Monthly Archives: June 2013

Terrifyingly Fearless

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The Lord always has amazing things to say, if we are just willing to listen.  The other day, I was (once again) asking God why I have such a difficult time making lasting friendships with peers.  It certainly isn’t for lack of effort or desire!  You know what God told me?  No, you don’t know, and I doubt you’ll be able to guess.

He told me that I scare people.

Upon hearing that, I was thinking probably just about the same thing you are thinking as you read it: “Ummm…okay?”  Great.  I’m scaryThat is why I have a hard time making friends?!

But that wasn’t what my heavenly Father was meaning.  It took some thought, but finally it dawned on me.  And the revelation was so astounding, I laughed out loud.

My identity, first and foremost, is in Christ as a daughter of the King of kings.  In my relationships, I seek always to keep that identity uncorrupted; wherever I go, whatever I do, I am always the “real” me – the “me” that God created to be wonderful and amazing and beautiful.  When people meet me, they can tell that I am open and genuine, but they don’t necessarily see my whole heart right away.  Then, when people begin drawing close to me in relationship, they begin to glimpse the depths of my heart.  What they see is wild, fierce, passionate, and lovely.  This makes people feel uncomfortable or even intimidated.  Why?  Human nature squirms at intimacy in relationships because the level of vulnerability in transparency feels dangerous.  As humans, we fear that, if we were to be completely transparent, we might be rejected.  Thus, when we see others who are living transparently, it causes us discomfort because of our own innate fears of others’ opinions.

Genuineness inspires trust.  Passion excites.  But genuineness and passion combined terrify people, because, together, they present something so pure, so beautiful, that it is scary to this world.  They offer a bold, unpretentious picture of a life lived fully and completely for our King of glory. 

LionThat is what God was telling me.  To live fearlessly is terrifying.  It is terrifying to the devil, it is terrifying to others, and sometimes it is even terrifying to ourselves.  He also told me that, to have amazing friends, I need to find people who are just as terrifyingly genuine and passionate as I am.  And you know what?  Those are the people I want to be around – people who are unafraid of their identity in Christ and living out their faith.  And if this is the world’s definition of “scary,” then by all means, let me be absolutely fearsome.  We need to learn to live as terrifyingly fearless sons and daughters of the King of kings so that we may fully take hold of our place of victory in Christ.

“There’s a new generation arising
A nameless, faceless, placeless tribe;
All they fear is the fear of the Lord;
All they hear is the Lion of Judah”
– “Lion of Judah,” Jason Upton

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Stark Raving Obedience: Being God’s Yes Girl

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A few months ago, while my family was travelling in the United States, I told God that I would be His “yes girl” – that no matter what He told me to do, I would say “yes.”  This was a hard thing for me to say, because I don’t always want to do what God tells me to do.  Obedience is not the natural inclination of our flesh.  But it is the natural desire of our spirit.  The closer a relationship we build with the King of kings, the more we begin to want what He wants; as we delight ourselves in Him, the desires of His heart become the desires of our heart.  Honestly though, I was feeling a little leery of what I had promised God.  Now that I told Him I’d say “yes,” I was committed.  And now that I had committed, what was He going to ask of me? (gulp.)  Being as God-crazy as I am, I already scare enough people.  Was I destined to scare more?  Was I really ready for this?

At church, the Sunday after I made this life-changing commitment, God gave one of the ladies a word for me.  He had heard my “yes,” He knew what it was costing me to say it, and He was going to do beautiful things because of it.  And then I knew for certain, way deep down in my spirit: yes, this was what I wanted.  I had no idea what God had in store for me, but I wanted to be a part of it.

On my road to total surrender, I have learned some things.  I could site numerous Biblical examples of men and women who lived their lives saying “yes” to God, and I could tell you how, since I have begun my journey, I am able to see those examples so much more clearly.  But that would take me away from my real purpose: sharing what I myself have learned in saying “yes” to my God.

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Being God’s “yes girl” means trusting God enough to believe that His way is the best, the most glorious to Him, and the most perfectly beautiful way there is.  It also means trusting that He has our good, our best interests in mind.  Because He honestly does.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Mere trust, however, is not all that is required to be God’s “yes girl.”  Being God’s “yes girl” means having a bold faith.  This faith steps up when all others shrink back.  This faith says, “Here am I.  Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).  This faith is built on a foundation of trust.  As we learn how to trust our Lord whole-heartedly in every aspect of our lives and come to know our heavenly Father more, our faith continues to expand.  Thus, this kind of faith doesn’t just come out of nowhere.  It is built on the most solid, most eternal thing possible: Jesus Christ, our sure Hope.

And there is still more.  Whenever I say “yes” to God and His plans, I am automatically saying “no” to everything else, to every other choice.  I am not worried what those other things might have been because I already trust that His way is the best for me and those around me.

These are just a few of the things I have learned in my pursuit of obedience; I hope that I shall continue to learn and grow more as I continue my journey.  I want to be the girl God can go to when He needs something done, a woman after His own heart.  I want to sing, “Yes, Lord; yes, Lord; yes, yes, Lord; amen!” with conviction.  When He says “Speak,” I’ll say “Yes.”  When He says “Go,” I’ll say “Yes.”  When He says “Do,” I’ll say “Yes.”  And with His help, I’ll live out a life of pure, unadulterated obedience to Him.  Join me on this journey – this journey of saying “yes” to the One.

‘“….[The Lord] testified concerning [David]: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”’ (Acts 13:22)

stark raving obedience(If God is telling you it is time to say “yes,” check out the book Stark Raving Obedience, written by a good friend of my family.  It is a hard read – by content, not length – but it will stir up in you a hunger to pursue all that God wants to do in you and through you. http://www.amazon.com/Stark-Raving-Obedience-Listening-ebook/dp/B00BLSSDY0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370280524&sr=8-1&keywords=Stark+Raving+Obedience+books)

It’s Not the Thought That Counts

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What does this button do?  That button.  There.  The one right above these words.  The one that says “Donate.”  Do you know what it does?  Contrary perhaps to popular belief, it isn’t just an icon that we put on every blog and newsletter we send out.  In fact, if you actually click on it, it takes you to a page where you can donate to my family to support the work we are doing.  In my opinion, the most difficult part about raising funds is that everybody always assumes someone else is giving.  And this truth doesn’t just pertain to my family – it is a generally accurate statement.  People feel inclined (or led) to give, then human nature sneaks in, persuading us that good intentions are the same as actually giving.  But you know what?  They’re not.

Little girls in Kuwinda slum help my hold up her skirt hem.

Little girls in Kuwinda slum help my mom hold up her skirt hem.

I like what the Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous in everything.  And through us your generosity will cause people to thank God.” (CJB)  And I like my Mom’s God-idea about giving, that you give to every good work when you are asked.  Now that is not to say we use no discernment — there are plenty of hustlers out there — but in my family, when we have an opportunity to give to God’s work we pray asking How much? and NOT, Should I?   I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or anything – sometimes we pray and God answers, “Don’t give to that now” and that’s okay.  But choosing not to give until you have mentally determined that you have “extra” is simply not God’s way.  And neither is placating yourself that people who have “more” should be the ones that give.  (Read Mark 12:41-43.)

If you’ve gotten this far into my post, you might be thinking, “Are they asking for my money?  How tacky!”  But you know what?  The Lord says that we have not because we ask not.  We don’t serve a God of lack; we serve a God of abundance.  As missionaries, your donations are what allow us to live and eat and do what God has called us to do.  At the moment, we are packing to leave Africa after nearly four years of serving and loving here.  For the time being, God has called us back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be a part of what He is doing there and to build up His church in our home city.  My family will be assisting with a downtown church plant, where my dad will pastor.  This has been a dream of my dad’s since he was a teenager.  We never thought we’d move back to Michigan, but we go wherever God leads.  And God is leading now.

What God is doing in Grand Rapids, Michigan is absolutely amazing.  He is stirring up revival and renewal, and my family will get to be right at the heart of it.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.  (Isaiah 43:19)

This is what God has been speaking to my heart lately: He is doing a new thing, a thing so glorious and beautiful that we can scarcely imagine it in its entirety.  But do you remember what I said about your support helping us carry on our ministry?  We still need that help.  The pastorate position at this new church plant comes with a modest housing allowance but not a salary.  This means that my family is now officially a “home missionary family” instead of a “foreign missionary family.”  But do you want to know something really cool?  If everyone would just give something, we would easily be able to cover our monthly living and ministry expenses, plus do “extra” things, like lead short-term mission teams to come back and serve in Africa.

We are really blessed that a friend has hooked us up with a rental house and that another friend has asked whether we need a washer & dryer (yes, please!).  But let me just lay it out straight for you a minute: since we sent our latest newsletter specifically asking for financial help with our move, we’ve generated oodles of excitement but only one donation (you know who you are — thank you so much!)

My Dad teaching a Bible lesson at Shangilia.

My Dad teaching a Bible lesson at Shangilia.

As missionaries, we rely totally on God to provide our income, which is generally supplied in the form of your donations.  Your financial support really matters to us — sometimes we can’t buy groceries or put gas in the car until a donation comes in.  Sure, God can provide miraculously (we’ve seen it) but the body of Christ also has a role to play in expanding the boundaries of God’s kingdom and reaching out with His love in the earth.  Don’t think I’m whining – I’m not – God has ALWAYS taken care of us.  You can chose to play a part in what God is doing, and maybe now you realize that the part is much bigger than you ever thought.

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