Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God is the Gospel

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”   John 17:3 NASB

“The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of his Son’s life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy—namely, himself.”   --- John Piper

God is the "good news." Jesus came and died that we might have access to the throne room of heaven. God is the reward, not a means to an end. If you came so you could avoid hell, or so you could see your loved ones in heaven, then you came for the wrong reason. Even worse, if you came thinking you would be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity here on earth then you have been tragically misled.

A.W. Tozer said it like this:

"When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, "I am thy part and thine inheritance," and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.

God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.”

If God is all there is in heaven, would you still want to go?

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26 ESV

Monday, June 27, 2011

If You Want Something Different, Then Pray For What You Have!

"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." Mark 11: 24 NASB

Two and a half years ago this is what I did. I embarked on a prayer journey for Patrick. Each day, walking in faith, that the requests that I made known to God on Patrick's behalf would be granted. And boy were they!
I had always prayed for Patrick but not persistently and definitely not expectantly. I would pray but underneath those prayers were ulterior motives. I would pray for God to heal but I wanted to supply the bandage. I would pray for God to move but I wanted to push. Are you getting the picture? I forgot that there were three in this marriage not two. I knew that our love had been formed from God and blessed by God but this Man was MINE! It was up to me, not the Holy Spirit, to convict, challenge, and form this handsome devil into exactly what I thought he should be.This was wrong on so many levels! So, after years of disastrous attempts to mold and make my sweet husband into what I thought he needed to be, God revealed to me that I had what I needed right in front of me! This revelation came during a pregnancy. During this time came true redemption for my husband and opened my eyes to the man that God had placed in my arms to love and cherish for a lifetime. God showed me that He possessed the power to convict and change lives. He assured me that if I would trust in Him, He would take care of the rest!

You see, two and a half years ago, God saw fit to bless our home with a set of fraternal twins. We already had four children and were busy but very fulfilled. Now we began planning to expand our family and stretch our budget on one income. I became so enormous that I had to move into the nursery so that Patrick and I could both get some sleep. One night as I lay there unable to go to bed, the Holy Spirit laid upon my heart my precious Patrick. I knew that he carried a large load supporting a family of six. Now, he was going to have two more mouths to feed, clothe and diaper.
Double Gulp!

I saw the stress increase in Patrick's life and knew that something had to change. That something was ME! I went to God and asked Him what I needed to do and for once in my life I listened. He spoke clear and loud, PRAY FOR HIM! He told me to pray for him for a year and for him alone. I was to pray for him from his head down to his toes and once I was done repeat again, again, and again. So, I embarked on a year long prayer pilgrimage for my husband. Morning, noon, and night I prayed for this dear man. After a year of removing myself from the picture and replacing it with God's unchanging Word, the glorious healing occurred. Gone were the days where I thought I knew best. Gone was the nagging, questioning, and interjections into our relationship. I prayed for God to rain down on him, and honey, He sent a tsunami! I remember the night so well when I finally had enough nerve(strength from the Holy Spirit) to confront Patrick with what God had called me to do over the past year. He was speechless. He looked at me with the most humble expression on his face. I told him what I had been praying and why I was called to pray. Then it happened. Right before my eyes! The old Patrick was transformed through the power of forgiveness and redemption that only Christ can deliver. It was truly amazing and even now it brings good ol' chill bumps! My hubby who I share life and breath with felt forgiven and empowered like I have never seen in anyone before. I believe, I believe, I believe in the power of prayer! Can I get an Amen!

In that year I learned that God is enough. He is all we need. He is my treasure. Nothing that I do or have my hands in has any value. I am flawed and He is perfect. As much as I love my husband, God loves him more! Hallelujah! I wanted my husband to be the biblical head of our home but how could I know what that looked like apart from what the scripture says? Oh, friend, it is beautiful. It is rich and sustaining and completes me as a woman. Knowing that I can turn to my best friend and hold hands and pray is indescribable. Reading and studying God's Word for hours each morning together is power. Isn't it just like God to take your requests and provide an answer that is one million times better than what you asked for?! The changes that I wanted for Patrick would have been comfortable but God changed him Radically!

As you have read, we have since answered a call to full time vocational missionary service. We are on an incredible journey and to be apart of Bible translation is awesome! The Word prayed, studied, and cried out, changed our home. We could not imagine not being able to study each and every day. Our prayer is to use our bodies as a living sacrifice to help put Bibles in as many languages as possible. Please continue to pray for our family in this endeavor.

My prayer for you, is that you will commit to pray for your spouse and let God have complete control over him/her. Let Him have the glory in your marriage and your home. I am going to leave you with a word from Kay Arthur. I would challenge you to order an Inductive Bible Study and experience for yourself how to have a marriage without regret! God Bless you my friend!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Inductive Bible Study Saved My Life

" I lie in the dust; revive me by your word."  Psalm 119:25 NLT

I am an answer to prayer. Much prayer. Long-awaited prayer. Kellee will tell you how she prayed for me for an entire year. I know her. She is a prayer warrior and she was praying long before that. She talks to her Father like a best friend. So I know she has poured out her heart about me for some time. It was a little more than a year ago that I was in “cruise control” - what I call "Easy Christianity." A couple hours on Sunday morning was plenty of time to give God. The other 166 hours of the week were mine. Kellee was praying for some unresolved issues in my life and God began working on my heart. Of all the blessings God has given me, I can say without a doubt, the best was my soulmate. He knew how weak I am. I need her. She is relentless in her pursuit of God. She helped me work through my past and then encouraged me to get into inductive bible study -- and it has transformed my life.  She has been doing Precept Upon Precept studies for a while and she kept talking about how different they were and how much she liked studying inductively. I saw her marking up her bible with colored pencils and cross-referencing scripture with scripture and it looked fun. I started on a study of the book of Ruth, “Don’t Despair. There’s Hope. You Have a Kinsman Redeemer.” I spent every morning for a month alone with God, digging in His Word, seeing His beautiful plan of redemption from start to finish. The Word washed over me and restored my soul.

As I was reading about George Mueller (the man who started orphanages trusting solely on God for provision), I discovered the same thing changed his life.

“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my  soul happy in the Lord. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.
     It often now astonished me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.…”

Inductive bible study takes time. Time to find key words and phrases. Time to mark and cross-reference. All that time allows the word to soak in. And that is when God speaks to your heart, and it is sweet. If you want to know more about it, ask Kellee or me. Shelly Mabry leads them regularly at church as well. We would love to help you get started.

Are we as a church content with being spoonfed, when we could be feasting on the Word?
“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table.”   ---  A. W. Tozer

Friday, June 17, 2011

The role of support workers in Bible translation

For those of you we have spoken to, here are the videos we showed so you can see them again (and hopefully be able to read the captioning). If you cannot get the video to "fullscreen," you can click on the "YouTube" to watch on YouTube website. You can "fullscreen" it there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

what's in a name?

The title of our blog “selling everything to buy a field” comes from the scripture about a man finding a treasure in a field. With joy he sells all that he has to go buy the field. To everyone looking on, it seems crazy. But the man knows what he has found. He knows what he will gain. He is not giving up anything. He sells everything with joy to buy it. That story is about the kingdom of God. It is a story about salvation, restoration, joy in the presence of our Creator God. It’s about discovering an all-satisfying Treasure that makes everything else in this world pale in comparison.

It parallels our real life, as we have sold almost everything to follow Him. We began a new journey a little over a year ago. God began to work in our hearts convicting us of our self-centeredness. We were pursuing the American dream. The culture we live in tells us, "You deserve it. Go buy that big screen t.v. or that nice new car. The one you have now looks old. It is not a good reflection of who you are." We bought into it. We were amassing our little pile of stuff. We were catering to our comforts. Meanwhile billions (that's with a "b") are dying without Christ. Our eyes were opened by a book called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt. We were living for ourselves and ignoring the needs around us. God began moving in our hearts to stop wasting our lives and seek Him first. It was like God said, "Am I not enough? Do you really have to fill your lives with this stuff when you could have Me?"

<< insert much wrestling with God at this point >>

Kellee and I both came to the place where we said, "God, if you are all I have, that IS enough." God continued to pull and tug on our hearts, and the short version of that is, we started to apply with a prominent Bible translation organization. We were immediately stopped (and by "immediately" I mean, you can't even apply) because we had debt. God put us to the test. Did we mean it when we said He was enough? We began to aggressively payoff debt by selling all that stuff we had piled up. And by "all,' I mean all. Our house sits virtually empty. With God's help we paid off our debts by March of this year and have now completed our part of the application process. Currently, we are waiting to hear about our acceptance as members. I can honestly say we have not missed anything. We met some great people in the process and got to tell them about our real Treasure. The journey has been a joyful one.

Now we're looking toward another field...
Maybe this one???