Blessed Assurance

Friday, April 10, 2020

Fanny Crosby was the "Chris Tomlin" of her day, during the early part of the 19th century.  She today is still known as one of America’s most prolific hymn writer, writing  8,000 Gospel songs and hymns during a lifetime.  All of her days, except the first six weeks, were spent in blindness. However, not even the loss of eyesight could render defeat to this astoundingly courageous soul. Who preserved and overcome great obstacles giving all the credit to her faith she had in God.   She published hymns under several pen names including "Ella Dale," "Mrs. Kate Gringley," and "Miss Viola V. A., and is known for a song that resonates across centuries and it began with a visit with a friend.  

The year was 1873 and it was a normal day in which, Fanny was visiting with a friend. During the visit her friend,  Mrs. Knapp,  played a tune on her piano, which she had recently written. She then asked Fanny, “What does this tune say?” After kneeling in prayer for a few moments, she rose and declared, “It says, ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!’” Fanny began to dictate verses to Mrs. Knapp, who wrote them down, fitting them to the melody just as we hear it sung today.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long,
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.”

In the middle of the quarantine,and the isolation brought one by COVID-19-- each morning I find myself unknowingly humming this song.    It speaks to me, and has become a living prayer for me each day to say and sing.
"Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love"
Psalms 23 speaks of this when David pens the words, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not  want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures."  God himself, knew that this day was coming-- it is not new to him.  And he will provide. In the middle of all the uncertainties, he will meet my needs.  Let me say it again-- He will meet your needs.    Maybe not the way that you wanted, maybe not the way that it was-- but he will meet your need.    The NIV actually says, "I lack nothing." 
 And he makes us rest.  "Yes, perfect submission, all is at rest."  The world is silenced-- paused.  The air is clean, the birds sing again-- time has slowed down.    It is like the idea of when we sleep our rhythms slow. The rhythm of our heart slows, the rhythm of our lungs  is softer and it makes way for both growth and healing. The rhythm of our world has slowed too and alone, yet together, we are at rest.  I can take this season for growth, for healing and you can too.   God makes us lay down,  He asks us to find rest.  I'd like to say that each passing day is done with perfect submission, but I'm still working on it
AND when we can look around and see the world, and our many blessings found in the joy of each other, the sweetness of slowness, and the kindness in the world-- we can see there is so much of his goodness and love.
So tonight I will go to bed singing still this age old song, praising my savior all the day long.

The Feet That Still Must Go.....

Monday, March 30, 2020

Today I broke down and cried for the first time… The weight of everything finally got to me with a simple text—it was another pastor who was canceling our meeting. I know we all have had our lives thrown into this madness; where there is not normal—there is all new. But, that’s not what brings my tears that just won't stop today. It’s not the loss of school, or the loss of work, or even our finances— it's the complete lost of life. 
You see in the middle of the pandemic, we are waging war— war on a virus YES, but let us not forget there still is another war, a spiritual war. My heart cries today deeply, my heart grieves for the missionaries not able to go, whether it be because of quarantine, because of restrictions, or because of funding. My heart cries for the set backs I feel— this Kingdom sized moments to speak the name of Jesus to those who have never heard, to share the love of a savior, to share the Good News to every corner. We know that the great commission must continue. It must carry on. We are still called to go. Jesus himself declares that the gates of Hell shall not prevail. We are the church and we must go on not just in our good works, but in bring the Gospel to each and every person. Not just in our communities, but to assure that all may come to know him—to the ends of the earth.
During this season we have worked with urgency to work towards our financial goals to get us back on the field. Our family doesn’t just “raise funds,” its so much more. We are raising an army of support, an army of warriors to pray, to support and to wage war to the greatest enemy the world has ever known, and its not COVID-19. No, this enemy is bigger— and his goal is total destruction. 
More than ever, as this virus brings us all face to face with sickness and death, we feel the urgency in our own lives. There still must remains an urgency to proclaim the gospel. Think of all those already in the morgues that never had anyone tell them. I can’t imagine this virus hitting one of the villages still not knowing Jesus, being condemned to die not just one death but two. And as my tears come, I hear the words of Paul in Romans 10.
"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
We are still here, we still are working to get to where we know we are called. We are still trusting in God in spite of restrictions, in spite of quarantines, in spite of setbacks, through the funding, through the failures and disappointments— we are here. 
And today, I’m here… On my knees with my sword, tightening up my laces, waiting for the day we can physically “Go.” And as for the tears, I’m going to keep them here and let God have his way with my heart, to keep breaking it for what breaks His and pray for his people who have not yet heard, praying that they will be given a chance to hear.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It was normal... normal anyways for a a missionary family living overseas.   We don't always go to our international church, but on this morning for whatever reason-- we wanted to be surrounded by people.  And sometimes it is just nice singing in your native language.  As the message began, my phone buzzed and I saw my brother had tried to call several times, and my sister- in-law.  Immediately, I noticed the words: Heading to the hospital.

My mom had been diagnosed with cancer,  a rare type and just finished her first round of chemo.  She had been doing well, but the night before my mom had been sick.  As I spent the next 20 minutes talking my brother down, assuring him chemo makes everyone sick-  everything would be okay.  "It would be okay." I assured him as the nurse entered and said the doctor would be in shortly.  Convincing him enough to hang up the call, my little brother promised he'd call me with an update.  I walked back in as the worship continued to play, whispering in my husbands ear and his hand reaching around mine. 

An anthem from my heart, with open hands held high declaring to my God, "I've seen You move, come move the mountains, And I believe, I'll see You do it again,You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I'll see You do it again."  

And then, then it all stopped.  My phone buzzed and I moved outside, and as I answered that call expecting the best...the next 8 minutes and 3 seconds shattered my present and every day to ever come,  as my brother stuttered the words.  

"She's gone."

"What do you mean she's gone?"  She is 54. She was suppose to be fine. She was going to make it through this. My mind raced to find a sensible answer, but it just went blank...

"She's gone, sis"

I felt my body give way and legs hit the pavement, and my heart moaned from my inner most being.  And it wasn't a no, but the groans out of places deep within of pure heart pain, hearing the sound of the church and hearing the sound of my brother.  My head grasping to cling to whatever reality was spinning around me and feeling completely alone as time spun like a sickening merry-go-round where you can't see the images, all the pictures are a blur.

Finding the words in those first few minutes, reaching through miles and countries, through pain and the unknown.  Hanging up with my brother, managing to stumble back in to the church. I remember the numbness and the hugs from the man I love, this man called to stand in the good times, and in this moment "the bad."  He promised to get the kids.  How would I find the words... I made it to the prayer room, whispered the words, "My mom just died." and still to this moment I can feel the arms going around me.

Do you remember those faith falls you do as a child, where you close your eyes and fall backwards-- that's what it's like the moments after a  death.  Falling blindly, and just like I needed most-  I felt the hands of those God positioned for that moment to catch me, cover me, and surround me.  It was HIS CHURCH in its most perfect moment, living out what it was suppose to do. 

The days ahead are a haze, traveling stateside alone- going through funeral plans, bringing together a family and tying our threads together to create something that could hold through these times.  Every step of the way-- I step out and feel it.  I know he's there.  

There are days my heart can't quite listen to "Do it again." I'm sure Elevation Worship will understand, and God does too.  The lyrics hurt too deep, and although my head knows, my heart isn't strong enough to sing it.  It's not strong enough yet to say, "And You never failed me yet, I never will forget" but  that's okay.  God gets our grief, and he walks with us.  The thing with grief is that we must keep moving forward, we must keep pushing into him. We must keep pressing into him, and in time God will give us the song to sing in our heart again.  He will help to heal our broken hearts.  He just needs us to keep moving.

It's okay to be real with yourself and others that grieving takes time, and healing can be hard.  Healing when good-byes aren't said, when brokenness is not restored, when we aren't ready-- healing is hard.  I'm not going to disappoint God in my prayers, because he already knows my heart.  He already know that I stand beside him, not because of what he gives us, but because of who he is.  

So what words speak to me? What words give me what I need to move on each day....  On the hard days when the world around me reminds me of so much loss?  




Even on the worst days, I'm reminded of those times that we shout, "Jump" to our children. We whisper, "Trust me" with an outreached hand and I can see him.  I can see my God with his hand, with his arms and I fall.  Fall because I know his love encompasses me, covers me, and I'm safe.  Even when the world spins, and I don't understand his faithfulness-- I can lean on his love.

Unconditional love. 

And when I can remember his unconditional love for me, showering me- pouring over me, squeezing me tightly

I can fall because I have unconditional trust in the one who is my God.

Today might be a hard day for you too, so let me say it again




Now you say it... maybe a whisper.  Now a little louder and remember you can fall into the arms of his love. You are safe- surrounded by his love.

Our Daily Bread...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

So today I was driving to school and someone mentioned on the radio that God always gives us our daily bread. We ask him for it our model prayer, “The Lord’s prayer”,  and I needed that small gentle reminder--God always takes care of us. Jesus teaches us not to say “give me all the money in the world, so I know that I am financially taken care”, he teaches us to ask God for what we need for the day. Our DAILY bread, our daily ration of whatever we need.
My God always takes care of me and my family. It may not be the way I intend it, but when I worry how our needs will be met, he somehow meets it. Sometimes it’s even when I’m down to my last dollar and spent it, but he always makes sure that next dollar comes when we need it. How good is our God to give us everything that we need, exactly when we need it.  It creates a life utterly dependent on God, and I think that's exactly the way it's suppose to be.
I like how The Message writes Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
God knows what your concerns are and he will meet those needs, but the key word is “daily”. He will make sure that you have enough each day to do his will and fulfill his purpose with your life. When you trust in him, giving it to him in prayer he will take care of your needs. You will have a peace knowing that God will take care of you.

Praising him with prayer...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Prayer is more than just our requests, and us telling God what we need. Prayer should be a conversation of love between you and your creator. Imagine your best friend only calls you to say “I need…”, “I want…”, “Poor me…”. Imagine if that friend never did anything more than complain about what they had and were never satisfied with what we did for them. Needless to say they probably would not be your friend for too long. You would feel unappreciated and used. 

Thankful we don’t have a God that will pawn us off because all we do is complain to him, or because we are always wanting more. It’s a good reminder though that prayer is our conversation with God. It is what we use to communicate and build a relationship with. Prayer not only can be used as a means to ask for things we need: “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins'” (Mark 11:22-25). It can also be used as an act of worship. 

The Apostle Paul starts off most of his Epistles with “I thank God always…”. The Psalms tell us to “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with Praise.” It is SO important to give credit to God for His greatness, and to praise him in our prayer. Even Jesus in his model prayer says: “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be they name….” Hallowed: (hagiazo, Greek) simply means to make holy. Jesus taught us to praise God in our prayers. 

So remember that the next time you pray not to get so wrapped up in your asking, that you forget to give the Glory to God for his Awesomeness. Let us give thanks...

So, Shine Bright....

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Milky Way alone contains between 200 and 400 billion stars that are mostly made up of two things- hydrogen and helium, yet our God calls them out by name. They are designed by a creator and placed perfectly in the universe for us to see and guide our night skies.
And yet there are 7.53 billon people in the world. And each of those human bodies contains approximately 37.2 trillion cells, with 650 muscles, 206 bones, and 11 elements. 90,000 miles of nerves catch every touch, sound, smell, taste, and sight.
Our brains produce enough electricity to fully power a lightbulb. We can distinguish between up to 10 million different colors at any one time and a heart that beats 35 million times a year.
So, if the same God who so carefully crafted the beauty and simplicity of a star, placed them in the night sky, knows them and named them, how much more does he care about you? You that continue to be a living work of wonder and awe, of trillions of pieces working together perfectly timed to breath the life in your lungs. How much more does he love you and watch for you and long for you to shine as bright as the stars you see tonight.
You are loved by a beautiful God. You are created by a purposefully God. You are known by a mighty God. Let that sink in, and today remind yourself, "You are His." So, shine bright!

He counts the stars and calls them all by name. 
Psalms 147:4

Uniquely Made- A Day at Manual Antonio National Park

Monday, September 23, 2019

Holy Week (April 2018)- that's an entire blog.  Latin America takes it pretty serious though-- that's a need to know.  The week between Good Friday and Easter Sunday n

early all businesses close and the thing to do is head to the coast.  It was too hard for us living in the middle of such a small country to rent a car and drive 3 hours.

We had heard that Manual Antonio was the place to visit. Forbes listed it as one of the 12 most beautiful parks.  It did not disappoint.  

We parked our car a few blocks away from the entrance, lathered on the sun screen and took off for a day of hiking.   You have to pay before you get to the park.  The ticket cost is USD$16 for Tourist and ₡1,600 (colones) for Costa Ricans and residents. Children under 12 are free of admission. You can buy tickets to the park at Coopealianza Manuel Antonio office 50mts before the park entrance, hours are 7am-3pm every day.

As you get near the main entrance there are nice bathrooms, if you need to go or change.  There are also guides all over, if you would like to pay for a tour.  We chose not too because there was no way our kids would listen. Plus, we simply could not budget for it.  Regardless of the path you choose, you will leave happy.

We spent all morning here, and into the early afternoon. It was hard to remember sometimes that we were not in a zoo, but that we were outside in the middle of a forest.  The kids were awe struck as they watched Capuchan Monkeys bounce across the treetops.  The sloths, lazy and curled in the canopy.  Snakes coiled around branches.  

Each creature so unique and perfectly designed for its home.  Noting like our our raccoons or white tail, yet they all were hand crafted and perfectly made.  Not just in their beauty, but in their surroundings.  

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.  Job 12:7-10"

You can't look at an animal and not see the hand of God.  The monkey's with their long tails that balance as they bounce across the branches. The tree snakes that can coil around branches to catch their prey.  God's hand is on everyone, and if can give the creatures in jungle a uniqueness for where and how they are made, we can be assured that he made us that we too.  

We are designed with purpose and design.  We were made in his very imagine, how much more unique is that.  We are they handiwork of a living God, whose hand touches all things-- that breaths life into all mankind. Breathing life into you and crafting you in your uniqueness. 

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