Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Waiting For Morning

"my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning."

Wait on the Lord. I want to wait for Him to come again with a sweet expectancy. The watchmen knew morning would come. They labored through hard nights unsure if they'd see an enemy and have to warn the city. I imagine it was a hard role. And yet, they waited for the morning, knowing it would come. They knew in the morning the city would be safe, their job was done, and they could rest. Somedays are long and some seasons are hard. They are like that long night of watching and waiting. I want to live ready and waiting for Jesus to come. I'm looking excitedly and expectantly for the Son to return in His great power to judge and rule over all. I'm waiting for the whole earth to become a place of rest and joy for those who are His where He is always present. What an exciting thought and peace-filled way to live out my days here waiting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dad Doesn't Love Me

Once, I went on a trip with the youth of our church to a small village of indigenous people in an unreached part of Panama. I weighed my highest weight ever when we took that trip and it hindered me. I hurt my knees jumping rope with local kids and then couldn't help with any of the building/clearing/ cleaning aspects of the trip.

 God met me in such crazy ways during the times when I had to sit out. And He provided opportunities in it. I was able to help a local missionary improve on her guitar enough to lead worship. I saw God in His creation in ways I never had, because I spent so much time just sitting and watching. The thunderstorms were SO powerful- and a glimpse into the great power and might of God. The sunsets/sunrises were so pure (no colors from pollution) and the most beautiful I've ever seen. They reminded me of His untainted beauty. I had time to practice sharing Jesus in Spanish, singing in Spanish, and praying for our team, the missionaries, and the locals we were meeting. I believe God used that time that I had felt like I had nothing to give others to shape me in mighty ways.

One of the opportunities I had, was to teach some of the children (in Spanish) how God, Our Creator, can be known to us because of Jesus. One day, I was flipping through a small book about Jesus with some boys and said, "Daddy loves you. Yes?" and one of the boys said, "No. I have no Dad. He doesn't love me." It was common there for men to marry multiple women and leave them once they had several children. These boys did not know a Father who stays, who loves, and certainly not one who pursues them to draw them near to Himself. It was heartbreaking. All I knew to do was pray and cry. I cried out to God (in a broken mix of Spanish and English) asking Him to care for them. I begged Him to raise up boys in their generation who would experience His love in extravagant ways and be husbands and fathers who model it someday. And then I had to leave. It broke my heart. I have not forgotten them. I keep a picture nearby and pray for them and others like them often. It reminds me why we do what we do. And it reminds me that God never leaves us.
Praying I never forget they need Jesus
I really can't imagine spending my life any other way than helping local churches/believers worldwide to share His love daily. I never want to love my things so much that I buy more when I could give more. I never want to be consumed by fun and comfort and forget kids like these boys who have no one to love them and teach them of God who loves them with unfailing and unending love.

God's been reminding me lately of some of these glimpses He's allowed me to see and I feel encouraged to "stay wrecked". I don't want to fall back into my old lifestyle and forget. I want to remember. I want to take huge steps of faith to show His love worldwide. How could I do anything else now that I know His extravagant love other than to tell anyone I can? God's glory will go out to the ends of the Earth. He has promised that. And I LOVE that. I am so thankful for the way He sought me and the people He used to preach to me and teach me about His great love and salvation. I want to tell everyone here in my daily life and go wherever He leads! I want to trust Him and depend on Him fully and watch Him do His mighty and amazing work in the hearts of those who were once far from Him. In my daily living (my giving, my prayers, how I spend my time, etc.) and someday, in my dying, I pray that Christ may be glorified and His name known throughout the world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update on Baby Violet

She can see!!!!! Read Mike's blog for his incredible perspective and her sweet picture.

Praise God!!! One highlight from his post:

"God loves that his children see him

When we got Violet home from surgery, took off the metal shields that were guarding her eyes, she soon began looking at Jen and I then smiling with her big dopey grin. I'm sure we just look like blurry white circles to her—but she knew her mommy and her daddy were there and she saw us for the first time.
Wow. It's amazing that first time your baby sees you and responds. God is a Father... I'm positive that when folks are praying to him in faith for the first time or having a moment of clear worship, he's absolutely thrilled. I can promise you, God is way happier than you when you respond to him in faith."

I have been happily imagining how my faith steps delight God so much more than me. It feels so good when we obey God and seek Him and have moments of depth of intimacy with Him in prayer and song. Can you believe that He delights in those connections even more than we do? i LOVE that! God is so incredibly good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do You Have Friends?

Andy and I have been here a year now. We left the daily comfort and ease of our established friendships and now have begun to form new "daily life" relationships. It's so good. And it's so hard. Letting down and being vulnerable is downright scary at times, but I'm so thankful for the depth He is providing through His church. We are growing as we begin again and open up to the new friends He is giving us.

I was encouraged by an article in TableTalk magazine Noel Piper wrote, sharing how God opened her heart and life to deep friendships at age 60. In it, she calls friends, "an appetizer to the feast of Jesus' friendship". I love that thought. So very true. Here's a bit of her story:

"as these friends opened themselves to me, my heart warmed to them and I felt more and more freedom with them. We came to trust each other with the tender places of our hearts...
God showed Himself in the deep wisdom that sprang from their lives’ stories of widowhood, life-threatening disease, physical disability, and victory over severe obesity. In their wider family groups were suicide, mental illness, prodigal children, and alienation. Those kinds of pain become part of a person’s life and are rarely over and done. So from within their own history and daily experience, with tenderness, understanding, and empathy of experience they prayed for me, advised me, and gave me hope.

In Proverbs 27:9, Solomon might have been writing about my friends: “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” God used them to make my heart glad 
To be fair, sometimes their words were not easy for me to hear. Often the phone calls, text messages, or emails were positive and encouraging. But sometimes a wise friend saw that I needed a rebuke, a reminder to call sin “sin.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).
I was sixty years old when this story began — when I was forced to have friends. I am ashamed that, until then, I could have remained so ignorant of what God intended friendship to be. At the same time, I am filled with gratitude that God didn’t leave me alone."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What A Blind Baby Shows Dad

I recently read a powerful blog post by Mike Anderson on the Resurgence blog. He spoke very candidly about his daughter who was born mostly blind at birth and all that God has been teaching him about Himself in 11 weeks since she's been alive.

1. The God of the universe grieves- He shares how much it hurt to know his daughter can't see him and how he realized how much God grieves when we are spiritually blind and don't see Him.

2. The God of the universe comforts his kids He is learning firsthand that God doesn't leave us in our suffering, but sends His comforter, His Spirit.
3. The God of the universe is Holy—he makes great things come from situations of suffering- He quotes John 9:1-7 to show how the man's blindness was not because of sin but for God's glory to be shown greater.
4. The God of the universe heals- He understands the length God went through to heal our spiritual blindness and restore us, because there is no obstacle (money, time, etc.) that he wouldn't face to try to give his daughter her sight.

I'm praying for Mike, Jen and their daughter, Violet, but also praising God for the great way He revealed His glory to me in Mike's raw and solid view of God through his daughter's disability. God loves us with such depth and Mike's story was a powerful reminder of God's grace and love to me. May God continue to use them to proclaim His glory.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Should I Respond When Unjustly Treated

I was reading 1 Peter 2 and made a connection on how we live out our role as a church to proclaim His excellencies that has challenged my thinking.

1) In vs. 9 it says who we are In Christ: a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, a people for His own possession. I've written some thoughts on that before in these posts: All In Him Together 1, and Together But Separate 2, but today I was thinking more of how it ties into the rest of the passage...

2) What's the purpose of our role in Him? To Proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His excellent light. To show the mercy we've received (vs. 9-10)

3) But HOW do we proclaim His excellencies?
This is what has challenged me! First, Peter continues the theme of being pure and fighting against sin (11-12) that he set in Chapter 1 and early in Chapter 2. Then the rest of the passage (and really book) is about submitting in suffering. The servant is challenged to be subject in ALL respects to an unjust master. And it's in THIS relationship that he is called (21) and it's considered a gracious thing for him (19). This is so radically different from our culture. Do we ever consider this? Even in a small way, like under a boss who uses us for his/her own gain. Do we submit willingly under even that small persecution? Do we ever consider the next step of loving and praying for our enemies? Those who actually want us to suffer and die?

4) WHY submit under an unjust master? Because Jesus suffered unjustly for us. And doing good while suffering gives an opportunity to share how Jesus suffered willingly and took all our sin. Just like in Matthew 5:38- the end when Jesus calls us to willingly give the other cheek and go the extra mile. We have an opportunity to show the mercy we've received. We model Christ's good sacrifice once and for all for our sins when we fall under oppression with grace to show His love. 
It shows that we are:
-mindful of God (vs. 19)
-that we seek heavenly favor, not earthly reward (vs 20)
-that we trust God fully for vengeance/justice (vs. 23)
-and it's a picture of Christ, our Savior and example who willingly laid down His life for us (vs. 21)

Wow. I'm praying for our brothers and sisters worldwide who already live this hard call. I'm praying they will find comfort and strength in the promises in this passage. And I'm praying God will break open my proud heart and give me a true longing to love my enemies and pray for them. I'm praying I'll be so filled with Him and live so freely in the good news of salvation through Him, that I'll be equipped and ready when my suffering comes to live out mercy and grace by showing Jesus with JOY in suffering to those who need Him most: the oppressors.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boasting on facebook

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”- Ephesians 5:15-17
I've been thinking a lot about my facebook profile. I read once that some people struggle with depression because facebook is like reading an ongoing Christmas card. We only show the highlights: holidays surrounded by loved ones, vacations, things we've accomplished, beautiful meals we've prepared, time spent with friends, etc. So a lot of people read status updates and see pictures and feel like their life is lonely and not good enough. I wish I could remember where I read it to link to. Regardless, it stuck. My eyes have been opened. It struck me as so sad, because my original heart as I set up a facebook page was that it would be a place online where I live out the love of Jesus I have received. And yet, as I prayed through it, I saw that I have bragged and boasted both on facebook over the years and here on my blog. And I'm so very sorry. Will you please forgive me?

Please know I believe with my whole heart that God has given me this blog and my facebook profile to use for His glory. I pray about when to post, how to respond, and who to reach out to. I believe He has shown me how great a tool social media can be to love one another, pray for hurting friends/family, show thankfulness and appreciation for good gifts He's given, etc. But always in a way that points us back towards Jesus, our living hope. At times, in instruction, it is good to show His good gifts and it brings Him glory. But sometimes, I have been proud of a way He's show me to teach my kids or a trip He blessed us with. I have shown them to my glory, not His. And I do not want that to be true of me again. I'm remembering my original heart for my blog and facebook (read post here) and seeking to live that out in His strength. 

I'm praying as I continue on in this new awareness, that my blog and facebook profile will be a sweet reflection of our great Savior and my thankful heart towards Him. I'm praying you'll be encouraged and leave "my page" spurred on into Him. I'm praying others who read this post will evaluate their own social media. Will you look at your tweets, status updates, pictures, blog posts, etc. and ask God to show you where you boasted or sought your own glory? And then let's repent and pray about each future post, not to condemn ourselves, but to excitedly live purposefully to His glory in all life, including online!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

They knew Jerry Springer, but not Jesus.

"how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”... So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
In college, a friend showed me a map of the world that was color coded. I was shocked when I saw the large area (called the 10-40 window because of the latitude and longitude lines there) of people who had never even heard the name of Jesus. And there was no one to go tell them. I was heart broken. We went to a conference and learned that some missionaries were rising up to go- I gave immediately to support them. I have prayed daily for those places and people since then. 
Panama-sharing the love of the Father with boys who don't know love
A few years ago, Andy and I felt called to do more than give, but to actually go. We took the Jesus Film to a group of people who had NEVER heard the name Jesus. I was amazed that even in extreme poverty and in the middle of a huge desert, people crowded around satellite tvs and watched old American tv shows. We laughed that Chuck Norris was popular there. But one night, as I passed a group of teens, they turned and started chanting "Jerry. Jerry." They were watching Jerry Springer. They knew the name Jerry Springer and not the name of Jesus. My heart broke open and I begged God to let us be a part, in any way, of taking His name where it is not known. He answered by calling us into the Jesus Film studio full time. Andy works in post production, where we seek to translate the film (the script is the book of Luke) to give every person, everywhere a chance to see and hear Jesus in his/her "heart" language.

Africa-In the Sahara desert sharing about Jesus 
A few weeks ago, we heard from our Cru president that 511 (or 80%) of previously unreached and unengaged people groups (meaning no one was even trying to reach them) have been engaged over the last 6 years through our work in partnership with other like minded missionary organizations/churches... How awesome is THAT!?! Praying and pressing on to the next 128!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sacrifice in Places Only Your Children Will Know About...

I read another amazing post by Rachel Jankovic about motherhood (see my previous posts for more I've learned from her here and here.) and want you to read it too. Here are a few quotes from her:

"Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death..."

"But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go. Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back..."
"Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine..."

Looking for ways to lay my life down that only they will see