Words from Missionary Mona

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. -Matthew 5:13

The only way to understand the meaning of this verse is to understand all the things that salt can do.

It can preserve meat and fish so it won’t spoil quickly – it can make food taste better – Even though it stings, it will help heal wounds. You can also use it as a scrub to refresh the skin. I’m sure there are other ways salt can be used to improve life, and there is a spiritual connection between all of the uses for salt and our purpose in life as Children of God. If that were not true, Jesus would not have said “you are the salt of the earth”. Maybe even it’s true to say that God’s purpose and plan for our life is what makes our saltiness.

But salt can become old and spoiled and useless if it sits too long without being used…

I have a question for all true believers: Are you being obedient to God’s plan and purpose for your life as His Child, or are you sitting idle – losing your saltiness and becoming useless?

Always remember – if you are saved, your life does not belong to you anymore. It belongs to Him, who died for you and rose again.

Mission Update September 2020

A very dear friend of mine from the Philippines posted this on his Facebook page a while back. I hope that young man doesn’t mind me saving it and using it.

That simple, humorous, and profound Facebook post reminded me of how helpless and hopeless I am by myself, separated and apart from God.

I don’t know how to operate a helicopter, so I need to find someone who does if I want to travel in one. I need a pilot, and I need to trust that pilot and give him control. If I try on my own, I’m gonna fail. I’m gonna crash. I’m gonna die. I’ll never get where I’m going, and my life will end far away from where I wanted to be.

My life is the same way – I don’t know how to live it in a truly righteous way that will lead to eternal life. Though I try again and again, I fail over and over. If I keep doing that, one day I’m gonna die trying to close the gap – the chasm – between me and God only to find that, in my death, I’m still as separated and apart from Him as I was in life depending on myself trying to get to Him.

Jesus said in John 14, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father but by Me.”

So, there’s my Pilot. (Not my copilot, my pilot) Now I need to trust Him and give Him control. If I do that, I’m not gonna crash, burn and die far away from God. I land safely in His arms, right where I want to be.

August 2020 Mission Update

I’m using this post as a kind of personal/Mission diary entry.

First I want to say that in the Philippines, in spite of the obstacles presented by the COVID crisis, opportunities for Christian fellowship and evangelism are still being sought after and taken advantage of. God is good, and when we are faithful to His plan and His will, He will cause us to produce fruit.

In one church, the fellowship has inspired a few young people to search the scriptures and make their own messages and lessons for small group bible studies.

In another church, as services continue in spite of advanced restrictions on church services and meetings, new believers are being baptized.

In still another, opportunities for evangelism have yielded 15 souls saved in just the past month.

Please continue to pray for these 3 churches and those faithful workers.

Here in the US, the mission hosts 2 individual bible studies. One meets in the Mission House in Fayetteville, the other meets in My Father’s house in Springdale.

I’m becoming more and more involved in ministry in a small country church named Walnut Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church. I have a ministry partner named Matt, and we go out each Saturday to visit and minister to members of that congregation and we are planning to begin evangelizing soon. I preach and teach there every Sunday Morning now, and I’m hoping to see Sunday Evening and Wednesday evening services resume soon, and I’m thankful for the strong core group of this church, who have been faithful to it.

Please pray for these 3 ministries, that the real TRUTH of the Word will be taught and heard, that they will grow in spirit and in physical number, and that souls will continue to be saved from teaching in every meeting as well as the witness of every saved person involved in these ministries.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Mission Update July 2020

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Philippians 3:20-21 20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the LORD Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

It seems the world is evermore lost and dying. The enemy has used sickness and disease to separate and divide us. He has used sociopolitical issues and causes to polarize us. But in the end we know that nothing and no one will ever prevail against the Kingdom of God, because He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

Here in the US, I’ve been encouraged to see churches open back up in many places. Home bible studies supplement where and when those services lack. Two of those bible studies happen weekly as a part of this ministry.

We’ve helped to provide churches with small public address systems for outdoor events. Our feeding ministries continue to help a few in need. We helped a family repair it’s car, and helped another to replace their kitchen stove in connection with a local church.

In the Philippines, where social restrictions are greater and more seemingly oppressive than here because of COVID, special few continue to operate in love and obedience to God’s Word by showing love and sharing the Gospel through visitation and home bible studies. We’re still helping bring food to families in greatest need. In 3 of the churches we’re involved with in the north central region of Luzon, 2 more souls have been saved, and 3 more have been baptized.

We’re working through our local missionary and one of our church partners to get poor kids the things they need to continue their schooling in the upcoming year.

I’m not saying these things to glorify the mission, but to glorify our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine how much better this world would be if believers at least tried to love the way Jesus loved?

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Some day He’s coming back. On that day I want to be known as one who focused on Him instead of problems.

We’re running out of time.

Mission Update June 2020

A friend of mine from Cabanatuan City, in the Philippines died just a few weeks ago.

Ever since I came to know him more than a year ago, he was mostly bed ridden. He could sit up and sometimes, when it was necessary, he he could walk with assistance for a few steps, but his earthly life was primarily sedentary, in bed, in the most humble of homes, in a neighborhood that was far less than desirable…

Then he died…

But his eternal life was secure in Christ, so he left this world in peace. I remember going to see him once or twice each week to have bible studies with him and his family. He got saved during one of those visits, as did each member of his family. (there are lots of stories to tell about those visits)

I was introduced to him by his oldest daughter, who got saved as an adult in Vacation Bible School. She had only come to watch over the kids from the neighborhood. But someone saw an opportunity and was obedient to it.

All that came about through what, at the time, seemed like happenstance or coincidence, but God will always use obedience to His will and purpose. The details of the story are much deeper, but it’s enough to know that God is always with us, working in us, giving us both the desire and the ability to do his good pleasure. (Philippians 2)

I’ve written about this story before. And I do it again because it has had such a profound effect on me. It has brought me to a deeper understand of why pursuing a life worthy of the gospel is so important.

The world isn’t going to change by itself, so let’s stop waiting for it to do that. If we really want to spread love, let us please start by being open and obedient to God’s will and purpose for us in our own lives.

Mission Update: The COVID-19 era

God is sovereign over all things.

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

This pandemic, as we have been taught to call it, is really nothing more than a device of powers and principalities (the enemy) designed for the specific purpose of separating us from one another. We’ve been taught to call that “COVID RESPONSE” and “social distancing”.

It’s funny how the devil’s tools come complete, each with its own nomenclature and terminology.

But to what end? Well, to hinder and even stop the advancement of the gospel. But our God and Savior is sovereign over all things. He not only knew this was coming, He factored it into His plan and used it for the opposite purpose. He always does that. I can’t pretend to understand it completely or explain it adequately, I can only say it’s true and point to Paul in prison and then to the cross as the best example.

Let’s look around at the creative ways and at the ends to which believers have gone in order to meet, share and hear the Word, and worship together. Think about how much effort God’s children have put into taking care of each other.

We only know what we hear and see here in the US, where some might (rightly) feel that the Government‘s COVID RESPONSE has been overreaching, even to the point of infringing on our constitutional rights.

But there are places in the world where the RESPONSE has been much farther reaching, much more drastic. Many are places where most people do not have the resources that are available in the US. But even in those places, God is good. He is sovereign. And even in those places He has been seen moving and working, giving believers the will and the ability to be used to advance the gospel, and love and be loved of each other, which is His will and plan for all of us.

I’m so blessed to say that at least 2 of the churches we’re connected to in the Philippines have found creative ways and means to minister in love to those in need. I’m also blessed to say that in this place, during a time when people are not permitted to socialize, 3 have been saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord through the ministry and witness of believers. I don’t know how, and I’m not sure I want to know. But I know the people who are ministering the gospel and I have the testimony. This mission has been a part of that, so it means if you’re taking time to read this, you are probably a part of it too through giving and prayer.

The mindset of love and the life’s priority of sharing the gospel… God wants that from all of us… in spite of our circumstances… especially now. -Philippians chapters 1 & 2.

Praise God. Seek Him while He can be found. The suffering isn’t over yet, and all believers will be called upon in some way or another into ministry to this lost, dying world.

The Resurrection

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Holy Week – Resurrection Day

Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Luke 24:5-8 King James Version (KJV)

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words,

Matthew 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Jesus told His disciples and others about his death and resurrection several times:

Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19, (Matthew 12:39-40, John 10:17-8)

We serve a RISEN Savior. Not just spiritually resurrected, BODILY resurrected by the same power of the same Holy spirit that allow Jesus to heal, forgive, save, and raise other people from the dead.

Our forgiveness is sealed by His death. Our justification is sealed by His resurrection.

Holy Week – Black Saturday

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Holy Week – Black Saturday

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

Jesus’ body rested in the tomb on Holy Saturday; it was a rich man’s tomb, fulfilling the prophecy (Isaiah 53:9)

Preparations were made for Jesus’ body and placement in the tomb until 6pm, when preparations for the Sabbath began. “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” –Luke 23:55-56

There are lots of opinions about where Jesus’s soul was between His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection. There are passages in the epistles that speak about it, but that’s a study for another time.

The gospels don’t really say much about it, but they do say this:

Luke 23:43 and Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This paradise is referred to in (Revelation 2:7) as “the paradise of God”.

“Holy Week is relatively silent on Black Saturday. The tomb has been sealed, the guards stand watch, the disciples are hiding in confusion and fear. The Savior has surrendered all to save his people from their sin. And that even includes the ones who cried “let His blood be on us and our children.” (Matthew 27:25)

What more condemning words could there possibly be? Still that is, in effect, what is said every time a person rejects and refuses to believe in The Christ. It happens every day.

But it’s interesting how the meaning of words and phrases can change when the context changes. As true believers, we can rejoice and shout, “let His blood be on us!” We say it with a different meaning.

Not defiantly as the crowds that crucified him, but desperately because we depend only on his sacrifice.

“Jesus, let your blood be on us. Let it cover us. Let the blood that flows – from your head, your hands, your feet, from your side, from your stripes – wash over us and cleanse us from all of our iniquity”.

We proclaim Jesus’s death. We rejoice in his death, not because we believe he was a fraud or a lunatic, but because it is by his death, by his wounds, by his blood that we are healed.

What a wonderous thing this is!

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Amen, and Amen.

But the best news is still to come

 

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Holy Week – Good Friday

Mark 15:1-47

Good Friday was the last day of Jesus’ life on earth before His resurrection. He was betrayed by Judas, just as He said, and denied by Peter, just as He said. His disciples scattered, Just as He said.

He was arrested and was placed on trial falsely. (Isaiah 53:7) He was condemned, scourged, and mocked (Isaiah 53:8).  He was forced to hear the cries of the crowd to crucify Him. (Isaiah 53:3) The soldiers made a crown of thorns and put it on His head and continued to beat Him and mock Him. He was led away to a mountain and made to carry His own cross (John 19:17, Genesis 22:6-7) to the place where He was crucified. He was mocked, ridiculed, and taunted along the way, but there were some who mourned after Him. (Luke 23:27).

He was offered something to dull the physical pain, but Jesus refused, choosing to face the pain of death head on (Matthew 27:34). He was nailed by the hands and feet to His cross. But knowing that his death was to atone for even these who drove the nails, Jesus begged the Father to forgive them. (Luke 23:34)

They stripped Him of His clothes letting him hang there naked on the cross, and cast lots for them, Fulfilling another prophesy. (Psalm 22:18)

All of these things happened just as He said.

Matthew 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19

Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:32-34

Luke 9:21-22, 9:43-45, 18:31-34

Two prisoners were crucified alongside Jesus, again fulfilling prophesy (Isaiah 53:12).  One mocked Him, but the other said, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43). While suffering the most cruel, unfair, unjust, and painful death a human body could endure, Jesus chose to respond in grace to the criminal beside Him teaching us there is always hope in His forgiveness – right up to the point of death.

Even in His disgrace He cared for His mother and best friend. (John 19:25-27).

Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Isaiah 53:6). He accepted the drink he refused before, fulfilling another prophesy (Psalm 69:21)  And then He died.

Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a tomb, fulfilling prophesy again even in death. (Isaiah 53:9)

This is what He did for us. To satisfy the wrath of God against sin. To close the separation between us and our God. To make peace between us and God by His blood.