Let’s Do the Numbers- Trusting through the Silence

My husband loves listening to Alistar Begg, not just because of his Scottish accent but also because of his spiritual knowledge and insights.  An article I recently received quoted him saying, “If you cannot trust God with the physical, how dare you trust Him with the spiritual? Can you trust Him for your soul’s redemption, and yet not rely upon Him for a few lesser mercies? Is God not enough for your need, or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for your wants?”
australian moneyTo maintain this mindset is difficult while raising support, especially when we reach plateaus or don’t see our account growing as quickly as we would like.  The article, If God can Save the World then He can Pay your Wages, speaks directly to this point.  And for me, it is a reality that I wholeheartedly trust and praise God for my salvation but in the same hour question His ability to provide for us.  Please pray for our hearts, that we would trust that God would provide for us, even through the silence.

Last support update we reported that we were at 59.2% of our goal but now we are at 60.1%.  We didn’t meet our April goal of 60% until the first week of May.  But now we have surpassed that mark and are ready to trust God to help us get to 75% by the end of June.  But we do this one month at a time so our May goal is 68%.  $900 in monthly giving will help us reach this goal.  $25 a month makes a difference in our budget and 36 individuals or couples can make this goal a reality.  It’s easy to give by contacting MTW (Mission to the World) or using their online giving site: donations.mtw.org.

Thank you to everyone who has already been giving and advocating for us.  We know that we are part of a larger community who trust the God of the universe and I am encouraged by everyone who is praying for us and already a part of our ministry.  If you want to advocate for us but are unsure of what it is, advocating is as easy as talking about Australia and encouraging others to get involved and learn about our ministry (Why Australia?).

Please keep praying for our support and God’s timing.  We have a lot of things going on right now that need to be covered in prayer.  We trust that as we share more in the future that you will be excited and praise God for what He is doing.  Thank you for helping us get to Australia!

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He is Risen!

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Matthew 28:6aIMG_20160326_071058~2We have celebrated this special weekend by watching the sunrise twice.  Saturday from the top of Sandstone Peak which is the tallest mountain in the Santa Monica mountain range.  And then we worshipped this morning on the beach as we listened to the waves crash before us and waited for the sun to peak out over Mugu Rock.  What a way to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  He is risen indeed!IMG_20160327_070733~2

It is indeed, Good Friday

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.09.34 PM

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:

“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Therefore the soldiers did these things.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:17-30

The Widow’s Offering

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4IMG_20160309_143208~2.jpgRyan and I have the privilege of being blessed by the “widow’s nothing”.  Of course we celebrate, are humbled by and abundantly thankful for the larger gifts that get us more quickly to our milestones but we are humbled in a different way and doubly blessed by the gifts we receive from people who are giving out of their lack.

This is a great reminder for Ryan and I to focus on where are support ultimately comes from.  I find it easy to praise our own support raising strategies when things are going well but get disheartened and turn to God when things aren’t progressing as quickly.  God is currently working and providing for us in amazing ways, however, when we’re handed a ministry gift that we know is given out of a humble faith (however great or small), we pause and praise God an extra measure.

Thank you everyone who has given towards our ministry.  We know that generosity comes in all forms and are especially grateful to those of you who are giving on faith or out of your own “widow’s nothing”.

Pacific Northwest Roadtrip Summary

We are now safely back in Sacramento.  Thank you everyone who prayed for our trip, everyone who hosted us, shared meals with us, treated us to meals and more, everyone who gave up their time to visit with us and hear more about our hearts for Australia.  We love and appreciate all of you.IMG_20160228_141131.jpgGod was definitely at work in our relationships and in so much of the trip’s timing.  We celebrated and prayed with people.  We worshipped and hiked.  We enjoyed learning about history and events that happened in places we stopped along the way.  We ate and visited, shared stories and made memories.  IMG_20160304_160945Ryan and I drove over 2000 miles.  We ate countless delicious calories.  We saw our support needs to reach 50% go from $1800 a month down to $450 a month.  We spent less than $100 on car repairs.  We experienced about 5 minutes of snow falling and at least a couple inches of rain although Ryan estimates at one point we were just shy of Noah’s flood.  We saw 2 state capitols and visited 5 museums.IMG_20160303_120724Please keep praying for us as we now reorganize for the next two months of California based travels and support raising.  Please pray for our car and the wisdom to know what to invest in and what to just keep driving through.  And please continue to pray that God provides above and beyond our 50% support goal by the end of March.

Visiting Nexus Portland

Today Ryan and I had the privilege of visiting Nexus Portland, a Calvary Nexus church plant.  It was really nice to be able to visit and worship together with a church that we’ve heard so much about and with people we’ve been praying for.  Ryan was able to reconnect with people he’s known and I was able to meet people who I feel like I already know.  I got caught up in visiting and sharing with everyone so I forgot to take a picture but this screen shot from the Nexus Portland website will have to suffice.Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.45.59 PMRyan and I were also able to share about Australia and were prayed for multiple times during the morning.  One of my favorite things about being the body of Christ is being able to worship together and feel connected with very little background or introduction required.  This is our Christian community.  We’re thankful for this church and their heart for Portland.  We look forward to seeing how God continues to work and grow His Kingdom in the neighborhoods Nexus Portland is reaching.

Book Review: The Blood of Lambs

A couple months ago, I received an email addressing a subject that is a common topic today in conversation as well as on social media.  The email got me thinking and I started to read more on the subject as well as to pray more.  The email’s realistic yet compassionate message was inspiring.

In sharing this my goal is not to stir up anger, unhealthy debate, or inspire fear.  Instead my hope is to encourage people to become informed in a way that will lead to conversations and actions that will help to change our world one person at a time.  And especially to anyone who calls themselves a Christian, my hope is that you would pray more, live like Jesus Christ and show the love and light of the triune God to everyone no matter what their background, religion or race.

November 16, 2015

Syrian Refugees: Bring Them On

Recently President Obama proposed bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. This is only a tiny portion of the hundreds of thousands that have fled to Europe, which in turn is a small portion of the millions that have fled just over the borders to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. But after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, many American leaders do not want to bring in any. And a few days ago Donald Trump said he wanted to exclude any Muslim from entering the U.S. until we “figure out what is happening.”

The fear is understandable. Obama promised that the refugees would be “rigorously vetted.” But this is likely to be the same kind of vetting that let Tashfeen Malik (the woman terrorist in San Bernardino) enter the U.S. two years ago on a K-1 (fiancee) visa. Since she came from Pakistan, which is known to harbor extremists, she was even subject to more vetting than others. We now know that she was already “radicalized” by then, and this was not picked up by the supposedly rigorous vetting.

So is Donald Trump right? From the American national security point of view, maybe he is. But from the Christian point of view, he is wrong.

Trump and many other politicians talk about keeping us “safe.” But Jesus never promised that we would be physically safe. In fact, He said “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16-18). Being flogged is not “safe.” In the time of Jesus, being delivered over to courts, governors and kings often meant death. Of the eleven disciples who remained after Judas, ten were martyred. See 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 for all the unsafe things that the Apostle Paul endured. Only John died a natural death.

As an example of a “worst case scenario,” back in 1981, an Islamic terrorist came to America from Lebanon on a legal visa. His purpose was to develop jihad cells and attack us from within, but God had other plans. He was in a severe car accident, and a Christian doctor took care of him, not knowing who he was – only a foreign man who needed help. After some time in a hospital, the doctor took him into his own home for months of recuperation. This completely exploded the terrorist’s idea of Christianity. When he left the doctor’s home, he could only fall on his knees and pray to God, who revealed Himself to this now ex-terrorist. The doctor practiced radical Christian hospitality and was used by God to bring this very unsafe man into the Kingdom.

So yes, we should be “wise as serpents” and examine the refugees as well as possible, knowing that like in the case of Tashfeen Malik, we will miss some. But for the sake of “bear(ing) witness before…the Gentiles,” I say “Bring them on.” It is very difficult for them to hear the Gospel in Syria and Iraq, but here they can. Our bodies may not be perfectly safe, but our souls are perfectly safe in Christ.

Alexander PierceBloodofLambCoverThe “worst case scenario” described in the above email comes from a book called The Blood of Lambs: A Former Terrorist’s Memoir of Death and Redemption by Kamal Saleem.  This book, written by Kamal, does tell his amazing story of conversion.  However, the book primarily focuses on describing Kamal’s formative years, how Islam shaped his world view and his journey that eventually brought him to the US.  

I was shocked and disturbed by a lot of what was described in somewhat graphic detail.  But it is those details that give the reader the whole picture of the ideology and culture that shaped Kamal and that continues to shape others.

However, one of the most impactful parts of the book for me was the descriptions of how Kamal first felt meeting Christians who lived out their faith.  The light Kamal describes is something that I would hope could be found in any Christian home.  However, it’s also convicting because so often Christians do not live their faith in such a transparent, deliberate way.

This book is worth reading, whether you are a Christian or not, it will be an interesting and informative read.  And once you read The Blood of Lambs, you might be interested in digging a bit deeper, continuing to learn about Islam and how practically to engage Muslims while showing Christ’s love.  For that I would recommend another recent read called Facing Islam, Engaging Muslims written by Alexander Pierce.

Enjoy reading and learning.  May your conversations be inspired and informed.