My summer was busy. Actually, busy is a bit of an understatement. In my six weeks away from Puerto, I spent time in four US states and all four time zones. Most of the time, I felt overwhelmed. Beyond anything I could manage or accomplish on my own. Through it all, God remained steadfast and faithful. He even graciously gave me quiet moments of solitude and rest in coffee shops, restaurants, and rooms where I was able to step away and experience peace amidst my chaotic schedule. Despite the busyness of my travels, once I arrived, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. Right, where God wanted me. I felt at home.
Now I consider myself to be a bit of a wanderer, so home is an interesting construct. I have lived quite a few places and visited even more throughout my life. As a result, I have many homes and none simultaneously. I feel at home and like a foreigner all at the same time, no matter where I am physically located. This may have been how many people in the Bible felt…
These people all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Three of the four places I visited I consider home – surrounded by people I love; my friends and family. I was excited to be there and to see everyone. It was not the place that made it home, but the people. I was filled with mixed emotions each time I left one place for the next; often leaving before I was ready to go.
Surprisingly, I felt this same peace and excitement to be home when I landed in Puerto. The journey back was longer and more trying than anticipated but knowing I was back, I was filled with unexpected contentment. I am right where God wants me; in the center of His will. I am home. My home is not on this earth, but with God. If I remain in obedience to Him, I will get a semblance of home regardless of where I find myself. I long for the day I find myself truly home, face-to-face with the Lord. Until then, I will continue to seek His will in obedience.
The result of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness
will be quiet confidence forever.
Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place,
in safe and secure dwellings. (Isaiah 32:17-18)
-Angela Fontanelli, GEM Missionary
If you’d like to support Angela as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!
“Fight fire with fire.” “Always look out for #1.” Our culture is replete with sayings that demonstrate our belief that we are to give back the harm that has been done to us. As humans, we don’t enjoy suffering. We resent being treated unfairly. We cannot endure slander. When we are wronged the impulse to respond in kind doesn’t even have to rush to be there, its already there. We surge with anger and indignation and yearn for the chance to be able to pay it back.
1 Peter 4:19 says, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” This is what God, through the apostle Peter, prescribes His people to do when they are treated wrongly. God does not counsel those that have been born again into living hope to slander those who slander, to curse those who curse, and to be angry with those who are vexing. “..continue to do GOOD,” God says.
Commit yourself to the Creator. To commit oneself is to PLEDGE yourself to the course or policy of another. God’s people are to commit themselves to Him. He is our creator. He made us. He knows us. He cares for us like none other. He loves us with an affection and tenderness greater than any other power in the universe. It does not escape His notice when His children are mistreated. He is not indifferent to the suffering of His family. He is faithful. He is Just. He will ultimately do what is right in every sense and He CAN be trusted. When we are wronged, slandered, annoyed, made fun of, opposed, maligned, mistreated, overlooked or cursed because of our allegiance to the Savior we are not to respond in like manner. Rather, we are to imitate Him who, , “….endured such opposition from sinful men so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3. We are to follow the footsteps of Jesus who “when insults were hurled at him He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” 1 Peter 2:23.
Continue to do good. “Keep up doing the good that you were doing that brought the mistreatment upon you in the first place,” God says. “Don’t stop. You’re mine. Nothing can be done against you that I have not ordained. Nothing will come against you that I won’t ultimately save you from. I am the One whose opinion matters. Live to do MY will. Live to please ME, not men,” He patiently and tenderly tells us.
Thank you, God the Father for not giving us creatures back what we had done to you. Thank you that you did not choose to “fight fire with fire” with us. If you had done so Lord, who among us could survive? Thank you, God the Son that you went to the cross for those who hated you. Who killed and tortured you. Thank you God ,the Spirit that you come and dwell with those who hated your presence. Thank you that you patiently, persistently and tenderly change those who, with stubbornness untold, hold on to the old ways of the flesh. Help us to be more like the Savior and less like ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
-Jason Faircloth, Director of Mission Advancement
Getting healthy… fitness Instagram accounts, green juices everywhere, gluten-free, non-GMO, plant-based protein shakes, supplements, all the athleisure attire you can buy.
Health inspo is everywhere these days. Maybe it’s just me or the accounts I come across online, but I feel like these days almost everyone is on a health or fitness journey. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE healthy lifestyles and I believe it’s important to take care of the bodies that God has blessed us with.But have you seen all the “perfect diets” that promote healthy weight loss? What about all the processed food at the grocery store that has the word “healthy” “natural” or “organic”? What about the “skinny margarita” on the menu at the Mexican restaurants? Usually anything with the word “skinny” on it – isn’t going to be the healthiest option.
Of course getting the “diet coke” could be a better choice than the all-out sugar-filled drink BUT isn’t water the best choice? Isn’t straight up protein and veggies going to be better than all that processed food that has the words “natural/organic” written on the box? Usually, the best thing for our health is the simplest.
Too often we try to take shortcuts to try and stay healthy when we could just turn to the simplest options that would be the healthiest, richest source of nutrition. When we try to create these shortcuts to a healthy lifestyle is usually when things get complicated.
Before I get into writing some kind of nutrition blog, let me switch gears. Lately, I’ve been thinking about these ideas but in our spiritual lives and our walks with Jesus.
What do we truly need for a healthy spiritual life??
-Time in the Word with Jesus – 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119: 105
-Time in prayer talking to Jesus – Matthew 6:6, Mark 1:35
-Community with brothers and sisters in Christ – James 5:16
It’s pretty simple, but again, too often we try to complicate and even compromise these values. Let me use an example I find myself guilty of often…
What do I want (in my flesh)? To scroll through social media mindlessly.
What do I know that I actually need? Time with Jesus
So what do I do? I follow Christian accounts that share scripture so that I can get a taste of it while I decide to scroll mindlessly.
Again, I’m not against uplifting Christian social media accounts, I’m just showing how we can sometimes use surface-level substitutes for what we truly need, which is simply time alone with God.
Here’s another example…
What do I need daily? Time with Jesus
How does my time get filled each day? Work, taking care of my family, church, helping with the youth group at church, a little Netflix and trying to start a Women’s Bible study
What gets left out? Time ALONE with Jesus
Bible studies are awesome. Working hard is GOOD. Serving your church body is awesome. But none of it can substitute for what I truly need to be spiritually healthy – time alone with Jesus. These are like the “natural” or ”organic” processed foods at the grocery store. These are great options but only on top of our basic nutritional needs of fresh fruits, veggies and protein, which is time with Jesus.
We can create Bible studies, programs, Christian chat groups, and do all sorts of “Christian” things – but there are no substitutes for our basic needs as a follower of Jesus. We need intentional time with Him, His word, and His followers to be spiritually healthy. Simply sitting at the feet of Jesus is good and necessary for my soul. Let’s not put too much importance into anything else.
F I E S T A .
If you were to ask me to describe Mexico in one word, it would be “fiesta”. Mexicans love to have an excuse to throw a party, and everyone is always invited.
I remember the first time we moved into our house in Puerto, our neighbors had a “fiesta” for their dad, who turned 93 at the time. This party had a full band, tons of food (good authentic Mexican food), drinks, and dancing. This party must have started around 7 and lasted until about midnight. Parties like this happened over and over as our neighbors celebrated their families lives.
On the other end of the spectrum, our other neighbor celebrated the birthday of their two-year-old daughter. This party started around 6 pm and lasted well past midnight. Again, there was music, food, and plenty of dancing to celebrate the birthday of their two-year-old (who most definitely didn’t stay up for the whole thing).
I mention both of these things because I think it is amazing. I believe that this shows the heart of God. As Christians, we should be the most celebratory people in the world celebrating all that God has done. We should take the time to slow down and celebrate those around us.
In his book called “A Meal with Jesus”, Tim Chester said, “Jesus spent his time eating and drinking—a lot of his time. He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.”
Jesus spent much of his ministry around a meal. He spent so much of his time eating and drinking that he was called a glutton and a drunk. He used the meal as to build relationships with others (sinners and tax collectors). How much more should we, the body of Christ, get to know others around a meal at a party?
May we learn from our Mexican brothers and sisters and learn to throw good parties celebrating all that God is doing in those around us. Let us use this as an example for us while looking to Jesus who is our greatest example.