Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are Stones Speaking for You?

On my recent journey to SE Asia, the team I traveled with had the opportunity to pray for the churches in the city where we visited. As we spent time at each location, we prayed for the churches, the leadership, the people who attended, and for future generations.

Outside the Catholic Church, as we discussed where we might head next, I heard a familiar sound. Within this busy intersection, where hundreds or possibly thousands of people gathered, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”[i] could be heard. From the steeple of the church, God’s message was being proclaimed.

I stood among my team members, on the street corner and sang the words to this Christmas carol.

What impresses me about this experience is that God’s Name is not to be proclaimed in this place. God’s message of salvation is not to be shared. God’s Word is not to be spoken.

But in the midst of it all, God showed up. His Name was proclaimed. I heard it!

I’ve been reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 19 from this experience. Jesus was entering Jerusalem and the crowd of disciples “began joyfully to praise God in loud voices.” (Luke 19:37 – NIV)

Some of the Pharisees told Jesus to control His disciples. Jesus replied with a simple statement and one that we should take note of.

“I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40 – NIV)

If Jesus’ Name is not proclaimed by Jesus’ followers, inanimate objects will do so in our place.

Scripture repeats over and over that we are to praise God. Here are the references to just a few.

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1 – NIV)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.” (Psalm 98:4 – NIV)

“Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:2-3 – NIV)

“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty heavens…Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:1-6 – NIV)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9 – NIV)

Isn’t the salvation of our souls enough to spend a lifetime praising God? I would say it is.

You see, as an American Christian, I have the freedom to praise God and speak His Name whenever I choose. As I wish. It isn’t that way in all parts of the world. I take far too many freedoms for granted. Including this one.

I wonder how many stones have cried out because of my lack of proclaiming God’s Name? Because I chose not to speak? I am not sure I want to know.

But I do know what I can do now. I can proclaim God’s Name. I can praise Him. I can share His message with my neighbor. I can spread His Gospel and gift of grace through this blog.

I am willing to be an ambassador for Christ from this day forward. I am not willing to let stones to do so for me. Are you?

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


[i] Words: 'Hymn for Christmas Day'; Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739. Music: MENDELSSOHN §3500b -Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Festgesang, 1840, adapted by William H. Cummings, 1850

Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Over

A simple statement. And yet holds much impact. Whether it’s a serious situation, an exciting time period, or a turn of events, the words “It’s over” means there is nothing more to come.

I wonder if that was how the Disciples felt after Jesus died. He was gone. The Disciples were in hiding. Peter had denied Christ three times and his wounded spirit was probably inconsolable.

The Disciples had spent nearly three years with Jesus. Side by side with the Messiah, hearing and learning all that He taught. Just what were they to do with the information they had? What were they to do with the knowledge? I’m sure they were confused. Not knowing what their future held.

Suddenly, Jesus was back. But only on occasion. So this group still didn’t know exactly what to do.

Some went back to what they knew. Back to their life before Jesus. John 21 tells of such a circumstance. The fishermen of the group were fishing when Jesus presented Himself to them. They had breakfast and Jesus gave Peter instructions. “Feed my sheep” and “Follow me.” But these instructions were vague. Peter’s questions probably continued, uncertain to how he was to follow the instructions.

Then Jesus gave the Disciples further instruction in Acts 1. “On one occasion, while he (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave this this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4 – NIV)

Now the Disciples had to wait. In Jerusalem. For a gift. And that they did. Perhaps they were still a little foggy on what their future role in the Kingdom would be, but they knew by following Jesus’ commands, they were being obedient to their Master.

And wait they did. But they were busy. They replaced Judas with Matthias (Acts 1:12-26). We also see in Luke 24:53 (NIV), “And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

The Disciples knew God wasn’t finished with them yet, they just didn’t know how He was going to use them.

I kind of know how the Disciples felt. I’ve spoken the words, “It’s over.” My service trip to SE Asia is over. But now what?

What am I to do now? What does God want me to do with all the information I’ve learned and the knowledge I’ve gained? The same questions that the Disciples had.

My SE Asia team and I are all back to old routines. Back to our way of life before the trip. Meetings, family life, group gatherings, writing. Nothing seems to have changed, and yet I am changed. Perhaps some of the same feeling the Disciples felt.

So really, now what?

I believe I can do exactly what the Disciples did.

I can wait.
This is probably the hardest part of this plan. But if I look at it with anticipation, the wait will be more exciting. There will be unexpected revelations along the way and I will be able to see God through it all. And isn’t that worth the wait?

I can stay connected at church.
The Disciples “stayed continually” at their church. I don’t think that is feasible, but I do believe any time spent in God’s house and with His people is time well spent. These connections allow me to share my journey and keep my experiences fresh in my mind. And of course, listening to Scripture, worshipping God and hearing God’s message proclaimed will allow me to stay in tune with God’s leading.

I can praise God.
This is an easy one. Remember the old tune, “Blessed Assurance?”[i] The chorus states, “This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.” How privileged I am to be able to praise God all day long!

I know for certain that God will show up at just the right moment and say, “Now…this is what I want you to do.” I cannot wait for that moment!

If you are going through a similar situation, take a look at the steps listed above. Implement them into your life. Know that God is with you through it all and He does have a plan. You need to be obedient and patient. He will come through.

Of course, we know how God used Peter and the other Disciples. After the Holy Spirit fell upon them, great messages were spoken. The Church was established. Gentiles were invited into the Kingdom. And their efforts were substantially magnified because God was in the middle of it.

I don’t know if God will use my service trip to this degree, but I do believe He isn’t finished yet. There is much to process. There is much to share. There is much for God to be part of. And when God is in the middle of it, there is no telling what the outcome will be.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


[i] Blessed Assurance, Frances J. Crosby, 1873

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

And Waiting Again...

I have anticipated this day for over two weeks now. The other half of our service team to SE Asia returns home today.

I’ve missed them so much. They were inspirational. They were prayer warriors. They were cheerful. They were wonderful mentors. They led wisely. They are good friends.

Being back in America without them has been okay, but the idea of them returning, to reunite the team is more than exciting to me. It is exhilarating!

I wonder if this was how the Apostles felt after Jesus left them. Acts 1:4-5 (NIV) shares the account of Jesus’ instructions. “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”

They were to wait. Wait for the rest of the team to arrive.

It isn’t fun to wait. I’ve had to wait quite a bit in my lifetime. Wait for pregnancies to come to term. Wait for news of an upcoming, possible job. Wait for the arrival of wonderful guests. Wait for surgery to be finished on a loved one.

Waiting. It isn’t an easy task.

The Apostles kept busy while they were waiting however. After Jesus left them, they returned to Jerusalem to wait as Jesus had requested. We see in the first chapter of Acts that they chose a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:12-26).

In Luke’s account of the time after Jesus’ ascension, we come to an understanding of other things the Apostles did while waiting.

“When he (Jesus) had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:50-53 – NIV)

The Apostles were continuously in the temple. They continuously praised God. Now that was something to do while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. They were preparing themselves for what was to come.

Under these circumstances, I suspect the wait wasn’t as difficult as we might think.

So what should we do while we’re waiting?

Be productive. Don’t sit around with only the wait on your mind. Find something to do that will be of good. It will help take your mind off the wait period.

I believe we can also spend time with fellow believers. Just as the Apostles were always at the temple, we can find ways to be near others who believe as we do. This too will help us from becoming so focused on the wait that we miss the anticipation. The joy of something to look forward to.

And then the last thing we can learn from the Apostles is to praise God while we’re waiting. Of course we should praise God all the time, but in times of waiting, I believe praising God will again take our focus off of ourselves and place it directly on God. And let’s face it, there’s always something to praise God for.

I wish God had brought these concepts to my mind two weeks ago. I might have viewed this wait period much differently. Yes, I’ve done these three things, but I might have done a few things differently.

The good news is that now that I’ve learned a lesson, I can use it the next time I am required to wait. And that starts now.

I’m waiting for my fourth grandchild to be born. A little girl. Oh, how difficult it is to wait, but I know the importance of waiting for this baby to develop fully before birth.

So until that time, I will be productive. I will continually be in God’s house with His people. And I will not stop praising God. And so it begins.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Return

I have written a lot about going away on my other blog, Full Measure of Joy. About being away from home and returning home. I have traveled quite a bit this year. This is yet another post about returning home.

I am returning home to the ones who love me most in this world. I am returning home to the conveniences that I’ve held close. I am returning home with determination to never take anything for granted again. I am returning home to share a story or two about the people of SE Asia. I am returning home to be used by God.

Honestly, I don’t know how God is going to work through me after this journey. I thought it would be clear. I thought He would have given direction. But as of today, I don’t know what His plan is.

I can say that I learned quite a bit, however. I now know that I am courageous, flexible, peaceable, open and willing to learn, have a good attitude, and a welcoming smile. I now know that my gift of communication is truly a gift from God that I am willing to use. I now know that I love traveling overseas.

But there is still so much more to learn. I now know that I will be open and willing to learn how God is going to use my experiences from this journey to teach me and lead me.

My journey is not over. It has just begun.

As I am given insight, I will share. Until then, I will continue to use my writing to study God’s Word to see what God is teaching me. I will use my writing to encourage others. I will use my writing to share the Gospel with anyone who is willing to listen. And above all, I will use my writing to glorify God.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. And know this, we are not alone. God is always with us.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 – NIV)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

I have been packing and organizing for several days now. Preparation for international travel is a bit different than domestic travel. But I have some very informed teachers and they are sharing their experiences to help me with the process.

There are now five short days until I leave with my friends for SE Asia. The preparation is nearly complete. Our hearts and minds are being equipped for the work God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish. It will soon be time to see what God’s plan has been all along.

I read the passage of Jesus sending out the seventy-two in Luke 10 again recently. As I read this passage I was stunned that I didn’t see a phrase before. “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” (Luke 10:1 – NIV) Did you catch it?

Jesus sent these disciples to prepare the towns and villages for His arrival. They went before Jesus to share a message of hope with the lost and hurting of their world. They were sharing that these towns and villages could anticipate a wonderful experience when Jesus arrived. That was what the seventy-two were sent ahead to do.

But Jesus didn’t send these men into the world without a message or without instruction. Jesus continued for fifteen more verses with these instructions. Let’s see what Jesus told them.

Jesus began His instruction with a verse you’ll recognize. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2 – NIV) Jesus’ first instruction was to pray that God would send willing hearts to work.

Jesus’ next instructions were for them not take anything with them or speak to people along the road. “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” (Luke 10:4 – NIV) I believe Jesus wanted these disciples to understand God’s provision. That when they were doing God’s work, He would provide all they needed (I have learned this lesson in mighty ways).

Jesus also wanted this group of disciples to understand the urgency of the message. Stopping along the way would only hinder the message delivery.

The passage continues with instructions like remaining in one household (Luke 10:5-7); how to treat a town that accepts them (Luke 10:8); and how to treat a town that doesn’t accept them (Luke 10-12).

Jesus also told them what to do in each town and what their message was to be. “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’” (Luke 10:9 – NIV)

What a mission! What a message! What a task!

But Jesus gave these seventy-two men all authority to speak and be His spokesmen. His final words to them were, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16 – NIV)

Amazing things were accomplished on this journey. The men returned with joy and told Jesus stories of what had happened. Why even the demons submitted to them when Jesus’ name was spoken. What a wonderful experience!

Jesus was also full of joy. The task had been accomplished. The message had been spoken. The towns and villages were prepared for His entrance. Now the spiritual future of the world was in His hands.

Jesus didn’t need seventy-two men to prepare the way. Jesus doesn’t need me to tell His message. Jesus wants me to be His spokeswoman. He wants me to know how important it is to depend upon God for all that I need. He wants me to know the excitement of sharing the Gospel with a lost or hurting soul. He wants me see the marvelous things He will accomplish through me because I said “yes” to His call. He desires that I be filled with joy because of His salvation.

I can do all the packing and organizing I want, but He is the One preparing my heart.

I don’t know what lessons you might take away from this post, but I know what I’ve learned. That I’m being sent ahead of Jesus for a purpose. To bathe SE Asia in prayer. And through that prayer, this area will be prepared for Jesus’ entrance.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Work of Your Hands

It is now 19 days until our team leaves for SE Asia. There is still so much to do. Gathering of items to take. Details of the trip to finalize. Preparation of our hearts and bodies for the journey.

During our last training session, the prayer partner coordinator for our upcoming service trip to SE Asia presented a verse of Scripture to us for our devotions.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) says, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

As I look at this verse, yes, I believe this is what our trip should be based upon. But I also think we need to build our day-to-day lives on this concept. When I allow God to use my hands for His glory, all that I do with my hands will be blessed by Him.

How do I use my hands to bring glory to God?

For me, writing is one way that I use my hands for God’s purpose and glory. I believe He established this love and gift within me to use for Him. When my heart is focused on Him, words flow through my hands at an easy pace. He establishes the work of my hands.

I can be handy, but I am handiest when I use my skills and talents for God’s glory. I am a good cook, but I am the best when I prepare meals for His purpose. When I use my hands for God, whatever it is I’m doing will be better because He has established that work.

The word favor could also be translated “beauty.” Allowing God’s beauty to rest upon us will allow His beauty to flow through us. This phrase is also seen in Psalm 27:4 (NIV). “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

When we gaze upon God’s beauty, we will begin to reflect His beauty in our lives. The work of our hands will be established in His beauty and beautiful results will occur.

As we continue to prepare for our service trip, my prayer for our team would be that God’s beauty would be reflected through us. That the people we meet will see how God’s beauty establishes the works of our hands.

So, how is God using your hands for His glory? What are you doing to reflect His beauty into this world? I pray that He is working within you to establish the work of your hands. He certainly is working within me.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Encouragement - Part One

As the SE Asia service team makes preparations for our upcoming journey, we have laid out some objectives. One of those objectives is to encourage the group we are going to visit. We discussed a few things, but I wondered how the Apostle Paul was encouraged by others as he devoted his life to sharing God’s message with others.

So over the next few days I’m going to be doing some digging into the encouragement realm. How to encourage those who are sharing the Gospel and how Christians can be encouraged.

There are three elements to encouragement. First, is the idea to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to hearten. Second is to give support to; to foster. And third is to stimulate; to spur.[i]

Inspiration is a great concept to bring into encouragement. Sometimes if we don’t see the vision, we will not be encouraged to join into a project, or desire to be part of a team. When we are able to cast that vision, we will be able to draw others into seeing what God sees.

What are we to inspire with? Hope, courage, or confidence. As a Christian, there is no greater hope than to know one day I will see Jesus face to face. That hope gives me the courage and confidence to do what I am called to. Whether it’s writing a daily blog, going on a service trip, witnessing to a stranger, leading a women’s Bible study, or reading a Bible story to my grandchildren. The hope I have in Christ Jesus inspires me!

The second element to encouragement is giving support. I believe this includes several areas. For those in ministry, we must support them financially. The men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving a local congregation are to be compensated for their work. But it goes beyond that.

Providing appreciative, emotional, moral support to a person in ministry is an encouragement to them. Knowing that a group of people are behind them will drive them to follow the call that God has placed upon them. Doing the opposite is the fastest way to drive a minister from a church.

And third, we see that encouragement has an element of stimulation. To spur on. You’ve heard how yawns and laughter are contagious, right? Well encouragement is contagious as well. Being motivated to do better. To be better. To serve better. It will catch on.

Encouragement. There is a lot more to this word than meets the eye. This blog post is near completion and I haven’t even shared a Bible verse!

In Romans 12, Paul lists the different functions of the body of Christ. This is what he says. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us, if a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8 – NIV)

While I believe there are those who are truly gifted in the encouragement area, I believe each of us must be an encourager. There are so many other verses that say, “encourage one another.” And we’ll be discussing those over the next few days.

Take some time today to see how you are an encourager. To whom are you an encourager? When was the last time you were an encourager to your minister? Or to a missionary? Or to a co-worker?

Are you lacking in this area? If so, pray that God will open your heart to ways to add this wonderful gift into your life.

I must admit, I haven’t done as well with this as I should. I’m thankful for the eye-opening experience of going on a service trip to find these areas of my life that are lacking. I pray that the desire to be an encourager will pierce your heart as it has mine.

The SE Asia service team is training and preparing to go on this trip. We are now just 36 days from leaving. I have been encouraged by so many already and am so thankful for them. If you have the desire to be an encourager to me, please let me know.

I’d love to have you join my prayer partner team. You will receive emails from me before I leave sharing prayer requests and praises. And while I am gone, a lovely lady will be sending daily prayer requests by email, detailing what we will be doing on that day and how you can encourage us through prayer.

I’d love to have you join my financial partner team. I’ve been so blessed already. The costs are nearly covered. However, it still isn’t enough. If God is placing this on your heart, please feel free to contact me through this blog and I’ll get the information to you as to how you can help. Or you can go to for more information.

Encouragement. One word filled with so much meaning. Let’s be encouragers today. To whomever your path crosses. Don’t miss an opportunity to say a good, kind word. To do a kind deed. To be faithful to God’s mission. Through encouragement, you will be encouraged.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,