Some of you know that our 15 year old minivan died in April, so we’ve been praying for a replacement. God has answered those prayers! And He did so by upgrading what we thought we’d be able to get! Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory! Ephesians 3:20
In the days leading up to this find, God kept saying to not settle, that He had UPGRADE in mind for us. Now, we would have been totally fine with a bare basics van and wanted to be good stewards of resources, and we would have been thankful for it. But God had more in mind for His kids. Sometimes He likes to spoil us a bit! What’s something you’re believing God for? We want to encourage you to not settle for less than His very best for you. That’s going to look different for different people. For us, we didn’t need a brand new vehicle, but this 2013 model feels brand new to us, because it’s got more bells & whistles than we thought we’d be able to get. Watch for ways God upgrades you in the days to come. Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose]. James 4:10 AMP
What’s the purpose of this van? For us, it’s much more than a means to get from one place to another. It will also be used to transport our guests and grandkids, so I suppose you could say it’s another gathering place for our ministry to take place. Our prayer is that it will be used in a way that brings God much glory.
This summer has been a very wet one and our little garden is loving it! But it takes more than water to grow a garden and reap a harvest. It takes lots of TLC, which is includes weeding, pruning, controlling pests, amending the soil, etc. These are not tasks that can be done from afar. They require close scrutiny of the seedlings and maturing plants. John 15 tells us that Jesus is the Vine and His Father is the farmer who tends the vine. The Passion Translation words verse 2 this way: “He CARES for the branches connected to Me (We are the branches, Jesus is the vine) by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest.” I just love the image of our kind Father tenderly lifting us up, even propping us up when we fall. Yes, the pruning is painful, but when we yield to His tender loving care, trusting that He will bring abundance out of it, oh my friends, it is so worth it! How is Abba Father demonstrating His TLC to you today?
By Jill Perry
Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him. Let this hope BURST forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times. Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people and respond by helping them. And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home. Romans 12:11-13 TPT
May has been a month of serving & helping others, but one thing we are learning is to receive service & help from others when it’s offered, and even more humbling, to ask for it when it’s needed. This gives others an opportunity to experience the joy we feel when we serve someone else. My personality type on the Enneagram https://www.yourenneagramcoach.com/ test is #2, The Helper. I’m a Helper, therefore, I help! But I sometimes struggle with receiving help or asking for help, which - let’s face it - is pride. Ouch. I was recently forced to ask for help when I twisted my ankle and had to stay off it for awhile, but I had another wedding to help with and needed to be able to walk to accomplish the tasks before me, therefore, I had no choice but to rest it as much as possible. I often say, “You cannot pour from an empty cup”, so it was time to practice what I preach, and let others take care of me, so I would be able to take care of others. What’s interesting is that another title for the #2 personality type is the “Supportive Advisor”, and one of my goals for this year has been to learn as much as possible about the “pastoral care” portion of our ministry, which is basically all about support and counsel or advice! According to the Enneagram Coach, #2’s “are people who see the world through relationships and define themselves through their SERVICE to others.” Eddy is a #1 type. Guess how he’s described. “Healthy Ones live their life committed to SERVING the world and others with patience and integrity.” No wonder we love to SERVE! It’s how God wired us! How can you serve today? How can you receive service from others? Be enthusiastic about it!
Our Easter celebrations are over, so now what?
Jesus said it best. Love Him. Love yourself. Love other people. Love looks like something. Sometimes it looks like a simple text asking, “How are you?” Sometimes it looks like a hug. Sometimes it looks like preparing a meal, taking out the trash, or scrubbing a toilet, so the other person doesn’t have to. Sometimes it looks like spending time doing what the other person enjoys, when you’d prefer to do something else. Sometimes it looks like driving someone to an appointment and just waiting with them. Sometimes it’s spending money on something dumb because you know it will put a smile on their face. Sometimes it’s listening to someone share their struggles, even if they use language you find offensive. Sometimes it’s agreeing to disagree for the sake of protecting your connection. Sometimes it’s sending someone a silly meme or gif just to let them know they’re seen, valued, and matter to you. It’s about putting the other person first, dying to self in order to lift up someone else, and in doing so, lifting up The One Who IS Love. After all, it’s what HE did for us.
It’s been a season of God speaking to us about...well...SEASONS! The Bible is filled with examples of God speaking to His people about times and seasons. Transitioning from one season into another isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s downright painful. Picture a seed and the process it goes through before it yields a harvest. Ann Voskamp describes this so beautifully in her book The Broken Way. “The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop. The sky breaks to give us the rain. The wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast...For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you don’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction... Brokenness can make abundance.” Nate Johnston refers to transitional pain as “growing pains” and says that God is “excavating” our hearts to prepare us for the MORE He has for us. Is God closing the door to one season in your life, so He can open the door to a NEW season? Perhaps you don’t yet know what’s on the other side of that door, so it feels a little (or alot!) scary. But here’s the thing. We don’t have to know exactly WHERE we’re going, we just need to know WHO goes with us. In our seasons of change, we grab hold of the hand of the Unchanging One, trusting Him to bring abundance out of our brokenness, and step across that threshold of transition with confidence that He makes ALL things NEW!
On this date 6 years ago, we received a phone call with the devastating news that our missionary daughter, who had just turned 19 a few days before had been assaulted in the middle of the night in Mozambique. We were separated by thousands of miles, and felt utterly helpless. What follows are excerpts from a blogpost I wrote about it a few days after it happened. May they encourage you as you walk through your own trials in this season…
The night this tragedy occurred, after all the phone calls, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and needed to have my phone near me in case Brooke called again, so I made a little nest on the living room couch, and I laid down literally hugging tightly my Bible to my chest. Various times throughout the night, I would open up to the psalms and just drink in the Living Water that was so soothing to my hurting soul. So many times the psalmist would list all that was coming against him, not ignoring it, but acknowledging that it was happening, yet he didn’t stay in that place of despair...he said an important word...BUT. This is bad, this is hard, this stinks, BUT GOD...BUT God, You are GOOD; BUT God, You are faithful; BUT God, You protected, delivered, redeemed...BUT God...fill in the blank... In those moments when all I could do was say the Name, Jesus, I was so thankful for all my brothers and sisters around the world who were interceding on our behalf. I felt like Moses when Aaron and Hur held up his arms for the battle…When I would feel a twinge of fear trying to work its way in or anger or unforgiveness, I would hear Jesus saying, gently yet firmly, “Fix your eyes on me.” Not just turn your eyes upon me, but a resolute “Fix” them right here. As long as I was looking into His beautiful eyes, I knew we would all be OK...more than OK...He is REDEEMER, therefore all this would be redeemed for HIS glory! I am not some super Christian. I am just someone who is madly in love with Jesus and loves spending time with Him. I am so thankful for those precious moments leading up to this tragedy, because I have definitely made some hefty withdrawals from that
account! When you spend time with someone, you get intimately acquainted with them and what I’ve come to KNOW about my Jesus is that He is ALWAYS good, His Word is ALWAYS true, and HE is ALWAYS worthy of praise! He not only PROVIDES an answer for every situation, He IS the answer to every situation! He IS Love, He IS Peace, He IS Grace, He IS Redeemer, He IS Rescuer, He IS Joy, He IS The Rock, He IS Healer, He IS Savior, He IS Lord, and on and on and on! This is why I choose to fix my eyes on Him! He IS Truth that cancels out EVERY lie of the enemy! He is totally trustworthy...yes, even with my most precious cargo…I believe every single time we pray, something happens in the spirit-realm. I have prayed Psalm 91 over all my children. What I see with my eyes may not look like they she was protected. I mean, the break-in still happened, right? BUT I shudder to think of all she was actually protected from! We have no idea what sort of battle was actually going on in the spirit. Remember, the enemy’s ultimate mission is absolute destruction! Did he succeed? Absolutely NOT! All he succeeded in was pushing us all closer to The Father’s heart and deeper into the arms of Jesus, depending more than ever on the power of the Holy Spirit! The enemy’s schemes have totally backfired on him! Hallelujah!! If anything, this attack has just made us more resolute than ever in the mission God has called us to.
If you’d like to read the story in its entirety, you may do so at this link: http://lovetheonelovetheone.blogspot.com/2013/03/but-god.html.
For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping himself around me like a shield, he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all!
What is it you need from Him in 2019? The same God Who painted this dazzling sky longs to wrap Himself around you like a shield. He doesn’t think you’re burdening Him when you need something from Him. In fact, He’s just waiting for you to ask, so He can be generous to you with His gifts of grace and glory. He promises we will never lack! The number 9 in Hebrew is represented by the symbol of a basket. As we walk along His paths in 2019 with integrity, may we be on the lookout for the big and small ways He provides whatever we are willing to carry in our baskets. May our baskets overflow and our barns burst with ALL we need for ourselves with enough leftover to give away. May we reflect His brilliance upon whatever path we tread.
Reading through the familiar Christmas story, one common thread that runs through it is that when people encountered the tiny King, they BURST into spontaneous praise. Elizabeth was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit! With a loud voice she prophesied with power. John jumped & kicked at the sound of Mary’s voice. Mary sang a song from a soul that was ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! The angels shared the most joyous news the world has ever heard and filled the skies with glorious praise! Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had happened and everyone who heard their story was astonished! Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and praised God and prophesied. Anna BURST forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child and told everyone that the anticipated Messiah had come! When the wise men arrived at the place the baby was staying, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy! When they saw the child, they were overcome, fell to the ground, and worshipped Him. In a world filled with so much negative news, I wonder what would happen if each of us had an authentic encounter with Jesus and responded with unrestrained, ecstatic praise! Would our praise drown out the negative noise and draw people’s attention to the Living Lord?
While visiting on the covered porch with our new sent one, “IAC”, we were enjoying watching the rain, and getting to know one another. She shared with us how she feels called to bring streams to the desert, and right on cue, the creek overflowed, running over the driveway and across the road! To the left of these photos, it looked like roaring rapids! In the Bible, water is often used to represent Holy Spirit. Watching the rain start out as a light sprinkle, then become a torrential downpour; watching the creek go from barely a trickle to roaring rapids reminded us of what can happen when we allow Holy Spirit to fill us up and overflow onto everyone around us. Acts 1:8 says it like this: The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth! We might word it this way… You will be My messengers to Lynnville, throughout Tennessee, the United States - even to the remotest places on earth! Our friend, Amy Lancaster always says, “If you know Jesus, you’re sent!” We don’t have to be called to full time missions as our profession to make a huge difference in this world. Holy Spirit can sprinkle love on someone through us with a smile or kind word. He can pour out love on someone with an act of healing or some other miracle He accomplishes through us. This can only happen effectively when we allow Him to saturate us to the point of overflowing! How can you be a stream in your desert of influence today?
Jill Perry, founder of Bursting Barns Ministries