Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fear is a liar.

Thanks sweet Nova for the photo! 
I love to read. I don't do it as much as I would like to, but when I do, I feel refreshed and ready for life. My favorite kinds of books are the kinds that are designed to teach me things, so I am mostly not a novel girl. Though I like those too. But reading takes time, and I just don't have enough of it to read everything under the sun. So I stick to my favorites.

Anyway, on the rare occasion when I do find myself reading a novel, I often read a few pages in the first chapter, then right as things get exciting, or scary, or as I start to feel anxious about the main character's situation... I skip to the end of the book and read the last chapter. I can see some of you shaking your head at me on this one... I know... I'm totally ruining the ending. But the thing for me is that the ending is everything. If I know that things turn out alright, then I can confidently go back to the beginning and read the whole thing through. I am so emotional that knowing how it all ends doesn't actually hinder me from laughing or crying as the story unfolds. But by knowing the end I feel a sense of peace, that even when the plot thickens and my heart races with anticipation, all will still be well, because the ending is a good one.

And if the ending is a bad one.... well... sorry book... but I'm not actually interested in finishing you. My heart is carrying far too much to add another sad story to the list of things I think about. So I put the book down and that's the end of that.

The way I read is a lot like the way I live. I need hope. I need confidence that the ending is a good one. If I'm unsure of that, I find myself tempted to quit. In times of hopelessness and doubt, it is not long before I start questioning everything, and ultimately I find myself wishing the book of my life would be a short one. I am not telling you that I am suicidal. Though I have been there before. But what I am saying is that when I am uncertain of the ending, the voice of fear gets louder, my load gets heavier, and my perspective becomes submerged in a cloud of darkness. Sounds dramatic... but friends... I'm being honest. The end of the story is everything to me.

Yesterday I was thinking about how God used Moses to lead His people out of the slavery they had been under in Egypt. At one point we see God actually allow a crisis to overtake His people, so that He can deliver them out of it, and through it reveal His glory to them AND to everyone who sees it.

God prepares Moses for this endeavor by actually telling him that it is about to go down. He basically says -Listen Moses, you guys are about to be pursued by the Egyptians (AT THE POINT MOSES IS SHAKING IN HIS SANDALS because naturally this means he and his Israelite pals are about to die), but God continues... "I will gain honor over Pharaoh and all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord." That's it. Moses knows the end of the story. And we already know, that changes everything.

So as the people of God are being chased down by the jokers from Egypt, Moses confidently encourages them by saying, "The Lord your God will fight for you, you need only to be still."

Small detail... he didn't exactly mean "be still"... God's next step for them was actually to walk through the Red Sea as God split it in half. Talk about "walking by faith". But they could do it! Because they knew the end of the story!

And I realized yesterday that we know the end of the story too! I know it. The end of my story is a good one. One of eternity with a God that delights in me and a Savior that has set me free from the penalties of my sin. The shame of my shortcomings is gone, because He knows my heart and every stinkin time I blow it... and yet He still loves me and calls me pure.

I also know that my future is good because my GOOD God told me in His word, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

He also says, "For we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."

If this life was all we had, we would have reason to believe the voice of fear. But with a God who is faithful to save us over and over, a God who is not surprised by our weaknesses, and not hindered by our stutters, a God who splits oceans, heals broken necks, and raises the dead... we can declare that fear a liar and the end of our story is good.

What an awesome truth. God makes a fool of fear, and He makes heroes of unqualified people like you and me... and Moses. People silly enough to trust Him instead of trusting fear, and people who live by faith instead of living restricted by mere sight.

Even when we face devastating times, we can be certain that our God is working in us and through us to reveal more of Himself to everyone involved.

I love it. I pray you are encouraged by it too.

God bless you friends.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

a love story that i love.

I have a crazy friend named JP. He is Canadian. And he is more of a brother than just and friend... annddd he is the best kind of crazy. A type of crazy that is submitted to Jesus.

When JP was 20 years old he felt a call from God to go to Asia and start a skateboard company in order to minister to the skateboarders there. He prayed and asked God which city to go to and felt like he heard a specific city.... though he didn't actually know if that place existed. Next he searched a map until he found the exact city that the Lord showed him in prayer.

So he bought a plane ticket to that city. (I told you he was crazy.) After 3 months living in asia he met a skater from England, who had just moved there. Guess why he moved there?... He ALSO felt a call from God to move to that city and start a skateboard company to minister to the skateboarders there!

That was 5 years ago. Today JP and his English friend... and a team of others, are fluent in the language of the country and have devoted their lives to sharing the love of Christ with the skateboarders in that nation- through the skate company that they successfully started!

Now here is where things really get fun for me...

I have a German friend named Eve. She came through YWAM last year, went to Chile with me, and joined staff with Beauty Arise last September. One time when we were in Chile she told me she hated Asia and NEVER wanted to go there.

For real.
She said that.

That was true until last October when she came into my bedroom one night and said, "Jess, I think God wants me to go to Asia." The amazing thing is that she wasn't afraid and she didn't hate it. She explained that her heart had been changing, and the more she prayed the more peace and excitement she felt about going to Asia.

During that same time JP, my crazy brother from the beginning of this story, had moved in with us and was getting ready to lead a team of our skateboarders (from Calling All Skaters) to his city in Asia.

Eventually it was decided that Eve would join that team and head over to Asia to do Beauty Arise ministry for girls over there. They all left at the beginning of December.

Okay, I should tell you something. It was a secret at the time, but everyone knows now. JP started falling for Eve basically the first day he met her. Last September. But in his wisdom he didn't tell her.... or anyone really. Because he knew that his future was in Asia. And if she didn't share that calling, then this relationship definitely wouldn't go anywhere. And if the relationship wasn't going anywhere, it was not worth harming Eve's heart by getting romantically involved.

So he kept it a secret. Sort of. Instead of telling her how he felt about her, he started carrying around a little tin in his pocket, and every time he noticed something he liked about her he would write it down and put it in the tin.

In late January I went over to Asia to visit the team. When I first sat down with Evi for coffee, she was literally gushing with love for this country. She was overwhelmed by it. This place that she had once hated, had completely captured her heart... AND she confessed that she had started to "fancy JP". Like A LOT. She hadn't told him yet, but she was confident that she had never met a better man in her life.

In Evi's wisdom she decided not to tell JP how she felt, unless she was confident that God was calling her to live in Asia. She SO believes in his vision, and she wanted to protect him, so she just prayed and waited for God to bring clarity to her heart.

(How awesome is it that BOTH of them were seeking to protect each others' hearts?!)

Anyway fast-forward. Valentine's Day. JP decided it was time to tell Eve how he felt. He went all out. He made her a romantic dinner- her favorite- his version of In N Out burger and fries. (For a 25 year-old man who doesn't know how to cook, in a country that doesn't do burgers... it was totally impressive.) He presented her with the tin, letting her read every napkin, note and receipt that he had used to jot down his favorite things about her. He took her on a boat ride through the city, a walk, and a motorcycle ride at night! (Best first date of a lifetime!!) And they made it official... actually Eve and JP were facebook official "In a Relationship" on February 14th, this year.

It has all been kind of a whirlwind since then. JP & Eve wanted to be married. They were confident in their relationship and sure of their guidance from the Lord to get hitched and serve Him together in Asia. One major piece of the picture was going to be breaking the news to their parents. Mostly HER parents. JP's family loves his radical faith and unique way of doing life- they trust his ability to make choices and hear from God. Evi's family is from a small-town in Germany. They are more traditional and though they completely support her life, they would love it if she would come home and follow Jesus right in her home-town. Anyway, Eve shared with her family that she was hoping to marry JP and live in Asia. She explained her journey with God and that she really believed this was His best for her. andddd GUESS WHAT...... her family agreed with her! They supported her 100% and offered their assistance in planning her wedding!

Next came the hunt for an engagement ring. No big deal. Except that JP didn't have the money for the ring he wanted to get her. Once again, God comes through, a friend approaches JP and offers to pay for the ring in full. !!!!?!??!?!?!!!! Yes. That is our God.

So JP & Eve returned to LA from Asia May 21st. They were engaged two days later and will be getting married in Germany this August! Loved ones near and far are coming together to make this wedding a dream-come-true. (She just found out that she is getting married in a CASTLE!)

Anyway being a part of this story has been a highlight of my life... Eve has been here with me in LA getting things ready.... and I thought it wasn't fair for me to soak up all the goodness of what God is doing here, without letting you be a part of it!

I pray their story is encouraging for you! -- That no matter where you are in life you can be certain that our God is faithful and good. He loves to love us, and His love is unconditional. Continue to trust Him sweet one, and wait for His timing. He will come through for you. The story He is writing with your life is one worth telling! Let Him write it!

Here is the link to a sweet video JP made for Eve's shower Sunday! 

Oh!! and PS. JP had never kissed a girl before Eve! (heart-melting I know!!!)

And here are some photos from the Circus-themed bridal shower we hosted for Evi on Sunday!