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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Abby's first zoo trip

I vaguely remember taking Abby to the zoo when she was a tiny baby. But we haven't been back in several years. Today we went over to Gainesville to the Frank Buck Zoo. It's not very big, but it has undergone many improvements since we were there last. Abby was really funny, running from animal to animal being oh so excited. She would yell at each stop, "This one is no fake." I laughed so hard.

It only took about an hour and a half to see all the animals at the little zoo. Then we went over to the nearby playground and played for awhile. I counted up, it's probably been 5 years since the last trip to that particular playground. It's an awesome set up: tons of swings and slides, all built out of wood with forts and climbing areas. Grace and James were stoked about going to the playground. I used to take them a lot when they were little. They couldn't wait to show Abby all the coolest stuff. Grace ran to the monkey bars, jumped out to grab the bars, and oops..... her feet drug the ground. She and James were amazed by how much smaller all the equipment seemed now that they are bigger.

The kids had a great time, we just finished up our evening with a live concert in my living room by the "Sisters Compassion." Grace and Katie performed a song that Katie wrote today. I was prepared with my fake "good job" smile, but the song was actually good. Katie impressed me.

So that's the day at the Kemp's house. Tomorrow we pack up for the Mexico mission trip. Looking forward to an amazing time with God next week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Life Motto

Is. 58:6-7 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"

Here's what I see: People pray and fast for great reasons. We seek God and ask Him to provide for important needs. This is an excellent thing and valuable. However, prayer and fasting without action is not what God wants from us. According to this verse, this is what He wants:

*To set people free from injustice.... to advocate for those who have no advocate.
*Share food with the hungry
*Provide the poor with shelter
*Clothe the naked
*Do not turn away your own flesh and blood.

In the New Testament, God says it like this: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.......... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25 :35-36, 40

I guess this is the next step in my Christian walk. I need to figure out how to create and take advantage of opportunities to live this type of lifestyle. Pray that God would help me to find ways to live out these verses in my life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A sleepless night

Saturday night late I was flipping pages in my Bible and reread Paul's reasoning for taking the gospel to the Gentiles. His heart for the church at Rome. Paul was a Jew and there were plenty of Jews that needed Christ, but he expanded his ministry to preach to the Gentiles. God spoke to me pretty hard about the necessity of going to the nations. It was quite an uncomfortable several hours. I don't know that all of this will even make sense, but hopefully it will clear up some of the confusion I still feel.

Here's what I read: Rom. 1:16-32

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

.......grab a Bible and finish up the chapter if you wish, it's a list of sins we as humans commit as we follow our own wisdom, which is truly foolishness.

Paul is saying in these verses that even though God revealed Himself in His creation, men still commit sin. They cannot find righteousness on their own. Righteousness can only be found in Christ. Paul is anxious to carry that message to the Gentiles so that they will be able to know the power of God for their salvation.

Now fast forward a few chapters to Romans 10:12-15
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?.....

Does this make any of you cry? It does me. Every time I read it and every time I think about it. Are you catching this...... God's message brings salvation and power and beauty and an amazing relationship with Him.....But how can people believe if they have never heard? And how can they hear unless someone tells? And how can someone tell unless they go to where the people need to hear?

Currently something like 2 billion people worldwide have never heard the good news. How will they hear unless we go?

I was a long time falling asleep Saturday night as I prayed for the nations who have never heard of Jesus. Who will go? I tried hard to excuse myself of responsibility with God. I tried telling Him that I did not have funding for those types of mission opportunities and that I take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. But in the darkness my eyes drifted around the room, and I saw all the stuff. Stuff that I have purchased to make my own life better and easier and more beautiful. I am not saying that I'm selling it all to move overseas and live with some tribe somewhere. But I am saying that I have squandered a great deal of money on unimportant stuff...... Stuff that has zero eternal value. "How can they hear unless they are told?" And how can I tell if I am not able to go?

God convicted me pretty hard on refocusing my life around things with eternal significance..... People...... I imagine that my shopping habits may be harder to break than I think. There are probably enough shoes in my closet to purchase a plane ticket to the other side of the globe. Is that in accordance with God's plan for the nations? That I own 20 or more pairs of shoes?

It's a hard one for me to balance out. I don't know that it is sin to spend money on myself, on my children, my husband, and my home. But I don't know if it's always the best choice either. I get one life. I think it could probably make a bigger difference if I could focus less on myself and what I want and more on others.

Pray that I would have clarity in decisions about all this. Pray that God would allow me and you to be a part of his amazing plan to reach all the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ, so that they might hear and believe! Pray that we can join God on the big adventure.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Monday Morning Update 6.15.09

I just am stunned every time we get together at The Crossroads. Today I rolled in really tired. Shawn and I went down to see a baseball game last night and were late getting to bed. Then I made the mistake of reading Rom 10 before bed. I could not get it off my mind. God worked on me in huge and incredible ways. (I'll circle back around to that again at the end of the blog.) But in spite of my exhaustion, it was a great day.

Set up gets a little faster every week. I realized that one year ago we were doing our very first worship service ever as The Crossroads. It's been a great year!!!!! There's so much to thank God for.... so many people that God has really changed and blessed this year. People who are connecting with God in ways they never have, people who've become believers in Christ, and people who are learning how to actually live the Bible. To apply it!

The worship set was great. It was some old stuff and some new stuff. During the familiar songs, people were able to worship without having to look at the screens for help with the words. Able to really let go and meet with God. Then during the new stuff, people were also engaging in worship, sometimes without singing, as they heard the lyrics and their hearts met God's heart. It was one of those services where people were seeking and were hungry for God's presence. It makes it easy to be a part of the worship team on Sundays like this one.

Worship set:
O Praise Him (Crowder) - this one seems to engage our congregation really well. I love the first lines where we are encouraged to hear and see the worship occurring right now in heaven with the angels and joining them in their praise.

Heart of Worship - This is an oldie, but it worked well today. Very familiar. I love this because it is a reminder of a night 7 years ago when I was ready to walk away from trying to play contemporary worship music. I had labored and prayed and labored and prayed, and just could not get the hang of playing from a chord chart instead of sheet music. I was frustrated that I was often subtracting from worship instead of adding to worship.

That night after a miserable, MISERABLE practice 7 years ago, I prayed like this, "God, I'm done. I cannot learn a new style of music. It is impossible for me. I'm giving it one more shot, and if it's not working, I will step aside and let others who are certainly more than capable take my place."

The next morning I sat down at the piano, picked up the chords to "Here I am to Worship," closed my eyes, and played the melody and found the chords and the intricate harmonies among the melody. I was stunned. shocked, surprised, awed.....God did a miraculous thing that day. One that has brought me unmeasurable pleasure over the last few years. He taught me how to play without the notes - something I tried for months to learn how to do on my own without success. Today as I played this, I was reminded again about how God has done the impossible in my life. He is good, and the small gift of learning to play this song 7 years ago led me into this great adventure of playing with Chasing Lions.

Lead Me to the Cross (Hillsong) - Rachel led out on this one. God's spirit just fell down all over the place. Some people stood with hands raised, some people sat with heads bowed, some people were overcome and knelt and wept. It was beautiful to see worship expressed in a variety of ways and to be reminded that God does not work in us all the same way at the same time and that we express ourselves and our emotions differently - and that there is no judgment in being different.

Surrender All (Parachute Band) - I love the familiar message in the alternative format. I've said it before.... if you do not know this band, you should check them out. Awesome stuff. My favorite they do is "Mercy."

Rest (Nevertheless) - this song is from the perspective of God singing over His children. It was a great fit as Shawn led the congregation to imagine God as their Father, hugging them as a child. Very Zeph. 3:17. Way Cool.

Oh, yeah, the message. Shawn did a great job with "Live long and prosper." You can listen to it here. Click the "what's happening" tab. He said that children should obey, respect, care for, and forgive their parents. Awesome message!

*Shawn meets tomorrow with a potential long term lease option for The Crossroads. Pray that God would grant us great favor as we seek a better location.
*Mexico trip next week. A church member (who is not affluent financially) gave two of my children money for their trip. I was overwhelmed as I watched them tell my children that God wanted them to bless them with those funds. I have been telling my children that we would plan to go on the trip and that God would provide the funds. And so they got to see Him do that in a very unexpected way. I love how God's using this church plant to teach my children who He is!
*Mom is here this week. Pray that we would enjoy this time together.

OH Wow - this is like the longest blog ever. I lied about blogging about Romans 10 right now. I'll save that for tomorrow. God did a number on me, and it may be another long one. You should go read Romans 1, then Romans 10... Paul is justifying his mission to the Gentiles. Tomorrow we'll talk about how that applies to our mission to the nations.