Monthly Archives: November 2013

Growing Faith: Through Thanksgiving

Recently I shared with you my personal struggle with faith, and now I wanted to share with you some ways that God has been growing my faith this past two years. As of right now we have been on this journey of joining Wycliffe and preparing to go to Papua New Guinea now for the last year and eight months. The first that I have learned to grow faith is through thanksgiving.

God in the last few months has been showing me that thankfulness helps faith to grow. Remembering what God has done and has orchestrated to get us to the point that we are at. One great way of doing this is keeping track of prayer requests with how and when God answered them. I have found when (not if) my faith falters looking at this list and going over and over it again helps me to remember whom God is and how he loves us.

This is very similar to something that the Psalmists does in Psalm 136:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and he gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Charlotte (the dog)

These last few years, it’s been interesting when we talk about our dog, Charlotte. She is an almost five year old golden retriever. When she joined our family, the girls and I had recently read Charlotte’s Web. So when we talked about good literary names to choose from for our new puppy, Charlotte was at the top of Makaylah’s list. Hard to argue with since, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” (one of my favorite Charlotte’s Web quotes!)

DSC_8387_lzn

Makaylah and Charlotte

We couldn’t have known that a few years later, the girls’ best human friend would also be named Charlotte. Or that another family in our church would name their sweet new baby Charlotte.

This makes conversations interesting, to say the least, and we often have to specify “Charlotte (the dog)” or “Charlotte (the girl)” or “Charlotte (the baby).”

When we talk about upcoming goodbye’s, the Charlotte’s are high on the “hard” list. There have been a lot of tears shed over both Charlotte (the dog) and Charlotte (the girl).

But today I am talking about Charlotte (the dog).

Please pray with us that God will lead us to a good home for our sweet, loyal friend. And if you would like to find out more about whether she would be a good fit for your family, please e-mail me at melissas_smith @ wycliffe . org (no spaces).

Charlotte now :)

Charlotte now 🙂

Faith: The transparency of one missionary

Help My Unbelief

Missionaries are often thought of as people who have extraordinary faith. I must admit that in the past I have been guilty of thinking this, however as our family draws closer to our target dates of going to Papua New Guinea I have learned that this is not true. The fact is that missionaries or at least this missionary struggles greatly with faith. Faith for even simple things. Like being able to go. Provision for the budget that we need. Or even just sanity to get through another day of two jobs, five kids, a wife, and a dog.

Now I must admit that I want to say that I have faith to believe that God will provide; that God will enable us to go to PNG, but truthfully as I examine my actions and the deepest resets of my heart I have to say I do not have faith to believe. In fact I then want to backup and say that I believe God can, but maybe it is not his will*. The truth of the matter; the heart of the matter is that I don’t believe that God can. I doubt that God can. This is a hard realization, but I think in our culture it is easy to say we believe and even think we believe. Until it comes down to action. Until we actually step out and people call us crazy. Then the faith that we have becomes manifest into action. This is where God has been dealing with me.

The last three weeks or so God has placed multiple passages about faith in my path. Mark 9 has been one of those passages. Not the transfiguration of Jesus mind you. Nor really Jesus’ healing of the boy. Instead Jesus’ dealings with the boy’s father. The father says in answer to Jesus’ question (Mark 9:21&22), “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us.” Notice the “if you can do anything”. The father did not believe that Jesus could. Perhaps because his disciples had failed. Perhaps because the father, as I am guilty of, doubts that God can. I don’t know. All I know is how the Spirit has been using this conversation in my own walk. Jesus then answers “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Now ripped out of context this could mean God is a wishing well, but in its context it is about God’s glory. The transfiguration, disciples powerless to help this man and his son, Jesus healing the boy, and finally Jesus teaching the disciples about prayer. The father then answers “I believe, help my unbelief!”

The truth is I, like this father, do not even have the faith to believe. It is a gift of God’s grace that I have faith at all. The truth gets worse that left up to my own human devices I would not trust God nor believe that he could save me, nor provide for the work that he has called us to do, or strengthen us to do it. It is he who deserves all of the glory and the praise. For I am incapable of even trusting him. God provides not only the needs that we have, the details of our journey, but the very faith that it takes for us to obey and go!

So you see this image of great faith is nothing for me to glory in for all the glory belongs to God. I am a doubtful creature who says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

* This only happens when things do not go according to my plan, but looking back at what God has done to get us to this place sets things into perspective. That it is his will.

“I’ve got Jesus”

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19, 20

This verse has spoken to us so much as God has grown our heart for the nations, but this weekend we experienced it in a different way. On September 7th of this year, our oldest daughter Makaylah committed her life to Christ, and yesterday we had the extreme joy of celebrating her obedience in baptism.

We were so blessed to be surrounded by our church family, our LifeGroup, and many family members and dear friends. I was also mindful of the pastors, Sunday School teachers, and others who have prayed for Makaylah, shared God’s love with her, taught her the Word, held up David and I in prayer as we have sought to live the gospel in front of her. So many people were a part of yesterday, whether they were able to be with us or not.

Makaylah is part of our church’s kid praise team. She requested that they get to sing the song, “Jesus in My Life.”

When things have got me down and no is around
I got Jesus, I got Jesus
When life’s a mystery and peace is what I need
I got Jesus, I got Jesus

I’m so thankful for the truth of those lyrics. No matter what comes her way in her life, Makaylah has Jesus. When she needs peace, she has Jesus. When she needs wisdom, she has Jesus. Last night Makaylah asked for prayer for, “All the days to come.” I’m so glad that she recognizes that this is only the beginning of her walk with Christ.