Hi my Name is Karli, I am the worship Leader here at the church and I’ve been in ministry for a while now. It honestly feels like my whole life. Today I will be bringing you the blog for A Touch Of Salt. When I was asked to share something on the blog, one subject really stuck out to me, “The Value of Experience”.
I immediately began to ponder on all the seasons the Lord had taken me through and to this day is still taking me through. There were good and sometimes very difficult times, but in each of those seasons it brought growth through experience. So I wanted to share a few things with you all that may encourage you to keep moving forward through whatever season of life you might be in right now with the Lord.
First thing is first, “The Lord's ways are not our own (Isaiah 55:8-9)”. There have been many experiences the Lord has taken me through that I’ve asked Him in that very moment “What is happening Lord, what am I doing here, why would you tell me to do this, someone else would be way more qualified for this task, Lord this is not what I thought it was going to be”, including different experiences: ministry schools, kids ministry, youth, outreach, and even working overseas on the mission field. I was called to people that I didn’t even know their language. I came to realize on this life journey that the Lord just wants our “YES” and He will do the rest, and we will grow in experiential knowledge and not just head knowledge. In 2nd Peter chapter 1 it talks about two different types of knowledge, Ginosko- which is knowledge, and Epiginosko-which is experiential knowledge. He doesn’t just want the knowledge to stay in your head but He wants you to put it into action on a personal level. I could type all day testimony after testimony but the only way you will fully know is if you step out and get experience yourself. Exodus 29:45-46 God said, “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God and they will know (personal experience) that I am the Lord their God who brought them forth out of the Land of Egypt that I might dwell among them”.
The next question is how do we grow in our experience? People have different opinions, some would say by studying the subject they want to know about, or to gain knowledge and wisdom in, is all you need. For example, if I wanted to be a doctor I would have to study, but studying without action would be a waste of (going out and applying for the actual job) my knowledge and I wouldn’t help anyone as a doctor. Other people would say it's by experience only, but using that same example I wouldn’t want to be that “doctors” first experience. I want an experienced doctor but I wouldn’t want Him without the knowledge of whatever element that I am being seen for because it would be interesting to be his first patient. Haha! We need both. So I guess you can say “Knowledge” is only so deep until it’s partnered with “experience”. So we can study the Word and grow in our understanding but if we never put it into practice, do we really have faith? If I’m in the middle of a flood and I have a boat and I say “yeah, I believe this boat would carry me to a safe place” but I never got in it, I would drown. If we are never brave enough to step out and put our knowledge into action, what good are we? Do we really believe what we say? If I truly believe that the boat would save me then you better believe I would be paddling right on out of there and taking people with me out of that situation! Stepping out in faith and getting in the boat, we have unimaginable experiences with the Lord that creates a foundation within us through any situation. This will help us grow into the sons the Lord has called us to be (James 1:2-4). So when we are obedient to the Lord, He makes all the “Whys” more clear as we go but we have to be willing to take the first steps.
Jesus was born at night. Only a few shepherds were awake, those few who were on night watch. The rest were sleeping, along with everyone else in town. Our savior was born after everyone was already in bed. There is something interesting about the way God comes to us, isn’t there? He comes like a thief in the night. When Jesus returns, it will the same way. When Jesus came the first time, He came while everyone was asleep.
A few wise men in a distant country saw the signs and began a very long journey to see the king. We know from Matthew 2 that the Magi took about 2 years to reach Jesus. They were familiar with our Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures. They knew the prophecies about the Messiah better than the Jews did, so when they arrived at King Herod’s palace and told him what they were doing, he was perplexed at the news. He asked them basic questions, and they were confused why Herod didn’t know what they knew. He operated in secret, calling the Magi in to find out the timeline, so he would know how old the Messiah might be (found in Matthew 2:7), and then later sent soldiers to kill every boy in Bethlehem that was 2 years old and under (Matthew 2:16).
On the night that Jesus was born, most of the world missed it. The Magi didn’t miss it, and the few shepherds that were awake were visited by angels and told to go to the town of Bethlehem. Other than that small group, everyone else on earth had no idea. That includes all of the people who had prayed daily for the Messiah to come. When God moves, it often goes unnoticed. Many people miss His presence, His love, His voice. It’s easy to do. God rewards those who diligently seek Him. He is glorified when He conceals things, and He glorifies those who seek the things God conceals.
Why does God seem to enjoy hiding things from His children? It sure does seem like this doesn’t it? He often shares partial prophetic words with us, always just a fraction of a message, and it can take years for us to get through all the codes to figure out what God means, only to find out our ideas and interpretations are wrong. Or why does God often move unnoticed? Shouldn’t He make it obvious so that people can’t deny Him? Many people ask questions like these. The answer is because God wants us to draw close to Him. He will not reward people for something someone else does. That wouldn’t be just. That is why your parents’ faith won’t save you. Every person has to press in to God in order to see Him. Again, God rewards those who diligently seek Him, and He glorifies us when we do.
Allow me to get back to Jesus’ birth. Most of the world missed it. Jesus once taught that His return would be the same way, like a thief in the night. He taught that there will be people who have waited for Him to return, but when He does many will be distracted for a lack of preparation (the Parable of the 10 virgins, for example, Matthew 25). Would you have been asleep if you knew the Messiah was being born that night? Absolutely not. If you knew where and when, you would have been there. But the problem was that most people didn’t seek out the information. The Magi did. People were praying every day for the Messiah to come. They were desperate. But they weren’t desperate to have a relationship with God because their desperation was about freedom from the Romans. They were desperate for a warrior to kill their enemies. So when they hoped that Jesus would be their Messiah, they went to Him only to hear Him say, “Love your enemies,” or, “sell all your possessions,” and they left disappointed.
We must be careful that we don’t make the same mistakes of praying for God to move for us. Rather, we need to seek God out when we pray. We ought to be diligently seeking for His will, listening to Him before we speak. I believe God wants to share everything with us. He doesn’t want to withhold anything, and He freely gives to us. Hopefully we are close enough to hear Him, and not trying to figure out a way to manipulate Him to do what we want (it’s not even possible, but that fact doesn’t seem to deter us from trying). Could we be a people that actually listen before we speak?
From 2015 to 2020, we had a very powerful move of God happen at UBC. In that time, we had over 60 diamonds manifest out of thin air and over 30 feet (3 inches deep) of emerald shard manifest. We had a night in 2018 where a dusting of different colored glory filled our church with blues, purple, gold, silver, green, and reds. We saw 18 people get out of wheel chairs and walk back to their cars, over 40 cancer patients get healed, countless broken bones healed, countless limbs grow out, 6 deaf ears get healed, and 3 blind eyes open and heal. I even got to see a man with no eye, get an eye that worked as it quickly began to grow inside an empty eye socket. Our little church was sent out to 3 different continents, we’ve had over 30 nations come to services here, we have cast out over 30 demons inside (with many more outside), and we have seen Muslims, Hindus, and atheists come to Jesus. As a matter of fact, we have seen approximately 12,000 people come to Christ because God has moved as a result of our faith and obedience.
But you see it is also very easy to miss a move of God. Our church has split twice at the same time that these amazing signs have been happening. That is why it is so important that we understand how easy it is to miss God. People can actually see God move and doubt it. We can get so selfish that we deny what we are seeing. How? Because even though God as moved so incredibly, it was still a struggle every day. Sickness, pain, circumstances, and finances didn’t exactly go away or get better. We struggled, and we continue to struggle Life hasn’t changed a whole lot for us, even though we have seen so much.
That’s how it is. The spiritual Kingdom of God doesn’t greatly impact the physical kingdom, and so it is easy to miss God, just like the Jews did on the night Jesus was born. Would David or Samuel, Nathan or Moses, Elijah or Elisha, Isaiah or Ezekiel have missed Jesus’ birth? No, they would have been there. Why? Because they sought Him out, centuries before He came, and prophesied about His coming. My prayer is that we become a people that don’t miss the movements of God. This next year is an opportunity for us at UBC. God will move. Will we see it? Will we feel it? Will we recognize it?
May we not be found sleeping, but instead be found watchful and ready…
I’m pretty certain everyone would say being joyful is better. It’s a no brainer. When we are joyful, people want to be around us; when we are critical, no one wants to be around us. More than that, science shows evidence that people who are joyful are healthier than those who are critical. I read in an article recently that “(Joy) may also help combat stress, boost your immune system, protect your heart and reduce pain. What's more, it may even increase your life expectancy.” Clearly Joy is where it’s at.
But so often in today’s world, people are choosing to be critical over being joyful. Why? It’s simple: choosing to be critical is easier than choosing to be joyful. Politics, jobs, family, etc. all have a strong influence over our lives. It’s easy to get swept up with criticizing other people’s decisions, blaming others for our decisions. In today’s world, it seems that we have excuses for our excuses. This morning I was reminded of a young man I met about 20 years ago.
I was a freshman in college, and he was homeless. “Charles” (I changed his name) was about 6’5” and 270 pounds, solid muscle, and he sat at the same spot every day near one of the buildings at school. There were a few homeless people in the neighborhood, but Charles always looked clean, had a smile, and talked with people. He was different. I saw him almost every day, and talked with him most days. I soon learned that he woke up at 5:00 am every day, walked to a nearby gym to clean it, mop it, and sanitize it in order to “pay for his use”, and then he would lift weights, all before 8:00 am. He taught me how to survive on $1 per day, how to save money, and how to brighten people’s days. You see, even though Charles was homeless, he was going to school too (It took me a while to catch on that he was going to a small junior college while I was going to the big university). He told me that he had dreams of playing in the NFL, but made bad decisions in high school. He couldn’t get into any colleges, and all his scholarship offers were taken away. He had been in prison a few years before we met, but his dream never faded, so when he got out, he found his way to the town where I went to college, and he started saving up. Even though he was homeless, he was focused on his future. A few years later, I transferred to a different university and bumped into Charles again! He was playing football for the school, was on full scholarship, and was on the Dean’s list. He became an All-American, and eventually became a professional football player.
Why did I tell you about Charles? Because every day, Charles chose joy over being critical, complaining about all the problems in his life, and playing the blame game. He could’ve blamed his circumstances on many things, but he chose Joy. We have many scriptures that tell us to choose joy, and it must be said that Joy is a major characteristic of Heaven.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – James 1:2
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17
“In Your presence is fullness of Joy.” – Psalm 16:11
I love the phrase “fullness of joy” because that means there is so much joy that there is no room for anything else to exist. Full means full. It doesn’t mean mostly full. For something to be full, it means there is no room for anything else. If a bottle is full of water, there is no room in that bottle to get anything else inside, without causing something to overflow. That is beautiful in my opinion.
Being critical of others causes the joy that God put inside of us to diminish. Focusing on negative things sure makes it hard to stay positive. I have heard comedians talk about how when they focus on the news, current events, and politics that their jokes suffer, their timing isn’t as good, and they become miserable. Conversely, when they find joy in circumstances, their material improves. This happens for all of us.
The problem is, that being critical is so easy. It is almost effortless to focus on negative things, and it can be very difficult to see the bright side, to stay optimistic, or to choose to be joyful when everything around you is falling apart. The reason we need Jesus in our lives, and why we need to be in the spirit as we walk through this life is because He did. Jesus chose joy.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
If our eyes aren’t on Jesus, joy is not possible. Happiness is, but joy is not. And if you aren’t in the spirit, joy is fleeting because it’s part of the Kingdom of God, which is a spiritual Kingdom. I love Hebrews 12:2 because it shows me that Jesus embraced the cross. He didn’t worry about the shame that people would have when they saw Him up there, He was focused on the Joy set before Him. Jesus was joyful while He was on the cross, not desperate or troubled. Jesus chose Joy. Walking with Jesus will allow you to choose joy as well. Walking in the spirit, as Jesus did, will allow you to walk in Joy the same as Jesus.
I know circumstances can be rough, that some days are just bad days, and that not everything is great these days. I’m not asking you to pretend that everything is great, either. I’m telling you that Joy is as much of an option as anything else, and that we as Christians and Ambassadors of God have been commanded to choose Joy in order to look like Him and imitate Him. God is Joyful, His Kingdom is Joyful, and when we are near to God we are joyful , too.
So today, I hope that you choose joy. God bless you.