Serving as Senders Introduction


Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking through the book Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo. We have found that many people on our sending team have been amazing at sending us to the mission field but were left asking, “What do we do now? How can we support the Lisses now that they are in Lebanon?” Each week we will be sharing stories and how we are personally in need of help from our local churches. If you have already purchased a book they are available in the church offices at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church and Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church. If you want a book they are available at these locations as well as available to be purchased at Amazon.com and for Kindle download. You can also follow this blog each week for practical applications.


Early in our marriage Annie would come home from teaching and I would usually be studying for class. She would politely ask me a question about my day and how seminary classes were going and I would answer congenially. She then went into the bedroom to shower and change for the evening. When she returned she would ask me a follow up question from before she left, and I would strain to remember what she was talking about. She then would ask, “Do remember what we were talking about?”

I had moved on in my mind and panicked to try and recall the simple exchange we had just had. Seeing the blank look I was giving her she continued to ask, “When I leave the room do you still think about me?” I was too young to understand that this quickly went from a harmless interchange to an emotionally charged snare that I was about to barrel into. I innocently shared that, “I am intently focused on you when we are together, and once you leave I give the same laser focus to whatever is in front of me then.”

My young bride obviously did not receive this with the same calm composure that I was trying to encourage. Instead she felt hurt. She shared that when she left in the morning she thought about what I would be doing that day. During the day she was thinking about what we would be doing when we reunited. When she came home she checked in with me and then began to reevaluate how my check in affected the plans for the evening.

I had to confess that I thought about her much the way that I think about most people: When they’re in front of me. Our challenge for this study is to be more like Annie and less like me. We are so blessed by everyone in the states when we are there but feel the void when we are overseas. Most missionaries update their supporters 2-4 times a year, but we have made a commitment to stay in contact every month so that we can build up community. We have tried to make this study as practical as possible with clear applications. If you have any thoughts or questions in the coming weeks please share them with us so this can be as interactive as possible.


Jesus frequently uses questions to help us understand His teachings. Each week we will have three questions for personal reflection. Use these to help guide and challenge your own personal application for the section.

  1. In what ways do you feel like you are already blessing those who serve cross-culturally?
  1. How has having a global view of God’s work affected your own walk with Christ?
  1. Who are people in your own church & community that would benefit from seeing what God is doing around the world as well as across the street?

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Pray For The Middle East

Today was supposed to be a Bible Study post on Romans, which is the Bible Study Louis and I are doing, but he is sick. Instead, I was thinking about the amazing things happening here, and wanted to make sure people knew about them. Additionally, this week the emails and Skype calls asking about The Situation over here have increased dramatically. I am not sure why this week was different, but I wanted to share with you again that Pray4MENA.org has daily and weekly updates on prayer requests and praise reports happening all over the Middle East. We have had not just 1 but 2 people in ISIS come to Christ recently!

With all the exciting things God is doing, there is still desperation for prayer every day. Please be in prayer for those people coming from war-torn, traumatic situations. They are on our heart as we meet them, pray with them, and minister to them at the center.

Psalm 8

Overview

    A psalm of praise, Psalm 8 is honoring the majesty of God apparent in all the earth. Here is the true use of “out of the mouth of babes”. This psalm is also sharing of the uniqueness of humanity, that we are made higher up within the hierarchy than evolution would place us. We are just under the heavenly beings, but above all the other works of God’s hands.

Characters

Our Lord, all the earth, the heavens, babies and infants, God’s foes, the enemy and the avenger, David the Psalmist, man and the son of man, the heavenly beings.

Key Verse

Verse 4-5 “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Cross References

Hebrews 2:6-9 “It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

Psalm 144:3 “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?”

Job 7:17-18 “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?”

Job 25:6 “how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”

Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.”

Psalm 80:17 “But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!”

Psalm 65:9 “You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.”

Genesis 21:1 “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.”

Genesis 50:24 “And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Psalm 21:5 “His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.”

Conclusion

    It is important what we do with Scripture. To know that God has placed us almost equal to the angels, and somewhere else it says we will be over them in heaven, can go to our heads and we can build the Tower of Babel. Or we can realize with awe what God has done for us, that we fell so far and hard as to make it impossible for us to pick up the pieces and restore our lives to deserve eternal life in peace with God. Yet, God picked us up, put us back together, and accepts us back into his home with a party. This should humble us and draw us closer to him that he shows such redeeming love.

Louis and I saw the new Noah movie. It did a very good job of showing the sin of man, and that that sin resides in all mankind. It had stunning and horrifying sequences of the death that occurred all around that ark as the rain fell and everyone died. And it shows a Noah that realizes everyone deserves to die. I am sure that not all Christians who see it find it to be a movie worth watching, but to me it was a movie that proved my earlier point. The writer and director of this movie did not have the relationship with God that could move beyond the question, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and so the movie ends in a quandary, and not in Scriptures truth of the story and what actually happened. Perhaps we think, as many in Scripture say, it would have been better if I was never born. But God put you here, created you, and made so many things in this world just for you, out of love. We live in false humility if realizing our own depravity does not send us running into the arms of Christ.

We are not merely extras in the movie of life for important people, but are the main star of the movie that God is making about and for us. He is an extravagant lover, pursuing us with zeal.

Jesus in the Psalm

    This Psalm follows the Cosmic Drama from creation to the fall to redemption to perfect completion.

Romans 1:18-20 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

The Hebrews passage above in the cross references clearly connects this Psalm directly to Jesus. “The One through whom the world was created (John 1:3; Heb. 1:2) came to restore the image marred at the fall (Col. 1:15). He empowers even the weakest to participate in his redemptive plan (1 Cor. 1:26-31). Verses 1 and 9 of Psalm 8 serve not only as bookends for the psalm; they also anticipate the end of all things, when Christ’s enemies will be made a footstool for his feet, and his name will be majestic through all the earth (Eph. 1:22).”*

John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Hebrews 1:2 “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Colossians 1:15-20 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether or earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””

Ephesians 1:22 “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,”

I just pray that as you read these passages of Scripture linking to the New Testament that your heart is as lifted as mine. I just want to keep reading and sharing with you because I am bursting with the good news that this all entails. God’s blessings on all of you. I pray that you are growing in Your Lord daily, and that your hunger for Scripture becomes famishing.

Tomorrow: Romans 2

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Christianese -Written by Louis Liss

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I adore intellectualism. I lavish wading in the waters of hyper-cognitive conversations and am filled with a bolt of adrenaline at the opportunity to debate any given topic that pops up in daily dialogue. So when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Great Commission for me in high school as being imperative for my life, I felt uniquely equipped to stand in the middle of the courtyard and watch as my words brought down tongues of fire onto the campus. You can imagine how stunned I was when my incredible oratory and prowess in verbal sparring bore no fruit and sowed a lot of dissension towards not only myself but God in general. For some bizarre reason my puffed up pride did not convey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beyond my arrogance, the greatest barrier to Jesus was the language I was using, which to me was clear and deeply significant. To my post-modern classmates the words, “Justification by grace through faith,” not only had no meaningful impact, but had no meaning at all. Though I had a comprehensive command of the theological principles of the road to salvation this did not impress my classmates enough to give their lives over to Jesus nor did they appreciate being dragged brain first across the threshold of salvation. So I stumbled through constant clumsy evangelism into college. It was there at our InterVarsity campus ministry that we played a game where we had to make a list of words that meant nothing or something completely different to our non-Christian neighbors. We made a long list of words including, for example, atonement, sanctification, and blood. Then we were asked to flip over the page and answer the following question without using any of those aforementioned words: What is the significance of the cross in your life? Jesus’ death on the cross was and is the most important manifestation of Christ in my life and so I feverishly began to write with growing fervor. I soon found that I was doing far more erasing than I was writing. I realized that I had become fully dependent on explaining my deep and passionate love for Jesus in a way that only I and those select few fluent in Christianese could understand. I then received a far deeper revelation from the Holy Spirit. I had been clinging to these insider terms during evangelism because I had placed my identity in my intelligence and not in Christ. I thought that it was more important that people were impressed by my knowledge of God than by God, and to bring the illumination to its completion the Holy Spirit finally told me that my amazing oration had drawn many people to myself but very few were then drawn to Him. So I began to take a John 15 set of shears to my language. I started to systematically reevaluate all of my beliefs about God and if it included any of the post-modern taboo words that I had listed then I moved it from the evangelism part of my brain to the discipleship section. I began to realize how deeply difficult this truly was. I found my post-modern friends were in no way interested with whether or not Jesus was true in what He said, but they were intently fascinated by whether or not these truths worked practically in my life. With my high church armor stripped I found myself exposed. These words had protected me from having to engage about my own struggles and failures. I now stood bare before the world with nothing but Jesus and my personal stories of his daily actions in my life. I sat one day in my hockey locker room surrounded by several guys I have known for well over 15 years. They would frequently recount the debaucherous exploits of our youth. After several months of stories a newer player who knew that I had been present for all of the depicted events asked me how it was possible that I could be a character in these stories from the past and now be a pastor and missionary who continued to consort with my former teammates. The characters in these tales were comprised of heroin addicts, a multiple rehab attender, a drug dealer whose family had to flee the state because of death threats, a prisoner for illegal pornography, adulterers, drunkards, three lifetime ban holders, and a rap sheet full of assaults to round out the tales that come to mind. Even as I began to speak I looked at my teammates through a haze of pot smoke. “How did you end up like you did after spending your life with these guys?” he asked. “I was lost, running in darkness and filling my life with anything that could make me not think about the pit I was in. I tried to pull myself out so many times and never could shake the darkness. Then I was invited to come to a youth retreat where Jesus met me and broke in with such amazing light that all of the darkness in me fled and all the venom in me was drained out. I was a new person with Jesus in my heart, and as for these guys. There’s no place that Jesus would rather hang out than in a hockey locker room. We all need that light in our lives.” The locker room that usually sounded like, well, a locker room was silent. One of my old friends leaned over and said, “Thanks Lou we need someone like you in around us.” Everyone agreed and as we were going out to play the game the new guy approached me and asked if we could talk more at the bar after the game. Of course I agreed and we had weeks of amazing conversations about Jesus and His light. While I am amongst someone who hasn’t yet taken that unfathomable leap into the arms of Jesus I now confess to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. It has transformed my life, my ministry, and truly proven to me that God was right when He spoke about all we need in Revelation 12:11, “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and Ahmeen

For Other References To Christianese Click Here

Psalm 5 (Includes Next Week’s Reading Plan)

Reading Plan for June 30—July 5

June 30        Psalm 6

July 1        Psalm 7

July 2        Psalm 8

July 3        Romans 2

July 4        Psalm 9

July 5        Psalm 10

Overview

Yesterday the Psalm was an evening psalm, and today seem to be in the morning. Once again he is asking for God to defend him and be his shield among evil men who speak worthless and damaging things. The Psalm talks about God’s power to handle all those against him. In His love we can seek refuge in Him. A few of the motifs from our previous readings again are seen here: shield, blessed, a God who hears his people and fills them with joy.

Characters

The Psalmist, Lord, boastful, evildoers, those who speak lies, the bloodthirsty and deceitful man, my enemies, all who take refuge in God, those who love His name, the righteous.

Key Verse

Verse 7 “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”

Verse 8 “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.”

These two verses both share the importance of God’s role in our righteousness. We are not righteous without God, and we cannot enter His Presence without His forgiveness.

Cross References

Psalm 132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

1 Kings 8:29,30 “that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” P.S. this verse is in the midst of pretty powerful verses. I recommend you read the whole section.

Psalm 11:4 “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

Psalm 79:1 “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 25:4, 5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Ezra 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”

Conclusion

    God is not contained by a building any longer, and if you read the section in 1 Kings you also read about God never truly being contained in the temple. The fascinating observation I had was in verse 4 when he is saying no evil can dwell with God, yet in God’s love he lets the psalmist into His temple. Once again we must rely fully on God’s righteousness. God is the righteousness that we need. God is the only one who can protect us because all there is to fear is His judgment. Man can do nothing to us, and if we are not with God it is still He who we should fear. I am so glad I used both verses as key verses today, because the Ezra verse is really beautiful. As my family is on this journey, we have found it so obvious that we are only here by God’s provision and sustenance, and we must remain humble before him as we continue, seeking His guidance with Davy and all our resources.

Jesus in the Psalm

    David relied on God for his righteousness, as we also must do to receive God’s favor. Jesus is our shield. His death and resurrection gives all of us the opportunity to come near to God with joy, confidence, and assurance of His protection. Romans 8:33-34 says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Once again this is just a sampling of a great section in Scripture. Soon we will get to this chapter in Romans, but go read ahead now and let this section bathe your own heart in confidence.

Today’s Application: Read the surrounding sections of the cross references today and any day to find God’s truth, and Jesus’ presence throughout Scripture and for you.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Psalm 4 & A Davy Application

Overview:

God hears the Psalmist’s cry. God has given relief from his distress. People bring him shame and speak vain words, seeking after lies, but God has set apart the godly for himself. The Psalmist is taking his anger and meditating silently, putting his trust in God. Others complain that there is nothing good. God fills the Psalmist’s heart with joy, which is better than the wine and food of the other people. Peace reigns in his life because he knows that God is in control, and he knows that God hears him.

Characters:

The Psalmist, “God of my righteousness”, men, the godly.

Key Verse:

Verse 8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Cross References:

Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”

Psalm 16:9 “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”

Leviticus 25:18, 19 “Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely. The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it securely.”

Leviticus 26:5 “Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.”

Deuteronomy 33:28 “So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.”

Conclusion:

    I am blessed to have God. He is the one protecting me and taking care of every day and night. Lately fireworks have been going off in the night because of the World Cup, Davy has not been going to sleep well, and there is always more to do. But, since committing to waking up before Louis and Davy so I could have quiet time, I cannot just stay up with excuses (Pinterest would really help me calm down…If I just read the rest of this book…If I just do the rest of the dishes…). I must do as Christ has called me, Annie, to do. I must go to sleep and rise early to meet with Him. Because of this commitment, I am seeing the fruits of it in my days. My nights, therefore, are less stressful because I know that God will continue to guard, comfort, and protect us all. He fills my heart with joy and peace throughout the day. And I can come to him easily because I know He hears me.

Yesterday during my quiet time I was praying for Davy. Louis went to the center for a big chunk of the day and would be going again in the evening. It is the longest Louis has left us alone since we got here, so I knew it would be a tough day with Davy. I prayed that Davy would have peace and not worry about Daddy. During Louis’ and my Bible Study on Romans in the morning, Davy began to stress out and get very upset. We stopped and prayed and he felt better. This happened throughout the day. It was a different day and our little toddler was thrown off by it. While God did not give him complete calmness and peace, I was equipped to handle and know what was happening with my baby. Because of this, I knew God had heard my prayer. Knowing that made it not matter that He didn’t do as I had asked.

Davy consistently lists the people he misses and wants to pray for. “Pray!” he will announce, slapping his hands together. We will ask him what he wants to pray for, and he will say a name or a list of names or he will say “Miss!” meaning he misses someone, something, or somewhere. We will pray together. This week we hung pictures of family and friends, and he sits on his bed looking at the pictures and prays on his own, too. It is important to me that he knows God hears our prayers, so we spend some time every Sunday on Anamnesis, remembering what God has done for us. This Psalm expresses all of that.

Jesus in the Psalm:

    I love the wording “O God of my righteousness” in verse 1, and the commentary says this about it, “David confesses his sole dependence on God’s “righteousness”—his commitment to do what is right and to rescue his covenant people.”* It is true that we are not righteous apart from him, and we must recognize our need for a Savior, for someone who is righteous. When we are seen as righteous, we know it is all God’s work in us. “This principle of God establishing his name through his people assures Christians that God will answer their “call” (v. 3).”*

My commentary also makes an interesting comment, that this is an “evening psalm”, which is a psalm that talks about the events of the day. As we go to bed, we hand over the day to God in this way. An application could be to use this Psalm as a sort of template to pray through in the evening.

Let’s look at the flow of this Psalm:

  1. Verse 1
    1. David remembers what God has done for him
    2. David confesses his sole dependence on God’s righteousness
    3. With confidence in the Redeemer’s righteousness rather than his own, David boldly asks God to be gracious

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

  1. Verse 2
    1. David recognizes the problems around him
    2. And gives them over to God
  2. Verse 3
    1. David asks God to defend because God has “set apart” the “godly” for himself
    2. We can be assured that God will answer our call, too
  3. Verse 4 and 5
    1. We know we are God’s priority so we can call on him with trust, giving him our anger instead of taking care of it ourselves

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”

  1. Verses 6-7
    1. The light of God’s face brings joy to his children but fear to our enemies (Exodus 14:24 Deuteronomy 30:6-7)
  2. Verse 8
    1. The remembrance of righteousness in verse 1 provides hope for the future
    2. The shepherd boy turned king rests in the promise that the Good Shepherd makes us “dwell in safety”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

  1. We have faith in this Savior who loves us with tender care, too.

Here is an example:

My Savior, the One who sees the entire day behind me and before me, as I put Davy down I see the people you have called into your family with us. You do the calling and I ask that you call those who we love, but are still distant from You. So many around us are walking without a Savior, without truly living a life of meaning. I know you hear me, and as I lay down to sleep, I can give over my anger and resentments and hurts from this day to you. Many of them cannot be solved because the world does not know what it is doing. But the light of your face is made apparent every day, and I pray that you shine brightly around us at all times as a family. I have great hope that you will not only give us peace and rest this night, but You will draw near to others this night in dreams, visions, and a longing for you. Bring our loved one into the fold. Amen and goodnight, Sweet and Precious Jesus.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in. For instance, the outline is my own way of summarizing the information in the commentary to make it applicable today.

It would be wonderful to get a collection of bedtime prayers from you. If you rewrite this Psalm and feel comfortable, please post it in the comments.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Quiet Time

What I have heard from people over and over is how hard it is to find time to do Bible Study, Quiet Time, Devotionals, and/or prayer time. Well, I know how that feels. What God has been teaching me over the past few months is to seek His approval in all things. So, as I write about my commitments, know that we are all in a different season of our lives. At one point in my life (college) I was part of a prayer walk group that met 3 times a week from 8pm to midnight. That was an amazing time of maturing in prayer, building fellowship with that group, and was only for a year of my life (in school years). At another point in my life I took the 40 days of Lent to commit to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening for time with God. This was possible because Davy was napping a lot, and nursing, so I would read the Bible while nursing. That was an amazing time of giving everything to God, and each of these seasons has helped me learn about myself and God.

Let me tell you about the season I am in currently. Some of you are reading this to figure out how I will be doing this whole Blog Bible Study thing, and some because you are a part of our prayer team for Lebanon. Either way, I hope this will encourage you and help you connect with me better.

This past week I have recommitted to having quiet time every morning before Davy wakes up. Since making that commitment, I have had no nightmares (for those of you who know me, this is a big deal.) Lebanon functions on a slightly later timeframe than my life back in Arizona, USA. Our wake up time each day is 9:00 AM, so when I made this commitment, it meant that I moved by wakeup time back to 8:00 AM. Then I felt convicted because I want to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up as part of my Potatoes not Prozac plan, so I moved my wake up time to 7:30 so I could eat and still have an hour or so with God all before Davy wakes up. As you can see, for many people this is a doable time, and for others even 7:30 is later than they start their day.

The way I typically do my morning quiet time:

  1. Pray.
    1. Talk to God, thanking him for the day
    2. I write down my high, low, and a God moment for the day before
    3. I write down at least 5 things I am thankful for today and I add to the day before as well
    4. I go through the thoughts buzzing around in my head. I write them down and give them to God.
      1. One note here. I am typing instead of using a journal right now because I didn’t bring any journals so that I could bring all of Davy’s books. When I was writing up my To Do and other buzzing thoughts in my paper journal I found myself not truly giving them to God because I carried that journal with me, and it stopped being a prayer and became another To Do list to carry around. On the computer I file the Morning Prayer separately than my thanks and highs and lows so that it is given to God. Those prayers I go through every now and then to see how God answered them, but not really to burden myself more.
    5. I find that writing out what I plan to do that day or things I am disappointed aren’t happening, helps me process and also give them to God knowing He will plan my day far better than I could.
  2. Open up my Study document. Once again, I just haven’t found a journal for study use yet, but I have documents for each chapter of Romans and Psalms prepared in advance. All you need to make your own notebook page or word document are these headings:
    1. Scripture:
    2. Date:
    3. Overview
    4. Main Characters
    5. Key Verse
    6. Cross References
    7. Conclusion
  3. Read the chapter 3 times.
    1. Yes, read it three times through completely.
    2. My favorite part is seeing verses that I have heard so many times and being able to put them in context of the chapter. Reading the chapter three times helps with this process because the first time through those verses stand out completely. By the third time through I am able to read them easily within the chapter and see how they connect to the chapter and book.
  4. Begin filling out the sheet with an overview of the chapter after you’ve read it 3 times.
  5. List the main characters.
    1. I list ever character which will let me search by words like blind man, unrighteous, etc. later.
  6. Choose one key verse.
    1. This is not a verse that is the most popular. As I said about reading through the text 3 times, verses that have been used over and over around us are not necessarily the verses that capture the chapter best.

One note I want to add is that with the Psalms I will be posting I will be sharing about how Jesus is shown in them also. It has been on my heart for a long time to share with others how Jesus really is in the entire Bible. I even bought a Bible that has commentary specific to that purpose. In my reading Psalms this past week in my ESV Gospel Transformation Bible I was encouraged and inspired by the introduction which shared about reading the Psalms with the words of Jesus in mind. Luke 24:44 says, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” There you have it, in Jesus’ own words the Psalms are about Him! So, I will include a section: “The Gospel in the Psalms” for each day of Psalms Study.

2nd Day Trauma

Matthew 5-4Louis and I fully intended on writing up a humorous account of our frustrating travels to Rome and then Lebanon. One of our underlying themes throughout the MTI training was to live in paradox, and we will still post both of our accounts written through that lens. However, we need to take the time now to debrief with you a different lesson. Grieving & Loss. We knew we would be missing home and friends and family. We knew we needed to take time to grieve these losses in order to recover and move forward in our new lives here. We learned a lot about the things we were already grieving when we went to Colorado. We saw that we are prone to deny or avoid these pains, but that does not help us grow and will stunt our maturity and adjustment to a new country.

In conclusion, we came to Lebanon prepared to grieve and knew that the first month would be our time to do that in.

What we were in no way prepared for was what happened on Day 2 of being in Lebanon.

We arrived in Lebanon 4:30 pm on Thursday the 8th of May. We were staying with Pierre and Gigi, our team leader and his wife. Davy got sick Friday morning, our first morning in Lebanon. 6am he woke us up by throwing up all over us. He ate very little throughout the day and that night threw up his entire dinner. All night he would throw up anything he drank. In the morning I felt scared being in this strange country with a sick baby. I didn’t know why he was throwing up and while he slept hot during the night, he did not seem feverish. We decided to take all of our luggage to our new apartment, pick up the mattress for Louis and I and then leave Davy and I at home to try to hydrate him and rest so he could get better.

This plan progressed only as far as the mattress store. We put Davey on Louis’ shoulders and were joking around when Davey asked for water. Having thrown up everything for the past two days we asked him to wait until we left the store and then 30 seconds later he fell limp down Louis’ back. We immediately took him down off of Louis and he was unresponsive. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to foam at the mouth. His arms tensed and shook and then went limp. We ran outside and sat on the ground with him  yelling and shaking him with no response and his lips turning blue.

A worker at the mattress store screamed for Louis to come with him. He jumped in the car and I followed with Pierre driving his car. I found out later that Davy stopped breathing in the car and Louis did CPR the entire fast paced, manic drive to the hospital. Just as they arrived at the hospital Davy began breathing again but was still unconscious. They took him in and took his vitals which had begun to return to normal right before making us leave to go to a hospital with a pediatric unit. We drove continuing to pray until Davey began to cry. The sound of his crying has been one of the most anxiety raising sounds in my life until that moment. I was so relieved and we all started crying. We brought him in to the emergency room where they performed a CAT scan and took blood work before hooking him up to an IV. Six hours later he was diagnosed as having experienced a seizure brought on by extreme dehydration and acidosis compounded by every other stress experienced in the previous five days. We took him home and cried for the rest of the night as he slept quietly between us in the intervals between us waking him up to drink.

David has made a full recovery.

In our training we discussed many categories of loss that would be unavoidable on the mission field. Several have hurt exponentially worse through this traumatic experience.

  1. The loss of “home”. The loss of the familiar makes this trauma even harder because of all the little things we did not have in place yet being only the second day we were here. We didn’t know where hospitals were, and didn’t have phones or internet to tell anyone outside of Pierre what was happening. We had an empty apartment with only mattresses to bring our still sick baby home to when we left the hospital. We still feel vulnerable and dependent.
  2. The loss of our support system. Not having the people we usually could run to even aware until days later was terrible for us. We couldn’t even send out an urgent “Please Pray!” email. We know that we cannot rely on your support the same way we have had it in the past, but we are feeling it painfully right now.
  3. Of course the largest loss experienced through this was the continued loss of safety. Already we knew the worry of so many followed us that we would not be safe. We knew that there was no more safety in Arizona than in Lebanon, but this has been an acute suffering. We were already prepared to struggle through the first few months deciding what are safe choices for Davy (food, drink, play, etc.). This experience concentrated the loss of safety, and has left us lonely because we fear the “I told you so” that will come from people back in America.

Make sadness your ally. God’s solution for solving these losses is sadness. Rather than something to be avoided, the sadness and grief allows you to let go of what you cannot have in order to make room in your heart for what you can have. It is important to feel safe to grieve. (Paraphrased from Hiding From Love by John Townsend) We have carved out this time to make less decisions and do less so we can take even more time to grieve, and to grieve well.

Please know that all the pain and feelings you are feeling are valid. We want you to feel the grieving along with us rather than try to minimize it. Grieve Well.

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The Day I Forgot The Rules Of Movies -Written by Louis

It was last Saturday when our team leader was helping us load all 10 of our bags into his car in route to our new apartment in Beirut, when he said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Now any average film viewer knows that there are some cardinal rules to film such as: Never say, “Well at least it can’t get any worse,” lest you are immediately thrust plot first into an onslaught of tragedy. Little did I know that my declaration that our initial Rome experience was the most extreme stress we had ever encountered would jettison us into the actual worst day of our lives.

It was the trip from Heaven, which is to say that it was the trip from hell continually shown to be under the protective authority of God. It began by us realizing in Phoenix that our initial scale was inaccurate and our bags were extremely overweight. Annie’s dad was quick to jump to the rescue and help us move all of our heavy items to carry-ons which are never weighed at check-in. So we arrived at Sky Harbor Airport at 8:00 AM on Monday morning for a 10:45 AM departure only to find out that our plane was delayed for two hours. This meant that we were able to go have breakfast with our parents allowing them unexpected time with Davey that was greatly appreciated. We returned to the airport and loaded our bags only to be informed that our plane was broken, had to be flown to LAX and then to Toronto to be repaired returning to Phoenix at 8:00 PM for boarding. We were blessed with meal vouchers and so ate at the airport for free and we found a play place for Davey to spend the day waiting, though he was too stressed to eat or drink much. Then we were told that the plane was non-repairable and we were being transported to a new airline, rerouted to London, and would miss a whole day of our two day stay in Rome arriving there at 10 PM Tuesday. We e-mailed our bed and breakfast in the center of Rome to inform them and they told us the last thing we heard from them before boarding the overnight plane to London was that our new arrival time would force them to cancel our reservation. 10 hours later we touched down in London and began to try and contact the hotel owner, who did not speak English, over a payphone using credit card #1. We tried calling three times before our card was frozen having not informed the credit card company we were being rerouted to London. We then looked up on the board and saw that the connecting flight was also delayed so we rushed to the counter to see if we could get an earlier flight only to be told that the flight was not delayed but boarding right then in another terminal. After a mad rush we jumped on board at the last minute and landed four hours later in Rome at 10 PM.

We got on the phone with the hotel owner who said that he would hold the reservation for one hour. We picked up all of our luggage including 3 checked bags (50 lbs each), 3 carry on bags (30-40 lbs each), 2 backpacks (40 lbs each), a diaper bag, a car seat, and a stroller then rushed to catch the last train of the night to the center of town. We got off at the terminal at midnight and the Google Map 15 minute walk from the station to our hotel began to lengthen as paved roads quickly turned into cobblestones, sidewalks began to disappear, road signs became non-existent, and two carry-on bags broke their wheels. An hour later we arrived at the front of an apartment building in an ancient monastic section with one buzzer with the name of our hotel. Annie was in tears as we stood outside and rang the bell only to receive no response. Rang it again, no response. Time after time we buzzed the door at 1 AM with no answer. Finally a group of bikers in leather jackets came over and helped us call the number on the booking sheet. At last the owner came down yelling in broken English, “Why did you not tell me you had a baby!? I can’t have a baby staying in this room! You have too many bags, you can’t stay here with this many bags!” He eventually allowed us to come up on the condition that Davey makes no noise at all. We set Davey down in the room, and he took two steps back into a shelf corner and began to scream uncontrollably. After an hour of yelling in Italian and English from the owner and my child we all go to sleep in our bed.

We woke up the next morning to a group of Germans staying in the closely adjacent rooms who informed us that they were in no way bothered by Davey and were glad he got some rest. He could sense our anxiety and so had trouble eating and drinking that day as well. We left early with one bag and one stroller to see all of Rome in a day, and indeed we did! We went to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, 5 Oblilisks, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, St. Angelo’s Castle, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We hopped on the Metro to head home when we realized how close we were to the Spanish Steps so hopped off and I climbed all the way up to the church at the top of the steps which had a service in progress. After taking a moment of reflection I began to head down only to find that my wallet had been stolen. We then began retraced our steps and discovered it had been taken by a questionable 55 year old woman on the crowded Metro who pushed through to get on at one stop and off at the next. After a considerable amount of directions from half a dozen locals we were able to locate the police station and call Visa to cancel Credit Card #2 on the only phone in the station. The American number on the back of the card wouldn’t connect internationally from the landline, but thankfully the officer happened to have the number for Visa International with whom I was connected but who had no information related to my American account. The woman was kind enough to transfer me to American Visa while the officers yelled at me in Italian to get off their only phone. The American Visa people had to transfer me to my credit union who was of course closed, but I was able to contact stolen cards and cancel the card causing us to only be out of pocket $200, a driver’s license, and some Harkins gift cards. We finished the day at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking the city of Rome at sunset.

I exchanged the last of our saved money at the hotel for taxi fare to save our luggage and our marriage after the previous “15 minute walk” from the hotel to the station. We arrived at the airport three hours early only to discover at check-in that when our tickets were transferred from Air Canada to British Airways, Davey’s lap-infant ticket under my name did not transfer. After an hour of the lady talking on the phone she began to take a good look at our luggage and correctly assumed that our carry-on bags were overweight, our stroller was too large, and our car seat wouldn’t be allowed. An hour later we had rearranged all our weight and even found a service that could shrink wrap two of the bags together. An hour after that we had paid the fees at the counter that was still using carbon copies for credit cards. The lady eventually scribbled something on our tickets and we ran through the “dear God please help us, we’re about to miss our flight” security and hopped on the bus that took us to our plane that after the tickets were transferred over no longer had us sitting together. Thank God for Arabs who had no patience for this inconvenience and moved us around three times until we got a row together to ourselves.

Four hours later we landed in Beirut. We breezed through immigration, which was a nightmare last time, and they didn’t check any of our bags at customs. We were picked up by an old friend and taken to the apartment of our team leaders, Pierre & Gigi. Davey promptly laid down in his car seat and fell asleep having not eaten or drank well for the previous four days only to wake up at 2 AM, crawl into bed with us, and throw up everything in his stomach. He spent the next day screaming as four new teeth came in, and he continued to throw up two more times at various places in Pierre & Gigi’s home every time we put anything in his body. He woke up the next morning and we gave him water on the couch on which he promptly vomited. I then declared that it didn’t matter if we had nothing in our new apartment except a mattress we were going to move in that day and he could throw up all over the house all he wants. So we began to load all of our belongings into Pierre’s car when He said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Needless to say, it didn’t remain that way.

We unloaded our bags at our apartment that only housed a 100 cm mattress for Davey and went together to buy us a mattress downtown. We put Davey on my shoulders and were joking around when Davey asked for water. Having thrown up everything for the past two days we asked him to wait until we left the store and then 30 seconds later I was holding onto his legs as he fell limp down my back. We immediately picked him up but he was unresponsive. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to foam at the mouth. His arms tensed and shook and then went limp. I ran outside and sat on the ground with him in my arms yelling and shaking him with no response and no breathing. A worker at the mattress store screamed for me to come with him. I jumped in the car with him as he drove like a maniac through the streets of Beirut towards the nearest hospital. All he could tell me in English was, “give him breath.” I began to perform CPR on Davey whose lips had turned blue and was completely limp. After two minutes of screaming, praying, and compressions Davey woke up. The color returned to his lips and he began breathing again, but he was still unconscious as we pulled up to the hospital. They took him in and took his vitals which had begun to return to normal right before making us leave to go to a hospital with a pediatric unit. We drove continuing to pray until Davey began to cry. The sound which had been a source of stress so many times before became the sound of life that brought tears to our eyes. We brought him in to the emergency room where they performed a CAT scan and took blood work before hooking him up to an IV. Six hours later he was diagnosed as having experienced a seizure brought on by extreme dehydration compounded by every other stress experienced in the previous five days. He was released that day and we took him home and cried for the rest of the night as he slept quietly between us. He has made a full recovery.

We’re sharing this story with you for several reasons. One is that you are our family and our support system. By sending us you share in both our joys and our sufferings as we do with you. We want you to know the reality and the cost of sharing the gospel in the calling of God on our lives, but also because this is a story of God’s unending provision in times of unfathomable, crushing pain. We’ve prayed for years that God would prepare us to go and do what we have now embarked on. In so doing He has prepared stores of resilience within us that we did not know were there. As we left the first emergency room in a foreign country without any Arabic to explain what happened, without a diagnoses, carrying our unconscious child in our arms we sang this song: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” That came from our most profound depths to which we know that the lamb of God is worthy of all of the honor and all the glory and all the praise forever and ever. No matter the circumstances and trials of this life the majesty of the cross cannot be shaken from its foundation. His love endures forever and his mercy is everlasting. We are ineffably thankful today that the grace of God was made manifest in such a way that we still have Davey with us. We thank you for your continued support of Jesus’ ministry here in Beirut. It is your love through Christ that sustains us and holds us as the darkness of the valley gives way to an impenetrable light of healing and salvation.

The Liss Family Travel Log: A Lesson In Paradox

 

We began with an itinerary. We had two flights to get to Rome to spend two days there. Louis had the walking tours planned out so we could have plenty of time to find some café and just sit and drink coffee, eat paninis and take our time. This was to be all our missed anniversaries and Valentines Days and birthdays combined. A romantic Rome getaway. Yay! Then the Paradox followed us from MTI.

Any of you who attended one of our send offs heard us explain this. If you take a clean duck and a dirty duck what do you have, a Paradox (pair of ducks).

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This is like “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Speaking in paradox is learning that while I may be having the best time of my life, I may also be having one of the hardest times of my life. Or when Louis is super excited about an experience, I might be super disappointed by that same experience. Learning to be accepting and loving of those experiences that are different from our own helps us live in the paradox. Learning to speak and live in paradox builds our resilience which helps us as parents and as people to be more mature and more able to persevere through suffering. The following is a detailed diary of our trip, and expresses this paradox language.

May 5: Day 1: A Yuck Duck Day

We arrived at the airport to discover that our Air Canada plane had had issues in Toronto, so had never made it to Sky Harbor to pick us up. First it was delayed until 4:00PM, then until 7:30PM. We asked where we would end up for the evening, and they realized that Toronto was not our destination. Eventually, they changed our flights over to British Airways. They were going to fly us to London then to Rome. British Airways was confused by us and not super nice in solving things with Louis. It was a very frustrating time and we weren’t sure at all about baggage rules for British Airways, so we ended up getting lectured for our baggage at each leg of the trip.

On the plane Davy fell out of his seat asleep three times. I couldn’t sleep because I was so scared he was going to get hurt. My back hurt from the strange position I had to sit in to put my legs up to block him into the seat.

Day 1: A Yay Duck Day

All four of our parents helped us out getting to the airport. My dad had gone early to the airport to get a gate pass so he could come see us off all the way up to the plane. In getting there early he was able to find out about all our delays before we got there. This made it so much less stressful to handle once we had arrived. My mom dropped us off at the gate and went home to pack for her own trip to Greece coming up. She had put off all packing and preparing so she could see us. Louis’ parents met us at the gate and took Davy on a walk of the airport while we waited to find out what was happening. Since we had not eaten breakfast we got the chance to eat together at the favorite Horner (my family) breakfast place, U.S. Egg. It was wonderful for Davy to get to spend extra time with these three grandparents, and for us to get to spend extra time with our parents. We are going to miss everyone so much, and God really blessed us with this meal.

Back at the airport we went through security without any issue other than Taju going through the conveyor belt caused Davy to panic. The security lady, however, as soon as she saw Davy begin to get upset put Taju at the front of the line and when it was going through said, “Don’t stop that bear!” It was a great moment of feeling secure in the midst of chaos for this mommy’s heart. Having my dad come through to the gate was also a real blessing. He carried Davy and since he was calm and peaceful, Davy felt better. He could tell that Louis and I were stressed, so it was great to have someone Davy could go to for calm. Once through security Louis also calmed quite a bit.

As the chaos continued with plane delays and cancellations we were able to calmly assure the stewardesses at the desk that we knew it wasn’t their fault and we just wanted to get to Rome. Because we mentioned early on we had no need to go to Toronto and only wanted to make it to Rome we were able to get our tickets changed. We got meal vouchers for lunch and for dinner, which was great because it meant two free meals that were food we really liked. Louis and I took several calming walks just praying through the airport and Louis found a playplace for Davy. After we ate lunch with my dad, another blessed meal, we just sat at the playplace the rest of our time in the airport. Davy even took a nap before saying a good goodbye to my dad.

The flight gave us an entire row of four to ourselves, and Davy slept in the middle two seats. He even slept through falling out of the seats three times during the flight. I slept for two hours at a time, but even that was better than nothing.

May 6: Day 2: Speaking in Paradox

We are going to be flying through London on our way back to the States, so it was good to get to see the airport and know a little about it so that maybe our next trip there will not be as stressful. It was nice to feel productive at least solving the internet and getting a mocha. And, oh my goodness, it was a good mocha. The chocolate in it was really good chocolate instead of Hershey’s syrup, so even Louis liked it.

As I check emails to make sure that our bed and breakfast is still good and to try to figure out how to salvage our trip, Louis tries to call Middle Eastern Air in the airport to change our flight to later. As I am discovering that we can’t go until Sunday if we do that, Louis reports back from the phone. Our brand new credit card has been frozen because we are trying to use it in London. We had never called them to tell them we would be out of the country because we got the card two days before we flew out, so we just didn’t think about it.

Louis decides he isn’t going to try any other ways of getting to MEA, and that we are just going to spend one day in Rome and then go to Lebanon as planned. I was so disappointed and crestfallen and mad and frustrated and upset that I just burst into tears. So much for an anniversary makeup. Everything I was hoping for (a break to rest from all the mania before we are required to think about ministry, a time of romance, sitting in a café with no hurry while Louis took pictures, seeing early Christian sites that might take hours to find because they were little known) all of that evaporated in a moment.

Then, the B&B email shows up that says he didn’t know we were bringing a baby and he might not be there when we get there. As I replied to the email our flight was called, and they had moved us to another terminal so we had to hurry to get there. At the gate they tell us we have to many bags, that this flight is not a regular flight, but an economy business flight of some sort. However, we weren’t charged for the “extra bags.” Praise the Lord!

We arrived in Rome after sleeping some on the plane and called the B&B. He said he had held the reservation for us and he would let us in when we got there. With a sigh of relief we took off. While buying tickets for the train many taxi drivers were soliciting, but Louis wanted the cheaper train leaving “just 15 minutes” of walking. I said, let’s just use a taxi since we have so much stuff, but Louis was sure we could handle it. I was happy he was confident, so followed his lead. He figured out the tickets for the train out to the main terminal, and we were all happy to not be flying.

Once we got off the train, however, I was done. I was overdone, and I was so tired of disappointments. I felt lower and lower as we walked, feeling no closer to our destination. We had too much baggage to be going through cobblestone streets this way, and I felt my temper begin to rise. Louis felt terribly when we weren’t sure where the hotel was on the map. Finally we made it to the location to find that the man had gone home rather than stay at the hotel to wait for us. I burst into tears. A few people on the street came over and called him on their cell phones and soon he was there lecturing us in Italian and English about having too many bags, not telling him about the baby, that the baby would get him bad reviews from people, basically we felt like scum. Finally, however, Davy stopped crying, so the man stopped lecturing him and us about crying and we were able to begin settling down in peace. We got warm showers and sleep.