:: 09/17/2014 - 7:31am ::

As a verb, surrender means to give up control. It is not a popular idea in our culture. We live in a “me first” world—my rights, my ideas, my beliefs, my life. Rarely do we see someone who is willing to fully surrender control of his or her life to anyone else, even the God of the universe. We just don’t like the idea of not being in control.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’”Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

A surrendered life is what God calls all believers to live—a life that denies self and embraces Christ. What does surrender look like for a Christian who is on mission?

  • Putting the needs of others first
  • Stepping out in obedience, even when it is hard or unpopular
  • Seeking God’s direction
  • Finding an area of service and working hard
  • Being in touch with the work of the Holy Spirit—moving when He moves

Take a few minutes to evaluate your life. Can you honestly say you are surrendered to God in every way? What is 1 area you need to surrender to Him today?

Beth Holmes is a stay-at-home mom, blogger, gardener, and community ministry advocate who lives in Owensboro, Kentucky. Read more of her adventures at BethHolmes.wordpress.com.

:: 09/15/2014 - 9:35am ::

“I spent $2,500 to go on a mission trip to Africa last year. But in my own town, I hadn’t shared the gospel.” Such were the honest words of 17-year-old Abi after participating in outreach activities in her city during summer vacation.

The 25/40 Mission Project, based on Matthew 25:40, teaches ministering to “the least of these.” This past summer, youth from churches in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas partnered to fulfill this principle. Games, crafts, and Bible studies for children produced many smiling faces and receptive hearts. A free car wash was held. The crisis pregnancy center was the beneficiary of extra cleaning services. Bingo and conversation brought delight to nursing home residents. A block party with more than 100 children and parents in attendance capped off the week.

Youth Director Doug told his teens, “Missions changes your life—not just the people you minister to.” That statement held true as reports of the week were heard: 

“Go to a nursing home? Why? But I learned it is never too late to share.”

“I thought everyone knew Who Jesus was. They don’t.”           

“We are all the same race: the human race.”

Going away or staying home—sharing the gospel is not optional.

Cynthia Price witnessed firsthand the results of this citywide “mission trip”!

:: 09/10/2014 - 7:41am ::

Sometimes God calls us to unexpected places. Maybe He’ll move us to a different city or country. But sometimes He’s calling us to step out of our church buildings and into our communities.

Two years ago, God opened our eyes to the reality that our beautiful church building, with our polished programs and activities, is sitting in the middle of one of the poorest areas in our county. He allowed us to see what is happening around us: children raising themselves, parents addicted to meth, poverty beyond our imagination, hunger, and deep need.

And then He began to give us opportunities to step out of our comfort zones, to sit and talk with people who live different lifestyles, who know deep heartache and pain. We fed them, played with their little children, and tutored their older children.

And we gained so much more than we gave.

God wants all Christians to be on mission with Him. He has a place of service designed especially for your gifts and abilities. Whatever you feel you lack, He provides. Will you answer in obedience to Him today?

Beth Holmes is a stay-at-home mom, blogger, gardener, and community ministry advocate who lives in Owensboro, Kentucky. Read more of her adventures at BethHolmes.wordpress.com.

:: 09/08/2014 - 12:24pm ::

Our daughter Rebekah was home for Christmas break. Various mission endeavors were available through the church, and she was anxious to participate. So were my husband and I.

We were given 2 families to assist, and clothes, toys, and food were gathered. Then came the distribution, which should have been the “Joy to the World” part, but somehow it wasn’t there. My husband and daughter were all set, but I felt a strange, unexplained reticence.

Pride? Whose was I worried about? Mine or theirs? Embarrassment? What if our good intentions were rejected? Fear? Suppose the recipients thought I was being condescending. Truth was I just couldn’t shake these feelings. But, of course, I went along.

The first visit was pure delight. Toys were played with and other items were received with thankfulness.

Several siblings and a caregiving relative made up the next family. Both parents were in prison. Clothes were given and other requested typical Christmas wishes were filled. Ironically, years later, the mother of these children and I would become close friends.

I regret to think what my foolish emotions almost cost me. Granted, the giver usually receives the greater blessing. But in this case, the giver, me, was also the “needy” one who had to defeat pride, practice all-inclusive love, and offer unconditional acceptance.

And thankfully then came the joy!

Cynthia Price appreciates the opportunity to be involved in church outreach projects.

:: 09/03/2014 - 1:43pm ::

When my husband started seminary in 1999, God provided a small church in the country for us to serve in a part-time position. We had a lot of scrapes and bruises along the way as we learned what it meant to be in ministry, but they became a family to us. They invited us into their lives, loved on us, and let us explore our giftedness and abilities.

In 2006, God called us away from that church. Leaving was a difficult decision, although we knew God was calling my husband into a full-time position 2 hours away. I was excited about the possibilities in our new church and city, but I grieved what I was leaving behind—a good job, great friends, and a comfortable ministry.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”Job 1:21 (NIV)

We have learned that when God closes 1 door in ministry, it’s because He’s waiting to bless us through taking the next step in faith. What is He asking of you today? How do you need to respond in obedience to His call?

Beth Holmes is a stay-at-home mom, blogger, gardener, and community ministry advocate who lives in Owensboro, Kentucky. Read more of her adventures at BethHolmes.wordpress.com.

:: 09/02/2014 - 6:03pm ::

I just didn’t have time. My schedule was different. I couldn’t stretch myself any further.

The teenagers at church practiced music and drama for weeks. Our choir director worked countless hours organizing all that it took to transport 75 youth choir members and chaperones to an out-of-state rehab facility that had welcomed this group for the past 20 years. The teens’ mission was to share their faith through inspiring presentations.

And they needed church members to act as prayer partners. These volunteers would fill goody bags and pray. OK, not too hard. However, an “encouragement card” to be read each day was supposed to be included in the bag. I could spend hours doing this; it had to be perfect. But I had no time for that this year.

That was until the call. The prayer chairman desperately needed 1 more. Would I take it? Inwardly I groaned, but of course, I said yes. I got it done on time and to my satisfaction.

Upon the group’s return, my assigned prayer partner was immediately met with a serious family situation. Guess whom she called to pray.

Because of my “demanding schedule” this year, I almost missed the opportunity to witness God’s amazing intervention in someone’s life. Almost.

One of Cynthia Price’s greatest blessings is writing notes to others.

:: 08/25/2014 - 8:34am ::

A movie star thanks God as she accepts an award, and the Christian community shouts, “Yes, another point for Team Christian.” An atheist wins a political office, and it’s “No, we can’t let THEM win.” Contact with nonbelievers is perceived as “us” versus “them,” and we have to win.

In the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism, Carl Medearis explains that we are not battling nonbelievers. We are not on opposite sides. We do not “win” by scoring more points than the non-Christians. Many believers have confused their religion with their Savior.

The world needs to know Jesus and His love, mercy, and grace. Medearis tells how to share Jesus without being sidetracked by all the traditions and history of Christianity. This is a book I want to give to everyone I know. I can’t say I agree 100% with everything the writer says, but this book changed the way I introduce people to Jesus. After all, He is the message.

Donna Maust lives in a small fishing village on Ecuador’s northwest coast.

:: 08/18/2014 - 8:01am ::

I live in the land of sunshine and ocean waves and jungle rivers. The area is called Esmeraldas (emeralds), named by the Spanish conquistadores for the lush green countryside. Sunshine, the beach, an abundance of seafood, never-ending summer, people who are friendly and warm—many would say we live in a paradise.

But this land of sunshine is full of darkness. Families are not only broken but marriage is not even a part of this culture. Sexual deviations, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, witchcraft, and incest are just a few of the issues we have encountered as we share Jesus. You and I live in a fallen world. Sin reigns and as people exercise their freedom of choice to sin, people are hurt.

Only God can heal the pain. We ask Him every day to help us know how to communicate His grace to the people here. I don’t know where you live, but the people around you face the same struggles. They need Jesus, and most don’t even know it.

Donna Maust lives in a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Ecuador.

:: 08/11/2014 - 7:35am ::

What does a missionary wife do? In the past, my time was focused on our 3 children, not only as mom but also as homeschool teacher. They are all mature young adults in the United States now.

Two days ago, a young woman visited us. Her young teen daughter had been raped by an extended family member. I spent time counseling her and listening to her. Another young woman recently had a severe stroke during the birth of her first baby. We visited her and encouraged her and her husband. We also do marriage counseling, help people through crises, and, above all, look for opportunities to share Jesus and make disciples.

One of my main outreaches is through cooking classes. What better way to get to know women than working together in the kitchen? The biggest hits have been pizza, apple pie, cookies, and chocolate cake. The women in my class have taught me how to make some of the local seafood dishes. We have a lot of fun together building friendships.

Like you, I spend time cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and doing other household chores. But, here, everything takes longer. I don’t have convenience foods or super-duper cleaning products. And the nearest supermarket is 45 minutes away.

I do the same thing any Christian woman should be doing, following God’s call in my life. I just do it in a remote fishing village in Ecuador. 

Donna Maust lives in a small fishing village on Ecuador’s northwest coast.

:: 08/04/2014 - 7:50am ::

The sun is sparkling on the Pacific Ocean, and it’s 93° at 11 a.m. A young girl passes by my gate and calls out to me, “Do you want shrimp today?” She is selling today’s catch. Other days, I am offered crab, calamari, fish, and even lobster.

After 13 years high in the beautiful Andes Mountains of Ecuador, God called us to an unreached people group, the Afro-Ecuadorians. These people are descendants of shipwrecked and escaped slaves from 500 years ago. We live in a remote fishing village, which allows us to easily travel to less accessible areas in the province of Esmeraldas.

It’s a beautiful area, but it has challenges. The water comes in sporadically, so we rely on storage tanks and water rationing. I have no neighborhood supermarket, gym, shopping center, or food court. We have frequent power and Internet outages. We don’t have air-conditioning, just electric fans.

All the inconveniences are nothing compared to the joy of making friends and sharing Jesus with them. What inconveniences in your life are keeping you from sharing Jesus?

Donna Maust lives in a small fishing village on Ecuador’s northwest coast.

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