Saturday, May 28, 2011

What A Diffrence A Week Can Make

What a difference a week can make in a person’s life!  A couple of weeks ago Cora and I decided to attend the International Child Evangelism Fellowship conference in Asheville, North Carolina.  Unwilling to go into debt to attend, we figured if God wanted us to attend, He would supply us with enough money to go and return with enough to sustain us until I got back to work again.  He did and has.
A Brief History
For several years, I have had the conviction that I needed to be in ‘the Ministry’, but had no idea what to do.  Preaching?  Surely, you jest!  I have the gift of gab but that is just too serious a position with eternal consequences, just to stand in front of a congregation (read I & II Timothy and Titus).  I do not have the schooling for a solid theological background, though that can be corrected with time.  Yet I believe I had a season in my life that disqualified me from becoming a pastor.  Yes, all sin is forgiven for believers except that of rejecting Christ as Lord and Saviour.  (That is a non-believer and therefore they are condemned already.)  However, sin in a confessing believer will always-Always-ALWAYS, have consequences, even after the sin is confronted, confessed, and corrected.  As a result, I felt I was/am disqualified for that type of eldership.  That does not mean my thinking is off at this point, it just means that until proven otherwise, this is what I believe.  So I continued to look for ways to serve, staying in the background, and helping who and/or where I could.
In every life, there are markers that help a person identify how they are doing as they grow up both physically and spiritually.  Some known physical examples are; marks on the doorjamb measuring height over the years, first day at school, graduation, job, etc.  For me, songs with a Biblical basis, making an emotional connection to the “season” of my life have always been my milestone markers.  Whether I was depressed, excited, moved by something inspirational, or I felt the Lord confirming a truth I had read in the Bible, I always marked them with music.  Music has a deep emotional connection that the Lord uses for some people.  An example, for me, would be just after Job received all of the devastating news about his family and holdings.  The only thing he had left was his wife and the servants that reported the tragedies.

     Job 1:20-22  Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD."  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.  NASB.

The song connection for me is from Matt Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name”.  I was going through some convicting times and was learning what the word ‘surrender’ meant in context with being a slave to a sovereign God and being obedient to Him regardless of the cost.  (I recommend John McArthur’s book ‘Slave’ or his YouTube messages, for further exploration on this topic.)  Milestones like this have the effect of changing the course of one’s life … forever.
This is when it finally clicked for me; I needed to go with Cora to the I.C.E.F. conference.  Always trying to be responsible and earn an income to support my family, I knew that this choice could cost me my job.  Having taken a couple of weeks off earlier due to health issues, I really did not want to push for the time off.  Asking God for direction, I had a peace about leaving the job to attend, knowing that God would support us if I lost my job.  It was that important to Him, and so it was to me.  Yet, I could not figure out what God had in store for us.  All I could hear was go and then listen.  About Thursday, I had the realization what step three was … surrender.  To surrender to whatever the Lord wanted of me; be it to preach, teach, serve local, serve regionally, or serve overseas.  The main thing was to surrender to Him and be the submissive servant that He required of me as a child of God.  Only then would He direct my path for His glory and honour.
Throughout the entire conference, I kept meeting people that would tell me things that confirmed what I already knew.  One lady that I talked with told of having one of those ‘never-never’ moments with God and how God dealt with her.  She had heard Gods call but stomped her foot and said I am ‘never-never’ going to serve there God, it is just too ___.  She then confirmed what I expected.  Never challenge God by saying ‘never’.  (There is a paradox in this statement, but I won’t go there.)  Through various means, God worked on her heart until she finally surrendered.  She and her husband went to that ‘never-never’ place.  Several years later, another move was indicated to a different location.  This time it was to a place more dangerous.  Once again, she said ‘never-never’.  Through prayer, she realized how useless it was to say ‘never-never’.  She told me that she looked at her husband and asked, “Why are we even talking about this when we already know that it is God’s will to go?”  They submitted and now are going to where they said they ‘never-never’ would once more, accepting God’s sovereign will with joy.
The amazing thing for me, I think, was that I had already surrendered just by going to the conference.  Look at my FB status about going off to the ‘Great Adventure!’  Deep in my heart, I think I already knew what was going to happen.  (My accountability partner would be most willing to confirm this and not with a chuckle or smile, but a hearty round of laughter and an “I told you so!” thrown in for good measure.)  I just had to go through the process of grieving a rebellious nature to God, to reach that acceptance of His Sovereign will.  For those who have gone through this process, you know what I mean and how sometimes it is VERY hard … on you and those around you.
Plans, Praise, and Prayer Request
So now what do we do?  Well, Cora will continue as director with the Klamath-Lake chapter of C.E.F.  I will return to the truck for now, working to clear what is left of our debt and saving as much as possible (please note:  I make it, Cora manages it.  Quite well, I might add.)  This year or next, I will apply to C.M.I. for formal training for C.E.F.  After that … I am not sure.  I say this with the caveat that … all is carved in water and subject to change to how the Lord will move in our lives.
I am so grateful to family and friends that have been praying for me all of my life.  I am also grateful to family and friends that pray for Cora.  She has needed a lot more since marrying me!  I will praise His name for His continued grace and tender mercies on both of us.
I ask you to pray for us daily for:  spiritual growth, wisdom, discernment, humility, and boldness for work in His kingdom.  Those of you, who know us, know how much of a leap this is for both of us.  However, we want to do this right and cannot without LOTS of prayer, especially from those who believe that this is truly our calling.  It helps if you know and love us as well!
So now, it is time to sign off.  Thank you for taking the time to read this small milestone in our lives.  I trust the Lord will bless us with many more that I will try to share with you as we grow and go.  Thank you for your prayers as well.
His glory, our goal!
Your brother-in-Christ,

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