Newsletter 1/31/12

Answered Prayers at Journey Church

The Jenkins family – Robin, Jon, and Nate – have moved to Boston to be a part of Journey Church! This is a huge answered prayer, as we have been praying and fasting for laborers to help join the church for about two years. Jon tells their story below:


“For two years we had been sensing the Lord redirecting our steps from a church that we had served in Ohio for 10 years. Finally in September of 2011, knowing that a move was imminent, we gave up our apartment, gave away our household furniture and committed ourselves to wherever the Spirit would lead. After praying and fasting for ten days in Chautauqua, NY, the Lord dropped in our heart that we were to go to Boston, MA. So, we packed up what few things we kept in a 4 x 8 trailer and drove into Boston in late October, trusting that the Lord would lead each step. We traversed the city from West to East and then from North to South and began to concentrate our prayers on the city and its environs. The more we prayed, the more we sensed the need to focus on Cambridge. We were also led by two Scriptural refrences; the first being Paul’s journey to Philippi, and the second being Jesus’ command to those first disciples he sent out. Those two passages assured our hearts that we would; 1) find God’s people at prayer, as Paul found Lydia and 2) those whom we found were to be those whom we should stay and help.
Through the UniteBoston website we were able to find Journey Church, a new church plant meeting in Harvard Square. We were almost unable to attend worship the first Sunday we were in the area since that was the weekend of the first nor’easter of the winter. However, we made our way into Cambridge, and how providential that was, since the church was embarking, that weekend, on 21 days of fasting and prayer. It became even more exciting when we shared in the Spirit and the Word over coffee and dinner in the ensuing couple of weeks and found the Murawski’s to be people after our own heart; both our dreams and desires were aligned with God’s vision and heart for Boston. Here, we can truthfully say that we have been “prayed into” Cambridge Massachusetts by Kent and Gina, Journey Church and those who have a heart for the city and the work our God is doing here through Jesus Christ and His body.”


Wow! What a great story. In addition to being a testimony to the power of prayer, it is also a testimony to our desire that UniteBoston would help people new to the city find a church to call home. 

 Exciting Strategic Changes with UniteBoston 

The goal of the UniteBoston Connecting Team is to make connections with every church and ministry in the city. We’ve enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with ministry leaders, hear about their community and discuss what information we can help share to the Christian community in Greater Boston (events, volunteers, resources, etc.) However, it’s been difficult because the task of meeting with every ministry in the city is somewhat overwhelming, and the members of the connecting team have gotten frustrated with unanswered emails and phone calls. Thus, in the new year each connecting team member will have a particular “specialization” (neighborhood, denomination, ethnic group, or ministry) and will be in charge of working within that community to make connections throughout the body. We believe that this will help us to work in and through the relational network that already exists in Boston.  More changes in the new year include the UniteBoston leadership team meeting together more regularly and starting a monthly time of prayer.

Update on support 
My original monthly support goal ($3,000/month) was based off of the cost of living here in Boston; however, recently I have re-adjusted this support goal due to the fact that I will be abroad for a year starting in July. During this time, the contributions from my monthly supporters will go to the cost of the World Race. In late February, I’ll be traveling to Seattle and Spokane, Washington to catch up with old friends and continue support raising. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone!  I’m now at 73% of my monthly support goal – thanks for coming alongside me on this journey. It’s a joy to partner with you!

Prayer requests:
-Continued wisdom and guidance for our plans and purposes with UniteBoston
-More volunteers to sow into our work with UniteBoston – I’m believing God for ten people to be at our next Connecting Team meeting on February 9

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:9-12)

In His love and joy,

Kelly

To the nations!

So I have some news! Many of you know this already…but I want to officially announce that…

Starting in July I will be going on a year-long mission trip called the World Race!

I will be traveling with sixty other young people (aged 21-35) to minister and serve in eleven different countries. In each country, we will be divided into small teams and partnered with local Christian organizations to work and serve with them for the month. What will we do? “Every day on the World Race will look a little different. Some days will be packed full with construction, vacation bible school, building relationships with orphans, or praying for the sick at a hospital. Some days could be slower where we shop for groceries at the market, cook for our team, and spend time praying for the community we walk through. Every day will be focused on being a part of God’s Kingdom work, in every way that could look.” Then, at the end of the month, we will move to the next country. Starting in Ireland, we will travel to Ukraine, Russia, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Malysia, and even one country which is to-be-determined.

Here’s a little introduction video to the World Race:

Sounds cool. So why The World Race?

I have always wanted to travel and see the world. Not just going around and seeing touristy things, but to live with local people, be a part of their lives, and truly experience their culture. Recently, I’ve been learning the raw beauty in sharing life together, really going deep together in community, and I think this will give me an opportunity to understand the puzzle piece that these various cultures bring to the multi-faceted world that we live in.

Also, I have always wanted to see the true condition of our planet. I want to visit the poorest of the poor – to have my heart break with those who are in need, children who are desperate, hungry, dying. I’ve been blessed by an amazing life growing up here in America but at times I don’t feel I really appreciate everything that I do have. I want to have my eyes opened to God’s heart for His children all over the world.

Last, I have heard about amazing miracles in foreign countries – how in Africa, people pray for food to multiply because they don’t have enough to feed the hundreds of orphans, and a few chickens miraculously turns into hundreds. I have heard of healing miracles taking place – the blind seeing, deaf hearing, and lame people walking due to the power of prayer. I imagine that you might pray a little harder when you live in a village where there is no on-call doctor and no pharmacy down the street. Something about this place of dependency awakens the heart of God, and in being taken away from my Americanized consumer lifestyle for a few months, I’m hoping to better live in that place of utter dependency.

How did God call you to the World Race?

In 2009, I got an email describing a volleyball fundraiser that a girl named Jenny was putting on – at the bottom of the email I found out that this fundraiser was for a mission trip she was going on called the World Race. I love volleyball, so I decided to go and meet this girl and hear more about this trip. When she began to tell me about it, something in my heart sparked. Even a few months prior to this, I remember saying, “All I want to go is take my backpack and see what God is doing all over the world.” Essentially, this is exactly what the World Race is.

So I started praying about it. And every time I prayed, I sensed that God was telling me, “July 2012.”

As July 2012 was coming up, I continued to sense a “yes” in my spirit and went ahead and applied for the trip. The two race routes came out, but neither of them seemed right. While I was at work that night, a young man from Ireland came through my check out line at Trader Joe’s. I prayed, “I would really like to go to Ireland. God, if only there were a trip that went to Mozambique and Ireland.” Well, that night they posted a new race route that went to both Mozambique and Ireland. This was true confirmation for me!

Now I know what you’re thinking:

Wait a minute!?! What about Boston?

While I do feel called to Boston, I believe that God is sending me on this journey as a means of training and equipping me in preparation for further work here in the city. As Boston sends people to the nations, and as Boston is a hub of the world’s peoples and cultures, I believe that God is sending me to these nations to gain experience and knowledge in these places. One of our main goals with UniteBoston is to help unite various cultures and people groups in Greater Boston, and I believe this experience will be instrumental in helping to shape the vision and strategy of our work. I do want to be open to how the Lord might speak to me on this trip, but my intention is to return to Boston after the Race.

How much does this cost?

The cost of this World Race Route is $15,500; this goes towards all team costs once the trip begins (food, lodging, air, land, and sea travel, training costs).  In raising support the past four months, I have learned to be upfront and honest about my finances – I’ve explained how the World Race is one step along my kingdom journey. Truly, I can’t do it alone! From July 2012 to June 2013, the contributions from people on my monthly support team will go towards the cost of the World Race. I am grateful for your willingness to consider the opportunity to partner with me on this journey! If you would like to contribute, you can visit http://kellysteinhaus.theworldrace.org/ and then click the “Support Me” tab on the left.

I truly can’t do it without you. Thank you for being a part of my life!

What will you do to prepare for this journey?

1. The biggest challenge in front of me right now is to prepare UniteBoston for my year-long departure. UniteBoston is still a very young organization (a year and a half old) and I feel like I am carrying a lot of the load right now. Yet, I am confident that God will supply every need of ours, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). You can join me in praying for volunteers and people being willing to come alongside our small team to labor for the kingdom of God in Greater Boston. We have a connecting team meeting on February 9 that we are promoting and publicizing throughout the area and I am believing God for ten people to attend this gathering.

2. I will be learning common phrases and greetings in the seven languages that are spoken in these countries (Russian, Swahili, Portugese, Hindi, Urdu, Nepalese, and Cambodian.) I would also like to become fairly proficient in both Portuguese and Russian. Here is a cool opportunity for you! If you know some common phrases and greetings in these languages (Uncle Gordon?) you can help me fill out my World Race Language Chart. This is a google doc that is editable so if you’ve done some traveling you can definitely help me here by filling in some of the blanks!

3. I am also taking the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course this spring. This course teaches “how every believer can be intimately woven into the story of God using His people to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth;” I have heard multiple people express how this course changed their life. It’s taught as a college-level course, and is nationally-recognized with different instructors around the country flying in to teach each of the evening lectures. I am really looking forward to gaining this knowledge and understanding about missions before experiencing His kingdom in person all over the world!

4. I will be attending the World Race Training Camp in Atlanta, Georgia from May 19-26  – this is a chance for everyone in our squad to meet each other for the first time, do team-building and training activities, and begin to build relationships with one another before our journey together.

What are you racing for?

Contrary to the name, It’s not actually a race. It’s just a cool name and honestly I get a little excited whenever I hear the word “race.” I think that’s the competitive rower in me coming out. :-)

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In Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And he replies: “Here am I. Send me!”

Today, I say – “Here I am, Lord. Send me!” I feel incredibly humbled and blessed that God is giving me this opportunity. To the nations I go…

The fastest and easiest bread recipe ever!

Since I baked my first loaf of bread last November (see my blog on this here), I’ve really gotten into baking homemade bread. I’ve decided that there’s truly nothing like the aroma of freshly baked bread filling your house in the morning.

The wonderful thing is I’ve discovered that baking a homemade loaf of bread is a whole lot easier than I first imagined. In fact, there are recipes where you don’t even need to knead the dough! My favorite bread recipe I found on Sweet Savory Life (http://savorysweetlife.com), a collection of Alice’s fast, easy and delicious recipes. Every single thing I’ve tried from her site I have loved – check it out!

Here is the bread recipe that I wanted to pass along. If a bread recipe can change a person’s life, this one did for me :-) The wonderful thing about this bread is that it’s crusty artisan rustic bread with yummy deliciousness in the middle, with no fuss! You just mix the four ingredients together, let the dough sit overnight, then move the dough to a pot, place it in the oven, then an hour later it’s done. It almost sounds too good to be true. I’ve modified this recipe time and time again (whole wheat flour, white wheat flour, sunflour seeds, flax meal) each time thinking, I don’t think this is going to turn out, and then it does. It’s truly glorious!

Alas, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 packet active rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
Instructions
  1. In a medium large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and yeast together. Pour the water over the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until the flour is absorbed and the mixture resembles wet sticky dough. Cover the bowl with either plastic wrap, foil, or a clean, wet, kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place.
  2. Allow the dough to rest overnight.
  3. Spread olive oil on the bottom of a large oven-proof pot or dutch oven to prevent dough from sticking.
  4. Sprinkle just enough flour on the dough to be able to scoop the dough out with your hand without being too sticky. Place the loosely form dough ball in the center of the pot. Place a oven-safe lid on top of the pot and place it in the cold oven.
  5. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees F and set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the lid from the pot and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove loaf from the pot.
  7. Allow the bread to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into slices.
Feel free to post a comment below about how this recipe works out for you!

2012: The Year of Risk

It’s January 20, about three weeks into the new year. Mid-January is when you really start to think about your New Year’s Resolutions. One of the things I wanted to do in this new year is to take greater steps to preach and demonstrate the kingdom of God. I sense God saying that He will move based on my willingness to step out in faith. So this year, to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, I am committed to say “yes.” Because I will never know if the senses in my heart are Him unless I step out. Indeed, the one word that I feel Him speaking to me for this year, the year 2012, is “RISK.”

The definition of risk is to “Incur the chance of unfortunate consequences by engaging in an action.”

I’ve always been a risk-taker. In high school, my Odyssey of the Mind team built a balsa wood structure that had to “shrink.” Our solution to the problem included two flaps at the bottom of the structure which extended outward, held up by a glue rubber band. This was a big risk because we weren’t sure if the flaps would break, or if we would get a penalty for having glue more than 1/2″ from the joints. It was also much more complicated than a lot of the other teams who simply had a small piece of wood “shrink” into the base of the structure. However, we took these risks and received an award for the creativity of our design. So early in life, I discovered there are many risks in life worth taking.

The same thing happens in the Kingdom. Yes, when we step out in faith to pray for someone, many things are at risk. We risk our reputation – people staring, wondering, questioning – who is she and what is she doing? We risk humiliation and condemnation – what will people think of me?  We risk financial hardship – how will pay rent if I give up the job that I feel I’m supposed to? All of these things can get overwhelming and at times we get paralyzed in fear.

I’ve heard it said that faith is going out on a limb even if you’re not sure it will hold you up. Sometimes we get stuck, fearing what will happen if we go out on that limb. I feel that fear is one of the enemy’s chief tactics in stopping us from becoming all that He made us to be. However, we know that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). Rather than to think of what we might lose, I like to think of risk as what we might gain.

If we pray for someone and they are healed, that person will realize that God is alive, is present in our lives, and that Jesus is a healer! If we pray for someone and nothing happens, or if we share a word with someone, everyone I’ve talked to still feels blessed and inspired by your willingness to share. Although I was a bit intimidated to pray for a co-worker at work, I did and then he gave me a big smile and said, “Thank you, honey!” and gave me a big hug. Honestly, what is the worst that can happen? I’ve never had a bad experience praying for someone who agrees to it. So, why not???

Risk it…Jesus is worth it!

Here are three stories already this year of things that have happened to me in taking risks. Every minute of the day, I seek to say “Jesus, what are you doing? What are you saying here?” It’s amazing what the Lord can do when you make yourself available.

1. The morning of January 2, the day after I made my New Year’s Resolutions, I was running and passed a woman who was walking her dog. I sensed in my spirit, “That woman has pain in her right hip.” The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Jesus, why do you always have to interrupt me? I just wanted to enjoy a nice run to clear my mind’…but then I remembered my new year’s resolution, repented, and ran back to her. “Excuse me, ma’am, this might sound a bit strange, but do you have pain in your right hip?” She said, “Yes, how did you know that?” I said, “Well, I’m a Christian, and sometimes God tells me things…” and I offered to pray for her. After I prayed, she didn’t notice any change in her pain levels, but I told her that sometimes God heals over time and that I would be praying for her that day. She seemed really blessed to know that God cares enough about her to stop someone on the street who would stop and pray.

2. Last week I was biking along Massachusetts Avenue and saw a young man (right) sitting on the side of the street. I sensed in my spirit, “He needs encouragement today.” So I pulled over on my bike and talked to him for awhile. He shared with me about the difficulties of living on the street – things getting stolen, how cold it is at night (I can’t even imagine sleeping on the streets in the frigid Boston winters!) I prayed for him that He would feel God’s warmth and love and know that no situation is too big for our God to redeem. I told him that God had a plan for his life that was much bigger than just living on the street. Tears filled his eyes and I promised to return with some more warm clothing for him and his fiance.

3. The other day I was running again along the river, and I passed two guys talking. I felt like I was supposed to talk to them, so I stopped and asked them if they were from the area. After a few minutes I asked them if they needed prayer for anything. They both said that I could be praying for their collegiate studies. We exchanged emails, and afterwards George wrote to me: “The atmosphere at that time was so encouraging. I think God wants me to pray a lot not only for my life but also to my campus, people nearby me, and also to this nation, the USA…I think God has led you to meet me this afternoon, I am very happy. Our meeting at that place is just the starting. Thanks for the hugging, I just felt the presence of God.” I’m realizing that even one small conversation can have a huge impact on a person’s life. In everything we do as a Christian, we are planting seeds for the kingdom of God to grow.

I heard a sermon by Mike Bickle in which he said, “God is always speaking. The Holy Spirit is always moving. Sometimes we just have to put up the sails so we can catch the wind…”  What can God do with you if you put up your sails, if you make yourself available, and then step out to take a risk? Post your stories below…

UNITY is stirring in Cambridge!

On January 1, 2012, sixteen churches in Cambridge and over 800 people gathered to worship the name of Jesus at First Baptist Church in Central Square. This was the first time in city history that sixteen different congregations representing various Christian denominations have come together for a single Sunday morning worship service.

Bishop Brian Greene of Pentecostal Tabernacle played an instrumental role in organizing this gathering. He believes that “Revival cannot, come, unless the church is one.” I echo his belief, and the presence of God that filled the room was one of the closest things to revival that I have experienced. At 11:00am, people of all denominations and cultures kept streaming in the door to worship Jesus, until there was no more seats, and then barely any standing room.  I was ushering at the service, but we all agreed that this was a good problem for us to have. We even had to bring in TV monitors so people could watch the service in the lobby.Pentecostal Tabernacle’s choir led us in worship as they sang chords which rang with heaven’s sounds. Denominations, cultures, church identity fell to the wayside as we worshipped our one true God, Jesus Christ, together with one voice. It made me think of Revelation 7:9, where it describes heaven as “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Words honestly cannot describe this gathering, so I recorded video so everyone could see and experience it:

In ethnic congregations, my friend Megan told me that there is a particular emphasis on the pastor’s first sermon in the new year.  Congregation members wait in anticipation to hear what will be “The Word of the Lord” for that coming year. I personally inspired by the message that Pastor Larry Ward of Abundant Life Church shared on how we can seek the peace of our city – with prayer, equipping, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation. But even more than that, I sensed how powerful it was for the churches in our region to have a collective vision to bring us into the new year.

Yes, God says that He commands a special blessing in unity (Psalm 133) – and every single person I talked to after the service said something to the effect of, “That was really cool.” My friend and fellow ministry worker Ralph Kee asserted, “the many components of today’s service displayed hopes being fulfilled that I’ve had for Cambridge (and all of Greater Boston) for 40 years,” and he believes this is a sign that 2012 will be the most productive year in our lifetimes for the gospel in our city.

Above all else, I came away with the sense that, “This is the way it’s supposed to be.” As the Church, each part of the body has a unique function, but we also must have opportunities to come together and remember that we are part of something larger. I see this type of regional worship gatherings becoming more and more common in the coming seasons and years.  Jesus’ dying prayer is that the church would be one, “in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23, AMP) Gatherings like this – shared experiences that we have together as the body –  break down the denominational and cultural walls and allow us to be the Church that God designed us to be.

Participating Congregations:
A Place to Heal Ministries
Abundant Life Church
Bethel Assemblies of God
Calvary Praise & Worship Center
Cambridge Community Fellowship Church
Cambridge Church of the Nazarene
Cambridgeport Baptist Church
Christian Mission Holiness Church
First Baptist Church
First Holiness Church
Pentecostal Tabernacle
Journey Church
RUSH AME Zion Church
Spirit of Power Living Word Ministries International
Union Baptist Church

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Update – January 22 – My pastor, Kent Murawski, said:

 “January 1, 2012 marked an historic day for the city of Cambridge as 16 churches gathered for united worship, preaching, and prayer. The atmosphere at First Baptist Church, where over 900 people came together, was electric and hope filled as we pursued Jesus Christ. This unprecedented unity has been the culmination of God at work among us. The cumulative prayers of many, most of whom have been laboring in the place of prayer much longer than me, resulted in this mass gathering of believers in our city. Generational gaps, denominational differences, and ethnic barriers gave way, built upon this on-going foundation of prayer and relationship that has been happening among pastors and leaders in Cambridge. In this way, as we esteem others higher than ourselves, we will fulfill Christ’s commandment: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 NKJV

May He be glorified in our city!

Devotional Idea for the New Year

Don Whitney has written a series of questions for us to ask prayerfully in the presence of God each day for a month – these questions are designed to guide us in living a life more in accordance with His will. He writes, “Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.”

My friend Joel modified this devotional, and passed it along to a group of friends – suggesting that “maybe we can take it one more step. Let’s answer these questions ourselves first (we can write the answers on paper) and then take them to the Lord in prayer, asking HIM to answer them. In doing so, we might begin to understand where our priorities lie and how they might be very disconnected from His will. Once we submit to the reality that is God’s sovereign power (my goals, resolutions, and actions can never screw up God’s plan for me), we can genuinely and fully open up to him about our challenges, our struggles, and our heart’s desires.”

As I looked over the questions, I realized what an incredible tool this is for each of us as we reflect and think ahead about what the new year will bring:

1. What’s one thing I can do this year to enjoy you more?
2. What humanly impossible thing should I ask you to do in my life this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing I can do to improve the quality of my family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want me to make progress this year?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in my life?
6. What should I be doing to strengthen your church locally?
7. For whose salvation should I pray most fervently this year?
8. What should I do this year, by your will and grace, different from last year?
9. How can I improve my prayer life this year?
10. What can I do this year for your heavenly, eternal kingdom?
11. What’s the most important decision I need to make this year?
12. How can I simplify my life to bring you better into focus?
13. Will you meet X need for me this year?
14. What habit would you like me to establish this year?
15. Who do you want me to encourage this year?
16. I have X financial goal that I would like to achieve this year. Is this goal worth pursuing?
17. How can I be a blessing to those at my work this year?
18. How can I be a blessing to my pastor (or to another who ministers to me) this year?
19. What should I do about my biggest regret this past year?
20. Will you bless me with X this year?
21. What area of my spiritual life needs growth?
22. Will you help me learn and improve on X skill this year?
23. What need can I meet and/or what ministry should I dedicate an unprecedented amount of my time on this year?
24. I don’t understand X biblical doctrine very well. How can I understand it better, and will you help me understand it better?
25. What parts of my life need to change, Lord?

Whitney finishes his devotional: “So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, ‘The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage’ (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).”

Yes, the bible says, “Without vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). What is your vision for 2012? What do you want God to do in your life this year?

New Year’s Resolutions – Upwards, Inwards, Outwards

I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s Resolution for awhile, and I’ve had three different goals in mind. Today, the words “Upwards, Inwards, Outwards” came to mind – and when we think about New Years Resolutions, I think it’s important that we consider these three different aspects of becoming more like Jesus. Upwards – our relationship with God, Inwards – our health and taking care of ourselves, and Outwards – how we show others the love of Christ.

Here are my three New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Upwards – I will have a more consistent, devoted quiet time with Jesus every day.

It’s been up and down for me in making this a consistent habit. At times I have combined this with other things like eating breakfast, but breakfast can turn into doing dishes, talking with roommates, etc. and then I realize the hour is up and I haven’t really connected with God. I’ve also had the tendency to skip days, or push the alarm clock too many times and say a prayer as I’m commuting to a meeting.  But I sense that God is desiring me to go deeper, and the one thing Jesus desires most for us is to be with him and listen to His voice. It is in Jesus’ presence we are changed and empowered (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). My goal is to spend at least an hour in devoted prayer and worship with Christ on a daily basis. Our relationship  with God is the foundation of everything we are as children of God, as kingdom warriors, and so out of 23 hours in a day, spending an hour with Jesus every day seems to be the least I can do.

One of the things I really want to emphasize in my quiet times is memorizing more scripture. The bible is the sword of the spirit, the main tool that God has given us to conquer the evil schemes of the enemy (See Ephesians 6:17, Matthew 4:1-11). The bible is also the word of life – When God’s words are written in our hearts, it will permeate our whole being,  influencing our thoughts, words and actions. Right now I know many verses in the bible, but they are fuzzy and I have a hard time remembering where they came from. I will grow in this in 2012.

2. Inwards – I will honor the Sabbath and keep it holy by taking one entire day off a week from working

I have to be honest – this is really hard for me. In the busy chaos of athletics and school and work that has consumed my life in the past,  I have become ultra goal-driven and task-oriented to the max. This can be good at times, but also makes it hard to rest – I feel like any time I spend not doing something is wasted time. I have to remind myself that even God took a day to rest after He created the universe. How much more should I?

Keeping the Sabbath is also one of the 10 Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates” (Ex 20:8-10).

I’ve met way too many burned-out ministry workers to ignore this and I know that, left to my own schedule I will go and go and go until I crash. However, if we don’t take care of ourselves and our bodies, we won’t be able to do what the Lord has called us to do and we are of no use to anyone. The Hebrew word Sabbath means literally “to cease.” It doesn’t mean that you have to sleep the whole day, but it’s a day to push the reset button and do things that are restful to you. A Sabbath is a reminder that no matter what we do, God is in control. Since I work on Saturdays at Trader Joe’s, and Sunday mornings feel more like a day of work than a day of rest due to the many tasks of our worship gathering, I’m going to take my sabbath on Fridays. Fridays will be my day to relax, recover, refresh and rejuvenate. I’m planning to spend a time reading, cooking, and being active outdoors on my Sabbaths.

In 2012, I will take a Sabbath day of rest every week.

3. Outwards – I will take greater steps to preach and demonstrate the kingdom of God wherever I go.

In my spirit, I sense that God is telling me, “I will move according to the measure you step out in faith to display my kingdom.”

God is waiting for us to step out. It’s not that He’s not ready for revival, it’s that we’re not. In the New Testament, signs and wonders followed the apostles, but they had to be the ones to step out in faith. Hebrews 10:38-39  says: “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

What is the opposite of shrinking back? Stepping out. When the Holy Spirit speaks to me to pray for someone, I will not hesitate or second guess. I will not try to find a better time that fits my schedule or that will be more comfortable for me. I will not fear man or ridicule. I will be confident that the Spirit of the Living God is inside of me, the greatest power in the universe is carried in my heart, and I will believe that healing and miracles will follow those who believe (Mark 16:18). I will step out in boldness at my workplace, at the grocery store, in the subway, to not only talk about going to church or inviting people to a service but to tangibly demonstrate the incredible love and power of Jesus Christ.

In 2012, I will take bigger steps of boldness to pray for the sick and demonstrate the kingdom of God.  As Pastor Larry Ward said today at the Cambridge Unity Service, the world is watching…

Sparklers at last night's New Years Eve Party. John Wesley said, "I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn." May we all burn with the fire of Christ in this new year!

And my prayer for you, in 2012 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? What will you do this year to become more like Jesus?