Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Captivated by Her Approval

     I've been heavy the last few weeks, and maybe for quite some time. Recently, I've been feeling that a part of it stems from caring about what other people think of me. At Bible study, I prayed for more clarity in this...I think I'm beginning to get it.

     My heart is searching for a woman's mark of approval. This mark means that I am: Godly enough, strong enough, handsome enough, smart enough, responsible enough, ________ enough...to be seen as desirable, worth dating, loving, respecting, and mutually surrendering to. I see other men (friends of mine) in healthy relationships and the incredible burning love that sets ablaze the eyes of their beloved ladies when these Godly women simply look at them. (Here is my logic:) Obviously, they've got the above-mentioned list, and therefore, since no woman loves me like that or sees me that way, I obviously don't have them.

     This wound began in my first, and only, real serious relationship. It suffices to say that she brought in a lot of baggage (that she was the victim (emotionally) of) that I was too naive to fully comprehend, and it made it impossible for her to be able to move forward and love me. No matter how perfect I tried to be or how well I did whatever, it wasn't enough. This does NOT mean she's to blame, by no means. It's what the situation was and God used it to heal her and mature me exponentially. However I did not walk away from it unwounded. Fast-forward to another deterred hope and hand of God moving in a different direction than I had personally wanted, as well as a few random "unsuccessful"  (whatever that means.. *rolls eyes*) coffee dates, and you've got yourself a basis for feeling denied and um...undesirable in the feminine eye.

     I have come to understand this is a complete lie and holds no validity...wow, this thing's roots are stubborn, and possibly deep. The second I typed "no validity", something inside me went "Actually, there might be just even a liiiiittle bit of validity." But just because it has been identified doesn't mean the fight is over. This is only the first step.

     God I pray you would reveal more to me in Your timing regarding this wound you're beginning to speak to me about. Please train me to move beyond this mindset and stand strong as a Godly man that will seek You first above all else...A man who finds his worth, strength, dignity, honor, and ability to lead and love a precious daughter of the King, in You and You alone.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Still, Quiet Road

       --A Quick Backstory--

       For the last two years I have been serving in at least three different ministries on campus at GFU as well as commuting 1.5 hrs a day to and from campus and taking a full load of classes. In short, my life has been BUSY. These years have also held a difficult and incredibly stretching armada of experiences through a relationship, friendships, the fuzzy line between the two, and the overall reality of becoming an adult with all that entails...whether I want to or not.

       If there's a way to get through this without wounds, I haven't found it. Dishonesty, inconsistency, mixed-messages, and the abuse of my trust have all left their marks on me from the various pages of my most recent chapter. Right now...to be honest? As deeply and intensely as I desire the beauty and oneness of marriage, I'm afraid to get close to it. Afraid to let my heart out into the line-of-fire again. Hesitant to open that piece of my heart to someone because I don't know if a girl will love me or pull the pin and toss in a frag or two. It's even made me wonder IF any girl could truly love ME, Seth Stanley, just for who I am and just because she does...

       Now, there are other instances and examples, but that's the one that's the deepest I can see at the moment.

       Why do I bring this up and bear this honesty? And how does it tie into the first two sentences of this post? Well...It's beginning to be revealed to me that I think I've been suppressing and drowning these wounds more than letting God work in them. I feel so much better about myself when I'm serving people, so that's what I've been doing...going crazy in ministry. Now, all that I've been involved in has bore much fruit and has been a great blessing to me and those that have told me so...but that doesn't mean I'm not stuffing stuff down with it as well.

       --Ok, so Today...--

       I applied to be a Student Chaplain for a living area on campus next year. I thought this would be a great opportunity to disciple and put all of my "Perspectives" course learning and the past couple years of difficulties and triumphs to help others. To be honest, I was pretty much positive I'd get it. Well...today I got the email. And guess what...

       Yep, I didn't get it. I was a little bit shocked, really. I thought God had led me through this long process with many conversations, and a weeding out of the possibilities for next year that finally got me to applying for this specific position...and the door is locked. What? It was all so clear to me 3 days ago! What happened?

       Shortly after receiving the email, I called with a dear sister and friend of mine in a state of confusion with very few words to say. She knows what I mentioned above, as well as plenty other things. This isn't word for word, but in essence she said, "Seth. Maybe this is a time for you to slow down. To let yourself be ministered to. To let yourself be healed. These wounds won't go away if you keep pouring yourself out in ministries. Everywhere you go, you are always doing the ministering and leading. You're never allowing yourself to be the recipient of grace, mercy, love, healing, wholeness...You're too busy to let others pour out into you."

       Nailed me. I've grown up being so against selfishness that it has become self-neglect. I've become SO good at pushing away my needs and meeting other peoples. Now, that's good to an extent. But the extent I've taken it? Quite unhealthy if sustained.I know this needs to change...will change.


       The next chapter? Well, I don't know for certain, but it looks like it may be a still, quiet road ahead. My hyperactive servantheart may not want to admit it...but something about that sounds really... *exhaaale*


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Proverbs 24:10 - Adversity

"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."
- Proverbs 24:10

       I ran across this verse today, and it really struck me. It's so simple. No cryptic meanings or deep theological understanding needed here. If you can't stand up when it gets rough, you don't have strength--you're weak. I know I'm stating the incredibly obvious, but strength is the antithesis of weakness. If one exists, the other doesn't.

       I have been facing spiritual adversity in temptation, worrying about the future, and not trusting God fully to provide a way for me to accomplish what He has for me to do in His Kingdom. I have not been a very good warrior, finding myself crouching and hiding behind my shield rather than utilizing every piece of the Armor of God. Now, it's not that I'm fainting so-to-speak, but my first reactions lately definitely haven't been that of a calm, collected, and heart-at-peace person...

       I don't love my major, and SO many of my friends love theirs. It's unsettling, like I feel I have to find something I love to do in life and get a major in it or else I'm in the wrong place. After meeting with a career councilor she was able to help clear my head and keep my goal the Bachelor's Degree and not necessarily what it's IN (Chemistry), especially since I plan on going for my Masters of Arts in Teaching anyway. But I've been quick to worry....and slow to trust that I'm following in God's footsteps and hearing correctly.

       I'm single. I'm not really very happy about that. But I know God has me here for specific reasons and I want to reap the fruit of the harvest in this valuable stage of life. Here I can learn to be a warrior and follow God's leading more directly and fine-tune my spiritual senses in order to become the best boyfriend, best friend, and best husband I can be to my some-day Love. (*sings* "Waitin' for my some-day giiirrrlll") Friends left and right (and up and down and inside out and backwards and...well you get the picture) are getting engaged or into serious relationships...a dream I had a while back explained it well. I saw two conveyer belts with girls on one and boys on another (friends and people I know). These were feeding onto one larger conveyer belt and they were getting paired up 2 by 2. But I, I wasn't even on the boy conveyer belt, I was sitting on the side, watching it all go by. That kinda sums up how I've felt at George Fox....

       Patience! Patience patience patience. I've found myself wanting to try to make something happen, but knowing that's hopeless and a stupid waste of time. Some day things will fall into place and a girl that blows my mind in every single way will become mine to love and protect and serve...and if I want to succeed there, I have to succeed HERE. Right now. Where I am. No matter where that is.

       Adversity WILL come. This I know for sure. But I am not alone. And I will succeed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Perspectives - Weeks 1-5 - brief personal response

Purpose –
            In a world full of a humanity struggling to find purpose, it’s refreshing and comforting to know that purpose can be found in the will of God. I know I’ve spent plenty of time wondering what the purpose of so many seemingly pointless aspects of life is. I’ve never wanted this life to be all about me, because that doesn’t sound important enough. Now, a global crusade to win the world for the glorification of the Creator of all? THAT is something worth spending my life on.

Passion –
            “Passion is the heart set free to pursue that which is truly worthy.” I love it. Since the beginning of this course I have felt an ever-growing passion to completely abandon all my little hopes and plans and deny myself for the sake of Christ. How this will play out in my life…I have absolutely no idea. What I do know is, God is building a passion in me, a foundation of fire, and I’m excited (and yes, nervous as well) where it will take me.

Hope –
            Hopelessness is running rampant throughout the world, and is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons. Fortunately, true Hope is stronger and will prevail. The art of not losing said hope takes practice, as I’ve come to know, and I have a new-found desire to grasp and spread this Hope whenever and wherever I can. It is not a hope for marriage, children, close friends…which are all things that are good and I deeply desire…it is a Hope of salvation, eternal life, and the glorification of God in the fullness of all creation redeemed back to Himself.

Mandate –
            At last! Significance! I have come to realize that I am so small and insignificant, but can chose significance in Christ. To think that I have the opportunity to step into something of such incredible importance is both exciting and challenging. I have a LOT to live for and represent! I’ve also got a gracious and loving God that will guide me through it all. Amen.

Witness –
            “God arranges for his servants to display what they declare.” Whatever way this is to be implemented in my life, I say “Yes”. If I am to be a witness of Christ I must be LIKE Christ in everything I do. Hmm…definitely a work in progress. However, I believe God will continue to work in me, sharpening me more and more, making me a more effective weapon in His army of salvation.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Above Reproach - Titus 2:6-8

"Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."
- Titus 2:6-8

       This verse really caught my attention last night.Paul is writing to one of his converted companions and significant helpers in his ministry, Titus. In this passage, Paul is calling Titus as a leader to set an example and be above reproach. These are obvious things like self-control and walking in purity; your "standard" leadership requirements. What I think caught me off guard was in verse 8. 

"Show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. 

       Not only is Paul admonishing Titus to walk as a leader for the sake of the young Christians, but also as a shield against the enemy. Every stumbling or area of lacking allows those who oppose a foothold to steer you away from righteousness. Paul is calling Titus to be above reproach. For instance, a court hearing would find him innocent in every sense of the word, both physically and spiritually.

       How does this apply to me? Let me back track. On Wednesday of this past week I attended the bi-weekly meeting of student leadership chaplains at George Fox, of which I am one. During one portion of the meeting, we went around the circle and updated everyone about what we were doing and how things were going, and then the others would speak a word or phrase of how they see God working in or through their life, etc. When it got to me, multiple people brought up this sense of foundation, a solid rock. One said that he saw me as that solid rock and foundation on which ministries and opportunities will succeed and flourish. This really meant a lot to me, as just this week I started feeling a change coming in me (and as a result started this blog).

       I am called to be a leader and solid foundation in the ministries I'm involved in. If I am to be indeed solid, I must be above reproach. That means I must be 100% committed to all that qualifies a leader in God's eyes. 99% will not be enough...not just because I need to set an example, but because it's critical that I uphold the armor of God and stand above whatever may try to take me down. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hosea 10:12

       Woke up to an unexpected and interesting encouragement this morning. I am currently doing a read-through-the-Bible-in-one-year plan (got about a month left) and it's been awesome. However, there have been many mornings where the Old Testament reading was just...hard to get through? Seemingly pointless or vague? Nevertheless I have continued to read all the way through, but to be honest I don't usually expect to find anything of personal or for-today significance. Well, I was proven wrong today :)

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you." 
- Hosea 10:12

       I find this a great encouragement in the first morning after the night I committed to begin this new journey. Yes, it is time to live righteous in ways I haven't before; a higher level of this living. Let steadfast, unfailing love be at the forefront of all that I do. It's time to ready the soil, break up the unreceptive places in my heart to receive new levels of Truth and understanding of who God is and how my life fits in His plan. It is time to seek the LORD.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Beginning

       Tonight, I have come alive in ways I never knew before. I have grown up seeing people passionate about the Word of God, but have never felt that myself. Sure, I've spent lots of time reading it, but for obligatory purposes and not as much out of pure desire.

       Without going into detail, it is suffice to say that certain things are going on around campus here at George Fox University that are clearly perversions of Truth and the express Word of God. There is an ever-increasing air of "Christian universalism" that, along with the art-of-expression and make-your-own-religion worshiping Portland culture, is showing signs of going down a path that is NOT the straight and narrow path God has called us on.

       Tonight, God set a fire in my heart for Truth. Pure. Simple. Unadulterated. Truth. The black and white knowledge of who God is and what His purpose is for creation. To be honest, I don't have a clue what I'm doing. All I know is that there's a burning inside me that's never been there before, and I have never felt so Bold and ready to proclaim and suffer for the sake of Christ. Paul's words of his life being spent and suffering endured for the sake of Christ have never been clearer to me. I am beginning to understand the joy that comes from a Holy Spirit-filled life. A joy that remains whether everything goes right or wrong. The joy that sustains.

       The first step, I know for sure, is Prayer. Through prayer and spending time in the Word, I trust God will give me guidance and a direction for this passion to grow and pour out. Here it goes...