March 25, 2011 “Humility, A friend with Benefits”

Have you ever been surprised to find yourself thanking God for something?  Maybe it was with a sigh, you breathed, “Thank you God I’m not feeling well today so I can sleep.”  But what about a time you were thankful for a great loss, or heart-break?

I found myself thanking God for breaking my life and heart over the hard edge of exhaustion and depression – a prayer I only paid lip service to until now. “Thank you Jesus for humbling me.”

The picture of humility as a friend with benefits swarmed my imagination this morning.  I was reading along with Beth Moore in “Breaking Free” on the topic of pride when she asked,

“Do you see pride as an enemy?”

Pride extinguishes and destroys our journey to freedom in Christ. It is evil (Prov 8:13), it leads us to shame (Prov 11:2), conflict (Prov 13:10) and destruction (Prov 16:18) yet all the while, pride covers its face, claiming friendship, security and blessing. Pride says, “I am strong, and untouchable.”  It teaches you to have secrets, to hide weakness, to take no counsel, to cover up the past and deny there are problems. Pride deceives you (Obadiah 1:3).

Do you view pride as a vicious enemy?

What about humility? Beth asked,

“Do you view humility as a friend?”

“Often our society reviles biblical humility as a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Being filled with pride is easy. It comes naturally.  Humility takes a supply of supernatural strength that comes only to those who are strong enough to admit weaknesses.”1

When I think back over the last three years, I am beginning to see the many benefits of such a painful experience.  In the darkest days, my only thought was, “I can do nothing”.  Nothing like the reality of complete inability to make you wrestle with a truth you may have paid lip service to for years, “God does not require your strength or service, He loves you”, but that is a reflection for another time.  Today’s pondering exposed how this experience taught me to humble myself before other people. The way it taught me to say, “I have nothing to give”, “I am hurting”, “I am lonely”, and “I need help”.

It is true, you can not know the sweetness of grace unless you need it.

Humility before one another, and before God brings the sweet fruit of grace.  And in that way, humility is a true friend. Humility ushers in grace in heaps.

These are the benefits I found myself rejoicing in today as examined my friend humility:

  • acceptance
  • warmth
  • care and concern
  • trust
  • freedom from performance
  • wise counsel
  • soulful connection
  • love
  • liberating grace

And that is a true friend.  A friend, who surprized me today, when I honesty prayed, “Thank you Jesus for humbling me.”

What has been your experience with the destructive and deceiving nature of pride or with the sharp but gentle friend named humility?

1. Beth Moore, Breaking Free. “Week Three: The Obstacle of Pride”

September 16, 2010 “Revival”

A couple of weeks ago at Rexdale, Sunder shared a message entitled, Jesus the Spirit Baptizer. It was to take us firm in hand and shake us.  We need the Spirit, “for when the Spirit comes, He redefines normal”.  When I read the following quote in my devotional book this morning I was reminded of the sermon.  Perhaps they will be an encouragement to you.

Are you satisfied with the condition of the Church? Are you satisfied with your own condition? You, who believe the truth, you who are evangelical, you who are not a liberal in your theology. That is good, but is that enough? What is our spiritual state and condition in reality? How do we feel when we read the experiences of those apostles, the Apostle Paul and others? Can we say honestly, with him, that we are in a kind of sate of tension, saying That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings… not as though I had already attained… forgetting those things which are behind… I press toward (Philippians 3:10-14)? Do you feel the tension, the concern, the stretching, the pressing on? How much do we know of that? Can we honestly say that we rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ with a joy unspeakable and full of glory? Can we say with Paul that to us to live is Christ, and to die is gain? That we might be with Christ; which is far better…. Now these are the ways in which we are to test ourselves. There is no hope for true prayer and intercession for revival unless we realize that there is a need. Is all well with us? Can we be satisfied? Can we sit back and fold our arms and say “Things are going marvelously, look at the reports.” Are we like the Israelites at this point, or are we like the Laodiceans saying that we are rich, that we have abundance, that all is well with us, and failing to realize that we are poor and wretched and blind? May God give us grace to examine ourselves, and be honest with ourselves…. My dear friends, the first step is that you and I have to realize these things. We have to be pulled up by them, to begin to think about them, to become concerned about them and have a deep awareness of the position as it is.

Revival by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, copyright 1987, pages 154-155. Good News Publishers.

March 22, 2011

The Ministry Adventures of Terra Leavens
Serving with Campus for Christ, Canada
In this episode:
  • personal thoughts on darkness
  • updates on the Reading Week Project
  • exciting news about Sept 2011 & Glasgow, Scotland
  • prayer requests


“Even the darkness is not dark to You”

Two weeks ago I started a video based bible study called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. I am delighted by the insights, reminders and challenges it is bringing into my life and soul.  Today’s homework brought me to Psalm 139:7-12 where I was reminded that God’s presence is constant in my life. Especially in view of the trials of the past few years I was blessed to read,

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as day, Darkness and light are alike to You”.

I was reminded that as I go through storms and trials Christ is with me in the darkness. His love is strong and though it might not always be palatable I can know that He is with me.
In what ways does the reminder of Christ’s constant presence give you comfort and courage?

(Spring Moon, March 20, 2011, Toronto from Daily Dose of Imagery)



Updates & Up Coming

Scotland Project 2011

As one of the Partnership Directors for our ongoing international partnership with the United Kingdom I am pleased to report that God continues to be moving in this partnership blessing both us as senders and the UK as receivers.  First I share a short letter from Ross & Kat the directors of Student Life (Campus for Christ) in Glasgow on the results of receiving our 5th Reading Break Project. Second I will share some updates on the next steps in this partnership.

Dear friends of Campus for Christ,
We are writing on behalf of your sister ministry, Student Life Glasgow to offer a heartfelt thanks for the prayers and financial giving with which you helped make our recent Canadian Spring break project possible. Thanks to you we received more than double the number of Canadian students compared to the same project this time last year. (my note: actually this is the largest project we have ever sent in one week!) Thanks to you we had an unbelievable week of gospel ministry here in Glasgow. Our movement here in Glasgow is young, less than two years old, and many of our students have until now only had a mental picture of what our movement could look. Your students arrived and gave them a walking, talking demonstration of a student movement committed to sharing the gospel with every student possible, in word and deed.

Thanks to your support we have seen more students come to faith in one week, than in the entire period of our ministry so far in Glasgow (*7). Your Canadian students rode roughshod over a climate of massive apathy and resistance to Christ, and they did it with their faith, hope, love and more joy than we knew what to do with. Our partnership with Canada has become a vital plank in building our movement in Scotland. Thank you sincerely for making it possible for the student/staff you supported to be a part of what God is doing here in Scotland.
Yours sincerely, Ross McCall & Kathryn Dray
Campus Directors, Student Life Glasgow

Read more about the project & learn more about Agape UK here.


STINT 2011 (Short Term International)

STINT stands for Short Term International and is a way for students graduating in our movement and current Campus Staff to give 1 to 2 years of their lives to full-time campus ministry in an international context. In 2008 we sent our first STINT team to Edinburgh, Scotland of which I was the team leader.

This year, we will be sending our second team to the UK to integrate with the local staff in Glasgow, Scotland.  In partnership with the local leadership we will seek to “let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word”.  I am very excited that God continues to answer our prayers to help the UK establish a lasting and effective movements of evangelism, while increasing Canadian students heart for the world. So far, this team consists of a young married Staff couple from Calgary and Joyce Hoogenboom who was on my STINT team in Edinburgh. A few others are in the application process.

Prayer Requests:

  • Coaching – I will be coaching this team as it prepares to go overseas. Pray for wisdom, a calm heart and great connections with the team.
  • Team Formation – Pray for a few more individuals to be accepted to the team to round it out, and for the team to begin bonding.
  • Arrival & Set Up Details – Housing, Support, Team bonding, Cultural Adjustment… you know the drill.


Prayer Items

MOVING?!

Thank you so much for your prayers on my behalf as I have struggled this past year to reconcile my love for my new team and role and my need to be in Toronto health-wise.  I have struggled a lot with the desire to be closer to my team (in Guelph,ON) but with the intense feeling that moving to this small family town would prove to be a step backward in my recovery from exhaustion.  After much deliberating and prayer I have determined that as a next step I should pursue moving to North-West Mississauga. This will allow me to remain in the Great Toronto Area, attending church and maintaining my social network, but put me within a 45 minute commute to our Guelph office. So thus begins the hunt!

Pray with me:

  • The Place: in my ideal location, within my budget, with natural light & local amenities
  • To Roommate or not to roommate: Should I seek out a new roommate? Who would this be?
  • A replacement for me in my current apartment: My current roommate, Aban wishes to stay in our place and so I have agreed to help find a roommate to fill my spot. Pray for the right person and the right timing.
  • Timing: I am hoping to move by June 1.
  • Finances. Moving costs money 🙂 and I am anticipating an increase in my car insurance and possibly monthly rent.



Thanks for reading & for your prayers,
Since you are already here, why not leave a comment?

In what specific way are you waiting on God today?
love,
Terra


August 16, 2010

The Ministry Adventures of Terra Leavens
Campus for Christ, National Evangelism Strategies
Looking forward to September…

Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks.  At Campus Days I enjoyed working with my new team to roll out the projects we have been working on all summer to our staff.  It was exciting to receive their positive feedback as well as hold physical products in our hands of all our hard work.  If you have ever been involved in developing new tools, training, and strategies you will appreciate just how much works goes into things behind the scenes. I am excited that I am able to apply my skills and creative side to develop these new evangelistic resources for our staff and students.  Also at Campus Days I was encouraged by the two British Campus staff who joined us.  Their presence helped to continue our partnership, building trust and relationship as we seek to bring the gospel to the prodigal children of the UK.

Staff Conference was a bit overwhelming at times with so many staff and a lot of input on the vision and direction of Power to Change.  But I was glad for the chance to connect with staff and it was encouraging to see how our ministry continues to remain serious about bringing Christ to Canada and to thinking practically and passionately about the gospel.  If you are looking for opportunities to expand your own ministry opportunities here in Canada perhaps you would consider becoming an online mentor with our Mentor Center.  You can find out about it here.

September is coming!
Only a few weeks away from the most exciting time of the year for Campus Ministry here in Canada.  I am working hard to make sure all our Real Life Kits (read about and see the products I helped create) arrive on time to our Campuses and that all the follow up materials (Magazine, Follow Up Studies and training) are ready for Frosh Weeks. Lots still to do.  Most Campus Staff start back to work in the next two weeks and my own team will be meeting for the first time for our Team Orientation August 23 – 25 in Guelph.

Prayer Needed:
I continue to need your prayers, support and encouragement.
– I am anxious about how things may come together for my work this fall.  I don’t know yet how I will work long-distance from my team (as they will be in Guelph, ON). I don’t yet have a solution to the problem of not desiring to work on my own but also not being able at this time to commute so far (over an hour one way) or move closer.  Pray for a solution, peace and patience for God’s solution.
– My financial support continues to be a concern and worry for me.  Please pray for God’s abundant provision.
– Healing. I am still not recovered from the great losses of my time overseas. Pray for God’s healing and revival of my trust of Him, my heart for the lost and my passion/purpose in His kingdom.  Pray for understanding of my own internal world and God’s healing for my heart and body.

Thank you for your partnership in my life.

January 15, 2010

It’s January 2010!!! It makes me grin as I recall hearing someone quip, “Shouldn’t we have flying cars by now?”

This past year, as you know, has been one for the books and even though I have said it before, I am so thankful to have had you walking alongside me.  Thank you for your grace – the giving of your support, words, prayers, love and encouragement, without anything in return.  I haven’t had many ‘successes’ to share or exciting stories.  I truly have felt like a beggar struggling to stretch out my hands.  Thank you for being kind and generous in continuing to give to God with your resources and prayers so I would have a place to lay my head, support to recover and the increasing strength to serve as God enables.

The reality of my limited energy and brokenness have created a situation that has caused some dynamic shifts in my thinking.  What is grace? What am I worth? Does God really demand nothing? What is the gospel? Pretty heavy questions if you give yourself the opportunity to ponder them longer than the time needed to flip the ‘right’ answer in their direction.   Of course pondering the foundation of my value and existence in the world is uncomfortable.  Trust me, I would rather just list off the ‘answers’ I used to tell others: have faith; God loves you; of course you are valued for who you are, not what you do….

But maybe God is trying to tell me something, attempting to rewire my thinking, my values and beliefs?  No one likes to feel stupid, and feeling confused about what I previously held with certainty is painful. I, however, sense this rewiring of my reality may be one of those life-altering moments. I still cling to the reality of God’s sure salvation through His Son – I belong to Him.  Beyond that, I don’t have many answers and my emotions are a constant torrent.  God’s voice doesn’t seem to be in the rushing wind or in the calm.  So like Mary, Martha and Job, I wait for the resurrection.

What might this year hold? A lot can change, and a lot can remain. It is obviously difficult to predict the future.  No flying cars, right?  Mostly, I hope the waiting will be over soon  – the waiting for joy, energy and passion to return, – the waiting for clarity and direction. In the meantime I continue to attempt to trust in God. Is it maybe about trusting Him in the absence of passion, victory, joy and success?

Practically speaking, there are some areas in which I would love clarity and wisdom.

 

Next job steps? Please pray for an opportunity that is a wise fit for my gifts and strengths, which gives energy, and combines the appropriate level of demand with room for growth.

Living location? Please pray about the best geographic location for the next months of my recovery.  I sense my discomfort with my situation may persuade me to make an unwise decision.  Pray also for direction as to where God would have me invest in relationships and a church community.

Further training? I am considering undergoing more seminary education.  I have been blessed by the opportunities I have had to study while on staff.  This makes me curious to know if this is something I should pursue more intentionally.  Practically, the overwhelming financial commitment scares me a lot.

The future? Pray for wisdom to know which questions I should be attempting to answer.   Will God renew my vision the UK?  How can I be involved in raising up this generation to reach the world?  Should I consider a new direction? What about a husband and a family? More training? More patience?

My heart is grieved that I am unable to share life-changing stories with you and for the ongoing uncertainty I currently reside in.  I trust that together we will see ourselves out from the fog and into more fruitful days because of God’s hand. May we hear God shout, “Behold I am doing a new thing!”

2009 In Review

(the colours & fonts went a bit wonky on me, but I guess that doesn’t matter)

July 21, 2008

The Ministry Adventures of Terra Leavens
Campus for Christ, Edinburgh
God’s work through us in Panama…

Two summers ago I helped lead Campus for Christ’s first summer project to Panama.  Opening a new partnership was challenging and exciting as we attempted to navigate culture, university policies, students and ministry styles.  One of the girls who was on my team that summer was Trisha Jagt, a first year art student from McMaster University.  During her time in Panama that summer God so impressed the need for labourers on her heart that Trisha returned this past September with our first year-long STInt Team to help establish the work of evangelism and discipleship in Panama.  She has just returned from her year there and I received this small update from her.  I thought you would be encouraged to see how your investment in my life is impacting the world – through Canadian students, through international partnerships and through the work of the gospel in students lives like Trisha.

This is a photo I took of Trisha and Laura the first summer they met in May 2006.

“Imagine this.  Imagine that you start praying for someone you don’t know personally.  In fact, only God has ever told you about her.  So you wouldn’t know her if you were standing right next to her.  Wouldn’t that be strange?  I felt weird praying for this girl for about 6 months in preparation for my first trip to Panama.  I asked God to place in my life someone to carry on a ministry to reach the nations, and the country of Panama upon return to Canada.  God placed this girl onto my heart and so I thought of her often.

Now imagine you’re a young Panamanian girl who goes to visit family in the States in hopes to find hot boys and great drugs.  But instead of your hopes and dreams being fulfilled, you’re stuck staying in a Christian household.  So when 17 year old Laura Gonzalez agreed to go away on a youth retreat, she thought things would finally get a little wild.  Instead, God had a different type of fun in store.  God audibly spoke to her that weekend.  Her life changed dramatically, she gave it up for Christ and it would never be the same.  She experienced real joy without drugs, alcohol or guy attention. But on return to Panama she felt like God didn’t follow her back home.  She felt abandoned, hopeless and lifeless.

Around the same time that Laura was trying to get her life back on track with God in Panama, I was making plans to spend a chunk of my summer in Panama.  I held her up in prayer amidst her struggles only by God’s leading in my life.  It wasn’t until the end of my time in Panama that I came to understand God’s answer.  It was so effortless becoming friends with Laura that I didn’t realize; she was the one I was impacting all along.  And this past stint year, after over 2 years of great friendship, I have seen her grow into a full blown missionary – Jesus freak.

Panama is full of “Laura’s” that have been reached with the gospel message this past S.T.I.N.T year.  The majority of young adult/teenagers know about Christ but God is just a subject, religion or just old news.  But the message of Christ is everything but lifeless, and I believe God called me this past year to bring life back into the gospel.  To bring morals and ethics back onto the scene, those that are planted on a solid foundation, the word of God.  The majority of my ministry this year was spent pioneering the ministry of “Vida Estudiantil” on the private university “Interamericana”.  Laura was able to assist me and encourage her friends to get involved as well.  We put on outreaches, fun information tables to publicize the group and provide opportunities to get involved.  At the beginning of the year, Laura and I made a video about the state of the world and showed it from classroom to classroom.  Any way to get students thinking about their purpose in life, role to make a better future and relationship with God was utilized.  There were some things that went off smoothly, and other time of there was discouragement.  But most of all, one on one evangelism and discipleship was at the heart of my ministry.  At the end of my time there, I had the privilege of seeing a girl I disciple pray with one of her peers as she received Christ as Lord of her life.  Now, Andrea meets with her weekly.  Hearing someone you’ve invested in through discipleship times each week, disciple someone else has brought me amazing joy and thankfulness to God.” – Trisha Jagt, Short Term International Worker with Campus for Christ to Panama City, Panama 2007-2008