Confidence in God

Confidence: the quality or state of being certain; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.

Last month, we had the privilege of assisting TEAM Mexico with their annual conference in Loreto. Brandy and I led the teens as we explored the theme of “Confidence” from Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
We took as the outline of our teaching, the song by Sanctus Real. Rather than just babysitting while the adults worked, we wanted to lead the teens in an in-depth study of confidence in the midst of struggle, trial and suffering.

God created each of us for a specific purpose. He has called each of us to fulfill that purpose in unique ways. In my time in the Navy, it was stressed over and again that the Navy never asks you to do anything you haven’t been trained to do. So it is in our walk with God. The challenges we face today are preparation for those we will face tomorrow. In God’s economy, trials get increasingly difficult the more successful we are. Because we have overcome much in the past, we are able to overcome even more today.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 says:

 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 

If we put our confidence in created things, man-made things like money, fame, power, comfort, pleasure,  even our “religion” and “good” behavior, we turn away from the Lord and reap the resulting lack of God’s blessing and favor. Does God actively curse us? In most cases, I don’t think so. He simply lets us reap the harvest of our sinful actions. Like a plant in a barren land, when we choose to put our roots down in the wrong place, we will shrivel and die.

When we put our confidence in God and trust his Word to guide our lives, we thrive in good soil with plenty of water. If we follow the path that God has for us, we will be blessed. Ending there, many false teachers promulgate the lie that following God means an easy and prosperous life. But the passage goes on to say “when heat comes.” When difficulty comes, as Jesus promised it would, the one who is blessed draws water from deep roots to stay nourished and to continue to bear fruit.

How does one grow the deep roots? A plant seeks that which is most essential to its life – water. Deep roots mean that the plant has invested precious energy to find what is not available on the surface. Times of dryness, trials, struggling to survive will kill the plant unless it finds deeper water. A plant that bears fruit, even in drought, is remarkable and a stark contrast to the surrounding bleak landscape. So it is with Christians who maintain joy in the midst of trial. They stand as testimony to the love of God and peace that transcends circumstances, peace derived from close communion with the Living Water, Jesus Christ.

Is your life characterized by fruit, peace and confidence? If so, then you are likely on the right path. Stay vigilant, abide in Christ, continue to walk in righteousness and obedience. If you are not experiencing a time of trial or difficulty, use this time to prepare because I am confident that the faithful Christian will not have a life of ease and comfort.

Are you in the middle of a struggle or trial and not feeling the comfort of the presence of God? Are your circumstances overwhelming and your burdens beyond your ability to bear? Are your prayers non-existent or powerless? Then you are in a prime place to experience the freshness of the Living Water. Just as the tree sought deep waters, God is calling you to a deeper and closer relationship with himself. If we call on him, God answers. We can have confidence in his promises.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Calling: Equipped by God

TEAM Annual Conference 2019 *in pictures*

We had such a great time meeting the fifty plus people at the Annual Conference for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) and leading the youth. I wish I had taken more pictures and videos but these give you an idea of what a wonderful week we had in a beautiful place.

Morning worship – everyone loved the kids’ song

The egg drop – Just as these designs were different but had the same goal, God created us uniquely to accomplish our common purpose of reaching the world for Christ.

More videos from the talent/variety show on our Facebook group, Wherever the Wind Blows (S/V Ankyrios). The kids did some of their favorite Veggie Tales songs. The files are too big too load here but they’re worth the click over to facebook.

The ugly side of our ministry

Life is full of many things, some pretty and some ugly. We want everyone to see the pretty stuff – the things we brag about, sharing every last detail. But there’s usually also stuff that’s ugly. This is the stuff we hide. We don’t like to think about it even ourselves.

So far we’ve shared the pretty stuff with our ministry, but there’s an ugly side, a hard side. Things that bring us to tears oftentimes.

Today we said “See ya later” to the missionary families we’ve been working with in La Paz. It was rough. There have been tears in our family tonight. We’ve been here one month. That’s all, but in some ways we feel like we’ve known these families forever. And leaving is hard.

Our family spent over 20 years in the Navy saying “See ya later” to more friends than we can count. We learned to never say goodbye. One, it’s just WAY too hard. And two, a lot of times we do see them again. But I’ll say this, it stinks. It didn’t get easier just because we had done it so many times. If anything, it got harder. But we continued to jump in immediately when we moved somewhere new. We made friends quickly. We found a new church, a new grocery store, a new friend to list on our kids’ emergency contact paperwork. We continued to cry and mourn when we left to go somewhere new, knowing the new place wouldn’t be like the old place. It would be different, but we would hold to the hope and knowledge that every time we moved before, we’d eventually make that new place home and it would one day be hard to leave too. I had no idea that the 20+ years in the Navy was part of our preparation for becoming missionaries.

The very nature of our ministry, reaching out to serve those who serve, means we’re constantly on the move. We’re only in a place a short time. We connect quickly. Our kids connect even faster. (I have to say, it’s amazing how fast our kids connect. I am SO proud of them.) And then we leave. It’s hard on us and it’s hard on the missionaries. These families have left their homes to make a new home in the place God called them to serve. For some it’s a lifetime and others, it’s a season, and it’s just hard. They’re in a new place, finding a new grocery store, making new friends, and many times even in a new language. (Tangent – Missionary kids are remarkable. They’re called Third Culture Kids. They are usually from one culture, live in a second, but become a blend of the two – creating a unique third culture. It’s sometimes difficult for them to feel like they ever fit in. Next time you meet a missionary kid, tell them you think they’re awesome, because they are.)

We know we’ll stay in touch and we hope to see these families again. But we know that even if our paths don’t cross again on this earth, we will see each other one day in Heaven.

Jesus makes even the ugly stuff beautiful.



Abide in Christ

“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us”

– 2 Corinthians 1:21 (ESV)

In my reading this morning, I came across this from Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ:

“How many there are who can witness that this faith is just what they need! They continually mourn over the variableness of their spiritual life. Sometimes there are hours and days of deep earnestness, and even blessed experience of the grace of God. But how little is needed to mar their peace, to bring a cloud over their soul! And then, how their faith is shaken! All efforts to regain their standing appear utterly fruitless; and neither solemn vows, nor watching and prayer, avail to restore to them the peace they for a while had tasted. Could they but understand how just their own efforts are the cause of their failure, because it is God alone who can establish us in Christ Jesus. They would see that just as in justification they had to cease from their own working, and to accept in faith the promise that god would give them life in Christ, so now, in the matter of their sanctification, their first need is to cease from striving themselves to establish the connection with Christ more firmly, and to allow God to do it.”

I was just talking about this phenomenon of working hard to restore love for Christ with Doug Steinmetz last night. As we prepare to encourage and equip missionaries, this is first and foremost on our hearts. Many Christians have experienced this discouragement, distance and dryness in their walk. For most of us, help is just down the street in the form of fellowship with our brothers and sisters at church, having coffee, or over a meal. For many missionaries, they feel like they cannot share their struggles with their family and friends back home because it might cause them to struggle personally or doubt their support of the missionary. Missionaries, chaplains, and pastors feel the pressure to be a perfect example for others. Many Christians feel the same pressure as they live their faith in a world that seems to be cheering for their failure. 

So, how do we resolve this strain and restore fellowship and love for God? It seems that the phrase, “let go and let God,” is more than a catchy rhyme. Place your worries and anxieties before God. Confess your efforts to do what God has said he would do and ask for the faith to let him work. Let the faithful God complete the good work that he began in you.