Testimony Time

          I am still working on the Seoul stuff but I have some testimonies to share. The first portion is part of the end of my Seoul series but I can’t wait.

It was my first communion after returning home and it was a great day. After foot washing, one of my church members tried to get everyone together for prayer and I grabbed her hand.

“Let’s get this circle started.”

“How are you? How was Korea?’

“Teaching wasn’t for me but I loved living there.”

“You working now?”

“No…”

“Want a job?”

“Yes!”

“Okay, I’ll let you know when you start in a couple of days.”

          So can I get an amen? Just like that, my prayers had been answered. I had been praying for a job for ages. I have done a lot of temporary jobs and I wanted something more stable. This too is a temporary job (at the time I wrote this) but it is at a university where I have worked twice before thanks to that very same sister in Christ doing the Christ-like thing and filling a need where she saw one. It turns out that someone broke their leg and would be unable to work for a few months but God is all up in this situation. He did not answer my prayers the way I hoped but He worked it out for my good and to his glory.

          I feel pretty comfortable at my job, which, as a shy person, is a blessing; however, I always wonder how I can represent God in the workplace. My mom is wonderful at this and I admire her for it. She has started a prayer circle at work, which is going strong, and she regularly talks to and encourages her coworkers in Christ. I am so proud of her, she has come a loooong way. I am nowhere as social as she is so my methods and movements are not as spectacular but I prayed that I could show Jesus at work if only a little and He answered!

          I heard my boss listening to a gospel song and I told her about Urban Praise, which is a wonderful online gospel station that even has two-minute sermon snippets and life advice regularly. It is not an SDA station so there are bits I disagree with but to combat my coworkers’ music and conversations, it is great! I emailed my boss the link and she was pretty excited and thanked me for it. Next, there was a visitor in the office who quoted a gospel song on her way out. I found out her name and sent her the link plus a video of Andrews University’s Deliverance Mass Choir and she loved it. Then I sent the same to my sister in Christ, who works in the same office, so she can have it when she needs a praise break. Last, was another woman in the office who asked me to fix her computer. While in her office, I noticed she was playing gospel music from her iPad. When I was finished, I asked her if she liked gospel and gave her the link too so she could use the online player and save her iPad battery. She really appreciated it and I thought, “God, you are amazing”.

          All of the people whom I had the opportunity to share with have important positions; Coordinator, Associate Vice President, Director, and Associate Director, which makes even more of an impact. They all have offices so they tend to play their music without headphones. They also get many visitors for meetings and whatnot so anyone who steps into their offices can hear it too so it is like passive witnessing in a sense. Even though it was not a huge life-changing thing, I am glad that I could inject a little spirituality into a secular environment.

          One more thing I wanted to write about was my jury duty adventure. I had jury duty on April 23rd and if you have ever gone, you know it is terribly dull, for the most part. I will be the first to say that I am directionally challenged and I consider it a huge victory whenever I get somewhere I am unfamiliar with without incident. Unfortunately, this day was a #fail.  I have no idea what causes this phenomenon but no matter how much I stake out a location, Google it, or write my own tips and tricks, about 85% of the time I come out of subway and walk in the opposite direction of where I should be going and don’t let there be more than one exit, I will wander aimlessly in the labyrinth. Anyway, what should have been a 5-minute walk, most of it around the perimeter of the courthouse itself, turned into a 30-minute excursion.

          I walked to the end of the block and asked someone to point me in the right direction and after two blocks and a left, I arrived at the federal courthouse…not the civil courthouse where I was supposed to be. And now I know that there are two courthouses…in close proximity to each other. I asked a security guard for help. After two more blocks and another left, I was on the right track. There was a girl talking to a guard a ways ahead of me. As I got closer, I could hear the guard giving her directions so I asked the girl if she was going to the courthouse for jury duty, she was so I told her to come with me. She had a hard time navigating and was anxious since she was not familiar with the downtown area. We walked and I told her what to expect since it was her first time serving.  Even after all that, we made it on time.

          A few years ago, I would have overheard the guard giving directions as I passed by and walked ahead on my own, not to purposefully be rude and unhelpful but just to avoid interacting. Putting in earphones, sometimes with no music playing, taking the long way to circumvent people, reading, talking on the phone, or pretending to so I can avoid speaking to anyone; I still do things like this sometimes but not nearly as often as I used to. I do not want my ways to prevent me from being kind and I definitely do not want to miss out on helping someone in need or showing the love of God because Jesus did not but sometimes I get overwhelmed and quickly revert to old ways (that’s a lesson in itself and Peter comes to mind). These things may seem like small potatoes but it is progress for me so these small things make me excited about my spiritual and personal growth.

*Bonus I found out the next week that my job term is likely to be extended, this week someone asked me was I still interested in another job and a contact I have in Korea said he will be contacting me about a job there.

 

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Risky Business

          A few weeks ago, Pastor David Franklin (PDF ha!) preached a sermon entitled “Am I a Risk Taker?” This sermon in conjunction with the wonderful ministry of the Deliverance Mass Choir has changed my life!

          Before the sermon, before the choir, I was stagnant. I was not comfortable per se but I definitely was not moving forward in the spirit as I should have been and I was feeling it. Pastor Franklin said, “the number one enemy to change is comfort…when we fail to acknowledge our true condition, we sabotage our opportunity to be free from the pain of the place we are in”. WOW! I felt like the hand of God smacked me in the back of my head and He said, “listen up” (…actually that might have been my mom, just kidding…maybe). All the memories of the times I procrastinated because I was physically comfortable, did not take a step forward because of fear, or comforted myself after resisting God (I’m not ready; I’m only human) came flooding back. On one hand I felt relief because I acknowledged that I needed to change (cool, I might be better off than I thought [that can be a dangerous train of thought by the way]) but on the other hand I was alarmed because regarding spirituality, my acknowledgement meant nothing without action. Many of us have at least heard the first step of the twelve-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, which is to admit that you have a problem. I believe this applies to our spiritual lives as well, what good is taking the first step of acknowledging I have a problem if I do not take the other eleven? (know what I’m sayin’?)

         “The result of stagnation is termination”. This can apply to many if not all aspects of life. If I stay addicted to drugs, I will die. If I stay unhealthy, I will die. If I stay dirty, I will die (any definition of dirty will fit). If I stay reckless, I will die. If I stay gossiping, I will die. If I stay lying, I will die. If I stay causing turmoil (especially in church), I will die. If I stay negative, I will die. If I stay isolated, I will die. If I stay amoral, I will die. If I stay kicking my neighbor’s cat, I will die. IF I STAY SINNING, I WILL DIE. I believe that last one but I know that sometimes I do not behave like I do.

         Ok, I get all of that but what do I have to do? I have to become a risk taker. What do I need to become a risk taker? According to PDF (hmm, I think I’ll refer to Pastor Taylor as PT…PT and PDF heh), I need, “a growing relationship with God (got that) after all, He is the one who will reward the risk I take for my spiritual advancement. I need, “a community of people [I] can trust”, people who have my back (check!). Finally, I need, “a calling, mission, passion, or purpose that is fulfilling,” which I will summarize as “direction” (…I’ve got nothing). “Direction”, that is what I am missing. I want to do things I have mediocre results in (painting, photography, science-y stuff) but the things I am good at (writing, office stuff) I am just not passionate about so I am going from pillar to post praying and searching but as of yet to no avail. Regardless, everything is copacetic because I have and am following the steps to become a risk taker. What are the steps? Well, PDF said, “make up your mind”. Great, because after hearing the Deliverance Mass Choir I decided I wanted to change (seriously a LIFE-CHANGING experience) and hearing PDF’s sermon the next week sealed the deal. “Look for the miracle”. Not counting the miracle of me having made up my mind, I thought of what it took to get to this point, what God has brought me through, and how blessed I am even though I feel like I am floundering and lost in the proverbial sauce. “Maintain your integrity”. No problem, I am getting better all the time. The pièce de résistance, “rejoice”. For me, rejoicing is the hardest part (I’m learning to be a see-the-silver-lining type). Of course, it is easy when things are going well but I cannot just rejoice then, I have to “rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16) even when things are not going my way and I do not understand what God is doing. The notes for I Thess 5:16 in my Bible says, “people are naturally happy on some occasions, but the Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from what Christ has done and it is constant”. (cont…)

Best Sabbath Ever!

          Now that I have had some time to settle down I must absolutely tell everyone about my beautiful Sabbath day! Friday, I was sick again (3rd time in 2 months!) and feeling pretty miserable. My hair was out of control, I had not studied my lesson and I had a video to edit for the next day so I was up late dealing with all of that. I was debating whether or not to go to church; I did not want to make anyone else sick yet it would not sit right with me that I could get up and go to work but not get up for church. Also, I was already obligated to take photos for the event happening that day. Last time I dragged myself to church when I was sick, I was a miserable, snotty, whiney mess and I really should have stayed home.

          When I rolled out of bed Sabbath morning, I was so congested and could not even breathe out of my nose but other than that I felt fine. There was no way I could shirk my duties or miss the wonderful things in store. “What are these wonderful things of which you speak?” Well, let me tell you, my mom was teaching our Sabbath school class (an awesome study of discipleship and spiritual leadership http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/14a/less11m.html) and our guests for the day included about half of the Deliverance Mass Choir from Andrews University and Pastor Timothy Nixon who delivered the sermon.

          If you know me, you also know I am not one who likes crowds but I was so excited that so many people came out to support the program. I sent all the visitors to my mom’s class (because it’s the best of course!) and they even participated in the discussion. A guest, a lovely, young sister named Claudia, made an unforgettable point about discipleship. She said that we think of Jesus as a “what” instead of a “who” and when we think of Him as a “what”, something that we do not have, we think we cannot do. Wow! My mind was blown. Jesus is not a “thing” to be acquired in order for us to be successful disciples; He is our Savior and friend who walks beside us via the Holy Spirit.

           After an amazing class, I was pumped. I went downstairs to help prepare for the meal after service but I got wrapped up speaking to someone I was not any help at all regarding meal preparation (lol, for the best since I was all germy) but I got to make a suggestion that will hopefully help the person I was talking to move forward in his ministry.

          Heading back upstairs, I stopped to cut up with my mom and the other greeters at the door. We laughed and welcomed people in with cheerful spirits. We went inside to hear Pastor Nixon and I am so glad I did. The man was on fire! He talked about Elijah and how cocky he was like when he said he was the only prophet of God left yet in previous chapters it says that Obadiah hid 100 of God’s prophets in a cave and how Moses had to cover his face because it was too bright for the Israelites to stand after he had been in God’s presence but even as his “glow” faded he kept the covering on because he wanted them to think he still had it going on.

          We ate after service and the guest were so gracious. Then it was time for the concert. Oh did I not mention that before? THE Deliverance Mass Choir all the way from Berrien Springs, MI. came during their spring break to minister to us through song in full concert! I played ninja photographer for the day and was darting all over the place but I had to stop and praise. When Pastor Franklin said hearing them was life changing, I believed him but my God, my God, I have never experienced anything like this and I will NEVER forget it.

          It is Monday and I am still floating on a high. Such power, talent and emotion; it was absolutely undeniable that God was in Berea. People from the community came, alumni from Andrews and other pastors from the ministerium joined us as well. It was truly a spiritual experience, I literally feel like I got baptized all over again. It was the best total Sabbath experience I have ever had. Now I just pray that everyone will treasure the experience and it will make a difference in how we interact with God and each other. I want to have this feeling forever but that is idealistic so instead, whenever I feel down in the future, I can cling to this experience and God will turn things around! Believe it!