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.


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.