"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:9
How often in a single day do you get asked the question, "How are you?" Probably 7-10 times at least, right? What is your usual go-to response during the small-talk?
Many people just say, "Good" or "Fine." But, if I had to wager on which response I hear the most often, I would bet it's "Tired."
"How are you doing today, buddy?"
"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God." - 2 Corinthians 9:10-11
The conflict in Myanmar, largely referred to as the world's longest "hidden" civil war, has been ongoing for nearly 60 years (CNN). Hundreds of thousands, some estimate even millions, of people have been forced to flee their homes due to the violence against civilians committed by over 15 separate insurgent groups fighting one another throughout the country. Many of the groups have strong ancestral ties to ancient familial tribes, which in this case causes even deeper-rooted fragmentation and division.
"When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." - Mark 16:1-8
There is a moment during Mark's Gospel account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that leaves the reader with a test of faith. Jesus has risen, the tomb is empty, and the angel appears to Mary, Mary, and Salome. They are obviously startled by the appearance, trembling with fear. Even more startling is his message to them: Jesus is alive!
The angel gives the women one instruction: tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where Jesus (risen from the dead!) will be waiting to see them. The message is relatively straightforward, minus the absolutely incredible miracle that has taken place in Jesus' rising from the dead. But, why do the disciples have to travel somewhere else to see Him? Why couldn't Jesus just appear to them, "poof," right where they were residing?
"The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed." - Psalm 103:6
*Note: All names have been changed for safety reasons.
Sheena wasn't always a prostitute.
The loyal daughter of two aging parents and loving older sister of two baby siblings, Sheena was working hard to make ends meet for her family in Katmandu, Nepal. They needed her to work and be the primary provider of food for them, which is a responsibility that no young woman ought to have on her shoulders yet, but it was reality for Sheena. Then, the earthquake hit.
"But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him." - 2 Peter 3:13-14
Well, here we are again. Another Monday. If you are from the midwest U.S., there's probably a ton of dirty snow on the ground outside your window and the wind is bitter cold. So far, it's been one of those mornings where the thought of staying in bed under the warmth of the covers is a tempting idea. The words of the sermon from church services yesterday are still fresh in our ears, bouncing around in our minds and beckoning us to wake up and do something productive.
But...wow, does that wind sound cold out there! The first rays of sunshine creep in through the curtains. The light flickers over our eyes like a half-dream and we try to close them, and then: "BEEP. BEEP. BEEP." The morning alarm dutifully wakes us for the day's work, even against our will.
"And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work." - Nehemiah 2:18
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average sustained wind speed within a hurricane or cyclone is measured to be anywhere from 74-156+ miles per hour. Just to put this into perspective, it only takes a sustained wind speed of around 30 miles per hour to nearly knock you to the ground. Anything above 30 miles per hour begins to cause isolated to severe damage to property. The least severe cyclone clocks in at 74 miles per hour, which is over twice as fast as 30 miles per hour. Basic math indicates a whole lot of damage occurring from even the smallest cyclones.
Gary Lee Mraz, IDES’ longest serving staff member, is now absent from the body and at home with the Lord.
Gary served as IDES’ projects assistant for 19 years. He worked closely with our ministry partners around the globe to collect and organize the accounting, progress reports, photos and other details of each and every project IDES undertakes.
One of the hallmarks of IDES’ ministry over the years is a strong emphasis on accountability. We want to account to our donors for the way each gift is used, and what impact those gifts have made. Gary’s weekly duties were a linchpin in that accountability process.
Gary leaves behind his wife of 37 years, Renee, their two adult children Tony and Jeanette, and eight grandchildren. He was an elder and longtime member of Kempton Christian Church.
We want to thank you for your prayers on Gary’s behalf this past year as he battled an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Gary Mraz will be greatly missed by the IDES staff and board, and by all who knew him.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16
Division. Barriers. Closed-doors. "We are in and you are out." Each of these words or phrases could be descriptors of several things. Perhaps they describe the relationship between rival sports teams. Or, they might describe the way a group of officials conceal top-secret information. What am I actually describing?
"...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." - Genesis 2:7
Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes: you're living in the rural bush of Zimbabwe, Africa--desperately poor with very few possessions. For quite some time now, you've been experiencing deep pain in your chest causing you shortness of breath, perhaps like trying to breathe through a straw. You've known other friends or family members who were unable to find any help when they fell ill or injured since the government has done little in the way of supporting healthcare, so you try to muster your strength and keep moving on. But, the shortness of breath and pain become more and more severe with time, and it is suddenly very clear to you as the fear rises in your throat, "I might die from this." Yet, you have no idea what is causing the pain and breathing difficulties. What happens next?
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." - 2 Peter 1:3
There are a lot of ways to fall short. Every day, I seem to discover a new part of my heart that has strayed from obedience to our Lord Jesus. Some weeks are up, some weeks are down. Some seasons are flourishing, and some seasons are arid. It's so easy to become discouraged by the fact that our flesh is drawn to failure, even when our spirit is yearning to be obedient and pleasing to God.