Spiritual Bankruptcy & the Reformation

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I am reading a book called Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges. In the first chapter he talks about filing bankruptcy – either Chapter 7 or 11.

Chapter 11 is chosen when a business is fairly healthy, and given enough time, can work out of its financial troubles. Chapter 7 is filed when a company is so deep in debt that there is no way to continue as a viable business. The owner loses everything, and the company is dead. Thus in layman’s terms, Chapter 7 is permanent & Chapter 11 is temporary.

Many people try and claim Chapter 11 spiritual bankruptcy. They believe, given enough time, they can work themselves out of their spiritual bankruptcy and revive themselves.

However, this not the case. We have a debt we cannot pay – the wages of our sin (Romans 6:23) – which causes death.  We are spiritually bankrupt (Romans 3:10-12), and as such, can do nothing to revive ourselves. We are permanently dead in our sins, and unless someone pays our debt, there we will stay

This coming week is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Over the past few weeks, I have been learning about church history and some of the names that have helped shape the church; names like Spurgeon, Edwards, & Martin Luther.

During Luther’s day, after death, if you were not yet holy or “clean” enough to enter Heaven, you ended up in a place called Purgatory.  The belief was that there were still sins in your life on earth that needed to be atoned for.

Family members on earth could “assist” someone out of purgatory by buying an Indulgence. This payment would then allow the person into Heaven. Luther saw the error in this belief and thus wrote his 95 theses to counteract and show the truth of the Gospel.

I am thankful for men like Martin Luther who stood up and proclaimed the truth of the Gospel. That it is not by works, or your own merit, that shall cause you to be saved or made righteous. It is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one can boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9.

As each day moves us closer to the return of Christ, may we always remember to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, no matter the circumstances, to all people – foreign and domestic.

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God Is Not American “Tasol”

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“Tasol” in Tok Pisin means – “Only.” I have been living in Papua New Guinea for a year now. Back in January of 2015, I wrote the majority of this blog post…before I had even become a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Funny how the Lord puts things in your heart, and at the appropriate time will bring them to fruition.

 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

In the above verses Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples of ALL Nations. This command includes your native home country. Some people he has called to do this in their native home country and some overseas.

Some where along the way though, this command got relegated to Pastors and Missionaries “tasol” I believe. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” – John 14:15.

If you and I are followers and disciples of Jesus, this means us. We have the power of Jesus in us, and if you read these two verses together, we are not on our own when we are making disciples. He is right there with us…However, we can tend to forget this at times…

I was reminded of two stories – Saul, Samuel, and King Agag & Jonah. We may start out following God, but then we are distracted by all the nice wealth and possessions. (1st Samuel 15) Or like Jonah, we run away from what the Lord has asked of us. We focus on ourselves. (Jonah 1)

We all have a part to play in making disciples, in our native country or overseas. What is the Lord asking of you?

The Grass Is Greener…

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“…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” – Deuteronomy 8:3b

Have you ever tasted some food or fruit, and what you were expecting didn’t happen? I have, and it is a jolt to the taste buds. I am visual, so if some food, fruit, dessert, etc. doesn’t look appealing, at times I have a hard time stepping out and trying it.

I already have an expectation that it won’t be good or a benefit to my taste buds or hunger. The Bible speaks about food in Psalm 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”

Have you ever avoided tasting or moving towards the Lord because you have an expectation of it not being good or a benefit to you? What does it really mean to “taste and see” about the Lord?

It may start in/with Psalm 111:15 – “He  provides food for those who fear him.” I believe food maybe wisdom. Cross reference Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it, have a good understanding.” Proverbs 3:7b-8 – “fear the LORD and turn away from evil, it will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

I have been reading a book called A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. In it he speaks about how a shepherd keeps moving the sheep from pasture to pasture to keep them healthy and well fed.

I think the apostle Paul was talking about this when he spoke of moving from milk to solid foods in Hebrews 5:12, 14 – “…you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Just like sheep move from pasture to pasture, following the lead of the shepherd; I ask myself this question, ‘What pasture am I currently feeding on?’ Am I moving to new pasture or staying on the same?

 

Planting Yams

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This is Joshua and his family. Have you ever planted yams? One day I had the privilege of learning this trade from Joshua and his family. I met them when I was living in the village of Balama, Papua New Guinea, last year (2016) during my one month stay.

First you dig a round hole. Next you take a stick and place it in the middle of the dug hole. You find a number of already ripe yams and place one of them next to the stick. Then you fill the hole in with dirt and make a mound. Finally, after months of rain and cultivation by Joshua, during harvest time, the yams will be ready.

A few years ago, the LORD began to plant something in my heart. I began to think about a possible change in direction, away from being an Emergency Room RN towards some type of counseling. However, at the time it was a small seed and not yet ready to harvest.

About 4 years go by, and now it’s Summer 2015. The thought returns about pursuing some sort of counseling but with the added thought of having biblical understanding to bring to the counseling. The planted seed has grown and developed, but yet not quite ready to be harvested by the LORD.

In May 2015, I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and began to pursue moving to Papua New Guinea. I was to work as an RN supporting Bible Translation, Translators, and Support Workers on one of the branch centers. I couldn’t figure out how to combine the two roles of pastoral care and counseling, so I let the thought go and continued to pursue what the LORD was leading me towards.

I arrived to the branch center in Papua New Guinea in mid-October 2016. After being on center for about 2.5 months, the LORD again brought up the desire towards biblical counseling but with the added idea of helping missionaries. I began to wonder if the LORD was starting to harvest what he had planted back in 2011.

It is amazing to me how intertwined my daily life can be to things I am learning from the LORD. I recently finished reading about Joseph and his time in prison with the cup-bearer. The LORD gave Joseph the gift of interpreting the cup-bearer’s dream. A seed was planted with the cup-bearer to remember Joseph. However, it was 2 years before this seed would be harvested. When it was though, Joseph was immediately brought from prison to Pharaoh’s presence and made Prince of Egypt.

Just like it took time for the yams to be ready, and for Joseph to be Prince of Egypt, so it has taken time for the LORD to grow and cultivate this desire he planted within me. I believe Joseph was ready for when the LORD came and harvested what was planted in him to become Prince of Egypt.  Now it’s June 2017 and the LORD has begun to harvest what was planted within me back in 2011.

Are you going to be ready when the LORD comes/begins to harvest what He has planted within you?

 

Village Clinic

From February—November, three days a week, the Ukarumpa Health Centre (UHC) goes to 12 different villages surrounding the Ukarumpa Center. On Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday each week, 2—3 UHC National staff and one RN from the SIL Clinic travel by car to a village anywhere from 10 min—to 1 hour away.

After set-up is complete, Hosea (UHC National staff) takes a “skel buk” (a book that records patient information) and writes down chief complaint and if there are any immunizations that the child needs.

Afterwards, the child and family member come and see me. The variable of shots I give can vary from zero up to five. In total there are eight different shots that can be given to any individual child based on past immunization records.

Sometimes the child needs medical attention rather than an immunization shot. Most of the time we give out antibiotics for pneumonia, Panadol (Tylenol) for pain or fevers, worm medicine, or we clean wounds, etc.

I thought I would share a few pics of what a typical village clinic experience was like.

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Packing the medicine

Oaks of Righteousness

Psalm 1:3 – “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Ezekiel 47:12 – “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.

A few weeks ago, during my Saturday morning prayer time, the LORD highlighted the above three isaiah 61-3verses for me. He revealed that when a tree bears fruit, the fruit is not for the trees consumption. Rather, it is for the nourishment of those who come.

This year, as I attended the Good Friday service, I felt more of the grief and anguish I believe the LORD felt. It was revealed to me, there is no grief or sorrow too deep that I may go through, that the LORD has not experienced himself.

I am an oak of righteousness. And as such, Jesus says in John 15:1-2 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser…and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” So whatever pruning I go through, the fruit that is being produced in me is for the betterment of those who will cross my path.

Sacrificial Love

“And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy [love] and not sacrifice…” – Matthew 12:7

In the Hebrew, this word for mercy means steadfast love. We are not called by God to just make a sacrifice – “an observation of religious rituals” – that shows on the outside that we are making a sacrifice for the LORD. We are called to go and Love.

If Love is the overarching factor, then the sacrifice of going and doing is not as difficult, although it still maybe.

“ACCEPT EACH DAY exactly as it comes to you. By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body. Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in My sovereignty and faithfulness.

On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives – giving up or relying on Me. Even if you wrongly choose the first alternative, I will not reject you. You can turn to Me at any point, and I will help you crawl out of the mire of discouragement.

I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day. Trust Me, by relying on my empowering Presence.”

Sarah Young from Jesus Calling

8 September Entry

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Remnants of WWII

During my one month living in a Papua New Guinean Village from mid-September to mid-October, 2016, I saw quite a few remnants of WWII. My grandfather fought in WWII as a paratrooper and radio man in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan. Looking at these relics of the past reminded me of days gone by. These were once nice machines which worked well and did what they were designed for. However, now they sit broken down and discarded.

Have you ever felt this way? At one time, you felt great and were kicking on all cylinders. You were passing all of your exams, you received a promotion, your marriage was a beautiful work of art, your missionary work or ministry was fruitful and blossoming. However, over time, neglect, disinterest, or life got in the way and you began to deteriorate. You feel broken down, discarded, a former shell of who you were.

However, unlike things of this world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ doesn’t leave us this way. He sent his Son – Jesus – to redeem us. “For God so loved [you] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1st Peter 2:24

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

“…he has sent [Jesus] to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” – Isaiah 61:1

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Jesus entered our world as a lowly child, in a manager. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us not forget that he is not a lowly babe anymore. He is risen, sits at the right hand of the Father, and longs to bring healing, fulfillment, and joy into this world. “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand…” – Psalm 139:17-18

Heavenly Citizenship

This morning (17 November 2016) I awoke in the middle of the night (3:15 am to be exact) with thoughts of home. But over the years, I have had many homes in the United States– Philadelphia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Texas, and Washington State. I am currently living in Papua New Guinea (PNG), in a small community called Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands Province. Ukarumpa is the main center for supporting Bible Translation work by Wycliffe Bible Translators.

I work at the center’s clinic with a great team of Doctors and Nurses. We care for the citizens of Ukarumpa as well as National PNG citizens in the surrounding area. I recently spent 1 month living in a small village called Balama (14 September – 13 October). Here is a map of what the village looks like. The black arrow is the area where I stayed. It includes my sleeping quarters, my host family’s sleeping/cooking house, and my cooking house. The next photo is a map of Ukarumpa, where I currently live. The red arrow is where I live and the red circle is where I work.

I thought I would show what my house looked like in the village of Balama and my home currently at Ukarumpa…Enjoy 🙂

Even though I have had numerous homes, lived in 2 different countries, as well as traveled to over 10 different countries, I was reminded of Philippians 3:20 – “[My] citizenship is in heaven, and from it [I] await [my] Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” My home is in Heaven…is yours?

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What Are You Waiting For?

This was asked of me by the LORD when I was 29 years old. I am the oldest of a set of triplet boys. At this time, both my brothers were married with children.

isaiah-55I was coming up on 30 years of age and let’s be honest, I was having a difficult time with this. I had envisioned my life turning out a little different.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life had been good. However, I was not looking at what I had been given. I was looking at what I didn’t have…

I’m not quite sure when my thought process changed, but it was shortly after this question was posed to me by the LORD that my life took a turn. Starting in 2009, for the next 5 years I went to 8 different countries on 8 different short term mission trips.

Then in April 2013 I was taking a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. One night after hearing about Wycliffe Bible Translators I began to research medical needs on their website. A few countries came up needing medical help, and PNG was one of those places. I clicked on the link, and the first sentence read – “Do you have Emergency Room experience?”

Ironically enough, for the past 8 years I had been working in emergency medicine. First as an EMT, then a Paramedic, and currently as an Emergency Room RN. Long term missions was never in my thought process, but it was in the LORD’s.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” – Isaiah 55:8-9

It has been a 3 1/2 year journey to arrive here in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and begin work at the Ukarumpa Health Clinic. God has been faithful through it all, and I am glad and honored to be able to help support Bible Translation and the local PNG nationals around Ukarumpa.

I am so thankful to have listened to the LORD back in 2009. I have been all over the world, and it has brought me here to live and work in PNG. I am thankful I started living my life instead of waiting for my life to begin…