Sunday, January 31, 2010
What fears are swirling in your mind as you begin your week? Is it the paper that is due in that difficult class? Is it the overwhelming workload left on your desk from Friday afternoon? Is it a difficult conversation with a friend? Is it a hard relationship at home or an uncertain doctor’s appointment? Whatever the fear is, one thing is certain: in the mind of the fearful one, it can seem like an impassable mountain.
David had much to be afraid of when he wrote this Psalm. He was fleeing from Saul, the Philistines had seized him, and he was now in enemy territory. He stares his fears in the face and speaks to them: “What can flesh do to me?”
Sometimes our fears are over genuinely fearful things. Sometimes, though, our fears are over a lack of perceived control. So often my fear is translated as, “I don’t trust your goodness in this situation.” When I was single it was fear that a guy I liked would not like me back and then I would be left single forever. Now that I am married, so many of my fears revolve around the future and my relationship with my husband. What if God doesn’t give me the five children I hope for? What if my husband does not make the decision I want him to make?
Many of us spend so much of the moments of fear immersed in the fears themselves. The Psalmist makes a conscious decision not to do that. Yes, the fears are frightening—sometimes rightly so. But in my own life, I have found that I need to spend a lot less time indulging my fears, and more time giving them to God. He knows the outcome of them anyways.
He holds the outcome, and the circumstances of our fears, in the very palm of his hand. They are not lost to him. He is watching over every detail of every fear that we face—big or small. Because of his work for us we can look at our fears today and say with David, “what can flesh do to me?”
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Imagine living in a family where becoming a Christian means persecution, and often death. Imagine living in a society where you are the only Christian and there are few Bibles, few avenues for fellowship, and hardly any Christian places to worship your Savior. It’s hard to think about isn’t? Especially hard when many of us pass multiple churches on the way to our own church, or when the local Christian bookstore is not too far, or when we have unrestricted internet access to some of the greatest resources for our own growth. Imagine living in a country where Christians weren’t even allowed to get to you.
Saudi Arabia is such a country.
Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest of holy cities for Muslims—Mecca. 1.2 million Muslims pray to Mecca every day. Persecution is high and certain for anyone who claims the name of Christ in Saudi Arabia. According to Operation World’s 24-7 Prayer Guide, Saudi Arabia is possibly the most dangerous place to live in the world as a Christian.
- There are approximately 50,000 people who believe in Christ in Saudi Arabia. Pray that they would be strengthened in their faith.
- Saudi Arabia is a closed country. Pray that God would provide a way for missionaries to get into the country.
- Pray that the hearts of Saudi’s would be softened to the Gospel.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Another goal for the year is to read more. I used to read a lot more than I do now. I love reading, but I find myself immersed in time-wasting browsing on the internet. Now I find myself easily bored with things that are more than “140 characters.” I have gotten used to bite-sized pieces of information, rather than large chunks of truth. No matter how I try and justify it, bite-sized information will never fill me up spiritually—even if it is amazing.
As I start the year, I want to spend more time investing in things that matter; things that are of eternal significance. This doesn’t mean I won’t be on the internet. It just means I will limit my time, so I can use the time I do have for things that last. And it means I won’t blindly use the internet, either. If I see an old (or new) friend on a social networking site, I will ask her how she is doing instead of lurking around her profile. Internet and social networking are not needs. They are gifts that can be used for good and bad. I really pray that this year I use the gifts for more good than bad.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Though I haven't seen Mrs. Dubert in many years, I still kept in contact with her. She was the mother of my mom's best friend, who is like an aunt to me. Mrs. Dubert and I would email from time to time, and she was one of the biggest encouragers of me to attend seminary. I still remember the content of her email when I told her I was moving to Louisville to go back to school. When I was living a rebellious life away from Christ, she prayed for me. She supported every misssions trip I went on. She emailed me. She read my blog sometimes. She was my far-away friend. And I will miss her. Now she is even farther away than she was before. But I will see her someday. Someday when we are all around the table of King Jesus worshipping our Savior forever. Until then, you will be missed, Mrs. Dubert. Thank you for your service to our Christ,
Here is the post. I hope she encourages you like she did me.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Turkey is the largest unreached nation in the world. For over a thousand years Christianity was the prevailing religion, but now Islam is the official religion of Turkey. There are approximately 66 million people living in Turkey. This is a staggering number. Sixty-six million people, unreached, and following a false religion.
Geography lesson for the day: It straddles two continents: Europe and Asia. I thought that was interesting.
How we can pray:
Pray that God would send missionaries to Turkey to proclaim the Gospel.
Pray that the missionaries who are already there would be encouraged.
Pray that God would open their eyes to the Gospel. Islam is a cultural religion there, and to leave Islam means leaving being a Turk in many of their minds.
Pray against fear in the hearts of Turkish people who have become Christians.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Ruth made a conscious decision to stay with Naomi. The text says that she “clung” to her (Ruth 1:14, 17-18). And this was even against the advice of Naomi! But Ruth wanted Naomi’s God. Ruth wanted to be apart of Naomi’s family. She chose to stay with her.
Mary made a deliberate choice to go to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40). Granted, Elizabeth was more than a willing partner in helping the young mother. But still, Mary went to her on her own accord. She knew Elizabeth shared a common experience with her (an unexplained and unexpected pregnancy) and shared her God. This was enough for Mary to go to Elizabeth and seek refuge and comfort in her time of need.
Our action as younger women does not take away from the biblical command directed to older women. But our action, done in humility, might actually encourage them in their desire to fulfill the directive of Titus 2. Asking someone to mentor you, and asking someone if they want to be mentored is never easy—no matter how you word it. But perhaps, and I know this is true of my own life, it may be God’s way of cultivating humility in your life simply by saying “I need help in this area, can you mentor me?”
So often we like to think that we have it all together. Or at least we act like we do. We surround ourselves with peers who think we are great, who think we are holy, who think we have womanhood down. And maybe you do. Praise God for that. But maybe, just maybe, God wants to cultivate an even greater holiness, an even greater heart for womanhood, and an even greater understanding of greatness by putting an older woman in your life to shape those already existing qualities.
Pray about it. Read about it. Talk about it. And by God’s grace make a choice to do something about it.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Daniel and I have talked a lot about what this would look like for us; long-term and short-term. We don't know yet. But we do know one thing. Valuing life will mean giving up our own life. It is not enough just to say that we are pro-choice when we don't care about the life that is wasting away all around us. Valuing life will mean we are a little (or a lot) less comfortable than we would maybe like. But it only matters if this is all we have to live for.
My prayer for myself this year is that I would be comfortable with the uncomfortable in whatever avenue that means for my life right now. I want to be willing to sleep a little less on a Saturday morning so I can volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. I want to spend less time browsing Facebook and more time browsing sites that make me love the world more. I want to value life in all stages in a way that helps people see Jesus as the one who makes us really live.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I have been amazed and encouraged by how many organizations are actually in Haiti doing Gospel work so that Haitian people might praise Christ. They are a testimony to the truth that Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure in the Universe—even greater than life itself. They are men and women that the world is not worthy of.
In the next few days we will hear more about these organizations and how we can help. I pray that God would use this tragedy to raise up more men and women, like our brothers and sisters in Haiti, to go and give their life for the sake of our Christ’s name.
Here are just a few of the organizations. I know there are many more:
Baptist Haiti Mission
Food for the Hungry
Water Missions International
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Haiti has been characterized by political disorder throughout its history. This has only furthered the economic despair that overtakes the region. In addition to earthquakes, Haiti is also very susceptible to hurricanes.
There are 9 million people in Haiti; 9 million people who either need Jesus or need to be encouraged in their walk with him. And right now, there are 9 million people who need our prayers.
How to pray:
Pray against despair for the people of Haiti. Poverty can lead people to feeling as if there is no hope. Pray that they would see hope in Jesus Christ.
Pray that this earthquake would be a means of much Gospel proclamation. Pray that God would be glorified in this tragedy.
Pray that God would send Christians to Haiti to do relief work in Jesus’ name. Pray that they would be a source of not just physical healing, but spiritual healing as well.
This afternoon Desiring God posted a list of relief organizations that could use our help as they serve the people of Haiti. You can read the list here.
Some very sobering pictures from the Big Picture here.
Monday, January 11, 2010
(On a side note, I used to be able to stay up until all hours of the night and then function the next day. This is no longer true of my body. There were moments of total delirium on Saturday evening, and this lasted well into yesterday afternoon when I took a very long nap. It’s official. I am 100% a grown-up.)
The theme for the weekend was Resolved and we had two Southern graduates as our main speakers. They did a phenomenal job. They preached from Philippians 3, and one of the things asked of us over the weekend was to “remember God’s work for you in Christ.” This got me thinking. What if remembering God’s work for you brings back memories too painful to think about? Surely this is true for some people. I am sure it was for Paul. He killed Christians. I am sure it was for Peter. He denied the Savior. How do you remember the work without flooding your mind with memories you would rather just bury?
It is often said that you can’t change the past. This is true. We can’t change what has already happened. Often, and I know this is true in my own life, the pain of certain memories cause us to wallow in unbiblical guilt rather than worship the One who took that guilt away. We can remember the past, in all degrees of heinousness, and call it what it is—awful. But if we are in Christ that past has no control over us any longer. If we are in Christ, God does not hold us condemned for those previous sins.
It is good to remember what Christ has done for us. It is a glorious thing that the King of Kings died to reconcile us to God. And we should never forget what we were saved from. But it should not lead us to despair. It should lead us to worship. In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us to think about the things that are true, among other things. It is true that we were once sinful, rebellious, and condemned people. But it is an even greater truth that because of Christ’s work on our behalf, and his righteousness given to us, those adjectives no longer describe us. This is what we should remember every day of our life.
“When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see him there
Who made and end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free!
For God the just is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me!”
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We had the privilege of being apart of a short-term missions send off for my parents pastor while we were home. I left the service with a strong desire to go with them. I realized that by the sheer prayer and acknowledgment of this family’s trip my heart was stirred to love the nations. I think that this is what we are supposed to feel. We see people go, we hear about the need, and we want to do something (either go or send). Primarily for my own benefit, and Lord willing your benefit as well, I am going to post brief summaries of countries every week, in part to stir in my heart a love for the nations. I am also doing it to prepare these summaries for the children at our church. So stay tuned. I pray that you are educated, engaged, and encouraged to love all nations and desire them to come to faith in our Christ.
I wanted to start with Jamaica because a few summers ago I had the opportunity to serve in an orphanage there and my heart was forever changed.
Jamaica is the third largest country in the West Indies. While the majority of people would claim Christianity in Jamaica, it is in many cases in name only. The rate of illegitimate children is very high, thus leaving many Jamaican children orphaned and wards of the state. One out of every four Jamaican men is a drug user, thus contributing to the problem of orphaned children. Since many Jamaicans do not have cars, there are a lot of small churches within walking distance. Though Jamaica numerically is predominantly Christian, the call for the Gospel among the people of Jamaica is still urgent.
Ways to pray:
- Pray that God would give Jamaican Christians a heart to really follow Christ and not see it as something that is merely cultural.
- Pray that God would kill the selfishness that leads to child abandonment
- Pray that God would burden Christians to adopt Jamaican orphans and go to Jamaica and disciple Jamaican believers
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
"Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness. But this Messenger would be God's own Son. He would be called 'The Word' because he himself would be God's Message. God's Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world - in a Person. "
Monday, January 4, 2010
It’s hard to believe that it is 2010. It seems like just yesterday we were passing into 2000. My life has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Ten years ago I was not a Christian and was a junior in high school. Now I am a follower of King Jesus, taking seminary classes, and married to a youth pastor. This is a work of God’s grace and mercy in my life. I do not deserve to be here, but I am.
The New Year should be a time of reflection and worship. Reflection on all that God has done and worship because of his great work.
Yesterday morning at church we sang a song called Jesus, Thank You. One of the lines in the song stood out to me in light of reflecting on the last ten years:
“Once your enemy, now seated at your table. Jesus, thank you!”
This is me. This is you. And may God be pleased to make many more enemies into sons into 2010.