Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whatever is lovely...

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is
excellent of praiseworthy - think about such things." -Philippians 4:8

I've thought so many times that I wanted to post something new on our blog but have literally got all signed on and then sat there thinking, "Nope, not really worthy of it today." Somehow, I've come into the mental attitude that I have to have it all together to say something profound and meaningful. If only you knew how much I love to write. How much I love to share. How much I've been aching to say something. But, alas, an empty post.

I've been challenged, in recent weeks, to discipline myself in the area of spiritual development. I'm already starting my second book in a month (which for those of you that know how much I loathe reading, other than Fashion magazines, this is quite a feat). The funny thing that happens when you force yourself to be more disciplined is that God sees it as an avenue to gently teach you things that undoubtably need to be taught.

My prayer life has been less than satisfactory. In fact, it seems more like a burden...heavy and dark and hopeless. But really, its no wonder. My prayers are always about changing somebody else's attitude. About having them understand me better. About changing circumstances that I've felt were unfair. And there may have been situations where all of those things were true or needed to happen but the Bible says nothing about getting what is "owed" to us. Today during my reading, I came across Philippians 4:8. It seems like such a fairy tale verse that doesn't apply to much other than what the perfect, happy-go-lucky, Christians exude. But when you look closer it is a perfect picture of how our prayers should be. "Whatever is right" "pure" "lovely" "admirable" "excellent" or "praiseworthy" these are the things we should pray about.

When I feel like someone is being hard-headed and unfair, praise God for the incredible parent they are or for their compassionate heart. When I feel pushed around and belittled, praise God for their unwavering leadership and their loyalty to God's work. When I feel like my opinion doesn't matter to them, praise God for their discipline in studying the Word and desire to love others better. Find the "lovely" things in people and praise God for them. I feel like it will bring hope to my prayers and shed light on the best in others. And really, isn't that how God sees us?

The world tells us to be strong-willed, independent, self-relying, self-trusting....where as all of these things have the potential to be "praiseworthy" characteristics, all they've really done is created egotistical, selfish, disconnected people. Myself included. Imagine the change if a new movement approached us that caused us to find the best in others, praise God for their admirable personality traits and forgive them quickly when we feel that they've injured our "egos."

I, for one, am ready to join the movement. Ready to pray for what is lovely. Here's to revamping my prayer life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Daily Bread

"I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." -Job 23:12

we went to a different church this morning. there were only 16 people there, including the four of us. i judged it immediately. wondering what kind of church could it be with only 12 people. wondering how can there be any spiritual growth with only 12 people. wondering what kind of service can you have with only 12 people. god saw my heart. i'm sure he wasn't pleased. i felt him say, "you are what is wrong with christians. you are why people can't see me. you are keeping people from finding me." it stung. really bad.

it hurt for the obvious reasons of seeing something inside my heart that is ugly, unfinished and unholy. but it also hurt because it dug up the root of why i felt the way i did. judging this church before i even was part of it. and the underlying sting was that i don't trust god. i mean, i do, on occasion. and especially when things are going good. but when its a sunday morning and only 12 people are sitting in the chairs i don't believe that he is going to show up.

a woman came up just to speak of prayer requests needed and people who are in need of some help and then she said it. the thing i needed to hear. the thing i've needed to hear for four years, maybe more. i don't even remember the context of why she said it, but she said, "i don't know. because maybe if he gave us what we needed six months in advance, we wouldn't rely on him for our daily bread."

whoa.

you see, for four years, i've wrestled with god. always dealing with the financial aspect of being a missionary. i can tell you the embarrassing conversations i've had with him. like, "How can you send someone a life calling like this and then not provide the funds to do what is needed?" or "I could be in the states right now making crazy money doing something else but i chose to follow you here and this is what i get?" ugly, right?

but when she said that, that maybe we wouldn't rely on him for our daily bread, it screamed at me to what i've specifically been questioning god on for the duration of our time in the dominican.

if that didn't about knock me out of my chair, the pastor steps up to the podium and his first line is, "i don't know why i need to say this, but this is just something that has been laid on my heart. god is our father. he thinks like a father. even when we pray and pray and pray for something for a long time, if god knows that it isn't what is best for us or is more than we can handle, he's not going to let us have it."

BAM!!!

it all made sense. right there. there may have been times in my faith when i questioned if there really was a god or what if we're all wrong and this god that we love really doesn't exist...but right then, our god was the god of moses. the god of the old testament. it was as if i was standing on the mount with a burning bush speaking to me. i know, without a shadow of a doubt that god is present, with us at all times. yearning for conversation with us. desiring to give us his best. wanting us to know that he is as close as our own skin. and above all that he is faithful. for four years i've struggled to know the reasons that we've never made our "A" budget or that supporters come and go. but for four years, god has planted seeds and allowed weeds to grow here and there and then pruned them away and then let the plant grow some more for this exact day that we decided to go to a different church. that i'd be sitting in that chair so sure that god wasn't going to show up. that perhaps he was doing something else more important. but right there, in that moment, god was waiting for four years until i was ready to hear what i needed to hear...

"I am your daily bread."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Southeast Youth

So Thursday night, Southeast Youth came over for some ice cream. These kids are awesome. They have awesome leaders that encourage their faith and stretch their understanding of God. And they sing. Man, can they sing. We ended our night with about an hour of worship and prayer and it was awesome. Below is a "video" of the last song. I say "video" because there really is not video, its just audio. Audio of the voices of the future generation, giving God all the praise. Awesome.

video

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Church Video

Little video I put together for a church visit to Bethany Wesleyan Church in Pennsylvania...

Promo Video from Amanda Braisted on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Relief for Haiti

God is using our ministry in so many ways to aid the relief efforts in Haiti after the Earthquake. I am going to start to compile TV interviews and stories as I find them....

To directly aid Haiti with your finances, please donate to our Haiti Relief Fund here. Go to "Make a One-Time Donation" and select Haiti Relief Fund from the drop down box.

This is a Roanoke TV Station that interviewed Mike.



This is a Louisville TV Station interviewing one of our staff members, Jeff Rogers, and one of our Haitian Pastors, Wilbert Romain.



Another Louisville TV Station.



Haitian Pastor and our friend, Romano (works with Mike in Sports Ministry as well) tells about his plans to go to Haiti.

Romano is going to Port-a-Prince to get word about his brothers and how the Dominican/Haitian Church can respond to the current from Jeff Rogers on Vimeo.