Ordinary People with Hands full of Dough

How They Give

We were welcomed into their humble abode and were invited to sit on the floor of the room which also served as their sleeping quarters each night.  The woman of the house sat in the corner of the room preparing roti, a traditional Pakistan bread, for lunch.  I secretly wondered how many times she had done this as I watched her hands moving effortlessly to knead the dough.

And I wondered how many mornings she had faithfully risen early to cook, clean, and wash, fulfilling her daily sacrifices as a mother to her family.

If she could speak English, I’m sure she would have been able to tell me how much she missed her kitchen in their 2-storey house that they had to sell before they fled their country.  Or, if she might have shared her sadness that her children would not be able to finish their education.

Instead, she simply smiled and set the plates before us to share their meagre meal with us as if we were very honoured guests.  (I have a feeling I’m going to have to learn how to make roti, because my husband obviously loved it.)  I also noticed that she was not joining us as we began to eat, but her family explained that she was observing their custom to eat after everyone else was full. 

Her humility and cheerful service to her family touched me deeply and made me realize that I have a long way to go to humble myself as I become a “homemaker” for my own family..

She reminds me of my own mother…someone who knows everything about making the most of what one has available…and I instantly feel deep gratitude for so many things I used to take for granted.

I witnessed only two or three such stories of families living as refugees from violence and persecution in their own countries, but I know there are thousands more.  In Thailand alone, there are currently more than 6,000 Pakistani refugees.  Many are waiting, day by day, looking forward to future interviews scheduled years ahead, hoping to gain refugee status to be placed in 3rd countries.

In the meantime, they have to wait, unable to work or study legally, and simply try to survive… and to hold on to hope.  

One woman attending an international ladies’ meeting said:  “We are a family of twelve people living in a small room.  It is difficult, but we do not complain because God always provides.”

Another says:  “I am six months pregnant and pray that God will provide nourishment.  I cannot afford additional supplements or vitamins.  We eat whatever is available.”

While my mind races to think of something to say to encourage them, I realize that I’m the one being inspired and humbled.  

These women do not only carry hope in their hearts. They wear it on their faces, and that makes them truly beautiful.  

I admire and desire the beauty of women like Corrie Ten Boom who stood in the middle of a German concentration camp, cold and hungry, and still found words to describe the beautiful sunsets behind the barbed wire fences.

Quote Corrie Ten BoomAnd as I return to our comfortable air-conditioned apartment on the ninth floor, I feel a little bit guilty. What am I supposed to do with this life-changing encounter?  

These stories of ordinary heroes have touched my life in ways I will never be able to express.  I know that they have changed me so that I will never be able to look at life in the same way again.

I pray that these stories will also touch your heart today and prompt you to live your lives in such a way that you always seek to be a blessing to those around you, to His glory.

It’s a matter of asking, receiving, and giving…of discerning wants versus needs…of realizing that we are all needy before God and must receive from His hand before we can give to others. 

David said, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.”  This is our promise as the children of God.  But sometimes we receive and refuse to let go of the abundance to share with others.

Perhaps we need to search our hearts and ask:  “If the tables were turned, what would I need?”  Sometimes we have the opportunity to be the instrument of God in answering the prayers of others.   

We know God will never ask us to give more than He has already given us.  But, will we be obedient as cheerful givers?

 

Testimony_andrea

Hope and Healing is in His hands

A testimony by Andrea Tomeny.

In 4th grade I really started to struggle with my weight and I believed the lies the devil was constantly whispering in my ears. I felt inadequate, lonely and without knowing it I was depressed and had a lot of anxiety. I believed I wasn’t good enough or worthy of anyone’s love. I didn’t know how much God loved me, I didn’t know that He wanted to free me from the lies. I didn’t know He could heal me of my emotional struggles. All these things I kept deep inside, ashamed and confused.

At sixteen the struggle with my weight became a real issue and I became anorexic. This made the anxiety and depression I had been dealing with since 4th grade all the harder. Just as I was losing all hope, God placed people and situations in my life to make me turn to Him. God knocked on the door of my heart and I finally answered. God granted me the graces to seek Him in my struggles of anxiety and depression. And it wasn’t easy. The lies didn’t stop, only my effort to fight against them.

At first I began by going to church and seeking Jesus in silence. Slowly little by little I opened up to Jesus. I told Him about the lies, about my feelings, about the pain, anxiety and depression. Naturally, as I shared my life with Him, a relationship formed and the long process of healing finally started.

As I grew, I learned more about my faith, and about my Savior Jesus. All of this helped me realize that God did love me, but I still doubted He could love me for me and I still struggled with anxiety, my weight and depression. My healing wasn’t instant, I struggled for three more years like this.

A year and a half ago, we were at a weeklong charismatic retreat in India and during this retreat God healed me of anxiety, depression and without even knowing it, also from my obsession with my weight! Joy and peace replaced anxiety, fear and sadness. A healthy self-image and self-esteem replaced negative feelings about my body and myself. More and more I began to know and feel just how much God loves me for who I am.

Today God is my joy and my relationship with Him is the main focus of my life. I enjoy the graces of reading Scripture, praising and worshipping Him in song, going to church and talking with Jesus every day. This doesn’t mean my life is easy but it’s definitely joyful.

God is SO incredible and He can heal, wants to heal and will heal.”

“Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

FindYourVoice2

Finding Your Voice

Dear Friends,

I have something to confess. I am a “people pleaser” in the process of rehabilitation. I’m slowly learning that it is far better to speak the truth in love than to tell people what (I think) they want to hear.

And I will admit that it is not an easy process. Some days, I wish that this message we carry was one that would not make the world reject or hate us….not one that many Christians are still dying for every day. It would be so much easier to conform to this world and simply stay far away from places and countries where the truth might lead to persecution or even death. Nevertheless, He said: “Be NOT conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.

God has called me – and all of us – to receive and share His message. If what we believe does not set us free, it’s not the truth. And if we do not speak the truth, we allow others who receive our words to come under bondage or to remain in bondage. We are not responsible for formulating the message…we are merely messengers responsible for sharing His words.

I know I am “a work in progress” and still have a long way to go. I am still “finding my voice”, as they would say in the literary world. I’m also still learning when not to speak and how to listen with love; but I’m getting there one word at a time, and I’m learning that the best way not to mess it up is to speak His words.

Sometimes, we feel offended, and we, in our humanity, react by defending ourselves. Then, at other times, we ask hard questions and say things which might offend others; and they, likewise, react by defending themselves. The worst thing we can do is to get caught up in intellectual debates and miss the core of the message, which is LOVE.

This week, I have come to realize that “finding my voice” or “finding my calling” is not the top priority in my walk with God. Instead, the most important thing for me is to learn to recognize and to listen to the voice of the Shepherd. If we simply learn to listen to that still, small voice, we can receive a lamp for our feet to give us just enough light to take the next step forward in faith. By doing so, we can walk into His plans for our lives which may impact the lives of others and God’s plans for them. Our lives are inter-connected.
Our voices

And, in walking circumspectly, we should always be careful that our own pride does not get in the way of God’s purpose for our lives to bring Him glory and honor.

In seeking after God, I have learned that it might take us to messy, uncomfortable, and undesirable places. But even in the middle of the worst situation possible, we can have peace which truly “passes all understanding”. Even if we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will be able to say: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” And, despite the measure of our own finances, our cups will always run over with His provision, enabling us to give to those in need around us.

At the end of the day, we are not here on this earth for ourselves. We are all part of a bigger, intricate plan of God’s love: we simply have to love….God first, and then each other. It is easy to love God, but it takes the love of God in our lives to love our imperfect neighbors.

It is human nature to talk big. Unfortunately, we are often guilty of “all talk and no action” and fail “to practice what we preach”. We want affirmation of man by being heard, standing out above the crowd, or being the center of attention. Less often do we seek the affirmation of God by being willing to allow Him to take the spotlight as we submit to His Words, words which have power to radically change us and mold us into His image. Through the truth of His Words, we are set free from the lies and deception of all other thoughts, opinions, and words. Only then can we yield to the law of love, allowing it to rule and reign in our hearts, and minds, and spirits, compelling us to share the good news with others. Serving the needs of others…and the greatest need is love…is the only way to lead people into His Kingdom.

Jesus always spoke with clarity and intent, and always with love. We have so much to learn from that voice now speaking to our hearts, calling us to take up our cross and follow Him. I pray that He will speak to your heart through this message in a way that will transform and renew your life, as He has mine, and that your ears would be opened to hear His voice.

I have learned (the hard way), and I am still learning, that the world doesn’t need one more opinion, especially when it comes to religion. The world needs more examples. “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” I want to spend less time writing/speaking and more time doing, in hopes that, somehow, His voice will be heard through my life.

Speak the truth in love and live it up.

Love,
Dorette

(Reporter of Hope)

Word of God

How the Word of God has Changed my Life

Since the day I made a decision to believe the Bible – and ALL of it – my life has changed forever.

I did not want to hang on to half-truths anymore by picking and choosing only those verses I felt comfortable with because they made me feel good.  I was searching for the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and I was willing to take it, even if it made me feel uncomfortable by revealing my true nature.

I decided I would rather swallow my pride and look into the mirror of His Word to see my life as He sees me rather than to be a hypocrite, lost for eternity.

And like my husband always says:  “I would rather stand in front of God one day and have Him tell me that I took His Word too seriously or too literally than to hear Him say:  ‘Depart from me, I don’t know you’.” 

I’ve been a nominal Christian most of my life, but I mistakenly under-estimated the importance of believing every single word in the Bible.  Looking back on the past two years of my life, I realize that I was foolish not to search out truth and wisdom from His Word.

It has changed EVERYTHING…

On a physical level

  • We sold everything and moved half-way across the world to another country.
  • We decided to get baptized as an act of obedience to “die to ourselves that we might be risen with Christ”.
  • I have taken leave of my former profession as a Physical Therapist to take up my high profession in Christ Jesus.  Instead of treating the sick, I’m praying for them and seeing the Great Physician heal their broken bodies.
  • When I’m not teaching, I’m learning how to adapt to life in the East.
  • I’m more actively “doing” what Gods says rather than just “hearing” the Word.
  • God has blessed us with abundance so that I can honestly say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.”

On a cognitive level

  • I no longer puff myself up with delusions that “I am a good person”.  I know better. The two-edged sword has circumcised my heart and taught me all about REPENTANCE.
  • I now realize the importance of “renewing my mind” in His Word every day.  This way, I get victory over my doubts and fears that arise from listening to the lies of the enemy.  The Holy Spirit is my teacher and the Word of God a lamp to my feet.
  • I fully believe that Jesus is the only “way, truth, and life”.  I believe that He was and is the Living Word. Every word Jesus spoke had power to give life; even so, as we speak His Word in faith today, its power is not diminished to bring forth life because He is alive forevermore.

On a spiritual level

  • I have no idea how I sat through church almost every Sunday of my life, read through the Bible more than five times, and still never realized that the Word of God is all about God’s love and His promises to His children.  It is not a practical guide to living a good life or mere religious doctrine and laws to teach us what we should and should not do.  It is about the work of His Spirit to change us into His image when we finally realize that we can’t do it ourselves and yield to Him as Lord. 
  • Spiritual warfare is an everyday reality, and it is an honor to simply “stand” on the side of Jesus, the side of Victory, because His name is above all names and every evil spirit knows it, far better than we do, and trembles at His Word.
  • Yes.  I also speak in tongues – and I’ll be the first to admit that in the beginning it felt very “unnatural” for me because it was not “me” praying “MY will be done”, but the Holy Ghost praying “THY will be done”.  Another voice, that of the Holy Spirit, that was speaking through me as I began to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
  • We cannot do anything in our own strength.  We need to be edified by the Word, the promises of God, and by the gifts of the Spirit working in the Church;  we need to put on the whole armor of the Spirit to withstand the enemy; and we need to stand steadfast on the side of Victory.  He does the work, and we simply follow Him into victory with praises to His name.

On a denominational level

  • I looked up the word “denomination” in my Bible and I couldn’t find it.
  • I love that we get to connect with local churches and realized that God doesn’t need foreigners to promote their own ministries or denominations.  We all need to work together in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
  • God speaks to people in their native languages and through His Word.  When we share the Word of God in our English Bible study in Thailand, the Holy Spirit becomes the Teacher and even the Translator for our students who are a mix of speakers of English, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Urdu, etc.

Bible - nations

  • He specializes in making Himself known to us in ways that cannot be captured in words and yet, He asks us to believe like little children.
  • I have seen how He has drawn Buddhists, Muslims, and Atheists to Himself…not by fancy preachers and well-written sermons…. but by His anointed Word spoken by simple people.
  • The Word has impressed on me the importance of “knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” [Please take note that this is NOT my private interpretation of the Bible and simply the testimony of how it changed my life.]

On a psychological level

  • I honestly don’t care if people call me crazy for allowing the Bible to change my life, because it has made all the difference in my life, and I have no regrets.
  • In fact, I’m crazy enough to believe that if you start reading this book and believe every single word, it will change your life as well.  And you will have no regrets.

It’s not my place to convince you of anything. The best I can hope for is that this will inspire you to seek the truth for yourself and guide you to the place where you will find it.  

Everything I write, I write knowing that I will never be able to write anything more true, relevant or beautiful than the Word of God.

Oh, how fortunate we are to have free access to and knowledge of this life changing Book!  We get to speak life by speaking the words of the One who spoke this world into existence and is now living inside of us.  If we do not take every single word He spoke and every living demonstration to heart, we risk wasting our lives!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God,

and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,

for instruction in righteousness”

- 2 Timothy 3:16 -

How did the Word of God change your life?

Share with us in the comments below.

Photo credit: Leon Skinner

Potter and Clay

The Potter and the Clay

I know I am nothing but a lump of clay,
That will return to dust one day…

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And yet I’m being molded in The Potter’s hand
For a purpose and a passion I might not fully understand.

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Fearfully and wonderfully made,
In his image He did create;

A work of art.
A masterpiece with a heart.

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Who am I to say ‘what are you making of me’?

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We do not get to choose who we want to be.

Only what we allow inside the mold,
For in effect we will become the very thing
We choose to hold.

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A vessel of honor is not so much about the vessel
And all about its content.

Why am I painting my exteriors
and trying so hard to pretend?

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Unless I’m full of You I’m hollow!

Oh, Lord please teach me how to follow.

And how to be still,
How to surrender to Your will.

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Please burn away every false desire,
As you sanctify me with Your fire.

Fill me up until there’s nothing left of me,
Complete the good work for Your glory!

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You are the Potter,
I am the clay,
Lord have your way!

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But now, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand.

- Isaiah 64:8