What God is Saying:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Church in Christ

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."  Ephesians 2:19-22

What a beautiful picture of the church of Jesus Christ. We are not a building, a denomination, a people group, nationality or nation...we are all part of the family of God. God the Father chose us, Jesus  Christ bought us through His sacrifice on the cross and the Holy Spirit dwells is us.

"There is nothing as noble as the Church, seeing that it is the temple of God.

There is nothing so worthy of reverence, seeing God that dwells in it.

There is nothing so ancient, since the patriarchs and prophets worked to building it.

There is nothing so solid, since Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.

There is nothing so high, since it reaches as high as to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

There is nothing so perfect and well proportioned, since the Holy Spirit is the architect.

There is nothing more beautiful, because it is adorned with building stones of every age, every place, every people; from the highest kings to the lowest peasants; with the most brilliant scientists and the simplest believers.

There is nothing more spacious, since it is spread over the whole earth, and takes in all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is nothing so Divine, since it is a living building, animated and inhabited by the Holy Spirit." Adam Clarke

As I was reading this I was reminded of the beautiful hymn, The Church's One Foundation by Samuel Stone and Samuel Wesley (1800s). Here are the lyrics:

1.     The church's one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

2. Elect from every nation,
yet one o'er all the earth;
her charter of salvation,
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.

3. Though with a scornful wonder
we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

4. Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore;
till, with the vision glorious,
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

5. Yet she on earth hath union
with God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Prayer is the Best Thermometer

"Prayer is probably the best thermometer you will ever have to measure your growth in Christ. It drives all that is truly spiritual, both in our churches and personal lives." K.P. Yohannan

As I spend more time with the Lord, my time in prayer to Him increases. How can we expect to know God, to understand His Word, to know the path He wants us to take in life if we don't spend time communicating with Him in prayer? I know that often times it can be difficult to pray. We close our eyes and then wonder what to say. Yes, prayer comes easily when things are going wrong in our lives...when a loved one is sick, when we are facing financial challenges or when we are in some type of danger. But what about when everything is going well? Why do we often find it hard to pray?

I think it's partly because we have the wrong view of prayer. We look at prayer as a way to get what we want...healing, a better job, a husband/wife/children, safety, security, comfort. But asking the Lord for things is only part of it.

Intimacy with the Lord really grows when we focus on more than just asking for things from God. We need to focus on praising Him in our prayers. Use Scripture to praise Him for His wonderful qualities. Here is a sheet you can print out that lists some of the attributes of God (holy, just, wise, eternal...) with key verses to pray Attributes of God prayer sheet 

We also need to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Giving thanks for everything is both pleasing to the Lord and reminds us of all He has done for us. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a wonderful book about what it means to live a life of thanksgiving. She challenges her readers to spend the next year writing down 1,000 things to thank God for. It may seem daunting but if you write down daily at least 5 things you are thankful for you will be amazed at how your love for the Lord grows.

Intimacy with the Lord is so amazing and rewarding yet it won't happen without prayer. "The awful truth, whether we admit it or not, is that we don't pray because in our hearts we don't think we need God. We don't know how to pray because true prayer can only originate form a life emptied of self-sufficiency." K. P. Yohannan

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What If It's All A Lie?

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25 and Matthew 19:24  Here lies one of the main things I struggle with...how do I live as a Christian with all this wealth?

We have so much money...not just in the possessions we own but in all that we have put away - savings, college funds, houses, etc. We tithe every month but it's out of our abundance. It's never a sacrifice. Like the servant who buried the money (Luke 19:11-27), we are burying what we've been given by God. I fear we will have a very low rate of return in God's Kingdom.

We do this because we've been raised to believe that it's the right thing, the wise thing, the responsible thing as we provide for our families, ourselves. But what if that's all a lie?

Hoarding all this money keeps it from those who could truly benefit from it...who could live physically and spiritually. How many more people could hear the Gospel, how many more children could be helped by groups like Compassion InternationalGospel for Asia or Remember? How many more churches could be built or orphans helped? I'm reminded of Schindler's List as he cries asking himself how many more Jews he could have saved if he had given away more. Will that be my question when I meet my Lord in Heaven...how many more people could have been saved if I had given more of what He had given to me?

And if we didn't have all this saved away, how would our faith grow as we have to rely on God for our future the way people have to do all over the world, the way the early Americans had to rely on God for their daily bread?

I fear that many of the churches in the West are the rich rulers who gave out of their abundance while the churches in Asia, Africa and South America are more like the widow who gave one mite, all she had, to further God's Kingdom.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

To all those who would follow Him, Jesus gave the same basic message. "Those who save their lives will lost them - and those who lose their lives for His sake will find them. The first shall be last and the last, first." Matthew 16:25

"I'm convinced the main reason why we are not impacting our generation for Christ is our refusal to be honest about Christianity. We have offered the world a Gospel without sacrifice and suffering. We've done everything we can to apologize for Christ's demands and to explain them away. We've told people that Jesus didn't really mean what He said - that they can have Christ without His cross." K. P. Yohannan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Way of the Cross

"I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me, and He delivered Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20

I spent 16 years in the U.S. military and my husband is still active duty Air Force. I have come to have so much respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line, suffer greatly and sometimes willingly make the ultimate sacrifice for America, for freedom, for the cause their country is fighting for. Despite all this danger, the US military always makes its recruiting numbers. Why not the Church?

Where is this same willingness in the American church to sacrifice for God, for the eternal freedom of billions, for God's glory? "Where are believers who will make a deliberate calculation to accept sacrifice and suffering for the sake of following Christ? We'll never enter the enemy camp and storm the gates of Hell until we realize again that a soldier does not live on feelings. Casualties, discomfort and injury are part of the program for victory. Real Christians accept suffering as a normal part of following Christ." K. P. Yohannan

That is a major problem in the church in the western world...we do not believe that we should suffer as Christians and if we are suffering, then something is wrong. Why do bad things happen to good people is our constant question. Yet Jesus never apologized for calling His disciples to a life of self-denial and often times, suffering. Just reading Luke 9:57-62 we see Jesus promising homelessness, broken relationships and separation and loneliness. Yet, there is joy unspeakable as well...it just isn't going to come from what the world says is the means for joy and happiness.

I know that it's a constant, daily battle to choose to become a servant rather than to be served. It happens to me time and again. Life is comfortable and one day turns into the next as I pursue time for me, time with my family, enjoyable experiences, a peaceful household, a neat, uncluttered and pretty home, quilt blocks and cups of coffee, an athletic, thinner body, friendships with others. None of these are bad in themselves, but put all together, along with time spent reading emails and Facebook, and the days quickly pass without me really seeking God's will for the decisions I make, without deliberating living for Him, without dreaming big dreams and focusing, learning about and praying for the lost, the persecuted, the orphans, the enslaved, the widows. It know this is true because this has been my life for the past few years.

"Unless we choose the way of the cross, we will always find ourselves automatically falling into that pattern of extravagance and waste that has become the norm of this culture." K. P. Yohannan

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What is the Church?

We've lived in Europe for 3 1/2 years now. During that time I have been able to tour many beautiful churches. While I can appreciate the architecture and the sometimes lavish decorations, I am often left wondering what could have been done with all the money that was used to build this magnificent building?

Yet we are doing in America what Europe did in the Middle Ages...building elaborate, fancy, expensive churches at the cost of the masses who were dying without the knowledge of God.

In Europe they didn't have the Bible in many of the common languages. They were starving in serfdom while the church leaders were building these huge churches and were rich, fat and happy.

It's the same today. We have SO much Bible literature in the English language while many unreached people don't have even one book of the Bible in their own language. We are rich, fat and happy in our huge churches while billions are dying without ever even hearing the name of Christ. I am convicted.

Here is a small church that was started among a group of people in India who had never heard about Jesus. While no one would look at its architecture and marvel or pay money to tour its interior, I believe the God of the universe is pleased. He sees people who desire Him, who are willing to risk much to know Him, who trust Him for everything. They are the Church, they are what is beautiful...not some building.

Living here in Papa, Hungary where we don't have a US-style church, just a couple house churches and Bible studies, God has once again shown me that the Church is not the building, the programs, the pastor...it is the people of God, working together, growing in Him and exhibiting the love of Jesus to a hurting and lost world.

Church is about knowing Him...not being entertained. Sadly, entertainment seems to be one of the main goals of many churches. We try to mirror the popular culture so that more people will come. But will they see Jesus in all this?

"Could it be that we have let our churches become elaborate social programs with the name of God tacked on as an afterthought? Was Karl Marx right in this case? Isn't this kind of religion really a narcotic - 'the opiate of the people'?" K. P. Yohannan

The question that must be asked of every Christian activity we support is: Will this event create any impact on a lost and dying world?"

The Road to Reality

I'm starting The Road to Reality by K.P. Yohannan. I'm trying to recapture the love and compassion and concern I had for the lost, the persecuted, the orphan, the slave...asking God to shatter my heart, to radically change me, to change us for His kingdom, for His glory.

I'm weary of halfhearted Christianity and I'm unafraid to take some giant steps with God. Instead of a million dollars in the bank, I want to help bring a million people into Heaven!

Nearly 2 billion people in the world STILL haven't heard the name of Jesus even once. Most of these live in Asia, in the 10/40 Window (see post 10/40 Window) and they are still dying without hope by the tens of thousands every day.

I don't want to blend in with the crowd. I want to stand up for Jesus against an increasingly hostile world. What is the way to do this? To repent, to return to Jesus, to surrender to Him and to start living as He commands us to. Faith without works is dead.

I struggle with the money that we spend - way too much! And so much of it is on entertainment and stuff for ourselves. I want to get rid of a lot that we have. I want to travel light. Show me how Lord...show us how.

O Father, bring us to the lost and the unreached. Burden our entire family like You are burdening me, please. Father God, may all five of our children be used on Your mission field. But they have to see their parents doing it too. Help us to break out of the "velvet cage of comfort and convenience to begin a radical lifestyle lived from an inner reality that affects the world." Yohannan

Keep burdening as I keep wrestling. Lord, Jeff has so much skill...use it for Your glory. I have a lot of Your Bible knowledge and love to teach - use it for Your glory.

Show me the things in my life that are not necessary. Help me make the most of my time here on earth.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why did I stop blogging?

I started this blog on May 7, 2010 with a heart full of compassion and concern for the lost. God was working in me, stirring my heart, showing me the truth about how many don't know Him, giving me words to write, thoughts to think, prayers to pray. I was motivated and I wrote and wrote. I read and read. I prayed and prayed. This is from my first entry:

It was last summer, August 2009, that the idea for this website was first born. I was in the shower (a very nice place to do some thinking and praying in a house with five little children) when the Lord placed on my heart the desire to create a website where moms could go to learn about the current mission field and hopefully experience an increase in their love and concern for the lost, discover how to pray for different people groups, get equipped to educate their children about how to become mission-minded and find different ways to get involved in missions.

While I'm sure I will be talking about my family on occasion, this blog's main focus will be these five areas: learn, experience, pray, educate and get involved. To this end, I welcome any input from readers. I so want to pack up our family and move straight to Asia to live amongst the unreached but for now, that is not where God has called us. So I am doing my best to obey God's call on my life by sharing all the things He is teaching me.

And then I stopped....

Why? It's not the excuse of not having enough time. With my youngest child now 6 and only homeschooling one of our five children this past year, I have a lot more time.

It's not the excuse of not knowing who to pray for, who to share Christ with. Since beginning this blog our family has moved to Hungary. We are amongst people from so many different nations, from so many different views of God. Many, most it seems, don't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I think it's because I took my eyes off of the lost. God had been giving me a supernatural awareness of the condition of the lost but then I turned my eyes away from them.

I stopped learning about them. I stopped reading books, blogs, websites about unreached people groups, the 10/40 Window, missionaries, the persecuted church.

I stopped praying for them. I stopped visiting Joshua Project and Prayer Guard and Operation World and Wycliffe to pray for them daily.

I stopped educating my children about them. After homeschooling since 2005 we chose to place our children in an international school so they could have the experience of going to school with children from other nations. While there have been good things that have come from that, I am not teaching them daily, learning alongside of them, about the lost, about missionaries, about God.

I stopped getting involved in missions. I used to be a speaker for Voice of the Martyrs and Gospel for Asia. I went to our church, homeschool support group...and shared God's passion with them. Since we've moved to Hungary I have done almost nothing.

This reality has bothered me. I am not content in my life, in my walk with the Lord. I know I am missing what He wants for me. I have asked Him countless times to renew the passion, the vision, the heart for the lost. And I guess He is reminding me to look back at how I got there the first time. I worked to hear His voice. I read to hear His voice. I prayed to hear His voice. I acted to hear His voice. But I lost the drive, the urgency, the passion because I stopped doing all those things.

I am committing myself to starting again.

And one more thing...I confess my desire that people read my blog for selfish reasons. I look at and admire those writers who have so many followers. But why do I do that? I must confess it's because I want the fame for myself. I want the recognition...the knowledge that people are reading what I wrote...ie, I want the glory for myself. Father, forgive me for that.

So I am back to square one. Burdened to know Christ more and to glorify Him and to share Him with others. I will start back on the path that I took before...reading, praying, and going where He leads. I will start blogging again, for Him.