Monday, 25 April 2011

Losing My Life

Matthew 10: 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 16: 25"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Mark 8: 35"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.
Luke 9: 24"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Luke 17: 33"Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
John 12: 25"He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
OK! I think I get the point: If I try and keep my own life, my ways of doing things, plans and ambitions I actually will not be truly living.  It is only when I surrender and give up my life, my way of doing things, my plans and my ambitions and let Jesus lead me in His way, His plans and His ambitions that I will be truly living.
In John 14:6 Jesus say that “He is the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” More and more I am trusting that He is really truly the Way the Truth and the Life. It is easy to say these words but difficult to trust and live out Jesus’ ways and His’ truths and His’ life, not my own.  
Going to War College is a step in faith as well as a testimony to the work Jesus is doing in my mind and heart. As I spend time with Jesus in prayer, praise and reading His Word, I am getting to know Him more intimately and I am learning that His ways are Truth and Life. As I let go of my ways of doing things, my plans and ambitions He is creating in me the desire to follow His ways. Moving to the DTES for a year to live and love among the some of the most  poor and broken of our society is not my way, but it is Jesus’ way and I am trusting that I will experience life and life to fullest as I walk with Jesus.
So, it is as I lose my life that I will I will actually find it? This sounds like foolishness, yet most of us have experienced it before. Think about how great you feel when you give a gift or you spend some time volunteering. You probably feel really great, right? This is just a small taste of giving up your life (time, money etc.) and finding a fulfilled life (fulfillment, joy, contentment etc.).  My challenged to you is to examine your own life, where are you holding onto your ways of doing things, your plans and your ambitions? My encouragement to you is to let go of your life and to pick up Jesus’ life, because He is the Way, the Truth and the LIFE! When you do this you will be truly living!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Is that you God?

How do you know what the will of God is? How do you “hear” from God? How do you know when God is calling you?
These are age old questions that people have been discussing since, I imagine, the beginning of creation.  I don’t have the answers; I am just part of the discussion. Today I would like to contribute to the discussion my recent experience.
How do I know that I am in the will of God? How do I know that I am “hearing” God’s voice? How do I know that God is calling me to go live in the DTES for a year?
One day as I was sitting at my computer working on filling out an application for a job and the thought came to my mind “War College. Go to War College.” At the time I believed that this was the inaudible voice of God because it was an unexpected thought and I had not thought about The War College in about 2 years.  I didn’t want to base any decision on one thought, even if I believe it is the voice of God, so I started to pray and ask for confirmations. I asked God to give me confirmations in His written word. I asked God to put Bible verses in my path that would confirm what I believe He had spoken to me. Throughout the decision making process, through my own reading of the Word, people around me, Sunday Church service, and Bible studies I received many Bible verses that confirmed in my mind and heart that The War College was in line with God’s will. I also sought out wise council. I emailed and phoned my pastors, mentors, family and friends that I trusted and asked them to be praying for me, to check out The War College website and let me know what they thought about it. I talked it all over with my pastors, mentors and family. I received full support from my wise council, another confirmation that this was the will of God for me.  While doing all this I prayed, I spoke to God, I journaled, I told God what I was thinking and feeling, I asked Him to open and close the doors, and I asked Him to confirm it in my mind and heart. One door that God opened, was that I had a tight deadline to get my War College application completed so that I could receive a 10% discount, and I made the deadline.  Maybe one of the greatest confirmations was that when I went to RAW, with a handful of fears I came home with peace and excitement. This is not an exhaustive list, only a short sample of how God has confirmed in my mind and heart that I am in His will, that I did hear His voice and that He is calling me into the DTES.
How do you know what the will of God is? How have you “heard” from God? How is God calling you and how do you know?
I would really like to hear your stories...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Spiritual Boot Camp

Spiritual Boot Camp Check out this article about The War College.

I will be writing something of my own over the next few days. I am just tierd and distracted today, and I am not in the right frame of mind to put my thoughts down on "paper." I hope you find this article interesting and insightful to what I will be doing next year.

Many many blessings on you all, Maria

Saturday, 9 April 2011

loving God and loving people

I ended my last post saying “I believe that Jesus wants to use this experience to continue to teach me about loving God and loving people” … OK that sounds all warm and fuzzy but what does it practically look like on a day to day bases?
To be honest I am not entirely sure. I think learning to love is a lifelong lesson.
This is some of what I think I may know about it at this moment in time, but I don’t doubt that these will shift and change as Jesus teaches me to love.
It says in God’s Word that we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I understand that to mean I am loving God when I honour Him with my whole being, in all I do and say. I am reading through the book Song of Solomon right now, and Jesus is opening up my heart and mind to how much He loves me, and how He desires for us to be in an intimate love relationship. So, I think that I love God when I spend time with Him, in silence, mediation, prayer, praise, and reading His’ Word. As I experience God’s love for me in deeper ways, and love Him back, I will naturally start to love people more and more, because as I spend time with God I will become more like Him, as we do with anyone we spend a lot of time with, and since God is love, I will become more loving.
1 Corinthians 13 tell us that:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

WHOOAAAA WOMAN! That is quite the list! If I put my name in front of each “item” of this list I would be a liar! So now what? I can see that this is love, and I’m clearly not measuring up. First, I take a deep breath and remember that Jesus is love and that His Spirit is working in me to produce His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control! Second, I relax because although I am not this picture of love right now, I know that I am not the one who has to paint the picture, Jesus is, and He has promised that as I spend time with Him in an intimate relationship He will do all the painting!
So there you have it, I don’t know a lot, but what I do know is that the key to loving God and people in a practical every day way is to be in an intimate love relationship with Jesus through silence, mediation, prayer, praise and reading His’ Word.

That’s it for now. If you have any thoughts or comments I would love to hear them, let’s walk this journey together, learning and growing together and encouraging one another in the ways of LOVE.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Purpose Driven Life

YOU: Why are you going to The War College?

MARIA: Jesus is compelling me to go.

YOU: What?

MARIA: Good question. Saying “Jesus is compelling me to go” does not necessarily bring clarity to the question. Let me try and explain what I mean by it.

For years and years now whenever I hear or read about people living extreme lives for, to and through Jesus I have almost physically felt a pull to go and do like wise. Then I start to think about all the things and stuff I would have to give up - comfort, space, free time - to only name a few and I think maybe it’s not for me. Two year ago, before I had been accepted into the University of Victoria’s Social Work program I was introduced to The War College and felt the pull to go. I told God, or maybe a better way of saying it is I suggested to God, that if I did not get into the Social Work program that I would go to The War College, but if I did get in then I would wait. After many months of waiting and praying I got into the University of Victoria!

Fast forward almost two years and it is the end of February 2011 and I am preparing to graduate, I have a plan, a plan to get a job and to start saving up money to get my own place. I had almost completely forgotten about The War College until one day while sitting at my computer filling out an application I hear God whisper, in an almost audible voice, “War College.” I will be completely honest my first thought was NO! No I’m not doing War College, I don’t want to do War College, I don’t want to give up my comforts, it is to hard for me, no I don’t want to go. Then I spent some time talking with God about it, reading the Bible and talking with some wise people in my life, and I quickly, within a week, knew that The War College was where God was directing me. I had a plan, a nice safe and clean plan, but God turned that plan on its head and reminded me of His plan. The best part of this story is that I want to do God’s plan, because this is what I desire to do, I had forgotten, but God had not and He is so faithful to remind me. Thank you God.

I am an extreme person. My mom who knows me best, next to God can testify to this, while actually anyone who knows me at all can be witness to this! Haha God created me this way, He created me to be extreme, to live extreme. When I am not, when I try to live a “normal” life, not there is anything wrong with a “normal” life if that is where God has placed you, I go off the deep end trying to find passion and meaning. I experienced this recently when I spent 5 months drinking and partying. One Bible study I was sharing with the group that I was bored, and this scared me because when I get bored I get in to trouble. My wise and gentle Pastor John said “I don’t think you are bored I think you are feeling like you have no purpose.” At first I did not agree, but after thinking about it I saw that he was dead on. The book that was the catalysis for me to decide to follow Jesus was A Purpose Driven Life. I remember reading that book and thinking I want to live a meaningful life, I want to have a purpose, and Jesus seems to have the answers, so I am going to follow Him. This is still true six years later; I want to live a life of meaning and purpose.

YOU: So, why are you going to War College?

MARIA: I am going to The War College because I believe that Jesus is calling me to go live and learn with some of the most broken and lost of our society. I believe that Jesus wants to use this experience to continue to teach me about loving God and loving people.