shifting numbers and our great unchanging God of grace

16 02 2012

Sorry for my relative absence here of late.  Last week I attended the truthXchange Think Tank 2012 (http://truthxchange.com) in sunny Escondido, California, after a weekend exploring San Diego, worshiping with believers at Harbor Presbyterian (http://www.harbordowntown.org), and standing in awe at the beauty of a city nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  On the way home I stopped in Rochester, MN, for half the L’Abri conference, and to visit good friends and a few Ukraine supporters.  I arrived home Monday, thankful for a good trip, and for numerous reminders of the overwhelming goodness of God’s grace for us in Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, MTW was revising my support budget for 2012.  Previously, I’d raised 60% of my monthly support, and 80% of my one-time; in their new budget, the amount of monthly support I have to raise has increased slightly, and the one-time amount decreased.  So I currently have 57% of my monthly support, and 87% of my one-time support.  I now need to raise $1,672 in additional monthly pledges, ($201 more than before).

Its tempting to be discouraged when I see my monthly support numbers shifting from 60% down to 57% due to having to raise an addition $201 per month.  But God hasn’t changed, he knew this was coming, and he will provide in his time and through your prayers.  My calling and task remains the same: reminding you that God builds his kingdom everywhere, by his grace.  Thank you for giving, for praying, and for participating with me in the work of making Jesus known to Kiev, Ukraine, and the entire earth.

The truthXchange Think Tank centered around the good news that God our Creator, who is separate and distinct from his creation, hasn’t abandoned it but actually came down, entered into creation in the Incarnation, and has made a way through the cross of Jesus that we might be re-united to God.  God is lovingly working to bring all things under the lordship of Jesus, and I believe that he will provide all my needs, according to the riches of his grace.

(The video below explains what truthXchange is all about.  Watch it, and then if you’d like to hear more the audio from the Think Tank is available on their website, http://truthxchange.com.)

Advertisements




pledges through prayer

14 04 2011

No sooner had I posted my 24% monthly support level than it was outdated.  By Tuesday morning, a pledge via email and another pledge from a co-worker at my engineering firm raised my monthly support to 26%.  Tuesday evening I received a generous one-time gift and a monthly pledge after presenting the Ukraine ministry at another small group.

Wednesday after work I drove to Atlanta to share God’s call in my life and his kingdom-building work in Kiev with the church I attended during my Georgia Tech days.  I was encouraged to hear these brothers and sisters praying, to hear how they’re growing in their love for each other and for Jesus–in a sense, to overhear the gospel percolating in their lives.  After a late-night drive back to Chattanooga (including singing along with music I love and listening to a L’Abri lecture Carrie Adams gave on Vocation and Calling), I discovered a friend and two relatives had pledged monthly and quarterly support, bringing my monthly support up to 29%.

So my monthly support has increased 9% in the first three days of this week.  Thanks to those who’ve pledged, and thanks to those who’ve prayed.  Praise the Lord for his provision!





four days remaining

12 04 2011

God has answered your prayers for meetings.  My calendar’s been quite full, and I’ve still got two meetings tomorrow, one Wednesday, and could meet you for dinner Thursday.  Praise the Lord with me for answered prayer!

I’ve currently received pledges for 24% of my monthly support.

Many thanks to those who have committed monthly support, and to those of you who’ve already begun giving.  Please continue praying specifically that I’ll reach 60% by this Friday.   Sounds impossible, but God parted the Red Sea and raises the dead, so he could do this if it pleases him.

Perhaps you’re interested in giving, but you’re not sure what a monthly pledge means.  It’s a commitment to give that amount each month (or you could pledge quarterly, or annually), and I need pledges for 60% by this Friday to attend training in July.

Would you like to pledge monthly support before April 15th? Are you getting a large tax return?  Divide it by 24 to pledge it over two years: $600 would be $25/month, or $1080 would be $45/month.  You get the idea.  Here’s how:

  • email: partnerservices@mtw.org with your monthly pledge to my support account, #17138.
  • call MTW donations, 678.823.0004 ex. 2451, with your pledge to my support account, #17138.
  • visit http://swansonmission.com/give to print out a pledge card or e-giving form to mail to MTW, but please call or email them to make sure your commitment is recorded before Friday, April 15th.

Pray for God to act.  Give as those who treasure Jesus above all else.  Join me in praising our great and faithful God.





humbled, excited, and needing sleep

16 07 2010

When was the last time you were blown to tears by the grace of God? by his insistent, loving hand moving in your life and in your heart to show you (yet again) that He is the Sovereign, He is the King, and to reassure you that He is good, does good, and his covenant faithfulness or hesed pursues you all the days of your life? When was the last time you were deeply thankful for God saying “no” to your request–and not thankful because you initially wanted to be thankful, but only thankful because in your disappointment at the “no” you still knew that God has your best in view, that He knows what you really need? When were you last reminded that when you ask for something and God overrules you and says “no”, his promises are all still Yes in Christ Jesus?  When was the last time a good friend reminded you that God’s sovereignty and his providence are never opposed to each other in your life? when singing old hymns raised your eyes from navel-gazing to a jaw-dropping view of Jehovah’s grace and glory?

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32)

God’s no to my request is actually yes to what I really need, and the thing is, He knows better than I what I need. Needless to say, I’ve been blown away by God’s greatness, by his majesty, by his love, by the comfort of the reality that He is enthroned, ruling for his glory and the good of his people–and that includes me, as undeserving as I am.

God has given me new, more demanding responsibilities in my engineering job (i.e., more hours, too), when I had hoped and prayed to reduce my hours for more time support raising. This was initially very disappointing and hard for me, but over the past two days God has done amazing work in my heart and through the prayers of his people.  I need your prayers that I will adjust well to my new schedule and have wisdom for my time-commitments.

Tonight I presented the Ukraine ministry to a group of friends brought together by an engineer who’s a former co-worker of mine. I’m so encouraged by friends and coworkers who give me the gift of time to hear how God is working in Kiev and calling me to serve there.

Part of what God may be reminding me with my new responsibilities and tighter schedule may be my limitations and my dependence on him. One of those limitations is my need for sleep, now.  Its yet another gift from my Keeper who doesn’t sleep.





priorities

18 06 2010

While driving home from work today, I caught part of a sermon on the radio.  The preacher emphasized that we are all under the sovereign authority of the LORD God.  The preacher directed my attention to Exodus 34, where the LORD tells all the men of Israel to assemble before him three times each year, recognizing that real manhood is not the absence of authority, but the recognition of and submission to the sovereign rule of Jahweh, the God of the covenant.

I read Exodus 34 after dinner, after praying that the Lord would stir my heart with his grace and with the incredibly good news of what he has done for all peoples in Jesus Christ.  The priority in that chapter seems to be God, his merciful character, his glory, and his commandments.  Moses face and skin were shining so brightly from God’s presence that most of the time he wore a veil, except when he was telling the people what God had said.    God’s law points to the priority God should have in my life: absolute, first priority, and far too often God is not my priority.

However, the reflected glory faded and Moses would need to talk to God again for it to shine more brightly.  It isn’t until Jesus that we really glimpse the glory of God.  Moses’ face shone with reflected glory, but in Jesus we have the fullness of God, veiled in human flesh.  The Spirit of Christ opens our eyes to his glory, to his grace, to his purposes in our lives.  2 Cor. 3:16-18 tells us the Spirit shows us Jesus’ glory and transforms us to look more and more like him.  It is this glorious ministry of the Spirit–his work of making us more like Jesus–that gives us hope.  The Spirit of Christ turns me, re-aligns my heart, increases my longing to enjoy and embody Jesus, to give him first priority in all I do.

When I am a bit discouraged after an evening of getting voicemails when I’d hoped to schedule support-raising meeting with people, I should remember the mercy of God and not loose heart.

When I am unfaithful and waste time doing things other than support-raising when I’ve scheduled it (good things in their own right, but not as distractions or procrastinations), I need to turn from my priorities to the priorities the Spirit of Christ gives.  I should seek joy in the grace and glory of God and prioritize my life to point other people to Jesus, the source of solid joy and lasting treasure.

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.





new beginnings… almost

5 12 2009

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, and I am filled with anticipation. Since the day after Thanksgiving, I’ve been encouraged and excited by the depth of beauty and truth in many of the traditional Christmas carols. I love the familiarity and sturdy reliability of these songs: they’re like old, loyal friends who are there for me year after year. I love the joy of hearing them sung each year as reminders of God’s mighty coming 2000 years ago in Jesus’ birth, as reminders that He will come again in real history, to do away with evil and make everything beautiful, and as reminders that He comes in the present to all who call on his name.

I am also filled with anticipation as I consider that two and a half weeks ago I was approved as a missionary to Kiev, Ukraine, with Mission to the World. In Kiev I will work with a team of people who are helping the Ukrainian presbyterian church establish vibrant, Christ-centered churches in Kiev and throughout Ukraine. My hope is that I can use my musical abilities, my technical skills, my love of human cultures, and my passion for seeing people transformed by the grace of Jesus to help build up God’s people in Kiev and reach out to folks who don’t yet know Jesus there.

Its been a while since I blogged here, and once I’ve checked and configured a few things to make sure this site will meet my blogging needs, I hope to begin blogging on a regular basis. Consider this your announcement of new beginnings for this blog… almost.