The Axe and The Woodsman

I came to this quote from Samuel Brengle while reading “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders which caught my attention:

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Indeed, we, like an axe, is nothing, without God.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5 ESV

God is our source. He knows us well, he knows what’s best for you and me. Abide in Him, acknowledge Him in your life, seek Him and experience His will – his good, perfect and pleasing will.

It is through Him that we are able to do these things – give thanks to Him who gives strength and everything to us. There is nothing for us to boast of. Let us boast not on ourselves but boast in the Lord for He is worthy to be praised.

Happy 1st “No-Appendix” Anniversary?!

February 17, 2016 marks my 1st “no-appendix” anniversary! February 17, 2015 is one of the memorable days of my life because it was my 1st time to be confined in the hospital and it was not in my home country but overseas. It was also my 1st time to undergone surgery – laparoscopic appendectomy – whatta term!

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I went overseas on February 12, 2015 for work. It was my 1st time to be out of the country for long term to work and also to help our church there.

February 15 when I felt pain in my lower right abdomen. I thought it was just a stomach pain and took antacid but the pain didn’t subside, hence, I decided to consult a doctor on the 17th. I even walked going to the clinic – which is around 10 minutes.

The doctor’s findings was suspected appendicitis and gave me recommendation to go to the hospital. I thought not that serious and I even went back to work and ate my lunch until I decided to go to the hospital.

In the hospital, I went to the emergency section alone, consulted a specialist, referred me for ultrasound and confirmed – acute appendicitis! The doctor mentioned that I need to undergo surgery asap. I was shocked and could not believe it.

I admit that I worried that time. I was in this nation for just 5 days, my work permit was still being processed by then and didn’t even have a health insurance card with me. I didn’t know if my company will going to shoulder it. I asked the doctor if I can go back to my home country first (because I am sure I am covered by our health insurance there) or even move to a cheaper hospital but it was dangerous as the appendix may burst anytime.

I didn’t know what to do that time. I called a friend and burst out my emotions. Facing this difficult situation in which you don’t have your love ones with you is very difficult.I asked God:

Lord, you promised me that you will provide everything that I need. That you will bless me for me to be a blessing to this nation. But why I’m facing this situation now, I am away from my family, I don’t have yet someone to lean on. I don’t even have my salary yet.

Yet, I will trust in Your word, Lord, You are my provider.

I called my company to inform of my situation and they are also shocked by this news. Our expat team said that they will going to check with the benefits team if I am already covered by insurance.

I was about to give my credit card to the cashier – I am ready to pay for it as life is more important than money. Thank God, the personnel mentioned that the insurance company already provided the guarantee letter and they will cover all the expenses. I could not express the feelings that I had that time. Indeed, God is faithful!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

Thanks to my colleague who accompanied me after her working hours. That night of February 17, I was scheduled for surgery. I felt my heart beating fast, I was very nervous. The operating room is too cold, I was shaking. The staff started to inject anesthesia – I could not feel my body, my vision blurred until I fell asleep.

I woke up and the surgery was completed. The staff moved me to my room. It was done. Thank, God, for a successful operation. Thanks also for my doctor and the staff who assisted.

I stayed another 4 days in the hospital. During my stay, most of the time no one watched over me. Actually, I didn’t self-pity that time because this was my special moment with God who never leaves me, who is always there for me. I realized that God has a purpose and all things are working together to my own good.

Here are some things that I learned and experienced:

1. Full reliance to God

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8

2. God’s faithfulness

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

3. God is in control.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? – Jeremiah 32:27

4. God refreshed, strengthened me and empowered me during my stay in the hospital.

I can say that I have no regrets that these things happened to me because these made me stronger and experienced more of God’s works in my life.

Happy 1st “no-appendix” anniversary to me!

*Bible verses quoted from ESV

Humility. Relationship. Obedience

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And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39 (ESV)

In this verse, God reminded us of these things:

1. Humility

Jesus who in very nature God, did not consider equality with God. Rather, He humbled himself by falling on his face and submitting to His Father.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. – Phil. 2:5-7 (NIV)

Let us be like Jesus – the perfect model of humility. Humble ourselves to the Lord and let Him move in our lives.

2. Relationship

Even though Jesus is God, He always have solitary moment with His Father. That is how He values relationship!

Jesus spent time with His Father. How about us? Are we spending time with God?

3. Obedience

Jesus showed obedience to His Father. Even though He will going to suffer and die, He still chose to obey His Father’s will. It is a total surrender.

Obedience is not about following out of fear but out of love which starts in having a relationship. The more we grow in our relationship with Him, the more that we trust in Him. The more that we see His greatness, His unending love, the more we long for Him. The more that we trust Him and experiencing His love, the more we are willing to obey.

 

Image from: http://www.adamabram.com

Fast Break: To Ask or Not?

Fast Break -> this is a topic that supposed to be discussed through the course of time, but because of the need, we “fast break” to this topic.

One of the struggles of a missionary is to ask for mission partners especially in the area of finances. It seems it is difficult to talk to someone and request for partnership with them thinking they are begging for money… This is a wrong mindset! Did you know that with this mindset, it shows pride? Missionaries are not begging for money, they are giving these people the opportunity to be a blessing to the work of God.

I would like to share to you the letter of Apostle Paul to the Philippians church (Philippians 4):

10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our God is our provider, we can do everything through Him who gives us strength. As missionaries, there are times we are in need, they are times we have plenty. This is what we should learn: to be content whatever the circumstances.

Apostle Paul mentioned it was good for the Philippians church to share in his troubles. The same thing with us (missionaries), it was good for someone to be part of God’s call to our life, not that we are looking for a gift, but we are looking for what may be credited to their account (for them to receive blessings that come from giving, CEV). These are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And through this giving and generosity, God will meet all their needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

As a missionary, do you want these people to be a blessing to the nation and reap blessings from God? Do you want to be a channel of blessing not only to the country that you are going but also to the people around you?

Start to pray now. Ask God for the people He pre-ordained to partner with you. Don’t be ashamed to inform them and share to them your vision about missions. Don’t think you are begging, think that you are giving them opportunity to be a blessing to the nation and for them to also reap blessings from God.

All of these to bring glory to our God forever and ever.

Why are you going out for missions if you can do it here?

Why are you going out for missions if you can do it here (in your home country)?

Maybe this is a question you will receive when you inform someone that you will go in a different country for missions.

There’s still a lot of people here that do not know Jesus Christ…  Why not reach out the people here?

Sound challenging, isn’t it? Maybe it affects you and makes you confused if you will still go out for cross-cultural (going to another culture/nation) missions.

Let’s read from Luke 10:2 (NIV):

He (Jesus) told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Jesus told us that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Imagine there is a very large field and it’s harvest time. Many farmers are ready to get the harvest and they go to the part of the field that is near to their homes. They get the harvest and went back home. They returned the other day to the same spot trying to find grains that was missed out on the yesterday’s harvest. They continue to do this for many times.

What do you think will happen to the other part of the field wherein no farmers are living nearby? Sad to say, but they will not be harvested and they will become dry even die.

There are few farmers who realized this. It is difficult to live their homes but they need to go to the far part of the field to work and get the harvest there. When they reached the place, they are amazed on still a large part of the field unharvested. They started to work but they cannot finish this because they are few.

Same thing for missions, God is good that our country is predominantly Christian. We experienced God, His salvation and His blessings. There are many Christians reaching out the lost here and continue to make disciples.

But in the other side of the world (in other countries), there are countries who haven’t heard the name of Jesus, who are still blinded, seeking on their own path of salvation. How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Rom. 10:14)

That’s where cross-cultural missionaries get into the picture. Yes, there are still people in their own countries who are yet to be saved, but there’s a greater need in other countries who haven’t heard or just a small portion of the population is Christians.

Okay, now I know, so it means I should go to the other nation as missionary, too?

A new question is raised… Let’s discuss this in our next topic. 🙂

How can I do less for the One who got himself killed for me?

I would like to share a story I got from “The World Beyond Your Walls” by Dean Weibracht:

The missionary winces as the nurse applies bandages to the wounds on his head. “You’re a fool, Arjun. You should never have gone to those people.”

Arjun, an Indian missionary who is courageously telling a neighboring tribe about Jesus, closes his eyes as the nurse fills his ears with insults not unlike those thrown to him by the angry mob. “Why do you these things? Don’t you realize you could get yourself killed?”

Arjun cannot help smiling in spite of the pain. “How can I do less for the one who got himself killed for me?”

Jesus got himself killed for me because of his love. He died for me, for you, for all the people. “How can I do less for the one who got himself killed for me?” Being away from our comfort zone, facing a different culture, experiencing culture shock, rejections and worst, persecutions can never be compared to Jesus’ death on the cross.

I will rather go when God told me to do so because I know that God loves these people, too. I will go and not be afraid because God is with me.

The Lord stands at your side

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
– 2 Tim. 4:14-18

Whenever you are facing persecution and opposition because of your faith to Jesus, be on guard and remember that our Lord stands at your side and gives you strength, He will deliver you and rescue you from evil attacks. Never give up, keep the faith!

To Him be glory for ever and ever!