Monday, March 25, 2013

God is Faithful

Two movie titles. One chapter in the Bible. One central theme.

Dr. Wave Nunnally, my professor for the History portion of the Old Testament History and Literature class at Central Bible College in Springfield, MO referred to it as "Back to the Future." Matt Travnik, a friend of mine from CBC referred to it as "School of Rock." They each used a different movie title to refer to the events of Joshua 4, but the central theme of their message was the same: God is Faithful!

For whatever reason, having heard thousands of sermons and lessons over the years, these two have always stuck with me. In fact, I've preached a sermon on the chapter on a number of occasions myself. With Matt's permission, I also title my sermon "School of Rock." But clever titles isn't what caused me to hold on to these two teachings over the years; the truth of the message is. Because through my life, God has made something abundantly clear to me over and over again: He is and will always be faithful.

Contrary to what I thought I was going to speak about on both occasions, this is the sermon I've taught from each of my last two services. And while it's a great truth that I think people need to hear, I also think that it's a truth that God has been wanting me to hear again too.

Joshua 4 happens at a time when the Israelites are miraculously crossing through the Jordan River as they are about to finally entire into the Promise Land after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the desert. God commands Joshua, the new leader of the people after Moses' death, to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan and set up a memorial at the place where they would be camping. They do exactly as the Lord commands and set up the memorial. In fact, it seems that they set up two: one in the middle of the Jordan and one at the place where they were camping. I think there are three valuable things we can learn from these piles of rocks:

1. The rocks were a sign of obedience

They obeyed everything the Lord instructed them to do surrounding the event of crossing through the Jordan and the event of setting up the stones. The act of setting up the memorial was a sign of obedience. I believe that the Bible is quite clear that God expects obedience from us. We must know God's voice, listen when He speaks and be quick to obey. What does God's voice sound like? I can't answer that for you. But what I can say is that if you spend time talking to God and reading His Word, He will speak to you. It may not be an audible voice (I've never heard one) but it will just make sense in your heart. It's one of those things that you'll know when it happens. And we must listen. Prayer is not simply us talking TO God, but it's us talking WITH God. It's a conversation. God may be giving you the answer to your prayers but you're not listening to hear what it is. And we must obey. Knowing what God says to us is not enough. We have to act on it. Why are Polly, Genevieve and I leaving our families and moving to Costa Rica? Because we feel so certain in our hearts that God is calling us to. And we know from experience that we're always better off when we listen to God AND do what He says! We would rather be no other place than in the center of His will for our lives.

2. The rocks were an evidence of the supernatural

They didn't have SCUBA equipment back in the days of Joshua. Have large stones from the middle of the Jordan would have provided solid evidence that a supernatural event took place. We all have testimonies of God's faithfulness, whether we realize it or not (if you're alive, you are a miracle). We can't hide those things. We need to display them as evidence for others. I've had more than one friend attempt to challenge the existence of God. And I've even known of some Christians that would deny His ability to perform miracles. But if you have never seen or experienced a miracle, I believe you're just ignoring the evidence. Miracles have made incredible believers out of even the most staunch of atheists. God is faithful!

3. The rocks were a reminder of God's faithfulness

The rocks served as a reminder of God's faithfulness to those who weren't able to participate in the event itself. But they were also a reminder for those who did. Why do I trust that God will provide for my family? Because He always has before. I can rattle off stories and stories of times where God has provided for my family. I have shared those stories before and I'm sure I'll share them again. Sometimes they were simple; other times they were much more intense. Regardless which they were, they serve as a reminder to me that He is able and that He is faithful. I'm not going to tell you that God will give you a sports car if you pray for one. And I'm not going to tell you that if you pray enough and live the right way, you will become rich. But I will tell you that God will supply all of your NEEDS! We become so focused on our own plans that we forget to ask God what His plans are. And His plans are always better! Let me share one example of God's faithfulness in my life. When we stepped down from the church last July to focus on itineration, we lost income; income that we had become dependent on. It's not like we were sitting there rolling in the dough and blowing tons of money. We were already living paycheck to paycheck. Yet through this time that we've made less money, we have paid every bill, been able to pick up new missionaries to support (yes, missionaries support other missionaries too!), and even had times of extra. Mathematically it doesn't make sense. Find the financial advisor out there that will tell you the best way to have more money is to reduce your income. You will not find it! I wouldn't recommend it myself. But that's what has happened to us. Why? Because God is faithful!

Polly and I are currently at 36% of our monthly budget officially (we're at 45% if you add in the amounts that churches and individuals have pledged which haven't been submitted or gone through yet). Our goal is to be at 50% of our budget by the end of March. That is a lot of extra commitments that we will need over the course of the next week (as well as movement in some of the pledges that haven't been submitted or gone through yet).  Our goal is to leave for Costa Rica in August. And even though it may not seem possible in the natural, we don't live by the natural. Are we being naive? Absolutely not! You see, we have a memorial that is made up of a pile of rocks representing God's faithfulness to us throughout the years. We we look back at what He's done for us in the past, we have hope for the future. That's what Dr. Nunnally meant when he called it "Back to the Future."

We are confident that God will once again show His faithfulness and that God will provide. We will not do it alone though. We need people praying for us and with us. Please pray that God will provide favor in this. Also please pray if you might be a part of the solution. This brings us to the second thing we need: we need people who are able and willing to partner with us through a monthly contribution (it can be $5/mo or $50/mo or $500/mo or $5000/mo or anything in between). We don't seek to manipulate or guilt anyone into giving. We're simply putting the opportunity before you and asking you to consider if you might be a part of the solution. God is faithful! And the cool thing about God's provision is that it doesn't always have to come out of nowhere; sometimes, in fact often time, He chooses to use people...ordinary people. How cool is that?!

Will you consider partnering with us? You can read more about partnering by clicking the "About Partnering" link at the top right or set up that commitment by clicking on the "Make a One-time or Monthly Donation" link or by clicking here.

Regardless of whether or not you will be joining our Sending Team today, I hope that this blog post may have encouraged you for your own life.

In Christ,


Friday, March 8, 2013

Because We Were There

I was talking with a friend who leads a local college ministry the other night after all the students had left the Bible study. We were having a good conversation about ministry and what the world might look like if Christians lived out what we say we believe. The whole conversation was actually very good, but one thing keeps sticking out from the conversation.

A student attended the Bible study for the first time. My friend was telling me that he had the opportunity to have a two hour long conversation with that student earlier in the day. I don't know what the conversation was about as it was a private conversation, but I could tell that it was a great, deep conversation. My friend had an intern with him at the time. After the conversation was over, my friend asked the intern, "Do you know why that conversation happened? Because I was here." What a simple, subtle reminder of such a critical truth.

Polly, Genevieve and I cannot wait to share testimonies of people we will get the chance to meet and interact with in Costa Rica. We cannot wait to share about at-risk teens and children whose lives we will be able to invest in. We cannot wait to share about changed lives. And do you know why we'll be able to share those things? Because we will be there.

Are you willing to help us be able to have "Because we were there" stories and testimonies? We can only have them if we get there. We believe that we have purpose in Costa Rica. We believe there are at-risk young people who need hope. We recognize that we are no more special than anyone else and that anyone else could satisfy that purpose because we do not supply the hope, Jesus does! But we believe that God has called us to this work. Are you willing to invest in that cause with us and partner with us through prayer and finances?

At this point, some might say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down there...I was right there with you until you brought up the 'f' word: finances." Here's the thing. We cannot go for free. Life costs money. We cannot make money while in Costa Rica, so we must go on faith through raising our budget. Isn't it cool that you can play an integral role in sending us helping us get those "Because we were there" stories and testimonies? I think so too.

For the month of March, we have decided to promote something we're calling the March to 50. Because our goal is to reach Costa Rica in August, we want to be at 50% of our monthly budget by the end of the month. The amount that we needed to reach that goal at the beginning of the month was a large chunk of money: $905.50. You may be sitting there and saying, "I wish I could afford to commit $905.50/mo but I couldn't even come close." Well, I have good news. You don't need to commit that much. You can commit whatever amount you feel that you can do (or perhaps commit in faith believing that you will be able to even if the numbers don't add up). Some people have committed $200/mo to us. Some have committed $5/mo. Do you know which ones are helping us reach our goal? All of them. Please consider what amount you can partner with us financially at on a monthly basis. We will appreciate whatever amount you set.

You can set up an ongoing monthly commitment through our giving site. You can also do it by mail if you prefer by downloading our commitment form. Please note that our account number is 2713097. If you have any further questions about what our budget is for, please view our "Partner" page found at the top of this page or by clicking here. And, of course, you can always email us at

Imagine the twist on things from your perspective. While we will be sharing "Because we were there" stories and testimonies, you will be retelling those stories and testimonies saying, "Because I helped send them."

In Christ,