Blog

RRR_635833572120173075_Afterlight_Edit

Choose to Love

  |   DTS, Lecture Phase   |   No comment

The other day I wrote a letter to a sister of mine to encourage her to have an endless love that so many seek for. I may sound like a broken record by saying this: real love is not easy, it is a constant decision to die-to-yourself in order to lift up those around you. This selfless lifestyle is something I struggle with daily. I am still trying to overcome my belief that everyone should take care of themselves. Thankfully I was wrong! Hallelujah, there is a greater love which was displayed on the cross and is worthy of living out. Here is a little excerpt from my letter:

RRR_635833568362664061_Afterlight_EditMay you have strength and perseverance in all the days that lie ahead of you. You bless so many around you by being the light of God that you are. Be encouraged and fearless as you rest in the peace of God’s unending love for you.

John 15:13-“There is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for a friend.”

I must remind myself often that love is a choice. Choice follows absolute truth only provided from an eternal perspective~ an omniscient, everlasting, and omnipresent perspective. Choices we make are based upon the truth that we believe. I pray this is easy to grasp. You become what you hold to be true. We have a choice in how we see ourselves, see the world, and see God. We have a choice in what we do, what we will do, how we love, and what we hate. All of these must be based on the absolute truth that God gives us. This significantly applies to love. Love is used 348 times in the bible (NASV), and defines both God’s nature and character. God is love. Our Father states that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The second greatest is to love your neighbor as thyself.

oct30_635818817521050031_Afterlight_EditWith this being absolute truth, there is never a moment that we can rest from loving. The choice to love must not be based on feelings. The capability of having feelings is a gift from God. However, when one relies on feelings, these emotions can often be swayed from God’s will, as they typically arise from a human perspective. The following consequences can be painful. Instead, when emotions follow choices based on truth, feelings add life and meaning. So as we love, selflessly and wholeheartedly, we must realize that we love because God first loved us~ we love because we have been shown grace and forgiveness through the ultimate act of love.

I believe unconditional love takes more than a life time of practice. We are called forth to love and be loved. So, brothers and sisters, lets choose to surprise God with the love we have for him and others!

Amy Hale, Tennessee USA, 07/10/1997, 18 yrs

Amy Hale – DTS Student, October, 2015

DP7

Acts of Power

  |   Uncategorized   |   No comment

DP3I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of God. It says in the bible to not be afraid, that we have a Spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7), it says that God is all powerful, and the Holy Spirit lives inside us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Thinking about these things made me ask myself: “Am I truly living a life that shows I believe these things? Do my actions prove to people that I believe in a God that is all powerful and that He has given us that same Spirit of power? What is holding me back?”

Lately, I’ve been studying the book of Acts and in almost every chapter there is a story that blows my mind, a story about the power of God that is so crazy I have to do a double take. People were getting raised from the dead (Acts 9:40), people were coming to know God by the thousands (Acts 2:41), handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul was touching were being used to HEAL PEOPLE (Acts 19:12). THAT’S CRAZY!

It seems like every time believers get together in this book, God does something extraordinary through them and the thing that amazes me is that they are just ordinary people. Time and again it says in Acts that the Pharisees or other rulers were astonished that the disciples were speaking with such authority and acting with such power because they were “common, uneducated men” (Acts 4:13). How are these people capable of such amazing things?

dpscenery_635840780886082673_Afterlight_EditI think the answer lies in the fact that they are completely sold out for Jesus. Everything they do is an act of obedience, an act of love. They knew who their Father was and they knew that seeking Jesus was more important than any comforts of the world. They sold EVERYTHING they had and shared everything with the other believers (Acts 2:45). They went wherever the Holy Spirit told them to go and did whatever the Holy Spirit told them to do (Acts 8:29-30).

Something important to remember is that there was no recipe for God’s power. Selling everything they had didn’t buy them the ability for God to show His power through them. They didn’t earn it in any way or complete a series of steps to get to the power of God. They just listened and obeyed. They just loved people with everything they had. They were all in, wherever they found themselves. They knew that when Jesus said they could do even greater works than He did (John 14:12), He meant it. They understood that they were nothing and God was everything.

Living a life like the disciples in Acts, living a life that truly embraces the power of God means recognizing that we are nothing and that God is everything. It is simply being obedient to whatever God asks us to do. If he says “Go pray for this person,” do it. If He says “lie on your face during worship,” do it. It is simple loving everyone we come in contact with to the best of our ability and letting God do the rest.

RRR_635833559884041055_Afterlight_EditIf we let our fears or insecurities get in the way we make our fears bigger than God. If we think we can do powerful things on our own strength or somehow earn God’s power (and I am guilty of having done all these things) we make ourselves bigger than God. But if we just love people the best we can, if we are just obedient to whatever it is that He asks, even if we don’t see results, we put the ball in God’s court and leave the rest up to Him.

The power of God is not gone. It didn’t just happen in the book of Acts and now we are on our own. The enemy would love to have us believe that darkness is winning, that we can’t change the world. You can. You have the power of God in you. What is it that God is asking you to do? What is holding you back? Is it worth missing out on what God wants to do through you?

_A0A7884Josh Lake – Staff

image3

Heart of Worship

  |   DTS, Lecture Phase   |   No comment
How to even begin…

 

image1
I’ve been contemplating\procrastinating about this blog post all week. There are many reasons for this: 1. THERE IS SO MUCH MATERIAL TO CHOOSE FROM. God is teaching me what feels like a thousand or more things a day, and it is almost impossible to decide which one I’d most like to talk about. They all feel equally important. 2. I tend to overthink and, if I’m honest, just really don’t want to mess this post up. 3. I’m a procrastinator. I thrive (or like to tell myself I do) off of the adrenaline that comes with completing a task within 24 hours to the deadline. However, I really am eager to write this post and share it with the world! So I am currently employing the “glue-yourself-to-a-computer-until-the-task-is-completed” method in full swing.

 

Our speaker for the week, Chris Toney, is guiding us on the journey of diving deeper into the Bible. He briefly mentioned something we’ll be talking about more our last two days of lecture: how the Bible is an inspired work of our Creator. In light of that, I’ve decided that (while not on the same level as the Bible) I’m going to let God inspire my post as well. He is much more qualified than me to write this post.

 

image2With that in mind, I cannot deny the Holy Spirit’s nudge to share a little bit about what I spoke on this Monday in academic groups. Each student had to pick a Biblical topic and speak on it for between seven to ten minutes. I chose the topic of ‘Worship.’

 

“I think there are basically two types of people in this world: complainers and worshipers… complainers will always find something to complain about. Worshipers will always find something to praise God about.” (Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive when Opportunity Roars) (I would encourage everyone to read Mark Batterson’s book– it has transformed my thinking in radical ways!)

 

I chose to begin my presentation with this quote not only because it’s wholly relevant in my own life, but because I believe God is calling all of his followers to a higher standard and understanding of true worship. The Western world, in my experience, likes to limit worship to a session that we visit once a week on Sundays – and maybe twice if we’re “good” Christians. Mark, however, would beg to say that we’re always living in either a state of complaining or a state of worship. If I posed the question about which one God calls us to as Christians, I know I would get a unanimous vote for the second state. But of those who answered “worship”, how many could honestly say that they live that out?

 

image6
Personally speaking, my life has contained a lot more complaining than worshiping. The past few years of my life have not been particularly easy. In fact, they totally sucked. My reality was that as soon as things didn’t go my way, I complained. I knowingly played the victim. That is not to say that sometimes my situation didn’t deserve some lament, or that it was morally wrong to express my pain to anyone (who better than God?), but I completely missed what it meant to be a worshiper of the Living God.

 

Throughout life we’ll have to decide whether we are going to dig ourselves deeper into bondage with complaints or allow the truth of who God is to blow apart our chains. One option brings despair and cynicism, the other freedom and joy.

 

God was so good in revealing this simple, yet overlooked, fact of my life to me. He made it possible for me to say that I decide to be a worshiper and not a complainer! Thank you Jesus!

 

image5
If you’re like me and desire to live as a worshiper, I’ve condensed the rest of my presentation to a few points about what worship must contain in the format of an acronym:

 

Worshiper: We already covered this. Worship is a choice and if we’ve given our lives to Christ, he deserves our worship. We have to decide between being a complainer or worshiper. It’s as easy as that.
Open your eyes to His glory: The entire Bible is a testimony to the magnificent God we serve; dive deeper into that with the goal of seeing His glory. Or take a look around you: God’s handiwork is unmatched! He created everything in this world and yet he chooses to value each person unmeasurably!
Reduce yourself: John 3:30, He must become greater, I must become less. “Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God” (Mark Batterson, again). Simple enough. It’s not about you, IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM.
Surrender: Worship requires surrender! Check out Job 11: 13-15. Stop letting your current situation dictate what you’re controlled by.
Holiness & Humility: 1 Peter 1:15 calls us to be Christ-like (hint: holy). Psalm 25:9 encourages humility which allows God to shape us into who he’s created us to be.
In Spirit and in Truth: John 4:23-24- Acknowledge God’s Spirit in and around us. Revel in Him, the only source of infallible truth in our world!
Priorities: “Through worship we realign our priorities with God’s.” While I wish I knew the source of this quote, it’s message is still clear. Worship means getting our priorities straight. Ideally, they would look like this: Know God and love him. Love others and make him known. Done.

 

In conclusion, God’s teaching me that true worship is not about me. It’s solely about bringing him the glory he more than deserves. It requires me to have a holy and humble heart. I cannot do it without full surrender to him and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Worship IS NOT a session; it IS a lifestyle.

 

image4
Lydia Detweiler – DTS Student, October, 2015
12278172_1208963155786913_1861245346_n

Renew, Restore, Report Back

  |   DTS, Lecture Phase, News, Outreach   |   No comment

12277983_1208962902453605_2146376080_nRenew, restore, report back. Say goodbye to the normal routine of 6:45 breakfast and four hour lectures and hello to an extra hour of sleep, lots of volleyball, and 22 new faces. This week the July school came back from outreach-a team from Uruguay and a team from Mongolia. Two schools were merged for the week, and there was much laughter, forgetting names, and rain.

On Monday my DTS had a big team building session. We split off into respective outreach teams (Ecuador, Japan and Costs Rica) and had to take our “sick, dying leader” to the hospital. They laid on a pool lounge chair and we had to carry them (blindfolded) out to the dock, onto a kayak and swim them to shore (without getting a single drop of water on them) then communicate with a “local” who didn’t speak English and ask them to help us lead them to the hospital. The whole thing took an hour full of sweat, laughter and some yelling. This was a hypothetical scenario for something that could actually happen on outreach, and it was to get us all working together as a team, instead of a bunch of individuals.

12270248_1208963295786899_1844214645_nTuesday we split up girl students with guy staff and guy students with girl staff and got to ask them questions. Wednesday we had an hour of quiet time with Jesus and then shared with everyone. In the afternoon was a volleyball tournament that lasted about 4 hours. There was loud music, lots of sand, a slackline and, in the end, a winning team. It was a grand old time. Thursday we had a bit of debrief, where we were all given questions to answer and then came back and shared some. It got me thinking about how we’re over halfway through lecture phase, and soon we’ll be heading out on outreach.

Thursday evening the July school graduated! It got me thinking about how in a couple months that will be me-and that’s nuts. And Friday is ADVENTURE DAY! Heading off to the mainland for a day of sick activities, like zip lining, cave tubing and seeing the Mayan ruins. Also a 5:00 wake up.

12270033_1208963409120221_774737864_nThis week was full of lots of free time to spend with Jesus. He has continually been teaching me to rest in his presence. To take time out of my day and just listen to him. It’s been a bit hard for me since I like answers and I like knowing them when I want, but lately he’s just been telling me to rest and he will reveal things later on. Psalm 46:10 says, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” It also gave lots of time to reflect on what I’ve been learning. I’ve learnt a ton and I’m already at a totally different place than before my DTS, but I still have a long way to go and can’t wait for what God has in store for me!

12255265_1208963902453505_1757661780_oMaddy Ackermann – DTS Student, October, 2015

image1 (9)

Fearless Trust

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

image4 (3)Something I’ve been learning a lot in this season is to be fearless. To have the courage to take risks, to go places that I never thought of going. It is in these moments when my character is truly tested, when I find and accept who I really am and what I am capable of.. But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He has called us to trust him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations that bring us shame or don’t feel comfortable at all, knowing that he will always have our back.

Last Friday my team and I got ready for a prayer walk. Travis, Grace and I started walking and came to a park. While we were praying, God kept telling me to go in and pray over the building that was I front of us, what looked like a school. We were afraid of going in because we didn’t know if we were allowed or not, so we just stood there and prayed… prayed for protection, joy, relationships and against  FEAR! People came in and out, but no one spoke English. And so we walked away.

image1 (9)But as we were walking away Travis reminded us that before we left the house we had agreed to be bold, to step out and get out of our comfort zones. We needed to stop being afraid and obey what God was calling us to do. So Travis asked me, “Are you sure that God said to go into that building?” and I said, “YES”. So we turned back and walked straight into the building.

After some wondering, we met a teacher who spoke english. We told her about ourselves, that we were on a prayer walk, and that God told us to walk into the school but we didn’t know why. She took us to her supervisor’s office, who she said spoke perfect English, and then returned to class. Though her supervisor was a little surprised by our visit, she gave us permission to walk the halls and pray over the teachers and students. It may have been crazy, but it showed us that if God is telling you to do something, even if it is crazy or weird, you should step up and do it.

image3 (4)If God is asking you to step out into something that is uncomfortable for you, I can assure you that when you take the step of faith, you will find Him walking right beside you, showing you which way to go. Be positive and think about the amazing things that happen when you choose to be fearless. All you need to do is listen and follow God’s voice. It may be difficult at first — believe me, I know that — but it will be worth it in the end.

“Courage comes from the heart, and our hearts will always be the object of a great fierce battle. Without your heart you cannot have God. Without your heart you cannot have love. Without your heart you cannot have faith. Without your heart you cannot find the work that you were meant to do. In other words, without your heart you cannot have a life. To find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice you must hear with your heart. To love him you must love with all of your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live unless you live from the heart. “ – John Eldredge

image2 (8)Maria Recaman – DTS Student, July, 2015