Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faith Promises - God Hears Us

The introduction to this series can be found here.

When I lived in Asia, I would often walk past temples or see god shelves or see the red lights glowing in a home from the family altars.  I would see people bowing and offering incense or putting food on a table as an offering to the gods. Those gods were made of wood. They could not hear. The people would stand and chat but the idol would not hear. I think seeing that has made me realise the comfort we have in a God who hears our cries.

Sometimes it might seem that God doesn't hear us and we might feel that it has been that way for a long time. In Exodus 2:24-25 it says, "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel and God knew." (ESV) God heard the groaning of his people. In God's time he acted.

I just finished reading II Samuel as I work through my Bible reading this year. I was again reminded of the struggles and challenges that David had from Saul to his own son.  Knowing David's story helps as you read the Psalms. David is being chased, he is on the run, escaping for his life. David calls out to God I have recently found comfort in reading Psalms. In Psalm 4:3 David says, "the Lord hears when I call to him." (ESV)

The promise that God hears us can be the comfort we need when we feel stuck in a situation that is difficult. It can be the comfort when we feel all alone to work through the problems we face. God hears us.

How is this a comfort to you?
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Asia Journey - Part 4

If you are beginning to read this now, go back and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, it will give you the full story.

So in November 1996, just before Thanksgiving I returned to the US. I found an apartment, began my new position, and got involved at the church I had attended in the past. I was working as a project manager which was in the marketing department. I was working on a new product line and a current project line both of which were manufactured in Asia. I even made a trip to Asia. I was enjoying my new position. I was connecting with friends both people I knew and making new friends. Life was good.

Then in May, just six months after I returned from Asia while standing at a product review meeting the VP of International Manufacturing asked me if I would consider returning to Asia. Excuse me, I just came home. I just bought a brand new car. You told me it was a promotion to take this position and now you are asking me to return, is that a promotion? Some of that was just thoughts in my head. I said what I had always heard you say in those situations, "Give me an offer."

Some things had changed since the last assignment. The company had been purchased and so instead of the benefits package being handled within our company but had to go to the corporate office. So I waited for an offer. During that time I spent quite a bit of time praying and seeking God's will. Some days I was feeling, "no thanks, I am staying" and other days it was "I am going". That went back and forth until the middle of July. I still didn't have an offer but I clearly remember one evening as I was walking and praying that God said, "go". A week later I received the offer. I was given the weekend to think about it but I already knew the answer.

So a few weeks later I packed up, putting some things in storage and shipping some things.  I sold my new car. I moved back to Asia. Yes, that was the fourth time that I moved to Asia. I was back in Taipei. Each time I was there the office had moved to a new location and each time I managed it so that they moved while I was living in the US.

I found an apartment not too far from the office. I could actually walk. I had a car and a parking space in the basement of my building. No more having to search for parking. I had a number of the same staff that I had worked with previously. I did have a few additional responsibilities. I was able to connect with my Chinese teacher and began lessons again.

I knew that God had sent me back to Asia and for more than just shipping orders on time. I began attending a different church. It was about a 45 minute bus ride. I began to look for ways to be involved there so I taught Sunday School, helped with the youth group. Then in June 1998 I met a new missionary that was looking for someone to help with a Bible study for returnees. I thought I can relate to returnees. I have lived overseas and then returned. So in September 1998 I began leading that Bible study at my church. I didn't realise how much that would change my life.

I loved my job. I loved the traveling. I loved living in Asia. I had no plans to return to the US.

I was there until March 2001 when I was transferred back to the US office. I had looked at for a position to remain in Asia but that had not happened. I was praying about what was next. I knew I would have a position in the US for a short time. I felt that I wanted a skill that could be used overseas and so I decided to get an MA-TESOL which would give me credentials to teach ESL. I wanted to combine that with ministry. I was on the East Coast for a few months and then moved to the west coast to go to school and work for a mission organisation there.

As I look back on each of those moves, I see the way God worked in my life. He lead me there in a way that I felt safe and then began to stretch me and grow me. I learned to love the people there and realised the needs for the Gospel

That wraps up My Asia Journey. That was not my last move to Asia.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Catching Up

We enjoyed a week away. It was a lovely family time and we enjoyed going to a new place.

Now I am back. As I look forward to what is coming up on the blog, I want to finish the Journey to Asia story and also finish the Faith Promises. Look for those soon.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Asia Journey - Part 3

This time of the year often tends to be a time of reflection for me. Here is what I wrote when it was 22 years ago. It was in April that I first went to Taiwan. I wrote a bit about that here. I wrote the 2nd part here.

So this year as I reflect I will write Part 3.

I came home and went to work for a consulting firm. It was supposed to be a five year contract but 10 months later the contract ended. During those 10 months, I had bought a house, began attending a new church, and had adjusted to life back in the US.

Now I am out of a job. I need a job. I start looking and find out that the company where I used to work was hiring in the Marketing Department. I applied and was interviewed. I remember one of the questions in the interview was about how long I wanted to work there. I think they were trying to determine if I was just looking for a job until I could find something else or was I looking to get back into the industry. I wanted to get back into the industry. That was the end of 1993/beginning of 1994 that I began working there.

About a year later I was not challenged in the job and getting a bit bored. At that time the way things worked internally to move departments was that it went through the Vice Presidents. I wasn't ready to say I wanted to move departments because I had told the VP that I was looking to stay there and so now a year later I want to stay but I want to go back to Asia.

I remember one evening driving home and feeling frustrated with my job. I pulled into the garage and prayed that God would work all of this out. I was beginning to have a desire to go back to Asia but felt that it was not something I could pursue at the time. I prayed and left it in God's hands.

One morning at work a few weeks later, I received a phone call from the General Manager of the Asia office. He asked me if I would be interested in a position there. He had already gone to my VP and had permission to ask me. God had answered my prayer.

So in June 1995 I put my house on the market, packed my belongs to ship and some for storage. I moved to Asia again for the 3rd time. This time I had an apartment at the edge of town and a car, a little white Ford Fiesta. I learned to drive in the city, to use the car lift to get to the parking garage, began working my new job. I got involved with a small church there. I spent time with co-workers both local and ex-pat. I made my first trip to China and traveled to Thailand quite a bit as we had an office there.

I began Chinese lessons mainly because I wanted it for living. I do remember when I knew enough to know what the staff in the office were talking about. One day I heard the girls that worked for me talking about the laoban which means boss and so I asked in English which boss are you talking about. They realised that they had to be careful what they said.

I lived there for 18 months. I wan't planning to move back to the US but was given a promotion and an opportunity to work as a product manager. I decided it was time to move back to the States. November 1996 I moved back to the US.

Looking back I see how God used that in my life. He answered the desire of my heart. He gave me learning experiences. I think each time I moved, I was learning more about the people and culture.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring in the Most Beautiful Place

This morning I went for a walk. I put on my trainers and had on my waterproof jacket.  I had seen lambs in the fields. I took my camera and went out hoping that I could get some good photos.

I have decided that I live in one of the most beautiful parts of England. I am thankful for the beauty I see and the reminder of the Creator. I enjoy walking through the fields and seeing the green fields, the flowers, and sheep.

This lamb just kept looking at me as I took some photos.

It wasn't raining when I went out but it was cloudy. It wasn't the nice blue sky but you can't have that every day. I loved the field full of sheep.

This field had quite a number of crows as well as sheep.

I stood at the field just listening to the baa and watching the lambs.

This lamb came over to the fence and just looked at me.

At this point in my walk it was raining a bit more. I liked the view across the field with the stone house in the background.

There was a group of lambs all together.

I took the photos in about three different fields during my 1.5 hour walk. I just thought I would share a bit of spring from here.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Faith Promises - God Never Changes

People change. We change our hairstyles, our hair colour. We change what we like and what we don't like. There was a time that I was a Pepsi gal. Somewhere along the way I changed and Coke was my choice. I am still a Coke girl though I limit it. I changed.

Places change. When I go back to the town I grew up in, I see numerous changes. I remember when the first traffic light came to town and now I can't count how many are there. I remember when it was a cornfield behind my parents' house and now there are houses there. Places change.

When I go home, I realise how much things have changed. Some times it is difficult. I don't remember the way to get from one place to another because the roads have changed. There are new roads that I don't remember. There are new stores.

In the midst of all the changes of live knowing that God never changes is comforting. When we are having those fearful moments of "what if", knowing that God, who revealed himself to us in the Bible, is the same God. There is comfort in unchanging.

The God who worked all things for good in Joseph's life will do the same for each of us today. The God of the Old Testament who lead his people out of the slavery is the same God who today will rescue us. The God who spared the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will walk through the fire with us. The God who loved the world enough to send his son is still loving us today.

There is comfort in knowing that God never changes.

"For I the LORD do not change;" Malachi 3:6

Cling to that promise. Have faith in God and drive away the fear.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Driving and Living with Perspective

I think I have drive in about 6 different countries. I have taken driving tests in three countries. I am licensed to drive in two countries. If bilingual is able to speak two languages, then is bilane the ability to drive on either side of the road?

To get a driving license here we needed to take both a computer test and then a driving test. Some things are the same such as the shape and colour of the stop sign but others things are all new. My husband and I took driving lessons just to have someone to coach us on what we needed to know for the test. We needed to know how to handle roundabouts, using the mirrors, and other tips for passing.

I was recently talking with a friend who is about to go to the USA for a few weeks. We were talking about driving and she expressed her fear about driving there because it is the other side of the road. I tried to reassure her that is wasn't hard. I told her that to me driving on the other side of the road is not the challenge because you just go with the flow of traffic. Okay, it is a problem if you are in an area where there is no other traffic to follow. Then you need to remember that the driver is always in the centre.

I will also add a bit that here where we live the roads are narrow so at times you don't really drive on either side but rather in the middle. You have to pause and wait for other vehicles to come through.

Back to my driving on the other side of the road. I told her that the challenge for me is that my perspective is off. I don't have a feel of the passenger's side of the car. Thankfully the pedals for gas and brake are in the same placement. I have reached to shift and it wasn't there because it was on the other side. Having the sense of where the side/wing mirror is can be a challenge.

When my perspective is off, I can feel a bit nervous, maybe a bit fearful, and uncertain. I think the same is true if our spiritual lives. We need to have an eternal perspective. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that life is all about the here and now. Life is about eternity. When we have an eternal perspective, then we see our suffering as just temporary. When we have an eternal perspective, we view life now different.

So live with an eternal perspective. 

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Changing Your Thinking

Have you ever why wondered why the world can't agree to the same system of measurement? Why can't we have one scale for temperatures? Don't even ask about how to write the dates. Some things are just foreign.

Well, I grew up in a Fahrenheit country. I knew if it was 90F it was hot. I knew if it was 55F then you need a coat. I grew up with that and knew it. I didn't have to think much when I heard a number. I knew what it meant.  I will even admit that I either didn't know or it just didn't register in my head that there was another temperature scale call Celsius.

I meet Celsius in a practical way years ago in my kitchen. I knew Celsius was used for weather. I had learned that when I lived in Thailand. At one time I even knew the formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Baked at 180C
Back to the kitchen. I was living in Taiwan and had just moved into my first apartment with an oven. Years earlier I had lived had an apartment but that only had a 2 burner stove and honestly I didn't cook but ate out most of the time. Swenson's was an easy dinner on the way home from the office.

Well, I moved into my new apartment and got my shipment which included my kitchen things. I decided to make some chicken for dinner. Normally chicken cooks at 350F so I turned the oven on and it only went up to 200. What was I going to do? The chicken was in the pan. I would just cook it at 200 and it will take longer. I was mentally thinking of all the things I would not be able to cook because the oven only went to 200 -- basically everything bakes higher than 200F. What good was my oven. My excitement of having an oven was short lived as I thought it really wasn't worth using.

Actually it took less time to cook. I was confused and still didn't get it. The oven was at 200 which is less than 350 and instead of taking longer it took less time. It wasn't until the next day that I was talking with my boss and mentioned this that I learned about Celsius in the kitchen. I learned that 200 really was a hot oven.

Now 22 years later I have begun to think in Celsius in the kitchen. I know to turn the oven to 180 if the recipe says 350.

I have had to change my thinking. How I was raised has impacted my thinking. That is true with thinking about temperatures but it is also true in a spiritual sense as well.

As a Christian, I need to transform my thinking. I need to learn a new way of thinking. I need to have the mind of Christ. How did Christ think? He was not selfish but giving. He was not proud but humble.

I can easily being to think the way of the sinful nature looking out for me, making sure I get what I want but I need to change my thinking. There is a new way of thinking.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participating in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, but taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Any being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

Philippians 2:1-11 gives a good summary of various ways that our thinking needs to change. We need to have the same mind as Christ.

Be humble and not do things with selfish ambition. Think of others, putting other people first.

As a Christian, you need to being changing your thinking, learn a new way of thinking. Follow Christ's example.

The next time you turn the oven on to bake something whether you are setting it to Fahrenheit or Celsius pause and think about how you are thinking.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

The A-Z Praying for Missionaries - Part 3

This is Part 3 of A-Z Praying for Missionaries. Here is Part 1 and here is Part 2.

We are working through the alphabet with things to different things to pray about for missionaries. We are now at the end of the alphabet and that does require a bit of creativity.

P is for protection - Driving in some countries is not as safe as at home. Driving laws are not enforced or don't exist so it can be taking your safety in your own hands. Depending on where the missionary is living there can be other safety things that are not the same standards that they are used to at home.

Q is for quiet time - Pray that the quiet time will be a time of refreshing and renewing them.

R is for rest. It is easy to be busy and hard to rest. Pray that there will be times of rest so that they can be refreshed for service.

S is for strength - Pray that the missionary will have renewed strength. (Isaiah 40:31) You can easily get weary with day in and day out things. God promises to give strength so pray for strength.

T is for temptations - Pray against temptations. Pray that the missionary will not give in to temptations.

U is for unity - Pray for unity within the team they are working with. Pray for unity with the local churches. The enemy wants to pull teams and individuals to disunity. Pray that they will have love and unity.

V is for Visa - Visas can be difficult depending on the country. Pray for provision of a visa. Pray for funds for a visa. The cost of paperwork or traveling to get a visa and add up.

W is for Warfare - Spiritual warfare. We have an enemy and he will try to stop or discourage the spread of the gospel.

X is for excellence - it is easy to just do what needs to be done but we need to work with excellence as a goal.

Y is for yielding to the Lord - sometimes missionaries are in places that they know it is where God wants them but it might not be where they want to be. Pray that they will yield to the Lord trusting that the place he has them is the best place for them.

Z is for zeal - personal zeal for God and zeal for the calling. It can be tiring and difficult but the God and what he has called us to do can keep us motivated.

Partner in the work by praying.

When you pray for a missionary, drop a note/email/text/message however yo communicate with them. Let them know. It will encourage them.

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