Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


When we sit and think about it we realize we have much to be thankful for (sadly, some of us have to dig deeper than others). Despite all the turmoil that surrounds us, if we’re in Christ Jesus, we have peace. I’m not talking about the eternal peace that comes after we die. I’m talking about here and now. In this world. In this skin. At least…it’s available to us if we seek it. After all, Christ commanded us to abide in Him (John 15:4). He wouldn’t command us to do something He didn’t also equip us to do. Want to learn how? Read Andrew Murray’s book Abide in Christ for free here.
If you’re not saved, you’re still benefiting from the good God has provided. If you have air in your lungs, food in your stomach, a roof over your head, and loved ones, you are blessed. If you have anything above and beyond that you are blessed tremendously. People often ask, “If there’s a God, wearethankful-versewhy is there so much pain and suffering?” To those people I must ask, “If there’s no God, why is there anything good?”
The Bible tells us every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). So, rather than question God about the brokenness in this world that came about from our sin, ask Him to help you be thankful for the goodness He bestows upon you. He loves you more than anyone else ever possibly could. He wants to restore you to Himself and give you eternal life.
For God so loved **enter your name here** that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16
But He also wants you to experience the peace that comes from abiding in Him today.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you. Write down 3 things that you are thankful for. If you find yourself thinking of more, by all means, write them down. Write a novel if the Spirit moves. Whether you have a relationship with God or not, wearethankful-themethank Him specifically for those things. See what happens when you obey His command to
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18
Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.
You are loved,
J F Rogers

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

Astray

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 behalf...in 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