“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, December 30, 2013

No, I insist on paying you for it.

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
Chapter 2 - Sacrifice



Linda, me, Beth, Jackie and Charlotte
January 2010 - Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration


Obedience often means sacrifice.  And when you are willing to be obedient to an omniscient God, He may ask you to sacrifice something that you didn't realize the obedience would cost you.  And He won't always tell you why. 

My trip to Ethiopia/Uganda physically begins on February 5th of 2014.  And the physical part of it all costs quite a chunk of change.  Anthony and I had agreed that it would be our 25th Wedding Anniversary gift to one another, so there wasn't a need for me to be focused on the cost of the trip.  Still I kept having this impression from the Lord that I needed to raise part of my funds if not all of them.

God reminded me of 2 Samuel 24 where King David wants to build an altar to God on Araunah's threshing floor. And Araunah offered it freely to David, but David said, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” And that is how I felt. That I didn't want to offer a sacrifice that cost me nothing.

So there were a couple personal "conveniences" I decided to cancel and that would end up covering almost half the trip. And so I thought I was good.

But then God impressed on me that I should sacrifice something else.  Something of my heart.  What is it, Lord?  What would you want me to sacrifice of my heart to you?  The SSMTC.  The Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration in Houston, Texas with Beth Moore.  I have been planning on attending for at least two years.  I have been memorizing the book of James in preparation.  The SSMTC is held in late January.  I would have to buy an airline ticket, rent a hotel room and a rental car.  And although I share these costs with other precious Siestas/sisters... it still costs. 

And I would give up meeting with those precious sisters that I had met in 2010.  And then we roomed together in 2012.  And Charlotte and I were planning on reciting the book of James together in 2014.  The same version even.  The discontinued NIV 1984.

And so it was the SSMTC.  The financial cost of it.  Not just giving up a couple conveniences... but would I give up my heart's desire to go to Houston.  Why, yes, Lord. I would give up everything to You, of course. 

And so there it was.  A sacrifice.  Sacrifices.  A heart's desires placed on an altar.

And of course, an omniscient God would know that me taking a trip to Houston in late January right before a trip to Ethiopia/Uganda would be physically taxing.  And mentally taxing.  (I only have so much grace to give when I travel.)  And the planning.  God knew I would not have the concept of the amount of planning necessary for a trip to Ethiopia/Uganda.  No idea at all... even though Anthony has been multiple times.  I had no idea at all.

And so... lesson learned.  Obedience often means sacrifice.  And when you are willing to be obedient to an omniscient God, He may ask you to sacrifice something that you didn't realize the obedience would cost you.  And He doesn't have to tell you why.  But I trust that He knows why... and that He has an even greater plan to bring Him glory.

 


Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
Psalm 146:1 






For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

God, of course, I would do anything for you!
But just don't send me to Africa.

 The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
 Chapter 1 - Obedience

 Ethiopia 2011
photography by Anthony Kaetzel


"God, of course, I would do anything for you!  But just don't send me to Africa."

Obedience.

When Anthony introduced the idea of traveling to Ethiopia for missions work, I was asked multiple times by many people if I would be going with him.  I would respond the same way each time, "God hasn't called me to go to Ethiopia, but when He does I will go."

Anthony's first trip to Ethiopia with a missions team from our church was in January of 2009.  He has gone six times.  Each time he has encouraged me to go with him.  And each time he has gone without me.

I will go when He tells me to.
I will be obedient when God speaks to me.
And I was so grateful that He didn't speak to me about it until sometime in November of 2012.
But when He did speak, I knew I would be obedient.

The only thing is that I assumed with my obedience would come an expectancy.  A joy.  A willing heart.  But it did not.  And it has not.

I am going.  I am being obedient.  I am not grumbling in my obedience.  (Okay, well, sometimes...)  But I am going.

And is obedience enough?  Or do I need to be more than willing?  More than able?  More than going?

I do know that God has great plans.  That He will use this willing vessel.  That I am going to be part of a bigger plan.

But perhaps it is who I am.  Neither excited or nervous (unless I really think about it).   Controlling my feelings as I have done as long as I have known how.

Writing this down as perhaps my way of saying, "God help me to be willing to be willing to experience my feelings about Ethiopia."

And, now, I say... "God, of course, I would do anything for you!  I will go if you send me to Africa."






For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

and I babble...

Half Dome, Yosemite - photography by Christopher
November 2009

Words still escape me. A magical spontaneous trip to Yosemite in November of 2009. Never having been... I wasn't even sure what was in store for me. All I knew was that Anthony's anticipation made me long for the place I had never been.

It was a feast for the eyes. And being the blogger I am... I thought of all the wonderful posts I would be sharing with you... about this hidden jewel. The eye candy photographs tied with words of wonder... but alas... I have been speechless.

But I have noticed, when someone asks me about the trip to Yosemite... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about standing around the park and just staring at sights I have never seen before. Sights that I could never have dreamed existed. And I am reminded of visits to the Grand Canyon... and Crater Lake. And how can you describe just how "grand" Grand Canyon is... or how blue Crater Lake is?

And the only thing I can compare it to... is my relationship with the Lord. How often words fail me when I try to explain what the Lord is doing in my life... How I want to describe His majesty, His beauty, His love... All I know is that when I am asked about Him... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about how totally wonderfully awesome He is. And how grateful I am.

Especially this time of year... when my thorn starts to flare. And although I would rather run from depression, the Lord has asked me to draw near. He will take care of me. It is a trial. Sometimes a temptation. But I know that He will see me through.

And it makes sense. As I read through Anonymous... and Alicia Britt Chole speaks about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness... in the desert... I realize that is where I am. And it is where I learn the most. And it is where my experiences and weakness tend to show me how dependent I am on the Lord. And it makes me who I am.

And I stand on God's promises. Promises I have memorized this year.

That He will show up and take care of me.
He will bring me back home.
He knows what He is doing.
He has it all planned out.
He won't abandon me.
He will give me a future.
He will listen to me.
He can be found.
He'll turn things around for me.
I can count on it.

This is God's Word on the subject:
"As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before,
I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.
I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you,
not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.

"When you call on me,
when you come and pray to me,
I'll listen.

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

"Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree.

"I'll turn things around for you.
I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—
"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile.
You can count on it.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 MSG



originally written November 30, 2009

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What Are You Waiting For?


Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  (John 11:17)
A woman in a crowd who had suffered for twelve years.  (Luke 8:43)
A woman appeared with a spirit that crippled her for 18 years.  (Luke 13:11)
A man who was blind from birth.  (John 9:1)

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

We often wonder... "How long do I have to wait?"
Until my child is healed of leukemia?
Until I get a job?
Until my marriage is healed?
Until my child learns self-control?
Until I no longer suffer with depression?
Until I get over my heart break?
Until my husband is healed of his addiction?
Indeed. How long? Let's look at the verse that precedes Jeremiah 29:11...

This is what the LORD says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and
fulfill my gracious promise
to bring you back to this place."
Jeremiah 29:10

When seventy years are completed? Huh? Do I have to wait 70 years?

Honestly, I don't know how long you will have to wait for God to fulfill a promise that He has made to you. In the New Testament we see that Jesus performed miracles for people who waited four days... twelve years... eighteen years... or their whole life.

So, I ask you... can you wait? Can you wait for God's timing? And what will you do if you choose to wait? And if you don't want to wait... what other options are there?

Waiting...
It's painful.
It's exhausting.
It's not easy.

But there is...
Hope.
Confidence.
Peace.
...and a Future.



"While I'm Waiting" lyrics by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience


While I'm waiting

I will serve You

While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting

I'm waiting on You, Lord

And I am peaceful

I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it's not easy

But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve You while I'm waiting

I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord



John Waller - While I'm Waiting (Official Music Video) from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.


This post is part of a earlier series I wrote on Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Silver Rule

Silver Ice
photography by Anthony Kaetzel


The Silver Rule:
"What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”~ Confucius


I was at the home of a dear friend the other day.  She is in great pain due to a back injury.  I had called her and asked if I could offer a Starbucks delivery.  After some discussion (was I sure I wanted to come over because her house was a wreck... and she didn't have cash to pay me back...), she agreed.

Within minutes of my arrival (with a skinny venti Chai Tea Latte in hand) ... another of her friends had arrived with a freshly prepared meal for the evening.  As we sat and chatted, my dear friend admitted how difficult it is to accept such acts of generosity.  We started to discuss this in great detail. Why is it so difficult to accept acts of generosity?  Was it upbringing?  Was it pride?  Was it humility?  Or all of the above?

I've been thinking more about our conversation lately.  This dear friend of mine is a servant.  She prepares homemade meals ahead of time once a month (and freezes them) in preparation to take to someone -- she may barely know -- who is in need.  When she receives an abundant supply of anything, she passes on what she cannot use to those in need... wrapped with a bow on top!  She makes herself and her home available to anyone who would stop by... and invites young women from her church to her home to be mentored and discipled.  She is an encourager.  She is full of God-given joy.  She prays and God answers in ways she could never ask or even imagine to ask.  She embraces God and whatever morsel God speaks to her... she presses into those who need to hear... who are desperate to hear about hope and promise and future.

No, she is not a saint.  She will be protesting as she reads this because she knows she is not a saint and readily admits it... actually for the whole world to read.  But she has had a hard life and through that hard life... she has been softened and molded into a servant and follower of Christ.  She seeks to do His will.  To follow the first and greatest commandment...

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

And the second greatest commandment...

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:39-40 NIV

Which is also known as The Golden Rule...

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NIV 

And all of this made me wonder... why would my friend expect anything less than what is given to her?  Those whom she has "done to"... are "doing" back to her.  And so I wonder... would she do less so that she would not receive back in abundance?  Would she love less so that she would not be so loved in return?  No.  Not her.  And so she must subject herself to the reciprocity of her actions.  The problem being... her motives.  She never did any of these things in expectation of her own benefit... and yet by receiving the generosity of others it may nullify her pure motives.  But it doesn't.

And so, we must learn to receive from others.  Graciously.  If the Lord encourages someone to love their neighbor as them self, who are we to deny them of their obedience to the Lord?  We, ourselves, must follow the Golden Rule... and do to others what we would have them do to us.  Lest we settle for second best... and follow the Silver Rule, "What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”

It is something I have been mulling over for myself.  Wondering why I do for others... is it in expectation of return?  Is it for the gratitude and recognition I receive?  Does it make me feel like I am more blessed and so I must bless others?  Does it just give me a good feeling each time?  And honestly, sometimes... there is truth to that.  But I feel that in following the Greatest Commandment, I have committed myself to the second greatest commandment... and I end up going for the gold.  And in so doing, encouraging others to do the same.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while 
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, 
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor 
when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV



originally posted January 12, 2011

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A High Tower For The Oppressed

Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower


The Lord also will be a refuge and 
a high tower for the oppressed, 
a refuge and a stronghold in times of 
trouble(high cost, destitution, and desperation).
Psalm 9:9 Amplified Version

I was visiting with a friend yesterday.  And she was heart-sick.  Broken.  And wondering... Where was God in all of this?  Financial strain.  Broken relationships.  A daughter who was in an abusive relationship... and pregnant.  Illness.  Parents aging.  Family stress.

And she was wondering... Where was God in all of this?  And I felt like she was asking me for an answer.  What do you think, Sheri?  Where is God in all of this?  You know I believe Him and trust in Him and I know you do, too.  So, give me your perspective.  Where is God in all of this?

And I was desperately begging God to show me where He was in all of this.  Where are you God?  Because I have to give her an answer and she is hurting right now.  And I don't want to tell her that I don't know where you are.  Because it is hard for me to see that in all that she is dealing with right now.  And her problems are so big that I cannot do anything to help her.  I want to give her comfort, Lord.  I need some words that would lift her spirit.

And... nothing.  No catchy words.  Nothing spiritual.  And I waited.  For a nudge.  For something.  God, quick... I need to tell her something so she will feel better right now.  And so that I will feel better right now.  And I will feel like I helped her.  And she will feel like I helped her.  And she will be glad that she saw me today. 

Moments seemed like hours as I was catching my breath to try and speak some life-changing words.  So, I grabbed her hand and pulled it tight into mine... and prayed over her.  And as I was praying the thought came to me, What did that Philip Yancey book say about what to say to those who are hurting?  What wise words?  What were those words?  What magnificent meaningful words could I pray over her?

And I remembered.  Hope.  God is our hope.  He offers us hope.  Sometimes there are no words.  Just hope.  And as I prayed them... prayed words of hope over her... they seemed at first hollow.  Was I wishing for her?  Was there really something hopeful in her situation? Would God really work all these things out?  Would He show Himself to her?  I feared that I might be just trying to give her hope.  Give her hope. Give her hope.  


And that's when I realized that I truly did believe that God would follow through.  He always has.  He always will.  And that in the end... it's not about me... and what I say... or how I pray.  But it is truth.  That He gives us hope.  That He is a tower.  A refuge.  A stronghold. And sometimes when we are in a moment of desperation we need our friends to come around us and point out the Strong Tower.  Who is there.  Has always been there.  Will always be there.


Praying that if you need hope... you'll let someone encourage you and pray for you, today.


Originally posted 10/31/11