Saying Yes

Remember going into your senior year of college and wondering what was going to happen to your life over the next year?

This past weekend I gathered a group of my old Young Life girls who are in this boat right now.  I wanted to talk to them about life post college and give them advice about their decision making.  Selfishly, I also just wanted time with them because I LOVE them (even the ones who didn’t come to our reunion).

Galveston Reunion

“Don’t be afraid to follow God down a path that may be exactly what you don’t want,” I told them.  This was exactly what happened to me.  I wanted grad school – parental support for three more years and a “guaranteed” great salary when I finished.  But God led me to Young Life staff – an almost thankless job that was emotionally draining and paid little money.  As I thought about my experience and I looked around at the faces I loved so dearly, I realized once again how much I would have missed out on if I had said no to God when I wanted to.

I would have missed the generosity of Telicia which transformed my whole view on what it means to share your home.  I would have missed out on seeing dozens of high school students meet Jesus for the first time and begin walking with Him.  I would have missed deep friendships.  There is nothing like being in the trenches of ministry with a kindred spirit.  I would have missed meeting Tanya and the way her friendship has enriched my ministries and life.  I would have missed meeting JR at a Young Life Camp.  I would have missed a lot.  I wouldn’t have been sitting in a Galveston beach house this past weekend with women I respect and adore.  Imagine how different my life would be if I had said no when God wanted me to go.

With Renee

As I shared this with the girls one of them said, “Imagine how different our lives would be.”  It wasn’t just my future at stake when I was debating at age 21 what to do, it was also theirs.  Most of this group began walking with Jesus through God’s work in Young Life while they were in high school.  I had the privilege of baptizing several of them with Telicia before they went off to college.  A few of them have been actively serving in college ministries pursuing others because of the way God pursued them while they were in high school.  Like Shelley Giglio said at IF:Gathering in February, “A lot of people’s futures are hanging in the balance of our yes to Jesus.  It’s not just for you.”

Baptism

While making decisions in any time of transition, may I encourage you to follow Jesus, even if it’s down a road you would rather not travel.  God is sovereign and he can accomplish anything without you; but, you may miss out on some great adventures and blessings if you are unwilling to say yes.  My yes has involved a lot of sacrifices and acts of obedience, but I’ve never regretted it.  There are even some people out there who are thankful for it.

Clements Dodgeball

“Based on what we have heard from Jesus in the Gospels, we would have to agree that the cost of discipleship is great.  But I wonder if the cost of nondiscipleship is even greater” – David Platt

Say yes to what God has for you.  Don’t find out what the cost is of saying no.

What do you need to say yes to?

Seniors 2011

A Harvest of Blessing


OurJoyHisGlory

Life Motivation

Looking for some life motivation?  Go to a really great funeral.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to celebrate the life of Donald Leonetti with hundreds, maybe even a thousand, members of the Fort Bend community.  As I sat in the sea of brightly colored t-shirts designed by Donald’s company, a few things really impacted me.

With that big of a crowd in attendance, it is obvious that people were drawn to Donald.  People were drawn to him because of the way he loved people and the way he made life fun.  But, it goes deeper than that.  Donald treated other people the way he did because of his love for Jesus.  As the pastor shared yesterday, Donald embodied what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  When an individual lives out their love for Jesus in their daily life in the way they treat others, people are going to be drawn to that.  Donald lived that way and boy were people drawn to him.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news”
Isaiah 52:7

After the service, I watched Donald’s wife, Jenni, greeting others.  She was able to have a smile on her face and engage in conversation with others.  Even in a moment of great sadness she had joy.  There is only one thing that explains this:

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
Philippians 4:7

Jenni spends her days walking with Jesus.  She knows Him deeply.  Because she’s spent time getting to know him when life has been good, she’s able to trust Him when her world has been turned upside down.  God has given her peace.  He is in control.  He can make good come out of all things.  He is comforting their family.  His peace is protecting her.  We need to spend time knowing God on days that are good so that we know we can rely on Him when days are bad.

With death we are reminded how short our lives are on this earth.  We can be selfish with our short little lives or we can spend our days making an impact and proclaiming the glory of God.  This week I saw a glimpse of what kind of difference can be made when an individual decides to live for Jesus.  I heard people talk about a man’s generosity, the depth of his friendship and the power of his joy.  Sure it cost this man things to live this way day to day, but everyone in that room yesterday would tell you it was worth it and that they were personally thankful that he did.

I’m left asking myself how I want to live.  How do I want to be remembered?  What do I want my life to be about?  I want to live like this world is temporary.  I want to make personal sacrifices so that God’s name may be big.  I want to know God on days that are good so that I’m able to fully trust him on days that are bad.  I want to be remembered for my generosity, the depth of my friendship and the power of joy.

How do you want to live?

Donald Leonetti Program

Broken chairs – loving people through their messes

Shelly started volunteering with my youth group right around the time when my friend Hannah was diagnosed with cancer.  With a desire to get to know us better and support us during this hard time, Shelly invited a small group of us over to her house for dinner.  We barely knew her or her husband, Tim, but we were excited to be invited somewhere.

Shelly made spaghetti and set places for us at her dining room table. As I sat down in my chair, I tried to pull it in closer to the table.  Somehow, one of the legs stuck to the carpet and as I tugged in the opposite direction, the leg snapped right as I sat down.  The chair and I went tumbling to the floor.  I laid on the ground pretty embarrassed with my feet sticking straight up in the air.  While my friends laughed, Shelly immediately told me that the chairs were old and that she wanted to get to new ones anyways.  In my first night at the Linderman’s, I learned that Shelly was going to love me through my mess.

It started out with physical mess of a broken chair, but the mess later became emotional and spiritual.  Shelly kept inviting me over.  She provided a safe house for me when talking about my feelings with my parents felt too difficult.  I spent time crying there after Hannah died.  It was my safe place to explain what I was feeling and what I was processing.  Their house was always open, even with two young kids running around.  She gave me more pep talks about dating and taking risks with my heart than anyone else alive.  She was always patient with me.  Shelly and Tim have told us numerous times that their faith grew as they walked with us.

When my parents moved across the country, the Linderman’s house became my “home” in Texas.  In my first semester at UT, I misplaced my bible, discovered partying and lost my identity.   I came home to their house the weekend after Thanksgiving a mess, desperate to change the way I was living in college.  During that weekend with Shelly, I confessed how I’d been living and committed to making a change.

Shelly saw me through embarrassing and hard times.  She helped me pick up the pieces of my life and heart time and time again.  In her home, I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect for someone to love me.  I needed an older woman to tell me that it was okay to be sad and mad sometimes.  She helped me to see that God forgave my sin and welcomed me back.  She didn’t kick me out for disappointing her, she loved me and pointed me back in the right direction.

Shelly and me

Sometimes, to be a good mentor or leader of others, all it takes is loving people through their messes.  To keep calling, keep inviting and keep pursuing even when the people we are leading disappoint us.  Leaders like this model the love of God to others.  He always loves, always sacrifices and always pursues.  No mess is too big; no sin is unforgivable.  As Shelly loved me through my messes, I learned God loved me that way too.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

Shelly, her daughter Lauren and the rest of our high school group of friends.

Shelly, her daughter Lauren and the rest of our high school group of friends.

A Harvest of Blessing