Seek First His Kingdom ...

As I prayed today, I thought about the verse,

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

It occurred to me that at certain points in my Christian life my mind and heart will emphasize the latter part of the verse, i.e. "and all these things will be added to you." But now as I think about the verse, and especially as I look at the verse in the context of the greater passage (Matthew 6:25-34, etc.), I see that if I emphasize the latter part of the verse then my emphasis is wrong. The whole point of the passage is that God cares for me so much that I do not have to worry about how he will take care of me. God does this so that I am freed to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

So, instead of concentrating on God's promise of provision in these verses, I need to concentrate on the building of God's kingdom and righteousness knowing that my provision will be provided by God. The difference between the two different mindsets is subtle but significant. I have to ask myself, "Is my passion to build God's kingdom and his righteousness, or am I more concerned with how he will take care of me?" Or another "self-analysis" question is, "What do I think about more often, God's kingdom and righteousness or my own provisions?"

Of course, not one of us can just "do this" with enough self-effort and self-discipline, and even if we did, I doubt that we would be pleasing in God's sight. If I discipline myself to not think about how much I am worrying about my life by thinking about building God's kingdom, then I have still missed the point.

It is only by God's grace through Jesus Christ that I can truly, without effort, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And that is only because I truly do trust Christ enough that I do not worry about his provision because I know that he will provide, though I may not know how.

There is a wonderful freedom in this trust in Christ that allows one to be genuinely concerned with building God's kingdom and his righteousness. I want to experience this freedom more and more in my life. I thank my God that he is helping me to understand how much he loves and cares for me even through the hard times. As I understand this truth more deeply, I am freed to seek what he seeks, to value what he values, and to look at life through a biblical lens at little more often.

More about the country church.....

As Kurt mentioned, we really enjoyed the opportunity to worship with other believers in a church started because of scripture coming to the people in their own heart language.

Makes me more homesick for the day when we will be in Heaven and be part of ..."a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."" (Rev. 7:9, 10)

Here are just a few more pictures from that day.......

It was a thanksgiving celebration for the rice harvest service. These teens led the singing. Most of the songs were in English, though the rest of the service was not!

Dancing to the praise songs!

Ben really enjoyed the rice. He had two bowls full!

Mikayla and Kirsten helped another missionary pass out toys to the children!

Talk About a Church in the Country!

When we traveled to Luzon (upper Philippines) for our training a couple weeks ago, we accepted an invitation to visit a new church that was recently planted as a result of the translation of the New Testament into the Central Ifugao language. The church is located in the village of Bitu in the Hinyon municipality in the province of Ifugao. During the service I was invited to give my testimony which I did with the help of an interpreter.


Congregation


Kids in the church

The service was quite special for us even though we did not understand anything that was said. After the service we had a potluck (though they do not call it that) eating locally grown rice and "native chicken". They also served a type a root which was boiled which tasted different but I do not remember what it was called.


Entrance to the church

The people were very nice and welcoming to us. I heard afterward that we made a good impression on them as well with no significant social gaffes. The local kids were amazed at how tall we were.


Half completed state of the church building


View from beside the church


House located next to the church


Entrance to the church from a distance


Pigpen on left, church outhouse on right (behind blue barrel)

As can be seen from the pictures, the church is located in a very rural, mountainous area. The bathroom (called a comfort room in the Philippines) was a small outhouse located next to a pig pen. The church itself was half finished and they were still raising funds to finish the building. The building probably seats 40 to 50 people comfortably. It has three walls now which makes it quite airy (which in this climate is a blessing).

Prior to the scriptures being translated into the Central Ifugao language, this village was known to be very pagan including spirit worship and other practices. Now, through the influence of the Word of God, the gospel is being proclaimed as never before. Yet, there is a long way to go in helping the people understand what it means to live as a mature person in Christ in the Philippine context. Case in point, we witnessed what was reported to us as a case of demon possession at the end of the church service. God knows if that was the case for sure, but based on what we saw it is not hard to believe.

Carabao

I love music and songs. I often think in songs.
So indulge me in this musical montage!

Start singing "The Water Buffalo" song from the "Silly Songs with Larry Veggie Tale collection"...and enjoy the pictures.

Carabao (or cows as they are called here) are the work horses of this agricultural community.

I guess I have some pictures of water buffalo and some pictures of cows....just pretend they are all water buffalo....I'm 'cow and water buffalo' illiterate.........

"Everybody's got a water buffalo
You know your's is fast but,
mine is slow.....

Oh, where do we get them......

(In the Philippines)

But everybody's got a water buffalo

Everybody's got a Water Buffalo

Everybody's got a Water Buffalo

For The Beauty Of The Earth...

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,.........

Hill and vale....glory of the skies!

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,.........

Fields of rice!

Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light..........

Outskirts of Manila area!

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.