Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ministry in Costa Rica!!!

My husband and I are planning on packing up, storing, or giving away our possessions and then moving overseas to Costa Rica for a year. Why would we do this? We are going to be doing ministry there.

What are the details?

Who: Lucas and Liz Gentry with the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas (SENDAS)

What: Mission work (i.e. Lucas will be helping out with their technology programs and their online school, while Liz will be working with their library, data entry, and other organizational duties. We may both have opportunities to help with an English-teaching program. We will both be taking intensive language classes)

When: God willing, we will leave in August and stay for one year (minus a week long trip back to the states at 3, 6, or 9 months in).

Where: San José, Costa Rica (on the campus of SENDAS)

Why: To share Christ and prepare for future Spanish ministries.

How: With your prayers and support!!

My hubby has a website with more details and ways we need help here.

Honestly, this is an exciting (and scary) time for us. We are raising financial support (a new task) preparing to go to Costa Rica (a new place). But we know God will get us there and be watching over us.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reading Responses

Sometimes, I got nothing. Sometimes, I go to pray and I have no words. Sometimes, I enjoy using the words of others in church and in my prayers, such as responsive readings.

Ephesians 5:18-19 urges and encourages us to speak to each other in Psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit. I enjoy responsive readings, as long as they mean something to me. I'm a big fan of meaning in worship. If a song or responsive reading isn't true for me (or based accurately in scripture), I don't sing or say it.

A Psalm and A Prayer For Private and Public Devotions would be a good resource for those interested in delving deeper into responsive readings. They provide call and responses taken from the book of Psalm.

Responsive readings typically have a cadence, a rhythm that I like. Hearing many voices singing the Doxology, saying the Lord's prayer, or speaking a Psalm is a thing of beauty. When the meaning is real and the worship is sincere, responsive readings is a wonderful way to branch out of our typical utterances and prayers and join the saints from all ages in worshiping the one true God. Sometimes I find prayers and psalms that pour out what I am feeling, but could not find the words to say.

Try responsive readings. Try praying the Psalms. It just may become a treasured part of worship.

Do you have a favorite responsive reading? You can find mine at <> at the end of each day's reading (starting with "May the peace of Christ go with you"). Another one of my favorites can be found at <>. It's at the bottom of the page and entitled "Go Now in Peace." I grew up singing that one at my church.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Slaves of Righteousness in the Land of the Free

America. The land of the free.

America. A land of freedom of religion.
America. A land of freedom of speech.
America. A land of freedom of press.
America. A land of freedom of peaceful assembly.
America. A land of freedom of petitions to government for redressing of grievances.
(It's all in the first amendment)

America. A land where I'm a slave of righteousness.

Romans 6:15-23

We are the slaves of what we obey. If  we obey sin, we're slaves to sin. If we obey God, we're slaves to God.
Slavery to sin leads to death.
Slavery to obedience leads to righteousness.
We are to obey God's teachings. He is to have our allegiance.
We are freed from slavery to sin.
We are slaves of righteousness.

We are to submit to the control of righteousness.
We are not to be slaves to sin, wickedness, or impurity (which leads to death).
We are to be slaves to righteousness/holiness/God (which leads to the gift of eternal life).

Matthew 6:24
Who is our Master? Is God? Is Money/Sin?
We are to submit to God.
The World says "I'm my own master." but Christians recognize God as their master. To choose to be *my* master is to be a slave to sin. To choose God as my master is to be a slave to righteousness. One person you work for has your top allegiance. In your life, who (or what) has your top allegiance? God? Family? Friends? Work? Sin?

Freedom is sort of a big deal in America. People claim it and proclaim it. Self-employed people can boast that they are their own boss. Yet the thing for Christians to celebrate is choosing to be a slave to righteousness. God freed us from enslavement from sin, but then asks us to submit to being slaves of righteousness. (The irony is when you choose to be a slave of righteousness, that's when you really become free).

Who is my master according to my words?
Who is my master according to my actions?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Letters to Women of Valor

I read a very good article on Mother's Day here. It got me thinking of my mother, mother-in-law, and motherly mentors in my life.

So I decided to write letters to them.

Dear Mom,
I clearly remember your high level of supportiveness during my childhood. You encouraged me to read longer, more difficult books. You taught me how to write a book report when I (as a second-grader) was crushed at my lack of written book reports thus far in my life. You helped me (as an elementary school student) discern the difference between gossip and non-gossip when I was concerned I was unintentionally gossiping. You were willing to let me spread my wings through mission trips to DC, Jamaica, Florida, Uruguay, Alabama, and more. You stayed involved in my life (yes, I thought it was so cool to have my mom on field trips with me). You gave me an allowance to teach me to how to budget. You taught me to resist impulse buys. You showed me how fun it was to make, not buy, items. You taught me the value of discipline and working before playing. You showed me what hospitality looks like by having company over. You were willing to cook two main dishes for each meal during my 5 year vegetarian stage, showing me what love does for others. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your daughter,

Dear Grandma,
It was always a special treat to get to go to your home and it was even more special to get to spend the night. Holidays at your house conjure up memories of playing dress-up with clothes you set aside for that purpose, of getting to hold your special glass baby doll if we stayed still enough, and of course card games galore. From your lake home, to the parsonage, to your current home, I was always impressed with how your home could expand to allow so many people inside, to share food, memories, and games. I remember the after-dinner walks we ladies went on, even if I was a little wild. I remember how you open up your life to us, by introducing us to your friends and bringing us to your water aerobics class (that stuff is hard work!!). I remember sharing Manchester College with you as the Women's Mission Camp coincided with the Young People's Mission Camp and the Children's Mission Camp. I was so proud that I could share my meals with my grandma. You have taught me so much about hospitality and showing love to well as many new card games. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your granddaughter,

Dear Mom-o (i.e. my mother-in-law),
Every time I see you, I notice your love for those around you: your grown children, grandchildren, family, friends, church family, and more. You taught me the thrill of the hunt in thrift stores and the joy of good deals. You taught me the importance of thinking of others while going about my day. (i.e. Does ____ need anything from this store while I'm here? Will this be a good gift for ___?) You display love even when you don't agree with choices and decisions made by others. I am thankful for the son you raised and share with me through my marriage to him. I enjoy our candid conversations and discussions. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your daughter-in-law,

Dear motherly mentor 1 (Rose),
You may or may not have noticed how closely I watched you over the past 4+ years (in a non-stalker way), but I did. When I look at you, I see a woman of prayer and faith. When I come to a crisis (real or imagined), oftentimes, I reflected on your words & teachings, such as "know your enemy" and don't give weight to "vain imaginings". I am grateful for your common sense and problem-solving mindset. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your BCMer,

Dear motherly mentor 2 (Cynthia),
I haven't known you for a very long time, but I am thrilled to know you now. You are a woman of faith. I am encouraged to dive deeper into my faith just by being around you. You wow me with the genuineness of your faith; I honestly think that it is impossible to separate you from your faith. Since we are both the wives of pastors, I view you as a kindred spirit. The path I'm on and struggles I am going through are things that are semi-familiar (but not identical) to your experiences. I value your wisdom and friendship. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your friend,

Dear other motherly mentors,
You have taught me many lessons of the years you have been in my life. You have taught me lessons in joy, self-control, and friendship. You were friends and supports for me. Thank you for the time you were willing to invest in a growing Christian. You have had a deeper impact than perhaps you know. I am grateful you are in my life.
Your friend,

All of you women are women of valor (Eshet Chayil in Hebrew). The Proverbs 31 woman is not supposed to be a person you compare yourself to nor is it a list for you to complete; it is a title of praise or a blessing. (For more on the Woman of Valor, you can check out "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" by Rachel Held Evans.)

You raised me, O Woman of Valor. You taught me, O Women of Valor. You have influenced and impacted me, O Women of Valor. And for that, I thank you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Am...Jesus' Words

Seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus said an "I am" statement. (Technically "I am" appears 84 times in John, but Jesus didn't say them all...He only said "I am" 74 times in John...and I counted them all. For the full list, see here.)

But seven times, Jesus made a claim through an "I am" phrase, a claim so bold that if He wasn't the Messiah, the Christ, He would have to be crazy or a liar.

John 6:35-Bread of life
John 8:12-Light of the world
John 10:9-the gate
John 10:11-the good shepherd
John 11:25-26-the resurrection and the life 
John 14:6-way, truth, life
John 15:1, 5-the vine

(bonus: John 8:58- I Am before Abraham)

If you want to read more on this topic, check out these two articles: The Seven "I Am"s in John Source 1
and The Seven "I Am"s in John Source 2.

I encourage you to take some time and reflect on these statements made by Jesus.
He is the bread of life. Do you look to Him to sustain you?
He is the light of the world. Do you look to Him to shed light on your path and guide your steps?
He is the gate. Did you come to your faith through Jesus? He's the only gate.
He is the good shepherd. Do you trust His guidance and leadership?
He is the resurrection and the life. Do you believe you will be resurrected through your faith in Christ?
He is the way, the truth, and the life. Did you reach a relationship with God through Christ?
He is the vine. Do you get your nourishment from Him? 

How does who He is impact who you are?

Friday, May 3, 2013

The "D" Word Does Not Exist

I've been reading the Sermon on the Mount recently and the bit on divorce (read it here) has stuck out to me. 

In my marriage, the "D" word doesn't exist.

We sometimes argue.
Our feelings get hurt.
But the "D" word is not uttered.

The "D" word doesn't exist.
Jesus said it was offered because hearts were hard.
The "D" word doesn't exist.

Without the "D" word, we need to work it out and compromise.
Without the "D" word, we need to choose to love.
The "D" word doesn't exist.

The "D" word is tied to fairy tale endings & the feeling of passion.
The "D" word is attractive when the going gets tough.
The "D" word doesn't exist.

The "D" word should not be uttered lightly.
The "D" word should not be considered except for circumstances of adultery.
The "D" word doesn't exist.

In my marriage, "Divorce" isn't in our vocabulary.