Traveling in a van full of biblical counselors is bound to be an experience where you can learn wisdom and see grace in action. The Lord recently provided me with this treasure trove of blessing as we headed out to California for a conference on how to love prodigals with gracious truth. Throughout the trip...
Pilgrim Life with Other Believers
Traveling in a van full of biblical counselors is bound to be an experience where you can learn wisdom and see grace in action. The Lord recently provided me with this treasure trove of blessing as we headed out to California for a conference on how to love prodigals with gracious truth. Throughout the trip, I was conscious that I was surrounded by gifted brothers and sisters and as I reflected on the experience I appreciated anew. They haven’t written books or are not paid to speak to groups of people, but I was profoundly affected just to be with them. I was blessed by their spiritual gifts as well as their practical ones.
It isn’t the platform, but the wisdom of the Word that takes root in the soil of our hearts. How conscious are we to weed out the thorny seeds of pride? Those prickly spikes that cause us to mutter to ourselves, “Yeah, I know that” and shut our ears. Or worse, we wait for the other person to be quiet so we can blast out a response. The truth is that we don’t know. We might have an inkling of salvation, of prayer, of the Gospel, of doctrine, you fill in your favorite blank here, but there is always more to learn. Mary said, “It is when we turn away from God that we turn to our own selfishness.” Each person has something to add or share, a blessing to bestow. But often we miss it because we are too focused on ourselves.
Mary was full of prayer, full of wisdom, and quick to laugh. She was the one who found us incredibly affordable restaurants that delighted us with delicious food. We enjoyed our meals together no matter what table we were gathered around. There were breakfasts cooked by rotation in the morning at the house we stayed in, eating out, and on the last day, we were lavishly hosted by three other New Mexican sisters. I think Pam summed it up in her prayer before the meal when she said, “Oh, Father, what a taste of heaven it is to eat with brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Pam would look for ways to encourage us. She would listen, pray, and watch. Pam is a quiet woman of wisdom. When Vera said, “It takes experience to express the wisdom of Psalms”, it was a vivid description of Pam.
Vera is a sweet saint who took the time to appreciate the aesthetics around us and call our attention to our Lord’s attention to detail. She was drawn to flowers in particular. How much I would have missed if it hadn’t been for her! Did you know that there are trees that bloom purple flowers? There are stalks of fuzzy green stems, there are yellow flowers with orange triangles, bushes with red leaves and white berries, and I actually saw lemons on the tree! How creative is our God!? I wanted to take pictures, but it would never have done justice. Vera’s husband, Keith, said, “A photographer can only capture what he sees, but it is God who can see the full picture.” Keith is a retired fire-fighter who protected the little band of women folk under his care. He calmly drove us through the crazy California highways. We raced each other to get into the IBCD bookstore first each day.
Keith and Vera have provided marriage counseling at their church for several years, but I am struck by their humility. They are so hungry to learn more.
Carmen added a spark to our group. She was the one to see the humor in situations and point them out. She noticed if someone was on the fringe and was quick to serve. After the first day of the conference, she talked about the prodigal in her life. Carmen shared how hard it is to balance love and truth as she prayerfully sought ways to engage. She said, “If I am unwilling to look for ways to enter her world, how will she ever trust me?”
Each person in the van that week had gifts to share, in abundance. By listening, engaging, and simply being aware, God opened my eyes to see their gifts and appreciate them afresh. How can you be more aware and more appreciative of those around you as they share their practical and spiritual gifts with you this week?
Check back next week as we share more about Elizabeth's experience at the 2018 ICBD Conference!
God pursues each of us…seeking, waiting, showing up when we least expect it. When we see that, accept it for the gift it is, He transforms our lives in ways we can''t imagine! And there is nothing more amazing, more worth being thankful for, than His grace and mercy toward us; simple sinners. God sought, encouraged and drew Kim to Him. Her story is one you won't soon forget...
If I had time, I could tell you Kim’s whole life story, and it is worth every minute! She shared it with me over lunch recently, hoping it would help someone else have an easier journey. That knowing her story, someone might see that depression and mental health concerns aren’t just problems non-Christians struggle with. Instead, these are things that many of us struggle with. You might be tempted to pity Kim, but that’s not what she wants at all. Instead, she wants you to see how God kept showing up in her life, kept speaking to her, kept seeking her and that He continually sent her signs that He was there, waiting and providing for her.
He does that for each of us, doesn’t He……seeking, waiting, showing up when we least expect it? He is the Savior that never gives up on us.
God guided Kim: Kim previously attended several churches, including one in Albuquerque, where Kim struggled to fit in. “…no matter how much I tried, the more I sat in that church, the more I felt like I didn’t fit in,” she told me. “Every conversation was surface level, every relationship mediocre.” Then, she felt God telling her the He was going to make some changes in her life.
She soon moved to the mountains with family and sensed that it was time to move to a new church. “It was the first time in my life when I really listened to God. I had never listened to Him like this. It was intense,” she said. “But, He was clear…I want you out of this church.” So, Kim decided to try MCC.
God supported Kim: One Sunday morning, Kim called MCC to ask about women’s bible study opportunities. Admittedly, MCC’s church secretary, Elizabeth, does not always check the phone messages on Sunday mornings. For some reason, she did that morning. “She called me back that Sunday and told me that there were different women’s bible studies.” said Kim. “There was even one the next day!” And by God’s grace, Kim showed up for the Inductive Women’s Bible Study, and has been attending for the past year.
God encouraged Kim: The following week Kim attended her first service at MCC. “On my very first day, I walked in to MCC and saw Kay Willadsen,” Kim shared. “I think God meant for her to be there when I walked in that door. I was scared. It was a big deal to start at a new church. And Kay made me feel so comfortable.”
God left signs for Kim: Driving up the East Mountains to MCC one morning she looked out through the trees and clearly saw a cross in the trees. “Looking back now I can see that He was showing me that He was right there in the middle of my battle. He was showing me that He died on that cross to take my tears; he died to take my depression, to take my fears. I can see it in His Word.”
God spoke to Kim: The one continuous thing that has marked Kim’s life and walk with God has been her struggle with depression. Growing up in an abusive home, suffering a traumatic brain injury, having her daughter taken out of her home and spending a week in a mental facility have all pushed Kim to her limits, at various times. It has not been easy for Kim.
“On those days God was trying to speak to me,” Kim said, “whether it was in the shower or anywhere I was quiet, he was trying to speak to me. I didn’t understand it, but I knew he was there with me through every struggle.”
God provided for Kim: Kim shared that, “On one of my darkest days, when I could barely see the light, I walked in to the church (MCC) office and told church secretary Elizabeth Allan, I am done with Jesus….I don’t understand the Jesus thing no more.” Elizabeth, ever patient, just looked at her and asked, “Can you meet me every Thursday?” That was a little less than a year ago and the two have met faithfully every Thursday since. Kim considers herself lucky to have someone like Elizabeth to come alongside her, especially because that was not always the case.
“I didn’t always have someone beside me telling me what Jesus would do for me. I learned a lot about being a Christian on my own,” Kim said. “I didn’t truly understand it but I knew a little bit.” And that little bit was enough to get her through a dark and broken season where God revealed to her that she needed to get some help and to find a church home that would teach, support, and heal her.
God’s presence has been ever-present in Kim’s life, when she allowed herself to be watchful and aware.
There are so many other ways God has shown up in Kim’s life; so many ways He continues to transform her. I wish I could share them all but we’ll leave that to Kim. If you see her, ask her-- you will be blessed!
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The Military Bible Stick is designed specifically to bring God’s Word to men and women deployed in the U.S. Military. It’s a small digital player pre-loaded with the New Testament and Psalms specifically selected for our troops. If you would like to support this opportunity beyond your regular giving, make a separate check to MCC, with “Military Bible Stick” in the memo. Contact Chris Willadsen for more information.
We have a terrific opportunity to spread God’s love and his Word to the international students attending UNM. MCC has been working with ISI for many years helping international students as they arrive in town for the new academic year.
Volunteers are needed in several capacities:
Picking students up at airport, temporary homestays, or helping with apartment hunting
Help at welcome center
Furniture movers, pickup and distribution
Prepare dish for volunteer/student lunches (sign-up sheets will be in the foyer)
These activities will run July 31-August 17, pick the times that work best for you. There are also opportunities that span the entire school year as well:
Assist with English program
Student friendship partners (meet monthly with student)
Please contact Vince Tidwell or Stan Schug for
more information or to get involved.
The door is open to share the Gospel in our public schools! Come and be a part of Bible Club! The trainings are from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. either
August 4th at Mountain Valley Church
August 11th at Monterey Baptist in Albuquerque.
Contact Gail Salazar at 980-6890 or email at
email@example.com to RSVP.