Monday, March 23, 2015

Prayer Warriors Needed

Lucas & I are starting up an ESL (English as a Second Language*) program in Cactus, Texas. Our students are immigrants & refugees. Although our students don't have to be Christian to take our English program, Lucas & I recognize, as the program's coordinators, the vital need for all aspects of the program to be saturated in prayer.

We would like for people to commit to praying for the Cactus Nazarene Ministry Center and its ESL program. If you would like to join in praying for the CNMC's ESL program, email us at to ask to be put on the monthly prayer requests email and to receive a prayer prompt guide. (Sorry for those who prefer to get prayer requests in the mail. We are just emailing them out at this time).

Our current needs:
1. Wisdom in planning the budget & financial provision for the program. Due to start-up costs (i.e. one-time expenditures) there are a lot of expensive needs in the first year's budget.

2. Volunteers. We need teachers, kitchen helpers, and child-care providers to make our program possible. By ourselves, Lucas & I could teach up to 20 students, but we are expecting to have hundreds sign up. If you are interested in teaching or volunteering, please email us at to let us know about your interest. If you speak English & want to empower refugees & immigrants, you meet our criteria.

3. Wisdom in choosing curriculum, advertising the program, and other decisions (such as which days & times to hold classes, class size, etc).

4. Future students. Please pray for the students we will be teaching this year.

5. The construction on the ministry center to be completed so we can use it for our English classes.

*Actually, for many of the residents of Cactus, English will not be the first or second language they learn. We met one refugee who speaks 7 languages!! While it is a more fitting name to call our program EFL (English as a Foreign Language), ESL is a more commonly recognized acronym.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Luke 9:23 In My Life

Deny oneself. Pick up one's cross. Follow Jesus. (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)

While these verses are quotable, I wonder how it looks to apply them to our lives. 

Self-denial implies self-sacrifice and...well, denying myself things that I want. Although there are others out there who are living with more stuff and less self-denial, how well I am denying myself does not depend on comparison. I know that while I could be more self-indulgent than I am, I am not exactly denying myself.

A cross is a heavy, instrument of torture and death. It might get in the way of how I live my life. What is my cross? What is my burden? What am I doing out of love and duty for Christ?

Follow Jesus. Surely this command means more than to just attend church, throw a bill in the offering plate, read my Bible, and recite prayers. Surely it means to study Jesus, to emulate Him, to seek His input, and to follow His instructions. 

It is a common practice to seek out the reassuring promises of Jesus and God throughout the Bible, but also within the same holy pages are commands that those who love God as called to obey (read 1 John for more details). These include instructions to be generous, share the gospel with the lost, and even sell our possessions & give to the poor (see Luke 12:33). While we typically tie that last instruction as one specifically given to the rich young ruler in Mark 7:17-27, it was also given in Luke to Jesus' disciples. Therefore, if I am a follower of Christ, then that command applies to me as well.

Luke 9:23 has become especially meaningful of late. Then Jesus said to them all, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Meaningful Verses in the Life of Liz o' the Niche

This post started because of facebook. I was challenged to post a Scripture on my facebook wall every day for a week and challenge a friend to do the same. However, I much prefer to have one large post than seven smaller ones, so I decided to post my top 8 meaningful verses (passages) and tell why they matter so much to me.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. -Luke 9:23
I have decided that this verse is my life verse (or at least my year verse). It challenges me to do more than I am doing, in order that I might be a better disciple of Christ. As I write this in the middle of Lent, I ask myself what it looks like for Liz o' the Niche to deny herself, what is my cross that I am to take up daily, and how well am I following Jesus.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? -Isaiah 58:6-7
I love Isaiah 58. I encourage you to read all of it. These specific verses remind me that fast is not just about self-denial for self-denial's sake, but rather, so I can better care for the poor, the hungry, the naked, and the oppressed. It challenges me to go beyond the traditional Lenten fast of giving up something, but rather I should give something up in order to give more in another area.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. -Proverbs 30:7-9
This is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible, but I also recognize that it is very dangerous. When I pray for just "enough" I realize that a lot of the time, my definition of enough is my higher than is necessary. I realize that because I live in America & I have a car, I drive to the grocery store to buy my weekly (and sometimes monthly) food. I never have only had enough food for today. Dare I pray this pray of enough in a land of excess?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -James 1:22
Yes, I know that we are saved by faith through grace so than none can boast. But Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him "Lord" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather those who do God's will (Matthew 7:21). He also said that if we love Him, we will keep His commands (John 14:15-21). This verse reminds me that faith without deeds are dead (and actions without love are worthless). If I say I am a follower of Christ, I best be following His Way, example, and instructions.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. -Proverbs 16:9
As a (recovering) control freak, I need a reminder that God is directing my path and my plans are not the driving force of my life. I'm working on being more available to spontaneous events and needs, but it's a work in progress.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. -Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk? Who have a favorite verse in Habakkuk? Is that really in my Bible? I discovered these verses when I was reading Pollyanna and she was talking about the rejoicing texts. I searched the Bible for "rejoice", "glad", "joy", and other similar words. Although my life has not been touched by famine and financial loss, these verses serve as a reminder that when trials come, I should still rejoice in God.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? -1 John 3:17
I discovered this verse when I was reading Living More with Less. I have become convinced that when the Bible talks about the rich, it applies to the "average" Christian in the US. Rich does not just refer to the mega-wealthy, but rather it refers to people with enough food, clothing, water, and shelter. It refers to us who have a week's worth of food in our house. It refers to us who don't have to depend on God to meet our financial needs. This ties back to my favorite verse in Proverbs, because I don't want to disown God. When I read the Gospels and the rest of Bible, I never find the phrase "the deserving poor". God didn't add that distinction, we did. My frugality would result in stinginess without the generosity of my husband prompting me to give.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" Hebrews 13:5-6
These verses challenge me to keep my life free from the love of money and to BE CONTENT (a rare trait in our culture of consumerism). The funny thing is, I have read this verse in several books recently, but they all leave out the first half of verse 5. The quote says that God has told us that He'd never leave us nor forsake us, but the book authors leave out the command to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have. I need a reminder to not go after security in riches and to be content instead of looking for the next great deal.

You might find it odd that my top 8 verses aren't more promise filled and encouraging. This happened for two reasons, 1) my inner hipster resisted selecting the "popular" verses, the ones that we normally go to and 2) My life is comfortable enough that right now I am wrestling with the challenging commands of the Bible and looking at how I can live them out. I don't have anything against verses of comfort and reassurance, but rather, I feel drawn to verses that challenge me to better live for my Savior.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ways to Pray for Your Husband

As a Christian, I'm a big believer in prayer. As a Christian wife, I'm in favor of praying for my husband. This list is by no means complete, but these are some prayer prompts to cover your husband in prayer.

Ways to Pray for Your Husband

1. Thank God for your husband. I once read something online that really made me think: What if the only things you have tomorrow are the things that you thank God for today? Since then, I have thanked God daily for my husband. Thanking God for your husband helps you stay grateful for him.

2. Pray for upcoming events. If your husband has a report that's almost due, lift it up in prayer. If he's going to spend time with his guy friends, pray for their safety. Lift up your husband's activities as a way to pray for him.

3. Pray for his character & faith. Take time to thank God for your husband's positive character traits. Silently pray for areas you feel may not be as strong.

4. Pray for his body. Ask God to protect your husband's body & to keep it healthy.

5. Pray for your marriage. Ask God to show you things you need to change.

What are ways that you pray for your husband?