Saturday, April 27, 2013

Missionary Boot Camp

So if there was such a thing as Missionary Boot Camp, I am pretty sure we are in it. And though it is not a physical camp it is more intense and strengthening than any Boot Camp or PX90 - I like to refer to it as Crossfit (getting us fit for the crosses we are to carry). Jesus calls us to forsake ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him DAILY!!! In order to carry our cross, we have to be prepared to carry it - no matter what!! So preparing to carry our cross requires us to be conditioned to do it.  Just as you have to condition your body to run in races or marathons. But in Crossfit God is the one that conditions us to carry our cross for Him daily!
I have noticed the trend of Boot Camps, PX90, Insanity and all kinds of extreme work outs and people are obsessed with them and eating vegan and paleo and on and on, there is something different each week. And I have listened and often wondered, what if they spent that much time devoted to God and His word and doing His work or serving others? I often wonder how much time these people spend in reading God's word and strengthening their relationship with Him. See we can be so easily tricked into thinking because they are good things that it is okay, but in reality they are taking the place of God and have become an idol. 
So this week has been difficult for many reasons but I just felt as if God were telling me that I was in training this week. And I found myself asking Him what do you mean? I know I need to exercise more Lord, do you want me to be in a race? I went back and forth all week in prayer and asking over and over trying to figure out what the Lord was saying to me. And then it finally hit me, I am in training for the field. I am in training for the cross He has given me to carry. This week when my family members were sick in different states and my parents were in another state and we were trying to figure out who needed to get where to take care of who and my mother is in tears on the phone, all I could do was listen and help her as best as I could a state away. When I hung up to pray for everyone and for peace for my parents, I realized that I will have to do that but from another country. I felt in my spirit, this is your training - preparing you for your service and your cross. 
So over the last few days as I have grieved in my spirit for not being able to be physically present with those that I love to help, comfort and pray with them, I finally had a peace that the Lord was preparing me for my cross. I recalled scripture that had always resonated with me and then I knew why. The scripture is: Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God". Luke 9:61-62
Well I don't know about you but I want to be fit for the kingdom of God!!! I will never be ready to carry my cross if I keep looking back at what held me here for so long in the first place. I can never look back at possessions, friendships, family, church, jobs, or even serving if I want to be fit for His kingdom. We are in training and conditioning for our service in Mexico. There are so many things that we are having to adjust to it is not even funny. But at the end of the day, I can say with assurance that the saddest thing that could take place is if we kept looking back and were found not fit for the kingdom. 
I can not imagine a more miserable and sad life than one that is not fit for the kingdom. So yes we are in Crossfit right now, not so we can have strong, beautiful bodies (which all die anyway just FYI) and be fit and ripped and compete in races. We have only one race that matters and we do have our eyes on the prize and we are not fond of the conditioning in this Crossfit, but we know that we are being fit for the kingdom! Our conditioning consist of long waits, loneliness, distance from friends and family, hardships, disappointments, hurts, more waiting and totally NOT in control. I may not be able to run a 5k or have a perfect figure, but one thing is for sure - I am being trained by God himself for His kingdom and that is worth more than anything else in this world!!! 
Are you willing to be conditioned by God for His kingdom? Or do you keep looking back and running to those things that keep you comfortable and happy? There hasn't been a day this past week that I have been happy - but I have had joy which comes from God and not my circumstances. 

Update on our progress:
We are working on finding places to connect with churches, Sunday School classes, Bible study groups, business and individuals. We are only at 18% of our needed 90% of monthly support to be able to leave. We are so thankful for those who have joined us in God's work in Mexico. We some friends that are working hard at getting us speaking engagements and working hard to get us there and we are forever grateful for them! God has called people to give, we just need to connect with them! Thanks again for keeping up with us, praying for us, and joining us to increase the kingdom of God in Mexico.

Some of the boys at the Ranch 

Kids playing jump rope on the playground 

The kids in a parade 

                                                             Photos courtesy of Jason - missionary at the Ranch! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bucket List?

Have you ever read something or listened to people talk about something and it just didn't sit well with you? You weren't sure if you agreed or disagreed but something just didn't feel right? I had that happen this week while listening to WDJC one morning. I can't remember what the original topic was, but somehow they started talking about Bucket Lists and something in my soul just ached. I couldn't put my finger on it, wasn't sure what it was all about. I have heard many people over the years talk about Bucket Lists, and there was even a movie about it. So why on this particular day did something not sit well with me?

In my mind that morning as I was bothered by it I was thinking, but this is so silly and why would that bother me? I mean what is the big deal, I don't even have one!!! And why would listening to other people talk about theirs, bother me? I just found it odd at the time. I shrugged it off and went into work, but I prayed and asked the Lord to show me or speak to me why I had this feeling. I have learned over the years that it is the Holy Spirit that does that to me and it is ALWAYS for a reason!!  So I went about my day at work and honestly didn't think anything else about it. I had other things on my heart and mind and knew that the Lord would show me in His timing (that is the theme of my life right now).

And so I come to this morning in God's word seeking His face and it slapped me in the head like a ton of bricks as I read scripture. " So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him." John 13:4-5  That was it, He wanted me to see that Jesus knew these were His final hours! Get it? Final hours!!! He had only hours to live and He was NOT concerned about himself and all He wanted to do or see or go!!! In His final hours, He SERVED others. He had no concern for the flesh or it being all about Him. He could have easily said, "hey friends, I am about to die in hours and I would like to enjoy these final hours with the things that I want and you guys need to be seeing what I want and doing what I want" Cause that sure sounds like what I would have said. Hey everyone, it's all about ME tonight!!! Talk about hard to swallow - but then it got even harder!!!

He says in verse 15, "I have given you an example to follow". Okay Lord, thank you for that example and you know that will be extremely hard for me, since I am a sinner and flawed in my thinking and ways. But, Lord, I see what you are telling me. I don't need a bucket list that would make me focus on myself, satisfying my own desires & wants causing me to lose site of my final hours. See since we have no idea when our days will come to an end, aren't we always living in final hours? I mean this could totally be my last day on earth, I may never again get a chance to hug necks (I love some neck hugging) or tell someone I love them, or serve someone, or help someone or share truth with someone. So God wants us to live each moment as if we knew it were our last and serve others. Our society says just the opposite and my fear is that we are raising generation after generation of self absorbed, me - me - me, entitled thinking people. God wants us to see and live by the example that Jesus left us. I mean I had to ask myself some really hard questions. I had to be honest that if I knew I had hours to live, would I honestly be serving others or would I gather all my friends and family together to hide out and soak up every last minute of love, hugs, laughs and memories that I could? I didn't like my answer, I would focus on myself and what I wanted in those last hours!!! I even found myself trying to justify to God right here this morning in front of His word why I should have that time. I hung my head in shame!

And that was not all, here comes the real kicker - you think that was tough (I did) watch this!!!!
"Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!" John 13:21 Wait there is more. "Jesus answered, "Die for Me? I tell you the truth, Peter - before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me." John 13:38
I was speechless (no wise cracks)! Seriously Lord, not only do you want me to serve people in my last hours and not worry one bit about myself, you want me to serve those who betray me and ignore me like they don't even know who I am? You have got to be kidding me right? Look Lord, you have no idea how some of these people have hurt me and you want me to serve them? And as the tears began to fall, I felt a spirit of "YES my sweet child" fall over me. But God how can I do that? "You can't, but I can"; I felt Him say. But God why would I want to spend my last few hours on people who have hurt me and not with those who have not? Because that is easy and anyone can do that. But My people, who are called by My name, who have My love, don't love and serve like that. Okay Lord I am a total mess right here and so ashamed of myself for thinking I was doing pretty good about not being as self focused as the environment and culture I live in and You have totally showed me I am still missing the mark!!

So you can say I have been taken to the wood shed and back this morning by the Lord, but I am thankful! I think that we can get to a place of comparing ourselves to the culture and world we live in and by using that measuring stick we feel pretty good about ourselves and where we fall. But when we pull out God's measuring stick and see where we fall on His, it doesn't look so good anymore. God pulled out His measuring stick for me this morning and I didn't fair too well friends. I can only speak for myself, but I sure was shocked. I think God wanted to show me the danger of where I have been measuring myself lately and to remind me that only HIS example matters. Sure in the worlds eyes compared to most others I may doing pretty good, but that doesn't matter!

So maybe there are some hard questions you need to ask yourself today. Maybe you need to see what measuring stick you have been using. Maybe you needed to be reminded that we are living in the last hours now. Maybe you needed to be reminded that we are to be serving others like Jesus, even in our final hours. Maybe you needed to be reminded that you have been a little self centered lately. Maybe you needed to be reminded that there are those in your life that have hurt you and you need to serve them. Or probably a big one for our culture today is that maybe you are too busy serving YOURSELF and your FAMILY to serve God and others!!! Maybe your allowing your family to be ruled by schedules that are not of God. Maybe you needed to be reminded that the only people you serve is your family, or people you like. Maybe you needed to know that it is okay if you don't have a bucket list. I don't know what it is, but I can promise you that the Lord does. And He will speak to you and show you things, no matter how many times you have read those verses or heard them preached on. He has a word for you today, I promise.

This is perfect for what God showed me this morning!

Thank you for keeping up with us and all that you do for us, we are eternally grateful.  We have had some new people join the prayer partnership of our ministry and that is so exciting!!!!

Prayer request:
1. Big meeting at the Ranch this month
2. Luke Everette as he travels for the Ranch and is away from family
3. All the teachers, staff and kids that are there now
4. For 90% of our funding to start coming in quickly
5. For our marriage and families - satan is trying to discourage and destroy
6. For our spiritual growth as we walk in obedience to Him 

Willfully His,