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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be a Missionary day 9

The Mexico mission team is on their way back home today. They are absolutely exhausted after a busy week of ministry. I have heard from all involved that this was the most amazing mission trip any of them have ever experienced. I am excited to hear their stories.

In ancient times, when Moses went up on the mountain and spent time in God's presence, he returned with such a glow on his face that he had to wear a veil. I imagine that we may see God just through the glow on our mission team's faces.

Here is their last devotional thought for the trip. A challenge for us all.

Day 9

Tonight you will sleep in your own bed. Tomorrow you will resume your normal, ordinary life. We are all called to be missionaries, every single day of our lives. Some people do that by living in other countries, but we do it as we go to work, as we love our neighbors, as we share Jesus with our friends. How can you continue to live your life as a missionary, seeking to fulfill these verses when you get home?

1 John 3:16-18, “We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help - how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”

Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and fee you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, “I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Be a Missionary Day 8

Shawn sent me a text message that they returned to their hotel around 3 a.m. after another great day. I can't wait to hear about the trip. I was planning to leave town on Sunday to attend the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, but Shawn asked me to wait until Monday so that he could tell me all the stories about the trip. I am so excited that he and Grace got to share this opportunity. It will be something special they will share for the rest of their lives.

The team begins the long trek home today. They are stopping in Victoria to do some prison ministry, so it may be a late night before they are back across the border. Pray for their protection as they drive. Pray for the drivers to be alert after an exhausting week.

Day 8

The trip home has begun. Now you are finally sitting still, able to begin processing all that you have seen God do this week. In John 10:4-5, Jesus talks about Himself as a shepherd leading His sheep “After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.

God walked in front of you every step of the way this week. He prepared the way for you, maybe even through some steep, rough terrain, just like a shepherd. He guided every event that occurred.

Take some time today to remember how God walked ahead of you. How did he prepare you for this journey? How did he lead you this week? What did you see him do? Give Him some praise for all that you saw this week.

Remember the story earlier this week of Joshua setting up the 12 stones as a reminder of what God had done for the Israelites? Share with others about how you saw God at work. It is only as you share with each other that you will grasp a full picture of all the great things God did this week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Be a Missionary day 7

Today is our Mexico team's last day in Tula. They will begin the journey back home tomorrow. I know that it has been an absolutely amazing and incredible trip. I can't wait to hear the stories about how God has been at work!

Here's their Bible study for today. Please pray that God will speak to them in a fresh way today.

Day 7

There is always more to do on mission trips than can possibly be completed in one week. On the last day, it is common to ache for the work that still needs to be done. It is normal to feel your heart torn apart with hopeful desperation for people you have come to love.

Jesus felt the same way during His ministry. Matthew 9:36-38, “He felt great pity for the crowds that come, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.’”

On every mission trip you will find that the need for more missionaries is unimaginable. In one week, much is accomplished, but at the same time, much is left undone. Pray today that God will raise up many more workers to share the Good News of Jesus with the billions of people who have still never heard. Pray that God will teach you to live every day as if you are a missionary.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What a girl wants

Sunday I had the opportunity to share with the men in our congregation about how to love their wives. I have promised all week that I would post the main points on the blog, so here it is, with all the funny stories edited out. It is still way long. Feel free to break it up into smaller chunks for reading purposes. Just so you all know, I lost power no less than 6 times while trying to post this. Crazy, huh!

"And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her.” Ephesians 5:25

Most men desperately love their wives. I have met a few exceptions, but generally when I talk to men they tell me about what an incredible woman their wife is. However, somewhere in the craziness of life, many men do not communicate their adoration and admiration to their beautiful wives. Then they are confused about why their wife is frustrated, irritable, and not interested in sex.

The verse in Ephesians is a reminder that Christ loved us unconditionally and abundantly. Most guys would stop a bullet for their wife, but I think this verse is about so much more than Christ dying for us. He lived every moment of his life on earth to love his people. He healed the sick, made the lame to walk, and made people whole. He gave away his life every single day to the people around him.

So how do you communicate love to your wife? How do you make her feel like she in an amazing and incredible woman?

1. Your wife needs affection.

“Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”

1 John 3:18

Affection is expressed with words and with actions. While this verse in 1 John expresses the importance of demonstrating love with actions, it also reminds us that saying we love each other is important. Love must be expressed verbally, and with actions. Women cannot read your mind. They do not know that you think they are amazing unless you say it out loud.

“How beautiful you are, my beloved, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats frisking down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are as white as sheep, newly shorn and washed. They are perfectly matched; not one is missing. Your breasts are like twin fawns of a gazelle, feeding among the lilies.” Song of Songs 4:1-2, 5

Solomon was very wise. As he held his beloved in his arms, he begins at the tip of her head, and expresses his thoughts about her beautiful body all the way to her toes. He is generous in his praise....even noticing her complete set of teeth!

If you don't know what to say - I have one word - Hallmark. Buy her a card, send her a text, email her during the day. The point is to be abundant in your praise. Make sure that she hears from you often about how beautiful she is and how much you love her. You will be amazed at her reaction. (Just read the end of Song of Songs, chapter 4 - something about come into my garden....)

“Kiss me again and again, for your love is sweeter than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2

I skipped this verse in the message on Sunday, but I thought it was worth pointing out here that women and men daydream differently. When a man fantasizes about his wife, she's either naked or getting that way. But notice what the bride is saying in this verse. She is fantasizing about kissing her husband. Women daydream about slow dancing, walking in the rain holding hands, about laughing over dinner, about sharing our souls, and about making out with our sexy husbands. We are romantics at heart. Most women need romance in order to be ready for the getting naked part of marriage. Skipping the romance is a large part of what leads women to resentment.

However, women understand romance in a variety of ways. The key is studying your wife to figure out how she understands love, and to offer her affection in a way that meets that need.

“My lover said to me, ‘Rise up, my beloved, my fair one, and come away … Come my love, let us go out into the field and spend the night among the wildflowers. Let us get up early and go out to the vineyards.” Song of Songs 2:10, 7:11-12

Notice what Solomon is doing here. He's planning a date. All women like to be dated. For women like me that are way far over on the spectrum of quality time for our love language, dates are non-negotiable. Back in the day our marriage counselor recommended that we date a MINIMUM of once a month, and that we go away for the weekend at least 3 times a year. Can't afford it? Well, it's far cheaper than a divorce.

Touching your wife is another important part of showing her affection. Many women complain to me in counseling sessions that their husband only touches their boobs - that it has been years since he touched them anywhere else. While men like to go for the goal right away, your wife wants to be touched differently. We like a back rub, a squeeze on the arm, a kiss on the cheek, holding hands, running your fingers through our hair while we watch TV, or a gentle hand on the small of our back. These are the touches that signal love to us - that we are valuable and important in your life - that we matter to you as more than someone who warms your bed at night.

Many women also love small gifts such as flowers, coffee, a favorite snack (I like fudge rounds), or other inexpensive items. Bottom line - experiment. Notice when your wife's eyes light up. That means you have hit the jackpot. Wives - help your husband out. Don't be afraid to say, "I really like it when you....." Despite what Danielle Steele says in her romance novels, men cannot read your mind.

2. Your wife needs conversation.

My dove is hiding behind some rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see you let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and you are lovely.” Song of Songs 2:14

A woman's soul is like a dove hiding behind a rock. After being wounded in many relationships, we become cautious about sharing our soul. You have to work hard to draw us out into the open. Women want you to want them. They want you to want to know them deeply and intimately. They want to be heard when they are sharing their hurts, joys, pains, and dreams. This is hard for most men. Learning to listen to a woman and not try to fix her problems is like learning to speak Russian for most guys. Keep trying - don't give up!

“His mouth is altogether sweet; he is lovely in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.” Song of Songs 5:16

Your wife wants you to be her best friend. She wants you to know and understand her, and she wants to know and understand you. Many men are done talking by the end of the day. They want to come home, sit down and relax. However, most women still have about 30,000 words left to speak. If you do not talk to your wife, she will invent negative things that you might be thinking about - when you are actually just in your nothing box relaxing.

Practical tip - try to head off the storm. God did not make men with the ability to multi-task. You cannot watch TV or play on your phone and listen to your wife at the same time. That's okay, it's the way you are designed. If you will give your wife about 15 minutes every day of your undivided attention, your marriage will change.

I come home every day to a pot of coffee. No matter who's on the phone, what crisis is going on, or how busy he is, Shawn stops his life. We sit down on the couch for a few minutes and talk. "How was your day?" "Alright." "How was yours?" "good." It's usually not anything profound or earth shattering, but sometimes we do have big news to share, or I need to vent about a student, or he needs advice on a ministry idea.

Find what works for you. Some people have coffee before work, some meet for lunch, we visit a lot while we cook dinner together, some people go for a walk after supper, some share a late night snack after the kids are in bed. Spending time talking to and listening to your wife is critical. I can't emphasize that enough. When I counsel women involved in affairs, they all say the same thing. "But he just 'gets' me." Women end up in affairs with men who make them feel understood. You be the man that knows your wife!

3. Your wife needs a teammate.

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.’” Genesis 2:18

Your wife wants to be your companion, your teammate, your best friend. Not your mom. Life is tough. You wife wants someone who can stand beside her and help her weather the storm. There are two major things she is looking for.

a. Your wife wants you to be a great dad.

There is nothing sexier than a man who delights in his kids. We love to watch you affirming, hanging out, playing with our kids. When you love our kids, it's the same as loving us. When I catch my husband patiently explaining Katie's math homework, or talking to James about how proud he is of him, or holding Grace close when she cries - I am awed. When I catch my husband being a great dad, I am so very thankful that I get to be married to him! It reminds me that he is amazing and worthy of respect!

b. Your wife needs help around the house.

I know you hate housework. I know that you work hard and want to relax when you get home. Yep. Me too.

When women come tell me they are thinking about a divorce, the conversation almost always starts like this, "He never helps around the house." I don't know of anything that women resent more than a man who sits on his butt while they are cleaning.

But let me share the positive side of helping around the house. One of my friends said today, "My husband is only one clean house away from the night of his dreams." All the other women quickly agreed. Is your wife too tired at night? Be a part of the solution. Help with getting the house clean so that she has time to relax and shift gears before bed.

How you choose to be a part of the solution may vary. I know couples that have specific chore lists, some hire housekeepers, some clean just on Friday night and then go out to eat, we clean every day (our house is on the market). We just sort of dive in and do whatever needs doing. We don't sit down and watch TV unless we can both sit down.

Ladies - if your husband is trying, notice and compliment him! He doesn't have to do the chores exactly the way you like them. Only correct major issues - things like washing reds with whites, putting dawn in the dishwasher, mixing bleach and ammonia....He doesn't have to do it all your way for it to be right.

“There are three things that amaze me - no, four things I do not understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.” Proverbs 30:18-19

You may feel overwhelmed at this point. Women are complicated creatures, loving them can be challenging. Let me leave you with one last thought - it's okay to change slowly. Rome wasn't built in a day. Be patient. Seek every day to love your wife more tan you did the day before.

Wives - encourage your husband on this journey. He is not a girl and does not understand how God made you. Be patient as he tries. He will make mistakes and do stupid stuff. So do you. So forgive him and try again.

I want you all to know that Shawn and I are praying for your marriages. We believe in you. We know that sometimes you may hit a tough spot. Hang in there and keep trying. The best things in life are usually not the easiest ones.

Be a MIssionary day 6

I had the opportunity to actually talk to Shawn for a few brief minutes today. He is loving what God is doing through the mission team. They are ministering in a beautiful, remote village 26 miles from Tula. It's a 2 hour trip through the mountains! The villagers have long prayed that God would send them a teacher. Our team is the first white visitors to the village.

Shawn said that he is doing Bible studies with the men and preaching in the evening while the ladies are doing VBS with the kids and some of the men are also doing construction work. Several of the villagers have accepted Christ, and they are so excited about God finally sending them teachers that they are butchering one of their cows and hosting a BBQ for the mission team.

Shawn is very broken at how God is working through him and the rest of the team this week. I can't wait to hear it all. Let's continue to pray for the team as they finish up in Tula tomorrow and start home on Friday. Here's the Bible study for the mission team today.

Day 6

You’ve been away from home for many days. The trip is nearing the end. You have made many new friends. You have seen God at work in incredible ways. While you are exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in your own bed, you are probably also experiencing sadness at leaving Mexico behind. Today you need strength - both physical and spiritual.

This is my prayer for you today.

Colossians 1:9-14, “So we have continued praying for you ever since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your lives, and we ask him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and you will continually do good, kind things for others. All the while, you will learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all our sins.