Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sermon Exerpts from 7-22-12

Here are some excerpts from my notes from the sermon I gave at our home church this past Sunday. My main idea was the importance for...well, you can pick up on the premise as you read.

I used to completely ignore the first and last twenty verses or so of any of Paul's letters. I wanted to get to the core of his message. These greetings had absolutely no significance to me for about 27 years (literally). Then we started ministry partnership, the process of building a support network for our ministry in Africa. All of a sudden, I see the relevance and importance Paul placed on communicating, appreciatiting and sharing his need for prayer and financial support, as well as keeping the readers apprised of what He was able to do through their support.Although the majority of the content of his letter was slightly more instructional, he did make sure to inform his readers who most likely were personal supporters as to what he had been up to.

Romans 15:17-33 says, "Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done-by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ...since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord's people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord's people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it ot the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbeliveres in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord's people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God's will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen."

Side note - he mentions a trip to Spain in the works. We have no indication that he ever made it, but I am fully convinced that if MAF were in existence then, he would have!

It is so vital to the life of a Christian to be connected with other Christians. Some say that they don't need anyone else, they just need Christ. Is this possible? Could Christ certainly be all you need to survive as a Christian? I can't say it's not possible (this is very much the case in many Muslim countries in the world), but there is a depth and importance that Christ placed on sticking together.

When the Pharisees accused Christ of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub, Christ replied that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. I absolutely believe that holds true for us too. If we stand divided, we are weak. The gospel of John reports the unity theme as a major part of Jesus' prayer in the garden before he was crucified.

John 17:20-23 tells us, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us to that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."

The body of Christ is made, in part, to support and encourage each other. This is why our support network is crucially important to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, especially in a place that is so far from home, geographically and culturally.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On The Road with Baby Girl

Our little family just completed its last road trip for ministry partnership! We traveled west to Murfreesboro, TN to visit some family; we headed north to Paris, TN to visit a congregation; we headed to Lobelville, TN to visit another congregation; we headed east to Waverly, TN to visit more family; and then we headed to Cookeville, TN to visit some friends, all before heading home! To say this is our last road trip would not be the truth! It was a first for baby and only the beginning!

On our trip, we said our temporary good-byes (until our furlough) to our sponsoring congregations and we said our temporary good-byes (until Christmas) to our families out west. For our little girl, they were her first "hello" to some family and hopefully won't be the last!

Sadly, mama didn't take as many pictures as she should have, but I will share the ones I did take with you for your viewing pleasure (of our daughter)!

Baby's luggage
Waiting in traffic is SOOOO boring!

On my way to another meeting!

Meeting my Great Grandmother (Kevin's Grandmother) & Great Aunt for the first time!

My new bed, donated by the Blount family! I love it!

I am SOOOO tired, I don't know if I can make it!

Daddy leading singing while I am zonked out!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Blog

Here is a preview of my guest blog:

“So God created man in His Own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created Them. God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful and increase in number….’” (Genesis 1:27-28).

My eyes open and it is dark outside, the hall light is shining into the bedroom. I listen closely to the sounds of the night to determine the reason why I’ve awoken. I hear a noise and turn to my right. Lying beside me, nestled in her swaddle is my sweet little three week old baby girl with her eyes wide open. Her mouth opens wide in a big yawn and she stretches out her little arms and legs. I smile as she coos again, and I gently pick her up to begin nursing her. I stare into her big baby blue eyes as she flexes her hands to reach for me as she nurses patiently. Looking at my precious baby, I wonder to myself, how much of this is instinctual to mothers, knowing what my baby needs and wants?

To read more, click here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What Is a Missionary, Part 1.

Jesus,The Missiona.......Evangelist

This blog has been in the works for a while. We would have an idea, write it down, file it away, wait a while, have an idea, write it down…. you get the idea.  Finally, we said ENOUGH-we need to post it (well, at least that is what Tasha said). We have about 10 more pages of notes, so this will end up being a multi-part post. Here is the first of what will be many rabbit trails. For those of you with A.D.D., you may be able to follow it better than others (Squirrel!!).
Typically at every presentation we do for MAF, we hear comments about great our “faith, courage, devotion (and sometimes insanity)” is as missionaries. Most of the time, these comments makes us squirm where we stand (with the exception of the insanity comment… that one pegs us pretty well). We do understand the Ministry Partnership process does require a certain amount of discussion about ourselves and what we are going to do once we get to the DRC, but this series will be an attempt to re-direct the warm fuzzies to where they need to go and really define what a missionary is or isn’t.
Did you know that in the Greek manuscripts, and at least the NIV, KJV, ESV, and NAS bibles (I have yet to check the billion other translations), the word missionary is never used? Not once?  The closest we see is in 2nd Timothy 4:5 and Acts 21:8 referring to Timothy and Philip as Evangelists. Strong’s Concordance identifies an evangelist as one who brings good tidings. This sounds vaguely familiar to Jesus’ first speech to His Jewish brethren at the beginning of His ministry:
Jesus’ reading from Isaiah 61 said “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Luke 4:18-19  
Certainly Christ came to earth, lived, died and was raised to save us from our sins and ourselves, but His ministry was so much more than just that (although it is awfully hard to say “JUST” to such a powerful statement). He was talking about ultimate reconciliation, bringing a spiritual and physical renewal of life. But look even closer at the beginning.  Twice, Jesus mentioned more specifically why He was there: because “HE has anointed me” and “HE has sent me”.
While Jesus was praying before he was arrested John’s records more or less sum up the entire ministry of Jesus, profound words that are very easy to look over.
17:3…. “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 

The first part is slightly unrelated to Jesus as a missionary but is still very cool. Heaven is not our goal of salvation, knowing the only true God is! Jesus also identified who sent Him.”

17:4 “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do”

This, I believe, is the basis for what we do as Christians who are sent (everyone is in some way sent but this is a later post). What can be better than bringing Glory and Honor to the One who through His loving kindness, redeems and re-establishes us in a Holy relationship with Him! “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to YOUR name give glory, because of your loving kindness, because of your truth. Psalm 115:1”