Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Week Thirteen - Compliance


Last week I wrote about being traumatized by the Immigration review. Thank you to all those who sent messages and lifted us up in prayer. We have been working hard to bring ourselves into compliance with the UK immigration expectations. You might like to know some of what this entails.

When we sponsor a missionary into the UK, that person must have adequate funds to be self-supporting, prove their suitability for the role, and pay the exorbitant price of a UK visa. For most families, this is well over $30,000. Then, once they are here, the missionary must email my husband daily, reporting their work and activities for the next five years. You read that right! Daily for five years! They must also inform him of every holiday or business trip they make outside the UK during that five-year period.

With the new compliance from this past Tuesday, my husband must now make a note of every time they are absent from work. That means every sick day and doctor or dentist visit must be recorded. And now, immigration requires the missionaries to do a monthly report of work and activity to their sponsor. This seems so unnecessary as they are already reporting daily. But to comply, we created yet another form for them to fill in and for us to keep a record of. Gotta love paperwork, huh?

Another seeming double-up is that when a missionary receives a final visa, we must go to the immigration website and record the day this was granted. Surely, if immigration grants the visa, they are keeping a record? But to comply, we will keep our end of the bargain.

And the final thing we had to amend was doing a right-to-work check. We had already been doing that by checking original documents, but because immigration is trying to go digital, we must now also go to their website and confirm our missionaries have the right to be here based on the documentation used to secure their visa.

All this record-keeping and law-following can grow monotonous and burdensome until we remember why this ministry is here. Without it, no missionary could come to the UK. No new churches would be planted, and fewer souls would be saved. 

And this has been a great lesson on compliance! Romans 13:1-2 says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." It's so much easier to comply when you believe God is behind it all! He is working according to the purpose of His will, and I want to comply with Him? Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Week Twelve - Traumatized

Yesterday, my colleagues and I sat through a four-hour interrogation with the UK Border Agency. Why? Because we are a team that facilitates immigration through our church sponsorship license. We sponsor new missionaries coming into the UK and monitor them for the first five years of their service. This requires loads of documentation and correspondence and involves serious accountability. Not only to the laws of immigration but also to the consequences to the missionaries should we fail.

We have been involved in this ministry since 2008; this is our second inspection. They found some areas we needed to improve or change, but those are all fixable. However, it was a portion of his closing statement that most traumatized me. He said, "What was acceptable in 2008 when you first got your license and still acceptable in 2012 when you were last expected has now changed." 

It has left me with a feeling of foreboding. What was he not telling us? What changes will ultimately affect us, and how will that impact the missionaries? We need your prayers as we work through the known changes and for God to work on behalf of missionaries in the future. The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, and we trust this ministry will continue unhindered.

My reaction to this news is my choice. I can let it make me a nervous wreck - and it did for a while. Or, I can work on a plan for solving the issues at hand - which I will begin doing today. Or, I can seek to develop better strategies and implement deeper levels of accountability and controls - which looks like what will be required. 

But more than anything, I must remember this is God's work. His hand has been all over it from the beginning. He opened the door, and He will hold it open for as long as He desires. So pray right now for your missionaries and the furtherance of the Gospel in these last days, dear friend, because the times, they are a-changing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Week Eleven - Watermelon, Watermelon

When God created the fruit of the garden, He wasn't simply playing around making pretty things to look at or something that would excite our palate. Instead, he had a purpose, as He does with everything. 

As I thought about fruit and why God made it, I explored and found some benefits of particular fruits. These might surprise you!

If you are stressed - eat bananas.
If you struggle with high blood pressure - eat raisins.
If you want to prevent kidney stones - eat apricots.
If you struggle with high cholesterol - eat pears.
If you have hemorrhoids - eat figs.
If you feel fatigued - drink orange juice.
If you have an inflammatory disease like arthritis - eat blueberries and cherries.
And a funny one -
If you are in a bad mood - eat coconut!

And which fruits have the most cleansing powers? Watermelon comes out on top, followed by avocado, apple, cranberry, grapefruit, and lemon.

The vitamins and minerals in fruit have healing properties created and designed by God. So enjoy your watermelon!

We could give the vitamins a Bible application, too.

We need Vitamin C for correction, compassion, and consecration.
Vitamin E for exhortation.
Vitamin K for kindness.
Vitamin B complex for all the be ye's in the Word - be ye kind, be faithful, be steadfast, etc.
Vitamin A for agape love.
Vitamin D for diligence.

You could have fun thinking of other vitamins and Bible applications but don't miss the point. God created all things for our benefit and enjoyment. 

The graceful Christian also abounds in fruit - the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

God is so very interested in your well-being. He gives you physical fruits to nurture your body and spiritual fruit that nurtures your soul. However, these do you no good unless you add them to your diet. Just as you need a healthy physical diet, you need a healthy spiritual diet.

So the next time you cut into a big watermelon, or munch down on a banana, take time to thank God for the bounty and benefit of everything He created.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Week Ten - Jewels

First Corinthians 2 is a beautiful passage teaching us that the world's wisdom comes to naught - to nothing, but God's wisdom is eternal. From verses nine through sixteen, the Apostle Paul extols the beauty of God's wisdom, saying,

Verse 9 - God's wisdom is best.

Verse 10 - It is revealed to us through God's Spirit,

Verse 11 - and only through His Spirit!

Verse 12 - With that wisdom, we can know all God has given to us.

Verse 13 - We have access to spiritual wisdom.

Verse 14 - Wisdom the world cannot comprehend.

Verse 15 - This wisdom is superior to all others.

Verse 16 - It is the mind of Christ.

The question is, Do we use it? Do we appreciate and understand the beauty and power of what God has given? His wisdom teaches us to live differently, to value the eternal over the temporal, and to have protective boundaries and exemplary expectations. It gives us hope, not despair. We find joy and life in God's Word. God's wisdom never changes; it has eternal promise and is alive in the hearts of His children.

O Lord, let me revel in the beauty and riches of your wisdom. Let me seek to know it more. Remembering that wisdom is "more precious than rubies and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her."  Proverbs 3:15

 "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of lie to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her" (Proverbs 3:16-18).

Friend, the wisdom of this world seeks to skirt around God's wisdom. It laughs and mocks while changing with every whim and holds no lasting promise. But God's Word stands. His wisdom remains and will remain.

Proverbs 21:30 says, "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." Do you believe that? You should. God's wisdom is eternal and final.

Take time to read these two chapters - 1 Corinthians 2 and Proverbs 3 - and look for the rubies and gems that will strengthen your heart and gird your mind today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Week Nine - Useless

The promise of Acts 1:8 is, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me." If you take this promise at face value, you must admit that though you might not know how or even feel like it could be true, God uses your life as a witness if you are His child.

He chose to use human instruments instead of rocks to tell His story. Person to person; that is God's method. None of us are useless in God's plan. Why? Because God is not dependent upon us to perform His will. He is the craftsman.

Someone wrote, "I am currently in the process of renovating a house. I am no professional carpenter and possess no exceptional skills. What I do have is a lot of borrowed tools. I have drills, a saw, a tenon saw, a jig saw, ladders, work benches, paint brushes that hold paint in a special tank, and many more. You might be impressed if you come to my house, but I need these tools to accomplish this job. I am not a qualified craftsman, and I can't take pride in how much money I spend on this project, either. 

Now, compare that to the way the Amish would construct a house. No power tools. No modern technology. From cutting down the trees and hewing out the timbers, to boring the holes for perfectly fit wooden pegs, the entire job is done with archaic hand tools that would be worse than useless in my hands.

If you visited their work site, you would say, "Wow, what a craftsman, what skill, all that beauty, and look what they used to build it." 

The more backward and broken an instrument, the more glory goes to the builder for being able to use it.

If God ever uses you or me in any way, it will be categorically despite us. The greatest miracle of all is that God can and does take an instrument that is nothing in itself but sinful defilement and produces a new creature that is perfectly holy to be used according to His will. 

1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are might; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, that God chose, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

Useless is never a word in God's vocabulary. Think through these -

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Jonah ran from God
Naomi and Ruth were widows
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
Zacchaeus was too short
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer

Lazarus was dead!

So, no more excuses. God will use you if you are His child. You are not useless in His hands.