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A Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

A Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day that we reflect on our lives about what we are grateful for. It’s a time for family and of course food. However, for most of us, this is the only time that we intentionally reflect on our lives and give thanks. But isn’t there more to it than that? Thankfulness shouldn’t be just a time that happens one day a year. Is there power in thanksgiving? What could God do if we lived a lifestyle of thanksgiving?

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1)

Believing God Deserves Our Thanks

If you look up verses about thanksgiving in the Bible, there is not really a reason given to thank the Lord except God’s goodness. Regardless of the situation, His goodness is enough for us. Whether we live in Africa and have nothing or live in America in a rich household, His goodness toward us is always worth giving thanks. However, sometimes our life experiences convince us otherwise. We have to be convinced of God’s goodness.

Roman 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. If we fail to believe that God is nothing but good to us then we can’t truly give thanks to him. We have to let God come into the places in our lives that we feel He has failed us and let him heal those parts of our hearts. If we believe God is good and always working, then there are always things to be thankful for.

Shifting Our Perspective Through Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:18 states that giving thanks is God’s will for us. His will for us is good therefore giving thanks to God can only lead to goodness and blessing in our lives. Giving thanks can come quite unnaturally to a lot of us especially in hard times. So what does thanksgiving bring? Simply, it brings perspective to our lives. Thanksgiving gets us out of our routine and forces us to look around and see what God is doing in the midst of our messy lives.

In Numbers 21, Moses and the Israelites were traveling along the Red sea. They began to speak against the Lord, complaining, and not being grateful that God has brought them out of Egypt. The Lord sent venomous snakes among them and many died. Once Moses repented, God told him to make a bronze snake and anyone who looked up at it would be saved. It was only when the people began to look around at the circumstances that they perished. But when they looked up at the bronze snake, not at the snakes around them they were saved. Without thankfulness, we live in bitterness always mad at God for not providing or working how we think He should be. But it’s when we look up and on Jesus that we can truly see what God has done for us. 

Thanksgiving= Abiding

If we could truly practice this in our lives and keep our gratefulness towards God, our thanksgiving would become abiding. You would begin to live from a place of thankfulness constantly focused on God. How can God give us more if we aren’t even thankful for what we have? Blessing and thriving come from living from a place of thanksgiving. Not just one day a year but every second of every day. How could God not bless that? Parents love to lavish gifts on their children. But if it was never acknowledged, the gifts would probably come less and less. It is God’s will to pour out his goodness and blessings on us. So let’s be thankful for what He has done. But also simply who He is. He is always good and always faithful. What is there not to be thankful for, especially if He is working all things together for our good?

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How To Be Content in a Season of Being Single

How To Be Content in a Season of Being Single

Ah, singleness. Singleness is something either a lot of people enjoy or a lot of people struggle with, or both. It can be hard to be content in the midsts of a season of being single. There’s always the question: “Will I ever get married?”. Let alone “Will anyone ever love me enough to want to marry me?” Only the Lord can answer this question for you, but here are some tips and insights on how to be content in a season of being single!

 

Singleness is a BLESSING

A season of being single is a time to: 

  • Focus on God by building up your relationship with Him, and a time of understanding who He really is.
  • Work on yourself and learn your identity in Christ.
  • Go on dates with Jesus!
  • You learn how to pursue others.
  • Teach you how to be vulnerable.
  • Grow you in intimacy. 
  • It gives space to be intentional with others.

A Person’s Desire

Part of being content in a season of being single is understanding our want to be in a relationship. We all have a deep desire to be fully known and still fully loved by someone. It’s how we are designed because God wants us to fill that desire with Him. A relationship does not fix this, as much as we think it will because our significant other is only human and there will always be rejection there. But God is the only one who can fill this void in us. This desire is not evil. Of course, it can be used for that. But it is God designed.

Our culture has morphed sexuality and as a response, the church has also morphed sexuality to seem wrong. We are told as young teenagers that sex is wrong and we shouldn’t have it. But that doesn’t change the desire. So no one is telling us and our young people what to do with sexuality. When in reality, Jesus is the answer. Shutting it down is not working. The desire is apart of us. Being content with being in a season of being single only comes through fulfillment in Christ. If we do not have that fulfillment in our single lives, our married lives will never be enough for us.

 

Andrea’s Story of Singleness

Every year Bethel throws on a single life workshop that we send our staff and SFM students to. Here is our friend Andrea’s story in what she learned through the seminar about singleness.

“Through the seminar a few of us staff members went to, I realized that a big part of me was actually holding hatred towards men. As a girl in today’s culture, I took in all of the thoughts and opinions society is screaming out about the opposite sex and allowed a few personal negative experiences to shape my worldview of them. After this realization, I got with Jesus and allowed him to change my heart and give me a new perspective on how to view and empower the opposite sex as God does.

Previously I had unconsciously been walking around flashing a giant “no, stay away from me” sign but, as I dealt with the root of where these issues had come from, I experienced so much truth and healing. Now, I feel truly open to being pursued by the opposite sex as God designed it. And, ultimately, I’m fully open to being pursued by Jesus.”

Allowing Jesus to pursue you is the most important thing you learn in a season of singleness. It teaches you how to be content in your identity with Jesus, instead of looking in the wrong areas to find your identity, such as the opposite sex. Or if you’re like Andrea, when Jesus pursues us, He works on hurt wounds that we’ve let shape our view of our relations with others and the world.

 

Your Relationship Right Now

Relationship has been around since the beginning of Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:18 says “It is not good that the man be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” God created us for relationship. Just how there’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They’re all in relationship with each other and become one. In this season of singleness, the Lord is pursuing you because he longs for you to be content while single to produce health in relationship. So go after him! He wants to hear every little detail of your life. You’re in a relationship with God, your family, and your friends. You should be so in tune with the Lord, that when someone does come along, that your relationship with the Lord does not change, but grows.

 

The Four Boundaries T’s of Being Single

While in a season of being single, it’s important to fight for health in our realtionship which means setting boundries. Here’s some questions to ask yourself to evalute your realtionship with the opposite sex!

Time – How much time are you talking to a person or spending time with the opposite gender? Do you find yourself gravitating towards that person more in a room full of people? How much of your though life is taken up by someone else rather than God? Is your thought life crossing boundries?

Topic – What topics are you discussing? Have you talked to your same gender friends about this before? Are you giving away your heart and going too deep?

Touch – How are you touching each other? For example a hug, hand on the back/shoulder.  What is appropriate touch?

Technology – How much time are you socializing with someone over technology? Are you constantly texting each other and going deep in converations? Are you only privatly communicating?

These things may not seem like big things to you personally, but as a single person it is important to fight for your future relationships by setting boundries now. Evalute how you can protect your heart and others around you.

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God is Working in the Waiting

God is Working in the Waiting

He’s in the Waiting

Our lives are so stop and go sometimes. We feel like God is really doing things and really moving one moment and other times it feels so hard to find God, hear God, and even want to pursue God. But God is working in the waiting and in the inbetween time of those seasons. Have you ever sat in silence and just let it sink into every part of you? Sometimes the uncomfortable of the silence where God meets the innermost part of our being. But it takes sitting in the waiting. It takes sitting in the uncomfortable. So what do we do in the waiting? Where is God in the midst of it and what is He doing? 

We all have been in seasons of trial. But we know that God is working through us and developing perseverance. Likewise, we have thriving seasons when we are in victory. In those times, it’s easy to see God and love him. But we also have seasons of weird middle ground, the waiting. In the waiting, we feel that nothing is happening. But God is in the waiting. God is working through the waiting and He’s in the midst of it. Of course, the other seasons have benefits and a time and a place but waiting is not instant. And often the waiting doesn’t make sense even when we come out of it. But what does God want to do in the waiting?

 

What the Bible Says About the Waiting

The Bible says those who wait on him will find renewed strength, be given rest, goodness from God, God’s justice and blessing, grace, and mercy. (Isaiah 40:31,30:18Lamentations 3:25). There are so many more verses of the promises of God for those who wait. He rewards waiting. Although it can be hard and uncomfortable, some of the most blessed people in the Bible had long seasons of waiting. Abraham was in the waiting for a son for twenty-five years. Joseph was in the waiting for the dreams for most of his lifetime. Moses was in the waiting for forty-years before he even began his calling. David was in the waiting for nearly fifteen years until becoming king.

 

Wait on the Lord

It is easy to accept God’s promises. But it gets hard to hold on to the promises, especially in the waiting. But God wants us to give up our ideas of His perfect timing and actually wait for what His timing is. To lean not on our own understanding, but to let go and let God.

If you are in the waiting, use it as an opportunity to trust in God. Let him mold and shape you at this time. Let what feels like silence seep into your heart and bring up things within you that would not normally come up in the stop and go of our busy lives. Pray for God to give you humility and trust in Him with a childlike faith that knows He is going to pull through. The seasons of our life will always change but let God shape you in the waiting. Trusting in God is standing firm in what he has promised you because you are sure that He loves you and has only good intentions. Choose to trust Him in the waiting. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

He’s in the Waiting

Our lives are so stop and go sometimes. We feel like God is really doing things and really moving one moment and other times it feels so hard to find God, hear God, and even want to pursue God. But God is working in the waiting and in the inbetween time of those seasons. Have you ever sat in silence and just let it sink into every part of you? Sometimes the uncomfortable of the silence where God meets the innermost part of our being. But it takes sitting in the waiting. It takes sitting in the uncomfortable. So what do we do in the waiting? Where is God in the midst of it and what is He doing? 

We all have been in seasons of trial. But we know that God is working through us and developing perseverance. Likewise, we have thriving seasons when we are in victory. In those times, it’s easy to see God and love him. But we also have seasons of weird middle ground, the waiting. In the waiting, we feel that nothing is happening. But God is in the waiting. God is working through the waiting and He’s in the midst of it. Of course, the other seasons have benefits and a time and a place but waiting is not instant. And often the waiting doesn’t make sense even when we come out of it. But what does God want to do in the waiting?

 

What the Bible Says About the Waiting

The Bible says those who wait on him will find renewed strength, be given rest, goodness from God, God’s justice and blessing, grace, and mercy. (Isaiah 40:31,30:18Lamentations 3:25). There are so many more verses of the promises of God for those who wait. He rewards waiting. Although it can be hard and uncomfortable, some of the most blessed people in the Bible had long seasons of waiting. Abraham was in the waiting for a son for twenty-five years. Joseph was in the waiting for the dreams for most of his lifetime. Moses was in the waiting for forty-years before he even began his calling. David was in the waiting for nearly fifteen years until becoming king.

 

Wait on the Lord

It is easy to accept God’s promises. But it gets hard to hold on to the promises, especially in the waiting. But God wants us to give up our ideas of His perfect timing and actually wait for what His timing is. To lean not on our own understanding, but to let go and let God.

If you are in the waiting, use it as an opportunity to trust in God. Let him mold and shape you at this time. Let what feels like silence seep into your heart and bring up things within you that would not normally come up in the stop and go of our busy lives. Pray for God to give you humility and trust in Him with a childlike faith that knows He is going to pull through. The seasons of our life will always change but let God shape you in the waiting. Trusting in God is standing firm in what he has promised you because you are sure that He loves you and has only good intentions. Choose to trust Him in the waiting. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

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When Feelings of Failure Settle In

When Feelings of Failure Settle In

Feelings of Failure

All of us have felt it at some point in our lives. The sinking feeling that happens when the feeling of failure settles in. Then looking down at what you made, whether a situation or a piece of art knowing that you’ve failed. Sometimes it comes from other people. Other times you just know. I’ve heard some people say they aren’t artistic, and maybe they aren’t. However, I believe God gives us the need to create. Create relationships, blogs, art, music, lyrics, cultures, food. If we were made in the image of God our creator, we were made to create.  It seems where creativity is, failure follows. Of course, when we do things for the first time, failure is common. But what does God say about failure?

It’s easy to get discouraged by our weakness and so often feelings of failure get wrapped up into our identity. However, God doesn’t see it that way. We are more than the sum of our works or what we create. He defines us. Not our failure, our sin, our goodness. God does. In Ephesians 1:7 it says “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. Here we see, God sees us through the lens of Jesus’s righteousness. No matter how much we fail. Our failure does not change who we are or how God sees us. 

True Failure

Failure is a term we throw around a lot. We pour ourselves into what we create. When we sin, feelings of failure come quick. However, it’s not a true failure. True failure is giving up. For example, a boxer in the ring, if they do not get back up, is when they lose. It doesn’t matter how many times they fail to block a punch or how many rounds they go. What matters is not staying down and getting back up. Satan is really good at telling us about our own failures and wrongdoings. But if we don’t quit, we win. If we continue to create, whatever it is, we are not failures. We can take our failure and use it. Learn from it. But we don’t get to do that if Satan has us wrapped up in shame of our shortcomings and failure.


What Would Happen if We Didn’t Get Back Up from Failure? 

So what would happen if we let our feelings of failure become a defining moment? If we were to get stuck in our shame, we wouldn’t get to experience God’s redemption and beauty in our lives. But our failures give God a chance to show up. Non-flawed people don’t need Jesus. Likewise, people would not get to experience the unique part of God that we bring to the table, the creativity that God gave us, the specific way that we can love people.

Sometimes we get stuck in our shame and failure and it makes us shut ourselves off to people. We know that God never fails (Joshua 21:45). So we can’t stay down. We can’t stay defeated. We have to run to him. Repent. Let him make all things beautiful in our lives. God never fails.

Take a moment to sit and ask the Holy Spirit where you have let feelings of failure become part of your identity. He wants to restore where you, others, and the enemy there are feelings of failure. 

Want to take a leap of faith? Join one of our Discipleship Training Schools!

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He Calls You Capable

He Calls You Capable

He Calls You Capable

Do you ever feel incapable, unworthy, or unwanted? Those are all normal feelings as a human. There is not one person that has not struggled with at least one of these feelings. We live in a world full of people seeking for approval from one another, trying to feel good enough, valued, and accepted. But here is the good news: Jesus calls you capable, worthy, wanted, valued, and accepted! He loves you unconditionally despite our flaws and what may feel like incapablitites. You are capable because He calls you capable.

Luke 5:4-11 says And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

 

Worthless to Capable

What if we positioned ourselves as the net and Jesus as the one casting us out into the deep end? Because without Jesus, we’re just a net. A bundle rope tangled at the bottom of the boat, but He calls us capable and gives us value by casting us out knowing that we will catch something. Notice the passage says the “deep end” and not the shallow end. There is no need to test the waters, He wants us to jump right in and trust Him that He is going to provide for our desires and needs. He wants to get us to the point where we can’t do it without Him. This is when we really put our faith into action. It’s so easy to get caught in our feelings of not being enough, but He is calling us into His capabilities.

As you read in Matthew, you see that the net caught so many fish that the nets began to break. God will not let you break, but He promises an abundance of goodness when you let Him use you to your full capability. Get this: The fish they caught in their nets didn’t benefit just them, but also the people around them because the fish are sold for the use of livelihood and for the use of food. In our lives the fish can represent people, finances, responsibilities, relationships, and/or our future calling. Which don’t just benefit us, but also the people around us.

So why do we doubt the Lord’s plans when we know He is good? Why do we worry about tomorrow? It clearly says in Matthew 6:34 that tomorrow can worry about itself. In Matthew 14:22-33 it talks about Jesus walking on the water. The disciples had their doubts if it was actually Jesus and even thought He was a ghost.

Matthew 14:28-33

Then Peter cried out from the boat ‘Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the son of God.’” 

The Capability to Step Out

Jesus made Peter capable of walking on the water, but it took faith for Peter to trust in Him. That’s why he told Peter to come to him. It takes a big step of faith to follow Jesus in what He’s called us to do. As humans, we like to think we are incapable of doing the impossible because it’s unknown what could happen and sometimes uncomfortable. But with Jesus we are fully capable. Just like Peter, he doubted that he could actually walk on water with Jesus, which resulted in him sinking. Yet again Jesus picked him up. Just like the nets. Although others may have looked and thought they were worthless nets. But Jesus saw that he could do something with them. He can do something with you! He calls you capable even when you or others around you might not.

How BIG Is Your Faith?

There have been so many times that we’ve doubted the Lord’s goodness because of how unworthy we see ourselves. There have been many instances that He’s called us to do something, and all we needed to do was be cast out into the deep, or to step out into the water. We’ve sunk countless times because of our human doubts, but He continued to pick us up and pull us to safety. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. You are capable of what Jesus called you to do, otherwise, He wouldn’t have called you to do it.

What if we choose to not set onto the water? What if we choose to stay at the bottom of the boat? God will still use you, but imagine what could happen if you let the all powerful God ,who knows you better than you know yourself, use you in his power. What if you let Him make you more capable than you could ever imagine? He will meet you where you’re at. He will use you to your capability no matter where you go. You are capable because He calls you capable.

 

If you want to step out of the boat and trust God, a DTS is a great option for you! Or if you’ve already done a DTS, maybe your next step out of the boat is to do an SFM and really dive deep into looking into long term missions. Pray about it and if you have any questions we’d love to get in touch with you. Blessings!

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Life After DTS | Saying “Yes” When It’s Hard

Life After DTS | Saying “Yes” When It’s Hard

Saying ‘Yes’ When It’s Hard: Post DTS

Life goes through seasons = that’s not a shocker. It can feel like dry deserts turn into riverbeds with bountiful fields and back into dry deserts. For those who have completed a DTS, they know it to be a season of bountiful harvest. A season full of growing, breaking, making, and being made all at the same time. So what happens when the fruitful season is over and you return back home? How do you say “yes” after DTS? How do you say “yes” when it’s hard?

Re-entering into life after a fruitful season like DTS isn’t always easy. You may realize you actually have to approach the struggles you used to go through and grow through them all over again. But, we serve a gracious God that meets us where we are. You don’t have to face these struggles alone because Jesus wants to help guide you through them! I talked to a student from our Winter 2019 DTS about how the Lord has encountered him at home after DTS. It was not easy. But, he learned that there’s rivers in desert wastelands.

James’ Story

“Coming home after a DTS was exciting, yet terrifying. I was so excited to come home after 6 months of being away from family and friends. I was excited for what the Lord was going to show me, and how He was going to use me in this season. However, I was extremely scared as well. I was nervous about what people would think of this ‘new’ me, and that I wasn’t going to have friends when I got back. I didn’t know how the (GOOD) changes I made during my DTS would affect my home life.

 It was hard for me coming back into the swing of things after being in Redding for half a year. However, people were nice and curious as to what I was doing. Most of my friends were really happy and supportive of me. Meanwhile, there were some people who were opposed to everything I was doing and had done. I started falling back into old habits I thought were long gone. Which resulted in removing some of the people out of my life I thought were my friends. The enemy continued his onslaught for weeks until I finally had a breakthrough.

Through a Sunday morning service, I had conviction rise up in me like a fire. A fire I had felt before, a fire I knew had to be the Lord. The Lord brought all of my failings and shortcomings to the light. In an instant, I felt relief on my life. Then there was this blissful peace that came over me, I repented, thanked the Lord, and gave Him all the glory!

Although I had a breakthrough with the Lord and everything seemed to go up, the enemy doesn’t give up that easily. Family troubles started to rise, along with financial struggles.

Our family has been under a lot of spiritual attacks; however, each day we grew closer and closer with each other, and the Lord. As I write this testimony, my family sat down for 5 hours and talked. Talked about our days, our stress, our hearts. Then we focused in on the Lord and what He wants for our family. We all laughed and had an amazing conversation.”

The Take Away

When we follow Jesus our struggles don’t just go away, sometimes they come back even stronger because we have opposition. Thanks to Jesus, we have someone to lean on and trust in to help us with our battles in order to help others walk in victory over their own. 

Jesus calls us to “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

You are not in this alone. We all walk through seasons of fruitfulness and of silence. For those in the YWAM community, you may be coming out of a dry season about to step into a DTS, or you’re getting ready to transition out of YWAM. Get this: our best days here on earth are barely a glimpse of what our time in Heaven will look like. The Lord doesn’t just use you in the season of fruitfulness like DTS. He will use you in any season you are in, if you’re open to letting him use you. We go through is a daily sacrifice, a daily practice of laying our struggles at the foot of the cross; because without Jesus, we can’t do anything in our own flesh.

I Say Yes!

Sometimes saying yes isn’t to a crazy adventure overseas, but simply just going back home to continue walking with Jesus. Saying “yes” to Jesus, means saying “yes” in ALL seasons. Saying “yes” when it’s easy. Saying “yes” even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts. Because Jesus is worth it and He will guide us to the promised land.

If you’re looking for a next step, check out our Discipleship Training School or our secondary schools. It just takes a yes, so say ‘YES’!!! 

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