Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Opportunity...


Life is full of opportunities to love, encourage, pray for, and support others.  A few months ago I brought  your attention to Save the Nuba through Media Change as an opportunity to be God's hands and feet.  Today I would like to share this post with you from Media Change about a Missionary couple in Mexico that need our support. Remember it only takes one person to make a difference!

Here’s A Simple Way to Reach an Unreached People Group!

Francis Chan tells an oft repeated story about a child who is told to go clean their room. The child leaves and comes back to say, “I memorized what you said…I can say it in Greek! In fact, some of my friends are going to come over tonight and do a little study on what it would look like for me to clean my room!”
The simplicity of carrying out the Great Commission can often get overlooked in the muddle, which is why this upcoming story is just plain refreshing! Please meet one of the sweetest missionary couples out there serving Jesus. It is with joy and simplicity they live out the gospel.
If you have a moment, grab your cup of coffee and see what I mean. It truly is worth your time:


There’s a bigger picture happening in this video—one I pray you’ll see. The day-by-day manner in which the Martinezs live, brings light. The gospel is preached through simple words and simple actions. Yet the impact of what they’re doing is so huge. Think of it –they’ve reached an unreached people group!
Not just any unreached people group—but a group of people who have access to five more unreached groups! And they led the chief and his wife to the Lord no less!
Here’s what Alfonso said when asked how much money he lacked to complete the well, and how much money he and his wife still needed to raise for financial support:
$600 was all he needed to complete the well, which Media Change has provided.
$300 a month was the amount he and his wife still needed to raise in order to continue their work.
Not only do they live simply, there needs are simple. If you’d like to support the Martinez family, tax deductible support can be sent to:

New Song Christian Fellowship
f.b.o. Alfonso Martinez
705 Heritage Court
Franklin, TN 37067

If you’d like to send a prayer or a word of encouragement to Alfonso and Erika, please write them at jcdministries@hotmail.com





















Friday, April 13, 2012

Do You Love A Good Story?

Do you enjoy a good story? Have you ever met anyone who enjoys a good story? I have been thinking about all of the valuable things a person can learn from a good story and how rare it is these days for anyone to sit still long enough to listen to one! Much of my life has been spent listening to people who love to tell stories. Their stories tend to be about things that happened in their lives many years ago. Sometimes younger generations wonder what the purpose is in listening to these types of stories. The stories themselves tend to be long and depending on the story teller, they may be exaggerated! I see God in the listening no matter how long the story.

Some of my favorite stories came from my grandfather. He was an excellent story teller because he was truthful and his stories had a message. Most of the time they were about the trouble he got into as a kid and the lessons he learned. I enjoyed his stories so much that I would request that he tell certain ones over and over again even as an adult! His stories were often tools used by God to increase my faith. Grandpa was good at sharing stories that began with personal struggles and ended with God's faithfulness. If we are willing to listen to the stories of others who have walked with our Lord faithfully we have the opportunity to come away challenged and encouraged in our own walks.

Even as an adult I love a good story. My father in law has certain friends and relatives who tell the same stories over and over again and it drives him nuts. He has noticed that I enjoy these stories and began seating those prone to story telling near me at holiday dinners. For the most part I don't mind. There are times when a certain friend of his seems to be hitting the rewind button a little too often. He is ninety years old so I do my best to listen as if I were hearing the story for the first time. There are some stories that I find hard to listen to and fail to see any other purpose in the listening other than to love the story teller. My recent experience with this ninety year old friend of my father in law's shed some new light on purpose for me.

There are a few people who tell stories because they like to hear the sound of their voice and they think they are magnificent. I have only met one or two so far and I find their stories hard to listen to. I always thought I should listen anyway because God always listens to me no matter how wrong or long winded I am. This ninety year old friend of my father in law's that I have struggled to listen to through the years now has an illness. As I sat and discussed this illness with the man's care taker , I was able to help him see some things that were important in dealing with my elderly friend as the illness progresses. I would not have had these insights into the man and his personality if I had not listened to the stories. More importantly, through this conversation I have discovered an avenue through which to tell him about Christ that I would have missed had I not listened. Stories are important no matter how hard it is to listen.

Listening to a person's story is a way of loving them. When you listen to a person's story you get a glimpse into their heart. I can't help but think of how much we miss in this fast pace world of ours because we don't want to sit still long enough to listen. I know I can think of times when I missed an opportunity to love someone by listening. I wonder how many times I have also missed an opportunity to share Christ with someone because I was only listening out of politeness instead of listening for an opportunity or listening to get a glimpse of the heart of the story teller. How about you? Who do you need to love by listening? Will you join me as I try to be more attentive while listening to others stories?

Monday, April 9, 2012

From One Clay Pot to Another...

I sit here with remnants of Easter worship playing in my mind. This is the first I have had to really reflect. It has been a busy weekend. This Easter has brought to light the resurrection in a different way for me and I want to hang on tightly to the lesson because I am certain I will need it in the future as much as I need it now.

I came to Easter service after a long and trying week. It was a week full of personal struggles and fighting hard to hear wisdom from God. It was a week of battles fought on my knees and I was weary. I also came to Easter service shortly after spending time with someone I love dearly who is suffering. This person is far more weary than I. She is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. She is fighting an intense battle. I came with the burden to fight for her, to intercede, but I also came tired. It wasn't the message of the cross that got me this time or the joy of the resurrection. It was the message in a song.

The words to the song Overcome written by Desperation Band, took me by surprise. I had sung them before and they hadn't grabbed a hold of me this way. "Savior, worthy of honor and glory, worthy of all our praise, You overcame. Jesus, awesome in power forever, awesome and great is Your name, You overcame. " The song had me at the word "overcame". All I could think about was how relieved I was that He overcame. These struggles and these battles we face in life He has overcome! I watched through the tears streaming down my face as those around me sang with smiles. I sang with tears of relief.

Not only did He save us He overcame! That same power that resurrected Christ from the dead lives in us who believe in Him. With that same power, no matter how weary we are we can overcome. 2 Corinthians 4: 6-8 says "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." (NLT)

Anyone else feel like a fragile clay pot sometimes? Ready to crack or break under the weight of what you are going through or the burdens on your heart? Anyone besides me forget about the part of the verse that says that our clay pot selves contain a great treasure? This treasure is that same power that resurrected Christ from the dead.

I have also been thinking about Romans 8:37 "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us". Our Pastor read this verse at Easter service and it is not new to me, I just haven't given it much thought until now. If we believe that the Bible is the Word of God and what it says is true, than why do you and I often live like we are defeated? It says that "we overwhelmingly conquer through Him", yet often we live like we have overwhelmingly been defeated. I think this happens because we forget Who He is and what He did. I think it happens because we forget we belong to Him and that He has put that same power within us. We allow the enemy of our souls to convince us that all we are is a fragile clay pot. Once we feel fragile we forget about the treasure of Christ and His resurrection power stored inside that clay pot.

I want to walk in the power of Christ that He placed inside my clay pot. I don't want to forget that He overcame especially in the midst of life's battles and I don't want to live in defeat. How about you? Will you join me in living a life that testifies to the One who overcame?

Friday, April 6, 2012

You Do Not Battle Alone...

Are you battle weary and worn? Does it seem like you struggle with one thing, press on in prayer, finally come up for air, and then find yourself in yet another battle? Are you weary and discouraged? Do you feel like you don't have the energy to hit your knees one more time and pray for one more person or one more need? Is the devil dogging you with discouragement? Is he replaying the scenes from your past mistakes in such a way that it makes you feel like you are inadequate to fight this current battle you find yourself in? Do you feel like you know nothing? Are you afraid of where you find yourself? I want you to know that you are not alone, I have been there and I can tell you that all you need to do is cry out to God and He will give you wisdom. He will give you all you need for battle.

I found myself this week at a loss for how to handle some things. Years of knowing the Lord, the wisdom passed on to me from my parents' examples, excellent books I have read, and prior experience praying through similar struggles before all seemed useless. None of these things seemed like enough preparation for where I found myself. In my desire to do everything right and not make any mistakes that I would regret in the future, I opened the door for the devil to taunt me with mistakes from the past, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of the future. I am sharing all of this with you because I know I am not the only one who has been in this place and in case you haven't been here yet I want to expose his tactics so you can recognize them.

The only way to make it through all of the things that I just described to you is to have a running dialogue with God about what you are going through, what you are thinking, and what you are feeling. During my prayer time I asked God to speak to me about all of those things. I needed direction and I needed to know His thoughts. I awoke this morning with the words " He trains my hands for battle" on my mind. When I went to look up the verses this is what I found:
Psalm 18: 28-3o, 34-36:
"For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped."

These were the words He knew I needed to hear from Him. He is equipping me with all that I need for this battle I find myself in. Each battle is unique in its own way. Sure you can draw on wisdom gleaned from past struggles, but only God can give you what you need for the new ones. More importantly I don't fight alone. Did you notice? He provides the light in the darkness, the shield, the ability to run and leap, training, and He keeps my feet from slipping.

In a few days we celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death . We celebrate His death on the cross and His resurrection. Who better to train our hands for the many battles we face in this life than the only One who has ever conquered them all! I find myself incredibly thankful this Easter that He did not grow weary of us and decide to skip dying on the cross for our sins. I am so very thankful that He is victorious and that He loved us enough to do what He did. I am thankful that because of what He did I am never alone in my battles and I am being trained by the ultimate Warrior. As Psalm 18: 46 puts it, "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation." As you celebrate this weekend remember that because of His great love for you, you are not alone or ill equipped for this life's struggles and give Him thanks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do You Stink?

I have been doing some thinking lately about what a person leaves behind. I am not talking about the things they leave to their families after they die. I am talking about what lingers behind them when they walk out of the room or end a conversation. We all leave a lasting impression on those we come in contact with. It's much like a woman's perfume. Have you ever hugged someone and when they walk away their fragrance lingers long after they are gone? So it is with our words and our actions, they linger long after we are gone.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says it this way, " But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." Did you catch the part of the verse that says that God "manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." ? This is the fragrance that should be lingering long after we leave a room or end a conversation. It is the fragrance of Christ.

Our contact with others leaves one of two impressions. We either leave the fragrance of Christ that lingers and causes those left wrapped in its scent to want more of Him, or we leave a stench. When we spend time loving others with our words and our actions and encouraging them we leave the fragrance of Christ. When we spend time criticizing, gossiping, complaining, nagging, or trying to fix them ourselves we leave a stench behind.

The world is full of awful smells. We don't need be part of the stench. We can choose to be the fragrance of Christ. When we seek to be an encouragement to others and to love them well we are His sweet perfume. His scent will linger and they will want to spend time with us because we will remind them of Him. Do your words and your actions leave a fragrance or a stench? When people have spent time with you do they walk away feeling like they have spent time with Him?
Will you join me this week in being mindful of what fragrance I am leaving to linger?