Regarding “Obamacare”: helpful news for US missionaries

If you are a US citizen, and you live outside the US, this article from the Wall Street Journal has some helpful information regarding you and the new “Obamacare” requirement. Click “Regarding Obamacare” above and it will take you to the article.

Advertisements
Link | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why don’t we get free?

jesus-and-mary2This morning, after a fresh round of hearing about people’s lives…pain from past abuse, perpetual sins, emotional issues springing from both, complacency (settling for a mediocre “life in Christ”)…and the list could go on, the Holy Spirit brought this passage to mind:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Romans 12:1-4 (the whole chapter, yes, the whole BOOK are so good!)

I asked myself the “why” question: Why do we live life like this, when Jesus offers freedom? Whether it’s sin done to us, or sin we “waller” in, why don’t we get free? For some, to ever get free seems impossible. Some who were sinned against live a life-time filled with pain and the repercussions of that other persons’ sin. Our own sin can seem impossible to beat. Sometimes we’re lazy. Sometimes we get so tired fighting we give up. Sometimes we don’t even know where to start.

I no uncertain terms I have to tell you that God is not a liar.

Yes, go ahead, recoil at my statement. “Of course He’s not!” Then why do you live as though He were, in fact, a liar?

“God is not man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Numbers 23:19

God’s Word is full of promises that He wants to set us free, He has the power to set us free, and that He died to set us free?

Now, I must make this statement: your freedom from the “stuff” in your life will be harder to achieve than you wish, but much easier than it should be. Truth be told, it’s not even possible for us to be healed of past hurts, or free from our sins, without what Jesus did on the Cross. At times our deliverance comes so easy, God seemingly “does it all.” At other times, it’s a fight. Jesus has certainly provided the way for us to get free, but our will must join His goal of getting us free. You must decide you really want this.

This will not be a complete “how to” on how to get free. There are entire books on that. This is more to ask the question, and stir you to action. For myself, and for you, I want us to get up out of “this is how it will always be” land, and begin to fight again. That said, here are a few things you can do that are proven effective in getting the stuff out of lives:

1. Tell God you want to be different. Ask Him to help you want that more than food or air. Ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to NOT let you slip back into complacency. He will do all these things, but not if you don’t ask. He’s not going to force Himself on you! Give Him permission to get all up in your business.

2. Get prayer. Find some people you trust, and who know how to “get ahold of God” and get prayer for your issues. Not once! This is not a one time event at some spiritual retreat. Pray with them often until this stuff is out of your life for good!

3. Get accountability. Prayer partners can be accountability partners. In the case of perpetual sins, almost no one beats those/overcomes without an accountability partner. You need at least one.

4. Old and worn out: SPEND TIME WITH GOD. Don’t expect to change your mind about your sin, or get free from hurts, if you’re mostly feeding on the garbage of the world. Hurt people learn coping mechanisms. God is not into “coping” – He wants you free. So ditch those old ideas and come to an even older one: set aside a special time with God each day, and then also stay in His presence throughout each day. The Word, the Bible, “washes us.” It cleanses your mind, and resets your thoughts and emotions. The more time you spend with God (not just reading what He wrote, but hanging out with Him), the more you KNOW Him. The more you know Him, the more you trust Him; the more you know what He can do; the more you understand how He thinks. This alone is the single most important thing.

Yes, I know, people have said that for generations. Well, you can’t tinker with perfection. Go find out why people have said this for generations. Take a “fast” from TV, internet, Facebook, Twitter, your books, video games – or whatever you’re living in that has kept you from knowing God…whatever has been your coping mechanism…and put your full energy into knowing God, learning His ways, and getting set free!

If you take my challenge, you really have no idea what’s coming! But I hope you will. Revolutionary changes in your life, and joy, elation and peace like you’ve never known. Give God everything, and watch Him work.

5. Counseling. If you’re wounded, often you will need a godly counselor to help you get fully free. This does not have to cost, though paying is one option. Some of the best ones I know just love Jesus, know His Word and His ways, and are happy to help you get free…for FREE!

So, pray that prayer in #1 above, get up and get going. Lay aside the weight of sin and shame, untangle your feet from that sin which ensnares you, and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus”!

Take Jesus at His Word and get free!

(I pray for your full deliverance.)

——-A note to missionaries:

This blog is done primarily for missionaries, and those going into missions. Though this post could help just about anyone, I ask you to take a good hard look at your life.

Are you on the field and still living as a prisoner? Then you already know how your “stuff” has been magnified to produce more trouble in your life, lack of effectiveness in your work, at times a poor testimony for the Lord in front of the lost. So many have “lost it all” returning home in shame because of the stuff left simmering in their lives.

It’s never too late to deal with it. It’s never too late for a fresh start. Bridges may be burned with your mission or with some people, but God is NOT through with you! He’s the original recycler. He never throws anything away! He restores and makes new. You are yet very useful to Him!

New missionary/missionary in training: may my words above be very sobering to you in this phase of your life. You are not yet on the field. It’s a time of preparation. Believe me, you don’t even want to “look down the barrel of this gun”! If you think your issues are “manageable” now, while you’re home, or if you’re thinking, “I can get by” – don’t do it! Get free now. You’ll save so much trouble and regret. Go out strong.

Are the best missionaries perfect? Are the best ones free of any and all issues? No. God is your judge. His opinion of you is the only one that matters. None of us go out to serve “perfect.” But we should go out released and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that our lives are in Christ and we can serve freely.

So, are you ready to go? You’re not perfect, but are you able to serve effectively with your imperfections? That’s a complicated issue. Ask the Lord for His guidance, talk to your pastor and other trusted leaders and run with that.

The Lamb is worthy! So very worthy!!!

Posted in Discipleship, Following Jesus, Missions, Priorities, Sin, The Great Commission, Tips for New Missionaries, Victory | 2 Comments

Apologies!

The last few weeks WordPress has not been behaving. If you got several emails yesterday about a post that still hasn’t shown up on the site, I apologize. Something is wrong with the “publish” feature. (This is the button I click after I’ve finished writing; it’s what puts it the post on the internet.) The editing of the posts before I publish has also been very difficult. I make changes, and save them, but then they don’t appear. I’ve spent hours doing what used to take a few seconds. I’m looking into this with tech support.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You and Your Calling, and God’s Expectations

Reading this morning in Genesis, it struck me again, but in a new and fresh way: God expects us to do battle for our calling. Yes, He does!

There is a strange doctrine in the Church today. Maybe it’s only strange to me because of the life God has given me, and the perspective I’ve gained, but I do call it strange because it’s not biblical. Here’s the simple version:

“If God wants something done, then it’s going to happen.” There is this assumption that just because God wants something to happen, then it’s going to be “falling off a log” easy, with Him leading the charge and running ahead arranging every detail.

Not so.

Let’s look at Abraham and his kids. This is the thing that clubbed me upside the head this morning! What was at the heart of God’s promise and covenant with Abraham? To bless “all families on earth” through Abraham and Sarah’s many descendants!! (Too many to count, like sand on the seashore and stars in the sky!)

So God dangles this promise in front of this couple. He tells them, “This is my purpose for you!” But they had to battle for their purpose! They had to pray for it to come to pass. They had to remind the Lord over and over. And then, in Genesis 25:21, we see Isaac praying for his wife, that she would be healed and be able to conceive. (Side note: Ah, the beauty of the next generation walking out the faith victories of their parents’ . . . much sooner, and much more effectively. Faith and understanding of God’s ways grow exponentially from one godly generation to the next…or can be lost from one generation to the next for those who cease walking with God.)

Now here’s the most natural thing ever:

God: “I’m going to bless the earth through you and your kids.”

Abraham: “Ok God, great! Bring ’em on! Lots and lots of kids!”

God: [crickets]  [Unspoken message: Fight for your calling, Abraham and Sarah!]

Do you see this? Can you think of other examples? I can think of a bunch!

Now this: WHY? If God is so interested, why doesn’t He make His stuff happen? Why does He put us through all this and make us work so hard?

Because He wants you to own the vision! He wrote it! He calls you! But if you’re in the “wheelchair” while He pushes, that is not good for you or anyone! Get up and fight for your calling. And know this: occasionally opposition and difficulties might be God telling you you’re on the wrong path. But for people who are chasing after God and seeking to be obedient, it usually just means that, 1) the Devil doesn’t like what you’re doing, and, 2) God is not going to baby you through this battle. Get up. Fight! Kick in those doors and walk out your calling!

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:15-16 (NKJV)

You’re not a servant, you’re a friend. You are to know the battle plan. Walk it out, and don’t settle for anything less.

God bless you today, as you intentionally open your ears to hear what God is saying, intentionally say a hearty YES to His commands, suit up and go to battle. It’s for Jesus, the Lamb that was slain. He is so very worthy!

Posted in Discipleship, Finishing, Following Jesus, Getitdone, Matthew 24:14, Missions, Mt. 24:14, Priorities, Sin, The Great Commission, Tips for New Missionaries, Uncategorized, Victory | Leave a comment

For New Missionaries: A tip to make transition to the field easier and less stessful

What you read below was the P.S. in a letter written to new missionaries. They are still in their home country, raising a ministry team of prayers and givers. We’ve been at this for 25 years – 25 years this month! Over time you learn some tricks for those who come behind.

This particular tip is for a missionary moving from a non-metric country (like the U.S.) to a country where metric is the standard. I also mention learning 24 hour time, which many countries use for everyday life –  not just military operations!

P.S. Are you and the kids learning 24 hour time, Celsius and basic metric conversions? Any of these things you can learn BEFORE getting there will reduce your stress after you’re there. One less thing to sweat.

Set your watch and computer clock to 24 hour time, and in a few months you’ll have it down without even trying that hard.

You can do the same with your weather report on the computer: set it to Celsius. Initially I would also memorize some of the main benchmarks. Every 5 degrees Celsius is 9 degrees Fahrenheit. If you memorize that 25c is 77f, 30c is 86f, 35c is 95f, and 40c is 104f, then you’ve got a benchmark (see how it is going up by 9s?). [Your SE Asian country] will probably be much like the ours [same region]: hot and humid almost everyday year-round. It never goes below 30 for us!

Here are Metric benchmarks you will use a lot:

• 1 kilo is 2.2 pounds (food will come in kilos and grams, and your doctor will want to know your weight in kilos)
• Thanks to Coke and Mt. Dew, you know approximately what 1 and 2 liters are!
• 1 gallon is 3.785 (a little trickier if you want to be exact, but you can round to 4 for a ballpark. Gas mileage will now be Kms/liter! I’ll give you the formula for that later.)
• 1 meter is approximately 1 yard – 39.28 inches
• 1 kilometer is .62 miles. So for basic conversion, 10 kms is 6 miles and 100 kms is 60 miles. If you really want to ballpark it, then just half it: 30 kms is 15 miles. You’re off a little, but not by a lot unless you’re working with big numbers.

Posted in Missions, The Great Commission, Tips for New Missionaries, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Power of the Cross of Jesus

“…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13 and 14

Normally I would say it’s not good to look back at past sins and mistakes. For years I have taught my kids and others that we should seek immediate forgiveness from Jesus for our sins. Then, I recommend going back and examining a sin only to understand “What happened? How did I let that happen?” It’s not to try and pay for that sin by beating ourselves up again and again.

Yet so many of us struggle with this! We don’t see ourselves through our loving Savior’s eyes, but continually go back and relive past sins as if they were not forgiven. We beat ourselves up over and over again. It’s hard to stop, I know! I’m just like most people in this.

When we live like this, we won’t ever be all that God needs us to be. We don’t move forward, we don’t step out with His power to do what He needs done, because we can only see ourselves as horrible, wretched sinners, worthy of nothing, capable of nothing, plodding through life hoping to someday go home to Jesus “anyway.”

We don’t understand grace. Not yet. But we must keep reading about it, thinking about it, and letting the Holy Spirit teach us about it until we get free from the normal human thinking on this. I had another lesson from Him this morning.

I started this article with the significant word “normally.” Normally I would say it’s not good to look back at past sins and mistakes…” This morning I intentionally did it. I’m in a strong place right now. There is nothing in my recent past to prompt this. No, it was Him, the Holy Spirit, teaching me something. I intentionally thought back to some of my worst moments. Many things that I am still so ashamed of that I cringe just thinking about them. I felt horrible all over again. So much shame and guilt.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Do you know that every person has these types of sins in their past…or even in their present?” Wow Lord! Even my mom?

Next He led me through a brief survey of some of the things the make the news: parents who abuse and  murder their children, unjustified war and genocide, human trafficking…you name it. The things that make us sick at heart when we hear them.

And then He spoke to me about the Cross of Jesus. He took my sins upon Himself. Not just the “little” ones that I don’t think are “so bad” (yes, I know, but I’m making a point), but He took those that I am still so ashamed of. He took those, and He took all your sins too, and He took child abuse and sexual assault and even sexual slavery, He took war and hate and genocide, He took it all. For billions and billions of people. Can you even try to imagine the crushing weight of all those sins? He carried EVERY sin to that Cross, and HE PAID FOR THEM ALL. It’s not something that’s going to happen. No, He said “it is finished!” It’s done. All that remains is to receive His gift. Ask Him to forgive your sins. The debt is already paid.

Oh, by the way, the Bible says Jesus went to the Cross, and went through all of this because of the great JOY He felt in doing it. Uh…uh…what?! Yes, He had JOY looking forward and seeing what freedom His death and resurrection would win for you and me. JOY!!!!! Well, He has certainly given me JOY, and I can’t thank Him enough!

There are two ending points that I received from the Lord in this that I hope you will also hear:

First, I don’t understand grace yet, and I don’t understand the power of the Cross of Jesus. I’m getting there, and this morning was a giant leap forward. All the power in the world can’t match the power of Jesus’ work on the cross. Mediate on this and I believe God will convey it to you as He did to me. My words here can be a starting place, but they are not sufficient for you to fully understand all the God wants you to know about grace. It’s ok, He will teach you.

Second…”All that remains is to receive His gift.” Easy right? Yes it is! But how will they ask for the gift if they don’t even know it exists? How will they believe in Jesus if they have never heard of Him? How can someone hear this “good news” unless someone tells them? How can someone tell them unless they go, and how can they go unless they are sent? (I’m paraphrasing Romans 10.)

Friends, we’ve GOT to get this! We have got to understand grace. We have got to understand the power of the Cross of Jesus! And we have got to remember every day and NEVER forget that the Good News of Jesus is only Good News if you hear it and can act on it. We must also remember the alternative: without this gift, a burning hell awaits. And we’ve got to live our lives in such a way that we are BRINGING HIS GOOD NEWS TO PEOPLES ALL OVER THE WORLD! Regardless of what anyone else does, you and I have got to live to make that happen!

I’m praying for you to understand and live this message. Will you also pray for me?

Posted in Discipleship, Finishing, Following Jesus, Getitdone, Matthew 24:14, Missions, Mt. 24:14, Sin, The Great Commission, Victory | Leave a comment

A revelation of Revelation

Happy Sunday!

My prayers this morning led me into a time of thinking about the changes in our world, the new and increasing temptations to depart from God, or to allow myself to descend into a half-hearted relationship to my God. God warned us that the end would be difficult, and He told us what to expect. He also promised that “he who endures to the end will be saved.” And, most important, He promised to help us “endure.” He will and He does.

I just recently came to see that the #1 teaching in the book of Revelation is not found in decoding all the symbolism, or understanding end time events. These are important, and they are intentional parts of God’s message. But even more important is God’s message to you and I about how to survive these days, as a follower of the Lamb, and how to “endure to the end and be saved.” I now firmly believe that this is God’s primary message to us through the book of Revelation. The other things are only given in context to help us understand WHAT we will face, and HOW to face it and to OVERCOME.

(When we read Revelation slowly, bogged down by all the details and straining to understand what it all means, we easily lose this primary teaching. Here is what helped me to see it, and what I recommend: Read the entire book in one sitting, or better still, get the Bible on mp3 or CD and listen to Revelation in one sitting. Then do it again, and repeat often. This message of how to endure and overcome will emerge rather forcefully as you do this.)

My prayer to God this morning is that I will not just “get through” a difficult time. I certainly want that! But I also want to be strong for the Lord in this time. I want to touch and impact people as I press through. I don’t want to be hiding in a bunker, or camped out on a mountain top. I want to live life full of God’s Holy Spirit every day, and ready to speak what He would speak and do what He would do to every person I meet.

I pray this same prayer for you. Do you accept?

Posted in Discipleship, Following Jesus, Missions, Priorities, Sin, Victory | Leave a comment