Serving Jesus in the hard places…

ramadan

Praying for, sending missionaries to, and caring about Muslims has become a controversial topic among even Christians today. I can remember hearing Mack Stiles account of moving his family to Dubai soon after the dreadful 9/11 attacks. They knew God was calling them to go, and had been preparing to leave when the twin towers were struck. The day after 9/11, they hammered the For Sale sign in their yard, and began to deal with numerous people telling them they should not go.

The truth is to go and serve the Lord among an Islamic nation is a fearful thing. The persecution is intense, and many times deadly. Going to these countries which are in the 10/40 window. Countries where the most unreached live, is a hard thing.

Yet, what strikes my heart, and makes me wince is that some “Christians” have such a hatred for the Muslim,and do not think they are worth the bother.

God has given me a heart for the Muslim people. A people who have been blinded by the god of this world to believe such outrageous lies about what it means to serve god. A people so dedicated to their faith that they are willing to die for it. A people who need nothing more than the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why do those followers of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, kill? Why do Muslims fasten bomb around themselves killing innocent people? Why is their so much persecution among the Islamic countries toward Christians?

BECAUSE THEY ARE LOST!

Why do Hindus go to temples daily, ringing bells, bringing offerings, and offering sacrifices to their gods?

BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW THE LOVE OF JESUS.

Why to non believers/atheist live as they please.

BECAUSE THEY LIVE ACCORDING TO THE FLESH AND THE GOD OF THIS WORLD.

Friend, why do we expect the lost to live in ways that are pleasing? Why are we surprised when the lost do such evils?

We should not be surprised, we should instead be broken over their state, and commit to pray for them, and tell them of God’s saving grace.

June 18-July 17 marks the 30 day annual time of praying and fasting among the Muslim world, called Ramadan.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. A single sip of water or a puff of a cigarette is considered enough to invalidate the fast. The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.

Maybe God is calling you to go and serve Him among an Islamic state. Maybe He is asking you to reach out to the Muslim community right where you live?

But what I do know, God is calling each of us to pray for these, and especially during this month of Ramadan.

You can download a prayer guide here and ways in which God can use you to reach out to the Muslims around you http://stories.imb.org/eurasia/interactives/view/ramadan-an-opportunity

May we commit to pray for, send to and go to people such as these who do not know the love of God. May God breaks our hearts over these who have never heard of Jesus, and who are believing lies.

Salvation through Christ is for all, Jesus died to save all who believe. Those who believe in the US, Africa, Nepal, China, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Suriname, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the list goes on.

Do they deserve to hear the good news of Christ? No, but neither did we. Yet, God in His amazing grace revealed Himself to us. Let us then show the same grace by going and praying for those who have not yet heard.

The lost are simply that, lost.

They need the only one who can change their lives, JESUS.

 

Some “first” I’d rather not experience….

nepal earthquakeIt has been said that there is a first time for everything. Saturday, I experienced two. My first earthquake and my first time sleeping in a plant nursery.

It all began as we were closing out our service on Saturday in prayers. All over the room, people were on their knees praying, when the floors began to shake. At first I didn’t know what was happening, but as it continued and grew stronger, I realized this was an earthquake. Immediately I forgot all of the safety rules I learned in school, and all I could think of was getting upstairs to where my kids were in class. But as I made my way to the door, a friend stopped me and told me to wait until it was over.

As soon as it stopped, I flew up the stairs to get my kids. At this point, everyone was telling us to get out of the building. As I got the kids outside, I looked down and realized in my haste to leave, I forgot my shoes. About that time, a guy upstairs began tossing shoes down. I grabbed mine and we made our way to an open space, where we would stay for the next few hours, as numerous after shocks came.

Finally we made it home, thankful to find the house unharmed and Eric and Landon safe (they had stayed home that morning b/c Landon was sick). How great it was to be all together again.

The afternoon was spent sitting in a field and that night brought about another first. The government had issued a warning that no one should sleep inside their homes, so when our neighbors invited us to sleep in the plant nursery, we took them up on their offer. Throughout the night there were many more tremors, and with each one, the people cried out in fear. Even as I write now, only an hour ago there was another strong aftershock. It seems to me that we will be spending a second night in the flower garden.

Yet I complain not, for I realize after hearing so much of the devastation, that we are blessed. Blessed to be alive and unhurt, blessed to have our home still standing, but more than anything, blessed to have had our eyes opened to the Lord.

As I hear the numbers of deaths rising, my heart aches. For I know that many who have died, did not know the Lord. They were not ready.

And once more I am reminded of the urgency of the Gospel. The urgency upon us all to go and tell the Good News of Jesus. None of us know what the day will entail.None of us know when our time will come.

Had we died yesterday I know I would have gone on to meet the Lord. How about you? Are you ready for that day? And if so, are you telling those who are not?

We are now catching a glimpse of the devastation in Nepal, now hearing stories of great needs. Yet, I ask that above all you would pray, pray for Nepal. Pray that God will use this tragedy to open wide the Gospel here, and that many will turn to Him to meet their greatest need of all.

Blessings from Nepal

Learning to “Remember”

rememberIt has been almost a year now since the Lord gave us clear directions to come to Nepal. In a year’s time, He has raised up support, helped us set up a non-profit organization, and established us here in this new land. It has been a fast and furious ride, yet amazing to be apart of.

Yet, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of ministry here, it is easy to forget. Easy to be so busy “doing”, that I fail to “remember.”

As I was reading Deuteronomy this morning, the Lord spoke clearly to my heart.

See, before Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, Moses had some specific instructions for them. Yet, one repeated theme was this, “When the Lord brings you into the promised land, remember…., remember and teach these things to your children. Remember!

The older I get, the more forgetful I have become. It seems I must have a list to remember anything. If I don’t write it down, you might as well as forget having it accomplished.

The same I suppose is true of all of us… this tendency to forget.

When trials and problems rise, do we remember that we serve the same God who has brought us through the stormy water before? Do we remember that He is always faithful to care for us, or do we fret and worry thinking that maybe this time, our problem is too big for God?

When we get busy doing things for God, do we remember “who” we are serving?

Do we remember the Lord’s past faithfulness to us, and do we teach it to our children? Do they know the stories of how God has worked amazingly in our lives?

The Israelites were to teach these things to their children, to write them on the walls, to hang them about their necks… they were to teach them at all times of all days, no matter what.

I’m convinced that God knows our wayward hearts, He knows our forgetfulness, thus we are instructed to remember.

To be honest, since the Lord has established us here. We have been busy doing the ministry He appointed us to. And if I’m not careful, it is easy to forget all He has done to get us here.

My days are packed full of service,but if I don’t prioritize, I fail to spend time with the One whom I came to serve. If I don’t make time, I fail to teach these things to my children , reminding them of our great, big God.

I could be wrong, but I believe that a lot of ministers and servants of the Lord grow weary in their call because they fail to remember the One they serve. They fail to remember why they serve. They fail to teach these things to their children, and  fail to remember these things themselves.

It is a privilege indeed to be called and used of the Lord. A privilege I don’t take lightly. Yet, I must, we all must never forget who we serve, and why we do what we do.

We must never forget that it truly is all about Jesus!

Then when problems come (and they will), we will be quick to remember the Lord’s faithfulness.

Then when life get’s busy (and it will), we will make sure we have spent time with the One we serve.

And as we watch our children grow, we will be faithful to remind them of the Lord and His faithfulness, so that as they grow older, they too will remember all that the Lord has done.

How about you? Do you have a tendency to forget the faithfulness of our Lord? Or have you disciplined yourself to be faithful to remember all He has done.

I will be the first to say this doesn’t just happen. We must work at it. Daily, we must pray and thank God for all He has done. Daily, we must set aside time to teach these things to our children. Daily, when problems arise, we must remind ourselves who we serve.

But, as we do, the Lord whom we seek to remember, will indeed be found!

Tested Faith

imagesThis past week my faith was tested on a whole new level, when my son woke up Thursday morning with over 104 degrees of fever,and a headache. Being in a foreign land, we were at loss with what to do. Thankfully, though very early, our pastor and friend agreed to meet us, and help get our son to the hospital. Since our other children were still asleep, I remained at home, doing the only thing I could do, praying.

I assumed they would go, and come back. So I took the other children to school, and came home ready to play nurse. Yet, as the hours continued to pass, test upon test were being done on our son, to find the reason for his fever. I was amazed at the number of test being done. In one day, they did a chest x-ray, an ultrasound, blood work, urine and stool samples, and even an EKG (due to his erratic heart beat). With each test, my husband sent me a text to let me know what was happening. And with each text, all I could do is pray.

I felt the Lord asking me to release Landon to him. I resisted, I wanted to tell God what to do. To tell Him, to heal him. Yet, God’s still small voice, kept saying, let him go, trust me with Him.

The day before I had read the account of Abraham and Issac, and throughout the day, the Lord kept reminding me of this story. Making it clear to me that I had to trust God to do what was best. I had to trust the Lord to provide the way. I had to be willing to release my son into the capable, loving hands of God.

Finally, the call came. They were on their way home, and though Landon was very sick with a bacterial infection, that was causing him great pain, he would be okay. Once more, I fell to my knees, this time thanking God for hearing and answering my prayers.

Today, I can look back,and smile. Because though God didn’t have to, He heard and answered my prayers. He gave the doctors wisdom, and helped them know what was wrong, and what to do.

Yet, I was also taught a valuable lesson. Though yes, God can be trusted, and though yes, we are to pray. What God desires is for us to submit to His ways. Just as with Abraham, he had to place Issac on the altar. I had to do the same with Landon. Allowing God to be in control, allowing God to work as only He can, allowing God to bring healing. There was nothing more I could do.

My husband will tell you, I like to be in control. Thursday, I was not. I couldn’t control anything. I could do nothing but pray, nothing but allow God to work.

Today my hubby preached on James 1. How we are to rejoice in trials, and how God uses trials to test our faith. He asked the congregation, what was Abraham’s first test. His first test was a drought, which led him to Egypt, which led him to lie about his wife. First test…failed. Yet, what was his last test? To sacrifice his son. And, he passed with flying colors. Eric said, he would never have passed the final test without first having gone through the other test. And he’s right.

The same is true of us. God uses trials of all shapes and sizes. He test us for our good, He test us to grow our faith and to prepare us for tomorrow.

This week, I was tested on a different level, and I watched as God intervened and fought on my behalf. I watched as He gave wisdom to the doctors, and heard our prayers.

My trials and yours are not the same. Maybe you have no trials presently.Maybe your trials are far greater than my own. Either way, we serve the One True God. We serve the God who cares, the God who sees, the God who hears,the God who is in complete control.

As my husband concluded in his sermon, may we allow God to use our trials to make us more like Jesus. May we endure through our trials, and even rejoice in them. Knowing that God is up to something far greater than we can understand.

Though weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Ps. 30:5

 

 

Trusting God in the day to day stuff…

trusting god1I am always amazed at how so often we as Christians trust God to save us (which is huge). We trust that the Bible is true and depend upon it.

Yet, so often we fail to trust Him in the day-to-day.

I know this to be true, because it is true of me as well.

Recently I was reading the account of Abram and how God came to him and said, “Go, leave your family, your possessions, your home ,and follow me to the land I will show you.”

Abram had no clue where he was going, and yet the Bible says, he and his family set out, leaving everything.

This was HUGE!

Yet, if you keep reading the Genesis account, you find that as they journeyed into Egypt, fear over took Abrams senses. Suddenly, his trust in God to care for him has vanished, and we find Abram scheming. Telling Sarai to tell everyone she is his sister, not his wife.

No more is Abram fearing and trusting God, he is fearing man and trusting himself.

Now, before we are too hard on Abram, I would vouch to say that this would often describe us in our Christian journeys as well.

We trust God to save our souls, but when a child is sick, we worry.

When finances are lacking, we stress.

When difficulties come, we wonder where is God.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Letting Go. My oldest son went on a three-day class trip.

And I found myself anxious, worried, and lacking trust at times that God could and would care for him.

How often in our lives, do we fall into the Abram trap. Trusting God for the big stuff, but failing to trust for the small things?

Leaving America and coming to the mission field, though hard, was somewhat easy. I just believed God had called us to go and that He would provide. And He did.

But since being here, I often find myself struggling to believe God in the little things.

And maybe to be honest, it isn’t that I lack trust, it is just that I believe I can handle the small things myself. So I work and strive and seek to figure my own way out of problems.

While all along, God is waiting for me to just turn to Him.

As with Abram, he assumed he could handle the situation, so he came up with his own plan concerning his wife.

Yet, God was there all along, watching and waiting.

And at just the right time, He intervened.

Friend, God can be trusted for the big things, but also for the little.

Just as He longs for us to depend on Him for our salvation. He desires that we depend on Him to take care of our kids, to meet our financial needs, to get us through the difficult days.

I’m learning that what the Lord desires, is that I take everything big and small to Him in prayer.

I’m learning that God cares for the smallest details just as He cares for the big.

Let us then seek to trust God with all the details of our lives.

To trust Him with our children, our finances, our day-to-day commutes to work etc.

He is worthy of our trust, because though we are not always faithful.

God is faithful, because He can not deny Himself!!!!!

 

The Real Enemy

problemsLimited electricity, gas shortages, and dogs that take down the clean clothes, getting them dirty again.

This has been my week.

Add into this, taking a Biblical Interpretation class, three kids, a husband, our own ministry, and did I mention the dog.

And well, you can imagine,what my week has been like.

This past Sunday, my husband preached on spiritual warfare, and how just as God uses people to carry out His work, to encourage, build up and spread His Word.

Satan also uses people to stir up strife, quarrels, and hurt feelings. He uses people and problems to get our eyes off the Lord and ultimately to make us want to quit.

For you pastors wives out there, is it only me, or do you have to experience what your husband preaches about either before or after the event??

It seems for us, this is usually the case.

For though He preached it, and we believe it.

This week, we have had to experience it.

It seems everywhere we have turned this week, problems.

And not just for us, but for others we serve with as well.

It seems the enemy is longing to be a source of grief, and ultimately to do what he does best, steal, kill, and destroy.

As I have reflected on this, the Lord is teaching me how much more I need to be fighting this battle in prayer.

Praying for my husband,my friends,my family, our ministry etc.

I’m also learning that my strength is not sufficient, I must have His strength.

Friends, the battle is real. Every day we as believers face an enemy who longs to defeat, discourage and destroy us.

We carelessly think we can handle it on our own, that our strength is enough.

But it is not.

So how do we fight? How do we resist the enemy?

We pray.

We read and hold fast to God’s Word.

We encourage one another.

And when we have done all that we stand.

For some of you, the problems are intense. You struggle to make it through the day. You don’t know how to keep going.

I encourage you, as the Lord has encouraged me.

To remember your battle is not against flesh and blood, (nor electric shortages or dogs) or whatever problems you have.

Your battle is against Satan and the principalities.

Your brother or sister is not the enemy. Satan is.

Pray, encourage others, hold tight to God’s Word and keep on standing!!!!!!!!!

Get up and PRAY!!

prayerYou will be happy to know that the Lord woke me up early today. Though tempted to role over, I forced myself out of the bed, that I might spend time with the Lord while the house was quiet. And you know what, the peace, joy, strength of the Lord have been evident in my day. As the Lord has poured out His amazing grace. But ironically, this morning as I sat down to read, I came upon this verse. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:46 Jesus had asked the disciples to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Mark 14:38 Yet after Jesus went up to pray, He returned only to find the disciples sleeping. And He tells them to get up and pray! I read this early this morning and laughed out loud. For the Lord certainly had my attention. Saying to me, Yes, study My Word, meditate on the Scriptures, but also pray! Each day is filled with temptations. They begin in my home the moment my alarm goes off, and especially once the children are up. I’m tempted to hit snooze on my alarm and stay in bed rather than spend time in God’s Word. I’m tempted to give into frustrations as I get breakfast cooked and the kids ready for school. Tempted to lose my temper when “life” happens throughout the day. Tempted to give into my flesh instead of allowing the Spirit to control and lead. Every day we will face temptations and the Lord is showing me that apart from prayer, I will fall. I will give into my flesh, I will give into the moments frustrations. Yet, when I take the time to pray. Take the time to surrender my day to the Lord. Though the temptations will certainly come. the Lord can and will give me the grace to yield not to the flesh, but to His Spirit. It is key to remember that Jesus didn’t say, Get up and pray so that no temptations will not come. He said, Get up and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. How important it is that though we may be busy, though it may not seem we have the time. That we make the time to not only study the Word, but to pray unto the Lord. This prayer is our command. This prayer is our worship to the Lord. This prayer our coming unto the Lord in humility demonstrating our great need of Him. Many wonder why pray? God already knows. But we pray not to change God’s mind. We pray so that He can and will change us. So, I challenge you as the Lord has challenged me…..Get up my friend and pray! And watch as the Lord pours out His abundant mercy and grace upon your day!