Categories
Courage Covid19 Doubt End Times Endurance Finishing Hope Missions Perspective Uncategorized

If Ever

If ever a year threw a curve ball, it would be 2020.

My list of goals for the year is now in file 13 (the trash) while I wonder what tomorrow’s news will bring.

Here where we live, in the nation of Burundi, we have thus far avoided a full-scale lockdown. While Covid19 is in the country and the airport and borders are closed, life has proceeded almost as if there were no pandemic. There are handwashing stations at every business and church and just last week the local authorities began to encourage social distancing in meetings. While walking in town, you may see the odd face mask but by and large, people are going about their daily lives because they have to. Most of Africa lives from day to day, meal to meal, and many reckon that the consequential hunger of lockdown would kill far more than Covid19 ever would. As it is, we already deal with typhus, typhoid, malaria, dysentery and Ebola; the sarcastic side of me says, “Covid19? Make my day!”

As the pandemic unfolded, the rains in this region of Africa were so severe that floods decimated the homes of thousands living in Burundi and in its neighboring countries of DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. We were able, through donations of partners and friends, to bring a little bit of relief to 200 families who had fled their homes during the floods. One of our church campuses housed 37 flood refugees for weeks; some have been able to return home in the past two weeks to rebuild their lives. As our city, Bujumbura, is set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, many who lost their homes will not be able to return as the lake’s levels have risen due to the rains far beyond what most can remember leaving thousands effectively homeless.

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Makeshift tented camps for flood refugees in Bujumbura, Burundi.

On May 20th, presidential elections were held in Burundi and after a few days the winner was announced without incident. A few days later, the outgoing president suddenly passed away from ‘cardiac arrest.’ His wife, who had flown by emergency transport to Kenya for treatment for Covid19, was not with him when he died. She just returned a few days ago in time for his burial which we assume will be this week. We keep praying for peace as the newly elected president has yet to be sworn in. For those of you who don’t know why this would be such a tense moment in our history, Burundi has suffered through generations of war and unrest. We are praying that this would be the generation that would bring lasting peace.

If ever there was a time that people needed the Gospel, it would be now. I’m not talking about the status quo, “feel good” gospel or the “us against them” gospel or any other kind of gospel. What the world needs is the Gospel news is that there is hope for today and for ages yet to come (see Eph. 2:7). This short, tumultuous moment we call life is but a blip on the radar of eternity. If we can wrap our hearts around the truth of what’s to come, we can manage to make it through the upheaval of our present moment.

Romans 8:21-23 NKJ  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

We know that this “groaning” is but for a moment, but it is painful in the moment. May we have the presence of heart and spirit to wait eagerly for what we have already experienced in our hearts and not give in to the temptation to grow weary and fall into step with this world.

If ever we needed to make the difference in this world, to be salt and light, it would be now.

Categories
Beginnings Death Dreams Faith New Year

Wasted Time

The beginning of a New Year is when most of us will, at some level, come up with a fresh emphasis for the year. I’ve purposely held back from writing anything full of “newness” as I’m still working on what was supposed to have been fresh from New Years gone by. I find myself hesitant to reach for more when I feel what I hoped for in times past has been lost to time.

I woke on New Year’s Day morning feeling a bit sullen and wallowed in that mediocre mood all morning long. As we headed for church, we normally have some kind of church celebration every New Year, I tried to shake off my feelings of failure. Walking into the church building, I shelved my mediocrity, for the people were already lining up ready for the morning. Even in my foul mood my heart turned towards the people; I was unaware of what was about to unfold.

This year we handed the microphone over and let the people recount their testimonies, thanking God for what He had done in their lives. Sitting in my seat next to Jamie (husband unit), we laughed and cried as we listened as our people opened their lives before us. God really had accomplished more than I had been aware of – you really do have to get out of the forest to see the trees.

Everyone had something good to say, something good to thank God for: food and clothing, shelter, school fees for their children and health. Among their thanks for God’s provision, almost everyone gave thanks for our church and what God is doing in our church once again. We were especially touched by the testimony of one young lady who stood up and began to cry when she said, “I’m so thankful for our church and for God bringing our pastor back to us.”

I had no idea.

In that moment the year(s) of lost time rolled back and I understood in a new way how God can reach into the past and restore it. I understood that time, while I am limited by it, does not limit God.

Joel 2:24 ESV “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.”

The things that we bury in the ground and assume cannot be restored are the very things that God will bring back to life – for God resurrects the dead.

When Jesus surrendered His life to the cross, died and was buried, it seemed that the enemy had won. It seemed that those who had planned His death had the upper hand for how can someone who has died come back to life?

In Matthew 27:50-66, Jesus lays His life down and sandwiched in the middle of the story are the Priests and Pharisees looking to “secure” the grave because they reckoned Jesus’ disciples would steal His body away. Pilate tells them, “make it as secure as you can.”

I imagine during the three days that Jesus’ body was in the grave, the disciples had some choice words among themselves:

He’s died, so we’re as good as dead.

What have we done with our lives? Three wasted years!

Let’s flee to another nation!

What about our families? All is lost!

In the same way, I’ve often been guilty of feeling my years have been lost, that my time has gone for naught. What has it all been for anyway?

What the Priests and Pharisees did not take into account when they “secured” Jesus’ grave was that when God has a resurrection in mind – there will be a resurrection. It was with great flourish when in Matthew 28:2-4 the earth shook, an angel rolled the stone away and the soldiers guarding the tomb fell “as dead men” when Jesus walked out. The “wasted” years of the disciples walked out with Him and the early church began.

It’s through our “wasted” seasons that God works most in our lives to resurrect and return our hours, days, weeks, months and years to us. Imagine how the disciples agonized for days about the death of Jesus, only to have Him appear before them and say (in effect), “Let’s do this people, let’s win the world!”

So let’s rewind the tape, replay the recording and start all over again.

It’s January 2020, what’s new?

Categories
Choices New Year Questions Why

Above My Pay Grade

Today I’m sharing a podcast I posted today about things we just don’t understand. Click the link below to hear the episode.

https://leakpeters.podbean.com/e/above-my-pay-grade/

Categories
Courage Goals Grace Missions New Year Rest

Goals and Grace

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Setting goals. It’s what everyone does at the beginning of every year; we make lists of “resolutions” or “goals” for the year. I have a laundry list of things that I wash, rinse, and repeat every year: be a better wife and mom, get healthier, read more, give more, work harder in the mission, the list goes on. I have gotten very specific at times, to the point where, at the end of the year when I see that my list fell woefully short of completion or success – I got discouraged. Lately, my goals have gotten non-specific in order to keep myself from feeling totally defeated on December 31st.

In our day and age, we relish in the activity more than we do in those engaging in the activity and that, at least for me, has bled into how we perceive ourselves as successful or not. Don’t get me wrong, having well thought plans and goals are good. Without maintaining some kinds of goals, we risk stagnation in every area of life. However, if we place too much weight on the side of the scale of goals, it could interrupt the balance between goals and grace, we may find ourselves striving to achieve rather than running the race with endurance.

Hebrews 12:1b NKJV “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

I believe we have exchanged what is meant to be the prize, being told, “Well done, enter in!” (Matt. 25:21) for what we can achieve in the here and now. The measures of success in God’s Kingdom have to do with His grace, not our works (Eph. 2:8). By His grace we are enabled to endure and finish the race, and if we learn to run in the cadence, as it were, of grace we will go far and see much accomplished for the Kingdom.

This year as I set my goals I’m making a change. I’ve decided that His grace is great enough to help me see Him do great things through me – not the other way around. In myself, the little that I can achieve isn’t even mediocre in comparison to what He can do with His great power if I just sit back and let Him take the driver’s seat.

Acts 4:33 NKJV And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

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Categories
Distractions Endurance God's call Honor Missions New Year Perspective Rewards

Unseen? Maybe. Insignificant? Never.

As we’re coming to the end of January and our season of fasting closes, we stand face-to-face with 2018 and the work that lies ahead. Today, Jamie (aka my husband/sweetheart) reminds us how to keep our focus on serving God throughout 2018 without looking for recognition. When the work is hard and the day is long, we often wish someone would say, “Good job.” Most of the time, the day-to-day sacrifices we make go unnoticed by those around us and this can lead to discouragement. However, there is Someone Who notices everything.

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John 12:26(b) NKJV “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” 

Our service to the Lord Jesus Christ guarantees us honor, not the honor of men, but the honor of God the Father.  Of course, when God honors us, often it comes in the form of “favor with men.”  Luke 2:52 NKJV “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  However, whether we’re ever recognized and acknowledged by people or not, it really doesn’t matter, what matters the most is God’s recognition and acknowledgement of us.

Our service to Jesus is expressed in many different ways.  We can’t even give a cup of water to a disciple and it not be recognized and rewarded, even something as “little and insignificant” as this in the eyes of the world, is seen as service to Jesus!  Matthew 10:42 NKJV “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

So we should take courage today in whatever service and ministry we’re involved in for the sake of God’s Kingdom; our names may never appear in Charisma Magazine, we may never be invited to speak on TBN (Christian TV), we may never even receive recognition by other churches, but as long as what we’re doing is as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23 NKJV “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”), our Father in Heaven is taking note and one day, one way or another, He will honor us.

Also, this truth will encourage us to “not grow weary while doing good” (Galatians 6:9).  When we realize it’s Jesus we’re serving, no matter how menial the task may seem, we’ll not give up because we know one day, one way or another, God will make sure we’re honored.  And if it’s God who’s making sure we’re honored, we’ll truly be honored!

I believe this word will be a blessing and encouragement to you, not only now, but also in the days ahead, as you serve God in your area of the world.  

Categories
Distractions Missions New Year Purpose

Stay Focused

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My husband Jamie is once again keeping it real in today’s entry – let’s stay focused this year.

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The other day in my daily reading of the Word I read John 20:21 NLT “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  As I read this verse, I sensed the Holy Spirit impress upon me these words: “Peace is found in fulfilling our purpose.”  What is our purpose? To simply exist and try to be “good” until the day we die? Our purpose is to be “sent.”  Sent to do what?  To win souls and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:19 NKJV “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

However, many people, including Christians, are involved in many activities, even “Christian activities” that don’t have their purpose at the center of what they are doing.  The result of this leaves them unfulfilled and because of this, they are frustrated and lack peace.  The answer to overcoming their frustration and lack of peace is to simply re-focus and get back to the main thing being the main thing: being sent to win souls and make disciples.  Once they do that they will find true fulfillment and peace because peace is found in fulfilling our purpose.

Jamie Peters

 

 

Categories
Beginnings Kingdom New Year

The Kingdom Has Come

Today, January 1, 2018, journals, blogs, newspaper articles, tweets, and conversations will inevitably turn towards expectations and hopes for the New Year:

A new job.

A new car.

A new romance.

A new house.

A new fitness regime.

A new Bible reading plan.

A renewed dedication to God.

There’s something in the hearts of men and women around the world that looks for renewed hope; we eagerly look and wait for God to make all things new (Rev. 2:15). Thinking of the new and better comforts us in the middle of our not-so-comfortable current surroundings.

I watched an interview on a news program last night where the person being interviewed (Trevor Noah a TV personality and comedian) discussed his viewpoint on achieving success. He rose from poverty to a life of notoriety and fame. Something he said stuck with me; he was asked how he handles “living the dream.” His response went something like this, “Living the dream isn’t about the next newest thing we can get; living the dream is being joyful or happy in every moment. Doing otherwise we mortgage our happiness and in doing so will never achieve our dream because we’re always reaching for more.”

The truth is that we won’t achieve anything more in life that can offer more than what we as believers already carry in us: the Kingdom of God. What more could we hope for? Within the Kingdom is found the things the world can’t possibly supply: righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17) and the very Presence of God Himself as His Kingdom is in us (Luke 17:21).

The Kingdom seems so far away, it is easier to fall victim to circumstance and live from day to day with the same mentality of this world – happiness will come when I reach “the next level” or have the newest gadget or have more money. All of these things are lacking in the thing we seek: God’s presence and power. It is in His presence lack and need fall to the wayside so what we need isn’t a new list of goals. What we need is to expand the Kingdom in ourselves and in this world.

The Kingdom has already come near to us, dare we enter? Dare we partner with the King to see His Kingdom come? This will mean, if we truly pray for His Kingdom come, we must pray our kingdom go.

“Wherever God rules over the human heart as King, there is the Kingdom of God established.” Paul W. Harrison

Categories
Bible reading Christmas Church planting Judgment New Year Offense The Call of God

He Was A Missionary

We are at the end of 2017. One could say it’s the end of an era; at least an era lasting a whole 12 months.  Every year I find myself saying the same thing, “I can’t believe another year has gone by” and while it feels like a tedious saying, it’s nevertheless true.

It is nearly 2018 and I don’t know where the days went, how 12 months could tick by so quickly. The year has been full of activity and I hope most of it was productive. The older I get the more I wonder how much of what I’ve devoted myself to was really what mattered.

Did it matter that the power went off? Oh, the power did go off a lot in the past year but we’re still here.

Did it matter that the water went off? It was very inconvenient and smelly, but we’re still here.

Did it matter that our Blantyre church still meets in a tent? The floor is dirt and money to build is still in realms of prayer, but we’re still meeting.

What have we done that mattered his year? What have we accomplished that held any eternal value in the face of an ever-complicated world situation?

I find myself asking these questions and understand a bit more every year that what matters most isn’t encompassed by what we would naturally consider valuable or important.

In my devotions, I have come across the story of Jonah. The book of Jonah is one of my favorite books in the Bible because Jonah resembles me in so many ways: he’s sent to a country not his own, he’s not a “qualified” prophet, and the circumstances he faces causes him to have a bit of an attitude. Now, I know no one else reading this ever has attitude problems, but I find myself battling them daily as I walk on this road of life.

Jonah, as many of us know him, was a runaway prophet. The city of Nineveh was a city that was a fierce enemy of Israel, Jonah’s nation. They were well known for pillaging Israel at every chance they got – but God had called Jonah to prophecy to them, to give them a chance to turn and repent.

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As the story goes, Jonah runs from his call, gets swallowed by a fish, begs for mercy in the fish, is himself delivered, and brings God’s message to Nineveh. The people collectively repented and God’s wrath was held back. This turn of events angered Jonah; when you read the story, you could initially be dumbfounded by Jonah’s reaction. Why would Jonah resist God’s command to the point of running away and facing all of the consequences that he did?

I wonder if the Ninevites, in their pillaging of Israel, didn’t touch Jonah’s life? Had he lost property or loved ones in the raids? Surely, he was effected somehow, if not even himself directly. It was no wonder he struggled to obey God’s call to the Ninevites, his enemy.

Even after his infamous stay in the fish, Jonah grudgingly preaches God’s message. He was so angry when God’s wrath was held back; he seemed to have wanted the people to suffer at God’s hand:

Jonah 4:1-3 NKJV“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Jonah, if we were to take him at his word, would’ve preferred to die than seeing God show mercy on his enemies, people who he felt didn’t deserve God’s mercy. What Jonah didn’t understand was that God had a greater understanding of the people; they weren’t even what today’s Christians would call “God’s people” but God loved them and said to Jonah:

Jonah 4:11 NKJV“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left…”

God saw something that Jonah didn’t see; He saw the hearts of people. He knew the people’s hearts were ready for a change and He was willing to offer them the change He knew they were ready for. He also knew the condition of Jonah’s heart and knew the only remedy for Jonah’s bitterness was to be sent on this mission of mercy to those who had no right to it. What Jonah didn’t see was the condition of his own heart that, without the same mercy, would also have been deserving of God’s judgment.

As I consider the goings-on of the year, and the hiccups that came along with the year’s events, I hope my attitude hasn’t been like Jonah’s of times past. It would be easy, if I listened to the loud rhetoric being sent across the airwaves and internet to judge others less than worthy of God’s goodness – but thank God, He is not that way. He was not that way with me, I therefore, cannot be that way with others whether or not I understand God’s love for them.

What mattered this year is if I honestly represented my Lord and His Mission as I went about my days, if I reached out with mercy and grace, even when I’ve not been offered that same courtesy.

My prayer as I look forward to 2018 is that I might value what God values and be true to The Mission of extending mercy where it is undeserved – and that understanding starts with me.

missions

Categories
Christmas Church planting Courage Missions New Year

A Year of Breakthroughs

It’s been a year of everything from great highs to some pretty deep lows, but God has brought us through. We’ve seen everything from new church plants to torn tents – but here we are!

Please click on the YouTube link below for a video update and teaser of a new nation that may be opening to us in the near future.

May your Christmas and New Year be amazing!

Blessings!

Categories
Destiny Fasting

Day 2 – Looking for a City

Christmas is over, the New Year has arrived. Some of us are grateful for the pause after a season of almost manic activity. We’ve rushed from pillar to post involved in Christmas festivities that range from the classic concerts to Christmas plays at our children’s schools, family gatherings and church services. All that goes into preparing for those events on top of shopping for presents, cooking, and the mad dash to wrap everything. It takes me a bit of time to recover!

While Christmas is over, I found myself thinking today about the initial Christmas sacrifice many years ago.

The birth of Christ was and is the ultimate gift and we rejoice for this gift. This year, however, I thought of the birth of Jesus in a different light. I thought of the sacrifice that God Himself gave that day and all of the emotions that went with the offering. Imagine a father knowing that His Son would be ridiculed and rejected yet was willing to give the best He had?

When I buy a gift for someone I love, I try to imagine their reaction in getting that gift and if they don’t like it, the disappointment I feel over them not enjoying what I spent money and time to get for them. Have you seen this shoe commercial (it’s an older commercial) where the kids, a boy and a girl, are saying something to the effect that their mom can’t get anything cool for them. Just as they open the boxes they pull out the “cool” shoes Mom bought and they are shouting for joy over their gifts. Simultaneously, a big “VICTORY” sign appears over Mom and she says, “Who’s your mama now?”

Now, this is a poor parallel but maybe you can somehow understand the analogy I’m trying to present here.

God knowingly sent His Son to a place of rejection by those who he sent the gift to; He was put to death to pay for the wrongdoings of those who rejected Him. And yet, not a note of regret is mentioned in scripture for the offering of this gift that was to be rejected by those who would be saved by it. God is never seen saying, “Oh, I wish I had never sent Jesus!”

What about the emotions of Jesus as He came? The Bible has little to say about Jesus’ emotions over His experience. There are mentions of Him weeping in a couple of verses, His statement at Gethsemane about “if it is possible to take this cup – but nevertheless Your will be done…” but most of what we see is courage in the face of adversity.

How did He manage to navigate through and keep His attention on His main goal? If we could tap into this understanding, this ability to look past our own feelings, it might be that we would actually go farther than we imagined for the Lord – for it is usually our own doing when we fail to realize the goals that God has set before us. Our emotions, opinions, and will silence God’s voice in the middle of the road and we find ourselves lost.

How did Jesus manage to live as He did, knowing what He knew about His death and resurrection? Hebrews 12:2 gives us a small glimpse: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…”

I’ve heard it said that at the end of every storm there is sunshine, just like there is a morning after the night. On the other side of the sacrifice, Jesus understood that there was a great reward, great joy, waiting for Him. His reward, His joy is found in you and it is found in me.

It may be that some would say that Jesus was, after all, God incarnate and He had the power available to Him to endure. But we are simple human beings and such endurance is not possible. No, it is not possible alone, but we aren’t alone in this. There are many great human examples of endurance in the middle of sacrifice in the Bible that we could draw from besides the greatest One (Jesus): Daniel, Rahab, Moses, Esther, Deborah, Amos, Paul, Peter, the list is quite long. What did they all have in common? They were all flawed human beings: Rahab was a prostitute but God used her, Paul killed Christians but became an amazing apostle to the Gentiles. Every one of them struggled as they lived on this earth.

We are in great company, then, as we journey in faith to our destination that is now under construction:

Hebrews 11:9,10 NKJ “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Being a missionary overseas, I somehow understand the nomadic mindset that Abraham had as he wandered toward the land God had promised. We move from place to place and do our best to set up a home at every destination, but we know that at His command, we will pull up our tent stakes and move on to the next assignment.

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Setting up a tent is not for the fainthearted.

Most of us aren’t as “mobile” as Abraham was; we don’t move around from place to place and live in portable tents. Home is home and we tend to live as if this earthly home is all that there is to life, working to build a life that won’t accompany us to the grave. While God may not be asking us to live as nomads, He does expect us to keep the City in view.

When Abraham finally did arrive at the land God had promised, we are told that he understood that the land was only a temporary home for him – his home was in a City somewhere in his future Whose Builder Himself had laid every stone.


In tomorrow’s blog I’ll further discuss Abraham’s journey in obedience – I hope you’ll join us.

How is your fast going? We’re now into day 2 and looking forward to day 3 – the stomachs are grumbling by now (I know mine is) but I’m so enjoying the process. Feel free to give your feedback (what a word to use during a fast!!) in the comment section.