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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

The Most Important Piece of Armor

david in sauls armorA friend and I have been walking through the book of Ephesians together. The past few weeks we have been talking about the armor of God, piece by piece. We’ve discussed the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel shoes of peace, the sword of the spirit, the helmet of salvation, and the breastplate of righteousness. Each being a vital piece of the armor needed in order to stand firm, and live for the Lord.

But then, Paul says, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.( Eph. 6:18).”

AND PRAY…. 

It is the final aspect I fear most of us leave out. And yet, it is the most important.

For if we put on all the pieces of the armor, if we know and stand on God’s Word, and yet seek to fight the enemy in our own strength we will surely fall.

Remember the story of David and Goliath. When David first tells King Saul, he will go and fight, King Saul tries to convince David to wear his armor. But, the armor was too big, and it just didn’t work. So, David takes it off, picks up 5 smooth stones, grabs his slingshot, and off he goes to fight the giant.

He was confident, not because he had five smooth stones or His sling shot. He was confident because He relied upon the Lord.

When we wear the armor, do the “Christian” thing, but do it all in our own strength we look and act like David wearing Saul’s armor. This armor is useless in our fight against the enemy.

Yet, when we put on the full armor of God, and rely upon the Lord through prayer. Then and only then, are we able to fight and resist the enemy.

Over and over again Paul tells us to “Stand Firm!!”

And I’m convinced the only way we can truly stand firm, resist the enemy, and fight is if we have put on the pieces of armor yes, but also when we rely on the Lord, AND PRAY.

Unfortunately, many of us, think we can handle the enemy in our own strength. We believe the lie that we don’t really need the Lord, that we can do it on our own. When in fact, we can not.

The enemy is real, and his greatest desire for those of us who belong to the Lord is to destroy us. He wants to destroy our families, our marriages, our testimonies, and our faith in the Lord.

For if he can do this, he has us right where he wants us… down and out, defeated. And ineffective for the Lord.

We must resist him, we must stand firm, and we do this only when we rely upon the Lord, and look to Him through prayer.

Prayer… it’s a privilege, an honor that we have to come before the King of Kings, to bring our request before Him. A blessing of having His strength when ours is gone.

May we not take this privilege lightly, rather may we pray continually, communing moment by moment , daily with the Lord.

 

 

 

 

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Smoothing out the rough edges…

sanding potteryIf you have ever used sandpaper, you know that it is used to smooth out the rough edges. Today at art school, we were given the sculptures we have made thus far, and pieces of sandpaper, so we could sand out the bumps. As I sanded away, I would think it was smooth, only to notice another bump or crack that needed smoothed out.

And I was reminded once again of the ways in which God allows difficult circumstances in our own lives to smooth out the rough edges. To get rid of the unnecessary junk in our lives.

He does this in numerous ways for each person. For me, the past month and a half as we have settled back into life here has been a sanding process. As the Father has had to strip away the preconceived notions I had about how life should be.

This week in particular, He has used one problem after another (no water, no internet, no computer) to chip away at the junk in my heart. And with each thing, he has revealed the gunk within me.

I’ve found myself acting much like the Israelites saying, “If only we’d stayed in Egypt.” I’ve found myself grumbling and complaining. And as I was reminded in Scripture, my complains are not just away of letting off steam, they are complaints against God.

Oh, we may not direct our complaints to the Lord, but the truth is, when we complains, we basically are saying, we don’t trust Him, we are asking where He is, and reminding Him we don’t deserve these issues.

I’m afraid the molding, shaping, and sanding process are part of the Christian life. For God’s ultimate purpose is to bring us into the image of His Son. And He will do whatever it takes to chip away the junk, smooth out the edges, and take what appears disfigured, cracked, or broken, and make it into something beautiful!

After an hour and a half of sanding, my little vase and bowl, looked pretty nice for my first sculpting efforts. Yet, if you could have seen the piles of dust I had to sand off to get them to that point, you’d be amazed.

The same is true with us. God allows difficulties, He uses problems, people, sickness etc to reveal the junk with in. So He can sand off the rough edges in our lives. In order that, we might better bear the image of His Son, and shine the light of His glory.

Oh, it can be painful, it can be frustrating… and it is often humbling. But only when we go through this process, can we grow to become more like the One who left all of Heaven to become a servant unto death.

Where are you today? Is God chipping away at junk in your life, like He has been in mine? Is He allowing difficulties to reveal the problems within. Take courage my friend, though the process is difficult, the result is worth it. Lean into Him, confess your need of Him, and allow Him to smooth out the rough edges, so you may bear fruit that last.

The Potters Hand

Today I began Sculpture class, which I am doing for our student visa. I was quite nervous this morning due to the fact that I am not artistic. I mean I was that student in high school art class whose teacher passed only for effort, not for ability.

Nevertheless, here I was in sculpture class. And, let’s just say it wasn’t as easy nor as hard as I expected. In the end I was able to make a small vase. But that small vase took multiple tries. The lump of clay had to be molded into specific shapes and then joined together. For some reason I could not get the second shape to work, and time after time I had to begin again. Yet in the end, the clay was transformed from just a lump of clay into my little vase.

As I worked with this clay, seeking to maneuver it as needed, sometimes it cooperated, other times it cracked,tore, or just failed to cooperate. And I thought to myself just how often I am like that clay in the hands of God.

He knows the purpose for which He is shaping me, He knows what is needed to transform me, where I need to be stretched, where I need to be bent, which edges I need smoothed out, and which pieces I just need broken off.

And frankly sometimes I cooperate and other time I do not. Sometimes I bend to His will, other times I bend to my own.

Yet, just as I had to continue trying again and again to mold the clay, the Lord is patient with me, molding me, stretching me, and transforming me for His glory.

Th Bible says He is the potter, and I am the clay. The clay does not tell the potter what to do; rather, the potter tells the clay.

Dear friend, today I was reminded that my life is not my own. My life belongs to the Lord, and it is for Him to determine my use. The same is true of you. At times the transformation is exciting, and enjoyable, but at other times it is difficult and painful.

Yet rest assured, the Potter has a purpose and a plan, and He will continue transforming us day after day into the image of His Son.

Our lives belong to Him, may we yield to His ways, allowing Him to use us as He sees fit.

Walking Through the Hard Times..

darknessToday I began my trek through the book of Exodus. As I read, I couldn’t help but stop when I read, Ex.1:12, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out.”

Throughout church history, we have seen this same concept. As God’s people were afflicted, they also grew stronger in their faith. As they were persecuted, they were spread out. So that the Gospel continued to spread. We see a clear picture of this in Acts 8, when Saul was persecuting the church. Due to the persecution, the people were scattered, and where they were scattered, they went on preaching Christ.

The reality is, as believers it is through affliction we grow, and through persecution the Gospel is spread. Yet, let’s be honest, who wants affliction, who prays for persecution. If your like me, you want to become more like Christ, but you’d rather God accomplish this through the good times, rather than the long walks through the valley.

As I look back upon my own journey with Christ however, I can see that the times I have grown the most, have been the times I walked in the darkness. Times when life was hard, and full of unknowns. Times when my heart was broken, and I had no one to cling to other than the Lord. It was in those dark times, I learned to trust Him more.

Which is why Paul says he rejoiced in affliction, and why James tells us to count it all joy when we encounter trials. This seems utter foolishness, and yet they could say this honestly because they had seen it in their own lives. They realized that when life was the hardest, they were closest to the Lord.

As we look back in Exodus, we find that while Joseph had been alive, life was good for the Israelites, yet, when he had died and the new Pharoah began his reign, things got hard. In fact, they got hard, and continued to grow harder still. But, God had a plan in all of this. For He would use this to bring about His glory. He would show all that He was the true God, and He would cause His people to depend upon Him.

Life can be hard, but it is in such times, when God whispers that He is there. The affliction and persecutions that the Israelites faced did not go unnoticed by God. In fact in Exodus 2:24-25, it says, “So GOD HEARD their groaning, and GOD REMEMBERED His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. GOD SAW the sons of Israel, and GOD TOOK NOTICE of them.”

He sees, He knows, and He cares. And He will bring us through the difficult times. But His purpose for such times is not to just remove us from the fire. His purpose is to glorify Himself, while making us more like His Son.

O dear friend, if you are walking through the darkness today, don’t turn away from God, run to Him. Don’t believe the lie that He doesn’t care and that He has disappeared. Know that He cares and is there with you now, walking beside you. Yet, just as God had a purpose for all the trials and suffering Joseph endured. He has a purpose for the afflictions you are enduring.

The night is always darkest before the dawn. But, the Lord is faithful, and the dawn will come. Hold tight to Him, knowing He is with you!

The God Who Provides

god alwasy providesI love reading through Genesis, the stories of the men and women of faith, who were also far from perfect. I find it so encouraging as I read their stories. Because their stories are full of both triumphs and defeats, victories, and failures.

One in particular is the story of Abraham. A man who trusted God, yet often feared man. A man who learned many lessons along his faith journey, and yet passed the ultimate faith test, when he was willing to offer his son, his only son.

As I read this recently, I was struck by Issac’s question, he said, “Father? The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering (Gen. 22:7)?”

To which Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burn offering my son (22:8).”

I’m sure Issac pondered this in detail especially as his father bound him laid him on the altar, and reached out for his knife (22:9-10).

But, just in time, before it was too late, the angel of the angel of the Lord spoke, and God Himself did indeed provide, just as Abraham had said.

I can not imagine the struggle both Issac and Abraham must have had prior to hearing the voice of the Lord. Did they wonder where God was? Did they doubt the Lord’s provision? We are not told.

And yet, God, just in time provided everything needed.

Fast forward many years, and Abraham is on his death-bed. He is sending his servant to find a bride for his son. And, once more, the Lord provided everything needed.

I’m learning that God always provides.

It may not always be in the way I want, or according to my timetable. Yet, His faithfulness and provision are always true.

Since being back in Nepal, we have seen the Lord provide in numerous ways. First, when we arrived, but none of our luggage did. We prayed, and watched the Lord deliver our bags to our doorstep.

When my daughter lost her ring, we prayed knowing God knew its location, and He showed us where it was.

Upon our arrival when all of my daughters friends had moved, we prayed God would provide a new friend, and within days, she met a new girl to play with.

One answered prayer after another has proved over and over that we do indeed serve the God who always provides.

Sometimes, waiting for His provision is hard, sometimes He provides at the last second, and it seems so difficult to wait, but He is faithful, and we can trust Him.

How amazing to think that the God of Abraham is the same today, tomorrow, and forevermore!

Simply Obedience

obeying godThe other morning as our family was doing our morning devotions, we read of Paul and how he had set his face toward Jerusalem. Despite the hardship and persecution that awaited him there, he chose to go.

One of our children asked the simple question, “Why would he choose to go, knowing how difficult it would be?”

This is a very logical question. I mean come on, why go where it is hard, where you might die for your faith? Why endure the hardship that come from going to a particular place?

To which the only response we could give, was that for Paul it was a matter of simple obedience.

Paul understood the risk, he recognized the hardship, he even realized that difficulty awaited him.

Yet, despite it all, Paul knew he had to go.

Not because he was special, not because he was crazy.

Simply because God had told him to do so.

And for those of us who know the rest of the story, God used Paul’s obedience to bring the Gospel before kings and queens. He used Paul’s obedience to spread His fame throughout the earth.

The past few weeks as we have sought to readjust to life here. I too have often questioned why we are here? Wondered at our frame of mind.

Yet, the reason is the same, we have returned, simply because God has called us to do so.

It’s really as simple as that.

This doesn’t make it easier, but it does give it purpose.

And it is not because we are someone special, it is not because we are super spiritual. It is only because for such a time as this, God has called us to this place.

And we have responded by saying yes, and simply obeying His request.

What is God asking of you today? What He ask of each us may differ, but our response should be the same.

Whether it is to go to the nations, to our neighbor, to stay at home with our kids, to homes school, to take that new job, or whatever it may be.

We serve a worthy Savior and our answer should be yes.

Whatever He ask, our response should be as Paul.

Ready and willing to go and do as He ask, simply because He is God, and He is worthy.

A Worthy Savior

worthyIt is hard to believe as I sit here tonight, that this time next week we will be arriving back in Nepal. Stepping out of this world, back into that world.

The only way in which I can begin to describe this is if you think about Lucy in the “Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” As she moved passed the coats and stepped out, she was in a whole new world. Likewise, once we step off the plane, we too will be in a whole new world. A world far removed, a lifetime it seems away.

Our time here has gone all too fast, making it all the more difficult to pack our bags, and say goodbyes. For the past few weeks, I have asked the Lord constantly for His grace. For His grace is sufficient for everything, even goodbyes.

Tonight, after time spent with family, I snuck down to read my Bible, and as I read I came across this verse: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5:9).”

And I took a deep breath and remembered, He is worthy.

Which is why we go, why we say goodbye, why we pack our bags, and go live in a place a world away.

Because He is worthy and His blood has purchased men for God from every tribe, language, people and nation.

It doesn’t make it easier to say goodbye or live a world away.

But it does give it purpose.

At times it has been difficult to remember this, and easy to fall into the patterns of the world.

It has been easy to loose perspective, to forget Whom we serve and why we go.

Yet, this verse sums it all up.

We go because He is worthy.

 

 

 

No longer a babe, but a Savior

Is 96Tonight we attended a Christmas Eve service, and sang the song, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” As we lifted up our voices, I couldn’t help but think, He indeed has come. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..”

The Word Emmanuel means “God with us.” And all those years ago, this is exactly what Jesus did. He took on flesh as a babe, and came to dwell among us.

But His birth was not the end, it was only the beginning. The Bible says, “and He grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and with man (Luke 2:52).” For years He was simply the carpenter’s son. Then one day, He began His earthly ministry, choosing His twelve disciples. He preformed miracles, healed the sick, and raised the dead. Always pointing people to the Father.

Yes, He was born as a babe, but He came to be the Savior.

At just the right time, this babe, now a man, was arrested, beaten, mocked and crucified.

Paying the price we could not pay, taking your sins and mine upon Himself, that we could have forgiveness, and be declared righteous.

Tomorrow we celebrate His birth, and what a glorious day it was. A day foretold by the prophets, and sang of by the angles.

Yet, this was only the beginning.

For He came as a babe, so that, He could be our Savior and our Lord, both now and forevermore.

Christmas doesn’t end tomorrow, it continues each day as we celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of our Savior.

He indeed is “The Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).”

How thankful I am that He came to be born, so that He could one day die, be raised from the dead, and ascend the the Father

In order that, one day, He might come again!

May we live our lives in anticipation of this day!

Merry Christmas!

Good News of Great Joy!

shepherdsDon’t you just love how God always uses the unusable to accomplish His plans.? How He uses those the world says are nobodies to complete His mission.

Over 2000 years ago, the Lord did just this the night of Jesus birth. For the news of His birth was not brought to the most important, it was not given to the elite. Rather, the news of His birth was proclaimed to mere Shepherds, the least of these.

Here the shepherds were, out keeping watch over their flocks. I’m sure they were probably getting sleepy when suddenly a host of angels appeared bearing the good news of great joy.

And though they proclaimed this news to the Shepherds, the angels declared that this great news was for everyone.

The news that the Savior had been born, who is Christ the Lord!

The Bible says that “when the angles had left them, and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about (Luke 2:15).”

So off they went, leaving the sheep to wonder on their own, they hurried and found Mary, Joseph and the baby lying in the manger, just as the angles had said.

But what happens next never ceases to amaze me.

For after seeing the Christ child, they could not contain the joy of this great news. For the Bible says, “When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them (Luke 2:17-18).”

They could not keep the message to themselves, they had to tell everyone this good news of Great joy, that is the Gospel.

See Christmas is certainly about the birth of the Christ child, but it is so much more. It is the birth of the Savior, the only One able to forgive us of our sins, the only One able to reconcile us to the Father. The only One who can give us eternal life.

The Shepherds recognize this, and spread the word of this great news.

As I read this and heard it preached upon last week, I was reminded that this good news of great joy, is exactly why we have said yes to the Lord’s call to go.

Like the shepherds all of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior have a message to spread. No matter where we may live, what our jobs may be. We have the message of salvation to share.

May this message of good news of great joy burn within our hearts, and may we go into all the worlds to proclaim it.

Merry Christmas!

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