Apr 202015
 

It is actually crazy to think that it has taken me this long to write a Mission Monday on a ministry that is such a huge part of my life. When the thought first crossed my mind the other day I was frustrated with myself that I hadn’t done one yet, but later the very same day I felt like Christ showed me why He hadn’t brought it to mind until now. His timing is perfect, as He constantly shows me and yet I have to constantly remind myself.

Just over one year ago, God placed in the position of being the Executive Director of Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center. Alpha has been serving its community since 1992, offering healthy relationships education, free pregnancy tests, pregnancy options information, parenting education & support, and post abortion help. As I prepared for last year’s annual fundraising banquet, which was themed around the history of Alpha, I was in awe of all Christ has accomplished through this ministry since the very beginning. It is an amazing ministry, and it is humbling to step back and see that He placed me here “for such a time as this”.

While I was previously aware of Alpha through my church, I had mentally boxed in what the ministry did in a small, neat package. But it is so much more than I could have ever realized without experiencing it firsthand. Even writing that statement brings tears to my eyes. I have seen how whether someone believes in Alpha’s ministry or is against Alpha’s ministry, it is easy to box in what we do. We try to encompass it all by saying “We not only serve and care for those that come in for pregnancy options information, but we continue to serve and care for them as they continue through their pregnancy and parent their child. It is important to us that we not only speak life in regards to the baby she is carrying, but also to the mother as we foster hope and support her.”

So what does this mean? It means that every person who walks through our doors, or calls on the phone, is viewed as priceless and we want to serve them as Christ would. Christ saw each person as an individual, unique and beautiful. He served and ministered to people on a personal level, he didn’t categorize people and lump them all together. He truly saw each person for who they are, and treated them as the priceless gem that they are (whether they realized they were priceless or not).

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  John 4:7-29 (NIV)

So yes, while it is easy to list the services that Alpha offers (as I did above) and try to put the ministry in a neat, little box, it is so much more than that. I wish I could even vaguely list some of the things I have seen Christ accomplish through Alpha, but truthfully in such a small community the chances are too great that part of the story (even vaguely) could point to a specific client and we love our clients too greatly to risk that. What I can tell you is that I have lost count of the number of times that after a client leaves my eyes fill with tears and I am thanking God for how He is working in that client’s life and thanking Him that He allows us to be a part of that.

There is not a short supply of those that do not believe in what Alpha does, and recently it seems Christ has been showing me more and more of the firestorm against ministries such as Alpha. I knew that Alpha is not one of those ministries where a majority of people, Christians or not, agree that it is a great outreach and much needed. Instead, there is a defining line when it comes to the sanctity of human life and therefore there are those that vehemently believe that what we do is wrong. It is not difficult to come across biased blogs and articles about pregnancy centers in general, and see the comments of hatred that not only attack pregnancy centers, but also personally attack those of us involved in the work. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding it, but then I have to remind myself that it goes back to not being able to truly see what we do and that they also have mentally placed what we do in a tiny box and they have decided that it is evil. And honestly I don’t believe there is any point to commenting the truth, because until someone is willing to take a step back and be open to researching it for themselves from a neutral perspective then they are not going to hear anything that goes against what they have chosen to believe as truth. While it is difficult to read the comments and articles, it is a good reminder that this is a spiritual battle.

The tiny box that those who are against ministries like Alpha have placed us in is one of being an agenda-driven, pro-life manipulator and the service that they have an issue with is providing pregnancy options information. The truth is, whether you agree that it should be or not, abortion is as much of a legal option as adoption and parenting. That means that every pregnant woman that walks through our doors has three options- abortion, adoption, and parenting, none of which are easy. The truth, that those who oppose pregnancy centers do not see, is that we recognize that she has three options and that she still has three options when she leaves. She is going to choose one of the three options, and she is going to choose the one that she feels is best in her opinion. Right or wrong, we make decisions from our limited point of view at the time. It is easy to look back and think that we should have handled a particular situation differently, and often we can regret decisions we make. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read or been told that those on the opposing side do not want to talk about all three options, they want to talk about abortion which makes sense from the standpoint that is the only service of the three that they offer.  But women are smart and there is no reason why they should not be encouraged to take a step back from the crisis they are in, examine their lives outside of just this moment in time, look at all of the facts, and make an educated decision. That is what we help each woman to do with offering pregnancy options information. This life or death decision is too important to not offer each woman all of the facts. She can still choose any one of the three options legally, but it will be a decision that she didn’t take lightly and will know all of the potential risks. I understand that both sides of the abortion issue see the “facts” differently and disagree on what is true, but I pray that those against pregnancy centers will begin to see us by our love. It is out of love for each client that walks through the door that we offer help and education before they are in the situation of having an unplanned pregnancy. Out of love that we want to help each individual client take a step back and look at the big picture of her life and situation and make an educated decision taking into account all of the facts and risks. Out of love that we stand by her through her pregnancy and through parenting with education and support. And out of love that we offer support and help to heal if she chooses abortion and finds that she regrets that decision and is hurting.

You see, “pro-life” isn’t about being against abortion. It is about being for love. It translates into how we view every facet of life. From serving as a foster parent, to orphan care, to adoption. From how we view and treat someone who is homeless to how we view and treat a troubled teenager or someone society views as inferior. From speaking life to someone contemplating suicide to fostering hope in a hurting child. It is being for someone, not against something. It is about seeing every person, no matter how small or vulnerable, how Jesus sees them. Priceless, deserving of love, and worthy of His death on the cross.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

“Babies aren’t constructed in the womb like a Chevy on an assembly line.  They develop more like a Polaroid picture.  Indeed, until a Chevy gets all the parts attached, it’s really not a car and can easily be scrapped to make something else.  However, like a developing Polaroid picture whose image is hidden for a time, a baby has all of its humanity at conception even though you can’t see it until it’s fully developed.” -Roland Warren

Praying like a Child

 Comments Off
Mar 292015
 

Recently I arrived at my sister’s house just as my niece and nephews were about to go to bed, and immediately the kids exclaimed they wanted me to tuck them in. So as they said good night to their parents and shuffled off to their beds, I tucked in and prayed with each one. Now the boys pray themselves while I hold their hand and bow my head, but my three year old niece often wants whoever is tucking her in to pray. So I asked if she wanted to pray, or wanted me to, and she requested I be the one to pray. I prayed, kissed her good night, and left her to go to sleep.

It was not until a couple of days later that I realized a detail about the way I had prayed with her that night. I had prayed from her point of view. I had prayed for “mommy and daddy” in speaking of her parents, and “grandma and papa” in referring to my parents. This realization brought to mind how the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

When I am too weak and worn to know what to pray, I can just humbly say that to Jesus in prayer and I know the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. When I am too brokenhearted to even form that many words, Christ knows my heart and I can just go to Him and cry. Even when I am so elated and in awe of something He has done in my life, and I can only get out a thank you, He knows the words of my heart.

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4 (NLT)

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:4-7

John MacArthur wrote, “Abba is a diminutive of the Aramaic word for father. It was a term of endearment used by young children of their fathers and could be translated to “daddy” or “papa”. The Holy Spirit brings us into a personal, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, whom we may approach at any time and under any circumstance, knowing that He always hears us and lovingly cares for us, because we are truly His own.”

Much like my niece trusted me to go to God in prayer on her behalf, God wants us to go to Him as a child goes to a loving father. What does an intimate and personal relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit look like? Do you get the picture of a child running to its father, climbing into his lap and throwing their arms around his neck while burying their head in his shoulder? In either instance of elation or brokenness this illustration applies, there are only changes the child’s emotion, not the relationship to the father.

Jun 102013
 

Last week I was excited to share with you an opportunity to partner or be part of missions in my home state, this week I am excited to share about missionaries in my own, small hometown! The Rosenbauer family will be going to Mophela, South Africa on a long term missions trip to serve at the Lily of the Valley Children’s Village. They will serve approximately 120 children that have been infected, or affected, by HIV/AIDS and specifically they will be house parents to 4-6 children. These children will be able to be in a two parent home, where they will be loved, cared for, and discipled to become leaders in their communities.

The mission of Lily of the Valley Children’s Village is “Sustainable, servant leaders for healthy communities.The vision is to raise leaders who embody patience, kindness, humility, service above self, truth, protection, hope, trust and perseverance. We see these as characteristics to be upheld in any position of leadership, whether that be in the classroom, home or workplace. We seek to raise leaders for every sector of society that will embody these traits and work together for a healthy community.”

I sat down with Michael and Lori Rosenbauer this evening, and met their daughters Eliana and Eden. It was amazing to see their passion for these children and desire to serve them, as well as see pictures and hear the account of their trip to Mophela, South Africa. Their testimony of how God led them to this point is inspiring. The Rosenbauers are currently in the process of raising the financial support needed for their mission trip. You can read more in their latest prayer newsletter update, or you can contact me and I will put them in touch with you, if you would like to hear more about partnering with them.

Meanwhile, you can hear from the Rosenbauers in this video:

Rural Church Planting

 Comments Off
Apr 252013
 

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Maine. I have lived in Maine my entire life. As in Maine with a statewide population of 1.3 million people (according to the US Chamber of Commerce), as opposed to 1.2 million people in Dallas or 625k in Seattle. Maine, according to a recent survey, is one of the least churched states in the US.

I have a heart for missions. Ironically, my passion for missions developed during my first mission trip to Nicaragua. Even more surprising is the fact that I gained a heart for the lost in Maine while living in Nicaragua for six weeks. I find global missions easier than local missions, but they are equally important.

While I can’t share the details of the story that brought it up, I was told of missiologists focusing only on urban centers for the purpose of church planting. While the details of the story may have allowed for some righteous anger or frustration, the idea of only church planting in urban areas broke my heart.
I understand, that with limited money and resources, it makes sense to focus where there is a greater concentration of people. I really do get that. But this methodology seems to insinuate that those in rural areas are less important, or at the very least do not carry the same urgency to be reached. It feels as though it devalues people, because if everyone is priceless then it doesn’t matter if a location has a million people or a thousand people. A single person hearing the Gospel and turning to Christ is as significant as a church full of people doing the same.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalms 139:13-15
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
God used a church planter from North Carolina, who relocated to Maine and planted my church, to reach me. While we are all called to missions, I had family trying to reach me and I resisted. I know this wholeheartedly as God used my pastor as a part of my personal testimony. And I am just one person. My church is filled with amazing people with incredible testimonies of God’s grace. His grace is effectual and He will reach His elected regardless of our actions, but to be used in His work and see the way that He weaves our stories together in a beautiful tapestry of our lives is important. I can’t imagine what it would look like if my pastor hadn’t been obedient to Christ calling him to Maine.
If light shines brightest in darkness, why wouldn’t the darkest regions of the country be a focus for domestic missions? What if God plans to use the darkest region of the nation to be a beacon of His light as He cuts through the darkness? What if we miss the opportunity to be used by Christ, because in our limited human logic it made sense to concentrate elsewhere?
Dec 022012
 

I don’t usually blog about the sermon that was preached at my church, but where God has my heart lately and the sermon preached by my pastor intersected, so I am going to blog it. My church has been going through the first three chapters of Revelation, through the seven churches, and I was especially looking forward to the seventh church, that of Laodicea. It addresses something I struggle with in my heart for those I love, for my culture. 

I have struggled with the salvation of those around me, so much so that I had studied decisional salvation and lordship salvation which is what sparked my previous blog post on that subject. While that answered a lot of questions that I had about the salvation of those closest to me, it also showed me how much our culture impacts our view of Christianity.

Laodicea is said to have been an affluent, wealthy society. It is said that the people were highly educated and influential. The homes that have been found in excavation have been huge for that time period (several thousand square feet) and had indoor plumbing. The city was highly developed and commerce driven. Sound like anywhere you know? It sounds similar to America to me. While most places surrounding them had houses of several hundred square feet, theirs were several thousand. While people in the areas around them were in need, they were rich. They were proud.

 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22

I grew up believing I was a Christian. It was like it was part of the culture, most people considered themselves a Christian whether they attended a church or not. I have loved ones who do not attend a church, do not read the Bible, pray to make requests of God, and believe themselves to be a Christian. They believe they are going to heaven. I use the phrase that ‘they believe’ not in a way of insinuating that they are not, I have no way to know as I cannot know hearts as Jesus does. I am also not saying that being a Christian is about what you do, you cannot earn salvation through attending church, reading the Bible, or praying. It is about your heart, your heart being broken over your sin and turning to Jesus. Realizing that you can never be good enough and that it is by grace alone that He created a way for us to be a child of God through His sacrifice on the cross. What I do know is that I was the same way. I grew up believing that I was a Christian, it was as matter of fact, like that I am American. I see this same matter-of-factness in my loved ones association with Christianity. Now that I am a Christian I see that I was not before several years ago. Even though I believed in Jesus’ existence and prayed to ask things of Him, there was no relationship. The Bible says that even demons believe in Jesus, so what sets a Christian apart if even demons believe? Worship. When I first became a Christian I struggled with what was suddenly different. I had always considered myself a Christian, so why was this so new? I felt God whisper the answer to my heart when I read James 2:19, the difference was worship. The demons do not worship Christ, just as I had not been, but they know that He is real and therefore intellectually believe in Him. The other part of matter-of-factness “Christianity” is being lukewarm. When we intellectually assent to Christ’s existence and sacrifice but are not worshiping, then we are not cold (as in against Christianity or not believing in Christ) and we are not hot (on fire for Christ and seeking relationship with Him), we are lukewarm. The example was used today of coffee, people either like hot coffee or iced coffee, not lukewarm coffee. As a society overall we are rich, we can provide for ourselves and therefore pridefully do not recognize our need for Christ. Even if we spent our entire lives living in a beautiful house, having nice clothes and possessions, always having enough food, and being generous here and there with our wealth, we are still wretched, poor, blind, and pitiable to Jesus. We are wretched outside of Him. We are spiritually poor and blind. We are pitiable because He has so much more for us and yet we do not humble ourselves before Him in order that we may share in it. Lukewarmness, being on the fence, not worshiping, cultural Christianity is so repulsive to Jesus that He says He will spit us out of His mouth. And yet He still follows that with saying that He is still knocking on the door and anyone who hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in and have a relationship with. 

There are areas in my walk with Jesus where I am lukewarm, where I need Him to light a flame, and I believe there always will be until I am in heaven therefore I repent and ask Jesus to grow me. I believe one area of lukewarmness is American cultural Christianity. It is almost like the subject was too close to home to want to delve into, or maybe because it seems there are so many resources at our disposal in America, nonetheless a person void of a relationship with Jesus is heartbreaking  whether they are living in a mansion or in a hut in a third world country. But, my lukewarmness is not about my relationship with Him, I am not on the fence about whether or not I want Him or need Him in my life. I love Him and desperately want Him in my life. I recognize my need for Him. I pray for that same zealousness for Jesus in my loved ones. I want them to experience Him, to experience His love and His healing.

Christmas of Love

 Comments Off
Nov 272012
 

Christ has me in a unique situation this Christmas season, one I have never found myself in before. Basically being out of work, means I will not have the ability to purchase Christmas gifts for my family. While Christmas is not about gifts, picking out gifts for each of my nieces, nephews, and family, waiting in anticipation to give it to them, and then watching them open it, is special to me. I enjoy all of this more than opening any gifts I am given on Christmas. It is like my being able to love them in this way is a gift to me.

I can’t help but notice the timing of this, after spending more than seven weeks total in a third world country this year. So many of the people there do not get to shop for the perfect gifts for their family, wrap it with pretty paper and bow, and watch in anticipation as their family opens the gifts they picked out especially for each one. No, they are struggling to provide for their families each day. They may not be able to show their love through buying things, but there is no doubt in my mind that their families will still feel loved. In my experience with the people, they do not associate love with being given things, but by the time spent together and showing your love through action.

I don’t want to concentrate on what I cannot do this Christmas season, but what I can. I am going to take this opportunity to spend the time I would ordinarily be shopping for and wrapping gifts to instead be worshiping Jesus. I am going to spend extra time in the Word, and doing an advent devotional (the one I will be doing is free, and can be found here: https://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5544/DG_Advent_eBook_Final.pdf?1353696982).

Instead of showing my love to my family through buying gifts, I am going to show it through my time, my actions, and my words. On Thanksgiving I took each niece and nephew aside for a moment and gave them a hug and kiss, and told them each that I thank Jesus for them each and every day. Altering the previous balance by showing love more through time, actions and words versus gifts will in the long run be what resonates with them. Growing up my family always had a huge Christmas, including way more gifts than we ever needed, but I can’t tell you what I received for gifts for the most part. I can, however, remember encouragement that others have invested in me, encouragement that resonated with me. 

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                   “Glory to God in the highest,
                    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:8-20

I want my treasure, and the treasure of my family, not to be found in gifts but in Jesus Himself. I want our treasure to be pondered in our hearts, as it was with Mary. I want our treasure to be in His presence, His holiness, His love, and His sacrifice.

 

The Battle of Reality

 Comments Off
Oct 152012
 

One of the things that I love about short term missions is continually feeling like I am in God’s sanctuary. It is like I feel His presence more, maybe because I am in a heightened state versus being comfortable and complacent. I feel his protection more, maybe because there is more that I am fearful of outside of my comfort zone. Being surrounded by Christ centered people is not my normal, so for everyday to include praying together, encouraging one another, and studying the Bible together is refreshing.

Now it is gearing up to go back to the battles of reality. I am praying for God to have used this time away to strengthen me. I am praying that I remain in a state of relying on Him and not returning to complacency. I am praying that when I no longer am surrounded by biblical encouragement, I will recognize Christ’s encouragement through His Spirit instead of through others. I am praying that my focus will remain on Christ’s priorities, not on the priorities that the world tells me I should have. My identity is in Christ. I am who He says I am and therefore I pray that the approval of others will remain meaningless.

Upon leaving home I took on the battle for my identity and asked Christ to teach me of my identity in Him, now the battle will be clinging to His truth amongst the everyday warfare. As the enemy wields lies, I need to counteract and respond with truth.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,  and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:10-20

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:6-10

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17

It is almost time to return home, not in my own strength but in His.

Oct 082012
 

I love the book of Esther. I do not know why, as I have loved it since I was a little girl. The idea of an orphan girl becoming Queen, a real portrayal of every little girl’s dream,  may have drawn me in but I also suspect that I have loved it for as long as I can remember because God placed it on my heart to teach me something specific according to His perfect timing. While studying it there have been several aspects of the story that have stuck out to me, I  wanted to blog about the one from today.

The entire book of Esther reads without a single mention of God, a message from God, anyone praying, anyone going to church or worshiping, and there are no miracles recorded in it. God was sovereign and in control, it is not to say otherwise, but in the telling of the account He is not mentioned. Do I live life this way? If a stranger wrote a book about me after I died, would God be in the forefront of the account? Do I live in such a way that my life points to Him and therefore His presence cannot be missed? Could those who don’t know Christ read the book and be unable to bypass Christ’s lead role in my life?

A life of private worship, or even semi-public worship, and attending a church is not evidence to a stranger of Christ’s undeniable presence. So often I keep what He has done in my life or is doing in my life private, or I separate it from the areas of my life shared with unbelievers. If I am going through daily routine life and not outwardly loving others, as He did, then strangers will not see a difference in me from the world. I am called to be a light in the darkness. I want my life to be one that is evidence of Christ’s sacrifice, victory over death, and His transforming power. This does not communicate to others unless I am boldly living for God in a way that even those who have not accepted Him know that I have given my life to Him and for His glory.

I am not a bold person, this takes conscious work for me, but He is worthy. It means not accepting deceptions of my identity, but clinging to my identity in Him. It means not allowing others to get me off track by their negativity and insults, but keeping my eyes focused on Him. It means wearing my faith like a crown, instead of hidden away in my pocket.

Simplicity

 Comments Off
Oct 052012
 

It seems like I see more clearly here. It’s as if I am able to focus here, like things are so simple. Today I played with a child as they played with a plastic shopping bag with a string tied to the handle, as if it were a kite. Maybe because I am less busy, but I can revel in moments here. Hearing a Twombly little  say “Si, me comprendo” when told something in English. Sitting in a protection center with a child, as they cuddle into my arm. A smile, a laugh, a hug. I’m sure there are little moments, like these, that pass by when I am home, when I have a list of things to accomplish and it feels like time is of the essence. Life is too short to miss moments like these. I do not want to be nearing the end of my time on earth, regretting that I was so overly busy that I missed out on important things in life. I can accomplish a list of tasks by the end of the day, but what good is it if I ignored or passed by someone that needed a hug, a smile, or just to feel that they aren’t invisible. Someone that needed to feel that they matter.

While at the center of protection today, and waiting for the child I had been spending time with to return, I sat down at an empty table. A girl, who appeared to be doing homework, that had been sitting at the next table over got up, picked up her books and moved to my table and continued working on her homework. We never had a conversation, just exchanged smiles, due to the language barrier. I admired her boldness, vulnerability, and transparency that she didn’t want to sit alone. As the first child returned and sat down, another joined us as well and the table was now full. It was humbling to think about how we could not even converse, but they wanted to spend time with me nonetheless. Just being together outweighed the limitations.

So many times at home, I easily give up on things that seem too hard, the limitations too much, or the risk too high. I avoid being vulnerable or transparent. I avoid looking most people in the eye, nevermind exchanging smiles. I am not bold. I complicate and analyze everything. I talk myself out of doing things outside of my comfort zone. My priorities are skewed, and need to be reprioritized. People are always more important, more valuable. Always.