Category Archives: Spiritual Discipline

Photo Friday: September 25

The kids are on a two-week break from school. We have been enjoying a different pace, with a bit more time together and freedom to our schedule.

IMG_1174Sophia was invited to a wacky birthday party, which concluded with a fashion show. I’d say she definitely got into the spirit of things!

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We love our market! We are thankful that even in the midst of drought, for now, we have fruits and vegetables.

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The little kids have been enjoying the movie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Talia and Isaiah enjoyed dancing along!

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Thankful beyond words for these ladies and other sweet friendships here!

Thankful beyond words for these ladies and other sweet friendships here!

This weekend I (Melissa) was able to attend a women’s conference. The “She Is…” team came in from Australia to lead it for our community. It was a tremendous blessing, and a great time to strengthen friendships and hear from the Lord. I appreciate your prayers as I continue to process and seek Him in the lessons He taught me during this sweet time with Him.

2014: A Year of Changes, Challenges, and Answered Prayer!

With the new year here, we’ve been reflecting on all that has happened in our family and our Wycliffe ministry over 2014. It’s amazing seeing how the Lord has worked!

January 2014:

We got rid of most of our “stuff,” loaded the rest up to put in a storage unit, and moved out of our home of three years. Then we packed up our van and headed to JAARS in Waxhaw, NC, for our Intercultural Communications Course.

February 2014:

Our time was consumed with the Intercultural Communications Course, where we were stretched, challenged, and prepared for life in a cross-cultural environment. We also got to know many people headed to PNG too, and this has continued to be a source of blessing to us!

During this time, the Lord led me to Isaiah 55, and reassured me with these words,

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD;
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55:12-13

March 2014:

We returned to Tupelo, MS, to finish preparations for Papua New Guinea and continue building our partnership team. We were at about 60% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget, and we were learning (slowly) to walk by faith, not by sight as we waited for 100%. God gave us immediate opportunities to walk out some of what we learned at our Intercultural Communications Course.

April 2014:

Tupelo, MS, was hit by a tornado, and our neighborhood was one of the hardest hit. We praised the Lord for sparing our lives. home and vehicle, and grieved with our neighbors for all that they had lost. We were incredibly grateful for every person on our prayer team!

May 2014:

We celebrated Talia’s first birthday and went to the mountains with my family. We spent the month in prayer, alongside many of you. We prayed over our children, our marriage, our Wycliffe ministry, those that would eventually join our partnership team, and Papua New Guinea. The Lord brought us to 75% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget during this month. We also accepted the PNG branch’s invitation to come straight to Ukarumpa once we reached 100%.

June 2014:

We continued to prepare for Papua New Guinea and ask God to complete our partnership team. We continued to share with people about the work of Bible translation and the needs of Bibleless people groups.

July 2014:

God brought us to 80% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget! We also traveled back to Waxhaw, NC, to drop off our household goods shipment. This shipment would later be transported by sea to PNG, and then on to Ukarumpa.

August 2014:

We were so close to 100% that we started praying earnestly for the Lord to provide it by August 15th. God moved in amazing ways, and by August 12th we were at 100% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget! The full weight of leaving our home, friends, and family started to hit us, even as we rejoiced at the Lord’s provision. We packed up a few more boxes to send to PNG, a few boxes to store with family in the States, and got rid of everything else! We said good-bye to our church family during our official commissioning service, and shed lots of tears.

September 2014:

We spent a few days with each of our families, and then on September 9th, we boarded the first of 6 flights on our journey to PNG! We arrived in Ukarumpa on September 12th, jetlagged, worn out, but overjoyed to be here.

October 2014:

Makaylah, Sophia, and Isaiah began attending Ukarumpa International School and we all began to settle into our roles here.

November 2014:

David began Tok Pisin lessons and we celebrated our first Ukarumpa Thanksgiving!

December 2014:

We attended the Melanesian Institute mentioned in our newsletter. We had a wonderful first Christmas in Ukarumpa and enjoyed some much needed family time.

Final thoughts:

It’s really hard to put into words just how difficult 2014 was. We wrestled with our faith in God’s provision. We waited and waited. And waited some more. Reading back through my journal this week I cried. I cried remembering how hard it was, and seeing how incredibly good God is, and how He did do everything He promised.

My journal is full of verses and quotes like these –

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

Oh Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.”
Psalm 130:5-7

“I will thank You forever,
because You have done it.
I will wait for Your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.”
Psalm 52:9

“I have thrown myself blindly into His almighty hands.” – George Whitfield

If you are reading this today, I hope you are encouraged to remember that even when it feels the most hopeless, we can hope in the Lord. We can throw ourselves blindly into His hands, because He is trustworthy.

As we enter 2015, we pray the Lord will continue to teach us to cling to Him and that we will remember all that He did to bring us here.

“In all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy.” – John Piper

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.”
Psalm 40:5

The Spirit himself intercedes for the saints

As mentioned before I am doing an in depth study of Romans. This includes reading multiple commentaries, using Greek tools, and studying the Old Testament references that Paul makes. So I have just now after nearly three months made it to near the end of chapter 8. This morning I was reading Romans 8:26-30 and verses 26 through 28 really stuck out to me.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

The first thing to note is that we are weak! In fact the very next sentence says, “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.” Now I want to examine this morning. You see some translations actually translate this as “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” The NASB is the chief among these. The NASB happens to be one of my other favorite translations. This led to me doing some research. Why?

What I learned was that this word in Greek τίς and it is a “an interrogative pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions)”. Further research showed that it could be translated as either how or what! Meaning either one is is valid. We do not know how or what we ought to pray for us.

This leads to the good news! “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”! Dwell on that today. Not only does the “Spirit himself intercedes for us”, but he does so with “groanings too deep for words”! This chapter by and far does not end here. It goes on to show how God foreknew us -> predestined us -> called us -> justified us -> gloried us!

Paul does not stop there! Read the rest of Romans 8 today!

 

 

 

 

Quietness, in a Social Media age

When people first meet me, they might think I’m quiet. But anyone who knows me well knows that silence is not my strong point! I am an auditory processor…. meaning, I like to talk through things out loud, with someone else, in order to process them. This often translates to social media as well. I ran a blog with my sister-in-law for two years, and I loved processing things through blog posts. I often share from my Bible reading or just general thoughts on twitter and facebook.

Sunday, God prompted me to spend several days off of social media. He brought me to Isaiah 30:15 (emphasis mine),

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling.

Returning. Rest. Quietness. Trust. This week, God has shown me how quickly I fill my mind with the distraction of social media, rather than returning to His Word. He’s shown me how I struggle to quietly pour out my soul to Him, rather than to others. Honestly, social media can give such an illusion of community and closeness, but I will run there instead of my Lord and Savior, who knows me more intimately than anyone else. I don’t ever want the Lord to say to me, “I had all of Myself for you – but you were unwilling.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe and affirm that the Lord built us for relationships and community. I have exchanged some text messages and e-mails with a few dear ladies close to me during this week. But true, intentional relationships are different than “sharing” with 400 of our closest friends, aren’t they? If anything, social media can rob me of true community, because I can believe I’m experiencing community there, and am less likely to reach out personally.

I am not done with social media. I believe it has a place, and like many things, can either edify or tear down, depending on how it is used. God used these last few days to re-adjust my priorities though, and that was sorely needed.

Would we be strengthened to do what is required of us and to bear what is laid upon us? It must be in quietness and confidence; we must keep our spirits calm and sedate by a continual dependence upon God, and his power and goodness; we must retire into ourselves with a holy quietness, suppressing all turbulent and tumultuous passions, and keeping the peace in our minds. And we must rely upon God with a holy confidence that he can do what he will and will do what is best for his people. And this will be our strength; it will inspire us with such a holy fortitude as will carry us with ease and courage through all the difficulties we may meet with. – Matthew Henry

May He Grant: May 6th

May 6: Pray that Melissa would have a strong, vibrant walk with God. Ask that she would be faithful to times in the Word, prayer, and fasting.

It’s Day 6 of our month of prayer focus, May He Grant. You can read more about our heart for this month, and print out a complete guide for the month here.

Pray that Melissa a mom of 5 can have a strong a vibrant walk with God. Sometimes getting through the day and accomplishing everything on her to do list can be daunting. In Mark chapter 10  Jesus is talking to his disciples about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples asked astonished, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus answers, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Even rich with 5 kids, God can make all things possible. Please pray that Melissa will have have insight into Scripture. That she will have the time to accomplish her studying, praying, and fasting.

May He Grant: May 2nd

May 2: Pray that David would have a strong, vibrant walk with God. Ask that he would be faithful to times in the Word, prayer, and fasting.

It’s Day 2 of our month of prayer focus, May He Grant. You can read more about our heart for this month, and print out a complete guide for the month here.

During our recent ICC training, we heard many wonderful missionary testimonies. We also heard stories of struggle, challenge, and failings. Our flesh is weak. We have an enemy seeking to destroy us. Pray that David would “live a life worthy of the Lord.”

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:10-14

Pray that David would “run in such a way as to get the prize.” That he would be disciplined in his pursuit of God and advancement of the Gospel, so that he “will not be disqualified.”

 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:23-27

Cornerstone

We sang this at church this morning, and it goes so much with what God has been teaching me lately. Christ. Alone.

Cornerstone, by Hillsong

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all
He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.

ICC: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak…”

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people…” Ps. 85:8a

This week has definitely been the hardest of ICC so far. Talia was sick Monday and Tuesday, so we had to switch out classes, while one of us stayed home with her. She was diagnosed with strep, but we praise God that we caught it early, and that so far no one else has shown any signs of strep.

Wednesday we were both back at class, where the major topic was Counting the Cost. We heard testimonies from missionaries who have encountered incredibly painful and difficult circumstances for the sake of the Gospel. One of the quotes that stood out to me was this, “I guarantee God will ask you to die a bit every day.”

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:25-33

David praying for our friends after they shared the ways God has been teaching them about His sovereignty.

David praying for our friends after they shared the ways God has been teaching them about His sovereignty.

Some of the other topics covered this week include:

Field-proofing our marriage. Over the coming weeks will be working through some of the Sacred Marriage materials.

Our marriage study group

Our marriage study group

Our unique strengths and weaknesses, and how to use those as we go into a cross-cultural ministry situation.

Different worldviews and sharing the Gospel.

Biblical absolutes.

God’s sovereignty.

Tools for language learning. We not only learned some great tools, we had the opportunity to practice them, as we both began weekly language lessons with a Tok Pisin speaker here! We will certainly not be fluent by the end of our time here, but it is great to get our feet wet before we go to POC in August.

Friday night we were all beat, but we had a Family Fun Night, including games and a talent show. Makaylah and Sophia performed “Let it Go” with one of their new friends, who is also heading to PNG in August (the Lord is so good!).

Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start

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In the midst of all the mental, spiritual and physical exhaustion of this week, we can have peace, because we know that the One we serve is supremely worthy of anything He will ask us to sacrifice. Beyond that, He loves us with a deep, surpassing love. This weekend we each took time for a personal retreat with God. This was an “assignment,” and honestly, with everything else we’ve had going on, pulling away for 3 hours seemed daunting.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.- Isaiah 55:1-3

Our Lord loves us with a covenant, steadfast, sure love, and He knows what we need – HIM. It really is that simple.

Please continue to pray for us as we head into another busy week. Pray that we will continue to “eat what is good”!

Resting in God’s Sovereignty

As many of you know Melissa and I have been shooting for a goal for the past several months. This goal was to raise 50% of our budget by May the 28th. If you get our newsletter you know by now that we did not reach our goal. The purpose of this blog post is to transparently show you where this led me.

The Sunday before the 28th, I woke up in a bit of a funk.  After all I knew that statistically where we were versus where we needed to be in two days was not impossible for God at all, but it would be highly unlikely. This funk led me to begin thinking of all the things that I had done or not done. Even though we have been working very hard, and that God had provided many generous and gracious people who partnered with our Wycliffe ministry. That somehow this was a mistake that I had made. The more my thoughts carried me in this direction the worse my funk got.

This particular Sunday morning God led me to Job 38. This is after Job has lost so much, his three “friends” were giving him bad advice, and he has challenged God’s sovereignty. This chapter is the beginning of God’s answer. In which God’s basic question over four chapters is “Where were you when I did ____________ ?” Job finally gets it in Job 42 (in italics are quotations of things God has said in 38-41 & bold things that jumped off the page at me):

2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

So where are we resting? In God’s sovereign plan for us. Resting in the fact that he is in control, and that he knows best. Also praising God for the people that he has placed in our lives to partner with our Wycliffe ministry! It has been amazing to watch the people whom he has called to partner with our Wycliffe ministry. We are so grateful for each of you. [responsive_youtube 2O2zamX4f6o]

I encourage you to read Job 38-42. Especially if you are going through a hard time. It’s a great read.

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

As of late this verse has been on my mind a lot. In fact I have felt compelled to practice it. My thought was that this would be easy. After all 10 minutes should not be difficult, right? Wrong. So I have set out for three or four mornings now (not in a row) and have cleared my mind of myself, my needs, and my work; then simply try to focus on God alone. It is hard.

I had no idea how much my mind would wonder to random place a then b and back to a, then to who knows where. I’m two minutes in. Even this morning, I thought I was closer to having it and noticed that all my books on a bookshelf I hardly look at were leaning in a weird pattern. It bothered me. A lot.

The hope is that practice will make perfect. Guess we will see. Try it today. Now I should point out I am not talking about clearing your mind and letting whatever enter into it. I am saying be still and know that God is God. Focus on Him, His attributes, His goodness, His power, and His love. The list can really go on and on.