Start with Somewhere

Our church began going through the book Multiply in September, and for the past 8 weeks we have explored discipleship, the church, and our approach to God’s word. We have been going through the book in small groups, large community groups, and our pastor has been preaching on it from the pulpit each week. The discussions that have resulted have been fruitful, challenging, and encouraging as our church shifts to become a community of disciples who make disciples.

I wrote this story last week after a great discussion during my small group for our church-wide blog, but it turns out someone else had the same idea and beat me to the punch! As I read back over this though, I thought it could be encouraging for anyone who is desiring to learn more about God’s heart for the world and how we are called to get involved, so I decided to post it on here. 🙂 Enjoy!

We began our discussion about the Global Church last night talking about ways we have been involved in the past, and where we are at now. All of the ladies in my group understand that as followers of Jesus, no one is off the hook from participating in, praying for, supporting, and loving the Church around the world. We want to be involved, to be obedient, and to know what is happening with our fellow brothers & sisters. But, as we continued talking, a theme started to emerge.

“The world is massive – how can we possibly know everything that is going on in the Global Church?”

“My day is full as it is with work and kids and trying to even understand what is happening here in America – how can I add this on without becoming overwhelmed?”

“Those stories from Pastor Lon’s sermon on Sunday were so encouraging, but I have no idea where to find that information myself!”

All of this is true – the world is big, our days are full, and it can be difficult to find stories of what God is doing, especially in closed countries. And although it is daunting to consider trying to keep up with everywhere, we can start with somewhere.

Here are some of the ways our group came up with to get involved with the Global Church:

  1. Pick one country to pray for on a consistent basis. Maybe it is a country you have been to, or you know a missionary serving there, or it is an MBC partnership country, or you heard about it on the news, or you spin a globe and choose the country where your finger lands. However you decide, commit to praying for, learning about, and supporting one country in the world.
  2. Find your passion. There are a lot of causes around the world right now – nutrition/health, the fight against trafficking, clean water projects, advancing education, persecution, orphan care, adoption, and many more. What are you passionate about? Find out how the gospel intersects with these causes, and get involved by praying, giving, sharing, volunteering, and serving.
  3. Start Reading. Get a copy of Operation World and pick a different country every week or month to focus on. Follow Operation world on Twitter, or like their page on Facebook to read about what God is doing in many closed countries. Other great web resources are: International Justice Mission, Voice of the Martyrs, WORLD Magazine, CIA World Factbook , even Embassy/Consulate Websites.
  4. Get to know your neighbors. Chances are, living in the DC metro area (or wherever He has you right now), many of your neighbors moved here from overseas. Ask them about life in their country, if religious freedom is allowed, what the majority of people believe, what they personally believe, etc. One great tool is the Jesus Film Media app from Cru, which you can download to your smart phone or tablet. It has the JESUS Film and several other videos translated into over 1200 languages, which makes for an easy and personal way to tell them about Christ in their heart language.
  5. Partner with a Missionary. Whether you give of your finances, or commit to pray for them, or both, your partnership with them allows you to reach a part of the world with the gospel you could never impact otherwise! You will get to hear stories of God changing lives, and know that you were part of the story. Be encouraged as you read their updates, learn about their ministry, and join them in taking the gospel to the nations.
  6. Go on a Mission Trip. Find out how your church is involved in Missions, and step out in faith to join one of their trips, either locally or abroad. This is one of the most effective ways to gain a heart for the world. You will be wrecked in the best way possible as you see these places with your own eyes, serve alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ, encourage the local missionaries, share the gospel, get out of your comfort zone, and come home with a new perspective.

In his chapter on the Global Church, Francis Chan in the book Multiply says “We are here on this earth for His glory. God has blessed you so that you will use whatever He has given you for His glory, not yours.” Our motivation for loving the Global Church is to see God’s name made known around the world, to celebrate where He is at work (which is everywhere), and to bring Him glory.

What has He given you that can be used to bless and serve the Global Church?

 

The Flipside

Last week in a meeting at work I had the opportunity to share a little bit of where my heart is in the midst of transition, with not being overseas, no longer serving as a supported missionary, now living in NoVA and working at MBC – many aspects of my life I am working through in this new season. As I shared about this not being where I thought I would be, one of my co-workers said this:

“There are two sides to every story, and the flipside of your story is that the Lord brought you here in part because we needed you. He brought you here to be a blessing to us at this specific time.”

Wow. I had not previously thought about the Lord keeping me here in that light, and I am thankful that she said those words. What a timely reminder of a great truth. The Lord often puts us in specific places to meet the needs of others, and to use us to bless those around us. And the greatest joy is in being a blessing to others, we are immeasurably blessed in return! In calling me to this place, at this time, and using my gifts and abilities to serve others, the Lord is continuing the process of sanctification and growing me to be more like Him. What joy is found in this spot!

The story of Abram is a great example of this. In Genesis 12, the Lord calls Abram to leave his country and everything he has ever known, to go to an unspecified place the Lord would show him only after he responded in obedience. As God is giving Abram his instructions, he says “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing…” (v.2). If Abraham had refused to obey God, and stayed in his homeland, the impact of his life would have been limited. It was through his willingness to follow God’s leading no matter what, that a nation was born and a blessing came in abundance.

Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, and so are we today. The Lord has you exactly where you are supposed to be, and He has you there for a reason. It may have very little to do with you, and very much to do with the Lord using you to be a blessing to those around you.

One of my favorite quotes is from author Leo Tolstoy, who said:

Life is a place of service, and in that service one has to suffer a great deal that is hard to bear, but more often to experience a great deal of joy. But that joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.

Who are you serving today? Take some time to thank the Lord for where He has you, and the ways He is using your life to bless others.

Worship

Happy sunday, dear friends! I was introduced to this song by my friends who said hello and goodbye to their precious daughter in the same day. You can read their story over here. It is a story of courage, steadfast faith, and gospel love. Just a warning though: you will need tissues.

I invite you to take 10 minutes and worship our creator through this song by Hillsong United, called Oceans. May it encourage you and give you strength to face whatever this day and week may bring.

Weights

The beautiful, beloved beach
Though the waves may rise….

Life seems to happen in waves. Sometimes the wave is gentle, like floating in an inner tube around a lazy river. Other times life is overwhelming, and you feel as though you are sucked under a wave unexpectedly and have to fight to the surface and get air.  That second example is my life right now. There is a part of me that is still adjusting to being here. Most mornings I wake up and I have to remind myself that this is my actual life. I am not moving to Nepal, or anywhere else overseas. Instead I am living in northern Virginia, and am working in an office again, at a desk with fluorescent lights that give me headaches. (As a side note, someone really needs to develop a better way to light office spaces. Seriously. Fluorescent lights are horrid and should be banned everywhere.)

There is so much good in being here, and I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. But when people ask me if I am so excited about my new job, I cannot honestly say yes. I am thankful for it, and I hope that excitement, or at least enjoyment, will come with time, but the shock of the 180 degree turn in the direction my life was going has not completely worn off yet. I am still processing, still bringing it before the Lord, still taking it one day at a time.

In the midst of so much transition – new job, new home, new people, crazy schedule, new church, new commute, new everything – there also seems to be an increase in the pain and sorrows of the people around me. The Lord has given me a sensitive nature that feels deeply when others are hurting, yet in my weariness those sorrows are settling like weights on my chest. One couple who lost their precious daughter 10 hours after she was born. Friends who are struggling to keep their marriage going. Lies that are believed as truth, and subsequently wreak havoc on a life. One family lost their son at the age of 18 to cancer. More cancer diagnoses. Massive transportation accidents that have claimed the lives of hundreds of people in the past few months. When I think about the situation in Syria, my heart breaks for the parent-less children, the child-less parents, the families forever destroyed, the innocent lives taken.  It is just too much, and I wonder how the Lord is going to bring beauty out of these ashes. I know He will, because He always does, but to me so much of the pain seems unnecessary – as though there should be a better way.

Then I am reminded that we live in the gap, between God’s perfect plan and our present reality. That our world is broken and cracked. That darkness often looks like it is prevailing, even when I know better. And I am reminded that the purpose of the gap is to push us towards our Rock. Towards the One Being in the entire universe who is completely trustworthy.  That on my own, the wave would win and I would come undone. But with Christ, I have an everlasting Rock who will never let me go. In my exhaustion, He is there. When I cannot sleep because my brain refuses to stop whirring, He brings peace. When the wave threatens to engulf me, Jesus tells it to be still. When my heart feels wrung dry, He renews my soul. When decisions must be made and I do not have the energy to focus, the Lord directs each step.

One day at a time, and in every moment choosing to lay these burdens at the foot of the cross. Though the wave grows ever higher, I shall not be moved, for the Lord my God is with me, and He is strong and mighty to save.

Processing

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My cubicle!

First week of my new job is already over. So far there have been no dull moments, and many overwhelming ones. I walked in to two months of backlogged work that had not been done due to restructuring of the staff, and a pile of urgent projects that need to be accomplished in the next two weeks. After a crazy week I am just about caught up with the old work, and ready to start on the new work tomorrow. All in all, feeling more confident in my role and excited for the job ahead.

This morning during our prayer time we were talking about relying on our flesh vs. the Spirit. It would be so easy for me to attempt to accomplish this job in my own power. Following that path, though, will only lead to frustration, failure, and feeling overwhelmed. To succeed here or anywhere, Christ must be my sufficiency. In my weariness, He is there, waiting for me to turn to Him. In my weakness, He is strong. In my inadequacy, He is always enough.

The sufficiency of Christ was also the topic of my devotional entry for this morning in Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening”. He says “If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust His fullness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from Him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of His resources.” I love the imagery of Christ as a fountain; unquenchable, inexhaustible, abundant. Not merely enough, but overflowing, constant, always available. He is the fountain from which my days should draw their strength. He is the foundation on which my mornings should begin.

As week two continues, my prayer is that the gospel will be my foundation, and Christ will be my constant fountain. It is a joy to work in an environment that values prayer, encouraging one another, and taking care of our walk with Christ before anything else.

Also, my boss gave me these beautiful flowers on my first day! So kind and thoughtful of her, and they have brightened up my workspace this week!

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