Saturday, April 18, 2015

Freed From The Lies

Yesterday marked the end of our "manhood retreat" for the older boys at the home here in Mussoorie. We talked about God having a bigger plan (Jeremiah 29:11), Needing friendships that sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17), the Power of submitting to authority (1 Samuel 24:5-7), Building our lives with the materials that last (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), and Persevering through hardship (James 1:2-14). The capstone to this retreat came when we had everyone write down the lies that they had been believing about themselves and lies that others had spoken over them. Lies like "I'll never amount to anything important", "I come from a poor family and will have a poor family", "God has forgotten about me", and the list goes on... We then took time to share these in groups and pray over one another, recognizing that all lies come from Satan (John 8:44) but God is our Father. Lastly, in an act of freedom and promise we cast the lies into the fire to be burnt up and forgotten, realizing that these no longer define or have power over us. It was a powerful moment of hope and I can't wait to share more in the days to come!

Some of the Honorable Young Men of Mussoorie!

L to R: Prince, Amit, Ajay, Pradeep, Ganesh, and Sunil

Embracing the Struggle

It’s 6:58am on Sunday morning. We completed the 2-day boys’ retreat at Firs yesterday, and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with some of them. The two days were broken down into five 2-hour sessions led by Keane, Brett, and Paul. In each of the sessions the boys participated in an activity that they would then apply directly to scripture that one of the leaders taught, and finally break out into groups of 4-6 to discuss, journal, and pray on a more personal level.  

I’ve learned so much about not only these boys but also about myself in these breakout groups. The boys in my group were between 16-18 and dealt with a lot of the same issues that I dealt with growing up…pressure to perform in school, the self doubts and inevitable need to compare yourself to your peers that “perform” better than you, and the difficulty of obedience and submission to authority.

…In the end my advice to them about self-doubt was something like this; If you feel little by comparing yourself to somebody “superior” all the time, you’re only seeing 50% of the picture. There is undoubtedly also somebody else looking at you, comparing themselves to you, thinking you are “superior” to them. This is the other 50%. Take a step back to get a wide view. In the bigger picture, you’re neutral when you put yourself in the middle of these other two.

But what you would say to the one who sees you as “superior” and feels down about him/herself?  Unless you’re a not-so-nice person(aka jerk), you’re probably going to encourage that person and explain to them that they shouldn’t feel down. You may take pride in what you are more refined in but then reach out your hand to help the other person in whatever way they need to learn and grow in that area. You may even just be humble and deny that you’re that good, and thank that person for the compliment…but then again, proceed to encourage them.  In the same way, the one who you compare yourself to that is “better than” or more “superior” than you will probably have the same thoughts toward you. They won’t want you to feel down on yourself, explaining that you can achieve just as much, if not more, with just a little more practice and discipline, and maybe just guidance.

In life, you’ll always be able to compare yourself to somebody better. There will be no end. Instead of focusing on the doubt when you end up comparing yourself(which is inevitable), focus on the opportunity to grow. Focus on the encouragement, and ultimately, what God’s purpose is for you in that current setting. If everything were so easy for you to achieve, you wouldn’t work hard and develop your character. God made things difficult for us so that we could grow and learn.  Sometimes you have to earn what God is going to bless you with, because when you achieve it, there will be great responsibility in wielding that blessing. Wart(childhood King Arthur) wasn’t able to pull that sword out of the stone immediately, Daniel-san had to wax on and wax off before competing, Rick Kane had to ride the old wooden finless surfboards before riding the Thunderbolt against Lance Burkhart at Pipeline(only 2% of you will understand this last movie reference…and if so, HIGH FIVE!!).

Chances are, the professional athlete who had to practice hard to make the bigs has a more refined character than the professional athlete who was born with raw talent and just stepped into the bigs.  Embrace the hardship, toiling, and the struggle. For it is God given, and to embrace these things is to embrace God. It’s in these times that you’ll grow the most.  

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wefare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Now the most interesting part of teaching this to the boys is that I realized I need to remind myself of this daily. (It’s funny how much you learn by teaching.) I realize that as I grow older, my flesh wants to be more and more independent, more prideful, and feel like I don’t need anybody else. But as I learn to hand my heart over to Jesus, I understand that quite the opposite is true. I wish to be less independent and more dependent on Him, filled with humility, and focused on what God’s plan is for me, not my plan for myself.


Devotional Reading for Sunday, April 19, 2015

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 22; Psalms 17,35; Matthew 6

Many blessings on this special Sunday! I pray you receive a time of rest and time to deeply connect with our Father on this day. There is so much wisdom and direction to pull from today's readings.
This morning during devotions, I hope to encourage you as disciples of Jesus. Each one of you has been given talents and abilities very specific to your individuality and have dedicated these for the purpose of the Lord. You are followers of Christ!

It is difficult to remember this reality sometimes, when the situation becomes overwhelming, challenging or just simply mundane: the same old everyday, the long wait, the trials, the hard work, the tasks and agendas, the sacrifices... our own struggles can take center stage when we reach the limit of our own efforts, are feeling challenged, or long for just a little something more (even when we are fully aware there is nothing greater than God).  So how do we stay reminded of that which is so much greater?

Matthew 6 covers teachings of Jesus. In these verses we are given specific instructions for discipleship: it's the how-to and how-to-not manual for those called to be followers of Christ.  The Lord’s prayer placed among these verses provides a way for us to convey to the Lord our most basic needs as we live out a life dedicated to following Christ. Jesus teaches us how to follow Him, knowing very well that we can only go so far based solely on our own efforts, abilities, and desire. Therefore, even as we prayer the last three verses (6:11-13) as petitioned needs of a disciple, let us pray the first three verses (6:9-10) as our highest needs, transcending our basic needs:

     [Let] Your name be hallowed. 
     [Let] Your kingdom come.
     [Let] Your will be done.

In the book of Luke, it is a disciple who asks the Lord to teach them how to pray, and Matthew writes in his gospel,

“...for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Pray then like this:
Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name;
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  — Matthew 6:8-13

It is a missionary's prayer! It is a true disciple’s prayer (no matter what your ministry), and as disciples of Christ, let us speak every line of this prayer as our hearts' longing to Our Father who is in heaven. And may it be prayed aloud: a daily reminder that all of our gifts, talents, abilities, struggles and sacrifices are for the purpose of His name, His kingdom and His will, which is our greatest desire as we continue following our Lord Jesus Christ all the days of our life. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

~ Jessica & James

True love

First time to India, and I am lost for words on how the Lord has been showing up in such POWER. He is evidently here in this place, there is no doubt about it. The hearts of these amazing boys, families, and leaders are simply amazing to see and get to build relationships with. I have the honor and priviledge to have fun and spend time with the little boys, and it's been a BLAST! Aren't they just full of never ending energy! Not just that but their never ending LOVE. It's really a beautiful thing to be able to see, feel and hug these boys who just love. They love each other, love you, and love God like no other. I've been walking away the past 2 nights just speechless and incredibly FULL of all that the Lord has been doing from start to finish each day. Today was a big stretch for me as I had the opportunity to teach the word from the book of Daniel to these little ones. It was all about Trusting in God. The coolest part about this whole thing was how God was having me walk through exactly that before I even knew I was going to be doing this... the Lord brought me to a place where I needed to really look into my life and ask myself, Do I really trust God with all that I have? It's always such a cool thing where God will walk with you through exactly what you need to work on and NEED at that very moment before He will allow you to move on and take the step with Him, trusting in Him that He's got it all under control. Jesus' presence is everywhere I go, and I feel his Holy spirit so strongly on these kids. They know what it means to love, to really love with all they have, and it's such a beautiful thing to witness this all with my own eyes.
Thank you Jesus for your beautiful children, your beautiful country India, and for your love! You are our first true love, may we love others as YOU LOVE us! In Jesus name, Amen!

So What is Next...

It was in 2007, month of July, a group of people who responded to the call of GOD to India came obediently, sacrificing their comfort, and going to an unknown people. They took a risk in coming, and also they took risk to trust in us. But God knit our hearts together. Then the Lord brought Pastor Creighton in Nov 2007. As I write this today, it is April 2015, 8 years running. My son, Levi, was in his mother's womb when Yumi Ellen and the first team came; now he is in class 3. It has been a wonderful journey so far.

There is a human element in the mission that we are involved with, which I can not ignore. If it were not for the sacrificial loving, giving, and trusting, we would not have survived. Of course the Lord would have opened a different path, but surely the relationship that has grown in the past years would not have been there. The family bonding would not have been there; we would have told stories other than what we are telling today. Just as God raised Esther to rescue the Jews, so Yumi Ellen, Pastor Creighton and the Church were sent to us in a time when we were not sure what the course of our future would be. Some plant the seed, some water it. We all have our rewards from the Lord. All my life I will be telling this story countless time; it has got magnificent facets. It reminds me of God's faithfulness, his power, and also strengthens me to stand firm in times of my weaknesses.
Pastors Ashish & Creighton, May 2009 Woodstock Chapel

When the Israelites were rescued from slavery in Egypt, God performed many miracles,  He rescued them and brought them to the promised land. No doubt they had seen God's mighty hand but they tested His Character. It is a very dangerous thing a person can do. They asked question like, yes, surely God has given us water from the rock, but can he give us meat? When they met with adversaries they questioned God's love and said, surely the Lord has brought them to destroy.

The good thing about the Mussoorie-New Hope bonding is that we have seen GOD's provision in meeting our needs. But the best part is we are committed to grow in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ everyday. As long as we keep our priority right we are safe and will be seeing God's might plans unfolded in our generation. I think in a time and season of such as this, the Lord is calling us to abide in Him, like a branch in the vine. We have a long way to go. The Lord who has started this will lead us.

So very grateful to God for bringing our family from Hawaii. We love you and we are not complete without you. Looking forward to see what the Lord has restored for us to discover together.

much love


Feels like home!

It feels like a dream being back in India after 3 years! So much has changed at the orphanage but it still feels like home. The boys have grown so much and there are so many new little ones! They are so full of energy, joy, and life! 

This time around I had the opportunity to work with a group of about 10 people who are opening a business as a front for ministry. I've been able to have training sessions to help in their development. It's amazing to see how God is working all throughout India. The business will first be opening in Mussoorie and then going to other cities in India to create a chain. All of the locations will be run by missionaries spreading the gospel. One of the locations will hopefully be Mumbai. And after visiting Mumbai, I can see how impactful this business will be in transforming lives for Jesus! 

Please continue to keep us in your prayers! 
Hey everyone!
I just wanted to share a memorable part of my trip! I gave my testimony for the first time in the bible school and it was really great to hear such positive feedback and the constructive criticism. But even better was hearing the testimonies of the older boys. Hearing about the struggles and problems they have faced made my problems feel minuscule. Just believing in God here is greeted with persecution. Many of the boys have stories of being punished just for their beliefs in terrible ways. These people here are among the most faithful and toughest I have ever had the blessing of meeting. Hearing their stories and how they deal with these trials was truly inspiring. I can only hope to someday have the perseverance that they have here in India.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Devotional Reading for Saturday, April 18, 2015

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 20,21; Psalm 34; Matthew 5

And Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  —Matthew 5:3-10

This amazing Sermon on the Mount is powerful and covers so many aspects of life.  It's hitting my heart like a sword... I am somewhat stunned right now.  These very words of Jesus are compelling me to change.

The Lord is all I want and He has been speaking to my heart. I hear Him say that I need to intentionally pursue grace, patience, kindness and love. He’s also showing me what it means to truly love. I want so badly to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife. But I am feeling weak lately because I am succumbing to my humanness, and it’s leaving me feeling insecure. I’ve been losing my temper, sad and depressed and comparing myself to others. God is also showing me how to pray today, to pray the beatitudes over my life, over my husband’s life and over my children, too. As I do this I believe I will become free.  Friend, today can I encourage you to pray in this way?

Lord, in times when my spirit is poor and I feel downcast, may I remember that I am Yours! When I mourn, may I know Your heart; You are my true comforter! I pray that I would be meek and that I would hunger and thirst for righteousness and be filled with YOU. I pray that I will always show mercy, extend grace and also be given mercy and grace. I pray that my heart be pure as Your heart is pure, that I will purpose being peacemaker and that I will be known as belonging to You. May I stand up for Your truth no matter what opposition or persecution comes my way. Jesus, You are the way, the truth and the life. I trust You, and I desire that I be the person You desire me to be.
I ask that my thoughts be Yours and resemble Your pattern of thought. I know the seriousness of what I am asking, help me, Lord, to represent You. PLEASE, Jesus, that’s what I want most. I love YOU!!!! Amen!