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

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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.

Christmas Mission Trip

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Oct 202013
 

I’m still here. I apologize that I have neglected blogging lately. I wanted to update you on one of the reasons I have been too busy to blog.

I am leading a mission team to Nicaragua in early December as a Christmas mission trip. We will be visiting a Center of Protection for girls that have been subject to abuse. The team will be doing activities with these girls throughout the week, and we will also be throwing a Christmas party for them! We are very excited to be sharing part of the Christmas season with these girls.

First, and foremost, you can pray for the team in the following ways: 1. That God will prepare each team member and also each child and adult to whom we will be spiritually ministering to during our visit.  2. That God will provide financially for our trip. Each team member needs to raise $1,500. That is quite a challenge! 3. That God will bless our journey, keep us safe, and move powerfully through our team as we minister His love, compassion, and grace in Nicaragua.

Secondly, you can be involved by seeking God’s direction in helping us financially. Would you consider supporting me with a financial donation of $10, $20, $50, or more? I have a donate link on my missions page, or you can mail any gift to Lakeside Community Church, c/o Tina Williams, PO Box 386, North Waterboro, ME 04061. Please make checks payable to Lakeside Community Church.

 

Thank you so much and I look forward to sharing all that God accomplished during this time!

Be Still & Behold

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Dec 192012
 

The thing about being rendered helpless is that I get to see God’s provision. I am given the opportunity to stand back in watch in awe as He works around me. I am even more thankful for His provision as I know, beyond a doubt, it was nothing I accomplished. Moments like this not only lead me to worship, but to repentance that I am so apt to miss this when I do not feel helpless, even though I really always am. It is a deception that I can ever be in control, that I can ever be my own provider, or that I am anything but weak and helpless.

 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

It is never easy for me to be still and wait on God, but He commands me to it because it strengthens my trust in Him, therefore strengthening and illustrating our relationship. Our relationship of Creator and created, Redeemer and redeemed, Heavenly Father and child of God. He knows that no matter the outcome of the waiting on Him, be it my definition of good news or not, I will come out the other side of this wait more confident of His provision and at peace.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Behold means “Don’t miss this!” or “Be sure to see…”. Don’t miss this, don’t miss the work of His hands. Don’t miss resting in His embrace as He does all the work. When given this opportunity, don’t miss out on wholeheartedly trusting Him and the peace that surpasses all understanding. He will reveal His path for you in His perfect timing, but right now we wait in awe and wonder. We play the part of the wide-eyed child anticipating the Father’s gift. We get to live out our child-like faith.

This next scripture is one I love because of all of the phrases in it that points to our child-like role and His Fatherly love and care for us. Listen for them.

“But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

    he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

    and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

    peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you;

    I will bring your offspring from the east,

    and from the west I will gather you.

I will say to the north, Give up,

    and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

    and my daughters from the end of the earth,

everyone who is called by my name,

    whom I created for my glory,

    whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:1-7

He who created you, He who formed you. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. I will be with you. I love you. 

 

Patience with Joy

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Dec 052012
 

I am still learning patience, as I am not a patient person and I hate waiting. I believe I am patient with people for the most part, but when it comes to waiting on God I have a hard time. I don’t think my impatience is caused by not believing that He will act, but that in knowing He could do so with such ease and just hasn’t. 

I so relate to Sarah sinfully taking matters into her own hands after waiting for God to allow her to become pregnant (Genesis 17-21). Waiting is hard. Control tends to be an idol for me and I have to consciously relinquish my attempt to be in control to Christ in even everyday circumstances, even more so in waiting circumstances.

Upon receiving news on a couple matters I had been praying over for quite a length of time, the answer being that of keep waiting, I said aloud “Lord, I am so tired of learning patience” to which I felt “so learn it already” whispered to my heart. As I repented, following the conviction, I realized a key word in the exchange. Learn. Once I realize it is something that I am being taught, and have been for a while, then it is no longer a matter of my learning but a matter of doing. It becomes about repenting and changing direction, turning around. In these instances it is no longer about learning, it is about making the decision to live as I am called to live, instead of that of a rebellious child. Prayer will be necessary to ask for Christ’s help, as I cannot live according to my calling in my own strength.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

If God’s goodness is truth in my life, and in my heart, then it is also true that although He could have acted already, He hasn’t because that is what is truly best for me. And it is “patience with joy”, not just barely getting through this patience or with a poor attitude, but patience derived from gratitude and trust.

A Heart of Urgency

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Jun 052012
 

Holding pattern. This has been my life recently. Several areas of my life were all placed in wait mode by God. I now realize that I do not function well in wait mode, as my typical response is to throw myself into another area to avoid thinking about what I am waiting on. It has been during this recent holding pattern that I learned that waiting is an active verb. I am supposed to consciously and actively wait. Which is why, I believe, God made me wait in several areas simultaneously- so that I could not throw myself into another area to avoid my wait, but instead seek Him as I intentionally wait on Him.

Paul Tripp wrote, “Usually our view of waiting is the doctor’s office. We see it as a meaningless waste of time, like a man stuck in the reception area until he has nothing left to do but scan recipes in a two-year-old copy of Ladies’ Home Journal…Our waiting on God must not be understood this way. The sort of waiting to which we are called is not inactivity. It is very positive, purposeful, and spiritual. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of remembering: remembering who I am and who God is. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of worship: worshiping God for his presence, wisdom, power, love, and grace. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of serving: looking for ways to lovingly assist and encourage others who are also being called to wait. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of praying: confessing the struggles of my heart and seeking the grace of the God who has called me to wait. We must rethink waiting and remind ourselves that waiting is itself a call to action.”

I also think during this time of waiting I was called to be learning. It may not be learning as I would picture, but nonetheless researching and reading God’s word and other resources He guided me to in an effort to prepare my heart for what He has in store for me. While two of the areas I have been waiting on God  are the typical scenario of not knowing the outcome, uniquely one area was an area that I am not waiting on an answer from God, just waiting for His green light. I’m not sure which scenario is harder. Or maybe the scenarios only compete with one another because it involved waiting for God’s “go ahead” for a desire and interest that He gave me. One that I had given up being feasible at the present time but, alas, God can make anything possible. He can just effortlessly provide a secret door you didn’t know existed.

But there was another reason He made me pause. He wanted to teach me and show me something specific first. This interest, this desire that He placed in my heart, had become about me. Because I wanted it for my enjoyment, not what He intended for it. While I was perfectly content seeing only one step in front of me, and how I would enjoy that step, He wanted to show me that it is in fact a stepping stone in His plan, only the beginning of the journey He intends for me.

Paul Tripp also wrote of another thing we are to do while we wait, “Celebrate the fact that God will not forsake that process of grace in your life and ministry in order to deliver to you the momentary comfort, pleasure, and ease that you would rather have in your time of exhaustion, discouragement, and weakness. He simply loves you too much to exchange temporary gratification for eternal glory!”

God wanted to open my eyes to see how temporary my mindset was and how eternal He wanted it to be. That my view of this desire was short term and therefore skewed. That He wanted me to be intentional in my living for Him and never wasting time going through the motions of daily life. Not going to be easy at first, if ever.

Unfortunately I never learn these lessons easily and had to be jolted to truly see. It took a life and death situation, an eternal and literal one in fact, to give me this sense of urgency to act. Not only in this situation, but to complete this step, that I would like to just enjoy, to go on to the next step in His journey for me as soon as possible. This sense that I can’t sit idly by any longer, not because of boredom and my own impatience but because He gave me this sense of urgency and reminded me how short life truly is. Sit back in comfort enjoying the present or looking to the future and seeing that we can’t count on tomorrow being there. Saying ‘I will actively be on mission down the road when things slow down’ or ‘I will do whatever I can to be on mission wherever I am’. That I will take the time to act now in ways that I allowed fear to hold me back in the past. Do things that are out of my comfort zone because I know they are the right things to do.

To intentionally live for Christ with a heart of urgency to reach others and be a light for Him all the time. Not some of the time. Not when I think the time is right. All the time.