Humble Thoughts

One of our core ideas in SWAT is Integrity. We talk about it every training and every meeting. But it seems we often can only define it with other similarly abstract traits--honesty, honor, valor--to which we perpetually ask: well what do those mean? And because of these half-definitions, we don't necessarily strike the depth of the word 'integrity.'

Now, I'm no scholar but I'm starting to see where this word is more complex and more exciting than we may realize. I like to imagine that 'integrity' shares roots with the word 'integral.' However, it may not make sense at first; it's probably not intuitive to think a math concept gets its name from the word for 'honesty.' But rather, consider the opposite: what if 'honesty' receives its name from mathematics?

Think about it: in calculus, an integral is a sum of parts. Essentially, every point or output value of a function is totaled to find the area under a curve. In other words, every value makes a contribution and the goal is to understand the collection of those contributions. The crux of the concept of the integral is that every part matters--the reason you account for every single part and work with tiny differentials--but the focus is finding the larger sum or the collective effort.

Now step away from math for a moment; use 'integral' in a sentence. Go ahead.

Seriously.

Perhaps you say something like, "So and so has an "integral-role" in the so and so..."

In this sentence, swapping integral with a synonym like 'important' or 'significant' doesn't quite do the phrase justice, does it? Integral doesn't just suggest importance, it implies the object of the verb is part of a group. An integral role is an important role 'among' many other roles.

You're probably starting to understand my point, so let me put it ALL together: life isn't about you. (I'm not sorry.) You're far too small. There is a much larger work going on in the world. God is being glorified among the nations and the entire universe testifies to his power just with its existence. Not for a second can we think that a king with a glory as infinite and incalculable as his can be equaled by our futile problems and selfish ambitions. His dream is so much bigger. But......this doesn't mean your dreams are over; it just means you get to be a part of His--in which YOU have an integral role.

In SWAT, specifically, one leader enters one host home: one-for-one. If that one leaders does not act with honor and intention in that home, those students won't be reached. There's no one else to occupy that space. No other person to speak or act. In other words, that leader holds the opportunity to make a unique contribution to a larger purpose.

So whoever you are and wherever you are, I humbly ask:

Today, will you live a life of integrity?

Will you be faithful in whatever space you've been given--whether it be Kenya, Alabama, or Dunwoody?

Will you serve even if no one's watching?

Friend, you're not at the center of this equation. You can't compete. But, you do get to play an integral role in the plan. However big or small, we have the privilege of playing a part in the global purpose of an astoundingly good God.

Seriously, how awesome is that?

 

~ Kyle Wade

History ~ Hosea

Blog-Journal-Devotion.jpg

    Hey, fam! I am so excited we are doing something new and it's our first blog series (yay!!!) We will be going through the book of Hosea for the next few weeks, but I wanted to take this week to give some historical background and context for this book.

    Hosea's name means salvation and he was the first prophet to foretell of Israel's downfall (tough break, huh?). His prophetic ministry spanned from circa 753 B.C. - 715 B.C. which means he also prophesies through Israel's downfall in 722 B.C. A historical note, the promised land was split into two kingdoms at the time with Israel/ Northern Israel being the north region and Judah being the kingdom of the south. The split happened after the death of King Solomon, son of King David, when his son Rehoboam took over, the northern tribes seceded due to his arrogance and called themselves Israel. Though the immediate reason of Israel's succession is the bad judgments on Rehoboam's part, the root cause in found in the idolatry of Solomon's wives.

    If having to be the first to be the first bearer of bad news was not hard enough, God then commands Hosea to marry a woman named, Gomer. To quote David Platt, "There were two problems her name was Gomer and she was a prostitute." The first and foremost thing you need to keep in mind before we start is this book is not just about the sin of a woman being adulterous towards her husband, but a divinely orchestrated, tangible allegory to illustrate the pain and suffering caused by spiritual adultery coupled with the grace, mercy and justice of God.

    I am so excited to be going through this book on the blog with you guys for the next few weeks and can't wait to see what God will teach me and you through His amazing Word!

 

~ Kristen Lewers

Yo-Yo of Life

Blog-Journal-Devotion.jpg

I have recently experienced the goodness that comes from The Lord’s timing. This past March, I received a random text from a fellow SWAT leader to ask a favor of me. This favor was to help her comb her entire head of hair due to lice. I barely knew this leader at this time, the only interaction we really have had up until this point was one SWAT weekend car ride. Little did I know, that going to help her would spark one of the greatest friendships The Lord has ever blessed me with. We started to spend time together here and there, and kept in touch over the summer. We were both to be interns in the upcoming school year, and so this gave us an outlet to spend more time together. 

The Lord started to cultivate a friendship between us, that soon grew into a best friendship. What is crazy about this friendship is that we went to high school together for four years, and we grew up five minutes down the road from one another. Yet, it took until our senior year of college to become friends. This is how incredible the Lord’s timing really is. When I moved to Athens, I had a great community, I just had not grown a strong community yet. The Lord cultivated this friendship at just the right time, because little did I know I was about to go through one of the toughest seasons of my life. One Friday I went home to attend two funerals for a family member and a childhood friend. I was home for ten minutes when I was told that my parents were about to start the process of divorce. The month of December turned me into a yo-yo. There would be days of hope, only to be dropped flat on my face, but then hopeful things would come, just to fall again. I became exhausted and full of hurt. 

Little did I know that over the past year, The Lord has been strengthening my community, and I have experienced The Lord through my SWAT community. They came around me, and all prayed over me, I received many hugs, encouraging words, and many cokes from Chik-Fil-A. That is my favorite place to get coke to drink. The Lord continues to use friendships, like those I have developed in SWAT. Even though I am not able to see most SWAT leaders all the time, this is where close friendships come in, like those I have recently developed, for the different times of the process of divorce. This is how I am able to see The Lord’s timing. He brought incredibly strong friendships in my life just in time so that I would feel His love. The Lord knows what we need, even before we say a word or have a thought. 

Playing with toys, like a yo-yo, may seem like child’s play. There is nothing whimsical or playful about feeling like a yo-yo. Never take any relationship you have formed for granted, because you never know when the carpet will be pulled out from underneath your feet, and your entire world gets flipped upside down. That is the beauty of how The Lord uses relationships. In this time of hurt and confusion, I am also grateful, thankful, and truly blessed by the people who are here for me at random times, or ones who live right down the road.

 

~ Julie Rich

Cultivated

Blog-Journal-Devotion.jpg

It is so humbling to think the earth in which we dwell is the handiwork of the Most High God. Just think about it, we are constantly surrounded by His divine artwork and if you take the time, He can be seen in so much of nature's majesty. Lately, seeds have inspired a pensive habit within me in relating to times of struggles and this is what I have observed:

We all go through tough seasons and times of suffering, it's just another part of life, and a seed starts its life buried in the cold dark ground which can even be attributed to a grave. The seed does not know why it has been put in this place and is trapped in this place unable to help itself. But what the seed does not see in this darkness is this: the ground above it is being watered, the sun is shining down upon it and giving it life, and someone cares for it so much that He is cultivating it even when it's in that dark place. So often in times of suffering, we wonder where God is, and why we can't see Him, but, guess what, He was there in the darkness and I know, personally, I always see His hand in retrospect.

But it gets so much better than His hand just being there in the darkness; that seed does not stay in the ground. That seed breaks ground and sees the light of day. Our God is a God who is constantly with us no matter the circumstance. Let your faith arise because you are not barren. The Lord has planted life in you and it will come to fruition whether it be in this life or the next. You are never forsaken and you always have hope in the goodness and beauty of sweet Jesus Christ. Also, be gentle with yourself, nothing in nature blooms 24/7. There will still be dead seasons, but the Lord is still providing. In the end, it does not matter if life is not always good because God always is.

In spite of the uneven odds, some of the most beautiful things bloom from a dark place. And if you think about, the most beautiful thing we have been given, salvation through Jesus, also burst forth from a cold dark grave. So suffer well, beloved, because even if you cannot see it now, all of your needs are being provided for.

 

~ Kristen Lewers

2017 Spring Semester

Blog-Journal-Devotion.jpg

Aaaaaaand we’re back! SWAT is officially in full swing for Spring 2017. We are so excited for all of the new things coming this semester and hope you can partner with us in praying for the events to come.

This weekend we have both Interviews and Enrichment. So far twenty-three individuals are participating in interviews with numbers still growing. We would be so thankful if you could pray for traveling mercies for those coming from outside of Athens. As we all know, Interviews can be downright nerve-wracking so please pray for peace and comfort during the interviewing process. Our Interviews Intern, Julie Rich, has worked so very hard on Interviews and we can’t wait to meet the new people whom will be added to our SWAT family.

Enrichment will be held this Saturday, January 21 at Watkinsville and it is not only a training day for our current leaders, but also a time where people outside of the ministry can come to fellowship and be refreshed by God’s Word. Our wonderful Intern, Kaysi Raborn, has put so much time into planning this so please be in prayer for her and the event. We cannot wait to see the Lord move during this time!

This year is also very special because it marks SWAT’s 25th Anniversary, we are so thankful for all the lives affected and legacies left by every leader over the years. We also have more exciting news about our #Grateful25Initiative on swatministries.com and we would be so honored if you would check it out!

We are so thankful for all the love and support y'all have given SWAT Ministries over the years. Blessings!

 

~ Kristen Lewers