Let me tell you about the LOVE of my LIFE

love is patient, love is kind. love keeps no record of wrong.

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when i finally got to that place where my destiny lied solely in the hands of God, it was unlike anything i had experienced before.
i moved to Clermont, Fl with no car, no money and no job.
i followed a spark in my spirit to move in with my college room mate and best friend to do ministry together at a church.
little did i know that God was going to stretch me in ways i didn’t know that i could be stretched. i reached the point to where i didn’t care if i ever make a dime, God would be my provider.

over the next year and a half, i watched as the things i had been diligently praying for for years begin to surface in my life. i prayed for housing, a car, the ability to begin paying my student loans, a full-time job and a place in a church where i felt like i was making a difference.
God showed up in my life and began putting the pieces of my destiny together. i was burning on all cylinders and it felt good.

except, i began to feel alone.

i began to wonder why i hadn’t found the love of my life yet. why hadn’t God answered that prayer?

and if it’s not bad enough, people kept coming up to me literally asking me “where’s your wife, Greg?”

believe me, if i knew, we’d be married by now.

i began to pray. i knew from past experience that if i try to search for the girl i wanted, she would stop short of who God wanted her to be for me.
so i waited. and waited.

and waited.

one day (Dec 6th to be exact), i was in a rom-com-grab-me-a-pint-of-ice-cream-and-a-blanket-and-leave-me-alone mood; i began to write a song cleverly titled, “where are you now?”
maybe i thought that somewhere around the world my future wife’s spirit would hear the words of the song and come running into my arms.

11692603_10206945889589383_3246431417684537947_na few days later (Dec 10th actually), i hear a knock on my classroom door.
(i have been serving as a teacher at a small christian school in central Florida for the past year and a half. never thought i’d be a teacher, but when you submit to God, He puts you in places that you never thought you’d be….and for good reason this time).
in walks the principal and her 20 year old daughter.

now, i’m a respectful guy. my parents taught me good manners, so i stood up and walked right up to this beautiful woman i see before me and shook her hand.
“nice to meet you”

(ugh. that’s it bro? that’s all you got? you blew it).

later she’ll tell me that she thought i was the cutest thing but she’ll never settle down with someone who was called to be a school teacher……..(i swear God, come on man).

3 months later she shows up in my classroom, AGAIN.
me, still single….still very, very, VERY single.

this time i work up the courage to tell her that if i had her number i could arrange a hang out while she was still in town. (going for it!! honestly, i was only focused on being a good friend…..for now).
in a very cute and romantic way, she leaves a note on my desk computer which included her phone number and the first joke i made to her earlier in the day in hopes she took some kind of pity on my failed humor and thought i was cute enough to receive her attention.

we meet up two days later and have the best 4 hour long conversation about everything.
i mean EVERYTHING.
the stuff you don’t share with someone you’re crushing on. the insider information.
the hard lessons of life and faith.

 

i realized that i had finally made a choice in my life to always be honest no matter what. to not hold back on areas of faith or truth, but to stand up for what i believe in no matter what. if someone can’t deal, then they aren’t worth the time or investment. i was going to be true to myself no matter what anyone else thought.

this philosophy i began to live by brought me pure joy. i had never been happier in my daily decisions, but i was still alone.

i ask her a question about something i can’t remember and she gives me this response that seemed repeated or stolen from how other people view the topic.
i sensed that she probably felt differently, but wanted to not look over the top.
i began to tell her why she was wrong and why i believed a different way, backed up with scripture references and points from my faith.
and then i FROZE.

i had let my inside voice out.

i had shown just how much of a Jesus nerd i was to this girl on the very first time of hanging out and i was now 100% certain that she was going to run for the hills.

she took a pause, almost taken back because she didn’t expect such a passionate and truthful response.
(i know it’s hard to visualize, but i don’t actually remember the topic because what was happening around the topic was so much more memorable to me).
she stared down as i saw the wheels behind her eyes turn as fast as they could.11823098_10154087911559951_5767376592079766902_o

she stops and says, “actually i agree with you now, i like your answer better.”

i didn’t even realize it but i was holding my held breath as i waited for her response. i try to exhale without her knowing just how long i was holding my breath.
for the first time, i was fully myself in front of a complete stranger and didn’t hold back.

i guess i needed 25 years of life in order to truly find myself and not apologize for who i am.
and i guess i needed 25 years of life to find the person who would never ask for me to become someone that i’m not.

the next 3 and a half months fly by.

honestly, the story of our first date (after this first encounter) answered all the questions i would ever have about Kristen and if we were right for each other or not. (but that’s for a different post)

this woman that i’ve prayed for my whole life.
an independent, self-assured, driven woman to support my passions and my beliefs.
to kick my butt when i’m wrong and cling to me when i’m right.
to walk beside me as a partner.
to be as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out.
and to have a drive and passion of her own to change the world one life at a time in her own way.

this woman was real and she was now in my life as the truest experience of the human condition.

because of the honesty.
because of our faith.
because of our openness and humility towards each other, the question of marriage came up before being boyfriend and girlfriend did.

and the rest is a growing piece of history.11873416_10207200910924757_681185981412168696_n

everyday i find a new piece of Kristen that i realize i had prayed for long ago.

she pushes me. makes me better. she’s not afraid to be strong and even less afraid to show weakness.
she feels pushes herself but also knows when to fall into my arms and ask for help.
she’s a companion. a beautiful soul.
she’s not afraid to grow old with me, to take every challenge as it comes and learn WITH me along the way.

neither of us know it all and neither of us knows what lies on the road ahead.
but if and when times get tough we will cling to God and we will cling to each other.
HE will pull us through.

God really does answer prayer and i’m forever grateful that He answered my prayers on HIS timeline and not mine.
any moment sooner and i would not have made the same decision that first day of contact to be who i am and not try to impress.

she is meant for me, and i am meant for her.

i am getting married to my best friend.

and WE are meant to bring the LIGHT where it doesn’t belong.

this is faith. this is love. this is the love of my life.

*Kristen and i are very excited to be getting married on May 28th, 2016 and we will be moving to Miami, Florida.
*to track our wedding craziness and locate our registry go HERE
*wedding day festivities and times are still subject to change

i have found the one my soul loves (sos 3:4)

It’s time to go back: Alaska 2015

IMG_8232Hey Friends.

As many of you know I have had the sweet privilege to go on two trips to Alaska and serve at Camp Agaiutim Nune  as a worship leader and a camp counselor. You can read about these trips here, here and here. During my time there God has planted in me a love for the people of Alaska that I never dreamed I would have. I was able to serve two summers in a row and see the impact a year makes on a child of Alaska. After my second trip I wrote down most of my thoughts here: my second trip

Last year, I was unable to go due to financial reasons and because I was in the middle of transitioning to where I now reside in Clermont, FL serving as a teacher and worship leader. My friends whom I had gone with to Alaska before still went and told me all about the trip when they returned. It was amazing to see the seeds that were planted in years prior finally being harvested as well as new people getting to know who Jesus is. I was excited to hear how prosperous their trip was and immediately decided to return in summer 2015. Hey, that’s THIS summer! And here we go!

My experiences on this little island in the middle of the Yukon river have changed my life and I’m excited to see what God has in store for this year!

If you don’t know, “Agaiutim Nune” means “The Place of God” in Yupik Eskimo and Camp AN has served as a light in the darkness for the past 18 years! I have been so blessed by this ministry and by the Eskimo kids of the Yukon River Delta. Every few weeks or so I will receive a facebook message or text from one of the kids in Alaska asking me when I’m coming back, if I’m doing okay or if they can pray for me. I have been blessed over and over by the people of Alaska and I can’t wait to share what God has put on my heart again this year.

Last time I went, I was taken on a journey that I will never SEU TEAMforget. I also had the chance to travel through Washington state and Montana, all the while spreading what God had done during my time in Alaska. It was such a unique experience. Every conversation I had seemed to find it’s way to include God. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Without even opening my mouth about my trip, people were coming to me with questions about God and faith and I was able to share the gospel with dozens of people. It seemed as if my mission trip never stopped. I was no longer in Alaska, but God was still using me heavily wherever I went.

And you know what?

The mission trip still hasn’t stopped. God has been using me and stretching my faith in ways I never dreamed He would. I’m excited every youth service to lead our congregation into worship. I’m excited every day when I get up in front of my students to teach them history, music or Bible. The mission has become my life, regardless if I’m in Alaska or not. God still moves.greg and greg

I love where I am and the journey that I’m on. But I cannot shake the hold Alaska has on my heart. I love these kids. Helping me return to Alaska this summer would mean so much to me.
Here are a few ways in which you can help me be a blessing to the Eskimo children in Alaska this summer.

1) PRAYER – I would love for you to join me in prayer about this trip. For the kids, myself and the rest of the team that is going. This trip entails a lot of heavy spiritual warfare and we cannot survive without the power of the Holy Spirit on our side. As some of you may know, Alaska is the number one state for suicide and depression. Out in the villages, there are heavy spiritual forces and we need as much prayer as we can get. Some things to pray for: funds, protection, traveling mercies, God’s timing & health, the hearts of the children as they receive the gospel.

2) FINANCIAL SUPPORT – Once you have joined me in prayer, I ask you to consider funding my trip. Most of my expenses are traveling expenses (ie. plane tickets to Anchorage, Bush plane tickets to the villages). Camp AN is so dedicated to spreading the gospel that they do not charge volunteers to join the camp besides the cost of our background check.

The bush plane ticket is a hard $800 + tax.
Tickets to Anchorage can range from $600 – $900.
Camp supplies + food $150-$200

My goal to raise is around $1800!

This seems like an awful lot of money, but we are ALL a part of the family of God and if you feel led to give in ANY size or amount PLEASE do so. God will take the small as well as the big and multiply it for His Kingdom use.

If 18 friends gave $100 each I would be all set!

I hope you hear my heart in this. Doing the Lord’s work is my calling. Whether or not you give, I believe God will provide a way. He often uses His hands and feet, the children of God, to carry out His work. I am responding to the call of God in my life and no matter if it is in the form of helping me or those around you, I urge you to respond to the call God has over your life.

Join me in prayer. Support me in the Spirit first.
And if God so moves you to give as well, I will gladly accept your financial support.
Please, give me a call and pray with me over the phone or email me at gregjburgess@gmail.com.

My projected dates are June 15th – July 6th!

I’m excited to see how God will use your prayers and support cotton candyto change lives!

Thank you!

CLICK “DONATE” BELOW!!!





Email me if you would like to give using other methods besides an ATM Debit/Credit Card.I can’t thank you enough!

gb

Religion & Relation: The War of Control

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV

We are supposed to be imitators of Christ, right?
His mission became our mission when He ascended into Heaven. We know we are to win souls. We know that we are to “save.” But we often forget to “seek.”

We’ve created a full force for “saving.”

We build our churches.
We pack into them on Sundays.
We even give our money to help ministries “save” the so called “lost.”
But rarely does any of this “religion” make it’s way into our daily lives. Rarely does any of this practice help us in our “seeking” of the lost.
And I’m going to boldly claim that it’s not meant to.

Our lives are full of “religious practice.”
We “religiously” support our favorite sports team or we “religiously” watch American Idol or our favorite reality show just so we can feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Then, we sit in church on Sunday. We pay our diligence.
We seem to enjoy the worship as long as it doesn’t last too long or feel forced.
We “Amen!” the pastor so that he feels better about his sermon and might end church early.
We greet with other church members but engage in a broken-record conversation that we say out of pleasantry but rarely do we build those relationships outside of church walls.
Our supposed worship experience has become a church visit full of religious practice.

I started teaching middle school this year. After 5 years of college and a year off from any sort of routine job, I began to experience a phenomenon that I haven’t felt since my days of adolescence.
Every Sunday night I get this sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach which sounds the alarm to the end of the weekend. It’s back to work on Monday and there’s nothing I can do to change that.
I know I’m not alone on this. Our lives become routine. We have our set schedule we follow each week/weekend.

Whatever your job may be. School teacher, banker, lawyer, accountant, grocery worker, landscaper, plummer…we work these 7-4, 8-5, 9-6 lives each week praying for the weekend and then when it finally arrives, we are already dreading Monday morning. I’ve noticed something very odd about our behaviour towards this lifestyle.

For a society so bent on routine, and hating it for that matter, we don’t like to break from it very often.

Think about any red light you’ve ever caught, or a train that made you late. How about a delayed flight?
Maybe they were all out of skinny non-fat no-foam white-mocha lattes extra whip at Starbucks this morning. When we find our routine, although it keeps us at work more than at home, we will do anything to stick to it and not break our cycle. We keep it inside our control. It becomes our religious practice.

Sadly, I also find this pattern in our relationship with God.

Sure, we love the message of God. We love to hear stories about how God has changed the lives of those we prayed for or those charities we gave money to. We even enjoy sharing about how God has changed our own lives. We didn’t use to go to church or pray every once in a while, but now we pray because we are supposed to. We don’t like it when God finds a way to throw a wrench into our plans…do we?

We like our religious routine; our 8-5 lifestyles. It may not be perfect but it’s the best we could come up with. If we had to change our schedule to adapt to something new that might make us feel very uncomfortable. After all…

We are only comfortable when we are experiencing something inside of our own control.

For example,
let’s say you’ve been going to church for a while and you start to feel like God has birthed a desire in your heart to reach out to teenagers. This desire has now affected your prayer life. You find yourself unexpectedly praying for teenagers in your church and your community. You have the love of God in your heart and you aren’t really sure how to use it just yet, but this is where you are gravitating towards.

You finally reach a point where you want this passion inside of you to burn and be put to good use. You decide to become a volunteer at your church’s youth group on Wednesdays. The only problem with this plan is that your current job (that you’ve worked at all your adult life) schedule’s you to work every Wednesday. You pray. You ask your boss to switch your shifts around so you can have that night off. That doesn’t work. You plead your case because you really feel like this is the right thing to do. You pray some more. You believe that God has ordained you to do this. Your boss says, “Well if you want Wednesdays off, you’ll just have to find yourself another job.”

Another job?
But you’ve worked there for 10 years. 20 years. Maybe you even went to school for this career, but now you aren’t too sure that this career is what you were meant to do.

Find another job? At this point, that would mean changing something that has defined you for the last “x” amount of years of your life.

The way you live your entire life is being put into question. This doesn’t not at all feel comfortable.

For argument’s sake, you play both outcomes out.
Stay at your job. Keep the income you’re comfortable with. The routine you know. The controlled lifestyle you’ve always had; after all, this is who you are.

or

Quit. Find a new job. Chase after the new desires that God has placed inside of your heart. This is an uncomfortable vanilla sundae with a huge dose of uncertainty sprinkled on top. But God’s promises remain true; He will provide.

What do you do?

May I remind you  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Luke 10:2 NIV

But why God? Why did you have to mess up my routine? Why did you have to change who I am?

Actually, I don’t think God did this to you at all. I think you did this to yourself. We all did really.
Remember when you got saved? When you asked Jesus to come live inside of you?
Usually the prayer includes something along the lines of, “I give you my life, make me more like you.” Or “Help me to live my life pleasing to you. I give you my dreams. My life is in your hands.”
The dilemma you are facing right now is really just God’s answer to your prayer.

Now, I’m not suggesting you up and quit your job right this instant in order to accept the calling that God has for your life.  What I AM suggesting is that you ask yourself, “Why not?”

You are perfectly capable and qualified by God to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever you are working at. And if you’ve tried and failed, pray and try again. If you are not being edified by your workplace, change it up. You can’t complain for the world to change if YOU aren’t willing to change.

The fallacy in our practice of faith is the same fallacy we have in our everyday life, and that is we are entirely too religious in the way we operate.

God is a relational God. He doesn’t need our “religious practice” in order to love us. He satisfied that with the cross. Our lives are to be relationally driven too. Too often do I see people, myself included, walking around in the store trying so hard not to get in each other’s way, like the earth is a place where we are all supposed to coexist just as long as we don’t talk to each other. How can we save the lost if we don’t know who they are?

or better yet…

How can we save the lost if they don’t know who WE are?

The world has seen enough of the “religious christian” and they are turned off by them. Religious practice never saved anyone. Religious practice doesn’t give someone eternal hope. Love does. Love is only transferable through relationship.

Jesus didn’t die for our sins to that we can repay Him with religious practice.
Jesus died for our sins because He loves us and wants a relationship with us.
Jesus sacrificed Himself so that His love can stretch out through us and change the world that we live in.

Jesus didn’t go to church and stay there. He brought His message into the homes of those who needed it most (Luke 19). He sought after the ones who were outcast by everyone else (Matt 8). He died to break the barrier between Himself and us (Eph), not for us to create a barrier between us and the rest of the world.

Can we start being the relational disciples of God who invite ourselves over the tax collector’s house for dinner? Can we start being the hands of Jesus stretching out to touch those deemed by our society untouchable? Can we start being the feet of Christ who go outside of our routine to share the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost; and now He sends us to do the same (Matt 28).

Surrendering our future is scary though. It means stepping out into the land of uncertainty. A land outside of our own control. I’ve tried to control my life in the past and have failed miserably several times. Now, it seems a lot scarier to go it alone instead of letting God lead the way. God WILL NOT fail you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Let us let go of control and seek the true desires of our heart. The desire to share the love of Jesus in this world by being the hands and feet of Christ.

gb