Noel’s Mission Trip to Tijuana Mexico

Noel LeVasseur shared with FBC the experience he had while on his first mission trip. He was presented an opportunity to partner with Calvary Four Square Church to help a family that lost everything in a fire. Since Noel had some construction experience, he felt he would be a good addition. He prayed about it and decided to go. There were 11 people on the team and they were able to build a house for this family from start to finish in four days, minus the plumbing. The members of the team varied in age, but they bonded and worked well together.

One of the things that stood out to Noel was how proud the people of Tijuana are. They live in extreme poverty, but they do not beg for money. At stoplights they will try to sell you a bottle of water, a flower or offer to wash your windshield. They use scraps of paper for business cards to write the information of what they can offer you, so they can get paid for their service. It made Noel think of how we live in such a privileged country and take so many things for granted. Americans tend to have the “how can you help me?” mentality instead of the “how can I help others by serving God?” mindset.

Noel also realized how important family is to the people of Tijuana. The family, including the children, participated in the building of the house. They stayed strong even during difficult times. Flora was one of their children that helped everyday. She even made each member of the team a heart out of the scrap electrical wire to show how connected she was to the team. The father gave the key to Flora so she could be the first to open the door to their new house for the dedication feast. That was a special moment for Noel.

Noel attended church while on his mission trip. It was a modest building, but they had a band and televisions like FBC. The pastor had great energy and preached in Spanish and English. Noel felt comfortable and that he was in a place that was judgment free, much like being at FBC. The pastor’s sermon included the same clip from the Gladiator movie that Pastor Michael played during a sermon when Noel first started attending FBC. Noel knew that God was speaking to him. God was letting him know that He would always be there for him no matter where in the world he was. Noel has realized what it means to serve God and the reward that is felt from doing so. This experience was very powerful. There are so many ways that we can serve God. It’s not about us, but about how we can help others. Remember, what we do in life echoes in eternity.

Thank you so much Noel for giving FBC this incredible testimony.

Mirror, Mirror-Offended

Pastor Michael concluded his mirror, mirror series about self-reflection. Do you see yourself as God’s masterpiece, feeling loved and treasured by Him or do you see failure, negativity and inadequacy? How you view yourself affects your relationships with others, as does being easily offended. To be a Christian you need a thick skin and a soft heart. You need to be a positive world changer and a light for others. You can’t do that if you take everything personally and are unable to let things bounce off you. If you are easily offended and overly critical, it may be difficult to let people get close to you. You may feel that life has been unfair so you try to protect yourself from getting hurt again. That kind of mind set causes you to be anchored in the past. In order to be anchored in your future, you need to be open to relationships and know that God has a plan for you.

Pastor Michael explained that you have two choices. You can let words go or you can let words offend you. He told the story of a Gentile woman who asked Jesus for a miracle and because she chose not to be offended, had her request granted. She sacrificed her pride and invested in the relationship. She wanted Jesus to heal her daughter so badly that she chose not to let His comments destroy the relationship. In your quest to prove that you are right, you often choose to be offended. That kind of response will deteriorate your relationships from the inside out. People are not perfect and deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. By choosing to be humble, kind and patient you can build strong relationships.

Words are like arrows as they are aimed for a specific target. There are people in this world that deliberately try to hurt you. In those situations you should put up your shield and distance yourself from that person. Most of the time words are just being tossed around and are harmless. If you let words bounce off you and go about your day giving people a chance, then you are emulating Christ. If you misinterpret someone’s words, then you are grabbing that arrow and sticking into your heart yourself. People text and e-mail things all the time that can be subject to interpretation. If you never take the time to ask that person what they really meant, you could be cutting off a relationship for no reason. Most of the time people are not trying to be offensive. You can choose offense or you can choose relationships, but you can’t have it both ways.

Mirror – Need For Approval

Do you worry about what others think?  Do you take criticism personally?  Do you have a difficult time saying no?  If you answered yes to those questions then it is likely that your self-worth comes from pleasing others instead of God.  There are many people in your life ranging from parents, friends, spouses and bosses that all want something different from you.  If your self-worth comes from striving to make all of those people happy, then you will lose who you are in the process.  You may smile and say yes on the outside, but on the inside you are building bitterness and resentment.  When you allow yourself to be pulled in several different directions by other people then you are limiting your ability to lead.  You will be unable to make tough decisions because someone will be unhappy with you.

You have the power to be who you want.  You will miss out on what God thinks and is trying to do in your life if you are always caught up in seeking the approval of others.  Pastor Michael suggests remembering these two statements to avoid falling into the people pleasing trap.  The first is to focus on pleasing God and not other people.  God is your identity and He should be front and center in your life.  The people you are trying to please are taking the place of God.  If you focus on pleasing God and allow Him to flow through you, you will bless more people than by just trying to be nice.  When you try to please everyone you are setting yourself up for failure.  God approves of you every single time and is still proud of you even when others say they aren’t.

The second statement is to walk in God’s approval not peoples.  When you aim to please others you often feel that everyone will see how hard you are working so they will have to acknowledge your efforts.  You are only happy if you receive that approval and become down on yourself if you do not.  If you base your self-worth on the approval of others, then what happens when they change their mind?  This becomes a journey of always seeking and never finding.  People do not know you like God knows you and they do not know your gifts.  When you validate yourself through the approval of others you sacrifice your time, feelings and often feel inadequate.  The result is burn out and never being able to feel what God has in store for you.

Remember that the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you is to worry about what other people think about you.  You can’t please everyone, but you can please God.

Mirror of Control

Do you have a desire for control?  Do you tell yourself that you are just trying to help or that you are only doing what is best for someone?  When you look in the mirror do you see chaos, all of the things you are trying to balance and all of the mistakes you have made?  Often times those fears you see in the mirror fuel that desire for control.  Control is strategic and comes in many forms including manipulation, passive aggressive behavior and withholding.  You will take any measure necessary to get that person to do what you want.  The more you lose the peace and happiness in your life, the greater your desire for control becomes.

Pastor Michael feels that control is the opposite of trust.  He told the story of Abram and Sari to illustrate what happens when you don’t trust God and try to control a situation on your own.  There are times when you want something so badly that you try to force it to happen.  You even try to control God with bargaining.  You justify it by thinking if you pray enough or do the right things then God has to do what you want.  God promised Abram and Sari children.  Since Sari didn’t become pregnant when she wanted to, she took control.  She told Abram to sleep with her servant so she could have a child through her.  They didn’t trust God and decided to make it happen on their own which created a huge mess.

When you have the urge to control a situation, ask yourself these two questions.  Is it worth being concerned about and is it mine to control?  It takes time and energy to take control.  Often times a fight will be the result of trying to take that control.  Is this something that is really worth your attention?  There are situations in life that you can control.  You can control your finances, you can work on relationship problems and you can keep yourself healthy.  You can’t change people or heal them.  You can’t control the future of your children.  You can’t control when you die.  There are certain things in life that only God can control.

Anxiety and worry are the result of trying to control something that is not yours to control.  You may feel that God needs your help because He is not answering in your time frame.  In those situations you have to take a step back and trust Him.  Avoid taking matters into your own hands and resist the urge to be controlling by asking yourself Pastor Michael’s questions.  Surrender that worry to God and pray so you can experience peace and happiness in your life.


Mirror of Inadequacy

It’s easy to feel inadequate in today’s society especially when you play the comparison game. You probably know someone who appears to have it altogether with the perfect marriage, house, career and family. You probably scan Facebook seeing all of the wonderful pictures of vacations, concerts and other gatherings that your friends have. Those situations make it easy to see yourself as never being able to measure up. When you get into that negative frame of mind about your life then all you see is failure, rejections, and inadequacies. This may cause you to feel angry and powerless over your life. That is what you will reflect into your relationships rather than the grace and forgiveness that is a reflection of focusing on Christ.

Pastor Michael feels there are several reasons that you feel inadequate when looking in the mirror. The first is you have been the recipient of unfair criticism. There have been people in your life telling you that you “can’t” too many times, so that is what you believe. You want to move forward, but you feel like there is no point in trying because the voice in your head has you stuck in the past. Those damaging words will prevent you from having the confidence to make changes in your life. The second reason is the opposite as you have been given unrealistic compliments too many times. When people constantly tell you how amazing and incredible you are, it can cause you to feel inadequate. You begin to think there is no way you can live up to those expectations so you choose to not even try. You become paralyzed by the fear of failure. The last reason is “unfun” comparisons. This is where Facebook comes into play as you look at the highlights of everyone’s seemingly perfect lives and compare it to your everyday life. When doing that it’s easy to feel that your life sucks, but it’s not an even comparison. You also have to remember that your journey in life is not the same as your friends because God has different plans for all of us.

Pastor Michael told the story of Gideon to explain why you should remember these things when you see inadequacy in the mirror. God’s view of you is different than your own view of you. God has created a list of all the things you will be called to do and has already put that in you. God knows the potential that you have. God has also created you with more than you know. When all you see is the negative, use whatever strength you have to get up and take just one step in a new direction. Don’t believe what someone may have said about you in the past. You also need to remember that you are a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Since you are a Christian, God lives within you and is empowering you everyday. It is time to stop seeing your past and place your focus on your future with God. He will be with you every step of the way.