Saturday, July 20, 2013

On Leadership

"You cannot lead from the sidelines"

When I read this quote in a book a while ago, I quickly scribbled a line underneath it and wrote the words on a pad of paper I had beside me so I wouldn't forget them. Little did I know how often those few words would come back to me over the next few days nor how God would weave this lesson into what He has been teaching me lately.

Now that my thoughts have had time to distill, here are some thoughts on leadership that have been rolling around in my head. I hope that you (the reader) might be challenged and encouraged!

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On Leadership

You cannot lead from the sidelines -- not effectively at least. A leader must be the one who voluntarily goes first. First to sacrifice; first to combat evil; first to humble himself/herself; first to acknowledge failure; first to ask forgiveness; first to do anything for the sake of leaving a good example for those who would follow. With this idea, I think of at least three examples to support this maxim: Christ as a leader, Paul as a leader, and various "great Christians" as leaders.

Christ has set before us the perfect example of a humble, obedient servant leader. It was he who graciously endured rebukes, betrayals, slander, skepticism from those close to him and many other things that  a mere man might endure for at time, then turn in anger toward God and man to shake his fists at the "injustice" of it all. Our Redeemer did not do this. As a humble leader, He know the "present sufferings were nothing compared to the weight of eternal glory" so he "endured the cross, despised the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Father in glory." (2 Cor. 4:17-18; Hebrews 12:3) He willingly "went first" as a leader, not for His sake but for ours.

I also see this idea of leadership in the life of Paul. In his various epistles he says things like "follow me as I have followed Christ" (1 Cor. 11) or in 2 Timothy 3 he talks about how Timothy followed "my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life...etc" (2 Timothy 3:10-11). Paul is not arrogantly bringing attention to himself*, but rather noting the example he has been to Timothy. *(Paul acknowledges that he has not arrived as evidenced in his view of his life in Philippians 3) Paul was an example to many believers and continues to be an example today. he certainly did not become this example by "leading from the sidelines." No, Paul followed Christ, which means he knew what it meant to go first, even at the risk of suffering for it.

The last example I notice in relation to leading from the front and not from the sidelines is seen in the lives of great Christians. Two that quickly come to mind are George Muller and Amy Carmichael. These two and many others saw the example of their Savior, heard His upward call, and obediently and humbly followed, even at the risk of persecution, criticism, and suffering.

Muller, in the early years of his life was a minister of a small parish. One of the practices in this church was the purchasing of church pews by wealthy families. The "hemispheres of money" were drastically noticeable as the rich would pay for the pews toward the front of the church and the poor would take was was left toward the back of the church. As Muller read and studied his Bible, he became convicted from the book of James that this practice was wrong. Being a Doer of the Word, he abolished this practice in the church and suffered great criticism for it. And yet, he lead by example despite the opinions of man.

Carmichael, also faced criticism early in her ministry in India. After some time spent with the Indians, she recognized that her traditional English clothing was hindering her ministry to the Indians she sought to serve. So, uncharacteristic to the missionaries of her day, she started wearing clothing like those Indians around her. Many of her English counterparts criticized h er for her decision, but her ministry was not hurt by them. She led by example because of love for her Savior and for the people God placed in her life.

After we consider these examples, there is a truth that we all must face. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all leaders in some way. Parents lead their children. Siblings lead siblings. Teachers lead students. Friends lead friends. But how are we leading? Are we looking to our examples to see how they pleased Christ and seeking to emulate them? Do we recognize the sobering fact that a Sovereign God has placed every single person in our lives for His own redeeming purposes?

How are you impacting the people around you? Are you walking so closely with your Savior that your love for Him and for others compels you to humbly sacrifice what you want for the sake of setting a godly example to who who might follow you?

True leadership is not done from the back or from the sides. True leadership is done out front where the criticizers are many, the friends are few, and where each step is a sacrifice made through the power and grace of God and is done for the love of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Thus endeth my thoughts on leadership. =) I fully admit that these are the the ONLY thoughts on leadership, but they have been rolling around in my head for a while. So, please, be encouraged and keep your eyes on our Redeemer!

Excelsior -- May we never look back.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On Ear Wax and Humility

Now, while the title of this post may be unappealing, just hear me out! (See what I did there? lol) Something happened to me this week that I would like to share as a lesson I learned and as a means of encouragement. Also, because I love the art of story telling, this will read more like a narrative rather than a cut and dry this-is-what-I-learned-from-life-advice type account. So, without further introduction...

As I sat in the waiting room of the walk-in clinic, I braced myself on the arms of the chair while the room again began to swim. A wave of dizziness swept over me and I held my breath until it would pass. I opened my eyes and strained to focus on anything stationary.

"Something is wrong with my head" I thought to myself for the tenth time that day. A man with wrinkled face and thinning hair wheeled cart into the clinic and distracted my mind for a moment. Three more ailing patients entered the clinic before I was able to pull my distracted mind from its aimless observations. Closing my eyes again, I was able to shut myself into my new silent world and review what I would tell the doctor.

Every morning for the past month, I woke up with my ears slightly plugged. It wasn't so bad at first, until the dizzy spells began. At random throughout the day I would stop short and steady myself on something firm while my environment spun circles around my head. Each day the symptoms grew worse. Finally, I gave up my stubbornness, confessed my suffering to my mom who promptly made an appointment at the clinic. It was just in time too. The morning of the appointment, my ears were so plugged, I could not hear my sister talking to me from the other room.

"Tiffany?" A dark skinned man dressed in a light gray collard shirt called my name as he appeared in the door way leading to the "back" of the clinic. I never liked those doors.They were like silent sentries of suffering. In my sordid imagination, I thought there ought to have been some crumpled crone or chained animal guarding the dark entrance. They opened and shut only to take the next victim...

(ok, so...the clinic really is a nice place, and the doctor was great...but artistic licence called for at least ONE paragraph describing how I feel about doctors offices...)

I was weighed, measured, and lead back to the small room for questioning. Judging from the doctors dark skin, even darker hair and eyes, and peculiar accent, I guessed that he must be from India. I described to him my symptoms. He listened carefully and asked many thoughtful questions. In the end, he gave his diagnosis.

"I believe that you may have a build up of ear wax in your ear canal. That would explain your dizziness and slight pain. We can remove it with water irrigation."

He explained a few more items, then called the nurse to complete the procedure, then left me alone in the room. As I pictured the idea of "irrigation" and my ears, I didn't notice when the nurse came in.

"So somebody has dirty ears, huh?"

"Ya." I replied sheepishly, as if I had done something to make it that way. I eyed her tools of irrigation: a spray bottle with a small blue tube connected to the head and a blunt silver needle at the end, obviously for spraying.

I swallowed hard took a deep breath. "It will be fine." I told myself. Before I could console myself with my favorite line of false hope, the nurse had the tools in my ear and asked, "Ready?"

"Yes." I lied. A sound like a rushing wind filled my left ear. I could feel the warm water forcing itself deep into my ear. My eyes began to water and a strange type of pain began to grow in my nose and throat. "Ah..." I sucked in short choppy breaths. Each time water was shot into my ear the discomfort grew. I curled my toes in my shoes and tensed my body in an attempt to ignore the pain.

"Ok, there it is!" she said triumphantly. Pulling the needled squirt bottle and small bowl for water away from my ear, she removed the excess wax that had been tightly packed into my ear.

"Gross!" I said as I caught a small glimpse of the dirty water. "Can I see it?" I asked before I realized what I had said. I looked into the bowl of water. Small caramel colored chunks swam in the bottom of the bowl. "That was in my ear?"

"Yes." said the nurse as she prepared to irrigate the other ear.

When she finished, I shook the excess water from my ear and sat still for a moment. There was no more silence. As I slid off the exam table the white paper crinkled noisily under my weight. The nurse clicked her pen and slid it into her pocket. "I can hear!" I told her. She smiled and we exchanged the polite "good byes" and I walked from the room freed from my spinning and silent world.

Noises that I had lived without for weeks were flooding my ears. My crisp khaki shorts swished when I walked. The rubber on my tennis shoes gave quiet squeaks as I stepped on the carpet. The glass door slid across the tiled floor with a whisper that I could finally hear.

As I drove back to work, I whispered a prayer to God, "Thank you for my hearing, Father." I hadn't realized  how much I had been missing with my ears so plugged. But now I could hear.

So what does this have to do with humility? Well, I pondered my "new hearing" the rest of day. I thought of the children of Israel and how they were often called "dull of hearing" because in their pride they would not listen to the Word of the Lord as given by the prophets. Then I thought of the example of the foolish man in Proverbs. There is a direct connection between a lack of listening and a foolish person.

Proverbs 5:13 "I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors."

Proverbs 13:1 "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."

These are only a few examples. Adding to my thoughts on this was the book I just finished called "Humility: The Forgotten Virtue" by Wayne Mack. He delineates humility and pride and their manifestations, and one such example is the proud fool. The proud fool does not listen to wise counsel or God's Word. Conversely, the humble man does have ears to hear instruction. And God promises to help the humble man.

1 Peter 5:5 "Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

James 4:6 "But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Pride is like the caramel clumps that keep us from hearing God's Word. In our sinfulness, we don't WANT to listen and obey much less allow God to humble us to the point of submission. But oh how wonderful when He does enable us to be humble! Just as I was relieved to finally be free from my silent world, how much better is is when we allow Him to humble us so that we can be usable vessels in His gentle hands!

One quote from Wayne Mack's book that stands out to me is this:
"As long as I am in the world, there will never come a point when I have completely conquered my propensity to be proud."

I will probably never get rid of my ear wax, and there is a great possibility that I will have to visit the doctor again to have my ears irrigated, but the same is true of our pride. As long as I walk this earth, I am always going to struggle with pride, but there is hope.

Read again James 4:6 "God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble." He promises to give us grace as we strive to practice humility in our lives. And as with any aspect of our sanctification  He has promised to help us along the way:

He started my sanctification at salvation and He will finish it -
Philippians 1:6 "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus." 

He has equipped us RIGHT NOW with EVERYTHING I need to conquer my pride - 
2 Peter 1:3 "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,"

He has given me the perfect example of humility -- 
Philippians 2:5-8 "Have this mind among yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself nothing taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

These verses are a hopeful reminder to me that I don't have to live in my sinful pride. I am thankful to my Father that He allowed me to suffer for a short time so that I could learn a practical lesson about pride. He is so faithful to teach His children, even when they don't realize what He is doing. 

Thanks for reading and keep your ears open, He may be trying to teach you something.


Monday, December 31, 2012

There and Back Again...

 Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

It has been far to long since I last posted, but better late than never I suppose.

We have been back from England now for at least three months, and God is still working in Luton where we had our ministry. While I could fill a book with all the experiences, thoughts, and feelings from England (which I did while I was there) this post will only capture the highlights of the trip. I hope you can praise God after reading about what He did in England this last summer. Cheers!

 When we arrived in England, we were running on nothing but coffee and packaged air plane food. Being packed into a plane for ten hours is NOT a pleasant experience, however, the destination was worth it. We met with the Galbraiths, loaded our suitcases into a trailer, then loaded ourselves into a minibus that would be our part-time home during the trip. 

Seeing England for the first time was not breath taking as I had first expected, but the deeper into the country we drove through out our many travels during those two weeks, the country I had only every dreamed of finally became a reality. 

Our first day was a "meet and greet" of sorts. We met with Stan and Paula Boelman at their adorable little English house. We were sent to our hosts homes to meet them for the first time. The whole team could not stay together, due to our size, so we were split into smaller groups. Another girl and I were taken to our host house and as much as they advised us not to, we finally crashed under the weight of jet lag. After a short nap, we were reunited with our team for tea (which is English for "supper"). 

That first weekend, we spent time looking for team "uniforms" at the wonderful store called Primark (think Walmart or Kmart). We also spent a good deal of time leafleting. By that, I mean we stood in the street way of a mall in Luton and passed out flyers and invited anyone and everyone to our Holiday Bible Club. We were not alone however. While we passed out our flyers to anyone who would take them, other groups were there as well doing things like passing out their literature, street preaching, or asking for charitable gifts.
My roommate and I worked together at this, and at one point, we found ourselves surrounded by the group of "street preachers" so we moved down a bit. After we passed out a good deal of our leaflets and FINALLY found our "uniforms" we went back to the elementary school where Fellowship Baptist Church meets to set up for Sunday and the rest of the week.

The week of ministry is one that I will not soon forget. Every morning we were up and at the school by 9 for team devos. After a Talk by either Stan or Glen, we would pray for our day and divide into our stations. I did games with another guy on our team. Unfortunately  game time was the LAST thing on the schedule every day, but we always found ways to help with our extra time. Part of the time I passed out leaflets with another girl, or I would talk with Stand and Paula, or I would chat with one of the ladies from the church who made our lunches every day, or I would pray with some of the other teammates.

Game time was always a blast! We usually had a pretty good idea of what we wanted the kiddos to do...and part of the time we made it up right before. *Disclaimer - we always had a plan, but part of the time we decided to tweek when I say "we made it up right before" I do NOT mean we did not take time to plan things for the ministry.* One of the games they LOVED the most was water balloon volleyball. Such a simple game, but they absolutely adored it! 

By the end of the week, the kiddos had heard the Gospel at least a dozen times. Our theme was the colors of the wordless book as they correlated with the colors of the Olympics. (rather clever eh?) On the last day, my teammate and I were outside preparing for our last game of the week, when another teammate came out and said two of the boys had just made professions of faith! PRAISE THE LORD! When the two boys ran outside, one of them ran up to my teammate and gave him a bear hug. It was one of the most special moments of my life. At the end of that week, we had two new brothers in Christ. 

Two other ministries we had were two different concerts, one at Portsmouth and one at Fellowship Baptist Church in Luton. Both times were drastically different. The first, we prepared a whole programe and preformed in the open air beside Bethel Church in Portsmouth, but only one man stopped to listen, and that for only a few minutes. The second concert, in contrast, was met with a full house, including some of the parents of the kiddos who came to our Holiday Bible Club. After seeing both sides of ministry in England, I learned this one thing: God does not ask us to be successful, just to be faithful. In both situations, He was glorified. 

The last few days, we spent in London! Stan said it best when he said, "When you are tired of London, you are tired of living." It is SO true! Although I may be slightly biased, I believe that London is the most WONDERFUL city in the world. We saw everything from Buckinham Palace, to Trafalgar Square, to Baker Street, to Windsor Castle, to the British Museum  and so much more!  It was terribly lovely.

Here is a link to the pictures that I took while we were there. These are just from my camera, but all together we must have taken thousands of pictures while we were there.    

Thus concludes the chronicle of our adventure in England. The long expected journey is now over, but I will always remember England. I may have the opportunity to go back in a few years, but until then, keep praying for the ministry over there. God IS at work. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

England, Here We Come...

Hello Friends!

My how the summer has flown bye! We leave for London, England TOMORROW!!! I hope to write and post pictures while I am away, so keep checking. 

Here are a few prayer requests to leave with you:

1. Pray that we might Glorify God in everything we say and do during this trip. None of us got this far because of our own merit, all of this trip was of the Lord.

2. Pray that we might speak boldly as we ought to speak! (Col. 4:3-4)

3. Pray for the Kids and Adults we will get to minister to. We have been asking God to be preparing hearts in advance for the work He will do. 

4. Pray for our hosts...hopefully they wont feel "invaded" lol

5. Pray for awesome weather. The forecast shows 60-70 temp's while we are there and hopefully the rain will stay away during game time =)

6. Pray for the hearts of EACH team mate. At our last meeting, Mr. G told us up front that a HUGE part of this trip is for recruitment. England needs missionaries. Pray that hearts would be soft and that the Holy Spirit would speak to those hearts. 

7. Oh ya, one more thing, pray for safety and SMOOTHNESS in travel. Going through security is one thing, but going through customs is quite another....Lol

I cant wait to share with you all about what God is doing in England! 
Excitement is building...

Colossians 4:2-6
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.
Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Complete in Christ,

Thursday, May 31, 2012

God IS in Control

I have a praise to share with you all!

This summer I decided to take a college class online through my community college so as to lighten my credit load this fall. After searching, I found one a week ago. It seemed perfect except for one small detail, the course ran from May 28 through July 23. That meant I would be in England on my missions trip when the class would be ending. Well, I prayed about it, tried some doors, called various people to get some questions answered about the course...then I took the step and signed up. All the while, I hoped my Professor would allow me to finish my work early so I could leave the country without  a load on my mind.

This last Tuesday the class began. Like any eager student, I looked through my syllabus and outlined my homework for the next eight weeks...and I took my eyes off my Father. Seeing my last week before leaving for England was terrifying. In the four days before leaving I would have four chapters of reading, four assignments, various online "class discussions," and one more thing...oh ya a FINAL EXAM.That night I emailed my Professor and asked if it would be possible for me to work ahead. I clicked "send" and tried not to worry.

Most of Wednesday, I was discouraged. I fought the "what ifs" all day and sometimes gave into them. Finally, after work on my way home, I let it go. Putting worries back into my Father's hands is a lesson He is always patiently teaching me. After I got home, ate dinner, and dressed for church, I took some time to check my email...

My Professor had responded! The first  thing he wrote was this:

"After having taught Online for 5 years, I have found it is much easier to make the work when you come back from the Mission Trip, rather than do it ahead of time.  I also know this from experience as last  Summer, I was in Berlin, Germany with Jews for Jesus helping an evangelistic outreach to Germans at a sporting event (so you see, we have a lot in common already).  Please contact me when you get back and we will begin the "Make-up" Process."

"Mom!" I screamed. She didn't hear me, but my sister came running. The the sounds that tumbled out of my mouth were much like long, slurred consonants and vowels. When the words finally came I read to her what my Professor had said.Of all the Professors I could have had, God allowed me to have one who had been on a missions trip and understood the time commitment. God is so good! Once again my Father had proved His faithfulness and loving kindness despite my lack of faith.

Now I will be able to work on my class work up until I leave, then complete it when I get back. No extra stress, worry, or anxiety. My friends, we serve a living God who hears and cares about the small details of my life AND your life as well.

"O God, you are my God;
 earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise YOU
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lipswhen I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for YOU have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."
Psalm 63:1-8

Complete in Christ,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Silver Threads

The following is a message of encouragement to anyone passionately pursuing Christ who find themselves tired and weary because of the trials or afflictions. 
Please be encouraged!

Silver Threads

It was the last week of freshman year and extra time was popping up all over my daily schedule. As the "rat race" of college life began to slow, I resolved to take time for a 3 mile run. 

The evening was perfect. As I set out, I noticed the sun was slowly sinking to my left while stretching it's golden fingers over the fields, trees, and houses. The sky was brilliant as well. Small puffy clouds like lambs wandered in a field of blue sky. The rays of the sun kissed their puffy faces causing them to blush with a coral pink. My dad always said "running heightens all of your senses" and tonight I felt that he could not be more right. I settled into a easy pace to enjoy God's awesome handiwork.

Turing my first corner, the sun was now on my back. I watched my shadow stretch out before me while I ran. The path was busier now. Other runners and cyclists passed as I hastened on toward my goal. Each face told a different story. I wondered who they were, where they had come from, and where they were going.  A small pain was growing in my side, but forcing my stomach out with each breath stayed off the pain for a bit longer. I was alone again on the path when I realized that up ahead was my third corner.

The sun splashed itself on my right side now. The soccer fields to my right reminded me of my past. So many years ago I had played on a field just like that one. As I pounded out each stride on the pavement, I wondered at God's amazing grace in my life. While I had chosen my steps, all along He had directed my path. I snapped out my pensive mood for a moment as I approached a street. As I shot a glace left over my shoulder I saw no cars, then I looked left. I kept my eyes low, for while the sun light made the world dance in the brilliant colors of twilight, looking into the sun is always painful. A white ford had pulled to a stop and allowed me to cross the street. With a wave and a smile, I picked up my pace across the street, all the while blinking my eyes in an attempt to remove the spots the sun had left in my vision. Looking ahead, I saw my final corner. 

I forced myself to keep pace for I knew sprinting now would kill my pace in the end. Finally, I turned the corner. Instantly, I knew this part of the run was different. The sun was now right in front of me. It's brilliant fiery light was all that I could see for a few moments. Dropping my chin down and squinting my eyes, I pushed on despite the bright light. My face wrinkled like a prune. My shoulders began to tighten together causing my breathing to become more labored. Shafts of sunlight shot through gaps in the trees like flaming arrows toward my face. If there is one thing I hate about running, it's running into the sunlight. This was the only way to the finish line -- couldn't quit now. 

In an attempt to distract myself, I began again looking around me at God's beautiful creation. Back and forth, my eyes scanned the trees on the bike path, the brick library, the houses, and the runners on the other side of the street-- the ones with the sun at their back. A small part of me began to envy them. They didn't have to deal with the extra stress of sun in their faces. I pulled my envious gaze away and pushed on. That's when I saw it. Blinking twice, I looked again to make sure what I has seen wasn't a product of my overactive imagination. Down on the grass beside me, a nearly invisible silver thread was stretched criss-cross between the blades of grass. The sunlight had caught the edge of a spiders silken thread stretched between the grass that other wise might have been invisible if the sun hadn't illuminated them. I stared at them while I ran for about one hundred feet. The threads seemed endless. Back and forth they ran weft to the warp finger blades of grass. Across the lawn they wove themselves into a thin blanket of silver light. 

My thoughts turned to my Father to make sense of this small lesson. Running toward the sun is hard. Physically and mentally, it's harder than running with the sun to your back. Looking at other runners who have the "easy" path on the other side of the road in the shade causes us to wonder if it's even worth the it. Sometimes it would just be easier to take a different route, one with less pain. The only trouble was tonight, that wasn't an option. The finish line was toward the sun, and that was the only way I could go. 

Similarly, running toward the Son is hard sometimes to. Spiritually and emotionally, we want to believe that it would be easier to run with the Son to our backs. And sometimes it would just be easier to take a different route, one with less pain. We look at others around us on the "easy path" they are running and wonder if the one we are on is worth all the pain. Sometimes we even question if running toward the Son is truly the "best" path or if taking a different one would be better. The trouble is, that's not an option. The finish line is toward the Son, and it's the only way we can go. 

Then there are the spider webs in the grass, those silver threads that would be invisible if I were going any other direction than toward the sun, which reminded me that even through the Christian race is hard and at times painful, God is still sovereign and if we were running in any direction other than toward the Son, there are blessings we would never see. God is not a God far off. He see's our toils, our sufferings, our burdens, our cares, and grants us small blessings or gifts of encouragements as if to say, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 

Sun light that had before been a torture before, now warmed my face as I pondered this lesson from my Father. The rest of the run, though it was into the sun's light, was precious to me because of the Silver Threads and the sufficient strength of my Savior. 

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Friends, be encouraged! Even Paul struggled in his service for God. In his affliction he prayed, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which so clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Continue, my dear friends! Run toward the Son, for in the end, He will be worth all the pain!

Complete in Christ,


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jehovah Jireh

God has been at work! 

Just yesterday, the last $19.40 needed for the missions trip to England was promised and will be mailed soon. In His time and through His ways, God provided all $3,000 needed for His trip!
It is hard to think that just 4 months ago I wondered if the money would ever come in. God has been so faithful!

Before we left school for the summer, we had one last team meeting to go over the details of our trip. Our leader took some time to give specs on our flights, ministries, and answer any questions we might have. My assignment for this trip is to co-lead game time for the Holiday Bible Club we are helping with. Because the 2012 Olympic Games will be in London about the same time we are in Luton, our games will reflect this. Another aspect of our trip that has me excited is the church we are serving in. Fellowship Baptist Church is a small church in Luton led by Pastor Stan Boelman. While the congregation is not large, the church family is truly unique. In the small group, there are about 5 different people groups present. Here is the link to the site Faith Baptist Church Being a person who LOVES church, the thought of having a church family half way across the world is exciting to me!

But for now, summer is here. As of today, there are only 9 weeks and 4 days until we board our plane for England. It seems so far away, and yet I know that I will go fast. And even though school ended just last week, God has been teaching me and preparing me for His ministry. Long before school let out, I committed my summer to my Father because I knew that I must serve Him in His strength. With thoughts of ministry on my heart, I began reading 2 Corinthians. Paul wrote at length about ministry. Whether he writes about afflictions, interruptions in plans, or ministry in general, he always brings the focus back to Christ.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but 
our sufficiency is from God,
who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, 
not of the letter but of the Spirit. 
For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:5-6
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
 to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7

Needless to say, I am enjoying studying 2 Corinthians! God has also been teaching me about prayer in these first few days of summer. I started reading a book called Prayer Force by Kenneth Spink. The writing is not "heavy" but the points he makes about prayer remind me that "we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1). I am almost finished with it, and I hope to write a review for those who are curious about Mr. Spink's book. (If you would like to purchase is you can find it here 

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, I hope to spend much time in prayer for this trip. I would love for others to pray as well. Here are some specific requests:

1. Pray that each of our team members might grow closer to Christ during this summer.
2. Praise our Father for the ways that He has provided lessons and funds over the past 5 months.
3. Pray that as we travel for 9 hours on an airplane that we might lean heavily on our Father for strength and that we might have the endurance to start service right away. 
4. Pray that my team mate and I might find the right games to do during the Holiday Bible Club.

Thanks for reading friends!

Complete in Christ,

We proclaim Him
admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, 
so that we may present every man 
complete in Christ.
 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, 
which mightily works within me.

Colossians 1:28-29