20 September 2010

Six Months

Here we are at six months in our journey of moving forward into God's purposes and we have no regrets. Not one.
What an amazing gift these months have been. Sure there have been cloudy days and a time or two of pulling out the compass to make sure we have stayed the course. There have been many lonely days (earthly speaking). We have been misunderstood and shunned at times by some - even some dear to us. But God has met us at every turn. We have seen small victories . . . and giant ones. We have been blessed by the confidence of true friends and new ones. We have found our roots deeper into the truths of Christ. And our fellowship with Him never sweeter. Our faith has grown, as has our grace. Our family never closer. Our marriage even better. Our resolve to bless the nations sharper - and our LOVE for our neighbors, deepened and renewed.

Do I know what tomorrow holds? No. Do I know who has already established me and who does know what tomorrow holds? YES! This is the joy, peace and confidence we have in Jesus Christ!

I came across this quote today and by sharing it I am in no way saying that I am here, but my desire is to be here.
God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him - in the midst of loss, not prosperity.~John Piper
Such a famous and familiar quote and in my next post I would like to talk about what he is saying in the video I was watching. But that is my goal! To glorify God with this life. That is also what I long for others . . .no matter where you live world-wide or how you find yourself today. Jesus Christ alone is enough to satisfy. Trust Him! It is SO worth it! I am not talking in stuff or things terms. But in joy, peace, fulfillment and purposeful living terms.

Kristi

16 August 2010

The Baton Has Been Passed

This past Friday was our first "official" IMAGINE Network event. It was co-hosted by Oasis Connection a local 'Praying for the Muslim World' initiative. I am happy to report that the prayer center was overflowing with standing room only! That means about 175 people attended.
We heard from people serving in Yemen, Dubai (UAE), Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. We also had a special guest who is an Afghani believer. Really words will not do the evening OR what God is doing justice - but here is my attempt.

What a huge blessing it was to hear what God is doing around the world in and through these lives! It was a timely event with it being held at the beginning of Ramadan - the Muslim month of prayer and fasting. We stopped throughout the evening to pray over specific things. Every attendee was given a prayer guide to take with them.

The evening started off with a woman in a burka(?) coming forward to speak. I am in the middle of reading A Thousand Splendid Suns So this was a very poignant moment for me - as was the testimony of the Afghani believer.

The guy from Dubai spoke of how open it has become. Being that it is in the center of the 10/40 window, fast growing, Muslim, wealthy and yet open to conversations is amazing. God is at work!

I learned a lot about Kyrgyzstan as well that evening. Again, a Muslim nation. There are so many facets to this particular ministry. From CHE (community health education/evangelism) initiatives, to reaching children with special needs whom are put into orphanages by parents who still love them but have no idea how to care for them as the structure/compassion is not there via the government. Their hope is to return these children to their families as their parents are educated on how to care for them. So much more!

There was also a man just off the plane from Pakistan who shared the victories of all that God is doing throughout Pakistan. The church seems to be exploding there. I think this man said he oversees about 1000 churches . . . .??? (terrible with number memory - I just know I was blown away) He also reported that the floods are indeed devastating. He mentioned that over a million people have completely lost their homes. The news reports are accurate.

One of the most eye opening reports was from the Russian man who spoke. He talked about how the Russian church is welcomed everywhere - especially in countries closed tight to westerners. They are going and they are taking the Gospel of the Kingdom with them! In our day!

I was blown away by these testimonies!And these are just from the Middle East and Central Asia! God is at work around the world. I think the American church may have just missed the wave and the baton has been passed. What is our role now? How do we come alongside our brothers and sisters in these countries? We need to be on our knees concerning the answers. The task is not finished - but surely our role has changed. We must look for ways to press on and in together as the whole body of Christ - so that the whole world may hear. . .
Pray for us as this is at the heart of what God is leading us to through IMAGINE.

22 July 2010

Truth

My Dad and Grandad(and most probably my Aunt as well) built a cabin in the woods of Virginia when my Dad was about 16. It is still there today and served as a gathering place for many family vacations over my growing up years. My family on the East Coast still get to go there regularly.

The trip to get there was one of my favorite things about going. We crossed meadows and farm land filled with cows and horses, and big farm houses up on top of ivy covered hills. We wound down through creek bottom valleys and back up again. Up and up we went winding our way on lined paved roads, then unlined roads to graveled ones and then finally to a dirt road that led us deep down in between two hills. We would roll down the windows to feel the coolness of the air or to catch a glimpse of a deer or turkey family. Finally our journey reached to one of those creek bottoms full of life - as green and fresh looking as the air was to breathe. It was like with each change in roadway the cares, noise and bustle layers of life were being stripped away. And finally as we took in that breath of fresh air, peace would fill our minds as we worshipped the Creator who had made it all.

The most significant thing would happen though as we would step out of the car just before taking that deep breath. The silence. The silence was overwhelming! My ears would ring with the sounds of the hustle and bustle of life as they slowly melted away into the silence of the woods. I can remember standing there with the residual almost hurting my ears because it was now competing with the silence.

It is interesting how living in the city you think sitting out on your back porch or even on a park bench you can experience the same thing. How deceiving! We think it is quiet until we go and really experience quiet. And the peripheral is overwhelming. The noise masking the true silence lingers even when you finally reach it. Until finally peace comes.

God's Truth can be like that silence. Our day to day lives are so full of "noise" - distractions, idols, busyness, even good things . . . that we fail to recognize Truth. We can even get to the point that we forget what it really sounds like. We settle for the back porch or the park bench because we don't know any better . . . or because we have forgotten what it is really like. . . or have begun believing that the back porch is enough. The competition always leans to the loudest. And yet remarkably when we yield to the silence (or surrender to God's Truth) we discover that it really can be the loudest of all. It has been there all along. We just weren't listening.

My prayer is that more of us can learn to live without the constant ringing in our ears and that Truth becomes so familiar (and indicative of our lives) that there won't be layers to pull back - or seasons to remember and that we will not be deceived by those seeking to tickle our ears with half-truths (which are really LIES). That we can move forward in the peace and power that comes from walking with the King of Kings through the hills and valleys of this life.

20 July 2010

Schooling Afoot

This week I find myself doing one of my favorite things - preparing our homeschooling curriculum for the fall. It is especially exciting this year because the plan is to do some things a little different.

In December of last year, I read a book called 'For The Children's Sake'For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macauley. Some of the ideas of this philosophy of education really resonated within my heart. I also read 'When Children Love to Learn' by Elaine Cooper.

Although I have been very inspired by these books and the Charlotte Mason philosophy, it doesn't mean that I am following it completely. My goal this year is to "draw out" - not to "cram in". The curriculum I am using seems to be more hands on, yet still rich in information. For example, our Science will be done in a notebooking style, while still utilizing experiments and we will also be keeping a nature journal.

This is the most eclectic curriculum I have sought to put together - Here is what I am using for my 5th grader.

* Bible - we all have our devotion together every morning. Includes Scripture memory and praying for a nation, city or people group.
* Sonlight's History core on the Eastern Hemisphere (it is unique this year and fits into my plan)
* Total Language Plus - using 4 books from the history curriculum above. Covers spelling, vocabulary, writing, grammar and literature in one curriculum.
* Apologia Science: Exploring Creation through Human Anatomy and Physiology
* Nature Study
* Saxon Math but interspersing Business Math: Pet Store ( which is a practical real world Math study on running and operating your own pet store fro a whole year)
* Art, Artists and Composers (various projects and books)
* Typing
* Spanish

My 1st and third graders will be using The Story of the World for history.
They will also be doing one of Apologia's Explorer Series studies. Everything else is the same type of things as my 5th grader yet age/stage appropriate - except I will be using Five in A Row and Sonlight for my 1st grader's Language Arts and both will have handwriting lessons as well.

So, let the games, I mean schooling begin! It will be a more labor intensive year for me as a teacher - but by God's grace I am up for the challenge! What a joy to be the catalyst to fan into flame the love for learning within my own children.

10 July 2010

What is in Your Suitcase?

http://www.urbana.org/u2006.mediaplayer.pop.cfm?gotosession=3&clip=132"
Above is a clip from a Urbana session sermon that David and I have watched and shared on multiple occasions. It is powerful to hear this from this pastor's perspective on why American missionaries have almost ruined the gospel message.

What we pack when we go on a short term OR long term mission trip is so very vital. So many American teams go with a suitcase packed FULL of American culturalisms and a few Biblical Truth trinkets. Sadly that is the percentage of what they also leave behind. The growing global church is not deceived. But the fledgling ones are . . and they buy into American capitalism hook, line and sinker. The Americans go back home feeling that they have accomplished much for the Kingdom of God and yet the people they left have only really become more enamored with the USA, not following Jesus and growing more Christlike. And thus I believe that is one of the many factors of non-change among cultures towards having a Christian world view. Sure these teams are welcomed back to these countries with open arms - but I have found many times because Capitalism was the real message - then that is what they really hunger for more of when they return.

Watch the video - it will open your eyes. And next time you go to another country make sure you watch what you pack in your suitcase.

04 July 2010

House Cleaning

If you are like me house cleaning is not something you enjoy but do as necessary. Especially since the Chan family really lives in our home - all day every day - even when it isn't summer. Well, it looks like God has been doing some house cleaning too. Except in my heart recently. Boy has there been a lot of dust flying and cobwebs coming down!

If you are also like me - concerning house cleaning, there may be places that you routinely overlook - well God doesn't overlook - He is a thorough cleaner!

I don't think it has been an accident that the sermons at our new church have been on faith, I am reading about poverty and the Christian response, and my quiet times have lead me to revisit Philippians concerning serving and true joy. Not to mention other teaching that I have been under concerning discipleship and personality based on the book Sacred Pathways ( by Mulholland)and the book of Ephesians. It is like serious Spring cleaning in here!!!!

Have you ever read, "My Heart, Christ's Home?"
It is a very old booklet, but it just came to mind as I am writing this. I guess the metaphor I am suggesting is what I remember from this booklet I read so very long ago. . . I think all of us have those places in our hearts that we tend to skip over to come back to 'when we have time'. The sad thing is that days become weeks, weeks become months and so on. Before long it has been years before we 'look in there' again and most of the time we just forget all about it. But boy has it become a mess! Jesus wants to clean out those places for us. He wants to walk freely with us in all the areas of of life. We just need to hand our "house keys"over to Him.

For some of us who have walked many years with Jesus, it may look different than those who have just met Him. But don't be deceived - things left unattended will not clean themselves. I am not even just talking about overt sin. ( Maybe it has to do with something God called you to do long ago and you have ignored the call.) And yet those things we try to clean (or make right)by our own effort will never pass the 'white glove test' there will always be residue. Only Jesus can clean up from the inside out - totally, spotless.

When it comes to faith - it must only be placed upon Jesus.
When it comes to loving and helping the poor - it comes to Jesus the mender/healer of broken hearts and broken systems
When it comes to joy - it must be found in Jesus all else is circumstantial and undependable
When it comes to walking the walk - it must be all about Jesus not us! He fills the gaps!

I know, such basic truths. But I challenge you to ask yourself if there is anything left unattended in your heart? If it is already clean and spotless - are you holding an open house for others?

25 June 2010

On Poverty

"Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings." Corbett and Fikkert When Helping Hurts

Did you catch that? Poverty has to do with relationships. Maybe this why all of our humanitarian efforts have failed - it is just a band-aid. If relationships are the core how do we heal the core? The band-aids help for a time(AND ARE NECESSARY), but never completely heal the true problem.

But ALL OF US because of the fall of mankind in Genesis have broken relationships! At the very least ALL of us need the reconciliation Jesus provides. SO why do we act as if we are better than those who are "poor"?

"Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do more harm than good." Corbett and Fikkert from When Helping Hurts
"What we need is compassion with a compass - not pity without a plan. " -David Chan

So often we serve the poor, not because we love them and want to truly help them - but because it puffs us up and makes us feel important, that WE have done something good. It reduces the poor to objects, not dearly loved people who were also created on purpose, for a purpose.

(More thoughts are forthcoming as I continue to chew on When Helping Hurts. Your feedback is always welcomed.)
 

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