“His grace is enough”

Posted: November 16, 2008 in Preparing to Go

    I’ve been trying to keep weekly updates about what God is teaching me throughout this experience. This week has been a bit different than the previous weeks.  My enlightenment did not come from a dynamic message, or digging deep into the word of God.  No, actually it was from a reflection on the last several years of my life.

    One night this week the Spirit convicted me to stay in and spend the entire evening writing out my testimony.  It’s a story I’ve told time and time again, but as I began to write I realized how much doesn’t get shared.  I begin writing and memories just began to unfold.  Things were being placed on the page that honestly I had forgotten all about.  For six hours I found myself just sitting and writing page after page after page.

   The more I began to write the more I saw such a comparison to my life and the life of the Israelites.  It was a story of an unfailing love.  A story of rebellion and bondage yet a story of deliverence time and time again.  I sat amazed grasping the concept that truly His grace is enough.

   I know that time is hard to obtain, but I encourage you to take some time this next week and write out your story of redemption.  I think it’s crucial to have it in written form.  I realized that if something happens to me then my words perish with me, but if they’re written out then they can be passed on from generation to generation.  Parents I espcially encourage you to do this so your children can hold to your story of God’s unfailing love.  And perhaps you’ll find great joy in seeing how His grace has been and will be enough.

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“the sacrifice of praise”

Posted: November 10, 2008 in Preparing to Go

As you know this coming week is week four of the training here in Richmond.  Which means I’m exactly half way through.  Which also means I’m beginning to struggle.  My tendency is to  start strong, dwindle down, and finish week. The enemy knows me as well.  He’s pulling out all stops in keeping me busy, preoccupied, or just simply ran down.  Anything to keep me from spending crucial quality time with the Father.   Please pray for me.  Pray that I would keep focus and that I would finish stronger than I began.  

How do I beat my body and force myself to finish strong? #1 Your Prayers  #2  A daily battle to offer up the “sacrifice of praise.”

  I’ve often wondered what it meant by bring unto me the sacrifice of praise.”  What is the sacrifice of praise?  God is teaching me that the sacrifice of praise is any praise that He receives through our sacrifice.  So each morning when the alarm clock goes off, and we’re tempted to push snooze instead of arising and seeking His face, let us rise and offer Himthe sacrifice of praise“. And each evening when we’re tempted to watch that extra hour of television instead of spending time with him, let us offer Him “the sacrifice of praise.  And when it’s late and our bodies are tired from the days labor and we desire so badly to lay our heads to rest, let us not lay down until we’ve been in His word and thus offer Him “the sacrifice of praise.”


Some don’t. Oh… but some do!

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Many of you have heard and are sharing in the rejoicing of the new converts up in the village where we work.  Back in June a team from local churches in East Tennessee visited us.  We worked together setting up health clinics, sports camps, and back yard bible schools.  One of the men that traveled with us became well acquainted with one of the leaders of this particular village, who happens to be Muslim.  Over the course of the week the chief leader developed a strong bond of trust in this man.

Weeks after the team had left one of our translators received a call from the chief to return to that village.  Upon his arrival he was led into a home of a severely ill young lady.  The chief explained the situation saying she had been having headaches and eventually had become blind and crippled in her hands.  She and her family were Muslim and they had been praying for healing.  She had even gone to several witch doctors and performed many demonic means of healing but nothing seemed to work.  When the chief had heard of her condition he had remembered the man and the people that had come a few weeks prior.  He remembered the stories he had heard of the healing work of Jesus Christ.  He asked the translator to pray over her hoping that the God of the people who had previously visited would be able to heal her.

The translator took the time to tell her and those around her who Jesus was and why he had power over sickness.  He walked her through the gospel and asked her if she believed in what she had heard.  She said yes, so then he instructed her to denounce Islam and rid herself of all that she had acquired from the witch doctors.  That day in the city of Mindu there was a great burning of all the idols she had collected.  The translator then began to pray over her, calling on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one true living God, who holds all power in heaven and earth, and asked that he would heal her in the name and the authority of Jesus Christ.  Beloved, that day that young lady was healed, physically and spiritually.  She denounced Islam as well as her brother, and to this day, against strong opposition, they are faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

My teammate and I have had the privilege of watching them grow.  Each week we return to the village to share stories with them from the Bible.  This last week we arrived at their home and their mother, who had witnessed the entire event, and had originally said that if her daughter was healed she too would denounce Islam and believe in Christ, greeted us.   She told us that her children had gone and wouldn’t return until the next day.  We asked her if she had thought any more about becoming a follower of Jesus.  She sheepishly began shaking her head, threw her hands up, and repeatedly said, “no, no, not today.  I don’t want it today. “ We asked if we could at least share a story with her to which she responded… “no, I don’t want to hear a story about him.”

What!?!?   After seeing what he could do first hand, how could she resist him?   After hearing about his great love and mercy, how was she not moved by him?  Why in the world… would she not be running to him?  Why can’t she understand that he is the truth that will set her free?   Why can’t she see that he holds the key to the door of her deliverance?  Why?  Why, would she hesitate to go to him?

As much as I pondered this and as perplexed as I was by it, it was just a matter of time before God would reveal to me a parallel truth about my own life.  How often I too hesitate to go to God.

I felt a little like Adam today.  You know, back in the garden when God was calling out to him asking him where he was, although he already knew the answer.  God would say to me, “Jill, what’s going on?  Where have you been?  Why are you distancing yourself from me?  Why aren’t you seeking me like you once were?  What is it that’s keeping you from coming to me? You know me.  You have seen my power displayed in your life first hand.  You have known my faithfulness, my love, and my mercy all of your days.  You know I have the truth that you seek, and I am your mighty deliverer.  So, Why?  Why, would you hesitate to come to me?”  Why in the world… Jill… would you stop running?”

There are a variety of foolish reasons that prevent us from going to God.  Guilt, shame, pride, fear, distraction… just to name a few.  But sometimes it simply comes down to our refusal to be confronted with the truth, because sometimes we know the truth is going to be hard  for us to hear.  Sometimes the truth is going to be both convicting and costly.  I think this mother’s refusal is an attempt to avoid hearing truth she already knows.  Truth that would be hard to hear.  Truth that would be both convicting and costly.  But truth that would… set her free.

What about us?  Are we willing to hear and respond to hard truth in order to be set free.  Seeing how so many believers live continual lives of bondage I would go as far to say that this question is just as pertinent to the believer as it is to the non. It simply comes down to what we really want.  What do we want?  Do we really want to be set free?  Some don’t.  Oh… but some do!

…the anchor holds.

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

Over the course of the last few weeks I have sat and listened to story after story of trial after trial.  I sat in the house of a dear friend who had just unexpectedly lost her mother.  She leans over to me and faintly and repeatedly whispers, “I just don’t know what to do.”  A few days later I found myself embracing another dear friend as she wept bitterly over her neglected marriage.  The other night I stayed with a friend who has been completely broken by abandonment.  I lay there beside her as she slept, tears streaming down my face, as her words echoed to me again and again… “I wonder what I did in my past life to deserve [this] in this life?”

As absurd as this statement appears, I soon realized that oft times in my own trials I am equally quick to make absurd comments due to my lack of understanding of the Divine Sovereignty of God.

Just recently I received some news from home that immediately brought me to my knees.  I found myself before God, asking why and begging him to change the present circumstances.  I pleaded with him for hours, “God let this fall on me.  Let me take this.  Please Father, I’ll do whatever you ask of me.  Tell me what to do and I will do it.  Just change the course of this.”  No sooner than these words had left my mouth God abruptly interrupted and said…

” The trials that you undergo are not about doing something different, but rather becoming someone different.  I allow things to happen not in an attempt to get you to perform, but rather to get you to a place where you are willing to be transformed.”

So many times we find ourselves trying to negotiate with God.  God I will do this if you will…  Other times we are overwhelmed with self-condemnation.  Believing that we are exactly where we deserve to be, getting exactly what we deserve to get, due to our own shortcomings.  And while there is truth in that our shortcomings do bring us to places of hardship, I’m reminded of the Israelites.  Yes, it was their sin that led them into trouble… but each and every time… it was their God that led them out.  Beloved, your God will lead you out!

God will always have his mysteries.  We will never know exactly why God allows some of the things he allows.  There have been and will always be things that God keeps veiled from us.  But we can rest assured that behind every veil there in an anchor.   And that anchor has a death grip on us.  He will never let us go nor will he ever place more on us than we can bear.

Not only does this Anchor have a grip on us but this anchor is none other than Jesus Christ, the mighty conqueror himself.  During my time of discontent this week, God allowed me to come across a passage taken from John 16:33.  As I sat and meditated upon the words I was shaken by it’s difficult truths yet stilled by it’s precious promises.  Beloved, we can rest in the hope that he will deliverer, because we have the calm assurance that he has already overcome.

From the hills of Tennessee to the shores of Tanga, no one escapes the darts of tribulation.  At some point and time we are all struck.  While the circumstances may be very different, the questions as to why and the plea for deliverance is very much the same.

I know for many of you these are tough times. Infertility, abandonment, broken relationships, struggling marriages, terminal illnesses, loved ones suffering.  Whatever your dart may be, never forget there is an anchor behind the veil. That anchor is Jesus Christ the overcomer.  And beloved, the anchor holds.

“There’s a peace I’ve come to know though my heart and flesh may fail.  There’s an anchor for my soul.  I can say it is well.  Jesus has overcome.  And the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is one.  He is risen from the dead”

-Chris Tomlin

a beautiful exchange…

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Beloved family and friends,  we have made a commitment to walk along this journey together.  And I am ever so grateful for your love and support and faithfulness to that commitment.  You had been asked to intensify your prayers during this time and with that request came a lot of questions and concerns.  Many of you have contacted me and/or my family to get details on what’s going on.  In honoring the commitment we have made, I want to give you an update on me and specifics on what to be in prayer about as our time here among these people quickly comes to an end.  My hope is to cease all questions and calm all concerns.

Let me start off by assuring you that I am fine, and it is not because I am strong.  But rather because He is good.  I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I have been called to do, learning exactly what I need to learn.  Is that always easy?  Of course not.  Is that always pleasant?  Of course not.  Have I been and am I being, as you have heard, broken?  Yes, of course.  But we know that the state of complete brokenness is oft times the most rewarding place to be.

God has yanked away all my hope, stripped away all my joy, and destroyed all my peace!  Isn’t He perfect!  Does this not sound like the characteristics of the God we have come to know and love?  Of course it does.  God will never stand by and allow us to draw from another source.  He is determined to bring us to a place where he is more than enough.  It is an exchange of what we have placed our hope in, what has become our source of joy and peace, for him…his hope, his joy, his peace.  And while it is often painful and a difficult place to be at the time,  it is a beautiful exchange.

It has been said, “he’s not always safe, but he is good.”  Beloved, He is good!  “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14.

Thanks you so much for your prayers. I’m asking you not to intensify your prayers for me but rather for the work that we have graciously been allowed to be a part of.  There is a lot going on here, and God is moving mightily in this place and among these people.  My mom has and will continue to receive emails of specific requests for the people and the needs here.  She reports these request back to Bibles Chapel.  You will not find these on facebook or my blog, however if you attend a different fellowship and would like this information you can email me or her and we will forward you a copy.

Blessings,

Jill

Everything has it’s time…

Posted: April 7, 2010 in 1

On the Island of Zanzibar

Good times with friends...

It has been quite some time since my last update, and for that I apologize.  Time has gone by so quickly.  I can hardly believe I am nearing the end of my journey here in Tanzania.  A lot has happened over the last few months.  God is hard at work here in Tanga, not just in the  hearts and lives of the Tanzanians but in me as well.  Over the course of the last 5 months God has been teaching me some important truths to lay hold of.  Of the many things God has been showing me, the reoccurring theme would be his beckoning of me to focus on him and finish the task set before me.

One night I was sharing with my dad some struggles and uncertainties I was facing.  And after listening to all I had to say he responded with this… ” Jill, everything has it’s time. Right now you’re in Africa.  This is your course.  Finish Your course.”  This response seemingly had nothing to do with anything I was saying… and yet… it had everything in the world to do with it.  I realized somewhere along the way my focus had shifted.  My joy was no longer in the journey.  My vision had trailed from the One who had called me to this course and my eyes had become fixed on the finish line.  In his mercy, God reminded me not to look behind or I would become discouraged. And not to look ahead or I would become uncertain.  But to live in the here and now fixing my eyes upon the author and finisher of my faith.

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Oh how difficult it is for us to live without concern of the future or regret of the past.  But, oh what we miss when we refuse to live in the here and now with our eyes fixed on Jesus.  My prayer is that we would trust in God and rest in his promises with the calm assurance that our past is dealt with and our future is secure in him.  That we may be free to daily delight in his presence and find the joy in the journey of today.

Defining Christianity…

Posted: September 8, 2009 in The Journey

This last month has brought about many new experiences, including my first Tanzanian graduation ceremony, which lasted seven hours, my first national torch celebration, my first time seeing two guys feed each other cake, my first (and last) time taking a bike into town, my first time causing an uproar in front of our house between the thief who was apparently about to mug me and every gate keeper on our street, and my first time being the one selected to go to the very top of the tree to gather oranges.

Not only has God been faithful in his work here in Tanga, he has also been faithful in the internal work he’s been doing in me over the last 27 years.  I was quite stumped after having had a conversation with a young man who professed to have recently converted from Catholicism to Islam.  I talked with him for quite some time trying to seek answers as to why the conversion.  I was thrown into even greater confusion a few days later when I saw him.  He was no longer wearing the Muslim attire that they wear during this season of Ramadan.  I asked if he was still fasting and he said no.  He said he had now decided to become a Christian.  Ever since this encounter I’ve really been seeking to define the true definition of Christianity.  What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

As absurd as this encounter seemed to be… I mean to think all you have to do is change garments and declare a new religion, I have been reminded that many of us in America are no different.  The definition of Christianity for many is little more than a statement followed by an occasional slight change in our outward garments.  If asked  “oh yeah ,I’m a Christian.”  We may even get our Sunday best out once a week, sit in a pew, and sacrificially throw in a few bucks when the offering plate passes by.  But I would dare say that Paul, the disciples, the apostles, and many of our brothers and sisters around the world who are enduring severe persecution this very day, may have a slightly different way of defining Christianity and what it means to truly be a follower of Jesus Christ.

For many of our fellow believers, to profess christianity comes at a great cost.  For them to answer yes to christianity very well may mean they’ve just forfeited their lives.  It’s been said “christianity is miles long but only inches deep. And some of the most shallow Christianly is rooted from the west.” Why?  Perhaps it’s because we’ve never had to go deep.  The shallow answers such as “yeah I’m a Christian,” have always sufficed.  But if that’s as far as we ever get with our faith, then I fear that we’ve missed the true definition of being a follower of Jesus Christ, and when the day of religious persecution comes to our home land our shallow faith will fail us.

My prayer is that God would grant me boldness and a willingness to follow whatever the cost.  God forbid I profess to be a follower of Christ if I’m not truly willing to lay my life down for his cause.  Please join with me in prayer for our dear brothers and sisters undergoing severe persecution all across this globe for the sake of truly defining christianity.

Just enjoy the journey.

Posted: July 31, 2009 in 1

A lot has changed in the last couple of months.  As many of you know I have been relocated.  I’m now living in Tanga, Tanzania.  It’s about 5 hours North of Dar es Salaam.  

Most of you know me well enough to know I’m a planner.  I like to know what’s going on.  But the irony is our God  thoroughly enjoys shaking things up a bit, and allowing  just enough chaos to prove his sovereign control.  Like a resounding melody I hear him singing over me… just enjoy the journey.  Let go of the past… it’s dealt with.  Don’t worry about the future… it’s secured.  Just live in the here and now, enjoying the freedom I’ve given you.  I’m finally beginning to realize, it’s more about the journey then it is the actual goal.

My productivity so far here in Tanga town…

1. Learned to make my own granola and chapati’s.

2.  Made friends from New Zealand, Norway, and Finland

3.  Went to an African circus  (quite impressive, might I add)

4.  Went sailing and island exploring.  (got caught in strong winds; thought      we may end up staying the night on the “deserted”  island.)

5.  Finished Language school and Taught my first class in Swahili 

6.  Shared my testimony and a Bible story with some Muslim friends in            Swahili

“The Lord has promised good to us…”

“… and he will do it.”

   

“Period of Silence”

Posted: July 14, 2009 in 1

  I apologize for the “period of silence“.  There has been a lot going on and many lessons being learned.  Seeing how many of you have asked for a brief update on the last three months, and knowing how little some of you like to read, I have posted several pictures up to compensate for that dilemma.  

  I will try to give you a quick run down of the last three months of my life.  In April and May I was down in Zambia doing a little… bug killing, tent living, water fetching,bucket bathing, field working, squatty potty using, food slaughtering, bond fire cooking, hut living, and people loving.

  In June I headed up to Nairobi, Kenya for some session attending, stock supplying, and health evaluating.  All ending on a positive note.  During the meetings we were challenged to live fearlessly and courageously.  The emphasis was about complete trust in God.  That seems to be the theme of God’s echo to me time and time again.  

Lesson I’ve learned these last few months in Africa…

  • People said I would fall hard if I went to Africa (they were right)          Learned He’ll catch me.
  • People said that I may die if go to Africa  (they were right)                       Learned dying to self is the only way to truly live.
  • People said you’ll never make it on you own (they were right)                  Learned I am never alone.
  • I feared I would be inadequate and unable to succeed.  (I am)          Learned He is more than able.
  • I thought past mistakes made me to unworthy to go.  (But instead)       Learned He’s to worthy for me to stay.