Monday, March 10, 2014

First Thoughts About My Trip to the Other Side of the World

It's finally official! We are going to Papua New Guinea for six weeks. We thought and prayed about it for several months, then we got lots of snow, which meant a little extra income for us. It will be my first time out of the country, besides a quick day- trip to Canada. It will also be my first memorable flight. All of these firsts will be shared with my children. I'm looking forward to seeing their reactions to everything, as well as my own. There are a lot of things to prepare for packing- wise, but also in my thoughts and expectations. I've heard so many stories and seen pictures/videos that I feel I know what to expect, but I know seeing things myself, in person, will be different. I'm worried about meeting all the family and tribesmen, but excited to see the people Win talks about and the places. I'm looking forward to it. Someone mentioned that I will be changed when I come home. I hope so. I hope I realize what I have and what I don't need; what makes me truly happy and what just adds stress to my life. I hope I see my real self, away from all the distractions of this Western society. I hope I am a blessing to those I meet and not just a spoiled American. I'm looking forward to six weeks without technology, for all of us.  I'm so thankful for this amazing opportunity. I pray that God uses me during these six weeks and works in my life to bring me closer to Him.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A New Commandment ~Love

John 13:34-35 
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

This past week at our house church service we talked about church growth. We mentioned the different types of growth (in number and spiritual) that we see, and why, or why not, there may not be more. It has started some thoughts of my own need in this area. We talked about how the love we have for the person that we love the least, is the amount that we actually love Jesus. It's easy to blame other people, or see where they could be doing better, but my actions, or inaction, can't be blamed on anyone else; either I'm doing it, or I'm not. Am I loving the "unlovable" (annoying, unresponsive, or unhelpful) person? Am I taking time to talk with them and see them, or just bypassing them for friends who are like me? Do we see people like Jesus sees them?

In our church situation, some people have taken advantage of us as individuals, without realizing, or respecting, the responsibilities we have in our own lives and expect us to drop everything and help them, when they want it and with what they want, without a real commitment to us or an interest in following God. Some people are just looking for a handout, which is where things get confusing sometimes, in deciding how and who to help. We are finding though, that there are some people who have really started to be faithful and committed to our local church body, but we see that sometimes it is hard to include them now, because we have already built strong connections with those that have been committed. I think this happens in many smaller churches. We always need to be reminded to reach out to people and love them. When we do this, they will see Jesus' love and that is what will draw them, not the church service or anything else; the love. I've heard this all my life, but it is always good to review and remember what my responsibilities are.

Jesus gave so many examples of this love during His life here on earth. Here are just a few of these instances: healing the sick; receiving Zacchaeus (who was hated by the people); forgiving the woman caught in adultery (who was to be stoned); allowing the "sinful" woman to wash his feet; receiving the little children (who were thought unimportant and a bother); and then later, the ultimate picture of real love, dying for unworthy, rebellious people. It makes our little discomfort seems so silly, just thinking about these acts of love. How hard is it to sit down and appreciate someone, for who God made them to be?

I'm so thankful that He loves me so much that He willingly died for me and forgave my sins and now cares for me each day. May God help us to reach out and serve others (love them), the way He wants us to and the way He does for us.