Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jehovah Jireh

Early on in my Christian life I learned a name for God, "Jehovah Jireh," which means the Lord is my provider. Lately, I have seen God's provision in our lives in many ways. The first is through His provision of financial support for the work we are going to do in Uganda. We are so encouraged to now have 58% of our monthly support committed. And our one-time support is around 75%! We are so thankful for God's provision in this way.

Soon after being brought to GSF
I can also see God's provision for a little boy who was recently taken in at Good Shepherd's Fold. He was 2 1/2 years old and weighed only 9 pounds. He is now being fed regularly, is gaining weight and is now able to crawl. I am so thankful that this boy is being cared for, and it breaks my heart to think of his first 30 months of life. This little boy must have spent much of that time hungry. But God has seen His need and has provided. He now has food and people demonstrating God's loving care for him.

The passage in the Bible where God is called Jehovah Jireh, is about much more than just God's material provision for His people, though. The name is mentioned in Genesis 22, when God spares the life of Isaac and provides a ram to be sacrificed in his place. This is a story of God saving his people and keeping his promises.
3 months later, gaining weight, crawling and smiling

To be honest, sometimes I struggle trusting God with the future. I forget that God is my Provider. He has loved us so much that He provided eternal life for us through the sacrifice of His own Son. When I fail to trust God with the future, it is usually because I am not trusting in His loving control. There are many things that I do not know about the future, but I do know that God is and will always be my Provider.

As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39 ESV)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Be still my soul

This morning in church we sang this hymn. The lyrics meant a lot to me, so I thought I would share them.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
The lush Ugandan countryside
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Scandalous mercy

Here is a link to a sermon by Ray Cortese, pastor of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church on portions of the book of James. We have been listening to his sermons lately and have been very encouraged. I hope you listen and are encouraged too!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 reflections

     In the year of our Lord 2012, God has changed me in many ways. At the beginning of 2012, we had a sense that God was calling us to something new, but we were unsure what, where and when. It felt a little like God's call to Abraham in Genesis 12:1. Not quite as clear as a voice from the Lord, but pretty clear to us. It can be very unsettling for a person who likes to plan and even control things to follow God not knowing the plan and definitely not being the One in control. But the good news is that my gracious Lord, who loved me so much that He would give his only Son to redeem me, is a loving God who is in control of all things and He is working for my good. Even the good of helping me to grow in trusting Him and conforming me more to the image of His Son.
     Early in the year we began following God's lead and looking at the possibility of going to Uganda to work at an orphanage teaching the children of the missionaries there. As God confirmed that this was the direction we should continue to go, we prepared to take a trip. Traveling to Uganda and spending 10 days at Good Shepherd's Fold changed my life forever. After holding those orphaned children, talking with the older kids there, and hearing a Ugandan man preach on being willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, I could not say no. My heart is there.
     It is interesting how life in America feels so different now. I view purchases in terms of how many people in Uganda that could feed or how many children's school fees could be paid. Recently a baby who was going to be brought to GSF died of malnurishment before they could take the child. How can it be that we have so much and children are dying of starvation an preventable and treatable diseases simply because they do not have the resources? It is hard to know how to live with that knowledge. I look at my life and see so much excess. Why do I have so many things? In Luke 3:11, John the Baptist says, "whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise." Most of us have more like 20 tunics (outfits). After returning from Uganda our family all went through our drawers and closets and limited ourselves to 10 of any item. We gave away the rest. It is amazing and almost embarrassing how many bags of clothes we gave away. But still I have so much more than I could ever truly need.
One of the children in the nutritional program
     Food has been an even bigger issue for me. When I returned from Uganda I felt guilty every time I felt full. Then as I began realizing that we will be moving to Uganda, I have wanted food to be comfort to me. I want to it it while I can since many of my "comfort foods" will not be available there. Obviously, both extremes are unhealthy. I ought instead to find comfort in God's love for me and trust Him to provide our "daily bread." I should be focusing on the provider than on the provisions, but I am still struggling with this.
     One area that God is growing me is in trusting Him with the future. I am learning that it is okay that I don't know where we will live, what we will eat, or how we will get around. In living with so much plenty, I have not had to trust God with my basic needs, because I knew how those things were provided. I am now learning to trust the Who rather than the how.
David and me at The Keep, a cafe in Jinja
     I have also been learning to be thankful. It is so easy to see all the things I want God to do and forget to thank God for all the blessings. I read a book by Linda Dillow several years back entitled Calm My Anxious Heart. One chapter was about how we can view any situation from two different perspectives. I can think of all the things I wish were different, or I can see all the blessings and be thankful. I have shared many of the challenges and ways I am learning to trust God, but I want to spend more time thanking God for the blessings of this new calling. I have so many things for which to be thankful. First, I am thankful that we have such a gracious and compassionate Lord who cares for the plight of orphans and calls his people to join him in caring for them. It is such a privilege to be able to join a ministry that has the heart of God for children on need. It is also a blessing to feel certain that this is what God has been preparing for us to do. (Eph.2:10) I am also thankful for the way that God has been working in both David's and my heart simultaneously. Another blessing is that this work of teaching missionary kids is something that we are equipped to do together. We really enjoyed the year that we were both teaching at WCA, but now we will be able to teach our own children while also helping the missionary families at GSF by teaching their children too. I am so glad to be called to serve at a place where our children can participate in ministry by simply loving their neighbors, the 90 children without families who live at GSF. God has given our children a heart for orphans and mission work too. It is amazing how gracious our Lord has been in calling us to a place where we are all excited to minister.
This is the view of the Nile from the Black Lantern veranda.
     There are also several blessings about moving to Uganda that are little bonuses from our generous Heavenly Father. Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure! We will be living in a beautiful place near Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile River. We will be able to learn about all kinds of new plants and animals. We even hope to be able to go on safari sometime. The climate is amazing year-round with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. And because the soil is so rich and the rainfall plentiful, all kinds of things can grow there. Pineapple picked straight from the garden is delicious, and those little sweet bananas are scrumptious! We look forward to gardening in such a lush place. Since we will be living near Jinja, we will have the opportunity to learn a new town. There are even some cool restaurants and Internet cafes. The beautiful Black Lantern restaurant overlooks the Nile with monkeys in the trees surrounding the veranda and savory matoke chips. Sounds like a vacation doesn't it!
     As I look forward to moving to Uganda in 2013 and look back on 2012, I have so much for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the way God is growing my heart of compassion to be more like His. I am thankful that He is teaching me to trust Him in all circumstances. I am thankful that He is calling u to a ministry we are all excited about. I am thankful that He I giving me a heart of thankfulness and excitement about the adventures ahead. But most of all, I am thankful for the truth of Ephesians 2:4-10:

"God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jacobsen's video

This video is about the missionaries who work with the children as they are resettled out of GSF when then turn 18. Many people have asked about how children are transitioned out of GSF, and this video explains some of their ministry.