Flexible Plans are the Best Plans

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

I am thankful for the hope and promise that no matter what we might plan, the Lord’s purpose always comes through. Never has that been more evident than on our Mexico Mission trip last week.

Hood up and flashlights out

Right off the top, let me apologize for the lack of blog posts and updates, after I had promised them in the days prior to our departure. Monday started off good. On Tuesday afternoon Pastor Gerardo invited me to preach on Wednesday evening, so that evening was spent collecting thoughts to share. On Wednesday a broken-down van extended our evening stay with pastor Gerardo’s church family. And just like that, it was Thursday night and the home builds were complete! I hope that you were still able to follow along with our Facebook and Instagram feeds.

 

Of course, it should come as no surprise that even without beautifully crafted blog posts detailing step-by-step construction updates, the Lord’s purpose for our church and our missions team was accomplished in Mexico. Two families received new homes. Their lives, and our lives, have been changed forever.

As much as this work is about the homes, we need to realize that its not about the homes. Its about being together, sharing the love of Jesus with one another, and experiencing God in new and profound ways. Let me give you an example of how I experienced God this week through one of the unplanned detours He led us on.

Wednesday morning wasn’t pretty for me. I’m still sad that my stomach wanted nothing to do with the incredible spread of french toast, whip cream, fruits, syrup, and more that was for breakfast. But I managed a little oatmeal, and went off to lay down and contemplate the day of suffering that surely lay ahead.

Thankfully, our translator Lorena took pity on me. Stopping at the local pharmacy on the way to the home build, she brought me some herbal Mexican remedies, and like a doting mom made me take it all before we got to work. It was enough to get me up the ladder and into the rhythm of laying and nailing shingles. But soon enough I needed a time out.

For really the first time in three days, I took the time to walk around and see everyone else hard at work. That’s when I noticed Caleb, just 2 years old, clinging to his mom’s leg as she tried to help the ladies stain the wood for the bunk beds. I came close, knelt down, and tickled his little tummy. To the shock and delight (and maybe a little jealousy) of the ladies, he didn’t run away. Instead, he took ahold of my finger and just looked at me.

Caleb and I (pastor Troy) taking a time-out

Unknown to me, no one had been able to get close to this little angel all week. But after a few minutes of tickling, of playing with my hat, and holding my hand, his mom put him up on my shoulders for a kapoochie (piggyback). And that was that – until lunch Caleb and I just hung out, exploring the world around us. I guess for a two-year old the world looks a lot different from almost seven feet up!

Now, as if this miracle wasn’t enough already, let me tell you how God speaks his wisdom through us to one another. You see, inside I was stressing out about all the work we still had to get done. Just then, it was Robin who said to me, “Maybe God knew that both of you needed this today.”

I think I chuckled out loud, mostly to keep at bay the tears that were on the way. Because she was exactly right. Our Heavenly Father knew exactly what we needed that day.

We needed each other.

We needed a rest.

We needed this.

Of everything I experienced on this trip, it is that morning that I will remember and treasure the most. Just me and Caleb, and our morning of peace and joy together.

Dedication Day.

My plan had been to help with a home build that would bless David and Jhoana, Luis, Abdias, Darla, Estefany, Jasmin, Caleb, and Isaias with a forever home. I did that, and it was an amazing experience. Yet isn’t it incredible that God had an even greater blessing planned for me, that didn’t even require a hammer or a tool belt? All it required was my presence. Unfortunately it took a nasty sickness to make me stop and actually be present.

That’s my story. There are 32 other team members with stories all their own of how God spoke to them and blessed them on this trip as well. This Sunday January 14 we will be sharing many more stories, pictures, and videos of our time in Mexico. Please join us, and hear how God has used this team, Oak Bluff Bible Church, and our entire community who supported us in this work, to change so many lives both in Mexico and here at home.

Mexico Mission Trip – Day 1

The Mexico mission team made it to Ensenada safe and sound last night. Our flight out of Calgary was delayed for a couple of hours, so it was after dark (meaning 6pm) when we arrived at the Yugo campus. After a long day of travel we enjoyed a warm meal, attended our construction meetings, and had an orientation chapel. Even though it was New Year’s Eve, and they love their fireworks here in Mexico, everyone was tucked in before 11pm.

Construction Day 1

House Build 1

House Build Site 2

Its so hard to capture a day of fast-paced construction and relationship building. We’ve tried our best to capture a few moments and post them to our Instagram account as a “story.” As the two teams arrived back at campus tonight and shared stories from the day, it is clear that God is at work. Both teams have gotten off to a great start on their homes. And even better than that, in the short time that we were together today with our families – a time in which we met for the first time, introduced ourselves across languages, and got busy building a home – the roots of deep, forever relationships began to grow.

Watch our Facebook page, where we will share the daily videos made by the Yugo media team as soon as they are available.

Please continue to pray for our teams, that we may have many opportunities over the next three days to connect with our families in deep and meaningful ways. Already today, Jhana (the mother at one of our home builds) shared with the group that she is seeing God build a home this week. Pray for our families to see the love of God through us. And pray for each of us to grow in our knowledge and love of God through this challenging experience.

 

Meet Your Mexico Mission Team – Part 4

Been there? Done that? Our family of 5 is just days away from our second mission focused adventure to Mexico. Our intentions the first round were to all go together. We would see all there was to see, feel all the things there was to feel, do all the things there was to do, so that next time just one or two could go and the rest would understand the feelings and the stories. As things have turned out we couldn’t find 2 or 3 of us willing to stay behind!

Troy and I (CoraLee) have been abundantly blessed with a healthy, and most of the time happy family. We have worked hard to raise respectful, hard-working, and somewhat cultured kids while still sheltering them in a safe environment, and most importantly fostering in each of them an understanding of how big and personal their God is.

Our experience 2 years ago on the same type of trip was two-fold. One, we provided a growing struggling family a new home. And two (as if that wasn’t enough), we were awed by the way God used our kids to show His love. It was a win-win for us.

God used our first journey to Mexico to show us that we indeed have amazing children! They worked hard (most of the time). They were respectful (most of the time). And the trip definitely gave them a new perspective on poverty and their role in it. Culture. All the things we work so hard for. And the best part? They got to see first hand in real time how big, amazing, and 100% personal God is!

God doesn’t need us to go to Mexico for Him to show us how powerful He is, how much He cares for us, that He always fulfills His promises to provide for us…but for us, Mexico changed us. We are a little more aware of things that need God’s touch and a lot more aware that He can use us to do it. We are so full of anticipation to try this all again, together.

For years our kids begged to go to Mexico. They had grandiose dreams of a week on the beach at a fancy resort with soft beds, all you can eat buffets and sand castles. Funny thing is…God changed that dream. On our way home from Mexico 2 years ago we heard “we have to do this again”. No fancy hotel, no week in the beach, but… This. Together. Our kids are about to see God at work again. Been there? Done that? Maybe. But God has something new and amazing waiting for us, and we can’t wait! We will ring in 2018 together. The Selleys and 28 of the best people we know. We’d do that over again…no question!

 

Hi, I am Carla Reimer. I am excited to be going on the Mission Trip again! I went on the Mexico Mission trip 2 years ago and it was a God-inspired adventure. I love to travel and I love serving God, so what a great opportunity to do this again! My life has been turned totally upside-down right now, but in the midst of my pain and hurt I know it’s key to help others that are less fortunate, and who have also dealt with deep hurts and disappointments. God’s command is for us to serve others. I look forward to God using me and our entire team to build His kingdom as we build relationships and houses in Mexico!

 

I am Melanie Peters.  Not only are we going to Mexico to build two houses, but we are displaying the love of Christ to others, something Jesus calls us to do.  Lyndon and I went 2 years ago with our 4 teenage boys.  I thought the trip would be perfect for our family as we love to travel, we wanted our kids to experience a very different culture, and we love tackling physical projects.  To see Lyndon take the lead on managing the build displayed his wonderful skill as a leader for our family.  To watch our boys work alongside others, particularly laughing with Enrique (the dad), was such a joy.  To have our nephew, Nathan, join us only added to the fun of sharing our experience as a family.  We don’t just build homes for others through this ministry.  We build relationships and memories with the families, and especially within our team.  We rely on each other, and are strengthened as we work together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are going again…this time to build 2 more homes, for 2 more families.  Why are we going?  The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….”.  This wasn’t a suggestion, it was a command.  Christ’s kingdom cannot be built without bold, radical obedience.  I look forward to what He has in store for us this time!

 

Hi, my name is Owen Selley and I am one of many people attending this year’s 2017-18 Mexico missions trip. What I’m most looking forward to is seeing God do his work on all of the people in Mexico. I’m also looking for God to show me many things i’ve never seen before and increase my faith in him. One thing I know that is going to happen this trip is that many people are going to be changed for the better and God will work through all of us to shine his light among all the people in Ensenada.

Hi, I’m Dorrian Selley and I  will be one of the members going on OBBC 2nd missions trip! The reason I am choosing to go one this trip for the second time is because in Mexico the ways that God shows up every single day is unbelievable and you rarely will get that here in Winnipeg with our very distracted lives. Also missions trip are a great group bonding “activity” you could say because it allows/forces you to talk to people maybe you have never talked to before. I went on a missions trip to Jamaica last spring with my youth group and the people who went on that trip including myself have some of the strongest friendships with each other that would have never formed in our regular everyday lives. I am super excited for the trip, to shoot video of what we are doing, to make connections with the family, and overall just to do God’s work that He has set out before us!

Meet Your Mexico Mission Team – Part 3

Thank you for your prayers and support as we count down the days before we leave for Ensenada, Mexico! This week please pray for wisdom for the team leaders as we divide our team into two separate build teams. Each family for whom we are building a home is special and unique. Likewise, we believe that God has called each member of this mission team with their unique character, giftings, and talents. Pray that we might wisely place each team member on the build site where God can use them to love and serve the family and the local community with all the potential that He has placed in each of them!

Now, let’s more of your mission team:

Hi, I’m Robin Chambers. I am honoured once again to be leading and organizing OBBC’s second international mission trip to Ensenada. I was amazed at how God went above and beyond all expectations the first time we sent a team to Mexico! I am looking forward to new experiences with another group and excited to see God at work again in Mexico and in our team. Please pray that all the final details of the trip would come together. Pray that I will not get overwhelmed and anxious at the tasks of organizing the mission and that I would completely trust and rely on God for wisdom, courage, competence and confidence in my role.

Hello, my name is Brett Friesen and I am 23 years old. This will be the second time I’ve gone on a missions trip to Mexico with OBBC,  and just like last time I will be serving alongside my dad. The first time I went it was hugely rewarding in many ways I did not expect, and am looking forward to experiencing those type of special moments all over again!

Hello, my name is Nicolas Casson I’m returning to Mexico for the second time with my mother Linda. Last time I went I was really thrown for a loop thinking about how culture develops and why ours turned out so much more fortunate than Mexico. Considering this I really want to reflect on what I have as an individual and further learn to not take anything for granted as well as again develop further understanding from a cultural standpoint why things develop the way they do.

Hi My name is Rob Penner. My wife our three children and I moved from Winnipeg to Oak Bluff in 1998. I have been coming to the Oak Bluff Bible Church for ten years. I am usually at the back of church controlling the sound system. I’m excited to share my skills with a team of people and to bond with them over seven days. This is my first missions trip and I want to experience the feeling of inter acting with our chosen Mexican families. I will be out of my comfort zone meeting the Mexican families cause my Spanish is nada. Five days to build a house with love sweat and tears and five nights to grow spiritually. I couldn’t say no to this.

My name is Sheila Friesen.  On December 31st my beautiful daughter, Sydney, and I will be joining a wonderful group of people with hearts set on serving.  It is my desire to serve as a follower of Christ and to allow God to open my heart to be vulnerable to the needs of others.   I ask that you keep me in your  prayer for the anxiousness regarding the travel, safety and for overall strength of heart.  I have wanted to be a part of this adventure to Ensenada for some time now, and I feel blessed to have my daughter join me.  Today, I am comforted by the scripture verse found in Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you”.

Hi I’m Sydney Friesen, I am in grade 12 at Linden Christian School and this is my first time going on a missions trip. I’ll be joining my mom (Sheila Friesen) along with the rest of the team. I heard all about the last missions trip and it sounded so rewarding and glorifying to God and his people. I would love to help these families by giving them something that we take for granted too often. I would love prayer for a calm mind so that I don’t overthink everything that I think might go wrong or worry to much about all the little things.

Meet Your Mexico Mission Team – Part 2

Today as we continue in our series of introducing our Mexico Mission team, please remember to pray for the two families who will be receiving new homes! You will find videos introducing the families here.

When we include pastor Gerardo’s family, there are a total of 24 people who we will be serving! We are collecting shoes and clothing for this large group of children, teens, and adults. We are also collecting for the women’s shelter run by pastor Gerardo’s church. Anything items you would like to donate may be brought to church on Sunday mornings, dropped off at the office, or at the Peter’s home.

Now, let’s meet more of our mission team:

Meet the Team – Part 2

Hello everyone.  My name is Heidi Hanzmann Lashewicz.  I feel very fortunate and grateful for the life that I have been given.  I want and believe that it is my responsibility to help others with the blessings I have received.  I had been searching for some time how I was going to accomplish this goal, when the opportunity to participate in the Oak Bluff Bible Church Mission presented itself.  I have already met and reconnected with so many wonderful, caring people, and learnt so much from my involvement with the Mission Team.  I look forward to continuing to be a part of the Team.  Thank you Oak Bluff Bible Church for welcoming me to the Mission.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Reg Friesen and have lived in Oak Bluff for 23yrs. My son Brett and I will be going on the upcoming mission trip to Mexico and are looking forward to it greatly! We went two years ago and found it to be a very enriching/life changing experience for all. (not only for the family we helped, but us as well!) As individuals and as a church we do a lot to help people locally, but we are commanded in the Bible to also go into all the nations…..I’m looking forward to getting to know and help another family, working along side my son, as well as drawing closer to the missions team. We are so blessed, and look forward to passing along some of what God has given us! I would appreciate if you would pray for safety, good weather, and love/unity among the team. Thanks!

We, Harry and Audrey Brandt, feel privileged and thankful to be able to go to Ensenada Mexico. There is no greater gift than to give to others, and what greater physical need than to own a home for comfort, warmth, and a place to call your own. It is always great to meet Christians of a different culture and country, and know we love and serve the same God. We’re looking forward to working and being with this amazing team for 7 days. Your prayers for safety, health, good weather, and team bonding are appreciated!

Hi! 🙂 My name is Neera! I am going on the Mexico Mission Trip this year as I feel God has called me to do so. To help those less fortunate than us is such a blessing. During a vacation in India in December 2013 with my family, I saw many families living on the street with nothing more than scraps, sheets, and dirt for houses. Honestly, it broke my heart! I felt like they deserve so much more than this. Nobody deserves to live like this! This is why I want to go and help build these houses for these families in Mexico; to make a difference for the lives of these families. 

Hello out there everyone! Its Tom Hancock here…and I am one of a group of more “senior” travellers to Mexico. This is my second go round and I would not miss it for anything!  All I can say is you are never too old to learn and never too old to receive a gift from God. Like Harvey Wood says..we will be more fulfilled coming home than one can imagine . I owe Gods Community a lot and this home build is one small way of at least trying to “pay it forward”. I ask that you keep our whole build team  in your thoughts and prayers while we are away.

Meet Your Mexico Mission Team – Part 1

This year OBBC is excited to be sending a team of 33 people to Ensenada, Mexico. We will be partnering with Yugo Ministries and the local church to build two homes for families in need.

Prayer is the most important contribution you can make to this mission work, especially in these final weeks of preparation. To help guide your prayers, we will be posting a series of blogs introducing you to all our team members.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement!

Meet the Team – Part 1

Hi, I’m Josh Peters and I’ll be going on the 2017 Mexico Mission Trip.  This will be my second time going on this house building trip with YUGO Ministries, the other time being when I went with my family on the first trip in 2015.  This year, I am looking forward to getting to know the families more, and developing a relationship with them, but as well getting to know the team more.  After the first trip, there was a strong sense of community among the group and I would like to experience that sense of togetherness with more of the church, all while contributing to an amazing cause.

Hi, I am Harvey Wood. My wife, Carol and family lived in Oak Bluff for 29 years. Carol and I moved away in 2006. This summer I was invited to join the mission trip to Mexico with the Oak Bluff Bible Church. After hearing about the trip from 2 years ago, I am very thrilled to join this year’s house build. The mission trip is an opportunity to give back some of the many blessings God has given us. We might initially think we are doing this for the family in Mexico, but once there and being immersed in a group of people that have so much enthusiasm for the Lord, we will find out what an incredible blessing they will be to us.

My name is Lauren Reimer and I am going on the upcoming Mexico Missions trip. I am 23 years old born January 28 1994. I decided to go on the 2017 Mexico Missions trip this year, because I went on the first missions trip 2 years ago and I enjoyed the trip. Also its a great way to give back to people who don’t have much, or don’t have a great place to live like we do, and we get to meet more people and make new friends. Also there are some new people who are coming on the trip and some of the same people who are coming on the trip and its a great way to catch up with those people from church and learn more about them. Something that the church could pray for, for me is I won’t get sick while I am on the trip, as well as that I will be able to find the perfect job while I am on the trip, if I get stuck painting, or nailing something like that, just to learn new things. Also that God will speak to me when I am on the trip and show his presence to me.

My name is Isabelle Bossuyt. My husband , Connie, & our 3 children ( Randy, Wendy & Shawnda) farmed in the Oak Bluff area for 45 years, before my husband passed away in 2007. My reason for going on this mission is to fulfill a desire to ” give back ” to the less fortunate that started in 1984 -when I flew to South Africa – where my sister was a missionary for 20 yrs.   During that time she helped the local villages by building an elementary school, as well as a high school! ( as well as a dam – to hold water).  She was/ is my inspiration! I am looking forward to meeting all of our team, as well as the Mexican families involved! Prayers for safe travels, & a good work experience!

Hi, I’m Shawnda Muir from Oak Bluff. I am looking forward to going on this mission trip with my mom Isabelle Bossuyt and the rest of the mission trip team. It is a “bucket” list item for my mom and I, as we’ve both wanted to have the experience of helping the less fortunate in a different country.  And I love building and construction, so seemed like a perfect fit!

Stand and Be Thankful

Stand and Be Thankful

It is good for us to be thankful. A recent trend in the productivity industry – or at least one that I have recently noticed – is improving productivity by teaching people the practice of expressing gratitude. Simply taking ten minutes at the end of each day to list three things for which we are thankful is said to improve our perspective and our attitude, thereby increasing our productivity.

So what are you thankful for today? Over the Thanksgiving weekend (here in Canada) social media was flooded with Facebook posts and Instagram stories, displaying all that people are thankful for: family, the beauty of God’s creation in landscapes and sunsets, God’s provision of a hearty meal. Many people even express thankfulness for their dogs, and one or two maybe for their cat.

It’s Hard to be Thankful

The recent events of our world can make difficult for us to be thankful, as it can feel like the world is falling to pieces. Hurricanes have left untold numbers homeless. A man shoots into a crowd of people enjoying a night of music, taking 58 lives, and impacting hundreds and thousands more with fear, grief, and loss. Wildfires are burning out of control. Earthquakes rock major cities. And this is only what we see on the news.

Each of us deal with personal struggles that weigh on us as well: finances, relationships, the pressure of a career, raising kids, the experience of grief and loss. We know of hardships happening to others within our circles of influence, and we often feel ill-equipped to help.

It is easy to lose hope in our world today. And if our hope is in things that are temporary, it should not surprise us when they are shaken and when they fall.

The Thanksgiving of King David

In Psalm 23 King David grapples with the realities of the world in which we live. King David experiences the highest mountain tops and the lowest valleys of life, and yet he is able to be thankful.

David begins this well-known psalm with a picture of a shepherd caring for his sheep; green pastures, still waters, the peace and security of being watched over by a Shepherd who cares so much for us that He would give his life for each and every one of us, leading the sheep along what David calls, “paths of righteousness.”

This all sounds like a comfortable, safe, easy life. Yet David makes it clear that even along this path, we will encounter difficulties and trials. He calls this, “the valley of the shadow of death,” and it’s no walk in the park. David is describing his darkest times of life, and he attributes them to the evil of this world. That’s why he declares that he will not fear the evil, but he will continue to follow the Shepherd who keeps watch over him.

Let’s be very clear about the reality in which we live. Bad things happen, and all of us will one day experience a dark valley or two in our lives. It is these difficult times that put our character and faith to the test. In these times we have a choice to either blame God for the bad that is happening, or press in to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, where we will find all that we need to endure and prevail over our challenges.

God Provides All We Need

I have always been perplexed by the table prepared for David in the presence of his enemies (verse 5). Did God set this table so that David might invite his enemies to dine with him, thereby turning enemies into friends? That might be the peacemaker in me talking, but it is not what David teaching us here.

Louie Giglio, in his book Goliath Must Fall (a book I recommend for your personal reading), explains that this table is a table of provision. The enemy – be it fear, anger, lust, hate, addiction, greed, self-centredness, pride, or anything else that extinguishes the light of Jesus in your life – has no place at the table God has prepared for you. God provides all you need to face the darkest valleys of life, and come through them on the other side thankful for His provision.

And the greatest provision of all is His presence.

Be Thankful for His Presence

God’s grace has made a better way for us. When the things of this world shake and fall, Jesus Christ remains our salvation, our hope, and our strength. Jesus never leaves us, he never fails us, and best of all, he equips us to stand firm and push through our darkest times.

”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s evil schemes… Therefore put on the full amor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-11, 13

When the world feels like it is falling apart, be thankful that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to know God. He has given us his Holy Spirit to fill us with wisdom, strength, and courage.

Let us stand and be thankful.

Defining a Successful Life

What if it were true that a successful life is about learning to become less independent, and more dependent?

We spend our entire lives striving to become independent. Think of our children, as an example. My wife and I now have three teenagers living under our roof. On the one hand, we have rules in our home that we expect our kids to follow. We still have many lessons to teach and wisdom to share with them before they go out to take on the world. And of course, we still feed them, clothe them, and put a roof over their heads. Though they are growing quickly, there are many ways in which they still depend on us.

At the same time, we want our teenagers to grow in their independence. This means getting part-time jobs and learning to manage their time and money. It means giving them the keys to the minivan for an evening out with friends. It means preparing them for the next steps of their lives – things like university and choosing a career, moving out on their own, finding a spouse who loves Jesus and shares the same morals and values as they have been taught. We are preparing them to make some of the biggest decisions of their young lives, decisions that will affect the trajectory of their lives for many years to come.

Our natural trajectory is from dependence to independence.

Jesus once said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” How does a little child receive almost everything? With wide-eyed wonder, with unconditional love, with trust as a starting point and a faith to follow almost anywhere.

Yet how do we as adults approach almost everything? It is a sad reality that we have been conditioned to see the world through the lenses of scepticism, fear, mistrust, and doubt. We might blame what we watch on the news, or some painful past experiences for this, but the self-help aisle at any bookstore will testify to the fact that our default outlook on the world is less than positive.

The Journey from Independence to Dependence

King Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” In other words, if we give everything we do to Jesus, we can’t go wrong.

Now, I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been there. I long ago lost count of the times my plans have failed, the times when things haven’t gone quite right in my life. Maybe for you today isn’t looking so great either. So what is King Solomon getting at here?

The way we typically understand this verse goes something like this; let’s say I want to be a rockstar, even with my rapidly thinning hair and complete lack of singing ability. I practice my guitar and spend countless nights in my bedroom screaming along with the latest hits. Along the way, I keep praying something like this, Jesus, I really want to be a rockstar. So, I’m giving you my plans so you can make them happen – I commit my plans to you. And if you’ll make that happen, just think of what I can do for you! I’ll use the stage to tell people about you. All that money I will make – I’ll give a bunch of it (okay, at least some of it) to the church. How does that sound to you Jesus? Because I really like the way my plans sound to me. Do we have a deal?

We’re “committing” those plans to Jesus, so it should all work out… right?

Thankfully, this isn’t how life in the Kingdom of God works.

Success is Dependency on Jesus

Think of committing your everything you do to Jesus just like rolling a big rock up a hill, or the rolling away of the stone from the tomb; to commit to the Lord whatever we do means, literally, to roll care for, or responsibility for, all we do on to Him.

The word commit does NOT mean that we give to Jesus whatever we have already decided to do. It means letting Jesus decide what is best for us, and following his plan. It means giving Jesus the responsibility of leading us into what he has planned for us to do in this life. We give Jesus the reigns of our life, and become his followers.

The trajectory of a Jesus-centered life is from independence to dependence.

Like little children we come to Him; wide-eyed, trusting, ready to follow, because we believe that what He has for us is good. In fact not just good, but the best for us; far greater than anything we could ever plan for ourselves, accomplish by ourselves, or even dream of by ourselves.

This way of living isn’t easy, which is why Jesus described it as the narrow path. It is the way to a full and successful life. Committing everything we do to Jesus is the way to a life that matters, for now and for eternity.

The Joy of Giving

A little girl and her friend arrived at our first night of Vacation Bible School with a zip-lock bag full of coins and bills. The little girl’s mom explained that these two budding entrepreneurs had heard about our VBS mission project – sending a team of people to Mexico this December to build two homes for families in need – and they wanted to help. They set their mind to running a lemonade stand, and after a lot of work, here they were bringing their hard-earned profits to offer as their gift.

Ya, it put a big lump in my throat too…

Giving as a Way of Life

There is something about the selflessness of generous, cheerful givers that always gets to me. Jesus once told a story about the people who will someday inherit the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus said that one day the King will return, and he will call the people who have given the hungry something to eat and the thirsty something to drink, the people who have shown hospitality to strangers, the people who have given clothes to those in need, the people who have cared for the sick, and the people who have visited those in prison. And the King will say, “Thank you for doing these things to me!” (My paraphrase).

The irony of the story is that the people who the King calls don’t understand; when did they ever give and serve the King in this way?

“I tell you the truth,” says the King, “when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40, NLT)

Giving in God’s Kingdom

These two little girls, along with every little boy and girl and every family who has given to our mission project this week, every volunteer who has given their time and talents this week, they all inspire us and teach us what it looks like to give in God’s Kingdom:

1) Give with joy: It sounds so easy – become aware of a need, go and make a plan, execute that plan, and then get giddy with excitement at thought of giving away our the profits of our hard work, or sharing our gifts and talents in a new way with others. I want to give with this kind of joy, the kind of giving that makes the King smile.

2) Give with trust: If you are a giver, is it a sacrifice for you? Do you prayerfully make choices about where your resources will go? Or do you spend with abandon on yourself, and hope that there is something left at the end of the month to give to others (your church, your favourite charity, to child sponsorship, etc.)? Little children showing us what it means to give joyfully, and in abundance, should challenge us to give with trust. We can give as God show us the needs of our community and our world, even when it requires a sacrifice. We can trust God for tomorrow, and to trust Him to fill us with the joy that comes from giving.

3) Give with expectancy: These two little girls give to this mission project with a spirit of expectancy. They expect that their gift will help build a home for the perfect family to whom God will lead us through our partner, Yugo Ministries. They expect that our church will responsibly and prayerfully use their gift to change the life of that family. They give with the expectancy that their lemonade stand run from the end of their driveway can, and will, make a difference for the Kingdom of God in this world.

Jesus promises all who give as we see the need, and all who give as He leads, that the King sees our giving. No matter how big or small the gift, whatever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you are doing it for the King, and the Kingdom.