"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 19, 2017
Continuation about the missions trip I took to Santiago, Dominican Republic.
On Thursday we had a day off, so the missionary took us to Puerto Plata to the beach, which is about an hour and a half drive through the mountains from Santiago. On arrival we rode a cable car to the top of Mount Isabel. A statue of Christ the Redeemer and beautiful gardens were at the top. When we got to the top of the mountain, the fog was so thick that we could barely see anything. It cleared out some as we were walking around, then it began raining and we all got soaked. As we were waiting to get onto the cable car to go back down, the fog lifted and we could see the ocean and town below.
The missionary had contacted a pastor in Puerto Plata that he knew, who had someone in his church that worked on a beach there. They hooked us up with beach chairs and umbrellas. The Caribbean Sea was absolutely beautiful, with ocean water a shade of blue that I had never before seen. The only downside was the wind, which continuously blew grains of sand on us that was a tad uncomfortable. The missionary got fresh coconut drinks for us all. A man actually climbed a coconut tree and picked the coconuts fresh, carried them down to where we were, then used a machete to cut the tops off. We stuck a straw inside and drank the coconut juice straight from the coconut. A fun experience!
Here's a couple of very cool stories:
My sister, Janie, pastors a deaf church in Tulsa so had prayed that she would be able to meet up with someone who was deaf on this trip; even though the focus of our trip was working with the hearing, not directed specifically to the deaf. God answered!
We found out that there was a woman, who works at the church that we had partnered with the first half of the week, who was deaf. One morning when we were getting ready to leave the church to go to the community that we were ministering to, Janie saw a woman standing over by the restrooms and went over and signed to her to ask if she was deaf. The woman knew very few signs and mainly communicates by writing messages, but she was absolutely thrilled to meet someone who could communicate with her by signing. She was so excited!
In 2000 Janie's husband, Jimmy, had gone to the Dominican Republic and preached a camp. The following year, Janie went and taught a workshop for interpreters. The missionary that they had worked with was Carlos Reyes. Before leaving in June, Janie had tried to find out how to contact Carlos, to no avail. After arriving, she mentioned his name to Chad, the missionary whom we were working with on this trip, and found out that Chad knows him and knew that he lived in Santiago, but didn't know how to contact him. Santiago is a huge city!
On Wednesday afternoon we went back to the church for the last time. We were going to meet with the pastors and youth group to say our goodbyes and have prayer. Chad arrived a few minutes ahead of our group. He happened to look up and saw Carlos leaving as he was pulling in. He ran over and told Carlos that he needed to stay for a few minutes, because he had a friend that wanted to see him. Carlos was thinking, "Who knows me?!" About that time we pulled up and as Janie got out of the van and began walking towards the church, Chad ran over and told her that there was someone there to see her. Janie and Carlos saw one another and were both so surprised! They hadn't seen one another since 2001. It was definitely God's perfect timing of allowing this meeting to happen.
That evening, Carlos and his wife came to the facility where we were staying to visit Janie. Come to find out, Carlos' wife and the lead pastor of the church we were working with are best friends. Carlos and the pastor's husband had also been very close friends, prior to the pastor's death. Janie had a special visit with Carlos and his wife that evening. He told her that a couple years ago some of the Dominican people contacted him to ask if they could have Jimmy to come back to speak at their camp. They had loved Jimmy! When Carlos told them that Jimmy had passed away and was now in Heaven, they were so heart-broken. Carlos and Naomi brought some old pictures they still had from when Janie and Jimmy had visited the D.R. to show her, and they had a great time reminiscing.
On Thursday, when we were at the beach, Janie and I had gone on a walk along the seashore. We had left our bags on our chairs and asked our brother-in-law if he would watch them. As we were walking back up to our chairs, we saw a little boy sitting on the end of Janie's chair. We thought, "Great! Darryl didn't do a very good job watching our things!" When the little boy saw us walking towards him, he ran back out into the water. He had gravitated towards some people who were in our group and was playing with them. They tried speaking to him in Spanish and he didn't answer, so they tried English and he didn't answer. He then signed "deaf". My niece, Tonya, recognized the sign and came running out of the water to get Janie.
Janie had prayed to meet deaf, and God had literally brought him and set him on her chair! Janie found out that the little boy was age seven, and his signing skills were amazing! There were some souvenir shops between the parking lot and beach. The little boy grabbed onto Janie and took her to the shops. He introduced her to a German deaf man, as well as a deaf man from the Dominican. God does give us the desires of our heart!
Psalm 37:23 (NLT) says, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."
Verse 4 of that same Psalm says, "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires."
Did you know that God delights in every single detail of your life? He desires to give each of us good gifts. He is a good, good Father who loves us and it gives Him great joy to give us our heart's desires. God takes pleasure in directing our every step.
Sometimes it may not seem as if the Lord is taking delight in us; nor is He giving us our heart's desire. We may feel as if we're overwhelmed and under attack and are barely keeping our head above water. So what's up with that?!
There are two key phrases in the above verses: The key phrase in verse 23 is "The Lord directs the steps of the godly", and in verse 4 the key phrase is, "Take delight in the Lord".
There are times when we tend to focus on our circumstances, or on people, or on past hurts and regrets, or on prayers that feels as if God is ignoring and not answering, or numerous other things. We can't fully live a godly life and delight in the Lord when other things consume our time and attention. We can't only delight in the Lord when we feel blessed and on top of the world; but it has to be a daily choice, regardless of our feelings or situation.
Philippians 4:4: "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again -- rejoice!"
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
It's God's will for each of us who belong to Jesus to be thankful in ALL circumstances! Not a false joy or something that is contrived or made up; that's not joy in the Lord, but a fake facade. But it's having a peace and sense of God's presence, regardless of what life brings from day to day. It's being joyful in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It's rejoicing in knowing that our sins have been cleansed and our name is written in the Book of Life. It's finding pleasure in each day....seeking opportunities to serve others....spending time in the Word and communicating with our Father through prayer, unceasingly, where we never stop praying. It's being able to praise God each day; having an attitude of worship in all things, 24/7. When we can do those things, then we will be able to rejoice and be full of the joy in the Lord -- always!
Nehemiah 8:10b tells us that, "Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"
No joy in your life? Then there will be no strength!
Zephaniah 3:17 tells us this: "For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
Not only are we to take delight in the Lord, but God takes delight in you (and in me) with gladness! He rejoices over us with joyful songs. Can you picture that? God looks at you and at me, and in His delight, He rejoices and sings joyful songs.
How can we not think that He would want to give us the desires of our heart and bless us with good gifts? That's just who He is and what He does!
God gave Janie the desire of her heart on our missions trip by placing deaf people in her path. He allowed someone to find out about the deaf woman who cleaned at the church, and timed it so that Janie would be able to briefly communicate with her. In a huge city, He arranged for her and Carlos Reyes to be at the same exact place at the same exact time. He brought a little deaf boy to the beach and set him on the end of her chair. Why? Because God loves her and wants to give her good gifts. He takes delight in doing so!
But God is no respecter of persons. He will do the same thing for us all! I've wanted to be involved in a missions trip for several years, and He allowed that to happen. Not only was I part of a missions trip, but I was able to go with my sister, two nieces, and a brother-in-law. That was a bonus! God not only delights in giving us good gifts, but He often gives us unexpected, special bonuses.
Matthew 7:11 says, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
There is a worship song written by Chris Tomlin titled "Good Good Father". The chorus is very simple, but very true: "You're a good good Father. It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are. And I'm loved by you. It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am.
That pretty much sums it all up! God is a good good father; it's just who He is! And we are loved by Him; that's who we are!
I once had a friend who told me about a story from his childhood. He had heard about God, but not raised in church. He liked the idea that there might be a God who takes care of us, but he wasn't convinced. So, he prayed a simple prayer, "God, if you really are real, please show me. Give me one dollar, so I can get a pop." When he opened his eyes, he saw a dollar bill on the ground in front of him. He was sure it wasn't there before. He said it really freaked him out.
Later, he started thinking it was just a bizarre coincidence. So this time, he looked around for any money, and prayed the same thing. Again, he found another dollar on the ground. This time, he was convinced, and couldn't rationalize it away. He said that he was still freaked out. He thought he would feel comforted, but for several years, he was more nervous than comforted. Many years later, he came to know God more closely.
If it pleases God to give a small gift like a dollar bill for a kid who needs some reassurance, how much more does He want to give us great things?
I know some prayers take a long time to be answered, and I don't understand why. I trust that God wants to answer each prayer, but also wants something much greater that comes first. I don't know what it is, and may never know. But I trust it's great.
Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops
4 Pork Chops
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and all the spices until mixed thoroughly. Rub the brown sugar/spice mixture on both sides of the pork chops and set aside. Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, place the pork chops in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked all the way through.
I was recently taking a nap and I began dreaming about my first banking job in Missouri (from the late 1980's through the early 2000's). In the dream, a group of us were having a reunion and we began reminiscing and the stories we were sharing were actual true stories that had happened in real life.
The vice-president of the holding company that owned the bank was a tad uptight and wasn't particularly liked by many of the employees. For some reason, we always got along; probably because I didn't have to be in meetings with him, like the other bank officers did. He was at our bank once a week, and we would generally always talk a little. He was married and had 2-3 kids.
One day during the lunch hour, I was filling in for the receptionist, so was sitting at the front desk in the lobby greeting customers and answering the phone. John Paul was expecting a particular phone call, so had told me to be sure and let him know if the call came in. It did, but he was on another line. So I walked over to the corner office where he was working and overheard him telling someone that he and his wife were expecting another baby. I transferred the call to him, then went back to my office after the lunch hour was over. I mentioned to my bookkeepers that I had overheard him telling someone that he and his wife were expecting a baby.
Normally, the bookkeepers didn't talk to John Paul that much, except to greet him. But for some odd reason, one of them decided to chit-chat with him the next time he walked through. She said, "I heard that you and your wife are expecting another baby. Congratulations!" He was shocked and stopped in his tracks! He said, "How did you know?! We haven't told anyone yet, except family!!" She didn't want to rat me out, so said she wasn't sure how she had found out. For the next few times that he came to the bank, he would stop and asked, "Did you ever remember how you found out about us having a baby?" It was driving him crazy trying to figure it out, but she never told on me, so he never knew how we had found out!! Apparently, he never put it together that I had overheard his conversation!
An idol is anything you have to check with before you say yes to God. - Jack Taylor
We love you!
Loretta & Jon