Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mary Knew

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Mary had just received a visit from an angel, probably a very scary experience, who told her that she was going to have a baby.  But Mary knew this was physically impossible. He told her that her son would be King over a kingdom that would never end. And Mary knew that her husband was from the line of David, but that this was not his baby. Then the angel told her that the Holy Spirit would accomplish all these things. And then what Mary knew changed a little, “for nothing will be impossible with God,” he told her.

What is Mary’s response to God’s amazing call on her life to bring the Most High God, Savior of the universe into the world? “Yes, Lord. I am Yours. Whatever you say, I’m on board.”

But what about after the baby? What’s next? What about Joseph? How’s HE going to feel about all this? I’m not old enough for this, Lord! I’m not strong enough. I can’t carry the SAVIOR of the WORLD. You said this would happen, but it can’t be ME. I think you’ve got the wrong Mary.

I can just hear all the objectives I would have against such a mind-blowing message. And I hear all the objectives I say even now to God’s call on my life. I mean, granted, I’m not about to birth another Son of God, so no worries, but hasn’t God made promises to me in His word that could be just as powerful in my life?

Going through the application process for dental school is scary, and living life in the in-between is so uncertain.  With no clear road ahead, it has become so clear to me that walking day by day with Jesus is my only clarity.  God is teaching me how important a little faith is. The faith of Mary. The faith to say “Yes”. The faith to believe God. The Bible tells us endless stories of people “who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…(Heb 11:33-34)”. These people had no idea what God was going to do through them and what legacy they would leave, but they took each small step BY FAITH. 

Mary did not know who this angel was. Mary did not know why He was talking all kinds of crazy things to her. She did not know how all these things would take place or the step-by-step plan, but MARY KNEW her God. And she knew that He was worthy of her faith. And that was all she needed to say “Yes, Lord”

God promises us that if we “seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, all these things (clothing, food, etc) will be given to [us] as well (Matt 6:33)”, so we don’t have to worry.  He says that “surely [He] is with [us] always, to the very end of the age (Matt 28:20)”, so we don’t have to fear. He promises that “all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27)”, so we can believe in His power. He has told us that “in this world [we] will have trouble. But take heart! [He] has overcome the world (John 16:33)”, so we can have peace. We are made aware in Romans 8 that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”, “all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose”, and “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Etc, etc, etc!

The more I look at the promises of God, I realize that we have more than enough reason to have faith and say “Yes, Lord”. I’m thankful for Mary’s example to teach me that even in the midst of all of the things I do not know, God’s promises are something I can be sure of and absolutely hope for.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My God is the God Who Provides

It is Friday, two days before my Compassion Sunday Event at church, and my body is hit with a terrible sinus infection where I can barely speak. My entire throat and neck are swollen and hurting, and I am coughing up something unspeakable. I know that this is not looking good for Sunday, seeing as I’m supposed to speak at church and sing during the morning worship.  I continue praying as I have been for weeks for the event and for God to move, but this time I add in a selfish healing prayer as well.
Twenty-four hours before the service Sunday, I find out that a terrible cyclone has hit India, six hours southwest from where my dear friend, Sandeep Maity, lives. Sandeep was a Compassion child in a packet, and through the impact that the Lord has made in his life through Compassion is now a graduate of the university level program in India.  I had the wonderful opportunity of working with him this summer and hearing every week how God used Compassion to change his life.  He is supposed to tell his story during the event Sunday via Skype, and I haven’t been able to even reach him over Facebook since we had last spoken Friday morning.  I have no clue if he and his family are safe or even where they are located.  Even if they are okay, I am afraid that the storm has disturbed the wifi connection, and all hope of him sharing his story was lost.  I am constantly begging Jesus for His intercession. For His miraculous power to take over and His will to be done.  I keep reminding Him (as if He needs to be reminded) of His love for the children of the nations and how we need Him to intervene.  We need Him to cast out any work of the devil keeping His word from being preached and His heart from being shown.  No response.  Nothing.
My throat is getting worse and there is still no response from Sandeep.  Doubt. Fear. Anger.  I arrive at church early to finish setting up my table in the lobby and practice the song I’m supposed to sing. My throat is still throbbing and scratchy, but I decide to praise the Lord through it. He tells us in Psalms to make a joyful noise to the Lord, right? It doesn’t have to be a pretty one, I hope. 
So practice goes well and people have been asking questions at the table, but I still haven’t heard from Sandeep.  Ten minutes before I go on…nothing.  I had lost hope. I tell Brian, our music minister who helped me organize the entire Skype connection (THANK YOU!), that I would just go up and explain about Compassion and try to tell Sandeep’s story as best as I could.  We would just plan on him not speaking. In other words, I was saying God wasn’t going to come through.
Five minutes before…still nothing.  I drop to my knees in the back begging and crying to the Father, “please, God, please come through.” Three minutes til…nothing. 

And then the miracle happens.

 Literally, in less than a minute before I am introduced and making my way to the stage, Sandeep shows up online, calls in, and begins trying to speak to us as I am walking up the stairs.  I introduce him through tears and he blesses our church with his miraculous story of the Gospel.  The connection worked perfectly except for one time when we had to reconnect, but nevertheless, his entire story was told.
Before church was dismissed, we showed the video of Sandeep meeting his sponsor, which is one that will always bring joy to my heart and tears to my eyes, and one I will never tire of seeing.  TWELVE children were sponsored today. TWELVE lives were released from poverty in Jesus’ name. TWELVE families were saved from the cycle of poverty in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America.

Oh how good is our God.

If you’d like to learn more about Compassion International, you can contact me at, or visit

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 24:35-40

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

And time is in His hands...

I graduate from college in 6 weeks.

Wait, what?

Needless to say, there’s a lot of unknown coming my way, and I’m not handling it too well.  You see, I have this trust issue.  I trust the Lord too much. As long as I don’t have to make a decision, I can trust God all day long to provide for me and do what’s best for me and allow me to do His will.  But when it comes to making a decision, I crumble. I second guess. I double think. I am wrecked.  What if I make the wrong one? My decision gives me the option to fail, and I fear failure. 

Of course I tell God these things. I ask for wisdom and discernment. I beg him to just do it for me. Please God, close the doors I don’t need to walk through and open the ones I do. Just guide my heart, God. Guide my passion. I’m so weak. I’m such a coward. For some reason I can’t shake the responsibility I feel. I can’t trust that He’ll provide for me even when I make the wrong decision, and I’m fearful that my sinfulness will prevent me from being all He wants me to be.

Tonight I talked to a missionary from a country near Russia who was visiting his family for a couple of weeks.  He was called on during the youth service to speak on his thoughts of the differences in the Christians in America and the ones in his country.  He talked about how his American friends were going through some drama (even though seemingly less significant than the persecution he faces daily living in a country where it is illegal to be a Christian, but still very important), and that one thing he noticed was that most Christians aren’t turning to Christ for help.

He said, “The question is, IS JESUS ALIVE OR DEAD? Because if he’s alive, then we talk to him and discuss things with him and expect help and an answer.” 

In his country they have NO other choice, but to ask and receive from God. Even the small things come straight from the Provider, because there is no other option.  How often do we escape to movies, empty sayings, other people, or even our own imperfect mind to try to figure things out? Jesus tells us to come to Him and that He will provide for us, and that if we ask we will receive.  He promises that to us!

So in the middle of all the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty about the future, I urge you, along with me, to ask and believe, and we WILL receive.  We will receive the answers we need. We will receive the money we don’t have. We will receive the direction to pick a career. We will receive the love that He so generously gives us.  Because Jesus is dead in a tomb with no power? No, because Jesus is ALIVE! And he has power to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wanna be a superhero and save the world?

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  Therefore God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised…Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately it sounds as if Paul is clearly describing the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.  We rarely give thanks to God anymore, pushing him out of our schools and legislature.  We use lies of political correctness, personal feelings, and what’s new and hot to determine truth instead of the immortal word of God.  We praise popularity, the famous, money, cars, education, and success, or the “created things” rather than the Giver of all these things. It seems as if everywhere we turn we see evil, murder, sickness, corruption, and it is only getting worse.

Some may say that this world is on its way downhill and there is no hope for how wicked we are. Even I am fearful of what life will be like for the next couple of years, but considering we don’t know the day or time when Christ will return, we cannot know for sure how long this world will last. But, believe it or not this has happened before, and my pastor recently showed our church a wonderful precedence of a people turning to God and being saved.

Refer to 2 Kings 22-23. Before Josiah was king, the nation of Judah had many kings who were corrupt, worshipped idols, and did much evil in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord said that He was going to bring disaster on Judah and its people because they had forsaken Him. But then came Josiah. Josiah did right in the eyes of the Lord and did not look to the right or to the left.  God tells the nation under King Josiah, “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.  Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.” And then in 23:25 it says that “neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength…”

The nation of Judah was headed downhill with no hope, but God heard them and remembered his promises towards his people, because they sought after him with all their heart and soul and strength! And they didn’t have to experience their nation’s destruction. Rise up church! The end is coming, no doubt, but we as the people of God need to rise up and turn our affections toward our Creator, not toward the things of this world!  Can we allow our hearts to be responsive? Can we humble ourselves before Christ and trust that He is truth? The end is coming, no doubt, but each of us need to say, not on my watch. Let’s seek with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our strength and beg God to save our nation. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DR Day 7- Final Thoughts for the Flight Home

Most of all I just feel so incredibly blessed to have gone on this trip.  The fact that many people from my hometown saw my heart for missions and encouraged me financially and in prayer is truly incredible.  Their sacrifices for me show just how amazing the body of Christ is.

The Lord really protected my heart this week.  I think He knew if He let me, I would have given it away and never come back to the states.  The thought scares me just a bit, but I know it holds a lot of truth as well.  I’m so thankful that the Lord has given me patience and endurance until I can finally fulfill my calling.  More than that though, I am really excited to get back to the states and really be bold for Christ daily.  What happens in the DR shouldn’t stay in the DR.  If I can’t fulfill my role as a daily follower of Christ now and in the place I’m in, why should he ever send me somewhere later where it will be ten times harder? So I will follow him this minute, this hour, this day until he leads me somewhere else.

I’ve been made aware of many things on this trip, but one big thing is my sinfulness.  I like to think sometimes that I’ve got it all together and have no reason to ask for forgiveness.  After visiting the DR, I have discovered that the sole fact that I’m an American should bring me to my knees in repentance.  We are constantly disobeying God’s word in the way we live our lives. The way we spend our money, use our time, and love other people.  I can assure you that the Dominicans have more of a knowledge of these three factors than I ever will.  However, seeing their faith will forever make me think twice about mine. Not question my faith, because thankfully it’s dependent on the always constant solid rock, but it will make me think about the way I live it out.  I know I will never be the same after visiting the DR, and I hope and pray that what I’ve learned reaches out to each and every one of you too.  I can’t wait to reinforce this life change on other mission trips until I am able to be more Christian than I am American, and until I can truly love people and their lives more than I love myself. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

DR Day 6

Today we went to an orphanage in La Romana that was very well off.  The girls were in school, church, and had the opportunity to practice sports and other hobbies.  Marc Anthony and some other famous people donated money to help the orphanage out, and you could definitely tell. Even though the situation of the girls was the same, they all had hope through the Lord and this orphanage.  As soon as we walked through the gate, a girl named Madeline grabbed my hand.  She was 15 and knew some English, so we clicked immediately.  A few girls performed for us in the church, and then we went out to the courtyard to play volleyball with the kids.  Several of the members on our team had children at the orphanage that they loved with all their hearts and helped sponsor them.  It was really hard to see them say goodbye to their “kids”, but I’m thankful for their ministry and love that knows no cultural boundaries. 

We tried dulce de leche de coconut and empanadas today, which were both AMAZING! I could really get used to this Dominican food-except for the cake of course!

Later, we went to the baseball game to watch our boys play, but unfortunately it got rained out.  However, the rain stopped just long enough for Dustin to share the Gospel with the other team before it started pouring again.  Then, that night we went around and collected all of our team’s thoughts and lessons learned from the trip, so here is a quick recap:

-Value people over self.  Tell others how you can live with so much joy and what gets you through each day. 
-Prayer and reading the Bible really does work.  Focus on them without distractions.
-Help others win in this life. It’s not just about us winning.
-Live in the now. It’s the only time frame that matters.
-Give, give, give.
-Be thankful for what you have.
-Don’t question God. He has you where you are for a reason.
-Be strong and courageous.
-You can’t make excuses.
-God’s creation extends and continues everywhere.
-Sometimes just being there for someone is enough.
-Love transcends all languages.
-Don’t limit God’s power and what he can do. 
-Remember what broke your heart and go home and change something.
-Use each other for accountability.
-Even if you have to sacrifice material things, live in peace.

DR Day 5

Sorry! I fell asleep watching a movie last night, so here's Day 5...

Today was just a day full of laughter.  I have made so many wonderful friends, and I really don’t want to go back to America next week.  Two girls I got especially close to, Lori and Lauren, and I basically laughed the entire day, whether on the bus, in the SCORE lobby, or in our room.  They’re like sisters now, and that just reaffirms my belief that the body and family of Christ can be just as strong, if not stronger than blood relatives. 

We went to a village called Quisqueya and visited what I believe is one of the most well-established day care centers in the DR, Emmanuel House.  They have such nice facilities, and direct their own child sponsorship program.  Since Compassion International is so close to my heart, I really connected with this program as well.  In the afternoon we went out into the village and got to see the poorest village in Quisqueya.  It was around 3 pm, and we met a family who had 5 kids and they hadn’t eaten a single thing that day.  Our hearts broke for this family, and our small group of 8 decided to buy them food. We headed out to the local grocery store which only took pesos.  God had provided me with around 1500 pesos from my college minister, Brian Fulton, so we got to use that, plus some money from three others in our group to buy not one, but three families food that would last them probably a month.  It was a relief situation, they needed food, and God provided.  I hope that one day one of those babies will be able to group up and say that even when there was no hope, Jehovah Jireh was still good and true to provide.

God answered a HUGE prayer and concern of mine today. I was anxious about how to get into a Gospel conversation with a Dominican.  I was using the language barrier as an excuse, and really just didn’t apply myself to learn the Gospel in Spanish.  However, after Wednesday night, I decided to learn the Evangecube in Spanish and was able to share it with several kids today. Also, we were at the baseball game, and for some reason, I felt like I needed to walk to the side of the dugout to chat with some teenagers standing over there.  I met a girl named Joanna who knew English! So we talked for a couple minutes about why we were in the DR, and this man standing nearby who knew English too said, “This is very important.  You and I are Christians, but Joanna is not.  You need to tell her about Jesus.” Today has been the epitome of “making the most of every opportunity” and God has definitely blessed it.

Oh! One quick note, Dominican cake is no bueno.  I didn’t think it was possible for me not to like sweets, but let me tell you, it is.

Also, I saw many examples of people suffering for Christ today.  For example, our translator, Augusto, who was sharing at the baseball game, had to yell and strain his voice to translate for the men in our group preaching the Gospel.  And then when we were out in the village helping the family out, another translator, Daphna, didn’t want to go back into the village to give them their food, because she was so torn up about the conditions, but she went anyway for the sake of the Gospel.  While we were in the village, I taught the kids the Spanish version of our local VBS song, “Fly” where it says “Anything is possible with God”, and they absolutely LOVED it and sang along.  “Anything” means anything.  Achievements, help, overcoming obstacles, and even suffering is possible with God.