{Living on Mission} (Heather)

“If you haven’t chosen what you’re living for, you’re living life by default, acting out the scripts handed to you by family, other people’s agendas, and the pressures of circumstances.”
-Linda Dillow (Calm My Anxious Heart)

I read Calm My Anxious Heart a year ago, and I loved it. It challenged me to think about how I was living my life day to day. I didn’t want to live in reaction to my circumstances, and I wanted to be wise in the things I chose to do as well as the things I chose not to do. I wanted focus in my life, so I created a mission statement.

I started out by writing down verses that really captured my heart over the last few years [2 Corinthians 12:10; Exodus 33:14; 1 Timothy 6:15; Philippians 3:7-9; Psalm 51:10-13; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Hebrews 10:23; James 5:16; Revelation 21:4] Then I looked for common themes among these verses. I also thought about the different responsibilities God had entrusted to me (such as being on staff with Cru, discipling women, and being married) as well as what passions He had given me. After praying through these things, I felt like God had given me a picture of how He wanted me to live my life for Him through the mission statement below.

For the sake of Christ I want to:
o   Grow through learning continually, thinking deeply, and the studying of God’s Word
o   Demonstrate my eternal perspective by being content and restful, living out of my weaknesses, and embracing suffering
o   Develop others by teaching, encouraging them in their strengths, sharing my life, and challenging them to grow
o   A wife and mother that puts her family first by encouraging them towards Christ, loving and serving sacrificially, and creating beauty and warmth in our home
o   All of this on the foundation of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, who is always faithful to me, and the hope that one day He will wipe away every tear from my eyes

I would love to hear what passions God has laid on your heart. How has He uniquely gifted you to express the Gospel to others? I’m praying that the following verse will be true of you and me as we reflect our beautiful Savior to the world!
Live life then with a due sense of responsibility not as women who do not know the meaning [and purpose] of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the evils of these days. Don’t be vague but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord.

                                                                                                            Ephesians 5:15-17

“Speak, for your servant hears.” (Laura)

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 

 [The next 8 verses are the Lord sharing a vision with Samuel that was difficult for Samuel to tell others. But Samuel is faithful to share it with Eli and not hide God’s words—making him a true prophet.]

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

— 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-21

I LOVE this story of God working and I can see how God would work in parallel ways today. I’ll keep my own thoughts short though and encourage you to ask the Lord yourself to speak to you. Three short observations for you:  
1)   Eli knew the Lord well and was able to recognize His voice calling Samuel.
2)   Samuel came with a humble heart, ready to learn.
3)   Samuel treasured the Lord’s words and never let one go unheard.
I pray for each of us know the Lord so deeply that we readily recognize His working in our friends’ lives and I pray that we would be bold to point them to Christ. And I pray as we meet with the Lord, that we treasure His words so dearly that not a single one passes us by.
One last gem to share with you that was shared with me by my dear friend and mentor Robin…it is an acronym that can be used when reading scripture and making observations about a passage:
Sin to avoid
Promises to keep
Examples to follow
Actions to take
Knowledge to remember
Happy Monday!  

A Saturday Story {Debbie in East Asia}

***Happy Saturday to youuu.  Enjoy this interview with Debbie who is currently serving with Cru in East Asia.***

1.    What has been the most challenging part of living overseas for a year? What has been the most rewarding part?

         Probably the most challenging aspect for me personally has been the difference in community size from here in East Asia compared to college life at CNU. During college, you interact with dozens of people at Cru weekly meetings, get deep in small groups with girls going through all kinds of struggles and joys, stay up late into the night laughing with friends in the library or adventuring around campus, etc. etc. But here in East Asia, my main new community is my team of ten people (seven Americans, three East Asians). They are God’s provision for me during my time here, and I am so grateful for the bonds we’ve formed and how the Lord has taught me so much through each of my teammates. Being an extrovert however, it has been a fight to be content in such a small community, and has pushed me to depend on the Lord and find fellowship with Him, as well as dig deeper in my relationships with the university students I’m reaching out to here on campus.

            – The most rewarding part of living overseas for a year has been getting to grow roots in this culture. Being in East Asia in 2012 for summer project felt like just a speedy, six-week visit, but getting to invest a year (or more ;)) and commit to living life here has been so joy giving. I’ve loved observing and partaking in so many details of East Asian culture, and God has used these past eight months since arriving in August 2013 to reveal to me His creativity and beauty in the people of East Asia.

2. What have you learned about yourself and your home culture through this experience?

– I’ve learned that I have a lot of pride in thinking the East Asian way of doing certain things is wrong, and American culture is right. When it comes to using the “squatty potty” toilets, biking down busy streets where people commonly step out in front of your bike, hearing about the long list of food women are forbidden to eat on their “special days” (ladies, you know what days I’m talking about!), observing men “hock a loogie” and spit on the floor of the bus, etc, it’s so easy for me to stick my nose in the air and condemn the East Asian culture for how they do things. I’ve had to wrestle through these feelings and remind myself that I am not here to change a culture but to preach the gospel. Both America and East Asia are passing away (along with the rest of the world), and what people of both my home culture and Asian culture most need to hear is that Jesus Christ died for their sins so that we may have eternal life with Him. Cultural differences might be challenging, confusing, fascinating, or exciting but no matter my feelings towards them, my first priority is to show and share Christ’s love. I’m so grateful for God’s patience in teaching me this and how He continually humbles my pride!

 3. Is there an attribute of God that has been particularly sweet to you during this season of life?            – His never-ending presence through the Holy Spirit with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is always with me, at every appointment with a student, during every bike ride to campus, in the midst of every embarrassing moment in language class… He is with me! It has been such a comfort as of late to mediate on the eternal, empowering, sustaining, indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit within me.

 4. What one piece of advice would you give to graduating seniors? How about freshman?
            – Seniors: two things! First, when it comes to making a decision about life after college, spend more time in prayer and in the Word than talking to other people. People can be wonderful encouragements and voices of truth, but ultimately it’s your life and your relationship with God, and it’s YOU who is going to step out in faith and head to that job/internship/grad school/etc, not your roommate or Mom or boyfriend stepping out in faith for you. So really seek the Lord and spend time just being still before Him. And second, once you’ve made your decision, really. make. your. decision. Step out in faith. Don’t wavier from what you’ve decided. Trust the Lord in what you are walking forward in. Be confident when people ask you about post-graduation plans. Trust that you’ve made the right choice and that God would make things 110% clear if He wants you doing something other than the step you’ve chosen to take.
            – Freshman: seek older women! Whether they’re three months older or thirty years older, seek the counsel and friendship of godly women who have walked before you. Is your Mom a woman of God? Cherish her. Figure out how to pursue, learn from, and befriend her if you haven’t already! Ask God to bring women of all ages into your life so that you may learn wisdom beyond yourself and your 18 year old girlfriends.
5. What’s your favorite food there? What snack do you miss the most?
            – Favorite food: a vegetable dish called “chu liu bai cai” – cabbage stirfried in vinegar with some other random spices, peanuts, and small veggies. So delicious.
            – Snack I miss the most: if fresh fruit smoothies count then that’s my answer. If not, it’s a toss up between Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds and peanut butter cracker packs.
6. How is life after college different than you expected?
            – When you’re in college, you’re the student. College is for you. Faculty focuses on you. Organizations plan fun events for you. Ministry staff workers, such as Cru staff, pour into you. There’s so much focus on your development, you being fed, you experiencing new things, you having fun, etc. Whether I realized it or not in college, so many things were simply handed to me during my four years as a student. But being out of college, I now have to take the initiative in many of the above listed areas. I can’t just walk out of my dorm room and immediately find dozens of people to hangout with – it’s up to me to stay in touch with people and be intentional in keeping up with my friends’ lives. Being overseas, I have to seek out women (other than my discipler here) via email and Skype to pour into me if I want to continue learning from more mature women. Especially in regards to the ministry I’m doing here in East Asia in reaching out to university students, I am no longer the student in focus but rather am the one chasing after the students. I hadn’t anticipated these changes and it’s been an adjustment for me learning to make a choice to go after things that previously had been handed me on a silver platter!
7. What made you decide to spend a year overseas?
            – In 2012 right before my senior year, I went on a summer project to East Asia with Cru. During my time there, the Lord moved in my heart to show me the great need there is in East Asia for people to hear the gospel. It broke my heart that so many students I interacted with during my six week summer project had never heard the name of Jesus before. The Lord continued to grow my desire for sharing the gospel and desire to experience East Asian culture at a deeper level, so I applied to Stint during my senior year… And here I am!
8. Can you share a story of how God is working in your location?
            – Last semester, roughly 20 students prayed asking the Lord to come into their life! I’ve gotten to watch a few of those girls in particular go from having no interest in knowing God to wanting to repent and believe and now burning with desire to tell their roommates and friends about Jesus Christ. One girl in particular, “Susie,” went from being a shy freshman who had never seen a Bible before to now a faithful witness who boldly initiates with strangers in the cafeteria so they too might know about Jesus. It’s been so sweet to see God work in girls like Susie, and rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit to use sinners like me and Susie to bring more worshipers into His kingdom.
9. How can we be praying for you?

            – I would love prayer for rich, consistent quiet times; for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit and daily walking in full dependence on Him; and for all the new believing students to fall more in love with their Savior, cherishing His Word and going to Him in prayer every day!

Thanks Debbie for sharing! Tidewater Cru loves youuuuuu!