Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be still and know that I am God... Ps. 46:10

Snow began falling last Saturday morning and ended in the late afternoon on Sunday. I had heard we could have some snow, but I really didn't expect to get so much. It was a winter wonderland when I awoke on Sunday. I live on a massive hill here on the mountain and I didn't have it cleared in time to go to church on Sunday morning. So, my plans of traveling to Switzerland were hindered by apprehension of driving in snow, and my plans for Sunday were hindered by the roads not being cleared enough to back out of my parking spot and not be concerned about slamming into the ancient stone wall that lines my tiny thoroughfare.

I stayed home. I walked Ebenezer, of course. But I stayed home.

I left on Monday and did some errands, only to return to snow still on my parking lot and snow bedecked trees, bushes, and housetops/eaves and lawns.

It was a surprise for us all. Down in the valley below, the snow was gone by sometime on Sunday, but here it is lasting longer. And the surprise?

The date.

It was October 27th. This is not usual even for this area. Snow coming before November? It just is not usual. But did I enjoy the stop?

YES! I did.

These were all taken late on Sunday and early on Monday! Whew! So fun ;-)

So, what did I do?

I painted. This is my first acrylic painting. I have always wanted to try it but never had the wherewithal or gumption to do it.  The picture was taken in Slovenia a few years ago. I simply gave my rendition of the magic that God so beautifully shared on that day.

Like I said, it is my first so... be gentle :/

I am still not back to the swing of the in and out daily going since the last girl from Texas left Sunday before last.

But, I was thinking how good God is to stop everything here on this mountain for just a few days. And it reminded me of how God so often stops me and pulls me up short. He brings me to my wits' end. He forces me into edges of myself that I would not look at if it were not for Him pushing me there. It isn't necessarily warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it is downright cold and icy. But it is where He wants me to go to hear his still small voice.

I want to hear. I want to be in the midst of the storm and see and smell and taste the warmth of Him, the warmth of His strength. Not mine - His! The beauty of Himself. Be still and know...

What more could we ask for?

your mutating missionary
and ebenezer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End

Upon hearing that title my mind jumped in several directions.
Isn’t that what our USA culture cries out for?
Isn’t that what we are known for in the world. How many times have I heard from more than one national here on foreign soil, ‘You Americans have EVERYTHING.”

But do we?

The title caught me, but the writing kept me. Mary DeMuth's new book Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus is not a particularly easy read, at least from my perspective. I am just a simple missionary in a land that has cast our EVERYTHING aside for tolerance and personal gain.
In reading only 27 pages into the book, I read:

“I wonder how much of my Christian life has become trying to do things in my own wimpy strength. Of thinking I can live the Christian life just fine on my own. Of worrying about what this untamed, holy God would demand of me, so I take care of my daily living without His input. Of making vows to protect myself when that is clearly not my job, nor am I very good at it. Of creating my own spiritual list, not even bothering to consult the One who made me.”

This hit me head on. As I said, I am only a simple missionary, living the day in day out life of walking a walk and speaking a speech that is filled with my need to hand it all over to my Everything. Everything at all times to my Everything. How do I do that? Obediently, that is how. Mary's book encapsulates that in her no-nonsense less than 200 page read.
The book touched me in a place that is real and honest and true. It vanquishes some well-meant thoughts that have been touted by many a well-meaning speaker or writer. It helped give a fresh breath to words that I have known to be true, but struggled with. It reminded me of the truth that:

He created us for adventure, not ease…”

I entered into this missionary adventure only to find that He desires to be my ‘Everything’ on this adventure, not just in the beginning, nor only in the middle, but until the very end.

Mary DeMuth’s book “Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to be More Like Jesus” embodies this for every Christian, walking down every road of life. Whether I am the wide-eyed innocent school girl confused about the next step, the newly wed mother with many questions, the married woman in a difficult marriage, the destroyed woman in the failed marriage, the single mom trying to rear children in a fallen world, the 2nd Grade Teacher, or the Teacher Trainer, or the Sunday School Teacher, or the Bible Study participant, or the Bible Study leader, or the 50 year old woman called to share Him full-time in a foreign land in a foreign language…this book challenged and encouraged me in my life.
I believe it will both challenge and encourage yours.

your mutating missionary
and ebenezer

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prayer, Prayer Walking, Prayer

Prayer is such a powerful part of the daily life of a Christian.  RIGHT?

“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:

Are we asking to be taught how to pray on a daily basis? Are we seeking that intimacy with Him regularly? Do we pray without ceasing? Not just in one or two or three ways, but seeking to find new ways to be intimate with Him regularly?

These are some questions I have been asking myself of late.

I had some very wonderful women from the USA come to visit me recently. The question of prayer and ways to pray came up during their stay. It sent me into a pondering mode. Why do we pray?

Oswald Chambers asks the question: What’s the Good of Prayer? in the devotional book My Utmost for His Highest.
“It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray: I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished, not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves: the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask, and you shall receive.” We grouse before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things. Yet what a splendid audacity a childlike child has! Our Lord says – “Except ye…become as little children.” Ask, and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room, and no man will ever do this unless he is at his wits’ end. When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way e can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits’ end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition.” quote by Oswald Chambers

When questioned why Prayer Walking? I really had no ‘in the moment’ answer. I could have said so many things, but I wanted to say the right things.  It stumped me.
Many missionaries I know ‘Prayer Walk’ including me. We do it because we have found it to be powerful in our lives and missions. But, why?

Do we believe it is some magical incantation that we are doing to produce something for our ministries? No
Do we believe it makes us better Christians than those that do not? No
Than why?

I think that it has a lot to do with what Oswald Chambers says here.

We do it because we have come to our wits’ end.

We have no way of touching the hearts around us. We have no ability to enter into the lives of those that we desire to share Christ with. We are foreigners in foreign lands and we are outsiders.  An automatic leeriness exists as we enter the streets, the churches, and the shops. We are unknown.
We have Someone to share. We have Someone to love. We have Someone that desires to love those we walk around. But we have no way to enter.

When I walk around a town and pray for those I see before me I realize these things:
1.     This person might not have one single person in his/her life that has prayed for them before. Perhaps no one that knows Jesus and can share Him.
2.     This building that I am entering might not have held a believer within its four walls for years. The dearth of believers is deafening.
3.     This street is a street that has lost feet passing over it daily.
4.     These truths change me.
5.     These truths give me the awareness of the urgency to share the Lord with those around me.
6.     These truths give me more courage to step out beyond myself and share.

One might say, "That is good for a missionary to do, but it is not necessary in my world, in my life. I can sit and pray in my home and be just as productive."

I question that. God says Go and Share. The great commission is not written for commissioned missionaries only. You know the ones that have that 'M' word stamped on their visas. The great commission is written for every one of us that has received Him into our lives. How we do the sharing may be different for everyone. But sharing we must.

I believe that prayer walking whether in my neighborhood in the USA, or in the small villages and large cities of Germany is one more way to come away with a burning for the lost in the world. It gives me an urgency to share Him with others. And it gets me out among the lost. Not behind the safe church walls, or the privacy of my home. But in the cold-hard-real-world, a world that is dying daily. Prayer walking reminds me that I have the opportunity to be a part of the adventure of this life with Christ.

I am at my wits’ end. I don’t have the power, the ability, or the creativity to open hearts. I prayer walk because I desire to be used by God in the world around me.
I desire Him to change me.

“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:17-20

Do we believe it?

Your mutating missionary
and ebenezer

Monday, October 15, 2012

A book for everyone!


Today is the day Everything (the book) What you give and what you gain to become like Jesus by Mary deMuth hits the bookshelves.


I began reading the book a few months ago when Mary sent it to me on a PDF file. She graciously chose me to be one of many helpers in reading, commenting, sharing, and praying for the book's release.

The book met me in places I cannot fully understand even yet. It is one of those books that doesn't get read in one sitting. At least for me. I read the first few paragraphs and had to sit on it a while. Then I read a few chapters and had to sit and ponder for a while.

What does it mean to have everything met within the Jesus of Nazareth, the one and only Son of God? What does it mean to follow Him? What does it mean when we are fallen? Why would He be so gracious as to tell us we do not have to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps? What do I have to give up? What do I gain?

What does submission look like? What does obedience look like? Why does it sometimes hurt so much to be walking down this road called Christianity?

Mary did a great job of posing questions and encouraging looking at things through a different lens. She has walked a road of pain and has watched God come in and strongly support. In trusting Him, in both loss and gain, she has gained.

I encourage you to buy the book. Read it. Take some time. Ponder, answer the thoughtful questions, and give God praise.

Because He IS the I AM
i am
your mutating missionary

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The handwriting on the wall! October 12, 539 BC "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN." God numbered, weighed, failed, and divided King Belshazzar's kingdom. Hummm politics...

October 12, 539 BC.

Many years before this date King Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple of God in Jerusalem, gold and silver cups after defeating the Israelites. King Neb brought them back to his palace and stored them with all of the other 'loot' he had taken from other kingdoms he had conquered. And there they had stayed until this one fateful night.

Fast forward to 539 BC. Babylonian Empire had dominated the New East since 626 BC.

Herodotus, the Greek historian, reports:
"A battle was fought at a short distance from the city, in which the Babylonians were defeated by the Persia king, whereupon they withdrew within their defenses. Here they shut themselves up and made light of this siege, having laid in a store of provisions for many years in preparation against this attack." Herodotus 
There is a very full account of this battle and the ending results of this 'party' in Daniel 5.

Have you heard of the saying: "He saw the handwriting on the wall"? It is often referred to in a situation where someone acted out in something and they realize they didn't do the right thing. As a consequence of their actions something bad is bound to happen.

Scripture tells us that even though there had been a siege and trouble was brewing, the then King of Babylon Belshazzar decided to PaaaaarTY!!! He called for those very 'forgotten about' gold and silver cups to be 'fetched' and used to party.

As they were drinking from the cups a human hand appeared and began writing on the wall.

Of course this sent the whole ball room into panic. King Belshazzar became pale with fear. He called for all of his astrologers and fortune-tellers to come and tell him what the writing meant. They could not.

His queen came in and calmed him down saying that there was a Jewish guy named Daniel who could interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Daniel was called and asked to solve the writing. He was told if he could do this he would receive purple robes of royal honor and given a gold chain to wear around his neck. He was also promised the third highest rule over the kingdom.

This was all promised to him from a man who 'thought' he was in control!

But Daniel answered with a resounding 'No Thank You Very Much!!!!' you can keep your gifts and give them to someone else. He did interpret the writing and told the king:

"This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. This is what these words mean: Mene means 'numbered' - God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. Tekel means 'weighed' - you have been weighed on the balances and have failed the test. Parsin  means 'divided' - your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians" 
That very night the Medo-Persian army diverted the waters of the Euphrates River that flowed thought the city of Babylon. With the water in the riverbed reduced, the army was able to enter the city under cover of darkness. They captured Babylon and killed Belshazzar before his defenders knew what had happened (Daniel 5:30)."

God sees! He doesn't let anything escape Him.

I sat across a wonderfully intelligent and politically active German woman yesterday in France. We had never met before. I was standing outside at a little coffee shop waiting for a Texas friend visiting me here. The coffee shop was full except for 2 empty seats at a 4 seat table. I asked this sweet couple if I could sit in the empty chair at the table they were sitting (don't worry, here that is a common thing to do). Then my friend arrived and sat as well. My friend and this sweet woman got into a discussion about politics and I was asked to join in.

This is not a topic a really desire to debate. I don't for several reasons. I have my views, I think about things, I vote. One reason I don't want to talk about politics is ... it just gets me frustrated.  The one thing I know is that God has things in His hands.

This particular story in the bible is a great story to calm me about politics. God will come in and stop something in His timing. He has proven that to me through this story. He has confirmed that to me because of Herodotus writing about this actual account/story in his ancient Historical books.

What is more fascinating to me?

That at 3:15 am this morning I woke up and felt compelled to pray for this woman. This new friend that I have made. I prayed. Then I began to read. And what did I read.

I read this historic account of this particular day in October 12, 539 as is recorded by a Greek Historian Herodotus the actual date of the battle and party where this King Belshazzar was given his doomed words.

And that date was 2,551 years ago today.

I think I can trust God with politics today. I will do my part. I will trust Him.

He will take care of what He thinks is important to take care of.

your mutating missionary
and ebenezer

Because He IS, i am.