Faith in Motion

For many of us, this current season has been one of change and filled with new things. The end of that holiday season brings back the reality of life. We have to jump back in the swing of things with work, school, relationships, and everything that comes with real life; these moments can seem like a growing beast that you have to get a handle on. For my life right now, big things are happening. Good things, nothing terrible, just big. I’m working part time at my church and stepping into more responsibility as well as being part time in an after school program. I love it. I feel like I’m hitting my stride, but with any exciting and new thing, the enemy can sneak in and try to lessen it. It happens so fast, and often in seasons that are busy, the enemy will try to sneak in. Maybe you’re in a busy season, or stepping into something new, in these moments you have to remember to keep moving. We have to keep fighting for what God has claimed over your life, we need to have faith in motion.

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Start a Party for Someone Else

This past weekend was one of the biggest in my life. I was in charge of planning what’s known as, Live Up weekend, which is a weekend retreat where students come and be together for two full days. It’s awesome, but man is it daunting. In the planning phases with my co-event head, Rachel, we became super stressed and needed God to really bring it all together. He did. He came through ten-fold. The weekend saw over a hundred and forty students go deeper in their walk with Christ and begin having an authentic faith. It was awesome. An awe-inspiring moment in the life of our youth ministry. One of my favorite moments during the event, was when a local edm producer played a show for us on Friday night. Neon Feather was an absolute blast, but the concert did something unique, something that was intentionally planned. It started a party, and God loves a good party.

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This past summer has been absolutely wild. I’ve finished school, gone to an amazing camp with Kids, been able to serve on a mission trip, and had God give me a vision for my city. Not only that, but more opportunities are coming up over the next few months. I have been able to truly feel the fullness of God’s faith in me. I’ve been looking back and am being blown away at how God has been faithful to me in my life. My church is in a season of prayer called, 21 days of prayer. We are able to come together and pray each morning at 6 am so we can encounter God and pray over our lives. During this time, God has brought this one word up over and over again in my heart, faithful. Not just faithful, but faithFULL. Yes, I know that isn’t how you spell it, but I accidentally misspelled in my journal (don’t judge, we all fall short). As I looked over it, it made me realize the truth in that, I am full in faith because God has continually shown up and radically altered my life in the most incredible ways. God uses me, even when I fear that I’ll never be used, God never gives up on me. The thing is, God never gives up on you either.

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Foundation Focus

I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression over the past few months. I’ve been so afraid of the future and the path I will take over the next months after school. The stress of trying to finish well but not have a clear direction after this season scares me, it makes me feel like I am failing at my purpose. All I desire is to write words that will inspire others and serve the next generation in ministry, but the path is so unclear and that’s what makes it so difficult. That’s the reason I need Christ more than ever. It’s the reason we all need Christ more than ever. This past week I was worshiping with my brothers and sisters and received prayer of encouragement for this struggle I’ve been facing. After this I prayed with Matt the artist. I call him this because he truly thinks in abstract ways like an artist, and we prayed together in an abstract way. We prayed to look for the moment of origin for anxiety, and when I found it, he asked me to now put God in that situation. Everything changed. You see, Matt the artist helped me understand that I can’t go about things on my own, my foundation needs to be focused on my savior. Our focus needs to be on the foundation of our life.

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You Are Super

We have all been made unique. Each of us have talents and skills that are unlike anyone else. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. All of us are made in the image of God and each of us are individuals. Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about being weird, how following after Christ truly sets us apart from the world. That makes us weird. It’s weird to pursue a relationship with an incredible creator, it’s weird to show love to everyone because of the love shown to us, and it’s weird to serve others in an authentic way. This is a passion of mine, to tell everyone just how special they are, and just how important their role is in the kingdom. Today I want to speak to you on a deep level, I want to tell you something that is very important in your walk with Christ. You are super.

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The New Year

This is always an exciting time for me. I get a chance to reflect on the good and the bad, but I get to move forward with a new vision of the year to come. A new year brings with it new chances to learn, new memories to make, and new adventures to undertake. This post may seem a bit different from my usual style, but I’m writing it this way to try and help you look at the year gone by and how you will take on the New Year that is to come. You see, this past year was filled with what seems like a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. It wasn’t easy, but then again, God never promised us easy lives. I saw friends pass away, friends that were like brothers to me, friends that showed me that I had value and loved me. I saw my brother-in-law (whom I call a brother) struggle with the dangers of addiction. I experienced the passing of my two grandmothers and the effect it had on my family. There was stress with college classes, responsibilities I have, feelings of doubt in my own talents, and watching other friends close to me suffer similar losses. But guess what? Even in all the hurt and pain, I found joy. I had a chance to remember the fun times I had with my two friends who had passed, I was able to reflect on how their lives shaped my own. My brother is now getting help for the addictions he battles, and God is truly working in and through him even in the midst of the pain. I saw my family grow close together in the loss and discover the value in time together. In the stress I learned so much in my classes on how to communicate, to make organizations function well, and present myself in a way that is respectful and wise. I learned that no one can take away what God has given me, because God designed me this way. My friends that were hurting, God let me be there for them, and I will always be there for them in the hurting. So much more happened as well, I met an incredible girl that I love spending time with; I’ve been able to see students in my small group step into their passions for poetry, music, and art; and I myself have discovered a desire to help others in their own walks of life. It was a hard year, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Over the past three years or so, every New Year I decide to take a character trait and apply it for the New Year. This is something that is similar to the My One Word system, but because I like to be a rebel sometimes, I’ve morphed it into a trait I want to live into. It is a trait that I view life through, because I believe it will guide me and teach me to not only follow God in a deeper way, but to make myself better. In 2013, I chose to be a servant, one who looks at the needs of others and helps them in whatever way they can. In 2014, I chose to be a hero, one who sacrifices their own life and desires for that of a greater cause. And in 2015, I chose to be an adventurer, one who takes on new challenges and experiences, and thrives. Last year truly was filled with challenge and experiences that made me stronger, and in that I was able to gain the reward that God used to teach me. This year, I spent a while in my devotions and quiet times really praying over what I want to live into this year. The catch with claiming what trait you will live into in the year, is that most of the time, it becomes true. I experienced the way it feels to serve others, to sacrifice my own wants, and to be thrown into an adventure. I always love a challenge, because people will tell you it’s impossible to achieve, and then when you achieve it, those same people will look up to you. This year I chose something that encompasses what I want to do, something that I will use to help as many people as possible, and something that God wants of me.

This year, I choose to be a doctor.

Now before you jump to conclusions, I’m not going to start med school, nor do I plan on doing back alley creep surgeries. No need to worry about me becoming the guy from Re-Animator and making a zombie. What I mean by I choose to be a doctor, is I choose to encompass what a doctor does. A doctor is one who heals the sick, one who takes in the broken and brings them back from the brink of death. I don’t have the power to keep people from dying, or heal people from physical disease. What I can do is be there for the people who are hurting, the ones who face the chasm of despair, the ones who feel alone; I can be a doctor for them. This trait is a promise to myself. That no matter what happens, I will never be cruel or cowardly. I will never give up, nor will I ever give in. A doctor comforts those who are hurting, and seeks out the solutions for the ailment one faces. I want to be like a doctor, when I see my family hurt, when I experience the sting of death, or when those close to me feel alone; I want to be there for them, and I want to seek out the solution for their struggles. The best part is, I know the solution, and the solution is Jesus. Because Jesus is in me, I can do all things through him. I can be a voice of comfort, one that uses his words for life and never to tear anyone down, even in joking. I can use my gifts and abilities to reach people who are wandering and are lost. I can help those who are hurting, because I have experienced hurt. For a long time I felt like I was worthless, but with the voice of people speaking life around me, I was able to know my worth. I choose to be a doctor because I think more people need to know that they are worth it.

Big things are coming.

Along with my trait of being a doctor, this year I want to be intentional with everything I do. Some of my goals (basically a better word for resolutions, because whoever keeps those?) for the coming year are big. They are big because I have a big God. My first goal is to continue to make this blog more effective. That means making it a place where you can come and be fed from the word and have resources to grow in your own walk. This means sharing it with people (it really does help me) not for my own sake, I don’t want that, I want people to come because God is guiding me as I write and I want more people to have that. I have created a new tab thingy that has some essential books that have helped me in my walk, as well as the books that I read throughout this year so you can have recommendations from me. My second goal, and this is the big one, is to write a book. Yup, a book. I have been praying and God has shown me that this is something I can do, so this year I will be writing what is tentatively titled, “Coffee Shop Thoughts.” It will be going through the fruits of the spirit, and how to live a life of freedom through them. I’ve never written a book before, so why not start now! I will most likely use an ebook format through Amazon, and I can’t wait to figure all that out! My intent is for the book to be a simple devotional as well as be material used in a small group format. My plan is to have it done and produced by summer, and in the fall, have a small group based on it at Daystar Church. My third and final goal is to never lose sight of Jesus. No matter what happens, I want to focus on the one who even made it possible for me to do anything at all. Jesus is the one that brought me out of the depths and saved me, so I want to run and never stop running towards him.

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So what does this year look like for you? You’ve been able to see my heart over the past few paragraphs, but what does this year look like for you. Think about what you truly want out of this New Year, what character trait do you want to have that will grow you and push you to be all that you can be? If you feel like no one is in your corner on this one, know that I’m with you. I may know you, or I may never know you. What I do know is that you were made by an amazing artist and one who built the universe. God made you. So this year, set goals, find a trait that you will latch onto, and choose to have joy in all of it. I’ve learned that we are not guaranteed anything, so make the most of every minute you have been given.

Make memories, take on new adventures, and love life.

-Joshua Thomas

People are the Purpose

This past Sunday my church called Daystar Church began a new series titled, “Made for This,” which is focusing on our purpose that God has called us for. Dr. Allen Holmes kicked off the series by telling the story of Zacchaeus, who was a hated man that stole and cheated the people, and how Jesus went out of his way to serve and bless him. This story was always very intriguing to me, because it shows Jesus, the son of God and who was without sin, make time for a man who was nowhere close to being like Jesus. The story is a perfect example of how we, as believers, should treat people around us. One specific quote that stood out to me and really caused me to stop and think about my life. Dr. Allen said,

“Jesus always made time for people, because people are the mission.”

This statement really forced me to stop and think introspectively, asking myself, do I make time for people? I try to be effective in the time I have with people that I influence and pour into, people in my small group, the students that I mentor, the people I serve each week. But I have to ask myself, what about other areas of my life, the people I sit in class with, the cashier at the store I’m in, the friends of mine who need help but are afraid to ask. Often I find myself just trying to get in and out of errand runs, or talk to friends about things that may not matter as much. Do I really make time for people? God has a way of taking an expectation and raising the bar when I ask questions like this, and he answered me in Matthew 28. Verse 19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God wants us to be purposeful with everyone we come into contact with. Everyone.

The verse above is known as the great commission, meaning, that thing Jesus tells us to do without exception. I find myself being purposeful to people in some areas, but in others, I stink. I go to class every day and find myself just trying to get through it, and move on. Why? It’s filled with people who could use some life giving words, and I was called to do it. Now before you think I’m going to start getting in someone’s face asking them if they have heard the good news, that’s not the point. Honestly that is an ineffective way to reach people. What I mean is, when talk to anyone, be different in how I act, show them that I actually care. That may lead to a conversation where I invite them to church, or it may not.

My purpose is to plant the seed of truth and life in their life, and let God work the rest.

Looking at the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus didn’t act weird around him, he just said hey you want to grab some food, I’ll buy. While it may have been a little intimidating because Jesus was pretty well known, in my own life, I can be intentional towards others in the simplest ways. Jesus was a man who wasn’t living for what he wanted, he was living for others. The way he spoke to others, the way he put others first, it made him so appealing to everyone around him. It makes me want to be like Him, to treat others with that honor and plant seeds of truth in their lives. We are able to do this because we have been in the shoes of Zacchaeus before.

God used someone in your life who brought you to freedom, now it’s your turn to take part in your purpose.

The story of Zacchaeus shows a man who was a terrible sinner, one who many thought could never amount to anything, yet Jesus made time for one who probably didn’t deserve it. Sound familiar? That’s my story just like yours, yet in our lives someone came along and gave us the time, extended an invitation, or dragged us to a life changing point. So why is it that we don’t always try to do the same? It seems crazy, and trust me, I haven’t mastered it myself, but that’s alright. Nothing is stopping me or you from starting right now, make people a priority at every moment. God’s purpose for our lives was to reach the world and save the lost, don’t walk away from your purpose. Step into what you were made for and make people a priority in your life.

-Joshua Thomas

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21 Days of Prayer and the Leadership of Joshua

As I sit in a coffee shop here in town, I have been reflecting over the past twenty-one days of prayer that just wrapped up at Daystar Church. It has been an incredible three weeks, filled with prayer and extended time in my mornings to read the word and study it. There’s something refreshing about being able to start one’s day off in the word, and actively pursuing Christ throughout my day. At the end of these three weeks, Daystar held its’ revival over three nights. This was a time filled with worship, teaching, and reflection over where we as the church are headed. It was empowering and encouraging to stand there with Daystars five locations, Cross-point Church, and Iglesia International, all coming together in worship. Needless to say this was an incredible time.

A habit of mine, typically, is to choose a book of the bible that I feel God wants me to spend time in and reflect on it during the twenty-one days. The book that I studied during this time was the book of Joshua (pretty good name of a book if I do say so myself). I love the book of Joshua because it encompasses the meaning of what a true leader is, and how his character should reflect the heart of Christ. Joshua was one of Moses’ close friend and follower, one who stood on the word of God. Basically he got it, he understood the power of Christ and did all that he could to best serve God and his people. He wasn’t born with supernatural bravery when he was called to lead the people into the Promised Land after the death of Moses, he trusted in God. As I was reading over his book, a few ideas popped out to me and I think it is important to share for people striving to be a leader that God has called us to be.

God Is Always There In Our Time Of Need.

Joshua was handed the responsibility of leading all of the Israelites into the Promised Land, this was a big duty and he felt overwhelmed, at first. Joshua was fearful of failing in his leadership, but every time he questioned his abilities, God immediately tells him to not be afraid or discouraged, because God said he would never leave him. It’s easy when in a leadership position to fear failure and question our ability, but God tells us that as we pursue him, he will pursue us. We need to trust him because he is the place where we will find the strength to lead.

God Will Use You If You Are Willing to Give Everything To Him.

In the city of Jericho, Rahab, who was a prostitute, took two spies sent by Joshua and protected them from the city guards. Because of her faithfulness and changing of her heart, not only was she saved when the city fell, but her entire family. Rahab changed her ways, and became a part of the lineage of Christ. Had Rahab never given up her past, she would have perished like the others in Jericho, and never live into God’s calling on her life. In our own lives, it’s easy to hold on to the sin of our past and refuse to let go, but if we don’t, we will never live into our full potential.

Be Wise About Who You Build Your Team With.

After Joshua and the people conquer to city of Jericho, and God tells the people to not rebuild the city or their people in the fallen city or they would fail in their next battle. The people listen to this warning accept for one man named Achan. In their next battle, many Israelites perished and they failed to take the city. Joshua was angered by the dissention that had occurred with those he was leading. The actions of one man caused failure. Achan confessed to his actions, but by then it was too late, the blood was already spilled. He was stoned for his actions due to the law. Now that doesn’t mean if someone makes a mistake they should be stoned, the message here is that in our team, we should choose people who are sold out for the same vision that you cast. If not, your ministry can be drastically affected and end up leading to nothing. Build a team that is sold out for the mission and let go of the people who are not passionate about the mission.

When We Fail, Don’t Lose Hope.

Joshua, like many leaders, became discouraged after this failure among his people. God speaks to him again and tells him to not be discouraged, but to learn from the mistakes and press on. We will all fail at some point in our lives, as leaders it can be easy to want to quit after things get tough, but don’t quit! God will use our failure and turn it into something beautiful. Wise leaders learn from mistakes, make the changes to be more effective, and finish the race.

And finally…

Your Life Is A Monument To God’s Power.

Over and over, Joshua is given victory over his enemies, and after every triumph, creates a monument to show God’s power. As a leader, your life is being looked at by everyone, and it can either reflect the power of God or turn others away. We need to be careful on how we use our influence and ask ourselves the reason behind our actions. Is it to bring glory to God, or to make me look good? Joshua took every opportunity to show others that God was in control and that He was the one giving him strength. Your life reflects if you are finding your power in God, or from yourself.

I hope you can take these ideas and apply them to your ministry. You are a leader, whether you see it or not, you have influence in someone’s life. Follow the example of Joshua and find your strength in Christ.

Thanks for reading, and as always, stay awesome.

-Joshua Thomas