Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prisoners of Hope

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Joshua 1:1-3 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. Hebrews 11:13a

It never fails to move me to read God's words to Joshua. God tells him to get ready because He was preparing to fulfill His promise to Moses and not only Moses, but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am brought to my knees by the faithfulness of God. Not one of His promises to us will fail. Even when we close our eyes in death we can rest assured that His promise will be fulfilled even if we don’t get to see it come to pass in our life time. He is a covenant God, a promise keeping God and we who know Him are “prisoners of hope”. Zechariah 9:12

There have been times in my life when I wanted to suppress my expectations because I didn’t want to deal with another round of disappointment. I was sure the fulfillment of a promise was just around the corner and it wasn’t. I found that I couldn’t continue very long in a pit (that is where it takes us) of hopelessness. It was not because I was such a woman of faith, but because He is and always has been a God who keeps His word. As I stayed in His word, the faith, hope, and confidence in His loving heart would rise once again. In Zechariah 9:12 Israel is told to return to their “stronghold” you prisoners of hope. In this Scripture the stronghold is a good thing. It is a high place, a fortress of safety and I would much rather live there than in a pit of doubt and unbelief.

I was given a Fruit of the Spirit Bible by a dear friend. One morning as I was reading my eyes fell on this remark in the notes, “Jesus, if I do not see your promises fulfilled today, I will set my alarm extra early tomorrow morning." I believe that is a heart attitude that is a delight to our Father and will strengthen those who live with us or around us.

Are you in a pit of hopelessness? Are your eyes on the problem or the promises? Lift your eyes to the One who does not lie and cannot go back on His word. Return to your place of safety. Trust in Him at all times O people. By all means pour out your heart to Him; He will be your refuge. Psalm 62:8 Tell Him you are struggling. He already knows it, so ask Him to restore you to that place of safety. Trust Him.

MY PRAYER: Lord, I believe you are at work even when I don’t see your hand. You are trustworthy and I am a prisoner of hope. Thank you for your covenant keeping ways and your unfailing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

MY CONFESSION: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV I stand on your word!

Monday, September 28, 2009

How Beautiful

Purpose and Power in Small Groups

For many years I have facilitated women’s Bible studies and have found they are an excellent way to disciple women of all ages and stages of life. Most women seem to fare better when they are in a guided study and are being held accountable by meeting together weekly in a small group setting.

I have also been in a small group of men and women from our church who meet together every Tuesday night. My husband and I enjoy it so much and have grown from the experience. We know and fellowship with people who would otherwise be familiar strangers. Now we know each other’s challenges and pray for one another on a regular basis. John Piper preached a wonderful sermon that can be read in its entirety here http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2009/4223_The_Love_of_Human_Praise_as_the_Root_of_Unbelief/ Within his sermon he gave 7 reasons for small group ministry which I have listed below.

“He has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders."
1. The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us
John Piper has laid it out beautifully with great insight and honesty. If you are not connected to a small group I really hope that you will earnestly pray and seek to be.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

When its All Been Said and Done

Wise or Foolish/Knowing and Doing

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. Matthew 7:24 “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. Matthew 7:26 NASB

The last month or so, I have had some disconcerting experiences. I have been in conversations with several believers who were asking for advice or comfort. I am not fond of religious clich├ęs and diligently try to avoid them. So, when I replied or endeavored to meet the need with a biblical viewpoint or admonition I was met with, “I know that, or they know that….but…..the situation isn’t resolved, it isn’t working out the way I want, I feel abandoned by God, angry with God, etc.” It seems that many believers think knowing The truth or A truth is the same as living by the light of that truth. In the situations that I have found troubling the truth is known but not applied. That seems so simple but the most profound truths always are: true wisdom applies what is known to the daily nitty-gritty’s of life. That’s why the apostle John would say, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 Notice he didn’t say, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children knowing the truth.” Huge difference.

The deepest regrets of my life have come from knowing the truth and not living in accordance with that truth. Paul warns us, “If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 Let’s be humble enough when told a truth we already know not to assume that it’s being applied to our current challenge. Let’s be wise builders. In Jesus’ parable both men heard, but only one acted wisely. Let’s walk in the truth and we will find a firm rock under out feet instead of shifting sand of human wisdom and opinion. It will be the difference between standing and falling.

MY PRAYER: Lord, help us to walk humbly with you and those who would try to encourage us. Give us the wisdom to apply what You have taught us. Keep us from deceiving ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: I will be wise. I will hear your words and I will act on them. I will survive any storm. I stand on Your Word!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If We Are The Body

Love Covers

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 NASB

I found a commentary by Charles Wesley on this passage: "Love covereth a multitude of sins - Yea, "love covereth all things." He that loves another, covers his faults, how many soever they be. He turns away his own eyes from them; and, as far as is possible, hides them from others. And he continually prays that all the sinner's iniquities may be forgiven and his sins covered. Meantime the God of love measures to him with the same measure into his bosom."

As I was rereading this, what God brought to my mind was the example of Noah laying naked and drunk in bed. Genesis 9:29 This is the same Noah that of all the men on earth had found favor in the sight of God. He had exercised incredibly obedient faith. Noah began farming, planted a vineyard, and drank of his wine and got drunk. He went from an all time high to an all time low; hero to zero. Ham happened upon his father drunk and naked, sprawled in his tent. Ham saw it and told on him. Could it be that the first gossip spread in the new world was spoken by a man? His other two sons held up a garment and walked in backwards to cover his shame. That is a beautiful picture of love covering sin. Ham brought a curse on himself and his son through his choice, while a blessing was bestowed on the other two sons. I know which example I want to follow. Anyone can judge and point the finger. The real test of character comes when we see someone's need (nakedness). Will we cover it by diligent prayer until that barren place becomes fruitful? Will we come along side with encouragement and loving guidance? Will we expose them to others without thought to the many times Christ has covered and cleansed us and given us our dignity back? Treat others the way you want to be treated, as a good steward and recipient of the richness of His grace.
I pray that God will stamp into our spirits the mental picture of the two sons walking backwards into their father's tent to cover him. I pray that He will form in us the same kind of heart. A heart like His.

MY PRAYER: Lord, we have been the beneficiary of Your love and grace so many times. Help us to extend to others what you have so freely lavished on us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

MY CONFESSION: You have promised us that when we are merciful that we will receive mercy. I stand on Your Word!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thy Word

Two Roads

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:1-6 NIV

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost, from The Road Not Taken

I have always loved this Psalm and committed it to memory as a young Christian. Maybe it is because it starts with a proclamation of blessing. The literal translation of blessed is, “Oh how happy!” I want to be on the path of blessedness don’t you?

David describes two people in this psalm. All of humanity falls into one of the two categories, the righteous and the wicked. The ones David describes as godly are trusting in the righteousness that comes from God, by faith, through Christ’s finished work on the cross. We are not perfect, but when we fall short, as we inevitably do, we repent and He graciously restores us. Those in the OT looked forward to the Coming One and we look back at the cross and resurrection and His return.

There are distinct characteristics of both groups. The righteous:
  • Make wise choices based on God’s principles in His word. They don’t live according to ungodly and unbiblical wisdom but delight and meditate in God’s ways and wisdom. We don’t go by opinion polls. Have you noticed that in our society we are being trained to think that if enough people concur on an issue that we have somehow arrived at the truth or rightness of a matter?
  • They don’t stand or remain on the path that sinners are on. They are the ones on the narrow way and it may be lonely. They are not following the crowd. They are assured in verse 6 that God’s eye is on them, He sees, and goodness and mercy are following them. They will flourish and be fruitful.

The ungodly are not so:

  • They don’t love God or His word. They trust their own crooked hearts to lead them. Very often they are mockers of that which is good.
  • They may have material goods, but they will not be blessed or find happiness and peace. They don’t flourish, they wither within.

Before I came to the Lord I read countless biographies in search of a common theme in “successful” lives. I came away disheartened because while there may have been great achievement I didn’t see that ultimately, when they came to the end of their lives, that they were happy, blessed, or at peace. Now I know that they had perished apart from their true purpose. They didn’t love God or enjoy and glorify Him in their journey and into eternity. John Piper put’s it so succinctly, “When Jesus came into the world humanity was split according to what they love. “The light came into the world and men loved darkness rather than light.”(John 3:19). The righteous and the wicked are separated by what they delight in—the revelation of God or the way of the world.”

Delight yourself in the Lord. Taste and see that He is good. During the day meditate on His word, talk to Him more eagerly than the dearest friend. Your road may be narrow and not many on it, but I can promise you a good ending.

MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you that you have given us everything we need for life and godliness. Thank you for the rich delights that await us in your word. Teach us to meditate on that word. Thank you for all your precious promises to us.

MY CONFESSION: I will meditate in your word. I will be like a tree firmly planted by a river. I will be fruitful in every season of life. I stand on your word!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Glorious One

Bring Me Word of Your Unfailing Love

This Psalm fell on me this morning like a refreshing dew from heaven. It is a prayer of David and of every child of God who is dismayed and thirsty at the same time. Let this day bring you the word of His unfailing love.

Psalm 143:1 A psalm of David. O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. 143:2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. 143:3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. 143:4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. 143:5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. 143:6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah 143:7 Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.143:9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.143:11 For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. 143:12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When its All Been Said and Done


We are in Ft. Wayne visiting with our son and daughter-in-law in their new home. My husband and son have worked hard in their unfinished basement and have accomplished a massive amount. Lindsay and I on the other hand have shopped and visited with family and enjoyed the perks of not being involved in "the project." It really has been fun, but now we are headed home.
I feel that now my fall schedule really begins. My thoughts are turning more and more to the Bible study I will be sharing with a group of women and how much I am looking forward to the accountability.
I hope you are doing something to actively pursue growing in the knowledge and grace of the Lord and strengthening your relationship with Him and others. We are encouraged in Hebrews 2:1 to be careful not to drift away from what we have heard. Drift is a word that paints a picture of a gentle, slow slipping away. Are you drifting? Are you losing your passion and focus? Find a prayer group, a Bible study class and join in. If there isn't one, then start one. That's what I did many years ago and what a rich blessing that decision has been.
I have walked with the Lord a long time and I don't forsee a time when I won't need encouraging fellowship and accountability. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul encourages Timothy to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Pursuit puts an end to drift.
Send me an email or leave me a message and let me know what your plans are. I would love to hear.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who Am I?

Precious in God's Sight

And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NAS

I will never forget reading this Scripture for the first time. I was a new believer and I was reading it in the King James which translated it as “a meek and quiet spirit.” That sounded so foreign to me and to my personality. That description of a woman whose spirit was precious to God honestly seemed to me about as attractive as a cold bowl of oatmeal. Meek sounded wimpy and quiet?....well, that wasn’t going to happen. I was in a real quandary. I had been gloriously saved and loved the Lord with all my heart, but this woman was so far removed from my opinionated, “let’s both wear the pants” attitude. My husband and I had been married about a year and a half before we were saved. Strong patterns had already been established and none of it had to do with me being gentle and quiet. Unfortunately, I never had the blessing of an older woman taking me under her wing and giving me wise counsel. It seemed that everything I learned came the hard way and through trial and error. Fortunately, I have an extremely patient husband who loved a very headstrong and stubborn woman. We have been married for thirty-seven years and love each other dearly. So here are some things I learned.

I am a flower quickly fading here today and gone tomorrow. My outward beauty, what there ever was of it, is fading, but inwardly I know that I have grown lovelier. God looks at the imperishable quality of my spirit and He wants to see me looking more and more like His Son. Jesus yoked me together with himself and asked me to learn of him. He described himself as meek and lowly and he gave me a promise that I would find rest for my soul. (Mathew 11:29) As I read the gospels over and over I fell in love with the meek and lowly one. Nothing about Jesus’ personality was weak or insipid. I did find rest for my soul. My soul started out large and in charge, but slowly and surely my spirit grew and became meek and quiet.

Instead of trying to enforce my will in any given situation, I learned to tell my husband what I thought was the right course of action and then pray that God would give him the wisdom to make the right choice for our family. The result has been that my husband seeks my opinion. He values my opinion and doesn’t perceive it as an aggressive drive to have my own way. We can disagree without strife and rancor entering our relationship. I am not claiming we do this perfectly, but I can say that we have a very peaceful relationship and home.

I also learned that when my husband hurt my feelings that I didn’t have to retaliate. He is usually a soft spoken guy, but we were both under a lot of pressure. During that time he had really offended me. I was having this conversation in my head plotting how I was going to tell him off. Into the middle of these vengeful thoughts came this word into my spirit, “Carol, you will never know me as Defender. You are just too good at it yourself.” Of course I just melted into a confession of how much it had hurt and how if I didn’t stand up for myself who would? I laid down my right to retaliate. About a week later my husband came to me and apologized. He said the Lord had really convicted him about the way he had spoken to me. Then the Lord told him in no uncertain terms to stop it. Do unkind words still fall from our lips? Yes, we can still fall prey to our flesh, but it is pretty rare.

What I learned at home didn’t stay at home. I have found myself in situations within the church, in friendships, and business where a gentle and quiet spirit prevailed. The Lord has proven to me over and over again it is not a position of weakness but power. I don’t have to vie for position or try to manipulate people for my own advantage. When we walk in His ways, in His truth, empowered by His life within us He will direct our path and put us right where He wants us. Others around us may scheme and manipulate, but I would rather trust in the Lord and his ways. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
MY PRAYER: Lord, I thank you that you value the hidden person of the heart. You say a gentle and quiet spirit is precious to you. I thank you that the work you have done in my heart is a lasting and eternal work. How grateful I am that you have changed me to be like You. In Jesus wonderful name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: The outward appearance is fading but my spirit is eternal. I will allow you to continue to mold me inwardly into a gentle and quiet woman. This is imperishable and precious to You. I stand on your word!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Prayer

Joyful Prayers

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3-5

It is necessary to pray for the lost. I think we all know that. It is also extremely important that we pray for those who are serving the Lord in ministry. The responsibilities are great and the pressures can be unrelenting. Paul prayed for those who were partners with him in the spreading of the gospel. They weren't just takers, they were givers. They weren't just watchers, they were workers. I know so many people whose ministry is also their occupation. They are faithfully witnessing and being sermons in shoe leather. They are living it out in their neighborhoods, offices, and in business. Paul said, "I remember you and I am offering prayers for you, in view of your participation in the gospel." We need to pray for every faithful servant. You will never know until you get to heaven if perhaps your prayers kept someone from throwing in the towel. Your prayers could bring a surge of encouragement, strength to resist temptation, protection from an evil scheme of the enemy. Don't ever think your prayers don't matter. Ask God to bring people to your mind by His Spirit Christians who need your prayers.
If you are in need ask God to lay you on someone's heart. I believe He will totally honor such a request. I think even in the area of prayer we reap what we sow and we have not because we ask not. I had an amazing thing happen. One night as I was turning off my bedside lamp to go to sleep, the names of a friend's daughters came to mind. I prayed for both of them before dropping off to sleep. The next morning their mother who lives at least 25 minutes from me showed up at our front door. She said that she felt impressed to come and pray for my mother-in-law who lived with us. My friend is shy and not given to such boldness. When I told her about my prayers for her daughters the night before, we stood in awe of the One who was working in our lives. Only He could have orchestrated that. It was no mere coincidence. He let us know that He was concerned about our burdens as well as those of others. Isn't He good?

MY PRAYER: Lord, I thank you that by your Holy Spirit you will remind me to pray for my brothers and sisters. Help me to realize that those who are spreading the gospel are in need of my prayers. As I strive to live my life for you, I trust that you will lead others to pray for me as well. What a privilege and what joy we have to undergird and strengthen others through intercession. In Jesus' Name!

MY CONFESSION: The Holy Spirit will bring to mind those who are in need of my prayers today. I will offer those prayers with joy knowing that I am a participant in their efforts. This is an offering of great delight to you. I am strengthened by the knowledge that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for His people. I stand on Your Word.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who Am I?

The Lord is On Our Side

(A Song of Ascents, of David.) "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side," Let Israel now say, "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side, When men rose up against us; Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their anger was kindled against us; Then the waters would have engulfed us, The stream would have swept over our soul.” Psalm 124:1-4

Do you need assurance that the Lord is on your side? My husband and I went through an intense period of testing. We own a business and have tried to conduct ourselves with God honoring integrity. We spend very little on advertising because we had a very strong “word of mouth” satisfied customer base.

We were so disheartened when we encountered someone who absolutely could not be satisfied with any of our efforts. They were determined to take us to court. It went beyond a legal entanglement to a personal vendetta. From the words of their own mouth they, “Wanted to destroy us.” In the world’s ledger it was heavily weighted on their side, and to tell you the truth for a moment we seemed like, “grasshoppers in our own eyes.” Numbers 13:33

God taught us so many spiritual truths during that painful period. The most valuable lesson to me was the power of silence. His word to me was, "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent." Exodus 14:14 A mouth that is constantly rehearsing the problem and telling others is rarely a heart whose trust is firmly fixed on the Lord. Constant rehearsal of the problem also allows the strife to enter into your spirit. Our pride wants to be vindicated, but a humble heart is satisfied that God knows the truth and will be our vindicator. 1 Peter 2:23 tells us that Jesus left us an example. When He was threatened He was silent and kept entrusting Himself to the One who judges righteously. Following His example we experienced the freedom spoken of in Psalm 124, “Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper.

God brought us through that period to a victorious end in the courts and in our hearts. We could proclaim with David “The snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”
You may not be involved in a legal battle, but all of us are going to face conflict. It is very tempting to tell everything and get people on “our side.” Let’s remember our Lord’s example and entrust ourselves to the One who is already there.

MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you that your name is our strong tower. Help us to remember that you are the maker of heaven and earth and you are on our side. Thank you for going before us and leaving us an example. I always wanted a big brother and you have exceeded all my expectations

MY CONFESSION: The Lord will fight for me while I keep silent. I will follow Your example. I stand on Your Word!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Casting Crowns Praise You In The Storm

Reaching the Place Where Jesus Is

Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. John 11:20
And when she (Martha) had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here, and is calling for you." And when she (Mary) heard it, she arose quickly, and was coming to Him. John 11:28-29 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." John 11:31-33

These Scriptures speak deeply to me about suffering and disappointment with God. People will act in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways in crisis. For those of you who know Mary and Martha’s history it may surprise you that it was Martha and not Mary who instinctively and quickly made her way to Jesus. Disappointment or disillusionment in the way Jesus allows things to unfold can shake us to our core. In Matthew 11:2-3 John the Baptist while in prison questioned the validity of the One he had previously boldly proclaimed.

We read that the Jews who were with Mary were comforting her. The word comfort literally means to “relate near.” On some basic level just the presence of people who care about us can provide solace, but eventually they go home and we are alone. We don’t know why Mary didn’t run to meet Jesus we just know she didn’t go until Martha told her that He was calling for. One of the simplest things we can do for someone who is hurting is to remind them that Jesus is waiting for them to come to Him.

When Mary got up her comforters presumed she was going to the tomb to weep because that is a very human response. We visit the grave, we relive the events, we cry, we leave tributes, but I personally have never found consolation in those acts. But I have, with countless others, reached the place where Jesus is. It was there at His feet that Mary released her hurt and disappointment. It was there at His feet she had a deeper revelation of who He was. He took her beyond what she already knew. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” She knew Him as healer, but He would take her further and deeper. He is the resurrection and anyone who believes in Jesus shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Jesus shall never die. John 11:25-26 What a revelation, what a promise, and what an amazing Savior.

We all have our own ways of coping and making it through tough times. Where do you go when you are wounded, disappointed, or grieving? Mary went to the place where Jesus was. We need to get there too by faith. Stand on his promise that He is near to the brokenhearted and to those who are crushed in spirit. You are disappointed because you know what He could have done and didn’t. But you don’t know what great thing He can do if you continue to trust Him even when you don't understand. When He doesn’t meet our expectations....He wants to exceed them. He will work it for our good and His glory. He wants to take us deeper still. Get to the place where He is. He is near.
MY PRAYER: Lord, whatever you allow in my life is meant to draw me deeper into my understanding and experience of you. Help me to run to you for the healing and comfort that I need. Only you can bring life in the midst of brokenness hurt and confusion. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: You have promised that you are near to the brokenhearted, and that you save those who are crushed in spirit. You are the One who heals the brokenhearted, and binds up our wounds. Psalm 34:18 and Psalm 147:3 You are near and you are at work. I stand on your word!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Taylors-Reaching Tribal People in the Philippines

Always saying, "Goodbye."
Back row: Christine Taylor, Kim Taylor Johnson,
Scott Taylor, Rell Lackland, Ariel Taylor, Billy Taylor
Front row: Carol Lackland, Karen Taylor, Sarah Caudill

I have wanted for some time to share with my friends the wonderful ministry of my nephew Scott Taylor, his wife, Karen, and children Ariel, Billy, and Christine in the Philippines.

Scott had studied the Batak people of the Philippines in a sociology class. He learned that it was estimated they would be extinct as a people group by the year 2000. He and Karen lived among them providing basic medical care and love. The Batak are not extinct but growing in health and in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I intend to share their letters with you as I receive their emails. Scott and his family live simply and sacrificially. They come home infrequently. Please pray for them and their ever expanding work in the Philippines.

If the Lord would lead you to contribute to this ministry the address for contributions is:

The Taylors (this is the only address to send contributions)
C/O Glenda Norris
25665 Nightingale Drive
Lebanon, MO 65536
Their Field Address:
Scott and Karen Taylor
P.O. Box 113
Puerto Princessa City
5300 Palawan, Philippines


Dear Rell & Carol,
Greetings from Riyan Dakan. We are now at our home in our tribal village, enjoying the Batak and the beauty of living again in the rain forest. Our busy April/May camp season begins in several weeks, so this will be our last chance to have uninterrupted time with the people here.
Our Christmas holiday season went extremely well. We were able to minister to around 1000 people through our various works and outreaches. The Gospel was presented and others were taught to better appreciate the priceless gift of the Christ’s birth.
We continue to be astounded by the remarkable variety of people that participate in our camp ministry: Primitive Batak tribal people, a Korean millionaire businessman, a Nigerian missionary, a transvestite, members of the Tagbanwa tribe, a famous anthropologist, Muslims, a group of Chinese doctors, college students, Palawano tribal people, Korean missionaries, fisherman, a group of young people that arrived with their own military escort, armed with automatic weapons, Australian missionaries, and farmers. People from six different countries, speaking fourteen different languages and dialects, passed through the camp ministry during the Christmas Holiday season. We have been amazed that in spite of the economic crisis, people continue to come.
Something is now occurring for the first time, also in connection with our camp ministry. When we first opened, some of the young people attending camps made commitments to go into full time Christian ministry. We wondered at the time, how many would follow through with their pledges. We are now seeing some of those same young people bringing their own groups for camps. They have completed their schooling and are now Pastors or church workers.
We had a new addition to our team of workers in February. Brian is from Fresno, California and will be joining us for a year. Sarah from Wisconsin is now in her ninth month with us, and continues to be a huge blessing.
With the extra support provided by Brian and Sarah, we are now able to be involved in projects that we previously never had time for. One of these projects is ministering to tribal people with leprosy. In spite of having a medical program for many years, we have never succeeded in saving the life of a single patient suffering from leprosy. Traditionally, people with leprosy are forced to live in a leper colony located on an island far to the north of us. Such a prospect is terrifying to a Batak and they normally go into hiding in remote parts of the jungle. There, they live an incredible existence of loneliness and suffering, with no access to medical care. Normally, they only come to us when they are in the last, critical stages of their disease. By that time, there is very little we can do to help them.
The main difficulties in working with a Batak with leprosy is first finding them, and then spending many hours trying to gain their trust. They must be convinced that we can help them and are not just trying to trick them into going to the leper colony.
Recently, a Batak with leprosy attended a Batak believer’s conference held at our camp. It was heartbreaking and yet incredibly inspiring, to see him standing though the lengthy song service, tottering on feet that were mostly gone. With difficulty, he clapped his hands in time with the music. It was difficult because he has no fingers. His enthusiasm in worship and hunger for teaching was truly an inspiration to all of us.
In the months since the conference, we have managed to gain his trust and have convinced him to undergo treatment. A government doctor from the city has agreed to supply a years worth of free drugs for his treatment, and to allow us to administer them. The only condition is that the Batak must first be examined by him. Unfortunately, on the day that the examination was to take place, the Batak disappeared and was rumored to be somewhere deep in the rainforest. Pray for Busingan and his wife.
Several years ago, a group of women came to us requesting help. Because of a dwindling membership and the loss of their Pastor, their church was on the verge of closing its doors. They asked us to help them and we agreed. Carol, Marlyn, Pastor Ongcal, and Bekay, worked many hours with the church, in addition to their own ministry responsibilities. Happily, the church is now doing much better and has called a new Pastor.
One aspect of our ministry that continues to not go very well is our outreach to the local, teenage boys. Often they will attend The Youth Center (many times faithfully) but later succumb to the temptation of drinking, drugs and the violence that are so prevalent in our area. For a time, one young man faithfully attended the Youth Center. You might remember him as a boxer in one of our videos. He joined the army and was stationed in the lowland village that we pass through on the way to our home in the tribe. Several months ago, he was part of a large crowd that was taking part in our lowland village’s Foundation Day. He was not in uniform and armed, but his friend was, and they had been drinking. Later in the evening, he became involved in an altercation and soon his opponent returned with some of his friends. His armed friend felt threatened (no doubt his judgment was clouded by his drinking.) and opened fire on the crowd. A huge stampede resulted, injuring many in addition to those had been shot. Our Tribal Chieftain Marina was standing next to one of those shot, and was severely trampled. She came to our clinic for treatment and was covered with cuts and bruises. The young soldier from our Youth Center now faces charges, has ruined his military career, and brought shame on his family. Please pray for the young men in our area.
How is everything in Hanging Dog? Are you seeing any warm weather yet? The other day, we got out our pictures of the big snowstorm we experienced in Wisconsin right before Micah’s wedding. It is hard to believe that a year has gone by already. I really do miss the cold weather. It has been unusually hot here, even for the tropics. Sarah is from Northern Wisconsin and has had a difficult adjustment to the heat.

Esther Bible Study-it's tough being a woman by Beth Moore

An in-depth and very personal examination of the great story of threat and deliverance. Beth peels back the layers of history and shows how very contemporary and applicable the story of Esther is to us. This protion of God's Word contains treasures to aid us in our hurried, harried, and pressured lives.

Begins: Monday, September 14th at 7pm

Class is currently full,