Monday, February 06, 2012
Five years and eight months is just a short amount of time in the scheme of things. It flies by before your eyes, people grow older, children are born, and you carry out your day to day tasks not giving much thought to time. Looking back you wish you would have paid more attention, taken notes, remember all the people you met and the experiences you've had. Unfortunately it is just a handful of everyday experiences that you remember vividly. Five years and eight months is the amount of time I've had the pleasure of being in and serving in Lakeshore, MS at Lakeshore Baptist Church.
I wish I could remember each day, each experience, each person as vividly as it was when it was happening. I've had amazing experiences, learned more than I ever imagined, met more people that I could ever think of, and seen first hand what the Lord has done and continues to do in Lakeshore, MS. I've seen prayers answered moments after petitioning the Lord, prayers answered in very tangible, visible, and ways I could not imagine. I wish I could remember each instance, but I cannot. However, I give God the praise for each prayer answered.
Every memory I currently have I hope to carry with me the rest of my days, though I know with time memories fade. It will be impossible, however, to totally forget these years, the lessons I've learned, relationships formed, and watching the Lord work in mysterious ways.
By now you may have figured out where I am going with my little reminiscent rant. I've recently decided that I am leaving Lakeshore and moving closer to my family in Wisconsin. I currently don't have all the details worked out, however I know it will be in the late April or May time frame. I will live with my sister and her family for a time until I can find a job and a place to live. I am excited for this next step in life and look forward to the possibilities and ministry opportunities.
This whole experience is bittersweet. While I am very excited for what's to come it is very difficult for me to think about leaving a place that I love. A place for nearly six years where I have poured out my life, served, and built relationships. I recently broke this news to my pastor here in Lakeshore and that has been the most difficult part of this whole deal yet. I anticipate as the departure date draws nearer it will get more difficult. But I rejoice in the opportunities that I have had here in Lakeshore. It has been an experience that has been unlike any other I've ever had.
To my church....You have become family to me and I will miss you greatly, but I'm only 1100 miles away and I'm sure I'll visit as often as I am able (and any of you are more than welcome to visit me anytime!). It is my commitment to this church that I will pray for you and this community. It is my desire to see the Lord save people in Hancock county and that He'd grow Lakeshore Baptist Church. I'm very encouraged to see the Lord working in the lives of many, saving souls, and individuals striving to become more spiritually mature. I have many fond memories with people in our congregation and am grateful many of you have adopted me into your families. I love y’all.
To my financial and prayer supporters...I am immensely grateful for your support over the years. I could have not continued serving in Lakeshore without the finances and the prayers that kept me going. My service to the Lord, to his people and the lost is not over. I look forward to eventually serving in different ways at a church in Wisconsin and ministering to the lost in my new community.
To other volunteers...I am amazed at the number of people I've met (thousands of people from over 600 different churches). You're faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and servant's heart encouraged me in numerous and immeasurable ways. I may not remember every individual person, but I am grateful for you. Continue to serve, whether it be in Lakeshore, your home town, or wherever the Lord leads you!
I look forward to this new adventure and covet your prayers as I begin making a plan and preparing for this move.
I've been blessed far beyond what I deserve.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Any of us old enough to remember can remember September 11, 2001 like it was yesterday. Where we were when we first heard the news and what followed that day. I was a freshman in college and that Tuesday I was getting ready for my World Civ II class with Dr. Hellert. It was a typical morning, I woke up and slowly started getting ready for class and watched the news as usual. That's when the news broke that there was an explosion in one of the twin towers. As I sat there watching the breaking news from the side of the screen came another plane and crashed into the other tower. It wasn't long before the news media branded this tragedy a deliberate act of terror. Then came the news of the plane crashing into the Pentagon and another going down in a Pennsylvania field. It seemed like it would never end. Then the towers fell.
I went to class that day, but we did not have class. We could not. We sat there looking at each other, sharing what we knew of the events, and expressing what we were thankful for. I was glued to the tv the rest of that day and the days that followed. I went out and bought newspapers covering the attack and an American flag.
I, like many Americans, ran to a god. It hurts to say, however, it was not the one true God that I ran to. It was my thought up god, the one who would not have allowed this to happen. My idea of the truth was skewed. But as I reflect now 10 years later, I view the events of that day in light of realities I didn't believe then. On September 16, 2001 Pastor Tom Ascol and Executive Director of Founders ministry encouraged his congregation to consider nine realities as they processed what had happened to the nation. He posted them to the Founders blog on this anniversary of the attacks and I think they are as fitting to reflect upon now as they were ten years ago.
The worst of human nature is on display
The best of human nature is on display
This is a time to mourn
This is a time to pray
This is a time to acknowledge the reality and power of evil
This is a time to remember the Supremacy of God
This is a time to be humbled
This is a time to be hopeful
This is a time to listen
At Founders.org Pastor Ascol expounds further on each point, I encourage ya'll to check it out.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
A year ago I embarked on a journey as a self-supported missionary. I was still serving in Lakeshore, MS, but I had no further funding options with the North American Mission Board. I was amazed at the outpouring of prayer and financial support sent by friends and family from around the US. I'm am grateful beyond words that the Lord turned the hearts of many to help support my efforts in Lakeshore.
It has been an amazing year. The Lord has been doing great things in the community, in the life of Lakeshore Baptist Church, and in my life.
A Lot to Rejoice Over
1. The Lord really provided for my needs through generous supporters who gave beyond what I was trying to raise, which has allowed me to stay for three additional months without needing to raise support. Thank you to all who supported my ministry in Lakeshore last year.
2. The Lord has added to the number of people attending out church. We've had a few families join and a couple others that have been attending regularly, but have not joined yet.
3. The Lord has brought a man who is gifted musically to lead the singing during the Sunday morning worship services (We've been praying for this for several years)
4. The ladies in the church began meeting once a month to go through 12 Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. This time has been a great encouragement to me, the Lord has used these women to stretch and encourage me.
5. The Lord has sent nearly 1200 volunteers through Lakeshore since this past January.
6. The Lord has provided more homes to work in and opportunities to the gospel as we work in those homes and ample ways to be a blessing to our community through tearing down and cleaning up homes still left sitting damaged since Hurricane Katrina
7. On June 12 I celebrated 5 years in Lakeshore.
8. I believe the Lord has answered prayer – I've been praying for several months on what to do after my support runs out in August. I believe the Lord has led me to continue to serve in Lakeshore. In this I rejoice.
While we've had a busy summer, I must begin thinking about raising additional support. I have put off sending out support letters up until this point, because I wasn't sure which way the Lord was leading me and I felt it would be dishonest to raise support with a lot of questions about my future in Lakeshore. Over the years I have gone month to month, semester to semester, and year to year. At this point I do not know how long the Lord will keep me serving at Lakeshore Baptist. I am here to serve and will as long as the Lord keeps me here. When people ask I just say indefinitely. I've given dates before and the Lord chose to use His plan over my plan and I am grateful for that!
In order to continue serving in Lakeshore I have determined my need to be about $9,600 for the year, that is $800 per month. (This is the same amount I've received in support each month this past year). This will go toward my living expenses, medical insurance, medical bills, personal
transportation, and other necessary expenses. Would you be willing to support me as I serve at Lakeshore Baptist Church? Would you be willing to give monthly $25, $50, $100 or any other amount or willing to invest in a one time gift of $100, $250, $500, $1000 or any other
denomination larger or smaller to aid in the spread of the gospel and rebuilding of Lakeshore through supporting me?
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
I confess I've been really bad at sending out an update this spring. Rather than try to make excuses, I will try to spend a bit of time rejoicing in what the Lord has done over the last several months in Lakeshore.
We had a great spring break season with about 10 solid weeks of hosting volunteer teams from around the country. The Lord sent 20 different teams and about 400 people to Lakeshore during that time and in that time we were able to work on finishing the Mercy house, make progress on Pastor Don's house, we've done major clean up on at least two different properties, clean up around the church property, helped a sister church in Waveland get their buildings in order, and did other odds and ends in our community. During one week in March, God really made himself evident as protector as we sent 4 people to the hospital during that week. That is a record for us, one we are not proud of, but at the end of the week everyone ended up being okay.
During the months of April and May I was dealing with several personal issues, one of those was wrestling through the idea of leaving Lakeshore and moving back to Wisconsin. This has not been any easy thing to wrestle with as I've not been ready to leave Lakeshore, but I knew the support I had raised was coming closer to an end. I'm still not a 100% sure of the direction the Lord is leading. I am feeling a little leading more one way than the other now, however. (I am really leaning towards continuing service in Lakeshore) I am still praying for the Lord to be clear with me and what steps I need to take next concerning a move or raising support, Lord willing, I will be sending out an update soon.
We've begun a great summer season, we are already into our fifth week of our summer crews. The Lord is sending about 600 people our way this summer! It's been wonderful so far and we are looking forward to a great month of July. So far this month we've laid out the piling plan for the fellowship hall, brought Pastor Don and Courtney's house very close to completion, worked with a local man hanging drywall in his home and encouraging him, building a couple different ramps for the disabled, and many smaller projects in the community. We've also recently begun working with the Hancock County Beautification Department to help get rid of blighted property. To start we began to demo a house left over from the storm. This is still a huge problem in our community. For example, just in 1 out of 6 wards in the city of Bay St. Louis there are still 168 blighted properties that need clean up.
For a quick update in the life of our church: We continue to see new folks coming to church and we've had a couple families join in membership in the past few months. We are working to finish the plans for the Fellowship Hall, Lord willing, we will begin construction in the next few months. We also celebrated the official opening of the Mercy House, which includes our permanent distribution center. We've been able to use the meeting area in the Mercy House for a couponing seminar, dinner on the grounds, and senior adult luncheons and we look forward to an upcoming coffee shop/open mic night, vacation Bible school, and monthly senior adult luncheons.
I really appreciate the continued prayers and the support of everyone. I'm seeing God doing great things every day. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for me in the coming months and in the life of Lakeshore Baptist Church.
Please continue to pray for:
Direction as to whether I should stay in Lakeshore or move.
I just want to follow what the Lord's will is for me.
Unity in the body of Lakeshore Baptist Church
The Lord would draw more people to Himself through the proclamation of the gospel.
Praise for the grace and strength the Lord has provided to keep me going. Though the work makes me weary, I've been able to think much more clearly, be much more patient, and have been able to carry on each day.
Monday, July 04, 2011
penitent pleading for pardon.
Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,Let a repenting rebel live:
Are not thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in thee?
My crimes are great, but not surpass
The power and glory of thy grace:
Great God, thy nature hath no bound,
So let thy pard'ning love be found.
O wash my soul from ev'ry sin,
And make my guilty conscience clean;
Here on my heart the burden lies,
And past offenses pain my eyes.
My lips with shame my sins confess
Against thy law, against thy grace:
Lord, should thy judgment grow severe,
I am condemned, but thou art clear.
Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
must pronounce thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.
Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
Whose hope, still hov'ring round thy word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.
Original and actual sin confessed.
Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin;
And born unholy and unclean;
Sprung from the man whose guilty fall
Corrupts the race, and taints us all.
Soon as we draw our infant breath,
The seeds of sin grow up for death;
Thy law demands a perfect heart,
But we're defiled in ev'ry part.
Great God, create my heart anew,
And form my spirit pure and true;
O make me wise betimes to spy
My danger and my remedy.
Behold, I fail before thy face;
My only refuge is thy grace:
No outward forms can make me clean;
The leprosy lies deep within.
No bleeding bird, nor bleeding beast,
Nor hyssop branch, nor sprinkling priest,
Nor running brook, nor flood, nor sea,
Can wash the dismal stain away.
Jesus, my God, thy blood alone
Hath power sufficient to atone;
Thy blood can make me white as snow;
No Jewish types could cleanse me so.
While guilt disturbs and breaks my peace,
Nor flesh nor soul hath rest or ease;
Lord, let me hear thy pard'ning voice,
And make my broken bones rejoice..