December 2013Walking Worthy: December 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Big Give: From a Receiver's Perspective

Today I would like to introduce you to a guest blogger, my friend Heather. Heather and I met through work, we both planned events and worked together at a big event I plan each year. Then we found out we went to church together and our friendship just grew over time. Heather and her family became church planters supported by our church. The money you gave toward the Big Give directly affects their ministry. So welcome my friend Heather! I pray you will be blessed by her story:

As I sit in my living room on Vancouver Island on Christmas Day 2013, I remember one quiet Sunday morning late in 2010. The boys and I went into the worship center at First Baptist Church, Euless, while Matthew took care of his responsibilities with the Single Adult Ministry. I listened intently that day to Pastor John preach on the parable of the talents, to multiply the gifts God has given us for His Kingdom…not to hide them away and waste them.   Already being convicted to do more for the Kingdom, our family was preparing for our first trip to Vancouver to pray over the city and to see if the call Matthew already felt would be confirmed in Ethan, Joseph and myself.   I listened to Pastor John urge us to be used of God, but how could my little family really multiply our talents for His use. Could he really use my talents? Dear Lord, if I have anything you can use, oh Lord, please use me.  Then, to our surprise, we were each given an envelope with $5, $10, or $20 inside! Who gives money away to the congregation? Have they gone mad? Pastor John was challenging us to actually multiply our gifts for the Kingdom work. What an object lesson! So, we were to take our money, multiply it in some way, and return everything on the Sunday before Christmas. Wow! What would we do? What could we do? Honestly, I cannot even remember how much we received that year, or what we did to multiply it. I just remember thinking that God was giving me this small challenge…this one, small talent, to multiply as a first step in the things that were to come.  There would be the need of much bigger talents and much greater responsibility as a church planting family.
Heather and her family. Photo Credit: Matt Miller

We did do something halfway creative with that money. I think we baked and sold cookies to our seminary neighbors. But more than that, God convicted me that year that I was to use all of my talents to multiply His Kingdom. As we walked the streets of Vancouver that December, amazed and terrified that God could use us in His Kingdom work, He confirmed to each of us that He is working in Vancouver, that we were to join His work here, and that He would equip us for every good work that He has prepared beforehand (Eph. 2:10).  It is a calling that He confirmed as we walked the streets of Vancouver and prayed for the city. It is a calling that God confirmed every Sunday morning as Pastor John urged us to walk worthy (Eph 4:1) of our calling as Christians. It is a calling that God confirmed as He molded, and shaped, and developed our talents during those seminary years.

Now, three years later, I am still greatly impacted by the “Big Give.” As FBCE Church Planters on Vancouver Island, part of our support is provided through The Miracle budget. Those gifts allow us to live and work and love the people of Vancouver Island. We are planting Ekklesia, a Kingdom-Focused Church and we are engaging our community with the hope of the Gospel. We are using our talents of faith, love, teaching, and Southern hospitality to show the love of Christ and increase the Kingdom.

I have enjoyed following Ashlee’s “Big Give” journey through her blog. Seeing her excitement and anticipation of the coming “Parable Sermon,” and then her fear and anxiety of how she could multiply her talents, and her devout prayer to be used by the Lord. I fell in love with her prints and applauded her creativity in the way in which she used her talents. I had to have one of each print and was excited to have such beautiful artwork for our Sunday worship gathering and our upcoming community Christmas Eve Celebration.  So I ordered them, printing the “O Holy Night” print just as Ashlee did in the 18x24 size and mounted it on a large canvas. I printed the other two 16x20 and framed them with white mats and chunky black frames. Oh, how I love them!

Christmas Eve finally arrived.  We prayed, we advertised, we invited, and now we were hosting our first Christmas Eve Celebration at a local coffee shop. We have a display of appetizers and desserts, a musician playing and leading Christmas carols, free hot drinks for everyone, and of course our beautiful Christmas prints telling of the Hope of our celebration. Many people wandered in off the street for a cup of hot coffee, and were totally surprised when they found free drinks, appetizers, desserts and music. Many stayed and enjoyed the fellowship. We sang Christmas hymns, celebrating Advent by lighting the Christ candle, and read the Christmas story. Matthew read from John 1 and reminded us of the blessed gift of the Christ child. Many un-churched people heard the “good news of great joy.” We pray that these seeds fell on good soil and that in the days to come we will get the honor of seeing lives changed because of the reality of the birth of our Saviour. 
So, as I sit in my living room on Vancouver Island, three years later, reflecting on that first “Big Give” Sunday, and how the “Big Give” still impacts me, my family, and so many for a Big Kingdom Impact, I am thankful. Lord, may we all walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have called us and be found faithful to use our talents for your Kingdom purposes. Amen

You can check out the ministry of Ekklesia at ekklesiabc.ca


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Friday, December 6, 2013

Big Give: God's Whispers


I just want to thank you for the love and support you have shown me as I step out in faith on this new adventure. I am truly overwhelmed by the sweet encouragement the Lord has given me through each of you! I am particularly blessed by my precious husband who has prayed for me, cheered me on, and even promoted my not quite existing business.

I am still struggling with feeling inadequate. In fact, just the other evening I had a freak out moment where I wanted to shout from the windows of my apartment. I GIVE UP! I CANNOT DO THIS! And in that moment of feeling unworthy I was reminded of our Sunday School lesson from last Sunday. A lesson I thought was for everyone else but me. We  walked through Ezekiel 17 and talked about the trouble God was allowing to happen to the children of Israel because of their sin. And we  talked about trouble in general and how do we respond to trouble. Do we allow panic to set in or do we seek God in prayer and in His Word. And I realized as I sat in my apartment freaking out that I was allowing panic to set it. I was allowing the lies of the enemy to reign and rule in my head. And I wasn’t seeking the Lord AT ALL. So there in my panic, I stopped and began to pray, asking the Lord to help me, to show me what to do, to direct my next move.

As I sit here and write this I am reminded of a little nugget of truth that God opened my eyes to this week. In Luke 1, we find Mary and Elizabeth. They have both been told children will be born to them. Each of them will experience what is truly a miracle. When Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth says to her in 1:45 “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” I have read these verses many times, but this week this verse popped out to me. I have never really noticed it before. Here is Mary who must be beyond stunned by what the Lord has said He will do, and Elizabeth acknowledges that Mary believed what God said would be fulfilled. And as I read these verses the Lord whispered in my ear and said, Ashlee do you believe there will be a fulfillment of what I have spoken to you? Do you believe or are you resting in doubt and unbelief. Ashlee, do you really believe I can do anything or do you simply not trust me.

Please hear me, I know this verse in Luke 1 is not about me. But God used it to whisper His truth in my ear and remind me He is faithful. It is in His character to act. And I know, I keep saying this, yet I continue to not trust in God’s faithfulness. In His sweet mercy He has not shot a lightning bolt out of heaven and taken me out. Instead He continues to wrap His arms around me and whisper His Truth into my ear. And I am so grateful and blessed beyond measure that He would extend His grace and mercy to me. 

Thank you for continuing this journey with me. I am so beyond blessed by you! What is a post without some pictures? I want to leave you today with some pictures of my Christmas decor. I wanted to show you how I used some of my Big Give prints in my own home.

Here is my Adore Him print. I took it to Staples and had it printed on card stock. Then I put it in an existing frame.

Next is a faux canvas I made with my O Holy Night print. I enlarged it and had it printed as an 18" x 24" engineer print at Staples. Then I adhered it to a 16" x 20" canvas with spray glue. The print was large enough that it could be wrapped around the edges of the canvas. I love how it turned out!

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