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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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February 2018

Cultivating Fatihfulness

dwelling in the landOne of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 37… “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart….” I mean what is not to love?

Yet, if you keep reading there is much more to this Psalm, that the often quoted verse. As I was reading it the other day, I was struck by verse 3 second part, Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”

This struck me because quite honestly I wasn’t exactly loving my place at that moment. Instead I was grumbling about the dust, tired of the food, and feeling like I’d rather be anywhere than there.

Yet, as I read, “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” It was as if God spoke directly to my heart.

So I began to meditate and pick apart this verse.

In searching I found the Hebrew word Shakan for dwell. This word means to settle down. To abide. To reside. To continue. To stay. To rest.

Basically, it means to be all there. To live fully in that place, to stay there, continue there, rest there, live there.

And the Lord whispered to my heart, “Dwell in this place I’ve called you, be all here.”

Then I looked at the second part, “and cultivate faithfulness.”

To cultivate mean to grow or maintain. In farming it means to plan and prepare for growth.

See it isn’t enough to dwell where God has you, we have to cultivate faithfulness. We have to grow, and maintain our relationship with the Lord.

When a farmer cultivates the land, he prepares the soil for farming. Which means he gets rid of the weeds, removes the rocks, fertilizes the soil, plants the seed, and waters it. It is a process, all needed to bring about the crop he desires to grow.

As I thought on this, and what the Lord commanded, I realized that the same is true and necessary for the child of God. In order to cultivate faithfulness, we have to remove the sin that entangles, cut out that which weighs us down, and prepare our hearts to grow in our walk with Him.

In the NASV, there is a small letter next to the words, “cultivate faithfulness.” When you click there, or read the small print in the Bible, it gives another interpretation to this.

It says, (or feed on His faithfulness).

I think it is a definite both and. We are to cultivate faithfulness in our own lives, but we do this as we feed upon His faithfulness. For though we will fail, we will mess up, the Lord never fails. He is always faithful. And it is through His faithfulness, we are able to be faithful.

And once more the Lord spoke to my heart, saying, “Dwell in the land, be all there, live there, abide there, and remain faithful to that which I have called you to, as you feed upon My faithfulness!”

Your place and mine will be different, and yet God’s message to us both remains the same.

In the place God has put you (literal and figurative) be all there. And while you are there, be faithful in your walk with the Lord, be faithful in the work He has called you to. Which is all possible as you depend entirely feed upon His faithfulness.

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Doing all things as unto the Lord!

whatever you doI must say that what I envisioned when our family packed our suitcases, and flew to the other side of the world, is quite different from the reality of life here.

I dreamed of being used by God greatly, seeing the lost saved in droves, making disciples of the nationals, you know, being His hands and feet day by day in the trenches.

But for me, the wife and mom of three. This has not been the case.

Rather I find myself being used instead in my husband and kid’s lives. I find myself teaching and training my children, and being His hands, and feet as I go about the day-to-day things that must be accomplished to live here.

Such as supporting my husband in his ministry as he teaches and trains pastors. Homeschooling our children, cooking meals mainly from scratch, washing clothes, so they can hang to dry. Going to buy groceries on a day-to-day basis. Helping kids study for test, and do their homework. Trying to learn the language and communicate at the local markets… and the list goes on.

It isn’t bad, or wrong. It is just not what I thought it would be. And sometimes I feel like failure. I feel I’m not doing enough.

This past weekend when my husband was preaching, he said. “Your identity is not in what you do, but rather in Whose you are.”

And he’s right. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all things as unto the Lord.” Col 3:17

What matters most is whether in whatever God has called us to do, that we are doing these things as unto Him. That we are doing what He has asked us to, for His glory.

This has been a freeing and encouraging thought, as my days seems to fly by, with weeks turning into months all to quick. And wondering where the time has gone, and what was accomplished.

For such a time as this, God has called me to support my husband in the ministry He has called him to. He has led me to home school my kids, and teach and train them in His Word. Sure, I do have ministry outside the home, as Children’s director at the local church. Yet, the majority of my time is spent within our compound walls.

This doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me obedient to what He’s given me. And as long as I’m doing it unto Him, He is pleased.

What about you. What has God called you to do? You don’t have to be a pastor, missionary or youth director to be pleasing to God. You can be a Science teacher, a doctor, a nurse, an electrician. So long as you’re doing as God led you to do, and your doing it for His glory.

Be encouraged today, He looks and see’s your obedience, and He is pleased.

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

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