"..For I felt that I was still the captive of my sins, and in misery I kept crying, 'How long shall I go on saying, 'Tomorrow, tomorrow'?..."
Saturday, February 27, 2010
"..For I felt that I was still the captive of my sins, and in misery I kept crying, 'How long shall I go on saying, 'Tomorrow, tomorrow'?..."
Friday, February 26, 2010
The link above is an article written by Steve Sjogren, author of Conspiracy of Kindness. Sjogren, along with speaker Bill Davis, are coming to Waterloo/Cedar Falls on March 18. You're invited into the day. Check out the letter below:
You’re invited to a powerful ministry opportunity. Steve Sjogren and Bill Davis will be at the Heartland Vineyard Church March 18th 2010 revealing to us the current pulse of the Father, how we can put a finger on it, and usher in the flow of Jesus to renew and rescue the people of our communities who are lost, broken and looking for a way out. These two men have a wonderful history of generating momentum and reaching out to hurting folks in communities’ nation wide.
Bill and Steve will encourage and ignite our continued efforts to bring the passion of Jesus into our leaders. We hope that it will spread through our churches, affect our cities, and bring light to dark places. They will do this through story telling/teaching in the morning, followed by a time of “doing the stuff” in the afternoon. We will then come back for an evening with the Holy Sprit with more stories, teaching, worship, and prayer time with each other. (Schedule below)
How do we keep a missional attitude alive in our churches? We keep focusing on the people’s hearts! Outreach is vital to the “stretch” of our faith, and our desire is that it would be an overflow out of the heart and not just another thing to do, or check off of the list. We want to be like water poured out for Him, allowing ourselves to be dumped out wherever He chooses even if it means in the midst of an uncomfortable situation or location. And sometimes we all just need someone to remind us of that, and then actually take us out into the community and make it happen. We feel what these two men will be sharing and doing with us is extremely important in maintaining a healthy and vibrant church body, and we don’t want you to miss out!
Please let us know if you and/or your leaders will be able to make it a day with us so we can plan for food and outreach accommodations by March 11th. Also, we may be outside for some of the outreach time so be sure to dress appropriately (you may need a hat and gloves), we are praying for great weather but you never know what March will bring in Iowa.
Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org when you place it on your calendar.
Hope to see you here!!
Who these guys are…
Bill, son of a Florida police detective, had a rebellious attitude, which led to his premature discharge from the Air Force. His continued antisocial behavior led to a life of crime, drugs, and repeated imprisonment. Bill, at one point in his downward spiral, found himself in the California state prison system, with murderer Charles Manson as his cellmate! With his body suffering from the ill effects of alcohol, drugs, and a rebellious lifestyle, he was dramatically changed by Jesus Christ in 1972. After his transformation, Bill engaged in street ministry where he saw many lives radically changed. He began working with young people and shared his story in high schools and universities throughout the world. His message of hope and the ability to make a fresh start through God's grace has affected many.
Steve Sjogren addresses both the practical and spiritual benefits to this type of outreach and how it can become “doable” in any church. Steve’s talks are enriching, humorous, and filled with creative incentives to “love thy neighbor.”
Steve Sjogren launched the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1985 with 37 people. Under his leadership, the dynamic congregation grew to more than 6000 in average attendance. From the onset, VCC had a strong emphasis on servant evangelism, small groups, church planting and caring for the needy. Following a medical accident in 1997 and during his recovery, Steve became the Launching Pastor. Through the years the church planting internship program and Steve’s coaching efforts have produced several dozen successful church plants. Steve is currently focused on writing, speaking and mentoring church planters. Steve’s passion for evangelism, church planting and leadership development is reflected in his writing. In 2007 Steve and his wife, Janie, began the launch of their fifth church planting adventure in the greater Tampa, Florida area. Steve’s first book, Conspiracy of Kindness (Vine Books, 1993), has gained attention across a broad base of church leaders as an effective and creative approach to sharing the love of Christ. 101 Ways to Reach Your Community is a “cookbook” of projects and practical guide to getting started with Servant Evangelism. Visit ServantEvangelism.com for tons of outreach ideas and resources.
“I think in our day there's a chronic shortage of joy in evangelism. The whole idea of having fun and high-fiving each other is almost completely foreign to us. But it is out there. We just have to find people that are willing to go out with us and find joy in doing these things together. …I think we've prayed too long for relief and we need to start praying for reality to set in for the church.” Steve S
March 18th Agenda
9:30 am Rolls, Fruit & Coffee/Drinks
10:00 am Worship / Stories / Teaching
Dan Paxton /Marty Boller share
Bill Davis / Steve Sjogren share
NOON Soup & Salad
1:00 pm Outreach Afternoon
3:30 pm Return & Share
4:00 pm Wrap Up / Break
6:00 pm Evening with the Holy Spirit
Thursday, February 25, 2010
One sticking point I heard was that the human race has four similar longings. The longing for relationship, for spirituality, for beauty, and for justice. A great part of the missional life is to help connect people's story with God's bigger story as they seek to fulfill these longings.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Gerald May, who wrote a book called Addiction and Grace defines addiction as “any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of our truest, deepest desire.” May speaks of our deepest desire being to continually know God’s love and return that love. Our greatest desire is that loving, abiding relationship with God. But that desire often gets off track, misguided, and it gets attached to other things…things that fill up the spaces within us where love and grace could otherwise flow. “And we begin to worship, attend to, give our time and energy to these things instead of love. Addiction sidetracks and eclipses the energy of our deepest, truest desire for love and goodness. These attachments keep our love for God and neighbor incomplete. They create other gods for us. Because of our addictions, we will always be storing up treasures somewhere other than heaven, and these treasures will kidnap our hearts and souls and strength.” I think about in this way. I know that there’s a spectrum from habit, habit gone bad, to full blown addiction with its claws in, but I kind of clump that spectrum with the word attachment. The word attach comes from a French word that means “nailed to”. I think “Jesus was nailed to the cross for the things that I’ve nailed my desire to that are not him. And I think of the attachments in my life kind of as nails being driven in at various degrees..all the way to addiction where the nail is really embedded.
For me, I know attachments are likely present if I’m feeling somewhat complacent in my relationship with God and I can’t seem to grow like I deeply desire to and I’m somewhat stuck in borderland…there are probably some attachments that are holding me back. Attachments/addictions are most likely present when we use the words “next month, or next year, on Monday, I’ll…they’re often found if we just look at our New Year’s resolution list and see what continually gets passed on to the next list each year without progress. They’re often present when we echo Paul in Romans 7- “I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do I do not do, and what I hate I do.” Addiction is often present in the things we find our minds preoccupied and obsessed with. Or in things we’d find really difficult to fast from. Or in things we escape to regularly or in things that manifest our lust, greed, envy. And for me I know attachments/addictions are generally lurking when I yak, yak, yak about and read, read, read about things I really know I have enough knowledge about but can’t seem to actually live out and do, so I’ll just try to read the next book to see if I find the magic solution. Attachments/Addictions come in all varieties…we often think of gambling, sex, food, alcohol and drugs, but we can be attached and addicted to everything from money to clothes to sports to house decorating to things that are more difficult to measure like approval, performance, control, work, status. They are anything that limit our freedom to grow in full devotion to Christ because our desires are nailed to them instead. We all have addictions, though addictions may stay outside of our awareness for a long time because that is their nature…to confuse, to cause us to rationalize, justify, and deny. They often work with our tricky false selves to keep us from our true selves. Sweet, amazing Grace is the only hope and power that can deal with our attachments and addictions.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea," Psalm 46: 1-2
We are so thankful for all that the Lord is doing here. The most important thing is that more people are coming to know Him through this. This has always been our prayer for Haiti. Pastors of churches that are affiliated or not affiliated with UCI have been coming to us to tell us the news that many hard hearts are soft and a lot people are being restored to their faith. On Sunday, we were able to visit the house of the family that had 6 people come to know Lord when Jean Jean and I went to pray with them. Every single person in that house from Port had been sick. But, the whole family is doing well now! The mom is so happy to be going to church with her kids. We are hoping to put in a cement floor for them so no one has to sleep in the dust or mud. During the 3 days of national prayer, our community had over 15 people come to Him for the first time and many, many more came forward to re-dedicate their lives to Jesus. We have heard reports like this all over Haiti, praise the Lord!.
Haiti continues to suffer from aftershocks. The last one registered 4.7 in Port-au-Prince. One of Jean Jean's school mates had been living inside his house since a couple weeks after the quake. It had seemed that his house had not suffered damage. But, yesterday's last aftershock shook his house too much and it now has major cracks in it. He will not be living in it again. Keep praying that no more structural damage will happen in Port. Also, it has been raining off-and-on. Usually rain is such a blessing. But, with so many people living outside or on the ground, it has caused a lot of problems.
Many people have asked how our family is coping now. It is much better now but 2 of my sisters-in-law still prefer to sleep on the ground. They do this because every time their bed shakes a little--even though we don't feel the aftershocks here--it scares them awake and they can't sleep. I don't know what else to do but pray and be patient. Another sad story concerns the young people that have been able to go to school in our community. It has been good to have the kids go to school and get back into a routine. But, today, some trouble-makers decided to throw big rocks on the roofs of the school buildings. The kids from Port heard the noise and immediately thought that it was another earthquake. They all panicked and ran out. This caused the other kids to be scared and everyone pushed and shoved to get out into the yard. Many kids were hurt in all the confusion. What is even sadder is that we have heard of several other communities having the same problem. Haiti is trying to continue as before, but it is hard.
We apologize because our camera, after giving us a lot of problems, has decided to stop working all together. I have a lot of pictures that should have been taken of people receiving food and supplies, of the churches being helped, and people who would love to tell you thank you personally. But, we'll get another camera soon.
We have been able to hand out a lot of food to refugee families that have been in need. Many families have benefitted from this ministry. UCI's Haitian board has been praying about how to shift to development. Giving food only lasts a short time and it is hard for many of these people to keep on receiving hand-outs. One of the ways we hope to develop people and help the country is to expand our agricultural program. Everyone needs to eat and Port-au-Prince lost a lot of their food manufacturing businesses. We would like to help families to learn how to grow enough food to feed themselves. Many of the refugees are returning to their family and their family land. Through the local churches, UCI wants to train people and work with co-op groups. One specific way that UCI wants to help is to help finance a water pump that can irrigate land by a river. If several families work together, a water pump can be situated to irrigate an extensive area. Once irrigation is in place, people can grow vegetables that will supplement their diet and can be sold for profit. We also are working on other microfinance ideas that will help out families that have to start over. We know that we need to continue to give people fish for a while longer, but we really want to teach people to fish instead. And with all of this, we are going to use the Bible as our GPS to guide us.
We appreciate your prayers and your love!
Jean Jean, Kristie and all the folks here
Sunday, February 21, 2010
"Christian perfection is not so severe, tiresome, and constraining as we think. It asks us to be God's from the bottom of our hearts. And since we thus are God's, everything we do for him is easy. Those who are God's are always glad, when they are not divided, because they only want what God wants and want to do for him all that he wishes. They divest themselves of everything, and in this divesting find a hundredfold return.
Peace of conscience, liberty of heart, the sweetness of abandoning ourselves in he hands of God, the joy of always seeing the light grow in our hearts, finally, freedom from the fears and insatiable desires of he times, multiply a hundredfold the happiness which the true children of God possess in the midst of their crosses, if they are faithful."....
"What folly to fear to be too entirely God's! It is to fear to be too happy. It is to fear to love God's will in all things. It is to fear to have too much courage in the crosses which aer inevitable, too much comfort in God's love, and too much detachment from the passions which make us miserable." ...
"How dangerous it is for our salvation, how unworthy of God and of ourselves, how pernicious even for the peace of our hearts, to want always to stay where we are! Our whole life was only given us to advance us by great strides toward our heavenly country."...
"There is only one way to love God: to take not a single step without him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever he leads."...
Author Richard Foster suggests the following exercise: Fenelon writes, "God has little patience with those weak souls who say to themselves, 'I shall go this far and no farther.'" Define your comfort zone this week. Examine the limits of your obedience. Ask yourself why you would only "go this far and no farther."...
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; Feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; Feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; Feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; Feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; Feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; Feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; Feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; Feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; Feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayer that [strengthens]. —William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994.)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Then, three days to Dallas, TX, for the final gathering of a two-year leadership community called "Missional Renaissance Leadership Community". Nine church teams come together from around the states, and under the leadership of Reggie McNeal and Eric Swanson, we engage for two days of conversations and activity to challenge and grow us missionally.
You can check the MRLC out at www.leadnet.org. Leadership Network is the hosting organization...some good stuff on their website!
Back in a week....with a plethara of blog material, I'm sure!
Last year at closing worship for Love Cedar Valley, worship leader Armond "Fuzzy" Floyd kept using the word "juiced" to describe the feeling in the room as people from 30+ churches gathered together in celebration and worship.
Last night was the kick-off meeting for Love Cedar Valley 2010. With 16 churches and ministries represented at this first meeting, there was that feeling again..."juiced"....as we experienced both the diversity and the unity in the room and as we anticipated together what God might do through this year's efforts to glorify Him through LCV '10.
www.lovecedarvalley.com April 24, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
"What are the four degrees of love? First, we love ourselves for our own sake; since we are unspiritual and of the flesh we cannot have an interest in anything that does not relate to ourselves. When we begin to see that we cannot subsist by ourselves, we begin to seek God for our own sakes. This is the second degree of love; we love God, but only for our own interests. But if we begin to worship and come to God again and again by meditating, by reading, by prayer, and by obedience, little by little God becomes known to us through experience. We enter into a sweet familiarity with God, and by tasting how sweet the Lord is we pass into the third degree of love so that now we love God, not for our own sake, but for himself. It should be noted that in this third degree we stand still for a very long time.
I am not certain that the fourth degree of love in which we love ourselves only for the sake of God may be perfectly attained in this life. But, when it does happen, we will experience the joy of the Lord and be forgetful of ourselves in a wonderful way. We are, for those moments, one mind and one spirit with God."
Friday, February 12, 2010
Six months ago, Gene walked into Harvest Vineyard to do community service, and last week he walked out of this life having known the love of Jesus and the love of friends.
If you have a minute, check out a beautiful story of the Gospel being lived out at a friend's blog, www.lovesmuch.blogspot.com. Shelly's post about Gene's story is entitled "Just Gene".
I didn't know Gene well, but I did come to see him at Harvest quite regularly this fall, and I could detect his movement from a community service worker to a Harvest family member.
Oh, the hope and glory of Heaven, Gene! I'll see you again someday, and in the meantime, know that you not only kept the windows at Harvest clear and clean, but your story has helped make clear and clean the windows of the Kingdom as well.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
What are the spiritual and societal impacts we are having on our community?
Are we building bridges into our community?
Are we going to those on the margins?
Are we bringing God's truth and grace, His light and beauty into the city?
If our churches closed down, would anyone outside of our churches notice?
A vision for all 156 churches can be summed up with this vision statement that belongs to Cincinnati's Vineyard Community Church:
"Imagine a ragtag collection of surrendered and transformed people who love God and others. They are mesmerized by the idea that this is not about them, but all about Jesus. They are transfixed by His story and His heart for the city.
They are seedthrowers and firestarters, hope peddlers and grace-givers, risk-takers and dreamers, young and old. They link arms with anyone who tells the story of Jesus. They empower the poor, strengthen the weak, embrace the outcast, seek the lost. They serve together, play together, worship together, live life together. Their city will change because God sent them. They are us."
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2: 9-11
In all of Haiti's history, there has always been Carnival. Haiti is known for its Mardi Gras celebration that last days, costs the government lots of money, and harms many people. The news will glorify the festival, saying that it is a cultural celebration. But, they don't understand the devastation that Carnival leaves in its wake. Carnival is a voudoo service--it is worshipping Satan. In the act of worship, practitioners will spend their last dime, harm themselves, or willingly let possession take place. There are always people that die and many others are injured. But, the news will only show the dancing and singing and partying. People come from all over the world to celebrate Carnival in Haiti. Carnival was to be this week.
But, for the first time, Haiti's government has cancelled Carnival. Instead, the president has called for 3 days of national prayer. That is a miracle, my friends. That is what we have been praying for since coming to serve in Haiti. What an opportunity this will be to stand up for the name of Jesus. The nation of Haiti will be spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in fasting and prayer. For our community, we will be uniting the local churches to pray and fast together. The community chose to use our worship center as its meeting place. They chose our facility without us knowing about the decision. We are so glad that we are able to provide the setting for the services. Pray that JeanJean and the other leaders will be able to guide people to Christ for their comfort. Our prayer has always been that God would fill up the worship center with people who are looking for Him. The community is encouraging those who go to church and those that don't to join together to pray. We hope that many new people will be exposed to the gospel and that people's faith will be strengthened. May the whole nation be as the jailer in Acts 16:30 that experienced the earthquake in the prison and called out to Paul, "...what must I do to be saved?" I have been convicted that God can use a major disaster to become a major turning point for Haiti. Please consider praying and fasting yourselves on these days. Haiti is still desperately in need of your prayers.
We have been sending money and supplies to the churches of Pastor TessiChrist, Smith, and Raynold in Port-au-Prince. They are so grateful for all the help that has been given to their congregations. We will be sending another load of charcoal on Sunday as that is still a big need. The pastors do ask for people to pray for the sicknesses that are spreading. Many, many people suffer from GI problems such as diarrhea due to the lack of good water. People suffer respiratory problems as well from the stench and dust that still hovers in Port. Also, the flies and rats are becoming major problems, as well. The government is not allowing construction to begin since the clean-up is far from over and codes and regulations need to be instigated.
Many of you have told us how you are praying for our full house. We appreciate that so much. One of the little girls at our house turned 4 today and had her first birthday party. Many people here don't keep track of birthdays as it is difficult to get presents and to celebrate. But, Tana and Kerri and their friends made a cake, decorated the house, and wrapped up some presents for Judiana. I don't know if she'll settle down to sleep after all the excitement! I can't say enough how blessed we are to have such good people with us. We have sent several of 'our people' to Port so that they can salvage what they can from the rubble of their houses. Many refugees in our area are seriously considering building here. UCI may have a lot of opportunities to help with construction in the near future.
JeanJean, along with the Haitian board, have been praying diligently about how to transition from relief to development. They have several ideas on how to help find work for those who have been displaced. They have been considering training people in agriculture and microfinance along with training on the Bible. Please pray for these decisions. We want to be good stewards of the relief money that you have so graciously given.
The pastors from other communities that received relief monies from UCI last week returned with their reports. I haven't added up all the families that benefitted but I know that it touched hundreds of people in far-off communities that are often forgotten.
I don't want to make this update too long but I need to let you know that UCI's on-going ministries are doing well. Without our board, we would not have been able to do both the regular ministries and relief. We are so grateful for the men of the board. We have been able to start 2 new nutrition centers which brings the total to seven places where kids are nourished physically and spiritually. I have a couple of pictures to share.
I told you in a previous update that our youth group went and prayed with the families who lost sons in the quake. They brought an offering as well. From seeing how blessed the people were, the youth group has decided to try to raise money by selling coffee. They have made 30 lbs. already. They hope to use this money to bless others who are unable to help themselves. The group also spent all day Saturday helping a family that lost a son in the quake to rebuild their house. We are also up to 54 houses that have received cement floors. Saul, our agricultural specialist, is planning on training 10-20 men/refugees on how to raise crops to make a good profit.
There are so many other things to report but we'll leave you there. God bless you!
JeanJean, Kristie, Tana and Kerri Mompremier
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I have seen lots of creative talent in many of our staff, being someone who loves art, design, and cool looking things, I've begun to dream up some fund-raising ideas. It involves getting all our artists to create art, design tshirts, take pictures, make bags, book marks, cards...pretty much whatever God has given them a gift to design and we are going to have store. Our buyers mostly being the tourist that have been streaming in to Battambang thanks to brand new roads from Poipet and Siem Reap! No longer do you have to be hard core to get to Battambang, you can take a smooth ride all the way here in 2 hours, it used to take 5 hours and you got sea sick on all the bumps...anyway...
But to rent a store is expensive, so I had a thought one day of having a cart, that's right a push cart for a store. Here in Cambodia people have carts all over the place, you don't have to pay rent on a cart, you don't have to stay in one place, you don't have to have pay for electricity, the suns got us covered.
So I've been going forward with this cart idea, asking God, really is this your idea God, cuz if it's just mine, it's not going to work...please let it be yours, but I felt like I needed to keep going forward checking prices on carts. I went just yesterday and most carts are about 100 dollars. So I thought okay, that's a little pricey, but we could get 100 bucks somehow!
After checking the prices I drove back to our base to have lunch (yum rice) I sat down next to my friend Alissa, she asked me a normal question, "molly what did you do today." I told her, "well I looked at carts to buy." she replied, "really, carts!" I said, "why yes indeed carts." (or something like that)
Alissa continued to tell me that for Christmas a woman from her church emailed and said her small group had taken an offering for our base and wanted to give it to Alissa to give it us as a base. Alissa asked them to pray about how to use the on the base, because we have lots of needs. So this lady got together with her small group and they prayed (they live in in CO, USA) After a few days they emailed Alissa back and said, "we keep getting the word 'cart', could you possibly need a cart?" Alissa said, "well no (remember this was back in December), but we will keep it until God does something with a cart."
As I heard this my eyes got bigger and bigger! This was all great news to me, as I have been asking God, "do you really want me to get a cart!?" So I asked her how much money did they give and she said, "100 dollars!" Exactly how much the carts costs!
Shoot if that isn't God I don't know who it is! God is alive and moving from Cambodia to Colorado and elsewhere. He can speak about anything and he can lead us anyway he wants. If we would only pray and ask him.
I was so encouraged when this happened, I am doing something right!!! God's confirming it through others who love him!!! May you be encouraged as well. God speaks and leads.
So I'm off to buy a cart...
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Keller spends much more time unpacking the parable...fleshing out that it is really a parable of the two lost sons, not just the one. The elder brother's reaction to the return of his younger brother and his response to his Father showed that he was lost as well. He, like his younger brother, just really wanted the Father's things and not the Father.
Keller does an amazing job addressing the younger brother who was trying to find salvation through self-discovery and the elder brother who was trying to find salvation through good behavior. He also does a tremendous job showing us the character, sacrifice, and invitation of the Father.
I'll never read this parable in the same light again. As Jesus addressed both the tax-collectors/sinners and the Pharisees in his audience, so he addresses all of us in this story as well, and points us to the Father, the true elder brother (Jesus), and the feast. I'd recommend the book!
Monday, February 8, 2010
NEW YEAR............Another year is upon us and it’s always nice to get a fresh start, a fresh outlook on life.
“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.” 1 Peter 1:13 (the Message)
What a way to start the year!
Our family will finish our assignment, serving in the Philippines with Pacific Missionary Aviation, on Sept 30th of this year. That is exactly 9 years since we arrived here. Our initial commitment was a term of 3 years; but God stretched us to make it three terms. Our lives have been enriched by the Filipinos who have worked alongside us. Our kids have embraced the culture and our paths have mingled with other missionaries pressing on with the Great Commission as their centerpiece. It is a blessing and an honor to serve here.
We still have much to accomplish in the next 8 months. God humbles us regularly and we have grown closer to Him. We trust Him for our daily provision and He has worked out the details. As a family, we look forward to being closer to the grandparents (Malcolm’s dad in California, and Mary’s mom in Iowa.) We miss Will so much and want to be near him and Lauren as they move on in college.
NEW AND “OLD” SUPPORTERS…………
As supporters, we are asking if you could stay with us until the end of September?! Financially, we need a strong finish to pack up our belongings and move our family back to Iowa, then transition into a new situation. We will leave this country on July 4, then visit churches and meet up with you in the USA during those last months.
Our personal support with PMA will continue until Sept 30th. This is same support that many of you have generously given for over 8 years and we THANK YOU! For some others, have you have ever thought of sharing in this ministry? Now is a great time to start. It’s never too late and 8 months is a pretty short commitment….or we would be ever-grateful for a one-time gift. (See the headquarters address below.)
MEDICAL OUTREACH AND ADOPTION…………
January was a month of action and emotion. With the help of a ministry team from Iowa, we were able to accomplish a three-day medical outreach in two remote villages. These visitors can testify that it was not easy to get there! By air, boat, and walking through low tide, we arrived ready to serve. PMA recently planted a church in one of those villages, and these people had NEVER had a medical outreach or barely any medical assistance in their history. Seven local doctors and dentists joined us to share God’s love to over 900 patients. Can you picture this? We had to bring with us – the medicine, dental supplies, drinking water, backpacks, sleeping bags, and even tents for 19 people. It is only God that gives us strength.
Our Bahay Kalinga child, Aileen, was adopted the following Tuesday. Malcolm flew the family to Mindoro, along with Dr John, who was doing monthly checks on all the children. We rejoiced is seeing the “forever” family meet and unite with Aileen. Of course, the family cried and the caregivers cried. After a while of warming up, Aileen was all smiles as she headed out on the jeepney, enroute to the USA.
“And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (the Message)
Much love to you,
Malcolm and Mary Cleope, Lauren, Chris, & Mark, plus Will in Iowa
All donations can be sent to PMA Headquarters:
Pacific Missionary Aviation
P.O. Box 3209
Hagatna, Guam 96932
Thank you for your support!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
"Spiritual lust makes me demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God who gives the answer."
"Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer."
Last night's concert on the UNI campus was moving and had a nice cross-cultural mix in the audience. Above are pictures of Brion Martin, Ellaysa Newton, Dante Marcellous (and 3 dancers), and Chassidi Ferguson. All are friends in SHOUT! Ministries and all have encountered the life-changing Jesus. The group spent 75 minutes sharing about Christ's love in rap, mime, music, and a moving monologue. What I believe was so impactful was the power in the testimony of those on stage. More than the God-given talents that they shared with the audience was their witness of a close relationship with Christ and a different kind of life they now live; a life with passion and purpose. In the time together, it was clear that what those leaders had was not "religion" but a very dynamic relationship with a living and active God. They did a great job magnifying Christ through the evening!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
"At a certain point in the spiritual journey God will draw a person from the beginning stage to a more advanced stage. At this stage, the person will begin to engage in religious exercises and grow deeper in the spiritual life. Such souls will likely experience what is called 'the dark night of the soul'. The 'dark night' is when those persons lose all the pleasure that they once experienced in their devotional life. This happens because God wants to purify them and move them on to greater heights."
John of the Cross writes of God purifying the soul by teaching virtue in areas that are likely to become vices. He writes about seven troublesome areas he refers to as "capital sins" that God often addresses in the dark night:
1. secret pride. There's danger for zealous new believers to become satisfied with their religious works and with themselves. God wishes to move people in God's way and counter this pride with humility so that they will learn to think little of themselves and their religious works and will instead focus on how great and deserving God is and how little they can do for him.
2. spiritual greed. The danger is that a person might grow discontented because they have attached growth to feelings they've received from their devotional life. They focus on the affect and not the substance of devotion. God's 'dark night' helps a person set their eyes on God and not on outward things or inner experiences. The outcome is simplicity.
3. spiritual luxury. God strips people of sensory pleasure and downfall caused by temptations and fears. God helps to quiet the flesh, silence the devil, and tame our fears. The result is peace.
4. spiritual wrath. When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes angry and embittered. When their delight is absent, they may feel frustrated and anxious, many times at themselves, thinking that the loss of joy is a result of something they have done or neglected to do. God grows patience in this person, causing them to wait for whatever God would give them when He chooses to give to them. They learn contentment.
5. spiritual gluttony. "Consuming" spiritual exercises at great length and in great quantity in order to achieve consolation and pleasure from the devotions. People do these things for themselves and not for God. God's 'dark night' will help the person gain perseverance, patience, and humility. 'The truth is that the feelings they receive from their devotional life are the least of its benefits. The invisible and unfelt grace of God is much greater, and it is beyond comprehension." moderation.
6. spiritual envy. People who fancy themselves spiritual are often not pleased to hear about the spirtual growth of others. Their chief concern is to be praised themselves and thought of as the most spiritual of all. This is contrary to love, and God will work to purge this and replace it with joy.
7. spiritual sloth. Souls sometimes abandon spiritual exercises because they are not yielding any consolation from them. They become angry because they're called to do that which does not fit their needs. They begin to lose interest in God because they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God. As they are, these souls are too weak to bear the crosses that are given to help us grow. If a soul will turn toward God in this dark night, it will in time receive strength from God.
Reading through these, it's clear to me that how we respond to these dry valleys and seemingly absences of God is key. Do we turn from God and further take the reins, being led by our feelings and ourselves? Of do we turn toward God in a posture of faith, openness, patience, and surrender of self? Our responsiveness makes all the difference as God works to conform us into Christ's likeness rather than allowing ourselves to be conformed by the world.
Friday, February 5, 2010
1. Personal vibrant relationship with God
2. A learning posture throughout life
3. Christlikeness in character
4. Maintain convictions and beliefs
5. Accomplishes God's purposes for their life
6. Fulfilled their sense of destiny
Six barriers to finishing well:
1. Finances, their use and abuse
2. The abuse of power
3. Inappropriate and self-centered pride
4. Sexual misconduct
5. Problems with family relationships
6. Plateauing in growth
Five enhancements to finishing well:
2. Times of renewal
3. Spiritual disciplines
4. Learning posture
(this information from the book Starting Well, by Richard Clinton and Paul Leavenworth)
Our church offers a 3 year leadership course from a series called "Vantage Point 3". I took the classes from 2004-2007 and found them to be excellent. Last Spring, I found this list above printed on a sheet, leftover from a current class, and laying on a table in one of our classrooms at church. I vaguely remembered the information from when I had been class, and I snatched up the paper and have had it in a visible place at home for some months now.
These are important lists for me to consider. What's needed in my life to grow my relationship with Christ and my ability to finish well in Him and for Him? What's needed from me to ensure that I avoid the pitfalls?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
So, interested in running a marathon? If so, email email@example.com to get on his emails. No commitment needed to get his informational emails, and no need to be connected to Orchard Hill Church. I believe there was no experience of my life like last year's training experience. The bonds of friendship formed were incredible. The encouragement, the courage and risk-taking as a community, the accountability, the inspiration...wow.
I'm thinking of riding RAGBRAI this summer with my family, and I'll also be on the road two weeks out West, so rather than train for a 2nd marathon, I believe I'd like to train with the team and run the 1/2 marathon in Des Moines that day. If you've ever pondered the idea of a marathon, this might be your year! And if I can run a marathon, anyone can!
How shall we fight for joy? John Piper
1. Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift.
2. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.
3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life.
4. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt- how to fight like a justified sinner.
5. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who He is.
6. Meditate on the Word of God day and night.
7. Pray earnestly and continually for open heart/eyes and an inclination for God.
8. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
9. Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight.
10. Be patient in the night of God's seeming absence.
11. Get the rest, exercise, and proper nutrition that your body was designed by God to have.
12. Make a proper use of God's revelation in nature.
13. Read great books about God and biographies of great saints.
14. Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others.
15. Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the unreached.