Just enough

Just enough… like $3.46 in your checking account until payday after all bills and expenses are paid… like older cars that run on prayer and get us places… like just enough patience to get through the end of the work day…

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Last night at church we had a celebration called Taste of the Nations, where the small groups in our church each host a booth of a different country. We make food, handouts for prayer requests and info of the country, dress authentically, and learn common phrases in the language. Our small group was in charge of Libya.

I did not know hardly anything except for the location of the country before we started. Now, I know there are 26 different people groups that have never heard the Gospel. I also know that even if the Assemblies of God (our denomination) had a missionary there, we wouldn’t know because it would put that person in a lot of danger. We learned phrases in Arabic and dressed the part. I was very surprised when several people commented on how I really looked like a Libyan. Aaron and I were even asked if we were missionaries!

We encountered a young couple who have been missionaries in Sudan and now will be leading a Live-Dead team to the Comoros Islands. They have worked under Dick Brogden, a well-known missionary to the Muslim world. Aaron has connections with him through Stone Creek Church back in Champaign/Urbana. We chatted with them for several minutes. They gave us their card and a Live-Dead devotional journal.

It’s no secret that Aaron and I want to go into the mission field. It’s been something we’ve talked about since we started dating, and it’s been confirmed by others. Not necessarily that we will go international, but that God will use us as a team to reach the unreached for Christ.

Recently, I’ve lost sight of that vision. Being together with my husband and living life, however mundane at times, has kept me in a whirlwind of comfort. After his stint in the military, it’d be great to settle down, buy our first house, and start a family. I have these “dreams” for my kids.. that they’ll live in the same house their whole lives, go to the same schools and not have to move around. I “dream” that we’ll finally have a solid emergency fund and cars that aren’t fifteen years old. We’ve even talked about moving back to the Chicago area to be closer to family…

But is that God’s dream for our lives, for our children’s lives? It’s a bit unnerving to think that five years down the road we could be raising funds to go to some remote place to share the Gospel with people who are completely unlike us. Time is short, friends. Jesus could come back at any moment and we need to be ready. As much as I would love to be a stay-at-home mom and live my personal American dream for the next 50+ years of my life, there are dying and lost people out there who have to literally travel 150 miles before they even have a chance of meeting a Christian.

That needs to become a reality in my life. Aaron and I need to continue to cultivate a heart for the lost, and pursue further direction on where we should go and what we should do in 4.5 short years. All our “stuff” doesn’t matter. I think so far we’ve done a good job at not getting too attached to material things. (Check out the link for an awesome blog of a friend of ours!) God has always provided enough. Sometimes, it’s just enough. Our needs are met. Sometimes we’re blessed enough to have excess, and we need to learn how to generously give from that abundance.

We follow a pretty strict budget, but something we haven’t been able to do is save, save, save. Between Aaron coming home for leave from Korea, using our tax return to pay off a loan, and moving and using our travel pay to buy a car, we’ve had slim pickings the past few months. We are thankful for the extra things we get to do, and we have started paying extra on debt again. One of the big reasons we started this whole debt-be-gone ball a-rolling is so we can go into missions with zero, I mean zero, debt.

The truth is that God has equipped us with amazing gifts… every day I am reminded that I don’t teach because it’s what I went to school for; I teach because it’s who I am, my calling. Aaron has an incredible gift with technology, computers, and figuring out technical problems. Imagine how God can use those gifts in a country where they don’t allow declared missionaries, but they do allow teachers and IT guys?

I want wisdom. I want direction. I want a pure heart. I can’t have any of these things until I ask the One who gives all of these things freely… and He’ll give just enough for the need, and more.

I am reminded once again of a quote from A. W. Tozer:

“Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means….All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.”

>Our insecurities, magnified

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I was thinking about this since I read a blog similar to it at Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, and since we had a rough morning at worship practice before church this morning.
Our insecurities don’t just disappear when we begin to get involved in ministry. In fact, our shortcomings can be magnified. That’s what the enemy wants.. for us to feel guilty, bitter, remorseful, and become so ineffective for the Kingdom. Who cares if we actually fall away from church… if we are lukewarm, we might as well have fallen away in my opinion.
My biggest strengths in ministry, and in life for that matter, are also my biggest weaknesses. I’ve been a musician for almost twenty years of my life. Piano lessons, guitar lessons, band, choir, worship bands.. you name it. I love being in a band, and having the freedom to go crazy on the keys. I love worship with all of my heart, and it’s brought me to my knees sometimes.
However, along with my passion, comes my critical side. Even on Sundays when I’m just out in the congregation worshipping, I listen to every little thing and quirk in the sound mix or whatever and it almost prevents me from taking hold of those awesome moments in God’s presence. Like I said, it’s what the enemy wants.
He wants me to become so critical and have such a condescending attitude that I will be rendered ineffective. Sure, I’ll play and sing with grace and feel something during worship.. but I’ll only be giving 5%.
So, I admit, I had a poor attitude this morning. Why can’t they play that right? Why can’t everyone be on time? Why why why.. blah blah blah. And guess what? I had my own humbling experience when I forgot what song we were playing after communion and Patrick had to tell me what it was. Embarrassing, yes. Without grace and precision, yes.
As I sat there at the keyboard staring at the keys in utter embarrassment (because you know, I never make mistakes.. ha!) I started to feel this bitter and self-deprecating attitude come over me. Then I realized that I’ve been through much more embarrassing things. I was not about to let the biggest joy of my life (besides being married, of course) be stolen from me in that moment!
Who cares what anyone else thinks? I made a mistake. I’m quite entitled, since I’m human. It’s inevitable. But it’s done, over with, and I have some worship to do.
In the past I would have let that one moment of confusion let me down for the rest of the morning. I still had another service to play through, and heck if I was going to waste it.
Part of maturity is recognizing and admitting to our shortcomings. Another part is realizing how detrimental living out our shortcomings can be to the Church. If I were to sit there and not engage in worship because of one little mistake that people won’t even remember in half an hour (we hope!), then I’m allowing myself to become rendered ineffective as a leader for that moment.
Of course, this little life lesson went right along with what Pastor Rick was preaching about… relating to people.
Hebrews 2:17-18: For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Jesus had to be made human in order to be relevant. How would it be if Jesus came in all His deserved glory, ruling over the earth with a spotless white silk robe and golden scepter? What if He were sitting on a throne, with thousands of servants obeying His every command? Because He’s God, He could have done that.
But He didn’t. He worked manual labor as a carpenter for almost twenty years before even beginning His ministry. He dealt with all temptations that we have, and was successful in overcoming them.
Sometimes we have to go through our manual labor for a long time before we’re ready to totally, 100%, embrace our calling. It’s hard at the time, but there is a great reward for our patience and diligence. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (I Pet. 5:6) 
Be prayerful and diligent in whatever ministry you are a part of… be faithful to the needs of that ministry and pray for its members as well. The Lord uses all things for good… maybe not good in our eyes. We deal with all our insecurities for a reason. I love what A.W. Tozer said,
All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.”