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