Jesus, Our Example

With all that is happening in the world, all the sin, sickness and chaos ripping through the globe, I’ve actually felt more tempted to shut my brain off and pretend that it all doesn’t exist instead of being called to action… I feel much more comfortable just putting myself on auto-pilot and sticking to my little bubble where I am shielded from all the evil out there.

Maybe I’m not the only one who has been tempted like this. All I want to do is seek my personal comfort and ignore the reality of our broken world. It just so happens that this is exactly what the devil wants. He wants us to coast and shut off, to stop clinging to Christ, stop pursuing him, and to stop feeling urgency for the advancement of the Kingdom. He wants us to become complacent, selfish, and lulled to sleep by the pleasures of this world instead of being set on fire for the things of Jesus.

After talking to a good friend here in Puerto about Jesus’ return, I was woken up to the reality that Jesus’ presence is as real as ever and He is indeed coming back. There is a very real spiritual war going on and the evil one is constantly trying to hinder anyone from coming to Christ. After remembering this I began to ask myself, if I know what happens to those who do not choose Christ, why am I not urgently seeking to share the saving hope of Jesus with them, especially as our world continues to spiral downwards?

We must remind ourselves of the realities of Scripture. Jesus is alive, He wants our whole hearts, and he WILL return to rescue his faithful servants. I think of my own life and how I have been drifting asleep for quite some time. God has just suddenly opened my eyes (in His overwhelming grace) to allow me to realize that my purpose on this Earth is to know Him, to love Him, and to bring others to Him. I don’t want to find myself seeking my own comforts and worldly pleasures, not making disciples and on the path to destruction. Christ has saved us for our eternal good and has entrusted us with a life-changing mission.

I think of Jesus in Philippians 2, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). Jesus gave everything for me. He loves me with an unfathomable love. How could I put him second? How can I trade this forgiveness, redemption, and eternal hope for a self-serving, wasted life filled with selfish pleasure? How could I turn a blind eye to the brokenness of this world in order to seek my own comfort?

Of course we are human and fall easily into sin, but Jesus is the one who protects and frees us. The Lord alone is our hope. Jesus calls us to fight the good fight of faith and to help bring this eternal salvation to others. He also lovingly warns us in Matthew 16, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

All of this has been extremely convicting for me, but oh is it ever good! I am so grateful the Lord chose to reveal these things to be in order to make me more like Him and to be re-motivated to fulfill His will on Earth.

I encourage you as I look in the mirror, my brothers and sisters, do not allow comfort or complacency to cloud your priorities. Do not let the evil one get a foothold. Cling to the Lord and He will keep you safe. You are loved and made by our amazing Father for a grand purpose. Jesus wants you to arrive at the end to receive your crown of glory, and he wants to use you to bring your friends & enemies there too. We must not fall asleep. Keep the faith, keep fighting, look to our great example and friend, Jesus!


– Natalia Saint Clair, GEM Missionary

Longing For Home

I’ve reached the end of my 1 1/2 year contract and reflecting back, I am left in awe and amazement about all that God has done in my life. This truly has been the most difficult year and a half but the richest in my walk with Jesus. Never have I experienced such depth in relationships quite like the ones here as well as my relationship with the Lord. As hard and painful the journey has been, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything because of how I know and love Jesus in the ways I do now.  I’ll be honest, when I first moved here, I didn’t know how I would make it to June 2020. I was pretty certain I wouldn’t stay longer than that.. I was so bitter and resentful because of shattered expectations, struggling with my mental health, and missing friends and family.

But God…

God began a WORK in my heart. Leading up to summer 2019, I counted down the days and seconds to fly back to the United States, longing for comfort, rest, and a break.  I couldn’t wait.  During that summer, God began to soften my heart for Mexico and my community in Puerto.  He gave me such a deep desire and longing to be back.  He began to grow my heart where I felt this heavy burden for the people here to come to know Jesus.  When my plane flew back into Puerto in August, I was overcome with tremendous peace that could have only come from God.  I knew this wouldn’t be my last year. I began praying in August about what this upcoming summer would look like in preparation for who knows how long God will keep me here in Mexico.

When I first came back to Mexico, I lived with a family for a short time due to having so many struggles my first semester here. It was a sweet and needed season that allowed me to feel safe, secure, and back on my feet again.  God allowed it to where He opened up a tiny little house next to my friends just in the time I needed and was ready to have my own place.  On my first night by myself in my new home, I opened up my book called “Every Moment Holy” and prayed a prayer over this house. That God would dwell within this place. That he would be present at this table and present as I rise and lay down at the beginning and end of each day.  That this home would be a place of shared tears and laughter, a place of meaningful conversations, a place of creating and reflecting, and a place to serve and welcome in others.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve never actually lived in the same place for more than 9 months at a time. I lived out of suitcases and boxes and storage bins while expecting to pack up and switch dorms or houses shortly after I would begin to feel settled.  Now that I am in this house, I don’t have a time frame for when I need to move on to the next place. I can just “be.” For the first time in 6 years, this is the longest place I’ve lived in and it has been such a gift from the Lord. I’m able to be more intentional and welcoming towards people within this space.  It has served as a “harbor of anchorage and refuge, and a haven from which I journey forth” in order to carry out the Great Commission. And as I continue on, my roots are beginning to grow deeper and deeper within this community that I am growing to love more and more each day.

So leading into what this summer will look like for me. God has made it so clear that I’m not supposed to come back and visit the states until December. It was sad and hard at first to have to cancel plans I was looking forward to and realizing I won’t see my family for a year. But as my roots grow deeper and deeper into this community, there is only so much I can communicate and understand with my limited Spanish.  I am SO excited for what is next. I’m not moving back to the States. God knows that timeline, I don’t. However, over the summer, I am going to be living in a small town 30 minutes outside of Puerto with a sweet Mexican family to study and learn Spanish at a school there. I start school on June 22 and I end on August 7th. After school, I will start preparing for the next school year at Manantial teaching 4th grade again.

God did more than I could ever imagine in my life this year and especially within these past 6 months. I am so excited for what’s ahead. What the enemy intended for evil, God used it for good (Genesis 50:20). No matter how long God may have me planted here, I am praying that “my days lived within these temporary walls would serve to awaken a restless longing for my truer Home in heaven” (Every Moment Holy).


-Shelby Davis, GEM Missionary

Humility

Humility

I am reading a book right now called Humility by Andrew Murray. I am being profoundly affected by it. As I read it, I am simultaneously encouraged and convicted. Inspired and indicted.

Let me quote a few lines from Mr. Murray:

Let us…admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and preserving waiting on God and Christ will discover how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how impotent to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride, and our impotence to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will come to impart this grace too, as a part of His wondrous life within us.”

Pride is “insidious.” It is absolutely the default nature of man to be self-exalting and self-focused. We are helpless to be rid of this impulse on our own. Then he says,

We need to know well the Second Adam and His power to give within us a life of humility as REAL and abiding and OVERMASTERING as has been that of pride.”

This book is saturated with statements like this. One of the chief concepts that Murray seeks to promote in his book is that humility is one of the most distinguishing and important characteristics of our Savior, God the Son, Jesus. He maintains that humility is of an importance to us that cannot be overstated but yet it is very rarely actively sought out to be cultivated. I, as do many, energetically and enthusiastically agree with Murray.

Indicted

I have said that I feel indicted by Murray’s words in Humility. I am indicted on the grounds that I am personally guilty of what he describes as the chief problem of man: pride. My initial, unfiltered, hidden, and secret mental reaction to being overlooked or forgotten is one of annoyance and disappointment. I find fault when someone else’s idea gets carried out and not mine. Instead of being overjoyed at the success and fruitfulness in my friend’s life I want to know, “Why not me?”. My battle and struggle with pride is a daily one, no an hourly one. As I’m sure yours is as well. I read Murray’s words about pride and its offensive heinousness to our God and I know I am reading a description of my own deeds. He says things like this:

Let (the reader) consider how all want of love, all indifference to the needs, the feelings, the weaknesses of others, all sharp and hasty utterances and judgments, so often excused under the plea of being outright and honest; all manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation; all feelings of bitterness and estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride that ever seeks itself….”

Inspired

But by the grace of God, as often as I am indicted in my reading of this valuable book, I am inspired! Thank you Jesus! There is hope for me! There is hope for you! Murray talks about how humility is to be the chief thing that we seek as believers, for from it springs all other good behaviors, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, feelings, impulses, habits and words! Our main problem as people before our God is our pride. Our obstinate, tenacious and determined desire to acknowledge and exalt ourselves instead of God. I read Murray’s words like this:

Our one need is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now OURS and waits for our consent to gain POSSESSION and MASTERY of our whole being.”

Since I have been crucified with Jesus and HE now lives in me (Galatians 2:20) the life of Jesus is now MY life. That is true about me! That is true about me in SPITE of my failings! I want Jesus’ life to come out and be seen in MY actions and MY behaviors more and more! I want to be MASTERED by Jesus more and MORE! I want to be more like Him and less like ME!

When I feel the reflex to want to grab for attention, I fight that with faith in the Son of God and try to give it up and give attention to someone else. When I am tempted to drop the comment that I know is bound to impress others, in my head I ask the Holy Spirit to help me keep my mouth shut. When I want to speak up for my rights and not let someone get away with being so insensitive, rude, uncaring, irresponsible for whatever they might have done to me I, in faith, try to remember Him that “…when He was insulted did not retaliate, and when He suffered, he made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to the one who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). These are the type of sentiments and attitudes that are being stirred within me as I read words like:

Humiliation is the only ladder to honor in God’s kingdom.”

“ Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This was what Jesus ever said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right and His left. Seek not, ask not for exaltation; that is God’s work.”

I am given great hope as I read this book. I highly recommend it to all. It gives me great peace and comfort to know that I am not the one who can work humility in myself. It is in my realization of the impossibility to do this that the lowliness is brought about. Jesus brings it about. My life in Him began because of His work. It will continue because of His work. And He will finish it.

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”

Philippians 2: 5-8 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross!”


IMG_1549Jason Faircloth currently teaches 3rd grade at the Manantial School in Puerto Escondido. He is also the director of our Primary School. Jason and his wife, Kate, and son, Abraham, have lived in Puerto Escondido for almost 4 years now serving with Global Education Ministries.