Sunday, April 30, 2006

10 Steps to Seeing Miracles

I have to admit, I normally pass over any type of book that guarantees to fix my problems in 10 easy steps or by using a formula that has worked for countless others. Perhaps it's because of my firm belief that God created each of us differently so what worked for Susie won't necessarily work for me.

Many teachers out there have put forth lessons that teach what steps we need to take if we want to see miracles occur. Oftentimes they list the following:
  • faithfully tithe
  • read the Bible everyday
  • pray at least 3 times a day (over meals), and any other time you feel like it
  • make friends only with Christians who can encourage you and stay away from people who could cause you to "stumble"

The problem is that Jesus never talked about a works based gospel. His message of salvation almost always was about a free gift offered by a loving Father to His searching children. This is true of eternal salvation, but I believe it applies to even situations of daily salvation from illness, danger, poverty and depression.

Galations 3:5 says, "Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it be the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

Seems to me Paul clearly is stating that miracles come about by us (children) speaking words of faith to our Father, and our Father answering. No checklist to make sure we've taken our daily dose of Scripture or balance book to ensure our good deeds outweight our bad. All it takes for God to intercede is us opening our mouths and saying in confidence, "Even in this I trust you. For you are the Healer, Forgiver, Deliverer, Provider, Comforter and Wisdom that I need."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Friendly faces

Jamey on keyboard during an impromptu praise session. This was before
he busted out with "Desperado" and Garth Brook hits :)

Marian and Stephanie showing me the city of Hamburg

Heather and me at the conference. She was an
awesome host! me and Marian atop her 22nd-story apartment balcony in Berlin

me, Stephanie and Marian in Hamburg

the gang: Steph, Janine, Sherry, me and Marian at the conference

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Brief Checkin

I have some really great photos from the conference and my time in Hamburg, but I've now left the hotel and can't plug my computer into any internet cable to be able to upload the photos. Lo siento! Oh well, at least I can tell you about my adventures the past few days.

Tuesday, we left the conference center and drove to Hamburg with 2 friends who are serving in Germany. We toured the city on Wednesday and had tea with a family from Afghanistan. I was amazed to hear their story of how they were on vacation in Russia when war broke out in their home country. Relatives told them not to return, so they ended up in Germany where some other relatives had already moved. The wife used to be a successful dentist, but now she's simply a dentist's assistant. The husband used to be a journalist, but now he's unemployed. They were so incredibly hospitable and kind, and I'm thankful that they shared with me their story.

We then left Hamburg yesterday and drove to Berlin. I had dinner with some friends at a Turkish restaurant before we took a brief tour of the city. We walked to Checkpoint Charlie and through the immigrant section of city, but since it was nearly midnight we decided to save the rest of the tour for today.

Only 2 more days before I head back to the US. This is a bittersweet revelation: I'm anxious to return to my husband, but these past 2 weeks have been like a mountain-top experience of sitting at the Master's feet and of fellowshipping with some amazing people. I stand in awe of God's great creativity each time I hear someone's life journey and see how God crafted each character and plot with the swiftest pen and deepest mystery.

Monday, April 17, 2006

the Journey

The thought hit me at lunch today: in most likelyhood I will never see the majority of these people again. I've enjoyed getting to meet our workers this week, but already I'm feeling the sadness and bitterness of our impending departure from this haven back to the real world. The next meeting isn't scheduled for another 3 years and I'm hoping by then that God will have moved me onto another phase of my journey.

We had some excellent sessions today, and I want to share just a few insights I gleaned:

* Be contagious in your life no matter where you are. It’s more important to pass along a passion rather than a lesson.
* if a church or church member is dead or diseased, cut it off
* Healing doesn’t come without movement. Churches that continually focus on healing the congregation will never be healed without moving toward a goal/vision

I'm still struggling with the concept of being content on the journey even if you don't where the path leads. Perhaps I wouldn't feel so useless, purposeless, etc., if I actually was doing something of value where I am. It's like I keep looking to the horizon and thinking, "When I reach that point in my life, I'll be able to finally help someone." Or I think, "When I fulfill my dream of being an overseas missionary, then I can say I've finally arrived."

Truth is, though, the path never stops moving -- even after it delivers us to our 'dream destination.' And perhaps God is wanting me to use my current situation/location as a training ground for ministry where I am rather than waiting for what I'd consider an ideal situation. But knowing the solution to my discontent and actually walking in it are 2 different things.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Life of Ambiguity

Talking with a worker who regularly invites volunteer teams to his city, I asked, “What do you have the volunteers do?”

“I don’t have them do anything,” he replied. “And I don’t call them volunteers because they are just as called as we are. They are missionaries just like us, and I invite them over to walk alongside us for a week. It’s not about what they do but it’s about who they are.”

This seems to be the theme for the week: missions, actually all of Christianity, isn’t about what we do but about who we are. I struggle with this idea because since I was 13 years old I knew that I was called to serve overseas as a missionary, and I often experience frustration when I think about how far I am from that vision. Worse, I don’t even know how to “do missions” where I currently live. I’ve been observing and learning from a particular worker who is trying to teach me what missions is really about. A few weeks ago I asked him, “How do you intentionally be a missionary when you’re living in the US in a culture that stays busy?” His response: “You do it as you go.”

So, perhaps more than anything else this week, I am learning that missions isn’t something you do only when you carry the title “missionary” or when you’re paid to be a full-time missionary. Missions is a heart attitude that seeks to be Jesus among whoever I am around -- whether I am in the gas station or a restaurant, at work or at church.

The second lesson I’ve learned this week is that just because it doesn’t appear like I’m on the path toward my goal to serve overseas doesn’t mean I’m wasting time. And no matter what hurdles appear to be blocking my path, God is able to do all things to fulfill His plan for my life.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Random stuff

* I asked a worker among post-moderns, "What would a post-modern church look like?"

He replied, "Take away all the BS and denominationalism from your typical American church and what are you left with? Worship, prayer, fellowship and God. That is what all churches should look like."

* 99.5 percent of people in the UK have never heard the gospel in a manner that makes sense to them.

* In June, millions of viewers will rearrange their schedules to fit the football schedule of the World Cup. What would happen if Christians were just as willing to rearrange their schedules in order to interact with and reach the lost in their world?

* Contrary to popular belief, Brittany can play games involving strategy. She may not be able to play checkers or chess, but last night she proved she can play a German game that, like Monopoly and Risk, requires players to strategize and manipulate.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Church and Post-Modernism

Lessons from our Post-Modern seminar ...

Most modern churches use a “drag-in” mode of evangelism rather than an “outreach” mode. Their main goal is to go into a community and attract unbelievers into the safe confines of the church building. They believe, knowingly or not, that God can be involved only in church sanctioned activities such as worship, Bible studies, women’s fellowship groups, etc.

The gospel teaches, however, a more incarnational method of evangelism. Rather than bringing people into the church so that they can experience God, we are to go into the world to live God before them.

Unfortunately, believers who acknowledge the need for incarnational evangelism rather than attractional evangelism still default to the attractional methods.

Church among one group of post-moderns may look more like a discussion group in a cafe. For another group, it may be a home-based Bible study. Another group of post-moderns may never step foot inside the confines of a traditional church building but they will gladly discuss spiritual matters inside the familiar setting of a bar, cafe or home. We are not called to bring them to church or to create church - we are called to be the church.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Amazing Stories

This was taken yesterday morning (Wednesday). Look at the snow!!

Today (Thursday) was busy, busy, busy. I finally got a hold of someone back in Richmond who could reset my password to my work email account, so I was able to check email and work in the database (nothing like traveling half-way around the world only to do office work!) The best part, though, was getting to sit and listen to workers from around the world share stories about what God was doing. Today we heard from folks in Malta and Germany - pretty amazing stuff. I also have been able to meet folks serving in Switzerland, France, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain - just about every country in Western Europe. It's times like today that I remember why I'm here doing what I'm doing.

Thanks for praying for me - I feel 100 percent better today. I'm also nearly over jet lag and feel more like my crazy self :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

This morning we awoke to a beautiful snow shower that left a dusting of powder on the hilly countryside. It was a gorgeous beginning to a busy day! I spent much of the morning exploring the mammoth hotel before the personnel arrived en masse. From 2 pm - 6 pm we helped process all the folks checking into the hotel . This included collecting bio information on them, including finger prints. It was a great day all in all - and I have great photos that I'd post if the computer would let me :(

Unfortunately, I am having serious computer problems and can't even log into my normal work email account. Ahh!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Touchdown in the Land of Lederhosen

After 9 hours on planes and 3 hours on a bus, we finally arrived at our hotel in Germany. Actually, the hotel is more like a mansion! It has 500 + rooms, a bowling alley, skating rink and indoor water park. I've already gotten lost once, but that's not a real shocker.

I've only been in Germany a day, but my initial impressions is that it's much like America. They drive on the same side of the street as we do in the US, and many of the cars look like they'd fit right in on Route 66. Most signs are in English and German, and my first meal in country came from none other than McDonalds. I'm sure the changes will become more evident as the days go by.

I'll be sure to post more details and photos in the coming days! Pray for me - my glands are starting to swell and I'm dragging. It's nothing a good dose of sleep and prayer can't fix :)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Day Before

Things never go according to plan, and Sunday was no exception. I had planned to use the day to finish packing for my Germany trip and to fuel up on "Mike time" since we'll be apart for the next 2 weeks. Instead, we spent the morning in the emergency room for Mike's right eye. It had become swollen, red and extremely sensitive the night before. One doctor told us it was conjunctivitis (note: Patient First is nearly always wrong!) The ER doctor did some tests and correctly diagnosed Mike as having a scratch on the top of his eye. A few prescriptions and an hour later we were released to relax the rest of the day. Mike says his oozing eye should qualify him to play the part of Paul in our church's next play :)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Time flies ...

Tomorrow night is our final class for foster care. I'm amazed at how quickly - and how slowly - 9 weeks have passed by. There were times Mike and I thought the 3 hour session would never end. And yet, here we are nearly at the end, and part of me still feels unprepared. I suppose even birth parents experience the same emotions: excitement, fear, anxiety, wonder, and eagerness. If it weren't for our schedules we'd probably take a child within a week. However, we've requested to be placed on hold until at least May. Ahhh! So little time, so much to do :)

In other news, Mike just celebrated his 35th birthday this past week and we spent a few days on a secluded farm with just us, some cows and a one-eyed cat! It was great - just the solitude and peace made the trip well worth it. I highly recommend Fairhill Farms to anyone seeking a retreat near Richmond. While we were away, we spent the time discussing our dreams, plans and frustrations. I can't reveal much at the moment, but suffice it to say big changes may be a-comin'!

Mike and me

This is my husband, Mike, and me when we spent Christmas in TN with my family. We don't look so bad for having hiked up a mountain :)