Missions Monday #MissionsMonday

This is Emma’s idea for her Instagram and so I thought – hmmmmmmm, maybe we can take this to the GrubHub as well.   [Of course I don’t guarantee EVERY Monday there will be a post about Missions… as life gets in the way and soon we will be entering a VERY busy summer at SCORE in the DR, but hopefully we will get close!]

A week ago Sunday we attended an International Dinner and Missions Night at the Lutheran church I grew up in. Yes, I said Lutheran. 🙂 Interesting, huh? The truth of the matter is that if it wasn’t for Martin Luther – we’d all still be Roman Catholic. We would trust our good works to get us to heaven and our confessions to a priest/pope to keep us out of hell. The funny thing is, while I did glean the beginnings of a spiritual foundation on the biblical truths taught there, I still had blinders on to certain biblical truths ~ like there was nothing I could do to save myself, that I needed to REPENT of my sin and accept Christ as my Savior, that following Him means surrender in every facet of my life. Those are not Baptist principles or Pentecostal principles or Lutheran principles – they are BIBLICAL principles. And I thank the Lord for drawing me, opening my eyes and revealing His truth to me by the Holy Spirit in my early 20s.

After I was saved, however, I was quite dogmatic and saw things as very black and white. I assumed that since I heard (my spiritual ears finally opened to) these truths in a church/denomination other than the one I was raised in, that they were wrong and this church/denomination was right. (Arrogant, much?) Again, thank the Lord that He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete (and still completing) it (Phil. 1:6). As I have grown in spiritual maturity, I have learned that people have grown up hearing the truth in Baptist churches, A/G churches, Nazarene churches, Lutheran churches etc., but because their spiritual ears weren’t opened to that truth at that time, they didn’t accept Christ until later in life, like I.  That there are people who have accepted Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, serve Him and SHARE Him in all kinds of denominations. PRAISE THE LORD!

Sorry for the rabbit trail – it is interesting when God brings things full circle (like an apologetic-loving girl raised in a Lutheran church, saved in an A/G church, discipled in an Independent Baptist church, planted a Southern Baptist church and currently attending and being sent to a non-denominational ministry from an Evangelical Presbyterian Church…).

All that to say – I was so blessed by the Missions Night. From the others going on short-term trips to the opening prayer, the heart of the night was taking the GOSPEL to the NATIONS! Reaching out to the poor, the orphans and sick.  Sharing Jesus.  GLORY!

We had a delightful international meal. Whoever made the chicken enchiladas – those were AmAzInG! The meal was followed by a “Pound Auction.” Have you ever heard of such a thing? I had not, and it was So. Much. Fun! Basically, people brought items wrapped or in gift bags that weighed about a pound and we, the audience, bid on them – not knowing what they were. There were things like a bunch of bananas, POUND cakes :), coffee and other items. It was a blast! All of the proceeds will go to the mission teams represented (us included). We connected with friends/church family from the past and met some great people. Blessed night! Here are some photos from that night.

PS – Speaking of photos, we’re going to start adding photos to our Flickr account from each church we visit, different mission teams we work with in the DR etc.  You can get to those albums in the margin on the right.  🙂

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Happy 50th, Mom ~n~ Dad!!

In a couple of months, two to be exact, Kevin and I will be celebrating a milestone anniversary ~ 20 years.   That being said – I’m excited to share that we have a handful of marriage posts coming up between now and then.  And what better way to kick these off than to honor my Mom and Dad today ~ on their 50th anniversary.

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50 years ago today, a couple of 20-somethings stood before God, family and friends and pledged their love and commitment to each other.  After a courtship that included Dad taking long drives to visit Mom at OSU, double dates with friends (that are still friends today) and well – a whole lot of shenanigans that they probably never told us about (*gasp :p) they became man and wife.  First comes love, then comes marriage… then comes three (awesome… ahem) kiddos in baby carriages.

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The kid-rearing years are marked by Dad working hard and showing love to his family through his commitment to provide for us.  Mom stayed home with us kiddos while we were little, then went back to school to go back to teaching.  Those were busy years, like they are for all working families with kiddos under the roof.  I appreciate all you did to provide for us, Mom and Dad, working hard so we could have what we had and could do what we did.   I’m sure your marriage had its ebbs and flows throughout those years.  Thanks for sticking it out.

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Then, we all left.  One by one we married, moved out and moved on.   These past 20+ years you guys moved gracefully into that next chapter of your life – the empty nest, retirement and grandparenthood (which you ROCK by the way).   Life changes and some things never do.  Your marriage remains the common thread of all these years.

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One cannot reflect on these 50 years without noting the multiple couples that you all continue to do life with, many of them for most of these 50 years.   I love that about your life – the friendships that have been an integral facet of your marriage.  You are so blessed.

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So here we are reflecting on 50 years.  Wowzas!  50 years.  “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  🙂  I’m sure anyone reading this can relate if they’ve been married for more than A DAY!  If I think of my parent’s marriage the words ooey, gooey, sickening sweet do not come to mind.  Ha!  And that’s ok.  Every marriage looks different.  For realzzzz.  What does come to mind, though are longevity, love, commitment and perseverance.   There is something to say about all of that. A picture-perfect, fairy tale love affair? No.  Not like what is pictured in the movies, but a love story speckled with fun, friends and family.  And eye-rolling, sarcasm and stiff drinks… hey – whatever works 🙂.

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Thank you, Mom and Dad for being a tremendous example of commitment, perseverance and LOVE.   Thanks for showing us, the next generation, that love is worth holding on to and that the true fairy tale story is one that can still be celebrated 50 years later.  Thanks for your commitment to God, each other and all of us.

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I don’t know of anything that will put a test to your faith like marriage does, so on your GOLD anniversary, I leave you with this verse:

Your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7

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Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad.  Can’t wait to celebrate tonight!

15 Week Update

Has it really been 15 weeks?   It has.  15 weeks since our journey with LifePoint Community Church came to an end.  In some ways it seems SO long ago.  In some ways it was just yesterday.   Let me start this update with this.  We loved LifePoint Community Church – not the building – the wonderful people God allowed us to love and serve, and to serve with.  Not loved, love.  And we miss them (you).  And we miss that mission – reaching a demographic that is still unreached in this area.  We trust God will reach this community – He is still at work, even though our doors are closed.  His mission continues and was never dependent on us – He will call and equip others for this task.  Thankful for His sovereignty in all of this.

So what have we been up to?

There’s some things that haven’t changed – busy schedule with work, job searches, school, kids’ activities.  Initially we pulled back a bit socially, and have slowly and steadily been increasing in that arena.  We are so thankful for the wonderful family and friends that God has used to minister TO us over these past 15 weeks.  Every phone call, text, message, visit, coffee date, prayer lifted, joke told, hug has been life-giving to us. We are truly blessed.

The first few weeks we attended church online at Lifechurch.tv and loved it!  Julia loves Pastor Craig’s pipes…. And Joey and Emma think he is hilarious.  Seriously though, I hold LifeChurch.tv in such high regard and have continued to attend church online and/or listen to the sermon podcasts.  His messages are biblical, challenging and applicable.  The leadership at Gateway Church (practically in our backyard) reached out to Kevin very shortly after closing LP to provide encouragement, pastor to pastor.  That encouragement was a blessing.   They and some others have been very gracious.  We have attended there most Sundays.  I have been attending Bible Study there and last night, Kevin and I tried out a LifeGroup.

Kevin has been in counseling (*gasp)!  I include this for a couple of reasons… We have always been HUGE advocates of counseling.   In ministry, we (Kevin and I) can encourage people in the word – but there’s something about meeting with a counselor that is so beneficial.  I also share it because we are human.  We stepped out in faith to plant LP 5 years ago, and because of that had targets on our backs – just like ANYONE that steps out in FAITH to do ANYTHING in Jesus’ Name.  Do we and did we have faith? Yes – sustaining faith and God has continually shown us resilient grace.  Yet we are still human, and sometimes we too need to reach out for help to process hurts and disappointments and soak up some wisdom and direction.  The person God lead us to has been the perfect fit for Kev and we are so blessed that he has had this opportunity.

I started a new job in October and it is going great. I have a wonderful boss and great co-workers and so far am enjoying the work.  I work mostly from home, but also go to our office in Toledo about once a week.  Thankful for God’s provision for this job and (drumroll please….) BENEFITS starting December 1st.  Praise the LORD!

How are we, you ask?

We are doing well.  We really are.  The Lord has been gracious.  We have the joy of the Lord and even happiness.  Our marriage is strong, our kids are amazing and life is going on.  We are not sitting the greatest financially, but God has provided and is our Provider.  From the day LP closed, God brought us the message, “I’m not finished with you yet,” from a plethora of people/situations.  We were thankful for the encouragement, but were looking forward to a break, an indefinite sabbatical from ministry…  A secular job for Kevin.  Make some money, pay off some debt, breathe… But we have not stumbled upon such a job for Kevin.  He did have an offer for a ministry position that was very difficult to turn down.   God hasn’t taken us from this world and still has purpose for our lives.  He has a great plan and has used the past several years to prepare us for what’s next.  He’s always a step ahead, laying the groundwork and He doesn’t make mistakes.

So what’s next?  Be back soon with that answer. 🙂

The Oxygen Mask

oxygenLadies and gentlemen, as we prepare for take off, please direct your attention to the front of the cabin as the flight attendant will review procedures in the unlikely event that we encounter an emergency throughout our flight.  In the event of low-cabin pressure the oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment above you.  If you are traveling with small children or someone who needs assistance, please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others………..

As you know, or in case you did not, we closed our church last week. We have now entered a twilight zone of sorts.  While we are wired, by the Holy Spirit, to serve, help others, teach etc. – we are entering a season where we have to secure our own oxygen mask.  If we don’t, the results will be disastrous.

I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to blog throughout this season.  I have written A LOT this week, but I don’t know if any of it is for your eyes.  I so appreciate many that blog throughout their darkest hours, raw transparency, #realtalk. I have always been one to write during the storms of life, but wait to blog until God redeems or brings us out of it.  The verdict is still out.  This much I can say, there are some things that we must do so healing may come:

  • We have to stop – we have to take a break.  We have to be still.  We have to put ourselves before others, even though that is not our nature. We have to do what’s best for us for a while and that is nothing – nothing except spend time with Jesus, each other and people that will help us.
  • We have to eliminate toxins.  The five of us need healing.  We need healing so that God can make a way for us to forgive, to trust again, to love people the way He does and one day serve Him by serving them.  We need to work through disappointment and discouragement. It’s gonna take time.
  • We have to trust in the promises and sovereignty of God. We are holding on to a Scarlet Thread of HOPE.  We will live, eat, breathe, memorize, meditate on His TRUTH until we believe it – again.

Thank you for your prayers.

How Does Iron Man Relate to the Gospel You Preach?

We received an email a few weeks ago from a pastor out of town, helping a young couple from his church find a new church in Findlay – where they’re moving to in a few weeks.  He had visited our website and was able to get some of his questions answered, but had a few more – so he sent an email.  And he called us J.   Here are some of his questions:

“I know I am probably a little odd, but what do you believe about Christ?  God?  Man?  Salvation?  The Bible? “ –not odd at all!

“Do you have a statement of faith?  Is there an historical tradition that you find yourself part of?”  – yes, yes we do

Maybe I am not cultural enough, but how does Iron Man relate to the gospel you preach? “   – well, let me tell you *see below

Since the LP emails come to me, I forwarded it to PK (aka Kevin) and texted him that it was coming.  Shortly after we received the email, this pastor called the church and Kevin was there and able to answer his questions.  It definitely was a better verbal conversation to have than written.

After they talked for a few minutes, the pastor apologized to Kevin for the email feeling as if he had written it in a bad tone.  Kevin told him not to worry…  Then the other pastor said, “I sure wish our congregation had more of the younger crowd.” To which Kevin replied, “We all have our issues…”  The pastor answered him, “That is a very wise statement, young man.”  (Obviously he doesn’t know Kevin is FORTY!! Ha ha ha).

When Kevin was retelling me this conversation, I pondered that thought.  Lately, I have really been missing the fact that there are not the older in our church.  (Well, there are some of us that are older, but not older older…) I feel like we are missing out on such wisdom.  Yes – there’s benefits to reaching and growing with the ‘younger’ crowd, but there are drawbacks to it as well.  Just as there are drawbacks if the church is the opposite, still holding to the older (older-older) but not reaching the younger.

It reminded me of the song by Casting Crowns “City on a Hill”.  I previously blogged and cited this song, but today it’s for a completely different reason.   One line stands out…

“It was the fire of the young ones, it was the wisdom of the old…”

Ahhhhh, the perfect mix that makes a City on a Hill.   Maybe these next five years we’ll grow in the “older-older” age group.

PS – What does Iron Man have to do with the Gospel we preach?   It’s based on Proverbs 27:17 and was a message series about how “iron sharpens iron” and how to sharpen/encourage one another in our walks with The Lord.   Same message, different delivery.

Don’t. Judge. Me.

The Hubs (PK), opened a can of worms last week by challenging us that the Bible doesn’t tell us “not to judge.”  But, but, but… what about Matthew 7?

Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.” Matthew 7:1

Do.Not.Judge.  I suppose, like many other verses in the Bible if that is all you read you can take that as it is, but it is not the only verse in the Bible so we must read it in context AND alongside many other verses.  The note, in my HCSB study Bible, says, “Jesus did not intend to prohibit all acts of judgment.  Elsewhere He commanded believers to discern the actions of others.  What Jesus condemned is hypocritical judgment that focuses on the faults of others while excusing one’s own sins.”  Further, in the notes relating to versus 3-5, it says, “Believers DO have a responsibility to help one another repent of sins, but only after first dealing with their own serious sins.”

Kevin gave this example.  What if, at your job, you were doing something wrong for over ten years and you didn’t even realize it.  Your co-workers noticed it, but none of them had the guts to tell you.  One day, corporate comes in and addresses this thing you’ve been doing wrong all these years and you get fired.  Wouldn’t you have wanted the opportunity to change what you were doing wrong, if only someone would’ve told you?

Sure, if you’re a follower of Jesus and surrendered your life to Him, you’re not going to get “fired” from being a Christian.  But, isn’t the heart of someone who wants to truly follow Jesus to want to please Him in all areas of their life?  Sometimes there’s sin in our life that we don’t even realize is there (the Bible calls this “secret sin”), and God may use someone to bring that to light for us – for our growth – for His glory.  “Satan wants us to believe judging is a sin, but God uses Biblical judging in our lives and our Christian walks” – PK.

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts in regards to judging:

DON’T:

be hypocritical.  Examine your own heart first (Matthew 7:3-5).

-be condemning (Luke 6:37).

-be critical (James 4:11).  From my study bible notes, “there are never grounds for critical speech directed toward another member of the congregation.” Hmmmm.

DO:

-approach humbly and gently (Gal. 6)

-discern/judge biblically (Matt. 7:2, John 7:24)

-make personal contact (Matthew 18)

-share in LOVE (Eph. 4:15)

Now, instead of saying, “Don’t Judge Me,” we can say, “Please, judge me.”

Be The One

With the start of another school year underway, I thought I’d repost this blog post from last year. Be. The. One.

Be The One.

 

Another school year is well underway for some of you, and starting this week or in the coming weeks for the rest of us.  Does this time of year muster up any emotion(s) in you as it does me?

Do you remember the nervous energy (that’s denial terms for AnXiEtY)?

I think the biggest transition for me personally, was from Elementary School – 6th grade to Jr. High – 7th Grade.  Our school district had 10 elementary schools and 2 Jr. Highs, so 5 elementary schools fed into each Jr. High.  That’s a lot of people, yo’!  And 7th grade… well that was just the worst, I don’t care who ya’ are.  That age/grade is just weird. Awkward. Gross.

No matter what clique ya’ did or didn’t belong to or how many friends ya’ did or didn’t have – everyone experiences some level of insecurity/anxiety in new situations.  Don’t let the trendy clothes or the nose piercings or the skateboard or the football jersey or the black t-shirt or the tough guy/girl attitude fool you.  Underneath we all have a desire to be liked (loved even) and included.  In fact, we each have a God-shaped hole in us that longs only He can fill, but that’s another blog.

One smile.  A hello.  An invitation to sit with.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to brighten someone’s day.  That’s all it could take to make someone feel special, included, valuable.  That’s all it may take to save someone’s life.

It’s not just at school.  Do you realize how much anxiety someone feels when they go to a church for the first time?  Do we realize people that regularly go to church often don’t feel loved, welcomed, included?  It’s a sad, but true, state of affairs that church can often be just as cliquey, if not worse, than the 7th grade.  We gather with our friends, chat it up, laugh, and make social plans all while another is alone – just longing for a hello.

Something’s gotta’ change.

Be the one.  Be the one to smile at someone in the hallway.  Be the one to sit with someone who is sitting alone.  Be the one who welcomes, invites, includes.  Be the onewith open eyes and a caring heart.

It could change your school. It could change your church. It could change someone’s life.

We may never know the significance of something so simple.