Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Glimpses of Grace: Week 4

Do you feel rested? I hope so. I hope that you discovered a new understanding of biblical rest through your time in week 3, just as I did.

This week's study is going to focus on holiness. Most American Christians understand this demand better than the biblical requirement to rest, yet we still struggle to actually be holy.
In fact, many people have a negative view of holiness. We may not say it out loud, but most of us assume that anyone who is truly holy is useless in society. We seem to be afraid of "too much holiness". 
God's Law draws a totally different picture of holiness. So let's get down to it, and see what true holiness looks like.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ministry Update: 10.25.15

Although busy, this week was a little more routine. We feel like we're starting to settle into life, which allows us more time and mental energy for strategizing and planning for the church planting process.

Edwin is doing very well with his new job at Time Warner Cable. He is able to speak with a lot of people on a daily basis. Because he's also new to town, potential customers are always eager to give advice about the culture and opportunities available. This has been very helpful for us personally as well as beneficial as we seek to understand the people to whom God has assigned us.

Edwin spoke to a church planter in another part of the state who has been very encouraging and helpful, and they plan to speak again. This was refreshing since Edwin and I are completely new to this whole church planting thing. I hope to talk to his wife some time this week. She was very proactive in talking to me, for which I am very grateful!

We have several goals for this week to begin reaching out to our community more strategically and effectively. I'm going to begin to develop a website for the ministry, and we're hoping to get some conversation groups going in November. Edwin and I are still discussing how we want to promote these groups, but we're very excited to get them up and running.

We have visited several churches in Jamestown and one in Lakewood, a nearby town. God is doing great things through His Body here, but there is still much to do.

Please pray:
  • For our final home visit to complete our home study. This will take place on Tuesday afternoon.
    • Pray also for Li, our son, who is currently living in a good foster home in China. He is so precious to us, and we just can't wait to bring him home! Pray that he knows he's loved until then.
  • For wisdom as we begin to advertise and reach out to the community to promote small group discussion geared toward non-believers.
    • Pray that God will prepare the hearts of those who need Him and that they'll begin to see that they are needy.
    • Pray that we will know how to promote these groups as non-judgmental discussion without allowing for aimless conversation.
  • For opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our neighbors. We have interacted with the kids from the multi-unit home next door a great deal, but their parents are a little more difficult to engage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ministry Update: 10.21.15

I'm sorry that I missed my Sunday night deadline. I never announced it as such, but I try to get a ministry update in every weekend.

The mission team left on Friday. They got a ton of work done, and their presence was extremely encouraging. The weather did not cooperate with them in siding the church. God knew what He was doing, and we're anxious to see what His plans are for completing the work that His people have begun. The project is half complete at this point.
We are so thankful for their time, hard work, and financial investment in coming to help! Please join me in thanking God for their faithfulness and sacrifice.

Edwin and I are now trying to settle into a groove. Since we arrived, it seems like we were always getting ready for something that was coming up. We're now trying to think through our strategy for the coming months in regard to relationship building for the church plant. We still have some work to do in the house where we're living, but we're trying to take it slowly because we're pretty exhausted.

Our summer was a whirl wind, and the busy-ness of moving, preparing for a conference, and hosting a mission team hasn't allowed us to really experience the changes that have taken place or find some sort of "new normal". The girls are doing well, but DeLaynie is still struggling with leaving our previous home. Although she enjoys being here, it's hard to let go of the place that she loved.

Prayer Requests for this week:
  • Peace for all four of us as we continue to adjust to life in a new place with new schedules.
  • Wisdom for Edwin and I as we decide what needs to be done next and when we don't need to do anything for a bit.
  • For our house to sell. This is more than a financial concern, though it definitely is that. It would be very helpful to us emotionally to have our whole lives in one place. Although we'll never stop loving the people in the North Country, and we plan to continue to enjoy our relationships with our friends there, it would be helpful to DeLaynie if there was no home to go back to in her mind.
  • Our home study. Because we moved, we have to have a second home visit as a part of the adoption process. A social worker will make a long trip to Jamestown next week to complete this final step. Please pray that all goes smoothly!
Thank you so much for your prayer support!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Glimpses of Grace: Week 3

I have to tell you, something clicked with me when I read about the priestly garments last winter. I'm not sure why, but it suddenly hit me that I was a priest! I have a job to do, and it's incredibly important.
Representing God to others and others to God is an overwhelming job at times. We're taking the message of Christ to people who don't want it. We're bearing the weight of their sin on our shoulders as we go to God in prayer, begging Him to break down every wall that prevents them from coming to God with their whole hearts. We're often disappointed, and it isn't uncommon for us to care more about the spiritual welfare of others than they do themselves!
It is a glorious burden, for sure. If you're starting to buckle under the weight, this week is for you!
This week we're going to understand God's design for rest.
Rest isn't as easy as it sounds, is it? We have to fight for it, make it happen. Rest is intentional, and our ability to find true rest reveals a lot about what's going on inside of our hearts. Are you ready to get a glimpse of pause?

Then click here for this week's study and get started!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Glimpses of Grace: Week 2

In the midst of the measurements and specifications for the tabernacle, I hope that you encountered the life changing truth that we are the dwelling place of God's presence on earth. It's truly a momentous discovery, made all the more meaningful by the countless requirements for such an honor. My prayer is that we, the Universal Bride of Christ, will become a more and more glorious dwelling place for God's presence on earth!
This week we will study what the Law describes as our purpose. Like the presence of God peeking out from behind the tabernacle curtains, God's purpose for our lives is waiting to be discovered behind the biblical description of the priest. I can't wait to share this with you!

Click here to dive into Week 2!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ministry update: 10.11.15- A Mission Team's A-Coming!

This week we will host our first mission team. My home church (First Baptist Church, Tallassee, Al) is sending an all-star mission team to install new siding on the church building that will eventually house the church body that God will plant here. They will also (graciously) do some work on the parsonage where we live.
We are so very grateful for their willingness and sacrifice to come and serve. We are also very grateful for the opportunity to see some of our extended church family.
Here are some ways that you can be in prayer for this team:
  • Pray for their safety as they travel the long distance from Alabama to New York and back.
  • Pray for their safety as they serve.
  • Pray for good weather that is conducive to the work that they will be doing.
  • Pray that God will knit a burden for the lost people of Jamestown into their hearts.
  • Pray that they will be encouraged by their time here, and that God will speak to each of them personally.
Thank you for your continued prayers!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Glimpses of Grace: Study of the Old Testament Law

This past spring, I worked through a study on the Old Testament Law with a wonderful small group of ladies. It was a great time of deeper understanding of this mysterious part of the Bible. I don't want this study to just sit on my hard drive, so I thought that I would share it with you. I hope that you can use this study in a group setting or as an individual.
This blog will serve as a wrap-up and introduction space. I'll wrap up the material from the previous week while introducing the next week. I am looking forward to all of the amazing things that God will do through our time together!

Introduction To Glimpses of Grace

How often do you go to the Old Testament Law for encouragement and wisdom? How do you typically read passages about dietary laws or ceremonial cleansing for someone suffering from leprosy? Or do you read those passages at all? Although all Christians believe that the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers are Scripture (and therefore important), they are books that we rarely use and almost never turn to in our regular quiet times.
For Israelites, the laws were meant to have memories attached to them. They would see the priests lay their hands on the bull on the Day of Atonement. They would smell the burning of sacrifices. They would tell sick relatives goodbye after the priest declared them unclean, knowing that they may never see them again. They would hear crowds gathering to stone an adulterer and his mistress. They would feel hunger pangs when they couldn’t eat the only animal that they had trapped, simply because it was considered unclean. We read the Law, but it wasn’t meant to be understood as mere words on a page. The Law was intended to be lived.
 You’ve probably read Psalm 19:7-11 before, but have you ever read it specifically applying it to the Old Testament Law? This is what David was describing when he said:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
C’mon, admit it. When you read those verses, dietary restrictions and laws for handling household mold are not the particular verses that come to mind. Like me, you probably think about the Gospels or the epistles as sweet and true, but the Law? Really? I don’t typically experience the kind of feelings that David describes when I read the Law, but apparently, it is possible.
Just because we are no longer bound to keep the Old Testament Law, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t continue to offer amazing truths! Let’s step into the original hearers’ shoes and try to mine out some of the wonderful things that God has to offer us in these hard-to-understand passages. The Law is certainly not an exception when Paul tells Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training for righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Do you believe that? Do you believe that the Old Testament Law has something (many things, really) to say to you? Do you believe that God is still speaking through His Word, all of it?
Every passage of Scripture fits into the story of God’s plan to redeem His people forever. The Law is no different. It will be very important that we understand the law in relation to the incredible story of God’s plan to redeem His people. Honestly, this is not going to be easy. For many people, this is a very new way to understand Scripture. But you are going to love it by the time this study is over!
Here is our format for this study:
·        On the first day, we will read the passage for the week. After reading the passage, we are going to take some time to be honest about our preconceptions and assumptions when we read the particular law. We all bring cultural and familial beliefs to our quiet times, but when we’re honest about them, they lose some of their power and we are freed to hear the truth.
·        On the second day, we’re going to start to put ourselves in the original hearer’s shoes. We’ll look at some of the historical realities that the original hearers may have taken for granted. We’ll consider what that law would cost the hearers for them to apply them. How would obeying this law change their lives for the better or the worse? What would this law do to impact the hearers’ everyday lives.
·        On the third day of each week, we’ll begin to see how the passage that we’re studying relates to the Scripture that came before it. How does this passage graciously answer the problems created by sin?
·        On the fourth day, we’ll turn our attention to how this passage relates to the rest of the Old Testament. How does this gift of grace develop through Israel’s history?
·        On the fifth day, we’re going to see how this gift of grace surfaces in the New Testament. How does Christ give us the same gift that we got a glimpse of from reading the Law?
·        During our group time each week, we will spend some time experiencing the passage personally. We will discover the amazing applications that the passage has to offer once we have a better, more thorough understanding of its meaning and importance. It’s going to be so much fun when we truly get a glimpse of God’s grace to us!
 In this study we will look at seven gifts that God gives through the Old Testament Law:
It won't be easy, but it will be so good! Please join me!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ministry Update: 10.4.15

Greetings, praying friends!

I got back from the women's conference late last night. It was a tremendous privilege and joy! I was blessed through the other amazing speakers and the beautiful time of worship. I got to see three lovely sisters from our previous church, which was beyond refreshing. We praise God for His many blessings during this weekend!

Last weekend, Edwin, the girls, and I had the joy of meeting with a church near Buffalo. We were able to share our hearts with them and meet with a few of the leaders at lunch. They were very supportive, and there is the possibility that they will be able to serve as a sponsor church. The task of a sponsor church is to manage the funds that we are able to raise through other churches for legal and logistical purposes as well as to provide prayer and spiritual support. Please pray that God will give them wisdom to know what role God would have them play in this church plant and our ministry. Please pray that we are able to be a blessing and encouragement to them as they have already been a blessing and encouragement to us.

Edwin will begin his "new normal" schedule tomorrow with his job as a cable salesman doing door-to-door sales. He will be working from 11 am to 7 pm most days, and he'll work most Saturdays. He's hopeful about the relationships that he has begun to develop, and he is hoping to be a blessing to those he has met and will meet in the future. Please pray that he is able to learn more about the town, the people in it, and the culture around it. Pray that he is able to have meaningful conversations while being faithful to his job and his employer.

Please continue to pray for our house to sale. The sooner it sells, the easier adoption process will be.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers!