Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Isaiah 9:6b

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Scriptures that crown Jesus with glory, extol His attributes and clearly delineate the effects of dwelling, abiding in His presence...well they jazz me up! Songs that sing em are straight up Rapture Practice! Jeanette Chichester requested this song a while ago. This is for you friend and for all of us to remember all the reasons we should love Him more and more and more!

Please comment with your email address to subscribe to monthly newsletters by email with news and updates about France. Starts January 2011!

Peacemaker, Fear Taker, Soul Soother, Storm Smoother
Light Shiner, Lost Finder, Cloud Lifter, Deliverer,
Heart Toucher, Truth Lover,
Who other could be Fear Taker, Peacemaker to me,

Mind Clearer, Sigh Healer, Hand Holder, Consolor,
Wound Binder, Tear Dryer, Strength Giver, Provider,
Heart Healer, Kind Father,
Who other could be, My Savior, Peacemaker to me,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Holy Night

Joyeux Noel - Merry Christmas
Colossians 1:15,19-20
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
       O Holy Night is inarguably the best Christmas Psalm ever written. It is so poignant and singable, dramatic and worshipful and lends itself to recording in almost every musical genre. It's so good to me that I sing it, and a few others, all year long! And the scripturally sound truth of it's lyrics ring out in my soul...Fall On YOUR KNEES...
       That was the response of the Shepherds and WiseMen, Kings. That will be the response of every living soul, EVER, when He comes back once and for all. What is your response TODAY?
       Jesus birth is magnificent but it is NOT a FINITE "event!" It was the MIDDLE of God's plan to rescue us ALL from SIN and to provide a bridge to that we cross over from eternal Death to ETERNAL LIFE. That bridge IS His Son Jesus. O that I might know Him and be known by Him ALL my Days. And this I pray for you!

France News 2: Team Brie is not only a partnership between United World Mission and France Mission, the supporting agency for the Pastor, Lorenzo (and his wife Mary-Alice) Monge. Several other churches in the US have recognized and prayerfully support this church plant. One of those churches is Northpoint. They have pledged resources and training. Today I opened my most exciting gift...an invitation to join the Leadership of Brie Church at DRIVE this Spring March 28-30, 2011. For info about DRIVE click here
       This is yet another unforseen outstretched hand reminding me not only to trust God but that I am unable to anticipate anything half as good as what He plans!!! Still aiming for February 9th 2011 to depart Myrtle Beach for final training and then the field!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in Sin and Error Pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night

Heb 2:10-11 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Silent Night Holy Night. It is the most well-known carol in the world! The beautiful melody and Christ-centered words are one of God's most creative ways to keep the world from forgetting what Christmas is really about! But the passage from Hebrews is amazing! He made us holy too?!?! And is not ashamed to then call us brothers and sisters! The video is the view from on the platform, where I am usually singing. It IS THE MOMENT I look forward to every year, with the song playing and all the Lights raised high to dispel the darkness! It is a picture of our mission on Earth made perfect in that moment as we hold candles, the Light our eyes can see, while singing about Jesus, the Light inside us that only HEARTS can see.

His Love and Purity make Him holy.
His Birth made that night Holy.
His Death and Resurrection make US Holy!

France News:
After much prayer, and 10 days of interviews, and invitations to join both Church Planting Teams I am heading to the Team in Brie outside Paris! Together we raise our Lights, Christ in US to dispel the Darkness in France. We are still aiming for February 9th 2011. God sent several new partners in December which caused our hearts to rejoice as He provides for what He has planned! But...We still need your MONTHLY gift to make it happen! And above all please keep praying!
Merry Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Silent Night, Holy Night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from Heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent Night, Holy Night
Son of God, Love's pure Light
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face
With the Dawn of Redeeming Grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Giving Tree AND Humble King

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.-Jesus

These words are echoed to chilling heart-warming effect in Shel Silverstein's The giving Tree. I have recorded it as a special gift for all my parent-friends who have babies that I may never hold and rarely even see. I offer this book, reading it aloud and sharing a story that is Christmas and Easter all rolled into one! (Music by Franz Biebl, Ave Maria, on Cello-about the angel telling Mary about her boy and her response.) I recommend showing the pictures as the book is read. Or you can just watch the video with your child. And we'll share that space and moment in time!

I also posted a video for the adults who won't relate to the children's book. This song is a worship song we do a lot at CUMC without the 2nd verse. We discovered a recording with the Manger-to-the-Cross 2nd verse quite by accident. Now we share it with you!
Check yesterday's post for news about France!

Humble King:
O kneel me down again here at your feet
Show me how much you love humility
O Spirit be the Star that leads me to
The Humble Heart of Love I see in You

You are the God of the Broken
The Friend of the Weak
You wash the feet of the Weary
Embrace the ones in Need
I want to be like you Jesus
To have this heart in me
You are the God of the Humble
You are the Humble King

Here on this dusty ground I bow with kings
Where wise men laid before their offerings
But I lay no golden crown here at Your feet
Just this, my broken life, I offer Thee

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Strange Way to Save the World

John 3:16 "For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His ONLY SON..."
     In case you haven't noticed yet I love symmetry and when things are symbolic or parallel in an abstract way.There is a sweet poetic symmetry to me to putting Mary Did You Know alongside A Strange Way To Save The World. Her song puts us in her shoes for a second to imagine what she might have been thinking...and so does Joseph's song. It truly is a modern psalm and injects praise and adoration for the Christ child with an authentic picture of the man of flesh and blood that God chose to "parent" His son.
      No Christmas is complete for me without these two songs together on my iPod. I played them this year while trimming the tree and putting up past year's Christmas cards. (I save every one.) And while riding the trains in Paris. An on the bus in Toulouse. And in the car around Myrtle Beach. I love the nostalgia this season engenders in even the coldest hearts and how very musical, worshipful it is as a holiday. Even the secular world has to push aside its Happy-Holidays-minus-the CHRIST-of-Christmas-stance for a few months and pulls out all the carols that make us "feel like Christmas." And almost EVERY carol is a Messiah-predicting-Jesus-adoring-Truth-proclaiming PSALM. Modern and all.
1-I will be joining one of two church plants. Each church plant is led by a French Pastor and assisted by a American Missionary couple from United World Mission. I personally will assist in the church services already underway as well as training the French in walking with Jesus (how to have a relationship with Him and with other believers, using the Bible as the Field Manual).
2-I will get to teach English as a private tutor-for-hire in order to connect with more young adults aged 3 to 33! I love young people and discipling all ages!  : )
3-I was surprised and excited that I'll also officially get to continue making music for Jesus as part of the mission! The French are quite obsessed with African American "Gospel" singers. They think I am one, even after they hear me sing. "Gospel music" will allow me the opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel with even more people. I am so excited to see how God has prepared a place where His heart and work engages my abilities and availability!
4-I need monthly partners to give sacrificially. I have been quoted as saying you can "give as little as the price of a cup of coffee per month." You can...but I really need folks to pray about giving more, sacrificially. I can NOT get there without your prayers AND financial giving. If $5 is sacrificial go for it. But maybe $50 or $100 a month is what you can give if you budget AFTER YOUR TITHE.
5-We have set a goal of February 9th to leave for final training. But I can NOT leave Myrtle Beach until my budget is covered by monthly pledges for the full amount of my budget. With a few cuts and rearranging we have trimmed it to $4500 per month. I have secured firmly 30% in folks who are already giving. I have another dozen or so couples who have not yet named their pledge amount but promise to do so by the New Year. I am hoping their combined sacrifice will put us at 50%. BUT we still need YOU.
6-Tell your friends...at least one other person, couple or family who you think would be encouraged by your testimony on my and France's behalf. Then invite them over for coffee and dessert and more importantly endorse this Mission by lending your voice in support. I'll even provide the dessert (if necessary) if YOU will host a sit-down meeting with you, that friend or couple, and me.
7-I'm not asking just because I am honored by your prayers or even because I think you can give. I may be good at teaching and foreign languages but I am NOT the best at this, not alone.
     I am asking for your help. Because I need your help in whatever form you can offer it. Both of UWM's missionary couples already in France really left me convicted to NOT do this alone in spite of my dread of imposing on people. I am officially commissioning all of you as Honorary Support-Raisers and Ambassadors for the Gospel, to France in this case. You are free to contribute prayers, postage, thank you cards, fund-raising ideas, your home, baked goods, time with your family to love on single guy, advice, contacts with other churches or givers, or even a free basement to live in while I transition to work less and raise support more. There, it's all out on the table. I know you ALL believe this is God's will. I am asking you to help it come to pass. Thank you in advance for however the Spirit moves you to do that!

A Strange Way to Save the World:
I’m sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him.
Cause never in a million lives
Would he have dreamed of Bethlehem

And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...

Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade?
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world?
Why here inside this stable filled with hay ?
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl?
Now I’m not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the World

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He DESERVED
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth

But Joseph knew the
Reason Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...
John 3:16 "For God SO LOVED the world..."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mary Did You Know

Lk 1:26-38ish Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God...
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God...
For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

May we always respond affirmatively with that kind of humility and committment to the Word when it is proclaimed by God in our own lives. I wonder how many times Jesus heard the story from his mom. Sounds a lot like the response He had in Gethsemane, doesn't it?

Song:Mary Did You Know

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
And this Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you've kissed your little Baby you've kissed the Face of God?

Mary did you know?

The Blind will See.
The Deaf will Hear.
The Dead will Live Again.
The Lame will Leap.
The Mute will Speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of All Creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day Rule the Nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is Heaven's Perfect Lamb?
And the sleeping Child you're holding is the Great I Am.

Friday, December 17, 2010

To Ever Live Without Me

Luke 22:39-44 Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed Him....He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, then take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Song:To Ever Live Without Me
Choices, even though you knew the lines
You'd have to cross for me You made them anyway
Voices, as You knelt there in the garden 'Neath the olive tree
You heard me call Your name 
I cannot pretend to understand it all
But Heaven knew the reason You were there
It was all about A Man
It was all about A Cross
It was all about the Blood that was shed
So I would not be lost
It was all about A Love
That was bigger than A Life
It was all about the Freedom that was given
Through Your Sacrifice
Cause You would rather die
Than to ever live without me

Helpless, that's humanity without Your Saving Grace
So misled
Selfless, You could have called 10,000 angels
Down to take Your place
But You took mine instead

Greater love has no one than this
That He would lay His life down for His friends

The song and video speak for themselves. The video also has the news about France.
Invitations from BOTH TEAMS!!!! So I'm listening for a week to make sure I make the right decision unimpeded by all the busy-ness of holiday engagements. I'll announce Christmas day. Until then thanx for prayin and please lift up my car and easy fast cheap repairs!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gloria (Angels Heard)

Rev 21:3-5a And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!

Song=Gloria by MercyMe

      I get stirred up so much just from envisioning Jesus enthroned in heaven and saying that to John centuries ago but now in heavenly time! I am making ALL things new. That is also my favorite moment in the movie the Passion of the Christ. Same quotation, not accurately placed but entirely appropriate as a reminder that how He made everything "new" was by reconciling us to His Father. The Father in pouring out His wrath for ALL sin was able to accept Jesus death and suffering as payment IN FULL.
      I get choked up when I think of the millions of things I have done that were included in that death-price. I get choked up thinking He thought of me personally and chose to proceed with coming in a Manger but headed to a Cross. It makes me wanna serve Him and please Him. I long at the end of my days when I stand before His throne and kneel in adoration, like the shepherds did at His birth, to hear "Well, done good and faithful servant...enter into your master's JOY!"
This song takes something old and in one of the rare cases for me, makes it new in an EQUALLY exciting and pleasing way. Hymn and carol remakes usually flop for me but I love the chorus here as much as the original. And the bridge is worth sharing here!

"How could heaven's heart not break
on the day, the day that You came?
Salvation's reason to celebrate
on the day, the day that You came!"

News:There was a hint about an invitation today to the placement I prefer. I expect news very very soon!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Mt 1:18-21 ish
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:...Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
 But...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Mt 21:4-9 ish
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
 “Say to Daughter Zion,
 ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
...A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road...and...shouted,
Hosanna to the Son of David!”

     Hosanna means "save us!" Jesus was greeted and hailed as the Savior and King the very scriptures predicted. First at His birth and 33 years later just days prior to His death. Both times by a crowd that knew they needed saving.  No one else even came close to fulfilling the prophecies about the Messiah. It's amazing to me when I realize that because Jesus wasn't what they wanted or expected, and in spite of all the evidence of miracles and wise-beyond-human-wisdom they rejected and killed Him.
    As a believer I find myself doing the same however. When Jesus guides, leads or pushes me somewhere or to something different than I "planned" I fight, kicking and screaming or call it spiritual warfare. Well, it IS warfare. But not against Satan alone, lol. The Holy Spirit is constantly waging war against my sin nature for my own good and the good of the Kingdom that is here and is to come. Praise God when we have eyes to see it and hearts to submit to it!
     When I peer into the manger, how can I help but see the Healer and Suffering Servant beyond the babe?-The Messiah and promised King, who in the manger is crowned with gold, frankincense and myrrh but later will be crowned with thorns and blood. For me. For us. God with US o SAVE us from our sins. Thru salvation and sanctification. Manger to the CrossEven today I beg Him to continue sanctifying me from the unrighteous flesh in which His reborn son resides. And He is doing that. I, like you, remain a an-under-construction.
     PS. Still waiting for news on France placement but the interviews went well and I have such a clear picture of the two church plants there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gloria Emmanuel

Mt 2:7-8 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him."
     It is ironic to me when even the "villains" of the Bible speak TRUTH without knowing it. Herod died without seeing Jesus. But his next sight will be not of a babe but of the King of Kings and the Lord of Angel Armies (Hosts). Herod WILL BOW along with every other earthly king, ruler, peasant before Jesus. The bowing before the infant in the manger is a picture of Revelation when Jesus is revealed to all flesh and EVERY knee will bow, EVERY tongue, even sly Herod's will confess Him Lord.
     You don't have to wait until Christmas or until Jesus Second coming however to bow and confess, to know Him, and be known by Him as God with us. He came to the Manger AND to the Cross to offer YOU, US a way back to communion with God who created us for relationship with Himself. Bow before Him then get up and follow Him!
Come and bow before the infant King 
Gloria Emmanuel
He is born to change all history 

Gloria Emmanuel
He has come to ransom every heart 

Gloria Emmanuel
Jesus we live because of You 

Gloria Emmanuel
Jesus all praise belongs to You 

Gloria Emmanuel Gloria Emmanuel
So let every thankful heart resound 

Gloria Emmanuel
For this night that perfect Love came down 

Gloria Emmanuel
For the earth has seen a holy light 

Gloria Emmanuel
So we worship You our Lord and Christ 

Gloria Emmanuel

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fri 12.10

Luke1:19-20 The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time." Some scholars call the period of centuries with now new WORD from the Lord the Period of or Intertestal Silence. I contend that often we mistake silence for the fulfilling of what God has already promised and SPOKEN. During the waiting, is it REALLY silent if one is hoping in and reviewing the promises and instructions God has given in the meantime. Does His voice then not continue to SPEAK? Perspective. Hope is not silent. The verses above are spoken to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel to announce the birth of John, Jesus cousin and the voice that would herald again His already foretold coming. Doesn't your spirit leap when you hear "I stand in the presence of God"...and yet later he would kneel in the presence of a baby in a manger! This song was the first solo I remember singing. I was prolly 10, maybe younger at my church in Pageland, SC. In a few hours I'll step back into that church to sing my mom's final sister to her eternal rest. It is a sorrowful day when I think of my cousins whose holiday season will be colored by this loss. And yet, perspective again, she professed Christ and if we hope in and believe what He promised and promises then she now stands and kneels in the presence of God. I had a message today that I should hear soon from the Europe Director at UWM about placement with a Church Planting Team in France. Waiting and praying but with hope and joy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thurs 12.09 O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Isaiah 11
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—...
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to Him...
 12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel;
He will assemble the scattered people of Judah
   from the four corners of the earth.

       I love this season for the richness of tradition, music & language about Jesus.
It IS the "Good News." But in order to fully appreciate that babe as you peer down into the manger
you must THEN lift your eyes to the Cross where we remember that same babe will hang, until He is dead,
In order to hear the beauty and power of the God who sent His only Son you must remember they both knew He would die...and that He would raise Him in Majesty the 3rd day! I'm reminded thru Salvation of our inheritance with Jesus in and as a part of Israel. Manger to the Cross.
       This song is Rapture practice. It is easy to see how the Bride of Christ longs for Jesus 2nd coming the way Judah longed for the Messiah. The lyrics and melody are haunting and powerful. Pray and sing with me as we wait...hearts full of hope for His coming...
Until then I pray everyday He be Immanuel for us, together. God WITH us...US.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
O come Thou Root of Jesse's Tree
And inside all Thy people be

Oh, come, Desire of Nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our Prince of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall has come to thee, O Israel!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sat 12.04 Much Fruit!

Sat 12.04 Much Fruit!
John 15:1-5
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.-Jesus
  Image=Meat and grocery delivery truck!!!
    Saturday morning we were all slow to get moving. We kind of just coasted thru breakfast and then began to make preps for lunch for when a new guest would arrive. Talk about Hotel Furr!
     Chad Hollowell, the Director for Europe UWM arrived but his plane had been delayed an hour. He is a laid back kind guy who seems easy to get along with. He was very transparent about his family and the way they are managing the transitions in the field as a family. many Directors just administrate. Chad shared how as Director his priority is to spiritually shepherd and build into us to keep us sharp and healthy so we can abide (John 15) in Jesus and bear much fruit. Doug...you would be proud. This on top of moving to Hungary to do so and having to learn the hardest foreign language behind Mandarin! I served as his translator throughout the day when necessary since he speaks no French.
     Bi-Dieu-Dul is a play on words. It's thing-a-ma-bob, thingy, with God/Dieu in the middle.
It's also the name of the church's kid's Ministry to attract and evangelize kids and their families.
Kirsten and I hit he road after lunch. We met Marie-Alice, the Pastor's wife and her daughter Jo to help prepare the space. many hands made for quick work. It was easy to see how cramped this borrowed space is. The Catholic church is becoming threatened and less gracious about its use. Pray for a spacious space to open up. Puns intended! Like with her husband Lorenzo yesterday I felt I got along well with Marie-Alice today.
      The evening was interesting as we crammed the Furrs, Chad and me into that little car! We arrived at the Monges for aperitifs which took hours as we mingled with their lifegroup and church core founders the Vieux Copains (old friends). Then followed a fun and lively Bible study. I haven't laughed so much at a bible study ever! On Colossians. So many plays on words that I caught almost all of! I even translated for Chad. It was a great traditional meal with lots of sharing and bonding.
   Dinner at the Monges (on right,above me )
     Best moment was when we all sort of tacitly acknowledged that I wanna return but would require an invitation from whichever team will have me. The Monges acknowledged this and seemed tacitly positive. I already sort of have an open invitation from the Team down south. Don't know yet here but I suspect I will.. Tomorrow I see the official ministry in action while continuing to experience the everyday ministry in real-time with the Furrs!
    I am so excited and think I know where I would like to be! And hopefully that's where God will plant and nurture seeds to bear MUCH FRUIT!!! Pray for an official invitation!!!

Fri 12.03 BE the GOSPEL

1 Peter 3:1
...so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by [your] behavior..
    This passage always reminds me how much more we can show people the Gospel instead of just "telling" them. Lorenzo, the French Pastor of the church plant here in the North shared the vision for the church and this passage describes it well!
    Meeting with French leaders today leaves me with two impressions: 1-This work is authentically FRENCH (led and in character) and 2-They desire most to see the "congregation" BE the church, more than words, to their co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.
    Kirsten and Chris have been awesome hosts and sincere in our time of sharing our hearts together. They have been transparent about the difficulties they had in getting here, in getting settled, and then in obstacles until they moved from one home to another here in Gretz. The kids, Maren and her little brother Reece, have been so energetic and fun. It has ben cold outside but so warm and really friendly inside.
    I met Pierre-Yves another of the pastoral team here in his Alsacian shop for Catering that regions type of food. See, even the Pastor's here are vocational.
Chris is here as an artist. Everyone is expected to have a connection to the community outside the "church" as part of their "ministry."
   I have been smiling inside because in discussions it has been clear that the things I would love most to do in my free time would actually be a legitimate way to be vocational as part of this team, if I am invited to join them. Using my singing, "Gospel Music" here, and performing with my keyboard, as well as Giving private Conversational English Lessons would be a legitimate way for me to be here. I would also then be allowed to always be enrolled in a class or two to be connected to students in the University system. I would then be able to disciple and spend time with young people and BE THE GOSPEL until it was natural to share the Gospel when they become receptive and interested.
     That is my hearts desire I think. An opportunity to be myself in a way that serves and enlarges the church while bringing French people closer to Jesus and each other!
    Chris, Kirsten and I ended the evening talking and then watching Fringe. It was a mind-boggling episode. I was pretty worn out from not sleeping long enough Thursday night.
     It's Saturday morning and I'm taking some time to relax before Chad Hallowell, one of 2 of UWM's Area Directors for Europe. He will be here until after I leave on Monday. He'll be sharing more of UWM's vision for the two church plants and helping figure out where I belong and connecting with the French leaders here in the north while he's here.
    Then tonight and tomorrow I see the French church's group activities in action. Please pray for eyes to see, ears to hear, and heart to perceive all that God would speak in these last 3 days here!
    I'm ending with this video of Reece and his deep voice and Maren his sister. He has the most unique voice!?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thu 12.02 Hearts Burning

Thu 12.02 Hearts Burning

Luke 24:excepts
   Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem...15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing Him.
 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”...
      “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”...
   Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

   Well my heart was full as I slept in. I heard Eve get the girls up and head out. Then hours later Josias and I walked to the Boulangerie to get fresh croissants, pain(bread) and croissants aux aumondes (a delicacy like manna to me). We talked more over breakfast/lunch. We did sleep late,lol.
   We both were pensive. he asked many times when I would return. I explained the support-raising process and my goal to depart Myrtle Beach in February. After some training I would hop the next flght out to France!
   Josias seemed, like me, to expect that we will be able to make good on my promise to teach his wife Eve to play piano like I do and that we will continue this friendship. At dinner last night she and he mocked the way visiting Americans are so quick to call everyone their "best friend" and toss around the "I love you's so freely." They comments left me a little worried they saw me this way. Until we were in the car, navigating the snowy streets at high speeds, on our way to catch my train to the Furrs, UWM Missionary Team 2 outside Paris.
   Josias looked thoughtful, kinda like I felt. So I hesitantly said it was strange/funny how sad we were when we left camp 5 years ago. I tempered with how I knew it would be a long time before I returned but that even tho we joked about it last night I really felt we bonded in a non=French way like brothers. In essence he said "Me,Too!" We parted, not sad, but rejoicing in the hope of future friendship for many years to come.
   I headed to the Furrs ready for the 2nd half of this adventure. I arrived at their home and...let's just say it was amazing to connect with them and their two preschool children. I got a great picture of their journey to France and my possible roles here. If I end up in Paris.
     My heart burned with acceptance and confirmation as we shared and connected.
Pray for the next 3 days. I meet the French team leaders and Pastor Friday. Saturday I meet the American UWM Director for Europe. Sunday I see the childrens and family ministry in action in our church plant!
Pray with me for
Ears to hear, eyes to see, & heart to listen.

Wed 12.01 Josias' Testimony

Wed 12.01 Josias' Testimony 
I Cor 3:5-15
     What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 
   The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

    I headed Wednesday night to the home of my friend Josias Eyraud after spending an intense afternoon tourist-ing a litle and praying/journaling and listening for discernment. I was primed and ready for Him to move. Little did I know.
    I met Josias when I was still searching for an organization to be in France as a missionary. The Navigators only had short-term teams of a month each summer. I decided to try that to see what God would do. So a team of ladies and I headed to the Camp des Cimes in Grenoble where we worked with the children 11 or 12 and under. I had the 10 yr-old-boys. I enjoyed them but I roomed with the teenage boys.
    They spent all day with the adults in discipleship. Then in our free time we just hung out and connected. They were excited about an American. I connected best with Josias. I usually don't get around to his story because I also connected with David Braesch, somewhat, whom I joyfully got to lead to the Lord the last night of Camp.
   David and I were cool the whole time but Josias and I connected right away. Anyone who knows me well knows I like to tease and laugh and can take as well as I dish it out. Josias was the same. And he loved R&B so he never stopped making me sing or talking about all his African friends back in Paris. And when it came time to leave you could tell two things. He was sad to say goodbye...to the point of tears. And he was surprised by how he would miss our friendship.
  We left and maintained contact barely thru Facebook. David is in Engineering School far from Paris and could not meet. Josias had a baby in the Spring and then married the mother in the Fall. He picked me up at the station and we immediately fell back into our old friendship, picking up where we left off.
  He had his daughter Ana and her older sister, his step-daughter, all by himself until Eve his wife got home from work at almost 10pm. We fed the girls until then and chatted. He shared that he was proud, that I would be proud when I learned how he had connected with God...really for the first time.
   See, as we left Camp I tried to nudge him closer to God but he wasn't ready. he was mischievous and hard-headed. he even refused the Bible I offered at first as a gift. Today he said he only took it because it was a gift from me. I had forgotten all this. Today he said I told him one day he would find faith and need a bible. So that day came, with some help from God and a pushy director at another summer camp 3 years ago. She helped him get over his difficulty with the bible by suggesting a daily devotional.
     He made a commitment on his own to read the scripture from the devotional in his once-dusty gifted Bible EVERYDAY! He has been reading and growing for more than 2 years. He was so proud and happy! So was I. I didn't lead him to the Lord but I did plant a seed that someone else tilled while all along God was watering and caring for it!
  He said mostly he resisted because his christian parents always "expected" him to be christian. So he did the opposite of what we all wanted until his own hunger for God could no longer be denied. I had always prayed I would get a 2nd chance at Josias. Imagine my joy and surprise! This video is his story in his own words. Subtitles will follow when I get a chance to edit. But it is already powerful!

Tue 11.30 Travelling Alone

Psalm 84:5+7
Blessed are those whose strength is in You, 
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage...
They go from strength to strength, 
   till each appears before God in Zion.

   So Tuesday I had lunch at the kims in Auch and then immediately boarded a train to head to Paris for a day and a half. I had been unable to re-connect with several friends in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence down south and had not yet re-connected with those in Paris.
   I found myself quoting this passage from Psalme 84 but in a mopey way. I felt lonely and I had all the weight of processing the opportunity with Team Auch which seemed to end with an open invitation to return. I was also a little anxious about a day of free time when I had planned to spend it with friends. I have some favorite spots but I'm no true tourist because I hate artificial forced fun...museums..guided tours..lines of tourists and cameras. Ugggh. And the weather had gone from pretty cold down south to cold, gray and snowy as I moved north-just like my mood.
   Despite all those things, as I journaled on the train and listened to this passage again I was impacted by the phrase "they go from strength to strength." The passage even opens with blessed are those whose strength is in the Lord...AND whose heart is set on pilgrimage. I was rebuked and encouraged all at once. Not only does God have a plan..He knew I needed to be alone to process. And He didn't want me to miss what was coming next!

   I laughed and my mood improved immediately when I got to the street, Rue Garibaldi, where I had scoped out several inexpensive hotels online. I ended up getting a discount of 30 euros at one because of the front desk clerk's generosity and kindness! The name of the Hotel was... Hotel Baldi! I laughed so hard and am still laughing at God's humor!
   That night I visited the Eiffel Tower because she was looming over me to greet me as I headed to the Hotel.
    The rest of the afternoon I spent touring and walking randomly but really just headed towards me favorite spot...The Eglise St. Gervais. A cathedral where I re-dedicated my life right before i returned to the US and joined Christ UMC. I spent Lent that Spring of 1998 and Easter in this beautiful haze; I came to hear the beautiful music and to pray with the congregation of monks and nuns that make up the Fraternite de Jerusalem. Everything was introspective and meditative in a minor key until Easter. The voices raised were pure as I wanted my heart to be. And God drew me back to Himself. I found peace I had been missing for a few prodigal years and returned home a changed man with the soil of my heart ready to be planted by the many seeds of discipleship with the college crew at CUMC.
  I left refreshed and made this video that I hope makes your heart smile the way He made mine smile...