Written by James Peil
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:00
We just completed Spring tour. I'll be honest for a moment. This tour felt longer than our Winter tour. We covered over 6500 miles in five and a half weeks and stayed pretty busy playing throughout the whole tour. It was a fantastic tour and God provided for us in so many ways. Consider this: During this tour we had zero trouble with road conditions, inclement weather, and no crippling issues with the van. No flat tires or accidents. We didn't even hit heavy construction anywhere. So before I say anything else, allow me to simply praise God for his provision. Truly, He did more than I currently realize during this tour.
But now, I can't help but just feel relieved to have finished. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. After we got back to Willmar yesterday, I just wanted to go to my home and rest. I didn't want to be around people, even people that I haven't see in a long time. Quite frankly, I just wanted to be alone. I've felt desperate for God's presence a lot the past couple of weeks. During the tour, I found myself being sustained by the people we were around, particularly the ones I already knew, but about 10 days or so from the end God pulled that crutch out from under me and forced upon me a new opportunity for growth in that now I had to find all joy in every circumstance in Him alone.
I'm still mulling over that period of time and what I am looking forward to is when God begins to reveal all that can be learned from that tour to me. Last night, though, after all the excitement of seeing people faded away and after I got resettled in what will be my home for the next couple of months, I just lay there with my journal open, mind scattered and heart empty. The first thing I wrote was more of a prayer or cry than anything--My body is in need of rest, my soul is in need of restoration, my mind is in need of peace, and my heart is in need of redemption. I've learned over time that physical rest isn't going to do it at this point. I literally need God to come in and do the kind of work only He can.
So many passages, particularly in the New Testament, point to something that I find I take for granted. I can approach the perfect, holy Creator of the universe with my every need. The lesson I feel God is teaching me now is that He must be my the source of all that I look for. He has denied me comfort from several things that I've found I look to first and I praise Him for it. The other thing I wrote down, next to those four statements was a cry from Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives..." (Job 19:25) It's a cry of hope that is an inspiration for me whenever I am empty. God does not forsake us or turn us away when we come. In fact, we are shown mercy and grace when we come, having nothing to offer but a weary heart (Hebrews 4:14-16). In Christ we have access to the holy of holys, the presence of God, a place where he bids the weary to come and find rest (Matthew 11:28). Therefore, though my heart is heavy, I seek and wait expectantly knowing that my Redeemer lives and that I will find what I need when I seek after Him.
Written by Isaac Haaland
Thursday, 09 May 2013 23:39
We just made our final team member home stop of our year, and it just so happened to be my home! It was great to be back for a while. As much as I love traveling and going to new places there is always something nice about returning home.
While we were here, we played a concert at my home church and it was awesome. I had been waiting for that moment for months, but when the time came I found myself getting a little nervous.
My talk was going to be about stepping out in faith. I had done this testimony before, but never before people (besides my team) that I knew. And a lot of my friends and mentors were there.
In this testimony I talk about the way that God has called me to step out in faith to do certain things like do music for youth group, apply to work and work at a bible camp, to do CTI, all of these things and more. Some I wanted to do more than others, but there was always doubt in my mind.
While I was talking this time two things stood out to me that I had never really thought of before. First, sometimes stepping out means leaving what you know (ok, most of the time) and that can be your home. Home is such an amazing place, filled with people you know and love and usually you're comfortable there. I see the disciples when Jesus first called them: he called them away from their work and families, but so much good became of it.
To wrap it all up, we may have to leave that comfortable place which was for me my home, but so much good and growth can become of it!
Secondly, love. God has been teaching me so much about what it means to love this year. Everything is somehow connected with love. The connection that I made during my last talk was how love helps up step out. I recently reread "Blue like Jazz" by Donald Miller and something new stood out to me. We, I, tend to use love like it's money. We give it to people who we think deserve it, or need the charity. And withhold it from those we don't think deserve it.
But love is to be unconditional! Even in a film that I showed (The Finger of God Film) for devos tonight it talked how love is the key.
Love helps so much when stepping out. It takes love to go and do God's work! God calls us to work with all kinds of people, and sometimes we might be uncomfortable with the people we are around. But with God's love in us, freely given, we can truly share the gospel and/or encourage those who we meet.
1John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
1 John 4:19 " We love because he first loved us."
Written by Brooke O'Donnell
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 13:34
As we are approaching the end of our Spring Tour, I’ve been
more exhausted now than I ever have during my 2 years with CTI. Most of this tour I have spent reading
through the Gospels and came across a passage that I’ve read and heard about
dozens of time but was able to see it in a different light today. Luke 21:1-4:
“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two small
copper coins. I tell you the truth, he
said, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of
their wealth; but she gave out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
It’s easy to serve God and pour out when your tank is full and
everything is going easily. This passage
reminded me that it’s when you’re running on empty and down to those last few
copper coins that you have to make that decision to press forward and give Him
all that you have, pouring out every last drop.
We have about 5 days left and our team is filled with
bittersweet emotions; exhausted and ready for a break but holding onto every
last memory that we have together. As we
finish though, God knew just what I needed to be encouraged to push harder. With the finish line in sight, I am going to
follow the lead of the poor woman; giving Him the last two copper coins.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,
and the time for my departure is near. I
have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”(2
Written by Eva Prokhorova
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 23:08
So when we got to our destination last night I realized I had forgotten all my toiletries at the previous host home. How did that happen? Don't ask! And out of all people this happened to someone with a reputation of an abnormal (and at times unhealthy) sense of responsibility, who checks things ten times to make sure nothing is forgotten and everything is perfect.
The fun part was the honest realization: I don't care (in a good way) because it's not important. Yes, it kinda sucks. But on the bright side: there less than a week of tour left, nothing that was left is super valuable and irreplaceable. The most awesome part that struck me was the fact that on leaving the host home in the morning, my host kindly provided me with a new tooth brush and tooth paste. Little did she know that night that would be exactly what I needed.
So in this little incident reminded me of God's sense of humor. And how He provided for his silly child. Yes, that was so not smart of me. Often times in life we somehow unintentionally end up doing something stupid, missing the mark and, in serious situations, failing at something. I confess, I end up tearing myself down for the times in the past that I didn't measure up: I could be a better friend, I could be less emotional, I could learn to be still and trust God more, I could care more about people around me, I could stop playing God and trying to solve everyone's problems, I could talk less and listen more, I could forget about other people's expectations and just be myself (whoever that is!) and many more. There are so many things wrong with each one of us, we have a great potential of driving ourselves and those around crazy. Yet there is so much peace in the words of apostle Paul:
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ... And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:6, 9-11 ESV)
Maybe living in Christ is not about the fear of making mistakes. Surprise surprise! What if life is about loving God, loving people and letting God's goodness be known to people. Just last Sunday a pastor of the church we were at reminded me of the verse:
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:18, 19 ESV)
What started as a thought about how God provided a toothbrush ended up in deep thoughts about life. Isn't it awesome that when we ask Christ to be the lord and savior, He takes full responsibility for both our failures and successes. So when we find ourselves looking at life and asking ourselves "how did this happen?!?", God our Father and Shepherd will still take care of us, guide us and refine us. I have hope and confidence in the fact that He will finish what He has started.
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