Sunday, September 24, 2017

Remain Faithful

For my birthday my mother gave me a devotional book by Paul David Tripp. For the last couple days each devotional begins with maybe you want ___________ from Jesus and then it ends with this phrase, "He will be nothing less than the Sovereign Savior King." Our world is in a pretty uncertain time right now. Who are we kidding, we are always in that state. However we have become more aware of this as our nation has been hit my one natural disaster after another. Impending threats from North Korea, Hurricane after Hurricane devastating all in its path, earthquakes, wild fires out of control and flooding are a few of the things we are facing today. I will be honest, it is scary. I have friends and family in the path of Irma. The storms changed our plans for orientation week for interns. There is a lot of crazy, uncertainty. As I walk through today stressing, thinking and planning for every possible scenario I am reminded once again that this is not my ministry. This is not my earth. This is not my plan. None of this is for my glory or depended upon my knowledge or actions. It is all under the feet of my God. "He will be nothing less than the Sovereign Savior King."

What a beautiful thing to rest in. It isn't easy to rest in, but it is beautiful and perfect. In our human flesh we want to reason and understand. We want it under our control. However, that is just impossible. It think of the Psalmist who ask "What is man that you are mindful of him?" Who are we to think that we have any authority or power to hold any control in our hands. I have heard people saying that the end of the world is coming.... to be honest it is. It gets closer and closer every day. But we do not know the day or hour of our Lord's return. Whatever the next day, weeks, months, or years hold for us will we gain a day more by worrying about it? Will our desperate attempt to control things change the course of God's will? Where does this leave us? I think there are several responses to this knowledge but my prayer is that my response be one of faithful hope.

We could deny it. We could hide from all the misery and disaster. We could try and build our own little kingdom or world, hemming in ourselves from the frightfulness outside our walls. We could become hopeless. We could know that the end is coming and just give up. We could sit and wait for it and do nothing more. I have wanted to do both of these. A part of me wants to turn off the T.V. and radio and block out any outside noise. I want to build my little life in peace and quiet and not think about any impending danger. But of course Jesus himself warned us that in this world we would have trouble. It isn't a very biblical response to run from it. I have also wanted to just sit and wait and forget everything else. I mean if the Lord is coming back next week lets just forget it all! Let me grab my coffee, my Bible's and just sit with the skyline in view...waiting anxiously. Then again when Jesus ascended into heaven, telling his disciples he would be back for them they stood their looking to the sky only to be rebuked by an angle. "What on earth are you looking at? Go, get to work!" (my paraphrase, obviously)

Neither of these are right responses... they are filled with fear or selfishness, honestly. God has been teaching me a lot recently in both regards. I realized that the best response is faithfulness. The Lord is coming back soon. That is a nonnegotiable, non-disputable fact. It is getting closer and closer every day. We are to be ready for it! Which I am. I am saved and right with the Lord. I will continue to fall before him when I sin and confess my sin because he is faithful and just to forgive it. We are to be watching! We aren't supposed to get so caught up living this life that we forget that we are bound for an even greater destination. Have a heavenly aspect of life. Remembering that this life is temporary. We are supposed to GO. God gives us many commissioning speeches throughout Scripture. We are called to be the feet that spread the gospel, those who tell others of his goodness and to bring him glory. We are called to work for him! It is like that story of the owner who gave 3 men differing amounts of talents and went away, telling them he would be back. The ones who invested the talents to bring more back to their master were rewarded. We are like those men. God has given us talents to bring him glory and one day he will return. He won't be satisfied if we bury our talent and anxiously and fearful wait his return! NO! We are called to invest those talents to further his kingdom and to bring him glory. Everything is for his glory! So remain faithful. In the midst of chaos, controversy and imminent doom, remain faithful to your God and King.

"He will be nothing less than the Sovereign Savior King."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A voice of Hope

As I sat in the midst of a circle of god-fearing women I heard these words... voices of many of my inward struggles.

"Lonely. Unbalanced. Overwhelmed. Discouraged. Struggling with Obedience. Timid Witness. Trials of Life. Trying to earn God's approval/love. Sick and Unbelieving Family. Workers are Few. Distracted."

Does it not cause tears to form in your eyes and your heart feel suppressed and crushed? It is such a strange phenomenon that to be in the Lord's work can be so painful and such a struggle. Yet, here we are. I am not talking about young believers thrown into a ministry that they have no idea about. I am talking about season women of God, who have served Him their entire lives. On other days you would find us all with a smile on our faces, excited to share with you what the Lord was doing. We would tell you of all the success of the ministry that the Lord had called us to. But here, here was a protected place of sisters who come in their human states: broken, hurt, discouraged.... We are broken vessels who told the Lord that He could use us as he saw fit. That is all we are. We are not strong. We are not mighty. We are not world-changers. We are not super-women. We do not have it all together. We have surrendered. 

Why do I feel the need to write this blog post? There are 2 reasons. The first being for those out there thinking that they can't be the world changers. The ones who think they are stuck in their job, with their kids or whatever it is that you feel holds you back from serving the Lord. The only thing in the way of God using you right where you are is SURRENDER. God can and will use anyone. Did you read that description above?? We don't have it together but God still uses us every day! What a beautiful thing! Surrender to Him. Whatever He asks of you He will accomplish if you allow Him. It is always Him.

The second reason I wanted to write this blog is for all my sisters in ministry. Ministry isn't easy. We often get discouraged and tired. I hear you. I see you. I mourn with you. I struggle with you. You are not alone. You never have been. I want to remind you of something vitally important. No matter what age you are, what season of life, this is TRUTH.
We can often doubt that truth right there. Satan tries to tell us that we aren't good enough. We messed up. Our gifts don't allow us to do _________. We don't know how to handle that. Who are you to be doing _________ for the Lord? Let me tell you who you are...

"Fear not I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are MINE." (Isaiah 43:1b)

You are CHOSEN. You are JUSTIFIED (1 Cor. 6:11). You are WASHED (1 Cor. 6:11). You are REDEEMED. You are SUMMONED. You are more than a CONQUEROR (Rom 8:37). You are an HEIR with CHRIST (Rom. 8:17). You are a NEW CREATION (2 Cor 5:17). You are ACCEPTED (Rom 15:7). You are UNITED with CHRIST (1 Cor. 6:17). You are the TEMPLE of the HOLY SPIRIT (1Cor. 6:19).

Satan can try all day to make us feel unworthy. Without Christ we are unworthy. But we are IN CHRIST. He has commissioned us and asked us to do what we are doing. And He hasn't left us to do it all alone. He is here with us. Be encouraged and know that in the midst of the loneliness, being unbalanced, being overwhelmed, being discouraged, struggling to be obedient, being timid in our faith, going through the trials of life, fearing the Lord's disapproval, crying for our families who are sick and disbelieving, discouraged because the workers are few, and being distracted, He is here. He knows. He knows our struggles. He knows our hurt and pain. He hasn't left us and He hasn't decided He can't use us. What a beautiful thing about our Lord is that He chooses us in our broken messes. This is His ministry and He will complete it... and He desires to use YOU to do it. Stay strong, and know you are loved. 
1 Peter 2:19-25

Monday, July 10, 2017

What Missionaries Need Most

Let's get real here for a minute... missions isn't what you think. You might have gone on a short term trip every year in high school; you might support multiple missionaries or have their prayer cards proudly displayed throughout your house, but missions isn't what you think. Missionaries will come to your church and share. You will hear members of the church telling you to pray and support missions. They tell you to go and do mission work in your neighborhood, local church or workplace. It is a constant heartbeat of believers to do, be and connect with missions. I am so thankful for this. I am thankful for my sending church that loves me, supports me and prays for me. I continue to pray that churches all over the world would link arms to bring the gospel to the unreached. As an intern coordinator my heart is to see young men and women trained and sent out for missions. My heart is to see them connected with local churches to accomplish missions. As a part of a pretty large missionary family, I long to see my fellow family members encouraged and strengthened in the Lord. I told the Lord that I would be the one to go overseas, to go to the front lines, to be the one evangelizing and risking my life but, in His perfect plan and faithful direction, He has led me to be a part of encouraging, equipping and sending. I take this mission very seriously. This blog post has been long overdue but now it's time to put hands to the keyboard once again. The question that begs to be asked is, "What do missionaries really need?"

Prayers and Paychecks: There are two misconceptions that we must address first. Often, when we talk about missionaries on the field and their immediate needs, we are told to give and pray. But are these really what missionaries need the most? Yes, finances are important. It can be super-frustrating trying to get on the field, waiting for support. We could not do what we do without financial partners! Likewise, prayers are super important. I see the power of prayer work again and again on the field. However, I think we have gotten so used to just saying, "give and pray" that it becomes just another box to check. Then, another month, year or however long goes by before the missionary returns again. In between life goes on. May I suggest a revision? Yes, pray for your missionary. But don't just blindly pray for them. Be informed. There are specific battles, needs and temptations in each missionary's life. Ask them how you can pray for them and tell them that you prayed for them specifically. Maybe your church family has specific requests already. Great! What a welcome sight it would be to get a text or email out of the blue from a church member saying they prayed for a specific need. You may even get a reply to let you know your prayers were answered. That is truly being connected with missions. As for finances... God uses support-raising in missionaries' lives mainly for humility and dependence (not on others but on the Lord). God may have you meet a specific need for a missionary. But I urge you to not just write a check or throw some cash in an offering plate just because you don't know what else to do. Instead, I urge you to ask what the needs are. You may be surprised to find that you can provide specifically what they need. God works in amazing ways through His people! Be aware and be a part. Missionaries are not organizations run like a well-oiled machine. They are people surrendered to the work of the Lord. 

The Struggle for Support: We all know what it means when a missionary comes into the congregation, stands up to give a report and ends with saying, "Would you prayfully consider supporting me?" It means pull out our checkbooks, throw something in the offering plate, pick up their prayer card or sign up for their newsletter (which we may or may not read...lets be honest here, I get a LOT of newsletters. It's hard to read them all in their entirety). Granted, they are most likely looking for financial partners to get onto the field at that moment. What I don't think a lot of new missionaries going onto the field know at that moment is how much more they need and desire. Here is where I am going to be super honest, from personal experience and from watching others. There are days that it's rough, and I know that I am not the only missionary that has struggled with this. In fact, I think this is one of the biggest struggles of missionaries, summed up in one word: Loneliness. Whether you go to another country or another state, you leave all you know behind-your church, your friends, your comfort zone. What is worse, missionaries often feel forgotten by those we left behind. Everyone is busy, life goes on. We know they pray and care but their life is going one way and ours goes another. When we go home to give a report we are welcomed. People ask us how things are going and if we enjoy it. They mention they see your posts or newsletter and it looks like things are great. Then it gets a little awkward because you realize that life as gone on without you. You no longer fit into your old life or comfort zone. You feel out of place and are torn between wanting to just go back to your ministry and wanting to go back to the way things were and forgetting this "missionary thing." This is just the tragic reality of life. What do missionaries really need? They need support. But what does that mean? 

SUPPORT: 1. bear all or part of the weight of; hold up 2. give approval, comfort, or encouragement to 3. suggest the truth of

I love these definitions of support. Each one speaks to the needs of a missionary. First, a missionary needs to be held up and helped in bearing the weight. Missions is messy. It is rough. It is heart-breaking. It is frustrating. What makes it even harder, is we have this idea that missions is glorious (which it is) and beautiful and rewarding. We forget that it is like being on the front lines of a battle field. We don't think of the front lines as a pretty place. Missionaries don't want to let on to all the struggles and frustrations they often see. (They honestly don't need to all the time. It isn't healthy and it isn't building the body up.) However, sometimes they need someone who isn't in the situation to cry out to. Not to whine, not to get sympathy, but to pray with them and for them and to point them back to scripture. They need reminded that they are called to this mission and that the calling is worth it. They need reminded of who they are in Christ. They need help bearing the weight. They need held up. Missionaries are people. They are insecure at times. They are keenly aware of their weaknesses. They are often tempted. They struggle with other people, believe it or not. Satan will do anything to tear apart their families, friendships, ministries and testimonies. They don't just need prayers from a distance. They need support bearers. The first goes straight into the second. They need encouragement and approval. Like I said earlier, missionaries can be insecure. You wouldn't believe how many times Satan tries to get us to believe that we shouldn't be where we are, that we have no business trying to do whatever mission God has called us to. When you are alone, facing the weight of ministry and Satan throws that lie at you!! Let me tell you, it is rough to ignore. That is why missionaries need approval. They need to be reminded that God did call them. He fights for them and works in them and through them. No, it isn't them. It is ALL God. But He chose to use them! Which leads us to the third point. Missionaries need to be continually reminded of TRUTH.

So, what does this look like practically? I can give you some suggestions but the best way is to always ask.

Respond: This might seem a little ridiculous but it is encouraging. Missionaries are told over and over again to keep in contact and to connect their supporters with the mission. It is a LOT of work to write up newsletters and prayer calendars and to write thank you notes. We love doing it, but it can be discouraging when you never get a response. When other posts get more likes than the mission pages sometimes it can cause a missionary to wonder if anyone really reads their updates. "Am I doing all this in vain?" is a question that runs through a missionaries mind. Missionaries know it isn't truly in vain but it can feel that way. Write a note, like a post, comment or send a message. These little things mean a lot. It means people are invested in the ministry.

Build a Relationship: Don't forget your missionary! Especially if you were friends before they went onto the field. Tell them what is going on in your life back home. Connect them back to the church! Ask them about their life and the ministry. Just build a normal relationship. This next suggestion may seem outdated in our technologically advanced society, but letters and packages are still fun to receive. If you have a missionary out of the country, you could even send them things you know they miss from home. That takes knowing your missionary.

Be a Part: If it is possible, go visit them! Be a part of the ministry. Help them out for a week or however long you can. It boosts a missionary's morale when the church that told them they were sending them, investing in them and praying for them actually puts boots on the ground and shakes their hand. It reminds them that they are not alone in the ministry! Any way that you can tell your missionary that you believe in the ministry that they are doing, that it is important and that they are doing something you support and are invested in, that is encouraging.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Are there some things I missed? How can missionaries and supporters be better connected? Are you a missionary? I would love to hear what you think a missionary needs most. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Un-Surrendured Will

In this time in our country there is so much uproar over so many things. With the age of Social Media the debate and turmoil it is upfront and in our faces. There seems to be no way to escape it. I am one who doesn't believe in running from a battle but rather standing to fight. I have had to learn the hard way that it is not I who should be fighting but rather I should be still and allow the Lord to fight on my behalf. As someone once told me, "we are not here to fight the world but to win the world." But again that is slightly off topic of why I felt the need to again put the pen to paper or the fingers to the keyboard.... I might get some flack for this post but I feel like it is important.

(NOTE: This post has nothing to do with where I stand on the immigration laws but rather the heart of believers and what we should be doing as a church regardless of the immigration laws.)

It is no secret the the United States is in a huge debate regarding the immigration bans etc... that have been put in place this last week. I have heard and read it all. Believe it or not I love to follow the news. I am well read and aware of the situation going on. As I watched and listened to those pleading for us to open our arms and homes to help those in need (A very christian thing to say) I can't help thinking "why do you not go?"


I recently reread the biography of my favorite missionary, Hudson Taylor. It again amazes me what those men and women went through to take the gospel. They were willing to do anything, go anywhere, give up any comfort, forsake anything or anyone, for the sake of the gospel of Christ. Yes, we should open our arms and our homes to those in need. However, why must we demand the government to do that for us? Why are we not going? If we are so concerned for them why are we not dropping everything and going to them? Why are we not being the hands and feet of Jesus? It is one thing to stay home and demand justice from our comfy seats near the hearth. It is another thing to give it all up and go. 
“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”                      -Hudson Taylor
This culture that we have been raised in does not know the meaning of sacrifice. We hear it, we read about, sometimes we long to understand it. But the truth is we don't. We have this mentality that God will never call us to something we don't desire or that which is too difficult or out of our comfort zone. After all, doesn't he give us the desires of our heart? Does he not give us gifts to use for his kingdom? Will he not use my gifts and talents? Of course all of these are truth of scripture but alone they are unbalanced. Over, and over again it tells us in Scripture to expect tribulation and persecution and yet we automatically think that if we run into any trials that we have to stop and back away! Oh how I pray that we can become BOLD WARRIORS for the Lord!! If the Lord called you to the occupation you didn't want to have would you do it? If he called you to go to the one place you didn't want to go, would you pack your bags? If he asked you to give up the one thing you feel like you can't live without, would you give it up? Will you run head-long towards the calling or will you shy away? Will you walk toward it begrudgingly? Will you deny the call because you can't believe he would call you to something you don't want to do? Are you willing to have a life characterized by sacrifice? 
“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.”                                       - Hudson Taylor
 What I loved about the example Hudson Taylor set is that not only was he determined but also disciplined. He knew God called him to China. From that moment he began preparing. To know that it was 5-6 months by boat, away from his family, that didn't stop him. The fact that he wouldn't have a lot, that didn't stop him. The fact that no English men were really in inland China, that didn't stop him. The fact that the best way to get into China was being a doctor and that is not the profession he originally wanted, that didn't stop him. He KNEW where God called him and he ran head-long into his mission. He knew God would provide, protect and lead. It leads us to examine our own lives. Are we willing? Is our life characterized by sacrifice? Are we willing to go and be the hands and feet or would we rather sit back and just be a mouthpiece. Shouting into the wind, asking those in government or in authority or just those passing by, telling them of the injustice and need. The great thing about christianity is that we follow the example of Christ and SEE the need and then MEET the need. Are you truly surrendered to the will of Christ for your life? Whether that means leaving your home, your occupation, your comfort, your family....What if it means losing your life for the sake of Christ? I urge you believers, surrender to his will and be willing to GO.

“The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.” -Hudson Taylor

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Exalted among the Nations

Have you ever sat still in the cool of the evening and watched as the sky melted into color upon color? Have you ever sat back and watched heat lightening shatter through the sky? Have you ever stood in the doorway, the breeze blowing across your face as a rain storm came closer and closer to your door?

Our God is a mighty God. We know this. We talk about it. We preach on it. We hold onto it. We study it. We act upon it. We share it. But do we sit and watch it??

I was Camp Gilead one weekend. The guy head counselor and I were with some other summer staff enjoying the lake front. Isaac and I were sitting on the square dock out in the middle of the lake. Neither of us were talking. We sat and enjoyed the silence. Some of the younger staff came over blaring music and being loud. I remember Isaac's comment and have often thought of it...he said, "I think there is a certain maturity required to sit silently." I think he is right. I remember being a little girl, spending the night at my grandparents house. Early in the morning hours I would wake up and creep up the stairs. Every time I did so I saw the same thing. Grandma and Grandpa sat on the couches facing the glass doors out to the beautiful back yard. They each had a cup of coffee in their hand. There was little talking, but when they did it was slow and quiet. I loved those early morning hours with my grandparents. How calming and beautiful it was to sit in secure silence.

I have to say there is very few calm, silent moments in my life these days. Camp ministry or ANY ministry for that matter is not what I would call calm...or silent. I am so thankful for the courageous fury that fuels and propels ministry into loving action. It is necessary and pretty incredible. It show's God's grace and providence that missionaries can last as long as they do in such a state. I have often talked about the chaos of ministry... but that is not what I want to talk about tonight. No, there is another chaos within our own souls. We are busy with righteous fury. Especially these days. Yep, the election has spurred more righteous and unrighteous fury amongst this nation than I have ever seen. We have debated, argued, and counter-argued. We have educated ourselves. We have listened, read, watched and followed. We have participated. We have spoken for or against. We have supported or denied support. It is safe to say we have been active. More active than I have seen people be in an election since I have been following elections. (Which was at a very young age thanks to my grandmother.) But now the election is here. A day we wait for with bated-breath and uneasy anticipation. In these final moments, when we feel like world could come crashing around us, what do we do?
“...Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things..."
Oh, how we are like Martha these days. We are ready to get things right. We are preparing for the Lord's arrival. We are on a righteous crusade to bring this nation back to the Word of God. I praise the Lord that so many of his people desire a world that is ruled by the Word of God. But how anxious and troubled we are. We are anxious about results. We are anxious about the state of our homes, our states, our nation. We are troubled by what we see, hear and watch. We are troubled by the evil around us. We are troubled by satan's havoc in the world. Yes, there are so many things to be anxious and troubled about. But I don't want to be a Martha. I don't want to be anxious about future, the present, my work, my ministry, or my home. I want to "be anxious for nothing." I want to "cast all my cares on Him." I want to have the "peace that passes all understanding." Yes, there may be trouble in this world but "[HE] has overcome the world!" Can I not rest in that? Can I not sit in secure silence, knowing that all may not be right but HE IS GOOD? The second part of this very is convicting and lovely all at the same time. It is like a deep sigh of relief.

"...but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
BUT ONE THING IS NECESSARY! As I was driving from NC back to HQ this last weekend a verse kept running through my head. I was driving through the beautiful national forest. The leaves are changing colors. the sun was rising and the car was silent. It was me and God. And Psalms 46:10 rolled over and over in my head. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." We often hear about being still. We have heard sermon upon sermon on that part of the verse. Have you ever mediated on the second part of the verse?? Nations will exult Him. NATIONS. I love the way the Holman says it, "Stop your fighting--and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth." Isn't that just so fitting? 

It is time to sit back and WATCH. Our God is good. Our God is great. He is sovereign. He is mighty. He is in control. Yeah, we have talked about that. We have preached it to each other over the course of the last couple months. But now...NOW is the time for us as believers to sit in secure silence and watch our GOD MOVE. 

Elisha stood still and watched as God's army defended him from his enemies. Moses and the children of Israel stood still and watched as God stopped the egyptians with fire, as he parted the read sea, as he closed the sea upon the chariots. Daniel stood still and watch God close the mouths of lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendnego stood still in the fiery furnace as their God delivered them. 

To think that we, as frail human beings, can change the world is crazy. What pride. What arrogance. Our God is the one who moves. He is the one who changes hearts. He is the one who directs kings like a watercourse. He is the one who saves. Yes, he calls us to action on many occasions. Sometimes though I think we get so caught up DOING FOR GOD, that we forget that GOD DOES. Sometimes I think He is waiting for us to sit down to be silent and watch. Did you ever meet that kid that wouldn't shut up? They had all the answers and all the questions. They made themselves the center of attention and were determined to be a part of the solution. You just wanted to tell them to shut up and sit down for a minute. Maybe they would learn something. Maybe you would fix the problem they had. Sometimes I think we are that kid. Brings a whole new meaning to Psalms 46:10 for me.... 

I don't know about you but I am ready. I am ready to grow up a little bit and show some maturity. I am ready to sit in secure silence. I may not know it all or understand but I know the one who does. I'm going to sit still in the presence of my King and watch as he works for my good and for his glory.