I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
I was given for Christmas, and have almost finished reading, The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (a pseudonym). It is the story of one man’s faith journey, and at the same time the record of many stories of incredible faith under persecution in some of the hardest, most evil, God-opposed places on this earth. Most of all it is a record of the astounding faithfulness of God himself to love and pursue us all – all the people of this world - whether we live in plenty and freedom, or in poverty and oppression. Without Him we are nothing, and we have nothing. When He is our Shepherd we need nothing else. People of faith have demonstrated this to be true. Our God is alive and at work in miraculous ways all over our planet to bring people into a vibrant, power filled relationship with Himself! If you want to be inspired, challenged, encouraged, strengthened, and overwhelmed by the love of God, I recommend reading this book.
Two of the truths I have carried away from reading it, stated very simply, are: Families are a core unit through which God works to build and pass on faith; and, knowing the Word of God is essential to a growing faith. Over and over those who survived persecution, imprisonment and torture testified to the importance of the Word of God in their lives to equip them and their families to endure with joy and hope. The question that always comes to me when reading such stories is, “What am I supposed to do now that I know this? I don’t live under persecution. I didn’t choose to be born an American, and at this point in time. How should I now live in the freedom and prosperity of America in the light of this knowledge of how my brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world must live?” In answer, the Lord seemed to take me back to Philippians 4:12-13 and to praying this prayer: “Lord, teach me how to live in plenty! Help me not to give in to the temptation to rely on my plenty and freedom for strength. You are the source of my strength! Teach me, and strengthen me, to value and pursue and commit to knowing you through your Word! Teach me, and strengthen me, to invest in building and strengthening the faith of our family!” I am confident that He will direct me to specific ways this year to do that. If you are thinking something similar, here are some ideas to consider.
- Read together the gospel stories and discuss them as a family, especially asking the questions: Does something like this still happen today? What does it look like? Have I/we experienced it in our own lives? Perhaps we don’t see God at work today just because we aren’t looking!
- Read as a family stories of people of faith. Christian Heroes: Then & Now series from YWAM publishers is one source.
- Commit to a personal Bible reading plan for the year and share one truth you learn with someone in your family each week.
- Memorize scripture together as a family. Or learn to tell all the details of several gospel stories to one another.
- Sign up to take the Perspectives course starting in January at Johnston E. Free Church.
- As a family, adopt a Valley missionary family and find ways to get to know and support them and their ministry. Contact us at Women’s Ministry or email the GO team if you need help knowing how to do that.
Whether we live in plenty and freedom, or in poverty and oppression, in one sense we all face the same challenge – to trust fully in God alone as our only source of salvation and life itself. In 2015 I want to learn better how to do that. I want to learn better how to come alongside others who face this same challenge in very different circumstances. I want to learn better how to see God miraculously at work in his “insane” faithful love and resurrection power all across the globe, and right here in my own backyard. I’m asking Him to show me some specific steps to take. How about you?
Becky and her husband, Dave have been actively involved in Valley Church for over five years. Becky serves on the Global Outreach Team and the Women's Ministry Leadership Team. She is passionate about spreading His love and truth to women all over this world!