Originally posted on Sips of Hope: TONS of food, good music, dogs, dancing, games and the most awesome view of fireworks from the neighborhood at night. I can definitely say my fourth of July was well spent! As I walked in helping Jay deliver a large tray of chicken empanadas, we saw tables lined up…
Moses stood before a shrub that was consumed with fire yet it was not destroyed. He had turned aside to see this amazing sight and now stood barefoot on holy ground. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was now speaking to him. Moses had been raised a prince of Egypt. He had once worshipped the gods of Egypt, marveled at their power, and feared them. Yet here was a God he couldn’t see. He only heard the voice that seemed to proceed from the midst of the burning bush and Moses felt the awesome power contained within it. Power he had never experienced before. God was telling him to do something he had never even dreamed of doing. Go back to Egypt? Inconceivable! Go before Pharaoh? Impossible! He had been exiled for his alleged betrayal of Pharaoh. God was now calling him to be an instrument for God’s glory and to be a witness for Him. God was calling Moses to go back to the place he had been thrown out from to convince Pharaoh to throw the rest of his people out too! God was promising to deliver the Israelites from their bondage and give them their own land to boot! Moses could hardly believe it. Yet, he set out towards Egypt.
You see God had called Moses to do something about the injustice the Israelites were suffering under. But couldn’t God do something about that Himself? After all He’s Yahweh, He can do anything! Although God wanted to reconcile with the Israelites, they couldn’t come to Him as they were. They had essentially forgotten Him even as they waited for their promise of deliverance. Some had even acclimated to their lifestyle and the pagan people around them. The Lord needed some time to teach them how to worship Him and how to follow His laws. God chose one man, Moses, to be His missionary to them.
Moses was an exile, in other words he was separated from the life he once knew. He was set apart and then God chose him. If Egypt is the world, then we as Christians are supposed to be the set apart, chosen ones of God called to fulfill His mission in the world. God could’ve chosen anyone else. Why Moses? After all, Moses had a speech impediment so bad that he needed his brother Aaron to speak for him. He had lived in Egypt as a prince for most of his life and probably participated in all the pagan, sinful practices that engulfed that land. He was a murderer, he had killed an Egyptian overseer. He was an imperfect vessel called to do the perfect God’s will. We’re imperfect, yet God has called us to do His will. We owe it to God to do what He called us to do to the best of our abilities without worrying about how to do it. What has God called you to do that you’re hesitant about?
We landed on the runway at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize and I could feel the heat radiating off the tarmac as the plane made it’s way to the gate. There was no jetway, rather a set of sturdy stairs was wheeled up to the door upon arrival. As we stepped out onto the top step, the sun’s rays beat down on me reminding me in an instant that that’s what light does. It shines, it heats, it radiates. How fitting, because after all we were in Belize to shine our light for Jesus.
Our friend and sister Sylvia surprised us at the airport. We planned to rent a car and drive to her hometown, about two and half hours away. Once in the car we navigated towards one of the three major highways in the entire country. Once on the Western highway, it was smooth sailing…except for the many unmarked speed bumps. The scenery flashed by, mostly agricultural scenes with intermittent houses. The highway passed through small towns consisting of just a few stores in a few short minutes. The rest of the towns weren’t visible from the highway. Having completely bypassed the capital, Belmopan, we never saw the beautiful capital building. We saw so many horses and cattle and even a few goats. We saw people with tiny roadside stands selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables and a few of the more enterprising ones had a grill set out to barbecue tiny chickens for any hungry passersby.
As we neared Sylvia’s hometown of Benque Viejo del Carmen, the highway ran alongside a river with shallow parts that revealed smooth rocks where women were washing their clothes. We were to stay at the home of Oscar and Emma, both teachers at La Immaculada RC school in Arenal village. A day later, we visited the school with the intention of giving out backpacks to the 180 children who attended the school. When we arrived at the school, only 6 children were there. I was a little worried since we had bought a backpack for every child in the school and we wanted them to have them. Sylvia asked a little boy on a bike to go through the village and call all the children who were supposed to be there. Word of mouth traveled fast because within minutes children were coming from everywhere. As we unpacked the backpacks, children were materializing from the bushes and packing into the school room. As they sat on the floor, one little girl wandered up to the front of the room and just stood there grinning. She had bright, wide eyes and a gap where her front teeth hadn’t grown in yet. She was eager to get her backpack. In another post, I’ll tell you her story in detail, because of all the children, she’s the one who stuck in my spirit the most. Once all the bags were given out, I looked around and wished we had brought something more than a few little bags to give these kids. Their lives are poverty-stricken one. Most had shoes to wear, but some did not. Some hadn’t shown up to the school because their families needed them to work on their farm. The road to their school and village was bumpy and hard to drive on with anything but a pick up truck so not many strangers came to the village. The principal told me that while many other schools close to the area hosted missionaries or received donations from organizations, this school did not because of their location. It was just physically difficult to get there. Others who came before us had turned away from that road, from that village, and from those children to find some place easier to get to.
It would be easy for a non-believer to say: “God, why would you allow little children to suffer so? What kind of God are you?” I was once one of those people. Now it’s so easy for me to say: “God never wants to see His children suffer. So He sent us to be His hands and feet. He sends us with the charge to feed the orphans and comfort the broken. He sends us to show others His grace and mercy. He sends us to bring hope and love to those who have none. He sends us to pour into others. We are but vessels made and shaped for His glory. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and we are here to shine His light in dark places.” I’m confident in what I say because I know God made a way for us on a road less traveled by to bring us to a place that needed Him. We would have never been on that road, in that place, at that time if it wasn’t for God’s call upon our lives.
I am going to BELIZE on a missions scouting trip in TWO WEEKS! I have to pack…
What do I pack?
Where am I going to stay?
Who am I going to meet?
What’s the weather going to be like?
I can’t speak the language, how will I SURVIVE!!??
Where’s the bathroom???
I mean I’m not panicking, I’m just PANICKING!
Have you ever had a similar reaction/nervous breakdown like the one above before traveling on a missions trip? Have you had the same kind of reaction when you travel on vacation? Probably not. Perhaps it’s because when we go on vacation, we know we’re going to be staying in a nice, comfortable, maybe even luxurious place with our favorite foods and every amenity we could possibly imagine at our fingertips. A missions trip comes with a certain amount of uncertainty. We don’t always know what we’re going to encounter, what the conditions will be like, what we’ll be eating, and who we’re going to meet. In a scouting trip, like the one I’m going on, there is even more uncertainty. We won’t know what to expect until we get there. We’re basically going on a reconnaissance mission, like the spies in Canaan, except we’re not sneaking in. We’re going to prepare the way. We’re going to gather information to equip others who will go there after us. We are going because God ordained us to go. We are going because we are kingdom builders seeking to show God’s love in tangible ways. We are Hope Ambassadors and we are ready to GO!
Have you ever had freedom cake? I just did! With it’s great flavor and unique patriotic colors its like fireworks to me! Actually not just me but so many others! My friend Michelle stated ” It’s like Heaven in my mouth!” Travis said “Theres a sweet side to Independence day!” By the way theres a Freedom Concert happening on July 3rd! Check it out & Get your tickets at Compass Cafe’! Tickets enter you into a raffle for a chance to win a 4 wheeler!
“Return to Me,” says the Lord, “and I will return to you.” – Zechariah 1:3
I’m reading a book entitled “Return to Me” by Lynn Austin. It recounts the story of the prophet Zechariah returning to Jerusalem after the Persian king Cyrus releases the Jewish exiles from Babylonian captivity with express instructions to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah leaves Babylon as a boy and it is not until he reaches adulthood in Jerusalem that the Temple begins to be rebuilt in haste. The story tells of the setbacks the returning Jewish exiles face from the surrounding villages of Samaritans and the governing body of the Judean region. Yet despite the threats of violence and the influence of their pagan neighbors, God’s people are determined to rebuild God’s Temple so that God can once again live amongst His chosen people and so the people can try to reclaim the fellowship they had with God before sin banished them from Eden.
The present world we live in is full of sin. In fact sin has taken over every major influencing force in the United States. Movies, television, music, government…they’re making sin the norm, making sin LEGAL. We’re putting sin on a pedestal, elevating it above righteousness and holiness in the name of equality. True equality comes from loving each other fully without prejudice. We’ve let sexual immorality pervade our children, teaching them to believe promiscuity is expected of them. We Christians have compromised our beliefs in order to live at peace with others. We don’t want to seem bigoted and self-righteous so we go along with those crude jokes and petty jealousies in the workplace. We join in at happy hour and justify our actions saying this drink has less alcohol than Nyquil.
I’ve had enough of it! We weren’t meant to blend in. We weren’t meant to accommodate. We are a people set apart by God. We are meant to shine God’s light throughout the world. We aren’t meant to please other people. Is pleasing people more important than pleasing Almighty God who holds our life in His hands? God is not demanding that we return to Him out of fear or because of the promise of a blessing. God is asking us to turn back to Him for the love of Him. Full stop. He doesn’t want anything from us but our love. Our attitude needs to be one of mournful contrition. We have all failed God, many of us more than once. But of course, God’s love, mercy, and grace never fails. Return to Him, and He will return to you.
I read the sweetest little book the other day. The Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook by Stephen Elkins is a wonderful book for your little ones, or your friends’ little ones, or your neighbors’ little ones…whoever!
There are 40 stories in the book that highlight a particular trait of Jesus. The stories are titled “Jesus was Faithful”, “Jesus was Thankful”,” Jesus was Obedient”, etc. Each story starts with a Bible verse, nothing too complicated or lengthy so it’s easy for children to understand. Then there is a short story section that explains the Bible verse a little more and how it relates to the title of the story. The next section of the story is titled “Jesus in Me” and correlates the Bible verse to everyday situations that your children will encounter. Next comes a written prayer that you are encouraged to pray with your child. The last section of the story is a “To Be Just Like Jesus…” and offers practical ways your children can emulate to be just like Jesus!
Illustrated with endearingly cute characters (think Precious Moments but without the teardrop eyes), this book encourages parents and children to interact with the lessons being taught. Questions are encouraged and the reading you do with your child must be active, this is not a “go to sleep” read. The language is simple and at times funny so your kids can stay engaged and not get bored. The book is meant for 4-7 year olds, but you can also easily include younger members of your family. I read to my godson who is 2 years old and he liked the pictures a lot. It’s never too early to start instilling the values and traits that Jesus exemplified.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. All opinions are my own.
Even on a bright sunny Saturday morning in New York City, there are still places to go & plenty to do! The travelers commuting that morning didn’t realize that Jesus would stop them right in their train tracks from just having another ordinary subway ride. Just as if Jesus would let them continue their weekly routine without making Himself known someway…. He will!
On Saturday morning, that way was through a group of evangelist consisting of different ages & special gifts. They rode the tracks with boldness as they qued the entry music for Jesus. He is the Savior of the whole world & indeed a soon-coming King! These people prepared the way by testifying about the deep hard things in their lives that was triumphed by Jesus! Testimonies ranged from depression, alcohol addiction & dying in the ICU. These situations were so impossible to get out of but they stand…
John 1:43-50(NKJV) The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
In the passage proceeding John 1:43-50 Jesus had just recruited Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and was headed to Galilee. He found Philip and said “Follow Me.” Well Philip wasn’t going alone so he goes to Nathanael and says that he’s found the Messiah, the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Philip mentions that Jesus is from Nazareth and Nathanael, perhaps scornfully, replies “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip then tells him to come and see for himself. Then Nathanael meets Jesus and Jesus knows him already. Nathanael wants to know how He knows him. Jesus tells him that He saw him under a fig tree before Philip called him. Nathanael then professes his belief in the Christ saying “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus scolds him saying, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” Jesus is saying don’t just believe based on a small thing. Jesus could’ve recognized Nathanael from actually seeing him sitting under a fig tree the day before! Jesus’ reprimand is warning against believing based on something anyone could tell you. If your belief is based on something like that, it will be short lived. Deep faith is based on seeing and experiencing the deep things of God.
The New Testament is full of references about seeing and believing. In fact John’s entire gospel is constructed around seven miracles which John records so that one may see and believe. Our current generation is a special breed of believers because although we may not have seen these same miracles yet we believe. Miracles, signs, and wonders still exist today, but many believers see or recognize them after coming to Christ. Let us be vigilant about observing such miracles today so that we may increase our own faith and witness to others through these signs.