Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day

By: Rachel Martin

I have been in a serious state of wonder recently at how God works. Maybe it's getting older but as I look at  my past I see how God prepared me for my life as a missionary.  I see His hand in the world around us as I go though my herbal healing classes.  At this time of year I can't help but marvel at God's plan for human kind.

It is kind of odd if you think about it.  God became a man to come to earth to eventually die in a horrible way so that we could be forgiven for, say, not believing in the very God that did all this for us.  It is a mind bender for sure.  I am filled with questions when I get to heaven.  I particularly want to talk to Mary.  I have given birth.  It is a nasty, violent process.  She gave birth in a stable to the savior of the world.  What must that have been like?  Did she ever snap at Jesus because he was playing in the mud and tracked it in the house?  Not a sin, just a kid being a kid.  I am fascinated with the reality of Jesus's birth and and life as a child.

My husband and I have been watching a series of lectures on the history of the church.  One of the things it has really brought home to me is that there will always be a reason not to believe that the Savoir came and died for us.  We like to think that had we been there it would be easier to believe.  Or are skeptical that God somehow allowed the real story to be altered in the Bible.  I just recently read that, less then 150 years after the death of Christ the Jews named another man as the real Messiah.  If history has taught us anything it is that many people can have the same very real experience and see very different things.  When the Rabi that was saying this new guy was the Messiah there were still stories around first hand from folks that knew Jesus.

There are a couple of scriptures that come to mind but all over the new testament Jesus saw people and God spoke audibly saying it was Him and people still didn't believe.  You see, I think, that we like to look at the story of the birth of Christ as a nice sweet tale to tell around Christmas time.  We don't take a second to really consider that there was a teenage girl that gave birth in a barn to the son of God that would die a horrible death so that we can live an eternal life.  We like to buy into the world's idea that it is something like a fuzzy memory from childhood in the back of our minds.

I say this holiday season as we gather celebrate the birth of our savior we take a second to reflect on the reality of the story.  Take a moment and put yourself in the barn and see the reality of what went on.  Listen to the story of the coming of Christ and think about what the Shepard's must have felt when an angel appeared to them. Instead of worrying if you got the right present or if you cooked enough turkey or if the tree has enough water.  Take a second and consider the crazy, true, story of the birth of the King and put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing it. Just for fun check out this video.  I think it does an amazing job of bringing the story to life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVt14Ug-GOs

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Worshiping Creation

By: Rachel Martin

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about how people can easily put the things God has made above God Himself.  I have had to.  I started a 6 month course on herbal healing and let me tell you..... Some of those folks are a bit nuts.  As I read through how God's creation can help heal us or in some cases poison us I can't help but be in awe.  For example: The compound in aspirin (that originally came from a plant) that relieves headaches has to be buffered so that it does not cause stomach problems.  However when you use the whole plant in say a tea you don't.  God's creation is truly amazing.  He knew that we would get headaches and formed a plant that would help us with that!  God's amazing creation is not the subject of this blog but I can't help but share the crazy love of God to do something like that for us.

It is easy as I go though this learning process to mock the nonsense that I sometimes have to wade though.  (I choose specifically a program that did not have as much as most.)  I outright laugh at some of the things people do to lift nature above the creator of it.  Last night while studying I got to thinking about how lost these people were and it just made me sad.  They literally think that these things just showed up here on earth for no reason and worship them as if they were a god in many ways.

I didn't really think about it at first and just sort of shrugged it all off.  It is easy to be critical while sitting in my house reading someone else's work.  It is easy to say "well I know that God created plants for our use as he did animals and water and the earth and such for us to steward well and use and these people are just not as enlightened as us".  Then I got to thinking yeah I am laughing at this stuff and thinking these people are nuts but if I really think about it we ALL do the same thing.  If you give it a second I bet there is something that you my dear reader put above God.  Maybe not in the same way as the people in my plant classes, but it is there.  When we don't allow God into every part of our heart we are putting something above Him.

I know I have been and am still on occasion guilty of this!  We all are.  Maybe you are a workaholic and tell yourself it is never enough. What about holding onto your feelings and not allowing God to help you process though current or past hurts?   What about holding onto grudges that allow you to stay angry for years.  Kids are a big one I have seen a ton in my past line of work.  People are so fixated on getting their kid to succeed that they push and cajole and become crazy people.  They put God at the side so their child can succeed.  Don't we all know that God love's our children more then we do?  Our work and hobbies keep us so busy we don't have time for church. Fear of rejection and embarrassment keep us from speaking out boldly (in kindness) about what we believe.  In this day and age of hatred against the things of the Bible that is a common one.

Now listen to me when I say this.....  No one is perfect this side of heaven, we all struggle and that is OK.  People put missionaries up on a pedestal. However the truth that most missionaries won't tell you is that we all struggle like everyone else.  I have fallen into ALL of the above things not just in the past but ON the mission field.  An idol that many missionaries struggle with is that their ministry becomes a God too.  Making themselves look good to the detriment of others so that they can get the funding they need. Let me assure you your pastor struggles with idols, your missionary struggles with idols, your Sunday school teacher struggles with idols.  So don't go thinking I am trying to be high and mighty.  Mostly when I write these blogs I am preaching to myself too.  Let's all take a minute to step back and look at our life and the idols we create.

We all laugh at folks in some odd cult worshiping the moon or something or even just a church that puts some odd doctrine ahead of God. When we roll our eyes and shake our heads at them, think.  Take a second to look into your heart and think about what you are afraid to loose.  Exodus 34:17 simply says "don't make any idols".  When the bible was being written I am guessing they didn't think to include things like; don't make your cell phone an idol, don't make your kids soccer game your idol, don't make your possessions an idol, don't make your spouse your idol.  The bible is littered, however, with tons of warnings about not making idols.  The deal is that in the end anything other then God just lets us down and keeps us from living the fullest, healthiest, most joy-filled life that we can.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December Newsletter

By: Rachel Martin

We are smack dab in the middle of our busy season so here it is short and sweet what went on last month.

In addition to regular ministry Dan left for a week and a half to go to Sinaloa with our local church.  He was gone over Thanksgiving and Arch and I spent it together with some friends.  I taught in the morning and the spent the afternoon with some missionary friends and finally in the evening served food with the folks from Casa De Maria (the skill center) for the townsfolk. Arch and I had a great day.  I got the website redone so you can head over there to take a look if you are so inclined.  I just streamlined a bunch of stuff but it took a very long time.  I also started blogging again so make sure you check Facebook or our blog page for new blogs every Tuesday.  If you would like the links to those let us know and we can sign you up for our monthly newsletter.

Dan had a super time in Sinaloa.  They put up the roof of a church they have been slowly working on over the past few missions trips.  They brought food and clothes to the people there.  They also used the money that comes from my dance classes and our programs to help fund the trip.  Dan said it was a productive trip, people got saved and the churches really appreciated the support.  If you would like to see some pictures from Dan's trip let us know and we can sign you up for our monthly newsletter.


Prayer and Praise:

Thanks again all that donated and prayed for the van we have been using it take kids to dance and has made life a lot easier when we haul things to and form the places we teach.  We were given a really nice fake Christmas tree by a friend that was getting rid of theirs. It may seem like a small thing but in a place where it is kind of hard to get a tree it is a really nice addition to our home for the holidays.  Dan went and came back safely and the trip went good thanks to all that prayed for him. My friend is coming to visit in a few days and I am really looking forward to our time together.

We would love prayer for the Christmas program in two weeks on December 16th and the rehearsals before.  We would love that people would see Jesus and know why we do what we do and that the kids feel a sense of accomplishment. Please pray for our health over the next two weeks.  One of our busiest times of year (Christmas Program) coincides with cold and flu season.  Please pray for us over the Christmas break when we work on next year's schedule and hope to finally make some contacts and help with the refugee crisis.  We have had a very hard time finding anyone to give us contacts for those on the front line so we would love prayer about that too.  We have a young lady coming to stay for two week at the beginning of January and would love prayer for her visit. She is coming to help with dance and learn about different ways to serve Jesus though the arts. 

Blessing to you all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Christian Herbalist

An encouragement to anyone interested in the art of natural healing.

By: Rachel Martin

I have recently been researching and contemplating the idea of doing some schooling on natural, total body, wellness.  I am already a certified Christian Councilor and Life Coach so that leaves natural healing to tackle and man is it a big one.  I have been looking into herbalist classes, food as healing, anatomy, and other things of that nature.  Here is what I found really disappointing. As I looked around on the internet for information I found one blog and one website devoted to the Christian Herbalists.  All the really great programs and the rest were filled with other garbage either leaning to or outright occultist.  I figured I would write my thoughts down so there would be at least one more bit of information out there for Christians and natural healing.   

I firmly believe we are called to be good stewards of our planet.  I believe we are to recycle, not litter, grow plants, have car's with low emissions and things of that nature.  I think God made it very clear.  If you have ever read Genesis it is pretty obvious.  Try reading Genesis 1:26 & 28 and 2:15 just to name a couple verses. For some people though what we call being good stewards can become the ultimate and something to be worshiped.  I was truly struck dumb by some of the things I read while trying to find information and schooling. I read some information about thanking the grandmother plant by dancing for it when you were foraging.  I had SO many questions.  How do you find the grandmother plant? What if she is dead? What if she was not cool with you picking her grandson?  What kind of dancing are we talking about? Hip hop, Irish step, tap? Yet...... I digress.

I am a Godly women, I do not have an issue with drifting into the occult, I can easily distinguish between nonsense and truth, but unfortunately the world has the reigns of the schools of natural healing.  I hope there are other people like me out there.  I have met a very few.  I would love it if the Christian's of the world would take back this area of natural healing and herbs.  God created them for a purpose so why have we allowed this to go unrecognized by the Christian community?  If anyone should be on this bandwagon it is Christians. God gave us doctors to heal, God gave us prayer to heal, also gave us plants to support and heal our bodies. 

In John 17:13-19 Jesus is in prayer and prays for his disciples, that they go out into the world and that God would help them along the way.  It became so clear to me that God has called us to be in the world.  We so often focus on not being of the world that we forget that we are called to be in it.  Knowing your Bible and beliefs and stepping into the world with confidence is part of what God asked of us!  Shouldn't I, as a mature believer, step confidently into the world if it is the only place to learn what I need and take that information to believers and anyone else I can?  Along the way should I not be sharing my beliefs?  In my book it seems like a win win all around.

Our world is a mess. I get that I am going to be dealing with a lot of garbage.  I wish that I could just focus on the schooling aspect and not have to divert energy to ignoring the garbage that goes along with this. However in the end I think it will be worth it.  I hope that, like so many things I advocate for, weather it be positive body image, or human right to end slavery, or preforming arts as part of life.  That this too will eventually catch the eye of Christians and we can start speaking out about it.  Total mind and body health with what God gave us on earth is important and who better to lead the way then people that have the answer to sickness of the soul.

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving

By: Rachel Martin

To be totally honest I never really understood 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us).  I mean there is a lot of garbage that goes on in this world and there have been a lot of things that have happened to me personally that have been not so great.  It was not until I moved to a third world country that I really got the meaning of this verse.

Once I came here to Mexico I started to notice how easy it became for me to be thankful for little things. Thanks in large part to the easy going thankful nature of the Mexican people around me.  I was grumbling about our new water pump in our apartment complex. It has cut the hot water supply down to a 3 minute shower (if we are lucky).  My husband pointed out that we had water and that has not always been the case.  Mexico has taught me that nothing is guaranteed and nothing is outside of God's knowledge. I think also being older has given me better perspective. I can clearly look back and see how the things that were horrible in my life always had a purpose. It makes it easier to be thankful for both the little things and the garbage that comes my way.  Being here reminds me to keep my eyes open for the way God might be working.

We recently had squatters move into the house we were going to buy and could not get them out.  We  then we were not able to move into another house that we had hopes for because of government issues.  This type of thing has happened to us 8 times since moving here.  Buying a house seems out of reach.  The other day I realized, while thinking about thankfulness, that God has used me in so many ways in this little apartment complex that I live.  Don't get me wrong I think financially and in many other ways buying a house is still for us some day if God has it.  However if I look at this though the lenses of "what does god have planned" I can't be anything but thankful.

I have been privileged to be able to work and help in a country where this part of my life has become very clear.  I don't always like what comes my way but God did not tell us to "like" everything.  He told us to be thankful for everything.  There is a massive difference there.  We can all acknowledge that things are bad and still be thankful that we even know what good is.   For example: I have found that I can hate the situations that have brought the girls from the restoration home into that home.  I have also found that I can be thankful because now I get to take part in their restoration and and their walk with Christ.  I can also acknowledge that when Christian morals break down, it is the vulnerable that suffer. This is a fallen world and if we "liked" everything it would be a problem.

Thankfulness to God in all things "because it is His will" is just another way to surrender your life to Him.  It is an acknowledgment that He is in control and has plans for your life that you can't see.  It is a delighting in the little things.  It is an enjoyment of the 3 minute shower because you have water.  It is looking at every person in your life and realizing that their journey may have been hard but whatever it was it has brought them to you to love in some way. It is looking for the silver lining and thanking but not necessarily "liking".  In the end it is just admitting that we make crummy Gods and He know's what we need.