Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coke Story

I wasn’t able to make it up on time to go for a run, and the reason was because I was woken up at 2 a.m. by Kevin and Nick coming into the room. I had turned on the heat because I had been freezing at night, but when Nick and Kevin came in they made a lot of noise, and Kevin began to complain very loudly about how hot it was. I remember sitting in the bed thinking to my self about how mad I was, how angry I was, and how fed up with Kevin I was. I have really been struggling to love him, just because I have felt he is very prideful and disrespectful. But as I was laying there thinking of how much I disliked Kevin, God began to grab a hold of my heart. He said to me “Stephen, he just needs love. He doesn’t need correction or judgment, just love.” I battled against what God was telling me, but eventually I realized my sin and gave in.

God then put on my heart to buy Kevin a coke the next day and tell him I loved him. I thought to myself “Yeah, definitely, sure God I’ll do what you say,” but really I was expecting that I wouldn’t even remember in the morning. However, this was not the case. The whole morning God put on my heart to buy a coke for Kevin and tell him I love him. He would not let me forget! So, right after lunch I went and bought Kevin a coke. As I was walking to and back from the store I realized that Kevin was having a good conversation with Raph.

I went right to the room because I felt that is where God wanted me to give the coke, and as I walked into the room I told God that if he really wanted me to give Kevin the coke, that he would be the next one to come in the door. It was not seconds later that I heard footsteps pounding up the stairs and in walked Kevin. I must say, I was not surprised. As I gave him the coke I said to him “This might seem a little weird, but I really felt like God wanted me to bless you in this small way and give you this coke, and I wanted to tell you I love you.” He took the coke he had a huge smile on his face, but was also in complete shock. He said to me, “no way! You won’t believe this, but I was coming to the room to get money to go buy a coke. I really wanted to get one, that is so crazy.” He then said, “give me a hug.” I gave him a hug and then told him that I really want to get to know him better. He said, that he would love to talk sometime.

It is crazy what happens when I obey God’s voice. It was not an easy thing to do, it took a lot of humility, but of course, it paid off. I heard him a little later telling a whole group about it, and when he saw me he said, “that guy totally made my day!” It is amazing how the smallest things can impact lives greatly. No matter how weird of things God tells me to do, I know that I will do it, because he knows what is best.

Not only was I able to make Kevin's day, or more so God make his day through me, but the next day we all went to the beach and God prompted me to ask Kevin if he wanted to take a walk on the beach. He said he did, and we ended up having a great conversation, which was actually the first conversation that we have had. I was able to see beyond my presuppositions, and see who he really was. He is a great guy, who is hungry for more of God.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Typical Day at DTS

I wanted to give you a little idea of what we are doing right now, so below is the schedule of my day, with a description of what happens.

5:30 a.m Wake up
5:45 Leave for run to the beach
6:00 Prayer walk on beach
6:30 Arrive back, shower
7:00 Eat breakfast
7:30-9 Personal devotional time
9-10 Base Worship
10-10:30 Cuppa time-This is the morning tea time, it is call cuppa because it short for a cup of something. They have amazing pastries and I have become a huge fan of tea with milk! Something new I have picked up from the Aussies here.
10:30-12:45 Lecture
Each has a specific topic, last week was hearing the voice of God, this week is on forgiveness and repentance. We have guest speakers each week, and I'm really excited for the speaker this week, who is on the national board for YWAM.
1:00 Lunch
2:00-3:30 Lecture
4:00 Work duty
On work duty we clean EVERYTHING! Out side and in. We also have to help prepare and clean up meals. Honestly, I'm learning some great life skills. A lot about cooking that is for sure! It is really a family here, we do everything together, I absolutely love it.
5:00-6 Free time
6:00 Dinner
Evenings are free!

I hope this gives you a good idea of what our days look like! We miss you all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

DTS so far

Last week was our first week of class here, and for the most part I wouldn't really consider it to be a class. The speaker was a local pastor who has been involved with YWAM for sometime now, and the topic he was speaking on was hearing the voice of God. Below is an exert from my journal entry about one of the days of the week.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m to Laura at my beside asking me to come pray for her. I must say, she startled me a great deal, and when I got up I wasn’t quiet sure what was going on. As it turns out, about half the base were infected with the same virus as I had our second day here, possibly H1N1? Thankfully it is only a one day virus, but it is a very bad one. Laura said that it was the worst that she has ever felt! She was up all night throwing up until she came and got me. As I found out in the morning this was the story of a few others on base, and then quiet a few more had diarrhea. Throughout the day more and more people began to feel sick and had to go sleep. It was not a good feeling missing part of our group during our daily activities. I found out also that the virus was not only on base, but many other places in the area. Our guest speaker was so sick that he was not able to come, nursing homes had to be shut down, and there was prayer request after prayer request from local churches for members who were sick. It not a good day for anyone when it came to health.
Another very odd thing was that when I was up with Laura, that when I looked outside the sky was blood red. I thought that it was just me, but then as other woke up we began to realize how strange it was. When we went outside we found out that everything was covered in dust. We had a huge dust storm over night! All the locals said they had never seen anything like it before. As the sun came up the sky turned from red to orange, and eventually turned clear again. With the combination of the sickness and the sky we were convinced the world was about to end!
God really answered prayer for Laura and I. When she woke me up I spend the next few hours praying for her and reading Scripture out loud. From that point on her chills went away, she was able to dink some liquid, and she finally got some sleep! Praise God! She looked so miserable; I wonder if that is how I looked when I was sick? Laura slept most of the day, but she was able to get up and around for a little while which was great to see. I think she will be back to normal by tomorrow, that seems to be the pattern with everyone that has gotten sick.

Yesterday, Laura and I decided we need to put our faith into action and go do evangelism on the street after a good conversation with our guest speaker Berry. God had been putting on my heart for awhile the desire to go and do out reach, but I had been resisting. At lunch I decided to ask Berry some questions about being filled with the Spirit, which he most certainly is, and after a short conversation he brought up the fact that he needs to be doing evangelism in order to continue to be filled with the Spirit. When he said that God convicted me and I realized I’m the same exact way. At Judson I would have a spiritual conversation, get more fired up, have another conversation, get more fired up, so on and so forth. But, I have only had a few good Spiritual conversations in the past few months. I was drying my self out spiritually. Berry actually challenged us to do evangelism in Wollongong, and once he said “there are so many people here that need Jesus” I knew I had to do something that day.
So, Laura and I recruited Josh and Nick to come with us, who had never done any type of evangelism before, but seemed very excited. Before we set out, we sat down and asked God to show us where to go and who to talk to. And he did! God had put on Laura’s heart a field and groups of three; on Josh’s the surf shop, on Nick’s kids, and on mine, surfers, kids, skate park, and an old man with a hat walking a dog. Because two of us had something to do with surf we set of toward the surf shop. But, before we got there we saw a group of teenagers in the field playing footie (rugbee). As we approached them, I said to Laura “so what do you think,” to which she replied, “I’m not really feeling drawn to them.” However, right when we said that, the boys split into two groups of three. We agreed this definitely was not a coincidence, so we went and talked to them. We had some good conversation and found out about their faith. There were no decisions to follow Christ, but later in the day when we returned home they gave us a friendly wave. I think they really saw God’s love in us at least.
Our next stop was at the skate park, where I felt God wanted us to split into groups of two. Nick and Laura went to the skate park, Josh and I kept on heading to the skate shop. In the next 45 minutes, we met a total of six other people and had 3 spiritual conversations. When we met back up all of us were fired up! It is so fun to do the Lord’s work, and it is so spiritually energizing.
The whole time, however, I was looking for the old man with the hat. All of the other things God has showed us we had found, but not the old man. But, this morning, when Josh and Kevin were outside looking at the sky, around 6 a.m. they saw and old man, walking a dog, and he had a hat on! When the described him it was exactly the picture that God had put into my head! They went and introduced themselves, and he said they should talk again in the future.
All of this is very new to me, I really don’t know quiet what to think of it. It is obviously from God, but my question is, is all of this new, or have I simply not been listening to God in the past? I’m beginning to think it is the later, but I’m still uncertain. Maybe it is a mixture of both?

In our afternoon session we continued to hear the stories of the rest of the DTS students, and I was blown away by some of the stories of the other students. I can’t believe the pain that some of them have had to go through. It doesn’t seem quiet fair that I have been spared from so much. I have never had to under go a real tragedy in my life, and while I was in deep sin when I was younger, God delivered me from it and set me on solid ground. While it might not seem fair, I praise and thank God continually for blessing me with a loving and supportive family. Really, many of the problems and pains that other students have gone through have come from family problems. Focus On The Family really makes sense to me now. If all families would truly be God honoring, if parents would only stay together, if fathers would truly love their daughters, if siblings would truly serve each other, the world would be a much different place.
I was amazed at how recent the ordeals were that the other students have gone through. I think I had a false perception that everyone would be coming in “having it all together.” But really this is not that case at all, and I’m glad it’s not. There are kids here who lived in unrepentant sin in the summer, and have only been able to break free being away from home in an Christian environment.
I really did expect that I would come here to a group of other young people who were on fire for their faith, who want to go into missions, and who wanted to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Instead, most people here have no idea what they are doing with their lives. Many are using the DTS as an escape from college or just as a time to figure out what to do next. I don’t even think there are any other students here who know they want to do missions for sure, though there are a few exploring the idea.
All I know is that each and every person here is supposed to be here. Each and every person has a unique and miraculous story of how they came to be here, and it is obvious that God wants them here. It really doesn’t matter that they are younger than I thought, that they aren’t as mature as I thought, or most of them aren’t going into full time missions. What does matter is that God is going to change their lives here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

YWAM notes

These are my notes from the first set of lectures from Bruce, the man who started the base here in Wollongong. He mostly just talked more about who YWAM was, and it was very informative. These aren't very detailed notes, and might be hard to follow, but I hope you can learn a little more about the base here and about YWAM by reading them.

YWAM Lecture notes
Thursday, September 17
What is YWAM?
Mission is a task to complete
What is it about Youth that is special?
Youth will not be tentative, but be willing to jump right in
What is YWAM’s approach to missions?
How can we use the gifts and abilities to bring God glory in the world?
Three main focuses
1. Evangelism
2. Mercy Ministries
3. Training

Training is for evangelism and mercy ministries
Loren had to wait five years before he saw in ministry (1960-1965).
YWAM was started in Australia by Dean Sherman!
“God needed me to get out of my comfort zone. He was calling me out of being a local Christian to being a global Christian if I was going to do missions.” –Bruce Skinner, talking about when he choose to leave Wollongong, his home town most of his life, to go to DTS in Hawaii
Bruce was lead away from Bible school because the things that he desired in his heart did not line up with what the school desired. People left the school with a very inward faith, not a mission’s focus. Bruce desired to go deeper into missions and the Holy Spirit.
It took 18 months before anything happened with YWAM Wollongong. After God reveals a step to you, it takes time before the next thing happens. That is what God was trying to teach me through the story of Abraham.
Prayer, Prayer, Prayer.
God provides, always! There is always enough, have faith. God knows what you need, act on his call and he will provide.
How much faith does it take to start with something? How much does it take to start with nothing?
Faith is putting your whole weight in something that you don’t know exists.
If I can do it in my own strength, then it’s not God.
If you have money, if you know where the money is coming from then it’s not really in faith.
YWAM Foundational values
Value-Something of worth to an individual or group
If it is of worth, it is going to cost you something
Biblically based
Worship, Holiness, Witness, Prayer, Fellowship
Witness-Bring the Gospel to those who do not know them
1. Know God
All aspects of worship are a result of the outflow of knowing God.
2. Make God known
3. Hearing God’s voice
John 10:1-18, what is the passage talking about?
The Bible tells of the general will of God, but not specifically for you personally
Why would God talk to people in the Bible but not to us?
God doesn’t speak to us the way we expect him to
Obedience is key
You have to learn the difference between your thoughts and God’s thoughts
4. Practice worship and intercessory prayer
Practice means it is never ending, it is never perfect
Desire to “get into the battle”
Engaging in Spiritual warfare


God gave man authority over the earth (dominion mandate)
We still have authority over the earth today
God doesn’t engage in the earth unless he is asked
Ex. Daniel in the lions den. Why did Daniel have to pray? Did God not know he was there? God waits for permission to enter the physical realm
It took a long time for Daniel’s prayer to be answered, but he kept praying, and God came.

5. Be visionary
What is next? How does God want the body of Christ to advance next?
Vision is from God, they are his ideas
6. Champion Young People
Putting young people in leadership positions and support and help grow them
7. Broad Structured and decentralized
Allows for quick movement
Structures should serve the people. Structure should follow the vision, structure is controlling
Overseen by elders
Elders receive information from others and make decisions accordingly
8. International and interdenominational

Theology-study of God
Three levels of theology
1. Dogma (Indisputable)
2. Doctrine (Open interpretations of Scripture)
3. Opinion
Paul says he lives as if all three categories are dogma (passage?)
I love the focus on Christ, not on doctrine!
YWAM allows for open doctrine, not dogma
9. Have a Biblical world view
Philosophy, ideology, perspective, thoughts about the world
Our subconscious mind
We want to view the world as Christ views it
The Bible gives us God’s perspective on everything
The West has a huge separation between physical and spiritual
The Bible views God cares about everything
It has created a higher view of the pastor, healer, worship leader ect, and not the servant
We have to change our mind set from some things being spiritual and some not
10. Function in teams
It is always tempting to try to do something your self
Individualism is not in the Bible
Community, family, eldership is
God is a God of community
The whole reason God created the universe was for relationship
Embrace differences
11. Exhibit Servant leadership
Servant leadership is counter-cultural

12. Do first, then teach
Godly character is more important then gifts, abilities, and talents
Basic philosophy: You become your teacher
13. Be relationship oriented
“We desire to be united through lives of holiness, mutual support, transparency, humility, and open communication, rather than a dependence on structures or rules.”
God is about internal government
The external government’s job is to enforce what should be on those whose internal government has failed.

14. Value to individual
Caring for every individual uniquely according to their needs
Our education systems are based on the Greek Model
They are based on industry, producing is what is valued

15. Value Families
About 80% of everything you learn is learned in the family
Families are called together

16. Rely on relationship based support
No staff member gets paid
Promotes accountability, communication and mutual prayer. It involves the donor as a ministry partner.
Creates further dependence on God
Assures that everyone who joins, does not do so out of profit.
The pressure to raise support is not on you, it is on God. You do your part of communicating the need, and he will provide

17. Practice hospitality
Practice generosity
Hospitality costs us something

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wollongong Overlook

Prayer Request, and a little about life here

Yesterday was my birthday, and I guess today kinda is to my too as it is the 14th in the states, and it was a really good day, until the evening. The staff threw me a little party,and it truly felt like we were family even though I had only been there a day. The rest of the day we did orientation and played a few games, but in the evening I started to feel sick, so I went and laid down after dinner. I began to have the shivers and felt sick to my stomach, and I ended up throwing up, which for those of you who know me well know I never do! That was only the second time I can remember ever throwing up. I'm still not sure what is wrong, whether I have the flu or whether I have food poisoning, but I have continued to feel sick today and have had to miss most of the activities. Please pray for a quick recovery to my health!

I wanted to mention a few things about Wollongong that are not so good, just so all of you don't get to jealous :)

First, there are big birds that fly into the glass early in the morning, which sounds like muffled gun shots. After about 10 or so bangs, the birds then grown in pain, I guess I can't blame them. It is quite annoying though, and may have to take up bird hunting while I'm down here.

Second, there are two different phosphates for the sink, one for hot water, one for cold. I don't understand. So basically, when you have to wash your hands you either have to use very hot water, or very cold water! Strange.

Third, there is something called veggiemite which is a yeast abstract spread which the Australians love to put on toast. It is absolutely awful! Thankfully I can avoid that one, but still it is quite strange.

I have been shocked at how hard it is to understand people sometimes as well, that is another difficulty. One of my favorite Australian terms is that they call cotton candy "fairy floss." What?

I'm so excited to be here, it is going to be a time of large Spiritual growth for both Laura and I. It is obvious that this was indeed God's will for us to be here, even though it is going to be very challenging. God Bless!


This morning we had our first time of worship as a group, and what an experience it was. When we first began to sing, and everyone was more towards the charismatic side in worship, I felt really out of place and almost a little embarrassed. But, just as Darren Wilson says in the finger of God, the more I saw it, the more normal it became. The other interesting part is that this morning God really put the prayer of “God make me like a little child” on my heart. That really is what everyone here is, they are just children of God who are unafraid to love their daddy. They are not scared to dance before him, shout to him, and fall on their knees before him. They realize their only audience is that of Jesus, that it doesn’t matter if others think they are crazy with how they worship God.

As I worshiped with this group of Jesus lovers I felt the same feeling that I did when I attended the Hillsong concert at Willow Creek back in June. The only difference was that there were no lights, there was no great sound system, I was not with 9,000 other people, and the musicians were not professional. So how was it that I could feel that way? It was because God’s Spirit was in the room. It was not only their, it was evident. As I sang to our king I also began to realize why Hillsong is so attractive to so many young Christians. It is not because them, it is because they invite believers to worship Jesus with all their heart; as “The Stand” says, “with arms high and heart abandoned.”

The charismatic movement, or at least that of what I have experienced this far, is not about “weird” ideas about the Holy Spirit, it is about worshiping Jesus with passion, as we were created to do. When I look at the descriptions of the saints worshiping and singing to God in Scripture, I don’t see a group of people standing with their arms at their sides softly singing so that those next to them can’t hear, what I see is a group of people falling down in reverence before God, and shouting to their king at the tops of their voices (Revelation 4, Isaiah 6). Why do we not worship God like that normally? Could it be because we are not really filled with the Spirit as we should be when we are worshiping God? I’m beginning to believe so.

What Hillsong, and other charismatic’s do is invite the passion that has been contained inside believers to come out. They invite them to sing, dance, and shout with passion. I’m convinced that believers are longing to worship God with passion, but that many are too afraid to show it because of what others think.
As I was singing this morning I couldn’t help but think that only a few hours earlier, Judson’s chapel was happening and they were singing songs that were very similar to the ones that we were singing; maybe they were even singing the same songs! But as I thought about it, I became saddened at what a difference it was. Here at the DTS in Wollongong, people are unashamed, and they are madly in love with Jesus. The overflow is simply what is seen in worship. But, I’m sure that the same old was happening at Judson chapel. Maybe a few people raising their hands in worship, but over all most believers sang a half-hearted effort and thought more about what other people were thinking about them then they did about who they were singing to. This cannot and should not be! I wish so badly that all of you who are following Christ could be with me here to worship our king with unashamed passion, just as we were made to do.