When I look back at this year, I am continually amazed at how so many desires of my heart have been fulfilled. The Lord reminded me recently of what He spoke to my heart a number of years ago. As I grew and matured both physically and spiritually, there arose two desires in my heart. One was to be involved in church ministry, and the other was to be involved in education. For a while, I was conflicted, not knowing which direction to choose for my life. But as time went on, the Lord began to clarify in my heart that I didn’t have to choose one or the other. He would have an assignment in both areas for me simultaneously. I didn’t know how this would work out or what it would look like, but now I can see that the Lord has done the very thing I desired. He has given me an assignment in church ministry and school ministry simultaneously. I feel like I am living the dream!
As of October this year, I entered my fourth year of ministry at Kingdom Encounters, the church my family planted. Throughout the church’s existence, my primary role has been to lead the worship ministries at the church, including music and other forms of creative arts. This has been a dream of mine for most of my life, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to lead worship in this setting every week! The musical worship team started small, but God has grown it significantly this past year. At the beginning of the year, we had three members of the team, but now we have nine! God has tripled our size, bringing in more vocals, guitar, percussion, and drums. Each person who has joined the team has come with a heart of humility and a heart to serve. He has grown us together as a team and expanded our impact to the church body. What a blessing it is to work with such humble servants as together we lead the congregation into the throne room of God each week!
Additionally, I am now halfway through my third year of teaching, and it is a blast! When I think about my job description and the opportunities the Lord has given me to work with these students, I think to myself, “Did they write a job description just for me?” Seriously, teaching Bible to middle school students is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I’ve ever done. To hear the feedback each year from students and their parents about how much these students have learned about God and grown closer to Him over the year—there is just nothing like it, because the impact is eternal. God has been so good to allow me to find my niche in teaching so early in my career: teaching my favorite subject to my favorite age of students.
One specific opportunity that came with this job at Lifegate Christian School was that I was able to go to Costa Rica as a team leader with eighth graders and some of their parents. This fulfilled another desire of my heart to travel on a global outreach journey outside the United States. Having never been to Costa Rica or anywhere outside the country before, the task of being one of the leaders seemed daunting and overwhelming to me at times, yet the signs and confirmations from the Lord were consistently clear. The funding came quickly, the details fell into place, and doors continued to be wide open; I knew I was supposed to go. I already shared extensively in a previous post about my experiences while on the trip, but suffice it to say that it was life changing. And it was such an amazing experience to work with the children and staff there at the Home of Life that I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to return! I will be returning again in May with another team of eighth graders. Let me know if you would like more information about how to partner with me in this trip.
Among other highlights from this year was a trip to Bethel Church in Redding, California. This was my third time attending a conference there, and I was able to travel with my father and two other leaders from Kingdom Encounters. The conference was so life-giving and Spirit-filled. One of the biggest highlights of the trip was going to a fifth grade classroom at their school and having the students pray, prophesy, and speak words of exhortation over us. To see children walking in such a loving relationship with Jesus and hearing His voice so clearly was beyond touching—it filled my heart with love, hope, and joy!
Shortly after returning from this trip, I had the honor of being the best man in the wedding of one of my closest friends. I, along with other members of the wedding party, made the trek up to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in mid-November. The most beautiful thing about the wedding was that Jesus was the center of the entire ceremony. It opened with worship, included a salvation message with four people giving their hearts to Jesus, and ended with a fire prayer tunnel for the bride and groom. The wedding party went through a separate fire tunnel prayer time the night before at the rehearsal, and the ministers spoke some very accurate words over me—I was so filled with God’s presence and refreshed through this experience! I am excited for my friends as they begin their marriage together, knowing that they started it the best way possible through this very Jesus-centered, Spirit-filled ceremony.
There is much more I could say, but I just want to emphasize one more thing: God is good. I have come to believe that those are three of the most important words a person can utter. Yet, in some cases, these may also be three of the most difficult words a person can utter. It’s easy to believe that God is good when things are going well. But can we still say with certainty that God is good when everything is falling apart? A. W. Tozer has been quoted as saying, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So that begs the questions: What does come into our minds when we think about God? Do we believe He is sometimes good? Is He mostly good? Or is He good in His entirety?
We too often make God’s goodness dependent on our circumstances. But the reality is that things change, but God’s goodness doesn’t. In the midst of hardships, trials, persecution, and chaos, it would be easy to make the assertion that God isn’t good—that He isn’t faithful. But we have to believe that God is good. All the time. Because if God isn’t good all the time, then He is no longer our Rock. If God isn’t good all the time, then He has just as much of an ability to fail us as anything else in the world does.
2017 has been a good year. My mother has continued to have good reports with her oncology appointments. The Lord has continued to bless and grow His body at Kingdom Encounters. He has given me a deeper and deeper love for teaching my students. And He has brought me closer to Himself, my family, and my close friends. But even if none of those things were true—even if I couldn’t say 2017 was good—I would still say with full confidence that God is, has been, and always will be good. Not every year has been as good; I have seen good times, and I have seen hard times. And you know what? God has seen good times, and He has seen hard times too. Yet, through it all, He has never ceased being good and He has always proven Himself to be faithful. He is a good Father, and we can depend on Him with all certainty. Trust in God and His goodness today. And may 2018 be the best year you’ve ever had.