Monthly Archives: March 2016

Greater Things Part 1 by Willow Weston

I recently found myself speaking to a room full of young people, young people who want to change the world, young people who want to do great things and yet struggle to believe they can.  The next few posts will be some of what I shared. I hope you will be blessed, but even more, challenged by what God can do through you and your life as you read this 3 part series of posts! – Willow

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I think you want to change the world. I think you do. I think there is something in you that hungers to do something about all the injustices. I think this generation is looking around at a political crisis, a racial crisis, a sex trafficking crisis, an environmental crisis, a spiritual crisis and something is rising up in you. It hasn’t boiled over yet, but it’s gettin’ real hot. And I think you’re tired of suicides and school shootings. You’re tired of bullies and dysfunction in your family. I think you’re tired of seeing the people you love wounded and messed up and seeing their mess spill all over the place. And mostly I think you’re tired of being made to feel like you can’t do much about any of this.

What I really think is you, like me, want to see lives change. You want to see hope restored. You want to see light in the darkness. You want to see your dad set free. You want to see addicts healed. You want to see teenagers know they matter. You want to see your friend believe about herself what you already do. You want to see people come to Jesus in droves because you know to your core that He is the only One who can do anything about all this mess.

You want it. That’s maybe why you‘ve said to Jesus, “I need you. I’ll follow you all the days of my life and serve you.” Jesus said in John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” Jesus said his disciples can change the world. Is this Jesus just blowing smoke? Let’s by faith assume Jesus isn’t a poser and that He isn’t blowing smoke. Let’s take Him at His word. If it be true, why isn’t it a reality in our lives?

We live in a world and even a Christian culture where we have begun to elevate the strong, the seemingly perfect, the “successful”, those at the top of the ladder, and we disqualify the insecure, wounded and weak. We think the people who go to Seminary and have lots of letters after their names are legit and those of us who need to read the picture book Bible are illegit. We’re pretty sure that the guy with the guitar and the girl with the angelic voice are more equipped than those of us who have no rhythm and little gifts. We think the voice that booms from the front with big obnoxious confidence and a mic must really be God’s instrument, and the kid in the back slumped down on his seat,  insecure and questioning himself, will get little play. We think the people who came from perfect Christian families are the people who will do the greatest things and those of us who need weekly counselors to hash out our issues won’t be capable of much greatness. We think that if we are a hot mess, we’ll need to undergo a spiritual bleaching before we can help clean up anyone else’s mess.

See we are confident God uses our God swagger, our hipster hipness, our unwavering faith, our right answers, our education, our knowledge of the Bible AND obscure bands, our magnetism, our born-with-a-silver-spoon, well-to-do, accomplished, trending selves. We have a confidence problem.

Our confidence is in the belief that we must really be something for God to use us and confident He won’t use us if we aren’t. As long as we have our confidence in our own confidence we will not change the world. Instead we will be impressing ourselves and each other with our small bouts of self glorifying success  and we will be held back by our sicknesses and deep rooted strongholds. So our confidence and lack of confidence in SELF will both be the very things that halt the power of God through us to change the world!

The week I became a Christian, two guys came through my line at Haggen, where I checked groceries to pay for my long island ice teas in college. They were buying massive amounts of baby food. It turned out they were youth leaders at the church I had just given my life to Christ in. And of course they were playing some obnoxious game with whirled peas and carrots that was going to explain the Trinity or something. They eagerly invited me to come be a youth leader. I thought to myself, there is no way! I have never been apart of a youth group, let alone qualified to lead at one. I wouldn’t have a clue how to make a 15 year old play with baby food and turn that into a bestie friendship with Jesus. I thought, I am not even tight with God. I am a slut and I really like to drink Peach Schnapps and dance to Bob Marley. I mean how could God use a girl from an irreligious background with skeletons in the closet, lots of baggage, a load of insecurities, little knowledge of Jesus and no church background? What a wounded mess. I didn’t fit the profile.

But these two men were convincing so I showed up at a rowdy youth group for the first time… as a leader.

I often felt insecure to help people for God. I was sure I didn’t belong and I wasn’t good enough. But the more I showed up to help the kids, the more Jesus started helping me. And these crazy things started happening. I started waking up in the middle of the night with words coming out of my mouth and stories that I had to write down to help struggling high schoolers. I met with the youth pastor and his wife to ask what they thought was happening to me.

They looked at me and said, “We believe God is calling you into vocational ministry.” “What’s vocational ministryyyyyy?” I honestly had no idea. They answered, like duh, “It’s when ministry is your calling and your career.” Stomping my feet on the inside, I said “Noooooooooooooo!” I was pursuing a business degree in college so I could be a leader in the corporate world and make the big bucks and boss people around. I was planning on marrying the guy I had been dating for years and I was going to bring Jesus with me. He was my new friend and He could come along. I wasn’t a Jesus follower. I was a Jesus dragger.  Maybe you can resonate. This was one of my first invitations from God to live a life doing something greater than what I had been.  Start following and stop dragging.

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One day after class, I was walking on the arboretum trail above campus and words came out of my mouth. It was my voice, but God’s words. And He said “I want to use your life to proclaim my power. Sure you believe in me but I want more than that for you and from you. When you get off this trail, you choose, are you gonna go your own way or follow me?” When I stepped off that trail I knew where I was going…

Stay with me and on Friday, we will step off that trail together ….. – Willow

 

 

 

Tick Tock by Tammy Lindhout

Tammy is on the Collide team and boy do we love her!  She is the one you will find crafting, shaping and dreaming up some creative monologue or spoken word. God has gifted her with a deeply keen sense of the other realm and how to invite people in this  realm into the forever one. Here she invites us tick by tick to consider the forever place as time passes us by.- Willow

Tammy my story

I’m not a collector.  Not a fan of knick knacks. Or dusting. Or dusting knick knacks. If I possess anything remotely close to a collection, it would be of watches or maybe even clocks.  I have 13 watches and only two of them run. If I weren’t so forgetful I’d take them to the jeweler for batteries. Unfortunately, the batteries cost more than the watches themselves.  So what’s with the watches? Practically, I simply like knowing the time.  Personally, time escapes me like a thief, and I am never early for anything. But spiritually and most importantly, watches remind me of heaven.  Yes, you heard correctly- heaven.

The thought of heaven has made itself a comfortable and permanent home in me; most days it makes its way into my head, but every day it lives in my heart. It makes sense if you think about it. I am a citizen of heaven. I don’t actually belong here. I am just a weary traveler making my way through this life, bent on living it out, trying to stay on the path God has prepared for me.  

Sometimes that path is wide open with sunny skies ahead, but sometimes it narrow, dark and ominously winding like a skinny ledge wrapping around a high mountain. Uphill both ways. In the snow. With bare feet.  You get the picture. Whatever joy or heartache I meet along the path, my companion- this thought of heaven- sojourns with me. We plod, trek, rest, run, laugh, and cry. We do our best not to gaze at the road ahead but to glance at it, quickly, just enough to stay upright. We resolve to not lock eyes on circumstances we meet. Instead, we gaze at our Father for as long as we can. When we can’t stand the brilliance and warmth of His sheer awesome-ness, we close our eyes tight and see the specks of His light dancing under our eyelids. We tuck the experience away because we will need it as a reminder to look at Him again.

This reminder is filled not only with God’s glory but with His promises. These promises are available to everyone I meet along the road. I long to rush up to them and spill the news of these promises! Sometimes I do. Sometimes I’m afraid to. Some people like it. Some don’t. How they all can’t bust out in crazy dancing and join us- me and my thought of heaven- is beyond me.  Maybe they are concerned about that skinny ledge, or are enjoying those sunny skies so much that they don’t care. Either way, my passion for this information to be shared stirs deep within me.  

I wish these fellow travelers would not just listen but truly hear that what God wants for all of us is a life filled-to-overflowing with Goodness itself. I wish they would take what they hear and rejoice in it and realize that “all of us” includes them. Each one. This Goodness and its overflow include Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness and Meekness. I want them to grab the news and hold on to it tightly as they plod, trek, rest, run, laugh and cry along the path to eternity.

This brings me back to my fascination with the watch. I want to give people on this road their own watch if they don’t already have one. I want them to share my friendly thought of heaven.  See, every time we look at our watches we are reminded that each hour, each minute, and each second makes us that much closer to heaven if we choose to go there.

We can be giddy with the fact of heaven, and that it is indeed a reality.  We can look forward to all of its mystery, waiting to rip it open like the gift it is. Tick.  Rooms in a mansion prepared just for us. (A mansion!)  Tick.  A city so beautiful that the pavement is gold.  Tick. A new body clothed in light (and hopefully one with a flat stomach). Tick.   Invited and dining at a banquet in the company of the Living God (and delicious, rich food that won’t affect my new flat stomach). Tick. Living where we belong; where there are no shadows or darkness or sickness or tears. Tick. A home that surrounds us with more peace and happiness and purpose than our minds can contain. Tick. A life free of disappointment and burden of humanity. Tick. An eternity of snuggling in the arms of the One who loves us so much that He died to rescue us- the same One who waits with delight and anticipation for all the ticks on our watches to stop so He can fling open the gates of heaven and run to us with His arms open wide and welcome us home.

I continue the journey of life with my eyes on the prize of heaven and looking often at my watch. I may have 13 of them, but all I need is one that ticks…

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Our Daily Bread by Trina Bedlington

Trina Bedlington is a woman full of joy, zeal, vivaciousness and humor. She has been on the Collide team for several years and I absolutely adore her! One minute she is busting out in some 80’s dance and the next minute she is using her beautiful voice to invite us in to sing praises to Jesus! I not only love her as a friend, but admire her faith. I love that this woman from Chicago still holds tightly to the faith that has been passed down to her from her grandma Fran! May your hunger be fed as you read Trina’s story of the good ol’ bread box! -Willow

Trina my story

My grandmother, Mary Frances VanVoorhis, is a 93 year old that still enjoys her Folgers coffee, drive thru hot fudge sundaes, and weekly visits to Goodwill. For those that know me and my fondness for thrift stores, you see that I come by this trait naturally.   Oh, how I loved spending summers with Grandma Fran at her Illinois farmhouse. I have learned many things from this strong woman who withstands the hardships of life and STILL finds her hope in the many promises of God. She continues to endure, knowing that some day the Lord is going to make good on His promise to bring her home to live for eternity with Him in heaven.    

You see, in that farmhouse in Illinois sat a Daily Bread Promise Box on top of the old piano in the living room.  It was shaped like a loaf of bread and held scripture verses inside; verses that told of the many promises that God gives us in his living word, the Bible.  Promises that He makes to each and every one of us, we just have to be willing to take hold of them.

I hadn’t thought about that Daily Bread Promise Box in years.  It wasn’t until my mom had called asking if there was anything I would like from Grandma’s house, as they were starting to pack things up in preparation for her move to a place with more assistance. That is when the image of that loaf of bread popped into my brain.  Would Grandma Fran possibly still have it? 

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My answer came in a package a few weeks later.  There it was, the loaf of bread that I used to run my pudgy little fingers across, with its colored verse strips sticking out the top.  I pulled one out, “…I have called you by name; you are mine” Isaiah 43:1.  A flood of memories came rushing in, memories of Grandma reading those promises from the Bible over my life. As I continued to reminisce over the memories associated with this little ceramic bread box, I was reminded that Jesus called himself the Bread of Life in the Bible and I started to ask myself what Jesus really meant when He gave himself this name.

Now, I consider myself a true connoisseur of all things bread.  I love sweet rolls, loaves of bread with big hunks of butter, muffins, bagels, and just about anything else with a bunch of carbohydrates and white flour, but I knew that Jesus had something quite different in mind. I started to dig deeper and study what it was that Jesus was telling us when He referred to Himself in this way. Through my study it became clear to me that Jesus, the Bread of Life, was essential for ABUNDANT LIFE.  We could survive for quite some time on bread alone, but Jesus was referring to eternal life, not our physical life.  You see, physical bread perishes, but spiritual bread brings an ETERNAL LIFE that is spent with Him in a place He has prepared for those who love Him.

In John 6:35, Jesus goes on to say “…whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus, whose name in Hebrew means “the Lord saves” is the only way we can truly be satisfied. We are all born sinful and through God’s great love He sent Jesus to be sacrificed as atonement for our sins. Jesus made it possible through this sacrifice for us (sinners) to be made one with God.  All barriers are removed between us and God and as a result of this loving act; anyone who accepts the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf is covered by His blood and is therefore saved. Yes! Jesus, the Bread of Life, is essential for LIFE.

The day the Promise Box arrived, I spent quite some time reading through the many promises from God’s word that were written on those scripture strips inside the tiny loaf of bread.  Over and over again, I was reminded of His unfailing love for me and the promises that I forget to grasp onto in times of doubt, fear, unrest, hopelessness, and sorrow. Go ahead, read some for yourself and know that whatever you may be enduring in your life right now, there is a promise just for you right there in the Bible.

Unrest/ Weariness:  

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls”….  Matthew 11:28-29

Fear:

“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Sorrow/Difficult Times:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Purpose:

“For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Protection:

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of the all.” Psalm 34:19

Hope:

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Salvation:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

The Daily Bread Promise Box has found a new home on my kitchen windowsill.  I now read those same promises over my own family and am reminded of God’s unfailing love and sacrifice for me. As Easter is approaching, I am so very grateful for the reminder of God’s great promise of salvation to those who believe. I encourage you to take time to meditate on what that promise holds…eternal LIFE with the one true God who loves and knows you more than anyone. He longs for you to know Him, REALLY know Him and the promises that He has for you.

I know my Grandma Fran has been holding tight to that salvation promise for 93 years. She will just continue to drink her Folgers, eat her sundaes, shop at Goodwill, and cling to God’s promises until the good Lord says, “Well done Francie, come on home!”