amberdover

The High King Lives

Mission Minded July 6, 2014

BelizeBabies

 

Hello dear ones! So…I took a trip to Belize and I learned a lot. I’d like to share something that stood out to me: what it means to be mission minded. First, I want to share some verses that most Christians know.

“37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40King James Version (KJV)

We are called to love, God and others. We are called to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. The good news is that God the Father, sent His son, Jesus, to save the world from it’s sins, to restore the relationship between humanity and it’s Creator.  Jesus Christ died and took our punishment upon Himself. Three day later He came back to life and conquered death itself. We no longer have to be slaves to sin and death. If we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, then we will be saved and we will be the children of God. It’s simple. Once we belong to God, He then fills our hearts with His love and Spirit. The Spirit empowers us to share God’s love and Truth with the world.

God has given us this great gift, but we are not to hoarde it. We are not to hide away from the lost. We are called to share this good news, to share Jesus Himself. Yet, sometimes we treat Jesus like our little secret. We have the keys to the kingdom but we’ve hidden them in our pockets. The world is starving and we have the food bank…but we’d rather keep it to ourselves, so the dirt and blood of the world won’t sully our white robes.  Yet Jesus, the one we follow, wasn’t afraid to touch the lepers, to heal the demon possessed, and set free the sexually immoral. He wasn’t afraid to embrace US in OUR filth and brokeness.

This was my first international missions trip but it wasn’t my first mission. I started my first mission the moment I became a Christian, in 1998.  I’ve been blessed, in that the Lord answered my youthful prayer: “Lord, please keep me on a tight leash. Please do whatever it takes to keep me from straying.” God has answered that prayer over and over. The times I would stray, something always happened to bring me back before I got too far. Usually it was hardship. I say that to say, my Christian walk has been a committed one. I can only give glory to God for this because HE is the one who made sure we stayed close.  This summer will make 16 years of the best friendship I’ve ever had. So I’ve known that my mission is to share Christ with everyone, in my home town, in my state, in my country, and in the world.  God made it clear to me my senior year, that my Highschool was a mission field. He took my eyes off of dating and the trivial issues of teenagedom and gave me a heart to reach my generation.

This missional mindset stayed with me for many years in my youth. But something changed when I got married and had my son. I still reached out, gave, and looked for ways to share the gospel…but I started looking inward. I started building up my lil kingdom. My focus was my family…protecting and prospering MY family. I made a little comfortable nest and I sat on it. Every now and then I would peak out at the world and throw treats: “God loves you!” “God bless!”

God had indeed called me to be missional minded with my family, to be a light at home as well as the world. But He had not called me to ONLY be a light at home…to isolate myself. Now, I understand how I slipped into it. My twenties have been filled with physical illness and several losses. I put a good bit of work into homeschooling my son and it’s a big part of the calling God has given me. Sometimes a calling can become an idol though. My love for my family has sometimes turned into idolatry, and fear has crept in. When you cling tight to your life, you will lose it. Fear is a great way to lose what you love.

“24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Matthew 16:24-26King James Version (KJV)

I issue this warning to all my fellow sisters: mother and wives: Be careful, that your family doesn’t become your god…that you don’t become so comfortable, that the cries of someone else’s child mean nothing to you. Don’t spend so much time building up your own kingdom that you forget God’s kingdom. Because if your family becomes your focus, instead of Jesus, then you will do whatever it takes to protect them…even if it hurts Jesus. Let God protect your family. Open your tight fist and give your treasures to God. They really belong to Him anyways. He can take much better care of your family than you can. 

So, back to the point of this post: Mission Minded. In Belize, I was thrown out of my comfort zone, and in my mind I acted like a brat at times. I got really upset when I found I couldn’t call my son every night. My phone card didn’t work. I got homesick often. But when you’re on a missions trip, you have to deal with yourself pretty quick. I couldn’t stay in a crummy mood. I had to get focused on God and put myself aside.

  • When you’re mission minded, you lay down yourself for the sake of others. You put aside your negative attitudes because you know you are being a witness. We were told to smile despite the heat and the bugs, because the people of Belize needed our encouragement. The people o f Belize live in harsh conditions all the time and it’s like Christmas when we come to visit. We give them a boost, to keep on ministering. But if we complained the whole time and focused on ourselves, then the people of Belize would not be encouraged. We would not be able to reach those kids for Christ, if we frowned while we were jumping and dancing to songs. Okay, I’ll admit…I got tired and many times I didn’t feel like playing. But when a sweet Belizean girl asks you to play, you just do. These kids die from fevers and infectious cuts. They have to worry about jaguars eating their livelyhood and then coming after them. Who am I to complain? It’s not about being fake, it’s about choosing to only share encouragement. It’s about truly loving others.
  • When you’re mission minded, you fellowship with others with the same mission. I couldn’t isolate myself from the group. I did everything with the group because we had to be on the same page for the mission to work.  We had to be unified. I had to communicate with the team. We encouraged each other at the end of the day. We prayed together. We worshipped together. We were able to do a mighty work because God used our unity. It was amazing to feel such closeness to people I barely knew. Most of us wept at some time or another. We remarked that this is how church should be. We were bound by our mission. The mission was the one thing we had in common.
  • When you’re mission minded, you’re open to be used however God sees fit.  The newcomers like me, didn’t know what to expect. I had no clue that I’d have to improvise and just go with the flow. We had to be flexible. When Drew, my mission leader, disappeared, I didn’t expect to be thrown into sharing the gospel on the spot in front of a bunch of kids. As scared as I was, I still did it, because the mission was more important than my fear. Many people had to throw away their inhibitions and step into roles they had never been in before. My friend who has a desk job at a hospital, had to give out medicines to people and explain how to use them. We all did whatever had to be done. No one said “Oh, I don’t do this” or “This isn’t my job!” We were willing vessels in the hands of our God.
  • When you’re mission minded, you leave your arms open.  When we got off the bus at the school, the children ran to us. “The gringos are here! The gringos are here!” That means “white people”.  It’s a bit overwhelming. But when you’re on a mission you have to be open to loving everyone. You embrace people with God’s love. You can’t hide away. Personal space, your reservations, insecurities etc…they all go out the window!  Some children were easier to love on than others. There was this crippled boy who followed me around a bit. My heart broke for him but it was difficult to be near him because he would just come up and slap me on the leg or something. It really hurt. He probably had some mental issues too. I’m not sure. Or maybe it was emotional because handicapped people aren’t treated with much kindness over there. In the U.S.A. we really look out for the handicapped. In Belize, they are sometimes treated like animals. I struggled with how to share love with someone who kept hurting me. But I couldn’t close my arms to this boy. You don’t close your arms when you’re on a mission.
  • When you’re mission minded, you abide in Christ and put aside distractions. I had some free time and I had time to goof off a bit…relax etc… But my personal devotions were most important. I didn’t have time to be distracted by social media. The schedule was pretty packed so I had to make an effort to put Christ first. Worship time and group devotions were great, but I needed to go to the life source myself. I needed to abide with Jesus  and keep my personal relationship strong, or I wouldn’t have had the strength to minister to others. Intense daily ministry can drain you quick, especially when you’re not in your comfort zone.  I could not share Christ’ love with others, if I didn’t know it myself. I had to be reminded that God loves me. I had to be comforted when I was lonely. I had to have God’s encouragement when I was insecure. My problems didn’t stay home while I flew to Belize. No, they all came with me. I just had to face them for once, because the distractions were not as available.

So what is my point? The mission didn’t end in Belize. The mission isn’t just for missionaries. It’s not for super christians. Dear ones, the mission of Christ is for all of his followers, every day of your life. We should be living mission minded always. The souls of the lost are too important, for us to be distracted, complaining, and isolated. I know it’s not easy. I have struggled trying to be mission minded at home. It’s hard to love the spoiled and the rich. It’s hard to love those who know better but still do wrong. But everyone needs grace. Everyone needs God. I’d venture to say, that those in first world countries, desperately need the mission minded. Why? Because they think they’re alive when they’re really dying. They think they are rich, when spiritually they are poor.  They’ve been given everything yet they still doubt God. It may be harder to be mission minded here, but it is just as important as it is in a developing country.

So my encouragement for you today is to remember that you ARE on a mission. Abide in Christ, so you’ll have the strength to carry it out.

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: More details on Belize (including pictures), to come, Lord willing.

 

 

 

 

Prepping for Belize May 21, 2014

In this post: A testimony to God’s goodness and how His ways are higher than ours.

Hello dear ones! Sometimes our best efforts just aren’t enough. In the end, it is faith in Christ that gets us through. Even if we seem strong…even if we seem able, we are still fallible, weak, human, and in need of saving. You’d think that we’d acknowledge our weakness and accept that we need God. We need Him to save us because we can’t save ourselves. We aren’t all knowing, all powerful, or omnipresent. We’re like the dust.  At any time God could pick us up in his hand and blow us away out of existence. Yet, God humbles himself and has relationship with us. Instead of crushing us like ants, God holds us like a mother holds an infant. We are like infants that refuse to be suckled or have our diapers changed ;). Seriously, we want to do everything on our own.

I say “we” because I am also like that silly baby that fights it’s parent. I know that Jesus is my life source and I know that I must abide in Him and trust Him for all my needs. Still, I want things my way and in my own efforts. I want to “make” things happen. I shouldn’t be surprised when my best laid plans fall apart. And then when they do I whine and kick and complain. I say “God, why?” Okay, no worries…this is not a sad post. Everything is still set for the mission trip to Belize. But I am seeing how my efforts to raise money and make this happen are really falling short. I have seen God bring blessings in His way though.

My Mom and I had this yardsale. I stayed up all night baking dozens of cookies and making peg doll fairies. The next day Michael tried to sell the cookies and lemonade. I had a nice table for my dolls, which I thought were awesome *cough*.  Anywho, hardly anyone stopped by. The biggest sale we had, I went down on prices so a little girl could have a book. Sigh…we made ten dollars. Yep, ten measly dollars after sitting in the sun for 7 hours.  Meanwhile. my gofundme account has yet to see any money. I was in bad pain on a Sunday when I felt I needed to help with our church fundraiser. I couldn’t help because I was stuck in bed. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many health issues hit me at once. Finances have went back n forth between looking hopeless and hopeful. I know God wants me to trust Him and finances ARE slowly trickling in. I say slowly because I am a very impatient person. I wanted this trip paid for a month ago. I really don’t “feel” like going the faith route. Yes, it’s whiney. I admit. I’m a whiney baby.

Yardsale2014

I guess God let’s me cry a bit so I’ll realize that I have to rely on Him. Never have I felt more weak, more frail than I do now. Whether it be finances, physical illness, spiritual ineptitude, or emotional frailty; I’ve got it all. I’ll admit, I’m scared to death. I guess I thought I’d be more spiritual by now. I thought I’d be stronger in every way so I could make this trip. Instead I feel weaker. I’m terrified. It’s not been any easier, the idea of letting my son go for a week and leaving my family to go to a foreign country. You may think me silly. Afterall, Belize is an “easy” missions trip. The people speak English and I don’t have to get any vaccinations. But for someone as sheltered as me, it feels like I’m journeying to the center of the Earth.

Plus, I’m an introvert. I like curling up alone in my room and playing video games. When the world gets too noisy and crowded, I run away and hide. I doubt I’ll be hiding much in the rainforest. I’ll be surrounded by people with a different culture than me. People that I need to love on and that I will need their love.  That may seem dandy to some but it’s scary to me. Heck, I’m scared to lead VBS for 20 or so kids in a couple of weeks. Why is God using such a fearful and weak vessel like me? Maybe to prove a point? I don’t know. I keep asking him. Sometimes this faith walk feels like being in a crowd with only your underwear on. As much as this feels scary and wrong to me; I know I am right where I need to be. I know this by Faith. I know God called me because I would have never come up with this silly idea on my own (sorry, Lord). I also know that God’s word says He uses the weak things. I guess I didn’t expect to be this weak though.

My plans for prepping for Belize were to be much healthier. I had planned on having a better sleeping schedule and to drink several glasses of water a day. I had planned on being spiritually super charged. Yeah, I had a lot of plans on how I was going to be “ready” for this trip.  BUT despite my failings, GOD HAS been preparing me. He’s preparing me in a different way. To be honest, it’s kind of a frustrating way. It’s like when you’re learning to ride a bike and you have to fall several times to get the hang of it.  Here’s how God has been prepping me:

  • It seems like every sermon I hear, read, or watch applies to my situation. This happens often but even more so lately. I’ve spent a good bit of time crying.

Beth Moore~ Pressing Past Our Fears part 2 (email sub. please come to my blog to see the video)

  • Faith~ I’ve had to trust in God for the simplest of things and often humbling things. If you’ve dealt with the health issues I have, then you know that one’s own bowels can humble like nothing else. It takes faith when most of the bones in your body ache and yet you need to minister. Money will also test one’s faith. Homeschooling a strong willed & emotional child will also do the trick. And then there’s the battlefield of the mind, which is ever so brutal. Not surprisingly, my church Bible study group is studying “faith”. We’ve been on it for several weeks.
  • Opportunities to minister and encourage. God has allowed me to minister to those who are also feeling called to impossible things. He’s given me the words to say. It amazes me that God’s words can flow out of a mangled mess like me. God can do anything and He continues to prove my insecurities wrong.
  • Weakness~ This seems to be the opposite of being prepared but it’s not. Yes, in man’s reasoning, weakness is bad. God has a whole ‘nother way of doing things. You see, God likes to use weak things. It confounds the wise, the prideful, and the strong. It brings glory to God because it’s an obvious miracle when a weak thing accomplishes greatness. It’s obvious that it’s God at work, not the weak vessel He chose.  It’s almost like He has fun finding all the impossibles we throw at Him. As much as this frustrates me, I also love Him for it. I love that nothing is too hard for God and I love that He lets me be apart of His miracles. I love that God does that for His children.
  •  When I was little, my Dad would let me sit in His lap while he drove around the parking lot. I had my hands on the wheel but he was pushing the gas. I had no knowledge of how to drive but I thought I was driving. Really, my Dad was doing the driving but he let ME think I was driving. It’s a beautiful memory. I can also remember my Dad letting me stand on his shoes while he walked. I LOVED it! I felt like I was the one taking those gigantic steps. God is so much greater than my earthly father was. Father God lets us think we are driving and doing the walking when really it’s ALL Him. But we get to feel like we are taking God’s steps. For a moment we get to see God’s view. That happens when we minister. We think WE are the ones ministering but we’re not. God is driving. We’re just sitting in His lap as he lets us put our hands on the wheel. So it doesn’t matter that we are weak. Weak or strong, we rely completely on Jesus. If He gets out of the driver’s seat then we are gonna crash! At least in weakness we are aware of this Truth. 
  • Prayer~ The greater my need, the more I pray. If I had every thing I needed for Belize months ago, then I would not have spent so many days on my face crying out to God. Prayer is simply talking to God and usually laying petitions before Him along with Thanksgiving and praise. Need has a way of reminding me that I NEED to talk to my Heavenly Father.
  • The Kindness of others~ I’ve seen people who have little money, give a lot. I’ve been so blessed by the generosity of God’s people. I’ve also been encouraged by the prayers and support of others. There are people who believe God has called me yet they barely know me. I have friends who believe in my ministry and support me in prayer. The day of the “failed” yardsale, my Mom encouraged me and we had the best talk. She told me that I must have a big calling if the enemy is attacking me so much. I needed to hear that because I was very depressed that day. Had everything been super duper, then Mom wouldn’t have had the chance to minister and see through God’s eyes. I would not have been able to receive such a gift from God through my mother.  You see, this Church thing we do doesn’t work if we are self sufficient. We have to need people. They have to need us. And we all have to need God.
  • Bible Study~ I’ve been able to dig deeper in God’s word. Honestly, my flesh is a bit scared of the intensity. I almost feel like I have to take breaks and I’ll admit…I often do. I have a bad habit of running from intimacy. I’m finding that when I get to the point where I’m apathetic and my flesh wants to take over, that I have to listen to preaching to spur me on. The preaching recharges me and then I’m able to spend time worshiping and abiding in God’s word. I’m more aware of my tendancy towards complacency these days. I have to be. I should always be aware but it’s easier now because I know I’m about to enter a spiritually taxing time. I don’t mean that things are going to be bad in Belize. They’re just going to be intense.
  • God winks~ Whenever God speaks to me in the little every day moments, I call it God winks. Sometimes I’m listening to a song, a secular song even, and I hear God speak something to my heart. Here’s an example:

“Keep Looking Up”
by Landon Pigg

“Like a little locket hangs
Round your little neck so closely to your heart
So shall I be forever
I know you’re going somewhere new
And I know it’s never gonna  feel like home to you
But this time the only way around is throughSo keep looking up, on past the birds
And keep looking up past the clouds
And when you reach up and clear away the stars
I will be there where you areLike a little locket hangs
Round your little neck so closely to your heart
So shall I be forever
And even if you run away
Put on all your dark clothes, hide in shadows
Just remember one thing …”

Here’s another God wink: the day God made it clear He wanted me to go to Belize, I saw this movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s about a daydreamer who learns how to really live. Every time I see it I want to cry. It’s also part comedy. Anywho, here is the trailor.  It’s rated PG. I highly recommend it.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (email sub. please come to my blog to see the video)

God is speaking. Are you listening? It’s funny the ways He will reach out to us.

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/inspirational-wednesday-are-you-listening/

  • Life lessons~ Sometimes the best lesson I can get on faith, is through parenting. I learned a ton about having faith in God and not listening to fear, when my son was struggling with a bee phobia. It was a trying time because he was too terrified to even go outside. I’ll have to write about that sometime. As I helped Michael work through his fear and trust God, I also learned how to trust God. Even my parental mistakes have a way of teaching Biblical truth. I have to rely on the greatest parent, to even attempt this parent thing.
  • Social opportunities~ I’ve already mentioned that I am an introvert and that this trip to Belize will put me around people all the time. Now let me mention that I have social anxiety to the max. I just do a good job of hiding it, though it may come out in stutterings and slips of the tongue. I get sick to my stomach every time I go to church. I love hearing God’s word but groups are hard for me. I even get queasy when I’m preparing to talk on the phone. I usually rehearse what I’m going to say. I even write notes to make sure I won’t slip up. Do I give in to this anxiety? Usually not but every now and then I hide from the world. God’s been expanding my borders so to speak. He made a way for me to share an Easter play I wrote with a group of children. I’ve been more involved in church Bible study than usual. People have laid hands on me in prayer. I’ve helped at church fundraisers (yard sales & dinners). Now, I’m getting ready to lead about 20 kids in VBS Bible study. I thought I’d be helping with snacks or something. I didn’t expect to be asked to lead a Bible study.
  • Now, I’ve did all kinds of ministry before. Choir, Sunday School, even a dance team…It’s not that I’ve never did it. I’ve just been in my own little corner for awhile….my own little corner where my social anxiety could grow. It’s much easier to be a hermit when you don’t go out into the world. I was getting to the point where I felt I didn’t really like people. I was afraid that my love had went completely cold. I was afraid that I was too comfortable to change. I didn’t think I’d ever get back to being the girl who’s hands were bloody & dirty with ministry. I was safe but not alive….frozen. So of course, God threw me out of my comfort zone and I do mean threw!
  • I used to love getting to the heart of people. I was anxious but still I could easily talk to the broken. I hung out with the Special Ed kids, the handicapped, and even people of different religions (point: diverse people). I grew up around drug dealers and such. I saw the people bleeding and I would bleed with them. I’d rush to hold them but then…I found just a few people to protect (at least I tried to). I poured into just them and it was good but I learned to tune out the masses. I forgot that other girl and decided I was someone else. Then I had a terrible fright. If I lost my few people, would I have any purpose? Well, God showed me that the old girl wasn’t dead. He reminded me of dreams I dreamt. He showed me that I have a big purpose, even though I feel small. It’s not because of me though. It’s because I serve a big God. Every day I have to be reminded of this truth.
  • I was ready to die in a dusty corner.I just did not care. God hasn’t allowed me to do that though. I still feel like dying in a dusty corner, especially when the world gets too big. I feel like God calls me to jump off cliffs. My faith tells me that God will either catch me or give me wings. Fear tells me I’ll fall. The butterflies in my stomach are having a field day! Please continue to pray for me. I tell you all this because I have Faith that God is going to do a mighty work through this broken vessel. I want you to know that God is doing miracles.
  • Short-term Missions Workbook: From Mission Tourists to Global Citizens by Tim Dearborn~ I’m enjoying this workbook. It’s packed with scripture and things to think about before going on a mission trip. Two points from the book, that I want to share are:

1.Walk with humility. Remember you are showing up late to a meeting. God has been at work among these people long before you arrived!

2. Live with vulnerability. Don’t be afraid of weakness- it’s normal.

(From section 3 of Short-term Missions Workbook)

http://www.amazon.com/Short-Term-Missions-Workbook-Tourists-Citizens-ebook/dp/B00408AKRG/

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I pray that as I continue to bare my heart that you will be encouraged. I pray I won’t discourage you in any way but rather that you will see that God uses weak things. I pray you will find hope in your weakness and in your humanity. Thank you dear ones for continuing to read and for continuing to support me with your prayers.   As the time gets closer I am waiting and expecting God to blow me away. I have faith that He will show himself big (again). And when He does…I’m going to continue to share it with you. God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover