Monday, December 10, 2018

Pressed to His Chest

Stress. It is one thing to which we can all relate. Work stress. Family stress. Health stress. Emotional stress... the list goes on and on. With a premature newborn in the house, and two sick toddlers, my husband and I have been under a lot of physical stress. Long days; even longer nights. Hours of screaming babies. No couple time or dates. We were literally only surviving.

Paul did not nurse; and indeed, it was a lot of work to get him to even take a bottle. He would be diagnosed a "failure to thrive" baby in the States. As I spent whole days just in our room trying to get him to eat, I would be so tempted to give up on breastfeeding and just do formula. I found myself thinking "If I can only make it to _________, I'll be okay." Day after day, just trying to get Paul through one more day.

It is times like this that I remember something my mom once told me. There are always pressures in life: it is up to you whether the pressure becomes stress or not. We become stressed when we try to deal with something ourselves which God does not intend for us to carry alone. Pressures are designed to push us closer to Jesus.

As an encouragement to me, and to share with you all, I have collected some verses together relating to stress and the strength of God (emphasis mine). Please be encouraged to run to Jesus. He really can carry the problem and you- all by Himself! Rest in Jesus and the plan God has for you.



And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
2 Corinthians 13:4

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Hebrews 11:33-34

Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 
Psalm 6:2

He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
Psalm 102:23

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. 
Proverbs 24:10

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:41

I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord
and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
Jonah 2:7

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
2 Corinthians 4:1

For the which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, 
yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Galatians 6:9

For consider him that endured the cross, despising the shame, 
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:3

O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee: or to they faithfulness round about thee?
Psalm 89:8

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
Nahum 1:7

Missionary Quotes - Brother Andrew


Friday, December 7, 2018

"Lord, Send Me Anywhere"



Mine was a long story of a teenage girl's surrender after hearing a challenge to pray Isaiah's prayer, Here am I; send me (Isaiah 6:6). Oh, there were places I didn't want to go—for selfish reasons, of course. Finally, after weeks of battling with God, I gave in and asked God to send me anywhere—or not—as He willed.

He sent.

Our first term on the mission field was difficult. Learning the language, adapting to a foreign culture, living in a city that was a hotbed of revolt, learning to drive around flaming barricades in the streets…. It was a huge adventure, but it wasn't easy. We knew God had placed us here, and we were content. Along with that contentment came the realization that this is a very hard field. Most people had shut God out of their lives. They were not interested in spiritual things. But, we believe that everyone has a right to hear or read the gospel, and we persevered.

By the end of our second term, the new church was born. It was so exciting. For our inaugural service, over eighty people came to encourage us, including a few believers for the new church plant. The opening was held on a Saturday night, and on Sunday morning, we had our first service. I don't remember the attendance, but the great majority was our family of four.

Since then—over the last twenty-four years—we've seen ups and downs in the church. For a time, people came our way from another church's split. (That's not the way we wanted to grow, by the way.) When all was resolved, they went back—which decimated our congregation and left us with almost all old people. My husband and I privately called ours "the geriatric church." After that, people came and went. A few of the older people have passed away. Almost all of our experiences were negative, but some people got saved. Transformed. Sadly, some of them have since drifted away. We've tried to bring them back, but God knows. 

Pioneer fields are, after all, pioneer fields. Those who accept the Lord are almost always the only believers in their families. They face social pressures and mocking. Only those who don't care what others think persevere.

Many years ago, another missionary woman sat across from me at her kitchen table in Madrid. She said, "You hear all the time about the millions of people who are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus. They don't tell you about the millions who couldn't care less." For the most part, that's the field she and I came to.

Let's turn this around a little bit. It's true that the great majority of people don't even want to hear about God. Most have absolutely zero spiritual interest. Many have never heard of Jesus—except in cursing or if their families are religious.

But …
  • We actually see some people sitting outside, reading our gospel tracts that they received in their mailboxes. How many more read them inside their homes, where we don't see?
  • Some people have been saved. Isn't one eternal soul worth a lifetime of effort?
  • Lost people regularly attend our church and hear the gospel. Yes, we want them to be saved, but our job isn't to save them; it's to preach the Good News over and over again, pray for them, and let the Holy Spirit work in conviction.
  • Business people where we do our banking and buying have had direct witness from my husband and me. They would probably never have heard a word about Christ otherwise. (Now, thankfully, over the last two years, two gospel-preaching churches have been planted in that town.)
  • Our lack of church people has enabled me to have more time to pursue additional avenues for witness and ministry.


Is this a hard place? Yes. Are there other hard places in the world? Yes, of course. "Hard" manifests itself in different ways. It could be: idolatry, false religion, atheism, secularism, materialism, addictions, or some other influence.

God calls, enables, and gives fruit. We don't know how much fruit—and will probably never know until we get to heaven—but the Lord promises some fruit. Remember the sower? And he (Jesus) spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 13: 3-9).

May we hear God's Word and be encouraged today. Keep on sowing.

Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour
is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)


by Lou Ann Keiser, in Basque Spain since 1984



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

This salad is a warm, refreshing, and very different sort of salad. My amazing aunt taught me how to make this salad when my brothers and I spent a week with her in Texas. We had it for almost every dinner, and asked for it for several lunches! We liked it that much! I hope you do, too! 

What you’ll need 

3-4 yams/ sweet potatoes - peeled and cubed 
3-4 cloves garlic - chopped 
2 TBS coconut/olive oil (we prefer coconut oil)

1/2 lb bacon - cooked and chopped

2 green onions - chopped 

Sauce 
1 lemon (1-2 TBS, this is to your taste) 
2 TBS olive oil 
2 TBS balsamic vinegar 
1 TBS dill 
dash of cinnamon 
dash of pepper flakes or hot sauce 
pinch of salt and pepper  


Bake the sweet potatoes, garlic, and coconut oil until the potatoes are soft. 

Fry and chop the bacon. 

Mix the sauce. 

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, place them in your serving bowl. Dump in the bacon, green onions, and the sauce. Stir gently. If you’re too rough you’ll smash some of the potatoes, and that makes the salad look a little funky. 

Serve this salad while it is still warm or room temperature. If you are going to eat this salad as a leftover, let it sit out on the counter for an hour or two, or heat it up in a skillet or microwave. 

Once again, I hope you enjoy this delicious salad as much as we do! 

Amber Wells 
Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Her Story Silhouettes {#19 Katharina Luther / Trailblazing}

Go to www.sharihouse.com to read more "Her Story Silhouettes"



Hey there, I'm Shari. One of my favorite things to do is read about or study the lives of ordinary women who have done extraordinary things for the Lord.

Their stories challenge me, encourage me, and teach me. My hope is that these "silhouettes" or glimpses of their lives will do the same for you.  

Each silhouette contains a small synopsis of a lady’s service to the Lord, a particular story from her everyday life that resonated with my own, and a short Bible study about a truth that I learned from it. I hope that as you read these posts you might be challenged to find out more about these great ladies, that you might find something that speaks to your heart or helps you in your own ministry, and that ultimately you will be encouraged to remain faithful to your calling.

So grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy, and let me tell you about her story.


Silhouette:     

Katharina von Bora was born in 1499* in Lippendorf*, Germany into a poor but noble family. After her mother passed away, her father sent her to a convent for schooling when she was only five years old. At the age of nine she moved to a different convent where her aunt lived and eventually took her vows to become a nun. She was only 18 years old when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a Wittenberg church in 1517, sparking the beginning of the Reformation. She came into contact with some of Luther’s fiery pamphlets attacking celibacy and monastic orders which solidified the disillusionment she was feeling with the monastic life and the Catholic church. In 1523 Katharina and 11 other nuns in her convent decided they wanted to join Martin Luther and the reformation he was leading. They secretly got a message to him asking for his help. Luther made a daring plan for their escape with the help of a local fish merchant. On Easter Eve night, after the merchant’s delivery to the convent, he smuggled the nuns out amongst the empty fish barrels on his cart. Their act of escape broke the law and was a very dangerous undertaking, as anyone found abandoning their monastic vows could be tortured and imprisoned for life. The nuns made it safely out and were taken to Lutherstadt, Wittenberg where Luther was living. Because they violated Roman Catholic canon, many of their families wouldn’t allow them to come home, and so Luther worked to find the ladies employment or husbands to marry according to their wishes. He was successful with everyone but Katharina. Although she had a couple suitors, Katharina refused to marry anyone but Luther himself or Nicholas von Amsdorf, one of his university colleagues. Many of Luther’s colleagues who had joined him in the Reformation were against him marrying because they feared it would bring scandal and hurt to their cause, but others pushed for it thinking it would be a good thing for the Reformation. After much persuasion by Luther’s father, Katharina, and others, Luther decided that “his marriage would please his father, rile the pope, cause the angels to laugh, and the devils to weep.” On June 13, 1525, Luther, a former monk aged 42, and Katharina, a former nun aged 26, were married.

They moved into the Black Cloister which was formerly the monastery where Luther had lived as a friar and had been gifted to him. Katharina immediately set out to bring order to the chaos that seemed to be surrounding her husband. This was unusual for a woman to do during this time, but she knew the best way she could help her husband and ultimately the Reformation, was to take care of any and all things household related so that he could focus on writing, teaching, and ministering. To help with the household finances, she turned the 3-story monastery into a guest house/meeting house and cared for the many students, guests, and boarders that came to sit under Luther’s teaching. Katharina proved to be a good businesswoman and managed all their finances. She invested the money she received from the guest house into the property which grew to include a large farm, multiple gardens, fish ponds, fruit orchards, and a brewery. She also oversaw the breeding, raising, and butchering of their cattle and pigs which numbered more than anyone else in their town of several thousand. One of Luther’s pet names for Katharina was “Morning Star of Wittenberg” since she rose at 4 a.m. each day in order to perform her many responsibilities.

She and Luther had six children of their own and cared for four orphaned children, as well. Katharina’s great medical skills also proved to be very helpful to Luther as he often suffered from illnesses, and during times of widespread sickness, Katharina would operate a hospital right there on their property. Luther came to rely on Katharina, not just for his physical needs, the raising of their children, and the running of their household, but also for her intellect, wisdom, and spiritual understanding as he shaped and led the Reformation. He often consulted with her and affectionately called her “Doctora Lutherin.” The Lord had equipped her well to be the helpmeet her husband needed.

After Luther’s death in 1546, Katharina went through a series of difficult circumstances. There was loss of income due to his death, and because of the resistance against the Emperor, she was forced to leave her home and take refuge in another city. Upon her return she found her house and property in ruins and all her livestock sold or killed. In 1552 the crops failed, and an outbreak of the plague caused her to have to flee her home again to the city of Torgau. It was there she was involved in a terrible horse and cart accident that ultimately caused her death a few months later.

Before Katharina’s death on December 20, 1552, at the age of 53, she was able to see her children attain positions of influence despite the hardships and scandals she and her husband faced during the Reformation. On her deathbed she said, “I will stick to Christ as a burr to cloth,” and she did. Throughout her entire life she showed faith, courage, and fortitude . . . three great character traits for any Christian woman to emulate. She is truly a woman of whom it can be said, “She hath done what she could”!

Her Story/My Story:  
As marriage prospects go, Martin Luther was lacking quite a bit. He was a middle-aged theology professor known to be loud, argumentative, and judgmental. He traveled a lot, was from a common family, and didn’t have enough money to even buy his bride a wedding ring. Publicly he had been declared a heretic by the pope who had ordered that all his writings be burned. He had been excommunicated from the Catholic church and declared an outlaw by the Emperor. Even with all of this, Katharina chose him, and their marriage created a scandal across Europe. Luther’s enemies attacked Katharina and set out to discredit her. Pamphlets were written that labeled her as money-grubbing, an alcoholic, and a woman of ill-repute. Even some of Luther’s allies did not like how much Luther came to depend on her for so many things. They saw Katharina as self-confident, strong-willed, and independent . . . all negative attributes for women at that time . . . but Luther embraced these things about his wife and once said, “God’s best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing, home-keeping wife, with whom you may live peacefully, to whom you may entrust your goods, your body, and life.” He was not willing to box her into the general thinking of the day that women were to be seen and not heard. His search of the Scriptures for the truths that ultimately led him to challenge the Catholic church, also led him to Biblical truths that permeated his entire life including his marriage with his wife and the raising of their children. Katharina and Luther grew to love each other deeply, and their marriage became a model for German families for centuries and played an extremely important role in the Reformation in defining what Protestant family life should look like. Katharina always called Luther “Sir Doctor” out of her deep respect for him, and he most often called her “My Lord Katie.” He loved her, and she was trusted in ways unheard of for women in those days.

I certainly do not consider myself to be a trailblazer like Katharina was, but I do understand what it feels like when you seem to be doing something out of the norm. At the time I felt the Lord calling me to the mission field, I personally did not know any single lady missionaries. I had heard the many stories from years before of single women like Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, and Amy Carmichael, but it seemed to be looked down upon in the “circle” of pastors and churches I was affiliated with. As I made my decision and started out on deputation, I had to deal with pastors, some who knew me and some who didn’t, who felt it was their duty to tell me that unmarried ladies had no place on the mission field. I praise the Lord for my father and my pastor, the men the Lord had put in my life, who were willing to pray with me about this matter, sought to give me godly counsel, and encouraged me to follow the Lord’s leading in my life and not just discard it because it went against the general consensus. I eventually was able to raise my support by going to pastors outside of my “circle” who could see the potential value I could bring to missionary work as a single lady.

To be honest, I never considered myself to be “single” in the respect that I was “going alone” to work on the mission field. Much like a husband and wife that set off to go to heathen lands, I have always felt the Lord and I were partners in this great endeavor. I have claimed Isaiah 54:5 “For thy Maker is thine husband . . .”  Several years ago, in the month of June, I made a comment on Facebook regarding this matter. I always know when it is June because my Facebook feed becomes flooded with all my friends celebrating their wedding anniversaries. I love seeing the myriad of pictures of white dresses and tuxes, bridesmaids and groomsmen, children born and lives lived, all with a pledge of undying love and looking forward to the coming years. Even though I didn’t have a picture of me wearing a white dress with huge puffy sleeves walking down a wedding aisle that I could share with my friends, I thought I’d get in on the action and wish my one True Love a happy anniversary as well. It went like this . . .

“Twenty years ago today, on June 28, 1995, I said, “I DO!” to You, the one I loved with all my heart. I promised to follow You wherever You led, and You promised to love and care for me. I hopped on a plane, walked down an aisle, took my seat knowing You were by my side, and never looked back. We’ve been through ups and downs, sickness and health, several life-changing moves, and so much more. Through it all, You’ve been by my side leading and guiding me. You’ve never disappointed me once and have always taken such good care of me. Thanks for all the places You’ve taken me to over the past 20 years and for giving me such a full life already. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will hold. I always say, “It’s You and me Lord, You and me.”

I don’t know if the Lord reads Facebook or not, but I do know that He knows my heart, and He knows I still feel that way.

Bible Study:  Trailblazing
Trailblazing - (v.) to blaze a trail through (a forest, wilderness, or the like) for others to follow.
                         (v.) to be a pioneer in (a particular subject, technique, etc.)

The Bible is full of women who were "trailblazers" in their own right.

  • Hulda was the wife of the clothes keeper at the tabernacle. She had a knowledge of the Scriptures that even the priests of that time recognized, and the Lord used her to speak on His behalf.
  • Miriam helped her brothers Moses and Aaron lead the children of Israel out of captivity and during their 40 years of wandering.
  • Esther was brave and used her position as queen to save her people and change the course of her nation.
  • Ruth was a Moabite, the hated incestuous descendants of Lot and his daughter that God had banished from His temple to the 10th generation. She married a prominent Israelite man and was named in the lineage of Jesus.
  • Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ followers at a time when it was completely uncommon for rabbis to have females learning under them. She is often the first one named in a list of ladies, and she is mentioned in the Bible more often than most of Jesus’ 12 disciples are. She was present at the crucifixion when many of Jesus’ other followers and disciples were not, and she was the first to see Him after He rose from the dead.
  • Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, was one of the first of Jesus’ followers to truly understand who He was with her statement, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27).
  • Lydia was the first person in Europe listed as becoming a Christian. She was the head of a household, and as such, she invited the disciples to stay in her home. She used her income and resources to help further the Gospel.

And then there is Deborah . . . Deborah was the first woman prophetess mentioned in the Bible. She was also the only female judge of Israel, and she led an army to overthrow a Canaanite king that had oppressed Israel for 20 years - both tasks usually left to men. For whatever reason God saw fit to have her not stay at home and weave, prepare food, and run a household. Instead, He directed her to speak on His behalf, settle disputes amongst the people, and help lead her country. She was definitely a trailblazer, and from the story of her life, found in Judges 4 and 5, we can learn four good attributes of a trailblazer.

1. Deborah was willing to lead when needed. (4:8,9a) "And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee . . ."

2. Deborah was sensitive to the Lord's leading in the moment. (4:14a) "And Deborah said unto Barak, Up: for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee?"

3. Deborah made sure to give God praise and to not take the glory. (5:12) "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves."

4. Deborah gave credit to others when it was due. (5:24) “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.”



_________________________________________
* Since there were relatively no birth certificates at this period in time, we are unsure of her exact birth year, but this is the year traditionally assigned to her birth by historians.
* Some historians list her birthplace as Hirschfeld instead of Lippendorf.
**picture from my first prayer card




Copyright 2018 www.sharihouse.com




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*Disclaimer:

I have chosen to highlight the life of these ladies because of what they have accomplished for the Lord not because I agree with their doctrinal beliefs.  As with all study of man, our focus should be on the character traits they bestowed in their lives that allowed the Lord to use them, how the Lord used them, the methods of ministry they incorporated that allowed them to be effective, etc.  We do not study man to get our doctrine.  Our doctrinal beliefs should only come from the Bible.  To that end you may find you don’t agree with the doctrine of a particular person that I write about, but I believe there is still much wisdom we can gain from studying their lives.