Sunday, October 27, 2013

Being Transparent

    Transparency is a very interesting concept.  A good definition is: "a transparent object, especially a photographic slide that is viewed by light shining through it from behind or by projection."  You might be wondering why I have decided to blog transparency tonight.  Transparency in ministry that God has called me into is something that I have really tried to be able to achieve. 
   The Bible talks a lot about being the same person wherever and whatever you are doing. Many Pastors have preached on the exact subject.  Why is it so important?  Simple answer is because God sees us wherever we are and whatever we are doing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Throughout the Bible, God speaks to us about seeing us all the time.  He knew about Adam's sin in the Garden, He knew about David's sins with Bathsheba, and the list just keeps going.  So if we say we believe we must always remember that God sees us all the time.
    When I look at the definition and then with understanding what the Bible says; I find it interesting that the definition uses "that is viewed by light shining through it from behind."  Think about that for just a second....light shining through.  If we truly say we are a Believer then the Light that needs to shine through us is Jesus Christ.  So in my life I desire to be so transparent that Jesus shines through me.
    I know that I am far from being completely transparent, but I really try to be.  I try to be transparent in every aspect of my life.   I strive not to hide anything from my family, my friends and our Ministry Partners.  If God can see me, still care for me, and then forgive me...then I should be the same in all aspects of my life. 
    Thank you for letting me ramble tonight and I am sure that by now you have seen the pictures that I attached to this blog.  Yes that young man on the left is me and the one below is me, more closer to the age I am now.  I added these because I want to be transparent.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saying Thank You is an ART....

I came across this about saying Thank You. I thought it was so relevant and important.  Although I did not write this.  I thought you might enjoy it.

"When I was growing up my mother instilled in me the importance of saying thank you.  The art of appreciation isn’t reserved just for when someone holds a door open for you or does a favor for you.  Saying thank you is truly a forgotten art.  I am trying to teach my children much in the same ways that my mother taught me.  Christmas and Birthdays are the two main times that I am dedicated to sending out thank you notes for, but I’m not stuck on just those two occasions either.  When someone sends a gift, you should say thank you.  They took the time to send it to you, and you should take the time to say thank you.

When sending thanks, many people just think that it is acceptable to pick up the phone and say thank you or to send an email saying thank you.  I disagree with this.  While I do pick up the phone and say thanks, on occasion, I still follow it up with an actual thank you note.  Many times if the sender doesn’t hear from you, they won’t know that you received what they sent, so calling to say you received the gift is a great way to let the sender know that you received the gift.  However, I still feel it is important to follow the call up by sending an actual thank you note.  If you are sent an electronic gift, such as an online gift certificate, or an email notifying you that someone ordered you a magazine subscription, or some other electronically sent gift, then an email thank you is warranted.  The sender sent a gift electronically, therefore sending an electronic thank you is acceptable.  This is the only time where I feel an electronic thank you is warranted.  If someone takes the time to mail something to you or to have something mailed to you, you should take the time to sit down and write them a note of thanks, and place that back into the mail to them. 

When writing a thank you note, you do not need to write a dissertation on how happy you were to receive the item, recanting your exact experience of opening the gift and how it made you feel.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, simply writing “thanks” or “thank you” in a card or on a piece of paper will not suffice either, mind you.  I use a simple formula when writing a thank you note: greet the sender, thank them for the specific item, wish them well and then close your note.  Sometimes a person may send you multiple items, in this case you can say “thank you for the gifts.  I especially liked” and insert your favorite item.  If someone sends you cash or a gift card, it is a nice idea to tell them what you bought or what you will buy with the gift they sent to you.  This way the sender knows that you put their gift to good use, whether it was a need or greed purchase that you made with the gift.  The sender just wants to know that you used it and that it went towards something you need or wanted.

To many out there, this may seem trivial or silly even.  Saying thank you is so important though.  It lets people know that they (or what they do) have been appreciated.  It takes only minutes, but the feeling of joy that it leaves lasts a life time."

Friday, October 11, 2013

House Hunting and Buying 101

    Last June, Jeannine and I started a journey that would be a very first for us:  the journey of finding our first house.  Yes, you read that right; our very first home.  We had thought that we would never be able to have our home.  Being in the ministry and especially being in a faith based ministry (I will explain faith based ministry in a future blog post),  we had pretty much concluded that we would never have our home.  Plus we didn't have the down payment.  However, our plans and thoughts were definitely not the plans of God and yesterday we signed the paperwork and on Monday we will get the keys for our first home. 
   Here is the story of how God got us where we are today.  In January, when Jeannine's Mother went home to Heaven, she gave us a gift that would change our lives; the 20% we would need to begin our journey of our own home.  Before we started, Jeannine and I prayed Philippians 4:6:  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
    After praying this we met with a fantastic Godly woman, Sherry, our realtor.  She informed us what we needed to do.  She connected us with another Godly woman, Maureen;  whose company would become our mortgage company.  Maureen informed us what we needed to do and this amazing journey started.  For the next two months (June and July), we did exactly what we were told to and mid-August we met with Maureen again and this rapid process started for us.  She processed all of our paperwork (and for you that have homes already know that there is a whole lot of paperwork and time).  Within a week, everything was done and the search would begin with Sherry. 
    Jeannine and I sat down and made a list of what our "ideal" home would be.  We then prayed Philippians 4:6 again and this time said God;  "God, we know you control everything and everything is in your hands, we are thankful for what you have done for us and we are totally okay if you shut the door on this." 
    We had heard horror stories of friends looking for homes.  They had looked at 50 or more homes.  People were telling us that they were making offers on multiple home.  The news was informing us that the market in California was improving and home prices were increasing 10 to 20 percent and that people in order to be competitive were offering multiple thousands more than the asking price.  All of this news just made this journey scarier for us and more apprehensive. 
    The end of August we looked at our first potential home.   The week of September 10th, we looked at a house near where we live now and it was close to what we were looking for, still I had this not so good feeling about it.   During this week there was also a house that came on the market that, from pictures was pretty close to what we were looking for; but yet the time that it was open to view we were not available due to ministry opportunities, so we just crossed it off of our list as gone.  During my quiet time on Sunday the 15th of September I just felt compelled to ask Jeannine if she would contact Sherry and see if there was a possibility that we could see that house.  Jeannine contacted Sherry, Sherry called us on Monday morning and said we could see it at 5:45 that evening. 
    We walked into the house and immediately I knew it was the one.  As we were leaving, we were told that all offers were being presented the next morning to the sellers and if we wanted it, we would have to make the decision now.  We went home, we prayed (just saying God show us your direction and give us peace about it) and after praying Jeannine looked at me and said let's do it.  This would be our first legitimate offer on a house. 
     The offer was made at approximately 8 pm on the 16th and now the waiting begun.  The next day came and as Jeannine and I were wrapping up the next day (10pm), still no news.  We were wondering and the discussion turned to hopefully they (the sellers) were praying over the offers and that we just had to trust.  Although we were anxious to hear, we still had this incredible peace about the whole situation.  Jeannine and I had our prayer time and for us the day was over when our phones started buzzing,  it was Sherry.  The sellers had accepted our offer.  Praise the Lord!!!  Then soon after that call, Maureen texted us and said congratulations.  These two special and Godly Women were truly walking this road with us. 
     The next day (very unheard of) at 8:00 am we went into our 30 day escrow.  With everything done, now it was just getting all of the paperwork in order, which we were told would take the full 30 days.  On September 25th all of the paperwork done, faster than the inspections could be done.  September 27th, everything was done and all that was needed is our signatures to send everything to the title company.  10 days in escrow and we are done...we are Praising God all the way.  WAIT, where am Oman.  So everything has to wait until I arrive home on the 4th.  We sign the papers, basically on Monday October 7th, and yesterday we signed all of our papers and Monday we get our keys. 
Here are the God things that He has done immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine:
1.   Basically 20 days or less of escrow.
2.   Our ideal house desires and how God supplied them: 
             a.  Older home with is built in the 50's and has amazing character
             b.  On a quarter of an is on a third of an acre with lots of yard
             c.  A place for me to have a ministry office...It has outbuildings that are perfect for my office
             d.  We wanted to stay in the same area....we are moving only 8 miles away
             e.  One story is a ranch styled home layout
             f.  A family is perfect for us now and in the future for family and friends
3.   It must stay within our budget.....our mortgage payment including taxes and insurance is 
                 exactly the same as our rent is now.       

    These are just a few of the things that God did for us through this process.  It has been an amazing journey and we can never tell you how much God has done for us through this. 
    Jeannine and I just celebrated our 29th anniversary and we have been following the Lord in His Call for almost 13 years now.  It has been a FANTASTIC journey and a journey we would not trade for anything.  This adventure  of house hunting and buying is one that we never thought that we would be able to do and as I said above we were okay with because we were following the Lord.  Here we are today, very soon to get keys to our own home.  A home that we consider a GIGANTIC gift from God. 
    Jeannine and I would like to say THANK YOU to each of you for praying for us without knowing much about this adventure.  Your faithful prayers, on our behalf; have given us extra peace and even more blessings.  We have heard from a lot of you saying you are praying and this has lifted our hearts and spirits so much.  Thank you very much.

Oman/Kuwait: A Successful Report

Travelling to the Arabian Peninsula is always a challenge.  And every trip is a HUGE blessing and the best opportunity to see the Lord at work.  This one was no exception. 

     Evangelism is the key and establishing church to church evangelistic projects can be a interesting, especially where churches are either few and far between, established house churches or even underground church. 

    This trip had the best of all the worlds.  

    In Kuwait, I was able to meet and start a conversation with a church with an evangelistic heart and consists of over 1200 Believers that meet in 4 services every Sunday.  The Pastor and I have begun our discussions about how IC and the church can become partners in the future to reach the people of Kuwait.

    In Oman, although the goal was to explore if God was opening the door to Yemen; God had other plans.  I travelled to a city called Salalah, where I met with two local workers (one from the Midwest and the other from Brazil), who have huge hearts for evangelism. 

    Our conversations involved the evangelism of the multitude of ethnic groups there and also working with the PCO church, the Pakistani Church and the Indian/Hindi church. 

    It is amazing when you take your prayers and petitions to the Lord what He can accomplished. 

    Thank you for your prayers, love and support.  I look in the future being able to tell you how this trip willwork out in glorifying our Lord.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Saving Everything in Our Hearts

I found this on a post as we were driving around and I found it so profound.  How many of us feel that we can "save everything" in our hearts?  A better question is: How many of us save our relationship with Jesus Christ in our hearts?  The problem arises when we don't share the love that he has given us to others.  I love what Luke 12:8-9: "I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God." In this one verse we get a call to go out and be transparent with our relationship with Jesus Christ.
I wonder why more people aren't publicly acknowledging their relationship with Jesus Christ.  I once sat with this very good friend and as a lot of my discussions progress, I told him about a future project and said he needs to go.  He looked at me and said, Ron, I believe there are many right here in our town that need Jesus Christ and I feel this is where I need to be.  My response was that is fantastic, because we are called to go to  "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.(Acts 1:8)”  I didn't care that he didn't feel called to go to the ends of the earth with me but that he was just going out and acknowledging and sharing Jesus Christ.  The challenge is does our actions match the call in our lives. 
Luke 12:8-9 and Acts 1:8 are not optional.  Luke says that if we acknowledge Him, He will acknowledge us.  Acts says go.  It all goes back to that one comment on the post, this person is saving every thing in their hearts;  are we doing the same thing?  I sure hope and pray that I am not.  That I am acknowledging my Jesus Christ and that I am going, no matter what the call or job is. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Prophet Ayoub's Tomb...Aka: Job

It is believed that this is the tomb of the Job.  In the Bible, it says that be was blameless and that Satan appeared before the Lord and ask if he could, well pretty much destroy his life;  and that Job would turn from God when these things happened.  However Job did not turn from God and again the enemy lost.
In Islam, it is believed that Job prayed towards Jerusalem everyday but when God appeared to him that he turned and started praying towards Mecca.  Interesting right?  It is also believed that if as a Muslim you pray next to a Prophet's tomb, then you will receive all of his goodness, virtue and wisdom.  So while we were there, we actually experienced this happening. 
So while they were praying we were praying for the one and true Living God to present Himself to them.