Monday, August 25, 2008
at 10:39 PM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
It has been said that Zambia is a country where not much good can come out of it - but this group of talented young men proved that rumor wrong and are a shining light for what God can do even in the worst of circumstances if people are willing to share His love.
In coordination with their visit, our pastor gave a message on the importance of missions. He "spun" his message around an interesting concept - viruses - and I want to share the basic parts of his message with you because it was so interesting!
When we think of a virus, we usually think of something bad, such as germs, illnesses, infections, and yuckiness. But if you think about what a virus really is, it is simply something that spreads quickly through its host, making changes in bodies, and then is easily contagious to others.
Lets look at the Webster definition of a virus:
a: the causative agent of an infectious disease
b: any of a large group of submicroscopic infective agents that are regarded either as extremely simple microorganisms or as extremely complex molecules,that are capable of growth and multiplication
c: something that poisons the mind or soul
Hmmmm... very interesting huh?! I thought so! I have never thought of Christianity as a positive virus, but we can actually apply the above definition to our faith. We want to be a causative agent, causing others to "catch" the vision of a life filled with Christ. We want to help the kingdom of God grow and multiply as a result of our love for Him and sharing our beliefs with others. And although we dont poison the soul, we can penetrate the souls of others by leading them to Christ, forever affecting their mind and their souls for eternity.
The pastor went on to explain that this "virus" crosses all cultures, languages, locations, countries, ages, genders, etc. Christianity is not for one specific group or country, it is for everyone. It is not an exclusive religion, but instead is one that includes anyone and everyone who embraces it with their heart. Therefore it is our calling to spread our faith with everyone we can, in the US but also throughout the world - thus the importance of international missions.
It is our God given duty to spread the gospel to those who have no other way of hearing His word, but just as importantly, we are to share the gospel with those who live in our country, in our communities, our neighborhoods, and our own homes. So many times we try to keep our worship focused in our own churches, denominations, specific worship styles, and our own music and rituals - but its not about us - it is about reaching the lost for Christ. Amen!
He also mentioned that viruses experience exponential growth. If you are like my family, if one person gets the stomach virus, it is only a matter of days before everyone else has it too! Viruses are so contagious! Isnt it awesome to think that we could have that same impact for Christ? If we tell one person, then may tell two people, who might tell three people, who each tell four more people - THE WORD could spread like wildfire!
So many times we may think that we cant make a difference - but friend, we can! God can use even the smallest child to make a difference, but it has to start with a willingness to take that step out of our comfort zone and share His love and His truth with someone in need. Then the rest is up to God - it is His job to grow the seeds, it is simply our job to plant them - to start spreading the virus!
I love the way 2 Timothy 2:2 tells us to act, and here is that verse from The Message Bible:
1-7So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!— to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It's the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain
Isnt that awesome?! We are told to throw ourselves into speaking out for Christ - to spreading that virus, to pass on what we know, to share that hope that each of has tucked away in our hearts. It may not always be easy, but knowing that we could possibly be used by God as His instrument to build an army of leaders is a huge privilege!
Matthew 9:37 says Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.: Sadly enough, even in biblical times, there was a shortage of people who were willing to take a step of faith and be willing to share the truth of Christ with those who were lost or hurting. There are so many Christians in our country, so many wonderful people who God could use to exponentially grow His kingdom - if only they would say yes to be His voice. If only they would be willing to be His hands and feet, to be the salt and light of the earth.
You know, we probably all spread a lot of things every day. Some days we spread happiness and encouragement, maybe even joy and compassion. But unfortunately, there are days when we also spread negativity, discouragement, gossip, bitterness, bad moods, pessimism and a lot of other ugly viruses.
Lets make a choice to spread something good today - the love of a Savior who wants to reach the hearts of every living person - are you with me?
at 11:26 PM
Friday, August 22, 2008
at 12:34 AM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans for a future and a hope.
at 9:03 AM
Friday, August 15, 2008
at 11:36 PM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
But here is the thing.....although I went there to serve, I was also served. I went there with the hopes that God would use me to encourage other people in their journeys of ministry, but I walked away being more blessed and encouraged than I could have imagined. We had some great discussions that the Lord used to help clarify His calling and His will for many of us. You just can't beat sisters in Christ!
Each woman I came in contact with was so sweet, and obviously loved the Lord immensely. Their enthusiasm for God was so contagious, and so uplifting! Even though everyone had their own set of challenges in ministry, we were able to see that God can and does use all things to His glory. With each expression of discouragement, someone in the room could turn it around to help us see it from God's perspective. What a blessing!
The worship style at this conference was much different than what I am accustomed to in my more conservative church, and that made them even more special, exciting and memorable. The pastors let it all out, and God could be felt all around. Nobody held back. Nobody worried about what someone else was thinking. The Spirit flowed, God moved in people's hearts, and the people expressed their joy in the Lord openly, excitedly, and loudly! It was awesome!
What a great example of how we should all worship - with excitement, enthusiasm, passion and power. God adores all types of worship, and thank goodness He did not make us all alike. Whatever way you choose to do it, make a joyful noise today! You just might like it!
at 10:53 PM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
But before we left, God spoke something sweet to my heart.
Seagulls are funny creatures. They could smell a potato chip crumb a mile away. You could be sitting there peacefully on the beach without a seagull in sight, and then one kid throws down a piece of crust from their sandwich, and suddenly dozens of seagulls come swooping down from out of nowhere! It is like being in the middle of the movie set for that old awful movie, The Birds!
I thought about how seagulls always stay at a distance, until they want something to eat, or think that someone has something to give them, then they come running - or should I say dive bombing. As that thought crossed my mind, God impressed upon my heart that I am often just like those seagulls.
I could go several days, maybe more than a week I am ashamed to say, without really sitting down and talking with God in focused prayer. I could go days without actually studying His word and digging into the meaning of passages to apply to my own life, never giving Him an opportunity to help me or guide me.
That must disappoint God. He has so much more to give me than mere crumbs that I ask for when I am in times of disappointment or turmoil. I believe that God is always there for me, holding baskets of baskets of delicious morsels meant just for me, but since I do not ask, I do not receive.
I need to focus on the fact that God's wisdom, blessings, comfort, love and guidance are readily available all the time. He is always ready to fill me up with whatever I need. I know He can fill every void or emptiness in me, any hurts or concerns, any frustrations or anxiousness. But I have to ask! And not only when I am hungry for Him to toss me a few crumbs in a time of need.
Have you been keeping yourself at a distance from God, either purposely or inadvertently, and then begging for crumbs from Him when you get desperate? Or are you actively seeking God in your every day life and expecting to be filled to the rim with all He has to give?
I can only speak for myself - but I simply do not want to be satisfied with crumbs! I want the whole basket of goodies! What about you?
at 6:21 PM
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I have a very special and most important message to encourage you with today. Just as I mentioned in todays P31 devotion, we all need to know that we are being held by God, and that He is holding our loved ones in His arms during difficult trials.
We also want to know that He is taking care of us, watching over us and meeting our needs. However, sometimes we forget that the way God meets our needs is through other people, not just supernatural miracles.
Have you ever considered that YOU could be the person that God uses to hold one of His children in His love? Let me tell you a story of how God is using me to hold someone special.
Last August, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the city of Quito, Ecuador. I participated in a vision trip with Compassion International, and although I looked the same on the outside when I boarded the plane to come home, I was a completely changed, different person in my heart.
Prior to leaving for Ecuador, I was complaining to my husband about the emerald green carpet in my home. I had chosen that carpet nearly twelve years ago when we moved into our new home, and at that time, jewel colors were the trend. It seemed like a treasure then, now it had become a major thorn in my side. I hated my green carpet!!
Although I complained relentlessly to my husband that I wanted to replace the carpet with a neutral color, he had yet to succumb to my wishes. I knew it was not a completely necessary expense, but it seemed extremely important to me.
It seemed really important, that is.............until I visited the home of Gabriella.
Sweet Gabriella is a child participating in the Compassion International program. She lives in a small mountain town in Ecuador, with her ten family members, including her mother, cousins, brothers and sisters, grandmother and aunt. They all live in a four room dwelling, made of concrete blocks, plastic ceilings, and a hard dirt floor.
(Here is me and Melissa Taylor, my P31 sister, standing behind the family).
Furniture was sparse, and what was there was shabby, broken and falling apart.
The entire family slept in two beds, which were merely a few blankets draped over some wooden slats on a bed frame. One light bulb dangled from the ceiling, which was the only light for the entire home.
The family cooked every meal over a little fire of small logs, which sat directly on the dirt floor in a hole - in the front room INSIDE of the home. A thick hot smoke filled the home so intensely that my eyes burned and watered from the sting. They had a stove, but it was useless, so it was simply used as a cabinet instead.
The children's feet , even those of a tiny three year old little girl, who hid playfully behind a pole while I took her picture, showed skin of tough leather – an obvious sign that no shoes had ever covered their little feet.
Their sunburned faces, dirty noses, taut skin and tattered clothing told a story of a lifetime of poverty, insufficient shelter, hunger, and desperation.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
The mother of this family was so excited we had come to visit her. She could not wait to show us her home, teach us how to pull corn from the stalks and show us how she milked their cow.
She explained through our interpreter that her husband had left her many years ago. Her brother had taken responsibility for the care of she and her family, but unfortunately he had died two years earlier, leaving this large family with no men to help work the fields or provide for their needs. They were doing the best they could with their circumstances.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
The mom explained how God had so blessed their family with this new “home” they lived in. Their other home, which was merely a pile of rubble (pictured below), had caved in on them, barely missing the grandmother who was sitting inside (also pictured below).
As a result, they were left homeless – until Gabriella’s sponsor sent a gift of $400, which allowed them to build their new residence.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
I held a precious little baby boy in my arms who was about two months old. I asked what his name, and was saddened by the response. Apparently the people of this community do not name their newborns, due to the infant mortality rate being so high. Once the baby survives for several months, then they will give him or her a name. That was heartbreaking.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
Not once did I see the mother of this family lose her beaming smile.
Not once did I see any of the children whining or fighting with each other.
Not once did I hear the young daughter, probably nine years old, complain that her back was hurting from carrying the baby in a sack on her back for hours - every day.
Not once did I hear anyone groan about what they didnt have, and I most certainly did not hear anyone complaining about their flooring - despite the dirt and rocks they had to step on in their bare feet every day.
They were excited that we had come to visit and proud to show us the new home God had given them through the miracle of their sponsor. They felt blessed to show us how they made home made grain tortillas, and even more pleased when when we ate them.
Their smiles beamed love and gratefulness for what they did have, not discontent for what they did not have.
And their hearts showed Jesus.
Throughout the week, as I visited several homes of different families in similar situations, my heart began to ache......not only for these sweet people who were happy with so little, but in such need of so many basic things, but because I realized the sourness of my own heart.
I realized the severity of my discontentment, even though God had blessed me more than I could ever imagine.
I realized that as I complained about my plush carpet, they were walking on bare dirt and rocks inside their home.
I realized that as I complained about changing light bulbs, they were so thankful for having one light bulb.
I realized that as I wasted money on frivolous things, they were going hungry that night.
I felt so ashamed for not being content with the enormity of blessings that He had bestowed upon me, and God changed my perspective on life through these precious people of Ecuador.
In prayer, with tears in my eyes, as I lifted up all these sweet families and this country up to God, I asked God to engrave the memories of this experience and these people so deeply into my heart, that I would never, ever forget them and how they changed my heart.
In America, we live in such a self-centered culture. We take things for granted, and are rarely truly thankful for our blessings. We are brainwashed by the media and the norms of our society to try to keep up with the neighbors, get all we can get, do all we can do, make the most money we can, spend as much as we want, and in a nutshell, always strive for more, more, more.
Discontentment seems to be the heartbeat of our society.
But as Christians, we do not have to be like the world........ we can choose to set ourselves apart. It is a choice we have the power to make.
We can choose to allow God to use us to do something incredible for someone else. We can choose to to be Jesus to those who need to feel His arms around them.
If this post today has touched your heart in a special way, God may want to give you a special assignment today - an assignment that could be the miracle for someone less fortunate. An assignment for you to help a child feel held in His arms.
My current God assignment, is named Marlon. Marlon is a five year old little boy, and is my sponsored child. I had the rare opportunity to wrap my arms around him and feel his sweet lips on my cheek during our visit in Ecuador. I met his mom, and wiped her tears as she thanked me for caring about her little boy from so far away. It was the best gift I have ever received.
Are you willing to let God use you to do something amazing for someone else? Are you anxious to be the miracle that a little child is waiting for? Do you have a desire to be Jesus to someone in need?
I want to encourage you today, to consider and pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International. For a mere $32.00 per month, you can make a life changing impact in the life of a needy child and his or her family. Think about it, for the cost of a few lattes, or one night out at a restaurant, you could improve the lives of an entire family.
Their family will be blessed, but trust me, you will be blessed even more.
It is an blessing for me to be a part of Marlons life, to read his sweet letters, to see the pictures he has drawn, and to hear about his two little brothers. It is an honor that I don't deserve, to be able to help this family put food on their table and clothes on their bodies.
And most importantly - I know that Marlon and his family are learning about Jesus through their involvement with Compassion. Their physical and spiritual are needs being met. That is why every speaker at Proverbs 31 Ministries has sponsored a child, and our ministry also sponsors a child.
If you will take just a minute to click on the link below, you will see pictures of children who are in need of sponsorship right now, today. These are real kids, with real needs. This is real life. They are not just photos on a card. Compassion International is an amazing Christian organization that can help meet the needs of the kids through your kindness and sponsorship.
They need someone to be Jesus to them...someone to hold them from afar.
Could that person be you?
Matthew 25:40 The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
at 5:00 AM
Monday, August 4, 2008
I took the watermelon home and pulled out a big knife. I carefully sliced it open and the two sides fell apart, and I was shocked at what I saw. I gasped aloud, and my mom yelled over from the living room to see what was wrong. It was bright yellow inside!
For those of you who knew yellow watermelons existed, you probably think I am very silly. But I never even heard of a yellow watermelon, much less seen one up close and personal! The sign on the watermelon stand didnt say anything about yellow watermelons, so I thought I was purchasing a regular ol' red watermelon.
I thought this was a prime example of exactly how God operates in our lives. (I know, I know... it is amazing how I can turn a little watermelon eating into a biblical thought isnt it? My kids always poke fun at me about that. Smiles.)
Obedience to His call on our life is kind of like this, dont you think? We want to obey God, but we are afraid to try to something new. We think we are going down the same old path, but when we begin to lean on God, He throws in a little surprise for us. When we finally trust Him fully and give into His plan for our life, the outcome is so much better than what we thought we would get!
Submitting to God’s will often requires costs or sacrifices, but if we truly trust Him, we will believe in our hearts that He will have something far better for us than we ever expected, or can even imagine. I dont know about you, but I am axiously awaiting for God to throw me a few surprises!
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."
at 12:19 PM
Friday, August 1, 2008
Whew, it has been a long week. In addition to our normal family chaos of non-stop sports practices, social agendas, work, ministry, and of course drama, we had some extra excitement.
Last week on Thursday night my mother called me with concerns about her right hand being completely numb, and serious pain in her right arm. It had been bothering her for weeks, and it was now a severe health problem.
I rushed over to her house to pick her up and take her to the emergency room, at which time they quickly admitted her within five hours. It was the fastest emergency room service I have ever seen! (Kind of sad to think five hours is quick, huh?!)
Bad news is this - she has to have major surgery in four weeks to have that crazy extra rib removed, otherwise, the compressed artery could potentially get blocked again and rupture. Bummer. She is not looking forward to that and is understandably anxious.
Thank you friends!
at 7:18 PM