"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If we are primarily focused on the obvious sins of the world, we are diverted from OUR sins-pride, a lack of grace, selfcenteredness. Our primary purpose is not to defend right from wrong, or truth from untruth-it's not even to defend Him. God can do that, Our ultimate goal is to be fully yielded to Christ. -Shanti Feldhahn in “Veritas”

Obviously, this is from a book Shanti Feldhahn wrote, which I have not read. But reading the quote, even if out of context, stirred me up a bit. On first reading I disagree because I believe God has instilled in us (personally) a great sense/desire of justice. I believe HE has put in us a desire to speak out on wrongs we see, experience, hear. I did not find any one specific Scripture on this, but there is a general sense of this in His Word. We are to care for the poor, widowed, oppressed…we are to correct, rebuke reproof… So we don’t need to defend God-yes, he can take care of Himself; but He calls us to take care of others (widows and orphans in particular in James), and that often means defending them.

On second read, I partially agree. We should not focus on the sins of the world with neglect to our own. So, yes our primary purpose is to be yielded to Christ and living a life that brings all glory to God.
I think though, that as we pray and speak out on the sins of the world (as God leads and directs), that God then does divert us back to our own sins where we are able to come to a place of repentance.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Words are funny- for as you perceive, that is what they are to you no matter what I meant them to be. Our perception is our reality, whether it is reality or not from the other persons perspective.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And that's one of the things you notice about Jesus in the Gospels, that He is always saying, "you have heard it said such and such, but I tell you some other thing." If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying. ~ Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There was a saying that used to be popular:
Better to burnout for Jesus than rust out.”

One of our instructors at MTI explained that this is an extremely bad philosophy. She explained that burnout is not only unhealthy but it is dangerous.

You see your life is your testimony. What does it say about who Christ is? And what does it say about what Christ means to you? About how important HE is to you?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Can God cause divisions to grow the church? Or does He allow it (because we are all sinners, live in a broken world, etc. etc.) and then redeem it?
A few types of church divisions:

-One is a natural division that arises when we try to understand what it is God’s Word says. We aren’t perfect; we can’t know His Word perfectly. But what we do with those natural divisions is how those divisions will later be judged. This may mean a body splitting to focus on different things (more missional churches, more evangelistic, more discipleship, infant/believer baptism, gifts of the Spirit-you name it; it’s probably caused a church spit somewhere!)

-Divisions based on size. This may be that a church just doesn’t want to get over a certain size to maintain the community feel-when they get to a number, say 100, they split and start another church.

-One is brought on from our own selfishness. We have already posted various things about leading and following in a church body. When we step out of the authority of those we’ve elected to lead us, some things can get pretty hairy-dangerous even (in the spiritual sense). Equally dangerous of course, are leaders who don’t appreciate, listen and respond to the body who has elected them. Unless we have just cause and reason, we are really stepping out of God’s authority. Of course, those leaders themselves need to be in line with God’s authority as well. And as we are all human, there will be times when they step out too and then we as a body need to go to them in love and bring them back in line with God’s word (Matthew 18). Just because you are a church leader obviously does not mean you are immune from sin.
And yes, leaders will be held to a higher standard. And WE are also judged for their obedience. Daniel, Shadrach, Mishek & Abednego and all the other Israelites were in captivity because of the disobedience of their king. Okay, yes their own sins too; but not all the Israelites were turning from God, refusing to repent-but they were all in captivity because of those rulers not repenting when called to.
Daniel, Shadrach, Mishek & Abednego’s disobedience to man (King Neb) was obedience to God. How often are we looked at as “rebellious” when we don’t blindly follow where our leaders tell us to go? Do what they tell us to do? We are still ultimately responsible for our own obedience. And then to the obedience of those that we have placed ourselves under the authority of. So we need to be VERY careful of who we put ourselves under. Does it not often seem that the U.S. is blessed or cursed based on the decisions of our government as well?

But what does that mean in the national sense? We pray for our leaders, we can call them to obedience to God, we can be the watchman and the voice of warning and repentance; but we can’t just leave the country. It really doesn’t work that way (despite what some movie stars want to say and do!). That realization should make us cry out all the more for our country and our leaders. I know I personally haven’t been doing that-but haven’t really thought or realized all this until recently.

This translates down to our work areas. And is one of the reasons we were back from Africa when we were.

And it most definitely translates in our Christian walk. There are many leaders in a church-small group leaders, pastors, elders, and committee leaders, whatever. And ultimately we are all under God’s authority, I am not addressing that. What I want us to think about is what it means to be under the authority of someone and the responsibilities therein. Both for those leading and those following. Above our “hierarchy” of leadership (unfortunately that is the structure of most church leadership today), we are still all brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, we are called to rebuke, correct, teach, and admonish each other. The greatest commandment is to love God, secondly your neighbor as yourself. So any and all of those above things must be done in love. But hear this: IT. MUST. BE. DONE. And if it isn’t, there is bound to be a church split. It may not be a formal-people leaving split, but there is a split in mind, soul, spirit, purpose, unity …

SO…does God cause that some times in the church? (Yes, He does cause some things that don’t make sense to us at the time-HE said HE was going to be the one to harden Pharaoh’s heart) Or does He allow us to get ourselves into those predicaments and then use them?

Maybe the question is: does it matter? If the chief end of all man is to glorify God, I think we all need to work in our circumstances every day to do just that! And that will include doing the hard stuff too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


What good does it do as a country or a body of believers (as a whole) for the people in it to personally repent but not the leaders? Or as leaders, is it good enough for you only to repent personally, or within your leadership group? When there are country/corporate issues, do the leaders need to repent publicly? If it is a moral failure, do they need to repent publicly? If it is a “little white lie” type of sin, is there a place for our leaders to publicly repent to show themselves as human?
What if they won’t? What happens to the rest of us? Do we desire to repent ourselves? Do we see a need? On the mission field we had a pastor ask us why he should discipline after those under him when his partners weren’t being rebuked and corrected for their indiscretions. He didn’t think he needed to--why would they listen to him when another leader wasn’t being disciplined?

Daniel 9 is all about Daniel fasting and seeking God in prayer and supplication for Israel, on behalf of Israel. I would assume there were others praying as well, it just doesn’t say that though. I would have to believe many of the Israelites were crying out (but maybe not in as much knowledge as Daniel-see verse 2). But in Daniel, we have this one man-a leader- (for Babylon the country, but also for the Jewish community there) crying out, repenting on behalf of the nation. Really, check out verses one to nineteen; it’s our story too. We have rebelled, transgressed Your laws-and we got what GOD said we would get if we didn’t repent (v 11-13). Daniel then petitions that God would turn away His wrath from Jerusalem (v 16). The last part (v. 20 and following) is God’s response through the angel Gabriel and in this we see some prophecies of the end times.

But where I want to go to is this-if Tom, Dick and Harry were praying and praying for Israel, but the leadership of Israel wasn’t, then…

What are the responsibilities of those who lead? Of those who follow? How do they intertwine?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do you remember years and years ago the mom and pop grocery stores? People would just go in to visit. Everyone knew everyone, it was a family atmosphere. And now they’re gone and we have the big box stores. Sure things are probably a little cheaper but at what cost? And it has carried over and we have the big box churches now. The consumerism mentality keeps carrying over into all aspects of our lives and in conjunction with that is the competition of the businesses/churches. Who offers this or that program, which has the biggest and best state of the art facility. And just like in the big box stores, they can put out the fliers, have the promotional, and hang some balloons…to get you to come in and buy the latest and best whatever. Truth is, a lot of the time it is just crap that is dressed up to get you to part with your money. Sad thing is I see the same tactics used in the house of God. Instead of speaking the Truth we use gimmicks to try and lure people in. We try to seem to be very tolerant. We just want to get them in the door-it’s about the numbers. It appears that we don’t think Jesus did a very good job and we need to make improvements on His ministry style.
If you look at Scripture, Jesus’ ministry only lasted 3 yrs and He drove more people away than He brought in. But yet-those people were ready, willing, and DID-die for their faith. Are the people you are bringing in ready to do that? Or are they just “part of the crowd?” What are you doing to equip, prepare, and release the body of Christ to do HIS work? This just isn’t a question for the corporate Church. This is for you and me as well. We are all members of the body. How, or better yet-WHO are you shepherding along in their faith walk?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes, I am very type A. What can I say?
There are a lot of unfinished or just unpublished thoughts, in our blog file. That means it is time to finish them up and get them crossed off. So in the next however long it takes, we are going to be reaching into the archives and get some older stuff up. Haven’t decided if I will tell you when we wrote them—guess that can be part of the fun!

Question for you-and of course, there is a story behind it, but no; you will never figure it out—so don’t try. Just tell me what you think.

Do you think Hudson Taylor, George Mueller-those types of guys who waited on God to provide every need, would accept the help however it came? Through a Christian group or church, a non-professing organization, through the government, etc. What do you think? Or are there examples of any of those that you know of? Did Mueller accept the bread from the baker whether or not he knew he was a Christian? Did he ever accept items for the orphanage from the government, etc-those types of things.
Thanks for the input!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sin of witchcraft

What about reality? Why is telling it “like it is” so often viewed negatively? Why don’t we want to see it, hear it, deal with it? If we disagree with what someone else sees, normally we can just say fine-we have a difference of opinion, we’ll agree to disagree. But there are many people who will put you in the rebellious category if you see things differently than your leaders-in government, at home, and especially at church.
There was a running “joke” on the mission field-if you disagreed (with leadership) you were told you had the sin of witchcraft and were just in rebellion from your agency. It was always a super “ouch” then when you would turn out to be right! But it wasn’t rebellion, it was just knowing from your own past experiences that something wouldn’t work for whatever reason.
And I should have freedom as a brother or sister in Christ to tell you what I see and feel and know, but then not be labeled or judged. And just so ya know, I am not saying that as a backlash (or whatever the term is) about something out on the field. I am talking about here and now too.
God often gives eyes to see where HE is blinding another.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Embrace your gifting

One of these days Brian will write his own story to this statement. Here is one of the thoughts I had for myself when He said God was speaking this to him.

Now, everyone who knows me knows that I am organized. I like to serve; I am all into common sense and getting it done. But I think I have another gift that I definitely haven’t embraced.

We talked about this verse in our training at MTI before we went to Africa:
17 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. 18 Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids. 19 The sound of wailing is heard from Zion: 'How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins.' “20 Now, O women, hear the word of the LORD; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament. Jeremiah 9:17-20

I. AM. A. CRYER. Not just a crier out the corner of your eye. Nope I am an all out blubbery, LOUD, convulsing crier. And have you ever seen one of those types of criers try to hold it in? NOT PRETTY.

The point of the conversation at MTI was somewhat about culture, comparing the more “middle-eastern” way of in the street wailing to our reserved western way. The point was also of the GIFT that sitting with someone and just crying is. Not offering unwanted opinions (Okay, I struggle with that!), not telling them it will be okay, not telling them to suck it up/hold it in/whatever. Just sitting, being still and weeping and even wailing with them.
Why would you want to? Tears really are cleansing-they are a release of the emotional, the spiritual. There is something to the “just get it all out”. And there is something to doing it with someone else, even a stranger. This is the side where I am much more comfortable, but yet, I still fight against it. I wonder what people will think of me, I wonder if I should go to someone when I don’t know them very well-what will they think? What will other people think especially if they know I don’t know them well? It’s my own silly pride that holds me back.

I also cry, or start to, often during worship. Not from my own worship per se, but from seeing other people’s worship. It moves me, it stings me-I desire to be in that communion with God. I am not just looking for an “experience” though. I want to be communing-be in relationship-be in awe-be in the throne room REALLY worshipping. Let’s face it, as a mom of 7, 6 of them in the row with me, I don’t get to be as focused as I want to be.

I cry when I think about death, as most anyone would. I cry when I remember loss, when I think of what would happen “if”, or in some cases “when”…yup-I feel the tears burning now! But as much as there is the sadness in those cries, there is an anticipation too. The verse Where, O death, is your sting? 1 Cor. 15:55 comes to mind. Oh yes-I expect a sting. But really-there is just this tiny bit of excitement about death. I am sure it would be wrong to say, but it’s a little bit of a jealousy! They (if a believer) would be with Jesus! They will be free of pain, cares of the world, struggles…really-can you not wait?? Where, O death, is your victory? Really-we are the ones in victory-we will be in GLORY when we die. CHRIST HAS OVERCOME DEATH! And if we are in HIM, so then have we!

As in the case of these particular verses, there is also the weeping and wailing over the loss, the ruin, the devastation-often from sin. I do have a harder time here. As the mommy I feel so distracted, even in prayer and times of worship for what the kids are doing (or not doing!). But there is a call to be openly wailing over the sins of the people (church). I have attended our prayer meeting at church on Thursday nights. It’s not a sit around in a circle and pray for each other type of meeting. There are people walking and praying, there are people kneeling and praying, there are people laying on the floor praying. And there is weeping. Weeping and crying out to God. No, I was not one of them. But I should have been. While in a different prayer group, we did do this-on the floor, weeping, letting the Spirit intercede through us. It was an amazing time. The sins of this world should be driving me to my knees to weep and wail for forgiveness and mercy.
And really, that should make you uncomfortable. You should be uncomfortable and wonder what is so bad that she is going on like that?! But you should not want to come over to see what is wrong and just comfort me-no, it should make you look at your own heart and the world and drive you to weep and wail too. We deserve death, destruction, GOD’S WRATH. But, so often, for so many, others' tears don’t make us think of that. It just makes us uncomfortable. And we want them to stop. Sometimes we even ask the pastor to tell them to stop doing it-because people aren’t comfortable.

So I will try to work out how to embrace this gifting. I don’t know what that will look like. I guess it is a good thing I don’t wear make up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In talking with someone a few weeks ago, a blog we had linked to back in July came up. It was this post, which led you to two other posts. I decided to go back and see if this guy had gotten any other comments on it or had written more about it. I came across this article that I thought seemed to go along those lines. We wrote about this somewhat here.

We do agree on the issue that not EVERYONE should be involved in EVERY aspect of church business. This guy gives a good definition of how most EFCA churches are “congregationally” run and what that means.

We have seen many issues though that get brought up and then die in either committee one, two or three on their way to approval. Many elder boards are now viewed as a yes-or-no totalitarian/authoritative board, instead of as a shepherding board whose role it is to be “responsible for the spiritual temperature of the church, ensuring that the congregation is taught, protected, developed - empowered and released in ministry and led well...All of this was designed in an atmosphere of trust where leaders were actually loved and appreciated by the congregation.” It seems many boards have become administrative instead of shepherding, thus many of them are no longer trusted or appreciated. Well, I would suppose many are appreciated on the "trustee" role they are playing-taking care of the building matters, finances, etc. But when the model of shepherding is lost, much respect is lost as well. It's almost a sneaky thing sometimes. You may not come right out and say or feel that you have lost respect for the board, but something just doesn't feel or sit right.

This congregationalism goes amuk stuff does not though, allow the leaders to run amuk either. We are all under Christ’s authority. Elders, pastors, musicians, members, regular attenders. And we are fellow heirs, all working for the same goal. So while not EVERYONE needs to know and be involved in EVERY decision, the heavier responsibility then falls to the leaders to listen, understand, and yes-appreciate all the differing views, opinions, hurts, needs and desires that the congregation brings and not favor any of one (group, idea) over another.

Monday, November 8, 2010

October was definitely a busy month-but also a very good one.

-We moved from the house in Willmar back to Kandiyohi. Good and bad I guess, I am sure we will write about that soon.

-We had TWO garage sales. After the second garage sale, we had a giveaway of the items left. We first invited the Spanish church from our home church. One woman had just recently moved to town and told us she had nothing in the house. So we loaded her up! She got furniture, desks, beds, and lots and lots of clothes. What a blessing to be able to do that! She was just so cute with her nervous laugh every time we found something else to ask her if she wanted. The guys loaded up the trailer than delivered it to their home. It turned out to be the exact duplex one of the guys had lived in 13 years ago! Crazy!

The remainder of the clothes were picked up by a friend for a local church who does a free clothing exchange each fall and spring.

-We also helped organize a benefit for one of our friends who has brain cancer.

Definitely not something we would ever want to have to put on, but it turned out to be a blessing for many. I know their family was blessed by the outpouring of support before, during, and even after. They were touched and felt God's love that day and HE was glorified. And we continue to pray for her healing here on this earth.

-The regular work, school, and home chores. We kept waiting for the month to pass as it was just. so. crazy.

And now we are off into the next season. Choir festivals, family, friends, small group, bible study, kids night at church, more school, work and home. Oh yeah-and our basement is getting some work done in a few weeks. Yes, it is never ending; but I think we are into a (brief) lull!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

salon day

The girls and I got to have a fun day at the salon last Thursday. I was bringing them all in for malibus (conditioning treatments) and hair cuts. While we were waiting I was asked if I wanted to be a model for back facials, facials, and make ups. I wasn't sure as those would take three hours and I knew the girls wouldn't take that long. But they said no problem-we'll do their nails, give them up-dos, no charge. My things were no charge too of course, so...how can you say no??
It made a busy day an even busier day-but oh well I guess! FYI-a back facial is just like what they do on your face-exfoliate the skin, moisturizer, a little massage, a "mask" to soften the skin. It sounds really weird, but it was a pretty heavenly day!

Here are the beauties!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

As I said it has been a long time since we’ve written anything…really meaningful. I was told the other day by a gal who still reads our blog how thankful she was that we were still writing and with everything she’s gone through, she’s appreciated it.
So that makes me want to keep sharing what we are learning and dealing with and trusting God with.
This month has been surviving. It’s the promise land of November now :-) so things should settle down, right? Yeah right, we’ll see!
Thinking of our last 4 years (maybe longer) we have been in a pretty constant state of transition. The process of deciding on a mission field, preparing for it, going, being there, coming back, dealing with the hurts, wondering about a next job, wondering about housing, moving and that’s just the “unregular” stuff like school and kids and family life thrown in. So I wonder, what would I do without this craziness? We’ve been in transition so long, I don’t know if we know anything different!
The mental busyness seems to be more what bogs me down than the actual busyness. But even that I enjoy thinking through. Then the time comes to do it…and bam-I am overwhelmed at trying to do it all.
And truthfully, what gets left behind? Yup-God. My quiet times, my prayer time, my thinking and studying time. But God is so faithful, He is so loving, He is the Father waiting for me to come back. In the midst of all this crazy, I have had some truly amazing prayer times with others. So even while I struggled on my own, God was orchestrating times of refreshment for me as well.
So, so grateful for His love and provision and how He cares for me!

Monday, November 1, 2010

HAGGAI-written probably a few months ago

It's been awhile since we wrote. I am looking back to see what we may have written but not finished editing. This is one that I found...

I am up to Ezra and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem during my chronological bible reading. In the middle of Ezra I was sent over to Haggai. This book is a small series of messages to the Israelites. The time is around 520 BC, August 29 to be exact I was once told…
Chapter one goes like this (thanks Dr. Larson for the teaching on this!):
1-2 It’s time! There were no more excuses for why they weren’t rebuilding the temple. The people were procrastinating; they were side tracked by many other things (mainly their own selfish desires).
3-6 God is telling them you need to set priorities-MY house is to be built before your (homes) and things for your comfort and pleasures. They were doing their way before God’s, they were more concerned with making their own homes beautiful than the Lord’s house.
7-12 This is a call to get involved in finishing the Temple- v8 also gives us the purpose of our obedience to God: He says, “that I may be pleased with it and be glorified.” In this section God takes responsibility for the drought on the land. He tells us why in verse 9-because His house lies desolate. God will do whatever it takes to get our attention sometimes!
13-15 Haggai reminds them that the Lord will be with you! This was needed encouragement to the Israelites as well as they had already had some opposition to their rebuilding of the temple, and it was a needed reminder-one will all need!
In chapter two God encourages the Israelites that the latter temple will be more glorious than the first. Some of the elders were remembering how grand Solomon’s temple was and becoming discouraged, so God was giving them a peak about His plan for this temple.
Verses 10-19 of chapter two address holiness. The message illustrates the concept of contamination and then God applies it to the nation of Israel. God requires holiness and obedience from us. When we sin, it “contaminates” and blocks the blesses of God. Because the people would (then) obey God (in building the temple), they will blessed from that day on. What a great incentive to repentance! Not only confessing your sin, but TURNING from it as well. Just what is turning from your sin? It’s walking in a new way. It’s turning from the path you are on to another path-God’s path. It’s not easy, and sometimes we fall off the path. But the Lord is gracious and kind and remembers His mercy toward us. HE helps pick us up and shake off the dust and start again.
In the last few verses Zerubbabel is a symbol of the Messiah to come. In these last few verses, God says he will destroy and overthrow the nations of the earth and the (Messiah) will be honored.
So, the questions to ask yourself are:
-How high is God on YOUR list of priorities?
-Do you have reverence for God?
-Have we lost sight of what it is like to be God’s child?