Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Modern Day Miracle Workers

This week, God gave me my own little miracle and I wanted to share the story. For many years, I have had chronic pain in my back, legs, and arms. I’ve had it for so long, it’s really become quite normal for me. In an effort to manage the pain, I’ve seen a number of chiropractors over the years. In the last couple of years, I’ve been introduced to a wonderful Christian chirpractor in Tyrone, Dr. Peggy Murray. Dr. Peggy has been more than a chiropractor for me. She has openly shared her heart and her faith. She told me on my first visit that she is a Christian chiropractor, not just a chiropractor who is a Christian. She prays over me as she adjusts me and uses her gift of healing as she works on my back.

Last week, she told me (for about the millionth time) that I really needed a massage. My muscles were in such knots that she wasn’t having much luck adjusting me. She also told me she would pray for the person I went to see to be someone with the gift of healing…someone with a healing touch.

Yesterday, I was not feeling well and really hurting quite a bit. I left work and called the Zen Massage center near my house. I took the next appointment they had with a female therapist. For the first hour, she worked on just my arms. (I have an injury in my right shoulder that’s caused a lot of trouble in the last few months). I wasn’t exactly sure what to think of her as her method was a bit unconventional. (She was talking to my muscles, ligmaments, tendons, nerves, veins, etc. as she massaged me and asked them to release…it seemed a little crazy at first). But, as she worked, I could tell that she was making progress with my muscles, so I worked with her to relax my muscles and focus on releasing the tension. As she was working on my shoulders, she began to ask me questions. She asked me about the people I feel responsible for in my life. She could tell that I have a lot of responsibility. It was then that she told me what the Bible says about carrying burdens. She said, “I don’t know if you are a Bible believer, but Jesus tells us to put our burdens on Him…”. She went on to address some other things she identified by the tension in my body and gave me a gentle reminder of what the Bible says.

It was at that point that I recalled Dr. Peggy’s prayer. I could hardly believe it as my encounter with Denise seemed like so much chance. But, I am again reminded that the Lord is intimately involved in the details of my life and this was no chance encounter. Dr. Peggy had prayed that I would see a therapist who had the gift of healing. When I told Denise that my chiropractor had prayed for her, she, nearly in tears, told me that she had prayed for miracles that morning. She said, “I prayed for miracles here today, for my coworkers and my employers. I wasn’t even thinking about it happening to me”.

So, that’s my story of modern day miracle workers. No, I’m not completely cured of my pain, but I have less than I did the day before. And, I have a very real story of how God uses the gifts of His people to show His love in the lives of His children. I’m very thankful for two women who are unashamed of their Savior and the gifts He’s given them. They healed more than just my body this week, they helped heal my heart. So, thank you, ladies, for your obedience and you willingness to share your faith and your gifts.

If you’re looking for a great chiropractor, call Dr. Peggy Murray of Tyrone Chirpractic. And, if you need a great massage, call Denise at Zen Massage!

What Do You See in Your Clouds?

For the last several weeks, I have been very aware of the clouds. I have seen some of the most BEAUTIFUL skies I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ve seen amazing sunsets as I’ve been driving down the interstate. I’ve seen full and beautiful cloud formations in the most unlikely of places and unremarkable of days. It’s as though the Lord has been drawing my eye to the sky and towards Him in a time when I’ve needed more and more to rest in His presence. I’m not sure what exactly He’s trying to teach me or speak to my heart, but this came across my email today and gave me something to chew on. I wanted to share it here. Today’s My Utmost for His Highest Entry:

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN YOUR CLOUDS?

Behold, He cometh with clouds.

Revelation 1:7
http://www.SearchGodsWord.org/desk/?query=re+1:7&sr=1

In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child - God and my own soul, other people are shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again. Is the relationship between myself and God getting simpler than ever it has been?

There is a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the
darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him.

"They feared as they entered the cloud . . ." - Is there anyone "save Jesus only" in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get to the place where there is "no one any more save Jesus only."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Pain of Losing

I just found out today, in the Sunday service, that our youth pastor has taken a job at another church. He and his family will be leaving us August 1st. I feel like my heart is breaking in my chest. Since coming to us last year, Tom and Jen have planted themselves in our hearts and it is sad to let them go.

In some ways, it’s truly a blessing that the Lord has called them to another church. Tom and Jen came here a year ago with a strong conviction that the Lord was calling them to FCC. However, we’ve struggled financially for some time now and can no longer support 2 pastors. I believe it is God’s blessing on the faithfulness of Tom and Jen that has opened another position for them nearby. I pray that it will be a good thing for them and their family.

I am sad, for many reasons, at the loss of this family.

Tom has done an amazing job with our youth. In the time that he’s been here, we seen a number of students come to know the Lord and be baptized. He’s taken the staff under his wings and encouraged them to step up and lead as God would have them. He’s done an excellent job with all the programs under his care. He’s a great teacher and I’ve enjoyed the moments when I’ve been able to see him teach. He truly has a gift and heart for teaching students. He will be sorely missed.

Jen has truly become my friend. She has done a great job in the band and in the women’s ministry. She has selflessly served each week as vocalist and guitarist and always been willing to share what he Lord has on her heart. Our Saturday morning Bible study has been lead by her and has become something I look forward to each week. And, as much as I am going to miss her as a ministry asset at FCC, I am going to miss my friend. Jen is one of the few people in my life who are bold enough, or close enough, to speak the truth in love to me. She has corrected me when I really thought I was in the right. She has gently shown me a different perspective and given me the space to work through what she said. All the while, I knew she didn’t love me any less for my weakness and failings. We’ve prayed together and encouraged one another as we’ve both sought God’s plan for our futures and for the future of FCC. She’s been a precious gem to me in the last year and I am going to miss her fiercely.

Now, I know they aren’t moving far away (an hour and a half) and the miracle of modern technology will keep us somewhat connected. But, it will be different. And, it makes me sad to know that they will be closing this chapter of their life and beginning another. But, at the same time, I’m excited for the opportunities before them.

The ironic thing is, two of the songs we sang today seem to speak directly to how my heart is feeling right now (Blessed be Your name and Trading my Sorrows). I didn’t know until after the service that they would be leaving. But, I will cling to the truth in those songs and praise the Lord for what’s ahead of Jen, Tom, and their family.

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow, Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness, Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be, Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering, Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Jacobs family – you are loved and you will be sorely missed! May God bless the next chapter in your journey and may you continue to show others what it is to live lives of surrender to the Lord.

S.O.A.P. - Ephesians 5

Scripture:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” Ephesians 5:1-2

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:3-5

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” – Ephesians 5:6-8

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” – Ephesians 5:11-13

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-21

Observation:

Ephesians 5 is so full of wisdom! I was going to include chapter 6, but it’s too much. (There’s much more in chapter 5 than I’m going to discuss here).

“Be imitators of God as beloved children”. I am a very visual person and often Scripture will present itself as a picture in my mind. The picture I saw in this verse was that of a father working in his woodshop, holding a hammer. Near his feet, with his own set of tools, sits his son, mimicking the motions of his father. He wants nothing more than to be just like him. And, the father, takes time with the son. He sits with him. He allows him to be part of what’s he’s doing. He shows love in a number of ways. So, we are to be imitators of God in the same way…as beloved children. We can only imitate Him if we take time to sit at his feet and to walk in His footsteps and learn who He is. A beloved child craves the attention of her Father and drinks deeply of His presence and love. And, how do we imitate Him? We “walk in love, just as Christ also loved [us] and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”.

Walking in love and living like Christ is not easy. It’s a life of constantly choosing what is right and putting away the things of this world. I know I fail often. But, the scriptures always give us practical ways to live as we should. “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints; and there must be no filthiness or silly talk, or course jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks”. Just as beloved children are a reflection of their parents, so are we a reflection of God. How many times have you see the parent reflected in the child? Maybe it’s with a mannerism or a facial expression. Maybe it’s with a certain phrase or way of saying something. In the same way, when we wear the name Christian, we give people reason to look for the Father in us. Will they see Him there? Or, will He be lost in the dirty joke? Will they see us and long to know Him? I pray that it be so.

We are to expose the deeds of the darkness for “all things become visible when they are exposed by the light”. Secrets are dangerous when it comes to the deeds of darkness. How often do we look the other way when a friend is flirting with sin? Loving someone means exposing the darkness in their hearts. I know that I have people in my life who are willing to expose my blind spots and call me out when I’m failing to walk in the Light. These people are dearer to me than I can even say. Accountability is one of the most important functions of Christian community. I often thing twice and even change course when I know a friend might ask me about what choices I’m making. When I know I am going to be weak or in a situation where temptation is strong, I make sure to tell a friend my fears so I know she’ll be checking in with me. This helps me choose the right path. Secrets and darkness go hand in hand. I keep secrets when I don’t want accountability. But, I am a child of the light, and cannot expect that my darkness will stay so. It’s best to choose the light in the first place and build relationships of accountability to keep me honest.

When we were talking about this chapter yesterday at Bible study, verse 18 put a smile on my face. “…but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things…”. It felt a little like a musical might break out! What a joyful setting! Loving on each other, speaking encouragement, even singing together and making melodies in our hearts to the Lord! Wouldn’t it be amazing if the assembling of the saints was like that?!? Ok, so maybe it’s a little cheesy of a picture, but the sentiment is great. Christian community should be encouraging and full of joy!

Application:

I need to spend more time at the feet of Jesus so that I may learn what it is to imitate Him. I must continually choose to put away the things of this world and walk in the light. I need friends who are willing to speak truth to me, in love, and shine light on the dark places of my heart. Secrets are not healthy. I need to live openly and honestly. If I’m walking in the light, secrets shouldn’t be necessary. I need to encourage and build up those around me with the words of Scripture, the wisdom of those who came before, and the joy of the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord, teach me to imitate You. I need to spend more time at Your feet and in Your Word. Thank You for pouring Your heart for me into the Word You have given. I need to spend more time there, drinking in Your wisdom and soaking in Your presence. I ask that You teach me to be like Jesus. I pray that You continually shine Your light into the dark places of my heart and expose the areas that must change in order to be more like You. I want to be a beautiful reflection of You and a light to those around me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

S.O.A.P. - Ephesians 3 and 4


Scripture:


“ This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” – Eph. 3:11-12

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you , being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Eph. 3:17-21

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance or one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” – Eph. 4:1-3

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” – Eph. 4:25-27

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” Eph. 4:29

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” – Eph. 4:31-32

Observation:

There is much to be said in these two chapters about how we are to behave as Christians and how we are to treat each other. I liked the phrases, “in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” and “being rooted and grounded in love”. To me, it gave a picture of someone who was more than confident in the love of God. It makes me think of being a little girl standing on the edge of the pool, afraid to jump in the deep end. But, if I was jumping to my Dad’s arms, the fear disappeared. I had confidence that he would catch me, and that gave me boldness. I was rooted, grounded and secure in His love and knew that he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. I wish I really behaved that way when it comes to trusting the Lord. In my head, I say I trust Him, but do I really act like it? Do I have that boldness that comes from the confidence of being rooted in His love? If I can trust my earthly father not to put me in harm’s way, how much more then should I trust my perfect heavenly Father who is able to do exceeding abundantly more than I could think or ask?

The other part that struck me was the instruction on conduct for the believer. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Tolerance. Love. Unity. What would the world look like if the church behaved this way? What difference would it make I believers walked in a manner worthy of their calling? I know I fail all too often to walk in that way.

“Let no unwholesome word…but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear”. That’s a tall order. How much less would I say if I removed all speech that did not meet the standard of this verse. It sounds like the old saying, “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all”. The words we speak should build up those around us, give solace when it’s needed, and pour out grace on the hearer. My speech too often does not meet those qualifications.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you”. Paul asks a lot of the church in this letter. It’s a daily process, a lifelong process. It’s by embracing these qualities and uprooting weeds, like bitterness and anger, that we become more like Jesus. I have a long way to go.

Application:

I need to be more aware of how I am walking the walk. Am I walking in a manner that pleases God? I need to check myself regularly against the wisdom of these verses. I should speak less and love more, judge less and forgive more. It is in these ways that I become more like Jesus, which is the ultimate goal.

Prayer:

Lord, teach me to be more like You. Open my eyes to times when I am not walking in a manner worthy of the name Christian. Help me to show kindness and gentleness to those around me. Help me to hold my tongue when the words will not edify the hearer. Teach me, Lord, to guard my heart against bitterness, anger, and unworthy speech. Let no unwholesome thing reside in my heart. Prune me and shape me until all that is left is You.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What's the big deal with pornography?

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to some ladies with whom I am connected. It's prompted a number of conversations and has reaffirmed my belief that this topic is one that needs godly discussion. I'd like to post that email here now for a wider audience. I realize that some may see my views and unyielding, old fashioned, and too black and white. I'm ok with that. I realize that it may be one of those issues where we may need to "agree to disagree", but I welcome any comments and discussion.

Here's the original email:


Hello Ladies!

I wanted to share with you something that's heavy on my heart right now. I've chosen to email each of you because you are a young person, have a young person in your home, or you may have an opportunity to minister to someone who has been touched by the following topic.

I'd like to talk about pornography. This is a hot button issue for me and I have some strong opinions, but, today, I'd like to share with you the story of Clay and Renee Crosse. You might recognize Clay as a popular Christian recording artist in the late '90's. He rose quickly to the top of his profession with powerful songs about the cross and surrendering all to Jesus. However, even during his time of ministry at such a prominent level, he struggled with a secret addiction to pornography. No one knew he had a problem - not even him.

In 1998, while in Savannah, Clay came down with a sinus infection that affected his voice. He assumed the problem would go away once the infection had cleared. It didn't. After several months of doctor's visits and tests, the doctors told Clay that there was nothing physically wrong with his voice. In an effort to recover some of his range, he went to visit a prominent vocal coach in Nashville. This godly man looked Clay in the face and asked him if he was a man of God. He asked him if he had a daily prayer life and if he spent time daily in the Word. He also asked him about his marriage and his relationship with his wife. It was then that Clay broke down under the weight of his secret sin.

The Lord had tried to get his attention in a number of ways and finally got through to him by taking away his voice. Yes, that's right, he believes God took away his voice - what he was known for, his source of income, his source of personal success - in order to get his attention and get the sin out of his life.

In reading their story, I was amazed at the honesty of both Clay and Renee. And, they both made a point to say that Pornography wasn't the real problem, it was just a horrible symptom. The real problem was that neither of them were seeking the Lord or pursuing a real relationship with Him. They had allowed things into their life (R-rated movies with intimate loves scenes, inappropriate comedy entertainment, certain women's magazines, etc) that had put them on a slippery slope into deeper sin. The problem was a heart problem and it manifested in a number of ways in their lives, their marriage, and their home.

I don't think we talk about holiness enough in our churches. In a conversation today I was reminded that holiness isn't exactly black and white and can have different meanings in different cultures and different homes. (Is it unholy for a woman to wear pants? In some cultures it is. There are definitely grey areas). In our society, it's difficult to live a set apart life. Too short shorts and spaghetti strap tops are the uniform of summer. Women and men display their bodies in magazines, television, movies, and any number of other forms of advertisement. Sex is all around us. How do we live holy lives in the midst of the world that is pulling us deep into her web?

Clay and Renee Crosse have created a ministry called Holy Homes in response to these questions. They offer frank discussion on how we make our homes holy and get rid of the things that lead us to sin. To read their story in more detail, I recommend that you visit www.holyhomes.org and click on the "We need to talk" link. I also recommend their book I Surrender All that details their journey through this dark valley. The Lord restored their marriage and their ministries (although, not Clay's voice entirely) and they are living proof of what God can do when we turn to Him.

Now for my thoughts on this topic. It's one about which I have strong feelings and opinions. I see no room for any of this in the life of someone who is trying to seek after God. I know that not everyone holds that view. (I also allow room for grace and understanding when we fall short. Goodness knows we all fall short in some way or another.) But, below are my reasons why I believe porn to be so damaging.

How do we live holy lives amid all of the craziness around us? I think we need to be soaking in as much scripture as we can. We need to be filling our minds with good things (Phil 4:8). We need to talk to each other more and hold one another accountable. We should applaud holiness where we see it and encourage those who are seeking to honor God with their lives.

And, we need to remember there are consequences when we choose unholy things.

For the unmarried man, viewing pornography is not harmless. It may seem like a "victimless crime" because it can be done in secret and with women who are putting themselves out there to be seen and enjoyed. But, it forever puts sexual images in the mind of a young man - images that can return unbidden even in the most intimate of times with his future wife. It teaches him to disrespect and degrade women - to treat them as objects for his own pleasure. It encourages habits that may be harmful to the intimacy and trust in his future relationships. It is sexual sin because the Lord says "Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Sadly, there are many young men who are saving themselves for marriage, holding on to their purity in order to give that gift to their bride, but are viewing pornography and fantasizing about women who are not theirs. (Just because these women put themselves out there does not make it right). They are destroying the intimacy of their marriage before they even find their bride. It breaks my heart.

For the unmarried woman, it can also have the same problems as for the unmarried man if she views pornography (which many young women do). However, it also has repercussions for the single girl that she may not even realize. Some of you may already know the heartache of discovering a significant other has cheated or betrayed a trust. In essence, this is what happens to a young woman (married or single) when her significant other chooses to watch pornography and fantasize about other women. It causes problems with self esteem and body image and, it causes something in her heart to break (who can live up to the "perfection" men see in these photos and movies? Note to the men: Would you want to be compared to the men in those photos and movies and wonder if you measure up?!) I would challenge single woman to seek after a life of holiness and choose a man who is doing the same. And, before you make a lifelong commitment, you need to have "the talk". Don't walk into your marriage blind to a man's flaws in this area. Don't pretend it's not there or believe that it's ok or that it will stop once you're married. Talk to him about it and get help, as a couple, if you need it.

For married couples, the effects of pornography can be completely devastating. To find out that your husband or wife is engaging in a fantasy life outside of your bedroom can be heart breaking for all the reasons mentioned above. I'm sure that each of us knows of a marriage that has been touched by this. But, there is hope! The story of Clay and Renee Crosse proves that. If the couple is willing to seek God together, help one another through the bad days and the temptations, and stick it out, God can restore the intimacy, trust, and deep love to the marriage.

I am so thankful that my home, growing up, was a PG household and one where I heard Philippians 4:8 nearly every day. It was difficult, as a teenager, to tell my friends I couldn't go with them to see those PG-13 or R-rated movies, but I’m so thankful that I did not allow that garbage into my mind. I see friends who are completely desensitized to sex and violence in movies because they've been soaking it in since grade school. I’m so thankful that my parents were wise enough to guard my heart, mind, and eyes from things that would harm me. I still try to make those same choices for myself when it comes to entertainment. I don't always choose as I should, but, I hope to be challenged to continue seeking holiness in my own life. I also do what I can to surround myself with people who hold me accountable in my choices.

Thanks for "listening" to my rant for the day. I pray that it will help equip you for future conversations with people who might be struggling with this issue. If you'd like to order Clay and Renee's book, you can click on this link and order it from NavPress: http://www.navpress.com/Store/Product/9781576837320.html (I've already promised my copy to someone else, but you're welcome to get in line if you'd like to borrow it!).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm Going To France!!!!

Dear Friends,

I just found out this afternoon that I am going to France August 10th - 20th with Alan and Heidi Winter of Frontline Missions! (I went with them and the Landmark Team to Honduras in April). For those of you who haven't heard my stories lately, here's a brief recap of what's been going on:

A little history...

When I was 12, the Lord called me to full-time ministry. He didn't give me any real direction, and I just assumed it would be music ministry, so I began working in that direction. When I was 17, the Lord put France in my heart. (I remember, like it was yesterday, standing in Notre Dame and having my heart crushed for the people of France). A few weeks later, I went on my first mission trip with Frontline Missions to Belize. Since then, I've been learning to listen to the Lord and seek His direction for my life. I've had the opportunity to be stretched as a musician and as a worship leader. The Lord has shown me pieces of the future ministry He has for me, and has blessed me by giving me present areas of ministry, but until recently, I've felt no strong direction as to which way I should go.

In October of last year, I started talking with Heidi Winter of Frontline Missions about working with them on a more permanent basis. I'm trying to be very patient and listen to the Lord, but I’m very excited about the prospect of working with Frontline. Alan and Heidi are the parents of one of my dearest friends and two of the most amazing people I know. The Lord has often poured out His favor on their ministry in amazing ways because they are willing to pour their lives out for Him. The trip to Honduras in April was the first trip I've taken with them since my own high school trip. I wasn't sure what to expect and I nearly backed out! The Lord had other plans though! While in Honduras, the flame for ministry and missions was fanned and began burning brighter within me.

Once home, I had a hard time sitting still and not diving completely into missions. I wasn't sure about missions to Latin America, but I have a deep love for France. At our meeting in October, Heidi mentioned France as a possible next step for Frontline. My heart about jumped through my chest when she said that. While in Honduras, God was stirring up my heart in fresh ways. I was wrestling with Him over two particular questions: 1. Really, God? Missions? Is that what You have for me? and 2. Will I continue in this journey alone? (I'm ok being alone if that's what God has for me, but I have deep seated desires for family and marriage...I just wanted to know if that was still in His plan for me somewhere). The week after I came home from Honduras, I visited a church that's a bit more charismatic than I'm generally used to. That morning, as I was getting ready, I told God that it'd be ok if He sent someone with the gift of prophecy across my path to speak a word regarding those questions. I was half joking in asking that because I had no real expectation that it could happen in a place where I knew no one. Lesson Learned - be careful what you ask from the Lord! That morning, the guest speaker was the president of World Indigenous Missions. He shared about his experience as a missionary and with the Lord and during the course of his sermon, the Lord confirmed France in my heart. I knew, in whatever capacity He allowed, I would one day help share His good news to the people of France. However, the big surprise came at the end of the service. A man stood up and shared that he had a word from the Lord. He said that there were 5 people in the congregation the Lord was specifically calling to International Missions....Two Couples and 1 Single, NOT YET MARRIED, person (emphasis mine). You could have knocked me over with a feather. I couldn't breathe! I believe that was God's way of answering both of those questions for me in an unexpected way!

After that church service, I came home and called Heidi. I told her what happened and that if they were really going to France, I was all in! Today, the beginning of that dream has come true....I'm going to France! I'm so excited, I can barely contain myself! I can't wait to see what the Lord's going to do.

I have very few details right now, so I'm a little unsure how to ask you to pray. But, there are some things I know you can pray for:

1. Pray that I will focus on continuing to learn the language. I took French in high school, but haven't really spoken it since then. I've been studying since April, but I need to ramp up my efforts and practice more.
2. Pray that God will go before us and prepare the hearts of the people. This is the first trip for Frontline and may be the beginning of teams going to France. It's all new, and I don't really know what to expect.
3. Pray that God will prepare us for the work He has for us there and that we will be open to hear and obedient to do what He says.
4. Pray for my health. I will be having some more tests done this week as I have been extremely tired for the last several months. Pray that we can get that straightened out.

Thank you so much for your prayer support! As I know more, I'll let you know. I'm excited about what God's going to do!

Love,
C


When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me". - Erma Bombeck