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

Our Stronghold & Song

This summer has been full of waiting and learning through such a sweet time of preparation. In this time, there have been many highs and lows that come along with the change and adjustment of walking in new territory. It is comforting to know that in every step of the process, God has been there to cling to. 

I have been studying Genesis recently and reading about God’s love and care for His people from the very beginning. He is always faithful to make a way where there seems to be none all while affirming that His promises are true. I can’t help but think of Jacob making his way back to Canaan after working for Laban for 20 years of hard labor. Jacob’s desire was to make it home to his family and continue to live in the covenant that God had made with Abraham a couple of generations before. Jacob had faith in God and trusted that even if he encountered Esau and his wrath that God would keep His word. It was remarkable to me that while Jacob was sure that Esau was going to react in anger, he prayed to God and reminded Him of the covenant made years before with Abraham and the blessing that he had received. After Esau and Jacob were reunited with a loving embrace, Jacob built an altar to God as an act of worship and remembrance of what God had done. God was Jacob’s stronghold in the difficulties and his song in the victories.

We see time and time again in scripture that the life of a follower of Christ is not always easy. How much would we lose if we determined for ourselves that we are only going where God calls us if everything falls together the way we imagine? He is a Good Father but He is also meant to be our Help in times of need.

We learn about God when He is our dependence and our only hope just as we learn about Him through answered prayers and miracles. 

As James and I met with some church friends to talk about Global Education Ministries, they prayed over us before we left. These people had served in missions for many years and are excited for us as we go, but they also have a knowledge of the ways that missions work is not easy. The husband prayed that in the moments of difficulty, God would be our stronghold and in the moments of great joy, God would be our song. These words resonated with me and reminded me so gently of the Truth of why we are going.

One of my favorite things about God is that His character cannot be pinned down into one attribute or one good and perfect thing. He is an all-encompassing God who meets us in our highs and our lows. He is our stronghold and our song.


– Hannah Shank, GEM Missionary

Two Years with GEM

I leave Mexico to move back to the United States in a couple weeks and I have so many emotions stirring within me. I’m in a tension of being overjoyed at the thought of getting married in 2 months and then deep sadness to say goodbye to Mexico. God has made Puerto Escondido a home and the people that fill it, family.

In moments I take to be still and reflect, God’s faithfulness overwhelms me. I could write a list and never stop over the ways that God has been faithful in the last two years here. In the relationships he has blessed me with, the way He has sustained and grown Brett and I, the way He has given me the skills, wisdom, and strength to teach on the hard days. The ways He has protected the school and given it incredible growth. He has provided the most quality people to teach at the school. I could go on. It is so humbling to reflect on the faithfulness of God because it shows you His sovereignty and proves true that all is for His glory.

When I moved to Mexico, I was excited but I was honestly asking God how I was going to love these kids well. I had been working with children the entire year before and it was a struggle to enjoy it. God had gifted me with being around children and relating to them, but I did not love it.

As I moved here, I compared myself with the o I was working with who had a real passion for teaching and a passion for children. I would have days where I had no desire to be at school. Through the struggle, I heard God whispering, “keep going.” God was doing a work and it is only now at the end of my two years teaching that I can look back and be amazed by what God has done.

God has let me enter into the cares and depths of His heart. As you seek the Lord, He transforms your heart! My expectation coming here was that I would fall in love with teaching and with children. Instead, I have fallen in love with Jesus. I have joy to wake up and go to school now because I know that I will meet Jesus there. Children are a gift from the Lord and they are made in His image. Getting to spend all of my days with them is incredible. I have not only learned most of my Spanish from these cuties, but I have learned unconditional, pure love.

And teaching them is now something I enjoy because God has opened my eyes to the opportunity and the mission. He has crushed my pride that said, “You do not have the passion and skills to be a teacher.” He has replaced that with, “My love is better than life and you get to show these children that.”

Now I do not have to strive after attaining some joy, passion, or skill because when seeking the Lord, He gives me everything I need to do whatever it is He has. He doesn’t only give us the strength, but He gives us His joy, peace, patience, all of it. I can truly say that I love teaching at Manantial because the love of Jesus has overcome.

I’m amazed. And I will carry this into this next season. I feel so comforted and secure because I know that wherever the Lord leads me, whether it’s into a job where I feel completely inadequate or into a circumstance where I do not feel fit to be in, He will meet me there and He will overcome every expectation and every fear. His love is truly better than life!

Over the last two years, in many of the seasons that have come, I have prayed that these verses would be true over my life, and God has and is faithfully making it so.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63: 1-8


Annie Hindin, GEM Missionary

Good

All throughout school my English teachers have tried to broaden my vocabulary. “A lot is a piece of land, not a description of many things.” A dragon isn’t scary; it’s terrifying or frightening!” And the most common correction: “You will receive points off if I see the word GOOD on your paper.”

And so I journeyed through high school avoiding the word good like the plague. Excellent, magnificent, incredible, breathtaking. Those are words that add life to the blank page.

It all started back in elementary school (which is feeling farther away than ever these days). I was a typical, needing my sister’s approval, young girl and my Mom was taking us shopping for new birthday skirts. What seemed like hours later (I’ve never been a professional shopper), and thinking about the next chapter of my awaiting novel back at home, I finally pulled a skirt from the rack that just might be THE ONE. It had oranges, pinks, and reds all throughout a swirly pattern (if it sounds hideous…Well, it most certainly was). I was in love. I found the perfect complimentary shirt (imagine a tasty sherbert orange kind of color) and headed for the dressing room. It fit perfectly (due to the handy elastic band) and I boldly opened the door to show the world!

My sister took one look and said, “yeah, it looks good.”

Good? These colors looked amazing, stupendous, lovely. But good? I returned dejected. There is no way I could buy a skirt that was just…Good. (after some encouraging words only a Mom can give I ended up wearing that skirt for many years).

And so explains my aversion to the word good. Until I heard that song. That song that most of you have now running through your mind. That song that describes our amazing, merciful, trustworthy God as a GOOD GOOD FATHER.

That’s when I did something that many word lovers can relate to…I looked up the definition. Good: morally excellent, virtuous, righteous.

And then those lyrics made a little more sense. Actually, a lot more.  Because nothing else in this world can be described as good. Humans most definitely shouldn’t be, as we fail continuously every day. Animals, nature or even a colorful skirt can be used for evil.

Then we catch a glimpse of the work of our good, good father. We see Him turn an evil act into bringing glory to His name. We see Him redeeming and refining His people every single day.  And most importantly we see that in any situation: an unexpected death or sickness, a financial burden, or even just a hard day…Life can still be lived with joy because God is still GOOD.


Sarah Quigg graduated from Liberty University in 2015 with a B.S. in Special Education. She loves running and growing closer to God while exploring His creation! This is her second year teaching 5th grade at the Manantial School in Mexico. 

A Life That Demands A Gospel Explanation

About two years ago, God used a simple question to revolutionize how I desired to live: “Do you live in such a way that demands a Gospel explanation?” – Jeff Vanderstelt.

This question led me to reflect on my life up until that point. Did my words or actions demand a Jesus explanation? In other words, when people looked at my life, did it look like the rest of the world, or did my life reflect the radical love and joy that is found in Jesus?

This is an excellent question for all of us to ponder: Does the way I live demand a Gospel explanation? When people look at our life, do they see a life that conformed to the world’s ways or a life transformed through faith and obedience to Jesus?

I often ask myself – “What is the primary motivation for my life? Am I motivated by happiness, comfort, safety, material possessions or am I compelled by the command of my Lord?”

Think about this: Jesus lived a life that demanded an explanation. He claimed to be God! That’s a statement that demands some kind of explanation. His life did not make sense to this world and neither should ours. His life, death, and resurrection demands an explanation. Either he was who he said he was, or it was all a lie.

So what does all of this mean for us? In order to know how to live, we must learn from Jesus.

Jesus, Our Perfect Example.

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by 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. Philippians 2:6-8.

If we endeavor to live our lives in such a way as to demand a gospel explanation, the first place to start is to look to Jesus. He sets the pace for us.

From the very beginning, he came to earth understanding that His mission was all about obedience to His father. He knew that he was going to be arrested, tortured, and persecuted (Matthew 26:56) to fulfill the scriptures. Because sin had entered the world, God sent His son so that we could live in the freedom of His grace. He came caring the burden of humanity’s sin to the cross so that all people have the ability to know the freedom found in Christ. He came with no purpose of His own; rather, He came to serve us that we could have life (Mark 10:45).

His entire life was lived to bring glory to his father and to provide freedom for all of humanity. Jesus, fully human and fully God, lived a perfect life not on His on will, but on the will of His Father (John 6:38) He is the perfect example for us. Not only did Jesus claim to have all authority (Matthew 28:18), his life revealed this to be true. His life and ministry was spent in submission to the Father ultimately so that all humanity could have life through his death and resurrection.

Just as Jesus did, we are called to reorient our lives around God our Father. We are to act and live in the same way as His example for us.

Servants of Jesus: A Gospel-Sent People
“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20:21-22

Jesus did not only send his disciples. Jesus did not only send pastors, church leaders, deacons, the more spiritual people, or missionaries. Jesus sent every person regardless of race, color, gender, or economic status. Not only has He sent us, but He has sent us with the Holy Spirit to guide us into all of life. We are a people sent with the good news of the Gospel to proclaim Him all over the world.

Because Jesus is our perfect example of a servant, we serve in the same way. We don’t serve others to get recognition, but we serve to make much of Jesus in our lives. We don’t need the approval of man, because God has already approved us as his righteous children. Therefore, we serve as people who are free.
1 Peter 2:16 tells us, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

Our motivation comes from what we have received in Jesus. We can love unconditionally because we have been loved much. So how do we apply this to our lives?

Prayerful Application
How do we live such a way that demands a Gospel explanation? In other words, how can we live that would lead people to wonder what is different about our lives?
I want to give 3 practical ways that will lead us to live out our identity as dearly loved children who live in the joy and freedom of Christ.

1. Head: Remind yourself of the incredible gift of God’s grace that you have received every day. Preach it to yourself, and meditate on the truth of the Gospel early in the morning and before you go to sleep. Let it be in your mind all day.

2. Heart: Pray and ask God to let these truths you are meditating on sink into your heart. Jesus said to ask Him what we need in His name and He will give it. Give thanks to Jesus daily for the cross and the freedom we have in His grace. Think about your time before Christ and how He has radically changed your desires and have given you a hope that will never fail.

3. Hands: The scripture teaches that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. As we begin to meditate the truths of the Gospel, the truths will sink into our heart and overflow into action. Peter and John said, “For we cannot stop speaking about all we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), referring to the power of the Gospel to transform lives. They were so passionate about Jesus that they couldn’t stop talking about it.

It is impossible to live a life the demands a Gospel explanation without the Spirit at work in our lives. As we strive to live in obedience to Jesus, may we never stop meditating on the truth of the Gospel and praying for these truths to continually transform our hearts to action.


danielDaniel Mcdonald graduated from Liberty University with a B.S. in Communication (2011) and a Master’s of Divinity in Evangelism and Church Planting (2014). He is serving as the Director of Communication for GEM, while his wife, Kristen, serves as the 4th-grade teacher.  Above all, they desire to make disciples by making Jesus known in Puerto and around the world.