Ongs in Malawi

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Envy, and the seductiveness of things

Posted on May 20, 2010 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m usually pretty good at articulating what I’m feeling, but for once I’m finding it hard... I’ve been thinking a lot and trying to work out my thoughts and have been finding it hard to arrange them in an orderly manner.

 

I’ve been struggling with the whole issue of money and things. To be exact, I’ve been struggling with the thought of letting go of these as we prepare to go on mission.

 

Instead of trying to express what's in my head, I’ll just share a couple of things God has been teaching me lately.

 

I attended a women’s conference recently (www.equip.org.au) and heard a thought provoking talk on envy. I’m full of envy. The more I struggle with the thought of giving up my things for missions, the more I envy those who have the things I know I will never be able to afford.

 

Envy.

 

The speaker  defined envy as “the pain of another’s good fortune”.

Envy says: “what about me?” and “why them?”. Envy attempts to destroy the happiness of another.

 

If left unchecked, envy can lead to the destruction of relationships as we fail to rejoice with those who do well but rather prefer to offer ‘constructive criticism’ or sometimes silence.

 

Deep down, it is not about resentment against the person but resentment against God. 

“Why did God give them what I wanted instead of me?”

 

Envy focuses on what we do not have, rather than what we do have.

Envy blinds us to what God has blessed us with.


I really liked this quote: “Don’t envy what’s over there because God is doing His work over here.”

 

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God graciously timed this in my devotions recently, just as I’m in the thick of struggling with this whole issue of ‘things’.

 

May 13

Do you realise that the very blessing of the Lord can seduce our affections away from the Giver to the gifts if we do not hold them in an open hand?

The Bible says “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).........Have our hearts become captivated with the seductiveness of “things” rather than with a fervent, sacrificial love for our God and for the furtherance of His kingdom?

Prayer: How I need you, Lord. You have blessed me in so many ways. Let me never lose sight of the Giver in my enjoyment of Your gifts. Show me how best to honour You with all my substance.


As I look around me, I can see all that God has blessed me with. Thank you God.

I think these are important lessons for me to learn now.  Thank you God.


~ Jo


Application Interview

Posted on April 28, 2010 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

We had our SIM application interview on the 17th April 2010 with two members of SIM's State Leadership Team - Christine and Barb. Christine and her family is preparing to serve with SIM in South America, and we know Barb from the Makki days! It went well considering we had Teaghan and Lucas with us, but it was good that they met us as a family. 

 

Based on this interview, our application papers and what our referees have said about us, Christine and Barb will write a report for the SIM Personnel Director to recommend whether we should proceed further in the Application process. If so, we will then embark on the next phase which are the assessments - personality, medical/dental, SIM manual and doctrinals! We envisiage that this phase will take us up til the end of this year. The doctrinals will be the challenging one so much prayer will be needed here.

 

I have been thinking about what the next six months will hold for us. There are still big questions that we are still seeking God's leading on, such as: "will we have college accommodation for next year"? "what to do with our current house"? "should I take a short break from Bible college for 6 months and  return back to full-time work during that period to save up some money"? I think we will get some more clarity in our thinking after my college application interview this Friday (30/04/10).

 

In the meantime, we continue to think through some possible placement opportunities with SIM in Africa. We invite you to be in prayer with us about this with regards to where God wants us to serve Him. There are two opportunities that have grabbed our attention so far. They are:

 

1. Kenya - Evangelist/Water & Sanitation Tentmaker 

This role will involve ministering amongst an unreached people group in northeastern rural Kenya. It will use a tentmaking approach through the avenue of water and sanitation development to build meaningful relationships with the community and a platform for the gospel.

 

2. Botswana - Schools Outreach Cooridnator 

I was blown away by the fact that 50% of Botswanans are under the age of 15! This role will involve taking the gospel and the HIV/AIDS intervention program to the Jr Secondary and primary schools. There is much potential here to influence the young generation of Botswanans, some of which will grow up to be the country's future leaders.

 

Two very different opportunities! How will we decide? What will be our selection criteria? Will there be more opportunities to come our way?  Only the Lord knows. I'll blog about this next time.

 

~ Pete

 

More than a monkey...

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

We lost Teaghan’s toy monkey out of the stroller the other day . We have looked everywhere for Monkey but she was nowhere to be found. I don’t know who was more sad about losing Monkey - me or Teaghan, because it was actually MY monkey that Teaghan took out to the shops with her! It didn’t have any sentimental value attached to it, except that I really liked it and I’ve had it for a few years. For those in the know, it was a Nici monkey).

 

It got me thinking... that when we go on missions, we’re going to be giving up a lot more than a mere toy monkey. A lot lot more. Not only will we be giving up the immediate material things, but also certain future dreams. Or at least, these dreams will have to be put on hold for the next 10 or so years.

 

I’d always known our plans were to go on missions, but in a strange way I still somehow pictured the next 10-15 years of my life in Sydney. But now that we are making decision steps towards missions, reality is really beginning to sink in.

 

Reality that we’ll soon be moving away from close family and friends.

Reality that Teaghan won’t have her friends to play with in a couple of years time – a lot of friends she’s known since she was born.

Reality that we’ll be moving away to a completely different culture.

Reality that I really won’t be returning back to teach (which I miss!) at Pacific Hills for at least the next 10 years.

Reality that Teaghan won’t be going to prep at Pacific Hills like we’d always thought she would.

Reality that we won’t be able to afford to pay our mortgage once Pete commences full time study at college.

Reality that we will probably be living at college next year.

Reality that we’ll have to find a new home for our cat.

Reality that the much longed for overseas holiday is out of the question.

Reality that we'll probably never be able to save up enough for a bigger house to accomodate our growing family.

 

I think it is a little harder for me to comprehend this change in reality than it is for Pete... because us leaving means to leave behind my life - the friends that I meet with during the week, the things I do with the kids (swimming, library storytime, playgroup etc), that IS my life right now. My life with my kids will change dramatically. But for Pete, he is already prepared to leave work. Work is work. It’s like he’s leaving one work for another but just in a different country. But my weekday life, the kids’ life, will change. Our friends will change, our routines will change, our activities will change.

 

It’s kind of hard to articulate how this new ‘reality’ makes me feel. I’m scared but at the same time, it excites me to think of all the new things we’ll experience and the new people we’ll make friends with.

 

As a friend put it, the hardest stage is this not-quite-there-yet stage. This stage where you anticipate change but isn’t quite there yet to say “Hey this change isn’t bad at all!”.

 

So again, we go in faith. I have faith in God that whatever this new reality holds, it’ll be good. I just can’t wait til we get there so I can fully embrace the new reality, rather than sitting here working up a sweat wondering what it'll all be like... bring it on!

 

~ Jo

Journey to the Cross

Posted on March 23, 2010 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Been thinking about the talk by Rev Laurie on Luke 9:18-27; 51-62 a few weeks ago. Jesus’ words here are radically confronting and worthy of reflection leading up to Easter.

 

Luke 9 is a turning point in Luke’s Gospel whereby after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ (9:20), Jesus begins to teach His disciples that he must suffer, be killed and raise to life again on the third day (9:22). The death of Jesus that first Easter Friday was not an accident nor was it something that was outside the control of God. Luke tells us that Jesus willingly and “resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (9:51) where he would face the Cross. And He did that to glorify God His Father by saving us.

 

What is interesting is that on the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus encountered three different people who wanted to follow Him but his words to them has caused me to reflect about my own attitude to Jesus’ radical discipleship.

 

Luke records the encounters this way (9:51-62):

 

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

 

He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

I can see myself in the shoes of the three people Jesus spoke with on the Jerusalem road. I probably would have given those excuses too when it came to the crunch. But just as Jesus resolutely set his face for Jerusalem, so too as his disciples we should resolutely set our face to seek first His Kingdom.

 

I find Jesus’ words below comforting yet challenging as we seek to serve Him in mission.

 

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? (9:23-25)

~ Pete

Effectiveness

Posted on March 14, 2010 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Been thinking about this word for the past several weeks since it came up in class at the start of semester. This semester I’ve been studying a subject called “Spiritual Formations for Cross-Cultural Ministry” which is basically looking at what you need to be and what you need to know when working as a cross-cultural worker.

 

One of the points that came out of the discussion that lecture about “spiritual vitality “was that being a cross-cultural worker involved more than just preparing to get there or survive but rather to be effective while there. It was suggested that being effective involved “bearing fruit” in one’s personal life and ministry (although sometimes there are seasons when one’s ministry will not bear fruit).

 

So what does it mean to “bear fruit”? Three passages of scripture come to mind and they all use the imagery of a tree/vine.

 

Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV)

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

 

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,

whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

John 15:5 (NIV)

I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches.

If a man remains in me and I in him,

he will bear much fruit;

apart from me you can do nothing.

 

These passages suggest that to be fruitful in life and ministry involves “delighting/meditating” on God’s word, “trusting God” – taking Him at His word and “remaining” in Jesus – staying in close relationship with Him.

 

Please pray for us that our focus will not be just about preparing to get there, but preparing to be effective for God while there. Pray that we would be “delighting” and “meditating” more on God’s word daily, “trusting” Him even when things don’t make sense, and “remaining” in Christ always.

 

~Pete