God has been asking me to believe that He is enough for me for a long while. If you know me, you know I am stubborn! And so, today’s present state of our world is one more opportunity for me to trust and believe...
God has been asking me to believe that He is enough for me for a long while. If you know me, you know I am stubborn! And so, today’s present state of our world is one more opportunity for me to trust and believe.
Isolation is no stranger in our home. Celiac disease has isolated us in ways we never imaged given our expectations of a “normal” life; as many chronic illnesses will do. The present restrictions imposed on us as individuals, for the greater good, are not a chosen or expected normal for most people.
Having expectations that allow us to think we are in control and allow us selfishness, are not Biblical. The only expectations we can count on are the expectations in God’s promises in His Word. He promises many times that He will not leave us, He lives within us, we are His children, His Church! As Christians we are never truly separated completely from others. God is always with us. We have the privilege of direct communication with our God through the blood of Christ. I think our fear and feelings of isolation are rooted in our sin natures and a time between birth and accepting Christ as Lord and Savior when we could not be in the presence of God but had an immense longing for His love. That separation being the worst and loneliest isolation possible.
I wonder, Christ being totally God and man, when on the cross and crying out, “Father, why have you forsaken me”, was that the moment He understood that profound isolation magnified by the sins of us all? Christ willingly bore that isolating, separating sin.
He knows how it feels and is with me as I deal with my isolation and is the model for me to bear my isolation in this world.
I thank Him for a chance to be more like Him.
I thank Him for the lessons in learning to believe He is totally, completely, without fail, by His promises enough for me.
This lesson I can only learn through and with His love for me. The best way I have found to push away my disbelief, fears and feelings, is to stay in His word, sometimes minute by minute. To communicate with Him all day long with words, songs and prayers; and to serve others as Christ served me by His death on the cross.
In our isolation from other humans besides our immediate family members there are many ways to serve one another. I challenge you to serve in ways you’ve never served before or to serve in a greater capacity than ever before.
And I pray that you believe God is enough!
"'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'” - The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s tempting. The whole world seems to be reeling and worrying. Will there be enough...
I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” - The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The whole world seems to be reeling and worrying.
Will there be enough...
Toilet paper (Insert eye-roll here)
The 50 people I saw in line outside a Target today in 35 degree weather wouldn’t mind telling you.
“For me. Will there be enough for ME?”
It’s tempting to see the news stories, the madness, the social media posts and worry enough to completely turn inward.
So, it’s tempting to buy too much. To obsess to the point of nausea. To shut down. Or maybe...to run through a grocery store with a set of walkie-talkies between you and your friend to ensure you get it all before the slow people do (my Mom was witness to this very thing this week.)
My lovely friend Pam Cravens likes to bring Elizabeth Cheney’s poem to bear on many a circumstance. It came to my mind today as I drove away from that Target I told you about:
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
(“The Robin and the Sparrow - Elizabeth Cheney)
And I’m right there with them. I’ve panicked like the best of them. I’ve gotten depressed over the fact that life is not going to return to normal anytime soon. I’ve refreshed my news app a billion times in an hour. I’ve raced to the store at 6a.m. and taken a few too many peanut butter jars off the shelf.
And none of it has brought me sanity, relief, peace, or joy. None of it.
Honest confession: I could probably quote a few news stories more accurately than I can quote a lot of scripture at this point. And that’s a problem I really didn’t think I had.
The wonderful thing about all of this is that God is SO good that He is bringing good IN AND THROUGH this crisis we’re in. Yes, a powerful God could have kept this from happening in the first place. But a God who can bring good in and through the bad...not just simply prevent it....
...a God who will be with us in the midst of our difficulty
...a God who invites us to cry out to Him so that He can answer and deliver us
...a God who says He is making ALL things new
...a God who offers eternal salvation to all who would come to Him
...now that’s a God worth knowing.
And a God worth obeying.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” - Isaiah 58:6-7
I have fasted from many things in my life, especially during Lent. I cannot say that I’ve ever thought of fasting as giving up something for someone else’s benefit...going without so that someone else may have enough...spending my energy and resources on someone else’s freedom and full belly and wardrobe.
But man...what if I did?
What follows this passage answers that question:
“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water...” - Isaiah 58:8-11
This passage was written to Israel...Israel, whose people would abide by the institution of a nation-wide fast but acted unjustly, unfairly, unlovingly, and selfishly on a daily basis.
Reminds me of….me.
If it reminds you of you, take heart. Jesus died for us hypocrites too; and thanks to His work on the cross, we don’t have to live in this state forever. Because Jesus spent Himself completely on our behalf, we are freed from the prison of self that prevents us from seeing and serving others.
Please also hear Matthew Henry’s words concerning this passage. He says we can do this together:
“....Yet persons, families, neighborhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.” - Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary On The Whole Bible
I hope you’ll join me in resisting the temptation for the foreseeable future to fold inward and miss this opportunity. What better time for people of the Light to shine than in a dark one? If we, the Church around the world, start giving instead of hoarding, reciting God’s word instead of journalists’ words, satisfying others’ needs instead of obsessing about our own, we will surely find the strength, joy, peace, refreshment, and fulfillment that comes to those who live as the sparrow and robin.
All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us.
No March Madness is pretty maddening. No LeBron on TV. No trips to the gym, TP shortages. There is nothing like a home cooked meal until you can get nothing else because your favorite restaurant is closed. I miss sitting at a table at Little Bear with a latte pretending to work as if I had a real job or something. Life as we’ve known it is on hold...
No March Madness is pretty maddening. No LeBron on TV. No trips to the gym, TP shortages. There is nothing like a home cooked meal until you can get nothing else because your favorite restaurant is closed.
I miss sitting at a table at Little Bear with a latte pretending to work as if I had a real job or something.
Life as we’ve known it is on hold. One more casualty of the times is that no one from MCC is boarding a plane for Bolivia this month, thanks to the virus.
That means no “airport arrival hugs”, no coffee from Abi’s Café, no Salentas and Jugo con Leche. No late-night dinners of Mondongo or Pique a lo Macho. Most of all, we won’t get to see our friends at Food for the Hungry love their community in the name of Jesus. The team will miss learning about the best ways to serve those who are most vulnerable. Plus, we’ll miss practicing a few new Bolivian dance steps and getting clobbered at soccer by 10-year-old Bolivian kids.
We’ll miss the home visits with sponsored children and visits with members of the community in their homes to pray with them and encourage them.
While the food is amazing and the dancing is fun, it’s the relationships that make a trip to Bolivia. I’ll really miss seeing everyone there and I’m praying the trip is just postponed for a time and we’ll still see them this year.
This crazy time we are living in is a reminder for us that life is more fragile than we think it is. We have much less control over our lives than it seems, though most are driven to exert control.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 says:
“It is better to go to a house of mourning, than to go to a house of feasting.”
Not because God likes to kill the buzz. Its because its easy to be fooled into thinking this life deserves all our time and investment. And, as it feels like it’s all slipping away, we become fearful. Times of mourning and trouble are a reminder that this life is temporary and a better time is coming. A time when friends will never be separated, and no one will ever fear or mourn because of sickness or death again.
There seems to be much to fear right now. Some are losing jobs; others are losing their retirement. Still others are losing their health and even their lives.
Better times are coming. We’ll miss those crazy Bolivians. Someday we’ll never have to say that again.
There is even better news though, God is aware, involved and working right now. In each of our unique situations, with our specific risks, in the face of our fears. He claims to be our Father, our Husband, our Rock, Shield, Counselor, Provider. Right now, today. Better times are coming, but because of Him we are secure today even in uncertainty and loss.
Luke 12:32-34 says:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We have treasure in Bolivia. Each one has a name and a face. We are blessed to call them friends and co-laborers.
While many of us are rightly looking at how to protect ourselves and our families, let's also not forget that there may be others who are struggling even more. This could be God's opportunity to call a neighbor, or show the Lord's love in a small way...
What can we take away from this small act of kindness? That our God is so good, and it is in days like these where we have a real opportunity to serve. Please keep your eyes and hearts open!
Also, be VERY encouraged - the Lord has already opened some new doors for us to serve. May the Lord allow us to minister to those in need, in Christ's name, and walk alongside them!
He has not stopped transforming lives, and bringing glory to His name. And I don't think He's planning on stopping any time soon.
Who knows what the Lord might be doing in us, or how He might use us?Will you share how will you reach out to love your neighbors this week? Will it be a phone call to an elderly neighbor or someone struggling with cancer to see if you can meet a need? Reconnecting with your family over board games and books? Spending time in the Word or praying?
In today’s society, where the focus on self is thrust upon us in almost every facet of life, the idea of becoming one with another is hard to grasp. To be one with another means that we let go of our selfish ambitions and become a new creation with our spouse with a single purpose; to walk with our Lord and to bring Him glory though our union. It has taken Will and I...
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."
Ephesians 5: 31-32
In today’s society, where the focus on self is thrust upon us in almost every facet of life, the idea of becoming one with another is hard to grasp. To be one with another means that we let go of our selfish ambitions and become a new creation with our spouse with a single purpose; to walk with our Lord and to bring Him glory though our union.
It has taken Will and I quite a few years to really understand what this means. I think that we both understood that when we got married we were meshing two personalities into a relationship, but neither of us quite grasped what it looked like to live a Christian marriage.
The first few years of or marriage were really good; as many marriages seem to be. But once the thrill wore off, and our old selfish natures started to creep back in and we started to go through a really rough patch in our marriage. We had big fights frequently; over big things and not such big things. During this time I kept asking myself, "what had happened to the beautiful marriage where we got along so well?"
For years we battled each other, not realizing that we were seeing each other as the enemy and failing to love each other as the Bible called us to. We went to Christian marriage counseling, which usually wrapped up with us fighting and driving home in separate cars. I remember one weekend when we attended Family Life’s 'Weekend to Remember' and had one of our most epic fights to date. It was when I was sitting on the floor of the hotel bathroom, crying out to God to help us, that I saw how broken our marriage was.
We were going through the motions of loving each other, but we were failing to grasp that in order to truly love each other, we had to put God first and love Him. When we both started to do this, He transformed our marriage into a beautiful relationship where we care deeply for one another and love each other more than the day we were married. This didn’t happen overnight and took a lot of commitment to not give up on our marriage, no matter how bad things got. We were both committed to staying married, and during the hardest times, when I found myself thinking life would be easier just to give up, I kept my eyes on God and the commitment that I had made to him, as well as to Will, to stay married.
We certainly don’t have a perfect marriage and still have arguments occasionally, but I have noticed that these happen more when we aren’t spending daily time with the Lord, studying His Word, and in prayer and scripture memorization. When we are both intentional about putting God first, our love blossoms like the sweet flower it is, and when we let the business of day-to-day life take over, our marriage withers. We have also learned that we have to be intentional about putting our marriage first. Our hectic schedules of work and raising young kids can make it easy to let our marriage take a back seat, but we have found that when we do this, we start to drift apart. However, when we are intentional and fight against the pressures of this world in order to spend time with one another, we have discovered that we are recharged and more in-tune.
We hope that if you are reading this, and it resonates with you, that you and your spouse will set aside some time for your marriage and join us for Marriage Matters! We strongly believe that whether you have been married 1 year, 60 years, or any number in between, that any marriage can benefit from bring intentional in putting God first and making time for each other.
All MCC Ministry in person meetings are suspended at this time BUT many ministries are reaching out through phone calls, emails and digital platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Googlemeetings. Contact your ministry leader to see if this is an option for you!