You can help!!!

Over 20 million people in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are at risk of starvation due to famine. If the world doesn’t respond soon, millions of people could die for lack of food. In parts of South Sudan, famine has already been declared by the United Nations. This means some have already started dying of hunger. You can help…

Keep looking up!

What does faith look like when things don’t go as planned? What does it mean to trust the Lord through times of fear, frustration or uncertainty?

At this very moment, we are playing the real estate waiting game. We are waiting for offers on our house – and none have come yet (and it’s 4pm). To make matters worse, the house we are offering on has three registered offers.

My heart is beating faster, my mind is all over the place, and I can’t relax. My agent here reminded me to “Keep breathing, keep the faith, stay positive!” My agent there reminds me every time I talk him that every day is a great day with God. (Where would I be without these great spiritual encouragers???) And here I am, the one who preaches faith, giving in to waves of fear. This is all present moment, everything will likely be different a few hours from now. But right now, I am being attacked by anxious thoughts. Satan is playing games in my head.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

I keep repeating these words, “The Lord is near!” (Philippians 4:5) The above picture comes to mind as I feel like I am drowning in negativity. Its a picture from the perspective of someone that is sinking. Looking up, you see Jesus’ feet on the water, His face looking down in love. And His hand reaching down, offering to pull me up out of the depths.

I am choosing to look up, to reach up, and to give my situation to Him. I am choosing to affirm words of joy, of hope, of peace, and to hand over my anxieties to Him. The feelings remain, but I am not giving in to them… I refuse. I am confident in this, this will all work out for the best in the end. For now, I will hang on through the storm; He will lead me safe to shore!

I can see His face above the waters… can you?

(I’ll let you know later how this all worked out.)

Look what I did!!!

Being Dutch, I am too cheap to hire a plumber. So when the P-drain snapped off from rust, I was determined to fix it myself. What you see here is the finished result, and its not leaking! Some of you may be snickering, ‘that’s not a big job’… or ‘that’s not the right way!’ Nevermind, I did it myself, and it worked.

Some jobs should be left to the professionals (don’t attempt a root canal on your own). But Jesus did not intend to leave the business of the church in the hands of professionals. He took ordinary, unschooled disciples and trained them to continue His work (Acts 4:13).

The task of showing and sharing God’s love is not the minister’s job. You don’t have to be ordained by the church, you are ordained by the Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is to equip disciples to be Jesus’ witnesses (Acts 1:8). The task of church leaders is to equip disciples for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

I’m not saying it is easy, and I’m not saying that you will always do it correctly. As for the P-Drain, it took many trips to Home Depot, and several calls to my brother for advice. But when it comes to sharing and showing God’s love like Jesus, you can do it too!

Stop thinking that its up to church professionals or church programs to do this! You are the church, and with Jesus you have the power to bless others in His Name. Simple words and acts of kindness are more effective than all the professionals and programs put together. Humbly knowing God’s grace to you, and humbly showing God’s grace to others – THIS is the work of the church.

Jesus follower, be encouraged! You can fix a P-drain too. And you can be a powerful witness to Jesus and His love!!!

Staged or real?

As part of the process of selling our home, our house has been staged. In the above photo you can see part of our staged bedroom. The pictures, chair, wine glasses, blankets, etc… none of this is ours. Our whole house looks and feels so ‘nice’, yet so fake.

I left the closet open for a reason, that IS our stuff, that IS us. We’ve stuffed our reality in the closet, only letting you see what we want you to see.

Can you see where this story is going, what the analogy is for following Jesus? Are we not guilty of staging our own lives, putting on a good show before others. We do not want people to see our real stuff, so we hide that in the closet. Living a staged life, like living in a staged house, is hard and unsatisfying. The truth is not so easily hidden, and eventually people see what you got in the closet.

Jesus came to clean out the closet, to make us clean on the inside. “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence… First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26) Jesus is not looking at my public performance – going to church, giving money, good deeds. He’s not that impressed with my stage show as a minister on Sunday mornings… He’s looking in my closet.

Until we face what we’re hiding in our closets, life will be hard and unsatisfying. When we’re honest about our ‘stuff’, then we can discover the wonder of Jesus’ gracious love. We will also help others to see that they’re no worse than us, and there’s grace for them too! Our world needs more REAL Jesus followers, not more STAGED ones.

Only with His help!

When I was a wee child, only just 6 years old, I made a Go-Cart. I had no money, so I put my creativity to work. Using jam jar lids for wheels and nails for axles, I assembled my very own Go-Cart. The idea was brilliant, or so it seemed at the time. Obviously, the whole thing collapsed under my weight, and I had to go back to the drawing board.

This past weekend I celebrated my 51st birthday. My son Nathan (who always loved this story) decided to gift me with a replica Go-Cart. This was how the Go-Cart was SUPPOSED to work… I’ll let you figure out how we made this one to work.

As a Jesus follower, I am still that creative child. I’ve explored many brilliant (and not so brilliant) ways to live the Jesus life. But what I am learning most is that my IDEAS cannot carry the weight of living this life. My strategies and efforts are like jam jar lids, they collapse underneath me. This is exactly what I have discovered through trial and error: unless Jesus and His Spirit lift me and hold me, I will collapse.

Maybe by now you have figured out how I made this Go-Cart work. If not for the solid 2×4 supports hidden beneath it, it too would collapse. Jesus is my solid support hidden beneath me. Only He can make my life as a Jesus follower fruitful. There’s nothing wrong with being creative, and devising ways to grow as a Jesus follower. But through it all, always remember: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you… apart from me you can do nothing..” (John 15:4-5)

Jesus calling!

“Trust me, and don’t be afraid.
Many things feel out of control.
Your routines are not running smoothly.
You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable.
Let me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances.
Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure.
When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines,
Grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities.
Instead of bemoaning the loss of comfort, accept the challenge of something new.
I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom.
Say yes to the ways I am working in your life.
Trust me, and don’t be afraid.”
Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, Apr 15 Reading

These are the words the Lord gave to Valerie and I on Saturday (Apr 15).
We were in turmoil about answering a call from the Lord.
He prompted her to read this, and it spoke to both of us — clearly!
Called to accept the challenge of something new!
Calling accepted!

Fasten your seat belts!

This week someone asked me ‘where I see the Christian Reformed Church in ten years’ Honestly, what came to mind were these words, ‘FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS!’ I believe we are in for some turbulent times in the next ten years. We should not be surprised. Our Captain warned us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Consider the challenges we are facing as a denomination. Attendance and giving, commitment and loyalty seem to be declining. Our membership is aging, and many young adults are choosing to leave the church. Members look to their leaders to lead, yet fewer members are willing to serve as leaders. Churches are struggling to navigate the 21st century; some are splitting or closing. Continue reading ‘Fasten your seat belts!’ »