December 14, 2014

Waiting and Wandering

A couple of friends and I decided to go backpacking earlier this week. It seemed like a good idea when we made our plans a couple of weeks ago. And while I love being on the trail, the cold weather really has a way of putting a damper on things. We knew it would be cold, but we didn't expect the wind, fog, mist and ice that we encounterd…after the first night we were done. We headed back to the car and went home.

I continue to wonder what God has next for me and my family. Waiting is difficult. The hardest part is being sure that we are supposed to be waiting. If I knew how long I had to wait, it wouldn't be so bad. I could easily sit back, fill time, and anticipate the day when the next step, or phase of our life, is revealed. But that probably would not be healthy. If we had known our backpacking trip would be cut short, would we have even gone? Waiting with anticipation, not knowing when or what, prompts me to stay alert, stay on my guard, always looking for what might be the next opportunity. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, not knowing whether or not it is the destination. Life is not so much about the destination as it is about staying the course.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)

It's all a part of the process. The waiting. The wondering. All the while preparing, or being prepared, as we continue down the trail of God's plan for our lives. I have no doubt that God has something for us. My biggest fear is that somehow I will miss it.
Things don't always go according to our own plans. Sometimes the weather of life forces us to go in a different direction. Sometimes we are forced to rethink and reevaluate the trail we are traversing. Sometimes we may even wonder what it would have been like further down the trail, if we had not been forced back!

"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:17)

God has me here, right now, to accomplish His purpose, here and now. Rather than wondering what might have been if things had gone according to my plans, I must trust God's plans.

November 29, 2014

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. I hope you were able to celebrate with loved ones, spend some time with good friends, and reflect on the abundant blessings in your life. We are blessed, far beyond what we even realize most of the time. Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on those blessings.

Psalm 50:23 says that "the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." When's the last time you offered thanksgiving as your sacrifice? But what does that even mean?

Thanksgiving equals gratitude. Gratitude is acknowledging appreciation for something someone has done for you. What kind of sacrifice does that really require?

Sacrifice implies surrender, suffering, giving something up.

When's the last time your thanksgiving was a sacrifice?

Here are three things to keep in mind as we consider the sacrifice of thanksgiving:

1) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a lasting sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:15 says "through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God." Through Jesus Christ, we are to continually, without stopping, offer our thanksgiving to God. It is to be a continual offering, a neverending thanksgiving. More than one day a year set aside to eat turkey and watch football, our thanksgiving is to be lasting, non-stop, continual praise for all that we have received from God.

But how can we offer thanks even when we don't feel like it, when things are going all wrong, when there is so much to complain about all around us? The answer is simple, yet extremely difficult. "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done." When you're feeling down, lonely, sad, as though everything and everyone is against you, stop, think, count your blessings and thanks God for each and every blessing in your life.

That requires surrender. That means looking beyond yourself, beyond your self-pity, and being thankful for all with which you have been blessed.

2) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a living sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 says "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

As we continually offer our thanksgiving to God, we are to live our lives in such a way that we reflect the God we are thanking. Holy and acceptable means that we surrender what our flesh desires, instead chasing after our holy God with everything that we have. To be a living sacrifice requires that I offer myself completely to the Lord. I give Him total control of every area of my life. Everything that I say and do and think and desire ought to be holy and acceptable to him. That takes sacrifice. That takes surrender. This requires that I continually check my heart and my motives, that I continually monitor my thoughts and desires. Live your lives as continual and daily worship to God.

3) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a loving sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:16 says "Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." This is where our sacrifice of thanksgiving intensifies. It goes beyond ourselves. It requires that we lay not only our thoughts and desires on the altar of worship, but our actions as well. 

It's easy to say "Thank you" with our mouths, but to actually get out of our comfort zones and say thank you with our actions is tough. Do not neglect to do good. Share what you have. How many times do we pass on opportunities to help someone who needs a hand? How often do we neglect to share our finances with someone less fortunate? It's not enough to say "I love you." It's equally important to get out and show your love to others.

When's the last time you offered thanksgiving as your sacrifice? 

Are you offering yourself as a lasting, living, and loving sacrifice?

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23

August 04, 2014

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Janes

Kelsey went with me on this trip to Mexico last year. She had a really amazing time, and is looking forward to going again.

Here are Kelsey's Top Ten "Reasons why I want to go back to Mexico:"

These are the reasons I want to back go to Mexico:
1. I want to go to Mexico because I want to help the people there.
2. It will be a good opportunity to learn another language.
3. The food and fruit juices are delicious.
4. Sleeping in a hammock is fun.
5. Its fun to see the different villages and how they live.
6. Meeting the people is fun because they are very different.
7. Its a good way to make new friends and try new things,.
8. The fruit there is really good and fresh.
9. It will be fun to do all the different things in all the different places.
10. Last but not least, being with my family.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us by financially supporting this trip. What seems impossible with man was made possible by God working through you. Our family is fully funded, and then some - Praise the Lord!

Our team is still short, so we appreciate your continued prayers as we look to our God to provide the rest. If you'd like to support the team, you can give online here: