Camera Lenses and Love

At a recent prayer meeting, Danny talked about how important it is to keep your camera lens clean. If it’s not cleaned regularly, then dirt, dust, and sometimes even fungus can get in the camera or lens and ruin any chance of taking a nice photo. This all is a representative of a bigger picture. We are supposed to keep our hearts, minds, and eyes clean so that we can clearly reflect God’s nature to those around us.

So often Christ is misrepresented by those who claim to be Believers, but lie, steal and destroy those around them. Clearly they are not “loving one another” as Christ commanded us to do. Now, I’m not writing this to judge them, or knock them down in any way. Because how often do we, ourselves misrepresent the Lord to those around us?

Maybe we are frustrated in traffic at the person who isn’t turning fast enough. Or the person in the grocery store took the last item off the shelf that you needed for dinner that night. Or maybe you are tired and exhausted, and get impatient with those around you. I know I struggle a lot with those simple things. But doesn’t God say in John 13:35 “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A good test of this happened not too long ago for me. I had the privilege to travel up to Pennsylvania, with my best friend Katie, to spend a few days at Christmas with my amazing family. I was so excited, yet so nervous at the same time. I’m not sure why I was nervous, they’re my family and I love them dearly. But it had been a year since I had seen most of them, and I knew I had missed a lot. Would I be able to just fit in like normal? Would they notice any growth that the Lord had done in my life? Would I be able to love them like Christ loves them, and be a good representation of Christ to them?

As the days flew by, I could feel my energy draining. By the time I was boarding the plane with Katie, I had just come off a very busy week at work. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. I wasn’t sure I would have enough energy or enthusiasm left to give everyone attention when they came over. The only thing left for me to do was pray. Pray that the Lord would use me, despite my inability to give anything.

As I arrived, I felt like I was a visitor. I love my Mommy, my brother, and the rest of my family and friends. But I knew that I didn’t “belong” in PA anymore. No matter how much I may think about how things “might have turned out”, what I could be doing, who I might be hanging out with. It was like God confirmed to me, yet again, that He called me to Gospel for Asia, and that no matter how hard things may get, He will use me as I remain faithful to Him in Texas.

Time flew by as we moved from the open house on Friday, to Christmas Eve celebrations on Saturday, Christmas on Sunday, and then last minute things on Monday. Each day, God filled me with His Spirit, His patience and His love. It was like, even though I had nothing left to give, all God needed was a willing heart. A willing heart that allowed Him to clearly reflect His glorious, and awe-inspiring nature, to those who gathered around. I was able to play with my cousins, and not be frustrated with them, but enjoy every moment spent with them. To talk with relatives and boldly share what the Lord is doing in my life, and share possible plans for the future. To laugh and worship with friends, without being shy or nervous about who the Lord has transformed me into in the past year. To spend time with my mommy, brother, and Katie and not be worried or flustered with all the chaos of preparing for people to come over. And as silly as it seems, it was enjoyable to spend time playing with my mom’s dog Sawyer, and her new puppy Finn, even when Finn would try to escape in the yard.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, no matter how tired you may be, always keep your camera lens clean. Allow God to work through your life to those who might be around. Ask the Lord to make you a clear reflection of His magnificent glory.

Thanks for reading, I’m praying for each of you. God Bless!

Christmas…An Interesting Time Of The Year

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Christmas season has always been an interesting time of year for me. One of the two most special times of year for many.  An interesting time to watch people as they go Christmas shopping. The warm feeling you get as you gather together with family. And the celebrating of  Christ’s birth and all that He has done for us. Sometimes Christmas is the only time people will step foot in a church besides Easter.

I don’t think I’ve ever understood why people would make a point to go to church on Christmas, but then every other Sunday of the year, they just keep going on with their lives. Almost like God is a toy that should only be taken out of the box on very special occasions. For me, God is the like the velveteen rabbit.  He is my very favorite, and I want to never part with Him. Although unlike the velveteen rabbit, because of what Jesus did on the cross, I never do have to part with Him!

Not only has He radically transformed my life, but He has forgiven me, He gave me a manual for life so that I never have to question what to do, He promises never to leave nor forsake me, He gave me a life that will last for all eternity, He has healed me, and much more.

But then there is the vast amount of people that don’t even know what Christmas is.  They don’t know about this Jesus that put on human flesh to be born of a virgin almost 2000 years ago.  They don’t know of the hope that He provides so that they never have to worry about anything ever again.  For some, they will never know.  Why? Because no one has ever told them.

We are in a battle, brothers and sisters.  Now is not the time to be caught up in the materialism that is our culture.  We need to stand in the gap for the many thousands who have never heard of Jesus’ name; who don’t know what Christmas is and the reason behind why we celebrate it.  What better time of year do we have the opportunity to give someone the hope of Jesus for Christmas?

For example, Gospel for Asia has a Christmas Catalog, why not buy something from there to bless someone over in Asia with the hope that’s found in Jesus? Let them experience the CHRISTmas for the first time in their lives.  How amazing would that be?

Or, taking a step closer to home, why not bless those around us that are less fortunate?  I know that there are many homeless people in Philly, why not invite them over for Christmas dinner, or go visit them and share with them the love of Jesus?

Thanks for standing in the gap with me for the lost in Asia! I know that together we are making an eternal difference.

Emmanuel Has Come…Yet Many Do Not Know

Over the past few years I have developed a love for the traditional Christmas song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  We sang it at church last Sunday, as it’s very fitting for the first week of advent.

For 400 hundred years prior to Christ’s birth, God had been silent.  The nation of Israel was in exile and they were desperately waiting for the prophecies about their Messiah coming to save them to come to fruition.

The words of this well known song portray a very different spirit than we tend to think about during this merry Christmas season:

“O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.”

To the Israelites, this is what the time leading up to Christ’s birth was about—waiting for the Messiah to ransom them.

How fitting for us today to think about our lives prior to Christ.  Without Him, we too are burdened with sin, captive to this world’s pains, and in need of someone to ransom us.  Praise the Lord we have Jesus Christ, who came on Christmas Day—the Son of God, God incarnate.  He humbled Himself and became one of us lowly human beings, only to die a horrible form of death with all of our sins upon Him and forsaken by the Father.  Yet willingly He did it—for us.  Praise God!  We can sing this song knowing the end!  We have been ransomed!

Yet 2 billion people on the other side of this planet are still waiting for Emmanuel to come.  In fact they don’t even know there is an Emmanuel.  They have no prophecies to give them hope, for they have yet to hear about their Creator and their Savior.

It is for their fate without Christ that I serve with Gospel for Asia.  Many need to hear about Emmanuel—”God with us”—who is Jesus Christ!  My heart yearns to let them hear the Christmas story.  My heart aches for them to finally be ransomed.

Rejoice with me this Christmas that Emmanuel has come, and that we know Him!  Please also pray with me for those who have yet to hear.

“Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to you, O, Israel!”

Hark! Did You Hear It?!

This time of year is a joyous time of remembering how God brought salvation to this earth. It is such a privilege we live in a country where we can know and hear about Jesus, Christmas, and salvation so freely. And that through a foundation of Christian beliefs grace and mercy are still rooted in our culture. But for 3 billion in the world that have never heard of Jesus and His grace, their gods and beliefs have made for a life and view completely different than ours. They worship gods and goddesses in hope of salvation, but even if the salvation offered was true, millions upon millions still live in despair of ever achieving it. Their beliefs are that not all people are equal, and many are deserving of treatment less than cows, dogs and rats. In their mind many are predestined to a wretched life with no hope for mercy or grace, deserving of a life of punishment.

In knowledge of the great hope and joy that comes to our fellow Asian believers, I am overjoyed that Gospel For Asia is supporting Asian Christian brothers and sisters. There is now hope for salvation, healing of families, healing of people physically and spiritually, and filling thousands with joy in finally knowing the most high God, a God of love, that offers love, grace, and mercy.

Stop By The Petting Zoo On The Way Home!

SuI'm giving to kids who don't have anythingnday, on 10/10/10, I got to be part of the coolest event that day! Michele J. and Shelly, two GFA staff writers, and I represented Gospel for Asia at a birthday party in Fort Worth. But this birthday party was a “Living GFA Christmas Catalog!” This young couple with four kids decided that they would instead invite families to their house to purchase Christmas catalog items. They were so fun and creative, they made signs from blown up pictures of last year’s catalog for each of the animals in the petting zoo. Also, tables were set with stacks of Bibles or blankets with signs and information about sponsoring a missionary or Bridge of Hope child.

Families helping bringing Jesus to othersI got to video record the interviews we had with parents and kids. These parents just wanted their kids to not be absorbed with material possessions and realize there are people completely different from us that need help and they haven’t heard about Jesus. I recognized in these parents what I’ve seen elsewhere, a growing desire to have something real, a real faith, and to be away from the materialism and stuff. A growing knowledge that in the US many live a decent Christian or moral life but not in a way where they actually need God; self-sufficient yet knowing we do need God. It was good seeing these families depart from the cultural norm and hoping to see God work.

Here is this years Christmas video!