Where I’ve been, Where I am, and Where I’m Going: Life Update

Where I’ve Been:

To talk about where I’ve been over the last year would take a long time. But here are some things. In the spring of last year I realized that my identity was not in the things that I did, but in who I was in Christ. That has freed up ministry a ton, as I see it now just as an overflow of the grace that Christ has shown me. This last summer I was back at Camp Ridgecrest for Boys. Talk about God’s faithfulness. I got to see how God had used me last summer to impact those kids, and got to see them this summer again. It was probably the coolest part of my summer and hopefully sometime I will not be so busy that I can write it down. But that was awesome. And now I’m in my Senior Year!

Where I am:

Well, I’ve finally made it to my senior year of college. Finally! It has been five and a half years but the Lord has been so good and faithful over these last three years at North Greenville University. This semester I am the youth intern at Taylors First Baptist. It has been a great time of ministry and learning. I have been continually humbled, learning that ministry is not always spent doing “ministry.” What I mean by that is that a lot of times my internship is spent putting up chairs, running a power point, etc. I’ve realized that even janitors and different behind the scenes staff are just as vital to the body of Christ as the people in the front are. 

I love my ninth grade guys. They are crazy but they are growing a lot. Just getting to hang out with them outside the church has been great. Last friday, I started a high school guys basketball thing. I was not sure who all would show up, but the Lord provided 16 guys the first time, including four guys from outside the church! I see this as a great evangelism opportunity, as well as a continuous discipleship of the guys I already know. 
This semester is flying by so quickly. I am busy, busy, busy. It seems like all I do during the week is go to my internship and read and write papers. Its exhausting, but I know in the end, it will be worth it. 
Spiritually I feel more consistent that I have been in the past. Very spiritually resilient. I have been praying more and now starting to really meditate on Scripture. 
This fall has brought about a lot of changes in the dorm. Of the 12 guys who were here last year, only six are still here. It has been good though. The Lord has made me the only upperclassmen in the dorm, and so with that comes a lot of responsibility. I am constantly checking my motivations. 
A really awesome thing that has occurred is just being content in the Lord. I don’t feel like I need a girlfriend or wife to fulfill me anymore. I don’t feel like I need a ministry job to do ministry.  
This contentness has allowed me to encourage more freely, get less defensive, and really just be real with what things are going on in my life. 
Me and blake, my new roomate, have been super open about confessing sins to one another, as the author James calls for. That has been super freeing. 
Where I am going:
Well, last spring I was offered a church planting apprenticeship at North Asheville Baptist. And in January after I graduate from college, I’ll be moving up to Asheville, North Carolina to start this next chapter of my life. 


I’m kind of nervous to be honest with you. I don’t feel prepared necessarily for ministry, even though I know the Lord has trained me well.

I have a lot of questions to be answered before January.

I don’t even really know full on what ministry looks like up there yet. I know I will be working with small groups, with my church plant intern boss, Aubrey. And I know I will be doing evangelism in the city and starting groups of my
own.

Picture taken from: http://www.ashevilleguidebook.com

Prayer:

So if you could please be praying for me. Pray for perseverance for me to make it to graduation. Pray for the unanswered questions in Asheville to be answered. Pray for me not to worry about anything but with prayer and petition may I make my requests know to God (Philippians 4:6). Pray that I would be present here, at North Greenville, at Taylors, in Greenville, until my departure. Pray that I would trust God fully and fix my eyes on Him always.

Thanks ya’ll.

Blessings,
Joseph

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

We all have problems. Some big, others small. Everyday though we are dealing with something. How do we overcome these things? By focusing on the problem? By trying to fix everything? No. Its counter cultural but we must fix our eyes on Jesus.

A few weeks ago as we began school, I was burnt out. I had been struggling a lot and had not seemed to make any progress. I just kept failing in the same ways. And I was super frustrated.

The more I tried to fix myself and my problems, the more I focused on those things, and ultimately the more that I fell.

I went to church not expecting to hear from the Lord because I was so busy focusing on what I was dealing with. And then the Scripture broke through my frustration and made me remember what I had forgotten.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything 

that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked 

out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)


Before I had always focused on running the race with endurance, or throwing off  those things which entangled me.

“Do this” was always my mentality. Read this. Go to this support group. Tell this person. Do, do, do.

And we are called to do. But before we do, we must fix. Not as in solve, but as in focus. We must direct our attention fully on Jesus.

Why?

He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Not only that, but it goes on to say:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right 

hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you 

will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)


He is worthy of our ultimate attention because He endured. He is worthy of our attention because He was scorned. He is worthy because He has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. And He did this all, why? SO THAT WE WOULD NOT GROW WEARY OR LOSE HEART!

How awesome is that? How awesome that the son of God would endure such suffering so that we would not have to!

So before we pick up our running shoes, we must fix our eyes on Jesus.

Yes, we will throw off everything that entangles us and hinders us, but only because Jesus has thrown off everything that entangled Him. He endured the cross. He bore the shame. He was sinless. But He did it all, and did it with joy. Because of what He did, we can throw off what hinders us.

Yes, we will run the race with endurance, but only through looking at the author and perfecter of our faith.

So my encouragement to you tonight is to first, before you do anything, fix your eyes on Jesus. Your problems will not go away, your temptations will not fade, but in view of Jesus, they will look small. He will become your joy and peace, your satisfaction and purpose.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Lyrics taken from: http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Turn_Your_Eyes_upon_Jesus/)


Image taken from: myoneword.org

Blessings ya’ll,
Joseph.

Dwelling on The Word

To dwell on is to think on, ponder, participate in a subject. We do this with many things in life, many decisions. How much more should we participate in and dwell on the Holy Word of the Almighty Creator God.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

The Word of God is an incredibly powerful, transforming source that we have as Christians. It teaches us more of who God is. It gives us more of an understanding of the fuller picture of creation, redemption, and glorification and restoration of the world.

So we get a little glimpse of how important the Word is. It changes us to be more like Christ, to submit more to His authority and His glory.

So we see the reasoning behind this statement of “letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly”. We want the Word of God to be manifest in us, to become apart of our speech, to become the very foundation which we lay our life on because it is the very word of God. It brings power and peace, joy and security, confidence as we are able to commune with God in a way that before the cross, we were not able to do.

So not only when we read the Word do we dwell on it, but the Word now dwells in us. It becomes apart of us. It becomes second nature. Verses flow from our lips. Our attitudes and actions are changed.

But not only does the Word transform us, dwell in us, and us in it, but it gives us the power, strength, and confidence to live this life that we have been called to.

We teach and encourage others through the Word that is dwelling in us. Ministry becomes an overflow of the Christ life inside of us and the Word that is transforming us, flowing out through our actions and words.

The power to live this life does not exist outside of Christ and submission to His Word. That’s where thanksgiving comes in. We point to Jesus everyday and His faithfulness and we live lives of thankfulness.

This understanding leads us to a life that looks like this:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17) 

Final Encouragements:

Dwell on the Word. Let it dwell in you. Let it transform you and flow out of you to transform the world around you.

Final Questions for further consideration:

How can you glorify God in every aspect of your life? How can this become our motivation in life?


picture taken from: thewordfresno.org

Blessings,
Joseph