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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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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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