Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons with Jesus [on the other side of the world]

I am attempting to blog from my phone in New Zealand, so if my style seems different, that is why... :-)

Wow, what a great trip so far! We are only in the third week of our trip, and yet time has just flown by!

There was the long flight to Melbourne, where I sat next to a Romanian lady and conversed about the gospel, dining with several different families near the Melbourne training center, having the girls and guys Journey to the Heart at the same time in two separate locations, touring beautiful and interesting Melbourne and it's surroundings...

The Journey
There were about 24 girls attending the girls' Journey, and watching as God unfolded to them the truth about His great love for them in so many different ways was amazing!

In His gentlemanly way, He guided each one to Himself, and revealed that though He is so mighty and so powerful, He's gentle enough to handle our fragile lives without breaking them to pieces.

The cultures in both Australia and New Zealand are different, but the more I travel the more I find that we all have that same great need for a God who loves us unconditionally and in a kind fatherly way.... Oh He's quite capable of meeting every single need!

As I go on these mission trips though, I find that more often than not, God has me on them so He can grow me in ways I would not otherwise have grown.

Can I name a few?

"I can provide."
The very first evidence that He wanted to grow me was through the very fact that I had absolutely no way I could work enough to get even a portion of the funds to get here, yet I knew He wanted me to come.

One thing that made it extra difficult was the fact that I owed money for a previous car problem, so I was committed to have that paid off by the end of October.

At first I was trying to figure out ways to get the funds to come in and two things God very clearly told me was, "providing is my responsibility, not yours." When I acknowledged that to be true, the second thing He said was, "you have not because you ask not.... ask me to provide."

So I asked Him to provide and the very next day the first amount came in, and then every day something came in until all was provided, even down to spending money for whatever might come up overseas...

My faith was stretched out beyond its capabilities, and God proved He can be trusted to provide!

"I'm big enough to handle your life."
During one of the sessions at Journey, Laura asked everyone to write down some things we struggled with trusting God about.

Instantly a situation at home came to mind and I wrote it down. Suddenly God was speaking to me... "you've taken up a cause that belongs to Me."

Tears filled my eyes as the realization dawned that my God is big enough to handle every situation, no matter how difficult!

Mixed emotions emerged -anger, frustration... yet I could trust Him, so I handed it over to Him, relieved to know that my God can handle it and the peace came. It's His now.

"I want you to say what I say."
Always on any ministry trip, attacks come. You can guarantee spiritual warfare is going to be taking place, whether seen or unseen.

Sometimes it comes in the form of temptation to sin, other times it comes in the form of people being outright nasty with you, but most of the time it's subtle. The enemy whispers lies. And he does it in the most persuasive ways that you don't even notice they're there, and then before you know it, you are convinced they're true, and being un-convinced is difficult. (Of course there are many other ways that I haven't mentioned).

For me it was the latter of the three. It came in a very subtle form, and I was convinced it was true. When God pointed out to me it was a lie, I told Him, "but God, it feels so true!"

You see, I'd fallen into the pit of introspection and felt I didn't measure up and therefore could be of no use to God. People don't want me, I told myself. I have to prove myself. So I tried. And failed to measure up to my own expectations.

Not long after I had that argument with God, He took me to John 7:18b:

"But a person who seeks to honor the One who sent him speaks the truth, not lies."

The words bounced off the page at me. I'd been telling myself lies, and that was not honoring my Father who sent me.

"Say what I say," was the gentle leading of His forgiving Spirit. So I did. I am wanted, I am loved by my Savior, Jesus Christ...

The un-convincing had truly begun, the lies melted away. Praise Jesus for all He has done!!!

The trip isn't even half over, yet God has already done such a work in me and in those He's brought across my path! Please keep praying for us!

...On with the adventure!!! :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mission trip update: THANK YOU!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your prayers and gifts! God has provided above and beyond what was needed for my trip tomorrow! Wow... the ways in which He provided through you all was amazing!

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to those of you who have given towards this mission trip! You have no idea how God is using YOU to prove that HE is indeed great and powerful! What an immense blessing!

God is truly a God who hears and answers prayer! He is capable of doing far beyond what we could ever ask or think!!!!!!!!!

Now as we go on this trip, here are a few specific prayer requests that have been compiled from the team:

How to Pray:

- That God would arrange teams, leaders and assistants for all the retreats as He sees best.

- For travel safety throughout for our team and those attending.

- That the Holy Spirit would go before us, preparing and softening the hearts of those attending. That the presence of Jesus would be evidently with us, guiding our every thought, word, and action. That God the Father would continue His work after us and raise up an army of warriors for His Kingdom.

- That our adversary would not be allowed to confuse or complicate anything that is presented and that all of the young people would have clarity of spirit.

- That the guys and girls would come prepared to truly meet with Jesus!

- That God would begin shaking the young people so that the things of this world that they are holding on to that don’t have their foundation in Christ will crumble, leaving them with the clear choice to grab hold of Jesus (and that which cannot be shaken) or go down with the rubbish (and that which will be shaken.)


Monday, October 20, 2014

Mission trip count down -You play a crucial part!

God opened up the door for me to go to Australia and New Zealand November 3-December 18, 2014 to do girls retreats over there!

I was told I needed to raise $1200 to put towards the plane ticket, and that is not something that's too hard for God! Within this past week alone, God provided the majority of this sum! Praise the Lord! (As of October 25).

How you can be involved:

1. Pray. The most important thing you can do is pray! Prayer is powerful! Pray for provision, and pray for God to work mightily on that side of the world!

2. Give. No gift is too small! You may not realize it, but your gift plays a powerful part in what God will be doing over there.

...It is in these ways that you can be personally involved in His Kingdom work!

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." -Matthew 6

To give, click on the link below:

Praise God! He's provided the $1200! :) THANK YOU to all who have given towards this trip!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A trip overseas... IN [Just over] TWO WEEKS!!!

Only a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to consider going to Australia and New Zealand to help with some girls retreats over there.

These retreats are called Journey to the Heart. They are ten days long and girls come to get away from everything so they can get alone with God and find out more of His heart. It is incredible the things that God does on the retreats! I've been doing them for several years, and have watched as God changed life after life.

At first when asked, I was thinking it would be impossible for me to raise the funds for a trip like that in so short a time. I was told that most of the trip was covered. I would just need to raise $1200 for the trip. 

Some of the Aussie girls I was blessed to serve January 2013.
What a privilege to take part in God's work in their lives!
As I started praying about it, I began to have the distinct impression God wanted me to go... But how? I can't afford that! No, but God can. So I replied with a "yes" and promptly began to do what fund raisers do -that being raising funds, but not with much success.

This past Tuesday, I was feeling discouraged. Reality started sinking in. Where in the world would it come from? 

Before I went to bed, I wrote out a prayer to God. Sometimes I write prayers when I feel I can't adequately say what I'm thinking. Part of me was beginning to doubt that God even wanted me to go... why did it seem overly impossible for this one to happen?

I closed off the prayer with Amen, closed the journal and opened my bible. The first verse that caught my eye was Jeremiah 14:22. It says this:
"Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only You can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us." 
Clearly, God was telling me I didn't need to worry about it! Trusting man will do no good, but look to the One who can give and do over and above all that I could ever ask or think!

Then He reminded me that if I want provision, I must ask for it. "Ye have not because ye ask not." (James 4)

So that night and the next morning I thought more and more about this verse and began to specifically pray for the provisions only He can give. Yes, Lord... I realize that You will provide!

Later that day, I prayed with some others about this, and someone I hadn't thought of walked up to me and handed me an envelope with $100! Praise the Lord!

Be encouraged, dear Christian! Whatever God calls you to do, He will provide! I'm excited to see how He will provide the rest. :)

If you would like to take part in this mission trip, the most effective thing you can do is pray. Pray with me for revival to take place among those that will be attending these retreats. Pray with me for the provision necessary for this trip. Pray that God will be glorified and His name lifted up on high. And then do whatever God leads you to do. 

If He's calling you to be a devoted prayer warrior, obey Him. If He's calling you to give, obey Him. Only do as He bids you, and do it in such a way that He will be magnified!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ups n' Downs


It's full of ups and downs, don't you agree? One moment you're on a mountain top, and you feel you can see the whole world and everything in it. And then the next moment, you find yourself in a valley covered with clouds and darkness and you can barely see your hand in front of your face.

But are we supposed to feel right all the time? That's a question that gets me. I want to feel right all the time! I want to feel as if everything is fun and enjoyable. But to be honest, it's not. There are dreary, dull things that each of us are called to do each day... and if you're anything like me, you might struggle with finding it pointless or boring...

Let me just be real with you. I just came off of an emotional high last week. I was on a retreat with a bunch of girls seeking God... and boy did He work! He showed up in ways I'd never seen Him before.

But then the moment I stepped off the plane on my way home, it was back to real life. My bank account needed some attention, my jobs as well as my chores at home seemed to call out to me and say, "hey, Sandie, where have you been?"

Things that I've allowed myself to slack on because I just wasn't here seemed to be backing me into a corner and smearing all over me, "FAILURE".

Even ministry responsibilities were up to my neck and I felt as though they themselves were standing over me saying, "you can't do this, so you shouldn't. You'll never do good enough at these things... There really is no hope for you."

So the spiritual high became not so high...

Let me tell you, writing this is more for me at this moment than it is for anyone else.

This morning I was reading in the Psalms, glossing through them because I'd read them many times before. I was getting ready to close that book and go on to Matthew and pick up where I'd left off when God stopped me. Go back and write down those verses you read that stuck out... He seemed to whisper.

For some reason, I went back to Psalm 62 first and wrote down just one verse:
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." (verse 1)
 Three phrases jumped out at me while I wrote.

Wait Quietly -It speaks of unquestioning hope, silent expectation. I expect something from God, so I wait before Him, looking to Him, knowing He will give it. It's not up to me to have victory, it's up to Him.

He Alone -There's nobody else. He's the only One. I have no other options, no "plan B". Nobody else can protect or save me. I'm utterly dependent on Him and Him alone.

Never Shaken -He doesn't waiver, so why should I? In Him nothing can shake me. The more in Him I am the less of a threat to me everything else becomes. My joy and peace are not dependent on life's many ups and downs, it's dependent on Him and He never is shaken, so I don't need to be shaken either!

How hidden in Christ are you, dear Christian? Do you know that your life is already hid in Christ? (Col 3) But, is your heart there too? Are you waiting quietly before Him in every circumstance? Is your confidence in Him and Him alone?

Those were the questions I had to ask myself this morning... Placing my trust in Him is a day to day choice that I must make... Never is there a moment when I should take the day off from being with Him...

Life is completely unpredictable, wouldn't you agree? I make plans in the morning, but most of the time, my day doesn't go anything like I planned. Life throws angry blows at me all the time! One moment I feel loved, then the next it feels like the whole world is against me. Nothing is predictable.

There is only One we can be confident will never do anything to harm us. He is stable, kind, gentle. When He brings changes into our lives, we can accept them because they are from His hand, and He never forces us to do anything. His love for us is very great! How can we doubt Him? He's not the kind of God that demands service from us always. No, He wants us to sit at His feet and take in His beauty, trade our burdens for His peace, trade our pain and sorrow for His joy! He wants us to look to Him, quietly enjoying everything that He is to us.

Assure yourself of this one thing, dear Christian: He LOVES you! In Him, you cannot be shaken. Do you believe that? He asks you to. Why not take Him at His word?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Here's the secret...

Today I'd like to share with you a secret. It's a secret that I know could change your life if you let it...

I happened to be reading in Revelation on this one particular morning. It's a book that gets me excited, perplexed, and causes me to have a sense of awe all at once...

Maybe its because it talks about heavenly things I can't imagine. Maybe its because it talks about things that will happen that I can't fully understand. Or perhaps its because there is so much promise of hope in it that gets my mind off of the here and now. 

But as I read this time around, one little phrase jumped off the page at me. Just one. That's it. It grabbed my attention as never before. Usually, I read it and don't give it too much thought. Perhaps you do that too. Maybe I should tell you what it is...
"...the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come..." -Revelation 1:4
I read that and stopped... Who is He? What is that like? 

We are limited!
Think about it. Here I am, one who can't imagine not having a beginning, yet my Abba Father has none. My mind can't wrap itself around that concept!

Throughout our whole existence, we try and try and try to learn how to best live this thing called "life", and yet HE is the One who created it! One day everything here will be over and only what is spiritual -or of His Spirit- will last forever; only that which is unshakable, born of His breath will remain.

I can't imagine space without limits. All of life is limited, everything here is restrained, bound by time, death and decay. This world, although not fully explored, has its limits.

But what about God?
He is infinite! He has no limit! His goodness is not limited by evil, His strength is not limited by weakness. His wisdom is not limited by ignorance. His presence is not limited by walls or objects of any kind. His sight is not limited to one location, nor is it limited by darkness. He can see all at once, hear everything, understand what each person says, though all may speak at the same time.

...His creativity is not limited by what He's seen or heard before. His plans are not limited by others' plans. He cannot be stopped or changed; He cannot die or sin. His life is not limited by time, which for us will soon run out. No, He is eternal and unlimited!

You see, sin is weakness, not strength. And God is the only One who is without sin, has always been without sin, and will always be without sin!

Here's the secret...
You without God are hopeless, weak, helpless, sinful, needy... But when you have God, you have love, hope, peace, strength, joy, help, grace, and so much more!

Christian, you can't afford to live even a moment without Him! Don't try! He is everything you need! He seeks to empower us with everything that He is so that He will be known!

Child of God, get to know your God, for He is the One who lives within you!
"...And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory." -Colossians 1:27
Are you putting your hope anywhere else? Let me put it this way... if you were stripped of everything you owned, would you feel devastated, as though your life is over and there is no hope?

Let me tell you something... Christ is in you, and HE is the hope of glory! He is the Son of God, one with God, from eternal past into eternal future and HE is your Hope of glory.

You can have your life stripped from you and still have Hope, because that is what He is... The same One who always was and who is still to come.

Even better yet...
He desires to cause His life to flow through you! His limitless power and strength can flow through your limited, weak life. His wisdom can flow through your foolishness. His righteousness is marked all over you, and He wishes to live that righteousness out through you!

Oh, it is not about you, dear Christian, because if it were, your life would be over and in shambles. It is about the God who created you, who thought you up. Who dreamed that you would be a visible demonstration of who He is! He longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. He longs to let you be a person who makes real and tangible the mighty power of God! Will you let Him?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Problem of Living for Me

The thin figure caught my eye as the team and I gathered back together from evangelizing on the pier in El Salvador. I didn't know if it was a he or she, but this person walked in a rather strange way. He wore tights and a green trench coat. His hair went to his shoulders, and he wore a hat that seemed to fit his look. In his hand he held a blonde doll. 

The people I was with also noticed him, and we all watched as he walked by. Suddenly, he turned and saw us watching. "Don't make eye contact," someone warned us. He took a few steps toward us. In his eyes, evil danced, a grin spread across his face that seemed to say, "I see you watching..." His face, his body language, everything about him, seemed to by trying to beckon us to come. Come experience this evil with him.

How strange he seemed. One of our team members tried to give him a tract, and as soon as she did so, he darted away, as if opposing magnetic forces had come in contact. He was gone. His face forever etched in my mind -the evil dancing in his eyes... There was no life there; only death. 

I realized while watching that the evil I saw was not really him, but it was the powers of darkness to whom he'd surrendered control. He was a voodoo doctor, someone informed us, and he was obviously ready to do his work whenever someone bid him to.

The Evil that God Sees
Is this what God is watching every day? He sees the evil going on and is repulsed by it. Why? Because they are surrendering control to the evil one, His sworn enemy!

Fellow Christian, compassion should be what drives us, as it did Christ. That man I saw was helplessly under the control of demonic forces... I realized it was not him I was disgusted at, but the enemy who had him under his control. Sure, this man had to have chosen the life he is living, but doesn't most everyone? 

Some of you are thinking, "well, actually, no, Sandie... Most people don't have a choice as to what circumstances they are in." 

While it is true that we did not choose our parents and siblings, our nationality, our looks, our time in history, our gender, etc., it is also true that we have a choice as to how we deal with our circumstances. 

Our response is entirely up to us. Nobody forced Eve to eat that apple in the garden. Nobody is forcing you to live for yourself either. 

We do have a choice
Joshua implored the people of Israel, "Choose you this day whom you will serve..." (Josh 24:15) It was no circumstantial happening -Oops! Today I'm accidentally serving myself!- no, indeed, it was a choice. One you and I must take seriously. 

Choose to live for you, and you never know what path Satan and his demons will trick you into walking on. Choose to live for Jesus, and you have a Guide, a Protector, a Savior at your side all the time, guiding you away from the devil's traps and onto a path of blessing and abundant life. 

I don't believe a Christian can be demon possessed, because he is already owned by Jesus Christ, who will never disown him. But I do believe a Christian can be tricked by demons into following paths of self destruction. 

The Problem of Living for Me
So much is going on in this present day and age among believers that is turning off the power of the Spirit in their lives... Christians are doing the same things that non Christians are doing. They participate in "...sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these..." (Galatians 5: 19-21) That is what happens when you follow your own desires -when you choose to live for you instead of Christ.

That, my dear fellow believer, is Satan's goal for your life! Are you walking in the power of the Spirit every day? If not, perhaps you've chosen to live for yourself instead of the One who died for you! 

Shall I be so bold? I think I should! 

I just came from a country where Christians are putting their lives on the line for the sake of the gospel. Are you doing that? We visited a widow of a man who was killed for his faith in El Salvador. She is still in love with Jesus even now, although it was for His sake her husband died.

Some of you have broken families, some of you are friendless, some of you have experienced abuse and other horrible things I cannot imagine... but these situations are not an excuse to leave God! Do you realize what He's done for you? Have you so easily forgotten this gracious Savior of ours who took the blame for your sin? Have you left Him thinking He's just the way to heaven and nothing more? 

Shame on us if this is so! 
"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
How high was the price that God paid for your soul... Let the weight of this truth sink in deep. Your sin -that empty life you'd inherited from your ancestors- was keeping you separated from God, so He paid the price to get it removed from you! The price was the blood of His very own Son, Jesus Christ! He let His Son die in your place.

Then He raised Him up from the dead so that you could be given new life. Not the same one you had before; not a life of emptiness and sin and being far away from God! No, no, NO!

Oh, Christian, He died and rose again so that you could be freed and far away from that life of emptiness and so that you could know God!

The Voodoo Doctor
As his face kept coming back to my mind, evil dancing in his eyes, God reminded me of a prayer I pray often: "God, I want to decrease so much that all people see in me is Jesus and not Sandie!"

You see, when I looked at that voodoo doctor, I saw another power greater than him. This power was dark, and had control of his whole being. He was utterly helpless to the control of it. He was completely obedient to it.

Let me ask you a question, dear Christian.... Are you that obedient to God? Are you so surrendered to Him that when people look at you, they don't see you, but they see a power so much greater -the power of the Kingdom of Light? Do they see in your eyes that love has reached down into the depths of your soul and changed you? Are you following Christ and Christ alone?

If the voodoo doctor were only halfway in the service of demons I might've noticed some of the man's own personality, but he wasn't. (Not that halfway service is any safer to the soul.) All I could see was evil, bondage, and death.

Should we not be even more radically one hundred percent in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us freedom and life?

Radical Thinking
Oh, I know, Christian, this is too radical and extreme for you to think about. But just think about it anyway. Let it stretch your thinking beyond its limits. Read in the bible and you will see that Jesus is looking for people that would leave all and follow Him. Are you doing that? Are you living with your hands off the temporal and on the eternal?

Great blessing comes when we are in the service of God under His power, by His grace simply through our faith in His Son Jesus.

Don't count your life so dear, your possessions so special, your friends so close, your work so needed, that you would never risk them for the sake of Christ!