The January Report: anonymous gifts, bats in the attic, the countdown begins

One of the joys of our recent months has been the opportunity to invite others into what God is doing in our lives. This has been especially true in the area of raising support. We have met with many people and we have had varied responses. As of this writing, we are about 85% supported and we are waiting for the final amount to come in. Even though we know that God has ordained this and therefore he will sustain it, we are still somewhat anxious about the how and when.

A few days ago I was checking our account online and I saw an entry that I wasn’t expecting to see. It was an anonymous gift for a sizable amount of money. But, more important than the amount was the method that God used to confirm to me that he really is going to provide. You see, just a few hours before I checked our account, I was praying about how impressive it would be if we got some funds “out of nowhere!”   And then it happened! God provided in a way that we never saw coming. It was almost like he was saying “I don’t have to do this, but because your faith is weak right now, I will encourage you through this.”

If you are the giver of that gift, Jo and I want to say a tremendous thank you. For everyone who has been (or will be) a regular supporter, we also say a huge thank you. And for everyone who prays for us, another thank you! Together, you make up our team of supporters. God is using you and us together to share his word, to increase his glory, and to fulfill Rev 7:9. We are honored to be part of God’s plan.

An area that has not been so joyful is the many small projects that need to be accomplished prior to the sale of our home. One of those projects recently involved our exterminator. Off and on for the past year or so, Taylor has been hearing noises in her bedroom walls. I assumed it was bats or some kind of bird, and because she was on an outside wall, I didn’t get too concerned. But, a few weeks ago, I heard the same noises in an interior wall and that caused me much concern. I called our exterminator and the verdict was bats in our attic. To me this was better than squirrels or other type vermin, but to Jo, it was awful. She informed me (as did the exterminator) that the droppings are toxic and we needed to do something about it. So, as any wise husband would do, I made my wife happy by agreeing to the exterminator’s plan of action.

We had hoped that after the first visit we would be “bat-free”, but we are still hearing noises and so the exterminator is returning for plan B. More as this story develops…

Jan 29 was our last day in the office. It was a bittersweet time of farewells and cleaning out our workspaces. The OM tradition is for the entire staff (100 +/- folks) to gather and pray over those who are departing. This was a humbling and tremendously encouraging time for us. That evening our immediate team of co-workers had a going away time for us and we were again overwhelmed with love and encouragement.

As the doors of our season at OM USA close behind us, the doors of the season before us are opening wider by the day and the final countdown has begun. The interviews for our work permits are scheduled for Feb 12 in Houston. We will put our house on the market sometime the second week of Feb and we will begin the monumental task of sorting our stuff into take, store, and trash.

Prayer points for us:

  • Decisions about the sale of the house
  • Using the remaining time to prepare mentally and spiritually for Norway
  • Establishing a new home for Taylor
  • Decisions about our dog
  • Learning the language (CDs in the car as we drive)
  • The many good-byes that will happen
  • Staying focused on the God the Father and his purposes in this journey

 

 

 

 

 

Sheep of His Pasture

Psalm 100:1 A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV)

When I read this psalm a few weeks ago, the phrase that jumped out at me was “the sheep of his pasture.” I had the visual of being in a huge pasture with countless other sheep. We were all munching on the grass and enjoying life. I raised my head and looked around and I saw the shepherd watching over us from a small hill. Even though there were many sheep, I knew that he was watching and caring for each one of us. I also knew he was in control and therefore we were safe from predators and other dangers. Then I resumed munching without a care in the world. I was a safe and happy sheep.

Here are my thoughts on the phrase “the sheep of his pasture:”

I  What does this mean to me?

a. Sheep do not provide for themselves, they eat and drink from the pasture/water the shepherd leads them to. Psalm 23 gives a perfect picture of what this looks like:

  1. The shepherd leads us into green pastures, by still waters, and through the valley of the shadow of death. We must accept the good and the bad, we cannot pick and choose.

b. When sheep wander from the shepherd, their lives are at risk. Therefore I must stay close to and listen for the shepherd.

c. When you go your own way or live according to what society says is acceptable, you will not be part of the flock.

d. We are saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9) and we (the true sheep) will not be condemned (Rom 8:1) but we will be judged (Acts 17:31, Romans 2:16, 2 Tim 4:1).

II  Why did God do this?  For his glory!  Many western churches (pastors) teach that Jesus was born, crucified, and raised from the dead so that we could be forgiven of our sins and spend eternity in Heaven. While this is “what” happened, it isn’t the “why” it happened.
The “why” is for God’s glory! Everything from Genesis to Revelation is the story of God and his desire for his glory.

a. God’s perfect creation and man messing it up (Gen 1-11)

b.  Implementation of God’s plan to redeem his glory (Gen 12- Rev 6)

c. The fulfillment of God’s eternal plan for his glory (Rev 7- Rev 22)

III   How should I respond?

  1.  Because I am a sheep in God’s pasture and because in God’s pasture everything is about God’s glory, I must also be about God’s glory.
  2. Because God’s glory requires holiness, I must choose to live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15-16) instead of the life the world says is acceptable.

 

Dear friends, for those of us who call ourselves Christians, living a mediocre life that looks like everyone else’s life is not an option. We are not to “settle” for grace, we are to strive for holiness!

When you come face to face with Jesus, what do you want to hear? “Well done good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21-23, Luke 19:17) is reserved for those who handle the life God gives us on earth properly. Do you want to be the servant who achieved the bare minimum or do you want to be the one who invested wisely in the Kingdom of God?

Being a sheep in God’s pasture has uncounted blessings, but it also has responsibilities. We cannot expect God to fulfill the blessings if we don’t live as he asks us to.

Now reread Psalm 100 from the perspective of “his people and the sheep of his pasture.” May God bless you through the study of his Word.