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?"

"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 tomorrow...my 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.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

He is Worth it All

Today is Sunday. One of my favorite days of the week. I was especially excited about this Sunday. I was going to visit a new church. I had visited once before and I was excited to go again. I was going alone, which for some might not be enjoyable, but for me it is. It was going to be me and God and I was going to enjoy every minute of it. I needed refreshed. I needed to have life put back into perspective. I needed to remember why ministry is important and why I do what I do. I needed to be fed by the Word. Well, I had my idea of how that should go but as the Lord tells us through the prophet Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD." Our God knows exactly what we need and how to get that message across to us. 


I got up and put together the perfect outfit. I even called my sister to make sure I chose the perfect shoes. I snuggled on my cat and made a cup of coffee. I grabbed my Bible and headed towards church. As I was driving, I talked with God about my dilemma. I knew I was struggling. Struggling with the same thing I struggle with day in and day out. Some days are better than others. Really it is more like week by week. I was struggling with where he has put me and what he has called me to do. In the world's eyes I don't fit. I can hear some of you now trying to reassure me that I do fit but the truth is I don't and I shouldn't. A mid-western girl in her mid 20's should have met the love of her life in the 3rd grade, married right out of high school and had 2-3 kids by now. But that is not where I am at...not even close. I am by no means writing this post to whine about not being married and having a family. I don't really desire that. However, it does effect my life a lot. I don't know if I can explain it. It is honestly, mostly in my head. Needless to say it is a struggle to not desire the Pinterest life and dream about what I would make my life look like if I had the chance. What would my house look like? What would my wardrobe look like? How would people view me? What other titles would I hold? How would people look up to me? All of these things focus on myself and what I want. It has nothing to do with God or what he has in store. Not just for me...this has nothing to do with me but about his glory. I had gotten so caught up in myself this week that I had forgotten why I exists in the first place. It is for his glory, not my own. So I prayed what I knew I should pray. That God would open my eyes to his work and his plan and not my own. That I would be focused on the eternal and not the earthly. At this point, I had driven through the mountains and was on the outskirts of town when I saw a sight that immediately made my heart drop.

There she was in a brown tattered and torn uniform. She looked dirty, bent over by weight of who knows what. She carried a tattered black purse in one hand and two plastic bags in the other. I was going 50mph but I could see her. I saw her struggle along the side of the road and I knew. I immediately knew what God was telling me to do and I denied it. I kept driving as the Spirit tugged at my heart and wouldn't let me forget it. I thought, "There is too much traffic." then I prayed, "Lord what can I do?" I heard him loud and clear. "Turn around." 
"But Lord! That isn't safe!" I told him my dad wouldn't approve. I told him it was dangerous. I then told him that I would be late for church and I shouldn't forsake the assembly. I told him that by this time she probably won't be there. But he wouldn't leave me alone. 


Here I am, a missionary, teaching young men and women how to be a missionary, and I didn't have enough love to immediately stop and help. My excuses?? Did you read them? I realized how stupid they were when I began talking to the Lord about them. Dangerous? Really? That lady was bent over, older, ragged. Honestly, if she did try and over power you Jack, I think you could handle yourself. I mean you have been running, working out. Even if she did somehow over power you... If it was a life or death scenario... WHAT IS YOUR LIFE? 

"What is man, that you are mindful of him?" 

I had just asked God to tune me into his plan and his will. Here it was. And I didn't like it. I turned the car around. As I drove back to where I had seen her, I silently hoped she might be gone. MY HEART! Oh how desperately wicked it is. I was shaking as I pulled over beside her, parked my car and got out to greet her. I gazed into the face of a person. A person created in the image of God. She was beautiful. She was fearfully and wonderfully made. She needs Jesus. 

Yeah, I missed church this morning. I didn't get to give her the whole gospel message. I didn't get to hear her whole life story. I don't even know if I will ever see her again or if I made any impact at all. But that doesn't matter. God knows. It is his plan after all, not mine. 

I drove away from where I dropped her off, the smell of her still permeating my car. As I drove down the road my heart broke all over again. Ok, God. I got it. This is your world. This is your plan and it is all for your glory. Help me to continually think not about not my pinterest life, not my latest idea for my apartment but instead about others. Help me see the brokenness. Help me love people the way you love them. Lord here I am, SEND ME! Send me to the broken and hurting and lost. Send me to those who have struggles and problems and help me love them. 

You know God always has an amazing plan and he is so good at leading you right where he wants you if you surrender. I was thinking this great experience was to send me overseas, to go minister to the homeless, to do something crazy. Well, he may call me to do some of that but as I asked him to send me to the broken, to the ones that struggle, he quietly said, "look at your doorstep." I have 10 young men and women literally come to my doorstep every year. They may not be homeless on the street but they bring with them their insecurities, their struggles, their brokenness. Am I loving them? Am I loving them the way GOD LOVES THEM? 


God has sent me. The way he sends us and where he sends us is not always as romantic or exciting as we wish it to be. But he has sent us. He has sent us to the broken, to the dying, to the struggling, to the hurting. It may be someone on the side of the road. It may be an orphan. Or maybe it is the next door neighbor. Maybe it is that kids in Awana. Maybe it is a sibling, a cousin, a grandparent. It may be a number of different scenarios. BUT ARE WE FAITHFUL? Will we listen when the Spirit prompts us? Are we faithful in the little? Are we willing? Are we willing to go anywhere or stay anywhere? Are we willing to talk to anyone, care for anyone, love anyone? 

I often come to the place in my life where I say, "Here I am, Send me!" but often when I get the assignment I shrink back.... I should BODLY and FEARLESSLY serve my Lord no matter WHAT THE COST! Have you counted the cost? Have you given it to him? Are you willing to give it all for the cross? Not everyone is called to the jungles of Africa but we are all called to SACRIFICE. What is he asking you to give up? Guess what? HE IS WORTH IT!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Greater Communion with Him

SUMMER IS OVER! I seriously can't believe it. It was a whirlwind of traveling and adventure and service. Right after summer ended we launched right into the intern overseas mission trip. We had one week to debrief the whole summer with 10 interns and then turn around and prepare for our mission trip to Moldova..... SEVEN. WHOLE. DAYS. It was exciting to say the least. There are a lot of hilarious and amazing moments that maybe I'll blog about soon but something else is on my heart....

Here I am finally back home in the mountains of TN. I was sitting in my office one morning, two bibles lay open on my desk. My computer was open. There was a word document with scriptures and the internet where I was doing word studies. My headphones were plugged into my phone and my dad was on the other line. I love talking to my father; there is something special about it. I think God the Father designed it that way; maybe to show a picture of what it should be like with him. I know not everyone has the amazing relationship that I have with my dad. I'll be honest, I almost lost it. Which makes times like the one I'm describing even more precious. My dad and I aren't just alike in almost every way...I mean I even inherited his big feet...but we have double blood relation. Ok, that is a weird way to put it... but as I have said before, my dad always told me that blood was thicker than water, Christ's blood is thicker than blood, but the strongest bond of all is a double blood brother. You know, when they are your real brother or relative but they are also your brother/sister in Christ. Well, my dad and I are that. That is a pretty unbreakable bond.


Anyhooooooo... my dad and I are sitting there discussing scripture and somehow get onto the return of Christ. (Probably because its COMING SOON PEOPLE!!) In a moment of revelation I said to him, "There was a time, even a year ago that I dreaded the Lord's return, or I didn't want it to come anytime soon. But now, if he came right now, I honestly would be the happiest person in the world!" My dad's reply?

"It's because you're in greater communion with him." 

That phrase has been stuck in my head: "greater communion with him." What on earth does it mean to commune with God? I am so glad you asked because I did some research. :p

 "...And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."- 1 John 1:3b
"God has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1 Cor. 1:9

The Greek word for communion is κοινωνία. Look a little "Greek" to you? lol that was a bad joke....anyways let's use the transliteration shall we? The transliteration is: koinónia. When you start looking into this word it gets really cool. This is why I love word studies ya'll! It is used 19 times in the New Testament and is translated: Participation, Fellowship, Contribution, and Sharing. This word means fellowship, communion, association, community, and joint participation. It can also mean contact, fellowship, intimacy, in communication. 

When we think of fellowship we often thing of "hanging out" getting to know someone or chilling with someone we know, but it is so much more. To be in fellowship with the Father? This means first and foremost COMMUNICATION. How much are God and I communicating? This summer, compared to last summer? 10x more!! Why? One was because I dived into prayer. Prayer is so powerful. I know you hear that ALL the time as a believer. But if you have ever tasted it...truly tasted the power, the sweetness of prayer...well you know exactly what I am talking about. It literally opens up a whole new world. You are engaging in the spiritual warfare. Your eyes are open to the working and moving of the Holy Spirit. It is incredible! How can you not be closer to the Father when communicating, heavily communicating through prayer. 


PARTICIPATION. This is an interstesing word to find here isn't it? Fellowship, Intimacy, these things should come naturally right? You should just "FEEL" them if they are right. At least that is what our world tells us. But that is not the biblical model. We must participate. God is waiting; he has invited us to participate in fellowship with him. That is amazing! We have an invitation...what are we going to do? Look, can I be frank? I have been walking with God close to 20 years now. It hasn't been easy. It is not just a "feeling." It goes up and down sometimes and most of all, it TAKES WORK! I have to actively pursue my relationship with Christ. No, I'm not saying my salvation is based on anything I have done. I'm saved by the grace of God. We aren't talking about salvation here...we are talking about fellowshipping with our Savior! He is always ready to listen, he has given us his Word to read and he is working all around us. He has invited us to be a part of it, to participate, to fellowship. I don't always want to. Sometimes, I like doing my own thing. But, if I go off and do my own thing, then I am not in close fellowship with the Father. I may not be doing anything bad, but our relationship is not benefiting from it. We see this concept in imperfect human relationships....why would we assume that it should be different with our Savior? Did he not design relationships to show us, to show the world, himself?

Then we come to these two words: CONTRIBUTION and SHARING. Well obviously, we need to share our recourses and time with the Lord. I mean that is the go to christian answer. That is something that is true. However, I think it goes deeper than that. We are talking about being in communion with God; to be in an intimate relationship with him. Maybe I am crazy and don't know what I am talking about, but I don't think we get into a close relationship with someone by just saying "well, I will spend several hours talking to you and then spend 10% of what I earn on charities you like." I think more realistically, this is talking about being open and vulnerable with God. This sounds funny cause we all know that God knows everything but for some reason we still live like we can hide things from him. That we don't need to tell him things. That we can figure it out on our own. That we don't need to deal with it. All the while, he is begging us to open up to him; to come to him hurting and broken, overwhelmed by our sin. We can go to him. We can talk to him. We can lay it all on the altar. Share with him. Not just your time or talents. Share with him your burdens, your struggles, your sin, your brokenness. Watch him pick up the pieces. Watch him make a masterpiece. Watch him comfort you. Watch him fill all your loneliness and unworthiness with worth and purpose and love and peace. Bring it all before him. Lay it bare at his feet.


"O come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh what a Savior. Isn't he wonderful? Sing alleluia, Christ is risen. Bow down before him for he is Lord of all. Sing alleluia, Christ is risen." -Oh Come to the Altar