Sanctified Tourist

Why can't all followers of Jesus just come together around scripture?

Maybe it's because we, who live in a first world country, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 


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The Daily Hustle

(Our daughter and family are missionaries to Cambodia.  My hubby and I live there half of the year, giving help to them as we are able.  Recently my missionary son-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  They are back in the states and our trips to Cambodia are on hold for now.)

My hubby and I  spend time every morning in our Cambodian town walking on the riverside across the street from our house, for exercise and prayer.  The daily hustle for food and shelter play out before us as we make our way down the street.  The Holy Spirit teaches us a spiritual lesson while we walk by life being lived along the river.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

In His famous prayer, Jesus tells us to,”Give us this day our daily bread,” and we recite it solemnly with no real idea what it might really mean to work every single day for just enough money to be able to stop by the open air market on the way home, and then to start all over the next day because what you had the day before is in the stomach of your children.

On our walk, we watch the local iceman stop by the same roadside shop everyday and saw off a hunk of ice for the drink shop lady’s cooler because she does not have a refrigerator.  Pennies change hands and off he goes to his next customer.  Her drinks also sell for pennies.  They are both providers…hard workers.  There are no sick days for these people, no steady income, no government assistance.

They need daily bread.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

As we make the loop around the end of the riverside, we notice several women standing knee deep in the river washing the daily catch of shrimp.  They are not the ones who caught the shrimp, their job is to clean it…for pennies.  Soon a man on a motorcycle arrives to stack three huge baskets of clean shrimp on the back of his moto and take the fresh shrimp to the town market for sale…for pennies.  We will see this same routine repeat again the next day.  There are no weekends off if they want to eat.

They need daily bread.

And then there are the custodians of the riverside, sweeping and picking up trash every day.  One of their jobs is to scrape out the weeds that grow between the bricks… by hand.  Their toddlers play nearby.  There is no day care for those who work for pennies.

They need daily bread.  If they don’t eat they will get sick and die.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

Maybe it’s because we in first world countries lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message about bread Jesus conveyed when quoting part of Deuteronomy 8:3 during His temptation.  “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  Shouldn’t we hunger for His words when the belly of our soul is empty?  Shouldn’t we pursue it as if famished, never resting until full?  Shouldn’t we feed it to our spiritually starving children? Won’t they just get sick and die without it?

Father, give us zeal in pursuing daily spiritual bread as steadily as these Cambodian people pursue real bread.  Holy Spirit, remind us of the words of Jesus in John 6:25,  “…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again…”  Nourish our souls Lord Jesus.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

Blessings, Alice

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Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.


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Dirt and Light

My husband gave our Cambodian dog a bath the other day and as soon as the cleansing was completed, little Eli ran with all his might to his favorite spot to gleefully roll in the dirt.  Emphasis on the word gleefully.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

I do this too y’all.  I have a “favorite” sin or two that draws me back into the dirt over and over again.  Why do I return?  I have no idea.  Habit?   Maybe.  Lack of Trust?  Definitely.  But the Master keeps cleansing me, because I keep going back to Him.  Repentance is part of my life in Christ.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

A problem with repentance arises when God’s children cannot recognize personal sin.  Compromises are made in the heart.  Scripture is ignored.  Emotions rule.  Excuses are given.  When sin is not grieved, there is no repentance.   When there is no repentance, there is no light.

John directs this scripture to followers of Christ.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

Lord, Help us be successful in examining the life you have given us.  Reveal to us anything that is offensive to You and lead us on the path to everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  Light bulbs against the white sands in Pensacola, Florida.

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Three Truths You Might Not Know About Missionaries

My husband and I  live half the year in Cambodia serving as missionaries along side our daughter’s family.  I hope to inspire more American Christians to become involved in the great commission by becoming partners with a missionary family.  To adopt them.  To have the names of these servants spoken at your dinner table prayer, and during tucking in moments at bedtime. And to help you see this command from Jesus as personal.  “Jesus came and told his disciples (replace your name here), ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

Please take into consideration these truths you might not know.

Here are three truths about missionaries that I think you need to know.   How can you respond?  Just read this post to find out.

1.  Missionaries are often forgotten

So was Paul.  He says, The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength…”  2 Timothy 4:16-17 NLT

Be honest…can you recall the names of any missionaries?  Are you friends with any on social media?  Do you receive posts from a family working overseas for Jesus?  If you receive a newsletter, do you read it out loud with your children?  Do you read it at all?  Do you reply with a comment of encouragement?  Are you excited about the work being done on foreign shores?  How do you express your excitement?

Just to receive an uplifting message or to be reminded that a family is actively praying gives so much encouragement to the forgotten missionary.  Use Facebook Messenger to send personal notes to ask for specific prayer requests of your adopted missionaries and then speak the names of these servants of God boldly and often in front of your children.  Paul makes a prayer suggestion for himself and his team in 2 Thessalonians 3:1  “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.”

What can you do to keep your adopted missionary family from being forgotten in the rush of life?

2.  They are rarely fully funded.

On paper, a missionary salary may look adequate to cover daily expenses, but many times reality is somewhat different.  It’s safe to say that missionaries operate on far less than what you do.  Often missionaries sacrifice  food and living expenses on mission projects they feel God has put before them.

I want to encourage you to get financially involved with a specific missionary. Missionaries do not like asking for money.  They pray that your heart will be softened toward their work and you will act without any prompting from them.   A surprise donation of money or care package every once in a while or even monthly would be the answer to prayers for your adopted family.  It’s easier to genuinely love someone when you make them a part of your family.

What can you do to invest in a missionary?

3.  Slow Progress is misunderstood.

Please consider that the day in the life of a missionary is very different than yours.  A missionary spends a good amount of time just trying to survive.  Where will we get food?  is the meat safe?  How far will I have to go to find toilet paper?  How will I wash these dirty diapers without hot water?  How will I get medicine for my child’s rash?  Is is time for our three month parasite pills?  Why is the water brown today?  How will we dry these clothes without a dryer during rainy season?  How will I stay cool today?  How can I get rid of this mold?  Who can I find to teach me the language?  What is the best way to home school the kids?  How long will the power be off today?  When will money be available to travel to the city for supplies?  Why won’t anyone believe in God or His Son?

In addition to daily survival, each missionary has a specific direction of work they have been given by the Holy Spirit.  Some teach English.  Some work with children.  Others are sent to encourage an infant church or serve with a Christian organization.  In all cases, relationships must be formed, and trust received.  Try to understand that progress is slow.  Planting seeds take time.  There may not be an abundance of conversions, if any.  Let’s be sure to not look at these gardeners as failures.  The enemy would love for us to believe this lie.  The harvest could take years.  It might even be another generation before Jesus is accepted in many places.   Paul’s words are perfect encouragement for the discouraged missionary,   I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”  1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NLT

How can you spread positive attitudes to your adopted missionary family when things are slow?

Here are three truths about missionaries that I think you need to know.   How can you respond?  Just read this post to find out.

I pray that as you enter the new year you will consider becoming active in the life of a missionary even if their denomination is different than yours. For further reading, please see this post from my friend’s daughter-in-law serving in Papua New Guinea.  “When Your Missionary Stories Aren’t Sexy” by Erin Duplechin 

Would you share any ideas you have to encourage others to be part of Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation?”  Mark 16:15 NIV

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  A fruit stand on a rural Cambodian road, taken while we were stopped for gas.

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Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?


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What Happens When Your Comfort is Compromised?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the spiritual aspect of discomfort, especially when I find myself dripping with sweat in the Cambodian heat, or when I am running low on money,  or maybe even when I can’t find something decent to watch on Netflix.  It’s funny (and wonderful) when I run across a scripture that puts an exclamation mark on my thoughts.

 

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

I believe the majority of each person’s day on earth  is spent in pursuit of comfort…the avoidance of discomfort.   Do you agree?  Babies come into the world howling for comfort.  “I’m wet, I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m in pain.”  Adults are just as bad.  We like to vocalize our discomfort too.   Did you know that IKEA takes a yearly survey to ask people around the world this question, “What makes a better life at home?” (you can find this information here) In 2018 these were the five results that appeared over and over again:

  • PRIVACY
  • SECURITY
  • COMFORT
  • OWNERSHIP
  • BELONGING

In scripture there is a famous story that illustrates the fact that Jesus requires His followers to step away from comfort in order to prove faith.  Jesus asked the rich young ruler to, “Follow me.”

What He really meant was…

Follow me everyday, every hour, every minute, every second.

Follow me and leave everyone you love behind you, even if they don’t understand.

Follow me with no house, no bed, no pillow.

Follow me and be hungry, hot, cold, and wet.

Follow me with one set of clothing, no soap, and lots of bugs.

Follow me and be cursed, beaten, and tempted constantly.

Oh, and sell everything you own and give it to the poor.

The scripture says that the young man sadly walked away.  (read the story here) It wasn’t just money that Jesus commanded him to leave behind.  His mind saw the reality of discipleship, and he was overcome with fear of a future with Jesus.

But there was a different reaction by the apostles when they were given the same invitation by Jesus to, “Follow me.”  Unlike the rich young ruler, these apostles didn’t care about the deficits they might be facing.  They joyfully stepped out of life as they knew it, into an adventure of a lifetime,  Jesus.

Can you apply a modern day example for your life here?  What is He asking you to do that makes you uncomfortable?  I know there is something, because scripture says Jesus continually asks His followers to deny themselves.

He’s standing at your door and knocking.  Not pounding.  Not yelling.   He’s just knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking…for as long as it takes for you to open the door.  Then the most exciting thing will happen y’all.  Scripture says He will come into your house and eat with you as a friends.  Meals are where we linger, where bonds are made.  Meals are sharing of nourishment, soul and body.  Will you be uncomfortable?  Probably.  Will you cry?  Most likely.  Will He require much?  Yes, He always does.   Will He abandon you when you take a beating?  Never.  Will His love make all the difference?  For sure.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

This life of following Jesus is hard.  To me though, every bump along the way has seemed like a paper cut compared to the deep, spiritual mentoring I have received from Him. But beware!  The enemy will do everything in  his power to keep your hand off of the doorknob.  If fear presses you to bolt the door, then you will stay comfortable, but sadness will overtake you.  Just like the rich young ruler in this story.  It won’t matter though, Jesus will keep knocking. I love that about Him.

Lord, I pray over the person who reads this post and knows in her heart that Jesus is asking her to step up or step out.  Fill her with courage to move forward with You.

These have been comments on the Words of Jesus in Matthew 19:16-22

Blessings, Alice

The picture used is our Cambodia front doors with flowers from the garden in the foreground.

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There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.


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Why do you want to go to Heaven?

Why do you want to go to heaven?

Is it to see someone that you miss desperately?

Is is to escape something terrible?

Is it to get relief from pain?

Is it to avoid hell?  (yes, there is a hell)

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

These are all legitimate desires, but not one is spiritual.  Self-preservation and self-gratification are favorite ways for the enemy to tempt the one looking too closely in the mirror.  One juicy bite of pride in the garden long ago caused the Father to leave. The God of the universe, who was once seen by two pair of eyes, is now referred to as invisible.   I wonder if Eve, after all the punishments were announced,  I wonder if she missed her intimate life with God?  Did she long to hear His footsteps in the garden?  Was the worse consequence she received that day, the separation from her Creator?

That’s all God wants of us ya’ll.  He wants us to long to see Him.  To anticipate a reunion. To love Him more than that special person you miss.

I have personally had heaven issues in the past, one of the reason for this post.  I artfully hid this secret from my inner self.  The fact that Jesus was in heaven was just secondary to the reason I really wanted to go.   Thankfully the Holy Spirit specializes in wake up calls.

So exactly what did my repentance look like?

Honesty came first.  I didn’t love God as He commanded…with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.  I was a halfhearted lover.  And y’all, that’s never good for a relationship.  (I wrote a post about that here) Next I admitted to myself that I was helpless in knowing how to drum up this kind of passion in my love for God.  Finally,  I turned to the Holy Spirit for help.  He helped me change my behavior toward God.  And let me note here, the behavior came first, the fervor came later… a miracle performed by my friend the Holy Spirit.  I began drinking in scripture, praying with purpose,  making time for solitary praise and meditation, and I started talking about Jesus to everyone…just as if I couldn’t live without Him.  Soon I discovered I couldn’t.

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

Now… HIS face is the first one I want to see when I step out of my earthly body.

In my imagination,   this is what heaven looks like to me.  Upon my arrival, those I love are close but not in the forefront.  They are to the side eagerly anticipating  the moment I catch the first glimpse of the One who died for me.  My eyes are locked on Jesus as my mother and father take my hands.  Together we worship Him, joining our voices as a family united in our joy.  He is the center of our attention.  As it was in the beginning.

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  taken on my 2018 trip to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.

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