Why Rush The Journey?

Weeks like this week make me say, “Lord, will you please hurry this support process?!”

I work in two mentally stimulating jobs that challenge my comfort zone–a Day Job and my position with WorldVenture. Time management is an important tool in my belt.

This week, I came home drained from so much mental stimulation. Don’t tell God you are bored, because He will give you something to do. Ministry is exploding and I am swept away in it while facing the reality of a lack of time. The need for churches (individually and corporately) to learn the proper use of Social Media, to not be afraid of it, or to put aside their prejudices against it is huge. The demand on my time is hard and strangely joyful.

Yet, I am comforted by what the Lord is doing in my life, too. I don’t know what next year will bring, only that I have chosen to live this way with the expectation that God will deliver me. We will get to 100% support and it will be a story of His glory.

So, why cheat the process? Why ask God to hurry what He has deemed an important part of my journey? Every time I fall down, God picks me up again. Every time, I hear rejection, God remakes my heart so that I am stronger and better. God is even remaking our marriage. Every day, we are growing together in the same direction, applying what we are learning in the Bible and in life to our lives.

We are at 29% support. Would you consider a monthly support of $25, $35, or whatever God puts on your heart?

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Coffee With Nikki: “Sharing” on Social Media

Coffee With Nikki was inspired by a church seeking to grow their church and include their congregation in the social media ministry. In this episode, I talk about how to share the media your church is sharing on their Facebook.  This video was created for older audiences or the technologically challenged. The idea is to show you how missions and evangelism can be done with a simple click of a button and a few words. This video will become a monthly instead of weekly occurance in light of now working a full time job on top of raising support as an international worker with WorldVenture.

The idea is to inspire the church to think of social media as one of their many tools to influence and encourage people to consider learning about Jesus and looking at church in a different way. Church isn’t dying. Anyone can see by observing online interactions that we have a communication problem.

 

 

Starting a New Chapter #Missions #Church

Unlike other jobs, I give notice to Solid Rock Christian Fellowship after almost 11 years with a heart heavy with so many emotions. I know that where I am going is where God wants me to be in the interim before I launch as a Social Media person with WorldVenture. Other doors closed this week, too. Not that I can go into any detail, but an old life is fading and a new life is beginning.

Change is something a person can count on. It’s a constant. I’ve experienced so much change the last couple of years. It leaves me breathless. Even as I watch winter fade into spring, I am excited for the future. When I sing songs in church, I hear them differently now. It begs the question: Are you really living on faith? I mean, really?

  • Do you give until it hurts?
  • Do you step through open doors in your life not knowing why, but doing it anyway because God opened that door? You risk awkward silences and disaster stepping through; OR you risk blessing yourself and others in the process.
  • Do you go without to make something God wants happen? Or are you only willing to serve within your comfort zone?

Lastly, are you really impassioned about sharing your faith? I mean, really? I ask this because when I mention the online world and how people can funnel that passion through this tool to share the Gospel, I get one common response: “I don’t like change.”  This usually follows after, “I hate Facebook.”

“I hate change,” is a barrier I come up against time and time again. It’s not just a barrier to what I do, but it is a barrier that keeps people from learning how to use the online world as a tool to build relationships and share their faith. Social media is simply a conversation. It’s like meeting someone in the hallway and asking, “How are you?” And instead of walking away after a short answer, staying to listen.

The church isn’t dying. The church has a communication problem. This problem is keeping the church in a building and causing people who are online to sound like angry Americans because the church isn’t learning how to train their people how to use the online world in appropriate ways or teaching how to contextualize responses to another person’s culture.

I would love to hear how your church is training your congregation to serve online. If you aren’t training them, why not? 

 

I Need a Silent Night #Christmas

While Amy Grant sings,

“I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night,”

…I am driving to work. The rain is falling in gentle sheets and the clouds lay low over the city. My windshield sparkles like Christmas lights, reflecting the headlights of oncoming cars in the rain drops. It’s been a crazy week, and as we near 2017, I can say that 2016 has been hard. A mixed bag of blessings and the death of our dog.

My husband and I have had many conversations in 2016 that sometimes go deep into the night, discussing ministry, being a husband to a missionary, and accepting that, from this point on, nothing will ever be the same. 2016 changed both of us, and I am glad to say, we are growing together as we embrace this new future. As I drive to work, I look over to my left through the wet drivers-side window.

Predawn light hits the low clouds, making a beautiful mixture of pearl gray and dark gray shapes hovering above the casino.

“Thank you, Lord,” I whisper as I focus again on the road. A friend told my husband to take in new experiences, breathe, and remember. Close your eyes, smell the smells, experience and feel the moment you are in. An Andy Andrews webinar said to notice the little things in your life, like the beauty of those clouds and the different shades of gray marked by the glimmer of dawn.

“To end this crazy day with a silent night,” One of the song lyrics say. Silence is overlooked. Being still is almost forgotten. My cat has the being still thing down.

As I make the left turn down a dark side street, I recall him sitting on the arm of our easy chair last weekend, mesmerized by the lights of the tree. He stood there for ten minutes, not moving, being still.

Then, he made me laugh when his little white paw carefully came toward a dangling bulb. Even he has his limits.

This and next week is the deep calm before the rush. As I pull into a parking place and shut off the engine, I look towards my work place. My ministry ends the moment I walk into work and begins again when I go to lunch, when I leave to go home, and when the weekend comes. Investing in online relationships to develop them into something meaningful is time consuming. There’s an urgency here. The church is behind in the digital age. Much work has to be done!

This weekend I am creating two videos on my new desktop: “Miracle on the Mountain,” and a video specific for a church in Chandler (A heart-felt thanks to the folks at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship who contributed to the Christmas Offering. My portion of it helped me get a much needed new desktop that can handle the heavy workloads of online ministry).

I plan on baking this weekend, too. My Christmas Day could be a white Christmas with fresh cinnamon rolls in the oven made from scratch.

Our Christmas was different this year (Grand Canyon backpacking trip) so there are no presents under the tree. Nothing can top the gift God gave us in Luke 2:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Chaos and craziness will melt into Christmas peace by the time the weekend arrives.

I can’t promise I’ll be still, but I can promise to be in the moment.

TRC Magazine Editing Frenzy

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I’ve spent all weekend keeping appointments and editing TRC Magazine. It’s 8:20 p.m. on a Sunday night and I finally logged out of TRC Magazine.

This is a ministry that I started before I become a missionary with WorldVenture. I contacted a few friends in 2012 and we met in Anthem over salsa and chips to discuss the future TRC Magazine ezine. It’s 2016, and we’ve been through a few editors and writers since its inception.

Volunteers are like that. They are not paid staff, but people who are serving online from all over the world. What I offer our volunteers is access to our social media and cross-networking in exchange for their work as a writer and ministry leader. They come from all walks of life and are amazing people.

We publish another edition tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. MST. I still feel as if I forgot something even after I log out, but that’s me. I’ve spent so long on a work that finally being done is difficult to accept. I’ve been so busy getting this done that I’ve neglected this site.

Another week playing catch up again, but that’s what it means to be a missionary appointee still in support raising mode with active ministry and a full time job. I will have weeks where I am on time and weeks where I am behind, like this week. The most important thing got done though.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back to blogging this week, but not tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Amazon Says No

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For all of you who blog for books, Amazon just released new community guidelines:

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Amazon’s move follows a string of lawsuits against companies who were paid to post positive reviews on their site and cheat Amazon’s system by using reviews to make a book seem like it was one of the top rankings. Over the years, some authors have tried to manipulate the system in the name of marketing. Some secular self-publishing sites even forbid anything less than a three star rating all in the name of “helping” each other sell more books, instead of improving their writing.

Book reviewers are trying to be optimistic. However, most publishing, book reviewing companies, and blog tours require a review in exchange for a free book. This is against Amazon’s new community guidelines. Only those in their Vine program are allowed to post reviews. While book reviewers remain angry with this new move, it is Amazon’s right to protect the integrity of their review system.

I urge you as Christians to also honor this system. Here are some suggestions for posting reviews on Amazon or another retail site:

  • Free Book, But No Review Required. After you write your review, post this below the review: “I have received a free book, but the publisher has not required me to post this review. I do this on my own.” This satisfies the FCC and more than likely, Amazon. 
  • Free Book in Exchange for a Review. Post on other retail sites. Publishers aren’t usually requiring an Amazon review. 
  • Buy The Book You Want to Review. Now you are a customer. You can review the book. 
The FCC requires the following on all blog posts (use your own variation): “Free book received in exchange for a review.” 

Instead of being angry at Amazon, let’s shine as Christians. Let’s respect their guidelines and continue to use book reviewing as a way to influence and reach a lost world with the Gospel.

A Response: What Makes a Good Missionary?

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When I read this article, I drank it down like cold water on a parched day. I wanted to know the answer the same as this author to the question, “What makes a good missionary?” 
 
The article goes into the differences of persecution between Islam and other countries and governments. As I read this, I, too, felt kicked in the gut. The missionary needed the people he served. I would never have thought of that as love, but the persecuted believers saw the western man as loving because he borrowed from them instead of his western friends. Re-translate this to evangelism in your local communities: “What makes a good evangelist?” 
 
“Rarely did the apostle Paul create dependency upon himself. Often in his letters, Paul expressed how desperately he needed his brothers and sisters in Christ. He called those friends by name years later. He never forgot them. When possible, he returned to be with them. When he could not go, he sent them someone else. And he faithfully wrote to them, expressing his love, encouragement, and correction. In a word, he needed them,” the author says. 
 
Social media is about creating community, expressing that need, being the church online, and challenging us to need and be needed. The people you speak to on the field also have a purpose and are not lesser people as sometimes we may come off as looking. As a missionary wet-behind-the-ears, I want to, 
 
“…bury my pride and unpack some humility…become a brother (sister), a friend, and a peer. I would care more about the names of my brothers and sisters on the “mission field” and less about the numbers of baptisms, people discipled, churches planted, and orphanages built. I would take to heart the lesson of John the Baptist, saying about a local believer what John said about Jesus: I must decrease so that he can increase (John 3:30). I would invite local believers to lead in the light while I served in the shadows. I would have pressed into what it meant to really need them.” 
 
I am too independent. Raising support is teaching me to depend on people, to love better, to put God first above my politics, and daily it stretches and humbles me. I am learning to disciple people and wish for their success over mine. In the past two years, I have learned more, been stretched often, and know that God is taking the “ugly” out of me. His Word (the Bible) is challenging me. I am also learning that I don’t know as much as I think I know, and this attitude is important to maintain all of my life no matter how old I grow. 
 

3 Ways to Hinder Jihad

A Review of My Son, The Jihad, a Netflix Movie

Lessons we can learn from this movie:

  • When Thomas couldn’t keep a job, the extreme group gave him economic security.
  • When Thomas wanted to belong, but felt on the outside, the extreme group gave him a sense of belonging.
  • When Thomas’ girlfriend broke up with him, the extreme group gave him comfort.

His father and mother divorced, leaving Thomas broken on the inside. He got into trouble, couldn’t keep a job, and his mom, Sally, tried to reach him, and was kept at a distance. The movie described the home of Sally and Thomas as “non-religious.”

Sally mentioned God once in a while, but was she a believer? The movie was helpful in understanding why and how someone becomes radicalized. Then, a tweet on one of my other sites made me sad.

Seemingly focused only on the political angle of the refugee issue, someone’s tweet stripped the humanity away from the situation. While not related to the movie, it made me think of those three things that attracted Thomas to the terrorist group in the United Kingdom:

  • Economic Security.
  • A Sense of Belonging.
  • Comfort.

How we can fill those needs as a compassionate people? What would it look like to love a difficult person? Granted, we can only help so much, but what would radical prayer look like? What if we put our faith wholly in God and pray fervently for the lost? What if we grieved for the lost like a mother her son; even if that lost person was different than us?

So let’s go over these points again:

  • Economic Security.
    • Help them discover job skills.
      Help them with job applications.
    • Mentor them to keep a job.
    • Suggest volunteering to acquire job skills.
    • Teach them English so they can keep a job.
  • A Sense of Belonging.
    • Thomas’ father left him at a crucial time. A father figure is very important and does affect a child’s development.
    • The father figure in a person’s family affects their outlook on who God is.
    • Be understanding of someone’s background.
    • Learn to listen.
    • Be a mentor or someone else will.
    • Let that person into your inner circle.
    • Learn about their culture.
    • Learn how to build cultural bridges.
  • Comfort
    • Very simply, the gift of giving of your time.
    • Saying nothing and listening.
    • Withholding judgment sometimes.
    • Being gentle.

The refugee situation and radical Islam are complex situations, and like you, I am learning, too, what it means to minister to the unreached, the unloved, the peoples on the move, and the unchurched. We must really examine why someone like Thomas could become a terrorist and how refugees are a target for terror; sometimes, even a scapegoat.

Pray as I:

  • Learn more about “Peoples on the Move.” According to CNN, there will be 110,000 refugees by 2017.
  • Stay on top of the latest news on this.
  • Raise support so I can do this full time and reach people like Thomas who needs a friend.
  • Develop as a missionary.
  • Grow in the Word.

Morning Devotions: Consequences of Sin

I’m in Genesis 19 and Lot’s daughters got their father drunk and lay with him, becoming pregnant. Interestingly enough, the desire to get pregnant outside of the Lord’s will and through sin brought on generations of peoples who worshiped other gods. The Moabites offered human sacrifice to their god, Chemosh. (2 Kings 3:27). The Ammonites, “…joined the Syrians in their wars with the Maccabees and were defeated by Judas (1 Mac 5:6). Their religion was a degrading and cruel superstition. Their chief god was Molech, or Moloch, to whom they offered human sacrifices (1 Kings 11:7) against which Israel was especially warned (Leviticus 20:2-5). This worship was common to other tribes for we find it mentioned among the Phoenicians. (from here)” 

I’m thinking of our world and how the determination to gain something overrides the moral compass. Cutting corners, cheating others, corrupting compassion, taking and never giving, and how some jobs are no better than a sweat shop with a total disregard for humanity, instead craving profit. If our desires go outside of God’s desires, I think of instances like Genesis 19 and I wonder what the consequences will be for generations to come on people and families?
Lastly, Observe that, after this, we never read any more of Lot, nor what became of him: no doubt he repented of his sin, and was pardoned; but from the silence of the scripture concerning him henceforward we may learn that drunkenness, as it makes men forgetful, so it makes them forgotten; and many a name, which otherwise might have been remembered with respect, is buried by it in contempt and oblivion.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.