I come from a very different family. I grew up with three younger brothers. For the most part we all got along very well. Some times better than others but thats just how brothers are. About a year ago my parents became foster parents for four other kids. I really grew up with these four, (Three girls and a boy), so they were already like family to me. So now I am the oldest of eight kids, five boys three girls. We are a very unusual bunch, my father ensures that…. He has a slightly twisted sense of humor that seems to bring us all together and teaches us all to have a great time just hanging out with each other and being a family.
Ok it has been quite some time since I have returned home from Colorado Springs and my time spent at the Focus Leadership Institute. I wanted to sit back and give a brief overview of what all that experience was like. For many of my friends back home it can still seem like a mystery as to what that time period really was for me. And I think that is partly my fault. When I came back there were a lot of people that were really glad to see me back home and kept asking what it was like and what I learned. I found it very difficult to answer their questions very effectively because God was still doing a work on my heart and I was not entirely sure about what had taken place.
My time at FLI was truly a life-altering experience that has grown me like no other experience. I have spoken to a few of people about that experience and I am met with the ?I?m not so sure I really want to go back to school.?
Lets back up and start from the beginning.
My senior year of college I was looking for something to do after school. I knew that I was tired of being here and wanted to just go somewhere. I prayed about a few different programs, but the more information I found out about FLI the more interested I was in attending. Getting everything ready to leave was difficult for me. I had never been that far away from home before and it kinda scared me. My family had struggled financially a lot growing up and the past few years there were a few events that had taken place that had drained my savings. I had no idea where I was going to get the funding to go. But God provided the way for me to go. There was Tuition assistance, and fundraising available. But that was just God opening the door showing me that it was where He wanted me to go.
But the true transformation took place while I was there. I really did not know what to expect going out there. But God completely transformed my thinking, and my relationship with Him. I can honestly say that I am not the same person today that I was when I left. I grew in my understanding of God, scripture, and how to live out biblical community.
The biggest piece of the FLI experience was Koinonia. The community that was developed there at FLI. Forty Five students that lived together, taking the same classes, eating meals together, sitting in our apartments reading and studying together. All of us were leaders that came out to learn and be trained in how to lead. It really is an interesting dynamic how so many leaders can come together and live life together relating on a level that is truly amazing. Its really hard to put to words. My home church back here in Charlotte does a pretty good job within our care groups caring for each other and living in that community that we as Christians need in our daily lives. But having come back I have seen certain areas that need work or areas that are just not there. To that I cannot really do very much to change that. The community at FLI really is amazing and it?s rare to find anything like that anywhere else. It is somewhat of a simulated community, but still one that is very educational and teaches you many life lessons. It sets a bar that for the rest of my life I will be striving to meet once again, but really is a special one and honestly will not likely ever be seen again elsewhere. Many of my classmates have discussed how when they got home, they tried to share that type of community in their home churches and schools. ?They just don?t get it? is the typical response. And it leaves us really desiring more.
The classes at FLI are truly amazing. Learning day in and day out about how to live life as a Christian, from Marriage and Family class to My Identity in Christ, to Developing a Christian Worldview. Reading books every night by some of the best authors I have ever read, and discussing it with some of my closest friends. There is so much of what I learned that I am still unpacking and analyzing and will continue to do for the rest of my life.
The professors at FLI are amazing as well. They all dedicate their lives to serving and caring for the students. They open their homes and their lives to live in that Koinonia and pour into the lives of the students.
That?s just a brief summary of FLI. It really was a life changing experience that I am so very thankful for. I now understand better of who I am in Christ, how to live life as best as I can for Christ. I left NC in September of 2010 not really knowing what to expect arriving with 43 strangers to a place none of us had ever been before. And left that place that following December with 43 of my closest friends to return home to live out everything we had been taught. It an experience that helped to define who I am today, and I would not ever trade for anything in the world today.
If your interested in hearing more about it, I would be more than ecstatic to share more with you.
This is a post that a good friend of mine wrote yesterday and I wanted to share it here on my Blog. Her name is Emily and These are a few of her thoughts. Thank you Emily for letting me share this blog post here.
Yesterday felt like something true.
I’m aware of how strange of a statement that is. What I mean is that I tend to spend far too much of my time listening to the world and everything and everyone in I, and barely any time at all listening to God. I buy into society’s image of beauty and success that tells me that I’m not alive if I’m not in love, that only personal gain is worth pursuing, that I don’t have the right skin tone or body type or hair color. I’ve listened to the lie that says I’m not worth the support of a community and that I just need to keep quiet about the things that hurts me and haunt me and steal my sleep. I’ve listened to the lie that says I’m beyond help.
A friend of mine posted a link to this video on Facebook and it brought a lot to my mind. It really seemed to hit home for where I currently am. Having spent an entire semester out at the Focus Leadership Institute last fall, I experienced a community of strong believers that continually sought after God’s face on a daily basis and it was very easy to follow in that pattern when you have a support group such as that.
Now that I am back home, it is all too easy to slip back into the hum drums of normal life just like before of the daily getting up and going to work and forgetting to seek after God on a continual basis like I did just last semester.
We as Christians today need to wake up and refuse to live life just like everybody else. We dont need to sit back and live like we dont care. We have the love of a savior that gave up His life so that we could share eternity together in heaven and that is the only way we can ever get to know God. If not for Christ, we would all be lost people living in a lost world that cannot ever truly experience true joy and happiness.
Since we have that ability to tap into the eternal joy that has been provided to us and the blessings that have been bestowed upon our lives we all need to stand up and refuse to not share our relationship with God and the joy it brings to everyone around us. Sometimes it all takes the form of just stopping to talk to a stranger and give a small word of encouragement. God provides many small opportunities to share His love with others throughout our days. We only need to recognize those small opportunities and take them. Stop and talk with the neighbor down the street that you havent met before, the guy hanging out at the gas station may just need a simple word of encouragement to brighten his day, or give some time to the kid down the street and help him with a problem he may be going through. It all comes down to sharing the Love of Christ with those we interact with. I challenge you to make it a priority in your daily life to take the road less traveled and live life together in True Biblical Koinonia (Christian Fellowship).
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