Saturday, December 14, 2013

What is missions mobilization?



        Lately, with the showing of the “Nefarious” film, a lot of emphasis in sharing about our ministry has been about trafficked women and children.  This part of the ministry vision is taking the Gospel to the least-loved people.  These women and children are many times looked down upon and neglected.
       But what is the second part of our team vision about?  When going to Romania, how can we say we are taking the Gospel to the least-reached people around the world?  In terms of percentages, Romania has one of the largest (if not the largest) evangelical Christian population in all of Europe.  What is interesting is that we felt drawn to ministry in Europe by seeing how un-evangelized the continent is.  “In Europe, fewer than one out of 1,000 people hold an evangelical faith” (Mandryk 363).  This means that the average European will NEVER in his or her lifetime encounter a Bible believing Christian.
       So why go to the country with one of the highest concentrations of Christians on the continent?  Multiplication and Mobilization.  Jamie and I are just two people.  However, if we go with the intention to multiply ourselves, then the possible numbers of Christians spreading the gospel cross-culturally are endless.  “Recent reports claim that only one out of 100 believers has any meaningful involvement in the Great Commission.  Imagine the difference that would result from just shifting that one to two believers out of 100.  That kind of shift might seem negligible, but it would double the resources engaged in the task” (Mandryk 367).  Missions mobilization is the desire to equip, train, and encourage believers to be involved with God’s kingdom work around the world.  Our desire is to see God “mobilize” His body to be involved in His work. 
       In front of me right now sits an 800 page book on missions and God’s work around the world.  It is the text book for the class “Perspectives in the world Christian movement.”  Lord willing, I hope to be a part of teaching this class in Romania and seeing God raise up thousands of Romanian missionaries to take the gospel around the world.  Missions mobilization is an effort to do our best to pass the torch to the next wave of missionaries that God is going to send out.  In America we have years and years of research and experience in missions.  Why not devote ourselves to passing on this experience to those going out so they don’t have to make the same mistakes we did?  
       Please be praying for the work God is doing in Romania.  Our team vision is to see God raise up and send out thousands of Romanian missionaries (traditional and tent-making) all across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the world.  Matthew 9:38 tells us, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."  We want to ask you to join us in praying specifically that God would greatly increase the amount of workers sent out from Romania.  The Christians are already there; they just need to be mobilized.


Mandryk, Jason. "The State of the Gospel." Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. 4th ed. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009. 361-68. Print.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When I Attach “for God” to My Selfish Ambition

       “If I…  Then God…” statements have flooded my life over the years.  If I get a master’s degree in English or Education, then God could send me as a “tent-maker” missionary to a country not open to the Gospel.  If I completely pay off my college debt, then I will be able to give more to God’s work.  The rationale behind these statements is, “If I do this.., then God will be able to use me more effectively.”  But the truth behind the statements is, “I want to do what I want, but I want to feel good about it.  Therefore, I will attach a clause about how God can use it.”
       This way of thinking has caused me to hang on to my selfish ambitions because I have told myself, “It’s okay.  You want to do this for God.”  But no, I haven’t.  I have wanted to make a name for myself.  I have wanted to accumulate college degrees so others will value what I have to say.  I have wanted to have some say in where God takes me in life.  Truthfully, I have wanted all the say in where my life goes.  I have wanted to lead, and yet at the same time I have pretended that I wanted God to lead.
       Today Matthew 16:24 hit me like a ton of bricks.  “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.’”  My logic has always been, “I am going to the mission field so therefore I must be denying myself and following Him.”  God gracefully opened my eyes that denying myself and following Him does not mean that I am willing to go to another country.  It means that I am willing to give up my desires, ambitions and all that I want.  The exact words of the passage say that he who desires to follow Christ “MUST deny himself.”  It is a prerequisite for following.  The following cannot be done without the denying of self.  This denying is a daily choice to say, “Please Lord, take away my desires and ambitions for the day and show me what You desire.”   Then, and only then, are we free to follow. Following requires submission, patience, humility, listening, and willingness to say, “Not my will, but Yours’ be done.”  

       “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” –Matthew 16:25

       Desiring to “save one’s life” is the longing to be in control and to plan for one’s future.  All my life I have desired to save my life.  I have been unwilling to give my future into the hands of our God.  And yes, it is possible to quit your job, sell all your belongings, and be in the process of moving to another country AND STILL be desperately hanging on to control of your life.  I still do it daily.  My longing to cling to some sort of control of my life is the desire to continually be in school and accumulating degrees.  “Having degrees will make what I say more credible and open doors for ministry”, I would tell myself.  No, the truth is that I long to have a safety net to fall into if I fail horribly as a missionary.  I want to have a way to provide for my family in the future.  I want to save my life.  However, if I would follow my desire to constantly be getting more degrees then I would lose my life.  I would spend countless hours of time studying that God wanted invested in His work elsewhere.  I would spend thousands of dollars on tuition that God wanted invested in His Kingdom.  I would miss out and lose the life that God intended for me because I was unwilling to deny myself and unwilling to let go of the notion that I could save my life.  Might God call me to go to school in the future?  Possibly, but not now.  Right now He has called me to lose my life in every way I know how.  He has called me to give my desires and ambitions to Him.  If I hang onto them in a desire to control and save my life, it will result in me losing that which I long for.
       Only when “we lose our life” will we truly find life.   Discipleship is costly, but the reward is worth it.

       “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”  –Matthew 16:24-25

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Even Missionaries Can Have Money as an Idol

      


      "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."   --Matthew 6:24

       I have been learning lately that being a missionary does not mean that wealth will no longer be a idol in my life.  It is easy to allow myself to think that I am giving up the pleasures of the world because Jamie and I are not buying a house and settling down.  Since we are going across seas to serve our Lord it is easy to allow ourselves  to apply verses like Matthew 6:24 to others.  Yet lately God has shown me, “No Mark, this is for you.”
       You don’t have to have a lot to still have wealth as your master.  That is something I never realized.  I always thought not having a lot meant that I wasn’t serving wealth.  However, I would allow my mind to wander.  I would see all the financial security commercials and hope that I might be able to save up enough to retire and buy a house someday.  I would tell myself it would be a small house so therefore it would be okay.  
       This week God opened my eyes to the fact that I have joined many other American Christians in replacing Jesus’ words for worldly wisdom.  I have always been told, “It is wise to save.” But what does Jesus say on the matter? 

      “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  --Matthew 6:19-21

       How can saving not be wise?  It seems so contrary to everything we know!  It isn’t the saving; it is why we save in our culture.  Just watch a commercial on investing and see all their catch lines promising “financial security.”  God has been showing me that I have been longing for financial security, but I can only find security in one thing: either God or money.  Many times I have been unwilling to give more to God's work because I needed to "wisely" store up for the future or an emergency.  What does Jesus have to say about storing up for the future?


      "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
     “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God."   --Luke 12:15-21
  
      What is your security in?  Are you storing up things for yourself or being rich in giving to God's kingdom work?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Flash Mobs with a Purpose


       Last week on the European anti-trafficking day (October 18th) we saw God use His body to help increase awareness on the wide spread tragedy of human trafficking.  Our team in Romania helped with six flash mobs at four different downtown locations.  The flash mobs helped draw attention while flyers on trafficking were passed out and people were invited to a free movie screening of the Christian documentary "Nefarious" on sex slavery.  Praise the Lord, thousands of flyers were passed out and the movie theater was full.  Thank you so much for all your prayers!!






Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes God uses you just through showing up

       Every free Sunday night I have now I try to make it to the Romanian Church in Reading.  It is an awesome opportunity to build relationships with Romanians as well as be around the Romanian language.
This Sunday God used my willingness just to go for His glory.  Before the message began, the pastor asked a man I had never seen at the church before to translate for me.  He was very hesitant and tried to refuse, but the pastor was persistent. 
       The man eventually did come translate for me.  Struggling to find the words he constantly apologizes for not translating very clearly and not knowing how to translate some words.  I continually tried to just encourage him saying, “It’s alright.  You’re doing really well!” 
       After the service was over he thanked me.  He didn’t thank me for the encouragement or something I said.  He thanked me simply for coming.  He told me, “I had so much on my mind tonight that I would have spent the whole service thinking about my own problems.  Having to translate for you caused me to have to follow the service.  God really wanted me to hear this sermon, and He knew I wouldn’t listen unless I had to translate.”

Praise the Lord that God can use us in ways we can never plan for and strive towards.  


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Increasing Awareness on Human Trafficking

        
(click picture to watch a trailer)


      Human trafficking is a serious issue in Europe.  The European Union made a statement that there are, “an estimated 880,000 victims of forced labor, including forced sexual exploitation. That is 1.8 persons per 1,000 inhabitants” (EU).  This year they have planned an Anti-Trafficking Day on October 18th for all of Europe.

       Our ReachGlobal team in Bucharest is involved in trying to network resources and organizations.  From Oct 14-19th, our group has planned flash mobs, videos in the subway and street performances to raise awareness and to encourage people to see the film Nefarious (excellent documentary about human trafficking from a Christian perspective) and other films.    Our team has rented out a 280 seat movie theater to show the film.  They are inviting all the churches in town to come to a concert and screening of the movie.  Please pray that God would stir hearts to come.  Please also pray that God would increase awareness of this issue and stir His body’s heart to action combating sex slavery!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"I could look at you all night mommy!"

    


    I was recently asked how I like being a mommy.  Honestly, it is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I thought I was prepared, because I had a lot of experience with kids.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I was not prepared for how slow Beckham eats (most times he takes an hour to eat) nor for how much he resists going to sleep to the point that he could go a whole day without a nap.  While those things were and still are rather frustrating at times, I was completely unprepared for the sheer exhaustion that comes from night-time feedings.  
     Many nights I would plead with God to put Beckham to sleep.  It could take up to an hour to get him back to sleep in the middle of the night after he had nursed for an hour.  Falling asleep while holding the pacifier in his mouth to get him to sleep, he would stare wide eyed at me with a look of “I could look at you all night mommy.”  As cute as it was, I began to grow frustrated with my son and then even more frustrated with God.  “Lord, you are sovereign; You could put this child to sleep.  Why don’t you?  You promised to give sleep to your children and you are denying me sleep.  Why are you doing this to me?”
     This pleading continued for weeks until one night when I prayed, “God please put Beckham to sleep, I am just so tired.”  Then the Lord spoke.  He reminded me that He does not grow tired or weary.

     “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

     I can’t explain it other than the Holy Spirit began to work in my heart and that night my prayer changed to “God, You do not grow tired or weary and therefore I know you can give me the strength to stay up with this little guy.  Please give me the strength I need to care for him.”  He did.  God woke me up and enable me to gently care for Beckham in ways I had not been able to do before.  Since then He has continued to do so when I look to Him for strength.
     For weeks I wanted God to change Beckham so he would eat quicker and fall asleep faster.  Instead God showed me that I needed to humble myself and rely on Him for raising my son.  God has been teaching me that many times He doesn’t take the hardship away so that we will learn more about His character and how we can reflect Him to the world.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Learning to trust God

     


     “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 5:5-6

     I am not a patient person and never have been, yet my impatient tendencies don’t change the fact that God desires His children to patiently wait for Him.  In the last year this has resulted in a lot of heart ache and pain for me.  My emotional strain didn’t come because God asked for too much, it was because I wanted to resist the command to “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage.  Yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).  I knew that raising up a team of prayer and financial partners would be difficult, but I didn’t know it would be the most humbling event that has ever come into my life.
     In years gone past whenever I was asked how I made decisions I would say, “I ask the Lord for wisdom and then head in a direction knowing that if it isn’t God’s will then He will close the door.”  This year God opened my eyes to how deficient my understanding is of how He works.  What happens when God doesn’t close a door but things don’t happen as you thought they should?  In my case, what happens when I feel God leading my family to Romania by opening up all the doors and then He doesn’t provide all the prayer and financial partners we need as soon as I thought He would.  In years past I would assume that He is closing doors and leading my elsewhere.  
     Lately God has graciously been showing me that my entire understanding of how God works was built around my impatience.  I didn’t want to wait for God’s timing many times so I would move onto other things.  I would say that God isn’t opening doors and therefore He is leading me elsewhere.   Instead of taking the opportunity to seek God and trust in His timing I would impatiently move on.  
     So at 28 I find myself realizing that I never knew what it meant to trust God.  I never knew what it meant for God to be our “Rock”.  It means that when all evidence points in a different direction, when you can see no hope on the horizon, when you can no longer see an end to the hardship, then and only then do you see that only God is a rock.  God alone is the steadfast foundation we can rest on when all else points to despair.  
     After two months of traveling around the country Jamie and I have reached the point where we have contacted all the people we know.  Our team of prayer partners is now close to 400 individuals and we have 44 committed monthly or yearly financial partners.  We still need God to provide the other 67% of our monthly needs to serve full-time in Romania.  
     I can’t see what God is doing, but I know He hasn’t led our family elsewhere.  We are to trust that He will provide our all of our needs regardless of the fact that it isn’t possible for us to do so.   As Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).  Trusting God is an action not based on visible results or emotions.  It is an action that rests on the character of God.  It is saying that we believe God is sovereign, wise, loving, and good.  Trusting God is saying, despite circumstances and despite what I see I know that God is trustworthy.  

     “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Answered prayers: Seeing God open doors

     

       Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us and the growth of our team of partners.  God has been answering your prayers by opening a lot of doors.  A week before we left Pennsylvania to travel around the country we had only scheduled one Church at which we could present about what God is doing in Romania.  So far, we have been able to present at five churches already!  God has blessed us with the amount of doors He has opened to share at churches.  Since we left PA in the middle of August we have seen our team of financial partners grow to 32% of our monthly needs met.  There are currently 3-4 churches either voting on or considering partnering with us.
       God has answered your prayers and opened doors.  Now please join with us in praying that He will bring fruit from all these doors that He has opened.  Jamie and I have reached the end of out contact list.  We need Him to raise this team of financial partners.  Please join us in prayer asking God to glorify Himself by raising up this team which is something only He can do.
     We will be in Wisconsin for next week.  We are presenting in White Stone Community Church on Sunday, and Lord willing, we may be able to present at another church the following week.  On our trip back to Pennsylvania we will be stopping in Jackson, Michigan for two days to meet with some individuals and share about ministry in Romania.  Please continue to pray with us that God would be glorified through Jamie and I as we share about what He is doing in Romania.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some rocks just need to be broken: Feeling inadequate for ministry


       Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.     II Corinthians 3:5  

       While we are visiting churches in Missouri, Jamie and I will be staying with my parents.  On days that we are not visiting a church or meeting with an individual I have been helping my dad landscape the flower bed in front of their house.  This week one of the projects has been working on edging the sidewalk with stone.  Working with various shapes and sizes of rocks gives it a more natural look than using uniform paver stones, but it is a lot more difficult.  One of the hardest things about working with all uniquely shaped stones is many of them will not fit up nicely to the stone laid before it.  I have massive piles of stones to sort through and many times I still cannot find one that will work well next to the previous stone.    That is when I realized that no matter how great that stone looks it either has to be broken to fit with the others or it won’t be of any use to me.



       The phrase, “Some rocks just need to be broken”, began to ring through my head.  We know that God is the potter and we are to be the clay, but what about us who are stubborn?  What about us who are not as pliable as clay?  What about us who are closer to rocks than clay?  The reality is that many times we won’t work well next to others.  Many times we won’t fit where we should, and the truth is that we have to be broken before we will be of use.
       This last year God has been showing me how much of a rock I am (in a bad way).  It started when we got accepted to ReachGlobal last October.  I knew the process of raising prayer and financial partners would be difficult, but I thought I could do it.  Well, eleven months later reality has set in.  I can’t do it.  The process is difficult, discouraging, and draining to me.  I started out on this journey seeing myself as qualified for ministry.  I thought that my skills and talents would be sufficient.  I was wrong.  After just three months I was immensely discouraged with the slow growth of our team of partners.  I had to admit, “I’m not good at this.”  Faithfully, God encouraged me and told me to stick with it.  A few months later discouragement set in once again as I daily felt the realization that I am not qualified for ministry of any kind.  Every day I felt more and more broken.
       I am one of those rocks that had to be broken.  My ego and my “I can do this” mentality would have caused me not to fit or work well with others.  For me to be useful to God I needed to be broken by Him.  He has been teaching me that I am only useful to Him when I admit that I am not qualified to be used by Him.  

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”   Exodus 3:11

And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.”   Judges 6:15

Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”   1 Samuel 9:21

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.   1 Kings 3:7

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”   Isaiah 6:5

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”   Jeremiah 1:6

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taking children to the mission field

      


       "So, have your plans to move to Romania changed since you have a baby now?"  No, they haven't.  Many people asked us once Jamie got pregnant if we would still go, and now that Beckham is born others have begun to ask also.  Some are concerned about medical care, others education, and others think it might not be best for him to be brought up in a foreign country.   
       When I pray about this topic, God reminds me that He has called our family to go.  It isn't just something Jamie and I want to do, it is something God told us to do.  We would be disobeying God if we did not go.  Therefore, if we did not go then Jamie and I would be modeling a lifestyle of disobedience to our son.
       As far as safety and healthcare, we do have concerns about moving there.  But once again I am reminded that if God cannot keep us safe and protected on the mission field then why would we think he could do that here in America?
       The final reason: God sent His Son to an earth full of hostile enemies.  God the Father knew what would happen to His Son.  His Son would be ridiculed, mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and killed.  Does that make Him a bad Father?

"For God so love the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."     John 3:16


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life Lessons from Beckham: "This is for your good."

     

       It’s amazing how much your perspective on life can change once you become a parent.  Mine changed before we had even left the hospital.
       During our time in the hospital, Beckham was tortured (from his perspective that is).  Every three hours a nurse or Doctor would wake him to poke and prod at him.  Beckham would scream.  He could not understand what was going on.  While I would agree with him that most of it seemed unnecessary, they were simply making sure that he was healthy.
       It wasn’t until I had to “torture” him though that I began to learn a simple truth: my perspective on things and his perspective on things are completely different.  He was having trouble breathing through his nose, so I used a few drops of nasal solution and used the nasal aspirator to suck out the obstruction.  Beckham gave me this look that said “What are you doing to me Mommy?  Don’t you love me?”  He was petrified and confused, and I’m sure the entire hospital was aware of it.  I tried to console him and began to explain to him that even though it felt like what I was doing was the most terrible thing in the world that really I was doing it for his own good.
       It was at this point, that the Lord gently reminded me of Romans 8:28-29, “ And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”  I realized that there were many times that I have screamed at the Lord saying “Don’t you love me?  Why are you doing this to me?”  All along the Lord has been trying to say to me, “Even though you don’t realize it, you need this.  This is the best thing for you, and I am doing this for you because I love you.”  His perspective and my perspective are two different ones.
       So even though Beckham does not realize that painful things can bring good, I know that I still have to learn this truth as well.  I need to take comfort in the truth that God is good and everything He does is good.

"You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees."  
                                                               Psalm 119:68

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beckham's love of the car seat


      As you can see from the video, Beckham loves his car seat.  This video was shot about five minutes before we left for our drive from Pennsylvania to Missouri.  Well, we made it!  Beckham had plenty of melt downs, but God safely got us to our destination.  
       We have only been in Missouri two days and have already had the chance to share about our ministry with a local pastor.  Also, tomorrow we will be speaking about our ministry at another church in Columbia, Missouri.  Please be praying for us tonight and tomorrow.  We will be driving an hour and half to meet with a couple tonight to share about our ministry.  Then at the end of the night we have to drive the hour and a half back to Mark's parents home where we are staying.  Tomorrow morning, Sunday the 18th, we have to get up early and drive an hour and forty five minutes to Columbia to speak at 9 AM.  
       Traveling is very slow because Beckham is a slow eater.  Many times we will have to stop for a significant amount of time just to feed him.  Please pray with us that Beckham will learn to sleep well in the car and also that his feeding schedule will work around all of our driving.
       Thanks so much to all of you who are praying!  We have had one new couple partner with us since we arrived in Missouri.  Praise the Lord!



 Praise the Lord.  Praise God in His sanctuary, praise Him in His mighty heavens.  Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness. 
                                                                            Psalm 150:1-2

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Life Lessons from Beckham: "I need milk!"

      


       It seems that everything God has been teaching me lately has to do with Beckham’s eating routine.  Jamie and I have begun to learn when he is crying because he is tired or crying because he is hungry.  The tired cry many times is resolved by offering him our pinky finger to suck on.  After sucking on that for a while he usually calms down and slowly (very slowly) will drift off to sleep.
       The hungry cry is different.  It is loud and unstoppable.  Nothing but food will console him once he has gotten to this point.  Even if we offer him our pinky it will not suffice.  He may suck on it for a second, but as soon as he realizes milk isn’t coming out the screaming gets louder.  He will continue to scream until he gets fed.  Beckham’s body knows it needs milk.  Therefore, he longs for it and will do all he can to get it.  .  
       This morning as Jamie prepared to feed him, God used Beckham’s screaming to remind me of the verse:  

Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”  2 Peter 2:2

As I watched my son scream until he got fed I thought, “Why don’t I long for the Word of God like my newborn longs for milk?”  The sad truth: because I don’t think I need it.  Too often I am pacified with pointless things.  Many days I willingly exchange my feeding time reading in the Word of God for something pointless like television.  Watching TV grows me spiritually as much as sucking on daddy’s finger grows Beckham physically: none.  

Don’t settle for a finger when you need milk.

"My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Psalm 84:2

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Beckham, let Mommy guide you."

       


       This has become a common saying in our house lately.  Every time I try to nurse Beckham, he tries to latch himself onto me which is very painful and doesn’t allow him to eat properly.  If he doesn’t do that then he just ends up biting into the air.  It is a constant battle of the wills.  He tries to do it himself, and I try to guide him so we are both happier in the end.  After the 50th time of saying “Beckham, let Mommy guide you,” I realized the Lord was gently saying to me “Jamie, let Me guide you.  Do you see now why it is better to let me guide you instead of you thinking you have to do things yourself all the time?”

       What an eye opening moment for me.  I do not like to have anyone do anything for me when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself.  But the Lord has been pointing out to me through my son that there are many times I think I can do something myself, but really I am biting into the air; I’m not accomplishing anything.  I need the Lord to direct what I do so that He is glorified and I receive His good.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.   Psalm 32:8

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Life lessons from Beckham: Patience

       


       A week and a half after Beckham was born I now have a much clearer picture of God as our Father.  More than anything, I see myself as God’s son.  God’s whining, complaining, and screaming son.  God’s son who is so impatient that I will complain and fuss until I get what I want.  

       When Beckham is hungry or just thinks he’s hungry he will scream inconsolably until he is fed.  I realized I do the same thing with God.  When I feel I need something I will constantly complain to my heavenly Father because I want it in that moment.  God is constantly telling me to be patient, but most of the time my impatience causes me to act like my screaming son.

Why is patience so difficult?  It goes against our sinful thoughts that life is all about us.


"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry."
                                                                          Psalm 40:1 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thoughts on grace

       So what is grace?  Grace is God doing what man cannot do.  Grace makes salvation possible.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).  Grace is not just received, it is to be experienced more and more each day.  As Christians we are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:2) and are to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18a).  Growing in grace is dying to self.  It is an attitude of allowing God to work through you, despite you.  Growing in grace is allowing God to do what you cannot do: display His holiness through your life.  That is why Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a).  Paul understood that only through God’s grace can others see Christ in him.  The fact that grace is a gift is to remind us that we are “not to think more highly of ourselves then we ought to think” (Romans 12:3). 

       We are saved through grace and are to live through grace.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Update on the shelter for trafficked women

       When we were over in Bucharest in February we had the chance to visit a shelter that was being opened up for women who have escaped from a life of forced prostitution.  The shelter, which was started by a Romanian believer, is now up an running!  Here are a few updates to what is going on there:

• Praise God that one of the girls living in the home placed her faith in Christ!
• A partnership was signed with Starbucks and the Radisson hotel in Bucharest with their agreement to offer jobs for the women living in the home. They will train them, provide extra medical testing, and offer other help. Starbucks is donating coffee and tea and discussing the possibility of donating 2% of their annual profit to the foundation.
• Air conditioners units were provided to us at a greatly reduced cost.  The sales director is a member of the Nazarene church in Bucharest.  We got the last units available in Romania because the EU now requires only one specific kind- much more expensive. They were installed in all the rooms for free, and the home also has extras waiting for the future rooms in the attic!

Above: One of the new ductless air conditioners 

• After much prayer, in faith we decided to begin the work in the attic, and we ordered the wood for the walls and the ceilings again at the wholesale cost from a fellow Christian. The day after the wood arrived, we received notice that a Nazarene church in the US donated the exact amount of money we paid for the wood.  We are speechless and in awe of God’s mighty way of providing.  So far, the structure has been framed for five rooms, two bathrooms and a kitchenette. By fall we hope to be able to house ten more women up here! Also, work is being done to replace the roof.  

Above: The attic last month
Above: Process!  Once these rooms are completed, the shelter will be 
able to take in ten more women.


Please be praying for the shelter in the following ways:
• Extra wisdom, discernment and strength for their staff for all aspects of ministry. 
• For Moni, the director, to balance work and family life, often feeling overwhelmed under the load.
• For all the future victims that will be referred to this shelter, that they will come to know God’s love, forgiveness and restoration. One young woman currently living here has a hard time believing God can forgive the terrible sins she’s keeps telling us she’s committed.
• For God’s continued provision for all our needs- financial and material.
• For work/ministry teams who might come to help with different projects on the building or with the women here.
• Plans are in the works for an event surrounding October 18, the European Day Against Human Trafficking, and there have been several meetings in coordination with other non-profit organizations also involved in fighting human trafficking. There would be many events: film screenings of Nefarious, flash mobs, a fashion show, and other events. Pray for good organization, unity among the planners, for plans to come together, and a great outcome.


Thank you everyone for your prayers for this ministry!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
                                                                                  --John 13:35

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's voice

       After high school I was going to head off to a big state college and study real estate economics and finance.  However, two weeks before classes started the school called me and said, “We ran out of room in the dorms, you have to get an apartment off campus.”    Distraught, I contacted my back up schools just to find out that it was too late to get in there.  The only school I knew of that I could get into last minute was a small Bible college.  So, I went there with the intention of just staying one semester and then transferring to a school I actually wanted to go to.  However, I brought my high school habits of cheating with me.
       About two months into classes I saw a video of a tribe of people living in a remote location hearing the gospel for the first time.  Many of the tribe believed instantly.  What stood out to me was that they had joy and excitement.  My first thought was, “I have been a Christian since I was a kid and don’t have that joy.  Either I am believing something different or I am doing something wrong.”  
       That thought caused me to dive into reading the Bible like I had never before.  I was excited!  ..Until I read for about one hour and a still small voice inside my head said, “I want you to tell on yourself for cheating on your first test.”  I pushed it off.  “No, I’m not going to do that.”  But the more I read the Bible, the stronger the voice got.  “I can’t tell on myself.”  I would reason.  “If I do that then I will get kicked out of this school!  I actually want to be here now so I don’t want to get kicked out.”  The voice replied, “I want you to trust me and tell on yourself.”  
So, did I go tell on myself?  Not yet.  I spent the next two days reading through most of the New Testament with the thought, “There has to be a way I can justify not telling on myself.”  Ultimately, I came to 1 Timothy 1:19, “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”  I instantly realized that the quiet voice I heard while reading the Bible was the Holy Spirit’s voice.  He was speaking to me, but I didn’t want to listen.  I thought it would be okay not to listen, “Just this one time!  Next time I will…  I won’t do it again!”  The verse in First Timothy was like a 2x4 to the head.  Not keeping a good conscience will result in suffering a faith shipwreck.  It will ruin you.  God gently came aside me in that moment and said, “I have replaced your conscience with my Spirit.  If you want to grow closer to me then you cannot push aside that voice any longer.  Listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice is how you grow closer to me.”
       So I did.  I told on myself for cheating.  It was hard.  I got a zero on the test, but I didn’t get kicked out.  I learned that even though it was difficult and humiliating I still got joy out of doing it.  Not because it was fun but because I knew it pleased God to listen to and obey Him. During this process I realized I had heard that voice for years telling me that I should read my Bible instead of watching a movie or that I should go talk to the guy in my class who is visibly hurting or to go talk to someone about Christ.  However, I don't think I ever wanted to admit that it was God's voice because not doing it meant I was disobeying Him.  It is easy to justify not going along with some idea that popped into you head, but when you admit that God is telling you do something it is blatant disobedience not to.  I must admit that I voluntarily lived ignorantly for years not listening to His voice.  That is why I never had the joy that comes with knowing Christ.
       Do you want more joy?  Listen to God's voice and obey Him!  It is difficult, but you will experience peace and joy like never before.  Please pray this month that the Body of Christ would learn to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice and that they would obey Him.  Also, please be praying with us that those who God desires to partner with this ministry would listen to His leading. 


I Samuel 15:22
Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.


PRAISE
Praise God with us!  We had one of our financial partners increase the amount they are giving and we may have had one new partner join our team today!  (Many times we don't know until the following month if it is a one-time gift or if they desire to partner monthly.)  

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Thank God it wasn't $2,000."


       I heard a story once of a group of missionaries in South America somewhere around the 1950's.  This group of missionaries were dedicated to taking the Gospel to remote Indian tribes in the jungle.  However, the organization was seeing a huge need for a plane since it sometimes took up to 3 weeks to hike in or out of these tribes.
       One day a plane was made available for purchase, but the selling price was $20,000.  The organization had no money saved up for the purchase, and they only had a two week window of time before the plane would be sold to someone else.
      The leadership group of about ten men instantly began to pray.  After a couple hours of prayer they took a short break and one of the men said, "Thank God it wasn't only $2,000 that we needed."  Many of the other men looked at him shocked.  One man responded, "Why?  Two thousand dollars seems much more feasible for us!"  "Exactly," the first man replied, "If we only needed $2,000 then we would be spending our time figuring out how we can raise it.  But since we need $20,000, all we can do is pray.  Only God can accomplish a task like this in this amount of time."  Because of God's provision, two weeks later the plane was theirs.

       That is similar to how we feel with the task of seeing God raise up a team of financial partners for the ministry we will be doing in Romania.  It is a God sized task.  I see such similarity in the passage from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.  Paul had been through tons of hardships on his journeys and writes, "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many."  Paul and his companions arrived to the point where they felt they would surely die.  God allowed them to get to this point so that they would trust in Him alone and place all of their hope in Him alone.  The Corinthians joined Paul and his companion's through prayer, and as God delivered them they were all mutually encouraged because they all saw God at work.
       This month we are asking people to join with us in prayer all 31 days of July that every day God would stir one more of His children to financially partner with this ministry totaling 31 partners in 31 days.  May this month be about more than just God building up this ministry's partners, may it be about encouraging the body of Christ to place their hope and trust in God alone.  Please be praying each day this month that God would be working in His children's hearts and stirring them to listen and obey His voice.


PRAISE THE LORD!
       Although it is still the last day in June, we already have seen God begin to answer your prayers!  We had one new partner join our team over the weekend after our newsletter was sent out.  May God receive all the praise and glory this month because this request would be impossible for men but not for God.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learning to Wait on the Lord

     

      I have never enjoyed waiting.  To me it feels like being promised a gift, shown the gift, but never being allowed to open the gift.  As soon as we joined ReachGlobal I assumed that God would instantly start building up our team or prayer and financial partners.  However, that didn’t happen.  It has been a very slow process.  Even though there are a ton of verses like Psalm 27:14 (Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!) which talk about waiting, it never occurred that God could ask us to wait for Him.  
Many frustrated days I have asked, “Is this really what God has called us to?”  At first, my answer was “I think so.”  Then, “Yes.”  And now, “Absolutely.”  Having to wait for our team of partners to grow has caused me to pray significantly more than I would have if the growth would have been instantaneous.  Praying and waiting has caused me to see that He ALONE must be my rock or I will always be shaken. 
During this last month we saw very little growth in our team.  As I was talking to the Lord about my discouraged heart He brought me to the story of Gideon in Judges 6.  When the angel of the Lord told him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”  Gideon’s response was, “O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’  But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hands of Midian” (Judges 6:13).  God showed me that I had an attitude like Gideon was displaying.  Gideon has heard stories of God delivering Israel from Egypt and of great miracles, but Gideon had never personally experienced it and his daily life made him feel as if God has abandoned them.  In a similar way I have heard tons of stories of God’s faithful provision, but I have never personally experienced it on a grand scale.  
      God’s response to Gideon: “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian.  Have I not sent you?”  (Judges 6:14).  The Midianites had a massive army which would have been daunting, yet Gideon could find confidence in the fact that God had called Him to that task.  In the same way, I have heard stories of God’s provision over the years and our task right now seems daunting, but I can rest in the fact that Jamie and I are confident that God has called us to this task, and He alone is our Rock.

Isaiah 40:31 
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalm 62:2
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Holy Priesthood


      Several weeks ago I went to a Bible Study at the home of a dear friend.  She did a short devotional that evening and talked about many of the blessings that we have as a result of believing in Christ.  I was familiar with all of them except when she said “we are all sharers in Christ’s priesthood.”  That one made me stop and think, because I hadn’t thought of it in that way before and didn’t understand why that was important for everyday life.  I pondered this truth for weeks and finally started studying through 1 Peter to gets a better perspective on it.  
“And coming to Him (Jesus) as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for the a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to god through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10.
      God has called believers in Christ to be a holy and royal priesthood.  Okay, so what is the purpose of a priest?  In the Old Testament, the priest was to lead the nation of Israel in worship to the Lord.  They were to offer sacrifices, and teach others of the ways of the Lord.  In other words, we are to offer “spiritual sacrifices that would be acceptable to God” and “to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us from darkness into light”.  But this is only possible through Christ.  Christ is our High Priest who is the ultimate example of a life that worships God.  It is through His death on the cross that blood was shed to bring our forgiveness for sins AND our reconciliation to the Lord.  But God didn’t just stop there!  He then placed us priests in His temple so that we would tell others about how amazing our God is and present ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord.  This is just absolutely beautiful!  God has orchestrated that our lives would tell of His glories.
      We have been called to tell others about how amazing our God is.  But if you follow the thought of 1 Peter, Peter is talking about street evangelism, but through suffering.  He starts off writing to those who have been scattered around the Roman Empire because of persecution.  He then tells them to consider Jesus who was rejected by men, but was chose and precious in the sight of God.  Men persecuted Christ and said He was unworthy to be called the Son of God, yet God  chose Him to bring salvation to the entire world.  
      He then says, in the same way you (the church) will be rejected by men, but you have been chosen by God.  Don’t be surprised when the world treats you no differently than they treated Jesus.  But as a royal and holy priest respond like him.  Don’t lash back with angry words when they accuse you falsely.  Don’t threaten to get revenge when you are mistreated.  Because just as Christ bore yours and my sin on the cross (note that, not his) through that suffering we were able to enter into death to our sin and become alive to righteousness.  We were able to enter into a perfect relationship with the Father.  How do you know that your suffering will not do the same for another?
      So if your boss mistreats you, submit to him.  If your government mistreats you, submit to them, honor the King or whoever leads your nation.  If your husband is not walking with the Lord, don’t badger him with words.  Keep silent, entrust yourself to the Lord and hope that God will bring a change, because we have been promised that our husbands can be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.  Husbands if your wife brings you suffering through her badgering and nagging show her honor and love on her even more.  If friends, family, co-workers, anyone makes fun of you for following the Lord continue to love them.  God will one day show them you were following Him and you never know they might come to know Christ as well.  I know, because that is how I came to know the Lord.
      We have been called to suffer for the name of Christ as his priests.  But just as Christ suffered and brought many to the Father, so can our suffering bring many to the Father.  Priest, go proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you from a life of sin to a life of righteousness!  Suffer for Christ and be willing to sacrifice yourself for the glory of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quick Update

We currently have 19% of our monthly financial partners needed to serve in Bucharest full time.  Praise the Lord!  He has been growing the amount of people partnering with us every week.  It has been encouraging to see Him spur His body to be a part of this ministry.  Many of our partners we had never even met before.  Many of you are excited about this ministry and are advocating on our behalf with friends and family.  We want to thank all of you who are praying and all of you who have partnered with us to serve Christ in Romania!


19% of the puzzle has come together!!  We will be heading to Bucharest, Romania for full time ministry once 100% of our monthly needs are met by our financial partners.  Please thank God for His goodness in bringing together the team we have now, and beseech Him to continue to grow our team.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Good Soil


    


     “I am such a failure!”  I often times feel that way after trying to share the Gospel with someone or trying to encourage a brother or sister in Christ.  “They didn’t seem to get it and so I must have failed at communicating.”  This is often my thinking.  The Lord has been teaching me that how people respond is not 100% based on what I say or how I say it, but based on their heart.

“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matt 13:3-9)
     Jesus goes on to explain this parable to His disciples and what He focuses on is the heart of the hearer.  I’ve always been confused by this parable, because I didn’t understand the issues of the heart.  I especially would get hung up on the ones who have a “good” heart.  Jesus, what do you mean that someone has a good heart?  I thought our hearts are desperately wicked and lead us away from you (Jeremiah 17:9) and there is no one good (Rom 3:12).  How can you say some have good hearts and that enables them to bear good fruit?
     As I began to ask this question to the Lord, He began to ask me, “What is the difference between each of the soils?”  The soil along the road is extremely hard, trampled upon and the seed is unable to break through the ground.  The rocky places do not have much soil and so the roots of the plant are unable to get deep enough to find water.  The soil filled with thorns will choke out the seed and prevent it from growing.  But the good soil has been broken up with a plow and rocks, thorns, and thistles have been removed.  The conditions are right for receiving the seed and yielding a crop.
     Now translate that to our hearts and what does good soil look like?  Good soil, (aka a good heart) looks like someone who is broken.  Someone who realizes that everything God says is true and anything contrary is a lie.  Someone who is not afraid to be made fun of because they are a Christian and chooses to obey God’s word (even if they look ridiculous to others).  Someone who does not get caught up in having things or finding contentment from money, but finds joy and contentment in knowing God.  Someone who realizes that this world has left them empty time and time again and all that they are looking for is found in Christ.  This is someone who believes what God says and bears fruit.
     Then the Lord pointed out to me, that in the story Jesus is the one spreading the seed.  He is the one teaching others about our need for the Lord.  Many did not respond with a good heart, but instead they rejected what He said or over time they fell away.  I began to realize that if Jesus, God Himself, could have people respond that way to Him than how people respond to me is not fully based on me, but on their heart.  How freeing this was to realize.  Yes, I need to speak as one speaking the very words of God, need to speak the truth in love, and need to rely completely on the Spirit for what to say.  But even if I do all those things, that doesn’t mean a sinner is going to fall on their knees in repentance every single time and every believer I talk to is going to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I do need to continue to sow the seed and pray that the Lord would be preparing hearts so receive it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leaving for Romania



Today we are flying to Romania for one week.  We will be visiting the ReachGlobal ministry team working there and several different types of ministries.  Please be praying that the Lord makes it clear if this is definitely where we are to serve long term and how we would fit in.  Also, please pray that we get to know the ministry team during our visit.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

American Christianity's Misguided Zeal



Matthew 26:47-54 - Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane 

     While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.  Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.  Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

     Jesus, in this same chapter of Matthew (26:2), had recently told his disciples clearly that “the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”  Why then would Peter lash out and attack with the sword?  It was because he did not understand what was going to happen.  He and the other disciples had a pre-established picture in their mind of what the Messiah was supposed to do.  They knew the Messianic prophecies like the one from Isaiah 9:6-7.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
    will accomplish this.

     The prophecies talked about a kingdom and a government, and the disciples had the mindset that Jesus was here to set up that earthly government at that moment.  The Isaiah passage even says that “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”  Out of all the disciples who is more zealous for the Lord than Peter?  Remember, right before they went to the garden Jesus had told Peter that “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  But Peter had responded, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you” (Matthew 26:34-35).  Peter was zealous and ready to die for Christ.  He was determined that he would NEVER deny Christ!  He thought that Christ was getting ready to set up an earthly kingdom, therefore he pulled out his sword and prepared to fight for Christ and die if needed.  

     Have you ever stopped to think about if Jesus wouldn’t have stopped Peter then he most likely would have been killed?  He would have died thinking he was being martyred for Jesus, but the truth is that he would have died fighting against the will of God.  It was God’s plan that Christ would die on the cross, and Peter, in misguided zeal for the Lord, was fighting to make sure that didn’t happen.

     Taking a step back, let’s look once more at why Peter was so zealous.  He was determined that Jesus was going to be setting up an earthly kingdom of God in Israel at that moment.  Now, can we think of anywhere in the world today where followers of Christ are fighting to try to set up an earthly kingdom of God in their own country?  A place where believers will zealously fight to the death for a political issue?  Peter’s misguided zeal caused him to fight against God’s ordained plan that Christ would die.  Is it not possible that we are doing the same thing?

     When Jesus is questioned by Pilate he says, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36).

     Our hope is not in an earthly kingdom; our hope is in the Lord.  We should be zealous for the Lord and His kingdom which is “not of this realm.”  However if our zeal is misguided, we will be running around chopping off the ears of those in the world who we desire to know our Lord.  Do you think that the man who had his ear cut off by Peter would have later listened to Peter’s sermons about Christ and salvation?  Are we zealous for the kingdom of God or are we battling for an earthly, political kingdom despite the fact that our King specifically said, “My kingdom is not of this world”?