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Blessing in Heeding The Voice of The Lord

Go WHERE the Lord says go. Go WHEN the Lord says go. These are both statements that as believers, we would like to be able to say we would do. Sometimes the WHEN and the WHERE are very clear, but the WHY may remain a mystery. Are we willing to go with no real explanation of WHY, but simply in obedience to the voice of God that says WHERE and WHEN? How do we deal with ambiguity concerning the call of God? Let me tell you how it all unfolded for me…

Late last year, the Lord impressed upon my heart that I was to go back to Northern Ireland in February 2012. It would be my seventh time visiting this lovely country, so I could easily conjure up a long list of WHYs on my own. But the truth was, God had told me WHERE and WHEN, but He’d left out many of the specifics as to WHY. The WHERE was a no-brainer for me… of course I would go back to visit a land and a people I love! The WHEN… well, February is not the ideal time of year, but hey, they have warmer winters than we have in Minnesota, so that didn’t take much convincing either. As to the WHY… I knew God had a reason, albeit one that I knew not of, and so I decided to fully and completely trust His timing and pack my bags and go.

God has a purpose for asking us to do the things He asks us to do. What can seem insignificant, or silly, or even crazy to us is all a part of God’s divine plan. His divine plan to reach others through us – both saved and unsaved, and also to reach us through other people. Just as the Word of God says, He is delighted in our decisions to obey Him. Especially when we don’t have all the information.

“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.’” 1 Samuel 15:22 NJKV

During the three weeks I spent in Northern Ireland, God moved in such a variety of ways! It would take pages and pages for me to describe all the wonderful things He did in and through me! Here are just a few:

I saw Him touch the relative of a friend of mine, just by sitting down and having tea with her. We were just supposed to stop and pick something up and be on our way, but if you’ve ever been to Northern Ireland, you know it’s practically impossible to get out the door without having a “wee cup of tea”. I had never met her before, so we began to talk and she asked me what I was doing in Northern Ireland. I began to share with her my story as to how God connected me with Northern Ireland many years ago, and had called me back there seven times – six of the times being in the past three years. The words I spoke seemed so simple and conversational, and yet she was visibly moved by my testimony and it was clear God was touching her heart. What had seemed like a “delay” to our plans in the natural was really an open opportunity to minister to someone God desperately wanted to reach.

I had the humble honor and privilege of witnessing relationships being repaired and restored that had once been broken. God in His love and mercy had orchestrated this divine restoration, and quite frankly, the only real part I played in it all was just BEING THERE to bring these people in to the same room together. I had no idea what was going to happen before I was standing in the midst of it happening. But in that moment, the Lord said – that”s WHY you needed to be here NOW. It reminded me that we are oftentimes just “divine facilitators”, used by God to bring people into a position where He can minister to them. Whether that involves bringing someone to a PHYSICAL location, or bringing them to a place emotionally where they are open to receive from Him, offering our lives to Him to use as He wills is amazing and rewarding.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

I had the opportunity to share and lead prayer at a house prayer meeting. We spent time in prayer for the nation of Ireland. The Lord also ministered specific words to people that touched their hearts deeply. God will prompt you to speak certain things to certain people, whether it’s during an “official” time of ministry or just in casual conversation with them. Be open to His promptings and quick to obey, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. It may be a word or phrase you don’t normally use, but it may have very significant meaning to the one hearing it. This can be categorized as a word of wisdom, word of knowledge or prophecy, but when it comes right down to it, no matter what you call it, it’s the Holy Spirit prompting you to reach someone on the Lord’s behalf.

I was also able to minister in a small church I had visited last year – to bring them the NOW Word from the Lord, a word of encouragement. I love going in to the small places that guest ministers may not often, if ever, visit. All of God’s people are important to Him, and this little congregation warms my heart.

In addition, I was able to bring a helping hand to a ministry that’s been launching out into new territory – to come alongside them and do whatever needed to be done to help them realize the vision God has placed in their hearts. I helped make fliers announcing upcoming events, set up ministry resource tables, served tea and biscuits, updated Facebook pages, and other computer-related items – anything practical that I could do to assist them. It’s just as much of a joy to be able to use natural skills and abilities for His Kingdom. I was not only involved on a practical level with this ministry, but on a spiritual level as well, through prayer and sharing the Word.

Now, God did not ask me to go there to give out without the intention of putting something back in! He used many people to speak very specific words to me regarding certain facets of my future, and plans and purposes He has prepared for my life. He gave me many wonderful times of fun and fellowship with dear friends, and added some new ones to the mix! He opened a door for me in the near future to go to an area in the Republic of Ireland that has been on my heart for nearly a year and a half. All I had to do was SHOW UP at the right time in the right place and He brought the right person across my path to make that happen!

One evening, we went to hear a minister from England speak who had experienced revival in his church many years ago. He and his wife literally lived in the manifest Presence of God for six months. From the start of the service, the atmosphere was different from any service I’ve ever been in. He shared out of 2 Kings 6:1-7 NKJV:

“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.’ So he answered, ‘Go.’ Then one said, ‘Please consent to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, master! For it was borrowed.’ So the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.‘ So he reached out his hand and took it.”

Many truths were shared from this passage, but one thing in particular that I want to share with you. Regarding the ax head – it is like a dream that the Lord has given us that has, for one reason or another, sunk to the bottom of the river. God wants to raise those dreams and plans back to the surface… but when He does, we have to reach out and take them. Otherwise, they will float by and someone else down the river will pick them up.

This very thing he was saying was mirroring something a pastor-friend of mine had said the day before when we met for lunch. She said God has a plan He wants to accomplish in the earth, especially in these ends times, and if we aren’t obedient to the call, He will just skip over us and find someone else.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be skipped over or let my dreams go floating by for someone else to grab. Our quick obedience to the Lord in every area will not only prove to Him that He can trust us and use us in any way He desires, but it will bring to pass the most fulfilled life we could ever imagine living!

God knows the WHY even when we don’t. Sometimes He will let us in on it in advance, but sometimes He needs us to trust Him so He can orchestrate things exactly how He has planned… we just need to be willing to show up and be a part of it! It is in that place of obedience that we will be the biggest blessing possible to others, and also receive a blessing in return.

Celebrate Your Faith – Weekly Prayer Guide – Samaritan’s Purse

SUNDAY: Pray for the children and their families who receive a shoe box gift, that hearts will be opened to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

MONDAY: Most children who receive shoe box gifts live in desperate circumstances. Pray that God will meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

TUESDAY: Pray for our ministry partners in countries around the world, especially that the shoe box gifts and follow-up discipleship programs will be effective evangelism tools.

WEDNESDAY: Pray that doors will be opened, so the Good News can be shared in countries that are you not receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THURSDAY: Pray for those who fill shoe box gifts this year, especially for children, that they will see that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

FRIDAY: Pray for those involved in collecting, processing, transporting and delivering shoe box gifts, including the tens of thousands of volunteers.

SATURDAY: Pray for Samaritan’s Purse staff located throughout the world as they handle the logistics of Operation Christmas Child.

Yet Another Reason to Celebrate

Celebrate Your Faith.
Glorious Gifts.
God’s Love.

We thank you for your support as we celebrate the fourth anniversary of CelebrateYourFaith.com. Looking back, it is amazing all that the Lord has done through this business. We are looking forward to celebrating all that is coming in the future!

This has been the dream of our hearts; four years of learning, growing, and celebrating making a difference. Doing what we love with amazing customers and fans, beautiful artisans and their creations, and our special team of believers who work together for a great cause.

When we started CelebrateYourFaith.com, we deliberately chose July 7, 2007 (7.7.07) for our grand opening, as a powerful symbolic scriptural reminder of the Great Commission (see the post about “God’s perfection: Number 7“).

All of us at CelebrateYourFaith.com are dedicated to reaching the world with the Good News of the Gospel. It is our heart to support mission work and missionaries with proceeds from every purchase. This has been one of the biggest blessings to us, to see our support for missions directly affect the lives of people in countries all over the globe.

For more about our company story, see this article (PDF) from the Christian Booksellers Association’s November 2008 issue.

Celebrate. Give. Share.

With your purchases, you are helping us continue to touch hearts and change many lives. It is an honor to do what we love. Thank you for your continued support!

Internet Evangelism Day

May 15, 2011 has been marked as Internet Evangelism Day, which is an annual worldwide focus day for digital evangelism. The entire month of May is also designated as Digital Evangelism Month.

The Internet is a powerful tool for reaching people all over the world. It may seem very obvious how people all over the world have the ability to access the Internet and as such, the Internet can be used to bring people to a personal relationship with Jesus. One site having amazing results all over the globe, including many countries where the Gospel is not easy to preach via traditional avenues, is Global Media Outreach. They minister to people in an important 3-step process.

1. Lead them to the Savior
2. Nurture them in Faith
3. Connect them to Church

More information can be found by clicking the banner below:

Many ways exist to share your faith digitally: Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites; blogs or message board posts; email and text messaging (just to name a few).
The website blog.ourchurch.com has some amazing ideas for how to share your faith online in its article 20 Ways to Share Your Faith Online.

Some other great online evangelism sites include:

Internet Evangelism is such a multi-faceted concept. Sure, there are websites you can either direct people to, or that they find on their own. But, Internet Evangelism is transacted every day through many avenues.

Take Celebrate Your Faith, for example. We are an online retailer of Christian gifts. These gifts are purchased by people for the purpose of encouraging believers or sowing a seed into an unbeliever’s life in hopes of introducing them to Jesus as their Savior. In this gift giving process, the Internet was used as an evangelism tool.

In addition, CYF is steadfastly dedicated to promoting the preaching of the Gospel through direct monetary support of missions and humanitarian efforts. So, all the gifts that are purchased (for the purpose of evangelism) are also funding missionaries that travel all over the world to tell people about Jesus and His saving love. Again, the Internet is being used as an evangelism tool.

Another example could be sending a text message to a friend, confirming with them a time and place to meet up for dinner. That night, they decide to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. That interaction was also facilitated by digital media.

God is so creative with how He reaches people. He created the ideas for all the technology we have at our fingertips today. We as Christians need to harness its power and use it to point people back to Him.

Join us on Sunday, May 15 in using the Internet to reach out to a lost and dying world.

The Right Place at the Right Time – Ireland Mission Trip Update

By Jennifer R.

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on earth.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 MSG

Being in Ireland never gets old for me; God has supernaturally connected me there, and it’s a joy and a delight to return as often as He directs. Yes, even when it means I “bring the weather with me” and witness the most snow Ireland has had in 40 years! However, I knew without a doubt that I was in the right place at the right time.

Early on in the Prayer Assignment, the Holy Spirit spoke the word “Expansion” to me. We were in a small church in Londonderry, and our group was praying over the couple who pastor the church there. Shortly after He spoke that word to me, one of the other pastors spoke that word out loud as she was praying, a confirmation to me that this was an important word to hold on to.

The Lord began to talk to me about how a gas expands when heat is applied. Gases exist in the unseen realm, just like our faith does. For expansion to occur, the heat must be present. He said, “Don’t be afraid of the heat that will come; it’s necessary for expansion.” That is not always a comfortable message to hear, but it is vital that we listen to what He is saying to us, as it is often times a word of preparation for what is just up ahead.

The city of Cork was a highlight for me. Not in the way you might expect, and some might have a little trouble with me using the word “highlight” in reference to our time there. One of the pastors there brought it to our attention that the rate of suicide in the area is EXTREMELY high compared to anywhere else in Ireland. It is especially prevalent among young men who have a sense of hopelessness about life. But we, as believers, have HOPE we can share with people – the saving hope of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I believe this is an ongoing prayer project for me, and I would invite you to join along in praying for the people of Cork as you feel led. The reason I see this time spent in Cork as a “highlight” is because there was a revealing of God’s purpose in bringing me there – so He can use me as His mouthpiece in the earth to pray and stand against what is going on there. We are here on this earth to be yielded vessels for Him to accomplish His divine purposes.

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined &$40;planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 AMP

Give Way - geograph.org.uk - 138219In Northern Ireland, when you see a YIELD sign, instead of saying “Yield” it simply says, “Give Way”. Someone on the trip commented that “Give Way” is a nice way of looking at how we should respond to the Holy Spirit. It conjures up an image of His gentleness that we can all benefit from being aware of.

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].” John 16:13 AMP

Despite the snow and the cold, we reached all of our destinations without incident, carried by the angels and protected by the Blood of Jesus. We spent time in Belfast, Londonderry, Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Each place had its own distinct purpose, but strung together, they revealed a larger plan. Not only for the nation of Ireland, but for my personal journey with the Lord.

I have so much more to share, but for now I will just extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to everyone who prayed for our team. Your obedience to pray at the “opportune time” will be greatly rewarded!

Prayer Assignment – Ireland

by Jennifer R.

As I was preparing to write my prayer request for this upcoming Prayer Assignment to Ireland (November 29-December 4), I was looking back over some notes I took during last year’s Ireland Prayer Assignment, and something jumped out at me. It’s a concept that really ministered to me then, and the Lord has continued to bring it to my remembrance at many different times over the past year. Spoken by the Pastor who led our Prayer Assignment… he said, “You don’t need to bust through the dam, you just need the flood waters to rise high enough so the flood gates open.”

This statement has served as an anchor point for me over the past year. So often, we try to “bust through the dam” when the best way is to just keep on at a steady pace until we’ve accumulated enough “water” to open the flood gates. That is not to say that we don’t experience “suddenlies” in our life with God, but it reminds me that miracles can, and often do, happen a little at a time. Our major thrust should not be to battle all the time, but to consistently and steadily fill the reservoir until it overflows.

Ireland is a special place for me. This trip marks the fifth time I will visit the Irish Isle. It truly feels like home each time I set foot on Irish soil. I have made some wonderful friends there, but even more importantly, God has chosen to give Ireland a special place in my heart. He has a purpose for me there, and an assignment for me to complete. I continue to return each time He calls, in order to walk out that purpose and be obedient to Him.

I believe a significant part of this Assignment is “filling the reservoir” with prayer: building up a spiritual supply in the land so that when the time is right, the flood gates can open and the Holy Spirit can touch the people in a fresh and new way.

The people of Ireland need Jesus just as much as the people of Uganda or China or India do. Even though most of them have probably been exposed to some form of “Christianity”, many of them do not know the joy and freedom that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are following empty religious traditions that are leaving them with no peace or security in life. Ireland is in economic turmoil, and the people need something, or more importantly, Someone they can count on. That Someone is Jesus. He is unshakeable.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

Hebrews 12:28 NIV

I would appreciate you joining with me in prayer for this upcoming mission. Specific prayer points include:

  • Good weather for travel to, from and in & around Ireland
  • Wisdom for the leaders to know if/when God wants to change up our schedule
  • Sweet sleep in order to be rested for long travel days and night meetings
  • Favor with hotels and restaurants in accommodating large groups
  • Unity among the group
  • Discernment to recognize what the Lord is wanting us to pray out in different places
  • Opportunities to interact with those who are seeking a touch from God

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Above all, I just ask that you let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you as you pray for this mission. Unforeseen things pop up every day on mission trips, so your best Helper and Guide to accurately address these issues is the Holy Spirit. Thank you in advance for your commitment to partner with me in prayer.

A return to Africa

From CYF-supported missionary, Jennifer R.:

I will be traveling with a team to Uganda from September 21-30, 2010. I believe this is a breakthrough trip in many ways: for individual members of the team, for the ministry we work with in Uganda, and for the entire nation of Uganda.

There are five members of our team, and five is the number of Grace, so I believe we are specifically on a mission to minister the grace of God to the people of Uganda. Five is also the number of fingers on a hand, and as such, we see ourselves working together as a fully-functioning hand.

Personally, this is a “return” trip for me. A “restoration” trip. A return to Africa after a 7 year absence and a restoration of the physical ability to go to Africa.

The continent of Africa holds a special place in my heart, and the Lord first called me there in 2002. This is the 4th time I will be in Africa, although it’s the first time to Uganda. After battling some serious health issues for the past 5 years, the Lord spoke to me and said now is the time for me to return. I am placing my full trust in Him as I take this step of faith. My expectations are high for what He is going to do both in me and through me.

Read More

Africa mission trip and prayer request

From CYF-supported missionary KM:

Greetings Faith Friends…

I have appreciated your prayer coverings for me as I’ve come and gone.    I’ve been the one who has been a bit slow in updating you on the wonderful adventures I’ve been sent on this year.

It is my determined purpose not to let updates get so far away from my return trips.

What I’ve now been doing is packing my backpack as I now head to Africa.  Excited as opportunities to minster keep opening up.  Familiar areas with new territories to be explored.

There is a village that was buried with mud.  We’re going to minister to the people.  It is a remote area, need to go via boat across lake Victoria and up a river.

Should be a spectacular ride none the less.  One of my friends told me not to put my hands over the edges as they discovered “prehistoric” fish with gnarly teeth.  Not pirhana fish family… flesh eaters.. but just curious ones.. Interesting.. Don’t know if they are right or saw a bad movie!

Anyway, it will also be nice to go back and see the children I was able to teach and interact with before.  And visit those in the refugee camp. It will be all good!

This will be a short request, but I’m asking you for your covering as I venture out with a team of  eight, meeting up with missionaries who have established ministries there.

  • Please pray for the nation…  May our previously established connections be further solidified and opportunities unfold for us to minister to them.
  • Pray for the missionaries who are currently serving in Uganda, for their ministry to continue to grow and provision to be provided.
  • For the children… We will be ministering to six orphanages.   Thank you all who gave toys, toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothes and other items for the children.  Your natural gifts will be greatly appreciated in a nation where there is overwhelming lack.
  • For protection:  Keeping us safe in all of our travels, from mosquitoes (no malaria), and from any plots and plans of the enemy that will fail.
  • For the gifts and talents and abilities of those on the team to be pulled upon in new ways.
  • For the complete plan God has scripted for our mission to come to pass.  There are a few opportunities to venture into new territories.  Places we’ve not gone. So for the Spirit of the Lord to make plain and clear the path we are to walk.

May the Holy Spirit of the Lord continue to be your guide and teacher in all that you do and decisions that you make.  May the love of the Lord flood your hearts so you too can give out in a measure the world has not seen.

With love in Christ who is the giver of life.

A mission trip followup report

Jennifer, one of the missionaries supported by CelebrateYourFaith.com, went on a short-term trip to the British Isles to help follow up on work done there in the past.  Some of you may have joined with us in prayer for Jennifer on this trip.

Here is Jennifer’s trip report and update, in her own words.

God was faithful and so good to us during our entire time in Scotland, the Hebrides Islands, and Northern Ireland. Our entire team  of 32 people was composed of folks from America, Canada, Ireland (North and South), England, and we were even blessed to have a Scot along with us! There was truly a spirit of unity present amongst our team, and it was through this unified purpose that we accomplished much for the kingdom of God!

We prayed in the streets of Edinburgh, right below Edinburgh Castle. We prayed and sang in our mini-busses as we drove through the Highlands. We prayed at Culloden battlefield near Inverness. We prayed on the Hebridian Island of Lewis and Harris. We prayed with a congregation of believers in Glasgow. And we had a wonderful time of worship and fellowship with our Northern Irish brothers and sisters once we left Scotland.

God was able to pour much into each of us, and able to use us to pour out His love into the nation of Scotland. Prayer is a necessary precusor to everything God accomplishes in the earth. We poured our prayers into the dry ground of Scotland and we will see an abundant harvest in the weeks, months and years to come.

In the Hebrides, we were able to hear from a small group of precious saints who were alive during the 1949-1952 Revival. All of them were converted either just before the Revival began, or at the very beginning of it. They spoke of the Revival as a time of great Unity, Joy and Singing. It was a time of supernatural physical health, as they would walk for miles to attend meetings and never get blisters; they would be at meetings until the early morning hours and yet have enough energy to attend to the everyday tasks of work or school.

It was a time of spiritual stirring for each of us on the team. As I was leaving, I was saying goodbye to one of the precious ladies and I said to her that we had been stirred up by what they had shared with us. She said we had stirred them up, too. God always works that way – when we go somewhere to give of ourselves, we will receive an even greater harvest in return. He is the God of multiplication – He does not subtract from one to add to another, but rather He has more than enough to fill us all up to overflowing!

The weather was GORGEOUS – sunny and mid-70s most of the days! Certainly atypical for Scotland! But God provided an awesome environment for us to pray, to worship Him and to experience the beauty of His creation in the Highlands and on the Islands. It also made for favorable driving conditions, as we traveled 1005 miles in 6 days, along with 4 ferry crossings! He made sure we were just where we needed to be, when we needed to be there!

One thing the Lord drew my attention to was the countless sheep that we saw as we drove along the roads. I have traveled to Ireland before and you see sheep everywhere there, too, and I had never paid much attention to them before. The Lord had me watch them, and I found myself drawn to their every little move – chewing grass, running in the field, laying in the sun – and I would find delight rising in me as I watched them. I felt myself getting almost giddy as I would watch their little actions. God spoke to me and said – That’s how it is for Me with you. I delight in everything you do. It gives Me pleasure to watch you do even the most simple things. – This opened up a new dimension of God’s love to me.

A lot of what I experienced is “beyond words”. This is a brief synposis of some of what happened during this Prayer Assignment. I pray that by reading this testimony, you will be stirred to pray for God to cover the earth with His Glory! For when He comes on the scene, entire communities and even nations will be changed!

Reading this report made our day. We consider it an honor to serve with Jennifer and her colleagues, and we thank our customers for helping to make this work possible!

Another reason to celebrate

Celebrate Your Faith.
Glorious Gifts.
God’s Love.

Today, we thank you for your support, as we celebrate the third anniversary of CelebrateYourFaith.com.

This has been the dream of our hearts; three years of learning, growing, and celebrating making a difference. Doing what we love with amazing customers and fans, beautiful artisans and their creations, and our special team of believers who work together for a great cause.

When we started CelebrateYourFaith.com, we deliberately chose July 7, 2007 (7.7.07) for our grand opening, as a powerful symbolic scriptural reminder of the Great Commission (see yesterday’s post about “God’s perfection: Number 7“).

All of us at CelebrateYourFaith.com are dedicated to reaching the world with the Good News of the Gospel. It is our heart to support mission work and missionaries with proceeds from every purchase.

For more about our company story, see this article (PDF) from the Christian Booksellers Association’s November 2008 issue.

Celebrate. Give. Share.

With your purchases, you are helping us continue to touch hearts and change many lives. It is an honor to do what we love. Thank you for your continued support!

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