Tuesday, October 6, 2009
You'll be taking a journey around the world while I share some of my mission stories with you. It is a missionary blog, after all.
I've been thinking about posting some for awhile. Then my sister in law said it would be cool to post some pictures with them, too. I've got some cool pictures of some of my more recent trips. I've also discovered a newly acquired talent for writing, so hopefully I'll be able to make the stories come alive for you, as well.
First, a little about my history with missions and then I'll get to the good stuff.
I first got involved in missions when I was 16. My Bible teacher at the Christian school I went to at that time was really excited about a group called Teen Mania Ministries. He would talk about his experience with them all the time.
That year, I went to Acquire the Fire, a weekend long youth conference Teen Mania does, and I was turned on to missions.
I filled out the application to go to Ecuador and sent it off. A few weeks later, I got an acceptance letter from them saying I was going to Panama. Needless to say, and you can ask my mom, I was upset that I didn't get to go to Ecuador. I cried and said I wasn't going to go. However, God had a different plan.
After all was said and done, I went to Panama on my first mission trip. For a month. Seems like a long time, huh?
Next time, I'll post some pictures and some stories of my time in Panama. Also, how it opened up the door for the next trip.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The other was The Journeyman. It follows a man looking for the answers to two questions. "Who made me?" and "Why am I here?"
Now, I don't remember exactly how the whole thing goes as the last time I did this drama was in Malaysia in 1998. However, I will tell you the gist of the whole thing. Now, you need to use your imagination. The drama was done to music, with a narrator telling the audience what was going on in the language of that country.
We start with a man. He is asking two questions; "Who made me?" and "Why am I here?". Sound familiar? OK, back to our drama. . .
While asking these questions, a man appears on the scene. He tries to answer Journeyman's questions. Journeyman shrugs him off. The man leaves.
In comes a group of people. They have treasure. Gold. Journeyman starts fighting them for it. He hits one. They fall dead. Suddenly, Journeyman has blood on his hands. (Represented by red gloves.) He is guilty. Exit the treasure people.
Next, and I'm sure I have my order mixed up, but in come the intellectuals. They are book smart. They can find the answers to anything in books. Journeyman asks them his questions. They cannot give him the answer. He asks them to help him take his gloves off. They can't do it. Journeyman moves on and the man enters the scene again. And again, Journeyman waves him off.
Enter the party people. They are laughing, dancing, drinking. They are having a good 'ole time. Journeyman joins in the party. He asks his questions, but they can't answer them. They try to get the gloves off. They can't do it either. After a while, the party breaks up, leaving Journeyman in a lonely position.
The treasure hunters come back. They are seeking justice. They are seeking revenge. They take Journeyman, intending to make a sacrifice out of him. Enter the man. He takes Journeyman's place. They crucify the man. He dies.
Not the end of the story. The man is resurrected, takes off the Journeyman's gloves and answers the mans questions. But that's not the end either. The man offers the same to the other groups the Journeyman had come across. Some accept, others reject. The man is sad each time someone rejects, but is overjoyed when someone accepts. The 'new' group gathers around and faces the audience. End drama.
Now I know that I didn't represent the drama perfectly or to it's full intent it was meant to be. But it will do for this time. (I did try to look for the script, but didn't find it.)
We are all Journeymen. Male, female, young, old, red, yellow, black and white. We are always searching for the answers to the two questions Journeyman asked.
When I went to Texas several weeks ago to spend some time with my cousin, a door was opened for me to speak into her life after a discussion about 'worldly humor' and the lack of morals this world has to offer.
Without getting into complete details, and make the post even longer, I told her she's too busy doing her own thing to care about what she was really created for. Sure, she searching for a plan for her life, trying to discover who she really is, but where is she doing that, what is she looking to and what is she finding?
We're all like that. We want what we want, without rules or anything getting in the way. We live in a world of do-what-feels-good-when-it-feels-good. We don't like the thought of someone putting regulations on what we can and cannot do, even if it's for our own good and/or protection. We look in all the wrong places.
Think about it. . . It goes back to the questions of the Journeyman. 'Who made me?' and 'Why am I here?'. Where did he look and who did he look to?
Think about creation. God said 'Let us make man in our own image.' He created male and female both and then had a relationship with them. He would walk with them in the garden. He would fellowship with them. Why would he do that?
After the fall, we were separated from God, from being able to have a relationship with him. But there's more to the story, more to what we were created for, more to who we are are.
We are created for God. To have relationship with him. If that wasn't true, why would he have sent his Son to die for us so that we can reestablish that relationship with him? How many times have I forgotten what I was created for? Too many to count. But there is Grace. For everyone.
Unfortunately, the world is looking in the wrong places. They are searching for that relationship that we were created for. Remember in Jerry Maguire, when Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) tells Jerry (Tom Cruise) that he completes her? Then at the end of the movie, he tells her the same thing? No man can do this for another. Know who can, though? Yep, that's what God does for us, if we let him.
You may think what I told my cousin was pretty harsh. And maybe it was. However, I believe that we are not living in a time that we can be passive. Time is too short for it. We need to tell the world, that includes the people we see every day-family, friends, neighbors-what we were really created for.
Isaiah sums it up nicely in Isaiah 49:5-6 "And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Talk about a call!!!!
So now, ask yourself. 'Who made you?' and 'Why are you here?'. The answer, you'll find, is bigger and better than you could ever dream. Not to worry, though. When we find God, start a relationship with Him, our journey isn't over. No, my friend, it is only the beginning. We're just a different kind of Journeyman. A New One.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
There are a few reasons I haven't written anything for a while. One, I just got busy and didn't really think about it. I did in passing, but in trying to finish other things out, this got pushed to the back burner.
Two, I've been working on my book. It's nothing big. My sister in law is a brand new author, her first book coming out this year (hopefully). I said something to her one time that I wish I could write a book. She told me I should try. So, a year and a half later, maybe more, I finally finished it. It's exciting. Now, I'm in the editing process. Still not sure what I'm going to do with it now. I guess I'll just see what happens.
Three, nothing has really gelled while trying to write something. I have a ton of ideas, but nothing has really come out like I want it too. Ever have that happen? Maybe it's just not the right time.
It's not like nothing has happened in the last month. I went to Texas to visit my cousin for a weekend. I finished my book. Work has been kind of crazy. Car is driving me nuts, no pun intended. Funny how we let time escape when we have other things going on.
There's no huge point to this post. Maybe I'm writing it for those of you that has commented that I hadn't posted anything. Maybe it will get rid of the block that I have. Maybe it's to show I'm human, too. Who knows.
This is the shortest post in a LONG time, but know that I am working on a couple of things. I will hopefully have something more posted soon. Thanks to all who read this. I don't have a lot that do, but I'm glad someone does! =)
Friday, July 31, 2009
That's a question that we ask a lot. It starts as little kids. Really little. I have a two and a half year old niece. She's very inquisitive. She likes to ask questions. One favorite is 'Why?' You answer that question, and it's 'Why?' From her age on, we ask that question many times in our lives.
One of the biggest questions in the world today; why do bad things happen to good people? I've heard people who don't know God personally ask it. I've heard Christians ask it. So why is it?
Unfortunately, I don't have the final answer. I do have a couple of things to input on the subject, however. First, we live in a fallen world. Plain and simple. Ok, so not so simple, but it's the truth.
God never intended us to live like we do. Nope, He intended us to live in the Garden, walking with Him in the cool of the evening. Adam did. Eve did. We were created to have relationship with God. But, man (that means both male and female sides) screwed it up. See, God gave us this cool thing that is called free will. We have the ability to make choices. He doesn't make us have relationship with Him. He wants us to choose Him. And, silly us, we chose wrong. We thought it would be cool to have our eyes opened and see good and evil like God. Hind sight is always 100% better than foresight. The fallen world is a consequence of that first sin. (Read Genesis 3:14-19 for the consequences of Adam and Eve's choice.)
Because of that choice, sin now has a place in this world. It tries to have a place in our lives. We all sin. No matter how hard we try, we fall. Romans 3:23 NLT "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." However, we don't have to let it have a place in our lives. We're still going to screw up; we are human after all. But remember that free will I told you about? Yep, we can choose not to let sin have a place in our lives. How, you may ask. Continue your relationship with God. Become more intimate with Him, and we won't want to do any of the sin that tries to have that place. We don't have to let sin rule over us. We repent quickly. We become completely vulnerable to what God is doing. We live under Grace. We imitate the example Jesus set before us. Jesus was completely human, but because of his completely intimate relationship with His Father, He lived a sinless life. However, He is also God, so we can't expect to actually live sinless.
I know it's a lot to get the mind around. I can't get my mind around it, so I don't expect you to wrap yours either. God doesn't expect us to. We are only expected to Trust and have Faith.
Now, back to the question of the hour. Look at your life. Are there things that have happened that you've asked why? A sudden death in the family? A job that was lost? A divorce that happened even though you gave it everything you had? A miscarriage? The list goes on and on. Why did these things happen? You've trusted God. You know that he provides. Why did it happen?
First, you need to know that GOD is not the one that did it!! It is NOT in His character. He doesn't have an evil or mean bone in His body. Matthew 7:9 NLT "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?"
But, Romans 8:28 NLT "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." So, even though we have bad things happen, God can work them for good. We just not may be able to see it at the moment.
Look at Jesus. One of the worst things happened to Him. He was betrayed, beaten, spit on, rejected, and killed in the most humiliating way. Even though He chose to die, for the people in the moment, it looked bad. The worst! But, God had a plan! He knew what was going to happen. He worked it for the Good, by Jesus' death and resurrection and it's through Jesus that we have Salvation! Now, how does our 'bad' compare?
There is a lot that happens just because we live in the world. We are IN the world, but not OF the world. Remember that. So even if things look bad, God is still in control. He still knows what's going on. He doesn't miss anything. However, just because He is in control, it doesn't mean that He has done anything to bring about the bad.
Second, these things are the consequence of sin. Some things are unrelated to choices we make. It's because of choices others make. The car our family member was driving was hit because someone was drinking and driving. That type of thing. But, we also have the consequences because of choices we have made.
There are doors that we have all opened, knowingly or unknowingly, that have let things come into our lives to wreak havoc. We continue to make bad choices, even after we know something is wrong. Look at the sexually transmitted diseases going around. Maybe it's the consequence that comes from the sexual sin people choose to be ensnared in? Because it's fun, and it feels good, and everyone is doing it? Not sure it's really worth it.
There are boundaries that God has set. It's not because He doesn't want us to have fun. He's a fun God. However, the rules and boundaries God has placed for us is to protect us. Not to be the party crasher. He never wants us to get hurt. And He's still there when we make those dumb mistakes, either out of stupidity or ignorance.
Think of a teenager. They just got their license. They saved up and got a car. It's a clunker, but it's a cool car to them. They get pulled over because they were speeding. Mom and Dad aren't happy with the choice their child has made, but they are there to help them through it. The teenager still has to face the consequences, but they don't have to do it alone.
God will never leave us or forsake us. He's given us that promise. And he has a perfect track record. We know bad things happen. We know that we have someone to count on when it does happen. Now, we have choices to make ourselves. But remember, when we don't make the right choice, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 NLT
Friday, July 17, 2009
To make a really long story short, I called a patients mom that we finally got a good phone number for and she yelled at me and then hung up on me. OK, no big deal. It's happened before. Probably will happen again. I cancelled the order and went on with the other orders I had. Then, a funny thing happened. Not 'ha-ha' funny, but funny in a 'you don't have that happen everyday' funny. Right before lunch, the patients mom called back to apologize. I can't say that in the two years I've worked there, I've had someone call back to apologize after they were mean and hung up.
Not only was that incredible in itself, she told me that God wouldn't let her go on another moment until she apologized. Talk about an incredible witness. She laid her pride down, humbled herself before God and called back.
Now, I wasn't hurt by it. But after the apology phone call, I was affected. I was faced with a question. Would I be strong enough or obedient to God and call someone back?
The story, however, doesn't end there. I told her that she was forgiven. I forgave her. No harm done, it's all good. Now, I work in a call center, and I have a voice that is loud (I'd make a good megaphone) and I can be heard by the people around me. When I got off the phone, someone laughed at what I told the lady who called. "You're forgiven?!" she asked. It was a scoffing tone, like it was a stupid thing to say. She understood a little more after I said the person apologized, but the fact that it sounded like a stupid thing to her was sad.
Why? you may ask. I don't know all she believes, but the fact that 'forgiveness' is foreign to her is . . . I'm not sure I even have a word. Sad, heartbreaking, disappointing are a few words that come to mind. I know she goes to church on occasion. How much teaching she has is a good guess.
The person that sits next to me believes in Buddha. He has a little statue on his desk. Buddhism teaches on the principle of not holding a grudge, or forgiving someone. Karma and all that. He even said he would hold a grudge. I don't know how close his following of Buddha is.
Colossians 3:13 NLT "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. "
We all have faults. I'm sure there have been many people that have had to forgive me. I've had to forgive myself. We all have opportunities to forgive someone. I was, for all intents and purposes, engaged several years ago. We hadn't made it official, but everyone knew we were planning on getting married. Then he crushed me. He was out of state and I went to see him. He dumped me the first day I was there and I spent four days alone, in a far away state. It took me a year to finally get over the numb feeling and get angry about it. Then he pulled a couple other crappy things. A real messed up situation. But I had a choice. Forgive him, or become bitter. I had to do some counseling, but I did forgive him. And I know I'm better off without him.
You see, forgiveness isn't all about the person you need to forgive. It's also about you. If you don't forgive, you will become bitter and hard and God can't work in you. It's not easy. It's something you have to make a choice to do. It's something that you will have to do over and over and over again, most likely for the same person. Luke 17:4 NLT "'Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.'”
Jesus also tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 NLT "'If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.'"
Jesus paid the ultimate price for our forgiveness. He died for us, so our sins would be forgiven and we can spend eternity with Him. He rose again to crush the hold that sin has over us so we can be free. How little of a price do we pay when we forgive someone? We don't have to die for it. We just have to make a choice. How is it that we have lost sight of that?
That's why the concept of forgiveness is so foreign to the world. We've lost sight of the ultimate forgiveness and we figure the world deserves what it gets. Without Jesus, they will get what we ALL deserve. We ALL deserve death. It's only because of Jesus that we have life.
Grace plays a huge part in this as well. When Jesus died and shed his blood, it covered all our sins and the law. We now have a way to God. And it's because of God's Grace and Love that He sent His Son to die for us to make that way. We have the perfect picture of Grace and Forgiveness. Why do we make it so hard? Why can't we follow the example that Jesus lived?
So now, we all need to look inside ourselves. Knowing that we pull on the Grace of God every moment of life, are we willing to extend that Grace to others? Are we willing to humble ourselves before God, be obedient to Him, and either apologize or forgive someone? Are we willing to do it, even if we get mocked? Is it in You?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This last week, the news has been focused on the loss of Michael Jackson. He was an international icon. There are people all over the world, especially in America, that mourn the loss of him. Besides the fact that I don't understand it, it grieves me. Why? I've seen a picture of a woman worshiping him. Holding onto a child, I'm guessing, she had one arm raised, eyes closed and looked as though she was singing. I was sick at seeing it. Michael Jackson is dead and cannot save her.
Another story was about a guy who found a picture of Michael Jackson in a tree stump. Like people find pictures of Elvis and the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich or a potato chip. A neighbor was quoted saying that this man looked up to Michael Jackson and that M.J. is more important to him than Jesus. Here again, Jesus should be the most important since He's the only way for Salvation. I'm sure the list goes on.
My cousin, who's eighteen, has hopes of setting me up with someone. She told me that this person believes in Jesus. I asked her what exactly he believes. She didn't know. I was thinking, That's great. He believes in Jesus. So do the demons and Satan. (I still don't know what he believes.) I have another friend that told me that a girl, we'll call her 'Sally', wanted to date him, but she didn't believe Jesus is the Son of God.
The difference between 'Sally' and the demons. The demons know the Truth. They know for a fact, they don't have to go on Faith, that Jesus is the Son of God. That's heart breaking.
James 2:19 NLT "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror."
Michael Jackson was raised Jehovah Witness. He then, in recent years, started studying Islam. Both religions believe in Jesus. Neither has the Truth. M.J. gained the whole world, as it seems, but if he didn't know the Truth, he lost his soul.
Mother Theresa. I met her. She was a cute little lady that had a great heart and a great sense of humor. She was funny, telling jokes, passing out St. Christopher medals, blessing everyone over and over. She had some incredible insight to God and incredible wisdom. She did some amazing things in her life time. She sacrificed her life to help people. However, if she did not know Jesus as her personal savior, she didn't go to Heaven.
John 14:6 NLT "Jesus told him, “'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'"
The Church today is more interested in being right, being bigger, being better than anyone else that we've lost the true sight of the Call. What is more important; people knowing who you are and what you do, or people knowing the Truth?
Unfortunately, the Truth has taken a back seat. Because of that, there are people exploring other ways because we've been a horrible representation of Christ and His Church. Recently, there has been some that are huge in the Christian world that are turning and searching out other avenues. These avenues are the things that the world is turning to. And there are people from the Church, knowing the Truth, that are following because it sounds good for the moment.
James 1:5-8 NLT "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do."
I have no way of ending this nicely or wrapping it up. I'm a missionary. My calling is overseas. That doesn't mean that I don't have a heart for America as well. I live here. I was born here and raised here. America is on a fast track to hell. A hundred years ago, our government would never had dreamed we would be at the place we are now. We were founded on Christian principles. Those principles are now just a memory.
Look inside yourself. Where do you stand? What do you believe? Are you going to let only the demons believe? Are you going to take a stand for Christ and let the world know that He's the only way?
Do you care?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
It's been stressful at work. We're short a lot of people and that means that our work is almost doubled. Right now, it's supposed to be our slow time and it hasn't slowed down that much. Moral is horrible, no one wants to be there. It's been fun.
I've also been thinking back. It's not a bad thing. Well, OK, maybe it could be. I'm not thinking about dumb stuff I've done, or bad things I've done. No, its more nostalgia than anything. There is a part of my past that I don't want to let go of. I can't talk to anyone about it. OK, I can talk to God about it, but I'm at that point that I feel like He's tired of hearing about it. You ever been there? It was almost half my life ago, and it's something I still cry over. I know, it sounds dumb, but I keep hoping some day, it will return.
I'm trying to learn the guitar. I suck. I have no musical talent what-so-ever. I'm at the point that I want to give up. Someone else is learning at the same time. We practice. Or they do. I just sit there and feel completely inferior. They are so much better than me. They can pick up anything and be good at it. I practice, but I don't think I'll ever get it. I should just quit now, while I'm ahead.
My cousin thought she would be nice and try to set me up with someone who was a friend of her fathers. She's in Texas. I'm going to visit there the end of next month. Nice gesture, only he's apparently really looking forward to meeting me. I feel put on the spot and awkward about it all. I've never really dated. She said that since I'm lonely and I talk about wanting to be with someone she would take the liberty of helping me out. I'm actually really mad about it. She wants me to be excited.
Lastly, not that I was a fan, but the world was rocked this week with the death of Michael Jackson. He was a music icon for most of the world. I remember some of his it songs while I was growing up. There are some that I work with that were saying it's karma. I don't believe in karma. It is the twisted version of sewing and reaping.
You want to know the very first thing I thought of when I heard of his death? Well, besides shock. . . His eternity. I don't know if he knew Jesus. I don't know if maybe he had been born again while younger and then just didn't continue in the relationship with Him. The thing of it is, if he had not accepted Jesus, he's going to hell. It's sad. He was huge in this world, this life. It was all vanity.
Solomon talks about that in Ecclesiastes. He knew that money, riches, everything we have in this life is vanity. What really matters is the eternal. What is it that survives? It's our spirit.
With my heart and calling, it's hard to hear when someone who the world looked at as an icon dies. I didn't cry when I heard about Michael Jackson, but my heart ached. Just like I'm sure God's did, if he didn't know the Truth. I cried when Saddam Hussein was hanged. Yes, he did some terrible things. Did he deserve death? Don't we all.
But that's the thing. Jesus came to save us from death. We all die. Physically, it's going to happen. But what happens after that is either a forever death, or forever life. We as Christian's have failed to relay that to much of the world. I'm included.
What was my point? Mostly just to put it all down. Sometimes writing helps. I'll probably go write more, where I can be much more specific about it, where it's only me that sees it. I've had a crappy week. We've all had those. And it's all vanity. It doesn't really matter in the eternal.
So, now what are we going to do about it? . .
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I hope I'm not speaking out of turn when I say there are many emotions that Christians go through. Excitement, because it means we'll be with Jesus soon. Urgency, because the world is running out of time. Grief, because not only are there the lost out there, but because those who have declared their belief in Christ are turning to alternate beliefs.
2 Peter 2:1-2, Amplified version, "BUT ALSO [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their immoral ways and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed."
That is happening right now. It's not in the future, it's something we have to be cautious of right now. There are those who were solid in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who are now saying there are other ways. How someone can know the truth, believe it, preach it, breathe it, then turn around and start saying there are other ways, is beyond me.
John 14:6, New Living Translation, "Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'"
That, my friend, is the ONLY way that we have salvation. We can't find it ourselves. That's one of the most incredible things about Christianity. We don't have to do a thing, other than accept and believe. There is no way to find it through the other 'gods' out there. There is no other way!
I bring this up because of the message that I had in church on Sunday. It wasn't something that was eye opening but it was something that our pastor felt he needed to bring up so it was clear to everyone.
My church was, up until recently, partnered with a ministry that was very charismatic, believing that Jesus is the only way to God. In the past several weeks, this other ministry has openly endorsed a teaching that there are other ways to God, that miracles are something that everyone can get, through whatever means. (This is how I understand it.) My pastor had brought up other books, written by the secular authors, that showed the very same thing. There is nothing new under the sun.
This whole situation grieves me. As I've said before, I've been all over the world, seen the temples, seen the statues. These statutes are stone, not alive. Some are made after people; Buddha, for example. However, Buddha is dead. Buddha is also, unless he found Jesus at the last moments of his life, in wait for hell. Plain and simple. Although I do not believe that any of these stone things can do anything for anyone, they do have the demonic attached to them. They can counterfeit the things of God. I Timothy 4:1 "Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons."
People are being deceived. People are following after this teaching, praising it for something it's not. It's not, first and foremost, scriptural. It has no basis of Truth. It's counterfeit, and it can eventually lead into the demonic. It's not something that we can ignore.
So, what can we do? We pray, we seek God through prayer and Scripture. If you hear a teaching that doesn't sound just right, research it for yourself. Rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you the Truth. He will let you know when there are things that does not line up with the Word of God. 2 Timothy 1:14 "Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you."
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I'm sure we all groan when we get the notice in the mail. I don't think one person I know would be jumping for joy, excited that they get to go possibly serve on a jury. OK, so maybe my brother, but he's done it before.
They show you this video, telling you what you can expect when and if you get called in to serve. On the video, they say thanks for coming and helping out. Right, like you have a choice. Hmm, shall I go to jury duty, or have a warrant out for my arrest. Tough choice.
I did get a bonus and got released early so I was able to go to lunch with my dad. That was fun. I enjoy the time I get to spend with him. If I had to go downtown for anything, it was so I could spend lunch with my dad.
All of that isn't really the point of this post. I had to tell you that so I could tell you what happened on the way down my civil duty. I took the light rail down, as it would be better than driving downtown and parking for $8.00 a day, or since we got a discount for serving our duty, $3.00. (I got two free passes from the county as I took the light rail, so it didn't cost me a thing, except gas. God is good!)
On the way down, and I guess on the way back too, as they didn't move, there are a lot of warehouse type places for various things. I don't really know what they are, but there's a lot of them. Most of them are pretty run down. Looking out the window, watching theses buildings go by, I got a sense that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. OK, so I wasn't in Kansas to begin with, but you hopefully know what I mean. If you have ever been anywhere new, here in the States, or overseas, you should get the point. I was looking at them with a new view, like I do when I'm in a new country.
It's hard to explain if you don't know the feeling. I was transported back to the slums of India, Nepal, Vietnam. Seeing with new eyes the part of the city that I live in. Knowing that these people, just like the people of a different culture, are going to Hell. It was heart-wrenching. I tried very hard not to cry there in my seat, with many people surrounding me. I looked around, watching them. Reading books, listening to their MP3 players like me, lost in their own thoughts. Did they know the Truth? Did they think about their own mortality, what would happen with they 'crossed that bridge', so to speak?
I'm called to missions overseas. That is my calling, my heart. I believe I have an anointing on my life that very few people have. I would love to go to the 'forbidden' countries, the ones torn by war and poverty and a corrupt government, the ones that are in no way safe for someone living there, let alone someone traveling there. Somalia is one country I would love to go to. The middle east is another example. The closed countries. If God told me to go, I would have the bags packed ready to go in no time flat.
I've been asked the question, "Why do you go overseas? Don't people here in the States need it too?" Yes, they do. We look at the times we live in and we need it more than ever. I'm not saying I'm not called here. Our mission field is outside our doors, our church walls. When I'm here in the States, I'm called here. When I'm overseas, I'm called there. There are some that are called overseas full time. There are those that are called to be here full time. Does any of this make sense?
I think what the Church needs, as a whole, especially in the States, is a New View, like I got today. We spend more time on who's right, or who has the better 'whatever', or whose cool when we need to be focused on the souls of man. So you don't believe in speaking in tongues, or some of the gifts. I don't really care. As long as you are willing to be changed by God and be a vessel for His work, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't mean you're going to hell. I believe its another level that God has made for us to experience, but it means nothing to the validation of your Salvation. (Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." It's doesn't say you have to speak in tongues, or believe in the other spiritual gifts to be saved; only that we have to believe in and confess Jesus as Lord and the true and LIVING Son of God.)
We need to figure out for ourselves, each of us individually, what is more important. Being right, looking cool, or bringing the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to this world. So, what will it be?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
After many emails and calls to the county from people concerned that the county was trying to "muzzle religious expression", the county backed off. In the story on K-Love, they said it was one employee that had issued the letter to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain major use permit."
There are several reasons, I'm sure, that this particular letter was issued. One story is because a neighbor complained about the parking on the night of the Bible study. Of course, there is always 'he said, she said', especially when the media is involved. I don't know the real reason, but God does.
I ask you, does it really matter what the reason is? Is the reason important? I tell you, I don't believe it is. Not in the grand scheme of things. Jesus told us that we were going to be persecuted. Yes, this is a mild form, but it is persecution. Look at John 15:18-25.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’"
Jesus said those words (hence the red) to his disciples, but what are we? Yep, his disciples. Sure, we're living 2000 years after Him, but we still follow Him. And His word is alive today, right? That means He's talking to us, too. However, it's not hopeless. Duh, you might say, but Jesus went on to say in verses 26 and 27, “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry."
We don't have to do it alone! The Spirit of Truth, who is also the Holy Spirit, will testify about Jesus and He will help us in our testimony of Him as well. We may have not been there, alive with Him when He was here on earth, but we have the Bible. We know the stories, from conception to death, from Resurrection to Ascension. The Holy Spirit made it possible for us to have been there, from the beginning of His ministry. Amazing!!!
It seems this battle, small but significant, has been won. But what about the next one? Or the one after that? Just because this battle has been won, for now, doesn't mean we let our guard down. II Corinthians 10:3-6 says "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." It's not people we are waring with, even though it sometimes seems like that, it's the spiritual things behind the scenes. That's why prayer is our best weapon. It works like we can't.
Philippians 4:6-7 "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." I think that says it all. For now, anyway.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
These pastors, they had someone come to their house on Good Friday telling them that they are having a religious gathering and they didn't have the proper permits. The permit(s) would cost them thousands of dollars. It's a Bible Study! I go to a Bible study on Sunday nights with just a few other people. It's refreshing. But in San Diego County, it's 'not allowed' without a permit. This is AMERICA, people!
I've been to the underground church in a communist country. They meet in secret every Sunday, and every meeting they have. If they are caught, they can suffer dire consequences. Several years ago, it was unthinkable that the same thing would happen in America, the good ole US of A. Now we are faced with the possibility.
Will this happen soon? No. But it will happen, little by little. We are living in The Time. You know what time I'm talking about. Those times that Believers has looked for since the ascension of Jesus. The End Times. (dun, dun, dun)
We need to vigilant. Have I been? Not like I should be. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 says "But as to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you. For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord will come [as unexpectedly and suddenly] as a thief in the night." (Amplified Bible) Okay, so big help, huh? No times and dates?
However, Paul goes on to say in vs 4-5 "But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness." When we are born again, we have this hope of promise!
How do we not get surprised? "Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect). For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us]. But [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ's appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life." (vs 6-10)
That's an awesome promise! As we look at the sign of the times (cliche, I know), we need not fear. "...He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4b
We also need to pray. (This is a reminder to me also as I'm horrible at this. Remembering to pray, that is.) Pray for the people of this world, especially this country we live in. Pray for the government, for our leaders above us, our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Pray in tongues if you have a prayer language. That way, your emotions and 'humanness' doesn't get in the way. We have a TON of junk going on today; same sex marriages, abortion, and the ever present 'crime'. We shouldn't be thinking of anything else but prayer. (Again, a reminder to me.)
But I say to you. Look up! There is a battle raging, and it may look hopeless now, but remember Who has won the war.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
What's that? It's something that you live your life by, or something that describes values you believe in. Kind of like a code of conduct. At least, that's what it means to me. In my case, it's also what I'm called to do. There was an assignment while I was in an internship with Teen Mania Ministries. We had a fasting retreat for a weekend and we were told to make out a five year plan and come up with a mission statement. God gave me these verses.
So the five year plan didn't go anything like I had planned or thought but the mission statement, it's still there. I'm still a missionary. OK, so no matter where you are and what you are doing, you can still be a missionary. The whole world is your mission field. There are people in your backyard, next door, cubical buddies or whoever that don't know the Gospel. But what I'm talking about is my calling in life. The plans that God had for me from before the beginning of the world. Pretty crazy, huh?
So, what does Isaiah 61:1-3 mean? Well, it's a prophecy about Christ. He is the original one that these verses were written about. He even read this passage in front of the synagogue in His hometown. He told the people that were there that day, those words had come true before their eyes. (Luke 4:16-21)
I didn't get this mission statem on accident. I've done pretty much everything these verses say, through the power of the Holy Spirit. I've been to the poorest countries of the world, preaching the Good News to the people. I've worked in one of the Mother Teresa homes in Calcutta, comforting those that had been left there to die. I've been in prisons in both Panama and India. Don't worry, I didn't tell any of them that they were free to leave the jail, it was only the spiritual freedom that I told them about. I've laid my hands on people and seen them get healed.
Jesus came to do these things. He was the first to do them, the first to make it possible for these things to be done, by anyone who believes in Him. Jesus told us in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." Why? Because we have the same Spirit living in us that Jesus had! That's how my mission statement is possible. For me, as well as you!
So, even though I sometimes fight God about my calling, it's incredible to know that He's called me to do even more that Jesus did. (Gasp! Did I just say I sometimes fight God on my calling? Remember the sacrifices? Yep, I struggle sometimes.) However, it's not without His help and grace that I carry out my calling. Thank God He'll help!
How do you feel about a mission statement? Do you have one? Is it something that you fight God on sometimes? Is it something that you want to do someday? Is it something you wish you could do? Do you want one? Seek Him, He'll give you the perfect one.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What comes to mind when you hear the word sacrifice? Most likely, especially with a church background, it brings a picture of an alter, with something burning on it. It does for me. Not a real pretty picture. Sacrifice like that is messy. I went to Kali temple in Calcutta, India, and saw the alter where they sacrifice the animals. It was stained with blood. I couldn't imagine having to do something like that, let alone watching it.
However, sacrifice can really be anything. Remember, sacrifice means the giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance. We have several different examples of this, even in the "world".
OK, so I'm not a parent, but I am an aunt. There are several things that I would sacrifice to spend time with them, or help them in anyway. Sometimes, and it's silly I know, I will give up sleeping in so I can have my oldest niece come and have a sleepover with me. She loves these times, as well do I. Small sacrifice, right? But what about me going overseas? I remember when my first niece was a baby. I went to Nepal and India for five weeks when she was three months old. When I got back, she was a completely different baby. She was chubby! And even cuter than before I left. (OK, so I'm biased!) The sacrifice I make with going overseas is not something that helps them, and it's much bigger than not sleeping in. It's messy, mostly from crying, and it's hard.
What about the men and women in the armed forces. Their sacrifice is one of the biggest. The times that we are living in now, with the war over in the Middle East, has been hard. Men have died fighting for the freedom of our country. They have come home injured or with post traumatic stress disorder. They will never be able to get rid of some things that have happened in war; to them or something they have seen. However, these men and women have chosen to serve our country and live with the sacrifice they have to make. Here again, it's messy and it's hard.
Today, I read a story on a news website about some refugees from Bhutan here in Denver that have endured some pretty serious things. They left their country, sacrificing everything they know to come to the U.S. to feel safe. The story was about the persecution they have taken in the last couple of weeks, being beat and robbed. It was all I had to not cry for them. Their sacrifice has not been easy.
Lastly, because it's so close to where my heart is, what about the martyrs? I'm not talking about someone who has given something up or died for just any cause. I'm talking about the men and women who, over centuries, have given something, in most cases, their lives for the cause of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Think about it. There are the stories of the disciples, of course. During the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted in any way imaginable. There is a story of one woman, Vivia Perpetua, who, having an infant still nursing, gave up her life for her belief in Jesus. There are thousands more stories like these. You can read about them in Foxes Book of Martyrs, Jesus Freaks by DC Talk, and many more.
Why did they do this? Philippians 1:20-21 NLT "For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better." To sum it up, they were willing to give up their lives to bring honor to Jesus and truth to the world. Why is it that no matter how hard governments try to eradicate Christians, that our numbers grow? Because the honor that they have given to God in their act of sacrifice has proven the truth of Christ. God gets all the glory, not humans, not governments, not other religions.
What do we get when we sacrifice, even the tiniest portion of our lives? Try it and find out. I guarantee that you will bring honor to the Father, and in turn, the Father will honor you.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
First, offering is something that is done by our own free will. We choose to give something that we own or we give of ourselves. When we offer something to God, we choose to give it freely to Him. Not something that is done easily in some cases. I know from experience.
God gave us free will. That is what makes Him such a great God. Being a missionary, I have been all over the world. Panama, Russia, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. I've seen some of the gods the people of these countries worship. I've been to temples in India and Vietnam. I've climbed the stairs of the Batu Caves in Malaysia. These gods that the people worship, they are stone. The attributes the people have given to the stone are ones of control and in most cases control by fear. But God, He lets us choose.
He is, I'm sure, disappointed when we don't choose Him. He loves us. A concept I'm still trying to get. Because of this love, He lets us go. He made us, in His own image. He wants to call us sons and daughters. There are those of the world that just don't choose him. (Matthew 15:19)When we do choose Him, the Bible tells us that he rejoices over us. (Matthew 18:13, the parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep. The shepherd is, of course, Jesus and we are the sheep.)
The second thing that occurred to me was that God uses us as we are. I don't really like the word use, as it denotes control, but if we are willing, He will work through us to accomplish His will. In the Bible study, we are going beginning to end to see how the Grace of God was evident in the Bible. Yes, even in the Old Testament, the Grace is there. He dealt with the people of the Old Testament differently as they were still under the old covenant.
We just finished 1 and 2 Samuel, with Samuel, Saul and David being the forefront characters. God eventually had to deal with them very harshly, but He did use them. I'll take David, for example. He is the man after God's own heart. Why? I've heard it's because he was quick to repent. He screwed up a lot. He was horrible father, a womanizer. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then killed her husband to cover the pregnancy that resulted from that one night. In our eyes, big sins.
There are no big or small sins in God's eyes. Sin is sin, period. However, in the end, God used David and Bathsheba to bring about the genealogy of Jesus that was for told by the prophets. Not only on one side of the 'family tree' but both sides! Amazing!
Romans 12:1 "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?"
How do we do this? Romans 12:2 goes on to say, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."
I'm not in any way, shape or form perfect, nor have I got any of this down. There is no formula. None. I'm not going to pretend that any of this is easy. We war with our flesh. Paul talks about the war with his flesh in Romans 7. Did he have any of this down? Better than me, that's for sure, but he still wasn't perfect.
The good news is that God doesn't expect us to be perfect! He just wants us to choose Him. He'll help you do the rest.
What are offerings? The dictionary describes offerings as something that is offered, or the act of offering; something offered as a sacrifice to a deity; a financial contribution to a church, often made during a church service. Sounds pretty good, right? Think about that for a minute, and I’ll come back to this.
What are sacrifices? The dictionary describes sacrifices as a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance; something valuable or important given up as a sacrifice; a loss incurred by giving away or selling something below its value; RELIGION an offering to honor or appease a god, especially of a ritually slaughtered animal or person. Except for the last one, that sounds ok, too; hard maybe, but ok. When the Israelites made their burnt offering, the animal was completely consumed on the altar, turned to ashes. They offered up a bull, sheep, goat or bird, without blemish. The blood of the animal would cover the sins of the people or person for a time. The important word is cover, not cause the sin to disappear. The only way for us to be completely washed of our sins is the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice was the ultimate, but also made a way for us to become intimate with Him and His father.
Today in church, a word came through someone that offerings are more than the ‘good’. They can be what we consider the ‘bad’ as well. Now, go back to the definition of offerings. It’s us offering something. Going back to sacrifices, it’s something we value. Putting them together, we give up or offer something of value.
What do you consider of value? Home, job, family; all of these things are of value. But what about the hurts, the disappointments, the anger, and the shame we all carry on a daily basis? Do we consider those something of value?
There are several definitions for value, but the one that makes the most sense in this case is the worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody; to regard somebody or something as important or useful.
Taking a look at my own life, and I’ll be honest, my biggest disappointment is the fact that I’m not married and honestly see no time in which that will come to pass. I’ve all but given up on that particular dream. It has been my biggest dream since I was little. I’ve even had several prophecies about it. I’m now in my early thirties and feel like time is slipping away for me to have a family. To make it harder, my younger brother has been married for almost nine years and has two beautiful little girls, six and two. I feel like he is living my dream.
Is this something I consider of value? My dream, however diminished it seems, is very valuable to me. The tough question I was faced with today is if the disappointment and the anger and hopelessness are all of value to me. The answer? It shouldn’t be. Until today, I never evaluated it, but since I’m still holding on to it, it does seem that it is valuable, in its sick and twisted way. That’s the way Satan gets us.
I consider all the disappointment, etc. bad. However, God still wants it. Why? Because it’s not His best for me. He wants me to sacrifice it, offer it to Him, so he can give me something of MORE value. Something that is ‘good’. Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Now, the question is, what am I going to do about it? It’s not something that is done easily, nor with a wrong heart. The point of sacrifice or an offering is not the act, but the attitude. It’s something that I will have to work on. But God is patient, and His grace is never ending.
What will you do about it? Will you hide, as I have done for so long, or will you go to Him and offer your sacrifice to Him? Looking at the sacrifice Jesus offered up to His Father for us, is it really that hard?
Monday, May 11, 2009
He has had a hard life, with many different struggles. His father was never there for him. He has had a lot of heath issues. In times past, he would get a vision for something, but then it would fall through after a while.
He spent some time in a hospital in the psychiatric ward. After that time, when he was able to minister to the people there with him, he got a vision to become a medical assistant and work somewhere like that so he could continue the ministry.
Friday night, they handed out several awards, and my cousin got every single one of them. The honorary award went to six (6) people that were in the graduating class. Apparently, less than 20% of students get this award. The average grade point average for those other five (5) people was about 97 to 98 percent. My cousin had a grade point average of 101.5%. Don't ask how you get that, but there was extra points for attendance.
After all he had to go through, he pushed through and persevered. He graduated at the top of his class, no one else even coming close to him. I believe he's finally found what God wants him to do. For now anyway.
Congrats, cousin! I'm very proud of you!!!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
So, work was OK, kind of crappy, but I survived. My day was just ending when my brother, who works for the same company, came to my desk and set a little "Tupperware" container on my desk. You see, my sister in law makes stuff for my brother's coworkers on Wednesday's as they have meetings on that day. So sometimes, I get a special treat too.
Today, I got a cupcake. But you see, he left it in his car. It was a VERY nice day out today with the temperature almost in the 80's. It apparently fell on the floor, right side up, thankfully, and he forgot about it. So at the end of the day, he brought it to me with the icing pooled on the bottom of the container. So I have a small round cake, sitting in icing, in my fridge right now.
It's the thought that counts, right? Thanks for the cupcake. = ) Love you, guys!!!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Looking back, I would love to disappear. Never again show my face to the people that I've humiliated myself in front of again and again. I lost my best friend because I'm an idiot, and I'm sure part of her hates me. I've alienated everyone. Just when I thought that it was getting back to normal, I humiliated myself again and now am being either ignored and hated, or yelled at or everyone is pissed at me. I'll be lucky if I still get to have a relationship with the two most important people in my life.
I'm typically a negative person. There's a joke in my family that it's because of my blood type. I'm A negative. Silly, I know, but when mom and brother have A positive and dad has A negative, and he's normally negative too. It makes it kind of funny, in a sick way.
Okay, so on a lighter note, I FINALLY got my slide show to post. It only took me over an hour. Trying to figure out some software systems will probably kill me someday, but it didn't today.
So that means I'll still be around to post some more pictures. Look for some more coming soon!
Monday, May 4, 2009
I love photography. I hadn't really gotten into it until just a few years ago. I've been told that I'm REALLY good at it. True, there have been some pictures that have completely surprised me. I'll look back at them later and think, "I really took that?" Most look like something anyone else could take.
One thing I can do it practice. I would love to take classes, but will need to save up money for that. I'll have to save up money for the camera that I want too. I don't know a lot about cameras, but I look at adds in the Sunday newspaper and drool. There have been times that my mother has been tempeted to put a rag, or even a bowl, under me so I don't drool on the table.
For now, we'll see how this goes, and if it's just silly, then we'll try something else.