Saturday, January 30, 2016

Through the Eyes of a Child

This week, I learned a lesson from a second grader in my mom's 
Wednesday night Ignite group in the United States.

I received a SnapChat from her Wednesday night (yes, my mom SnapChats) that said, "Asher brought you $10" and my reply was, "What?" 

The next day we FaceTimed, where long story short she explained that Asher had been given $20 by his grandparents and had been thinking for almost a month about what he wanted to buy, and through a series of sermons on giving by our pastor at home and one perfectly timed Wednesday night lesson on how God provides for our needs, with my mom using me as an example, Asher decided he wanted to put $10 in the offering plate and give $10 to me (and so, if you're not-so-great at math, $10 + $10 = $20 = $0 left over for Asher). 

And I thought about how as a child, we rely on our parents to provide for all of our needs. As children, we don't feel the need to save up "for a rainy day." We know that our parents will always provide for us. So I just wondered, when does that stop? When do we have that not-so-magical moment where we decide we must start collecting and storing up and providing for ourselves?

Jesus says, "Truly , I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) I can't help but think that part of that is a child's attitude on where their provision comes from. Asher, and most other children, know that their parents will provide, and "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11) Why don't we, as adults, always trust God to provide? 

You would think, as a missionary who has to raise all her support to live here 10 months out of the year, I would have a check mark next to this life lesson. Have I seen God provide for me? Of course I have. I couldn't be here if He didn't. But I also fall back into the "storing up" mindset to often. 

When I came here with all the money people had freely donated to me, I was really worried about being a good steward. It was crazy to me that all these people had trusted me with some amount of money, and I wanted to be sure I was honoring that. No one was asking me to give an account of my spending, but I still thought about it almost every time I took out my wallet. Even though it had been given to me, I still didn't see that money as "mine."

I was also convicted last year when a conversation came up here about tithing. You know the good "church definition": giving of your time, talents, and resources. In my mind, I was already giving of my time and talents by being here and teaching, but the resources (i.e. money) that were given to me were to be used for my living here. That was the reason it had been given to me. But this was revealed to me as a part of my "storing up" mindset. I was still supposed to give away the 10%, and trust God to still provide what I needed. And that is what I have done this year. If you support me financially, part of your gift has also benefited another ministry or missionary.

So anyways, thank you Asher, for reminding me of this lesson that needs constant reinforcement. My God is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who Provides.
Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Asking

Recently, the Lord has been showing me a lot about asking for things in prayer. Just after I started to pray about something, I also began listening to a series of talks from Francis Chan on the book of James. We got to chapter 4, and verses 2-3 jumped out at me:

"You desire but do not have, 
so you kill. 
You covet but you cannot get what you want, 
so you quarrel and fight. 
You do not have because you do not ask God. 
When you ask, you do not receive, 
because you ask with wrong motives, 
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

I am guilty of often quoting the last part of verse 2, "You do not have because you do not ask God" while forgetting about what comes right after it in verse 3. When I started to pray about this "thing," that is what was on my mind. "I do not have because I do not ask God." And then once I started to ask God, He told me, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives." Francis Chan talked about how God is our ultimate fulfillment, but in our prayers we so often just ask Him for things that we think will fulfill us, instead of turning to Him. And God smacked me upside the head (metaphorically) and said, "That is what you're doing."

Oops.

So I said, "Okay God, got it. Wrong motives. Won't pray about that anymore. I'm just going to keep seeking You and desiring You." Which, don't get me wrong, is a good prayer. But apparently I still didn't have the whole point, so God had to bring it up again.

On Thursday, we had our first meeting back with our teacher discipleship groups after school. My group is memorizing Scripture together, and the verses we decided to memorize these next two weeks are from Matthew 7:7-8:

“Ask and it will be given to you; 
seek and you will find; 
knock and the door will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receives; 
the one who seeks finds; 
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

There we go with that asking thing again. I honestly didn't think much of it that day because I already knew the verse pretty well, and we needed to go catch the bus, and I had a million other things on my mind about school. 

But today, when I pulled the verse out to study, I thought again how strange it was that this theme of "asking" kept coming up. So I asked the Lord if there was more He was trying to tell me. And of course, there is always a little more. 

"I told you, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives. I didn't tell you not to ask. All over the Bible I tell you to ask. So ask me. Ask me for what you desire, and ask me to give you the right motives behind that desire."

That's more or less what I felt God telling me. So I searched for the word "ask" in the Bible, and found countless verses/passages in both the Old and New Testaments where God tells His people to ask. And when we ask with the right motives? 

"...you will receive..." (Matthew 21:22) "...it will be yours." (Mark 11:24) "...I will do it." (John 14:14) "...It will be done for you." (John 15:7) 

God is so good.
Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Living in Freedom

~Happy 2016!~

I arrived back in Honduras today, and after a flat tire in the van, a side-of-the-bridge tire change, a stop to a llantera to fix the original tire, and a stop to the gas station to fill up, we made it back home. I hope everyone else's new year is off to a great start! I enjoyed two weeks back in the States with family and friends for Christmas, and now I am ready to get back to the second half of this school year.

Last year, instead of creating new years resolutions, I had it on my heart to choose one word to focus my year on. Last year, that word was JOY, and I tried to find my joy in the Lord and intentionally choose joy every day. I will admit, I failed a lot. But I also succeeded some. And as I thought about this new year, I knew I didn't want to make resolutions, but I also thought I wouldn't choose a word either. I am an on-route-to-recovery perfectionist and this can lead me to some legalism at times, as well as being really hard on myself when I feel I have failed at something. And with the one word things last year, I don't really feel like I lived up to the expectations I set for myself. I will also admit that I sort of lost focus on my word about half way through the year. And I just didn't want to do that again. I wanted to be free from all the "have-tos" and pressures that I place on myself, and that I sometimes feel God has placed on me.

But then it came to me. Freedom. If freedom is what I want, why not make that my word for this year? Focus on being free from the "have-tos" and pressures I place on myself. So I choose freedom. And soon after that, I found the New Living Translation of Psalm 119:45: 

"I will walk in FREEDOM, 
for I have devoted myself to your commandments."

You know when you have those things you know in your head, but they just haven't really connected yet? I knew that the Lord's commandments are not burdensome. They are not meant to make me feel like a failure, or that I have to do everything right. And yet, I still often felt that way. But as I have been reading in a book called "Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary," when God commands something, contained in that command is the power to do it. When Jesus commanded Peter to step out of the boat onto the water, the power Peter needed to do it was in Jesus's command. But after a few steps, I think Peter started to rely on His own power again. Maybe he thought, "Oh, look at me. I've got this. I don't need Jesus's help." And he sunk.

So often, I try to live life out of my own power and strength. And I'll be the first to tell you that just doesn't work. It leads to burdens and feelings of failure and everything except freedom. But when I devote myself to God's commandments, and choose to walk in His power to fulfill them, I can also walk in FREEDOM.

So long story short, I'm not placing a bunch of rules and guidelines on myself this year. I am simply choosing to live in freedom and in the power God offers me.


I hope you have a {freeing} new year, 
because 
"where the Spirit of the Lord is 
there is freedom!" 
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu