Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jewel of God

As we are in the final days of preparation for our mission trip I have found it even more important to set aside more time than I routinely have for quiet time with God and in His Word.  This past week I have found two books of my Grammie's that I have had for quite some time.  The first, I did not realize I had, "The Book Of Revelation" by William R Newell.  It is a treasure for sure and I am looking forward to diving into it upon our return.  The second book, "Heaven's Jewelry" by James McGinlay, is as precious to me as the title.  I am on my third reading of this precious book and the first chapter is where my focus is today.

Malachi 3:16-18
"Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them;  so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.  "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I make them My jewels.  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."  Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and one who does not serve Him."

As I think and meditate on this passage and the first chapter of Mr. McGinlay's book, I wonder how many, like myself sometimes read the words, "Mine" and "My" and think collectively as the body of Christ not possessively "me," "myself," and "I."  I am a jewel of God's!  I am precious in His sight and I am a child of God.   

Jeremiah 31:17-20
""There is hope in your future," says the LORD, "that your children shall come back to their own border.  I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: 'You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull; restore me and I will return, for You are the LORD my God.  Surely, after my turning, I repented; and after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.'  Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for his; I will surely have mercy on him," says the LORD.""

As I walk through life, I have sometimes gone astray and sinned yet I am still His jewel and He longs for me when I stumble away and restores me when I cling to Him and His will.  As I hold onto the promise that our (my) salvation is secure thus indestructible and precious, I pray that am clearly teaching this same promise with clarity so that those I teach can cling to this promise as well.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Are we ready?

August finds us putting the finishing touches on our Awana calendar for fall, training our leaders and student leaders, sending out newsletters and calendar to families, and most importantly preparing our hearts and minds to teach and train our kids.  Our office has been slowly getting re-organized as we pull out out dated material and get a good filing system in place.  The books and supplies have been ordered and many have come in already.  Many of us are going through the book, "Relational Children's Ministry", and meeting on Wednesday evenings to share what we have learned from it and what do we plan on doing within our ministries with what we have learned.

Our key passage within our training this year is
2 Timothy 4:2-5 "Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." NKJV
This is applicable for each of us as we should always be prepared to share God's love to all we come in contact with and be prepared to share the gospel.  There is not really a season "off" a given ministry as the time not serving is a time for personal growth and refresh to serve again.

We are also preparing for our next short term missions trip to the Dominican Republic, last week we had the first class diving into why short term missions and what is poverty.  Over the next couple of weeks we will go over how we partner with Solid Rock and the different roles we maybe filling.  We will also be going over things we can be doing now to prepare for our missions trip, such as starting to gather school supplies, vitamins, ibuprofen, tylenol, cake and brownie mixes, nuts, dry cereals, granola bars, etc that have a long expiration date.  By picking these items up little by little it eases the expense of doing it all at once and creates more opportunities to share what we are doing.

Scott, Matthew, and I have been working on increasing our Spanish vocabulary through our Rosetta Stone program and a textbook.  Knowing Spanish is not a requirement to be on the mission team as we work alongside translators but we feel it maybe beneficial as we have many within our own community who only speak Spanish and we would love to be able to share the gospel with them.  

So are we ready?  We are.  We have continued to learn more and more about each of the ministries God has blessed us with given us a passion to serve within.  We are also beginning to raise prayer and financial support for our ministries while continuing with our own training.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Follow-up to our mission trip

As I reviewed my journal I came upon our trip to Chicago from Portage, in which Roxanne asked us some very pointed questions to think about and answer (each was 3 things):

  • What are 3 things you are worried about?
  • What are 3 things you are excited about?
  • What are 3 things you want to see happen?
  •  What are 3 things you don't want to see happen?
At first I didn't have any answers as I wasn't worried about anything (so I thought until I met with TSA), but as I had time to reflect and [ray I realized that I was worried about flight delays and missed opportunities.  In retrospect it seems silly as flight delays will most likely create opportunities to share the gospel and the mission we were on.

What was I most excited about, WOW!! I was about to serve on a short term mission trip with my youngest son (Matthew) and my husband, who just 5 years ago was in a wheelchair, how awesome is that!  We were serving God in a new opportunity to us yet the same mission, by loving the people we serve so that they may come to know Christ's love through us.  Lastly, no snow, or ice or sub zero temperatures... Scott and I started praying about next years trip long before this year's began.

I saw these next three happen on day 1 and throughout our trip: we became closer as a team (not just the 9 of us from Grace Bible Church but all 52 of us) from day 1 as we were introduced and gelled through our love for Christ and the people we were serving.   We made new friends for life and grew closer together to Christ through our experiences in the Dominican.

Lastly, 3 things I didn't want to see happen:
Right of the bat  my first answer was "I didn't want to see Jerry get lost or left behind..." and I need to say it was only at the airports that we asked, "Where's Jerry?'  But in San Juan it wasn't asked, not because we didn't care but because we knew Jerry was wherever there was work being done.  In the early hours as I was writing in my journal Jerry was in the kitchen doing dishes, and in the afternoon when I was icing my knees Jerry was getting the things together for tomorrow (helping both the construction and medical teams prepare).  The other thing I didn't want to see was misunderstanding or mix ups creating missed opportunities to show Christ's love and gospel.  On Day 2 Dr Ravvi did a procedure on a dad of 2 young boys who stayed at Dr Ravvi's desk while the procedure was being done. The boys were well behaved but scared and thankfully Matthew came in to ask if there was anything we needed.  I told him about the boys and he went to the pharmacy and got 2 coloring book packs that had pictures and crayons and sat with the boys drawing pictures only blank paper as they colored until their dad was done.   The smiles and exchanges I can not express in words but those who know my Matthew know how huge this opportunity was not for just him but also for those two boys and myself to witness.  Dr Ravvi smiled when he saw the pictures posted about his desk that Matthew drew and reassured him... that this is why we are here.
I also didn't want to see anyone get seriously ill or be uncomfortable with the people we meet, on our last day of clinics many of us came down with "travelers illness" but not too seriously ill and I never saw anyone uncomfortable with anyone.

We are still felling the blessings of having gone on the mission trip and are truly praying that God will open doors and opportunities for us to return next January.  We bonded with those on our team, in San Juan, and communities.  We ask for your continued support through prayer as we seek for His discernment and wisdom in this venture.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

We are home

We have been home for a week now and are missing the experiences we have had in the Dominican Republic, the people we have come to love, know serve, and serve with and the relaxed culture.  We laughed, prayed, cried, played, with some amazing people.  Our team of 52 represented 7 states and 3 countries yet we gelled right from the start and worked together like a team who works together on a daily basis, it was  God thing.  We ran out of medications but God always provided what we needed when we needed it.    Our team verse is 1 John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us."  We shared our love and compassion openly with our team and those we met which created smiles, tears, laughter, meals, jokes, opportunities and hugs.  We each left a part of us in San Juan De La Maguana and the experiences we had there has given us SO much more in its place.

On Monday we did our first clinic which we worked to work out kinks and learn a bit more Spanish as we learned our roles.  During our lunch break we were asked to pray over a young woman on our team who is facing a hard time.  No one asked for details or why, we all responded by praying over this young woman, vocally and silently, for God to give her strength and courage as she faces what is laid ahead for her.

On Tuesday we saw a lot of sick people at the barrio clinic and that evening we met a family of three who one of our doctor's had the tough task of letting the parent's know that their 13 year old boy had maybe a year to live.  He has a neurological disease that is degenerative and lethal, he had to drop out of school a year ago.  Their faces are etched in my mind, his mom crying as we entered the room to pray, his dad's face had a brace stance yet broken edge, and the young man's face was pained and after we were done praying he cried out in agony as he thought one of his parent's was dying and then realized it was himself we were praying for.  I can still hear his cries.   I am still praying an d asking you to pray with me for him and his family as they go through this, for Val as she had to relay the diagnosis to his parent's and Roxanne as she helps Val through this.
On Wednesday we saw quite a few patients, two stand out in my mind the most.  The first was a young married woman who has been caring for her younger siblings after her mother's death.  She was extremely overwhelmed in the news that she was pregnant and how her father would react to the news.  One of our translators talked and prayed with her until Pastor Enul was available to talk and pray with her.  The next patient was a young mom of a one month old boy who appeared to be a proud momma, yet when she got the news that her boy was healthy her face and body language lit up the room as nothing else could.

Thursday found a good portion of our team ill, our doctors helping those on our team and those visiting the clinic at the barrio.  By the end of the day about half of us had some type of stomach virus that demanded a bathroom be close at hand.  We still worked as a team and got everything done and got almost all the scrubs cleaned and organized so the staff would not have to.   There are rumors of a large spider being left in Matthew's bed, but Luke got the wake up call instead.

Friday found us doing the finishing touches and heading to Santo Domingo to spend some down time in the historic region and our hotel before leaving for home Saturday.  We got home about 2am Sunday morning.

We saw a lot, loved a lot, prayed a lot, laughed a lot (thank you Kristi), learned a lot.  Each of us experience something different and reacted different so please ask us individually about the experience. We each got different take away from this experience so please don't be surprised at the different answers you hear especially since we are at different stages in our life in Christ.  

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exaclt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

I thank you all, we thank you all, for your support through prayers, hugs, listening, donations, and hugs.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1 John 4:19

Today our short term mission team, Faith In Action, was commissioned by our church at the end of our Sunday worship service.  Pastor Paul Scharf lead the commissioning by reading 1 John 4:12-19 "No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit,  And we have seen and testify that the Fatger has sent the Son as Savior of yhe world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,  God abides in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that /god has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  Love has been perfected among us in this:  that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us."   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Final Preparations

As our time to depart draws nearer we are scrambling for things we forgot about, looking for unique and light packing arrangements for supplies and clothing all while keeping up our normal work, school and other schedules. So how are we ensuring our hearts are prepared for the mission ahead? Are we imitating Christ with all our hearts in the things we do, say, and think? Are we intimate with Christ?

Saturday's quiet time for "MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST" by Oswald Chambers was focused on these thoughts. John 14:9 "Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say,'Show us the Father?'" NASB Mr Chambers states, "The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus.  The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him."  As we prepare our hearts for serving on this trip we have also been preparing and nurturing our hearts for the ways we are serving now, here at home.  We recognize that we maybe planting a lot of seeds with the kids we talk with at school, work with through Awana, or our co-workers at work that we may not be around to see when the take ground and mature.  It can be as simple as saying hello to the person everyone else walked by without noticing, listening to the boy explain how his new remote car got stuck, or spending the extra time outside of Awana or Sunday school to help a child understand their handbook material and help them figure out how they best learn.

Yesterday, our mission team from Grace made quite a dent in packaging and labeling the vitamins and supplements that have been donated.  We also learned that Scott will be able to join us this year as one member is unable to go due to a medical reason.  We are all excited and thankful for this awesome opportunity.

Please continue to pray for the needed prescription drugs to come, safety in travel, health and spirit, and for our hearts and minds to be open to follow the Spirit's guidance.  We also want to praise Him in thanksgiving for providing the funds, supplies and time through the donations of many for the trip and allowing it to come together as it has.  We now all things are in God's timing not ours.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Am I a listener?

Today's lesson was "Love by Listening" and James 3.  As I dove deeper into the lesson and James 3 I find myself questioning whether I am a listener.  Right off the bat James 3:1 states:  "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." NASB.  


Do I listen for the Holy Spirit's leading when preparing my lessons?  Do I ask questions to ensure I have a good grasp of the Word I am teaching before I teach it?  Am I listening to the questions and statements from my students, leaders and parents to know if they are accurately grasping the application? Am I teaching for recognition or praise or because of my love for reaching kids for Christ? When I am listening am I speaking the correct word or words in response or just spitting out the first thing that comes to mind?  How do we listen in love?

Well, as you can imagine these questions got me praying, digging and praying some more.  I spent time in Proverbs 12 and 25 and these verses specifically spoke to me: 

Proverbs 12:18-20 "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.  Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy."  NASB

Proverbs 25:11-15, 24  "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.  Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.  Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.  By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.  It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman."  NASB  (contentious- a person given to provoking argument)

We can listen in love by first listening, being slow to speak, and slower to anger.  We show this by asking questions:  How are you? How was your day at school? How is your family? and truly listen to the answer, watch their facial expressions as they answer.   My mom tells of a pastor many years ago who greeted everyone asking how they were but didn't really listen to the answers.  She told him one week her monkey died, the next week that her monkey died a week ago, then the following week that her monkey died two weeks ago, it wasn't until the week she said her monkey died 4 weeks ago that he truly listened and stated he didn't know we had a monkey.  My mom responded we don't but she wanted to know if he was really listening to her response in how she was doing and that's how long it took him to hear what she was saying.  What an eye opening exercise to go through, I pray that this is not something I do.

I love teaching God's Word and as I prepare for each lesson I pray for clarity and help in accurately understanding and teaching His Word.  I do call for help from my leaders when it appears a student is not understanding how I am teaching or explaining God's Word.  It takes time to prepare first my heart and mind for the lesson, then the lesson and getting to know it well enough to actually teaching it.  Teaching God's Word for me is a labor of love and a passion that I pray I will always have.