Saturday, July 16, 2016

Milking It

My prayer for my husband and daughter in Ukraine was for God to show them great and miraculous things!  And did He come through!

I haven't been able to talk to Alex much, so I don't yet know things from her perspective. But I have talked to Michael and he has told me about the amazing ways in which God has moved this week.

If you follow me on Facebook, you heard me teasing about the local farmer whom he talked to and had been invited to come milk his cows. Picturing Michael milking cows was an incredibly funny picture in my mind.  Michael is a city boy, a pretty boy, not one to get dirty really.  Michael spent his week really getting to know the farmer next to the teen camp.  Trying cows milk for the first time straight from the cow, eating the cheese the farmer made, and one morning at the crack of dawn getting up and getting a milking lesson.  The morning he was to get up he texted me and said, "I really don't want to get up this early and milk a cow." My response was, "Hey, this could be a gospel opportunity."

Last night at camp was the last night of preaching and the last time the Gospel would be shared.  The Word of how a loving God loved the people He created so much that He couldn't stand to lose them to their sin so He sent His only Son to die for them, to cancel their sins so they could reside with Him in Heaven instead of going to Hell and paying the ultimate price for their disobedience. Guess who "randomly" decided to show up to camp church service that night?  The farmer and his wife.

So on top of 3 teens, that the Ukraine mission team had been pouring into all week and building relationships with, who came to Christ last did the farmer and his wife.  The reason why is what I want you to focus on.

The farmer had been hearing bits and pieces of the Word from the camp for the past 8 years.  He had told the Ukrainian pastor of the camp that Michael was the first American to ever speak to him about his farm and take an interest in him as a man.  Drinking his milk, eating his cheese, milking his cow.  He was impressed that an American pastor would get his hands dirty.  So that drove him to come check out Michael's "job" at the camp.  After hearing the gospel, he said he had never heard of God's love for him and that Jesus would care to die for him.

Relationships.  The key component to the gospel.

One of our concepts we remember while parenting is "Rules without relationship equals rebellion.  Rules with relationship equals obedience." The key to that concept is RELATIONSHIP.  When someone has a relationship with you, they listen to you.

Michael is a relationship guy.  If that is a spiritual gift, he is overflowing with it. I love how God used his gift and the way He created Michael to bring a farmer to Christ.  We were all created for "such a time as this." And sometimes we may have to take an interest in things that take us out of our comfort zone in order to do so.

How are you using your gifts to glorify God and bring others to His Kingdom?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


A word we sing and use frequently, but have you looked up what it means?!  So cool.  You can check this link if you'd like or I'll pull out a summary of it for you:

Obviously, it comes from the New Testament Greek.  But before Greek, there was Old Testament Hebrew.  The Greek word is actually "hosanna", but that came from the Hebrew word which is "Hoshiya na". Hoshiya na is found in Psalm 118:25 "Lord, save us". Then verse 26 follows that up with, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." That word, hoshiya na is answered with the New Testament Greek which changed the meaning of the word to a word of praise for He who is our salvation...He who has saved us. The meaning changed from "save us" to "our salvation has come."  Glory in the highest, for our salvation has come.  Can I get an amen?

That brings me to the point of my blog today.  (I'm long winded, I know.)  Michael has been in the Ukraine now for 4 days.  He has learned so much in just those 4 days, that I can't wait to see what God still has to teach him!  Three years of seminary culminating into seeing people yearn for truth and long for the teachings of God.

Our youth praise team had been working on several songs to sing in the Ukraine.  One was "Hosanna" by Hillsong.

As they had been practicing, these words were reverberating in Michael's soul, "Heal my heart and make it clean.  Open up my eyes to the things unseen.  Show me how to love like you have loved me.  Break my heart for what breaks yours.  Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause. As I walk from earth into eternity."

Each time he interacts with the Ukrainians, his prayer is for God to open up His eyes to things unseen and to break his heart for what breaks God's heart.  And God is doing just that.  He is seeing the great need for these youth camps that the Ukrainian church puts on there.  Many kids come to this camp several times a year.  Their dollar is extremely low, so it only costs the kids US $45 to attend this camp.  That is a lot of money for the Ukrainians, so the church absorbs a lot of that cost because over half the kids won't be able to pay it.  How easy it would be for us to come up with $45 in our lavish country.  Michael is learning what "poverty" really is...not like the American version of poverty.  

He was crunching some numbers to try to get them to make sense in his brain today.  He took his own monthly salary figure and asked the Ukrainian translator, "If someone in Ukraine made this much money how would they live?" The translator said that person would live like a king in Ukraine.  And there are just a very few people who live on that "much" money there.  "Open up my eyes" see that we are blessed, even on a lower salary than we are used to while we are in seminary.  "Break my heart for what breaks Yours" seeing how frivolously we spend our money when there is so much more Kingdom work that could be done.  We spend so much on temporary things that don't matter when we could easily spare $45 for a teen to go to camp and feed on God's Word.  And that is exactly what they do...they can't get enough of God's Word.  When was the last time we were that hungry for God's truth?

Our country seems to be shouting "Lord, save us", but I want to shout from the rooftops, "Hosanna...our Salvation has already come!"  

It's all wrapped up in a man named Jesus. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016


I LOVE how God slowly unfolds things for me. I enjoy mysteries, and I think God knows that and likes to throw them my way. I'm starting to feel like it's a little game we play together. It's all part of our relationship.

Every time something awesome comes along, I want to blog about it and tell the world, but there is SO much back story that my blogs get so long. But God really doesn't do anything quickly and simply. He usually interweaves it through every area of my life. It makes what He does for me so much more satisfying because it shows me how much He loves those details. So, here goes...I'll try to keep it brief.

Last year, Michael's air conditioning went out in his car. It was a hot week until he realized he could add some freon and it was good for the rest of the summer. This summer, his AC went out again. Simply adding freon this time was not an option because apparently his compressor was shot. That would be a $1400 fix. His car is older, therefore we weighed if he really needed AC for $1400. That's not just chump change we have easy access to. We were then in a conundrum about trying to sell his car to find another car because that compressor has to be fixed first because the "service engine" light is on and in North Carolina a car can't be sold (or pass inspection) with that light on. (What a run on sentence, but you feel my frustration!) After some super hot, sweltering days driving with no AC, we really started to pray about it.

Now, we have learned in the past 6 years a definite difference in needs and wants. We can easily sacrifice our wants on the altar of things we need. No problem with that lesson. And seriously, AC in the hot, muggy south is a need. Maybe a first-world need, but it's a need.

So the prayers began. Prayers that we could easily fix his car and sell it and make enough to purchase something else. Prayers to find something in great condition because buying an older car from someone unknown to you is a scary event. Prayers for something safe because Raleigh drivers aren't known for their attentiveness on the road and I have a teen driver up and coming. Prayers for God to just work it all out because He knows we don't have extra money for a car payment nor do we have time or energy to deal with this right now! Jesus, take the wheel!

Ebenezer. What in the world does that have to do with anything, right?

I'm on the praise team at church and every time I am up in rotation we seem to sing, "Come Thou Fount". Every time I sing the phrase, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Daily I'm constrained to be." I love hymns, but had never bothered to look that phrase up. It's not good to sing things you don't understand, so I kept telling myself to research that before I sang it again. I kept forgetting to research it, then God brought it up because He had fully intended for me to learn it. We were sitting in small group a few weeks ago studying 1 Samuel and there it was.

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up...and named it Ebenezer saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us."" 1 Samuel 7:12

Up to this point, the Lord has helped us. God clocks me right between the eyes so frequently! My small group leader told a story of a friend who had a picture in his house that simply said Jehovah Jireh-Ebenezer. (God Provides and Up to this Point He has helped us). So, I sit in small group with tears in my eyes knowing God is there speaking to me. He used my favorite name for him (Jehovah Jireh) and now my new found mysterious name (Ebenezer) and let me know He was there and would help us AS HE ALWAYS HAS!

Okay, back to now. We have some seminary friends, Jake and Lauren, whom we love dearly. My kids lovingly refer to Jake as Jesus because he totally looks like him. They are heading to Canada for Jake to begin PhD work and were needing to sell one of their cars. Their move was sudden so they needed to get rid of the car suddenly. Jake asked Michael if he was interested in looking at it, so he brought it over to test drive. First thing Michael did was blast the AC! Everything on the car is exactly what we need (with some wants thrown in because God spoils us sometime). And the car is a super safe Volvo for when my precious teen cargo gets behind the wheel. We told Jake we would totally want it, but could not buy it so suddenly because we have to fix the old car and sell it first. With lovingkindness, Jake allowed us to go ahead and take the car and make payments to him until we get Michael's old car sold, then we can pay him the remainder. We had a need for a car; they had a need to sell a car. God blessed both His children this weekend.

As I sit basking in our blessing, these are the verses God brings to mind:

1 Peter 5:10 "In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation."

Matthew 7:9,11 "Which of you if your son asks for bread will give him a stone? So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."

My Jehovah Jireh-Ebenezer directs the steps of the godly and He cares about every little detail of my life....