Friday, June 28, 2013

MtR: when the battle rages

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.     2 Timothy 4:16-18
This passage spoke volumes to my heart today in chapel.  Chapel was for me today...everyone else was just blessed to get to hear it as well.  :)
When we are being attacked in some way, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, the battle can seem very lonely.  There is often no army standing beside you to help you to ward off the evil or wrong that is heading your way like flaming darts at your heart and mind.
The front line is a lonely place.
The target on me is a mighty big one.
Whether the battle is self-afflicted by allowing sin in or it is directed at you under circumstances not of your own control, it makes no difference on the pain that ensues.  The consequences suffered from self-afflicted battles, is understandable...the others, not so much.
However...
Paul sums up our attitudes in battle with one short sentence.
"May it not be held against them."
When people disappoint, I am to relinquish it, rise above it, and rely on the One who stands beside me and gives me the strength I need to make it through.
His plan is greater than my weakest moment.  His grace and mercy amaze me.
Praise God that during this week when battles are occurring left and right, I have a support system to help me stand my ground.  God provides the people we need in our lives for such moments when the battle is the hardest.  I was in the lion's mouth and was delivered from it, both to the praise of my glorious God and thanks to my friends who helped me recover from my encounter.
Choosing to not hold a grudge against those who abandoned me and/or threw flaming darts my way, is just that...a choice.  A choice that, according to God's Word, I am supposed to make.  Any other decision helps none for no one.
God knows and understands my heart more and better than anyone else ever will.  It is His help that I need the most.  I cannot hold a grudge and be ready to receive the help He wants to give me.  My hands and heart are full of negativity when holding onto feelings and hurts from others.  I am to be before Him with hands empty and heart open for what He wants to pour into my life from His neverending source of Living Water.
My burden is lighter because of good friends, God's Word, and the Lord's deliverance.
God is amazing and oh, so good!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who I am vs. Whose I am

20130624_152727Today I am encouraged by two awesome moments in the Bible...
Isaiah 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
and
20130624_152434Acts 9:1-15
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
"Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.
20130624_152159Why encouraged?
God uses the greatest of sinners, those of unclean lips...forgiven, saved by grace, redeemed...to do His work.
I know this to be true, for I am one of them.
God is that good.
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

a lesson in flight

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.   Deuteronomy 6:4-9
As we were pulling away from the gate at our terminal, the flight attendants were going through their spiel on flight rules and directions on how to buckle seat belts, find exits, and use your life jackets and seat cushions in case of an emergency.  If you've ever flown, you are familiar with such goings on, too.
One particular sentence has stuck with me throughout this week in Alaska from the passenger safety information.  Nothing that I have not heard before, but something that has been impressed upon my heart in a different light.
Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
Short and sweet, precise information...but profound.  You are no help to anyone around you unless you're alive to help them.  Get your own oxygen in place so you are able and prepared to help others.  As a mom, if I were flying with my boys, I know that it would be hard to think of myself first.  I would be worried about them and their ability to act quickly enough.  However, I can only truly help them if I am breathing myself.
Because I was on a flight heading for my connection in LA that would eventually land me in Anchorage, AK, where I would be in ministry for 3 weeks, those words took on a new meaning.
Securing my own mask in ministry is not about oxygen.  It is about reading God's Word daily, spending time in prayer each day with the One who has the power to give eternal life, and becoming more like Him in my daily walk.  Before I can be an effective missionary, I have to have my own source of life giving "oxygen" from my Heavenly Father flowing.
It is an easy thing to become so busy and caught up in the serving part of mission work, that our quiet time is left for that moment of the day that may never come on its own.  I have to stop and make the time.  My witness depends upon it.  My strength and energy will fade...God's never does.  
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.  1 Chronicles 29:11-13
 So, as I sat there over the next several hours of two flights to Alaska, God spoke to my heart as I pondered over these thoughts.  His forgiveness washed over me for when I have failed to remain with my mask secured as soon as I asked for it.  I felt refreshed and alive in His presence.  I felt better prepared to walk from the plane into the land I was commissioned to go with a new energy and spirit.
This first week there were times when I was distracted and failed.  But, even after an epic fail, God has restored and reconciled my wayward self to Himself again.  In His mercy and grace, I face another week of ministry with excitement and anticipation of what He's going to do next.
Over 30 people came to know Jesus as their Savior this past week.  In spite of using imperfect people such as myself, God has done glorious things to further His Kingdom.
God is that good.
The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.   Deuteronomy 6:24

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

MtR: a matter of obedience

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set His affection on your ancestors and loved them, and He chose you, their descendants, above all the nations - as it is today. 
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him and take your oaths in His name. He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.
Deuteronomy 10:12-21

I am on my 5th day here and am amazed at the wonders of how God is orchestrating His plan in Alaska.  Not that I did not think He would, just that it is more than I could ever ask for or think of as it says in Ephesians 3:20-21..."Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
If I had to choose a passage that represented my Alaska mission days, I would have to choose this one. 
I never asked to come to Alaska.  I never prayed for it to happen.
God called me to Alaska.
I came.
Never will I forget the day of the calling on my life and never will I regret it or question it. EVER!
Just as wonderful are the others He calls here.
Strangers who become friends.  
Awesome friends.  
Lifelong friends.  
We are able to be a blessing to each other while serving a great and mighty God.  
Also, we are able to encourage one another as the devil takes a stand and tries to steal, kill, and destroy.
Over the years, I have seen God...
Save the lost.  Heal the sick.  Provide what was needed at just the exact time it was needed most.  Offer rest to the weary.  Give strength to the weak.  Grant wisdom to those who asked for it.  Shelter those in trouble. Provide a way out of trouble.  Call people out of their comfort zones.  Restore relationships.  Build friendships.  Orchestrate plans that none us of could have ever planned out so well on our own.  Set up divine encounters.  Grow a ministry.  Humble proud hearts.  Raise up leaders.  Encourage the downhearted. Bring joy.  Forgive sins.  Show Himself mightily.  And much, much more.
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us.None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.Psalm 40:5
Out of obedience we come.  In obedience we serve.  Because of obedience we are blessed.
God is God...and He is good!

 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Good Morning, Moose

You know it is going to be a good day when your wake up call is hearing a strange sound outside your window and this scene fills in the view...
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You watch them for a few minutes until they go out of your sight.  You are content, but a friend tells you that a good photo of both calves can be had if you go outside and stand up on a wood pile and look to your left.
So you go outside {in your pj's}, stand up on the wood pile {barefoot}, become swarmed by a thousand mosquitoes {hungry ones}, and see Mama and her two babies looking so cute as they stroll on down, munching on whatever they can find for breakfast.
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And this fills you with joy.  Sheer joy.
There is no place like Alaska.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

a warm welcome

Landing in Anchorage around 11 pm to a lovely sunset and 57 degrees.
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Peak of Denali peeking through the clouds.
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This morning I awoke to blue skies and more sunshine.
It was a wonderful welcome back gift, this sunshine and warm weather.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Alaska or bust!

If I have said it once, I've said it a thousand times...God is so good!
I head to the airport in just over 12 hours from now. Final destination...Anchorage, AK!
Each year I have been, God has shown Himself mightily. Things that only He could do have occurred. People's lives are changed forever, mine included. God has given me an amazing opportunity once again to go into the most unchurched state and be a part of a ministry that shares the Gospel and speaks Truth into the hearts and minds of people who need Him. There is no greater thing than fulfilling the Great Commission! Doesn't matter where you are, but I am grateful that it's Alaska for me in this season of my lifetime.
Wow! A sixth trip to the same area with the same ministry...what a blessing! Someone asked me what my favorite part is in going, outside of the ministry aspect. Meeting people was my answer.
Hands down, I have met some of the most amazing people over the past five years. Made lifelong friends along the way, too. I have learned so much about myself through those I meet and work side by side in the trenches. Is it not simply awesome that God puts us in circumstances that are difficult at times to help us become more dependent upon Him and His strength?!!
The fact that He loves me too much to not let me remain comfortable astounds me.
There is always more work to do for the Kingdom.
There is always someone in need of the Truth.
Always one more person to love.
After five summers I know one thing...in all the sameness, nothing is ever the same. I love the anticipation each day brings on the mission field. What is God going to do today?
It is a reminder to me to anticipate God's good works at home, too. My mission field begins and ends at home. I am just blessed to have a detour to Alaska every now and again.
Tomorrow, begins a new journey. God has great plans. I cannot wait to see what is in store for those of is answering His call to Alaska this summer!!!