Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Humility: My Word for 2016

Preface:

Every year since 2007 I have chosen a word for the year.  It’s something that my pastor in Orlando, David Uth, encouraged the congregation to do.  We would pray for a word before the New Year and through prayer and meditation we would be given one.

Without fail, that word ended up playing an important role in my joys and sorrows during that year. Throughout the year God would supply me with scripture and words of wisdom related to that word.  When things were tough it would remind me that God was with me.  By the end of that year I had noticed that I had grown in that particular area of my life.  For example if my word was love, by the end of the year I was loving more.


How it happened:
           
“I fear that my lesson in this lifetime is humility….and I think that lesson is beneath me.”

Toward the middle of November during my month of prayer and fasting, I began praying for a word for 2016.  The first day I prayed I saw a vision of the word “HUMILITY.”  Immediately I was like, “No thank you God. Can I please have another word?  This past year has been hard enough.  Humility will just add to my pain!!!”  I kept praying and asking God for another word but I kept getting humility. 

A week after getting the word “humility” I got the word “truth.”  I was excited for this new word choice.  When I told my small group about it my friend Jennifer said, “humility is nothing but truth, pride is nothing but lying.”  On top of that I started meeting with the mentors I have made here in Thailand in preparation for my training in Korea and every one of them started talking to me about the importance of humility on the mission field.  Then when my pastor from Korea came to visit he also spoke about our team being humble in the direction we choose for our ministry in Thailand. 


The Decision:

“Pride is concerned with who is right.  Humility is concerned with what is right.” 
~Ezra T. Benson

I finally decided to accept the word “humility” about 3 weeks after receiving it and here is why.  First, I am a very prideful person who could actually use some humility in my life. When I say pride I mean the ugly side of pride, one of the “Seven Deadly Sins,” not the side that is satisfied with my choices and accomplishments or where I come from.  Pride is a very ugly sin and without even realizing it, it can catch you off guard.  It is a gateway sin that can lead you into a host of other weaknesses. 

Second, my purpose for being in Thailand is to Empower the few Thai Christians in Thailand to share the gospel with their fellow Thai brothers and sisters.  I want to disciple Thai Christians. I want to equip churches with resources that can strengthen families.  “Empowering people takes humility because you are helping them and they get the credit for all you do.” (Julie Powers) 

Third, humility will teach me how to love genuinely.  When you serve someone with pride you expect something in return.  When you serve someone with humility you are living the way Jesus did.  Jesus expected nothing in return from all those He served during His time on earth.  Those people loved Jesus because they wanted to love Jesus, not because they had too.

Finally, humility is a broken heart.  To be filled with the Spirit, we must be emptied of self.  Some of the greatest lessons I have learned have come from a broken heart.  This current lesson I am facing is no exception.  As I mentioned in my previous blog about trust, “every prideful bone in my body wants me to lash out with pride and get revenge."  God is pouring me out completely right now so I can be filled with His Spirit. 


CONCULUSION:

“He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way.”
~Psalm 25:9

I know this year is going to be tough.  I have no idea where God will take me with this word.  It already started before 2015 ended.  Within a few days after accepting the word God began to work on my humility.  Humility is tough because my flesh is always raging war against my spirit.  Pride is of the flesh and humility is of the spirit.  I ask for your prayers as I take on 2016.  If our paths cross in 2016 I also ask for your patience as well as I am sure I will mess up during this learning process.  


This little bunny warms my heart.  He always greets me at a place I go to pray often.  It's God's way of romancing me in the place I meet Him I guess.

My Super fun Thai class from this past year!


These girls are a special gift from God, to me during my transition into Thai life.  I love this gift!!

During my 2 week visit to Korea I got the chance to meet up with God's special gift to me while I lived in Korea.  I love these girls and the support they continue to give me while on the Mission Field.  

This picture is from a shoe outreach I attended with Empower Asia over Christmas.  Over 200 people came to hear the gospel and about the meaning of Christmas, most of them for the first time.  It was a really wonderful time learning more about this organization and being able to work with them.  Thanks Empower!!!!




“She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that’s one of the reasons why they did.” ~Zelda Fitzgerald


“You can choose to be kind or you can choose to be right, but if you choose to be kind you will always be right.”


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Trust Recap: What I Learned From My Word For 2015

Trust.  This was my word for 2015.  There were 2 major lessons I learned this year from trust.  One happened immediately upon my arrival to Thailand and the other towards the end of the year. Both lessons tie together and happened one right after the other.

At the beginning of the year I thought this word would be me learning to trust God for provisions, not worrying about having my basic needs met, etc.  Of course that did happened this year.  I mean I entered the mission field with the goal of it being long term for crying out loud.  But “trust” is so much more than that.  Trusting the Lord is so much greater than those things.  Yes they are important but it goes much deeper than that.  This year God taught me trust is also about giving situations and people over to Him instead of fixing them myself.     

1st LESSON IN TRUST: PEOPLE

I am someone who likes to tell people how it is.  I think I have some good advice and so I want people to take it and fix their problems.  If someone upsets me and I tell him or her but they still keep doing it then I get passive aggressive and nothing good comes from that so I’m not sure why I keep doing it.

When you live in a place where you have a multitude of friends, and you have this sort of personality, it is easy to behave this way. If the person you are giving “advice” to doesn’t accept it, and decides to not be your friend anymore, then it doesn’t matter cause you have other people to do community with.  Or if you finally rid yourself of the hurtful person because of your passive aggressive behavior then good ridden, you can blame them right?

NOPE!!!!!  WRONG THINKING!!!!

When you live in a new place where you only have very few friends (of whom you are completely dependent on for everything because you are crippled) you can’t necessarily continue to behave this way.  If the hearts of those friends aren’t ready to hear what you have to say, it can make your life miserable.  You can find yourself in a very lonely place, very quickly.

I found myself in that place this year.  All those years of praying for God to teach me how to control my tongue finally were answered, through a painful lesson of loneliness that my quick-tempered tongue brought on itself.  During this loneliness God introduced me to the concept of trusting others in His hands.  Man cannot change another man’s heart.  Forcing this only brings hurt, anger, and frustration into your life.  Only God can change a heart.  Only God can make a wrong, right.

Growing up my mom would constantly tell me not to get back at people, but instead give them over to God.  My teenage self would just roll my eyes thinking, “she knows not what she speaks.”  I’d get revenge and may feel good for a little bit but later on it wouldn’t feel so good.  I realized that I actually did really enjoy being with those people.  I missed them.  Most of the time I regretted how things ended and that they were no longer in my life. Looking back I see how extremely unhealthy, immature, unkind and prideful this is.

I have heard so many of my married friends talk about how frustrating their life was because their spouse was doing something that hurt the relationship or family.  It wasn’t until they decided to shut their mouth and pray to God that things started to change in the marriage and their spouse began to change his/her ways.  I never understood this until now.   It actually works!  Not only that, but by praying for that person I’m struggling with God also changes my heart and my perspective on the situation.  We both change!

I wonder how many relationships I could have saved if I would have only learned this “trust” lesson earlier?  I wonder how much heartache I could have avoided? 

2nd LESSON IN TRUST: SITUATIONS

Control is an illusion.  I’m a planner.  Planning isn’t a bad thing, in fact the bible tells me to be prepared.  But worrying about the future is bad.  Things are going to happen.  Circumstances and situations that once seemed solid will eventually let me down.  When that happens I can either worry or I can trust.  I tend to worry. 

If I really trust God’s plans then that means I will rely on His strength and not my own when plans change.  Emmanuel is with me.  He is standing right next to me, waiting for me to stop figuring it out on my own and trust His way.  “None who wait for you shall be put to shame…” (Psalm 25:3) 

Sometimes things happen as a consequence of me being a wretched idiot (see lesson above).  Sometimes unexpected things happen for reasons I do not understand, therefore, I will not understand how to get out of them.  This is the kind of “circumstantial trust” I am referring to in this lesson.  This is the most recent lesson I have begun to learn late in this year.  I’m pretty sure this lesson is going to affect me for quite awhile actually.   This lesson is also wrapped up in a lesson of submission (my word for 2014) and humility (my word for 2016).

The Situation

I’m not going to go into much detail about this because I don’t understand, I’m confused, and really none of it makes any sense to me.  The reasons I am being given don’t add up, the stories I am being told don’t match up.  I’m heart broken actually.  I did everything I was asked, everything that was expected of me this past year, and it ended with the solid plans I thought I had ripped out from under me.  Because of lack of communication, miscommunication, misunderstanding or whatever factor is playing into my current situation, I find myself in an extremely unstable territory, wandering in a desert, feeling manipulated, betrayed and isolated, hoping the dream I’ve been chasing these past 10 years doesn’t get taken away from me as well. 

Every prideful bone in my body wants me to lash out with pride and get revenge.  I have the “wretched do, do’s” as I call them (see Romans 7).  When I think about it though, I really believe this is an opportunity for me to learn a lesson in humility.  I am so thankful for this conviction because I know the outcome of this choice will be the best.  Humility is such an important trait for the mission field.  (I’m not going to go into too much detail about this because my next blog will be about humility and this one is starting to get too long.)

Even though this doesn’t make sense to me, and I could come up with a million reasons why, I have decided to submit to my authority and follow the recommendation I’ve been given.  It’s being obedient.  I just have to trust that God will provide in the midst of all this uncertainty I am now facing even though it came out of no where and I can’t explain it’s existence.  “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” ~C.S. Lewis

CONCLUSION:

Often I tell people “I’m an eagle, not a cockatiel” because I am such a free spirit.  I love to fly and fly high.  I hate being put in a cage.  I need to be in a flexible environment as big as the sky.  I might consider myself an eagle but even an eagle knows when it’s better to soar with the wind than fly against it.  I don’t have to be in a cage. I can still be an eagle. But it’s time to soar with the wind. 

Saying no would be soaring against the wind.  I’ll get where I need to be but it will be much harder without the spiritual protection of my leaders over me.  It is a very stubborn thing to do.  Saying yes with a prideful and arrogant attitude will put and keep me in a cage I have no desire to be in. 

I used to think that saying yes was keeping me in a cage.  But once you hit your 30’s it’s time to grow up and stop acting like an immature teenager who thinks she knows it all.  One thing I have learned since stepping foot on Korean soil almost 3 years ago is that saying yes sometimes is actually soaring with the wind.  If what is being asked of me isn’t detrimental to me or my faith and could actually benefit me, then why not say yes and look for opportunities to shine within the yes?  Soaring with the wind may take longer to get where I want to go but it will be a lot easier.

So that is it!  That is what I learned from the word “trust” this year.  I’m still a work in progress and will continue to be until the good Lord takes me home.  I’m so grateful for His patience, mercy, and forgiveness to me.  I’m also grateful for those people who He has put in my life who put up with me, pray for me, and don’t leave me!  If you are one of those people thank you for not giving up on me!!!  God bless you!!!  I love you!!!  I pray I don’t forget the lessons I learned this year!  I pray that I remain thankful for the blessings I have during difficult times as well.


“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noon-day.” ~Psalm 37:3-6



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Good Intentions vs. Obedience

Good intentions do not always equal obedience.  God desires obedience not sacrifice.  Coming to Thailand is a sacrifice, doing His will instead of my own, regardless of what my intentions may be for doing it my way, is obedience.

In 1 Samuel 15, God has Samuel go to King Saul and tell him to wipe out the Amalekites and everything that belongs to them.  He tells him to leave nothing behind.  Saul however spares the best cattle from the battle and brings it to sacrifice to the Lord.  Saul thought his intentions were good but he didn’t obey God and God saw his disobedience as “evil in the sight of the Lord.”  “The Lord regretted that He had made Saul King over Israel.”

THE SACRIFICE:

            I spent the month of November praying and fasting about my future in Thailand.  The whole goal for the last half of 2015 was to learn Thai, learn about the culture, network, get advice from people, and find ministries to partner with and serve.  I have done what I was asked.  Each ministry I have connected with has been such a blessing from God in it’s own unique way and I have been blessed by serving them.  The longer I am in Thailand the more I see the hand of God using me here.

            Now it is time to make a decision for the future.  From the talks that I have had with very wise people who are extremely knowledgeable of everything Thai; as well as what it takes to be a missionary, I have come to the conclusion that 2016 will not be the year I start ministry on my own.  I believe God wants me to commit the next 4-5 years to learn.  When the time is right He will call me to the vision I have for Thailand, if it is even a vision from Him at all.  Maybe that vision will change.  What matters most is that I surrender my will for how I want to do missions, for His desire to see me do missions.  Jesus spent 30 years preparing for 3 years of ministry.  I got a lot to learn and I am willing to SACRIFICE my way for this new realization.

            One of the things I keep hearing over and over again is the importance of partnerships with those already established in Thailand.  Missions, like everything else, is something that must happen naturally. It is like a fruit bearing tree.  What I mean by that is the year the tree is planted is not the year it will bear fruit.  It takes 5-7 years before that tree begins to bear fruit.  The same holds true with missions.  It must be cultivated in the beginning and there is a lot of learning that takes place.  The roots need to grow and be deep in the ground so the storms will not unexpectedly uproot it.  Until the sprout becomes a full size tree it needs to be surrounded by other larger plants that can protect it from the storms until it is ready to be on its own. This past 6 months was me being planted and watered.  Now I'm a little sprout is popping out of the ground and I’m beginning to grow.



THE OBEDIENCE:

I arrived in Korea the 8th of December to do some missions training but shortly after my arrival I was asked to consider a different path.  This new path has totally blindsided me, coming out of no where, and it’s playing on my greatest fears, causing me to think and behave in ways contradictory to the lessons I have learned this year.  My head and heart want 2 different things and I cannot for the life of me get them in sync.  My intentions for not wanting to do this, however good they may seem, are honestly wrapped up in a blanket of pride and because of that I know my way is not right. 

I have spent hours of prayer, worship, fasting, crying and advice seeking trying to grasp my mind around and understand what has happened since my arrival, only to wake up everyday in the same place I was the day before.  My soul refuses to be consoled. My pride is preventing my heart from doing what my mind knows is right, submitting.  My na├»ve and narrow thinking is complicating things, preventing me from seeing God as my Provider, and scaring me to run away from the dream I have finally been able to obtain. My fears are telling me I’ll never measure up and eventually every relationship will end with me rejected and abandoned.  These fears are causing me to respond in ways that are hurting those who do care about me.  All of a sudden OBEDIENCE doesn’t look as easy as it did before.

But today I was reminded that I have hope. When the world tells me to give up, hope whispers “try it one more time.”  That hope comes from the one who is Almighty over all.  The one who is greater than my fears, greater than my shame, greater than my mistakes, greater than my pain.  That hope gives me the power to make the right choice and have the right mindset about my situation!  That hope gives me the power to look my real enemy in the eye and tell him “no more!” That hope will console my broken and hurting soul! That hope will allow me to forgive! That hope will change the way I think, from believing lies to believing the TRUTH!  That hope will never leave me abandoned! I declare it in Jesus Mighty Name. 

From this day forward, this circumstance will no longer defeat me!  I am not a slave to my fears because I am a child of a God who is bigger than they!!  I will choose obedience, no matter how hard it will be, and I will abide in the presence of the Almighty, where hope flourishes and joy never ceases.  It’s time for me to surrender my pride and listen to the advice I have been giving others this year.  It doesn’t matter what I do on the mission field if I’m not being obedient. I don’t want God to regret sending me the way He regretted making Saul King. Today I choose humility over pride, obedience over sacrifice, joy over grief, and hope over despair. 

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” `1 Samuel 15:22