Thursday, July 28, 2011

Honduras Update - 33 Hours

Supplies not including Bible story, games and crafts
I haven’t had much extra time to blog this week. Between packing and planning for Honduras and trying to do a few things to get ready for school to start, there just hasn’t been much extra time. However, I wanted to give you a super quick update on our trip!

I can’t believe how God has allowed everything to happen. Several church members had expressed much concern that we would not be able to take all the supplies we had collected. To be honest, I was a little concerned myself.
Tuesday night we spent about 3 hours packing Bible story, craft, and game supplies, along with 180 care bags, over 400 pairs of flip-flops, clothes for the orphanage and lots of candy.  Our fellowship hall was crazy! We had people sorting clothes, flip-flops, and assembling care bags. Then we packed and weighed and labeled all of our bags…..

Praise the Lord, we packed ALL of our supplies and still have 6 empty suitcases. We still have a few odds and ends to pack, but how amazing is this?  All the glory belongs to God!

We leave Friday at 5 pm and will spend the night in New Orleans.  Our plane leave sat 6:40 am Saturday morning!
If you have me as a Facebook friend, check my note for a list of our team members so that you may pray for them by name.
33 hours and counting!
Keep praying.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Honduras Update

This time next week myself, my hubby and 13 other FBC Vidalia church members will be in Honduras preparing for our week of ministry.   As my fingers typed that sentence, my heart skipped a beat. Can it really be only a week away? Wow! After over a year of anticipation, it is surreal that it is actually about to be reality.
During our week we will visit an orphanage, build a wall at a school, do VBS-type programs in schools, cook a meal for a community, and lead a women’s Bible study.  We have collected flip-flops, school supplies, clothes, and personal hygiene items to take with us.

I already asked you to pray for both the Honduran people and our team in my last Honduras update post.  In this post, I urge you to continue your prayers!  Below, you will find some specific needs for which to pray.
  •      Pray that everything we say and do will shine the Glory of Christ.  This is the most important! We desire for the Honduran people to realize the truth of the Gospel.  Pray that we would be bold to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  •      Pray for the children, teachers, and families we will come in contact with. Pray that God would prick their hearts with the Gospel and draw them unto Himself. Pray that these people will be able to recognize truth and will not be swayed by the many false religious groups that are also proselytizing there. Pray that they will realize the God’s grace is enough to meet their needs, whatever they are.
  •      Pray that we will stand strong against any attacks of Satan. Pray that our team will remain unified. Pray that we would not give into anxiety or nervousness.
  •      Pray for our travel. Some on our team have never flown. One has trouble with motion sickness. Pray that these things will not hinder us in any way.
  •       Pray for the missionaries and the International Mission Builder Organization. Pray that God would give them the grace, love, strength and patience to continue God’s work in Honduras.

Your prayers are so appreciated. We want nothing more than to bring glory to God through this trip. It is going to be a wonderful week, and I can’t wait to tell you about everything!

Until then, please, keep praying!
Seven days and counting....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't Listen to Lies

Last night, a precious Godly friend spoke encouragement and blessings over me. What a blessing she was to me! She knew the struggle I am currently in, and by the grace of God, knew exactly what to say.  She was a embodiment of Hebrews 10:25,  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

She stirred up my heart and encouraged me with her words.

The two thoughts that stuck with me after our conversation were, “Don’t listen to the lies of Satan,” and, “Don’t doubt God’s goodness.”

Of course, I began to ponder these questions. The question that really stumped me was, “How do I know when I am listening to lies from Satan?”

This one stumped me because, my sinful SELF tells me some pretty dumb lies. I don’t know about you, but I catch myself thinking things contrary to the word of God, often. Obviously, sanctification is still happening in the area of “taking every thought captive.” (2 Cr. 10:5) Are these lies implanted in my brain by Satan himself??? I do not know.  The distinction between thoughts that originated with me and those that originated with Satan is not nearly important as identifying all thoughts that did not originate with God. We must identify thoughts and beliefs, regardless of their origin, that are contrary to God’s word and combat them with truth.

Still, I wondered, what would Satan want me to believe? The answer to this question led me back to the Garden of Eden, to the very first lie.

But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:4-5)
I believe these are the same lies we still battle today.

First, Satan said, “You will not surely die.” With this lie, Satan wanted to convince Eve that God would not follow through on the judgment He had already promised. Today, we hear this lie said with different words, but it is the same lie. “God is love, so He wouldn’t send anyone to hell.”  “I know this is wrong, but God will forgive me.” These are lies. These types of statements reveal a heart that does not take the judgment of God serious. Satan wants us to doubt that God’s judgment is real.

As a side note: notice that, usually, these lies are half-truths, a muddy mix of something true with something false. Satan himself used half-truth in the garden, knowing they are easier for us to swallow. We must rightly divide truth from lie!

Second, and the lie that I am currently battling, is the lie that God is keeping something good from us. I know Satan did not come right out and say this, so let me explain. Satan’s statement was, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan wanted Eve to believe that God was keeping something good from them, which knew good and evil. Satan wanted them to believe that they deserved to have what they wanted, and that they could get it by their own efforts.

This lie is so dangerous because it also convinces us that we are a better judge of what is good than God is. We think, “I desire ______________ so much! This is good thing, that I deserve to have. Surely, if God was good He would give this to me,” or “Why? Why, God, did you let this happen to me?” Oh dear friend, can’t you hear the selfish, me-centered way of thinking in these statements? Lord, please forgive me for thinking in such a sinful way!

So, I am calling out these lies in my life. In light of the truth, I change my thoughts.  I pray, “God, You are ultimately and supremely good. You know the desires of my heart. Lord, I trust that your plan, whatever it is, is best for bringing you Glory.”

I encourage you to recognize the lies you are listening to.  Maybe, your situations are prompting you to doubt God’s goodness. Maybe, you doubt God’s judgment.  Or, maybe you are listening one of a thousand other lies that are contrary to who God is and what His word says. Let’s expose those dark lies with the blinding light of Jesus. Let’s repent and replace those thoughts with truth from God’s word.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brighter than Fear

Last Wednesday night our pastor preached on John 21:15-23. One part of this passage stuck in my mind and caused me to search my heart.

The passage begins with Jesus asking Peter, three times, “Do you love me?” Peter answered affirmative each time, and seemed a little exasperated by the third time. After these three questions, Jesus said to him, " 'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.' (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, 'Follow me.' " John 15:18-19

Can you imagine? Jesus basically told Peter he would be taken and killed. This is followed by the imperative statement, “Follow me.”

I keep thinking, “Knowing it would get me persecuted and killed, would I have followed?”

It is easy to sit here on my comfy couch, with my First Amendment protection and say, “Sure.” But, when I really examine my heart critically, I am not so “sure.” Inside my heart there is kindling for fear, and should that kindling be lit by a threat of death, I believe that fire could very well consume me.

I find comfort in the fact that Peter struggled with fear also. Back in chapter 18, John tells us that Peter denied Jesus three times. Now, the text does not specifically tell us that it was fear that fueled the denial; however, I cannot help but infer that it was, at least partially, involved.

That same Peter FOLLOWED Jesus to death. He was martyred for his Lord. How did that happen?  What changed?

Pentecost. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

Between the denial and Peter’s death we find the events of Acts 2 - the day of Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Peter denied Christ before this event. But, after he received the power of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost, he unashamedly proclaimed the Gospel, and eventually gave up his life for its sake.

The lesson? By no power of my own could I ever stand strong in such a trail. Fear would prevail. I cannot rely on myself to be “strong enough.”  But, praise God, I live on this side of Pentecost, so I know that same power the emboldened Peter lives within me. The Holy Spirit is “strong enough.” He burns bigger and brighter than my fear.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Wine Got to Do with It?

Why was Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine?

Has anyone else wondered this?

It seems that this miracle has been grossly misinterpreted by some (think of country songs that portray Jesus as a “good ole boy” who drinks wine), and largely ignored by many. Surely there is a reason for this miracle, and a reason for its primacy in Jesus' ministry?

Before I divulge into my conclusions, allow me to remind you that I am not claiming to have a new idea. I have not unlocked some secret that no one else has noticed or written about. In fact, I deserve no credit for any idea, since I am always inspired by many a preacher, professor and commentator. Nevertheless, I write praying that, whether these thoughts are old or new to you, you relish in the beauty found in this passage!

Let’s begin by reading John's account of the first miracle.

John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."

And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine,and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serve the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manisfested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 

There are many things we could discuss from this passage, but I would like to focus on three: 1) the Six Stone Jars, 2) the Wine and 3) the Wedding.

Six Stone Jars

In scripture, six is a number often associated with man's labor or effort (and the inadequateness thereof).[1] These stone jars were used for the purification ritual under the Old Covenant (Law). Try as they might (human effort), no man could cleanse himself of sin through the rites and rituals. The Old Covenant Law was incomplete for salvation, meant to be made complete by the Messiah.


What do we know about wine? Did Jesus say anything about wine that might help us understand its significance?

Mark 2:22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins--and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

Luke 5:39 “And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'"

Referring to the wine shared at the last supper, Jesus said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." (Mark 14:24)

Jesus used wine to refer to the covenant between God and man. Specifically, he used “old wine” to refer to the Old Covenant (the Law) and “new wine” to refer to the New Covenant, established through his blood.

The Wedding

This miracle was performed at a wedding. Weddings are a celebration of a covenant. From scripture, we see that, in the New Covenant, Jesus is the bridegroom of the Church.

And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast." (Mark 2:19)


Verse 11 ends the account by stating this was the first of his signs. This is significant as a sign “points to some deeper truth beyond itself.”[2]

The purpose of the first miracle was not to “meet the needs” of the wedding party. The first miracle was not  to demonstrate that Jesus could "throw a good party." The point of this narrative is not to show that it’s ok to enjoy wine at weddings.

The purpose of the first miracle was JESUS and the New Covenant he would bring.

The first miracle announced that the time of the New Covenant had come. The Law was insufficient to offer salvation, BUT the Messiah had arrived to complete the Law, so that he could bring salvation through the New Covenant of his blood. Doesn’t that make your heart jump with emotion?

Do you remember the words of the master of the feast?

John 2:9-10.
"When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, 'Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.'"

What truth he spoke! God saved the “best” until his appointed time. The Law was not the “good wine.” The Law was not meant to save, but to show man his need for a Savior. Jesus is the “good wine” whom God revealed at his appointed time. It is by his blood that we enter the New Covenant. Praise the Lord!


[2]Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. Jn 2:1

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Worship Prep

I am seeking a heart of worship.

Tomorrow is Sunday.  Sunday means corporate worship.

Since I am married to the Pastor of Worship, I believe I have a special responsibility to prepare my heart for worship. I am a far cry from an A+ in this subject, but  it is a very strong conviction of mine. How can my hubby lead anyone if he is not leading his wife?  I Timothy requires that an elder manage his own household; therefore, my responsibility is to be manageable and lead-able! 

I can’t do anything about anyone else’s heart, but I can get on my knees before God, reflect on scripture and repent of my sin so that God will cleanse and prepare my heart for worship.

I pray you will do the same, prepare your heart to worship your maker corporately  with your body of believers. Tomorrow, I want to forget about everything and everyone else and devote everything I am to the praise of my Father.  

Meditate with me:

Psalm 84
1How lovely is your dwelling place, 
       O LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, 
       for the courts of the LORD; 
       my heart and my flesh cry out 
       for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, 
       and the swallow a nest for herself, 
       where she may have her young— 
       a place near your altar, 
       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; 
       they are ever praising you. 
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, 
       who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, 
       they make it a place of springs; 
       the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, 
       till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; 
       listen to me, O God of Jacob. 
9 Look upon our shield,  O God; 
       look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts 
       than a thousand elsewhere; 
       I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 
       the LORD bestows favor and honor; 
       no good thing does he withhold 
       from those whose walk is blameless.
12 O LORD Almighty, 
       blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Musings

“God BlessAmerica.”
“Pray for our Nation.”
 Prayers that God would turn our Nation back to him.
 Promises that God will revive our land.
 Prayers that God will bring greater peace and prosperity.


These are the some of the things Christians see, hear, and say during today’s holiday. These are the things I have thought and said during previous 4th of July holidays.
None these things are necessarily bad to pray, but the burden on my heart this Fourth of July is starkly different from any previous. You see, Scripture does not reveal that God will “restore America to its Christian roots.”  When I read scripture, I see the opposite promised. I see the promise that great trail, tribulation, and persecution are coming to the whole world.
I know I write this with the danger of sounding like a frantic harbinger.  I know this probably isn’t the happy Fourth of July post you would expect or want to read. But friends, I cannot ignore scripture. I will not celebrate America’s Independence with my head in the proverbial sand believing that things will get better in the future. To do that, I would have to ignore the Word of God. Knowing the truth of what is to come makes me even more grateful for the freedom I enjoy today.
I began thinking in this way as I read John Piper’s book, Spectacular Sins:
                “Global cataclysms and personal catastrophes are coming. I say this not as one with my finger in the wind, but with my finger in the Bible. ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22) ‘If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20). ‘You yourselves know that we are destined for [these afflictions]’ (I Thess. 3:3).  ‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim. 3:12). We are ‘fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him’ (Rom. 8:17). ‘Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’ (Rom. 8:23)”

Scripture doesn’t lead me to believe that there will soon be (this side of the New Earth) a time of peaceful cultural Christianity. In some parts of the world, serious persecution is already happening.

"...hundreds of Christians and their families were slaughtered in 'Nigeria religious violence' – brutally hacked with machetes if they could not or would not identify themselves in the language used mostly by Muslims" {source}

"Christians in Iraq now suffer persecution and even
death as a fall-out from war" {source}

I don’t want to be caught off guard when these things happen. I don't want to think I am in some way better than Christians in other parts of the world and will be spared from persecution. I don’t want to succumb to persecution, because I ignored the Bible’s warnings. I don’t want to be looking up at God with confusion should I be in a position where my life will be taken.
Of course, the scripture doesn't offer an exact time frame, but God has warned me; I believe Him.
Does this mean I am not thankful I live in America? No. Does this mean I am not grateful for the men and women who have fought for the safety and freedom I enjoy? Absolutely not!
But, this does mean that, today, I am praying a different prayer. As I eat burgers and hotdogs, watch fireworks, and spend time with family, I thank God for the freedom I have been blessed with in my lifetime. I ask forgiveness for not using this precious freedom to more urgently to share the Gospel.  I pray that God graces me and other believers with the faith to stand strong in the face of what is to come.

The Bible also tells us that the Beast will win, for a season. “[The Beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them …and … cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” (Revelation 13:7, 15)