Monday, March 09, 2009

Switch to New Location

Hi everyone:

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here -- two reasons:
* I was overseas without email access for a while. Now I'm catching up.
* I'm no longer at this site. My new blog is located at my website --

Visit me there and feel free to post your comments!

Blessings on you and yours,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is Christianity for Wimps?

I remember the day an acquaintance told me, "Christianity is for wimps. It's a crutch for weak people." I can't think of a statement that's further from the truth!

Christianity is costly. It demands the courage to walk away from the world's siren call for physical comfort and financial security. It requires the willingness to face persecution for one's faith. It risks the rejection of family and friends.

This morning I read from Matthew 19:16-21 where someone asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told him he ought to sell his earthly belongings, give the money to the poor, and then follow Him, the man turned away. Following Jesus would have cost him financial insecurity and physical comfort, and he was neither ready nor willing to give those up.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening with a young missionary couple who work in Romania. Their names are Andy and Tresha McKnight, and they minister to children and teenagers who have HIV/AIDS. They've given the past 10 years of their lives to helping these kids who are considered the lepers of modern society in their own country. The work has been physically and emotionally demanding as they've trusted the Lord for finances month after month, watching the cost of living escalate beyond their budget, being separated from their family for months or even years at a time, living in a land where medical care for their own two wee children is minimal at best.

Are they wimps? Au contraire! They're modern-day heroes in my books. They've counted the cost of following Jesus, and they're not looking back.

Those who are willing to count the cost are noticed by God Himself. He's got good things in store for them. Verse 29 says, "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life."

There's no possible way that Christianity is a religion for those who need a crutch. It's for those who are willing to count the cost, pay the price, and demonstrate the courage necessary to follow Jesus wherever He leads. And for those brave souls, a reward awaits!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shepherd's Staff -- 2

I just read the comment about yesterday's blog. For anyone not sure about what their "shepherd's staff" might be, I'd say, "Ask the Lord to show you." He wants your active participation in building His kingdom, so He would be delighted to show you how to partner with Him.

For mothers of little ones, their staff might be a child's toy. Their ministry is to their children, to pray for them and raise them as best they can to follow Jesus. Spending time with them, developing relationships with them...that's the task at hand.

For mothers with teenagers, the staff might be a steering wheel. Moms spend a lot of time driving their kids to and from extracurriculars, and some of the best conversations take place in the car. Again, building relationships with the kids is the most important task at hand during that season of life.

This is a great talking point. Send more comments and let's see where it goes!

Rest and Refreshment

My schedule is ramping up as I prepare for Missions Fest Vancouver, Break Forth in Edmonton, and departure for Eastern Europe -- all happening within the next five days. And so, as I read Psalm 23 this morning, I latched onto verses 2-3. Written just for me, I believe!

"He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength."

Beautiful! I envision a grassy field dotted with weeping willows. A stream trickles through the scene, its shores lined with wild flowers in blues, yellows, pinks, and reds. And under the shade of one of those magnificent trees lies a lawn recliner. A little round table sits next to it, topped with a glass of ice-cold lemonade. Aaaahhhh...doesn't that just make you wanna take a deep breath and enjoy the moment? Wouldn't it be great to step from your back porch into this scenario every day?

Unfortunately, life's not like that. Things get busy. Kids cry. Husbands need attention. Houses need cleaning. Phones ring and computers bleep. You know how it goes.

When life gets a little crazy and we get tired, we can cling to the promise in these verses. Personally, I think my green meadow is my living room. Spending time with Jesus there each morning is where my soul finds refreshment. It's where I find my strength. The lawn recliner is actually my leather loveseat. I sip coffee rather than lemonade. The trickling stream is replaced by the gurgling fountain in the corner nearby.

There I sit with my Bible, my journal, and my Best Friend. And there I find rest.

A lot of people ask me how we can maintain the pace we have, especially without getting sick. I have no magical answer for that. I can only say that we spend time regularly with Jesus, and He gives us the strength for the tasks He's assigned. He renews our strength morning by morning.

If you're feeling rushed...maybe even, take a moment to breathe deeply. Sit down for five minutes with a cup of tea or coffee in hand. Sip slowly. Envision Jesus sitting beside you. Relish the moment, and let Him refresh your spirit and body.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's Your Shepherd's Staff?

It's snowing outside! The ground is already covered with a white blanket, and there's no sign of a let-up. My hubby has to be on the road today -- I'm praying for a safe trip. Roads turn into a sheet of ice quickly here in this type of weather. I'll hunker down and work all day in my office, thankful to be able to stay home.

This morning I read something that I'd read many times before but never really noticed. You know how Moses watched his father-in-law's flocks? His tool for that job was a shepherd's staff (Exod. 4:2). When God gave him the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, that staff took on new significance. Verse 20 says Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and headed back to Egypt. "In his hand he carried the staff of God."
Wow -- the simple shepherd's staff became the staff of God!

What would be the equivalent in my life? A pen, perhaps. For years I used a pen to write missionary newsletters and notes of encouragement to friends. Then one day, God gave me my writing assignment. Suddenly the pen became the very tool He chose to use. for an expanded ministry.

I love how God works. He can use whatever He wishes to accomplish His purposes through us. I have a friend who enjoys baking bread. That's the tool she uses to show love to others. Another friend makes pretty notecards. Someone else crochets dishcloths and gives them away as little gifts.

God wants to use us to build His kingdom, and He wants to use what's already in our hand. The simplest tool becomes "the staff of God" when we're willing to obey Him.

What's your staff?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fear of Inadequacy

I was in Dawson Creek, BC, for a women's conference over the weekend. Flew up there on Friday and was greeted with a blast of cold air (minus 39 degrees Celsius), but warm hearts and hospitality. Fifty precious women attended the meetings -- my prayer is that God will continue the good work He's begun in their hearts.

This morning, back in my little living room, I read about Moses' call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. This is the exact passage from which I taught on Saturday morning in Dawson Creek. It so vividly illustrates the fear of inadequacy -- something many of us struggle with.

God had big plans for Moses and for His people. When He gave Moses his divine assignment, Moses' immediate reaction was, "Who, me? You've gotta be kidding. I can't do that." That was true. He couldn't do it. Imagine feeding and providing everything needed for about 3 1/2 million people!

The good news was -- God didn't expect him to do it on his own. He (God) had all the details already figured out. He just needed a man on the ground to do the job. He just wanted Moses to say 'yes' and He'd look after the rest.

I've struggled with the fear of inadequacy, too. The ironic thing is -- when I sensed God nudging me to write a book about the fears that women face, I argued with him for a year. I told Him that doing so was beyond my abilities...I couldn't possibly pull it off....yada yada. Sometimes I'm a little slow upstairs. It took me awhile to figure out that He was giving me an assignment that was too big for me so that I'd have to lean on Him to get it done. That way, I'd experience His sufficiency in a new and more intimate way.

How about you? Do you have a God-given dream in your heart? Have you sensed Him nudging you towards a specific assignment? How have you responded?

It's okay to admit your fear of inadequacy and your dependency upon Him to get the job done. In fact, that's a very healthy place to be. It's exactly where He wants us. When we are cast on Him to complete the task, we'll do it in His way and strength rather than our own. And that's the best way to get it done, right?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An "Aha" Moment

Have you ever had an "aha" moment? You know, a time when something suddenly made sense...something that had perhaps puzzled you until then?

This morning I read about Joseph's "aha" moment and it brought tears to my eyes (Genesis 45:3-9). Imagine how he must have felt when he realized that God Himself had ordained his circumstances in order to fulfill His purposes!

About 20 years had passed since his brothers had thrown him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. Twenty years -- that's a long time to brood and plan revenge. Finally his chance comes to get even, but Joseph refuses to stoop so low. Recognizing God's sovereignty frees him from any hint of bitterness. It allows him to embrace his brothers and rejoice at being reunited with them.

I had an "aha" moment a couple years ago when I looked back over difficult circumstances and suddenly saw God's plan in action. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Nepal where he worked as a civil engineer. We lived in a mud and rock hut with a thatch roof, no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. I struggled with isolation and loneliness, culture shock, and language learning. We had our first child while living there, and I had no older women to show me how to care for this new baby. When our second child was born with medical issues that required an immediate return to North America, I struggled with reverse culture shock.

Over the years, I often wondered why God asked us to go through what we did, only to bring us back to NA. And then came the "aha" moment.

Now we're the directors of International Messengers Canada, and one of our roles is to provide member care for our missionaries. At the first IM conference we attended, I was sharing this testimony with our missionary women in Eastern Europe when these words came from my mouth: "And so, ladies, when you struggle with language learning, I know how you feel. When you struggle with loneliness, I understand. When you go back to your countries and struggle with reverse culture shock, I get it!" That's when the light came on in my head. Aha!!

God had a plan. He was sovereign over every detail in our lives. He knew exactly what He was doing when He put us into that overseas situation and then took us back to NA. He was preparing us for a ministry that would begin more than 20 years later.

We don't always get to see God's plan -- in some instances, we'll have to wait until we reach heaven. But whether we experience an "aha" moment here on earth or beyond the pearly gates, we can rest in the knowledge that God has a plan and is in control. Let's allow Him to be God -- in that way, we can respond as Joseph did, free of bitterness and anger.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Need Strength?

Today's reading in Psalms really blessed me. Right now I'm facing a work load that seems 'way too big to complete in the amount of time available before I leave the country again, and frankly, I see my inadequacy. And so, several verses popped off the page this morning.

Psalm 18:29 -- "In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall."
v. 32,33 -- "God arms me with strength; he has made my way safe. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights."
v. 34 -- "He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze."

When we are weak (and willing to admit it), He is strong. No matter what we're facing -- a heavy workload, the pain of prodigal kids, financial insecurity, health issues, whatever -- God is our strength. He enables us to face the demands of life and battles of the soul with victory. Nothing...nothing is beyond His ability. He is fully capable. And as we rest in Him, we are fully able.