Journey 1-9-06

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Heb. 12:1

This week after all the joy of having my parents here for Christmas and all the fun, I came back to the reality of life in a strange land. One day in particular I was feeling pretty down. I was walking to the bus stop and the sky was gray, it was raining, the snow was all melting, I was wet and cold and feeling sorrowful over the separation from my family and friends. Then God whispered to me “look, there is a great cloud of witnesses around you calling to you to just hold on.”

The thought was so powerful that I almost stopped right there on the steps to the bus platform and looked around to see them. All those faithful men and women who have traveled this road before me, those who have fought the fight and finished the race are watching. What a GOOD GOD that I serve to provide just the right encouragement when I need it! The melancholy I was feeling wasn’t gone but my focus was changed. I am in the middle of a battle for the souls of men and women and battles require sacrifice and determination. What a powerful reminder that this isn’t a short sprint to the finish line on a smooth track but an endurance race over many miles of rough terrain. And I am not alone. Along the race course there are fans cheering me on, there are saints and angels watching from heaven, there are saints on earth praying for me and providing encouragement and there is my Lord, taking my hand and reminding me that in the end, it will be worth it all.

Journey 1-1-06

Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 2 Sam. 7:18b

The above verse was in my devotional yesterday and it reflects my thoughts as I venture into 2006. I don’t know why God has chosen me to be His own child and I don’t know why He has called me to be His representative in Hungary but I am so very grateful that He loves me with an unending love and that He chooses to work in and through me for His glory.

Journey 12-20-05

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Such a beautiful sacrifice! The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. This Christmas I have been thinking about what that meant to Jesus, to leave heaven and make his dwelling in the flesh, among men. That He came down to us and allowed us a glimpse of His glory, that He gave himself for us to become our reconciliation with the Father, that is the gift that makes Christmas so special.

Journey 12-12-05

‘Listen, O High priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.’ Zechariah 3:8-9

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

I’ve always loved Christmas. The tree, the lights, the music, the joy…what a wonderful thing to celebrate our Redeemer’s advent on earth. But the thing that I love most about Christmas is the amazing love of God. For Christmas is really all about the cross. From the angel’s announcement to Joseph it was clear that as amazing as the birth of God in the flesh was, it wasn’t the birth that was the focus, it was the purpose of the advent. It is the very meaning of His name! He would save his people from their sins. His death would remove the power of sin, in a single day, in a single act, but the sacrifice began at the manger. That overwhelming love, giving of Himself, being made in human likeness, being born with the cross in mind, dying that we might live, THAT is worth all the praise and glory and wonder that we can give to Him. What a wonderful gift. What a wonderful Savior.

Journey 12-2-05

Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. Ps. 119:73-74

This verse struck me in my reading this week. “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me.” What a statement! The author is asking God for understanding of his word and then asks that those who love God would see him and rejoice because of what God has done in his life. The psalmist trusts God by putting his hope in God’s word and wants it to be so noticeable that it brings rejoicing in the lives of other believers. This is a desire of my heart. As I learn to follow my Savior, as He leads me step by step, may I bring Glory to His name and rejoicing among the saints!

Journey 11-21-05

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Eph. 1:16

This Thanksgiving week I have so much to be thankful for!

GRACE – What an amazing thing to have grace for every failure! God’s grace is more than I can truly comprehend!

LOVE – The Love of God far surpasses my understanding. Love that gave His only Son in my place. Love that doesn’t measure by human accomplishments. Love that is poured out on even the most unworthy in fullness and reckless abandon. Oh THE LOVE OF GOD leaves me overwhelmed for the joy of receiving such a gift.

YOU – If you are receiving this e-mail then you have had an impact on my life and I am so thankful for you. For my family who have cared for me, for friends who have come alongside me, for supporters who give so that I can follow God’s call, for prayer warriors who fight Spiritual Battles so that God can work through me in this place…YOU are my praise and my thanksgiving to God. As Paul wrote in Ephesians, “I have not stopped giving thanks for you.”

Journey 11-10-05

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Eph. 1:18-19a

In my reading this week I was challenged to take a deeper look into what motivates me. What is it that maintains my passion to follow Christ when the day is rough? What is it that keeps my faith alive, living and active? What is it that makes me want to traverse all the obstacles in my path and not simply take the easy road?

HOPE. The hope of glory. The hope of the kingdom where all is right with the world and Christ reigns. The hope of my inheritance. The hope of others joining with me in this great promise. What is it that makes me want to pursue Christ wherever He leads? Not merely head knowledge of these truths but the HOPE of them. Hope is a word that implies a future fulfillment. I could also substitute the word anticipation. The anticipation of glory, of heaven, of the kingdom, of my inheritance.

As I face so many changes and challenges, this thought has been a powerful reminder. Why am I here? It is because I have a hope that gets me up in the morning, keeps me going through the day and gives me peace when I lay my head down at night. It is because I have been called to hope. I have been given an inheritance that I can anticipate more than a child anticipates Christmas morning, for this hope will never disappoint. The inheritance that I have is worth sharing. The anticipation of the kingdom is worth living for, in spite of all the obstacles here and now.

My hope for you…that you may live in the anticipation of your inheritance and desire to share the joy of this great gift with everyone around you.

Journey 10-18-05

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins . Colossians 1:13-14

What an amazing and precious truth! From the depths of the darkest dungeon of the ruler of darkness, from the bondage of the chains of my own sin, God has delivered me! He brought me out of darkness, filth and despair into the kingdom of light. He brought me into the realm of the Son who loves me. He calls me his child. He gives me forgiveness and joy and hope and LIFE! He is worthy to be praised!!!

Journey 10-10-05

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

This week has been crazy, busy and emotional. I am so thankful for the life of Christ in me that carries me.

Casting Crowns has a song on their new album that has been my theme this week:

“If you asked me to leave,
out of my boat on the crashing waves,
if you asked me to go,
preach to a lost world that Jesus saves,
I’ll go but I can not go alone.
‘Cause I know I’m nothing on my own.
But the power of Christ in me makes me strong,
makes me strong.
‘Cause when I am weak, you make me strong.
When I am blind, you shine your light on me.
‘Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability.
How refreshing to know you don’t need me.
How amazing to find that you want me.
So I’ll stand on your truth
and I’ll fight with your strength,
until you bring the victory.
By the Power of Christ in me.”

Journey 9-29-05

Therefore , since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Being a nature person, I love to look at the mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and animals. It is so calming and relaxing, but it is nothing like fixing my eyes on Jesus. There is no greater joy, no greater comfort, no greater peace than when I take my eyes off of all that surrounds me in this crazy life and I fix my eyes on Jesus. Only then can I gain perspective. Only then can I let go of all I am trying to accomplish and rest in the truth that He has everything under control and as impossible as it may seem in a moment, that He really is working ALL THINGS together for my good. If He could take the shame of the cross and make it into the very reason I live then He can take my hopes, my fears, my disappointments, my sorrows and my joys and work them together for an eternal purpose.