Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Worst Chapter In The Bible

I've been reading through some sections of the Old Testament in preparation for a sermon.  In 1 Kings 8 we learn that Solomon finished building the Temple and had the Ark of the Lord moved from David's temporary tent into the newly completed Most Holy Place.  Once it was moved they planned to have a ceremony but this happened:

“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord.  And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.” 1 Kings 8:10-11

Several times I read that with a sense of awe and fascination.  I wondered, “Could that ever happen to me?  Could the glory of God fall so thick around me that I just had to stop?”  I continued my reading and searching until I came to another question.  “When and why did God’s presence ever leave?”  In my search for the answer to this question I came to the worst chapter in the Bible: Ezekiel 10.

“Then the glory of the Lord departed…” Ezekiel 10:18

Prophets had been warning Israel of what would happen if they didn’t turn from their sin.  Israel didn’t listen.  The glory of God left.

I had an awesome conversation with some close friends this morning over breakfast.  We discussed these Scriptures and shared about the things in our lives that we have seen to invite or reject the sacred presence of God.  I remembered back to the sin-filled times in my life as the worst chapters.  What should I expect?  Did I think a holy God would dwell in the midst of a wicked man?  He needed to prepare a place where His Name would be glorified.  It wasn’t until I began the cooperative work of cleansing my Temple, my heart and soul and mind, that the presence of God returned to my life.

Many worst chapters are being written today.  There are those who claim the Name of God and do not see sin as incompatible with His presence.  Temples must be cleansed.  Hearts, minds, souls and bodies must be remade in the image of Christ so that God can dwell among us and be glorified through us.

Solomon asked the question, “But will God really dwell among us?”  In these last days before Easter I encourage you to pray and ask God to search your heart for areas where the fullness of His presence is rejected due to unholiness or unrighteousness.  What a beautiful way to spend this Easter weekend!  People of God, be filled with His glory!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Story Behind the Gift

Remember the generous woman we spoke about in our recent video? She wrote a beautiful letter below sharing the story behind her gift. We were moved and know it will bless you as well! 

"In the summer of 2013 when I heard the exciting news of Nathan and Jade being called to Uganda I was beyond excited. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to get to know Jade and Nate over the last few years. I knew from the beginning that I was going to help them by praying for them as well as help them financially along the way. I will be honest here, I was going to give them my hundred dollars and be proud of myself for giving so much money. I am a single mom that until recently didn’t have the best paying job. Well little did I know God had been working out a completely different plan for Nathan, Jade and I. Let me back up a little bit. A few years ago I started working a job that I absolutely love, but the money was not enough to support my daughter and I. We had been struggling but I continued to pray that God had something better for us. God has since then provided me with a second job. For the first time in nearly 5 years I am back on my feet. I am finally not worried about paying bills, buying food or clothes for my daughter. It has taken so much stress off of my shoulders. Finally I can relax.

A few months ago I could feel God tell me that part of the money in my bank account was not mine; more exactly $1,000 no longer belonged to me. I said “Are you sure about that God? I think those pay checks came with my name on them.” God and I had a few conversations about this. I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly. I had only, in the last year or so, really learned what His voice sounded like. Eventually He was able to get His point across to me. However at that point He did not tell me who the money belonged to.

A few weeks ago I was sitting next to Nate and Jade in Sunday school and Nate shared that his last day of work at IWU was going to be that Friday. He was going to be depending on God and the Church to support him and his family. I can’t imagine stepping out in faith like that. Putting my life out there on the line for someone else to pick up the slack. What if the money didn’t come in? What if I got sick? What if I changed my mind? What if the funding didn’t come in for our trip? What if…what if…what if… Right then I was brought to tears. I knew I needed to pray about this. I spent the rest of the week praying. The beginning of the next week I had the opportunity to meet with Nate and Jade to share how God had been speaking to me and leading me to help them. I shared the amount that God had placed on my heart to share with them. I know that this was exactly what God had planned for me. In the past I would have been very upset to have lost or spent $1,000 in one day. I would have been counting down the days to the next pay check. I would have been worried about how to pay the next set of bills. However since this was God's plan, I know He has it under control. I do not need that money. I do not miss that money. I am not worried about replacing that money.

This is not the end of the story. God has not finished this journey for Nate, Jade and I. He is pushing me again to give. I attempted to explain to God that "I have been tithing to my home church regularly just as He asked me to and isn’t that good enough?" His answer is “Doesn’t your church move into Uganda with Nate and Jade? Doesn’t that part of your church deserve your support too?”  Since my church is growing, my support must grow as well. When God is whispering something in your ear, when He is encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone, DO IT!!! His plan is always perfect!!! EVERYTIME! Even when it feels uncomfortable, awkward or difficult it is always perfect!!!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blessings in the Deep End

Sit down with a hot cup of coffee and listen to how God has poured His blessings on our family in the last ten days.  Thank you for your part in the work.  We love you and appreciate you!

Prayer Podcast

Nathan had the privilege of guest-speaking on a World Gospel Mission podcast 'Concert of Prayer'. Take five minutes and listen to his thoughts on how prayer impacts evangelism. Our family can testify to the truth that prayer makes a difference! 
Go here to listen to it. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Preparing the House for Sale: Day One

Four years ago I (Nathan) asked a couple friends to paint a mural on Ezra's wall to help welcome him into our home. Today we began painting over the wall in preparation to sell the house. What an amazing four years it has been! When I asked Ezra how he felt about painting the wall he said, "Well, Jesus won't be on my wall anymore but He will always be with us."

Today is Day One of our work to prepare the house for sale.  Many of you have been praying for us and we can speak with confidence in how those prayers have changed things. God bless you.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Prayer Did This

Picture this: a mother holding her phone, checking her voicemail.  She puts the phone up to her ear and recognizes the voice of her lifelong friend.  The lifelong friend speaks and in doing so she trembles.  She is emotional.  She says she is leaving work and in the car in front of her is the mother's son.  The emotion welled up as she prayed for the son.  She was filled with thoughts about his future and how things had come to this.  The mother is deeply moved.

Now picture this: a young father sitting at a stop sign too long.  He is lost in thought.  It's the exit to a small campus where he has worked for the majority of his adult life.  Today he left his career to begin full-time missionary work.  God's will is not always easy.  On the drive out of the campus he waited for feelings of fear and insecurity to overwhelm him.  He was somewhat confused when he instead felt confidence.  The young father moved his lips silently in prayer as he accepted the words, "I was made for this".

In this grand picture we see how God uses prayer to change the lives of those who serve Him.  Saturday afternoon I called my mom to catch up.  She told me that she had received a voicemail from her lifelong friend who happened to be driving behind me (the mother's son) as I left work.  At the moment I expected fear to overwhelm me there was a soldier of God in the car behind me praying.  This story really happened!  God did it!

God has blessed our family with an army of soldiers like my mother's lifelong friend.  Through this army we're assured that we are not alone! We are a part of something the size of Heaven.  Rather than tears I sang songs.  Rather than fear I felt excitement.  Prayer did this.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Big Day

Well, today is the big day. The day we've been working towards for months. The day we have prayed over countless times.  The day that God has appointed. The day that Nate leaves Indiana Wesleyan University for our new title, "World Gospel Mission Missionary Disciples to Uganda." 

All week long I have been wrestling with butterflies in my stomach, fighting anxious thoughts and choking back the tears. This feels so big. This is so big. Last night I laid in bed and wept at the weight of it all. It felt good to release all that heaviness to the Lord.  

Do you ever find yourself laying something at the foot of the Cross and days later find yourself picking it right back up again?  This morning I knew I needed to set the tone of my home, to replace potential worry with worship, so I gathered all four of my babies to my bed for some time with Jesus.  I put on praise music and we read, prayed and drew pictures for Jesus. 

As we would discuss our feelings about selling our home, moving to Uganda in a few months and now relying on God and the Church to provide for us, the kids started telling God who He is. Their words were medicine to my soul. One after another they proclaimed:

God is real.
God is awesome.
God provides for us. 
Jesus gave His life for us.
God listens.
God cares for us.
God cares for our needs.
God likes us.
God gives us hope.

Amen! Amen! Amen! 
Thank you for faithfully praying for our family through this transition. We pray for you and thank God for you often!