Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Kind of Heroes

Began this post a year ago...came across it & felt to finish it up & post it...
"Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come." ~Psalm 71:18

"One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." ~Psalm 145:4

Hero - a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities

Recently I attended a conference for ministers in Alexandria, Louisiana called Because of the Times. The church the Pentecostals of Alexandria hosts this meeting each year and it is a HUGE blessing to ministers throughout the UPCI organization and beyond.

During the conference this year there was one major thing on my mind. Sacrifice. I am presently planning to go overseas to do mission work for the longest amount of time, by far, I have ever gone, and I already know...this isn't just a trip, but a beginning. A beginning to a future with extremely heavy reliance on faith & trust in God, and his leading, and guiding, and provision....It's a future that is very much based on God leading one step at a time, and trusting that every step will be secure. I am already quite familiar with this type of reliance, but know deep down I have really only touched the tip of the iceburg.

During BOTT the Stewarts, missionaries to Liberia, were asked to share their testimony. I had already had the privilege of meeting this wonderful couple the summer before at Louisiana camp meeting, but little did I know what all they had been through for the sake of Christ...There were many things they shared that day, but what stood out to me the most was that they had stayed in their country through many civil wars, even when our U.S. marines were evacuated...they still stayed. At one point the gunfire was very extreme near their home for a long period of time. During this time they ran out of food and water and drunk the water from their water bed for over a week, I believe,just to survive.

THIS is what REAL heroes look like:

And then, there was this man. I don't remember his name and had never seen him before. I probably wouldn't recognize him again if I saw him, but he made a huge lasting impression on me....You see, they were having drawings for door prizes, cds or something like that, and when each person's name was announced, so was their ministry...foreign missionary, home missionary, evangelist, pastor,etc. This man's name was announced, followed by "home missionary", as the man walked by me conviction seized my heart. He was well in his 70s at least and how was he spending the golden years of his life? Still working hard for the Kingdom. My hero.

And then there's another hero I want to talk about...Sis. Kristi Landaw. Her & her husband are missionaries to Trinidad & Tobago and also some Spanish speaking countries in the Caribbean. The first mission trip I ever took, right out of high school, was a YOM to Trinidad, so I, of course, got to know them quite well then, and later ended up attending Bible college with their children in Indianapolis. So, all that said, while I wouldn't consider myself close to them at this time, they still hold a dear place in my heart. Therefore, from the time I heard Sis. Landaw had cancer, I prayed for her often. A lot of missionaries going through what she went through could have thrown in the towel, and nobody would have probably thought it wrong at all, but they didn't. They fought. They prayed. And they won. They are back on the field & God is still doing a great work in Trinidad!

While writing the last part of this (now in 2012), I glanced at Sis. Landaw's FB page, and saw the lyrics to this song she had posted...believe it is very appropriate for what I am writing about:
Too many miles behind me too many trials are through
Too many tears help me to remember but there's too much to gain to lose
Too many sunsets lie behind the mountains
Too many rivers my feet have walked through
Too many treasures awaiting over yonder there's too much to gain to lose

"Too much to gain to lose"...That's a hero's mindset.

My heroes are not all missionaries, nor are they all full time ministers. But they are all people who no one need ask, for it is obvious, that they walk with God daily, for His beauty is reflected through their countenance & his power is displayed through their courage.

When I look at the type of people I have written about above, as part of the generation following them, I am encouraged that I too can do whatever God asks of me, no matter what may come my way, no matter how difficult or scary the task. Through people like this God's strength has been shown to this generation and His works have been praised. Their commitment itself shows that His acts are indeed mighty and well worth the sacrifice.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Never Never NEVER Give Up

"Never, never, NEVER give up." ~ Winston Churchhill

The blog below (posted by another one of my close friends) tells the testimony of a dear friend of mine, a friend I just met this last summer, but that I now feel like I've known forever. One day this last July her and another friend and I went to a restaurant for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. I had heard she had an amazing testimony and asked her to please tell me it. Two hours later this girl I had just met that morning had me in tears right there in that restaurant as she shared her testimony with me. The tears came because God in a strong way began to speak to me to never give up on anyone. To ALWAYS keep reaching and to NEVER place judgement. Isn't that exactly what Jesus would do?

I hope this short version of her testimony ministers to you as it did to me.

Fancy~Shmancy: A letter from Angel: "In late September, I met a young lady with a big smile and lots of spunk. Her and her friend Linda were introduced to me and my friends thro..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What If?

My friend sent me this very long text a few weeks ago and it got me thinking...
"What if God had nothing to offer? No blessings, no promises, no protection? And what if we had no knowledge of a heaven to go to for eternity? What if we didn't get anything out of living for God, but a relationship with Him? What if we got nothing out of it but God Himself? Would we be as driven to live for Him? And what if we didn't need Him or have to have Him to fulfill our needy list of prayer requests? What if we accepted him as He is, whether we agree or disagree with His plans? What if He became our love and we focused on worshipping Him in every way and loving on Him with our prayers instead of using our prayers to control or change a situation the way "we think God wants it to be?" What if we lived for and focused on loving and pleasing God? What if all that mattered was Him instead of what He can offer-no heaven, no promises, no blessings, no protection, no favor because of your obedience and fastings- nothing but His love, His presence, Himself? No strings attached on either side."

My initial thought when I first read the text was, "Wow, that would stink!" Some parts of the text itself were self-conflicting. Any God of love would desire to bless, protect, make and keep promises to, and provide for His children. If this desire is not present, love is not present and as anyone who serves Jesus knows, God IS Love. The god mentioned in that text wouldn't have died on Calvary, yet Love in flesh DID die on Calvary for us and rose again.

However, going along with the text, I did ask myself, "What If?"...quickly the words to one of my favorite songs came to mind:
"I was made to worship you, live for you, open up my mouth and praise you, I was made just for you, to adore you, you and only you."

Yes, I thought, I WOULD worship Him, even if He was a distant god and I was a pawn, because He is my creator and that's what I am created to do. But boy do I love him so much more knowing that he is an intimate God who knows both the thoughts and intents of my heart and loves me with an ever lasting love.

Later, the text wasn't on my mind, but while praying God reminded me of it again and I felt Him say, "Billions of people do this everyday."

I got the point...And my heart sunk.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. ~Psalm 115:5-8

I'm thankful I serve a LIVING God who is also a LOVING God. So many people know OF Him, but have yet to really KNOW Him. And there are still so many people who have yet to even hear the name Jesus.

I pray we never take our knowledge of the one true God forgranted.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Watching God Work

“When God is looking for someone to use He looks to the prison, not to the palace.” ~Rev. Jeff Sanders

Has God ever spoken something to you and you wish that He hadn’t? I don’t mean something chastising, but a word of direction regarding your future or a promise, yet you found yourself wishing that He had just kept you out of the loop?

I am, as some rednecks would say, a “get ‘er done” type person. I consider myself more a follower than a leader, but if I look around and no one is leading, I’ll usually take the reins and do what has to be done. So, if I’m at point A and you tell me I’m eventually going to be at point C, I intend on doing what it takes to get there…because that’s where I’m supposed to be going, right? Why waste time? Why take the 10 mile trail when there’s a 5 mile short cut?

So, when I, apparently at the right time, listened to a cd of a message Bro. Royce Wilson had spoken at BOTT 2009, a minister’s conference hosted every year by a church in Alexandria, I was reminded that, when God’s timing is right, He will begin to speak, but not before then.

You see, before listening to this message, I was getting pretty upset, and was letting God know about it. I was asking Him things like, “Why tell me something if there’s nothing I can do about it?” (Remember, my “take the reins” personality description up above?”) I felt God gently tell me, “Because you asked.”

“Ok…He did get me there.” I did ask. Every major decision I make I pray and fast about. And I had been doing a whole lot of that at this pivotal time in my life. So yes, He had answered and He had answered in more detail than I would ever have expected.

Yet, I still found myself wondering, why, knowing how I am, would you choose to show me this, a Point C with a road block? Then I felt God reply, “So you would have to trust me, and know it was me and me alone who got you there.”

Sometimes, if most people are in a lazy mood, they don’t have much of a problem sitting by letting someone do something on their own…but most people also, that have a high level of respect for someone, if they see them working on a project, etc, that they feel they could lend a hand to help with, are usually going to help, or feel guilty not doing so. And this is all well and good. But we have to be careful not to take this approach with God, remembering that His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. Usually his plan is so complex and so much better than what we would imagine that we would merely be in the way if we attempted to “help”.

Yes, faith without works is dead, but sometimes our “works” simply has to be to pray and continue to do what’s right.

Bro. Wilson’s message was about being a “stranger in the land of fulfillment”.
He talked about how when God gives you a promise, you are not crazy; it will come to pass. His references were to the story of Joseph. He also said you are not wrong to share that “dream”/ promise with people. It is true that they may take it the wrong way, but you are not wrong to share it. He goes on to talk about the different stages of fulfillment…One being the prison. This is where the words from Rev. Sanders stood out to me.. “When God is looking for someone to use He looks to the prison, not to the palace.” God doesn’t usually pull someone straight from the palace to do his work. There are things He wants you to learn so you are ready when He places you where He wants you. Sometimes you may have to go through many trials to reach this point. Perhaps the greater the call the greater the trials? Yes, this is a scary concept, but the more and more I read the bios of people of God who have been used mightily, the more this seems to be the case. Obviously it is not because God doesn’t care, it because He has faith you will endure, come out as gold, and will be able to be used at a level you never would have been prepared to have been used had you just experienced the palace, and not the prison also.

So, are you willing to watch God work? To trust Him with a hands off approach in whatever trial you may be facing?

You might be wondering, how can anything good happen or change if I’m just standing still? Sometimes you don’t have to understand something. You just have to believe God’s word & trust Him.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. ~Exodus 14:13

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. ~II Corinthians 20:17

Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. ~Job 37:14

Relax, Stand Still, & Watch. God is in control!
The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. ~Psalm 24:1