These photos in the slide show take me back to a year filled with stretching on all sides throughout our whole team and in the people that were ministered to. Christ came to save and change the world. When we go out in the name of Christ, that is exactly what happens... people are saved and all of us are changed. The body of Christ is growing daily....literally. Every day people are coming to know the Lord through the grace and mercy of God via the obedience and willingness of His people.
Pastor Mark asked us if we felt like we had sacrificed a lot to join Extreme. Cole answered perfectly... at the time YES, we totally had an attitude of sacrifice for Christ. I know in certain moments I felt that He was asking too much of me... Looking back on the last year we know we exchanged a good life heading in one direction for God's plan that was moving us in another. I think it depends a lot on what we are measuring. If our goal is safety, predictability, and stability then yes, we gave up a lot. Where we are at now is very unpredictable. On a daily basis we are trusting that the Lord will provide for our needs and the needs of the ministry and often the way God works is totally different than we expect. When we look at how much we have grown, the front row seat to the miracles of international ministry, the new and amazing relationships we have formed with folks at home and on the field through the unity of the body of Christ, the things our kids learn that we aren't even teaching them... I would say we have saved our lives by losing them. We only get this one life... we want to choose at every turn to follow Christ. Crazily enough, He has called us far from home for now. One day He may call us back to our home town and He might call one of you out here to the international mission field : ) (If He does, just GO!)
With eyes on Christ, we can see just how beautiful the other side of sacrifice really is. (really, what can we sacrifice that is bigger than what God freely sacrificed for us?) We have said this before, the body of Christ IS THE PLAN. When Christ ascended after the resurection, all of us were entrusted with this mission. As we wait for the bridegroom to return, let us not be found wasting what we have been given, sitting idle, having forgotten our great first love. Our lives are short. The lives of those not yet saved are worth anything and everything we can give in exchange for that opportunity to share with them the hope in Christ Jesus. Every moment we are given is for Him. We live, preach, love, sing, laugh, move, give, and rest all for the Lord and thank God for the Grace that catches us when we all fall along the way because in our falling and struggle, God is working on His story and gracefully weaving us in. If you aren't sure if you are in God's will in your life right now, or maybe you know you aren't... Pray for Him to speak clearly to you about where you are at, and then pray that you will want what He wants for you...that He will change your heart. Pray for the strength and courage to trust in God's plan. Sometimes we know His plan but find it hard to trust it and end up trying to make things happen on our own. Trust in the still, small voice and know that He is God. Follow Him wherever He leads, near or far.
In just 8 short weeks our family will pack up and head out once more to enter the mission field in Ecuador. We are still looking to connect with those of you whom God is calling to join us through financial giving. We have about 69% covered at this time and are trusting that God will provide the means for us to carry out this call. I know He will. If you are feeling led to give I hope that you will commit to do so and receive the blessing that comes from obedience. We are so thankful to each one of you that love and encourage us along the way.
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Grace and Peace always in Christ alone.