Saturday, June 23, 2018

Good morning, friends..  
I'm a rare-blogger, but  I want to share 3 things.  Through them God is helping me on my journey.  Two are treasures I'd stored from past years.  Love them.  All balm to my soul.  Oh, yes "ouch-ing" me, too, for sure.  Maybe you don’t need them today... but maybe tomorrow?

This is long, but as I wrote, I rarely post, so now you have something to occupy you til I raise my blogger-head again.  Maybe to store up in your files, too... or just your heart for today?  But prayerfully to bless you and to glorify our Father in heaven & His Son Who calls - saves - restores - heals - upholds.- disciplines - comforts and loves!.

First, I saw this on FB recently... it's by Lisa Terkeurst:  
I’ll be honest … for years I struggled during difficult times with what to say when I prayed. I thought I had to find the perfect words to connect with the Lord. 
But one day, I discovered... if I’m going through something hard, I can pray prayers where I don’t speak at all.
I can just sit with Jesus — making no suggestions, offering no solutions. Sometimes, I have nothing but quiet tears and a heavy heart. The beautiful thing is, the Bible promises when we sit with Jesus like this, the Holy Spirit lifts up the exact right prayers for me. And eventually, I sense God and there is peace. 
What are you going through today? Whether it’s a difficult issue with one of your kids or financial stress or just feeling overwhelmed by life, I encourage you to sit with Jesus without feeling the need to offer up any words at all. Just sit.”

Second, from a precious sister-in-Christ more than a year ago...
To sing from the heart is dangerous because it requires that a worshipper surrender the scariest, darkest places of her life to God.  It compels her to trust without borders, with no limits.  To take a free fall of faith.

The presence of God is powerful when we face intimidating circumstances.  In Isaiah 43, the Lord spoke to His chosen ones, the Israelites, of His commitment to be their rescue:

This is what the LORD says—
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (vs. 1–3)

We tremble.
God says, “Do not fear.”

We wander.
Grace calls out to us by name.

We wane in the heat of firestorms.
Love shields us from the flames.

We struggle in the streams and are swayed by the currents.
God reaches for shaky hands, grips us with comfort, and assures us that we are not alone.

He holds on tight and keeps our heads above the water.

I know this in my heart.  I know this is true.  I know His presence is real and His rescues are promised, but when the waves keep crashing on the shore one after another, I find myself exhausted from the strain … and I wonder if God might have taken a day off.

Like maybe He went to Cabo and is sipping an umbrella drink on a beach resort somewhere.  It’s not as if He doesn’t deserve a break, you know!  He does so much for so many.

But no!  I know better.  God doesn’t even take naps.  Only my faith does.
Wake up, sleepy soul.  Wake up!

In order to have a faith so strong it can withstand whatever life brings our way—the hurricanes, friend  cancer treatments, wandering family still battling against God, eating disorders, hard conversations with hardened hearts, job stress , broken relationships, doubts that seek to drown us—our hands must raise in surrender to the things He allows.  And our eyes must constantly search for His.

While a life purposed for Christ is chock-full of blessings—many of which are completely incredible and comfortable—each surrendered life is also filled with struggles that God uses to help us become mature and complete.

The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat this.  It says that we are promised challenges and trials.
That when we choose to follow Christ, some things will actually get worse or become more difficult.  Deep breath.
That the world is fallen—broken—and it will hate us as it hated Christ.
That we have to take up our crosses and follow Him.
Love as He loves.
Be holy as He is holy.
Forgive as He forgives.
Serve as He served.

If we really want it all—all that God has for us—we must search for the blessings in the blisterings as well as in the bliss.

The good news is that there are always blessings in the blisterings.  We just need to look for them.

When our eyes are open to seeing the beauty in our brokenness, blessings flow… even in the bloodiest of blisters.

Yes, trials are trials with all their pain and ache, but hidden in the dark corner of every challenge is an intimate, intensely personal invitation for us to meet face-to-face, heart to heart,

with our Comforter,
our Head-lifter,
our Healer,
our Tear`catcher,
our Provider,
our Counselor,
our Refuge,
our Lord.

If I want all the faith God has for me, I have to want all the depth, all the growth, all the profundity that comes from knowing Jesus.  I need to want maturity and intimacy with Him more than I want comfort.

And when God calls me out into the deep waters of a trial, I want to be a woman who doesn’t run.

Yes. I want to grow in faith, and if one way to do that is to go through trials and challenges, then bring them on.
I want it all.

And third, almost 4 years ago, from another sweet sister-in-Christ , much younger than me but so much wiser here.
Beloved, do not be sur­prised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though some­thing strange were hap­pen­ing to you. But rejoice inso­far as you share Christ’s suf­fer­ings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  I Peter 4:12–19
Back in March I trav­eled over­seas to do dis­as­ter relief work for nine days.  Short-term med­ical mis­sions work and being part of an inner city church plant are two things God has called me to at this time in my life.  Our team went to an area that was recently hit by a large typhoon.  Peo­ple have asked me before, but espe­cially with this high risk trip, “Why do you go to far away coun­tries to do mis­sions work?,” and, “Why do you choose to go to a church in Cam­den?”  Some­times I ask myself the same ques­tion.  Before I left for this trip, I con­cluded that it’s because I’m not afraid to die.  But I didn’t ask myself the ques­tion of what to do when God asks me to con­tinue liv­ing for Him in the midst of difficulties.
When I returned home, I had a mild case of var­i­ous gas­troin­testi­nal symp­toms, pretty typ­i­cal when work­ing in a dis­as­ter area over­seas.  Over the course of two weeks, mild dis­com­fort slowly turned into severe symp­toms, forc­ing me to take about 10 days off of work.  My skin was in a con­stant state of hives due to dif­fer­ent med­ica­tions.  At the same time, I was in the mid­dle of try­ing to plan an upcom­ing move, vis­it­ing my ail­ing grand­mother, and prepar­ing for a friend’s wed­ding.  I spent some days barely able to get off the couch, and many other days only able to tol­er­ate fruit juices and liq­uids.  For some­one who is rarely sick, just hav­ing to stay at home was tor­ture.  I spent a cou­ple weeks trekking back and forth to the doctor’s office.
One night, after being sick for a month, I found myself reach­ing a point of utter exhaus­tion and frus­tra­tion.  It was very late in the night and I was lying there in bed, flat on my back, my arms stretched out.  I had just put a med­icated cream on my arms and hands and they were sting­ing very badly.  I was mis­er­able.  I was tempted to – maybe I even did – ask God, “Why?”
There in the dark a tear trick­led down the side of my face.
I thought of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despis­ing the shame.
And stretched out His arms for me.
Jesus Christ is the ulti­mate pic­ture of suf­fer­ing.  The recent movie Son of God clearly depicts this.  The Roman method of cru­ci­fix­ion is one of the most painful, humil­i­at­ing, and pro­long­ing ways to die.  And yet, he took the pain joy­fully upon him­self for my sake.  My sting­ing hands and upset stom­ach were noth­ing com­pared to the weight of tak­ing on the world’s sin.
I real­ized in that moment that my short and momen­tary afflic­tion was from God.  He allowed this in my life for His glory.  I was try­ing to obey God when I went over­seas; it was very clear to me that I had to go.  I wanted to blame the sick­ness on Satan and spir­i­tual forces, but a look at Job in the Bible told me oth­er­wise.  God has more power than Satan.  Job was a very right­eous man, prob­a­bly one of the most right­eous men ever to live other than Jesus, but God gave per­mis­sion to Satan to allow him to suf­fer.  God allowed Satan to afflict Job with the death of his fam­ily, finan­cial ruin, and phys­i­cal ill­ness.  Through it all, Job remained faith­ful to God.  His response was: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  Job’s deci­sion was to con­tinue prais­ing God and give Him glory for who He is.
Now, I don’t claim to be right­eous like Job.  But that night lying in bed I was faced with a deci­sion: will I con­tinue serv­ing God when it causes me to suf­fer?  I had the option of becom­ing bit­ter over the fact that I had become sick while try­ing to be obe­di­ent or I could choose to praise God and find com­fort in Him.  I decided to start a thank­ful­ness jour­nal and wrote down things that I was thank­ful for each day.  Slowly my tummy began to return back to its nor­mal self, but God taught me a lot in 5 weeks and brought sev­eral impor­tant ques­tions to mind.
Serv­ing God comes with a price tag.  When mis­sions is no longer “fun,” what dri­ves us to obey God?  When the price tag of life on mis­sion starts to hit closer and closer to home, will we con­tinue to serve?  Suf­fer­ing might mean not being able to buy that com­puter you really need because you’ve used up all your sav­ings to pay for air­fare.  Per­haps it is fore­go­ing a fam­ily vaca­tion because you’ve already used up all your time off for the year or com­ing down with a strange ill­ness no doc­tor in the states knows how to treat.  If you choose to serve God by liv­ing in the inner city, it might mean hav­ing your car bro­ken into or break­ing up fights at 1 in the morn­ing or find­ing that the sewer sys­tem has over­flowed into the street.
Instead of focus­ing on our tem­po­rary losses, let us con­sider the price Christ paid for us to become His.  He gave up every­thing so that we could have eter­nal life.  May that be our moti­va­tion as we strive to glo­rify Christ in our lives and may we strive to give up our lives so that oth­ers could know Him. 

So... until He returns or calls, be blessed, encouraged... challenged, too! 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I pray this encourages and challenges you, too:

             The poor give you a privileged access to God who stands there with them.                      Once you experience this, it is where you want to reside – in the company of the least.  Gregory Boyle
Please come experience the beauty of medical-evangelism with me one day!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Be  encouraged & emboldened, my teammates, friends, and prayer & financial partners, by the teaching of John Piper below.   
Oh, and please consider serving with us in Honduras (July 14-21) or the Dom. Republic (Sept. 21-28) - if interested please let me know - God bless! 

                                              Jesus Will Finish the Mission
This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

I don’t know any more inspiring missionary promise than this word from Jesus.
Not: This gospel should be preached.
Not: This gospel might be preached.
But: This gospel will be preached.

This is not a great commission, nor a great commandment. It is a great certainty, a great confidence.

Who can dare talk like that? How does he know it will? How can he be sure the church will not fail in its missionary task?

Answer: The grace of missionary service is as irresistible as the grace of regeneration. Christ can promise universal proclamation because he is sovereign. He knows the future success of missions because he makes the future. All the nations will hear!

A “nation” is not a modern “country.” When the Old Testament spoke of nations, it referred to groups like Jebusites and Perizites and Hivites and Amorites and Moabites and Canaanites and Philistines. “Nations” are ethnic groups with their own peculiar culture. Psalm 117:1, “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!”

As the sovereign Son of God and Lord of the church, Jesus simply took up this divine purpose and stated it as an absolute certainty: “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matthew 24:14).

The cause of world missions is absolutely assured of success. It cannot fail. Is it not reasonable, then, that we pray with great faith, that we invest with great confidence, and that we go with a sense of sure triumph?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

If you're not receiving my post-every-mission "About the Father's Business in..." newsletters and would like to, please private-message me.... I just emailed Trinidad's.

Ash & I had the privilege & joy of going to snowy (!) St.Joseph MI as speakers for their Feb. missions conference last weekend.  We thank God for their hospitality & commitment to Christ's work of missions, both locally & worldwide.  Below are Ash's sermon notes... beautiful, if I may brag.

             BEAUTIFUL FEET IN MISSION - February 4, 2018 - Christian Reformed Church, St. Joseph MI
Romans 10:9-15 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”   How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?   And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?    And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

*** INTRO 
Beautiful feet… a rather unusual metaphor!  We think more about their ugly sizes, smells, painful sores, etc.
Positive’s …in sports:  quick, agile, fast – aiding in making great plays leading to victory
Negative’ssix things the Lord hates, including feet that “make haste to run to evil.” Proverbs 6:18
In our chosen Isaiah text, feet have a purpose for which they are positively serving.  And I propose that “beautiful feet in missions" means our being sent to all nations with the proclamations of the Good News in Christ Jesus.
John Piper… “The ultimate goal of God in all of history is to uphold & display His glory for the enjoyment of the redeemed from every tribe & tongue & people & nation.”                                      

A.     Abraham …in Genesis 12:1-3 we see the eternal Covenant of Redemption taking root in the life of this man who believed & obeyed God.  God promised to make Abraham a great nation even though he did not get to see it.  And God began to bless the families of the earth through Abraham. 
Here is the beauty, in an embryonic way, of the Great Commission as we know it in Matthew 28: 16-20.

In reading the rest of Abraham’s story, there are many starts & stops… progress & regress… but always the flame.  Even though it flickers, it continues to burn as God reveals His sovereign control!

B.     Jesus …“in the fullness of time” God sends forth His Son, the promised Messiah, Savior of the world. 
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
And we recall the old hymn “Out of the Ivory Palaces” …into a world of woe; only His great eternal love made my Savior go!

Now we see the divine mission of God become more visible.  We also see its scope broadening...
1.      Jesus grants grace to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)
2.      Healing Centurion’s servant (Luke 7) and commending his faith
3.      Healing demon-possessed man of Gerasenes who in turn was commanded to ‘go home and tell” (Mark 15)
4.      Healing Syro-Phonecian woman’s demon-possessed daughter.  She persistently begged and thus her “great faith” was also rewarded  (Matthew 15)
As the gospel reached Gentiles, it would expand in full bloom as we will see.  

A.     Beginning with the Incarnation there is great joy with the Good News that will be for all people  …for unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-10)

B.    Jesus tells His disciples in the final week of His life what is about to happen… His purpose: to give His life as a ransom for many!  Mission accomplished!  “It is finished!”  (Mark 10:33-34, 45)

C.    (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus did all of this for the joy that was set before Him… enduring the cross, despising the shame then seated at the R hand of God.  And what is that joy?  …His bringing many sons to glory!              Why do we need reminded of this?  Why important?  Because there is another stage yet to be fulfilled.
D.     It’s what we call The Great Commission (Luke 24 ff)  …what is written about Jesus is to be proclaimed to all nations!  …AND it’s to be done in the promised power of Holy Spirit!

The Book of Acts is history – telling the expansion of the Gospel and the building of Christ’s church, which includes Jews & Gentiles both.
“Going & telling” brings with it challenges, which is why the Lord said we need the infilling power of Holy Spirit!
Though some are specially called & sent, everyone else is trained and equipped by Holy Spirit through church & missions leaders …to perform works of service …to give & send …to pray.                                            
Ephesians 4:12 …to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built upWe all have a role to play! 
Let’s look at some of the resources Holy Spirit provides/uses:

A.     WORSHIP... Vitally important that we know what it means to have deep, joyful satisfaction in worshipping God in Spirit & in truth.  John Piper: “Worship… both the fuel AND the goal of missions.”
Note: that’s what our medical teams do each day in morning worship & devotions before going to a clinic site.

B.     PRAYER... Acts 2:42 tells us that prayer was a regular, important part of early-church gatherings.
1.      Ephesians 6:18-19 describes them “praying at all times… making supplications for all the saints, and also for me, that the work be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the majesty of the Gospel…”

2.      Colossians 4:2-4 “Continue steadfastly in prayer …with thanksgiving …that God may open to us a door for the Word …that I may make it clear how I ought to speak.”
3.      Colossians 4:12 Epaphras is a good example “…always wrestling in prayer for you …stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.      
4.      1 Thessalonians 5:25 “Brothers pray for us…”  
I know the missionaries you support yearn for your prayers on their behalf.  I challenge you to be more and more a praying church!                               
C.     SUPPORT for DAILY NEEDS...  Paul in Philippians 4 “…kind of you to share my trouble …no other church entered into partnership with me in giving & receiving except you only …you sent me help for my needs …I am well-supplied from the gifts you sent from Epaphroditus.

Here is a great example of what makes the Great Commission like unto “beautiful feet” – both in going and in sending & supporting. 

Aged apostle John writes to Gaius commending him for support of faithful missionaries to whom he showed hospitality  “…sending them on their way in a manner worthy of God”  Gaius likely spared no effort to be generous, and Scripture speaks often of being both sacrificial & generous!                            

We all need to examine ourselves today – how do we measure up?  And it’s not about law but about love!

William Borden of wealthy Borden Milk & Dairy Corp. family…
While in college through Student Volunteer Movement, he felt the call to take Gospel to India. He gave his $1 million (imagine today's worth!) inheritance to various  mission organizations!                                                  While on a layover in Egypt on his way to India he contracted spinal meningitis & died.  In his Bible they found these words:
            No Reserve!
            No Retreat!
            No Regrets!

John Piper… “Therefore the church is bound to engage with the Lord of glory in His cause. It is our unspeakable privilege to be caught up with Him in the greatest movement in history—the in-gathering of the elect "from all tribes & tongues & peoples & nations" until the full number of the Gentiles come in, & all Israel is saved, & the Son of Man descends with power & great glory as King of Kings & Lord of Lords, & the earth is full of the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the seas forever & ever.  Then the supremacy of Christ will deliver the Kingdom of God the Father, & God will be all in all.”                            (Desiring God, May 1, 1990) 
  Amen and Amen!

Monday, January 8, 2018

God continues to encourage & challenge me through John Piper; this one reflects the prayers of my redeemed heart... it's simply all HIM!  Thank you, "send-er's" & "pray-er's", for partnering with Ash & me. Oh,  if you're not already on my prayer-letter email-list, PM me your e-address for our January-Trinidad mission's prayer-calendar.

Gain What You Cannot Lose  By John Piper

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
Here are two great incentives from Jesus to become a World Christian and to dedicate yourself to the cause of Frontier Missions. As a goer or a sender.
1. Every impossibility with men is possible with God (Mark 10:27). The conversion of hardened sinners will be the work of God and will accord with his sovereign plan. We need not fear or fret over our weakness. The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give the victory.
2. Christ promises to work for us, and to be for us so much that, when our missionary life is over, we will not be able to say we’ve sacrificed anything (Mark 10:29–30).
When we follow his missionary prescription, we discover that even the painful side effects work to improve our condition. Our spiritual health, our joy, improves a hundredfold. And when we die, we do not die. We gain eternal life.
I do not appeal to you to screw up your courage and sacrifice for Christ. I appeal to you to renounce all you have, to obtain life that satisfies your deepest longings. I appeal to you to count all things as rubbish for the surpassing value of standing in the service of the King of kings. I appeal to you to take off your store-bought rags and put on the garments of God’s ambassadors.
I promise you persecutions and privations — but remember the joy! “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
On January 8, 1956, five Waorani Indians of Ecuador killed Jim Elliot and his four missionary companions as they were trying to bring the gospel to the Waorani tribe of sixty people.

Four young wives lost husbands and nine children lost their fathers. Elisabeth Elliot wrote that the world called it a nightmare of tragedy. Then she added, “The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’”