Happy Easter

Meditating on scripture helps us know Him and the power of His resurrection.

Before He died, Jesus was in agony, so much agony He was sweating drops of blood.

"And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly
His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down
to the ground" Luke 22:44

Isaiah had prophesied He'd die for our sins.

3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

His sacrifice, the final sacrifice, paid the price for our sins. Our Lamb of God, the perfect Passover Lamb came to take away our sins John 1:29

Hebrews 9:12
He entered once for all into the holy places, not by the means
of the blood of goats and calves, but by the means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption

He rose from the dead as He'd prophesied. The angels say that in Mark 16. Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene,
who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here!

God freely gave His gift of love for us to receive. 1 Corinthians 15, the "Resurrection Chapter" states

...Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures... and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain...

May we each come to know Him and the power of His resurrection - Philippians 3:10

Have a Blessed, reflective, full of Thanks Giving, Easter!

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Reflections on the Book of James

It is good to meditate on the promises of God in His Holy Word. I receive a scripture meditation from Ken Boa's ministry five times a week. Here are reflections on the promises of God in the book of James. from Kenboa.org

- The testing of our faith develops perseverance, and perseverance leads to maturity and completion - 1:3-4

- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (1:17).

-The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this; not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does - 1:25

-Mercy triumphs over judgement 2:13

- The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (3:17).

- When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us 4:7

- When we come near to God, he will come near to us (4:8).

-Whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins (5:20).

A Quest For Godliness

I've been reading "A Quest for Godliness" by J.I. Packer. This book explores deeply the Puritan spiritual life. J.I. Packer introduces the teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathon Edwards.
He also looks at the Puritan view of the Bible, family life, the Sabbath, worship, etc.

This book has really piqued my interest in the reformation literature.

Some of the literature I am currently looking at are
Richard Baxter's Christian Directory, available at chrome://epubreader/content/reader.xul?id=11.

Westminster shorter catechism and sermons from reformed pastors. See http://www.westminsterconfession.org/literature/

and Thomas Chalmers "Self Examination" writing - see http://www.westminsterconfession.org/the-doctrines-of-grace/essay-on-guthries-the-christians-great-interest.php

I encourage you to read J.I.Packer's book and/or read the articles available at the above websites.

Weekend Events April 11 and 12

Friday April 11 was my birthday. I invited some women friends over in the morning for munchies and coffee. It was fun talking, laughing, and praying with friends.

That evening, Kirsten, James and I attended the sports award ceremony at school. All the athletes from the various sports teams receive a participation award with some also receiving a special award for most improved or most valuable player, etc.

Saturday, April 12 I attended a prayer and reflection women's retreat at a local garden. It was a nice day of worshipping with other women and having time to journal and pray alone. This was from 9a to 4p.

Ben attended the middle school banquet that evening. He enjoyed the event, which was themed around the movie "Frozen."

14 Things A Missionary Might Not Tell You

I came across a link to this blog and found it really relevant.
It was written by Gary Shogren, Ph.D.

Thought I'd share it here.

http://openoureyeslord.com/2014/04/04/14-things-your-missionaries-might-not-tell-you/
("14 things your visiting missionaries probably won't tell you," by Gary Shogren, Ph.D, missionary and Professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica. Visit us at http://shogrens.com)

14 things your missionaries might like to tell you, but feel inhibited

Let me put on my missionary hat!

When Paul and Barnabas returned home from their journey, they "gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27). Your church's missionaries periodically pay you a brief visit. They will tell you about their successes and failures, and thank you for your support.

There are things your visiting missionaries might wish to tell you but feel they cannot: When we're visiting you, we haven't actually "come home." We live elsewhere, and are temporarily visiting the place where we used to live. Especially for missionary kids, "home" is far from here. We are usually keen to get back to where we belong.

Don't assume that we are up to date on all the latest U.S. culture.
"So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, and!...I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going...Of course, I wouldn't be caught dead voting for Chelsea..."

"So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, AND!...I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going...Well of course, I wouldn't be caught dead voting for Chelsea..."

We are aware that we look older-heavier-greyer-balder than the last time we passed through town. Everyone at your church does, too, but it's basic courtesy not to mention it!

Don't spend our short time together telling me about friends who have taken vacations in our country of service. Like you, we just want to be listened to, and we hope you'll ask us about how we minister in our country.

Please remember to bless our children. Missionary Kids (MKs) have given up their culture, language, pets, friends, relatives to go to the field. If you give them some treat while we're visiting your church, even a simple one, your thoughtfulness will be remembered for years to come.

Our children are probably not sullen; they're shell-shocked. They travel hundreds of miles and visit dozens of groups. They think and they dream in two languages. They don't remember who you are. Still, they'll probably be approachable so long as you smile and make no sudden moves.

We may be able to host a short-term team from your church. But then again, maybe not. Hosting a team takes months of planning. Imagine if a dozen foreign teenagers dropped by your home in America; they can't speak the local language and they are more excited about going to Six Flags than they are about the mission. If you want to arrange a trip, have a clear goal, defined tasks, and sound financing and you'll be welcomed back.

Missionaries believe in missions, in fact, many of us support other missionaries. You might suppose that since we have already "given all", we feel no obligation to donate to missions or the local church. In fact, the missionaries I've asked report that they support other missionaries as part of their contribution to God's work.

Don't try to convert us to Multi-level Marketing (MLM) instead of traditional support-raising. We've already heard the tale of the new missionary who stood outside a factory gate and within an hour raised 100% of his support by recruiting people to Amway. And while some of us are "tent-makers," using our work in another country as an entry for the gospel, that is not feasible for others of us.

We have worked hard to calculate the minimum necessary we need to live on the field. In many countries, the cost of living is much higher than in the US. We are also concerned that you wouldn't understand the decisions we have made with our mission agency.

Don't tell us we should re-negotiate the percentage that our missionary agency charges us, because you think they're ripping us off. If we pay 13% to our board, it's because of a slate of services that they render. If you make the generous offer to manage our affairs for nothing, please don't be offended if we turn you down. The truth is, you could not possibly handle the business, insurance, retirement plan, communication, promotion, mobilization - let along evacuation in the case of earthquake or revolution, or knowing what to do if we're kidnapped - that the professionals can, nor do it decade after decade.

No, we DON'T think the US church faces a relatively high degree of persecution. Not even if the cashier at the drugstore did tell you "Happy Holidays!"

Working in a new language is really, really hard. Yes, you picked up some Spanish from your vacation and can say, Por favor, ¿dónde está el baño? But could you say: The doctrine of justification by faith alone, a hallmark of the Reformation, runs counter to your notion that attendance at Mass is a channel for divine grace? And contrary to a popular myth, an adult can't pick up a new language just like children do, just by hearing it spoken. There are scientific reasons for this: a child is hardwired to learn grammar, but past age 6 or 7, you can no longer learn a language so naturally. If we're studying, for example, Arabic or Turkish, we will need years to become reasonably conversant.

We are Christians, not super-Christians. We do not have a special hot-line to God. We sometimes doubt our calling, and wrestle with questions of significance. In terms of basic emotional and spiritual needs, missionaries are like everyone else. The majority of missionaries do not return after their first year of service; so at any given moment, some of us are considering coming back from the field. We might welcome a chance to share in confidence what's really going on with us.