One Year!
Oct
17

One Year!

I started reading the Gospel of John again.  His narrative is so full, and I’m finding I still have to read each line multiple times, mining in God’s Word.  At the end of the first chapter, Jesus calls His first disciples.  First, two followers of John the Baptist begin to follow Him.  Jesus asks them what they seek, and they inquire about where He is staying.

“Come, and you will see.”

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Later, Jesus decides to go to Galilee and finds Philip.

“Follow Me,” He says.

Philip finds Nathaniel and tells Him about finding the long awaited Messiah, that His name is Jesus, of Nazareth.  Nathaniel is skeptical, asking, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”

“Come and see.”

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I remember the Lord using this passage when we were first thinking about Ireland.  Jesus made no promises to these fishermen about security or comfort, not even a pitch about how great the adventure would be.  No brochure or video about the healing or miracles they’d witness, no warnings about the heartache and persecution.  He only asked them to follow.  To come, and see.

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And though these men were waiting for this promised Savior, they did have lives – jobs and families and communities they were a part of, security and control over their day to day.  It may have seemed like this sudden decision to follow Jesus was irresponsible, irrational even.  Why would they leave what they knew, the path they could see, and trade it for the unknown?

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The thing is, they did know one thing.  And this one thing, if true, warranted this incredibly high risk.  Somehow they knew – this was the Christ.  Jesus was the Messiah.  And it didn’t matter what excitement or darkness lie ahead, the cost of staying was greater than that of following Him.

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The Bible doesn’t say these men took time to weigh out this monumental decision.  No pros and cons list, no lengthy discussions with family recorded.  Maybe if we could see Jesus Himself, hand extended, inviting us to come with Him, we wouldn’t hesitate either.

For our family though, that wasn’t the case.  It took what seemed like a long time to decide to come to Ireland, much longer for Branden than for myself.  The Lord told me right away, that he was calling us here.  He didn’t tell Branden as quickly; He was working out so much in our hearts.  And so Branden talked about every risk, every possible consequence of taking such a big leap if it wasn’t from the Lord.  And though my heart was already on the island, I could understand what he was saying.

We would give up all we knew, any security we thought we had, proximity to family and friends and the community we loved, and go.  We would have to say, like the disciples did, that Jesus – who He is, no promises of more and guarantee of nothing less – is enough.

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Well, it’s been a year on the mission field in Ireland, and the overwhelming feeling is of gratitude.

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There have been challenges absolutely, days of feeling the distance from family and friends and home.  We’ve dealt with health issues, being overwhelmed learning to live in a new country and still functioning some in the other, just growing into this unique place of being missionaries.  But the Lord has been incredibly gracious and good to us!

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We have found another home in Ireland, a place with sweet fellowship and community with like minded believers, many with a hard fought, undeniable faith and a genuine love for God’s Word.  There is a need here in ministry and the Lord is using us to be a part of discipleship and reaching kids and families with His life changing Good News!  And He has been faithful.

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Jesus never said to follow an idea or philosophy, a set of rules or group of people.  He said to follow Him, which means He intends to be with us.  And so He has been.  And perhaps that’s what shuts the mouth of fear, when what’s unknown seems to grow and skew our perspective again.  He is with us.

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And the future?  Well, I’m convinced, it will always be in the “Come, and see.”  One and then the other.

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Sometimes I’m like Nathaniel, skeptical of Him and so sure of whatever else I know.  But if I come, with a willingness to see, Jesus will show me – great things, things I would never see otherwise, but even more, Jesus reveals Himself!

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And truly, what could compare to that?

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You might be tempted to think it’s different for you and me, that we’re here and not where you are.  But the call is the same for us all, and so is the promise.

Follow Him.  Come, and see!

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Photo Credit: Timothy James          Post Work/Editing: Ernie Treu

While We’re Here
Apr
07

While We’re Here

This sweet family came to visit us a couple weeks ago! While they were here, we got to have special meals (thanks for making dinners Erin!), visit new places, take them to a few of our favorite spots (like the beach!), and stay up super late laughing and talking and eating! We got to enjoy their kids and their company – it was honestly such a huge blessing and it felt like the hours just flew by!

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You know how, when you’re on vacation (or enjoying someone vacationing at your place :), you are just aware of how much time you have left? Time before you go home? And you want to relax, but you also plan your days, fill them up, make your stay worth it. After all, you’ve done what it takes to get there, and you’ll be leaving soon. You want to make the most of your time.

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James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

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My kids have been asking about eternity lately, and I’m always thankful for how Jesus teaches me through their inquisitiveness. Eternity is not so far away. And though we are called to live here today, it must be with a sober understanding that we are just passing through. When I stop to realign myself with that perspective, it makes the trials bearable. And it makes the days in front of us short. We don’t have much time. We are going home! What will we do while we’re here?

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The morning they left, I found our firstborn crying by himself. He’s our deep feeler and constant processor. He asked why they couldn’t stay longer? Why they had to go home so soon? We talked about how they needed to get back to things at home. They couldn’t stay. I know he felt like we did, those few days with this precious family, was like a little piece of home had come to us.

I’m thankful that one day, “home” will be with Jesus. We’ll be with Him and goodbyes will be a thing of the past. Until then, I want to steward well the hours before me. Making the most of the days while we’re here.

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Faithfulness
Jan
17

Faithfulness

Hello All!  Happy New Year to you!  January always brings this sense of anticipation, doesn’t it?  Like the clean, blank pages of the coming months are full of potential!  You don’t want to mess things up.  The days are fresh and waiting to be filled with great stories!  What amazing things lie ahead?

Of course we put great pressure on ourselves.  And the inevitable lack of perfection usually greets us bluntly before January is over.  Still, there is grace, and the Lord continues to lead and love us, especially as we’re reminded of that imperfection.

I’ve seen several women posting a word for the upcoming year, a theme to set the stage for the months ahead.  I’ve never really chosen a word or verse like that, but as the new year began, I started praying about what the Lord might be calling me to in 2017.  One idea continues to be brought to the forefront:

FAITHFULNESS

At the end of all my years, I hope to hear the words, “My good and faithful servant.”  But I’m learning that faithfulness is in the small, usually unseen moments that, over time, shape the sum.  Like small strokes or impressions, intentionally and continuously made.  Stepping back reveals the reward.  In the up close, everyday life, these small choices to do and give and serve may have seemed mundane, tedious, unimportant.  But a life of faithfulness stands as a great testament.  And beyond the doing and the serving, I’m learning two things – Faithfulness requires faith, and faithfulness is to Jesus.

The boys were studying the life of Noah the other day, learning that God’s commission to build the ark + zoo cost him over a hundred years!  Can you imagine what faith was required to continuously gather the supplies, to shape and craft this vessel, to endure curiosity and ridicule, to believe that at the end of it all, rain would come and flood the world?  But faith brought forth a life of faithfulness – not to the task, not to the boat, but to God Himself.  Noah believed God, and loved Him day in and day out.

 And what will be said of my own life?  That I did good things?  Or was gifted in some way?  That I spent my days giving and serving?  Or will it be that I loved Jesus with all that I am and was spent completely for His good pleasure?

The year ahead really is full, of potential and of grace.  For each day ahead, I pray the Lord finds me faithful.

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I wanted to share too, many of you heard us talk about a girl named Liana as we were preparing to come to Ireland.  When we first visited in 2015, her parents shared how she was the only Christian in her school, among hundreds of kids.  At her young age (5 at the time) she’d already faced instances of ridicule for her beliefs.  God is doing an amazing work here.  For the first time in a long while, more children in Ireland are growing up in Christian homes.  The culture is changing, but these young believers are part of the 1% of Evangelicals in this country.  They are learning to live out their faith in a place that can be very difficult on Christians.

Since our arrival in October, we’ve gotten to hang out with Liana and her family several times.  She holds her own with our boys and I’m grateful for her sweet girly influence in their lives.  We were Facetiming with someone in the States the other night and they asked the boys if they were making friends here.  Silas told them about a few kids and then talked about Liana and how much they enjoy hanging out with her.  I’m so thankful for the community God is giving us here.

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So much is at stake as we say Yes to the Lord, as we choose daily to follow Him where He leads.  May we steward well the days He sets before us and be found faithful.

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