Thursday, September 26, 2013

Feeling the prayers!

I am feeling your prayers!  In the last two days, I have received 5 different notices from friends who I haven't even asked yet and now we are only lacking $500/month to meet our budget.

When it comes to trying to raise support, I am feeling like the little kid that brought the meager lunch and Jesus multiplied it to feed thousands. By my own efforts, I have produced very little. But God keeps showering us with blessings and showing us that it is His time for us to get back to Peru.

I am amazed at how applicable Paul's words are to the church in Philippi.
 "I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:10-13
Just as we are called to support the gospel work in our home and tithe to our church, we are also called to give above and beyond to support the gospel work in other parts of the world. I rejoice that He is providing and pray that he will also "supply your every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fruit and a Mission

A few weeks ago, when my uncle (who has also been a missionary and is a farmer) saw my pitiful garden after I had basically given up on it. He said, "The mission field is a lot like a garden. If you tend it, it will bear fruit. If you don't tend it, everything will go to pot. You need to get back to the mission field, don't you."  I said yes, yes I do.

Well, actually we are very close to making it back to the field. Our goal is to be fully funded in time to go on our flights October 26.  We now only lack commitments to add up to $672/month.  This means we only need 6 more people to give 100/month and one to give 72/month or the equivalent yearly!  Would you pray with us and ask God to lead us to those whom he has blessed with extra to be able to partner with us in his work in Peru? Is he blessing you and leading you to join with us and support us. Philippians 4:10-20 is a great biblical example of giving to support the work of God's kingdom all over the world. Paul actually indicates that giving support also leads to fruit that increases to your credit. Not only is giving a means to seeing fruit but just as important, walking with the Spirit is a crucial means to seeing fruit in our lives.

There is something very true to what my uncle said, but it is not just for the mission field it is for the church everywhere and also for our own souls. As far as the mission field that I am called to get back to, I get to work with a team and so I am not the only gardner or shepherd tending the field. However, God has called me there and I am ready to get back and tend to his garden of souls. Plus, the other gardeners have more work than they can handle and so I need to get back and pull my load.

Not long after this conversation with my uncle, I was reading Spurgeon's Morning and Evenings with my family and we came across a very similar message. I remember coming away from that devotion thinking and sharing with my family that our soul is like a garden. If we water it and weed it and tend to it with the means of grace (which are meeting with God through the Bible, prayer and the sacraments which includes church fellowship), then our soul will produce the fruit of the spirit. But if we don't tend to it and neglect the tools God has given us to tend our gardens then it will produce weeds. Our heart will grow bitter and sour and weeds will overrun it. Our actions will begin to demonstrate the condition of our souls. The tools God has given us are effective to produce fruit in our lives, but he has given us the responsibility to use them. If we don't use them, then we don't get to experience the fruit.

It is very interesting that Paul uses this picture in Galatians when he says, "... the fruit of the Spirit is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Just before telling us the fruit of the Spirit he compares the difference of walking by the Spirit with gratifying the desires of the flesh. He doesn't call the result of the flesh fruit, he calls it works of the flesh, "sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." So these things are works that we do but the fruit of the Spirit are results of what the Spirit does in us. If we are left to ourselves and listen to our natural desires, these works will consume us.
     This is the natural result of living for ourselves. No wonder, our country is facing so much violence and turmoil. If our culture continues to tell everyone that we are our own gods and that we should live for ourselves, then the wicked actions that we see more and more will be the natural result of living according to our own desires.
     But, If we walk by the Spirit He will change us and produce his fruit in us. We can not make our selves more patient but we can confess and repent of our impatience and walk with the Spirit and He will make us more patient. The same for love, joy, peace and all the others in the list.
     How do we walk with the Spirit? This is one of the beauties of this illustration of a garden. No one has ever pulled on a tomato plant to make it grow, at least successfully. The means of growing tomatoes is preparing the soil, planting, watering, pruning and weeding.  The means of walking with the Spirit are listening to Him by reading the Bible and hearing it read and preached. We walk with the Spirit by praying to Him in responding to the Bible and with the Bible. We walk with the Spirit by partaking of His presence in the sacraments and meeting with him in His dwelling place, His body, the congregation of saints.
     The fruit will most likely not grow overnight, just as with a garden. But as we tend our soul, the fruit will begin to grow and there will be a change in our hearts and we will begin to experience the true joy of walking in the Spirit. We can't make our selves grow by trying harder moralistically but we can seek God's face through His tools and faith and repentance and He will make us grow through walking with Him.
     This is what will change our world. If we apply these tools to our lives and share them with our neighbor, I am convinced that we will see a drastic change in our world. God has promised and is establishing his kingdom on this earth. Do you want to be a part of that mission? His mission is to reunite heaven and earth through producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. That is after all God's mission on Earth, whether it is in your home town or Peru or Japan or anywhere else on this earth. Where is your bible?