Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unexcusable Acceptance

Acts is such an amazing book! In fact, every book of the Bible is pretty great. The other day, I finished Isaiah. Really, I just got a glimpse of it. In Isaiah, there's so many parts that you could elaborate on and really study it in depth. I'm fascinated by the illustrations of God's justice whilst still stretching out His loving and righteous hands to all the nations.

But this entry wasn't intended for sharing about Isaiah or Acts. Actually, I just wanted to write something while on the plane ride back to Germany while listening to my ipod. Something I've been thinking a lot about has been the words--> "spiritual" and "ministry." These words leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Why? Because these two words have become the source of distortion for the meaning of Christianity and sets unreached people to have hardened hearts with an untrue, distorted image of God; an unexcusable acceptance.

Sometime around 2006 or 2007, I remember going to a youth rally in my hometown called "Ready to Move." I specifically remember seating in a session with Dustin Bates speaking. I can remember it so well because God spoke to me through the message that day using the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The message was about shattering the different compartments in our lives and creating Christ as THEE foundation. Not just as a good feature, carry the "Christian" label around to feel good about yourself, but to set out in life with a higher purpose; having life built upon the most firm foundation this world only dreams of finding. The reality of it is that the world will NEVER know that life of freedom built on the everlasting Rock until they see that that life is in realizing that Jesus Christ must be the foundation in every aspect of each and every persons' life.

When we place the word "spiritual" amongst the question of "How are you physically, mentally, emotionally?" we are taking a foolish step to add another aspect of life as if it's okay to split our lives up into compartments which end up in giving Christ a half-ass surrender to Him and giving Him "this area of my life." So does that mean that after being saved from the eternal flames of hell, we give our Saviour a fourth of our life? Wow, truly generous on our behalf...That's a twisted, mangled up, sorry response for a sacrifice that deserves more than we could and ever will comprehend.

I'm just sick of the word spiritual. It's an add on. It's a word that the world digests as why I'm happy or having a good life. Hate to break it to you, but Jesus Christ has given me His everything and I have given Him more than just a safe compartment in my life-->spiritual. No. Christ gave me His all in hopes that I may give Him my whole life to see of all the greater things that I can witness of all that Christ is. He is more than my life will ever get to experience, but I'd much rather open my whole life to His invasion than limit what of God would be revealed to me. Rather than picking and choosing where I give God the control in my life, I've choosen to submit it all so that I will know "what is the surpassing greatness of His power" (Romans 2:19). By giving God a part of my life, I'm missing out on the fullness of life Christ died to give me. That's a sad story. At twenty-one years old, I've experienced God in ways to testify for myself that words don't contain His power or His relentlessness in pursuing a personal relationship with me.

Now we can move on to the second word I really dislike--> "ministry." "Well Kari, isn't ministry a biblical term? Why would you dislike it?" I'll tell you why. The word "ministry" has been mutated into a word that is just as disgusting as "spiritual," only it's worse. WAY worse. I'm talking about the way we, as Christians, label our time. The fact that we place possession on time is crazy in itself. Much like the word spiritual, we define "ministry time" as time that we act like Christians and do what Christ has asked us to do. As a result, another separation/compartment is happening once again in our lives. Where in the Bible does it say to spend time as I, Kari Lea Andersen, want to but make sure to take the Christian label out occassionally and do a good Christian deed? As I mentioned earlier, we obtain a fullness in life when we surrender all to Him. Okay, well looking back to what I wrote, I haven't exactly said that yet, but I have attempted to aim at that; to build our foundation on Christ, we have to take the first step of fully surrendering our lives to Him in response to the greatest demonstration of love-->The Cross. Boy, do I write run-on sentences like it's nobody's business. :-) So, if we truly are buliding upon Jesus Christ as our foundation, then all time is His time. Our lives always need to be reflecting the freedom Jesus Christ has given us. This should destroy the presently destructible way of thinking "ministry time" vs. "my time."

When we stress "ministry time," I think it just exhausts us because we place ourselves in an unnatural time of  playing out what we think Christians should be doing and often times those things we do during "ministry time" are rarely lived out during our own lives.

Let's go back several years to elementary school when our teachers, or our parents for those homeschoolers out there, encouraged us with impactful phrases. Remember? "The Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated." Or how about, "Be Yourself!" Without Christ, we all know how awful it would be to follow those instructions from our own selfishness. However, Christ has renewed our identity to be transformed by the love He demonstrated to use. Therefore, we have Christ dwelling within us and filling us up with a true, pure, everlasting love that this world is desperately searching for.

I'm sure this is a little unclear as I am having thoughts whiz like mad in my head. Let me try to sort this out. We have set "ministry time" as if it's separate from every day life. I'm sorry to ask but does the Holy Spirit come for "ministry time" and then leave saying, "See you next time you feel like being a Christian!" Maybe this seems like an over-exaggerated rant, but I've seen this mindset, even in my own life. I've seen Christians living for God one day and then the next day we just want to do nothing because we did our good deed the day before. One of the things I've seen that helps aid this falseness of thinking has been how we define "ministry time." We look at great, well-known missionaries that do "radical" things, choose that it's too much for the average Christian and end up down playing the potential that Christ is awaiting to hand us from His throne of authority and power. What we have defined as ministry has once again added to another way that we attempt to limit the unlimited God. Now we look at godly men and women who pursue Him, living daily for Him, and loving others as Christ, yet because they didn't plant a church, get sent to jail during an evanglism event, or something radical, we don't see that as minstry because it's not "ministry" as we have defined it.How many people do you thing pay more attention to our "ministry time" than our personal life?-->"my time." I'm going to take another bold statement and say that the same amount of people, if not more people, attentively watch your life more than your times of "ministry."

Here's what I'm excited for: pursuing God on a daily basis that it ruins me for His glory. I want to move on from what Christ did for me on the cross and look to the question of what I can do for Him daily. I'm excited for people to no longer feel the need of asking me what's on my heart or what God's teaching and that their eyes would see how God is using me. I'm excited to never again describe how I'm doing spiritually, but that the world would see that my words are useless to describe the fullness of life that Christ gives me when I live for Him. I'm excited to walk with Him daily and let His love reflect in my life.

And this isn't just a desire for myself. I desire it for everyone amongst the body of Christ. Let's allow Christ's love for us to pour down into receiving hearts so that we may  live the live that God intended and desired for each and every person. I desire for Christians to no longer have limited definitions for spiritual and ministry. All things are possible with God who is endless. I desire for lives to be fully submitted to Christ and that we may be able to say, "whatever I do in word or deeds, I do all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (Col. 3:17).

I want to see this generation, my generation, rise up to all that He desires for us. If He wants to give us life and live abundantly (Jn 10:10), why don't we fully surrender our lives to Him? How about we correctly demonstration the definition of Christianity to this broker world and start to see peoples amongst all the nations receive life and life abundantly from Him by living for Him? Sound good? If you say yes, then I'm excited for you and I pray that you will do everything for the glory of God, in whatever you do. If you say no, then you can testify that human words lack the conviction that only the Holy Spirit has. If you're still thinking about it, great! I would encourage you to think amongst yourself and others; the body of Christ extends beyond ourselves for a reason.

Cool beans! Well, that's all I wanted to say, or rather have chosen to say and share. Love you all! Go and "whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the LORD rather than for men" (Col. 3:23).

An Awful Attempt

I feel like I'm attempting the impossible: blogging about my outreach thus far. The strange part is that I really can't blog including specific locations, I can't really use names, and I'm in a loss of words to even try to share my experience with you. In short, my words are limited to even scratch the surface of what I've been up to for the last two months or so. But what I can share is what I've learned and what I'm eager to do with all of His teachings.But before we go into the more important things, let's chat about some fun stuff. Yay!!!

Did you know that Africa...Afrika is a big continent? I've only been to three of its countries. Yep, that right, three. On our flight to Kenya, we had a longer than expected layover. However, I was stoked, especially when the plane out of our layover was delayed, because we had our layover in Ethiopia! For all of you that may not understand why that's so exciting, maybe you're lucky or really missing out. Ethiopia! Awe, Ethiopia has a special spot in my heart (still don't understand why, but that's okay). And the third country I've been to has been Uganda.

I've been able to eat chapatis, rolexes, samosas, green goo (that's what it looks like, forgot the name), liver, heart, sheep, traditional ugali with beans, and I'm sure I've ate a few things I never want to truly identify. One of my favorite things has been this unfamiliar object in the sky. Some scientists say that it effects the temperature of the earth. I believe those scientists because it is always hot and sunny! Gotta love the African sun. In fact, I think it likes me too.

Before I started to write this, I thought it would be a great idea to go through my journal and grab different experiences to share. Horrible idea. I'm overwhelmed with all the amazing goodness I've been able to experience.Rather than going into full detail about all the ministries we did, sharing the neat stories of people I talked to and prayed for, or talking about how different Africa is compared to America, I'm going to share  just a glimpse of what God did throughout this whole experience.

It all started in October. At the beginning of my DTS, I wrote out my required "expectation letter" which soon turned into a prayer of mine for this time during my DTS. I'd like to share it:


Dear Kari,
You've just completed six months of your life. How was it? Sitting here, six months before you read this, you were in anticipation, eagerly awaiting to see what God would teach you; how He would use you. I wonder if the desires of your heart and His will for your life finally matched up. Or did God completely throw you for the most adventureous loop of your life, just like He always does? Hmmm....Well, about six months ago from today, you had a few hopes and expectations for this school....

To start off with, you wanted to know God more. You were craving to have a more intimate relationship with Him. You wanted to learn to walk with Him daily, to recognize His voice, to rely on Him to give you your Helper, the Holy Spirit, during all times of witnessing. You wanted to start communicating with Him better. You wanted to learn more of His ways. You wanted the Bible to reflect your life. You wanted to thrist for His word. You wanted Him to carry you through challenges, scares, worries, fears, troubles, hurts, and all the hardships you may have faced. You desired Him. He was your ultimate focus, your one true desire: God.

And how about what you wanted to learn about others? You wanted to see God's love and mercy provide comfort to your Mom and Dad. You wanted your sister to find rest in God's calling for her life. You wanted your friends to grow as well and take your blogs as encouragements/prayer requests.

And what about your DTS team? You wanted to be filled with God's love, immersed in the body of Christ, living amongst your brothers and sisters. You wanted to have them stretch you and you wanted to challenge them as well. You wanted to watch a wave of God's boldness restore and renew inside of them all like a contagious fire: A fire within them that only God could ignite; a flame that destroys all falseness, timidity, and pride. You wanted to learn to have grace and compassion on them during the most stressful times. You wanted to see true men and women of God start racing towards God's upright hand. You wanted to move around from city to city, during lecture phase, with the body of Jesus Christ that remained unified in God's most perfect LOVE. Did you do that?

And there was one specific expectation you had. Right? Maybe you remember it. Maybe He answered or maybe you now have even more questions, but at the very beginning you shared with others and you prayed to God that you wanted Him to bring clarity into your life about His calling for your life. Interesting. Only time will tell and then we'll see if more and more, as God continues to break you, mold you, and make you more and more who He has desired for you to be and what He has planned out for your life from the time before your mother and father found out you were being formed. Kari, God wants to make you into a beautiful woman of God. I hope you remember how precious you are to Him. He wants all of you so you can fully receive what He wants to give you to use for His glory.

In regards to outreach, you didn't even know the options at the point that you wrote this, but at the time, you strongly believed that God has placed Ethiopia on your heart. You wanted to go to Ethiopia. During outreach, you wanted to see more of God's love. You wanted to see with His eyes. You wanted to weep over the lost and desire for them to hear God's word. You wanted to see hope in the Lord and see nations sing praise to the Lord, rejoicing in Him. During outreach, you wanted to hear God's voice better than a close friend.

You wanted to pray for the nations more than you ever had or thought you would. You wanted to be challenged, broken, humiliated, scared, embarrassed, ridiculed, and persecuted to the point where God was the absolute, One and Only, God Almighty One to turn to and be embraced by.

Kari, I hope you've grown in God's word, Spirit, and peace. A lot of people have been praying for you and are awaiting for your return home. Hopefully God is letting you return to "home" where another new exciting adventure awaits you.

God is SO good. He has such a specific plan for your life. Whether you know what He has called you to do during this season after your DTS or you have no clue or so many ideas that your exploding with thoughts, know that He is God and He is and forever will be, faithful. God loves you SOO much. His plans are far greater than the ones you could even imagine.

Oh yes! And I'm sure that God provided so many different things that you couldn't have even written in words to describe. God's way bigger than you and I'm sure you've learned, witnessed, and experienced a lot to more clearly see how infinite He is.

Once again, congratulations for living the past six months, but don't let it stop. As far as I know, if you're reading this, you've still got a lot of work to do...So GO! Keep pressing on towards the goal so that you may lay hold of Christ Jesus. Abide in Him and live a life pleasing to God.


Well, there you have it, a few things that I expected. Ephesians 3:20. God went above and beyond all that I could imagine. I guess sharing the moments would be fun and exciting. Don't worry, I plan on unpacking them on people as I share, but the thing is, the stories aren't what it's all about. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of great stories I want to share with as many people as I can. But really, I must be more focused on the mission that God has given me. These past six months have brought me into even more of an intimate relationship with God. I have such a greater knowledge of His love and my life is slowly starting to become a result of His love. I've said for a while now that I want my life to bring Him glory. And now I want to reflect His love by the way I live.

So as I'm gearing up, ready to get back home, I'm bringing a lot more than I had expected. It's no surprise. God is 100% good!

I'll try to keep you updated despite my lack of "adventures" when I enter the states....Thanks so much for the prayers and words of encouragement. I love you all!