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Friday, 20 August 2010

Alans last day at Save the Family

Today is Alans last day at Save the Family.

Romans 12:19 comes to mind whenever I think of Save the Family. "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."

God commands us to forgive. God commands us to love our enemies. God tells us we are blessed when we join Jesus in his sufferings.

Still... I'm glad he's leaving. I'm glad that we can with confidence leave the people that work there that misrepresent the gospel in Gods hands. I'm sorry that their misrepresentation of church and of Jesus and how he would act has probably kept a large number of non-christians that lived and worked there from wanting a relationship with Christ. I'm sorry that I had to leave the precious girls entrusted to me five months ago because I was not willing to compromise my faith and stop sharing the gospel. I'm sorry that in a supposedly christian organization, other christians were warned and targeted for dismissal because they shared their faith.

I'm glad Alan gave his heart and his time to people like the Darren's and the Jaime's and to fellow workers like the Pat's and the Jacki's. I'm glad he represented Christ by working hard for his non-christian bosses and by volunteering to work extra hours when no one else would. I'm glad he showed a picture of true Christianity even when all the things he loved about his job were taken away from him and he was given the most tedious and demeaning of tasks to complete.

No matter what situation God puts us in, we're there because he wants to teach us something. I pray the lessons learned from Save the Family will continue to grow us both as christians. I am so glad I can still have relationships with so many of the girls with which I worked. I pray that God will invade their lives and their futures and give them a step up into a world where they can live with confidence and purpose.

I hope to congratulate Alan with a nice dinner out and a movie before he takes the day tomorrow to go sailing. I'm sure during his time alone with the sea, the fish and with God he'll think back over his almost 10 years of service with the company and I pray that he'll focus only on the good memories and the difference he was able to make. He is my hero and without Save the Family we would never have met so for that at the very least, I will eternally be grateful to them.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Blogs, Sheds, Friends and Anticipated Finishings

So what exactly is a blog? What is its purpose? I thought about that today as I sat down to write our latest entry. This is what I came up with...

A blog is a journal that you willingly allow everyone to see.

A blog is a way of keeping up with your hectice life... how you were feeling when you did this... what was on your heart when you did that.

A blog is a way of writing one hundred letters simultaneously because whoever you send it to gets an update on your life, what they can pray for and in some way maybe it also serves to encourage others who have the same ups and downs, joys and struggles.

I don't think Alan has ever written a blog. Actually I think I can safely say he has not. He checked his facebook last night for the first time in six months only to see he had 24 friend requests and numerous messages and notifications gone unread.

My husband is to technology what I am to his shed. He asked me the other day whether I wanted to organize it for him (again) and I said, "absolutely and without a doubt, no". You see I've begun to see the shed only for what it holds that is useful to me if and when I desperately need it. For example, somewhere in the abyss I found the Miracle Grow to put on some flowers that were looking a little sad in my flower pot out front yesterday. Also about once a week I brave the shed to find the lawn mower and trimmer to mow the lawn as I took over house and yard maintenance when I stopped working. But really, the shed can just stay a disaster. There may be great treasures in there lurking that I would be really glad to find but for now I'm ok with just keeping the door shut. Alan is the same about computers. He likes ebay and looking at the tide predictions and weather forecast for the weekend for his sailing but that's about it.

Still, I love staying in touch with people. I looked at my friend list on Facebook yesterday and I was determined to de-friend some folks that added me as a friend but have never said a word to me since. The "I knew you or heard of you at sometime in my past" thinking as to why you add someone as a friend on Facebook just doesn't cut it for me any more. I still want meaningful relationships in the age of social computing. I use Facebook to stay in touch with dear friends that I love, that God has put into my life for a reason and that I want to encourage. I don't use it as a competition tool to see how many friends I can rack up versus someone else. Wasn't there a study done once on how many friends any one person can ever manage to have at any one time? I'm quite sure the number is under 355 - my current number of "Facebook" friends.

Anyway, blogs are also a great place to just randomly say anything you're thinking. Why in the world anyone would be interested in reading all the junk that goes on in my head is a mystery to me...

So - this week. Well, I guess I can say I've learned a lot about others and a lot about myself this week. At the church, many came to work with the family of one of the leaders in our church on the back garden. The before and after transformation is amazing. I felt very blessed by the Lord for working the one day that I did. God just kept reminding me to work for him and so that's what I tried to do - work with all my might so that He would be pleased. When Alan and I finally got home I was sooo exhausted but I also felt so blessed inside. Only God can do that.

Alan and I have also had some really good discussions and we've tried as much as possible to stop getting offended or upset when we debate about things where we have different opinions. I'm amazed at how different we are and yet how alike we are in our thinking. Culturally I feel like I have much more in common with the Romanians I've met since being here than with the Brits I've met. I'm re-reading a book called Foreign to Familiar and it says this should be expected because Romanians and Southerners from the US are "hot", relationship oriented cultures and most of northern Europe is classified as very "cold", individually oriented cultures. Still - God was so gracious and good to bring us together. We've been married now nearly one and a half years and we are more giddy together now than ever. We laugh and kiss and hug nearly all the time when we're alone. I think we'll be newlyweds for several more years if not forever and I love that! Only God could have taken me from what I had before to what I have now.

One of the best parts of my week was definitely getting to know Julia better. I call her my long lost twin. Julia is from Romania and is very good friends with Mihai and Simona in our church and housegroup. Mihai and Simona are two people that Alan and I think the world of so it wasn't surprising that we took to Julia so quickly. A lot of the things that had troubled my spirit about our church and about England, she also has picked up on and now I don't feel as crazy as I did before.

Having her come to minister to us at our housegroup on the 5th was amazing. I think we all felt the Holy Spirit really minister to us through her singing and her words of encouragement. She also came and led worship the following Wednesday for Influence and then Thursday for housegroup again. Wednesday was amazing. I just felt God came down and ministered to the youth and adults alike. Mere Christianity continues to blow all our minds I think. How God used C.S. Lewis to write the books he wrote that speak to the hearts of both christian and non-christian alike amazes me.

Our housegroup on Thursday was also good but it was more relaxed and I couldn't tell if it was because we were all just so tired or what exactly but there was definitely a different spirit in the room. Still we encouraged and loved on eachother and had a few laughs and it was good. Julia also led worship yesterday at church and I promise you it just couldn't have gotten any better. Please join with us in praying that she will raise the money she needs to continue to minister in Romania. She has a love for her people that is so wonderful and both Alan and I are praying Gods perfect choice for her for a husband will be found so that they can minister together in Romania. She deserves someone that will cherish her and someone that was hand-picked for her from the beginning of time and I believe God knows who that is and is waiting to bring him into her life at just the perfect time... just like he did for me with Alan.

Speaking of Alan, this is his last week of work at Save the Family. He's worked on and off for them for ten years and we're so grateful that God is going to provide for us so he can leave. We look forward to working for the Lord at the church starting next week until we go to Germany in mid October. Please pray Gods will would be done in every decision we and our church makes and in every step we take and please pray our house will sell. We love you all so very much.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Fighting with Demons

Last night neither Alan nor I could sleep. Alan described how he had to go downstairs to pray and he kept praying until he felt Gods peace sweep over him. He said it was like he was fighting with demons. Spiritual warfare - that's what we've been experiencing for the past few months. Just one attack after the other. Maybe sometimes you feel that way but instead of seeing it from the way scripture describes it, you take it personally. You feel like your battle is with that guy at your job or the fellow christian at your church. Well the bible says it's not. The bible in Ephesians chapter 6 says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Woah! Do we ever really sit to think about that?

C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, "Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from your friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snoberry. I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil - hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person. 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'"

At Audacious last week one of the speakers was talking about how his best friend when he was little nearly drowned, in fact he did drown and was dead for some period of time. He relayed the story of how when he was dying everything went dark. It was so dark in fact that he couldn't see his hand waving directly in front of his face. He also was falling. As he was falling he heard screams. Screams that were horrible but also screams that were so bad they made your blood go cold. He said he got to a gate and there was the most hideous creature he'd ever seen covered with scales. The demon reached through the gate and grabbed hold of his shoulder to pull him into hell and when he did the boy screamed so loud! "STOP!" said a voice behind him. The demon cried, "He's MINE". The voice said, "NO, HE'S MINE - LET HIM GO!" to which the demon let go of the boy and shrunk back in fear. The boy said he remembered waking up in the hospital bed and seeing the doctors working on him. His father knelt beside the bed praying. He told his son he had prayed to God that if he would save him he would give him to God in service for the rest of his life. That boy has now grown up and is the pastor of a thriving, Christ-centered church. He believed because he experienced it first hand.

Hearing him tell the story made the hairs on my arms stand up. You see when I was a teenager I had an encounter with a demon as well. It may have been with more than one but this encounter didn't last only one night, it was multiple nights in a row and also during the day. I heard voices and saw things that to this day I will never forget. It's why I don't watch horror films of any kind. I know from personal experience that there is a spiritual battle going on around us at all times. I know that prayer, the blood of Jesus and the word of God are three pieces of armor God gives us to hold the enemy at bay and to defeat him in the lives of the people we love and in our own lives. This is a war where we are being attacked by things we can't see and if we're being honest, usually it feels like these attacks are from people who really aren't our enemies at all.

We need to recognize, like how Paul writes in Ephesians, that we must put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves from the evil one. We need to fight against our flesh which acts so worldly at times. In our churches, we need to come against the spirit of division and disunity and pray for our brothers and sister in Christ who are undergoing the same kinds of suffering we are. God has made us for eachother and we must love and support eachother while not compromising for Jesus while we're doing it.

Christians can act very unchristianlike. I know because I group myself in that category. I also know because I watch the behavior, the power struggles, the pride and the anger of people that should know better. However, praise be to God who's not finished with us yet. May we sharpen eachother as iron sharpens iron.