Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Missionary Life: What I Do and What I Need


I had an epiphany yesterday. It may not seem like much to you, but it was big to me. 

These days, I write a lot about what I think, but seldom about what I do. That's not completely accurate, of course. I used to write about what I did fairly often in the before-I-became-a-missionary days.


Today, I'm giving you a day-in-the-life glimpse of my world. There'll be a little lesson at the end, so keep reading all the way through.


Almost every day, I'm up at 5 am. My first stop is the coffee pot. No surprise there.


My second is quiet time. I'm doing the James study, journalling as I go, and there's something that convicts me in those words every day. 


You might not recognize it, but that quiet time is the most important hour of my day. It sets the tone. It gets my heart in good working order. It prepares my attitude for whatever lies ahead.


By 6am yesterday, I was hard at work on my blog. I like to get it posted earlier, but I took longer in quiet time than I intended. Still, it flowed from my study on humility and, amazingly I had it posted by just after 6:30. 


I use Hootsuite as a scheduling tool. I schedule the blog to post three more times in the next few days and again in three months. It takes a little time, but it's still the most efficient way of scheduling that I've found, so I do it just after I post the blog. 


I spent another half-hour or more answering emails and messages, then dressed and drove the 22 minutes to the Global Outreach office. I was there just in time to join the daily staff devotions at 8:30.


On Tuesdays, Scotty Shows teaches us from the book we're studying together, Secrets of the Secret Place. We finished our lesson and prayed for our missionaries. (We have prayer cards with names and photos so the missionaries are more than names to us as we pray.)


As soon as we were done there, I had a meeting with my mentor, Judy Shows. We usually study 1 John together, but yesterday we spent our time in prayer for my upcoming trip.


I took a few minutes to answer medical questions from a friend and make some recommendations before I went from the meeting with Judy into a meeting with Anna Grace, for whom I'm serving as mentor. We reviewed a report/presentation she's giving as part of her internship program, discussed the topic of the goodness/wickedness of our hearts, her possibilities for a summer internship, and discussed our upcoming trip to Jordan. 

The minute we were finished, I headed out to meet a friend for lunch. (I rarely eat out, so this was a huge treat.) Among other things, we talked about my ministry, and she had a few suggestions that were really helpful.


I went straight home and started back to work. When missionaries email me their upcoming events for which they need prayer, I write it down in my lizard-green organizer. Several missionaries had needs for yesterday, so I emailed to check on them. I also emailed the missionaries we'd prayed for. 


The "we-prayed-for-you" is not a simple hello email. In general, I try to share something about our devotional that day, and draw prayer starters from it, then inquire about their situations. Usually, I review the latest email from the missionary to be sure that I'm following up on their needs. (When we pray for ten or more missionaries, this takes quite a chunk of time.) 


By that time, I had more emails to pray over and answer, more missionaries to contact about the Taste and See project that starts on Sunday, more prayer partners to email. 


I spent a few minutes considering the possibility of doing a Mission Dine-Around program. It's percolating in my mind and will soon be fully formed. 

I'm speaking Thursday to the senior adults at Calvary Baptist Church in Tupelo and needed to make a PowerPoint presentation about my ministry. Steadman Harrison (CEO of Global) had shared gorgeous photos from Jordan and Israel, so I reviewed the photos and spent a few hours working on the presentation. 


When I was in Israel in 2013, the one thing I was desperate to do was to go to the Bedouin camps. Of course, we didn't go, but God knew my great desire. To my utter astonishment, I'm spending one night in a Bedouin tent camp while I'm away. I didn't have any photos of Bedouins for my presentation, so I did a quick search. I found a photo of the inside of the tents and was dumbfounded by the rich colors and tapestries. 


I spent a short moment savoring the sweetness of God in giving me one of the desires of my heart, then took a few minutes to eat a quick supper of leftovers.


After that, I prayed about the need for prayer coverage for my trip, considered the implications of posting the dates I'll be gone on the internet, and decided that the need for prayer was greater than the risk for vandals to take advantage of my absence to break in my house. 


I turned to Facebook and spent some time recruiting prayer and asking everyone who commented on my post about the trip to add me to their church's prayer list. (If you haven't added me, please do. I'll be in the Middle East for three weeks starting next week. I desperately need prayer... more on that trip in the next few days.)


I went back to my PowerPoint, empowered by the prayers that had already begun, and finished the PowerPoint presentation, then considered how I could adapt it as a virtual prayer walk. 


I write a story of the week most weeks for distribution to the missionaries and board of Global Outreach. (I'm not actually sure where it goes.) My job is to write it, so I do. It took me another chunk of time to write the story of the week and turn it in.

By that time, it was 8:30 pm. I'd been nonstop for thirteen hours.

I spent a few minutes playing with my dogs, loaded dishes in the dishwasher, and headed upstairs to get ready for bed. I considered doing some long-overdue dusting but decided against it. I don't know what time it was when I finally climbed in bed, but I had more messages and emails to answer before I turned out the light. 


"Lord, I've spent an entire day answering emails and working on presentations. What kind of missionary work have I done today?" I prayed.


"Check the numbers," came the whisper in my heart. 


I clicked on the Blogger count (I have multiple other programs that also count blog views... when added together, the total is a lovely number). On Blogger's count alone, more than 500 people viewed my blog yesterday, literally around the world. (United States, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Jordan, Philippines, United Kingdom) I corresponded with multiple missionaries. I prepared to speak to dozens of people on Thursday. I prayed my way through the day, in constant contact with the Most High God. 


It's not the typical missionary kind of work. I don't have an orphanage, a feeding program for widows, or an evangelistic outreach, but this unique ministry is touching hearts and lives around the world. 


It takes long hours to connect virtually with this many people. It's more than full-time. Most weeks, I'm at it at least sixty hours. When I'm writing a Bible study, it's done on top of the usual sixty hours. During the James study, I worked ninety hours a week.

Has a blog ever touched your heart? Caused you to consider something in a different way? Prodded you to take an action? Encouraged you to pray for someone? Forgive someone? Help in a new way? 

Consider that impact multipled by thousands of contacts every month. 

Blogs. Emails. Messages. PowerPoint presentations. Even when I speak, it usually begins as words on a page. In a way, I write as ministry and it's fulfilling the Great Commission in a unique, and surprisingly effective, way. 

When I post the "you can partner with me" message at the bottom of every blog post, it's a request to partner in the entire ministry. The outreach in long-term care facilities, schools, churches. The outreach to countries like Ireland and France. The digital outreach around the world. 

I need volunteers willing to help with coordinating the prayer partner ministry. I have a new project that I'll need hands-on help with in a few months.

I need financial partners who are called by God to assist in the expenses of ministry. Wifi isn't free, nor is the scheduling program I use. Website hosting costs money. Travel to nursing homes, schools, and churches all costs money. Basic living expenses have to be met. (I've used my own funds to do this so far, but it's not a sustainable plan for the long-haul.) 

Here's the good news. God has begun to bring partners to help. The upcoming trip to Jordan/Israel (more about this later) has been fully funded by the generosity of God's people in response to His prompting. I've begun to receive reimbursement for mileage expenses. Soon, I believe there will be enough to receive reimbursement for other ministry expenses. I'm hoping that, before the year is out, there'll be provision for a small salary to supplement my own funds.

Why am I stressing this? Because it's a requirement for being commissioned as a Global missionary. Once appointed, a Global missionary has 12-18 months to raise the financing for their ministry. To be commissioned, this is one of the things that must be done. 

I joined Global in August of 2016 and hit the ground running. The ministry has blossomed and God has blessed in amazing ways. BUT... I'm closing in on the 12 month mark at a faster rate than I realized, and I have some serious work to do in this area. I need your help. No gift is too small.

There's an equally (if not more) important need that you can meet, no matter your financial situation. I need your prayers. 

If you're not praying for me every time you read a blog post, please start. The spiritual warfare is intense. The battle is real and there's a struggle of some kind every day. The needs are great and I agonize over the words that must provide balm from a distance. What you read may look like a polished conversation, but it isn't easy. 

I've written a lot about me today, but what about you? As Christians, we're called to be disciples, but we're also called to be disciple-makers. That's what the Great Commission is all about. Making disciples as we go. If your "going" is in the United States, there are disciples to be made in your home town. In your sphere of influence. 

Ask God to send someone your way, but get ready. If you're willing to be a disciple-maker, He'll send someone ready to be a disciple.

You can't make a disciple if you aren't one yourself, so take a close look at your life. Are you using the gifts and resources God has placed in your hands to touch the world for Christ? If not, what do you plan to do about it? 

One day, we'll enter eternity. I haven't always used my time for Christ, but I want to use the years I have life to make an undeniable difference for the Kingdom of God. I want to leave this world a better, more godly place because of my influence here. I want to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Don't you? 

There's work to be done, children of God, and we can do it, if we all do our part. Whether you partner with me or start a ministry of your own, let's make doing what God has commanded us to do our first priority. 

"Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
________________
ps the photo above is of a recent prayer retreat. I'm sitting on the floor in the center, my favorite position for teaching.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Why We Should Chose Humility and Let Pride Go
This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why We Should Choose Humility and Let Go of Pride



I'm slowly working my way through James and I've come to the Humility section. The examples of Moses and David have left me wondering if I'll ever be truly humble. 

Moses, Scripture tells us, was the most humble man on the face of the earth. Despite the thousands of years since then, I doubt anyone has exceeded him in humility.

I'm not sure Moses was the most humble man on earth when he was a youth in Pharaoh's court, but forty years in the wilderness, tending sheep, provided a much-needed lesson in humility. 

Chasing sheep over the rocky hills, tending them, and guarding them are not pride-building exercises. It's hard work, often frustrating, and sometimes heart-breaking. 

During those years, Moses left his life of elegance and glamour behind and embraced simplicity and faith. It changed him at his core, and he never went back to his old life.

The word translated as humble indicates a person with a modest, lowly opinion of himself, someone who would prefer to bear an injury than to cause one. We might call a person with that mindset a "wimp," but God would call them great.

Our culture rewards those who are confrontational, arrogant, and speak with derogatory words toward others. We need look no further than the plethora of "viral" posts on the internet to see the truth of our craving for word-bashing. We think we know best. Always. 

Pride abounds.

In the perfect culture of God, we, His people, would recognize that He knows best. We would bow to His authority and treat each other with respect and honor. 

I believe that's how it is in heaven. God is on His throne and everyone behaves as if they know it, because they do.

We, the body of Christ, could adopt the humble mindset now, if we would grasp the enormity of God. Moses didn't wait for the Red Sea to part to become humble. It was burned into him through years of sacrifice, simple living, and hard work.

That's how humility comes to us, too, not in fancy clothes, bespoke suits, or big bank accounts, but in the simplicity of a life of faith. It comes from following, not demanding the right to lead. In seeing ourselves as we are before a great and mighty God. 

There was a time in my life when the simple life seemed foolish to me, strange and unwieldy and senseless, but those days are long gone. I crave a return to living on the land, a vibrant community of like-minded individuals working together to accomplish a greater good, a life of simple faith lived simply. 

Even in this busy, mixed-up world of ours, we can embrace a heart of humility. I believe it begins by doing what Jesus said. Loving God more than anything else and loving our neighbor as much, and in the same way, as we love ourselves. 

Why bother with love and humility? Scripture tells us pride comes before a fall but God gives grace to the humble. I'd much rather have grace than a painful fall, wouldn't you? 

There's something that, in a way, is even better, though. The seeds of humility in Moses' heart grew into a deep relationship with God in which they spoke as man to man, friend to friend. No one else dared to risk it, but Moses walked into the presence of God. It's grace on an entirely new level. We can have the same relationship, if we're willing to let go of pride and embrace humility. 

Today, let's ask God for an humble, gentle, Moses' heart. It will change our lives, for it's a request He's sure to honor. 


"But He gives a greater grace. 
Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, 
but gives grace to the humble.'" 
James 4:6 nasb
____________
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: President's Day Ponderings
This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#humility 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents' Day Ponderings




Today's not really "Presidents' Day" but, for some reason, which I suspect has to do with advertising, that's what we call this day. 

The third Monday of February is the day designated as a federal holiday to celebrate George Washington's birthday. Because he was born on February 22nd (Gregorian calendar) and Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12th, we have, colloquially, begun to call the federal holiday "Presidents' Day" to honor them both.

I don't know how we originally celebrated the day, but the holiday has devolved into a national sales and shopping day. 

I'm not sure that's an adequate way to honor the man who is known as the Father of Our Dear Country. He was Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, one of our Founding Fathers, first President, presided over the Constitutional Convention. 

Washington's wisdom guided our country into existence and helped to preserve it during our first fragile years of existence.

Among all his great deeds, he also established the Purple Heart medal for meritorious military service. Eventually, the Legion of Merit replaced it as a meritorious award and it became an award for those who have been wounded or died in battle.

My daddy was shot in WWII. A fellow soldier, probably suffering from PTSD, shot him early one morning as he was preparing coffee at the campfire. He was awarded, but declined, the Purple Heart. It wasn't meritorious to be shot while you're making coffee, he said.

"Meritorious," according to several on-line dictionaries, means "deserving of honor or praise." My daddy was right. Making coffee doesn't fit that definition, even if he was shot while doing it.

That brings me to an important question. What is meritorious behavior?

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

If we want to adequately honor our first President, we should do it with acts of meritorious behavior. 

We honor our true King, Jesus, the same way. Fix our thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Allow our thoughts on those lovely things to drive us to action.

Today, let's celebrate by offering a helping hand to those in need, blessing our enemies, being kind to those who aren't, speaking the truth with love, focusing on the lovely things of life and faith and freedom.

Honor Christ. Honor the legacy of leaders to whom He has entrusted this country.
______________
ps - that's my daddy in the photograph, recovering from the campfire shooting.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post:  When You're Stuck in Writer's Block and Find the Road Sign Out
This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#Jesus





Sunday, February 19, 2017

When You're Stuck in Writer's Block and Find the Road Sign Out


Writer's Block. After twenty years of writing almost every day, it was long overdue. 

For the last two weeks, a kind of writer's block has been steadily creeping into my typing fingers and my brain. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to say, which for a woman with many words, is remarkable.

My blog posts have been a struggle. I've rewritten old posts from years ago. Given them photos. Dressed them up a bit. Still, they were warmed-over-leftovers. Not fresh meat. 

"I'm tired," I complained.

"You need to rest," my friends said.

I spent an afternoon resting and rambling in the woods. Hours of Bible study. Extra time on my knees. Visits with friends. Nothing seemed to help.

Had I written all I'd ever write? I considered announcing that I was discontinuing my blog. (I'm not...)

This morning, I scrolled through photos hoping and praying for a writing trigger. When I found the sign for Thankful Baptist Church, just outside Atlanta, I laughed out loud. It reminded me of some of my favorite verses.

When you quote a passage of Scripture at least once a week, it should come back to you when needed. It's taken a while, but I finally have it again.

"Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving... I shall rescue you and... I shall show the salvation of the Lord." Psalm 50:14,15,23 nasb

Giving thanks is a God-directed path out of trouble, including writer's block. 

Today, I'm giving thanks for many things. The discipline has lifted my spirits already.

Ryan. Family. Old friends and new. Vision. Upcoming travel. Provision. Snuggly dogs. House. Land. Daffodils in the spring. Azaleas. My solar clothes-dryer. Horses. Barn. Sunrise. Sunset. The internet... 

God's given me stories, both poignant and funny, and He's given me an abundance of readers, for whom I'm especially grateful. 

As I've surveyed the things around me, I don't see anything for which I'm not grateful. 

God's been good to me. I, among all people, am especially blessed.

Today, I'm thanking my way out of writer's block and humbled by the blessings God has already bestowed upon me.

Are you discouraged? Has your hope begun to waver? Are you overwhelmed by trouble? 

Why not take the God-directed path out of difficulties? Spend today offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving. You'll be so glad you did.
________________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Grocery Cart Inspector
#givethanks


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Following The Rabbit Trail to God's Glory


When I visited Jerusalem a few years ago, the main thing I wanted to do was go to the Western Wall ("wailing wall") to pray. There were more people there than I'd expected, congregated inside the make-shift walls, praying. People had written prayers on scraps of paper to stick inside the cracks between the stones because it's the back wall of the Holy of Holies. 

I had my prayer written and ready, too, as if sticking it in between giant stones would somehow gain a greater effect than speaking directly to my Heavenly Father.

The Ark of the Covenant, with the Mercy Seat on top, was housed in the Holy of Holies. The Glory of the Lord rested on the Mercy Seat. 

When people go to pray at the wall, in a way, they're seeking to get as close to the glory of God as possible on this earth. (I'm not saying that's what they find, but what they seek.) 

This morning, there's an issue about which I need wisdom. "I need to seek God's face on this," I thought. 

In one of those very circuitous thought processes that some people call "rabbit trails," I thought of Moses speaking face to face with God, which made me think of the time he couldn't get in the tabernacle because of the glory of God, which made me think of the Holy of Holies... the Western Wall... you get the idea.

The verse from Colossians came to mind. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) I was reminded again that God's glory was made evident in Jesus Christ. 

If we want to experience His glory, we don't have to lean against an ancient wall or stick paper in its cracks. We need look no further than His Son.

In eternity, God's glory provides the light for heaven. That "light of the world" that's supposed to shine forth from us as believers is a little glimpse of the glory of God. When we allow God's grace to shine forth from us, we experience His glory and those on whom we shine His light do, too.

The rabbit trail I've been following this morning leads me right back to the problem with which I began... the need for wisdom, but I've encountered a bit of my answer along the way. If I want wisdom, and I do, I need to begin by looking to Christ, where I'll find both wisdom and the glory of God. 

If we need wisdom, let's be still long enough to hear from the One who spoke the world into existence. He still holds the stars in their constellations and keeps the planets spinning around the sun. He can handle whatever problem we encounter, and He has all the wisdom we need.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 
______________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Fish That Did What Mere Words Could Not
This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#Jesus

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Fish That Did What Mere Words Could Not


A crowd of people gathered around Jesus. As they moved in to hear better, they pressed Him ever closer to the shoreline, right up to the edge of the surf. Some fishermen were there, cleaning their nets, so one of them (Simon) moved his boat back into the water to let Jesus teach the crowds. 

The fishermen stayed on the shore while He taught. There's no doubt they heard what He said, but His words didn't seize them with amazement. 

After the sermon, though, Jesus did something that rocked their world. 

"Go to the deep water and put out your nets."

Simon disagreed. "We fished all night and caught nothing. That's a waste of effort, but, if you insist..."

In the deep water, they threw out the nets and caught more fish than they thought possible. 

It was the fish that moved them. Not words. Not even the words of Jesus.  

For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; (Luke 5:9 NASB)

When words and the miraculous merged, they understood. The Word became flesh and they beheld the Father through the Son in an utterly new way. 

It changed their lives forever.

Some hearts are moved by a powerful sermon. Some hearts are moved by a friend gently sharing truth over the years.

Some hearts, however, need to see tangible evidence of Christ, whether it's a wet, stinky net-full of fish or the powerful evidence of a changed life. 

What evidence of the reality of Christ do others see in us? What evidence of the miraculous?

Today, let's pray that those around us will recognize the miraculous work of God in our lives and that it will move the to utter, life-altering amazement at the power and sovereignty of God.
__________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Real Love: More than a Feeling

This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. If you'd like to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:

Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#Jesus

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Real Love: More Than A Feeling


💕❤️💕❤️💕❤️💕❤️💕❤️💕

It should have gone into my spam box, but it didn't. "Love is the most wonderful feeling in the world," the email from an online card company proclaimed. Of course, love is a feeling, but it's not worth much if that's all it is. 

Unfortunately, a brief review of online dictionaries prove that the world's view of love is sadly skewed toward a physical/sexual interpretation. Certainly, that's one kind of love, but the definitions I read were lacking in the intensity and commitment of real love. 


The apostle John took it much further than a momentary, physical pleasure.

"This is real love - not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10 nlt


"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 niv


In one horrible act of surrender, Jesus showed us what real love looks like when He laid down His life as a sacrifice for us. That's the standard against which all claims of love should be measured.


Willing, sacrificial love for people who don't love at all is what Jesus gave.


I wouldn't have done it. I'd have let us make our choice and go straight to hell.

But God...

I say I love the world, but God really does. He loves us enough to prove it with His sacrifice.

The most important demonstration of love wasn't done with cards, candy, or flowers. It was done with the blood and nails of the cross. 

Whether we receive a tangible symbol of ardor today, or not, we can take hope that the only demonstration of love we'll ever need has already been given. 

We learned the song as children. "Jesus loves us, this I know." Our question for today is this: do we love Him?
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Mercy is More Hitting the Like Button 

This ministry of prayer and outreach (digital and in-person) is only possible because of the generosity of your support. If you'd like to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your  check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.