Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psalm 119:129-144

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. They unforlding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees. streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

Righteous are you, O Lord, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words. Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them. Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Trouble and disctress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.

*Psalm 119:143: verse of the day

Monday, November 14, 2011

SIM App/Home Church Communication Update

So as I glance thru the last couple posts, and I realize I have not kept up with what has been going on as far as connecting with the organization and my home church.

Oct 28, 2011 (Friday)- Phone interview w/ Cindy Ely, discussed what SIM International (organization) is all about. Got a lot of questions answered regarding short-term versus long term options and trainings that go with those. From this conversation, I learned that SIM wants me to qualify to serve and seems very supportive.

Oct 28, 2011 (Friday)- Submitted my preliminary application. Basic information as well as basic missionary goals.

Nov 7, 2011 (Monday)- Received email with link of full application for SIM. Everything from basic information, family, health, what I believe, experiences, short job resume, education, christian convictions, personal growth and references were included in that application.

Nov 9, 2011 (Wednesday)- Met with Mark Dalton (director of missions at Shadow Mountain). Discussed possibly locations to serve, what my timeline looks like, how SIM and Shadow will support me together and in how those ways are different. We discussed me taking a World Christian Movement class beginning in January. I need to find out how many units of Bible are required. I need to connect with Tom Pitman with the college and see about taking some bible courses online possibly and Mark is working on getting a mentor who has experience on the missions field and is willing to meet with me, discuss and pray about what God is doing in my life as it pertains to missions. I left this meeting feeling very encouraged and a little stressed with all that is to come.

 Nov 11, 2011 (Friday)- Received an email from Mark. He had emailed a couple who serves with SIM who are supported by Shadow. Their email is below. (His reaction)-"Sounds like you would be in great hands to work with this organization. I rather like the international missionary force they have."

Nov 14, 2011 (Monday)- Application submitted!
I am so excited to have pressed the submit button and allow God to continue to move in my life and direct my ways. I took a few days to gather the information for the application and was able to get references information together. I took one last read thru and off it went. I'm excited to see what God does next, however I know I must remain patient. In a way I thank Him for the busyness of the week to come. Getting together with friends, difficult days and long hours of week lead to what could be a very draining week. I go into it with little energy of my own. I have not had a day of rest since I was sick, a week an a half ago. But I know God will pull me through and I truely cherish these moments of busyness with friends knowing that a time is to come where I will not be able to as easily.
God, I come to you tonight with requests knowing full well that I desire nothing more than your will to be done. I also know as the quote from the song goes; "Some of [Your] greatest gifts are unanswered prayers". God I feel alone. I have many friends who have come alongside and are willing to pray with me through these times, spend time with me, and give of themselves. As I prayed that prayer Saturday night, the next thing I heard from Pastor J's mouth was how Old Testament missionaries did their work alone. I felt that as an answer, that at this time there isn't going to be someone as I desire there to be, that will walk physically beside me, other than Jesus. Therefore the words I began this prayer with I will now end with; Father God, not my will but yours be done.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Email from SIM missionaries: 
“We think SIM has a lot of strengths and more than one weakness! One of our strengths is that we are 118 years old. And that is one of our weaknesses. SIM is a church planting mission and one of the top in outreach to Muslims. We emphasize discipline both by and for the missionary and that works with varying degrees of effectiveness around the world.
There are over 1800 of us plus 100s of retirees. Another of our strengths is that we are a multi-national, multi-ethnic mission. And that is another of our challenges. We come from everywhere and work in Asia, Africa and South America. In fact, I (Phyllis) leave in 10 days for Thailand to do my fourth workshop for missionaries on how to thrive on a multi-cultural team. Fascinating. But we don't have it all figured out.
SIM is what we call a full service mission. We have excellent member care: medical (including evacuation insurance), relational, ministry encouragement and accountability, and have in place formats for spiritual growth and renewal including a Spiritual Life Conference on every field every year. Over the years, SIM has been roughly 1/3 men and 2/3 women, so single women have a significant impact on the organization and the goal is that they be supported and helped and cared for. I cannot promise that always happens, but I’ve had discussions in days long gone by about the way that the single women seem to be more significant and cared for than we married ones. But I’ve not suffered either.
We sit about the middle, last we knew, in the list of faith based organizations, in support requirements. Neither the highest nor the lowest support requirement. There is flexibility for missionaries to decide what their salary will be, based on their living situation. There's a huge difference between urban and rural living in many countries, as I’m sure you know. If things are still as they were a few years ago, the average salary portion of a missionary's support is about 45%. There is a list, Danielle can ask for it, which tells where each dollar of her support goes including both halves of social security, medical insurance, administration, etc. I just read today that in the last 20 years, the average American male salary has increased 3% and medical insurance has increased 182%. SIM is also run from the local level, that is, field decisions are made on the field, usually resulting in more administrative costs than if everything were done from the home offices. But we feel that is an important principle to practice. And it definitely results in better member care.
These days, as an organization, we are finding ways to simplify things given the amazing impact of technology. Cindy Ely is the woman who has been talking to Danielle and she was very impressed with her in their conversation. She said she sounds like a good fit for SIM. As Cindy and Danielle prayerfully move forward in the application process, I'm sure the Lord will make it clear to them and others if we are the organization with whom she should align herself. But it sounds like SIM will win if she does.
As I read this, I think it almost sounds like a marketing piece. That was not the intention. But we are, for the most part, very pleased for all these years to have been part of SIM and God continues to use it.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jesus knows me, I listen and follow.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." -John 10:27

In the verse, John 10:27, there are three parts to it, two of those are directives to the follower, one of them belong to Jesus.

In this verse, Jesus claims that He knows us. The words from Jeremiah 29:11 ring loud, "For I know the plans I have for you..." as well as the Psalmist David's in Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." And I could probably spend the rest of the day pulling out scripture that point to just how much God knows us, He knows our hearts down to last lie and deceit we have told as well as the works of our hands both those out of selfish gain and those desired for His glory. We're not perfect, I never claim to be for if it wasn't for Jesus, I would never have the communion I do with God. I thank Him for knowing me, for knitting me together, and creating me with a specific plan that accomplishes His goals.

And that is the only command that Jesus gives himself. But within that verse there are two parts to our side, one that we would would listen to his voice and two, that we would follow him. I believe hearing his voice can be alot easier than the second part which is to follow it. God is powerful and can use anything to get our attention, to speak to us, and open up the opportunities to follow him. In a post about a month ago I shared about how God began to take over my body, make each day hard and difficult, allowing me to run on my own strength so that I would turn back to Him and recognize His hand upon me. Once I finally did turn around, begin listening to His voice again regarding missions, the weight of tiredness lifted. Jesus knows me, He is my Shepherd, and because I am His sheep, I know His voice. I must listen, and loud and clear He is asking me to follow him.

Now following Him seems, in words, easier than it is. My flesh desires normalcy, to do what everyone else seems to be doing, getting a job where you work 40 hours a week, that you meet someone, the "perfect" one, get married, have children and live happily ever after in God's arms. Well in the bible, that is not how God explains how following Him works. He asks us to leave everything, take up our Cross, and follow Him. Leave everything, really God??? But as I look around, all the "stuff" can stay, clothes, I don't need them all, definitely don't need the tv, I really don't need it. My bible which lays across my pillow, and myself, and off I go. I can leave everything, Following Jesus does not mean "normalcy", no it means dedication, faith, loving others greater than myself, serving Him will that I am. And therefore, I believe I have no other choice but to follow Him with all that I am. I don't desire the normal life, even though my flesh still desires parts of it, I know that if I am living within His will for my life, that He will give me the desires of my heart.

       God I love you, I am so thankful to have a Father that knows me. That is willing to whisper in my ear, help me when I seem to fall down, and gently direct me back to the paved road of life. Thank you for your calming words this morning as I attempt to sift through what this all means. I gave you my life and I meant it. Use me Lord for your service that You can accomplish all your plans. I love you Jesus, thank you for being my very best friend. Thank you for walking beside me during this time and preparing me for what you have created me for. Holy Spirit, you are alive within me. Wash me clean, renew my mind, and fill me now so that I may be a light, a bright light, wherever you lead me. May I not just listen but hear your voice, knowing that You completely know me, and follow You.

In Jesus' name I lift these prayers to you this morning,

Monday, November 7, 2011

10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage by Elizabeth Baxter

1. God has you here to serve one another. Love acted out is serving.
2. Women need respect and nurturing. Love your wife so she knows you'd lay your life down for her. Continue to date her and admire her. Share a hobby- find something you can do to have fun together.
3. Laugh together.
4. Be patient. Love crumbles quickly under the weight of unmet expectations.
5. Spend more time trying to fix yourself than your spouse.
6. Keep short accounts. The Bible says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are angry." May it a habit to forgive.
7. Determine up front that divorce is not an option.
8. Learn about love languages. not all people show love or receive it the same way. You want a back run and your spouse wants a clean kitchen. the love languages are fairly simple: acts of service, time, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. Learn them. Love is better received when it's in the language that person speaks.
9. Words of affirmation are a love language for all men.
10. Men are born to be leaders. He cannot lead unless she gives him the confidence to do so. If you love your husband, build him up. Confident men do not seek love outside the home.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"We are created to serve"

The Bema Seat- The Believer's Judgement- Pastor George Cuff
For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. -2 Cor 5:10

*We must abandon confidence in the flesh
- It's a sensory matter: a matter that will be experienced by our senses; "we must all appear"
- It's a service matter: we are created to serve, we are most fulfilled when we give our lives in service to God
 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will." - Romans 12:1-2
-It's a serious matter: The stewardship every one's work will become clear, because it will be tested by fire. What sort of work is evident in my life? What have I been building? What kind of materials have I been building with?

*It is time to remember that rewards will be gained or loss depending on how we steward our life: redeemed by his amazing grace
*It is time to realize the significance of the earthly service to our master

What a beautiful sermon by Pastor Cuff on what it means to live your life in service to Jesus until we are at that Judgement day where we await the precious words we all pray we will hear, "Well done good and faithful servant". I reflect on how many times he said that our life is about serving God, in whatever that means for you personally. Am I doing what God wants me to do now? Has he put me where I am now to prepare me for what's ahead? I believe He has and I am thankful for today, for the privilege to serve such amazing people, and I am also thankful for what God has in store for me in days to come. Until then, I continue to pray for His guidance, His will for my life to be accomplished, and for me to continue to serve Him wherever that takes me.

I love you Jesus.

Below is a poem that Pastor Cuff referred to in his sermon regarding the Believer's Judgement.

I had a dream one fateful night with a message strong to behold.
The rapture trumpet pierced the night, the call to young and old.

Graves were open to the sky yielding the body contained.
I saw each person take to the fly no longer by death restrained.

I too was caught up to the sky, for the Savior was calling His bride.
To this world, I bid goodbye with thousands by my side.

Soon I saw the streets of gold and saints from every age,
Saints whose very lives were sold, who faced the devil’s rage.

An angel announced the wedding feast and the marriage of the Son
To His church from sin released, the bride the Savior won.

But first there would be a Judgment Day with Christ at the Bema Seat.
This meeting is not a time to pray but to examine the balance sheet.

I saw folks considered great who squirmed at what was revealed.
Selfish motives sealed their fate with rewards forever repealed.

Many there were who talked a good game, but the Judgment was thorough indeed.
They bowed their heads in regret and shame for failing their brother in need.

I saw a humble, lowly man whom Jesus placed on high.
He daily sought the Savior’s plan; never turned a blind eye.

He was exalted with heaven’s praise for serving the King of Kings;
Appointed by Jesus for thousands of days as ruler o’er many things.

I trembled as I stood in line considering my earthly life.
I remembered those awful times my heart was filled with strife.

I wondered what the outcome would be when Jesus examined my heart.
Would there be anything left to see that would a reward impart?

Then came that fateful moment in time when Jesus looked into my face.
“I saw how you wanted your light to shine when you trusted my saving grace.”

“Yes, you had many faults indeed, but your service was faithful and true.
I note your desire my words to heed; I have a crown for you.”

Just then I awoke my heart aflame to respond to the Savior’s call.
I resolved to make it my highest aim to give my Master my all.

“Make me a slave,” I cried aloud. “Forbid that I play the fool!
May my heart be soil plowed yielding fruit for You.”


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hands of Prayer

"None of us go the mission field to force our beliefs on an unsuspecting people. We go because the people already know about God. But they're desperate for answers concerning Him. Deserate enough to walk on bare feet three days through a jungle." -Kingsbury

It has become really hard for me lately to put into words just how often missions, missionary work, or being a missionary confronts me on a daily basis. I write here, mostly so in a year, I can look back and say, "I wasn't crazy, those things really did happen". So here is another example. I'm reading this book series, which has become very addicting I must say. It has saddened me these past two days to be so sick that I couldn't stay awake long enough to read more than a page. Movies had to satisfy my brief moments of awareness until I was right back into a state of dormancy. But finally, today, I woke up with a renewed sense of being awake. Made cinnamon rolls, a new Saturday tradition, and continued where I had left on in the book. About three hours later and I have finished the book with a new outlook on prayer. The main character in this book series was given away by his birth parents and adopted by Christian missionaries. When he was 18 years old, his parents die in a plan crash, attach that with only moments of memories with those parents in the last 18 years and the character is heart broken. He's angry at God and doesn't understand why everything has been taken from him, including his birth parents, when he realizes he has been adopted. Towards the end of the book he reunites with an old friend from boarding school, a young man who has continued his parents love of serving in mission, in Mexico. The character flies down, has a brief conversations with his friend, participates in a street ministry fair hosted by his friend, and asks Jesus into his heart. Upon arriving home, he receives a package from his birth father that explains that he has been searching for him and that this package, with photos of his family, is his last effort to try to connect with him. He's a movie star, with no family, and lots of paparazzi following him around. As prayer and God would have it, the two meet, and the character realizes that more than just his birth father had been praying for him, but a few people, some who didn't even know who he was, had prayed that he would receive the greatest gift of all.

So what does this mean to me? One, I'm thankful for the life I have given to Jesus and the way He has made me a new person. I would never have dreams to travel around the world to serve others, to tell them about God, if it wasn't for Jesus. I'm thankful for the people around the world who are praying for people like me to join their teams to come and serve alongside them in remote areas of the world that have not heard about God. I'm thankful for prayer and what it means to me and the ability I have to have a relationship with the Holy God and His Holy Son. As I read this story, I reminded all over again of God's perfect timing in everything. As I desire to hear back from the organization, I know that I must wait, because in His perfect timing, all this will work out for the good of those who seek Him, just as with this character's life, in how God perfectly pieced the puzzle together.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

...but he who sent me is reliable. -Jesus

"I have much to say in judgement of you. But he won't sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world." - John 8:26

"Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs forever." -John 8:35

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." - John 9:3

I have taken a short break from reading through chronologically, to read through the gospel of John. John is a pretty straightforward writing who showed that without belief in Jesus, you will become blind. Not only will you become blind, but you will die. These past few days have been rough. Today is the 3rd, Baby Joshua was born yesterday. Tears and sorrow rain down as I not only hurt for the loss of him but for my dear friends. Also, on monday I came down with a slight cold. That cold has turned into a devouring sickness that has overtaken my head. And yet I cling to the John 8:26  who claims that God is reliable. In times of hurting and pain, His is the dependable. A few versus later read the promise that a son is forever apart of God's family when their faith and life are put in His hands. What better place for my life to be in than the hands of than the most reliable dependable God of Creation.

Even during these last 9 months where we prayed and prayed for a miracle, for healing for Joshua, ultimate healing was accomplished for his soul. Jesus, the reliable, dependable one has welcomed him home. As I look at who God is through the scriptures, I learn that He wants to be there for us during this time. He see's us in the now but can also see the future. It is in the hands of this God that Joshua rests tonight.

Dear God,

We love you. We long to see you, to worship you, to give you the glory. In these difficult days that lay ahead, I pray that you would comfort and give peace to my dear friends. I pray that the words of John 9:3 ring true, that you have planned and purposed this, and that you would use it to display exactly who you are. May we cling to you during this time, may you be near us God, for you are good.

You are all big and small, beautiful and wonderful, to trust in grace through faith, but I'm asking to taste...

for dark is light to You, depths are height to You, far is near, but Lord, I need to hear form You.

Be near, oh God, be near, Oh God of us. Your nearness is to us our good. Be near, oh God, be near, oh God of us, Your nearness is to us our good, our good.
Your fullness is mine, revelation divine, but, oh, to taste to know much more than a page, to feel your embrace...
...far is near, but Lord I need to hear from You...Be Near... (Shane & Shane, Be Near, Psalms 73:28 & 139)

May we draw near to you God and rely on your Holy Spirit all the days you give us breath.

In Jesus name I pray these things,
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