Friendship

At the Park

Photo of the Week – 4 April

Our photo this week takes us to the park that is near our house. We are blessed to have a nice park about a block away from us. It’s heavily shaded, and has been a great spot for Emily and Caleb to play and meet new friends.

In addition to our formal language lessons, both kids are learning playground Turkish as only one of their friends speaks any English.

Stephanie has also benefited in her Turkish by watching the kids at the park. Just last Saturday they were invited by a mother of a young girl (not in the photo) to come to their home for tea. Stephanie was able to spend about an hour with her carrying the conversation completely in Turkish. She was also able to pray for healing for the lady’s back.

Please pray that as Emily and Caleb play with their friends they will have opportunities to share in both word and deed how much Jesus loves them.

At the Park

POTWEmily, Caleb, and their friends at the park.

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to The Lord, for He is good.

His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.

His love endures forever.

— Psalm 136:1-2 (NIV)

The cantor sings out.

The people respond.

Thanksgiving in their hearts.

Praise on their lips.

And, so, on this day we do the same.

We give thanks for so many things.

God who called us.

The people who send us.

The ones who pray to keep us.

The friends we've met along the way.

As we sit down around the table today with family, we do so in humble gratitude for the journey.

We do so remembering family who are gathered at other tables today.

We do so remembering those of our family and friends with whom we won't dine until the Kingdom is fully come.

We do so remembering friends, who this year became family to us, in Central Asia and Thailand and Colorado Springs.

We do so remembering those who have given financially to support our work.

We do so remembering those whose prayers have sustained us and kept us and guarded us and protected us and encouraged us.

We do so remembering those who have served as Pastors to us–gently shepherding us through the tough times and celebrating with us in the good times.

As you sit at your respective tables today, know that we are thankful for you. And, together may we all proclaim the words of the Psalmist:

Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy house of worship,

Praise Him under open skies;

Praise Him for His acts of power,

Praise Him for his magnificent greatness,

Praise with a blast on the trumpet,

Praise by strumming soft strings;

Praise Him with castanets and dance,

Praise Him with banjo and flute;

Praise Him with cymbals and a big bass drum,

Praise Him with fiddles and mandolin.

Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD!

Hallelujah!

— Psalm 150 (The Message)

 

 

Advent 2012: Preparing The Path: Confirming Voices

As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke.

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary.  Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one!  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what king of salutation this might be.  The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’  He will be great, and will be call the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.  There will be no end to his Kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”

The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.

“Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For everything spoken by God is possible.”

Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word.”  The angel departed from her.

Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.  It happened, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, that the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  She called out with a loud voice, and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy!  Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”

Mary said, “My should magnifies the Lord.  My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has looked at the humble state of his handmaid.  For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.  For he who is mighty has done great things for me.  Holy is His name.  His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.  He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down princes from their thrones.  And has exalted the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things.  he has sent the rich away empty.  He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his see forever.”

— Luke 1:26-55 (WEB)

I believe that Mary needed Elizabeth to speak words of life to her at that visit. I imagine Mary probably had many questions, and that she needed confirmation of the word the angel, Gabriel, had spoken to her before she left town. And not only did Elizabeth impart words of life to Mary, but she used the same words the angel had spoken: “Blessed are you among women!”

Not only did Elizabeth speak common language as the angel, but she confirmed things from the angel and Mary’s encounter that she couldn’t have otherwise known.

 

Angel – “You will conceive in your womb.”

Elizabeth – “Blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

 

Angel – “The holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.”

Elizabeth – “the mother of my Lord should come to me.”

 

Angel – “Elizabeth…also has conceived a son.”

Elizabeth – “The baby leaped in my womb for joy!”

 

Mary to the angel -“Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Elizabeth – “Blessed is she who believed.”

 

Angel – “For nothing spoken by God is impossible.

Elizabeth – “For there will be fulfillment.”

 

The Lord speaking to Mary through the angel, Gabriel.

Elizabeth – “…the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”

 

The Lord washed away all of Mary’s fears by bringing such solid confirmation of His Word. In fact, Mary is so encouraged by this word that Elizabeth has confirmed through being filled with the Holy Spirit that she is able to pour out such a beautiful expression of worship to God that we have it recorded and still recall it two thousand years later.

God speaks, and He does it in a number of ways. In this instance, He spoke to Mary through the angel, Gabriel, and through the Spirit-given words of encouragement and confirmation spoken through Elizabeth.

I want to encourage you to be an Elizabeth. If the Spirit of God comes on you to speak to a certain person, don’t doubt it or shy away from the prompting. The word He has given you may very well be a confirmation of what He has already spoken into that person, and speaking that word may inspire that person to pour out a beautiful expression of worship to God.

 

Tea With A Stranger

One of the most beautiful phrases in all of Scripture (at least in my reading) is “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” (Luke 24:28)

The story preceding this phrase is a wonderful scene. Two men. Walking down a road. Downtrodden. Confused. Hurt. Insulted. Struggling to cope with what has become their reality.

Their Messiah, or at least the One they thought was their Messiah, is dead. Hope crushed. Dreams dashed.

It’s the ending that no one ever dreamt would come. This Man was supposed to be the Rescuer. He was supposed to be the one who would make all things right again. Who would, as John said, bring light into darkness [John 1].

But, tragedy strikes. And these two men are left to deal with it. And all they can think to do is walk home.

On their journey, they are face-to-face with a stranger. Together they walk and talk, and when they reach their destination, they–in true “warm culture” fashion–invite the stranger to stay.

“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.”

Glasses of Çay in Central Asia

Glasses of Çay in Central Asia

Or, as they would say in modern-day Central Asia, “Come in for çay (tea).”

Not a question. A statement.

Not a suggestion. A presumption.

The risk with this invitation is it’s ability to be life-altering. Intently, these men have listened as this Stranger has talked to them about the goings-on in Jerusalem. Intently, they have listened as He explained centuries worth of prophecies and Rabbinical thought. And, now, they ask Him to stay for dinner. Perhaps it is so that He can tell more stories. Share more thoughts.

But….

What these men didn’t know was they were inviting Jesus–the Messiah–to stay with them.

And, then, it happens. Reality itself changes. Their Messiah is alive and in the same room with them. Hope restored. Dreams renewed. Life revealed.

What a story. A simple walk and an unexpected dinner guest, changes everything about their present reality.

And, here we are today, some in dark reality, some in hopelessness, some in confusion, some in just moments of tiredness. And, there He is, the Stranger walking next to you. Wanting to talk with you about that reality.

Will you invite Him in for a cup of çay?

 

A Day At The Beach

Today was a truly wonderful day! The church here in Kuşadası had their church service on the beach at Pamucak. This is an annual event for them, and we were fortunate enough to be in town for this years event.

We began with a time of worship. Then, the Pastor delivered a message from the text in Luke where the friends of the paralytic lowered him through the roof of the house in order for him to reach Jesus and be healed. He left us all with the challenge to question what type of friends we have.

Then came the food!

Köfte! (A super-tasty grilled meatball type thing made from lamb and beef.)

Grilled Chicken!

Rice!

Fruit!

It was quite tasty!

Then came beach time!!

The kids playing before lunch

The kids playing before lunch

The beach at Pamucak

The beach at Pamucak

Palm grove on the beach

Palm grove on the beach

Looking through the grove

Looking through the grove

Playing in the surf

Playing in the surf

It was a truly fantastic day of worship, teaching, food, fellowship, and great fun!