And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Monday, October 31, 2011

Expansion.

I wanted to expand on the lesson I mentioned in my last post.
Last week our speaker said, "You can be saved but still waste your life by not building up the the Kingdom of God." His words have really stuck with me and they are words that I have been ruminating on ever since. The speaker had a really unique perspective on the vision of greatness that God has for us (as illustrated in John the Baptist's life). He expanded on the above statement using 1 Corinthians 3:15, "If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss, yet be will be saved--but only as one escaping through the flames." (If you don't know the context of this verse I would suggest reading the whole chapter by clicking on the link above). See, many people are saved, but not all are great. I, like many other Christians, have been sucked into the trap of simplifying the journey of following Christ to a single event, salvation. And man, have we been sucked in because following Christ is about so much more!!!
Although I've heard many sermons/lectures on the importance of having a deeper relationship with Christ, I don't feel like anyone has ever really been explain to me why we need that deeper relationship. I have always used John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey my commands" as justification for following Christ. As I mentioned earlier, however, its never been a convincing argument for a deeper "die to self" relationship with Christ because it is still dependent on our immature love. When looking at 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, we can see that its about more than just putting down the cornerstone of a building, or salvation. The work of salvation is already done, Christ put down the cornerstone for us. Getting into heaven is based solely on the acceptance or rejection of that work. Do we acknowledge the existence of the cornerstone or do we pretend it isn't there? That doesn't mean that after salvation the work is done!
As the speaker said, God has a vision of greatness for each one of our lives. If we don't strive/work toward that vision, than our eternal reward will be diminished. I kind of see it like this...Everyone who accepts Christ's work in his/her life gets to place a cornerstone for their house down in heaven, but those who go through life and never seek a deeper relationship with God will have just that--a glorious, perfect cornerstone to rest upon for all of eternity. Those who choose to strive for Christ's vision of greatness, however, are those who not only lay down a cornerstone and a firm foundation, but they continue building a mansion! There are too many people who are content with thier cornerstone; they live in apathy knowing they are saved. Which is true. God's grace covers all.
But I am not content. And I don't think God wants us to be content either. I want to build a mansion. I want to know the fullness of God. I want to seek greatness, which means seeking humility, meekness, love. I want to stand before god and say with confidence that I strived for HIS vision of greatness for my entire life. I don't want to waste my life. I want the secret desires of my heart to be overflowing with the desires of God's heart. And I am so thankful that our speaker was able to give me the words to express this desire.
So what about you? Are you content with your cornerstone? Are you wasting your life?
Or are you seeking more?
Peace and love :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walking humbly.

I've been in a time warp the past four weeks. Its pretty crazy. And all the staff say that it usually lasts (in real time) about 6 months. But I find that very hard to believe!
We are currently in the lecture phase of our DTS (discipleship training school), and anxiously awaiting the announcement of our outreach locations. But honestly, as much as I am excited to do outreach, I am so thankful for this incredible time of preparation. God has been teaching me soooooo much and showing me that my theme verse for this season (Micah 6:8....the title of my blog) has three very important parts. He is focusing on the walking humbly part right now...and well, as you can imagine, its been quite humbly. As much as the humanness and indpendance in me hates when God shows me
the areas of my life I need to work on, in some twisted-God way I am learning to truly love these seasons in my life. I am so thankful that I am not the person I once was and that I will forever be able to say that as long as I keep seeking after Him.
One thing that the speaker this week said that has really stuck out to me was "Just because you are saved, doesn't mean that you can't waste your life." Wow. That hit me hard. In a good way. See, salvation isn't about us. God already did all that work for us by sending His Son as a sacrifice sufficient to cover our sins. But salvation isn't the end of our story. God still gives us choices in life. We must choose, daily, to follow him. God has a vision of greatness for each one of us! I don't want to look back on my life in 50 years and say, well I was saved, but I did absolutely nothing of purpose, that I did nothing to advance His kingdom. No. I want to strive for greatness. Not human greatness. But humble, meek, God-centered greatness.
Will you walk humbly toward greatness too?
Peace and love.
Note: I don't have the cord that allows me to take pictures from my camera and put them onto my computer. Which is SUCH a bummer. And I apologize to everyone who has been begging for pictures. I will try my very hardest to still put up as many pictures as I can through other means. But this photo is taken via my trusty MacBook. The building in the background is the main building on base with the offices, our classroom, and dining hall :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Faces to love!

We found out the outreach locations for our DTS yesterday. We were then given the opportunity to pray about where we felt God was leading us and had to turn in our choices in ranked order. The task was quite difficult for me, but thankfully the final decision is not up to me. The leadership staff now will pray about the decision and will announce the teams once they feel confident in the groups. I am really excited to find out officially where I will be going. Here are the faces of women from each of the locations :) (I can't say the names of the countries publicly.) I can't wait to love on the people there!!!

With this new sense of excitement also comes a reminder that I still do not have all the financial support I need for the outreach portion of my trip. If you feel led, please check out the information on the "about me" section in the right hand column to find out how you can give or contact me via facebook or email (kkulchar@live.olivet.edu). All your support (both financially and in prayers) are truly appreciated!
Peace and love from NZ :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Christchurch

Most of you have heard about the devastating earthquakes that took place here, the biggest of which was in February. This past Friday we had the opportunity to go into the city and see the effects for ourselves (for those of you who don't know...I live in Oxford, a small town about 50 minutes from the city). Now I had expectations of what the city would look like and what state the city was in...but my assumptions were completely off. Since I believe one of the most powerful things in the world is knowledge, so here's my small perspective on the state of Christchurch. I hope it enlightens you and inspires you to spend some time in prayer for the city, its people, and the people who have been sent here to help (including my teammates and I).
Before I jump into a description of the city I want to give you a little background. The first major earthquake that hit Christchurch actually took place last September. While New Zealand has been known to be an "earthquake zone," Christchurch was never thought of as one of the cities in real danger. (Making them less prepared). While there wasn't a lot of damage and there was no causalities, it weakened the structures of many buildings and really put the people on edge. Then in February when the second earthquake struck, the buildings just fell apart, literally. The foundations moved several feet. The pavement buckled. One of the hardest hit areas was the city centre. To give you a good analogy, think of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago being destroyed. Although the city isn't quite that big, that is the importance of the city centre to Christchurch. It was the center of all the main restaurants and tourists attractions. As you can see on the map below (areas known as the red zone) those areas are completely fenced off. There are several blocks of buildings that are completely condemned. 1/3 of the city has to be demolished because the buildings are no longer safe. That is approximately 900 buildings and homes (no exaggeration. i think its actually a little over 900.) Can you just imagine? Its heartbreaking. This city has been rocked to its core. Literally.

As we toured around the city and looked into the red zone areas, I couldn't help but be reminded of the movie "I am Legend" (the movie with Will Smith in NYC after it is overtaken by a plague). There are buildings everywhere with red circles on them signifying their condemnation. Entire streets are empty, void of people. Cars are abandoned, houses are left just as they were the moment people were forced to evacuate. Some buildings an entire wall would be knocked down and you could see the rooms sitting exactly as they were when the earthquake happened. It felt like looking in a Barbie house that had been shaken.

At one point we stopped by the former location of the CTV building. This was the big news station in Christchurch. This was one of the buildings that not only moved but completely collapsed. Here is the building pre-earthquake:
 And after:
When we visited the site, the wall wasn't there any longer. The saddest part of being here was the make-shift memorial that has been erected. Since this 6 story building completely collapsed it was the source for a majority of the deaths (somewhere around 80 of the 120 people who were killed). There were flowers and notes and poems lining the fence. Moms. Dads. Sons. Daughters. Sisters. Brothers. So many people died in the blink of an eye. And it really is hard to comprehend. This wasn't just a natural disaster to a lot of people. It was the loss of people they loved dearly.

And then as we went further out toward the outskirts of the city (closer to the epicenter) there were even more homes that had been abandoned. It was so sad to walk through entire neighborhoods and see that only about 1 out of 3 houses were still inhabitated. In the neighborhood we were handing out cookies in, I had the opportunity to talk to a woman named Jane about everything that had happened. Her house was in the red zone. Everyone in that area has to leave by March 2012. Yep, that's right. Even if the house isn't condemned the earth they are living on is no longer safe so EVERYONE has to move out and the government will come through and plow down the entire area. The plates are not expected to be settled for another 50 years. An entire suburb of Christchurch will be no more. And not everyone has places to go. Insurance claims are a nightmare. And because the neighborhoods are starting to become empty looters are a major issue. People no longer know who is supposed to be in their neighborhood and who isn't. Its quite scary. And so sad.  
What has been done? Well the process of rebuilding Christchurch is no easy task. Most of the buildings have been inspected (EVERY building and home has to be inspected) and now the process of demolition has begun. Understandably, this process is quite complicated. Not only are there still aftershocks (there have been 1000s of aftershocks since February and we actually felt one in Oxford last week), but the buildings are quite fragile. The big concern is that if they blow up some of the bigger buildings, which is the normal process of demolition for big buildings, it will create another earthquake/aftershock and destroy other buildings. Its like a giant game of pick up sticks. Everything has to be meticulously cleared away. 
Needless to say, my heart is heavy. The people of Christchurch need our prayers. Prayers for healing. Prayers for comfort. Prayers for the restoration of the city. One girl talking about our visit poignantly said, "Christchurch isn't completely dead; it's now time for a resurrection!" Christchurch, like many cities throughout the world, has become quite distant from its namesake in the past few decades. It is my prayer that Christchurch will become a city desparately following after the Savior of the world; please join me in this prayer.
Peace and Love.
Katie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

His love goes deeper!

Wow! We finished our first week of lecture on "Calling and Destiny". It has been such a good week and God has been teaching me a lot about my calling. And I've definitely had some ah-ha moments! God is so good. This song has definitely spoken a lot of truth into my life so I want to share it with you all :)
I also wanted to let you all know that I have really appreciated all the emails and facebook messages sending love and support. I seriously can't tell you how much it has meant to me. I can assure you-I am right in the center of God's will for my life. My soul is truly at peace.
I also wanted to share with you a new "feature" I've added to my blog! In the about me section on the right I will be updating you on things I need. Soooo if gift giving is your love language (or even if its not...) and you want to support me with gifts you can check out that section to know my specific needs and wants!
Sorry the post isn't longer but I have to go to a meeting!
Peace and love :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

genes from mom :)

This is my mom. Isn't she beautiful???? I love her. A lot. (Mom. Take a deep breath. I'm still alive :) ) But I'm not just saying that. I really love her. She's an amazing woman.
And I've had the honor of having lots of her genes bestowed upon me! Two of which have been very apparent in New Zealand.
1- Curly hair. Can I just tell you that I love my hair? I'm so thankful mom chose to pass that one along to me. Obviously I'm the favorite child...haha. Being able to let my hair air dry after a 5 minute shower in the morning? Yea. That's awesome. And to have it still look good? Yea. That's a blessing!! Thank you mom! I've gotten sooo many compliments here and I always give you the credit :)
2-Introversion. Honestly, I think introversion is a blessing. I thoroughly enjoy spending time on my own to recharge. Reading books. Listening to music. I really can't imagine how extroverts get anything done hanging out with people all the time! But unfortunately in a situation like here at YWAM Oxford, with two DTS's going on simultaneously (there's a backpacker's DTS here along with my Justice DTS) and a total of 50+ people constantly being around each other...let's just say it's not exactly a "dream" situation for an introvert. As we speak there's an entire group of people playing extreme ping pong in the room below me. And I'm not introverted in the sense that I'm incapable of making conversation with people here. There are some really, really awesome people here and its been such a blessing to begin to get to know them. But let me tell you...by the end of the day I am exhausted. I just want to crawl in the fetal position and spend 3 days in solitary confinement. Haha. Okay its not that bad. But I am tired. And its not even the talking with people that makes me tired. I honestly enjoy learning people's stories. Its just the constant group situation that is a little difficult. It's nearly impossible to be by yourself here. Not to mention I am in a room with 5 (super cool) girls. So even being in my bedroom is usually not alone time. I'm in noooo way saying I'm having a bad time. Because that is nooooootttt true. I am right in the center of God's will and I can sense it more and more every minute I'm here. It is such a joy. Seriously, I have already learned so much and know that God has SO much in store for me here. I'm extremely excited! But if you could pray that my dad's extraversion genes would somehow take over for a few days so I can regain some energy...that would be awesome. :)
I miss you all and love you EVEN more!!!
Here's a little taste of what God has been encouraging me with:
Commit your way to the LORD. Trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness radiate like the dawn, your justice shine like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6
Peace and Love!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

safe in NZ :)

I arrived safely in Christchurch yesterday (Saturday) around 5:00pm. Our flight was a little delayed because in Melbourne there was only one runway not under construction...good idea? bad idea? Anyways. My travel wasn't too bad. It was a lot of flying and unfortunately my stomach was upset on off for the duration of my time (and is still not feeling well), but other than that it was pretty uneventful. So here's a quick recap of my travels thus far. Saying goodbye was tough, but I had some chips and salsa in Chicago that helped haha. In Denver there were birds in the airport...which was just random. And it wasn't just 1. There was pretty much a whole family of birds. But I also met this awesome girl that was from Point Loma and she was a missionary too! She's doing campus ministry at San Diego State University and was just leaving a fundraising conference. We had a reallly good conversation and I hope I was as encouraging to her as she was to me! (PS-Hi Jessica :) ) In LA there was an alarm that went off for a good 10 minutes. When they finally stopped the beeping everyone in the international terminal cheered. It was pretty funny. The trip to Melbourne wasn't bad at all. The food was really good! And I sat next to a nice couple from Melbourne and they helped me get used to the new accents I'm surrounded by. In Melbourne I met up with some other people on their way to YWAM so it was nice to finally meet some of my teammates in real life. And then the flight to Christchurch was fine...except you had to pay for food. In Austrailian dollars...soo I didn't eat. haha. And customs was customs. But I made it through without too much trouble.
And now its Sunday afternoon and here I am in Oxford, New Zealand. I went to an Anglican church just down the road this morning (oh how I wish you could have been there with me Dad...you would have loved it!) It was so cool to reflect on how awesome God is. Here I am on the other side of the world, and yet I am united with every other Christian in worship. And even though its different services, denominations, accents...its the same. We all love and serve Jesus. And that, my friends, is the beauty of faith.
My biggest prayer request right now? Please pray about supporting me further financially. My outreach expenses are due MUCH sooner then I expected and as I mentioned earlier...I still need about $2000...possibly more depending on where I am placed. So if God is prompting you...give give give! :)
I love and miss you all. But I'm doing so well. I am confirmed more and more each minute that I am right where God wants me to be!!! And I am so full of joy!
Peace and Love!
PS-hopefully pictures will be coming soon! i live at the base of a mountain. no big deal.