Eyes to See

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see; the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.’”- Matthew 11:4-6

Back before Christmas, I was taking a walk with a friend, and she told me an exciting story. As we walked along, she related to me a story about her young adult daughter. Her daughter was tending two young children one recent day.

They walked through town together, taking in the sights of smells of the seaside town. As they walked, the children undoubtedly spotted all sorts of things which we grown-ups would pass right by, not caring to give a second glance. Tough-as-nails fisherman making their way through the streets, carrying strings of freshly caught fish to sell to local food vendors. Gentle elderly women, bent under the weight of their 5-gallon buckets full of fresh produce from their gardens; eager to sell a bit here or there to bring money to feed their families. Men and women with carts of all sorts, pulling with them their wares, selling many varieties of home-made foods and drinks (often in containers recycled from other uses…). Sharp dressed policemen, always two-by-two; faithfully walking their beats, keeping close watch over the daily activities of the busy marketplace.

The sights. The smell of the salt air. The pungent smell of freshly caught seafood. The warm enticing aroma of chicken sizzling in the food cart’s deep pot of hot oil. The tropical sunlight beaming through the palm leaves dappling the ground with fun patterns. Stray dogs and cats meandering through the streets filled with folks pedaling their bicycles, people struggling home under the weight of the fresh produce just bought in the market. Neatly uniformed schoolchildren make their way through the narrow streets, laughing and making their plans for after school.

Among all these delightful distractions, my friends’ daughter tried to hurry her two charges along the broken sidewalks. Suddenly, one of the children stopped. Stopping all three in their progress. Proudly picking something up off the ground. A colorful little piece of paper. Excitedly, she showed her care-giver; who promptly said…”that’s trash!! Put that down!”

While picking up trash off the ground anywhere is never a really great idea; it can be particularly dangerous in an area where animal feces, human waste matter, or rotting garbage abounds. Thus my friend’s daughter was aghast when she saw the little fingers clutching this piece of paper. But, then she looked again. This little paper was not showing any signs of having been, uh, dirty. It was clean and dry and vibrant.

As she looked at the little colorful paper, she realized with surprise that it was not just a slip of trash, abandoned to the elements. A valueless piece of garbage.

It was a gospel tract!

She then told the child “it’s a Gospel tract”. Which of course was met with…’huh…?’

It talks about Jesus.

“oh…!” The little light of recognition came on, at the sound of that great Name.

She took the “little paper” home to share with her family.

Trash on the ground. Possibly tossed by someone who didn’t see its value. But, God’s Word is more valuable than all the sunken gold treasure filling the bottom of the sea. All the gold in Fort Knox. The wealth of all the nations cannot compare with the Truth.

There are times when we hand our tracts that we’ll see them on the ground, or torn up, or mangled in some way. Which always breaks my heart. That a human heart could be so hard as to attempt to mute the voice of God, speaking through the written Word on a gospel tract.

Then I remember…that God’s purposes ALWAYS come to pass.

His Word is NEVER wasted.

“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which comes forth from my mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire” –Isaiah 55:10-11

I wear contact lenses. I have for more than half of my life. I also have a complicated family history, and very poor vision. When I was a kid, I would often mistreat my precious eyeballs by reading in my bed (long after I should have been asleep…) under the covers with a dim flashlight. (please, do NOT do that!)

Since becoming a “grown-up”, my goal was to have a visit to the eye doc, once a year. Check on my eye health, and keep my prescription current.

Well, since we came to Belize almost 3 years ago, I have not been able to have a visit to an eye care professional. There is a little clinic in town, which does very basic eye exams. With my family history and my (ahem…) age; I had just settled in myself I would have to wait for a visit to the States before I could get an eye exam.

Then, one morning I was sitting with a dear friend (we have prayer time together once a week) and she randomly mentioned the name of an eye surgeon here in Belize. I was stunned! I didn’t know anything about him. And I had searched, because I wanted to find one.

To be honest, I was very frightened to go to the doctor. My vision had changed. I wasn’t seeing clearly anymore. I was seriously afraid of hearing bad news.

I talked with the Lord about it, and left it at His feet. There was nothing I could do about it anyway.

We showed up at his office In Belmopan (more than 3 hours from our house) early on a weekday morning. I was seen within minutes of arriving to the very modern, well-equipped eye surgeon’s office.

My eye exam went well. My eye health is great.

And guess what? I need a new prescription. Because…my VISION HAS IMPROVED.

As we left our house behind in West Virginia, my eyes poured with tears at all that I was leaving behind. I cried and wailed in agony at the loss. My breathing was interrupted with sobs and those hicuppy spasms you get from crying too much.

This was while driving down a busy interstate in a borrowed car, following my husband in our overloaded 15 passenger van. Our children and 99% of all we owned lumbered down the highway toward our first host home, as we made our way to the Port of Miami to drop off our van.

I couldn’t see.

I couldn’t see through the tears.

I couldn’t see what the Lord was doing.

I didn’t know.

It was more frightening than anything I had ever experienced. And I have seen some frightful things in my life.
The fear gripped me. The sadness choked me. The unknown stood before me; like the gaping mouth of a lion, salivating to devour his prey.

Continually wiping my tear-filled eyes to see the road ahead of me, I was startled by a sudden peace.
God’s peace.

The god of this world offers no peace. The god of this world says to gather all your stuff. Gain what you can. Live for now. Keep it all.

“behold, I am doing a new thing.”

I did not know what that meant. Later that night, after a delicious meal at our host home, and the kids were all tucked in their sleeping areas; I sat at the lovely dining room table and searched the Scriptures.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past, Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” –Isaiah 43:18-19

Over the last 31 +/- months, the Lord has guided our path. Day by day. Step by step. Providing every need. Indulging us often with things we crave.

When we came to Belize, we were not clear what *all* of our ministry would be. But, we knew one thing for sure. God’s Word would be going forth.

And, by His strength and Provision; it has. And it continues to.

I can’t see what God’s plan is. But, I know it’s good. Because He is good.

“You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes.” –Psalm119:68

Like that little child, who discovered that gospel tract, among all the distractions of a bustling town; please give me eyes to see…

Lord, give me eyes to see to walk by faith. Even when the whole world shouts at me…”Stop! Don’t pick up that trash.”

“ for we walk by faith, not by sight,” -2 Corinthians 5:7

The Lord’s precious Word has been going forth here in Belize. We are so grateful to be in His service.

By His doing, a new Bible conference has been added in northern Belize! Laborers from Canada and from the United States are coming to come alongside the saints here in Belize; to preach the Word and encourage the saints.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I have plans for today…but they may or may not happen.

What I do know is that I was blind. But now I see. By faith.

Amazing.
Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see. ~John Newton, 1779

Thank you Lord who calls those out of darkness and into Your marvelous light.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” –Ephesians 1:18

To God be the glory.
~Sheila

Advertisements

The Rest of the Story

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with thee.” -Psalm 116:7

A few months back. I had asked some dear sisters of mine to pray for me about an issue I was having.  Well, if you know me, truth be told, I have many issues…but this particular one was quite vexing.

For a long season, I have not been sleeping well. Which, leads to grumpiness and fatigue and all sorts of other unpleasantries during the course of the mandatory tasks of the day, particularly here in the humid jungle climate of Belize.

But, this tiredness did not just suddenly pounce upon me one day, like a jaguar from the bush. It has been building for many seasons.

Over the last 18 years, I have spent a lot of time being pregnant, or nursing a baby. All my momma friends can attest to the fact that usually mommy does not sleep all through the night. Whenever those pregnancy pains develop in the middle of the night, it can be difficult to get back to sleep. And then, when the baby arrives…mommy’s sleep does not increase. Funny thing about babies, they like to eat; and they like to have clean pants. And they do not care if it is the middle of the night.

I have many of what I would now call fond memories; of being up laaaaate into the night. Looking down at a peacefully nursing infant in my arms. The quiet darkness of the house, the stillness and peace of the special moments of bonding that I got to have with each babe.

Those precious moments came at a cost, though. It cost me a lot of sleep. And rest.

It was hard to sleep even if I was not nursing or changing a diaper, because I would often be listening for the reassuring noises of sweet baby snoring or sighing; or even wiggling in the bassinet as though having a baby dream.

Then day would break, and there were countless tasks to accomplish, on a daily basis. As a homeschooling mom of 6; there was always what seemed like myriads of things that needed my attention.

Oh, yeah; and then there is moving to a Third World country, leaving behind everything and everyone that I ever held dear. Consequently, adjusting mind, body, and soul (and helping each child in the family do the same)

That has all made my body and mind tired.

The Lord has blessed me (us!) with such wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. I had many praying for me. Thank you!

And I can truly say that I have been sleeping better at night.

I have been sleeping.

But, have I been resting…?

This is the question that I have asked myself over the last few months.

Rest. A four letter word with the depth of the ocean and the simplicity of a child’s plaything. Very easy word to say, but difficult to do.

Many years ago, as a young woman, young also in Christ; I was talking with a  loved one about this and that challenge in my life and how I felt so afraid and despondent about the impending doom of the resolution of the issue.

And, instead of giving me big squishy hugs and slobbering me with kisses, cookies and consolation, this person shocked me with what they said.

“You know *so much* Scripture, why don’t you apply it?”

Well, that statement made in tough love has stuck with me for the 10+ years.

Does anyone you know love you enough to tell you hard things?

Things that are hard to hear, but necessary for growth?

Truths from the Word of God?

I am reminded in this season of my life and ministry of just how vital God’s Word truly, truly is.

There are many here, as elsewhere; who would teach things that are contrary to what God shows us in His Word.

Many who follow false teachings, simply because the believer’s Sword has remained in its sheath.
God’s Word is so bountiful, and the word “rest” is blooming with meanings.

Yet, this little acronym helps me to remember it all…

It is so easy for me, like Peter, to look around at the wind and the waves; and be terrified.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, famines; the list of scary things goes on and on. But, knowing the One who never changes. Who never tires.

And that His Word never changes

What a trustworthy source of rest.

He is the Rest of my story.

He is the Rest of history.

As I type this, it is 3:30 in the morning. I have a feverish boy shivering nearby. His little body being afflicted with one more mysterious illness.

I’ve really had a hard time over the last few weeks, writing this particular post. Because what do I know of resting in the Lord? I certainly don’t do it flawlessly.

But, in the wee hours of darkness this morning with my sick boy, I got a clear picture of what it truly means to Rest.

My sick little boy did not want to lay in misery alone in his bed upstairs.

He wanted comfort.

He wanted relief from his pain. From the heat that was emanating from his small frame.

He wanted (and needed) to rest. So, his desire was to lay in my arms and know that all would be well.

He does not know the cause of his pain. A bacteria or germ running unchecked through his immune system.

He trusts me to help him. Even though he has absolutely no idea what was going on, other than the misery the malady was causing.

That is how I can now see rest. Peacefully, quietly breathing in and out, and trusting my Heavenly Father to know what’s best. Even through my pain; to trust my Father. To rest.

“O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely, I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” – Psalm 131:1-2

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

-Sheila

Good Grief

Trials, above all other things, have a tendency to distinguish between true religion and false.
-Jonathan Edwards

If you are a child of the 70’s…like me…when you hear those two words together, there is only one thing that come to mind. Charlie Brown! My favorite bald-headed, melancholy, chevron-shirt-wearing, pre-adolescent. (a strange juxtaposition of characteristics, I suppose…looking back…)
Amidst the antics of the other, more vibrant characters of the show, Charlie Brown, in his practical—yet often nay-saying way; would shake his head and say “good grief”.  As if his mere existence amongst all of the frivolity caused great hardship to his soul.

I’m all grown up now. (at least on the outside…heh, heh, heh…)

The hearty amusements of the Snoopy cartoons are now archived vaguely in my overtaxed 43-year-old brain.

But, that phrase has often come to my mind.

A large debt we could not pay.
Good grief.

A child who follows after bad company.
Good grief.

Friends who forsake or wrong us.
Good grief.

Another bad report from the doctor.
Good grief.

Somewhere between Charlie Brown and growing up; the Lord saved me.
Praise His Name!

Over the years walking with the Lord, I have had ups and downs. In spite of what some would say about being a Christian…that you will have peace and happiness and wealth all the rest of your days.

I soon realized that was not the case.

“strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ’Through many tribulations we must enter he kingdom of God.’ “ -Acts 14:22 

Trials and tribulations. What?

I was not really prepared.

Sometime after the Lord saved me, the Lord began drawing Nate to a life of proclaiming the Gospel. We were made fun of, mocked, and otherwise laughed at…because of Nate’s zeal for serving the Lord by proclaiming the Gospel. That is bad enough, but some of the teasing came from within the Body of Christ.

Well, I guess this is a good place to begin.

Because I realize now, that once you take a step onto that Narrow Way, all sorts of objects are flung at you from the bushes.

It was a new sadness.

A new grief.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you, but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” – 1 Peter 4:12, 13

Do not be surprised.

Yet, I was often surprised at “fiery ordeals…”

Now I can say…it is a “Good” grief.

That does not make any sense.

How can grief be good??????

How can my sadness be of any benefit?

Well, God is pretty clear about trials and troubles.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be complete, lacking in nothing.” –James 1:2-3

When we began our preparation for our move to Belize, there was a lot of grief. About what was being left behind. But, the funny thing about what you leave behind, if you turn your face the other way; you will see what is in front of you.

It reminds me of the Mennonites here, with their horses and wagons (often heavily laden with watermelons to take to the market for selling) The wagon-pulling horses are equipped with a harness. Various leather strappings draped in particular order, and then buckled or snapped securely in place; to ensure that the horse goes nowhere without the wagon compliantly following behind.

Along with all of the leather strap ware arranged on each horse; fastened to bridle (head collar) of each equine, is a set of blinkers, or blinders; which serve to keep the horse from looking behind him. Horses tend to get spooked very easily at things coming at them from behind…which would have deadly consequences to the travelers in the wagon.

Just look ahead. In my case, just look up.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” –Colossians 3:1-3

I have so often needed to take my lesson from the picture of these wagon-pulling beasts of burden. Keep looking forward. Run my race. Keep the faith.

Don’t pay any attention to what is going on around. As far as earthly distractions, anxieties, worries, uncertainties, etc.

But all these things serve to bring me closer to the Lord.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I might learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” –Psalm 119:71-72

My battle is not according to the flesh.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our wafare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3,4

The week before Cheyenne’s wedding, we had family arrive. I also had a flu arrive. Only, this was no regular flu. This one came with throbbing aches throughout my body, and a sore throat that left me barely able to eat or swallow for 3 full days.

Oh, and did I mention we had a houseful of loved ones who needed to be fed and cared for?

I have found illness, particularly of a “flu-like” nature; to be very common here in Belize. Almost cyclical. High fever is unpleasant. High fever is fiercely unpleasant in 100+ degree temps, when the humidity is soaring.

Good grief.

As a sapping sickness was draining my strength and hope, I had no choice but to look up.
If I looked around me (at my circumstances…), I would certainly despair.

Like that time recently, when we were dealing with a simultaneously broken washer and dryer.
Or, the most recent time the flood flies came. Oooooh, flood flies. Boy, you could really get an idea of the plagues of Egypt going through a flood fly “invasion”.

These creepy flying critters come out at twilight, at the initial rains of the season. And they are attracted to light. And apparently sound, too. They fly *everywhere*, and I do mean everywhere. And they are no respecter of persons. They fly up your nose, in your ears, and well, anywhere else you could imagine! Thank the Lord, they do not bite.

The only way to get a little relief is turn off all the lights and shut your shutters tight (which makes it miserably hot in the house) and go to bed. Poor Eliana does not like bugs at all, she lay in her bed that night, whimpering herself to sleep.

Or, there was the circumstance a few months ago…when Nate was being slandered and maligned by someone who was claiming all sorts of false things about my husband. Literally spitting out ghastly falsehoods about my man.

We heard it from someone…who had heard it from someone…etc, etc. You know how the “rumor weed” grows…

That *really* tempted me to walk in the flesh. To react with my fists and anger.

Like everybody else, I have trials. I have things to endure, and sadness, and grief. I don’t always see the reason why. It is a soul-nourishing process to study the men and women of Scripture who endured hardships.

I think immediately about Job. A righteous man. Who lost everything but his life.  And yet…his words were…

“…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:21

And then, soon after, he says to his wife…

Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” – Job 2:10b

But, what I know is He is good. And what He does is good.
Because He says so.

“You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.” –Psalm 119:68

I have so often wanted a hug from my mom. She went home to be with the LORD back in 2013. I miss her so terribly. Before her health started to seriously deteriorate; she and I would chat on the phone for hours…just really about nothing. You know, mother/daughter stuff…

I would moan and whine about my troubles (whatever they happened to be that day…spilled juice, one too many blowout diapers, a migraine headache, a spat with a friend, etc.). She would always point me back to one solid truth.

God is still on the throne.

That makes me overflow with worship.

I hope it does for you too.

“There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might.” – Jeremiah 10:6

In His Service-
Sheila

Sing A New Song

On May 28, 2015, we were having a hectic day.

Navigating Miami TSA with 6 children, 3 sippy cups (some of which had liquid in them…yet were miraculously approved by security!), schlepping a forgotten number of overloaded suitcases, carry-ons, diaper bags, toys and other frivolous items such as snacks for hungry children and precious stuffed animal “lovies”. Moving our family to a Third World country…not knowing what to expect even in the next moment.

All of what remained of our worldly possessions.

With the exception of what we stuffed into our “180 bus” (2001 15 passenger Dodge van) that got shipped from the Port of Fort Lauderdale, and was hulking its way through the Atlantic on board a freighter bound for Belize.

It was a day for grieving. What once was. What would never be again. I wondered how Abram felt when God called him out of the land of Ur to a place that He would reveal. Was he unsure? Was he afraid?

It was a day for celebrating. The Lord had called us to this. He had provided for *everything*! Our house in WV; which was our home and place of bliss and comfort for almost 15 years…sold in less than 4 hours! With no realtor!

But, that day at the airport was both a beginning and an ending.

Contractually, we had to move out of our house on May 15, 2015.

I tear up every time I think about driving down the driveway that last time. In a borrowed car. We had sold ours.

Tears which I have not cried before or since. Heavy sobbing. Suffocating tears. So much that I struggled to see the road. The pouring rain and my mourning made driving less than simple.

As I followed Nate, who was driving the overloaded 180 bus (at that point filled with 99.9 % of our worldly possessions; AND our family…), down Interstate 81 south to our first host home, eventually my tears subsided. Then I could pray.

The truth of Romans 8 was hitting me. I did not even know how to pray. I was so beyond being able to formulate cohesive thoughts. I was depending on the Spirit to intercede for me. It was just really a “listening” session for me.

I listened. For words of comfort. For maybe the Lord to change His mind. Maybe I would wake up at this point and be in my comfy bed in my comfy house with the freshly painted walls and newly remodeled bathrooms…and this would all be a dream.

What I did hear was this…”I am doing a new thing”. Though it was not an audible voice, it came to my ears with complete clarity.

A new thing.

The statement jolted me out of my despair, enough to stay my tears.

Even though I did not know what that meant exactly…

After the children were bedded down that night in our host home, I got my Bible out and searched. A new thing…what could that mean…?

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.
~Isaiah 43:18-19

That is where I landed.

I shuddered with fearful excitement as I realized. He is doing a “new thing” with us. Through us. In us.

us. Not just us.

The new thing is the Gospel. The Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you’re keeping track, we left our home in WV on May 15th. We flew out of Miami on the 28th.

Why the difference?

Our van had to ship from Fort Lauderdale. We were in WV. As always, God worked this out too. He provided host homes for us to stay along the way. Some we had met before, some not. They provided us food, shelter, and much needed love as we were each sorting through our own emotions as we made our way south.

We gave our borrowed car back to its owner, and I joined Nate as co-pilot for what would be a memorable ride.


Our “180 bus” parked in the driveway of loved ones in SC.

The freight company shipping the van told Nate to have the van at the Port on “x” day.  Nate arrived at the Port on that day, to find an empty facility. He drove around, lost in the labyrinth of side roads looking for the shipping company. He wasn’t alone for long, though.

Two armed officers pulled him over and asked why he was there on the holiday…with a 15 passenger van full of boxes….

Long story short, which thankfully did not end up with Nate in the slammer…the guy at the freight company had given Nate the wrong date.

When the Lord saved me (15 +/- years ago…), He put a song in my mouth.

I mean literally. I was picking up my mom from a Bible study at her church. As I dutifully drove there to pick her up…I asked God (who I had been mocking and railing against previously….), “Who are you?? That all of these people, would spend their time reading a musty old book? Would get together all sorts of days of the week…when they could be doing other things…?”

In those moments, as I drove to my mother’s church, I saw who God was. Is.

He showed me His glory. Not in a literal, zap-me-off-the-road-with-a-lightning-bolt way. But, in a realization of Who He is.

For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.
-Isaiah 57:15

I saw my sinful state before this God who I had completely enjoyed mocking. And yet denying…

As I sat in the parking lot, I saw the truth of what my mom and others had been telling me for years. I was without hope in the world.

I knew then I wanted to spend my life serving the Lord. I asked Him what to do. (I know this might sound crazy….) He told me to sing. I sang. Amazing Grace. Which I did not know the words to…but they came out anyway.

When my mom came out to the van, she opened the door and I started bubbling over with excitement.

“I just talked to God!” “I know I have sinned against Him. I think I’m saved now!”

“Oh, and He told me to sing.”

Another shock. Because, singer I never was! My grandma was a singer. She had a beautiful voice. But, I never once aspired to that. Not even on my radar.

My mom did not believe her ears. So, I sang for her. She stared at me for several long seconds, as this voice which I did not know existed, poured out of my lips.

Long story…but ever since that day, the Lord has opened doors on various worship teams, and other venues of singing, here and in the States. All opened by Him.

So, when I say that He saved me and put a song in my mouth, I really truly mean just that!


He did a “new thing” in me. And, He made me NEW!

There have been seasons, though…even here….where I have “lost my song”.

By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? -Psalm 137:1-4

Times where my grief and fear and anxiety and loneliness and impatience and discontentment were almost suffocatingly unbearable.

It has been 2 years here.

Two long years since I have hugged my dad. Two years of missing our home church family. Two years of old friends stopping by for coffee and muffins. Two years of adjusting to life in a Third World country, and rainforest/jungle climate. Power outages, water outages, scorpions emerging from banana bunches, on my *kitchen table!*, no less. Frogs in my dryer lint trap. Unexplained abscesses which grow flaming red with infection. Local markets which run short of needed items…then you just need to wait until when and if it comes back to stock. Rashes, bug bites, having fingernails removed with no anesthesia. Things are different here.

Two years of encouraging emails received at *exactly the right times!* from brothers and sisters in the States. Two years of knowing that we are being lifted in prayer. Two years of seeing the Lord’s provision. Letters received from loved ones across the seas.

Two years of new friends. Two years of learning new ways. Adding to the old. New foods, new spices.

New mercies. Every morning.



New memories. Just the other day I briefly joined the children at the bus stop(for a fidget check…we have *no tolerance* for goofing off near this often deadly road, where logging trucks, express busses and any other imaginable vehicle come blazing by..).

I could hear a voice shouting in the distance. I wondered who was yelling at us. Then I heard the familiar “clippity-clop”s of our Mennonite friends coming to the town with a wagon heavy laden with watermelons, to sell in the market. The horses had a brisk pace, breathing in the crisp morning air; much more so than they would on the return trip in the afternoon heat.



These kinds of things I hope that our children treasure in their memories. What is was like to grow up in Belize….

Having fresh pineapples, mangoes, mali apples and watermelons when they get home from a hot day at school.


Mali apples are a favorite springtime fruit.

Eliana graduated from preschool at Toledo Christian Academy. Preschool graduations are a big deal here. They really want the children to love learning and be encouraged to continue.


Eliana far left, dress with blue flowers.


The principal prayed for all of us.


Eliana with her teacher, Miss Tiana; and her class.


Each child did a special presentation of what they had learned. Eliana and her friend Marcus did some reading.


Cheyenne and Eliana share a little “post-graduate” snack! (chips and cheese….AKA nachos and cheese)

Afterwards, we were invited by some dear friends to come and celebrate with them (their daughter was in Eliana’s class).


Our friends went all out to decorate their beautiful home for the graduation celebration!


(someone wanted some of Josiah’s dinner…! DEEEEEELISH BBQ chicken, rice & beans, and tortillas…made by our sweet family in Christ. Josiah was willing to fight off the ducks to defend his yummy food!)


Seeing howler monkeys and green parrots in the trees behind our house. Everyday sights here.


see-saw’ ing by the Caribbean Sea…..

Their dad, faithful preacher of the Word of God…standing fiercely against the onslaught of the enemy.



Our beautiful daughter, Cheyenne…getting married NEXT WEEK (June 17th!) to Alexander! Then moving off to Canada.

We are thankful to the Lord for bringing them together.

I have sung many different songs in my walk with the Lord. Not just actual music songs, but praise and thanksgiving to my Lord and Savior for Who He Is and What He does!

Yes, I have lost my song sometimes. I have sung silently sometimes. Then there are those times when my song just explodes out of my very being.

A “new thing” and a “new song”.  Both bring my heart to leap for joy!


(Psalm 145:3)

The Gospel is going forth. We are grateful to the Lord! We are thankful for YOU!

~Sheila

Something Simple

soul1

I am in a bittersweet season of my life. As we all sometimes are, I suppose.

The bitter of missing my mother; she passed from this life 4 years ago this month. A few days after Mother’s Day.

The bitter of missing my dear family and friends in the States.

The sweet of seeing the Lord work here in Belize, His Word going forth! New believers, young and thriving in their faith, and their hunger for the Truth of the Word of God.

The sweet of new friends, meeting brothers and sisters in Christ; sharing the common bond of faith. The sweet of seeing children grow, and grow in their faith.

The bittersweet of knowing our oldest that next month she will be married. Which makes me tear up even as I type. (I tried to ignore those tears…but they keep coming…Ha!)Knowing she will be moving a jillion miles away to Canada. (well, it may as well be a “jillion”…) But, her marrying a Godly young man who the Lord brought into her life; that makes it sweet.

The Lord had placed us in Pastor Gideon’s church last September. Since then, we have had the absolute joy of laboring alongside them in the village church.

After several months of seeking the Lord in prayer, Maylin began a Sunday School for the village children.

You see…these children were coming to our church. (An open air church. No AC, no cool band…actually no instrumentation at all, no neat programs to draw kids in. )

Sometimes, there were almost a dozen. Children who, all by themselves, went to church.  And sat. For almost 2 hours!! Quietly. Sang the hymns with us (the best that they could…I would help them with reading the words; the ones who could read.) Listened to the sermon, listened to the other Scriptures being read and expounded on. Sat quietly through the prayers.

These children were really inspiring to me. They would come. Dressed as nicely as could be. Cleaned. Quiet. All by themselves. The parents/ grandparents/caretakers (often not mom and dad..) would send them off to go by themselves.

They would wander in from seemingly secret paths, winding through the backs of various shacks in varying shades of disrepair.

One or two clutching a worn Bible secured from an unknown relative.

Often, the oldest sister (who is 7) would care for the youngest of the children. Giving them the “parental stare” (some of you know what this looks like….)and keeping the friskiest siblings under control.

The bigger boys in the family would whisper to her during service “Gloria! Kailun is acting up!”

Miss Gloria has to grow up fast. They all do.

So, fast forward to a few months ago. Both Maylin and I had been praying about the children. We both have a heart for them.
“Lord, what do we do with them?”
“Anything? Or keep it the same…?”

Have you ever prayed for what seemed like a long season? And…you wonder if God is going to answer? (or at least answer in the way you expect….or want…?)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes wait for the Lord” -Psalm 27:14

Well, he opened the door at just the right time and showed Maylin exactly what to do.
For about 6 weeks now, we have been meeting with the children for Sunday School at 9:00. They still come filing thru the bush; threading thru ancient paths that their feet know well. They still come dressed nicely. They still sit quietly. But, now Miss Maylin teaches them the Word of God; going thru a half-year (give or take) children’s study on “Who God is?, What is God like? How should I act toward God?”

Our Sunday School “room”. Very simple.

Maylin was a teacher in the school system here. She is extremely gifted at teaching; and engaging the children. They love her! (and so do I…!)

Last week, as the children were reciting their memory verse from the week before; I saw something that captured my attention momentarily. Yet, the application of it will hopefully stay with me much longer.

As we sit in our Sunday School room, we are surrounded by the neighbors chickens, barking…sometimes roaming dogs, and various other wildlife. Last week a lizard made the children laugh with his funny-running antics.

One of the neighbors hens had a brood of chicks with her. This caught my eye at first, because as I watched the poor hen trying to amble around and forage for her own meal of bugs; her chicks were crowding around her, making it hopelessly unreasonable for her to try to walk. I could relate. I chuckled to myself and thought “…oh, girl, I feel for ya…!”

But, then I noticed something strange. The little chickabiddies were leaping up and banging into her face. I thought that was odd.

Then I realized what was going on.
She was feeding them!
Their meal was coming from her.
It reminded me quickly of how God is my provider.

“ The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
~Psalm 145:15-16

Those little babies could not fend for themselves, but their mom was teaching them. Providing for them, and protecting them from the other, larger birds in the pen.
I have seen the Lord provide in some miraculous ways over my life, and especially over these last few years.

At every turn, the Lord provides for every need. Through His people. In His time. In His way.

I am so humbled and in awe of how He has worked.

I sat for a few emotional moments amidst our Sunday School class.

Silently pondering the goodness of God.
The children still reciting verses.
Sweat still pouring from all of us.
The occasional breeze bringing out sighs of gratitude.
But, I was renewed. I was resting.
Knowing that He is in control.
Someone sent me this very appropriate passage recently…

“O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
~Psalm 131:1-2

You know, a few days before this verse was sent to me…I had read that very passage and had been meditating on it.

There have been plenty of things to “worry” about (oh, wait…I should not use “worry”..Lol…)I mean, “be concerned about.”

The Lord had used this passage to quiet my soul and remind me to ‘simply trust Him’.
I guess it is just that simple.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
~Psalm 19:7

For His Glory-
Sheila

The Gospel Thunders Over Belize!

After being here in Belize for almost two years, I have discovered there is one word that describes much of the culture. Entitlement. I say this not to talk badly about the Belizean people but to point out the damage many missions groups have made on this society. Each year, team after team flies in and brings lots of stuff…toys, candy, clothes, equipment, money, etc.

The list goes on and on.

They are very well intentioned groups, just misdirected.

Belizeans don’t just need cleaner teeth, newer clothes, a concrete floor, or big huge speakers in their churches.

They need the gospel.

Many of these teams forget that one essential ingredient.

All of these needs are real (to a certain extent) but not apart from the life saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does it profit a man is he gains the whole world and loses his soul?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” -Romans 1:16

After speaking with a number of Belizeans firsthand, it has become very evident that they are not happy with the disruptions some of these teams bring. It has caused their children to become “entitlement based”. It has stolen their contentment for living a simple life, and many of these teams even bypass the Saints already doing the work here, instead of coming beside them.

I praise God for recently sending us a team from Canada. Their sole purpose…come alongside the Saints here and preach the gospel.

 

kevin.JPG

Kevin St. John, Peter Van Waardhuizen, and Annie Giesbrecht joined us for 11 days of explosive preaching, tracting, and one-2-ones across the nation of Belize. They did not bring puppets, candy, or toys for the Belizeans but they brought something far more powerful…the gospel which has the power to Salvation.

We are thankful for these saints and their desire to see Christ exalted over Belize. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I have reposted their updates below. I know you will be very encouraged and edified in how the Lord used our combined efforts to exalt Christ these past few weeks.

Praying the Lord would continue to send us more saints with the same heart for biblical missions…

UPDATE #1

The gospel is glorious. It continues to be glorious. What it produces is glorious.

The battle is real.

However, joy has been supplied in abundance as we have seen how God is bringing His gospel to Belize through this dear missionary couple, Nate and Sheila Steuer and their Pastor, Gideon Richards. 

On Friday what seemed to be our first encounter with discouragement turned out to be providential in that our flight was delayed as we sat on the tarmac in Houston for an hour and a half, which in turn caused us to miss our connecting flight from Belize City to Punta Gorda. It was in mid flight that Nate’s friend Timmy and his wife Elnora agreed to pick us up at the airport and drive us to his home in Dangriga. Along the way, we stopped for a bite to eat and were able to witness to Elnora who confessed to be confused and unsure of her salvation. This was an answer to prayer as Timmy, Nate and Pastor Gideon have been praying for her. Please pray for this lovely young gal. 

The next morning (Saturday, Feb 4), Nate along with his son Bryce and Pastor Gideon picked us up and drove us to the bridge in the downtown core, one block from the ocean. There we heralded the gospel in Garifuna (by means of files downloaded on Nate’s cell phone through the 1/2 mile hailer) and in English. The response was very positive with young and old alike responding in gratitude for the most part. I even made a little friend by the name of Johnny! After witnessing for a number of hours, we then departed and made our way to the Steuer home near Punta Gorda. 

On the Lord’s Day we were blessed as we fellowshipped with the believers, worshipping God in their open-air church structure. It was truly an experience of a lifetime and was even privileged with bringing the message. 

Monday we engaged in bible study at the Steuer home and were pleasantly surprised as a local believer stopped on his way through, saying he had heard Nate’s witness at the park and had heard he gives out material. This man by the name of Florencio has been overseeing three separate bible studies and so Nate was able to supply him with good books, tracts and other helpful study materials supplied to him by Chapel Library for free. 

It is now Tuesday that I write, the last two days also spent laboring near the church, engaging the residents with the gospel door to door. 

Today, before engaging door to door, we accompanied Nate in a visit of one of Christian Life Center’s (CLC) member couples who welcomed a little baby into their home only three weeks ago. At their humble abode, we witnessed firsthand, their thatch (a homemade of posts, beams and roof covered in palm branches). I can honestly say that the simplicity of life was strangely appealing. 

Today’s outreach included a run in with a false teacher from a health/wealth church nearby who after being challenged with scripture totally dismissed me in a huff and claimed he did not have time for dialogue. It also included what we believe to be a providential witness. Just as a truck full of rowdies pulling a trailer crested the hill by the church, one wheel fell off their boat trailer and ground them to a stop. Peter and I then walked up and engaged the men. One of the men, claiming the name of “Big Ben” when asked if he had a Christian background responded by saying he had been a lay minister who had even studied Greek at Moody Seminary. His testimony included him confessing that he had been hurt by “church politics” and that he had “lost” his faith. I then asked if he had indeed ever experienced true repentance from his sins. He said he had but that his pride had risen up and then cussed as he told of his condition. As he departed, in compassion for his state, I admonished him by appealing to him that I hoped he was not the man of Hebrews 6. Truly, he is in a sad state. Please pray for Big Ben. 

Tonight I write after a delicious traditional meal prepared for us by Pastor Gideon’s sweet wife, Maylin. Belizean food and hospitality is certainly nearing if not at the top. (I’m thinking Annie is in agreement) 🙂 

We have certainly been encouraged thus far, and have been assured that our labor here has truly been a huge help, blessing and encouragement. 

For your encouragement, Peter has filmed six short videos of me interviewing Nate with several questions he answers that are sure to fulfill your curiosity. 

(Interviews with Nate and some of our interaction can be seen here: https://m.facebook.com/soulwinnermissions/)

UPDATE #2

Yesterday we took to the city center of Punta Gorda where Peter, Gideon, Nate and I were used of God to thunder out the word of God by preaching from the outdoor stage at the park. Annie once again blessed us with her dedication to one on one gospel conversations and bold tracting ministry. This was such a privilege to minister at Nate’s local fishing hole. Thursday’s are especially busy as the farmers market is in full swing. 

In the evening, we enjoyed coming together with the saints at the weekly prayer and praise meeting of Christian Life Center, where Peter brought us a message from Colossians 3, exhorting us to fix our minds on the things above where Christ is seated. 

This morning we departed from Toledo (near Punta Gorda where Nate and Sheila reside), to enter the second leg of our mission journey. 

We along with Cheyenne, Nate and Pastor Gideon will be heading north, stopping first in Dangriga to once again herald the gospel there before traveling to Belmopan, then to Spanish Lookout. We will be staying with Margaret and Abram Thiessen, friends of Nate and Sheila. 

On this leg Danny, Ronald and Anton (fellows that have been doing outreach in the area since Nate provided training to them last May, 2016), will be joining us and have also invited us to their church this coming Sunday. We will then meet up with Pastor Ken Barber Sunday evening to encourage him and hear about the prison ministry he has. 

Departing from the Steuer home, we did our best in the strength God provided, to encourage Sheila and the kids with hugs and admonishments to remain steadfast, looking to Christ for their strength. What a beautiful time we had with them. They will be dearly missed by the three of us. 

With that, please continue to pray for us. Pray for Belize. Pray that God would thwart the plans of wicked men in this country who seek to do their father the devil’s work under the guise of “Christian mission work” as well as the “health/wealth” lie that is being propagated and is a big stronghold here. 

UPDATE #3

We kicked of the third leg of our journey today with a visit to the market in San Ignacio. The local people there were friendly and received the word of God graciously. A number of Christians were really encouraged by our witness and the preaching. What a blessing to hear from a number of them personally after coming down off the bleachers from heralding a message from Psalm 1. 

market

It was a great encouragement for our team to be able to work along other biblically minded church folk as we were joined by families from Amazing Grace Christian Fellowship in Spanish Lookout. Beside them, we handed out many tracts and Gospels of John to the scores of people there. What a joy it was for me personally to come alongside them after preaching.

Something I hope will encourage you is that while we handed out tracts and Bibles a question came to mind to ask people walking by. It was this; “Have your sins been dealt with at the cross of Jesus Christ? Please take one of these gospel cards to find out!”

After departing from San Ignacio, we stopped at the bus station to drop off Pastor Gideon so he could be back for church service tomorrow in Toledo (Christian Life Center). It was a very sad time mixed with joy knowing God is using this man as Peter prayed fervently that God would continue to use him. We will certainly miss having our brother with us as we finish the final legs of our journey.

market2

We, along with two dear brothers from Amazing Grace fellowship are now driving into Belize City to finish off our day preaching at the bus stop. It is said that Belize City is even more openly wicked than all we have encountered so far. We will see if it tops the wickedness of Calgary/Lethbridge! 

Tomorrow we will worship and fellowship with them, then Monday head off to the island of Caye Caulker with the message we preach.

That message: Christ Crucified – for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe. 

Thanking you in advance for your continued prayers. 

UPDATE #4

Yesterday the journey continued as we “water taxied” over to the island of Caye Caulker. It was of great interest to me as I knew of a previous coworker who had moved their to start a business. A coworker whom I had shared the gospel with before yet was still in need of Christ. 

Once getting to the island, it was only minutes before Nate handed a tract to a couple of police officers at the beach and started up a conversation. Two of them seemed to be sympathetic to Christianity and may certainly be Christians as they told us of the wickedness that goes on there and asked us for prayer. It was certainly a good start to our day!

We then tracted the town and finally came to the restaurant “crepes & dreams” where I immediately heard my name called and was met with big smiles and a warm greeting. We were then welcomed in, seated and enjoyed some really good crepes! During our stay there we were able to leave her with tracts and a gospel of John after hearing about how frightened she was by hurricane Earl last fall. Please pray for Carrie and Chris. 

We then made our way down to an open court with a stage where we proceeded to set up and start to preach. We were then given favor from God as we preached there for a couple hours. As we took turns preaching as well as tracting and conversing with the people of Caye Caulker, a number of people sat around to listen. Christians and non-Christians alike heard the gospel of grace, many of whom were encouraged. 

We then took to the streets, even into the industrial area and shipyards where we handed out bibles and tracts. 

As we departed a Christian, man met us by the dock and encouraged us, thanking us for our bold witness there. This certainly gladdened our hearts. 

We then boarded our boat that would ferry us back to Belize City and gave out tracts and Gospels of John once on. We watched in amazement as God used this time to have people read the materials, which certainly caused us to rejoice. Nearing the city port, God emboldened Peter to exhort the people by way of recapping the gospel and calling on them to get right with God. Many of the folks on the boat then thanked him as they off boarded. It was truly amazing to see! 

We then travelled to Belmopan where we joined up with the Zeiter family (our sister Stephanie’s parents) who had invited us for dinner. It was a time of sweet fellowship and rich discussion on the things of God. It was so encouraging to here of their travels and how God by His providence brought them here through death defying trials and miraculous means. 

This morning we said our goodbyes to Abram and Margaret Thiessen, who warmly opened there home during our stay up North. Truly, they have been a blessing to us. 

We now will travel to Belize City, this time to board our flight home. Home where once again we will be united to our church families whom we so love and adore. 

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with my final thoughts that I have already posted to the Soul Winner Facebook Page: 

“This ends our first Belize journey. Our desire was first of all to see God glorified by lifting His name and word above all, while here. Second, to encourage the church as we labored beside them. Thirdly, to be vessels used to win souls to Christ. 

Not by means such as dramatic skits or ways in which emotions are stirred and responses are later proven to be other than genuine. Nor to try to “fit in” with the culture. Rather, we preached Christ crucified and disseminated true gospel literature to the masses, trusting in our sovereign God to supply the increase. 

A big thanks to our brothers Nate Steuer, a true missionary and ambassador of Christ as well as his pastor, Gideon Richards.”

THANK YOU for your continued support!

For His Glory ALONE-

Nate & Sheila

Complaints From Belize…

I was born and raised in a family full of critical-complainers. I too, am a highly critical-complainer. I’m not saying that my parents were bad parents, or even being critical of them, except to say that they were sinners …and so am I. It’s interesting how generational sins continue on…

That being said, this morning I was very convicted as I sat down to lead devotions with the family. We have been going through the Old Testament and are up to Numbers 11. We followed Moses from the burning bush, through the plagues of Egypt, across the Red Sea into the wilderness with 600,000+ critical-complainers. Today we read about their complaints about the food they were being served by God. I say served because they did not have to search, hunt or pursue it. It landed right in there lap every day. From Heaven!

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” –Exodus 16:4-5

The manna was described as “coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium” (Numbers 11:7) and “its taste was like wafers with honey” (Exodus 16:31). Sounds pretty good to me. Wafers, honey, yep it actually sounds like yummy cookies! But…

“the people became like those who complain…“Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” (Numbers 11:1, 5-6)

Who will give us meat?

There is nothing at all to look at except this manna?

Hmmm. I would be happy enough that all I had to look at was manna. Served up fresh each day right to my front porch. I’m not a hunter so the thought of suiting up, sitting in a tree stand all day, shooting an animal, skinning it, cutting it up, etc. has no appeal to me (no offense hunters!). I like the easy road. So, if you’re going to deliver fresh food to my front porch each day…count me in!

But not them!

It’s so easy to want to stay on the front porch and be served, rather than serve.

What a great insight into the nature of man. No matter how good he has it, it can “always be better”. Right? I can’t tell you how many times I have believed that lie. Even this morning. It’s 59 degrees here and I am complaining that my fingers are numb and that it’s freezing cold!

screenshot_2017-01-24-08-11-25

Hmm, to our friends in Canada 59 degrees is a heat wave! LOL.

It’s all perspective.

What perspective are we approaching things?

If we approach things through Gods perspective than we take joy in that “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17). When eating manna we remember “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and give thanks to Him!

The chief end of man is to bring Glory to Him and enjoy Him forever!

“Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“That God in all things may be glorified.” (1 Peter 4:11)

What we don’t see in Scripture that God owes us anything. He is not our servant. He is not our butler. He does not have to (nor is He required) to do anything for us. Oh yes, there are promises in His Word for those who rebel against Him…

“But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not cast away the detestable things of their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.” (Ezekiel 20:8)

Mans rebellion + Gods promise = His Wrath

“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:8-10)

Mans rebellion + Gods promise = His Anger & Destruction upon man

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

Mans disobedience = Gods promise = His Wrath

…and there are promises for those who obey Him…

“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5)

Mans obedience + Gods promise = His possession

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

Mans obedience + Gods promise = Bear much fruit

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31)

Mans obedience + Gods promise = His disciples

We are called to serve God. We are to bring Glory and honor to His name. He came as an example for us…

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

He took on the nature of a servant. He is God. He is King. He is ruler. He deserves to be served, but yet He came to serve…

“the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

In doing this we are to follow Him. We are to serve and not be served. If we are serving we are not complaining, crtitical, grumblers but lovers of others and their interests become first in our lives and we “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) thus far proving we are His disciples.

This is a lesson I am still learning. As God continues to sanctify me He burns away these areas of chaff in my life.

Before our devotion time this morning a dear brother sent me Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” And I quickly sent him back Proverbs 10:19 “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

God in His perfect Wisdom quickly rebuked me. He showed me that my complaining about the temperature (among other things) was not profitable to the hearer, not edifying and was transgression. I love how He gently reminds me to repent. He always guides and leads when we follow Him…

He leadeth me: O blessed thought!

O words with heavenly comfort fraught!

Whate’er I do, where’er I be,

still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

 

Refrain:

He leadeth me, he leadeth me,

by his own hand he leadeth me;

his faithful follower I would be,

for by his hand he leadeth me.

 

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,

sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,

by waters still, o’er troubled sea,

still ’tis his hand that leadeth me.

(Refrain)

Lord, I would place my hand in thine,

nor ever murmur nor repine;

content, whatever lot I see,

since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

(Refrain)

And when my task on earth is done,

when by thy grace the victory’s won,

e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,

since God through Jordan leadeth me.

(Refrain)

Anytime I am prone to complain I think about Matthew 12:36 “every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Grumbling, complaining, etc. is nothing more than careless words that we will give an account of in the day of judgment. WOW, a good reminder to keep silent. I pray that I can continue to keep silent when these temptations to critically-complain come.

I praise the Lord for all that He has brought us through here in Belize. There is a ton to complain about by I choose to praise Him instead!

What about you?

That we might get off our front porches and go serve our King!

In His love and for His Glory ALONE-

Nate