Follow Me to The Place I Will Show You

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I can do that.

My husband and I both had the same reaction at the same moment in church. A guest speaker was sharing of a need he had, and the Holy Spirit whispered, “He’s talking to you.”

I love when this happens. Holy Spirit talks. We listen. The we listen part is key. So many opportunities are lost because we didn’t act on the words we hear from Him. Hearing and listening are not the same things.

Years ago, we made a move that was very unpopular with our then twelve-year-old. She cried and complained for weeks. One of the times when she was being quite vocal about her discomfort over the whole thing, she asked her dad why we had to move. He simply told her, “Because God said so and we do what He says.”

It was a little bit like the story of the Calling of Abram found in Genesis 12. One day God said, “Leave what you know—your country, your friends, family, and all that feels safe and secure—and go to the place I will show you.” Right there in the midst of God’s challenge to Abram is a gift. Do you see it? Abram was not striking out on his own. God was going to lead the way. He would be with him. And Scripture says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” Smart man.

I think of how God did just that for us when we relocated and every other time he has called to us to do something outside our comfort zone. He led the way every time, and oh, the adventures we have experienced following Him just from being willing to do what we’re told.

Our daughter listened to her dad that day. His statement has impacted her life since when faced with hard or challenging decisions. It has become a family legacy of sorts, so when God told us to say yes, we did.

The mission we decided to accept doesn’t appear to be hard or challenging or even out of our comfort zone. (At least I don’t think so, but God might have other ideas.) It is actually in our wheelhouse. We will be traveling to New Jersey to help with the remodel of the Liebenzell USA Retreat Center. We have no idea what to expect or what we will be asked to do but our hearts and hands are willing. Many of you know we work with a ministry called Hands of Mercy that constructs small homes for the people of Mexico. The skills we have learned there along with the recent renovation of our own home are sure to be put to use in this new project we’ve been called to. We are excited to see what God is up to in that part of the world, and we will keep you posted.

If you would like to pray for us while we are following where God is leading, please do. We want to make as many people as possible part of what God is doing. For every one person heading out to work, many are needed to support them in prayer. Like the root system of a forest, we intertwine creating a strong foundation that will keep us connected, allowing us to work together in strength. Please sign up to receive new posts in your email.

This portion of Scripture written for the Israelites as they were crossing into the Promised Land speaks to me when thinking of listening to God’s voice. Perhaps it will speak to you as well.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:11-16 NIV

Choose Life. Follow God’s Lead into the Land of Promise.

 


As with anything, there will be a certain amount of expenses to going on a mission. If you are reading this and the Holy Spirit is saying to you, “This is for you,” and you would like to help out with providing money for our transportation costs, go here to make a donation. Thank you so much for coming along on the journey with us.

 

Road Trip: Delivering the News

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If you follow me on social media, you know that with summer and its longer days, the wandering has commenced. My husband and I made our way east via the road less traveled . . . literally. This year, we chose to take The Loneliest Highway across the country to see what we could see. U.S. Route 50 comes by its name honestly. Much of the way, we and the locals were the only ones using it. Cars were few and far between.

That was okay with us. We liked the slower pace it provided. We saw beautiful country. There was also a bit of history to be found. U.S. 50 was built along the Pony Express route. It was fun to imagine the riders as they charged through the wilderness carrying the mail to people who longed for news. Given the short existence of the Pony Express, it had a lasting impact. Today, small towns dot the landscape where there once was only a stop on the trail.

This legacy of the Pony Express made me think of another story I heard from a friend from India. He told me he is only the third generation Christian in his family. It all started when his grandfather, the community’s witch doctor, met Jesus. With news too good to keep to himself, he wanted everyone to know so he took the message on the road, traveling from town to town, delivering the story of Jesus. Today, in each place he stopped there is an active church among its people.

In this busy life with our lives consumed with tasks for today, I wonder how often we think about what will have a lasting impression on our world. Will our actions today bring benefit to others in the future?

There is a story in the Bible about a time when Jesus told his disciples to set sail for a region called Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. There He had an encounter with a demon-possessed man from the town who had lived rough for many years due to his condition. The long and short of the story is that Jesus healed the guy and restored him back into the community. You can read it for yourself in Luke 8:26-39. When Jesus was ready to depart, the man begged to go with him, but Jesus had something better in mind. He urged the man to return home and tell how much God had done. (Luke 8:39)

That is exactly what the man did.

He “went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” I may have chosen to go with Jesus and get a new start for myself, but he was obedient and did as Jesus told him. We do not know if he could have anticipated or even knew later what kind of impact his life had on his community, but we have the full story. This particular miracle of healing was the first in Gentile territory, a region called the Decapolis. Sometime later, Jesus did return and a crowd of 4000 came out to see Him. (The story is found in Matthew 15:29-31 and Mark 8:1-10.) Jesus repeated the miracle of healing, again and again, restoring “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others.” (Matthew 15:30) Did these people come because of the story they had heard about the guy whose life was changed by Jesus? I like to think it was.

So, what impact are we having in the world around us?

Are we like the transformed witch doctor who carried the news of Jesus to other communities, resulting in churches being established? Or maybe like the man from Gerasenes who just shared his story with the neighbors. At the time, I’m sure neither of these men had any idea that their words would bring thousands to the feet of Jesus. The legacy that belongs to them is great, but ours can be too. We must take what we know about Jesus and make it known to the world around us. These men were not great theologians with exemplary training and a huge following. They were just common individuals who took what they had been given—a relationship with Jesus—and told others. It made an impact and continues to do so, especially if we now take their example to heart. How much of the world will be changed simply because we carried the Good News and delivered it? Only time will tell.

Share Jesus.
Change the world.

 


Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
Anne Frank

 

A Snarled Life

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Screaming erupted,

accompanying the morning’s hair brushing session. Neglected only one day, my granddaughter’s long blond hair had turned into a tangled mess. We thought it would be okay to ignore our normal routine. We were just hanging out at home. It wasn’t like anyone would be seeing us. No big deal to let her hair go unbrushed. No big deal, that is, until it was. Now pain and tears were involved in the whole process of combing out the snarls.

How quickly life can end up the same way.

Our days seem smooth and easy. So much so, we begin to neglect simple ‘grooming’. We forget to pray; we put off looking into God’s Word; a day or two won’t really matter much. Before we know it, quite a few days have passed without God’s input. Without it, life begins to get tangled and snarled. To make it smooth again, whole lot of ‘brushing’ will need to happen. It’s a good thing the One doing the combing has a gentle touch.

As I consider this whole picture, I am reminded that it takes some time to work the tangles out of my granddaughter’s hair. There are some unpleasant moments, to be sure, but there also is quite a bit of time spent talking as we work on the tangles. Moments of I remember when are shared. A closeness is created through the process, and trust is developed. Before we realize it, beauty emerges from where the tangles once were.

Are you leading a snarled life?

I have been there. Yes, I believe it might have involved some screaming and tears, but God eventually smoothed out the tangles. One thing I know—I never want to go there again. To avoid the snarls, constant maintenance is required. I can’t allow much time to pass before I am in the Word and praying for guidance. Without it, I just feel unkept and disheveled, unable to function, and certainly not looking my best.

If you are unsure of where to start, begin with prayer. It is true, confession is good for the soul. A simple, “Hello, God, it’s me,” will get the process started. You’ll know what to say from there.

The practice of meeting with God . . .

on a regular basis to pray and study His Word takes time to develop. Once it is a habit, you will wonder why you ever neglected it. Peace is one bonus to regular ‘grooming’ your life with the Word. And that is a beautiful thing.

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Are You All In? Trusting God Completely

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It was a long night spent sitting in cramped quarters. What was I thinking? About half way in, I began to think my traveling days were over. I reached my limit of “discomfort by choice.” And then there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Hours to Arrival ticked down and anticipation of reaching my destination began to build.  You see, I got on this plane because I believed it would transport me to the place I wanted to go and even in the midst of exhaustion brought on by a long flight, a sleepless night and thoughts of “Are we there yet?” I never lost faith that I would eventually find my way to the Arrival Gate.

What is your definition of faith? Webster’s defines faith as:

a firm belief in something for which there is no proof

COMPLETE TRUST

something that is believed with a strong conviction.

It is something believed but not only that. Webster uses words in this definition such as firm, complete, strong when it comes to that belief.

In air travel you cannot “sort of” get on the plane. One foot on land with the other in the air is just not going to work. You have to get completely on the aircraft to reach your destination. That is also the way with faith. You have to be ‘all in’ to get where arrive at the place God is taking you.

There is, however, an element of faith that is also a continuous journey. When flying, there are always a few fellow passengers wrought with anxiety. They believe with certainty that this time may just be the time they will crash and burn. They pace the aisles or pop a sleeping pill just to get through. This may not be too far from the truth in how we treat our own lives. We get up each morning and tentatively set our feet in route to see if God’s promises still apply to today’s set of problems and worries. We struggle with the pain and discomfort as we wonder if this part of this trip through life will ever end. And then, as promised we see the glimmer of hope that God is indeed delivering us safely to our appointed destination.

I think that destination just might be a complete faith; one that firmly, completely and with strong conviction puts our confidence in God’s word and his ways. I believe God is developing in us a habit in which we trust him on everything. He proves Himself over and over that there is nothing outside his power to bring the best possible outcome in us. As we go, we develop more and more assurance in Him with a confidence that He will do He says he can do. Each day that we plant our both feet firmly in that confidence brings us closer to arriving at Complete Faith.

In Romans 4:18-23, Abraham is described with the words “against all hope…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”

It goes on to say, “This is why ‘it was credited to him righteousness.”  These words ‘it was credited to him righteousness’ were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him…” [Emphasis added.]

Righteousness. Now, that’s a pretty great perk. Let your faith grow. Be “all in” when it comes to trusting the Lord. You do not want to miss out on what God has for you.

As for me and future travel? I will continue. Living would not be as satisfying if not for the lessons God teaches through the sights and sounds of this great excursion called life.

 The Lord will indeed give what is good…” Psalms 85:12

You count on it!

 

Lessons from a Foreign Land

https://girlonadventure.com/2017/04/27/lessons-from-a-foreign-land/

It’s been some time since I visited Tajikistan, but the lessons will remain in my heart forever.

One AM.

Our plane touched down in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. We were all ushered into a cement block building to wait in line for passport control. One-by-one we were summoned into a small room to present our visas and answer a few questions. Small problem. I didn’t speak Farsi. I stood there, listening very carefully but not comprehending. Somehow the man behind the desk seemed satisfied with the documents and my affirming nods that he released me from his presence.

Outside the building and reunited with my traveling companions, I was caught up a flurry of activity. Porters were grabbing at our luggage trying to gain a few American dollars in their pockets. Owners of taxis crowded in demanding that we use their service. It all felt very confusing and a bit scary trying to make my way in a strange land in the dark of night.

Then a familiar face came into view. Our contact came toward us warning off the aggressive drivers. He grabbed the bags and motioned for us to follow. He guided us safely to a van that was waiting to transport us to our destination.

As the week played out, I learned many things about the culture I had been plopped in the middle of. Village life was quite different from the world I had left at home. For safety’s sake, an escort was needed wherever I went. I covered my hair so I would not find myself the topic of whispers and ridicule. Bathrooms were a challenge. Electricity was intermittent. Meals were served on the floor. Men and women did not socialize in public. There were military check points, calls to worship, and houses hidden by high walls and locked gates.

Yes. Everything was different and if it had not been for my guide I would not have been able to navigate through the rules of this community. What I knew of life did not make sense in this culture. It was all so foreign.

In my current trek through Psalm 119, I came across a similar thought in the second segment of the book.

“Open my eyes so that I can truly see the marvelous things in your law. I am like a foreigner in this land. Do not hide your commandments from me. I desperately long to know your regulations at all times.”

Psalm 119:18-20

Oh, how God’s ideas can seem strange to us.

Like the Psalmist, it sometimes feels like we are in a foreign land when we are learning about God’s ways. What we knew of life is now turned upside down. The culture is new. The language seems odd. It isn’t always easy to wrap our minds around why things work better His way. We need Him to guide us. Then, little-by-little, we begin to see how the customs of this unfamiliar place start to make sense.  As we put into practice those marvelous things He reveals, they spare us from humiliation as they guide us to success. It’s beautiful when it starts to come together.

As for the rest of my time in the Tajik culture? Before my trip concluded, candlelight in the power outage became romantic. A glimpse of a married couple sharing a private conversation seemed mysterious and precious. Even the lessons in tying my head covering the right way or how to apply the perfect unibrow [ I have a photo somewhere.] made me feel more connected with the people of that country.

I began to get it.

Their ways worked in context with their culture. What seemed strange when I began my time there became normal and comfortable before I left.  Foreign no more—Tajikistan, its people and their ways occupy a place in my heart that brings great joy each time my thoughts wander there.

Your Destination Will Be Peace

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The navigation app on my phone seemed to have a poor sense of direction.

It commanded in a loud voice to take the next exit to reach my destination that I knew was a few more freeway ramps away. What I didn’t know was an accident blocked the road and the app’s seemly all-knowing function redirected me to save time, and most likely, some aggravation along the way.

Oh, man. Don’t ya wish life could have the same guidance system?

“In two days, continue forward for six hours, then make a sharp right turn to avoid the. . .” Yep, I think step-by-step, instructions would come in very handy.

Although we don’t have info on the moment-by-moment events in life, we do have directions that will serve us well. They are found in the writings of the Bible and when implemented, they can help us navigate through the unpredictable situations we come up against, many times saving us time and aggravation.

This portion of scripture, Jeremiah 6:16 NET, points out that very idea– “The LORD said to his people: ‘You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. Ask where the old, reliable paths are. Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it. If you do, you will find rest for your souls.’”

Those old reliable paths are the instructions. . .

God has revealed to us through the Bible. Along with the instructions come examples of experience and the eventual outcomes where choices to follow God were involved. Knowing the stories can help us develop what path we would like to take.

There are times when what God says doesn’t line up with our sensibilities. We don’t understand, or maybe even, we don’t trust God’s word in certain circumstances. It’s like that day on the freeway. It just didn’t make sense to exit until I saw what was avoided. Lucky for me, the navigator app with its insight had directed my path. It’s that way with God. His ways do not always seem right to us at the time but they can be trusted. They are reliable. He sees the big picture. He knows how things will turn out. And if we just listen and follow. . .

 God will lead us to peace.  

 

Indeed, my plans are not like your plans,

and my deeds are not like your deeds, for just as the sky is higher than the earth,

so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NET

Guide me in the path of your commands, for I delight to walk in it.

Psalm 119:35 NET

March On!

 

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When they heard the blast of the trumpet, the people gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed.

 Joshua 6:20

The siege of Jericho would have been something to see.

Can’t you just picture it? Armed forces taking the lead followed by the priests with the Ark of the Covenant hoisted onto their shoulders, trumpets blasting as they stepped out with purpose in obedience to the Lord.

The story of the walls tumbling down is made even more fantastic when you consider these were some of the very “walls that reached up to the sky” spoken of in Deuteronomy 1:28. These walls, along with the ‘giants’ who lived within them, brought much fear and discouragement to the Israelites. They had no idea how they would defeat such a strong and seemingly impenetrable fortress. These people of Deuteronomy could not find the faith to trust God and march out with purpose. Instead their feet would be found wandering in the desert working on putting their trust in God.

But here in Joshua, a new generation has appeared. Their trek through the wilderness has produced the desired result. This time, the Israelites marched out in unity and confidently followed the Lord’s instruction. The result: success and complete victory. That’s what following God’s commands produces. You can rely on it.

This story makes me wonder.

If we just had the strength and courage to follow His instructions, what would happen? What obstacles could we overcome? How would the world change, personally and globally, if we trusted God’s ways of grace and obeyed His command of loving our neighbors? [Matthew 22:36-40] If we were united and marched together in God’s plan, then what? Hope would be found, that’s what. The walls of suffering, injustice, and oppression would lie in a heap of smoldering ash. And we, along with the rest of the world, would be changed for the good. We would see that God’s strategies work and only need to be put into practice to bring victory and success.

What keeps us from stepping forward to march out?

Are the walls of despair too high to overcome or the fear of the ‘giants’ too big to overthrow? Trust God’s instruction. Put His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control into practice. These qualities of God’s character make a lot of noise. In fact, they will shake those negatives of fear, despair and oppression turning them into rubble. Take action and bring some walls down.

The world is waiting.

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.  For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth [for] the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 47:12 Psalm 33:11