Sunday, January 30, 2011

Content in [all] circumstances

I had quite the emotional moment tonight. I moved from one temporary room to another. I was juggling my computer, paper bag of clothes and my blanket and pillow across campus to what is my current place to sleep tonight.

It was a strange situation. In the paper bag is a change of clothes-designer jeans from a former life. A macbook, also from a former life where I had money to spend on such things. And I moved towards my next temporary place to sleep.

I set up my bed, my blanket, my pillow. I place my paper bag on the floor. It's a simple life, but tonight it feels like one of shame, of forced humility. A year ago, life was easy. It was then I bought the jeans...And now I am living day to day. (To clarify, I have two jobs and am a full-time student, don't get me wrong. I'm just trying to find the right place to live since I've moved back from my semester abroad).

In Africa, it was easy for me to only have a few outfits, my hair tied back, Teva sandals and no makeup. But now, that life doesn't fit in Orange County. I resent that I feel this way-like I'm not good enough for the likes of this place.

I can't place my emotional well-being on my circumstances. I have just never been here before. Not only am I in want and need, everyone can see that I am in need. This is a place where self-sufficiency abounds. There is an overabundance of everything-32 flavors of yogurt, 25 kinds of shampoo.
I don't want to Costco-sized version of everything. I don't want 20 chapsticks, or 5 pounds of coffee, or a family pack of frozen enchiladas.

I just want to find my fulfillment in something more simple. It doesn't get much more simple than this paper bag and pillow.

Jesus, make me ok to live out of my car.

Haha, what a silly prayer. But I don't need an overabundance of everything-I just need an overabundance of You- of your love, grace and joy.

If your eye is on the sparrows, then your heart is on me, God. They do the work for which they were created, and God takes care of them..

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Acceptance of the old nature

How do we justify sin? Today I had a moment where I just felt a heavy sense of failure. I thought, “I’m dealing with this issue, again! I was doing so well. How did this happen? Why am I so susceptible to this one issue? I feel drawn to failure in this area, again and again.”

Then my thoughts went to- “Oh, this is just my thing. It’s just what I do. Everyone has their one sin that they keep falling back into. It’s completely normal.” What a horrible thought process to fall into. All that’s within me is to praise His name. My whole life, my presence, the very essence of me-all that is to praise Him, honor Him, glorify Him.

God gives perfect peace. Victory over sin, victory over the sinful nature. God, make my heart clean, pure, new.

My discouragement came from all that I am not. I have to believe what Jesus did and is doing is enough. There is power and authority in Jesus that I have not been walking in. My shame and my acceptance of sin dishonors the sufficiency of Christ and His promises.

Ezekiel 14:13 Stand still, stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. See God win for you.
Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be you shield and rampart.
Needing Circles today. Resting in His promise.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Days of Chaos

One hour of Todd and Darin floating in liminal white space = fascinating, enlightening, comical, powerful

I spent two days trying to write a post commenting on the first Orbiter podcast...and all my thoughts and writing resulted in...chaos. So many ideas were stirring in my mind about success, failure, gratitude, and honesty. It's very difficult for me to be completely honest with myself, and of course in an online blog :)

I have so many dreams about what I want my life to look like.
Oswald Chambers declares that our obstinacy and self-will stab at Jesus. Placing a greater trust in our own dreams and rights hurts Him. I don't want to grieve the Spirit with my stubborn inability to place my present and future in the hands of One much more capable than me.

God's desire for us is to desire and seek a oneness with the Father, rather than a self-willed determination. I need to learn to submit my will to Christ. That often seems like a great idea! I look back through my journals of the past few months, and there are many seasons where my heart joyfully surrenders to the only one worthy of my dreams.

Today my prayer is one of submission. May my whole heart be surrendered to Jesus, because He is more than enough to care for me. Such an amazing love that tells me, It's all going to be ok. May I trust and keep trusting that He fulfills each and every need.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Circles-Week 1

What a lovely idea-to form a group of friends who share true testimonies of God's love, provision and lessons. Part of me says-Wait, that's not supposed to will take years to build a foundation based on honest sharing. But I see it already, and I am blessed to be a part of this group!

This week has been 1. Amazing and 2. Busy. I started my second job yesterday which keeps me extra busy. When my schedule gets rushed, that should be the time I seek solace in my quiet times with God. But this week it has been escaping me. I'll read a devotion, and a few verses, then either lose my concentration or lose interest.

So my prayers have become- Jesus, help me to hunger and thirst for your word, your righteousness, and honest purity. Grant me an undivided heart and mind. Help me to continue to cultivate an extravagant love that casts out fear of the unknown. I choose daily to build my hope upon you. May I guard my relationship with you, because you are the source of all strength and goodness. May we seek and keep seeking, together.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Circles introduction

Hi, I'm Amanda Bieniek. I'm a 22 year old senior at Concordia University, Irvine. My major is International Studies and my minor is Anthropology. Last semester I traveled abroad with 25 other students, 2 professors, 18 books and 1 backpack. We went to 10 countries in 4 months, leading service projects and taking 5 classes. During those 4 months, God shaped me into a figure that is much more flexible, adventurous and caring. 

The next season for me is one of intense learning. I am so hungry for more and more knowledge of God and his crazy, intense, passionate love for his children. I am learning to trust him in all circumstances. The current struggle-I'm homeless! :) Well, luckily I have good friends with a good couch, but I am getting back on my feet since being home from my semseter abroad. 
I am a nanny for two families, in Irvine and Tustin. I love kids! Children have such wonderful things to teach us about Jesus! What 3 year old Lucas has taught me: Preschool Christians.

I am so excited for Circles. I have been going to RockHarbor for 3.5 years and have been desperately searching for true community. It is difficult! Especially at such a large church that is, let's be honest, full of gorgeous people who often focus on trying to impress one another. I include myself in that category from time to time. I do not want to be that person though! 

Oh, Jesus, please continue to change my heart. Make it more like yours. "You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom," Psalm 51:6. 
And so this Circular journey is one of attempted honesty, truth, reality, love, joy, expectation, wisdom and faithfulness.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tracking a divine movement

God has been moving! Here are some notes from the past few weeks:

Jesus Culture 2011: The goal of the Jesus Culture conferences is to "mobilize a generation of revivalists to shape culture and transform nations through supernatural signs and wonders."
Banning spoke about the Secret Place (Matthew 6:6). The hidden foundation is something that nobody else knows about. It's a conversation that no one else hears.

A secret-place lifestyle establishes a secret history with the Lord. We meet in the secret place because 1. God is there! and 2. It's where fruit is cultivated.

Mark 4:34 says that when Jesus was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. The Greek word used here for everything is πάντα. It means everything, the whole, all things, every part.
The foundation of a revivalist is found in the secret place. It is where we are strengthened, and it is where God speaks to us.

The corporate momentum found at a conference with thousands of other worshippers of Jesus ignites a hunger for secret-place revival. I want to be famous in the secret place, because that's where Jesus meets us.

I often lower the standard down to my level of experience. But I would rather be shaped by the overwhelming, overflowing access to God that is available to anyone who actively seeks Him.

I don't want to leave an impression of myself on others. The only impression left by a life sacrificed to God is that of the "strong, calm sanity that God gives to those who are intimate with him," (Oswald Chambers).
"Bethel is the symbol of communion with God. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be," (Chambers).

These lessons have spurred a renewed desire to find Jesus in the secret place. I want to be a be strengthened there, to enable and encourage others to find their own place with God in this big world.

Genesis 28:16 Jacob exclaims, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." Another goal of mine is to be ever-more aware of God's presence. To acknowledge the truths of God, the God-reality of each moment.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I will give you a new name

I have hardly begun to process what has happened in the past 6 months. I have been home for 2 weeks, and I already feel as though God is ushering in a new season.

Last night, after a homemade pizza party, the house was full of a group of amazing people who love Jesus. We gathered to worship, pray and prophesy together. After several songs, each person received several "words" from God. The "guidelines" for prophesy are that the words must be encouraging, point towards Jesus, and build up and strengthen the person to further walk in their identity as a Christ-follower.

I transcribed the revelations as best I could in my journal. Marissa, my sister-in-law, two of my brothers, my mom, dad, two family friends and two guys my age from Bethel's Supernatural School of Discipleship were present. I wrote 16 pages of revelation.

While I would love to share the words that everyone received, I will share my own in hopes of remembering God's promises for this new year:
  • My mom kept hearing the song Rock a by baby. She saw a cradle up in a tree. She said, I know you fully trust God. When the tree branch breaks, the cradle will not fall.
  • Another vision was that God was laying dramatic colors over me. He is working on a huge abstract painting that is taller than me. We take clumps of paint together to form this masterpiece. It has taken awhile. At times I walk away from this painting, because it is a process. I have come back to it, and I will finally be able to finish it. This season is over and something beautiful is almost finished to display.
  • God is now opening something bigger to rejuvenate me. Be bold and step into that calling. People see your joy and wonder where it comes from. They desire that joy.
  • Every time God fills others, he does not run out. There will always be enough of him, more than enough. Do not worry, his hand is over that. Worry isn't something to live in-God has you in his hand.
It was an amazing night, filled with encouraging words and promises. There is so much more to share, but I sense that the right time will come to share more.
For now I pray that these words will sink into my heart and that I will walk on these promises of truth.
Be encouraged, my friends. God knows exactly where you are, and he desires to move you closer and closer to his heart.