, He tied them together, and He gave me an opportunity to grow. How have kairos moments changed your life?
Sometimes I wonder about my life. What’s different about my perspective than the perspective of others? There is a huge world out there and I love when God reminds me how small I am in comparison.
Once upon a time I went to China. And by “once upon a time,” I mean this is a true story that happened a little over a month ago! God allowed me to see how small I was and how BIG His world is. It wasn’t a belittled feeling, or a feeling of insignificance. It was a realization that my God is BIG. A realization that is seemingly obvious, but not as present throughout my daily life. So I ask myself, why is this?
I return home from China and begin to process. A few days pass and the jetlag finally settles. I begin to notice a difference. I was falling back into my comfort zone and I resented every minute of it. Have any of you ever been on a missions trip? This was my first time. What surprised me most wasn’t the culture shock of being in a foreign country, it wasn’t the different lifestyle to get accustomed to, and it wasn’t the food or the amazing people. It was the transition back into normal life. How do you have a life-changing experience half way across the world, and return to every-day activities that don’t seem to matter? How could I make these things matter again? Did I even want to force myself back into my same routine? These were all the questions I asked myself.
Partially I believed there was no answer. I just had to make it work, or be miserable or something. But that wasn’t the case. God has opened doors and created opportunities for me to continue to grow. It’s quite amazing! Although the joy and hopefulness was returned to my life, I still felt unsettled. There was closure I hadn’t gotten yet. So I pondered what was so different about my time in China, besides the obvious. And it hit me. God answered my prayers and gave me closure. Here is what He showed me.
In this chapter of Romans, the comparison is given between Spirit and flesh. A life on mission, no matter how long, allows you to keep your focus solely on doing what I like to call “Kingdom Work.” While I was in China doing Kingdom Work, I was completely led by the spirit. No distractions. Complete focus. Have you ever had an experience like this? Where you go from being completely Spirit-led to being distracted by unnecessary things? If you have, then you know this feeling is miserable. You know something is off, and you know it’s wrong.
During my stay at home, as I was processing, I began to think of specific ways to keep that China perspective present in my everyday life.
Practical Ways to be Spirit-Let:
Stay in the Word constantly. Be fed.
Pray for opportunities to talk about your faith. While our relationship with the Lord is personal, it is meant to be shared! Make it real. There will be someone who needs to hear your story.
Get uncomfortable. This is crucial to our growth! While it may be a foreign concept in a world that teaches us never to do anything that isn’t pleasurable to our flesh, being in uncomfortable situations allows you to rely completely on God. It builds faith in ways that being comfortable cannot.
“Hi my name is Courtney. I’m a college student, I like Jesus, and long walks on the beach.”
These commonly-used words and phrases are heard in conversation as people pursue new relationships with one another. However, what does this really tell you about me? Does it really express a deserved respect as we venture through college years with spiritual encouragement together? I think not! My plan is to let you in on a couple secrets of how the Lord has transformed me into the person I am today. I am so blessed with the opportunity to contribute to the lives of whoever may be following!
It all began in 1992. I was the first addition to a newlywed couple living in their first home in a small town outside Austin, Texas. When I was born my parents decided to raise their children in a Christian home with hopes that they would see and experience the love of Jesus every day. And this is exactly what they did. I grew up without missing a Sunday or Wednesday church service. I went to a Christian school and everything I knew revolved around God. As wonderful as this may seem to me now, as a child, my flesh was resentful. Although I was saved as baptized as a young child, I remained lukewarm for the majority of my childhood and teenage years. Because of my parents strict hold on my life there were not opportunities to act out or get into any real trouble. When I got to college, this all changed.
For my first year and a half as a college student at Samford University, I allowed sin to enter my life on new levels. I struggled with depression, addiction, and heavy amounts of loneliness. Through a divinely inspired chain of events, the Lord used these obstacles to bring me back to Him. Halfway through my sophomore year I had transformed. God placed people in my life and took things away from me that ultimately drew me to total surrender under His glory.
Here I am, over a year later and the Lord has completely renewed me. The Lord has opened doors for me to recognize a fulltime call to ministry. After being an active member in church for a year and removing serious sin from my life, God opened one of the biggest doors yet. I became an intern at Women’s Missionary Union during the summer of 2012, and this past Christmas, the Lord gave me the incredible blessing of spending it on missions in China. Through His tremendous grace and unfailing faithfulness, I have found myself as a Christ-follower in this world. I am currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in English Literature with future plans to pursue a Masters of Divinity.
I am excited and grateful to take this journey with you! Let’s find out what the Lord has in store for our hearts this season!
This blog is like three mini blogs. I had three things I wanted to talk about but couldn’t develop one of them enough to make a whole blog.
Part 1: Looking Back
Last semester flew by! Seriously, I have never had a semester go by that fast. It was like the semester was kicked into overdrive. It also meant that myMISSION: SHINE went by at an alarming rate too. This was supposed to be our nice, slow, calm semester where we were able to figure things out and get a better idea of what we are going. Nope. That did not happen. We did figure some things out and get a better idea of what we are doing, but it was anything but slow and calm.
There have been some perks to having travel at the speed of light though. First, it has forced us to be productive and meet deadlines. Second, it forced us to be present. Everything else might be moving fast, but every week this was our hour to do ministry, build relationships, worship, and be rejuvenated. Last, and by far the best part of having a crazy fast semester, is it made us rely fully on God’s guidance. When life is moving is a little too fast, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of what you are doing. Seeking God’s guidance reminded us of what we were doing. We weren’t just going through the motions.
Part 2: Embracing the Change
Now, it is already time to start a brand new semester. For me, a new semester is a mix of excitement and fear. I’m excited that God has brought us to this point and to see where He is going to take us next. I’m hesitant because a new semester means change and change makes me a little nervous. Campus ministry is all about change. But the best thing to do is just embrace the change. That doesn’t mean I need to jump in blind. A new semester is a chance to reflect on what we have learned and use that to make better plans and carry them out more effectively. Changing is about taking what you know and applying it so you can become better.
Part 3: What is Next?
For me and several other people on leadership, this is not just a new semester, it is our last semester. I struggled with this blog for a long time. I knew I needed to write about a new semester and starting fresh, but God is also preparing my heart for something new in a different way. Not to be overly cliché, but over the next few months, God will be closing one door in my life and opening a new one. This semester, I am still seeking God about what is next for myMISSION: SHINE and where is it going. But I am also asking the same questions for my own life.
Now I’m asking you. What did you learn? How will you use it to embrace something new with your group? And what is next?
I’ve always joked and said I would love a How-To, step-by-step guide for starting a myMISSION group. It would make life so much easier if someone wrote out an instruction booklet that told me what to say, when to meet, and what to do in those meetings. It would make life easier, but then the groups wouldn’t be unique or special. It would also take the most important part, faith, out of the groups. Starting a myMISSION group takes a lot of faith; and if someone gave me a step-by-step guide, I would have no need to rely on God for direction.
Even though I can’t write a how-to guide for new groups, I can give you some tips I have picked up along the way. Some of these things we did from the very beginning and I’m so grateful we did. Others we have learned from trial and error:
Know why you are starting a myMISSION group. I know this might sound strange, but this is a huge part of starting a myMission group. For us, there was a need on our campus for women to get involved in ministry. Where is there a need? Is it in your church? Your community? Your campus? After you figure out who is in need, you have to figure out what that need is. For example, you may have a group of young women that meet and fellowship but are not involved in missions or the community. Or maybe it’s the opposite, you have a great group that does projects and is always helping in the community, but they need a place to come together and fellowship. myMISSION groups can function in all kinds of ways and meet all kinds of needs. You just have to figure out where God is leading your group.
Meet and pray often with leadership. Plan together, in person if at all possible. Be open to bounce ideas around. Planning together as leaders will bond you in a very unique way. Also, it will help all of you be on the same page. Also, pray together. Encourage one another in prayer. Leadership built on a foundation of prayer is a truly amazing thing.
Build relationships. Take time to get to know the people that come to your group. Invest in them. It is so easy to worry about running fellowship time, that you forget to actually HAVE fellowship. Sit and laugh, have a girls’ night, or just do something fun. Get to know the people that are coming to your myMISSION group.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is a big one for me. I want everything to be perfect, run smoothly, and all work exactly like it should. Well, let me just tell you, that is not how life works. I’ve had to learn to laugh when the projector breaks or when someone forgets snacks. It’s not a big deal. I would drive myself crazy if I worried about every tiny thing.
Seek God. This one is by far the most important. Obviously we should constantly seek God but it is especially true when you are starting/in a ministry group. If you are thinking of starting a group, are starting one, or are part of a well established group, God has placed a passion in your heart for that group and the people involved. Seek Him when you are planning and shaping the group, when you are starting out, and when you are established. No matter what your group looks like or how it functions, the point is always to seek Christ and share His love.
I know some or most of these tips are pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded or encouraged. I hope these, and also this blog, has been helpful if you are thinking about starting a myMISSION group.
November and December are a very interesting time for college students. It is the final push before exams. It is this crazy time when everything is due, the last “regular” tests are given, study guides for finals are handed out, and you start calculating what grade you need to make on each final. So this week for myMISSION: SHINE, instead of doing our regular meeting and fellowship, we decided to just get off campus for a little bit, take a break from the crazy, and relax. It was time for everyone to take a well deserved night off. We piled into two cars and headed off to town.
We wanted it to be a night to relax and have fun but we also wanted to incorporate missions into our night out and decided to put together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. If you have never donated to Operation Christmas Child, what you do is fill a shoe box up with toys, books, hygiene products, and anything else that looks fun. The boxes are collected by Samaritan’s Purse and then distributed to children in developing countries.
It was a lot of fun to walk around as a group and pick out items for the shoe boxes. We also played with a few items while we were shopping. We had to test the toys to make sure they were fun! We ended up making six shoe boxes, one for a boy and a girl in each age group. After several minutes of rearranging things, we finally got all the items in the boxes. Now it was time to eat! We headed to Cookout where we sat, drank milkshakes, ate French fries, and laughed. It was really nice time of fellowship without worrying about schedules, meetings, or other little details that always seem to grab my attention during regular myMISSION: SHINE meetings.
It was a good night. Nothing spectacular happened, no life changing moments, but it was one of those things that are just good for your soul. We were able to give to others, fellowship, and forget about our worries and stresses for a few hours. It is really easy to get into a “funk” when you’re living on a college campus; it’s like cabin fever. If you are starting a myMISSION group on your campus, plan a night to just get off campus and have some girl time. It is rejuvenating and energizing—something we could all use!
Last night SHINE hosted Truck-or-Treat for a local church, Baptist Fellowship of Angier (BFA). The church is about 10 minutes from campus and right in the middle of a low socio-economic area where many of the kids in the community are ‘at-risk’ kids and unemployment and crime rates are high. For the past several years BFA has sponsored Trunk-or-Treat because it provides a safe place for kids to go and this year they asked SHINE at CU to host it! I was so excited when they asked us to host. We have been looking for a way to get more involved in the community and this was the perfect opportunity.
The night was AWESOME! We had a good number of student volunteers and a huge turnout from the community. We had cars and games set up outside, yummy junk food, and a photo booth set up inside. The night was really great with just a few minor problems—the biggest being we had to limit how much candy a kid could get at each game. We had so many people come through that we kept running out of candy, but if you ask me, that is a pretty good problem to have!
The best part of the night was the genuine relationships that were being built! Trunk-or-Treat wasn’t a way to get a group of people together so we could turn them into our project. Trunk-or-Treat had two goals: first to provide a safe place for the kids of Angier to come, and second to build relationships. Everywhere I looked last night, relationships were being built! I saw college students encouraging kids, giving high fives, playing games, and even saw one very manly guy having a hop scotch race with a little girl dressed as a princess. I saw college students building relationships with one another, church volunteers reaching out to the parents and some of the college students. Everyone was building relationships!
That is the kind of ministry we do at SHINE: myMISSION. We make friends, meet needs, and just live life with people. Ministry isn’t about projects. It’s about asking someone how their day was while munching on Halloween cookies, celebrating with a mom who told you her daughter has gone up a whole reading level. It’s about praying with a college kid who has had a rough week, or giving a 9th grade girl advice on boys.
All those are real conversations that took place last night. There are a lot of different ways to do ministry, but Trunk-or-Treat paints a good picture of what SHINE at CU is trying to do! We want to reach people on our campus by building a community and giving them a place to get plugged in. Then we want to go into the actual community and just live life with people. Christ lived life with people. He built relationships, shared meals, laughed, comforted, and was just present in people’s lives.
If you are starting a myMISSION group, think about the needs of community. How can you build relationships with people in your church or on your campus? What about in your town or surrounding towns? How can you build relationships and live life with people? This is what I love about SHINE and about being a Christian. God has called me to make friends, to love people, and to build relationships!
I feel like I only write two kinds of blogs on here. The first is some awesome lesson that God has taught me, but it only sort of, kind of, relates to SHINE: myMission groups. The second is blogs that are about SHINE: myMission groups but tend to focus on the hard work that goes into building a group. I feel like I’m cheating you a little. When I write about my own life lessons, I’m sure you think, “Awesome, but how does that help me do ministry on my campus?” and when I write about SHINE: myMission, you have every right to think “Man, that is a lot of work and a LOT of trial and error.” And you would be completely valid in thinking either of those thoughts. With that being said, this is my life, and this is a true account of what starting a SHINE: myMission group is like.
Now that I have had my pre-blog apology, let’s move on to the actual post.
Last night we had our weekly SHINE meeting. Our speaker was awesome but we only had 7 people…for like the billionth time in a row. We max out at 7 people almost every week. Okay, if you count the 5 on the leadership team, that makes 12, but still. Honestly, it is frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful for those 7. They are awesome and faithful and come to SHINE every week regardless of rain, shine (haha), or mid-terms week. But I forget to actually praise God for those 7. I get caught up in the numbers. I’m not asking for 100 people, but double digits would be nice.
A friend of mine is the Vice President of another campus ministry. Every week she will ask how SHINE went. My response is usually “good but we only had…” and before I can say a number, she cuts me off with “numbers don’t matter!” She is completely right. It’s not the numbers that matter; it’s the people and relationships that matter. I focus on what we lack rather than what we have. I need to focus on how God is using these 7 people to build a foundation for SHINE at CU, how he is working in their hearts, and I need to focus on building a relationship with them rather than wishing more people would come. And, if I stop focusing on the lack of people for just a minute, I will see we ARE getting more people. Last semester we sometimes had to “cancel” SHINE because no one came at all and our numbers were all over the place. This year we have a constant number! One person on fire for God can change the world. It isn’t about power in numbers; it is about power in God!
If you are starting a SHINE or myMission group, don’t be discouraged by the numbers. It might be slow at first, and that (as I am constantly reminding myself) is okay! You need a solid foundation, a group of girls who are passionate about missions, fellowship, and service. If you reach just one person, it is all worth it, right? Right!
I love coffee….like a lot! I love mochas, frozen stuff, Turkish coffee, and just regular old black coffee. I am a frequent visitor to the coffee shop on campus, and my house always has a hint of coffee in the air. Coffee is just part of my day, and I’m actually writing this blog on National Coffee Day! While I don’t have a favorite type of coffee, my favorite way to drink it is with someone else.
I discovered my love for coffee in Macedonia this past summer. We would go to people’s houses for coffee, meaning we would go for 2-3 hours, sip coffee, and just talk. No one was rushed to get somewhere or do anything, and we would often have Bible study or prayer during coffee. When I got back to school this semester, a friend and I started having coffee every Friday. We are both seniors, involved in ministry, and trying to figure out what comes after graduation. All week I look forward to coffee with her because it is a time for us to just sit, laugh, talk, and encourage one another.
Coffee and relationships are interlinked in my mind. Obviously I can have one without the other, but they just go together so well. This is also the idea myMISSION: SHINE at Campbell was built on. During one of the first planning meetings, the questions were asked: “What do we want myMISSION: SHINE to look like, and how do we want it to be structured?” After everyone thought for a minute, someone said, “Like a coffee house! A comfortable, informal place people can come to and build community.” So that is what we did! We structured our group around that idea. A community is a place where people support, love, encourage, and just live life together. Humans are relational beings, we need each other. This is the core of myMISSION: SHINE at CU and one of the cores values of myMISSION groups around the nations: community!
Every community looks and functions a little different and has goals unique to that community. The same is true for SHINE or myMISSION groups. For myMISSION: SHINE at CU, our goal is to be a voice. Our mission statement says “Through SHINE God is giving a voice to the voiceless by: Serving God, Helping others, Inspiring believers, Networking community, and Experiencing Christ.
We provide a ministry for all women in all walks of life who are hurting, searching, praying, growing, learning, and serving. We strive to work as the body of Christ by uplifting, enlightening and encouraging one another as sisters in Christ”. SHINE at CU is a place for women on campus to come grow, fellowship, and learn then going out into the streets and cities to serve those in need.
Is there a need for community on your campus or surrounding area? myMISSION has a lot of resources for groups starting out!
Something as simple as coffee and fellowship can end up changing the world.
As a beloved daughter of her Savior, Courtney is a Junior at Samford University, pursuing a degree in English Literature in order to fulfill her call to full-time ministry by using her passion for writing to do life with others!