Unwanted by the World; Cherished by Jesus: A K-Story: Part 1

This semester I have been blessed with an opportunity to serve and witness to an un-reached people group. Their names are the Kurds. They are a Muslim group that is located just thirty minutes away in a town called Simpsonville. This is the first blog of a series I call: Unwanted by the World, Cherished by Jesus. This blog series will hopefully give you insight into the Kurd’s world and what they believe. I hope to document what happens as we find people of peace to talk to about the gospel. Telling their stories, telling our stories, telling God’s story. I hope that this encourages you to reach out to other groups in your community to share and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This Saturday was our first official meeting. I was excited but anxious not knowing what to expect. I had never worked with Muslims before. We started off with a time of welcome and just getting to know one another. Then we launched into a time of worship. It was powerful. I could see the Holy Spirit working through each other’s hearts and the words we sang to Him. After a time of worship, we went around and heard how God had brought these different people for many different reasons but He brought them all, none the less. As we finished hearing about the vision of the group and the vision of our mission, we began to pray.

We began to ask the Lord Jesus for guidance and knowledge in knowing how we were to approach them. We began to ask Him for selflessness and humbleness as we went into these people’s homes. We prayed for unification in the group and I began to see this unfolding with my own eyes. God was bringing our group together, as we laid everything at His throne. We were college students, but we would not let anyone look down on us because of our youth. We would be examples of God’s grace, love, compassion. We continued praying and praying and praying. The Holy Spirit wrapped His presence around our group. We prayed for the Kurdish people, for God to start working on their hearts in that moment. We prayed for continual preparation and guidance and then we ended.

I don’t know what God has in store for this year. I don’t know what God will do through us eight (or more) college students. We are learning to trust Him though. He has called us to be lights and aromas of grace. He has equipped and is equipping us to do what He has called us to do.

I ask for your prayers as we set out on this endeavor.

Specifically:
-Pray for us by name: Joseph, Rebekah, Paola, David, James, Israel, Forrest, Renee, Brad. (May add more names later)
-Pray that God prepares their hearts to hear the message.
-Pray that God is the center of our mission and that the focus is never on one of us.
-Pray for protection and peace for us.
-Pray for God’s blessings on this ministry.
-Pray that everyday we are sharing the love of Christ, outside of what we are doing with the Kurds.
-Pray for humbleness and love within our group.
-Pray for no rivalries to come up.
-Pray for protection from the attacks of the enemy.
-Pray for overseas and out of state mission trips to come later in the year.

There are so many other things you can be praying about that I just can’t put my mind around right now. In the words of Derek Carr, Fresno State’s Quarterback, after Friday’s win against Boise: “I don’t know what God has planned but whatever it is, I’m down.” Pray for us to have this attitude of humbleness and complete openness to the Spirit’s call on each one of our lives.

Blessings,
Joseph. 

Old Faces, New Places: Part 2

This past weekend, for the first time in a while, I was brought face to face with my past. This time though was different. I encountered one of the guys who took part in my assault—back in seventh grade. Angry? I could have been. Instead, Saturday night was a night of forgiveness. Instead, it was a night of letting go of the memories and the pain, forever.

Saturday, I went to the Carolina game at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, Sc. It was a fun game and I enjoyed getting to see some friends from Charleston. The game ended and I started my long walk back to my car. As I walked along, there were people everywhere. As I continued to walk down the crowded street, I heard a familiar voice up ahead. It was the guy. Now, I had seen this guy since the incident. In fact, last year at a wedding I was at, he came up and gave me a huge bear hug. He made it seem like we had been best friends, when in reality, all I wanted to do was to beat the crap out of him for what he had done to me.

Confused at why in a crowd of 80,000, I found this guy, I began to pray. In the last year and a half of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, He has taught me to be sensitive to the callings and pushing of the Spirit. God had done incredible things, through simple, ordinary interactions. Why did I run into this guy? Did God want me to speak truth and love to him? So feeling this may be true, I inched my way through the crowd, until I was walking right beside of him. I didn’t know what was to come next, but I trusted The Lord, that this was an opportunity—an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

Well, I continued walking beside him, not knowing what to say or do. Finally, he recognized me. “Joe Hulsey!” He said. I could see the shock forming on his face. What was worse was that he was drunk. We began to walk and talk, him doing most of the talking, spewing half understandable sentences from his mouth. I could have really taken advantage of this guy. What he had taken part in: wrecked my life, confidence, and my mind for so many years. What he had done had brought me great anger and major depression, feelings of worthless and hating God because this had occurred in the church. But when Jesus came into my life and forgave me of all my sins, I could not continue to hold this against this guy. Something I said I would never do, I did. I forgave. What these guys meant for evil, God meant it for good. And God has used it.

I guess the alcohol was starting to wear off because this guy’s tone changed. He went from cheery and silly to regretful. He began to talk about his time at college and how it had been hard. As each sentence left his mouth, my heart began to break for this guy. I began to see where a life of popularity, drugs, alcohol, fraternities and sexual relations with girls, had destroyed his life. A guy who I had looked up to in middle and high school, had enjoyed all the pleasures of this world, and come away broken and unfulfilled. He talked about how his goal was to find a job where he would make a lot of money. He was hopeless but unwilling to change. He was broken, but he would not leave the world and all its pleasures. It was all he knew.

We continued walking, getting nearer and nearer time to part ways. Figuratively, our lives were going complete opposite directions. A life that I coveted when I was younger, looked awfully broken and skewed now to me. I thanked God for the life He had given me. And then I began to share my past brokenness with this guy, pouring out to him, my past hopelessness. I shared with him what God had done for me and all He had brought me through and now the life He had given me. I never mentioned what the guy had done to me in seventh grade, not wanting to shame him. I don’t know if  he knows or remembers what happened, but maybe God will give me the opportunity to forgive him in person one day. I got his number before we parted ways, feeling God wanted me to continue to share with this guy, the love of Jesus Christ.

Maybe, like me, God is wanting you to express the grace and forgiveness of Christ, to someone who has hurt you. Do not fear encountering this person but instead offer up freely your forgiveness and explain to them how Christ forgave you. Trust The Lord that He might use you to show His grace and forgiveness, in a way that they may never have experienced.

Have a blessed night,
Joseph.

Laying My Plans and Desires on the Altar

Up until the last few weeks, I thought I knew what God’s will was for my life. I had been confirmed, affirmed, and I was heading into North Greenville confident of the plan God had for my life. In the last few weeks though, I have begun to question these things and plans and wonder if they were truly my desires or were they God’s. I’m at a point right now where I know God has called me to ministry but I am not sure of what venue this will take place in or what it even looks like. Right now though, I come before the altar of God and lay down my plans and desires, and ask for His will and plan to become evident in my life.

Laying things down and saying, “God, here are my plans and desires. I give them to You,” is hard. I don’t want to give up my dreams and I don’t want to give up my plans. God, I would rather do this, not that. God, I would rather talk to college kids about Christ, than go on mission trips and live in a foreign country. Maybe this sounds like you today. Take heart though, I have a story for you.

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac.In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife,[a] and the two of them walked on together.
Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.”
And he replied, “Here I am, my son.”
Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide[b] the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together.
When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac[c] and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
He replied, “Here I am.”

12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram[d]caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. ” (Genesis 22:1-13; http://www.biblegateway.com)

Let me give you a little background to this story. Abraham and Sarah had been told by the Lord God that they would have many descendants. The only problem was that they had no children and they were both old, past child bearing, child making age. Actually they both laughed at the idea of them having a kid. They waited a long time but finally God brought the promise into sight and Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Crazy huh? Well, what if God told you then to take your son, the son that you had waited and prayed for, a miracle baby, what if God told you to kill that son? Oh and by the way, this was supposed to be the son that this amazing line of descendants was supposed to come from. How would you respond? Would you trust Him completely? Abraham did and obeyed. He was giving up everything: the promise, the hope of descendants, everything. And through that amazing obedience, God saved his son. He saw the heart of Abraham, a heart that “feared God” and not only spared his son, but one day the Son of God would be born from his line of descendants. And that Son would be sacrificed for the sins of all, becoming the spotless lamb that we desperately needed. 
What does it mean to follow God completely? Jesus says what it means in Luke 14. 
“Now great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them: 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, 30 saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000? 32 If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to[f] all his possessions cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33; http://www.biblegateway.com).
Do you have faith that even if God told you to go somewhere you had never been, that you would go? Do you believe that God will provide for you if you are obedient, even when it makes no sense to you or to anyone else? Some of you God will call to do crazy things. He might call some of you to be missionaries or He may call some of you to go into places where no one else will go. Will you go? If God told you, like He told Jonah, to go to a godless city like Nineveh and preach His gospel, would you do it? If God told you to go to a place like Sodom and Gomorrah and get on your hands and knees everyday and pray for these people’s eyes to be opened, would you do it? 
I’m not sure what God’s plan for my life is yet. I know one thing for sure though. When I graduate from this university God is sending me somewhere to preach his gospel, whether formally or informally. I may go to a church and be a college pastor or youth pastor to minister to the next generation of youth and college kids that are dying without the love of Jesus Christ and raising up leaders to take the gospel to the nations. God may send me across the globe to be servant to those who are dying of hunger and thirst. He may send me to foreign country to share the gospel with a group of people that have never heard the gospel. He may send me to be a Christian counselor and pray over bondage in people’s lives, strongholds and addictions that will never be overcome without the power and love of Jesus Christ. I may work with families or work with married couples. Or, something completely outside of all of that, like showing the love of God to men and women struggling with homosexuality. God has allowed me to go through everything in my life for a purpose, even right now, as I struggle with being in a new place and in a new community. God has placed me here for a purpose. 
I may not know where God is sending me, but I have faith and trust completely that whatever He deems right for me, I will follow completely. It may be scary, but today, I am laying down all of my plans and desires at the foot of the cross. Jesus lead me where you may. 
Have a blessed day ya’ll,
Joseph. 

Will You Be My Rebounder?

I love the ways that God reveals Himself to me and teaches me lessons. They are so simple, yet the lessons are profound. Last night, God decided once again to teach me a lesson about my part on His team, the body of Christ, through a pick up game of basketball. 

Last night me and some friends from North Greenville University traveled a few minutes up the road, to a church gym to play some basketball. As we waited for one more person to show up, I was showing off. I was dribbling under my legs, behind my back, stepping back and hitting the jump shot, making some reverse lay ups; my attempt to show the captains that they should pick me. It worked haha. 
Well the game started and the teams were picked. Up and down the court we ran, sweating, huffing and puffing (I am so out of shape, haha). I posted up in the corner and waited for the ball. The ball shot across the court, into my hands. There was someone on me but I decided to take the shot anyways. Clank. Completely off. I was frustrated. On different possessions, I continued trying to drive past defenders, trying to show how good I was, but I kept getting stripped. Out of breath and exhausted, I mentally took a step back. I had forgotten what my role was on this team, just like recently I have forgotten my role in life. 
Moving from Charleston to Greenville has been more difficult than I would have imagined. I live in a house with 13 other guys and they are super talented. Ways in which I lead in Charleston, are filled by different people in Greenville and its been frustrating. It is really my pride. I was in charge and I was in these roles, and God in this season of pruning in my life, has just taken these roles away from me. And it has been awful. 
Back to the game. I had taken a mental breather, completely frustrated. Our team was losing and I was non-existant. But in my frustration I remembered my role. I remembered my height and I went down to the low block and focused on rebounding and hustle plays. And I did. The rest of that game I collected two baskets down low and 6 rebounds. It was tough too. I fought for every rebound, having to snatch rebounds from a guy that was 40 pounds bigger than me. The team was flowing well now, everybody excelling in their role. Even though my role wasn’t in the spot light or glorious, I thrived. Even though we didn’t win that game, the next game we did. 
Between the games, I began to clearly just hear the voice of the Lord speaking to me. He said, “Joseph, will you be my rebounder? Sort of an odd question I thought. He continued, “Will you go places where others won’t go and do things others won’t do? Will you become my servant and serve others unconditionally, no matter what it means you have to do? I know its not in the spot light and I know its not what you had in mind, but will you be my rebounder?
“So the body is not one part but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body.So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-22)

Not all of us are called to missionaries and pastors and preachers. Some of us are just called to share Christ through our jobs and through our lives. Maybe like me, you have had this grand plan in your head, that God would use you to lead 1,000’s to Himself. But maybe God is just calling you to reach “one” person for the kingdom. Did you hear me? One. Or possibly two. Maybe God is calling you as a teacher at a public elementary school to love kids, that have never experienced love, that come from broken families and broken lives. Maybe this means you are a cashier at a grocery store, and you share God’s love through the peace with which you ring customers up, amidst the hustle and bustle chaos. Maybe this means you become a foster parent and you take in a teen that no one wants and you love them with the love of Jesus Christ. We all have our roles and maybe its time that some of us become realistic in our lives. Some of us may never be Billy Graham or Tim Tebow but does that mean our role is any less? No. 
Take a look at the passage again. Verse 22. “But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are what? NECESSARY! You are needed, you are wanted. God desires for you to play your part in the Kingdom. He desires that whether you are a pastor of thousands or a mom or dad of two, that you live into His plan for your life. This means that we are all evangelists. We are called to go and share the gospel, whether it be thousand miles away or just across the street. 
What if as the body of Christ we started working as a team? What if we put our pride and own desires aside, and realized the roles and talents that God has given us and stopped coveting others gifts? Would our world see unity? Would our world see love? Would our world see the difference? I believe they would. We would become one body, one mind, and one heart, focused on reaching the world for Jesus Christ. Some would teach and others would pray, others would serve, and others would love. Some would paint and sing and write and others would think. Some would organize and facilitate, others would follow and participate. 
I’m getting chills just thinking about it. If we all worked together and Christ was working on each of us, amazing things would happen in this world. Revival and changed hearts. 

“God doesn’t call the equipped, son. God equips the called. And you have been called.”

We have all been called. Now will you accept your role in the Kingdom and join the battle? We need you. 
Blessings,
Joseph. 

Angry and Judgemental Christians

This evening as I was looking through some posts on my google plus homepage, I came across a post that was disappointing.

I heard on fox news this morning that atheist couple wants to remove God from the Pledge of allegiance in schools. ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!! Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I think it is time us Christians put up a fight for God. I am angry to even think that the Atheist and Muslins and others want God out of our country. I say Atheist need to read the word of God and know what is in store for them if they don’t change their way of believing. Some day when they stand at Judgment of the Great White Throne Judgment they will wish they had given their life to Christ. Every time one screams remove God the Christians need to get bold and fight back with the word of God. I don’t know about other Christians but to me every time one starts complaining about God in our schools and take God off our currency they are going to have the worst wrath of God upon them , And it’s time this country takes a stand to keep God in our country. This makes me angry…… And futher more I intend to start a Pledge to keep God in our country.. If you Agree please share this post and Lets start a special prayer Day once a week on Fridays to take 30 minutes out of our day to pray for God to take America Back… Amen??????

Ok some of you may not understand why this post is upsetting. You may have even posted something like this before yourself. What is wrong you ask? What is wrong with telling the truth about our nation? Sure, we have walked away from God as a nation. I have a problem with the way that the author of this post delivers it. Anger and condemnation ringing through her voice. Judging them in a way that we as Christians have no right to judge. 

Does our nation need prayer? Absolutely. But condemnation can play no part in that. If we condemn, this world will shut us down. If we come into it, sharing a gospel of love, in anger, the world will shut its ears. The basis of our relationship with Christ is love, not hatred. 

Do none of you remember that Christ reached out to each one of us in love? Do you not remember how Jesus ate lunch with tax collectors, healed the lame and called the prostitutes. He blasted the religious leaders for their condemnation and completely missing the point. 
But God proves<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> His own love for us<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)

21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. 22 But now He has reconciled you by His physical body<sup class="footnote" style="vertical-align: top;" value="[k]”>[k] through His death,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AK)”> to present you holy, faultless,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AL)”> and blameless before Him<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AM)”>— 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AN)”> and are not shifted away from the hope<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AO)”> of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AP)”> under heaven,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AQ)”> and I, Paul,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AR)”> have become a servant of it. (Colossians 1:21-23)

So before we go out as Christians into the world, to share with them the love of Christ, we need to check our own hearts. My question to you tonight is: Are you sharing with them God’s love or are you sharing your hatred and judgement? God’s love is the only thing that will change hearts, not your hatred or judgement. 

Have a blessed night,
Joseph.