A Thankful Heart…

images (2)Last year this time, our whole family was gathered at the beach in Destin for Thanksgiving. We made lots of memories, enjoyed the sun, and swam in the heated pool, and ocean (even though it was cold).

This year we are back in Nepal for Thanksgiving, celebrating on our own.

In comparing the two, certainly last year wins out, hands down.

Yet, I’m reminded that being thankful is a choice.

So as I sat outside enjoying the sun today, I made a list of the things I have to be thankful for here.

  1. Faithful friends and family back home who pray for us and support us, here.
  2. The beautiful snow cap mountains of the Himalayas.
  3. The chance to be His hands and feet.
  4. Experiencing life abroad.
  5. Memories made with my family unlike any other.
  6. Knowing and loving the generous people here.
  7. Pottery class I get to take for our visa.
  8. Kid’s ministry at our local church.
  9. Teaching others God’s Word.
  10. The rich blessing of God’s faithfulness that is present both here and there

No, this Thanksgiving won’t be like the ones we celebrate back in the States, but it will still be a day to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done.

His everlasting love, marvelous mercy, glorious grace, and faithfulness are reasons enough to give thanks, and yet, He has blessed us with oh so much more!

How about you? What things are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

We always have reason to be thankful!

Created by Him, through Him and for Him

created for Him“In the beginning God…(Genesis 1:1)”

In the beginning God was there  because God had always been there. There was not a time He did not exist.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).”

In the beginning all that was created was created by God.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created (Col. 1:16).”

And all was created not only by Him, but through Him, and for Him.

You and I were created by God, through God, and for God.

I listened to a message earlier by JD Greear, and he said this about creation.

  1. The story is about Him, He is the major character, not us! God’s Word begins and ends with Him.
  2. We were created for God, not for our pleasure. We thrive only when our lives revolve upon Him.
  3. We were created in the image of God, to do that which He created us for.
  4. Only the One who brought life out of nothing can bring life back from the dead.

As I listened I was challenged by the reality that far too often I make myself the main character. I make myself the focus, or my kids, or other things. Rather than remembering the story is about Him. His life lived out through me, for His glory.

I was reminded that God created me and called me from before the foundation of the world to do the good works He created me for. My life is not my own, it belongs to Him. And I am most joyful and content when my life revolves around Him.

As my kids grow older and begin to think and dream about tomorrow, one of my greatest desires is that they know that they were created by Him, through Him, and for Him. And that whatever He calls them to do, they do it to bring much glory to Him, their Creator. That they do not loose sight of the fact that He must be the Center, and that their lives revolve around Him. For only then, will they find true joy, true contentment, and true peace.

Is He the center of your life? Satan desires to get us to put other things at the center. He lies and tells us that we will never be truly happy until we _(fill in the blank)__.

Yet it is a lie! For God did not create us, save us, and call us unto Himself to lives our lives for ourselves. He did this so that we might live our lives on passion for Christ. Making Him known, wherever He leads us, calls us, and places us.

May we not loose sight of these simple truths, and may our lives be motivated by our great and merciful Savior!


Discipling Our Children

It’s hard to believe but my oldest will turn 17 in the fall, my middle child will turn 15 this month, and my youngest 11, also this month. As I watch them grow and change, and as I’m reminded by Facebook of my previous memories. I’m amazed at where the time has gone.

And as I contemplate this, I’m left with one thought. That though, I wish them the best in their lives, the best in their studies, the best in what the Lord calls them to. What matters most is that they love and serve the Lord.

My greatest ministry is that to my children. If I disciple hundreds, yet fail to teach my own, I have failed.

As I have been reading in Judges, I’ve noticed this is exactly what happened to the Israelites. Though the people who had seen the Lord’s deliverance continued to serve the Lord, they failed to teach their children. They failed to pass down the stories of God’s deliverance, as they had been instructed.

For in Judges 2, we are told that a new generation rose up who neither knew of the Lord nor of what He had done. And this generation did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

It is easy to look at society and complain of the new generation, to blame media and technology, all of which certainly do impact lives. Yet, as parents it is our duty to teach our children the things of the Lord. Our responsibility to share with them what God has done in our lives. It is not the job of the pastor, the Sunday school teacher or the youth director, it is our job.

Here in Nepal, we attend a church made up of mostly first generation Christians. People who have seen and experienced the hand of God, and watched as their whole families have been saved. But, it is also a church of a growing second generation. Children and youth who attend simply because their parents make them, or because it is the thing to do. (Much like kids and youth in the USA).

Yet, it is not enough they attend, not enough that they grow up in a “Christian” home rather than a Hindu home. They must be taught God’s Word. They must hear the testimonies of what God had done, they must experience the Lord personally in their own lives.

My kids have all professed Christ as their Savior, a fact for which I give thanks. Yet, we have told them we will inspect their lives. And that if we see that they are not producing the fruit of a Christian, we will point it out in their lives. Something I wish others had done for me. For even Scripture teaches us to be sure of our salvation!

I do not want my kids to believe, to go to church, to do “Christian” things because it is expected. I want my kids to yearn and desire after Christ. To hunger and thirst after His Word. I long to see them experience the Lord personally in their lives, not just in our families lives. For them to recognize the Lord’s hand in each aspect of their lives.

Yet, these things don’t just happen. They require me to pray, to teach, and to help them see what God has done, is doing, and will do.

We live in a day similar to that of the Judges, where people do as they see fit. Among a people who neither know the Lord, nor know of what He has done. And this is not the fault of society, the school, or the church.

May we be faithful to train up our children in the ways of the Lord. May we be faithful to disciple them to be the women and men of God that He desires them to be. May we recognize their importance, and may we pour ourselves into them.

They are ours to care for only a little while. Then they are gone. The Lord has blessed our lives with them, entrusted them into our care. Let us then be faithful to the responsibility given to us!

When we miss out on what God has because we are afraid…

I still remember the fear, I had never done any evangelism before. Yet, here I was, a first year seminary student doing evangelism on the University of Memphis campus. I listened and learned as others in my group approached students hanging out after class. Then they said it was my turn. I was so afraid. I mean I knew God desired that I tell others about Him, I knew that these needed to hear the Good News. But, man was I afraid.

I could have gone running the other way or got my friend to take my place. Yet, if I had I would have missed out on what God had in store. For as I began to share the Gospel, the students listened respectively, but in the end basically said, thanks but no thanks and walked away. I was disappointed, but happy I had obeyed the Lord. But amazingly there was another girl I had not noticed standing nearby who had heard everything I had said. Before I knew what was happening, she approached me, and asked me to tell her what she needed to do to be saved! Awesome! Had I let my fear rule, I would have missed out.

Fast forward 8 years or so when I was sitting in my comfortable home in Tennessee. When the phone rang with a request from a professor that my husband and I pray about moving to Korea to teach in a seminary. Again, I could have let my fear of the unknown, the fear of raising my kids abroad, the fear of all the details that had to be worked out keep me from obedience. But, I would have missed two of the best years of my life, as our family served the Lord in South Korea.

Now, here I sit in my house in Nepal. Living here with my family for almost 3 years now. The unknowns once more could have kept me from this place. In fact I wrestled with God about bringing my kids to this faraway land. Yet, once more I can’t imagine the joys I would have missed had I let my fear keep me from here.

But this has not always been the case. I can’t begin to list the different times I have allowed fear to keep me from obedience. When my husband and I first married, we were on our way to China. We were almost through the process with our mission agency, ready to go to orientation and training when along came our first-born. One look at his tiny face, and my heart constricted in fear. No way was I taking this little one to China. Surely God would understand, surely my husband would understand. And sure, they did understand, but to this day I live with that regret. For I know now that the same God who has cared for us all these years, would have cared for us then. I know I missed out on seeing what God could have used us to accomplish for him. I know that our lives today would be far different, had I not allowed fear to stand in the way, but had embraced what God had.

Thankfully, God can always take our mistakes, take our fears and use them for His glory. I have no doubt He did this in our lives, but I know then and at other times I let fear keep me from experiencing what God had.

Even now there are unknowns of what the tomorrows hold. Easy for me to want the security of what makes sense. The security of the constant, the comfortable. Rather than setting aside fears, and letting God lead.

As I have been reading through Deuteronomy I have been amazed at this same theme. The Israelites whom God delivered from the hand of Pharoah as they walked across the Red Sea never knew the joy of living in the Promised Land. The missed out on the great things the Lord had because of their fear and rebellion against Him.  In chapter 2 Moses repeats to the next generation, those who would enter into the Promised Land, “do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” He repeatedly told them this, because he knew their hearts. He had seen how fear and discouragement had kept the others from believing and trusting God. He had watched as each one died in the wilderness, missing out on what God had. So he tells them, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged!!! Trust God, believe Him!!

This same message rings true for each of us today. Of course what God ask of us will be different. Our lives are not meant to be compared. Yet, we each have a choice to make. Will we believe God, following Him despite our fears? Or will we allow our fears to cause us to miss out on what God intends. We can remain comfortable and safe or we can let go of our fears and trust God for the impossible.

Again I am thankful for how God can and does use our mistakes, our failures to accomplish His plans. I’m thankful that nothing is wasted. Yet, I long to trust Him more, believe Him for greater things,and watch in anticipation of what He can and will do for those who truly have their faith completely in Him.

What is missions??

SAM_0277What is missions?

It’s long crowded flights to the other side of the world.

It’s living in a place where everyone seems to know who you are, but you still can’t get everyone else’s names straight.

It’s fumbling with the language, even though you study and try, it never comes out the way it should.

It’s even thinking you’re saying one thing, when in reality you’re saying something totally different and getting very strange looks, and not understanding why.

It’s dealing with sickness and high fevers in the night with nothing to do but pray.

Its worms, lice, and other creepy crawly things that teach us to count all things as joy.

Missions is always being on display, always having people watching you, and not always setting the best example that you know you should.

It’s even being put on a pedal stool by people back home, who think your some super spiritual giant, when in fact you’re just human. You struggle and sin just like everyone else.

Its crowded busses, tuk tuk’s, motorcycles, cars, and animals all traveling the same road, and learning to walk in the mist of these and get to and from around the place you call home.

Missions is wonderful. Missions is hard.

Its holidays away from your loved ones, all for the sake of the call.

It’s watching your family and friends back home via Skype, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s not having a “home” here or there. Because you’re always in between worlds.

It’s watching your children use play to share God’s love.

Its hard goodbyes and wonderful hellos.

It’s learning to do things the hard way, like cooking from scratch because there are no instant foods available.

It’s dealing with unstable governments, water and electric shortages, and even earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis (depending on where you live).

But missions is also seeing people who have never heard of Christ, realize their need of Him. It’s teaching others the Word of God, so that they can go tell their family and friends.

It’s living out the gospel among people who worship gods who can’t see or hear.

Missions is the answer to the lost around the world today. Missions is a calling and a way of life. Missions is the Gospel lived out loud.


Our Serving Savior

serving others“But the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

When we first arrived in Central Asia I couldn’t wait to serve the people, to meet needs, to share Christ. I have a hard time saying no, so I said yes to every opportunity thrown my way to serve the people here.

Now almost two years have passed, and if I’m not careful I take on the wrong attitude. Wanting others to serve me rather than wanting to serve them.

Sometimes it is hard. Hard to serve people who are not interested, who don’t care. Difficult to serve those who hurt you, take advantage of you, and treat you unkindly.

But then I’m reminded of Mark 10:45 and our Serving Savior.

See, Jesus who is fully God, yet fully man, left all of Heaven and its glory, and took on the role of a bond servant. And according to this verse, He came not for others to serve Him, but so that He could serve the people.

Here we have the King of Glory, worthy of all praise. Yet, in His ministry here, we see Him not accepting the praise of man. Instead we find Him healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and washing His disciples feet.

He came to serve!

Not only is this amazing in and of itself. What is more amazing, is the people He came to serve rejected Him. They mocked Him, made fun of Him, and many wanted nothing to do with Him. Yet, He served.

The night before the crucifixion, He washed His disciples feet, demonstrating service to others and told them to go and do likewise. And on this night, He even washed Judas feet, the one who would go on to betray Him with a kiss.

He served His betrayer. He served people who made fun of Him. He served those who rejected Him.

See, it is easy to serve those who appreciate it. Easy to serve when you can walk away feeling a sense of accomplishment. Yet, difficult to serve those who don’t care.

But Jesus… He is our example. He is whom we are to follow, and He has told us to go and do likewise.

So when I’m struggling, wanting appreciation, wanting a little service done for me. I quickly have to fix my mind, my thoughts on Christ.

And remember why I have come. Remember that the people here are the people God has called me to serve, the people He has called me to set an example before, the people He has called me to pour myself out for.

Sometimes it is easy, but often it is hard.

But it doesn’t matter. Because it is my job to follow my Savior’s example and to serve just as He served.

How about you? Why do you do the things you do? Who has God called you to serve?

I encourage you to remember our Serving Savior, who deserved more than anyone to be served, to be praised. But who stooped down and served the least of these.

Oh may we never forget our greatest job as a Christian is to serve others! May our focus not be upon ourselves and what we think we deserve. But may our focus be on our Savior who left everything to come and serve.

And not only to serve, but to give His life as a ransom for many!

What a Savior… He only is worthy of our praise!

Dreams and lessons from God

christ returnThe other night I had a dream. A dream I actually remembered when I woke up. A dream unfinished by the sound of my alarm. A dream I wished I could go back to sleep to find out what happened.

But it was a dream that was so real, so real in fact that it seems a reality. And as I pondered this dream I realized a lesson God was seeking to teach me, and all of us.

See in my dream, my family and I were living on the beach (yea, I told you it was a dream 🙂 )  But this day in my dream it was not a nice sunny day. In fact in my dream it was pouring down rain and the winds were howling. There were hurricane warnings, and alarms sounding.

Yet, all around me, it seemed to my family, neighbors and friends, that they were oblivious to the warnings. My husband and kids were inside the house wrestling, my neighbors were having a party, and my friends were calling to see what was for dinner.

It seemed insane. I wanted to shake everyone and tell them to take a close look outside. Don’t you see how close those waves are to reaching our homes. Don’t you care that we are all about to be wiped away or blown away? Shouldn’t we at least get on our roofs?

But there was no response from anyone…. then I woke up.

Weird right… but as I pondered this dream the Lord spoke to my heart. Saying, “Don’t you see, the end is near? Don’t you care that people are dying every day without having heard the name of Jesus? What about your neighbors and friends, have you warned them? Shouldn’t you at least be praying for your lost friends and family and the lost around the world?”

See, the truth is we are to be “dressed in readiness.” We are to live each day as if the Lord could return at any moment. Live each day as if tomorrow may never come. The one who has been told they have a few months to live, doesn’t waste a moment. They eat everything they want, travel to as many places as possible and love and hold close to their hearts those they hold dear.

As believers, who know and “believe” God’s Word. Should we be any different. Not living reckless lives, pursuing our own wants and dreams. But living recklessly abandoned to our Lord. Pursuing to know Christ and to make Him known. Loving and sharing the Gospel with those near by. Pointing them to the warning signs, praying that God would open their eyes.

Today, my husband preached from Titus 2, where Paul instructs Titus to teach the people sound doctrine. My husband loves theology and said he was struck by the message Paul gave. Because if you stop at Paul’s instruction to teach sound doctrine, you might think he wanted Titus to teach them Systematic, Christology, or so forth. But this isn’t what he says… he goes on to say, teach the older men, the younger men, the older women, the younger women, how they are to live, so that the Gospel may go forth and salvation may be made known to others.

He went on to share that this sound doctrine, was not just more Bible knowledge. This sound doctrine was how they were to live out the Gospel.

Jesus said we are to shine as cities on a hill. We are to be the salt of the earth. Our lives are to point others to Christ. Declaring salvation.

So I ask you and I ask myself? How are we doing? Are we living out the Gospel each and every day. Before our lost family and friends. And are we not only living it out, but are we declaring it to the lost around us? Do we live each day as if Jesus could return at any moment? Are we dressed in readiness, prepared as  bride for her wedding day?

He is coming. Let us then use our time wisely, making the most of our days. Living out the Gospel, and proclaiming His kingdom until He returns.