Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our God, the Creator and Crafter

The floor was dusty, cold and hard. The smell was rather peculiar and musty. But I sat on the floor, searching, searching for treasures.

These "treasures" were old books, books that could be remade into something new. Books that could be transformed into things of love, creation, and hope.

In my little free time here at Michindoh, my love for creating and crafting has reappeared. My mind swirls with ideas of projects and of things to make.

One woman on the Assigned Team here has a particular love for books and for journals. She makes all of her own journals, using old book covers, thrift store leather pants, thread, and some glue. Out of curiosity I asked her the process, thinking maybe just maybe I would give it shot, but in reality thinking there is no way I have the skill or the patience to pull that off. But in her excitement, Crystal gathered all of the materials I would need and began instructing me on how I could make my very own journal. I must admit, I was a little bit overwhelmed with all of the instructions.

Somehow it happened though. I took all of the supplies and began crafting. Slowly, and then quickly when my patience began to give way. I was excited to think that I would be able to make something actually useful of my own.

And then it was finished. The journal was complete. Nothing overly beautiful and surely not perfect, but it was hand-created.

The pages were blank, but were open for love and for hope and for words. My heart longed to fill the pages of something that I had created.

With that, I decided to simply write the book of Ephesians in the journal. Not my own words, but the words of the Lord. I have a slight love for Paul's letter to the people of Ephesus and those words seemed to be just the thing to fill the pages.

And my desire to craft and make journals has not ended. I have found myself on the floors now of Salvation Army and the super cool old book store here in Hillsdale, searching for books that I can make in to journals... my hands dusty and knees dirty, but overjoyed with the thought that there is a book waiting to be found.
There is something incredibly beautiful about old books, worn with stories of their own, that can be restored into something delightfully new and ready for love.

In all of this I have been reminded of the Lord, the ultimate Creator, who adores us and has knitted us together in the most perfect of ways.

He is searching for us. He is not bothered by our dirtiness or the dust around our hearts. He is not overwhelmed by our worn stories that cry out, "I can't." He is not dismayed by our past, for His love goes beyond all comprehension and understanding.

He sees us and sees the beautiful creation that He has made us and that He is making us. He sees us with hope and love and compassion. He desires to love us and to write His truths on our hearts.

The ultimate Creator is not giving up on us. He is restoring us and giving us new life and a new hope. 

"for we are God's workmanship" -Ephesians 2:10

Monday, June 17, 2013

Walking Through the Storms

Recently, in defeat, I succumbed to the fact: I need Jesus. I need His grace for all things. I am broken and I cannot do it alone.

The storms in my life had been raging for a while. It had gotten to the point where it was easier to believe the lies than the truth. It was easier to be bitter than to seek healing. And it was easier to be anxious than to seek peace.

And after a lot of exhaustion, I had to say help. I had to let Jesus rescue me. Jesus is responding and He is not letting go. He is pulling me up and He is saving me.

In Matthew 14 the storms were raging too. The disciples were all in a boat and it was late in the middle of the night. The gusts of wind caused the waves to swell. The disciples saw a figure in the distance, walking towards them, on the water. They were terrified and they were overcome by fear. They thought it was a ghost... who else could walk on the stormy waters? But, it was Jesus, the Son of God. He was walking towards them and He immediately called out to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." He did not hesitate to reassure them and to calm their fears. He responded immediately.

Peter then calls out to Jesus asking, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus' response was simple and pure: "Come." So Peter, did. He got down out of the boat and began walking on the water towards Jesus. The only thing that he was going towards was Jesus, his Savior and his Lord. But then, Peter became distracted by the wind. The gusts became too much and he became afraid again. The fear led him to begin to sink and he had to cry out to Jesus: "Lord, save me!"

Again, Jesus responded immediately. He reached out His hand and caught Peter at once. Jesus did not hesitate in disgust with Peter's fears and doubts. Instead, in the most gracious of manners, the Lord saved him in the most immediate of ways. He continued to bring Peter towards Himself. Jesus followed by asking: "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Some time ago now, the Lord called me out of my boat of comfortability and what I was used to and called me towards Himself. I was scared and nervous and told God many times that I didn't think it was a good idea. But the Lord was persistent in calling me towards Himself, which meant climbing out of what I knew and walking through something that was unknown, challenging, and exhilarating all at the same time.

What I was walking through though did not really matter because I was only focused on the One who was calling me. My eyes were set upon Him and my fears melted away. It was a time of pure delight in the Lord and who He was. The storms were definitely all around, but with my eyes on Jesus, the storms faded into the background.

But at some point, I lost focus. With the wind howling all around me, I got distracted and uncomfortable and I began to sink. Sometimes I realized and other times I thought that I was completely fine. Without my eyes completely on Jesus, the situations seemed unbearable and more than I had bargained for. There were moments of confusion and of bitterness because I seemed to have forgotten how I had gotten in that storm in the first place and I felt abandoned and alone.

Just the other day though I was reminded: It is all about Jesus. It has always been all about Jesus.

He is not leaving me and He is saving me. He is calling my name still.

And like Jesus asked Peter when he was sinking in the storms, he is asking me:

"You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Doubt has made my vision hazy and difficult to see where I was heading.

My fears, insecurities, and pride have been swallowing me and causing me to not fully believe the Truth of the Lord. They have taken my eyes off of the Creator, the One who called me out of the boat in the first place and the One whom I was walking towards.

But it's time to look back up. To grab hold of the Lord's hand and to be brought back to safety. It's time to go back to where this all began: a time of ultimate wonder of the Lord's goodness, sovereignty, and faithfulness.

It's time to delight in the small things again and to dance in the rain and to live passionately and to adventure and to sip coffee slowly and to get lost in conversations. Because those are the things that I love and the things that give me life.

And God, my eyes are upon You, all the while.

"The gospel bears my spirit up:
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope,
In oaths, and promises, and blood."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Need You

"To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in the need of grace." - Brennan Manning

Recently I have been confronted by my brokenness like never before. Last night the speaker here at Michindoh for the month gave the cross talk. He spoke of the truth of our brokenness and our need for Jesus... our need for a Savior... and our need for grace.

There is something incredibly beautiful about hearing the gospel preached to 350 middle schoolers... to seeing life being found and burdens being laid down at the cross.

And while that talk was geared towards the WyldLife campers here at Michindoh, it struck me personally in a way that only the gospel can.

It reminded me that I need Jesus, too, and I am daily in desperate need of His grace. 

On my own, I am empty. I can do nothing. I have nothing to offer.

I need His grace for all things. I need His grace...

... to see beyond this moment here ...

... to trust that God is who He says He is ...

... to have a faith that truly believes ...

... to forgive ...

... to believe that the Lord is sovereign ...

... to know that God is working all things for His glory and my good ...

... to dry the tears ...

... to trust that I am who God says I am ...

... to love others without holding back ...

... to have hope in the future ...

... to trust what the Lord says ...

... to serve ...

... to be a friend that my friends deserve ...

... to change ...

... to extend grace to others ...

... to surrender to the Word of life ...

... to define myself as the beloved of God ...

... to shine His light ...

... to seek wisdom ...

... to stop me from running away from the hard places ...

... to endure ...

... to remember that I am safe in Christ ...

... to be a daughter and sister ...

... to have hope that not all things are lost ...

... to have my soul restored ...

... to transition into new phases of life ...

... to be quick to listen and slow to speak ...

... to fight the spiritual battles ...

... to live a life worthy of the Lord ...

... to glorify the God of the universe ...

... to know that there is light at end of darkness ...

... to trust that our God makes all things new ...

Oh Lord, I need You. I need You. I need You. I need You. I need You. I need You. I need You. I need You. I don't know that I can ever stop saying that... I need You, Lord. I need You for anything and everything... my God, I need You.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Next 28

28 days. 28 days solely dedicated to making the Lord’s name known. 28 days to serve WyldLife and YoungLives campers and leaders. 28 days to run an office and a store. 28 days to be a part of the Michindoh Camp Staff team. And 28 days to return back to the core of the gospel.

That’s the focus of my next 28 days.

Michindoh is an affiliate camp for Young Life in southern Michigan and I have the awesome opportunity to serve there for the month of June. I’m working alongside a team of five other people who will be making up the camp staff for our time there. I’ll be taking on all of the admin department and the retail department. Admin has been my life at Timber Wolf, but retail is about to be a whole new adventure. 

We are going to be working with an assignment team and a small group of Work Crew and Summer Staff. It will be a different atmosphere than typical Young Life camping, but it is one that I am incredibly excited about as we’ll all bond together to really serve guests and one another well. 

Today began my official time with Michindoh as the camp staff all met at Timber Wolf to really begin working on some last minute projects to get together before heading down to camp. Through working together we also got to start to get to know one another better. I cannot wait for all that the month will have in store for our team. 

We leave for Michindoh on Tuesday. I am so ready to get down to camp and to begin setting things up. It is crazy because we’ll be transforming an already existing camp facility into a Young Life camp facility… so the large meeting space becomes a Club Room and a conference room becomes the camp store and so many other things come alive as we get geared up for three weeks of WyldLife and one week of YoungLives. 

The most exciting thing about this entire assignment is that all of our focus is on setting the stage for each Michindoh guest to encounter the love of Christ and to encounter the gospel. Like that is my job for an entire month, yeaaaa that’s pretty awesome. The gospel changes everything. I have seen how it has changed my life, my friends’ lives, and the lives of so many people whom I love. My heart aches for the middle school students and teen moms who are going to be arriving at camp each “Day 1.” It aches for them to know the saving love of Christ and the Father who calls each of them His Beloved Child. 

As I approach these next 28 days my prayer is that my heart will be solely focused on the gospel. As a person who has been a Christian for a while, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the gospel and to lose sight of what it means that God came down on earth as a man to live a sinless life and to die the death we all deserved on the cross to pay the price for our sins. And then three days later He rose again victoriously, defeating the grave and bringing life, life to the full. It’s easy to become distracted by the spiritual disciplines and the “Christian lifestyle” and to forget what the gospel really means… because it means everything and it changes everything. 

I do not ever want to lose sight of that. 

For the next 28 days I am going to go through the gospel of Matthew, focusing on one chapter each day. My hope is to focus on Jesus and His story and to be reminded of the power of the gospel. My prayer is that at the end of these 28 days that I will know Jesus more. 

In reading Matthew 1 today I was struck once again. Jesus is Immanuel, or “God with us.” God. With. Us. That is Jesus. When that sinks in, it truly is revolutionary. 

And the God that is with us, He is calling our name. He wants a relationship with us. 

Each middle schooler coming to Michindoh is not alone. Jesus is with them. God is with them. He is calling their name.

Each teen mom coming to Michindoh is not alone. Jesus is with her. God is with her. He is calling her name. 

We are not alone. Jesus is with us. God is with us. He is calling our name. 

You are not along. Jesus is with you. God is with you. He is calling your name.

I am not alone. Jesus is with me. God is with me. He is calling my name. 

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” –Ephesians 3:14-21


And for all my friends who have been asking for my address-- here it is :)

Jordan Abourjilie
YL Camp Staff
4545 E. Bacon Road
Hillsdale, MI 49242