12 Hours to Takeoff!

In 12 hours, our team of 10 will be leaving the U.S. headed for Bangkok, Thailand. There’s a mix of excitement and anxiety as we finish up (or maybe start?) packing for the trip. We are so thankful for everyone who has journeyed with us as we prepared for this day, from those who have bought subs to help us raise money to those who have faithfully covered this team in prayer. Last night we had the opportunity to join with family, friends, and members of our church community for a time of worship and prayer. It was a blessing to be sent off with their prayers, words of affirmation, and hopes for each of us. Over the past few weeks, we have been able to receive prayer from various people, many who are new faces for the team, and to receive specific words of knowledge from them regarding our time in Thailand. It is not with expectation but expectancy that we go to Thailand and hope to see God’s words fulfilled in us and through us. Pray for bold obedience to step out in faith when God calls us to action. May we see His miracles not just before our eyes but at our fingertips, through our faithfulness to His service. May we be sensitive to His voice and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

It’s our plan to continue updating this site with stories from our time in Thailand and testimony of the work God is doing there. Subscribe to have new posts sent directly to your email and follow #McBICThailand on social media for more updates!

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It’s a Wonderful Life

This past weekend, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for only the second time. I watched it once sometime during my childhood, and though many say it’s a holiday classic, I have not really had an interest in watching it more than once. Honestly, I probably would not have chosen to watch it had it not been on my movie bucket list.

I couldn’t really say why this movie didn’t appeal to me, so I thought I would give it a second try and see if my opinion would change at all. Maybe watching it as a young adult instead of as a child would allow me to understand what generations of people saw in this film. Maybe as a child, I just didn’t enjoy movies in black and white.

Nope. I still don’t get it.

Continue reading “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Hearing God in the Silence

On Tuesday of this week, I took a long overdue, much needed day off of work. It was a day of recovery and recuperation. It was the result of two lessons learned over the course of a very busy weekend. Lesson One: Rest. Lesson Two: Though you may not hear the voice of God, He is not silent.

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Saturday was scheduled from morning to evening with Homecoming activities at Messiah College, my alma mater. 9:30 AM – brunch at the President’s Residence. 12 noon – office tour. 2 PM – department reunion. 4 PM – concert. 6 PM – soccer game. 9 PM – concert. In between all the events and appointments, I caught up with old friends and met new people but hardly took time to stop and just enjoy being on campus. I left campus at 11 PM tired and sore, trying to navigate a hilly campus with incredible knee pain caused by a poor choice in footwear.

Sunday was no less hectic. The day began with Sunday school and church. After service was a quick trip to the grocery store on my way to a friend’s house for the first hour of her birthday celebration. I left her party for a meeting 40 minutes away and hoped to make it back for the last hour of her party. Arriving after all the other guests had left, I ate cake with the birthday girl and then returned home after another 12-hour day away from home.

Of course in the midst of all this busyness and restlessness would be lessons on the necessity of rest. In Sunday school, our topic of discussion was the restless soul. We read Psalm 62:1, which says, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” In Psalm 46:10, God says, “Be still,” or as some translations put it, “cease striving and know that I am God…” In the main service, these verses were repeated as the pastor opened the service with a prayer for rest. One of the songs was even titled “Still” and borrows its lyrics from these same verses: “Find rest, my soul, in Christ alone / Know His power in quietness and trust / … I will be still and know You are God.”

Despite the bombardment of Scriptures and reminders to rest, I did not cease striving. As Sunday came to an end, I finally laid in bed – and then I began sobbing tears reserved only for series finales and Hallmark commercials. I had reached my breaking point as exhaustion collided with frustration.

During my afternoon meeting, I had become frustrated with myself and with God. It seemed as if I were the only one at that meeting not receiving prophetic words from God. Others had been hearing specific words and phrases that helped guide our group’s future projects and affirm our decisions. They received divine confirmation of hopes and expectations.

I heard nothing.

Why not me? Am I not good enough? Am I not holy or righteous enough to hear God’s voice? Am I doing something wrong? Why is God silent?

As I cried into my pillow, I asked God, “What about my dreams? I always have crazy, vivid dreams. You’ve used dreams in the Bible to communicate, so why not with me? Why allow me to have such dreams if they have no purpose?” But when I woke in the morning, despite my tearful plea, the only thing I remembered of my dream was an awkward squirrel.

By the end of Monday’s time at the office, I had decided to make Tuesday a “mental health day” to recover not only from the physical exhaustion of the weekend but the frustration of Sunday evening. I would finally use some of the vacation time I had accrued over the past 12 months.

When I got home, I picked up the latest issue of Relevant Magazine, which had arrived over the weekend, and flipped through the articles to see what I could read on my day off. There on page 76 was “The Spiritual Importance of Space,” an article about the Sabbath and the necessity of rest. I snapped a photo of the title page and posted it to Facebook, making note of the very fitting nature of the article in the context of Sunday’s lessons and the busyness of the weekend.

Here’s where it all comes together. A friend commented on the photo, saying, “I LOVE it when God speaks to us like that!” And then I realized my friend was right. God DOES speak to us like that! He speaks to each individual person in different ways. To some he speaks in an audible voice, whether loud and booming or in quiet whispers. To others he gives prophetic words, visions, or dreams. This past weekend, I heard God through Sunday school lessons, prayers, songs, and even magazine articles.

I had become so frustrated with the silence of God’s audible voice that I had grown deaf to the many other ways He was trying to speak to me. And the words He wanted me to hear were “Be still. Rest.”

Listen to Hillsong’s “Still”

Dream Journal: Gandalf and Donuts

Penny Johnson Jerald as Captain Victoria Gates AKA “Iron Gates” or “Sir”

I was taking a class taught by Captain Victoria Gates from Castle. I’m not sure if it was actually her, but it looked like her and was just as frightening and intimidating as the character. The class met in a small study or library, where the lights were dim and the walls were mahogany and lined with books. The room was just big enough for the large table, “Professor” Gates’ chair at the head by the door, and the students’ chairs around the table.

We were going over a textbook, and she was mercilessly calling on unprepared students to share what they found interesting about the reading. I hadn’t done the reading and was searching the book for something to share. When she called my name, I flipped through the book to find any term I could throw out. I landed on the section about “ITS,” a term that referred to one’s desire to be like God. I was trying to make up something to say, so I commented that I found interesting the thin line between the ITS, wanting to be like God, and another term that referred to one’s desire to be God. Apparently I wasn’t far off-base with this, and Gates proceeded to elaborate on the subject. She showed us a mathematical equation to calculate the difference between wanting to be like God and wanting to be God. ((a^2 – b^2) / c^2) / 9. Or something like that.

Kevin James

After class, or perhaps in a completely separate dream, I was driving down a busy road. At a red light, I came to a stop next to an old man who was half in my lane and half in the shoulder. I noticed that Kevin James was standing nearly in the middle of the intersection. He was passing out promotional donuts from a local shop to drivers as they went by. When the light turned green, I rolled down my window and drove closer to Kevin so that I could get a donut. I was close enough but did not anticipate the donut to be 2 pounds and as wide as a dinner plate! Luckily I was able to keep my grip on the free treat. I think at that point, I was no longer driving but walking. As I walked past a Dunkin Donuts filled with people I knew, I peeked my head in to say hello. “Just wanted to say hi,” I said. They looked at me like I were a traitor, since I had the ginormous donut in hand from their competitor. “Get outta here,” one of the patrons mumbled.

Later in the dream, Cinderella was in the woods with her mother and father, who was a giant, angry, Gandalf-like man with claws. Her mother was trying to reason with “Gandalf,” but he was focused on trying to get Cinderella, who was running away and trying to hide. Cinderella was also tearing apart a foam mat or pillow and throwing chunks at the giant. Her mother told her not to tear apart the whole thing, because they would need proof later that she had been alive (or something like that). Her mother was also trying to create a list of all of Cinderella’s nicknames and aliases so she can register them for protection.