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God has been teaching me what it means to sit at his feet. One of my biggest challenges and distractions in resting before Him has always been busyness. It is an area that my Father has been changing in me, especially these last couple years. Some of the change has come through God physically slowing me down, but also God has been teaching me to say no. By the grace of god, he continues to teach me how significant it is to fix my eyes on Him by simply sitting at his feet and listening. God has been mightily using a Colorado Springs Wow-woman's bible study this semester. We are going through a book called Fix Your Eyes on Jesus, written by an incredible woman of God and friend Kirkie Morrissey. Through scriptures from this week's study God encouraged me to shut out distractions and spend more time enjoying and listening to him. God has been giving me discernment to sometimes say no to people, things, and maybe even ministry opportunities, in order to sit at his feet and enjoy his presence. Honestly, it is just difficult to know how to find a God-honoring balance between enjoying my Savior, serving my family, loving people, and serving him in ministry and everything else that needs to be done when raising a family. I am not condemning myself, but rather being honest. I just don't want the busyness of life, even serving God, to ever become a barrier to knowing Him deeply. So, I have been asking God to transform me in this area and am thankful that his truth and presence is at work. An interesting example is from Luke 10:40, "Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Another great example was from Matthew 26:11 Jesus said "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." I don't believe this statement justifies ignoring the needs of the poor. I do wonder if it is communicating the significance of the special sacrifice and beautiful relationship Mary had, as she sat at the feet of Jesus. I desire a precious relationship like the one Mary had with Jesus, where I am taking the time to sit alone quietly, listen, worship and adore my Father.
God has also been whispering to me, Wendy "be still and know that I am God". I have started to give myself permission to take time to be still and it is amazing what God is doing in the midst of the stillness. In the stillness, God is drawing me to himself and revealing more of himself to me. In reading a book recently by Joanna Weaver called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World she says "The closer we draw to the heart of the Father, the more we see his heart for the world". I think this may be true, and then she goes on to say "As we take time to hear his voice-God provides the horsepower we need to pull the heaviest load. He saddles up Grace and invites us to take a ride." God spoke clearly to me the other day about something he did not want me to take on right then, when he gave me this verse in Exodus 18: 17-18 "What you are doing is not good...You will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone." There is freedom and joy in realizing that He can most certainly do his work without me and there are times he is calling me to shut down, say no, and just simply sit at his feet and listen. Then there are many times that, after my precious time of sitting at his feet and listening, he says go, love, and serve me and others. Thank you God for teaching me when to sit and listen, and when to act and serve.
God has been teaching us that he will always provide for us. We were at the Thorn this last weekend. It is a drama based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They depicted the feeding of the 5000 as part of it. One of the statements really stuck with me. Thomas, the disciple, was the narrator, and said that none of the people who met Jesus that day were ever hungry again. They would never hunger because Jesus would always provide for His children. That's just a paraphrase, but it's true. When we meet Jesus, he fills us and we will always be provided for.
One of the things we have felt God wants us to do for this trip is raise support. It's not really something we are comfortable with or like to do. We don't like to give up our self-sufficiency and rely on God to provide. God has had to open up our eyes to the need to depend on Him for this trip, and to trust and have faith that He will provide. God put 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 on our hearts as we did this. It starts with, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." We have been so blessed by seeing the hearts of some cheerful givers as they have sacrificially given. We have seen God move in the hearts of his people who instantaneously followed His leading and gave. We have seen people who, despite their own financial trials, took God at His word for provision and gave when they were needy themselves. God has used people who, in the midst of personal crisis, looked beyond themselves and gave in obedience to their loving God. It truly has been a blessing to see God providing and our faith has been built up as others have stepped out in their faith. We are very thankful for how he has already provided and we are trusting that he will continue to provide more than enough for this trip to Swaziland.
With God's provision in mind, we just want to say thank you. First, thank you God for providing. We know You called us on this trip, and will provide for us to take the trip. Second, we want to thank you to everyone who has given. You have been ministering to us in ways we can't imagine. Your gift of prayer and finances will further the kingdom of God and bring healing in Swaziland. Last, we have surpassed the $2500 mark, and we are very grateful for this. If you are thinking of supporting us, please pray about it. We believe God has already arranged for the people who he wants to do this good work through. We also wanted to share this video. As Sarah Groves says in the video, "I have what I have but I'm giving it up." As we all take this journey together, I hope and pray we can continue to give all we have for God's glory and His kingdom.
I (Andy) only tell this story because God has been bringing the idea of hunger to mind a lot lately. I live in a country blessed with plenty. We live in a world where many are trapped in poverty. Please understand, I'm not being anti-American. God has blessed us in America abundantly. I'm just trying to reconcile what Jesus says with my own prolific appetites. In this world, hunger and poverty kill at least 25,000 people a day. If it takes you five minutes to read this blog, about 90 people would have died in that time. Over half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day. I spend more than that on a latte or energy drink. The food I tossed from the fridge is more than most people in the world will eat in a week. I have never admitted or seen anyone as a doctor during my practice solely for malnutrition unless it was due to some other underlying disease.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook. I love watching cooking shows. One show that's on the Travel Channel is Man vs. Food. There's this guy who goes around the country looking for the best pig-out challenges and tries to beat the challenge, whether it's a 7 pound omelet, a 4 pound steak, or some other crazy gigantic amount of food to eat. We've even got a competitive eating league in the US. Buffets can be found all over (I do admit, the local Indian buffet is fantastic.) From where I'm sitting, I can see in my pantry 5 types of cereal (most half empty), two types of chips, two types of crackers, pop tarts, marshmallows, and other assorted foods. Yet, amazingly enough, it's not all that uncommon for me to look in there and think, or have my kids tell me, that there's nothing good to eat. Anyone who knows me knows hunger isn't something I really struggle with…more like overeating. Not a hospital week goes by where I don't see many people who have illnesses brought on by their overeating and obesity.
Please understand…I really don't want to make anyone feel guilty. If anyone is guilty, I am just as much. That's really not my goal. I know as well as anyone that I can live on far less, and my flabby body would probably be much healthier if I ate less. I do believe God has put me where I am and given us blessings to use to help others. If you want to help out with hunger, there are plenty of places to give – Children's Hope Chest, World Vision, and Compassion International. I'm really thinking more of the mix of physical and spiritual hunger. I do find it interesting that the people in the Bible also were focused on their stomachs. Jesus was talking to the crowd that had just gotten the free outdoor fish and bread buffet. He said, "I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (John 6:26)" Then Jesus goes on to say, "But don't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you." Later, He says, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one He has sent." That leaves out a lot of the worries I have from day to day, as well as many of the things I spend my time hungry for. Seek the eternal life He gives and believe in Jesus. That's it. It sure makes me think about where my hunger is. I know the Bible says were are to hunger and thirst after righteousness, that David thirsted for God's word. I want that. I want to live a life of hunger for God. I want that for my wife, my kids, and the people around me that I love. Best of all, I know my hunger will be filled. "Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again." What a promise.
God, fill us with a hunger for you. Thank You for filling that hunger through Jesus. Help us to be filled to overflowing by you so we can go out and meet the needs of those hungry around us, both physically and spiritually.
John 5:6 – "Would you like to get well?"
I've got to say, on the surface that sounds like a silly question. The guy has been sick for 38 years! Of course he'd like to get well, healed from his illness. But I am just like the lame man. I am crippled by so many things. Pride. Judgment. Anger. Callousness. Selfishness. There's even wounds I don't understand. Hurts. Regrets. Sadness. Poor self-image. Jesus asks me the same question – "do you want to get well?" Do you really want to get rid of all that junk and be made whole? Again, on the surface it's easy – of course I do. Some of the question is do I really want to have my old, dead self fully removed, or do I kind of like having bits and pieces of it around. I like having bits of control, to have my own way, to do what I want. To be healed and rid of all that junk means getting up, leaving my old life, and walking away from my old self, my desires, my wants. The man's identity was as the cripple at the well. All he was known as was in that identity as a cripple. Everything would change for him. Everything would change for me if I fully abandoned my old life, took up my mat and walked. All of a sudden that silly question is a whole lot harder than it appears. God, show me the things in my life that are keeping me from wanting to be healed. Help me to lay those things down so I can be made whole and be fully healed in You.