Grace and goodness

Three days of inadequate efforts and I’m just plain tired. I mean, I’m really tired. I’ve experienced more spiritual warfare in the past few days than ever before. From dawn to dusk, it’s been one act of Satan working against me after another.  Ephesians 6:17 tells us, “Put on salvation as your helmet and take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” I’ve been clinging to that “sword of the Spirit” all week, calling upon the Lord to sustain me one day at a time. I’m reminding myself to rejoice in the blessings of fiery trials as Scripture says. Slowly but surely, I’m finding that rotten days strengthen my faith a little extra.

This morning I woke up and honestly dreaded another day, fearing that it’d be as exhausting as the days before. I turned on the radio as I drove to school, forgetting that it’s never rarely anything but Christian talk shows that early. Emphasis on the rarely. This is where the week’s tired prayers became fruitful: a song was playing, and it instantly spoke so much life into me. I only caught, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal, so lay down your burdens,” before it went to static. I just kind of lingered in the Lord’s presence for awhile, soaking every bit of that in. That single line laid every trouble to rest.

Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal, so lay down your burdens.

I said, “No, Lord! I need to hear the rest of that!”

I came to terms with the lost radio station and opted for Pandora. Seconds later, the very same song was playing through my speakers. The exact song that had been lost to static happened to be streaming from Pandora just when I needed it to. This was Jesus saying, “My mercy is new every morning,” as I got my cup refilled.

“Come out of sadness, wherever you’ve been. Come broken hearted, let rescue begin. Come find your mercy, oh sinner come near. Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal. So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame. All who are broken, lift up your face. Oh wanderer, come home, you’re not too far. Lay down your hurt, lay down your heart, come as you are. There’s hope for the hopeless, and all those who’ve strayed. Come sit at the table, come taste the grace. There’s rest for the weary, rest that endures, earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t cure. Come as you are, fall in His arms. There’s joy for the morning, sinner be still.” – David Crowder


Going Home

“Please understand, I now have two homes. When I’m at one, I’m away from the other.” – Missionary David Joannes

The Lord has called me back to Africa, or should I say, “home.”

As I was preparing for my first trip, a mentor urged me to watch a movie called Compelled by Love, a film about a missionary couple and their service among the nations. They moved to Mozambique at the peak of the war, with $30 and a God who saves. The woman, Heidi Baker, touched my heart and left a mark that’s lasted. As I fundraised for my first trip, I remembered her and her seemingly never-ending faith. I remembered the many miracles He allowed, the way He used them, the way they were truly His hands and feet, I remembered every bit. She was the most surrendered, sold out person I had seen. She truly loved the world with her hands, stopping for one person after another. She was always on my heart, and never far from my mind. I prayed, day after day, that God would make me like Heidi, in the way that she was a lot like Jesus.

After returning from Africa in July, I went for a visit to Bethany College of Missions, where I had planned to attend next fall. My heart was set on BCOM in all the ways that it could be. Shortly after arriving, the Lord’s discernment had me back backpedalling. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I knew He was shutting the door. I struggled to find an answer as to why He’d do such a thing – close a door that I already had my foot in. Just days later, I heard from a friend I had met while in Africa. She told me about Iris Harvest, a school in Mozambique. Iris allows you to serve with them for 3 months, then enabling you to be hired by Iris Global as a long term missionary elsewhere.

“It’s run by a woman named Heidi Baker!” she said.

The Holy Spirit just captured every part of me. Every hair on my body stood on end. Every doubt and every fear fell off in an instant. His “peace that surpasses all else,” entirely over came me. Sobbing and laughing, too much at once, I came to the realization that the Lord is making my crooked paths straight. And friends, I’m on my way to Mozambique.


Big Dreams, Bigger God

Later, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Upon the servants, upon the handmaids, I will pour out my Spirit. Joel 2:28-29

Scripture says in Genesis, “Joseph dreamed a dream.” It doesn’t say if he drank hot chocolate before bed, making the odds of dreaming a little greater. It doesn’t say what he read before bedtime or what he was thinking about when he fell asleep. It simply says, “Joseph dreamed a dream.”

I am a Joseph. I am a dreamer. I believe my dreams are God-orchestrated, and I believe that there is mighty, mighty power in a dream, just as there is in the name of Jesus. For Joseph it was power over the murderous plot of his brothers who threw him into a well. It was power over the slave traders as he was found in the desert. It was power over injustice and inhuman treatment as he stood naked in the auction of a slave market. It was power over a prison sentence claiming the rest of his years. I believe there is no limitation to the power of a dream.

I dream big enough for the both of us, but I serve a big God, too. I know that the dreams in me were bred by my Creator, who spoke the universe into existence. This dream of mine is bigger than the opposition of the world around me, and not for a minute will I lay it aside because of my own human inadequacy. The Lord is looking for men and women to wake up and say, just like Joseph did, “World, I had a dream.”

Every book is the dream God placed in the heart of a writer. Every home is the dream God placed in the heart of a designer. Every garden is the dream God placed in the heart of a landscaper.

To the house of Jesse, traveled a prophet. God was after a man whose heart was vast enough to carry an entire nation. Jesse brought every last son before Him, each one with a face fit to be a king’s. Each one talented, each one handsome, but each one rejected by God. Then came David, a boy who lived beneath an open canopy, in a field with his sheep. This son was different, living not confined by walls, but under every one of Heaven’s stars. Similar to Abraham, I’m sure he counted stars and stayed up late to fall asleep beneath them. I’m sure he woke up early, just in time for the glimpse of grace that the sunrise offers. I can’t imagine the view he must’ve had. He was different in the way he was strong, drawing his strength from the Man he knew lived inside of him. The prophet saw him and the extent of his heart. “Here is one after God’s heart, here is one who thinks God’s thoughts and dreams His dreams.” I love the way Tommy Reid, a favorite pastor of mine, sums up the way the prophet sees David. He says, “He had never read one of David’s songs or heard him play his harp. All he knew was that he looked beyond the suntanned skin and saw a heart big enough to contain God’s dreams.”

And He made from one, all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation. So that they may seek God and find Him there, although He is not far from each one of us. For in Him, we live and move and have our being.  Acts 17:26-28

I delight in this. I can’t tell you the peace that this bit of Truth brings me. Please, read those few verses again. He has determined our allotted periods of time and fixed boundaries of our habitation, so that we may seek and FIND Him. He has created fixed boundaries. “There is a fixed, determined place where we are called to seamlessly move in Him and He in us.”

My dream was always that of a typical little girl. I’d always hoped I’d have a yard full of horses and a house full of puppies someday. Something like that. I had my heart set on being a marine biologist, or whatever allowed me to ride on the back’s of dolphins or hold starfish in my palms.

And then by the grace of God, the world of missions woke me up, and my dreams, to most ears, sound crazier now than my original dreams of Arabian horses and deep-sea dives.

It’s among the mud huts, the dirty water, the always-dusty bare feet, the rice and beans, that I have found my calling. It’s there that I seamlessly move in Him and He in me. Africa is my fixed boundary. That’s where I seek Him the most, that’s where I find Him the most. I now dream of banana trees in my front yard, not horses. Of African children running through the house, not puppies. Of riding on the back of pikis, not dolphins. I dream of holding small hands again, not starfish. I dream of saying Jesus to the one who has never heard His Name. I dream of fetching water, of walking the trek to the market. I dream of blind eyes opening, deaf ears hearing, of seeing my Heavenly Father touch someone for the first time. I dream of meals multiplied until every hungry stomach in the village is filled until it’s full. I dream of revelations every single day.

Every dream is the Lord pouring His spirit into us, just as He says He will in Joel. He’ll find us, as He did David, with our “world-changer” hearts.

Yes, I am Joseph. I am David. I am Moses. I am Jesus. I am a dreamer.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.


Mercy & Kindness

It is good to be merciful and generous. Psalm 112:5

I wanted to share the story of Thomas Weller to start us off. This man, 16 at the time, plowed into a snow bank during a blizzard. This blizzard left him alone and helplessly stuck. He waited, unhurt, for someone to come along. Eventually, after waiting by himself, a man finally came by in a tow truck and Thomas was able to make it home. He thought to himself, there wasn’t any other traffic tonight, that man probably saved my life.

Today, at the age of 61, Thomas, who is known as “San Diego Highway Man”, scans roads for people stranded or stuck. After 45 years, he’s had over 6,000 roadside assists. He’ll fill up your empty tank, cool your radiator, or even change your flat tire. What’s even cooler, is he accepts no pay, and only asks that you do some kind of kindness to someone else in distress.

Jesus talked to a crowd on a mountainside and told them, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” This truth is evident in Thomas Weller’s life.

In Luke 6:36 Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” To be Christ like, we need to show mercy. Titus 3:5 tells us, “God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Mercy can change someone’s life from defeat and darkness to hope and light. The pattern of revenge, anger, terror, ect. can be broken. Love can destroy hatred.

Someone named Ridley once decided to sit by an “outcast” at school everyday at lunch, despite the looks from others. Days went by, he started talking more, came out of his shell, and the boy told Ridley that he had decided not to commit suicide after because he was thankful to have a friend. Now the two of them enjoy Bible study together every week. Do you see how far a little act of kindness can go?