The Trials ARE the Training

We’ve sat in seminars. Visited hotel conference rooms and small group brainstorming sessions. We have been “trained” to be church planters.

Don’t get me wrong, these things are good and necessary things, but nothing is quite like

the training that trials bring.

Since moving to Atlanta, with a vision to plant churches that keep planting churches, one block at a time,
we have hit multiple trials at a time.

Toxic black mold ordeal, and losing all of what we owned.

coming head to head with witchcraft and voodoo curses from our international neighbors.

A car crash. flooded basements…FOUR times. an incredibly difficult pregnancy. depression. a motorcycle crash. near death baby delivery. another basement flood. very sick four year old. broken collar bone. broken finger. ripped up shoulder. extensive shoulder repair surgery. postpartum depression. root canal. enough medical bills to repave the pot-holed streets of Atlanta. a half renovated house with no more money to finish it. All while keeping up with the constant needs and and schedules of six children.

When you move forward into God’s calling on your life, don’t expect things to get easier, expect them to get harder.

For the trials are the training.

Yes, they may be spiritual warfare, but they are also purposed battles which God has ordained for us to engage in. And with each battle, one gains strength as you learn to gird up your sword and fight for joy and fight for trust and fight for savoring this moment hidden away in the Presence of the Prince of Peace, even when everything external seems to be exploding, and everything internal seems to be imploding.

And that training….its not even really about YOU. Yes, you are strengthened, but you don’t get strong for strength’s sake. You get strong for the Glory of God, to show HIS strength in you in trials. And He’s preparing you for greater service, greater empathy, and greater compassion towards others.

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I didn’t start to see it until a few wonderful and crazy, and faith-filled and fear-plagued people started preparing to join our launch team. And then the constant unraveling, the impetuous kinks in the plan, the crushing weights of a life in upheaval that we have experienced these past 18 months started pressing into those dear ones as well. And I saw.

I saw that in this church planting endeavor, we are leading people into rocky waters. Thrilling, refreshing, but rocky nonetheless.  And if we had not had to learn to stand as the waves of hardship, frustration, financial strains, and struggle crashed into us, then we would have no voice of hope to continue to beckon them into these stormy waters where we get to meet the One who says “Peace, be still.”

Our dear little launch team has already seen stolen passports and social security cards, lost jobs, deaths of loved ones, struggle to find housing, struggle to find local work, disappointments over not getting accepted into the local schools, houses being broken into and cars being stolen. All soon after saying “yes” to the call . We have seen God provide along the way, strengthen when we had none, and shine brightly in the darkness of our confusion and fatigue. And now they will get to as well.

And it won’t simply just be for their training, it will be for their infilling.  They will come to the end of themselves, and cry out to the Living God to fill them, and then, and only then, will they have anything to offer those around them.

One of our brave launch team members, savoring the quiet of baby cuddles as she walks through the storm of trials.

One of our brave launch team members, savoring the quiet of baby Judah cuddles as she walks through the storm of trials.

From the Mouths of Babes…two year old arguments

While camped out in the Costco parking lot, awaiting the rescue forces of my husband and co-worker to a pregnant damsel in distress with five children and a lot of melting frozen groceries because of car trouble, I observed this dubious duo at it again, debating over the messiness of smoothies.

Each kid had one (thanks to the random lady that felt sorry for this pregnant lady with five kids and an overflowing grocery cart who shoved money in my hand and said, “Go, buy your babies some ice cream).  So the healthier option of smoothies were purchased and we marched out to the car, buckled everyone in, loaded an enormous amount of food into the trunk, and realized the car was going no where. In the brief amount of time when I kept trying to start it, and then call my husband to come rescue us, Malachi managed to spill his bright purple smoothie in his car seat.  As I was getting him out of the hot, non-moving car I chided myself “Why did I give you this. Smoothies are too messy for two year olds in the car.”

Boys hanging out in cart (contained!) and awaiting rescue from car trouble

Boys hanging out in cart (contained!) and awaiting rescue from car trouble

So as the boys sat in the cart while we waited, Benjamin says,

“Smoothies are a yittle bit messy in the car, right Ma-ki?”

And his two year old pipes up “Noooo”

The boys beginning their discussion of smoothie messiness

The boys beginning their discussion of smoothie messiness

“Yes, dey is.”

“Noooo…”

Benjamin pauses to think about it…

IMG_4889

And resumes his insistence that smoothies ARE messy…

“Ma-ki, smoothies IS messy”

“Nooo…” Malachi insists.

“Yes, dey is!”

“Noooo!”

“YES, DEY IS MESSY!!”

“Nooooooooo!!!!”

and this continued for several minutes…

And if someone doesn’t agree with you in a very obvious argument, you obviously should pinch their face so they can see the light of your reason…

 

Benjamin pinching "the reason" into his argumentative brother

Benjamin pinching “the reason” into his argumentative brother

After working THAT out, I tried to recapture the argument, and in this case, maybe the pinching worked for Malachi was much more agreeable this go round (of course, it always works that way…you can never quite capture the moment again on camera)

 

 

Follow the Cloud

“…the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.”

 Deuteronomy 1:33

He did this very thing.

My husband had been telling me to write a book for the past three years.

I just laughed at him.

“About what?!?”

“What do I possibly know enough about to actually write a whole book about?”

Well, as my plans to return to Newark, faded into the upcoming move to Atlanta last spring, Danny kept saying,

“I really think this might be the season for you to write a book.”

Still, I had no idea how that would play out.

Then late May of 2013, my friend who was living in Swaziland, contacted me:

“I know this sounds crazy, but as I continue to pray for you, I can’t help the feeling that we are suppose to embark on some sort of writing project together.”

Ok, Lord, I get it,

And the cloud started moving.

So after we moved and got settled in Norcross, GA we started scheduling time to sit and listen to the Lord and ask Him what sort of writing project we were to embark on and what it was suppose to be about.

Mind you, we were in different countries, different continents, different time zones, different hemispheres. And the same cloud that moved in my heart, moved in hers, and we started piecing together what this book might be about, what it might be called, how it might be formatted.

And little by little, piece by piece, a book began to be formed. Lots of listening, and journaling, and scribbling on little notecards was engaged in. We recruited prayer warriors.  We spent time on our faces.  We spent time listening to Jesus on the cracking phone line because making phone calls from Swaziland isn’t the easiest experience.

I popped in another Veggie Tales movie, when I should have been homeschooling my 4 year old and monitoring my 3 and 1 year old, and I typed.

And I stayed up until 3 and 4 am at least once a week typing away, studying away. The Cloud was saying “move!” push forward, write every spare minute, move forward. And I did.

And it came together, our book called,

Radical Tabernacle

God came to dwell among us. That He might dwell in us. That we might dwell among them.

A discourse on the elements of the Old Testament Tabernacle, the ways they were fulfilled in Christ, and how they continue to be fulfilled in and through us, as Christ lives in and through us.

In January,  we had gotten 90% of the book done, when a literary agent asked for a book proposal. We scrambled to even figure out how to write one, then put it together to present.  That’s when we got our first rejection letter, due to too small of a platform.

And now, due to a very challenging pregnancy, it has taken the past three months to finish this last 10% of the rough draft.  The Cloud has said , “camp” simply through a body and foggy brain that can hardly get three meals a day ready for five children, much less stay up late to write a book. I am so thankful that the Cloud said move hard, move fast last fall, and that I followed, for at this point, and this pace, this book would NEVER have been written.  But God, in a certain window of intense availability and energy, He prompted us into this adventure.  May I never miss another prompting, simply for the the miracle I have seen Him bringing about in this process.

~~~~~~~~

But here we are now, ready to enter into the heavy editing phase, and the Lord has kept bringing us to Scripture about the consecration of the Tabernacle and the rededication of the Temple (the permanent Tabernacle).

Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them. Exodus 40:9-11

and then in 2 Chronicles 29:15-17, after a long rebellion of the Lord, the people reconsecrate, clean out, and anoint the elements of worship in the (now permanent) tabernacle

When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the Lord, as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord.  The priests went into the sanctuary of the Lord to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the Lord. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley.  They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of theLord. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the Lord itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.  2 Chronicles 29:15-17

And now we clean up, we reconsecrate our manuscript, we listen long, and sort through and we ask the Lord, “What stays?” “What goes?” and “What is still needed?” We pray over and ask for the anointing of the Spirit of God over each element of this manuscript. And we would ask for prayer as we enter into this task.

Nicole, my co-author, has blogged about prayer requests as we enter into this phase, if anyone is interested in helping pray us through this process. And for all of you who have been praying, and cheering us on,

Thank you.

And may each of you continue to follow the Cloud of the Presence of God as He leads you and prompts you, the thrilling adventure that awaits is never a dull one….and never an easy one.

The Only Way to Get Past Your Past

I yelled at my kids today.

ALOT.

Don’t get me started on how I felt justified in it, and if they would just actually OBEY then it wouldn’t drive me to that point, or how Danny’s been out of town, so I’ve been single parenting five, make that 8 kids if you count the neighborhood kids that have moved in this week, and then this week, of all weeks when Danny’s not here,  major neighborhood drama has happened and I’ve been in the middle of it helping sort it all out….no, I don’t need to make excuses.

I need to make apologies.

And along with all the yelling over their disobedience today, I did yelled an encouraging word  (notice thats a singular there ).

One that spoke

RIGHT BACK AT ME….

Trying to snag a few moments to exercise, and salvage my sanity, I dragged  all the kids over to the school track to play while I attempted to run laps…and run off frustration.

running-track-renovation

My oldest, all blonde locks and gangly legs wants to race me….

given a generous head start, I sprinted after him, and nearly caught up to him because he kept turning back to look and see where I was.

I yelled up to him

“DON’T LOOK BACK! IT WILL ONLY SLOW YOU DOWN!”

Don’t look back.

It will only slow you down.

“Don’t look back, running mamma, it will only slow you down.”

Because many a time, I catch myself about to hug or tickle or speak an affirming word, and that voice in my head says

“You don’t deserve to do that….you were just yelling at them 20 minutes ago.”

or

“You, hypocrite. They’ll never believe you love them, you’ve only been beastly to them today.”

and at these times,

I can’t look back.

for it will only slow me down.

So I cling to the promises, and I claim them in my day.

Because I have a marathon to run with children.  Today’s sprint might have been a stumbling, and I may have tripped and fallen in anger and frustration.  But there are many miles ahead.

So, I’ll keep my eyes on where I’m going, and let these guideposts show me where I’m headed.

Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins. 

I Peter 4:8

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  

Philippians 3:12-14

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things.

 Love never ends.

I Corinthians 13:4-8

I have a Savior that ran this race perfectly.  A Savior who took the punishment for all my stumblings.  A Savior that rose again from the death that my sin brought. A Savior who went to the Father, that His Spirit might come to me.  A Savior who says,

Don’t look back.

I already took care of it.

It will only slow you down.

How to really be where you really are.

Image

A husband deliriously ill.  A set of children who needed to get to school, who would have gotten there by that aforesaid husband, who now needed a wife to run the carpool and hunt down a doctor’s appointment.  The one year old is half eating-half finger painting oatmeal over kitchen table.  One kid is still deep in slumber, another having just stirred due to wetting the bed from such slumber. A quick dash out the door with school kids and oatmeal boy (now wiped up), hoping the groggy ones won’t reap typical destruction in the forty-five minute time it will take me to return. The trash is overflowing…sick husband can hardly lift his head, much less it. Oatmeal bowls towering precariously, oatmeal artwork crusting away on table, wet bedsheets, and the doctors calls all await my return.

The day planned for all the laundry and those extra chores, and three errands, and that appointment, and a hoped-for chance to exercise, that day that had been laid out in a mind distracted from the present to the future dreamings of “all she was going to get done”…… now that day rearranges to revolve around getting ill husband to a doctor, with three small kids in-tow.

During the drive-to-school- turned-Scripture-memory-time, we sang and resang the passage we’ve been working on. Until…until the looooong line of traffic was noticed.  Not in front of me, but rather to the left of me, the entire route that would take me back home, to a 4 and 3 year old under the care of a sleeping,  feverish, delirious husband. The questions and chatter from the kids in the car were tuned out. Suddenly mother was transported, transported to sitting in traffic, stressing about hurrying home, agonizing over how long it was taking. Shoulder’s tense, the priceless moments with chatty children are escaped, escaped into a stressful scenario not even reality.

And she was no longer present in the present.

Her mind carried her to a future, predicted, imagined moment not yet happening, or maybe never to happen.

“Whatever is true….think on these things.”  Philipians 4:8 
 
What is NOW is what is real. What is tangible. What is enjoyable and savorable. But this is not what I was living in.  I was living in the imagined stress, the conjured prediction that i would be sitting in traffic for an hour just to get back home again.  But it wasn’t real.  It wasn’t true. And the opposite of truth, are LIES. The hurry of my heart and mind, keep me there, bound by lies of anticipated future and unable to savor and receive the present.
Sitting in a car with children ripe for receiving attention and heart probing questions…THAT was real.
Getting time with the older ones without a whining three year old and a complaining-about-her-seatbelt four year old…THAT was true.
A chance to sing together, or laugh together, or tell a funny childhood story…THAT was a reality.
An opportunity to really ask questions about the passage of Scripture being memorized…THAT was truth.
But all those, they slipped by…I exchanged the truth for a lie (Romans 1) and meditated on the imagined annoyance of having to wait in miles of traffic while little kids and husband needed me.  Where I was, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t real. And those kind of lies bring death, and steal, and kill, for they are from the one, that ancient serpent, whose purpose is to do such.
It was a death of opportunity.
It was the stealing of my moments.
It killed my joy.
As what was REALLY happening, crystalized in my mind- what was real came into focus again.
And Mamma was present in the present again. So, long hugs were lingered over and heartfelt prayers poured. And life and courage and approval were spoken over, into those children instead of a hurried, “Bye, honey, have a good day!” so i could rush off to the anticipated reality that was not yet.
And He, gentle Teacher, and Loving Father gave me a picture, to lead me into worship and prayer.
IMG_3034
Under a sky like that, traffic time can be prayer time and therefore productive time. Joyous time. Time in the PRESENT.
And lo, and behold, that long line of cars had already begun to dissipate by the time my faithful minivan drove up to join the ranks of sitting.
All that worry, stress, and missing LIFE….all over a LIE.  Something that was not, nor ever would be TRUE.
…whatever is TRUE, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.   Phillipians 4:8
….and tonight, my husband played THIS for me….an expression of the same heart lesson, much more poetically communicated….

Lord, I want to see!

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more,

“Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,

“What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see!”, he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

(Luke 38:40-42)

And I also call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

As the diapers needs changing, the bathwater is overflowing, lasagna is still smeared over the kitchen floor, dishes are piled high, while the clean clothes are piled higher on the beds that need to soon be gotten into. The girls are nit-picking at each other, and a son is in tears over a Lego castle recently destroyed by one of the smaller sons….

He asks,

“What do you want me to do for you?”

I could tell him I want a personal maid, and perfect children, and a nice long vacation,

but instead, I cry,

“Lord! I want to see!

I want to see past all the work that these little people create, to the wonder of their little personhood.

I want to see the little struggles they have that are nuisances to my getting dinner on the table, as opportunities to engage in their world.

I want to see each as an individual, rather than a collective herd of noise and need.

I want to see, really see into their eyes, rather than a blur of tops of their heads as I bark orders over them.

Lord, I want to see!

I want to see each moment as a chance to REALLY be HERE, rather than view each moment as a means to the ever-elusive, and never-attained “there” where all the work is done, and the house is tidy, and the kids are calm and I can finally be content.

I want to see, really see, each person I encounter at the check out line, the grocery store, or neighborhood park as a soul, that will only be satisfied in knowing the Living Water, Jesus.

I want to see these neighborhood kids, not as increases in decibels, mouths to feed, and wear and tear on our house, but as little disciples that get to experience the reality of Christ in our home, and the feeding that happens when we feast on his Word.

I want to see my husband as the one I get to be a helpmate for, rather than just another set of adult hands to help me deal with this chaos called KIDS.

I want to see my Maker’s creativity in the fall foliage, the brilliant sun streams through the trees, the call of the owl, and the rhythm of the crickets song, rather than rush right past it all, just as thankless as if I were blind and deaf.

Lord, I want to see!

And often it’s the noise, not the visual that causes the blindness.

The internal noise, the head noise, the to-do list rattling off in my brain, the worry over an upcoming situation, the self-degrading inner talk over the failures of the day.

Its the noise that keeps me blind.

“Lord, I want to see!”  the blind man told him.

“Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

And the cure is in the receiving. The cure is in the faith that it takes to be still enough to receive.

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)

Its in sitting before Jesus’ feet, its in seeping in His Word, its in being still and knowing that He is God, its in the seemingly-not-so-productive act of worshipping Him for His Character.

And right there, in Isaiah, and then again in Luke, I see I can choose my blindness.

He offers me sight, He offers me salvation. He offers me strength.

but if I don’t take the time, this moment, to be still enough to receive it, I declare that I “will have none of it”.

May it not be so.

Jesus!

Son of David, have mercy on me!

Lord, I want to see!

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Never Heard

Blank stares met the mention of his name.

Again, I asked, have you heard of him?

Just a few blinks.

and the shake of a head.

Never heard of my Best Friend.  Never heard of my Encourager. Never heard of my Daily Strength. Never heard of the One who spoke the universe into existence, and sustains it there daily. Never heard of my Father, and the One who speaks to Him on my behalf.  The One who endured hell, so that I can experience love unlimited, and grace unmerited, and forgiveness abundant, and a Power that is not my own. The one who entered into the mess I have made with my stubborn, selfish heart. Dealt with the consequences of my rebellion of my Creator, took all the punishment and wrath I deserve for the sickness of my self-centered heart…and those times I’ve yelled at my kids and the mean things I think and the messed-up priorities I have and the pride that wells up in my heart. He took what I deserved, let me go free, free to be alive to the Source of Life. Free to live in a power and strength and a motivation that I could never muster in my own will.

I stood their desperately trying to eek out an explanation of Who He is.  How do you even start, when there isn’t even a frame of reference?  A golden opportunity to share with this man the greatest JOY of my life,  but at the same time utter chaos ensued, and I’m left pondering what I could have done differently. I’m left wondering how many others I pump gas next to, and stand in the check out line beside, and buy coffee from who HAVE NEVER HEARD the sweet name of

JESUS.

That afternoon on the way home, we met a Russian woman who didn’t have a place to live. She told us she was willing to work and help out with housework…well, we were in the middle of cleaning up from the mold and hauling things to the curb to be picked up  by the trash collector, so we told her we could give her some work and try to help her out.  We brought Lucy home with us, and I told her what I had on the agenda for that day…spraying down items with mold-killing chemicals and cleaning up inside my disastrous house.  While we worked she told me her “story”. Catholic in background,  A “mail order bride” who came to the States to marry someone who found her profile on the internet. A six year marriage ended in divorce, a few nanny jobs, and jumping around from house to house, whoever would take her in.  My mind is reeling as I work alongside her and I brainstorm how we can help her when we don’t even have a home to live in either. We take a water break as I regroup for the next task, and she tells me.

“I hope you don’t mind, but God doesn’t want me to do this work. Someone else can help you. God has important work for me to do. I want to leave.”

Ok, I think.  “Well, she can just hang out, while I work and when Danny gets back with the car we can take her wherever she wants to go”

I wanted to at least read Scripture with her, because despite her frequent mention of God, we can always benefit from reminders of the TRUTH.

As I sit down and get my Bible out, she tells me

“I don’t need to read that, God speaks to me already.”

and this is when I start to get suspicious. Of mental disorder, and other principalities at work.

It was when I was talking to “Kenny” (his American name) that I really knew there were other principalities at work….

We had headed outside after an around and around conversation on my desire to read some Scripture together for mutual encouragement, and her frequent interruptions to keep me from reading it.

Thats when Kenny pulled up, and started looking at the stuff we had put out on our curb.  I started talking to him and explaining what was wrong with the stuff, and we got to talking about how he had four daughters, and Lucy immediately said “Oh, he NEEDS this stuff! He has four babies! You need to give him this stuff!” I started explaining again about the situation with all the items and he said “Oh I don’t really need it anyways.”

While he was there, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, so I started asking him questions.  From Vietnam. Buddhist. Been in the States eight years. When I asked him if he had heard of Jesus, is when I got the blank stares.

I was taken aback by him not knowing ANYTHING about Jesus.  My mind went reeling as to “where to start?” and I started explaining creation and the God who made it all.

This is when Lucy and whatever principality was at work in her, started bringing utter chaos.  She immediately started saying again, “This man needs these things! Let him take this bike! Let him take these clothes!”

He told me that he didn’t really want them, and I kept trying to share the story of creation, and Lucy kept saying that he was in desperate need and should take all the stuff I was getting rid of…this mad circle of conversation ensued for the next 5 minutes until, Kenny said “I think I need to go”. Lucy begged him for a ride, and she piled into his truck with him. and they drove off.

And I stood in my yard dumbfounded.

Dumbfounded about the bizarre scenario that had just unfolded before me.

Dumbfounded that a man who had never even heard the name of Jesus had been standing right before me.

Dumbfounded that I wasn’t able to share this incredible story of love, and redemption with him…..all because of a crazy, homeless, Russian lady who we had randomly picked up at the CVS.

and pondering how many more people live in my Atlantan-suburban city, who have come from countless other countries, and have yet to hear of my Savior, much less meet Him.

Do I have the eyes to see them? And the heart and mouth to engage them?

My friend, Susan Lytle, who graciously shares Christ with many people, has written up a little step by step way of taking the heart to engage those that haven’t heard, into the practical realm of actually engaging them . 

Notes on “Sharing Jesus Without Fear”
There is MUCH joy that we receive when we’re obedient to God in sharing the Gospel!
When we stop sharing our faith, things become routine and we can become spiritually lethargic, etc. This effects many churches.
It’s not about heaping guilt, its about the privilege of the process, about knowing God’s Word and obeying the Holy Spirit. Living our lives for Him, vs ourselves.
A few conversation starters..

1- Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?

2-To you, who is Jesus?

3- Do you believe there is a heaven and hell?

4- If you died today, do you know where you would go?

**follow up question: 

“If what you’re believing is not true, would you want to know?”

If they say “no”, you stop. This helps you to know if God is working in this person.

Using your bible (preferable a small one that you can have with you) Write down the next scripture verse in the margin so you know where to go next. Earmark or memorize Rom 3:23 to begin.

go to the first scripture (Rom 3:23). Try to avoid getting into arguments over statements like “the Bible has errors”, etc (you can kindly respond by asking them to please show you one)

Faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Ask them to read aloud:

Romans 3:23.

Then ask, “what does it say to you?”

Them-“we’ve all sinned”

You- “you’re right”. Turn the page..keep going. Let GOD do the work..they can’t say it’s you.

Go to Rom 6:23  (The wages of sin is death (hell), but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ.” 
After they read it, say “Did you notice in the Bible, it reminds me (point to self) that even one sin would send me to hell? (Anywhere in the bible where it speaks of death/separation from God, it’s referring to hell) “In” reminds me that I need to be IN a relationship with God.”

Ask them to read John 3:3 aloud. Afterwards you can say “are you wondering how to get this relationship with God?”

Next verse- John 14:6 “I am the way , the truth & the life”)  “What does this mean to you?”

 (some verses that confirm Jesus being God: Luke 23:2-3, John 1:34-36, 3:36, 4:26, 5:24, 11:25, 12:3, 17:3, 20:31, Acts 4:12, 10:34-43, 26:18)

Romans 10:9-11, (“That if you confess your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” )read aloud. “What does it mean to you?”

2 Cor 5:15        (“And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”)

Isaiah 1:18       (“Come, now, let us reason together, “says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, ;they shall be as white as snow; though they are read as crimson, they shall be like wool”.

Rev 3:20  (“Here, I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and He

Additional verses that are good- Mark 1:15 (“…repent and believe in the gospel..”) “believe” means put your trust in.

Luke 10:25-28 “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Christian is often afraid of “the decision”, sometimes thinking it’s up to them, rather than the work of the Spirit.

Follow-up questions:

1- Do you believe you’re a sinner? 

2- Do you want forgiveness for your sins?

3- Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?

4- Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus?

5- Are you ready to invite Jesus into your life and follow Him? 

Whenever you ask #5, “shut up and pray’. This is a holy moment, the most important question they’ll ever hear. 

  2 Last principles:

“Read it again principal”- Don’t try to play theologian if they get stuck on a scripture. Just ask them to read it again & watch God reveal the truth to them. 
 

If they say “no”…use the “why principal”-

“I’m not sure this is the only religion, there’s a lot of them.”

Answer- There are really only two: 1-Christianity- Jesus is God, He had to come to us, we couldn’t get to Him. 2- Everything else- Jesus is not equal to God & you have to use some effort on your part to get to heaven.  One belief or the other is in vain.

“I’m not good enough.” (back to Romans 10:9-11 “..ANYONE who calls on the Name..”

“Do I have to give up relations with my boyfriend?” 

Do not wimp when answering biblically when conviction of sin is surfacing. They have a choice to make to follow Jesus. Never “force” a decision by making it easier or watering it down. Let them go. You’ve done what God has asked you to do. The Father is in control 🙂

Summary of verses:

Rom 3:23 (we’re sinners)

Rom 6:23 (penalty for sin)

John 3:3 (Jesus crucified) 

John 14:6 (I am the Way)

Rom 10:9-11 (Anyone who calls on the Name)

2 Cor 5:15 (turn from and turn to..I no longer want to live for myself)

Is 1:18 (Come let us reason together)

Rev 3:20 (Jesus is knocking at the door) 

 

 

The death of grumbling

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did….we should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-and we’re killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did- and were killed by the destroying angel.” 1 Corinthians 10:6,8-10

There you have it, ranked up there with sexual immorality and testing the Lord, the sin that brings death is the sin of grumbling…

And to combat the grumbling, I will count the gifts.

The only other alternative is death…
Death of contentment
Death of peace in our home
Death of relationship with my kids
Death of love and romance in my marriage
And most importantly, death of communion with my Father.
There are only two options, either death of all these things,
or the death of grumbling.
So let grumbling die, that abundant life might flourish…

The gift list continues….

70. Long nature walks with kids
71. The wonder of spotting an alligator and many turtles lazing in the sun
72. Little legs learning to walk
73. Little brothers playing like puppies and thinking it’s hysterical
74. Overhearing Trinity belting out songs downstairs
75. Baby fingers always exploring
76. Car rides with the kids and a captive audience to missionary biographies
77. A seven year old’s eagerness to obtain his own Bible so he can read it for himself
78. Backyard forts built by my own little brood plus neighborhood kids
79. The accomplishment of my little five year old shedding her training wheels
80. comraderie formed with my husband over surviving the young years and all that entails
81. The words ” I love you, Mommy”
82. Knowing the grace associated with those words, because that day I didn’t deserved to be loved as a mommy.
83. Little hands trying to be helpful
84. The community of believers who rally around
85. Learning to laugh over the ridiculously hard things, instead of cry over them
86. The physical act of laughing
87. Green eggs and green grits to celebrate St. Patricks day
88. The life and example of St. Patrick
89. Neighbors who love and enjoy our kids despite the noise level and mess level of our yard
90. Korean women bustling around the church kitchen
91. Running water
92. The ENDLESS playfulness of my two year old
93. Katy-Grace doing the “Ducks Waddling” song
94. The sounds of keys hitting strings which results in beautiful melodies
95. Being part of a homeschool co-op
96. That plans out and executes the science and art projects
97. So I don’t have to
98. A very faithful washing machine and dryer
99. The satisfaction of making your own laundry detergent
100. With little girls who are ever learning how to run their own home one day

Faith Builder

**I recently submitted this to a writing contest about how God grows our faith through pregnancy. Thought I’d post it, too.

Those stable, responsible let-me-tell-you-what-I-know church goers there in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. thought they were doing us a favor by telling this energetic, young, poor newly-wed couple about how to build a family.

“You really should have a couple of years to really get to know each other and build your relationship first.”

And what doesn’t build a relationship more than patience through pregnancy hormone swings, and late night craving runs, and a wife that learns to serve her husband even when she’s dead exhausted.

“You definitely should get yourself financially established first. Children are very expensive.”

And doesn’t the One who knits the priceless form in the womb, who provides the miracle of the eye, or the steadfastness of the beating heart, or the complexity of the human cell also know how to provide some clothing to cover it all and a place to lay the slumbering life, with a few diapers thrown in?

“Your education is crucial, and you should be able to use your abilities in your career before you get tied down with children.”

And the kind of education that lasts forever is the sanctifying one that a new human wholly dependent on you creates, and my abilities poured out to enable another’s to grow and flourish is the closest career I can find to the career path of my Lord, who lived, and died, not for Himself but for others.

Nope, we decided to let God be God. Not that it wasn’t scary. Not that we didn’t know how on earth we would pay for, provide for, give our lives for the gift of a child. But we knew a God, who from the beginning of time, built families in His perfect timing and way. As far as we reckoned, so far He had done a pretty good job so we’d let him keep at it.

His building of ours started five months into this marriage. Exactly two weeks before our health insurance would have covered a pregnancy. Exactly. On. Time.

On time for God to prove that if He decided to give a child to a ramen-eating, don’t-turn-on-the-heat-in-this-borrowed-house-because-we-can’t-afford-the-bill, couple who had just finished pleading with the insurance company that we were just a mere 14 days away from the insurance kick in date, then if they merely learned to plead to Him, He would blow.their.minds.

Hand in hand and heart in heart, we did plead with Him.
And He did blow our minds.

It wasn’t twenty minutes before the phone rang.

And on the other line was a job offer that would start 3 months before the due date, which would provide health insurance, including “pre-existing” conditions…..like pregnancies. And deliveries. Which ended up being in a hospital that could have been mistaken for a five star hotel.

And that was just the beginning.

Maternity clothes, crib and pack’n’play, strollers, car seats, clothes, blankets, pacifiers, diapers, more clothes, slings, more diapers (a three month supply!), baby medicines, bottles, breast pumps, baby books, baby toys, gift cards…..

All started streaming in.

We did not pay one dollar towards the needs of this child until he was four months old. We did not purchase one article of clothing for him until he was four years old.

If this God we serve can knit a miracle together in my womb, you better believe He knows how to come up with some diapers for that miracle’s bum.

And He knows how to breath faith into His children who, (even nervously) let HIM be the builder of the family.

How’s that for a response to those responsible, wise words which counseled against our first-born’s existence.

 

The Little Evangelist

Image 20

He thought of it all by himself.

My tender at times, but all-boy at others, oldest child.

The child that I desperately wanted to homeschool.  The child who was sent off to “big, bad public school”, by a tearful mommy.

The child who I caught using God’s name in vain, which resulted in a LONG talk (and by God’s grace, NOT a lecture, but truly a talk) about honoring God and not giving in to what his peers were doing.

The child who was overjoyed that we were doing Christmas clubs so that his classmates could hear about the real reason for Christmas (or maybe it was more because tons of kids were coming over!)

That child who sometimes gets under my skin and exasperates me with his immaturity, but who also dumbfounds me with ideas like this one.

“Mommy”, he says, “I have a good idea.  Kyle and Christian and Josh don’t know about Jesus and the Bible, so what if I bring our Jesus Storybook Bible in for show and tell..”

jesus-story-book-bible

“…And then we could give one to everybody in my class, so they could read it at home like we do…and we could give one to everyone in my reading group, too”

I was thrilled that he even thought of this idea.

Paying for the idea, did not thrill me though.

We tallied it up and we needed to buy thirty-two books, that are at least $10-$15 a pop.

We already had several that Danny had bought for oober cheap in bulk, and we needed $200 to get the rest of them.

Very impressed by the biography of George Muller, we decided to start asking God for the money to buy the Bibles.

and we kept asking.

and we kept asking.

and I looked at the calendar and counted down the weeks until school gets out, and how long it will take to get the books after we order them.

So I decided God could use me holding a yard sale to provide the money for the Bibles.

I worked hard and stayed up late each night preparing and we gathered and priced and sold our things in preparation for our move,

and we made $160.

“Not too shabby…I’m sure God can bring the next $40 in somehow”, I think to myself.

The very next day at church, with my feet still hurting from being on them so much from running the yard sale, and my body still weary from all the late nights and lack of sleep,

someone comes up to me and hands me

a check

for $200.

And my son, and his weary mother, stand in awe of the God who provides for Daniel Josiah’s first (of, hopefully, many) big endeavor to share the love and truth of a God and Savior, whom he has started to fall in love with at this young age.

And as a seven year old, he sees that

money follows ministry. And if God has put something on your heart, and its really from Him, no matter how big or small, He will provide for it.

And our job is to ask, expect, and receive.

Not for US, but for the sake of HIS GOOD NEWS being made known among the nations, even here in Oviedo, FL.

 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:13-14

one of his moments of hilarious immaturity...I told him to pick up and he started taping things to the wall...

one of his moments of hilarious immaturity…I told him to pick up and he started taping things to the wall…

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