Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Life of Faith and Obedience

First of all let me apologize. It has been waaaaaay too long since my last post! I have been meaning to update the blog for a while but have just now got around to it.

How many of you love to read? I know I do! What a blessing it is to be able to read. If I did not know how to read, how would I learn about what God says in his Word? Or about how God uses his people to do great works for his name? I have been reading for many years now, but until recently, I do not think I have stopped and thanked the Lord for blessing me with the ability to read.

The reason that I have started this post off this way is because in the last few weeks God has shown me several things through his Word, a book, and a child.

Last Sunday and Monday I read a book that I had been meaning to read for a while called God’s Smuggler. This is a wonderful book if you have not read it, and I highly recommend that you read it. The book is about a man, Brother Andrew, whose obedience and faith in God has led him on an incredible lifelong journey. Brother Andrew grew up hearing about God, but did not become a Christian until he was in his twenties. He was on fire for the Lord and took obedient steps that led to a life that no one could have imagined.

During the Cold War years, Brother Andrew went behind the Iron Curtain and delivered Bibles to people under the Soviet Union’s control. He did not rely on his own strength or cleverness to sneak the Bible’s in, but on the Lord. He prayed that God, who had made the blind see, would make seeing eyes blind, so that the Bibles could be taken through the check points to people who so desperately needed God’s Word.

This was an amazing book filled with example after example of how God was faithful and provided for Brother Andrew as he walked in obedience with God. If anyone wants to borrow it let me know and I will be happy to loan it to you!

For one of my classes this semester we are required to have twelve hours of observation in a local school. I had the opportunity to observe at a local middle school and work with students in special education.

On the day that I finished reading God’s Smuggler, I went out to the middle school and the teacher asked me to take three students and go read a story out loud. One of the students would not speak up, so I finally moved next to him so I could hear. He could barely read. Words that he should know for his age, he did not know. I tried to help him and encourage him, but already at such a young age he had given up on reading. It broke my heart. I understood then why he was reading so quietly and mumbling his words. He did not want others to know that he has a hard time reading.

I had just finished reading this awesome book, and he will probably never read it. No one cared enough to read to him or facilitate his young mind when he was a child, and now he is lost in school. The times our parents spent reading the Bible and other books to us is a rarity in our world today. I am glad that I am going into the field of education. There is a huge need out there for teachers, Christian teachers, to help so many children out there. It is a great mission field and I am excited about it!

It is always amazing to me how God always seems to put something on our heart to read right when we need it. While I was reading God’s Smuggler I was also reading the book of Hebrews and came to Hebrews 11. I love chapter 11! By faith Abraham, Moses, and other men and women in the Bible lived their lives. They were not superheroes or more superior people than us, but they had complete, 100% faith in God no matter the circumstance.

Think about this, Abraham was going to sacrifice his one and ONLY son, whom he loved, because God told him to, “on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (See Genesis 22 for the entire story).

First of all, how often do we say to God, I need more instruction? More direction. We like to see the whole picture before we move, but God doesn’t work that way. He only gives us the information that we need to know at that moment.

Second of all, God told Abraham to sacrifice his ONLY CHILD!!! He didn’t ask him to give up watching television for a week, or facebook for a month, or even text messaging, but his son that he loved more than his own life! And what was Abraham’s, response? The Bible tells us that he rose early the next morning and heading off as God instructed him.

Abraham had faith that God knew what he was doing. So did Noah, Moses, David, the Prophets, and Brother Andrew. Of course, Brother Andrew is not in the 11th chapter of Hebrews about faith, but he had the faith of the men and women of old. I do not want to ruin the story by giving you an example from the book, but Brother Andrew acted time and time again with faith in God, and the Lord was faithful every time.

I am a point in my life where I feel like major things are about to happen. I have no idea what this means, and I may sound crazy, but I want my life to be an offering to God to use in any way that he sees best. I have seen how God uses his people who are willing to fully trust in him. I have read about the men and women in the bible over and over, heard stories about missionaries in the past few centuries, read about Brother Andrew’s journey, and know people personally who God has used to accomplish his purpose.

I want to do the same. I am tired of sitting around just living my life. God has so much more for me than I can ever dream about, but I have to give everything up to follow him. God is at work all around us, and I am excited about what he is doing and going to do through his people. Life is not worth living, unless we are living for the Savior!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Father, hear my prayer
I need the perfect words
Words that he will hear
And know they're straight from You
I don't know what to say
I only know it hurts
To see my only friend slowly fade away

So maybe this time
I'll speak the words of life
With Your fire in my eyes
But that old familiar fear
is tearin' at my words
What am I so afraid of?
'Cause here I go again
Talkin' 'bout the rain
And mullin' over things
that won't live past today
And as I dance around the truth
Time is not his friend
This might be my last chance
to tell him that You love Him

But here I go again
Here I go again

Lord, You love him so
You gave Your only Son
If he will just believe
He will never die
But how then will he know
What he has never heard?
Lord he has never seen mirrored in my life

But here I go again
Here I go, here I go

This might be my last chance
To tell him that You love him
This might be my last chance
To tell him that You love him

You love him, You love him
What am I so afraid
What am I so afraid
What am I so afraid of?
How then will he know
What he has never heard?

-Here I Go Again by Casting Crowns

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Words We Say...

Words. Speaking. Talking. Language. Communication. The ability to verbally express ourselves is a wonderful thing. We can talk to our friends and family, tell others about Christ, buy and sell at the store, and say funny things to make others laugh.

The tongue is a powerful part of our body. It can have a tremendous impact on another person—positively or negatively. The tongue is such a small muscle, but it is such a strong force that our words can build other up or cut someone to the heart.

I used to think that words did not make affect people. If someone said something hurtful to me, I would just blow it off. As the saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.” It is not true. Words do hurt. They can change relationships dramatically. We can apologize for what we say, but we can never take back what comes out of our mouth.

In James 3:3-12 we learn about the power of the tongue:
“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

From this passage we can see the impact that the tongue has on others. It may be a small part, but like a forest fire, our words can take off and become an uncontrollable blaze. How often does a little gossip grow into a malicious rumor that hurt someone? Or how many times have we cut someone else down in front of a group of people?

Recently, I have seen the effects of the words that people speak and write. When someone tells you that you do a good job at something, doesn’t it give you more motivation to do better? A hand written note from a friend or a verbal affirmation from a co-worker can make a significant impact that the sender of the message may never realize.

All of this has made me step back and examine what I say. Am I building others up or tearing them down? Proverbs 12:18 tells us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Words are powerful. What we say has consequences. Think before speaking. Build up others.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” —James 1:19

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Success in Failure

Yesterday I finished a challenge to read through the Bible in 90 days. The only problem was that I took more than 90 days to finish the plan. It took exactly 6 months to the day, which is kind of cool, but the goal was 90 days.

Last September the pastor at my church in Shawnee told us about this challenge and I was eager to accept. I had never read the Bible all the way through like that, but was looking for something like that to do.

The plan was called the 66-45-90 challenge. By reading about 45 minutes a day, for 90 days, we were going to read the entire Bible. It was going to be a challenge, but I wanted to see what God was going to show me.

The first two weeks started off great! I was reading every morning before school and was learning new things daily. Then I got behind. I missed one day, so I would double up the next day. A few days later I might not read all that I was supposed to, and before I knew it I was weeks behind.

When it came to the point where I was not going to be able to finish in 90 days I wanted to give up. It would be easy to say, "Well, I tried. Maybe next time." While I knew I had no shot to finish it in the scheduled time, I wanted to finish it, so I pushed onward.

When I finished yesterday it felt so good! Even though I had failed and it had taken me twice as long, I had completed what I set out to do. It was so rewarding! God showed me so much in the last six months. I was able to put events and things together and see the whole picture. He taught me so much!

One of the things that stuck out to me about the Old Testament was how the Israelites just did not get it. They strayed far away from God, by sinning and chasing after idols, but God was patient. He always called his people back to himself and gave them so many chances. There is no limit to his grace and mercy. He saw how horrible mankind was, and new how evil we would be, and chose to send his son anyways. There is no greater love. There is no one as faithful as the Lord.

In this study I found success in failure. Where I failed, Christ succeeded. When I grew frustrated and felt like I wasn't learning anything; he would show me something new. Even though we fail time and time again, He will never fall short. Isn't it awesome to know that He promises to always be there?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In the Hands of the Potter

This blog was created about ten months ago for the mission trip that I went on to Mombasa, Kenya. God did amazing things on that trip and if you haven’t heard, read about it below. God has been working in my life since I was a child, but recently he has been stirring within me a desire to know Him more.

In June 2008, John McCloy went with Reaching Souls International to Malawi, Africa on a mission trip. When he came back home he told me all about it and told me that I should go the following year to Mombasa. At first, I did not want to go. Growing up, the one place that I did not want to go was Africa. Have you heard about all of the bad things that happen there? I did not want any part of it.

I started to pray about it. I sang hymns of praise to the Lord about His greatness and how I would go wherever he leads me, but my songs and the words I spoke did not line up with my actions. Africa was off limits. As I prayed, God spoke and began to change my heart. By the end of the summer, I wanted to go to Africa.

After spending time in prayer, I knew that is what God wanted me to do the next summer, but how was I going to pay for it? The answer—God’s people.

We sent out support letters to all the friends and families that we could think of and many responded with support and prayer. It was so amazing to watch how people would give so generously and so quickly. Every time someone gave funds I was humbled by their willingness to invest so that I could go on the trip. People gave above and beyond what I ever thought, and in a short period, I had all the funds I needed to go to Africa. Those of you who were able to give, thank you so much!

The Lord worked in such a mighty way in my life on that trip. I don’t need to tell you all about it (read below if you want to know more).

In the months before going on that trip he began to change my heart towards evangelism.

I love people! I love talking to people, meeting new people, making people smile, laugh—I just love people. As much as I love people, God showed me that I did not share the gospel like He called us to do.

I am a people person, but I was terrified about sharing the gospel with other people. I am ashamed to admit it, because what God did for us is the greatest gift we could ever receive, but I was afraid. I cared more about what man thought than what my Father thought.

I went been through every excuse in the book. I don’t know enough about the bible. I am not a pastor. Someone else will tell them, someone more qualified. I finally ran out of excuses and Jesus was there—will you tell the world about me?

In January, God gave me the opportunity to go to Nepal with Laura, Daniel, Alana, Kevin, Phoebe, and Austin to work with Pastor Dhan. We worked with the youth at three different conferences. It was a blessing to go, and see how God is at work in Nepal.

To read more about the Nepal trip click on this link:

At Kawasoti, I met a man who was Hindu (He told me his name, but I could not understand how he pronounced it). We got to talking and I shared the gospel with him. I was nervous the whole time, but God gave me the words to say just as he promised he would in Matthew 10:19-20.

He did not accept the gospel but we invited him to come to church the next day. I remember thinking the next day, “There is no way he will come. He is Hindu. He won’t come to church.”

After I had that thought I think the Holy Spirit chided me for thinking that way, and so a prayed. I prayed to the Father who can do all things. Later that afternoon the man and his son came to church.

I was so happy to see him and so glad that God heard my prayer and brought him despite my moment of unbelief. We were doing the Lord’s Supper, and I explained what was going on and shared with more about Jesus and what he had done for us.

He still would not accept the gospel, but God is the Almighty One who can change hearts. God planted the seed. I am grateful that he allowed me to be part of his work. Please pray for that man and that his eyes will be open to the truth.

This post is already way too long, but I wanted to share what the Lord has been doing in my life. There is so much more God has been doing, and I look forward posting more in the coming days and weeks.

I am still a work in progress. God is at work in my life. I am still afraid sometimes, but I am tired of being afraid. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

I want to live every day for Christ. Not just Sundays or when I go on mission trips. There is a mission field all around us and I want to serve Him wherever He leads.

Jeremiah 18:6 says, "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."

I want to be the clay in the hands of the Potter. I want the Lord to mold me and make me according to his purpose, not mine.

For the rest of the year starting tomorrow, I am going to send out a bible verse everyday via text message. If you would like to be part of this text me or shoot me an email.