Monday, May 30, 2011

Reaction to prophecies unfullfilled and false teachings (Thank you Harold Camping for giving me a blog topic.)

May 25, 2011

I'm realizing a very painful truth about myself. I often put my trust and hope in things God has said to me/or I think He's said to me, whether it be through scripture, prophecy, or in prayer. “What's the problem with that?” you might ask. I'm human. I WILL misinterpret God. I will misunderstand His meanings. I will misrepresent Him. Why? Because I'm human and am incapable of accurately understanding a perfect God.

I was thinking about what it would feel like to be one of those who truly believed that the rapture was coming Saturday, May 21, 2011. That Saturday that came and went. How is their faith doing now? I was wondering what it was like to be a disciple or a Jew in the times of Jesus when they truly believed He was going to come and conquer in their lifetime. Yes, you could read the prophecies and come to that understanding. But their understanding, NOT the prophecy, was wrong. What happened to their faith? They ended up crucifying the One they thought would save them from the “now”.

And so I'm realizing that I often put my faith and hope into things I think the Lord is telling me. There ARE things that the Lord tells me, most of the time I think what He tells me will happen one way and it doesn't. It happens another way. What then? My faith is shaken. Why? Because God didn't do what I expected? No, because I misunderstood. And therefore, I have come to a conclusion. I need to NOT put my faith and hope in things said, even from the Lord, though His words are perfect, my hearing and understanding is NOT.

So I will once again, realign my heart with God's Spirit As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”. NOT on interpretations of scripture, NOT in prophecies given over me, NOT in what the pastor says from the pulpit, but in One true and constant …. JESUS.

Men try to interpret these divine words of Yours.
Your word is good but my foundation of faith can't be in their labors.

Only time will tell if prophecies are true.
Words given by humans or words given by You.

Therefore I do not hope on things man has said.
For it can cause confusion and I can be misled.

What do I do if things turn out differently?
Different from what I understood Your word to say?

Then my faith in You is shaken.
The meaning of the words I read mistaken.

Misunderstood prophecies and portions of scripture
I lay them down for something much richer.

The death the pain the agony
Of setting hopes and dreams at your feet.

So people, share your ideas, your understanding of truth.
Just know they are human and not fool proof.

Not that I am ignorant of what the Bible says.
I hear it and read it. Try my best to follow Your ways.

My understanding is not perfect and therefore I'm flawed.
That doesn't stop me from sharing about the God I'm in awe of.

I know Your words are true. Man's interpretation is limited.
I still read Your word, and in my heart hide it.

But my eyes, my hope, my trust is in You.
My understanding can't begin to comprehend Your truth.

And so my faith is not built on theology.
It is built on the blood that was shed for me.

You give promises. Your words are true.
I look not to them, but only to You

So you can use me freely
No longer looking at promises received.

Righteousness, hope, and truth worth living for.
Enduring peace and satisfaction ever more.

For when that day comes, when mysteries are revealed.
When Christ has returned and He's broken every seal (Revelation 6).

There will be no more questions, no more arguments and doubts.
No more “meant well” false prophecies thrown all about.

My hope is therefore, built on nothing less,
Then Jesus blood and His righteousness. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Religious differences DONT have to cause family rifts

My dear readers, I'd like to introduce you to my guest blogger for today.  He is a complete opposite from me, yet a close friend.  He is my brother, Tim.  Many families grow apart because of different belief systems.  I felt them at a young age when I was scolded by an aunt for sharing Jesus with my cousin.  It put a rift between my immediate family and her for many years.  I am SO thankful to have a brother who loves me and my family more than he loves proving a point.  I too, love him more than I love proving my point.  In the end truth will show itself.  So, with no further ado here is my brother's response to the latest blog entry I wrote about what we experienced together through my children...I love you Tim.

As you might imagine, I was caught off guard when first Cole, and then Seth, asked if I “knew Jesus.” Although we have talked freely about Jesus before, it has mostly been them sharing their favorite activities at bible school or Sunday school, or sitting with them at night as they pray and sing. And, while Seth once asked why I just sat with them but did not pray myself, I simply explained that some people pray and others do not—and I do not.

I think it is wonderful that my nephews are talking with me about Jesus. Many who read this blog will know that I was brought up in the church where Randy now has his ministry and, from the age of 11 until the age of 19 or so, considered myself a “born-again” Christian. Once I went off to college and travelled around the world a bit, it became clear to me that religious faith in general, and evangelical Christianity in particular, was just not a wordview that was consistent with what I was experiencing. So, with great fear and plenty of anger, I “left the faith.”

I used to find people telling me they were “praying for me” offensive. This would happen most often when I would return to the church I in which I grew up—for Megan’s wedding, or for a children’s program involving Seth or Cole. What I heard them saying in that simple phrase was “you are so lost, I am so found, and I hope you return to the path that is true and right.” In other words, I heard condescending judgment.

Over the years, however, as I have become stronger and more clear about who I am as a person and more confident in my own worldview, much of my anger and resentment toward Christianity generally, and the church in which I grew up specifically, has faded. When someone now tells me they are praying for me, I choose to hear that as an expression of love.

For whom do Christians pray? Well, presumably everyone, if the Lord’s prayer is an accurate model. But for whom do they pray in earnest? They pray for the people they love and care about. They pray for the people who are important to them. Prayer, in other words, is often an act of love.

For what do they pray? Well, presumably they pray for God’s will to be done (see Lord’s prayer reference above). But underneath that is often an earnest prayer for an outcome or development that is good for the person who is the object of their prayer. They pray for healing, for guidance, for employment, for wisdom and understanding, for safety, for friendship—for good things. Prayer, in other words, is often driven by hope.

I welcome the prayers and questions of my nephews. That they love me so much, and hope for the best for me and my wife, is a great gift to me. I would love to have many, many years of prayers from them and conversations with them. I also wish for myself the ability to communicate with Seth and Cole my hope and love for them as clearly and courageously as they do for me.

So, Seth and Cole, Uncle Tim has chosen not to have a relationship with Jesus. But, he cherishes his relationship with you both very much, and will talk with you about whatever you want to talk about, anytime!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Failed yet forgiven

May 21, 2011

You see a few weeks back the boys started asking questions like, “Well does Baba know Jesus? What about Uncle Tim?”. Some of the answers were “ Yes they do” and some, “No they don't”. They continued to ask why some people don't believe in Jesus. We just explained that there are people who believe in different things and that we can pray for and share Jesus with those who don't believe in Him, because we love them and want to share truth with them. So, the boys have been praying for specific people on their hearts, that they would know Jesus. We have told them that if you want to be able to have a relationship with God it has to be through Jesus. If you don't know Him, you don't know God.

My sons where talking with their Uncle Tim on the phone today. Cole got on the phone first and the first words out of his mouth were, “So, do you know Jesus yet?” My jaw dropped about 2 feet from my head. I looked at Randy in pure astonishment. Cole continued the conversation with normal every day chit chat. Sharing about school and friends. It was a quick off the cuff question for him.

At this point Seth was sitting on my lap. He received the phone from Cole to talk next. “So, we want you to know Jesus because we don't want you to go to.....” Before he could finish the sentence, and before I knew what I was doing, I put my hand over his mouth. I was thinking in my head, “Where did he hear the concept that life without Jesus is “hell”? He can't say that, that's offensive to people.” Seth just sat there stunned, not sure what to say next because he knew I had just, nonverbally, told him NOT to say another thing about Jesus to this person. Taught him that, there are some things you say and there are some things you DO NOT say. (I talked with Tim after that and he said to me that he  can hear questions like that from Seth and Cole and know that is an expression of love and interest and not be offended or threatened by it.  SO glad about that!)

That very second I taught my son something...... you should be ashamed to talk about some of the things about Jesus. It's true, that's what I taught him by stopping him mid-sentence. I taught him that when you feel it on your heart to talk to someone about Jesus you should just swallow that feeling and not say anything. I taught him that speaking about Him can offend people and we don't want to offend people.

We should feel awkward, embarrassed, insecure, that's what I taught him in that split second about talking about Jesus to someone......Jesus. The whole reason I live and breath. The only One that has eternal meaning to me. I was stunned at my response to my children sharing about Him. I know that the Word of God is going to be offensive. It says so in the Bible. It's never stopped me before when God lays it on my heart to share with someone. Yet, here I was stopping my children, my own children, from sharing their heart with someone they loved.

I just kind of sunk into my chair. I was immediately shocked and convicted at my response. Not guilty mind you. I just knew that I had disappointed … God. My Heavenly Father. I just denied His Son. The One who made my salvation possible. My mind went to Peter. How many times have I read the story of Jesus telling Peter that he would deny knowing Him 3 times before the rooster crows. Peter was adamant that this wouldn't happen. I didn't think it would happen to me either. But …. it did. In one quick moment. I look at that story about Peter much differently now. I'm so thankful that Jesus asked Peter 3 times to feed His sheep in order to restore Peter for the three times he had denied Christ. Oh Lord, restore me.

I had to go back to my children, after having gone back to my God, and ask them to forgive me for teaching them to NOT talk about Jesus. I told them, “When you feel in your heart that you should talk about Jesus to someone, you do it. Don't let anyone stop you, not even me.” Tears where rolling down my face. Lord, restore me and PLEASE , please make my children bolder than I am.

Thankfully I serve the God who has forgiven all my failures.

So, I need to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward in Christ....mistakes and all. I'm just a woman on a journey trying to live out what I know to be truth. It's NOT easy, but I can't imagine living any other way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Never know what will happen in a day in Madagascar...

Splashes and … that Abba?
This morning as Randy and I were taking the boys to school I dropped my water bottle in the street. The cap of the bottle was pointing directly at me. when a car drove by running right over it. It spewed forth ALL the water onto me. Nice.

After dropping the boys off at school Randy was telling me that, on Saturday, as he was preparing to teach his class there was someone in a nearby practice room playing the piano and the entire class started singing in unison “Dancing Queen...” That's right people....Abba. I knew I LOVED this country.

Stitches anyone?.....Not for Cole but for Mommy...

We have had a very interesting last 24 hours. I was on the phone with my mom when I heard a scream escape Colie's lungs. (Those of you who know him know how loud he talks normally so imagine the scream...). I quickly told my mom I had to go, hung up the phone and looked up and saw Colie walking into the house with blood dripping off of his eye.

Ah, another chance to practice NOT panicking. Thanks Lord.....(said sarcastically) Long story short we found out he fell down the cement stairs outside....while carrying a pair of scissors. Great. The Lord really watched over that boy. The scissors did NOTHING. He gashed his head open right above his right eye and had many scrapes on his back, toes, fingers, knees, get the picture.

We called the surgen on our team because we were pretty sure he'd need stitches. Dr. Jonathan's wife answered. She said he was asleep and asked if we could come in 2 hours. (Turns out due to the language barrier...they are korean...she didn't understand that he may need stitches...thus she didn't feel rushed.) So, we then called the nurse practitioner and he said it would be ok to wait 2 hours. Just use tape and tape the cut together as tightly as

So, I got out the scotch tape and taped that puppy up. Poor Colie. He was VERY brave. We spent the 2 hours watching some movies to keep his mind off of his head. Then we took a taxibe to Dr. Jonathan's house. He cleaned the wound VERY well using peroxide and flushing it out with a large bottle of saline. He said that the cut was very deep but because it was a perfectly smooth cut across he didn't have to do stitches, he could just use steri strips. I was so thankful for Cole's sake. He braved it out and got a piece of chocolate in the end.

God provided the perfect ride home for us. We got on a taxibe with a group of people who obviously all knew each other. Two young guys in the back offered Seth and Cole a seat on their laps. (We were standing squished in the back). Once the kids were on their laps the guys exclaimed excitedly (in Malagasy) “We've got small foreigners on our laps everyone!” We then listened as the guys and our boys made jokes in Malagasy! Calling each other “crazy” and causing the entire taxibe to roar in laughter! I ended up being the one in “stitches” :)hehehe

Seth's best day ever (blog entry by Randy)

May 12 is a big day...a REALLY BIG day. No, not Independence Day. No, it is not International Women's Day (though here in Madagascar women actually got off of work for that day – at least off at the office). No, May 12 is the day Seth gets to celebrate his birthday at school. He was supposed to do that on his actual birthday, May 2, but we were celebrating on the beach (which was much more exciting for Mommy and Daddy). But Seth was uber excited.

At Seth's school each child sends invitations to the other children to come to his party at school. Then on that day each child brings in a gift for the birthday boy (or girl). At snack time the parents bring a cake and what-not for all the children to share, plus the parents also bring a party favor for all the kids. (For Seth's party Megan made balloon animals for all the children.) But the best part of the day, the part that really made Seth extra excited was that he could choose if he wanted to stay in school or go home after his party. Of course he chose to come home and Cole got to come home early too.

Now in Madagascar when you receive a wrapped present you do not open it in front of the people who gave it to you. So, Seth had to wait until he got home to see what he got. But we had no idea which present was from whom so we didn't have to do thank you cards – (not part of the culture). What Seth got was cheap junk from China. In America we are used to cheap junk from China – we think.....but here in Madagascar the stuff is cheaper still. One toy broke as Seth was trying to put it together for the first time. Pieces just kept falling off of it while he was getting ready to use it. Fortuneately we have explained this to the boys – about what made in China means here – so they have good attitudes about it. So, all afternoon Seth and Cole played with all his new toys. I don't think he stopped smiling all day. It was the best day ever!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunrise moments

Lazily walked the 10 feet to the beach in the dark at 4:30 Tuesday morning. I laid out a lumba (piece of cloth) and Randy and I just sat in the quiet and watched expectantly as light started to peak up above the horizon. I sat in great expectation knowing that God is an extravegant God and LOVES to amaze me. Sitting quietly in the arms of my husband I asked the Lord, “Father, why do you bless us so extravegantly? You gave us so many gifts just in the last 24hrs I can hardly count them all, and I'm sure there are many blessings I didn't even see.”

My heart was quiet for some time as I just sat quietly waiting for an answer. “My daughter, if you think the past 24 hrs where extravagant, what do you call what I did for you on the cross?”

SILENCE.........tears............bright reds and soft blues on the horizon.

I know in my heart, because of going through very dark moments in the past, that even when I can't SEE or FEEL Your extravagant love, it doesn't mean it's not pouring down on me. For you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore Your love remains the same.

I truly don't understand the sacrifice you made for me Lord. Why. Why did you do that? Why have you done all these things for me?”

Because if I didn't love you extravagantly I wouldn't be God.”

Then be my God. Not because you love me extravagantly but because you know how to love me PERFECTLY.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

the beach!!

The great thing about playing in an ocean that's surrounded by a coral reef is that though the water is “choppy”, like on a lake, it's not brutal with waves knocking you all over the place, salt water swiftly being shoved up your nose, your head bouncing off the ground after being tossed like a pansy by an enormous wave.  It's just calmly floating you along with the current - good playground for an almost 5 yr old and a 6 yr old - and a great place to learn how to swim! The water comes up to my knees so Seth and Cole had a great time throwing themselves into the water, practicing putting their faces under while holding their breath, trying to float, and moving their arms and legs in a swimming motion.

I, again, feel truly spoiled. This morning as the boys were playing on the beach I was lying on a beach lounge chair getting a full body message while listening to the kids play, hearing the breeze, and the waves breaking in the distance. (I won't tell you how much I paid as I don't want to “rub it in” pun intended.) It was a great blessing though as my shoulders and neck were extra uncomfortable after driving “Bumblebutt” for 12 hrs.

We took a long walk on the beach and looked for shells and fun finds. We passed a group of Malagasy who had just caught a bunch of oysters and were deshelling them...jackpot for the boys shell collection! We also found a starfish while playing in the ocean. Did you know that they can fold their arms in and turn into a little starfish box? Maybe not all of them but this one did! Way cool!

I got to eat lobster for the first time in my life here in Foulpointe. I can't stand the thought of eating seafood but JeongAe wanted to try it and I didn't want her eating by herself so I joined her. I LOVED the lobster! They caught us fresh lobster and served it with rice and loka (vegetables). We each ate 3 lobster tails and paid a total of $5.00 each! YUMMY!!!! We were also able to buy lychee. (picture to the left) It looks kind of sea anemone like but it's delicious!

We were able to take a boat out to the coral reaf and go snorkeling! The boys did a really good job.  I was impressed! All in all we had a GREAT vacation and are so thankful for the opportunity to have seen another beautifull place in Madagascar!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Korean blessings (part 2 of beach adventure)

We left Tana with the thought of driving all the way to Tamatave (about 8 ½ – 9 hrs) We didn't have a clue where we were going to sleep in Tamatave once we got there. Randy had tried to get us a room in several hotels he found on the internet but they were all full. We figured we could find something once we got there. Halfway through our drive JeongAe got a phone call from our Korean teammates who had been in Tamatave for the last 2 days, saying that there was a Korean couple who was willing to have us stay at their house over night! What a blessing. We were to meet them at a Korean restaurant in Tamatave.

We pulled up to the restaurant and met Joel and Debra, another Korean family and another Korean couple. They had all come to welcome us to Tamatave and enjoy dinner with us. We really enjoyed our time with them and the food. Yes, Randy found something on the menu he liked!

We were totally surprised when we found out that one of the couples had paid for our dinner! What a blessing. As we got back into the car to follow Joel and Debra to their house JeongAe told us that the same couple had given us the equivalent of $150.00 in ariary! When someone has the gift of giving generously, in Korea they says “She has a big hand”. This couple had a big hand. It was such a blessing. (We used that money to pay for our dinner each night and for the bungalows we stayed in on the way home in Andasibe!)

So we spent the night at Joel and Debra's. In the morning we woke up to a lovely breakfast. Debra then took us to the supermarket to get a few things. They also went to a bakery to buy some bread. To our suprise Debra had gone and bought Seth a birthday cake! I was amazed at these people's thoughtfulness and generosity!

Now, on the way home from the beach you read about our adventures with BumbleBUTT. The amazing thing is how God set everything up in advance for us. Because we had dinner in Tamatave with the Koreans we had the number of the one couple. When we knew we were having mechanical difficulties JeongAe called Madam Wang (the couple who paid for our dinner and gave so generously to us) and asked if she or her husband knew of a reliable mechanic in Tamatave (which was only about 1 ½ hrs away from Foulpointe). She told us to just come right to her husband's company because they could look at BumbleBUTT there. So our 1 ½ hr trip turned into a 2 ½ hr trip due to having to pull over and turn the car off for 5 minutes to let it cool down every 20 minutes or so, BUT, we made it safely!

We found the Korean business without a whole lot of difficulty. They came out and greeted us and led us upstairs to a very nice waiting room. The boys watched a movie on the computer while the rest of us relaxed, drank coffee, and read our books. The Korean's were so taken with Seth and Cole that they kept bringing sweets and sodas for them! Two hours later our car had a new hose and they insisted on us NOT paying them. Unbelievable! Now, had we not met them for dinner in Tamatave on our way to the beach in the beginning of the week we would not have known them and had that connection!
Is this a God thing or WHAT?!?!

BumbleBUTT and other transporation systems (trips to and fro)

We had the ….. privelege of driving a 1995 two door puegot (only one door opened from the outside). This lovely BRIGHT yellow car was a standard with NO power stearing. Not usually a big deal, the no power stearing part, except for when you're driving on the road from Tana to Foulpointe which makes a snake curled up sleeping look straight, comparatively speaking! Needless to say, my arms and left thigh got a great work out.

Now, why the name BumbleBUTT? Because it looked like a bee (minus the antennae) – and it was a pain in my BUTT. Get it? BumbleBUTT? Now, the only good thing about BumbleBUTT was that we rented it from MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) and were assured that it was in good mechanical condition. Always a plus when driving in a developing country!

We left Sunday morning around 8:45 am with the mission in mind of arriving at Tamatave around 5:00 pm. Mission accomplished. (We had stopped at Andansibe, which is about ½ way to Tamatave, for a quick picnic lunch.)  The picture to the left is of the cool train tunnel that Seth and Cole got to pee off of...they thought that was REALLY cool!

On the way to Tamatave I saw a taxibe take the curve infront of us too wide and it was headed right towards us on our side of the road. I slammed the breaks on, throw the car in reverse and onto the gravel off the road. At the same time I was doing this Seth was puking....thankfully into a ziplock bag. Thank you ziplock!

We made it to Tamatave on time (more about our experience in Tamatave in the next blog to come). The next morning we left for Foulpointe and arrived finally after about 1 ½ hrs of driving down the road (that's right, there's only one road that leads there) that was like driving a country road with potholes big enough to swallow the car. We'd enter a pot hole and say we were dying and then coming out of the pot hole was the resurrection!

No huge adventures on the way with BumbleBUTT except...
      1. we should have gotten driven off the road by at least 2 taxi brousses driving crazely down and around curves.....thankfully there was room for me to pull to the side of the road....there were many hrs where there was no side of the road to pull over onto....just a steep embankment....Good timing Lord.
      2. hit a HUGE pothole and should have blown out two front where fine and so is least we think so....
Now, for the drive home, that is a different story. We had noticed Wednesday while driving to a fort, that there was water leaking onto the passanger side floor. We had called the MAF mechanic and he thought that somehow the heater got turned on and we should just turn it off no problem.

Well, this morning as I was pulling out to Manda Beach Hotel I noticed that the temperature guage was almost in the red. That's not good. We drove for about 15 minutes and all of a sudden the red light comes on saying the car is overheating. Thankfully, when we were in Tamatave we had met a Korean couple who had a business dealing with heavy industrial equipment. We had JeongAe call them to see if they knew of a place in Tamatave where there was a trusted mechanic who could look at BumbleBUTT. We knew we would never make it to Andasibe as we would have to drive a winding road that went uphill. We would definatley set the car on fire.

He told us to drive to his business and they would fix it for us! So it took us about 2 hours to get to Tamatave (about ½ hr longer than normal) as I had to pull over lots of times and turn the car off to let it cool down, but....BumbleBUTT pulled it off!

We waited in a lovely business building. The boys watched some movies on the computer. The Korean's were so taken with the boys that they kept bringing out candy and soda for them! Randy, JeongAe, and I sat in comfortable chairs reading our books and drinking REALLY good Korean coffee. Ok, Randy didn't drink the coffee, just JeongAe and I.

Two hours later, having been told we needed to pay nothing, the mechanics had replaced a hose in BumbleBUTT and we were headed off towards Andasibe where we were going to spend the night. Now our original plan was to be there before dark as I HATE driving in Madagascar in the dark! But, having been delayed 2 hrs that wasn't going to happen. Ok, go with the flow Meg, don't get your panties in a knot.

Off we headed towards Andasibe. Things were going well minus the normal, getting run off the road by big 18 wheelers and taxibes taking wide turns. Still don't know how I didn't pee my pants a few times.....there were some REALLY close calls. We were 7 Km away from our destination when....WAAAAMMMMPPP. I hit a hit a Malagasy pothole going 30km/hr. that the sound of a flat tire? Why yes it is. I pulled over and rested my head on the stearing wheel. What else could I do? Randy got out to look at the damage while the boys and I thanked God for giving us safety. Randy flagged down the 1st thing with lights that came past us. It was a big rig. It didn't stop. But the second one did. We didn't even know if we had a spare tire. Thankfully we did. These guys on big rigs know how to change tires, let me tell you! They had that tire changed and us back on the road in 30 minutes! Randy leaned over to me and said, “I could have changed the tire but it would have taken me about 2 hrs.”

So we made it to Andasibe safely about 3 ½ hrs. later than intended but we were all in one piece...well.....everyone except BumbleBUTT. After a good nights sleep we left Andasibe and traveled to Moramonga (on the way to Tana) and stopped to buy another spare tire. While Randy was taking care of that the boys and I went for a walk to find some yummy snacks. Instead of walking back from our adventure we rented a pousse-pousse. (think rickshaw with a bike/see picture to the left) Check that experience off my list.

The trip home from Andasibe was uneventful and we were back home Friday by 3:30pm. Thank you Lord for a safe …. yet interesting....trip.