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