Can I ask you a question?
"Is God all He says He is?"
If you're anything like me, a home-grown church kid, that question is pretty easy. "Yeah of course, He's GOD!". That's what we're suppose to say right?
Ok, so can I ask you another question then?
"Do you believe you are the amazing person you say you are?"
(Think about that real hard before you answer)
What if I told you that the answer you gave for the first question affects the way you answer the second? You're probably confused so let me explain myself.
Lots of times the way we view GOD can affect the way we view ourselves. If we believe GOD is an awesome being Who created all things and called them good (Genesis 1:31), then we'll believe that we are HIS good creations because HE made all things "good". But if we don't believe that GOD makes things "good" then we'll view ourselves as a mistake.
About a year ago, GOD started bringing to my attention a lie I had believed about myself my whole life. It's the one statement that almost all my insecurities hang on. The lie was:
"I am GOD's one exception"
I knew GOD was an amazing God who created all things good and that HE loved us beyond measure. But for some reason I believed that HE made an exception when it came to me.
GOD loves everyone unconditionally but me
GOD forgives everyone but me
GOD has a purpose for everyone but me
Do you see a pattern here? And the sad thing was, I lived it out! I would tell people all the time that GOD loves them and has a purpose for their life, all the while silently adding to myself "everyone but me that is".
One day, I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I remember GOD spoke to me and said:
"Susan, if you believe that you are MY one exception in life, then you believe I have contradicted MY Word."
In The Bible in the book of John, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 emphasis added are mine). Jesus said GOD loved the whole world. Not just parts of it, not just a certain select few, the WHOLE WORLD. He also goes on to say that "The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Ben-Elohim [Hebrew for Son of God]." (vs 18 brackets are mine)
GOD revealed to me that when I believed that I was HIS one exception, in reality I was believing that GOD repudiated what HE said in the Bible. If I was going to preach to others that GOD loved them and that GOD had a plan for their life, I had to believe the same thing in regards to myself and stop condemning myself when HE already loves and forgave me.
I'm telling you this because ever since that moment I have discovered that all my insecurities are secret lies about GOD that the Devil has told me. When I stopped trying to fix myself with all the "self-help" rules I had learned, I began to see that all this was truly about GOD and HIS image, not mine.
Think about it, Who is the Devil's enemy?
Who is GOD's beloved?
If you had an enemy and you wanted to destroy them, you could do it one of two ways:
Attack them directly,
attack the things/people they love.
The devil can not directly attack GOD. HE is The Almighty and has already beat the devil in the ultimate battle against death (John 12:31-33) . So instead he'll attack those GOD loves because by causing us pain, he causes GOD's heart to break (Isaiah 63:9). He does this in many ways but one way is by telling us lies about ourselves which cause us to unconsciously doubt aspects about GOD, in turn, causing us to not believe HIM and ultimately turn away from HIM. Think about some of the lies we believe about ourselves and how they affect our thinking of Who GOD is:
I am not loved. GOD doesn't love.
I am useless. GOD makes useless things.
I am ugly. If we are made in HIS image, then GOD must be ugly.
Now, I am not saying that you are irrelevant and that your insecurities have nothing to do with you. Your fears and insecurities are very real and important to you and how you walk through life. I'm just suggesting that we're looking at this all wrong. Instead of focusing on how we feel, we should be asking ourselves "what is the ultimate battle here?"
So here's what I propose: pray that GOD would reveal to you one of the insecurities you have and ask HIM to reveal to you what that lie says about HIMSELF. Even if you feel like you don't have any insecurities, you still may be believing a lie about GOD that you don't realize you believe. It will be scary, asking GOD to reveal the truth about HIMSELF, maybe a truth you don't even realize. Believe me I know! But at the same time, when GOD reveals Who HE really and truly is, lives are changed and the devil flees (James 4:1-10)! Try it, and see what happens. Here are some suggestions on ways you can do that:
Spend time listening
Pray and ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF to you and then spend some time just listening. The Bible says that those who wait on The LORD will not be ashamed (Psalms 25). It will be a challenge, quieting your mind, but it will be rewarding.
Be alert and patient
GOD will answer you in HIS timing. It may not be immediate but it may be. GOD is not a god to be controlled or swayed. He will answer you in the way and time HE wants to answer you in. This may mean waiting a little bit so you can get to a point where you are truly listening, or so HE can answer you in a way that you'll know it was HIM speaking to you. Just be alert and patient. HE will answer if you're truly seeking (Deuteronomy 4:29). Which brings me to my next suggestion:
Don't expect a certain answer to be delivered a certain way
GOD does not always answer us in a booming voice from the heavens. Sometimes HE allows other things or people to speak for HIM. I remember one time GOD revealed a lie I had been believing by letting me literally speak it out loud! I was talking with a friend (and by talking, I mean I was talking she was simply listening not saying a word) and before I even knew what I was saying I heard myself say the lie I had believed and why I had even believed it! So don't expect an answer in a specific way. GOD sometimes likes to surprise HIS children!
Have some accountability
You can do this by asking someone, or a group of people, to pray for you and keep up with you during your time of searching. I would like to encourage you to leave a comment in this post so that I and others reading this can pray for you. You don't have to say anything specific, just that you've accepted the challenge. Also I encourage you to comment on other people's posts encouraging and praying for them! Please remember though that there are real people behind those comments and treat them with the kindness, love, and respect that Jesus offers to us all.
Are you ready? Nervous? Excited? Feeling a little bit of a lot of different emotions? Me too. I know the lie I'll be working on this week is "GOD can't fulfill me in my everyday longings and desires". Doesn't that sound selfish? So be praying that GOD will reveal to me how HE is the only Messiah and I am not. I'll be praying for you all too!
Blessings on your epic quest!
We started off the week with a baptism at Brighton Beach. There were three people to be baptized, one man and two ladies one of whom is Jewish. It was amazing to be standing on the beach singing and worshiping GOD with my fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah whom I had never met before and welcoming yet new siblings into the family of GOD! I felt so connected to these people that are so different from me, but yet we all share the same Heavenly Father and the same love and gratitude for HIM. And the joy to watch these three new believers announce publicly to the world what GOD had done for them and their decision to follow HIM for the rest of their lives was something I really can't describe to you. But if you are a Christian, you know what I'm talking about.
(each person being baptized gave a short version of their testimony beforehand)
Everyday started off with a worship service and devotional. We had training all morning and headed out to the streets in the afternoon. There were about 34 participants in Shalom Brooklyn and we were divided into teams of 5 to 8 with a Chosen People staff member as our leader. The teams would rotate between sites throughout the week so there was a new team at the same location through the entire week (which proved to be very helpful in many ways). At the sites (usually a park) we would set up a book table with some Biblical literature and Bibles to give out. While 2 people would man the table the other team members would break off into pairs and walk the park doing a one-page spiritual questionnaire to try to get people in conversations about their beliefs.
If you will notice our shirts say Isaiah53.com on them. The main book we handed out at the tables was the book Isaiah 53 Explained. This book goes through Isaiah chapter 53 (also known as the Suffering Servant passage) and breaks the passage down explaining how Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah. We would ask people if they had ever read Isaiah 53 and if they had who they thought the person in the passage was.
You will also notice in the picture above that the sign on the table asks the question "Does God Exist?". Another way we got people to stop by the booth was to pose a question on a white board and ask people's opinion on the question. Some of the questions the Shalom Brooklyn group thought of included "Was Jesus really the Messiah?" "Have you found peace with God?" and "Who or what is god in your life?".
It was interesting to hear the answers people had. One guy stopped by the booth that I was at with the question "Does God exist?" on it and checked "yes" in the boxes we drew below the question. When I asked him why he checked "yes" and who he thought God was he said that he didn't know who or what it was but he knew that all this (meaning creation) didn't just happen but chance that something, or someone, had to have made it. It was amazing to see that no one taught this man that knowledge, GOD revealed HIMSELF to this man. I always felt like it was MY responsibility to tell people about GOD, that if I didn't tell people they would never know about HIM. But that day GOD taught me that it was not my responsibility to save people. HE saved people, it was just my responsibility to obey HIM as HIS disciple.
In the months leading up this mission trip I had really been struggling with having a Messiah complex (meaning I felt like I was responsible to save people). Through this trip GOD showed me that HE was orchestrating plans that I didn't know about to draw people to HIMSELF and that when I, in my human disadvantage, could not fulfill or finish a task HE would and that nothing was slipping by HIM. Every person is precious to HIM and HE desires that ALL come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, 2 Peter 3:15) and, while HE wants us to choose HIM of our own free will, HE will do the drawing.
Which leads me into my next story.
On the fifth day we were in NY we set up our booth in a part of Central Park (actually right next to the Trump campaign headquarters). There I met who I'll refer to as Pigeon Man. Pigeon Man was feeding pigeons (thus the name) and had drawn the attention of me and two other young people because the pigeons where eating right out of his hands (literally!). The particular tracts I was handing out that day were advertising a website called I Found Shalom where several Jewish people share there testimonies. I mentioned that he seemed to have found shalom because he obviously seemed to be at peace and asked him if he'd share how he found it. Apparently this man has looked at every major religion of the world and has picked out the "common threads" in them to be his religion. This man also believed strongly in free will and that the purpose of life is to choose righteousness and that if you don't choose righteousness in this life, you will come back again and again until you do. I tried pointing out to him that you can not say that you believe in free will if life's ultimate goal is to choose righteousness.
Let me explain what I mean by that:
Free will is the ability to choose your own path in life and how you will walk that path. In order for free will to work, the choices you or I make must be honored. If I want to choose to follow a Jewish Rabbi my choice to do so must be honored by letting me follow this Jewish Teacher. And if I want to choose to be evil and not choose righteousness in order for free will to work I should be allowed to pursue evilness. But what this man was saying is that while I could choose to be evil, at the end of the day (or the end of one of my many lives) I must choose to be righteous in order to move on. Otherwise I would be stuck and unable to proceed in life. But if free will is the ability to choose ones' own life, how can we make our own choices if at the end of the day we MUST choose to be one certain way?
I tried to be respectful in presenting my case, as Pigeon Man was in presenting his. But in the end we had to part ways because neither of us could agree with the other. We talked for a good hour on this subject and many others before he had to leave. Honestly I would have finished the conversation sooner but remember the two young people I mentioned earlier who were watching the pigeons with me? They were hanging on every word Pigeon Man and I said. So I stuck around because I knew they were listening and when we parted ways they walked off with Pigeon Man asking him more questions.
Watching them walk off I literally began to weep knowing just how blind this man was and here he was making disciples. It was so heartbreaking to see an intelligent man who has genuinely studied be so blind to one simple truth. It was hard to walk away from that meeting not knowing if I made a difference and feeling like I had not.
But you know what? GOD gave me a peace about it. No, I didn't feel like I presented my case in the best way and that Pigeon Man got back to his house, fell on his knees, and gave his life to Messiah. But, I had defended my Savior in the best way I could, and even if those people didn't listen, I shared The Truth with them and GOD was going to handle the rest.
I've got more stories coming up so stay tuned!
Hello people! I'm back and boy do I have lots to share! So without further ado, here's what all went on in the big apple!
So Jonathan and I flew out on a Saturday morning. Considering I've never flown or navigated an airport before I would say I did pretty good having only forgotten to take my phone out at security and crashed into a lady on the airport tram :). The flight was SO COOL even though I cried all during take off :). We landed right on time and found our way to the hotel with very little trouble. I did have the worst headache ever upon arriving due to the cabin pressure in the plane and seriously considered taking another flight home. Only after talking and praying with my dad, hearing that my baby cousin was praying for me (thank you sweet Brandon), and taking two of these magical green things call sinus pills, was I able to feel better.
(at the airport on our way to New York)
So we are finally in New York and get to have a quick rest before we begin ministering right?
See we had ordered a cab service to pick us up at the airport to take us to the hotel before orientation that night (because we all know that if it was up to me to navigate I would have gotten us completely lost! :). The cab driver, we'll just call him Carl for now, picked us up at the baggage claim and took us on a 15 minute drive to the hotel we were staying at for the week. We got to talking and turns out this man is a Hindu or Buddhist (I can't remember which now) and freely told us what he believed. Johnathan and I, not knowing what else to do, continued to ask him questions as Carl told us how sin comes about. According to him humans were once giants who were equal to God but once we started living for ourselves (Carl described it as when the word "mine" came into being) humans began to shrink and loose connection with God. I honestly don't know if our questions made any difference or if he just thought he was an older man "enlighten" these poor confused youths. He allowed us to pray with him after he dropped us off and to take a picture with him. But needless to say, that was our first taste of New York!
(us with our cab driver and our amazing selfie taking skills :)
Orientation was that night and we got to meet some more people who were join us for the week as well as our team leader. There were about 34 participants in Shalom Brooklyn and we were divided into teams of 5 to 8 with a Choosen People staff member as our team leader. While we would all be together during the morning and evening hours we would break off into teams in the afternoon.
There were people from all over that came! We had one lady from Hawaii and one guy from Canada, but the cool place to come from apparently was North Carolina. Almost half of the people there were from North Carolina. Jonathan and I were the only ones from Tennessee and that first night everyone thought we were married because we had the same last name! So when it came time for us to introduce ourselves I had to set the record straight because everyone kept asking us if we were married or not. I even had a man come up to me after orinatition thanking me for clarifying because he didn't know if we were married or not and didn't know how to ask! :)
But that was just the first night. And it was just the beginning. Next post I'll share about some of the actual ministry as well as a baptism at Brighton Beach!
Sorry it is taking me so long to get this out. Life hit me full force when I returned. But, more on that after I get out my ministry trip posts!
More Soon...I Promise!
Well people, it's now time to do what we all hate to do for any trip:
I hate packing. Yet, it must be done so thus I do it. But as I'm packing I'm reminded of the many things that GOD has provided for me to go on this trip like:
a new backpack
a carry on suitcase loaned to me by my brother (thank you Gideon!)
a few new bargain-priced clothes
and the knowledge that people are out there praying for my safety. Guys, to be honest I have been overwhelmed with the support y'all have given Jonathan and I! Knowing that people are praying for me is the number 2 thing that gives me the courage to tackle this adventure laid before me (knowing GOD is with me being number 1). So thank you again for helping us to prepare for this trip!
Now I would like to share this experience with each of y'all by inviting you to follow me! Not in the physical sense (I'm pretty sure the flight we're taking is full, sorry!) but thanks to the wonderful world of technology you can follow me on Instagram where I will be posting photos of all the cool things we'll be doing. And yes I promise to write a detailed post here on the blog when we get back!;)
So that's really it for now! Continue to keep Jonathan and I in your prayers as we travel and work alongside GOD's chosen people. Pray that:
-Their eyes will be open to the truth that they've been blinded to for so long
-That we will be purely vessels The LORD will work through. We can not in any way through our own power save people. So pray that GOD will work through us in such a way that our sinful selves can't, and won't, get in the way
-That our team will be in perfect unity with each other. That we will be understanding anytime someone gets tired and encourage them to keep pressing on in the hard, and easy, times
-That we will have a safe travel to New York, from New York, and all the little journeys made in between
-That GOD will be glorified this week in everything said and done. This week is about HIM not me so all praise belongs to HIM alone
Shalom (peace) to you all,
Greetings all! In my last update I mentioned that one of my main concerns was that we wouldn't have enough money by the June 15th deadline. Well now I have a big favor to ask you guys...
STOP SPENDING MONEY!!
We have MORE THAN ENOUGH to cover our Chosen People Ministries fees, airline tickets, meals, and extra travel expenses! I'm so overwhelmed by what all we've been blessed with because to be honest, I wasn't expecting to raise more than $100 before our deadline. But by 3:00pm on June 15th we were completely paid off to CPM with promises of more funds to come for the travel! This was actually MY first confirmation that I was suppose to go on this trip, because to be honest I had enough saved up for all my expense (would have wiped me out but I could have done it); it was really for Jonathan that we were asking for money. Up until then I was feeling that I was more or less only suppose to go as my brother's babysitter. But when the donations added up to where I didn't have to pay a cent on my behalf it was almost like GOD was saying "I've got a plan for you on this trip too. Just trust ME"
So thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU to everyone who's graciously given towards our trip! We will never be able to thank you properly and repay you back for all you've done!
And to those who have been praying for us I've got news for you as well!
Anytime someone does something for GOD there will be attacks from the devil to try to stop that person from continuing. This has been very true for me. These past two weeks have been a giant mental and emotional battle that has left me physically exhausted to the point that I couldn't focus on preparing for my mission trip. But on Friday pieces were laid in place that helped me to confront my distractions and put them away from me. I know there were people praying for me that day and to those who were thank you very much for giving me strength to move forward past this big distraction and road block in my journey.
So yes GOD is on the move here and doing amazing things to prepare Jonathan and I for this seemingly insignificant trip but as we believers know, nothing is unimportant to our Heavenly Father. Even if all we do is plant a seed in someone's mind to get them thinking more about GOD then I will have done my job well and HE will take care of the rest. There is a song that I've been listening to lately called The Sower's Song by Andrew Peterson that perfectly describes what all is happening to me with preparing for my trip (click the link to hear the song, lyrics listed below). It's based on Isaiah 55: 10-13, 62:11 and John 15:1-11 and talks about GOD preparing us for HIM through the image of a sower in a garden.
Please continue to pray that GOD will prepare us, the rest of the mission team, and the people we will minister to for all HE has in store. Pray that unnecessary distractions will continue to fade away and we will be able to keep our focus on our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) ONLY. And praise HIM for providing everything we need to go on this trip and for removing a big hinderance for me! GOD is not unaware of all these things and I know you guys know that, but just think of prayer as you requesting weapons on mine and Jonathan behalf in order for us to complete our journey as I know you will faithfully do.
The Sower's Song
By: Andrew Peterson
Oh God, I am furrowed like the field torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed that I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield that you will harvest from this hurt
Abide in me let these branches bear you fruit
Abide in me Lord as I abide in you
So I kneel at the bright edge of the garden
At the golden edge of dawn at the glowing edge of spring
When the winters edge is gone
And I can see the color green I hear the sowers song
Abide in me let these branches bear you fruit
Abide in me Lord let you word take root
Remove in me the branch that bears no fruit
Remove in me Lord as I abide in you
As the rain the snow fall
Down from the sky and they don't return
But they water the earth and they bring forth life
Giving seed to the sower and bread for the hunger
So shall the Word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return and it will not return void
We shall we lead in peace and go out with joy
And the hills before us will raise their voices
And the trees of the field will clap their hands as the land rejoices
And instead of the thorn now the cypress towers
And instead of the brier the myrtle blooms with a thousand flowers
And it will make a name
Make a name for our God
A sign everlasting will never be cut off
As the earth brings forth sprouts from seed
What is sown in the garden grows into a mighty tree
So the Lord plants justice
Justice and praise to rise before the nations until the end of the days
As the rain the snow fall
Down from the sky and they don't return
But they water the earth and they bring forth life
Giving seed to the sower and bread for the hunger
So shall the Word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return and it will not return void
And it will not return and it will not return void
It will not return It will not return void
We shall be lead in peace and go out with joy
And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us
***Note from Susan * Hi People!! So between getting ready for my mission trip to NY and my day job I've been REALLY busy lately! So my wonderful Mother agreed to help me out by doing a book review. Hope you guys enjoy and I'll see y'all in my next NY update!**
A Ladies of Harper Station Novel
She Trusts Him for the Job,
But Can She Trust Him With Her Heart?
Men are optional. That was the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts taught her and why she established Harper's Station, a women's colony that offers
a fresh start to females in need. But when a dangerous and shadowy assailant tries repeatedly to drive the women out, Emma is forced
to admit they might need a man after all. One who can fight. And there is only one man she trusts enough to ask.
Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he's always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's telegram arrives,
he rushes back to Texas to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own
and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.
As the danger intensifies, Emma, Mal, and the ladies of Harper's Station must choose safety or whether to risk everything to fight for their future.
I (Susan's mother) should probably start this review by stating that just prior to reading this novel, I read two other stories over the last week or so. One was a mystery-historical romance so that was a little different from the norm and the other was an extremely well written story that ended up having the romance as a backdrop to the setting instead of vice-versa and was very refreshing to read.
I've read my fair share of fiction. In fact, I LOVE to read. When my children were little I had to be careful with my reading. Once I opened a novel I became so absorbed in it that everything else around me just faded away. "Just one more chapter" was often heard coming from my lips as my children ran around me doing pretty much what they pleased because I was so distracted. I still am this way; the children are just older now so it's not such a big deal. As I said, I've read my fair share of fiction, much of that Historical Romance. I've even read some of Ms. Witemeyer's work before. And it is not that she is a bad writer; in fact, I prefer her work to some others. It is just that there was very little "uniqueness" to this story. I pretty much could tell you everything that was going to happen before the third chapter was finished. I will say that I did not know "why" the town was in danger until she revealed it, but it really didn't matter to me because I could predict so many other parts of the story. Even little "hints" were so obvious.
Emma Chandler thinks that men are optional. Unfortunately for us, as is with sooooo many Historical Romance novels today, a unique storyline is optional as well. Don't get me wrong. It's not that this story is bad but it is predictable.
The first line on the back of the book hints that this is to be a series of novels: A Ladies of Harper Station Novel
There were several other characters in the story that I wouldn't mind reading more about IF they could be more original. However, I would probably never find myself re-reading this novel. It just didn't have enough to draw me back to it again and again.
As I mentioned before, Ms Witemeyer isn't a bad author, she just needs something new and refreshing. Much like many other authors of today.
Overall, I would give this 2 stars out of 5 (see side bar for review scale). I wavered between 2 and 3 but honestly, I know I would not keep it to re-read and really could have used my time more wisely so the 2 stars fit better.
**NOTE* A word to the discerning parent of pre-teen or teen readers, even though most of the "physical romance" is limited, it is a little more detailed than I would prefer my unmarried daughter to read. Unmarried girls don't need any help in the romance-fantasy department in my opinion and the less they read about the tingling on their arms, flipping in the stomach, husky breaths on their neck, and intense kissing the better. Just my opinion though.**
P.S. I was given No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion
38 more days! That's how many day sI have left before I leave on my mission trip to Brooklyn New York! I'm so excited but at the same time I'm anxious about the trip!
Will we get the money in time?
How am I going to witness to people of a completely different denomination than me?
What if I get lost at the airport?
I have so many concerns but I know that my Heavenly Father sees the future, I don't (see Jer 29:11), and that there are people (like you!) out there who are praying for me every step of the way. So I wanted to post a few prayer requests so that those of you praying for us have something specific to pray about. I know it helps me when I'm praying for someone to know specific needs, that way I'm not just saying "Lord please help this person." It somehow makes it more personal in a way that really helps me "bare my brother's burden" as commanded in the Bible (see Gal 6:2).
Please pray for:
*The safe and on-time travel to and from NYC and to and from all our NYC destinations. Neither Jonathan nor I have ever traveled by ourselves before (let alone fly!) so this aspect makes us VERY nervous! Please pray that our travel will go smoothly and that GOD will send HIS heavenly arm to protect us.
* The health and wellbeing of all the Shalom Brooklyn participants and staff. I (Susan) tend to have some digestive issues if I eat out for a long period of time. Please pray that this will not be an issue and that if it is that I will be given the strength to press on regardless of how I feel.
* The successful support raising for every one the Lord has called to this ministry. I'm not going to lie, money is a BIG issue right now and we really don't want to go into debt over a mission trip. Please pray that the funds will be provided before our deadline.
The below requests have come directly from Chosen People Ministries in relation to Shalom Brooklyn:
* The Spiritual preparation of all our hearts. Pray that we will yield our hearts to the control of the Holy Spirit so we may be motivated always by love for HaShem (The Name), and each other.
* For a spirit of unity and cooperation as we work together all week
* We will all catch a vision for what the Lord is doing among the Jewish People in Brooklyn and beyond
* That we will learn new skills and gain new knowledge for His Kingdom
* For our open, loving hearts toward the Jewish people and our team
* For the Jewish people's spiritual eyes to be opened, and their hearts to be softened to the love of God in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), and the truth of the Gospel
* For spiritual fruit that will last for all eternity
* For anything else that comes to mind about our time together:)
Again thank you to everyone who is praying and supporting us through this journey. May you be blessed a hundred fold for your efforts!
Hey Everybody! I know it's been a while since I've last posted, life has been crazy this 2016!
But I did want to take a moment to tell y'all about something exciting happening in just a little over a month!
My brother Jonathan and I will be going on our first mission trip and anyone want to guess where? I’ll give you a hint: “I want to be a part of it...” come on, you know this song! That’s right!
On July 22nd we will be heading to Brooklyn, NY for 8 days to work with Chosen People Ministries and the Jewish community there. Neither of us have gone on a mission trip before, so this makes us both nervous and cautiously optimistic. We’re excited to see how GOD will use us, but at the same time it is very sobering to be a part of the Great Commission. GOD told us to take the gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile (see Rms 1:16; Matt 28:19-20; Rms 11) This is an important commandment which we are trying not to take lightly.
A lot of what we will be doing will be street ministry in the Jewish community of Brooklyn through the program, Shalom Brooklyn. One person out of every four in Brooklyn is Jewish so we should be busy! Most don’t even know that their Messiah has come. Chosen People Ministries will be teaching us how to witness to Jews using Isaiah 53. This chapter is a prophecy outlining what the Messiah looks like. In particular it shows that the Jewish Messiah has indeed come, and that He IS Yeshua (Jesus).
Before you ask, yes, we are raising funds for this trip. Together we will need about $4,800 which includes our travel fees. Due to some family circumstances, we are getting in on this trip at the last minute. Thus, our fundraising time is short; our balance is due on June 15 (That's TOMORROW!). However, we feel led to step out on faith and proceed with this trip. If you would like to donate towards our trip please leave a comment below and I can send you more details.
We are excited about the trip ahead and would love for you to be a part of this journey by praying and interceding for us! I will be posting updates here on the blog so be sure to check them out! (NOTE: I will not be able to post while I'm actually in NY but there will be post coming!) . All prayers and donations are very much appreciated and we can’t wait to share with ya’ll what GOD does.
So “start spreading the news!” We’re leaving soon!
Shalom soon from Brooklyn,
Jonathan and Susan
My family attends a Messianic congregation. By Messianic I mean that we believe that Jesus was a Jew and we study the Bible through a Jewish mindset. We look at the traditions and customs of the Jewish people and through that we are given a better understand of the way the Bible was laid out and the way Jesus taught while HE was here on earth. It's been a big eye opening experience to study with this mindset because I use to read certain parts of the Bible (mainly Paul's letters) and be very confused by how certain things were laid out. But by looking at the culture and time frame these events and letters of The Bible were written in it has opened up new meaning and a greater understanding to GOD's truths for me.
So naturally I would be drawn to a book about a Gentile going through the Biblical Exodus and how GOD adopted her into HIS family. The Bible says in Exodus 12:38 that "A mixed multitude went up with them (the children of Israel) also, ..." (parenthesis are mine). What would it have been like to be the average non-Jew leaving Egypt? What would they have felt like? What might be going through their minds? These questions intrigued me to dive into Kiya's story.
After the first few chapters introduce you to the main character, an Egyptian slave named Kiya, the story starts off with the first of the ten plagues of Egypt; the Nile turning to blood. The author wastes no time in throwing Kiya, and you the reader, into the chaos that invaded Egypt but, at the same time, allows you to experience what all exactly was going on during the time of the plagues. While I wish a little more time was given to the plagues as a whole Mrs. Cossette stays true to the timeline of The Bible where it mentions how long each plague lasted (ex, one week for the water into blood, three days of darkness, and so on...). Most of the time I feel (or at least I know I myself do this) we tend to overlook the "time" parts of The Bible when it mentions how long certain events took place and view it as only a day or so in our minds. This can greatly distort our idea of The Scriptures so I was very pleased with how Mrs. Cossette handled the timing element of the story.
About halfway through the book the actual exiting from Egypt begins. The hardships of living in the desert and the challenges the Israelites experienced almost gives the reader a sense of pity and understanding towards the complaints of the Israelites (almost, but not quite). You can really see how their patience with GOD would run out and despair would set in. But, like in the original account, GOD always took care of HIS people and the amazement of those miracles was magnified and made personal to Kiya and the reader.
I would encourage you to read the original Exodus account (found in Exodus chapters 1-19) as you read along with Counted With the Stars. While the author does a very good job of keeping true to the original account, this is NOT The Holy Scriptures. She does use creative liberties in some parts (like in the parting of the red sea and the giving of the covenant at Mt. Sinai) that add to the development of the story, but they are not Biblical truths.
Overall Counted With the Stars by: Connilyn Cossette is a great story putting names and faces to the original Exodus. I give it a 4 out of 5 rating (see side bar for review scale). I didn't give it a 5 because I felt like the story needed to be a little bit longer. While the author did a tremendous job overall, I felt some areas of the book needed a little more time than was given to them. Also, while she did create some great points and drama to add to the story, and it is evident she did her research, like I said before this book is NOT The Bible and I was afraid that by giving it a 5 that people would read it with the mindset that it was 100% accurate to Scripture. As with everything in life we should do our research so that we can present OURSELVES as "... approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2 : 15 NJKV
P.S. I was given Counted With the Stars by: Connilyn Cossette by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion
Eight setups. Eight awkward dates. Eight things God tried to teach her along the way.
(Some of which she’s still trying to figure out.)
Stephanie Rische was starting to feel invisible. All around her, her friends were getting married, and she found herself decidedly alone. Stephanie couldn’t help but wonder if there was something broken in her—was she not pretty enough? Not fun enough? Not dateable enough (whatever that meant)? So she started praying in earnest for God to bring the right man into her life. And instead, He brought her matchmakers. Eight of them, to be precise.
Beloved blogger Stephanie Rische debuts with this charming, vulnerable, and (who are we kidding?) often mortifying true story of a girl who tried really hard to find someone to fall in love with—even when she mostly just ended up falling flat on her face. But amid the most cringeworthy setups and awkward encounters, Stephanie found God’s grace and love meeting her there in ways she never could have imagined—once she opened her eyes to see.
I read this book for one reason:
Because of the title.
I mean come on! If you saw a book with a title like I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische wouldn't you pick it up just to see what it's about? But even though I had only one reason for reading this book I have thousands to re-read it and for recommending it to others.
Most books about singleness (at least in my experience) seem to fall in one of two categories: the You're-Single-But-Jesus-Is-All-You-Need book and the Here's-How-To-Get-You-a-Good-Christian-Man book.
This one is neither.
This is a book chronicling one woman's journey through the ups and downs of singlehood and how God taught her lessons about life and living it abundantly. The author is very personal and as you read you begin to feel that you're not reading a book as much as you're sitting down with a good friend being open and honest with each other. Ms. Rische also is not this famous person who has experienced life in a way we as readers haven't. She's your average woman going through a life very similar, if not exactly like, yours. Her struggles are not the far off ones like battling a foreign disease but the everyday I-don't-even-want-to-get-out-of-bed-because-I'm-single-and-I-hate-it battles that take place in the moment by moments of our day. So many times I would be reading a chapter and I would think "I feel the same way at times! Wow! I thought I was the only one!". Ms. Rische is very relatable and personal to her audience.
Secondly this book is very easy to read. The author divides her book into 8 parts consisting of 6 or so chapters about 5 pages long each. The book is laid out very much like a devotional in the fact that each chapter is a story that stands by itself but goes along with the part its in. You can read one story (but I bet you can't ;) and feel satisfied with putting the book down for the night and not have the "need" to finish it in one setting because the main character is hanging off the edge of a cliff about to die. I actually didn't want to rush this book; I wanted to let it play out in the way the author's life played out in reality.
And finally, this book is funny y'all! I mean FUN-NY! It takes a rare kind of book to make me laugh or cry out loud but this one accomplished that with no problem. I would be sitting on the couch reading and then all of a sudden start belly laughing and my family would just stare at me like "What is your problem?" Oh if only they knew what I knew at that moment!
The only downfall I had was that I wish there were more references to scripture throughout the story. The author does use a few to make a point (and honestly a few of them I thought were a stretch) but I personally wish there were a few more than what she did use.
I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische brings home the grand prize of 5 out of 5 stars from me (see side bar for book rating scale). With humor, relatable experiences, and beautiful honesty this book is an excellent reminder of the all familiar truths we so easily forget. I'm honestly debating on keeping this book for my singleness survive kit (am I the only one who has one?) or giving it away to someone I know on their own singleness journey. But either way this will be one purchase that will be worth every cent you spend.
***Note and spoiler alert...
Although the author does get married her happy ending does not come from meeting her husband. It's almost like she finished the book and remembered "Oh yeah! I got married!". This is actually my favorite part (not because it's romantic) but because the author finds true happiness in life (and realizes it) before she even meets her soulmate. One of the biggest pit falls that women (and men) fall into is that we have to have a mate in order to be truly happy. Mrs. Rische shows that she experienced completeness in life when she finally accepted the life GOD had planned for her and stopped trying to make it into what she thought it should be. What a beautiful ending to a beautiful story and that same ending can be yours too...
If you so choose it.***
Additional Note: I was given I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
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