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Sunday, March 1, 2009

God is faithful

Wow.. for the last couple of weeks I have been working on this blog and now FINALLY I have finished it! I am so sorry for the delay. For those of you that keep up with this weekly, thank you very much for being patient with me and I apologize for this being so delayed. Moving in and out so many times for the last couple of months can really take a toll to my ability to get this thing out! Anyways, here's the last couple of weeks up to the present. ENJOY!! :

Through the spirit’s leading, my prayer life has been shown to me in a different light. The things on my heart are greatly important and telling them to the Lord shows that I take all things (big and small) to the foot of His throne, but the focus of our prayer’s deliverance should not be seeking the answers themselves. Instead, it should be about seeking the One who gives the answers in His time. Doing it any other way reflects a heart of spiritual lust. Spiritual lust is defined as demanding an answer from God instead of seeking the Lord himself. I need to, instead, trust God, seek His kingdom and await His answer patiently. While I wait, I should also be evaluating my requests with how they fit in with sharing the gospel with those who need truth. I like the way Oswald Chambers puts it: we have been ‘separated unto the gospel’. That means, being made separate from the world, we are called to be representatives of God’s love, grace and mercy with everything in our lives…. Was that reflected in my requests? Am I acting as a witness unto Him and to Him alone? This does not mean I live my life to please those around me, but to appease God who taught me how to do these things in order that the world may know that I love the Father (John 14:31). There is peace in knowing I am not a slave to what the world demands for me to be. God has called me to be in peace with this truth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. “(2 Cor. 5:17) I am not of the world anymore, but have been separated for the gospel’s sake!! Though sin and busyness can sometimes consume my mind with thoughts of dissatisfaction in where I am right now, God has not left me to myself, but instead, sent the spirit “in [Christ’s] name; he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I[Christ] have said to you” so I might have peace in knowing that God is in control, no matter what threat sin sends to steer me away from my Lord’s calling (John 14:26, 27a).

God has been good to teach us the benefit of true stillness, examining our hearts to make sure that it is listening to God as it should—like a child, who is without the different concerns laid upon our hearts. My dad has been telling me this for years. When I would be become bored on the stillness of our dock, I would him I wanted to do something besides nothing. “Kati,” he would say as he rocked in the hammock, “learn to enjoy being bored, just for a little while longer. Someday you’ll appreciate it.” And he, being the best example of what it means to work hard and play/rest hard, has finally gotten through to me. I didn’t understand then, but man, do I understand it now. Stillness is hard to come by in our adult life where many outlets demand that our minds be fixed on our to-do lists, meals to fix, bills to fret over/pay, and fulfilling goals we have set for the New Year. But “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” I John 3:20—He knows what’s best for us which is why He commanded us not to get too caught up into the world’s concerns, for they will draw you away from the Lord (which is it’s goal). Instead, he wants us to resort to a child like heart, letting the only real concern in our life be knowing Christ and his cross more daily (1 Corinthians 2:2). The stillness is now like a special friend and an understood priority I must learn to make time for in my life if I want to benefit from the blessings God pours out on my life everyday--- all because of His infinite mercy and kindness! It’s a daily battle, but learning how to fight it out of the strength of the spirit and not my own, I will learn I will always be victorious each time.

Another great thing the Lord did while we were in Montgomery was giving us encouraging fellowship with both people all over the U.S. from our flight and then, also, friends that have joined us from Columbus, our new home. It was so refreshing to go into a room and talk of the similar struggles we have all experienced in the name of advancing the gospel and being sons of light. But the best thing that came out of it was the realization that we needed more time in the word, we need more of the Lord’s intervention in a Mission Impossible task of making known the love of our Savior instead of trying to do it all on our own. I especially struggled with this when I attempted to make known the Lord to an atheist, a girl with no real desire for faith and a Jehovah Witness in my own strength. When I expressed my troubled heart to my friend Emmy and Kurt, I was again reminded that I was trying to do something without the spirit’s leading. The bible study really encouraged us to think of ASBC was a great learning experience for both our living out/ sharing the gospel and our time in the Word. And that’s just what it was, greater than any of other part of training they gave Andrew. It gave us just a taste of how hard it was going to be to balance the Word with a busy undergraduate pilot training (UPT) schedule (we still have a lot of kinks to work out and need a lot of the Lord’s help; please to praying for us in this time!!) but it also reminded us of how much more we needed the Word, and making time for it is absolutely vital in doing the Lord’s work. We need to be led by the spirit to do the Father’s will, walking and talking in the way He leads us, according to His will.

During our last few weeks in Columbus, we were blessed to come back into Knoxville for a weekend visit. It was refreshing to see both old friends and family! My soul rejoiced as were blessed with rest and fellowship all weekend long. We celebrated a “surprise” birthday party for my brother Ty, which ended up not to be such a surprise to our finding out (oh well, he had a blast which is what counts), and had a blast spending time with him and my brother-in-law Matthew as we went rock climbing in the Sequoyah area. We were especially excited about going to church and being united with the rest of Christian brothers and sisters in Christ! It was wonderful! Bill Kittrell talked of the wonders of the church and its role in our relationship with Christ. He encouraged us to look at the example of Paul and his role of building up the church. Then, the greatest truth of the whole sermon was knowing that because Christ came and made able the Spirit, we are now the temple of God opposed to a building or structure (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Believers are now what define the church. What a glorious and encouraging thought that was as we departed again after Andrew’s flight lesson for Montgomery! Departing from family and friends is always a bit sad, but the fog lifted a bit once we hit Maxwell AFB and saw our dear brothers and sisters from our TDY flight. It was good to be home… and yes, I meant Maxwell.
The Lord then taught me from a passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 how to truly love and care for his church and others in a way that glorifies Him. Encouraging the Thessalonians to “keep awake and sober” (v.6), he spoke of building up one another through words of encouragement and prayer, doing good to everyone as an act of worship (v. 11-15, 25). This encouraged me to start looking outside my own needs and desires and look to others to see what I could do to advance the gospel in the way I obeyed the Lord, loving those around me—especially the church. He led me to write emails in His name, letters, and give resources that would meet the need of desiring to seek God more (like books and Bibles). It was most encouraging to me to know that these things were happening because of the Lord’s work in my life and His leading alone: “He who calls you is faithful, he will do it” (1 Thes. 5:24). His grace covered all He led me to do and Christ himself was evidently with me the whole time (v.28). Blessed be the name of the Lord (Isaiah 40)!!

During this blessed time of following his divine leading, I was able to understand what sanctification was meant to do; sanctification was intended to be an intense concentration on God’s point of view, making all that is not in the Lord be weeded out until all we desire is His purpose alone. This will put us in the same disposition to be ruled by the Lord as Christ was here on earth if we learn to do what is according to God’s will. Jesus prayed we might be one with the Father as He is with the Father… and that is what was made possible through His death and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Now we need to rise and do what God’s called us to do in His power!

However, the question now was how is the testing of my faith through trials intended to sanctify me and how was it actually reflecting the Lord? The answer lie in James 1: “The testing of your faith produces steadfastness” so we lack nothing in Christ, making our testimony to the Lord stronger by the refining of fire; this is why it is counted as joy (v. 2-4)!

I recently opened up a book called “Multiple Blessings” in Panera Bread when Andrew and I went on a reading date. It was so neat to see how God had strengthened this woman of eight small children’s faith. She had a quote that just caught my heart as I related to her desire to live out what God called her to in motherhood:
“I wanted not only to survive my calling. I wanted to rise up, grasp it with both hands, and thrive in my calling as Jon’s wife and mother of all eight of my children”—Kathy Gosselin.

She went on to tell about the six wonderful things that the Lord had revealed most about Himself in her life… and I as well have learned a lot about the Lord through them:

1) God is in control (Romans 8:28 is a great promise for believers to remember) and all He calls us to do in our calling is really RELY ON HIM!

2) God is gracious and strong (Isaiah 40:31). He will give us a never run out of living water or strength for us, no matter what the task! He is always willing to fill our cup each time we ask!

3) The Lord can be trusted. Our job is to be obedient; it’s our calling. This is one of the closest promises to my heart. Just recently, we left Maxwell and headed back to Columbus. It was a sorrowful drive for me as Andrew and I left our new friends and our awesome gift of fellowship to be thrown back into Columbus to start all over again. In fact, it almost felt like the last day of summer camp. You know, when everybody exchanges addresses, gives like a million hugs--trying not to cry as you hug your new best bud, and beg everyone to stay in touch knowing that only a small percentage will. Well, not much of that routine changes when you become an adult and leave military training in Maxwell. Saying goodbye to friends you become so attached to in six weeks, without even realizing, was almost as hard as leaving life-long friends in Knoxville. The Lord has blessed us so so much and, sadly enough, I didn’t start to really savor it until the end. However, even with that regret, I would have never taken any of what happened back. God blessed us with a great flight, a wonderful living set up, great godly couples and individuals that always surrounded us. The last six weeks have been filled with trials, growth in humility and with our marriage, and TONS of God’s grace. And even though I doubted a while, the Lord filled my heart with reassurance that He could be trusted. Columbus is where He had obviously led us and this is where He would do His work. And it seemed right after I started to really believe that promise. Even all the daunting tasks of starting over in a new house, a new environment, and new fellowship were instead a song of praise that left my lips! I was completely satisfied in where God put us… and because of that, things started to happen…

4) God will provide (Phil 4:19). And He did! He provided a wonderfully strong couple in the Lord to come back into Columbus to! Even though we were sad about leaving, He encouraged us more with His providence to meet our needs with divine fellowship! We have been blessed to get to know these two better through the last couple of days and we are able to rejoice with them at the realization that this is our church! For now, God provided us with a very solid church (even if the congregation was just four) with sound, trustworthy doctrine. Seeing how God provides for our lives just gives me the strength and courage to wait upon the Lord more for the things on my heart.

Another good example of that is one that Andrew brought up which impacted my heart a lot for waiting on the Lord’s timing: before we got married, Andrew and I were looking for a couch for our new house. We found this one couch that we really liked…. And on top of that, for the price we liked too! It looked brand new, felt soft and unused, and was really comfortable! However, my grandmother had a couch she was going to give us for free. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing (and it wasn’t really ours) but the fact was the same: it was a gift and it didn’t cost a thing. We made the decision that we would hold off on an item we didn’t really need and take the gift. My other grandmother got it a couch cover, boosting the comfort level up a bit. While we still desired to have a couch to sink into together, we were very content with our lovely home and all we had. It was almost right after we talked about this on our neighborhood walk, we ran into our new neighbors who were still moving in. The first thing they did was coax us into a Christmas tree! Ha! (It was very funny and they really wanted us to take it, so we did!) Then after talking with them a bit, they brought up how they really needed to get rid of a lounge chair and really wanted us to take it. When went into look at it and we were shocked: it was perfect. A comfy loveseat setup that would snuggly fit the both of us with a built in footrest. We had a friend over for supper and to help us move it to our house. Trying it out for the first time that evening, we were really thankful to God for His kindness. We finally understood what it meant to wait upon the Lord, even if we really want it and think we need it now. Wait… and God might set one in your lap in a totally unexpected way! He loves to work that way.

6) Give God the glory and the praise! For all these things, lessons, trials, and blessings, God has told us they are for His glory and His praise. He is worthy of them and I am blown away by His grace. The biggest grace the Lord has reminded me daily as I look upon my ring is the gift of my husband. Right now, my husband is in Colorado for training for a month so I went back to Knoxville to stay with my family and see my dear friends. As I went to church alone this morning, my mind raced back to when I first came into this church and understood what it meant to be His child in a church who knew what it meant to be a church. First off, I didn’t know anybody and I was still in bondage of sin (control, eating, career oriented, ambitious, perfectionist, etc). Secondly, I was the farthest from a relationship than I ever thought possible. Now, God has been at work in my heart to change me like crazy, give me a new life in Him, give me understanding from the Spirit to rejoice in Him and gave me a church of brothers and sisters that I am honored to say I know and love! He also gave me my husband. What a wonderful gift He is! To raise my hands in the midst of my aloneness and see that God had provided himself, who would never leave me, and given me an incredible husband, who loves me a lot, is a moment of praise that will never escape my memory. Then, to give him even more glory, all sorts of people got up with a cardboard message of what they had been through/struggled with/battled for mission Sunday and then gave glory to God by flipping the poster to reveal how God healed/changed/worked to change them. It was very moving. There were people that lusted, lived for pleasures, lost children, lost spouses/parents, endured a long-term illness, suffered trials/hurts, struggled in an impure relationships/abusive families, unfaithful husbands, broken relationships, and all of these were restored by the Lord. A moment I will never forget; God’s glory was praised on high by the whole congregation…and it was beautiful.

On Valentine’s Day, Andrew took me on my first backpacking experience in Alabama. Though it was a very short trip, it was still an awesome trip where we learned more about God’s mercy and faithfulness. It started off rough from the very beginning, beginning with the bumpy gravel roads! We had followed MapPoint’s directions…. And they were awful. Then, we made the joint decision to drive into the park on a very low tank of gas. At every bend in the road on our long drive to the trail head (with no civilization in sight), we feared the car would hit empty and we would not have enough gas to get out of the park! Lastly, we didn’t give ourselves proper time to look at the map, thus, when we came to a fork in the trail (to cross the stream or not cross the stream) we chose the supposively “safe and sure” route: to not cross the stream. Well, on our way back from our overnight trip of constant bushing past the brush and avoiding many tree branches for several hundred yards, we discovered an actually trail… and it was across the stream! Nevertheless, God was still faithful to us, his screwy children. He had mercy on us and got us safely to Alabama on crazy back roads, our car never hit empty until three miles into civilization, and He provided a random campsite along the brook where we could pitch a tent and build a fire (we even got an excellent view of the stars that were so clear and vivid in the cool night air!). It reminded me of a good quote I heard about the Lord in relation to us as his sheep by Elizabeth Elliott: ' No matter what the sheep might do, if they are willing to be led, the Shepherd will always be more faithful than the sheep". He will always take care of us, even when we make stupid mistakes and go astray. It was a glorious thing to celebrate in God’s love that comes in many different ways from above. Praise God!

Speaking of mercy, God allowed my husband to be particularly good at mercy upon his sinful, wrathful wife. A couple of mornings after our trip, my selfishness and pride that claimed I felt worth of praise came out on my dear husband. Not being able to recall what the actually problem was, I felt ashamed and confused with my ungentle speech towards him. However, through the convicting yet reassuring text of Ephesians 5, I was given grace once again to “walk in love, as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us”(2)…even while caught up in our sins. God gave me strength to “submit to [my]own husband as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husband.” (22-24) I knew the sin I had committed against Andrew included my choice not to submit to him. Yet, Andrew forgave me immediately and showed me great mercy through kindly and gently taking me into his arms, telling me of all his love for me! What a beautiful picture of what Christ does to sinners, to his bride, daily…. What He does to you and I daily. Praise Christ for being broken bread and poured out wine for our souls to truly live!

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