Monday, August 17, 2015

Experiencing the Power of God

Between writing lesson plans and researching for my dissertation, I have found little time to blog recently. However, I want to share with you about an experience I had in Africa.

I was going hut-to-hut sharing the gospel with my friend, Robert. It was time for lunch and we were walking back to the church to meet the rest of the team for lunch. On the way, a lady sitting by the path stopped us. She began sharing about her uncle who was paralyzed and begged us to go and visit him. She had heard that missionaries were in the area and she believed that her uncle would be healed if only we would visit him.

Robert began to share with her about the centurion in the Bible who came to Jesus on behalf of his servant. Robert explained that just as Jesus did not have to go and visit the man to heal him, we did not have to visit her uncle in order for God to bring healing. We then shared the good news of the gospel with her and her children, and they all prayed to receive Christ.

In response to her request, we agreed to go and visit her uncle. When we arrived, we saw a thin man lying in the bed. His legs looked literally like skin and bones, brittle and without muscle. My heart hurt for this family. The niece explained that doctors had told them he was paralyzed and that there was nothing they could do to help him.

One of our translators, Christopher, told the man, "Your niece has faith that if we pray over you, God will heal you. Her faith is not enough. You must believe in the Lord Jesus." He explained to the man his need for salvation and the man surrendered his life to Christ, experiencing spiritual healing. Christopher then asked the man if he believed that God could heal him. The man answered, "Yes!" Christopher then said, "In the name of Jesus, get up and walk."

At this point I had a crisis of belief. Would God heal this man? Could this man whose legs had no visible muscles possibly walk again? I remember thinking, "OK, God. Your name is on the line. What are you going to do?"

Again Christopher said, "In the name of Jesus, get up and walk!" The man began to sit up and his family rushed to the bed to help him. Christopher told the family to let him be. "In the name of Jesus, get up and walk." Slowly the man slid off the bed into a standing position. With Christopher continuing to command in Jesus' name, the man took one, two, three steps.

My eyes had to be huge at this point! He did it! He took 3 steps!

Christopher then said, "Walk outside. In the power of Jesus' name, walk." The man walked outside and turned around and walked back to his home. He then began raising his hands and dancing before the Lord. I watched with tears pouring down my face as his family raced to embrace him. God had healed the lame -- not only physically but spiritually as well. God Did It!!!!

Before we left, I encouraged the man to go and tell everyone he knew that Jesus Christ had healed him. I was in awe as we left his home...there really are no words to explain what it felt like to experience this miracle. Even now as I type, my eyes well up with tears.

What a mighty God we serve!

The man in the orange was the lame man and Christopher is in the plaid shirt. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

One Proud Mama...

Going to Africa with my family was a dream come true. I was a little concerned that Jorjanne would get irritable and that this might infect the team. Before we left I told her, "You will be tired. You will be hot, and you will be hungry...but you will NOT complain!!!!" I am so proud to say that I never heard her complain once throughout the entire trip. God used her to share his love with others and He used this trip to change her. I could write and share more, but I think she said it best in this video presentation that was shared in our church.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Elephants, Leopards, Killer Bees, and the Gay Marriage Debate

Horrified, I ran for my life. Fear gripped me as I listened to my daughter in the distance ahead of me screaming and crying in terror. How did this happen? This was like a scene in a bad movie, and yet it was inescapable.

Just moments before, we were laughing and chatting about our latest find. We were on safari in the Masaii Mara, admiring God’s handiwork. We had up close visits with elephants, watched hyenas scoping out the land, and even saw a few wildebeests in the distance. We were on the hunt for the elusive leopard. Our eyes peered into the trees searching for any signs of movement, when out of nowhere, we were attacked.

At first it was just a couple of bees flying in our open topped matatu. It seemed like in an instant, we were surrounded by swarming bees. They began stinging me as I tried desperately to kill them. In the seat in front of me, Jeff was swatting at them with his hat and stomping them with his feet. I could hear our friends and our daughter screaming for the driver, “Go!” And yet, we remained. By now the stings on my face were continuous; the pain was excruciating. The worst part was I didn’t see an end to the throngs of bees attacking us.

As the number of bees grew, Jeff began yelling for someone to open the door. He knew that if we remained in the van, the results could be fatal. Yet leaving the van was prohibited – there were wild animals outside and we were in leopard country. As he continued to holler for someone to open the door,  Jorjanne freed us and jumped out. Once we were out of the van, the situation began to make sense. Our van was stuck with one tire off of the ground. As the driver pushed the gas pedal, exhaust had flooded straight into the bee’s hive.

We began running…the bees followed. Charles, our driver, screamed, “Don’t run far; there are wild animals that will attack.” He handed me a Masaii blanket and told me to wave it in the air to scare away any animals. With one hand I swatted at the bees and with the other I frantically waved the blanket in the air. We were all screaming as we ran past the other van with our friends looking at us with horrified expressions. They could not help us. If they opened the doors, they too, would be attacked.

We continued to run when another van came to our rescue. At first they thought we were jumping up in down in celebration. They wondered if someone had gotten engaged. When they saw me waving the blanket, they realized something was terribly wrong. There van was enclosed (no open top) and they began yelling for us to get into their van. As we entered, so did a few bees. Killing the bees that entered, they began to assess the situation. One of my friends looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh! You have stingers all in your face.” I began to weep. One by one, my friend pulled at the stingers. A stranger in the new van offered us all antihistamines – a gift the nurse later said was timely and saved us from further complications.  At last we were safe.

I am struck by the devotion of the bees to protect the hive at all costs. We later learned that we had been attacked by African killer bees. They are called this not because their sting is more poisonous but because of the vast number of bees that join forces to attack. Once they sting, they will die. They literally sacrificed their own lives for the sake of the hive.

As I’ve reflected on what happened, I’ve looked for life lessons. What take away would God have me to learn from this experience? As Christians, we know who the real enemy is. Are willing to work together, and do whatever it takes to protect the Church from his attacks?

Since the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, I have been brokenhearted at the response of Christians on social media. Supporters on both sides have attacked those with opposing views like much like the killer bees. One person makes a comment and a hundred more counter, kicking the bee hive.

The words thrown back and forth between the groups are causing division within the Church. Regardless of a person’s stance on gay marriage, the person is someone with dignity that deserves to be treated with respect. I’ve read posts where people in support of gay marriage call those who are not uneducated bigots, and I’ve read people against gay marriage tell supporters that they are going to hell for their beliefs. Arguing an issue is one thing, but casting stones at people is another. When we think we can belittle others because they see things differently than we do, we show disrespect.

My point is that we do our part to stop attacking other Christians who view this issue differently. Will we do our part to uphold the sanctity of the Church and come together and pray for our nation during this time of division? If we don’t, people will continue to be stung, and the results could be disastrous.

*Feel free to comment on this post, but please exercise restraint from attacking people on either side of the debate.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You Can Make a Difference

“I am a loser. No one likes me. The world is better off without me.” Countless teenagers believe these negative thoughts. Students may be surrounded by their peers and yet feel completely alone – like no one would notice if they disappeared.

I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart to think of children and teens who feel like no one cares. Feeling sad for these kids is not enough. It is time we take action.

What can you do to make a difference?
  • Consider mentoring a student
  • Volunteer to work with students at church, YMCA or other civic organizations
  • Be intentional to get to know your friends children. Show them you care.
  • If you have a teenager, get to know their friends.
  • Go to sporting events or plays to support youth you know and to show you care.
  • Commit to pray daily for students in local schools.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then surely it must take a Kingdom to raise teenagers who love the Lord. Leave a comment to share how you are making a difference in the life of a teen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Balancing Act

We all listened with disbelief as the Great Nik Wallenda announced his plans to walk on top of a 400 foot tall ferris wheel without a harness or safety net. For him, its about balance and about faith.

I am learning that the same is true for me. Life is about balance and faith. Last week, I experienced a grown-up meltdown as I collapsed under the weight of life's constant demands. I realized that while I spend hours teaching other people's children and counseling others, I had little left to give to my own family and friends. Surely this is not what God meant when he encouraged us to pour out our lives as living sacrifices. In order to continually give to others, I must also continuously receive. Think of it like a sponge. I can only squeeze out the water that is in it; if it is not doused with new water, then eventually it will dry out.

Friends, we know in our heads that we need to make time for the Lord and for our family and friends -- why is it so difficult to do so? I think one of the greatest tools of the enemy today is busyness. I fall into this trap far too often.

So what do we do?  The answer is simple -- LESS.

Do less. This is so challenging for me; I want to do it all! The problem is that I can't do it all, and its my own stubborn pride that thinks I can. I am entering a time in my own life where I am seeking God's wisdom to help me to discern what He wants from me versus what everyone else wants from me.

This is a path I've trodded far too often, but I will trudge ahead and take time to rest along the journey.  With a little faith, perhaps my LESS will accomplish much MORE.