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In less than 24 hours, the Brew Crew (along with 43 other Americans) will be departing for our first official trip with Prepare International as we journey to the Pitztal Valley in Austria for a week of ministry alongside Jack Taylor and his wife, Friede. We will be serving and loving on 21 European families totaling approximately 80 people. These people are some of the top Christian leaders throughout all of Europe! We have families coming from countries such as Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia, among others. What an amazing time together!
During our time there, a few of us will be posting daily updates on our Prepare International Family Camp blog, http://www.pifamilycamp.blogspot.com. I’ll try to link that to this blog each day as well. There is already a more detailed breakdown of the travel itineraries posted there. Go check it out!
We are blessed to be a part of P.I., and are excited for this particular trip to be our first one! God is good!
This past week I had the opportunity to speak on three separate occasions to three distinctly different audiences. Speaking in front of people is something that makes my heart truly come alive, so despite the amount of preparation I put in, it was all worth it!
One of those occasions provided an enormous challenge for me, though. As part of my new job with Prepare International, I have found myself right in the middle of the teaching rotation for the classes at our Prepare International Equipping Center. The current course we’re offering is entitled Essential Truths – Foundational Bible Doctrine. Take a second and let that sink in and you’ll quickly understand the challenge I faced. What do those words even mean?!
Several days in advance of the class, I began earnestly praying and reading up on the topic in order to try and gain as much wisdom and insight into it as I could. My topic for the week was on The Two Covenants – Old and New. What I experienced during my study & prep time, as well as what happened in the class was a game-changer. That may not adequately position this topic in the scheme of things. It was more like a life-changer.
Two covenants. One old, one new. One born of the flesh, one born of the spirit. One proved weakness, one proved strength. One proved powerless, one proved endless Grace. The purpose of God entering into covenant with us was to draw us to Himself so that we would fully understand our dependence upon Him. That was the very thing the people in the Old Testament DIDN’T understand. They continued t0 try and follow rules without knowing the heart of the One who initiated intimate covenant. (Sound familiar??) As if entering the first covenant wasn’t a great demonstration of love, He re-initiated it, although using a vastly different approach the second time. By initiating the New Covenant with the blood of His own son, He demonstrated His love in a more powerful way. Old covenants were ratified by blood following the covenant being initiated. The New Covenant actually began by blood being shed from Jesus. His life poured out so that we can experience Covenant. Wow.
While I could write thousands of words on the topic and what it has done (and is doing) in my own life, I wanted to share with you a few of the points from this lesson that truly have the power to change everything about how we live our lives, conduct ourselves, and align our beliefs.
Through Jeremiah the prophet the Lord spoke these words about the New Covenant: “Behold the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, My covenant which they broke… I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.” (Jer. 31:31-33).
How freeing it is to know that our minds and our hearts are already equipped with His new covenant! We couldn’t earn it even if we tried for the rest of our days to be perfect at keeping the law WITH our mind. He’s already put it IN our mind and written it ON our hearts!
Additionally, the Lord spoke through the prophet Ezekiel about the New Covenant: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh… I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…” (Ezek. 36:26-7)
Taking it a step further than the first point, here is the point that CHANGES EVERYTHING. Not only is His law IN our minds and ON our hearts, He has actually given us a brand new heart with a new spirit inside! Are you getting this?!
I truly think this is the breakthrough so many long for. We always try to do better and work harder to prove our faithfulness. The truth is we can never prove it or earn it until we embrace the truth that only a new heart and new spirit can fulfill that! It’s the difference in repairing something broken and replacing it altogether. He has replaced the broken mess with brand new parts! Our sinful hearts transplanted with His heart. Furthermore, He promised that He would cause us to walk in His ways! Seriously… this is good stuff! He has given us a new covenant and given us the ability to fulfill it. This changes everything.
May you embrace the new heart and new spirit He has placed inside of you! May you trust everything that He is causing to draw you to Himself. Only by living out of that truth can we experience the fullness of His love and who He has created us to be.
This past week, I had one of THOSE moments. You know one of those moments where you look around and realize something special is happening. True to my recent book project, I could call this a Defining Moment, however I will stop shy of that. You see, this past week I walked into a post office in Lubbock with seven copies of my book in hand, signed each of them with a personal note to the designated recipient, and sent them on their way. It was the first book order that I had processed and shipped myself. I don’t know how the folks at Xulon Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble feel when they process an order of my book, but for me I was overwhelmed that this moment was even real. A book with my name on it actually being purchased? I mean seriously, almost every single person that knows me was a totally surprised upon hearing that I even wrote a book!
The truth is we ALL have a story. We’ve all had big dreams, and most of us have experienced great heartache and disappointment. In the midst of THOSE moments lies our unique story. For so many, it’s easy to walk away from those dreams and associate them with our silly childhood or even disregard them altogether, but I want to remind you that big dreams and even big disappointments are the very fabric that makes up our unique story.
For me, I actually didn’t sit around as a kid and dream about writing a book. I didn’t even like writing all that much growing up, and in college I did everything I could to AVOID writing! It became clear to me, though, a couple of years ago that something special was happening in my life and God was leading the way. I began to have dreams again of what “could be.” All of a sudden the nice and comfortable life path I was on just didn’t seem to be enough anymore. On a certain day in August of 2011, I began to dream again. What quickly followed was a pursuit of that dream – a dream of making a radical difference in this world for the Kingdom of God. I guess you could say that I took a leap of faith and followed my heart.
While there were indeed many subsequent days filled with fear and doubt, I wasn’t willing to stop dreaming again. I love the words of King David in Psalm 37:4-5. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” This brought great hope and encouragement to me to know that the very reason God will give me the desires of my heart is because He is the very one who has placed them there in the first place!
So on this Easter Eve, I want to remind you to dream. Dream big! The very One whose resurrection we celebrate this weekend is the very One who is passionately pouring dreams into your heart. Sure… there will be bumps and bruises along the pathway ahead, but that’s the very place where our story’s excitement grows. Everyone faces difficulty. It’s those who are willing to ride out the storm, knowing that it will pass, that have the greatest stories to tell.
Follow your heart and dream. Something special will happen. Your story needs to be told. Who knows, you too may just have a book order to fill one day!