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I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

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Many times in church, we can get so caught up being ministry or mission-minded and fail to remember why we do what we do. Whether you’ve worked in children’s church, helped lead a Sunday-morning worship service, or work to support missions in your financial giving--we’ve all most likely caught ourselves doing things out of routine. Even simple things can easily become redundant.

Have you ever stopped to think to yourself: “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” A lot of times, we can get so caught up in the busyness of life and our “to-do” lists. The pressures to perform well in our work, school, ministry, and even family can cause us to feel such a weight. We often attempt to “keep everything under control” while simultaneously worried what others might think should we not meet all life’s demands.

If we aren’t careful, we’ll forget the answer, the solution to our problems. When we fail to have patience and extend forgiveness to an annoying co-worker or family member, when we fall back into our old bad habits, when we need clarity in decisions, when we need a financial or physical breakthrough...the answer is not for us to do better or try harder. The key to us growing in success is actually learning to let go of everything and follow Jesus. It’s only when we drop the overstuffed load in our arms that we can hold onto His hand. Then, we can find the strength, ability, and wholeness we need to accomplish God’s goals for God’s glory.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Matthew 11:28-30

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Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring

   Sitting next to a stranger on an airplane can be interesting, awkward, and sometimes intimidating. On our flight to Georgia this past week, as many times is the case, I sat beside someone I didn’t know. I had the option to stay to myself—maybe even stick with some surface-level conversation at minimum. Or, I could be real and genuinely represent God’s love by sharing what He’s done in my life. 

   In that moment, I came across 2 Corinthians 4:3 which says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” So many times in life, we tend to want to communicate only surface-level. Many of us at times are even antisocial, wanting to keep to ourselves and talk to no one else. But in doing so, aren’t we missing an opportunity to share the gospel? 

   The good news is that God can give us boldness through the power of His Holy Spirit to be a light and witness to those that are lost (Acts 8:1). We can do this by growing in reading God’s Word, seeking His face through prayer and worship, and asking God to bless us with the baptism of the Holy Spirit each day afresh. It is then, He can enable us to share who God is and what He’s done in our lives by empowering us with His anointing that breaks the bondage of sin in our lives and others’ (Isaiah 10:27). 

Be challenged today and every day: wherever you are and wherever you go, let the love and Spirit of God lead you in wisdom to others who need to be encouraged and know the Truth that can set them free. 

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Be Still and Know

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In the hurried tasks and mundane routines of daily life, we can all easily get caught up in stressful situations. Whether it’s deadlines or drama in work, school, or home-life, most of us constantly have something on our minds or check-lists. For me, often times, the temptation to worry, doubt, or fear about the future has been present. Many times, I would have liked to know every answer and solution to my problems all at once. Things like knowing what college decisions to make, figuring out how my finances for MAP will come, and even when I will finally see God’s promise for my life come to pass.

We often think it would be wonderful to know all the answers and solutions, have all our “to-dos” done, and have each prayer answered. However, we must realize that God knows all the answers. He has every situation already solved (even those that are yet to come) and knows what we need as well as what needs to accomplished and when. Rarely, if ever, will things always be going just right and as expected in our lives; but it’s in these times of wanting and waiting that we learn to trust completely and dependently upon God. 

So what does it mean to truly “Be still, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10)? The Hebrew translation of “know” (yada) is often used in the Bible to mean “to perceive or know” as Adam intimately knewhis wife Eve. In the same way, the Lord longs to dwell with each of us intimately in a secret place where it’s just us and Him. Jesus spoke to Martha as she was busy trying to take care of guests. When Martha complained about her sister who was doing nothing but sitting near Jesus’ feet, Jesus replied, "...Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her," (Luke 10:41-42 ESV). Sometimes all we need to do is nothing...simply sit at the feet of Jesus.

It’s a lot easier to face the future and its daunting trails ahead when we deeply know the person of Jesus. In the quiet place of communion, He can help us divide what is and is not important in each moment everyday. When we learn to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus, we can face life’s problems one step at a time. Don’t let the devil distract you from fulfilling the destiny in your life today. Remember what your ultimate purpose is all about—loving God and loving people. Be still with an open heart knowing that the Lord is God and that, when we surrender to him, He is in control.

#God’sGotYou #BeStillAndKnow 

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Surrender. Determine. Endure. … (Henry Martin’s Mission Story)

    A few aspects that I admire most about missionaries are their characteristics of willingness, determination, and endurance. Henry Martin (1781-1812) was one missionary who spent much of his life in India and Persia as a sick and “dying” young man. Throughout his ministry there, he suffered from fevers as well as encountered rough terrain and extreme temperatures. These things among others contributed to his early death at age thirty-one. 

    Henry Martin’s ministry journey began in his early to mid twenties after his father’s death. This caused Henry to gain a deep desire to study the Word of God as well as learn about many great ministers and missionaries. Soon, Henry decided to abandon his administrative job entirely to become a Christian missionary. During this time, his inheritance was destroyed in a disaster. This moved him to take others’ wise advice to join the military to work as a chaplain in order to gain steady income to provide for him and his dependent sister as well be given the opportunity to preach the gospel to natives in foreign countries. It was then he began to minister throughout India and would later do so in Persia. 

     On His very first voyage leaving his English home, Henry Martin was so lonely and distraught that he cried out alone to the Lord for hours. It was then he said, “[he] had learned the glory and beauty of complete surrender to God’s will...[which] strengthened him in doing his arduous, but greatly beloved work,” (Mueller, 73). He endured many other physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges, such as ministering in a heavily paganistic demonically bound culture—all for the sake of Christ. Throughout his ministry, Henry Martin was probably most noted for translating the New Testament of the Bible, a book on prayer, and parts of the book of Psalms into Hindustani and Persian. He created a school for lower-caste children as well as accomplished many other mighty exploits for God. 

     Henry Martyn’s story, overall, inspires me to live all-in for God. It encourages me to sell out my own dreams for God’s dreams, and shows me that God’s will can be accomplished by His Holy Spirit. His story teaches that through God’s supernatural power, strength, and determination we can be given the joy and endurance we need in order to advance the kingdom of God. Despite the persecution, rejection, painful loss, and hardships we may encounter, it’s encouraging to be reminded that we can accomplish God's will for our lives and share God’s loving gospel with the world. 

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What Brought Me to Map: Fulfilling My Destiny

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What Brought Me to Map: Fulfilling My Destiny

    "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" —Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

     I believe this scripture is just one of the many great examples of how God intimately knows us and has a specific design and purpose for each one of our lives. My story began as a little girl born into church culture: saved and filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (in evidence of speaking in tongues) at a young age and growing up knowing and loving Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and Friend. Along life’s path, however, my relationship with God began to fluctuate and even grow stagnant to where the passion in me living for Jesus was nothing more or less than mediocre. Though I continued to seek Christ and claim my love for Him, there were still things holding me back that I wouldn’t realize until my early teen years; it was during this time in my life where my desire to grow in relationship with the Lord began to increase. At the age of thirteen, I started reading the Bible each day as well as was baptized afresh with the Holy Spirit. Throughout my teenage years, I started growing and developing much more in the Word and in prayer.  This enabled me to recognize and repent of my hidden sin, as well as ready myself to receive more from the Lord concerning the destiny of my life. When I was sixteen, I was in a place where I at last had a deep desire and longing for God and to know what my calling—my purpose was in life. One day in our high school Bible class, I first realized I was meant to reach the lost of this world—specifically those where many have never heard the name of Jesus. In the several months that followed, I entered a period of praying and fasting which led to the conclusion and confirmation that, indeed, I was and am called to reach those on the foreign mission field.

    Since then, it has been moments and seasons like these in my life that have built my identity and brought me to where I am today. Spiritually, there have been many exciting and daunting moments in which I have continued to learn that it is always best to say, “Yes” to God—no matter the cost. Joining the MAProgram (Mission Apprenticeship Program) is one of those important and defining moments of my life. Earlier this summer, I was considering various important directional decisions that I soon needed to make, and it wasn’t until over these past few months that the Lord began to stir the idea of MAP in me. It began as a thought rooted in a still moment of surrender: “Lord, whatever you want me to do.” It took a lot of time involving prayer and fasting with various signs of confirmation (in His Word, through godly people, and otherwise) that God used to show me His will for the next step of my life. Not only did he confirm His Word, but He has and continues to send His peace and His presence.

  Throughout my entire life, God has and continues to unravel thread by thread the plan He has originally and currently intended for me. As I move forward, I’m expecting to see great things from God and to know Him more intimately as well. I want to be perpetually filled and used of the Holy Spirit and constantly aware of the fact that there’s a reason for this moment and opportunity for such a time as this. May I be a part of a generation who chooses to rise up in the presence of apathy in order to reach those around the world that they may better know the true Love of God in Jesus Christ and His Word. Let us find our part in making salvation known to the lost, discipling the nations, and fulfilling our individual responsibility in the great commission.

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