Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I believe; help my unbelief!

There aren't many things that make me want to curse... no, not many at all. But this past week has been breaking my heart to pieces.

What is the point of pursuing holiness when there are landmines all around waiting for your one misplaced step? When people fail you again and again... When I fail again and again... When the world is rooting for you fall and to wrap you in its folds of sin...darkness...superficiality...temporality... None of this lasts.

I know it is worth it. I know You are worth it all. Your glory is the reason to pursue holiness; the reason to pursue Truth in all circumstances.

I know You are strong and wise enough to guide me through the landmines and shadowy places... I want more than what the world whispers to my heart is the limit of our joy, because in You there is abundantly more. I believe.

Help my unbelief.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Progress

I have been so richly blessed in the past couple years and I'm beginning to see and believe and desire to be progressively sanctified; constantly separating myself unto the Lord.

There are areas of my life that I have fallen, fallen, fallen again, again and again in the past. Christ's blood sets me FREE of these strongholds! I am so excited that my heart truly desires to repent (turn away) from these sins, FOREVER! It's possible, with Jesus' blood and the power of the Holy Spirit working in my heart. Praise God.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have the power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [2 Corinthians 10:4-5]

The Christian walk is not a journey of "O Lord, I have failed in this area of temptation once again, and I come to Your feet and ask forgiveness... I'll be back next week, though, to ask forgiveness for the same sin." Yes, these cycles of sinfulness and shame can occur in our walk, but God wants us to have freedom and to turn our backs on these especially difficult areas of surrender! And in so doing, STOMP ON SATAN'S FACE!
Let us ask that our hearts continually be refined... purified by His holy flame; that all impurities, faults and blemishes may be burned away, little by little... as we are progressively sanctified unto Him.

Have you been struggling with a recurring sin? Proclaim Christ's victory in your life; your heart, mind and body. He has freed you from enslavement to it! Reach out and CLAIM this power that destroys all strongholds and may you look increasingly like Jesus, forevermore.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Taffy

I've recently hopped back onto Facebook after a 3 week-long hiatus.
I can't put my finger on what it is exactly that always brings me back after about the same amount of time. It's like my body can't handle being off of the thing for more than a few weeks.

I don't want to make excuses for myself. Absolutely yes, Facebook is a great tool to maintain contact with people who are, say, hundreds of miles away from you and whom you don't get to see very often. Yes, it is a great way to be able to encourage and affirm others with short messages, wall posts and Likes. Yes, it is a convenient way to remain notified about ongoing events in your community and within your peer group; bowling outings, ski trips, church events, etc.
But just like many other addictions, the pitfall of Facebook does not lie in some sinister, inherent evil of the thing; the way Facebook becomes an addiction and idol is when it is used in any way beyond its intended purpose (which, I do not believe was to stalk people).

I've blogged several times on my various blogs on the subject of Facebook and my inability to have a consistently-healthy relationship with it. The problem of this generation of rampant technological progression and technological obsession is that people just go along with the flow; wanting what the newest, coolest, fastest THING is. We are pulled in so many different directions and, I feel, stretched so thin. We don't even realize, because all around us our friends, family, coworkers are all being pulled as well.

It's a sloooooow thing, but I want to progressively break my ties to these distractions and be focused on the reason for my existence, the purpose for life. Rather than being subconsciously pulled and spread out and throwing my attention to whatever is the flashiest thing at the moment, let me instead be centered on my Source and intentionally, deliberately reach out to touch. Let me be so concentrated on this One Thing that it may empower me and give me clarity of vision to use these technologies, social networks, and control my use of these tools in a positive and productive way rather than be controlled by them.

I am seeing the sweet challenges of being a follower of Christ in this world. EVERYTHING about him is counter-cultural, and he calls us to go and do likewise. Because my natural disposition is one of concession and sensitivity and general weakness (UGH!) I struggle with going against the grain in anything. In the past I would have been perfectly happy to go with the flow and fool myself into believing that it was a loving thing to have an open mind and be able to see everyone's opinions while not having any of my own. In this case, it would just be so easy to (continue to) throw away massive amounts of precious time on stalking and flipping through pictures and mindlessly wander around the world that is Facebook. I am certain that there are many thousands of others out there doing the same.

But I refuse to waste my life. Not because I need to feel "accomplished" or "productive" but because this life is the only one I have here on earth and God has entrusted it to ME.

In conclusion, Facebook will remain active... for now. I think just like many other aspects of the Christian walk, time management and appropriate use of Stuff will be an ongoing battle.

Friday, January 14, 2011

CHINAaid: Words from the Heart By Gao Zhisheng

I have been following Gao Zhisheng's story for over a year now... after being briefly reunited with his family, he went missing again in April of last year.
This letter was to be published upon his disappearance, and his wife has approved of its publishing so that the world may hear his heart.

Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe... we are so blessed to be able to worship the LORD freely.

CHINAaid: Words from the Heart By Gao Zhisheng: "China Aid Association (Jan. 13, 2011) Editor's note: This essay was written by Gao just days before his family escaped to the United States..."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Journal Entries #2

August 13 – 7am, TC

video

Lord how wonderful Your wisdom… [Mark 2]. Father, give me strength and love today as I do my best to love Your daughters. I love the LUSH vegetation of Cambodia. What a testament to God’s unstoppable, unquenchable beauty that in a nation that has known such darkness and pain… that His beauty is still on display, breaking through the dusty, dirty city… Hallelujah!

August 14 – 2pm, Cathy’s home

Just returned from Daughters! (www.daughtersofcambodia.org) Had our nails done, Carmen had a massage, shopped around a little, watched the Daughters informational video, then had lunch at Sugar ‘n’ Spice café upstairs. What a lovely building and ministry!

We don’t set up physical idols in Western nations, but most definitely set up idols in our hearts that are stumbling blocks before our faces [Ezekiel 14:3]:

“Son of man, these men haveset up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?”

In a nation where spiritual warfare is more prevalent than in the West, this verse was such an encouragement, Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” [Mark 3:11]

August 15 – 8am, Stung Mean chey Khmer house church

Lord… let the boys and men in this room grow in faith and

knowledge of Who You are and build up a new Cambodia with You. Use them to show and model the role of husband, father, brother and may they be a God-honouring depiction of Christ and his Church. Thank You, Lord that You prepare the harvest.

Reveal to me my gifts, Lord, so that I may use them wisely, with gracious love and truth.

August 16 – 4:30pm, Cathy’s sitting room
O my word. I have not sweated so much in my life. Helping Juliet clean their furniture (from the OMF storehouse) this morning was intense physical labour but I scrubbed and cleaned as if it were for my own home!

August 17 – 3:15pm, TC library
Father, help me surrender my heart to You… Thoughts of marriage, singleness, and career keep floating about in my head. Things that should be occupying my thoughts/time:

-How can I bring this experience home with me?
-What am I learning about God each day?
-Prayer for Cambodia and its children

August 18 – 5:30pm, Cathy’s
Thank You, Lord, for this day. Hard a wonderful blessed time at the development Work meeting this morning, followed by our second rabies jabs, then a beautifully, gloriously, blessedly sweaty time at the New Life radio station orphanage! Such SWEET children. They possessed a childlike-ness that the girls at the Centre seem to be missing. It was beautiful to see, but also breaks my heart for the girls at WHI. Received a beaded bracelet and three fragrant flowers from a little boy named Pichin, and Bo Lin stuck a flower in my hair…

August 19 – 10:42, bed
Today was such a blessing… 3 new girls arrived at the Centre this week and playing/teaching/praising with the girls was so much fun. After WHI went to Sovanna Shopping Centre for some groceries and candy (or, “sweets” as Sarah would say- J) for the piñatas for the birthday party tomorrow at the Centre! Emailed a lady who works with Daughters regarding taking some Daughters products back home with me to sell, then capped the day with a praise session with Carmen, Sarah and Cathy. Thank You, Lord for moments where we can rejoice and rest in You. Bring freedom to this land, so that the Khmer people may too experience this joy. May the Holy Spirit move. Amen!

August 20 – 7:12am, balcony
The dizziness came again last night while we prayed…

Read Ezekiel this morning… chapter 6. It hit me how much God detests idol worship. Lord, move all Christians here to work TOGETHER to evangelize the nation…

August 21 – 9:45am, City Tour: Royal Palace

So. Many. Idols.

People were bowing and praying to statues of Buddha in there and I just wanted to shout JESUS! …I whispered it instead.




In tuk-tuk, afternoon of City Tour

Nervous to see Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (the infamous torture prison that was under ‘Duch’, a leader in the communist Pol Pot reign) and Choeung Ek Killing Field (where prisoners were taken to be executed after torture at prisons such as Tuol Sleng). Prayed for Holy Spirit to protect my spirit as

we head into these dark . What is the purpose of seeing these places?





Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OMF Serve Asia, Cambodia trip Review

I have been in the process of digesting the whole experience of our Serve Asia time in Cambodia. I am still in the process of digesting. It's like chewing cud, I suppose... I hope to read and re-read my journal to remember and re-remember all the nuggets of awesome Truth that God revealed to me.

I tried to think of an effective way to sum up the trip in a blog post, but thought that MAYBE I could have you walk through the trip with me; I will post a few lines about each day I spent in Cambodia. I pray that as you read through these journal entries with me you can see the God of the universe, the God Who created you and I, moving and being glorified.

Without further ado, I would like to share:

Short-Term Cambodia Mission Trip 2010

August 8 - 12:25am, Pearson Airport

Carmen and I board in like 20 minutes for our flight to Taipei! I can't believe it! I've been feeling sick to my stomach all afternoon and evening... Oh... Lord forgive my unprepared and stubborn heart! Break me. Shape me, reform me. Let this broken clay pot be used to show Your glory.



August 8 - 5:30am (Taipei time)
We've landed in Taipei!!! And have 4 hours to wait!!! Lord, what will You show me in the next 3 weeks? What is Your will for me here? Currently I feel: fear, worry excitement, disbelief that I am ACTUALLY en route to Phnom Penh.

August 9 - 1:30pm OMF Guest House Phnom Penh

WOW WOW WOW Praise God! ...I can't believe we're HERE. It is SO HOT. I just showered and I'm sweating again. Definitely have to poop, definitely exhausted, but SO SO floored to be here.








August 10 - 8:05am, OMF Team Centre Library
Hurrah! Sarah has joined us. Had our first team breakfast this morning, and now reading in the library... In times of spiritual plenty I adjust my behaviour to reflect it- but when was the last time, at a mountaintop, that I examined and asked God to adjust/transform/break open my heart? Read in My Utmost for His Highest this morning:
"We have to see that this mortal flesh is kept in perfect subjection to Him and that He works through it moment by moment."
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. [Psalm 139:23-24]

August 11 - 11PM, Movie room
Fell off to sleep after dinner tonight... today was pretty wonderful:
-Survival Khmer lesson with Susan! So fun! So hard!
-Phase 1-ers meeting on how to build relationships with the Khmer people
-signed out bicycles
-Carmen, Sarah and I went to get rabies vaccinations (many stray dogs around!).. just by ourselves... in a tuktuk!
-at the TC (team centre) planned out tomorrow's activities at WHI (World Hope International). Can't wait!
-team prayer time
Lord, help my body fight off this jetlag and whatever is causing me to feel sick.

August 13 - 6:25am, TC
Be strong and courageous [Joshua 1]. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night... Lord- be with us as we meet the girls today at WHI. Thank You, thank You, Lord.

7pm, TC
H*s description of her artwork today:
I would like to stay a baby so my mom will take care of me forever.
She had tears in her eyes as this was being translated to us. My heart broke.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Packed and ready to leave Phnom Penh... for now

W O W
My thoughts are still rough and the things I've seen and heard are still too raw to properly address right now, but suffice to say at the moment that God has GRIPPED my heart.
Heart is something that has been a constant lesson during these three weeks, as well as faith. I've been challenged in so many ways in terms of relationship status, mission work as a career, WHAT to do in terms of career, my identity.... There are so many things but I still have to process everything that I've journaled and boil the overwhelming amount of STUFF into a digestible pellet of information. Both for myself and to share with others. Hm.

In the past few weeks we have led programs at World Hope International assessment centre... we worked with girls who were rescued from brothels or rape victims, just allowing them to be kids and singing, playing games, teaching English... we also led programs at two orphanages where we were received with much love and affection- these kids just LOVE skinship and immediately Carmen, Sarah and I had several children dangling from each arm. It was interesting to see the difference in the way we were received at the assessment centre, versus the orphanages... We also visited a few very different churches and each one was so amazing!!!

We went on a City Tour of Phnom Penh which was actually very difficult; the pain this nation has suffered under the reign of Pol Pot from 1975-1979 is just astounding. A reminder of the atrocities that occurred are memorialized in the Genocide Museum (Tuol Sleng) and one of The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek). This was quite a difficult day, as in the morning we toured the Royal Palace, National Museum and Wat Phnom (the temple that sits on the hill that allegedly was the birth place of Phnom Penh as we know it today) which were laden with statues of Buddha and other idols. We headed into the afternoon already spiritually and physically drained... Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek definitely pushed me over the edge that day. Something I journaled in the tuk-tuk on the way back home from the Killing Fields:

Saw three small children on the side of the road... one was passing an old, dusty-looking teddy bear to one of the others. There is so much garbage, dust, crumbling pavement everywhere- and this is in the big CITY.
It's so amazing that people find... joy? happiness? and laughter in any circumstances... but, dilapidated houses hovering over mucky water on stilts? Naked children playing in the dusty dirty streets, begging tourists for money? I'm intersecting these people's lives while driving in a tuk-tuk. What am I taking with me?
I went to bed early, crying and singing praise songs quietly in the room Carmen and I share. Before I fell asleep, though, God spoke so clearly to me... to truly love the people of Cambodia I must understand them, and their history is part of who they are. That day was quite painful, but I was assured that God is bigger than and able to handle our pain, at any time. This made me reflect on my own past and it was a HUGE comfort and lesson for me. PRAISE GOD!

We were able to take a trip up-country to Siem Reap, the tourist-y city of Cambodia where all the famous temple complexes are. SO BEAUTIFUL. I hope to post photos soon!

All in all, I DEFINITELY got a taste of what life in the mission field could be; I rode on a motorbike for the first time (a VERY common mode of transportation in Cambodia), I haggled with vendors in the markets, have somewhat adjusted to the heat, and even had an emergency root canal and wisdom tooth extraction at a missionary dental clinic here!!! Craziness.

Must sleep now, Sarah leaves earlier than Carmen and I so we see her off at 7:30am tomorrow... I really can't believe we're leaving Cambodia.

I don't think I feel like this is goodbye, though. Please pray that God will open doors for me to return soon! :) Thank you all, I will post again about details of the trip when I return to the Western hemisphere!

Love and blessings,
Ashley