Saturday, July 23, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway

In 18 days (from August 10-17) I'll be offering 3 signed copies of Astray through Goodreads. Also, for two days (Aug 10 & 11) the ebook will be free on Amazon. Mark your calendars if you're interested in free copies!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Astray by J F Rogers


by J F Rogers

Giveaway ends August 17, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Guatemala Mission Trip Part II: God's Calling

We prayed and prayed and prayed some more before leaving for Guatemala. Each step of the way we never received a clear yes or no. But, we felt like we should go. When it came time to pay for tickets, we still had no definitive answer, so we moved forward as if it were a yes and made the payment. We prepared, packed, and paid the balance due.

God’s calling or not…we went.

I wanted to take all the kids home. They’re cute…full of smiles…and I love children. But, particularly in the remote village we crossed four rivers to reach, the kids seemed happy…despite their poverty. In many ways, they seemed better off than kids in America.

Mostly, I saw the unfortunate side effects of America spilling into an impoverished country. I saw Guatemalans with dirt floors, flies, no food, hardly anything to their name…yet a television stood on a dresser. I saw people standing on street corners with a cell phone in their hand. I saw children who didn’t care about receiving candy because it’s cheaper and easier to obtain than nourishing food. Coke is easier to come by than water.

God reveals different things to different people, depending on where He calls them. Others might’ve seen exactly what I saw and received an entirely different message. And they did. I believe God gives people a heart for Guatemala, Ethiopia, and places where He wants them to be. He reveals the needs. They’re easy to find. Missionaries are needed everywhere. But Guatemala wasn’t my calling.

On one of the last nights, while my daughter and I were doing devotions, we read the following verses:
“And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel—not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.” - Ezekiel 3:4-7

This spoke to me. God doesn’t send everyone to the ends of the earth. He doesn’t send everyone to places where they don’t speak the language. Those people tend to be more receptive to the message! No. He wants me home. He wants me to share His message with people right here. I live in a mission field. I’m not here by accident.

Our ministry is in Children’s Church where we build relationships with kids and are an ongoing presence in their lives…available should they need us. It’s in our community where even the poor are truly rich and the gospel is desperately needed. Afterall…
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25)
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:14

My mission is at home. In my backyard. Why God sent us all the way to Guatemala to assure us His plan for us was at home all along, I’m not sure. But I’m grateful for the certainty.

Does this mean I'll never go on another mission trip to Guatemala or anywhere else? Certainly not. If something nudges me to consider it, I'll pray. God might only want us here for a time. It could change. I appreciate knowing that what I do right here matters. But I hope I'd be willing to go wherever He leads me.

I pray you will seek God’s will for your life. I pray you're willing to go wherever He calls you…even if His ultimate plan is somewhere else entirely.

You are loved,

J F Rogers

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Today is the 4th of July. I returned home from a third world country on Tuesday night. What I saw there made me realize just how blessed we are on my home soil in the United States.

In Guatemala, properties are walled. Barbed wire and/or glass shards line the top. Windows are barred. Guards armed with rifles stand ready at store fronts. You do not walk the streets alone…particularly at night.

In the US, although I typically don’t, I can leave my car and home unlocked. I can come and go as I please, with or without others.

I’m grateful for our freedom to move about freely. Although this is a broken world and bad things happen everywhere, we don’t have to fear. We have rights and protections in this country that other countries don’t have.

I’m grateful to our forefathers for their desire, bravery, and selfless actions to search for a better place for future generations. I’m grateful for their wisdom, insight, and dependence on God to create documents that would protect our freedoms…even if they have been twisted over time. I’m grateful to the men and women who serve our country in varying ways to continue to fight for those freedoms whether by donning a uniform and arming themselves or sitting in a courtroom.

Most of all…I’m grateful for a God who blessed this nation because of the faith of a few. I pray that He continues to bless this nation. I pray that those who live here, who benefit from these blessings, will praise Him for all He has given us. Afterall,

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. – James 1:17

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless US, everyone.”

You are loved,

J F Rogers

Here are some pictures of walled properties in Guatemala:


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Guatemala Mission Trip Part 1: The "Molly Metaphor"

The night before our flight to Guatemala we brought our bags to church and our cat (Molly) to a friend’s house. She complained most of the way. My daughter held her carrier in her lap, occasionally giving her treats, which made her happy…for a moment. As we traveled in this manner, attempting to console Molly, my daughter noticed some similarities between our relationship to Molly and God’s relationship to us.

He knows the entire plan: We knew that leaving Molly at home would leave her uncared for. There wouldn’t be anyone to feed her, give her water, clean her litterbox…or love her. We knew where she was going and it was ultimately in her best interest.

He is always with us: Though Molly was in a carrier, she was on my daughter’s lap. We were close by, watching out for her.

He provides. My daughter gave Molly treats to ease her discomfort. Words to comfort her. We attempted to console her every step of the way.

He loves us. No matter how irritating Molly’s complaints were, we loved her. We wanted her to be happy and comfortable. But to truly love her, we had to do what was best for her.

I love that God used my daughter to reveal these truths. But it's nothing new. Most of us know this. Even so, we have a tendency to do the following:

We fail to trust: We know that God has a perfect plan, yet we tend to question Him, thinking we know better. If only God would do things our way…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -Proverbs 3:5

We feel alone:
We behave as though He has left us or as if He was never really there. We feel the need to act on our own our own power.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

We worry: We act as though we are in control. We attempt to circumvent difficulty by preparing for every possible situation in advance…as if we possibly could.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

We feel unloved: Deep down, we know how unworthy we are in our own right. How selfish we truly are to the core. We fail to acknowledge that we are made righteous not in ourselves but in who we are in Christ.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

By breaking us out of our comfort zone and sending us to another country, God clearly showed us how strong these attributes are in ourselves. I hope to share more about our experience in Guatemala soon, but for now I pray that, whether at home or afar, within our outside your comfort zone, God will reveal Himself and His will to you. I pray that you will make your requests known and trust Him to provide what you actually need. I pray that you will feel His presence and know that, no matter who you are, no matter what you've done…

You are loved,

J F Rogers

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Release Day!

The time has finally come. My baby. The book I’ve been mulling around in my mind for years before the words ever arranged themselves in a meaningful way outside my head. The words I rearranged multiple times until I finally had to tell myself, “Stop! It’s complete.”
It’s time. Ariboslia Book 1: Astray ebook is available on Amazon. The paperback is slated for June 15th.
Now the question is: do I get going on book 2?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Doors, Windows, and Jericho

I can't tell you how often I hear Christians talk about God closing doors and opening windows. Are we really just rats in a maze, sniffing our way from one end of the box to the next, searching out the promised cheese? What happens when God puts a guarded wall in front of us? That must mean He doesn't intend for us proceed. Right?

But what about Jericho?

God promised the land to His people. He showed them where to go. He told them to take it. A giant wall and armed guards stopped them. Only two trusted God...

"Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?"

The Israelites failure to trust their Father resulted in wandering the desert for forty years. Do you think it's possible that when we scurry about, passing closed doors and looking for windows, we're essentially wandering? Or worse--failing to trust God?

I don't want to wander. I'd rather trust my God and walk around a fortress seven times while guards mock me. I'd rather have a plan and stick to it, knowing it's God's plan and He is with me. I'd rather trust God to knock those walls down...somehow. Assuming, of course, that He intended me to go past those walls in the first place, as he did with the Israelites.

How do we know His intention for our lives?

Be intentional. Stay connected to God. Read His word. Spend alone time with Him. Talk to Him constantly (this doesn't need to be done out loud). Seek wise counsel.

This is much easier said than done. But I'd rather park outside the gates of Jericho, pray, and seek God's will, than wander aimlessly. Or worse, take off in another direction seeking an alternate destination.

I pray that you earnestly seek God's will. If He gives you an answer, I pray you will not be derailed. I pray you will have hearts like Joshua and Caleb, who knew how strong their God was and that nothing could stand against Him. Sometimes God wants us to push forward, never giving up. Sometimes the wall is the test.

"And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. - Psalm 9:10"

You are loved,

J F Rogers

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

God's Promises

Last week, one of the members of my church stopped and took this picture.

It hasn’t been altered at all! No photoshop. Nothing.

It made me wonder—is God trying to tell us something? I mean, it's right over our church building! Rather than allow my imagination to take over or to assume I remembered exactly what God had already said, I went back to His Word.

“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’” – Genesis 9:12-16 

God sees His rainbow and remembers us! I love the thought of being on God's mind. I love that I have a God who would bother to make promises to us at all. He doesn't need to. It's all for our benefit, not His. And due to the nature of who He is, He can’t lie or break a promise. Paul said this: 

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began;” – Titus 1:1-2 

God keeps His promises.

Did you know the Bible is full of promises He’s made with us? Here’s one for those who haven’t been saved:

“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.’” – Acts 2:38-39

And there are many more for believers:

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” – 2 Peter 1:4

Did you know the Bible is full of promises to you? When is the last time you studied God’s word to know what He’s promised you? I challenge you to find out what His promises are. Don't make the mistake of turning away from God because He failed to follow through with something He never promised. Find out what He has promised. Then claim them. Stand on those promises! It's so powerful. As it states in my favorite verse in the hymn:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. 

I'm going to stand on His promises. And when I see a rainbow in the sky, I will know that God is thinking of us, remembering His promise to us. And I’ll remember that I have an awesome Father who loves us enough to make so many amazing promises to us … and keep them.

His servant,

J.F. Rogers