My View of Africa

We took some time this morning for the kids to journal and write down their thoughts and impressions of Africa. Hope they bless you and give some perspective through their eyes. They have been amazing!

JON LANGLEY:
Africa is great! I haven’t had much down time because we’ve constantly been at confrences and crusades. For Jo Jo’s Birthday tommorow we are all going on a safari in Tanzania. I’m so excited! Consequently Pastor Andrew Mukasa is going to have to wake up around 4:00am so we can arrive on the safari grounds at 7:00-8:00 when the animals are up and hunting ( I speak chiefly about Lions when I say hunting). I’ve noticed how some words in Swahili are like Spanish and meen two ENTIRELY different things! I can’t wait to see a Lion demolish a animal. African population is 55% African, 40% Arab, 2% Chinese, 2% Europeans, and last but not least 1% American ( this is just an educated guess). Everywhere you turn you glance mouth watering Mangos and Oranges Plums and Bannanas for only 500-1,000 Tsh each! That’s about 20-40 cents! Dar Es Salaam is just like Honduras. The people are so friendly and love to say welcome. To sum it all up in one word it would be: AWESOME!

Sincerely, J.L.D.
People sell the fruit from their bikes:
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SHEA:
I am in Africa this week. It gets to about 85 to 90 degrees from 12 to 1p.m. we are exactly 8hr ahead of the United states. today we ate at Lebanese restaurant. After that we went back to the hotel with paster Andrew Mukasa and paster Luvanda. Later we went and walked outside and looked around. Tomorrow we are going on a safari. I really want to see a zebra! We have been seeing lots of cool and spiritual things while we have been here. Our hotel has a great view. So we can see the ocean from our room! It also smells different here conparedto the USA. We ate an African meal the other day.It was really good. We will also be spending Josiah b-day here. Africa is a really fun place to go.
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JOSIAH:
Today I want to tell you about the time in Africa! We are in a hotel that looks out into the Indian Ocean. There is a church in front of our window. We are going on a safari tomorrow. You have no privacy in the bathroom. Actually, the bathrooms are a square buidling with one hole in the corner. It is very disgusting. Tomorrow is my birthday. Also we walked around Dar es Salaam. People will do anything to get your attention and I mean anything. This man walked with us to our hotel. We had to say please go away. You have to be very rude but very kind.
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So, there you have it- a snapshot of the kids’ view of Africa from their journals. Wanted to share these and hope they bless you and make you smile! We are so proud of them!

One Man’s Story

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Well, after 6 days straight of ministry time here in Tanzania I am sitting down to share one man’s story. There are many stories to share but for time sake I am going to share only this one.
The first night of the crusade there were several people who gave their hearts to the Lord. Among them was a man who had committed a crime and spent 10 years in prison. He had been released only 2 weeks ago. He had heard that at this crusade they were telling people about some good news and how they could have a new start in life. He came to the crusade with only the clothes he had on his back which were barely held together by a thread. The first night he heard me preach the good news of the Gospel and prayed to recieve Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He continued to come for the remaining 4 nights to keep hearing the good news. Saturday night of the crusade Pastor Andrew Mukasa sat down with him and heard his whole story. He invited him to church the next morning for service. He came that Sunday morning and Pastor Andrew had him come to the front of the church as he told the congregation this man’s testimony. Upon realizing that the only clothes this man owned were on his back, that he had no family, no job, no money, and had just been released from prison, the congregation began to spontaneously come up to him and give him money so that he could begin his new life. You see, they realized something that sometimes often is over looked in churches. The realized that he was now part of their “family” and they were going to take care of him and get him on his feet again, naturally and spiritually. Some of them themselves didn’t have much to give but they shared from what they had to give to someone who had less.
Sunday evening was the last night of the crusade and the man was there again for the last night. Pastor Andrew had him share his testimony with the people. He had testified about how he came the first night and recieved Jesus and continued to return every evening. Upon the invitation from Pastor Andrew he also came to the church Sunday morning, that is when this man’s true changed heart began to be revealed. He fell to his knees and began to cry and express his gratitude to God for saving him AND to the church for showing God’s love to him. He expressed that he had never in his life had more than 1,000 shillings in his hand, that is equal to 40 cents! Now he had enough to by some new clothes with a tie so he could come to church in his best. By this time the church congregants who were helping at the crusade were in tears, tears of joy! They realized they were a part of this man hearing the Gospel and calling upon the name of Jesus as well as showing him how much God loves and cares for him through their care for him at the service that morning.
I want each of you who pray for us and give financially so that we can share God’s love with a hurting and lost people here in Tanzania to know that YOU are as equally responsible for this man’s life transformation.
May the joy of the Lord fill you as you read this story that YOU are responsible for. Thank you!
William

Strategic Living

WDM family with globeEvery productive day first begins with a statement of intent.

In Genesis chapter one we read a series of verses about The Creator and His creation. The second verse of the Bible itself tells us that there was chaos and that to bring beauty and order God begins the next seven days (a complete week) with a statement of intention…and He is giving us a pattern to imitate. What are His statements of intent?

Day One- And God said, “Let there be light.” Light is the point of that day.

Day Two- And God said, “Let there be a separation of the waters”….sky. And it was so.

Day Three- And God said……”Let there be land….” and so on.

At the beginning of each day God sets out the task for that day. It is not a to-do list of anxieties just to take them off His mind. It is a purposeful and creative statement of what He actually intends to do that day and that is exactly what is done. One of my dear friends recently gave me a passion planner. It is a sort of calendar/to do list/journal/dreamstorming type book. One of my favorite parts has been on the weekly calendar page there is a place to write the priority for THAT DAY. It is a one- word priority that gives both perspective and meaning to the day. It is the one thing that I know in the midst of meals, emails, the urgent and the necessary I will set myself to accomplishing or focusing that one thing before the day ends. It is the purpose and intent of the day. In writing it down, it is as though I have spoken out my intent over the day.The word may be PRAY. It may be LAUNDRY. It may be HUSBAND. It may be PACK FOR TANZANIA! In fact, that has been our very focus these past few days and today we prepare to leave. Our priority for today is TRAVEL, JOURNEY, GET GOING!

Throughout this life transition for us we have learned that mobility is critical to progress. Did you read that? MOBILITY IS CRITICAL TO PROGRESS!! As we continue to take the next steps in God’s plan, more of that plan and purpose for our lives is revealed…but the key is mobility. It is actually a strategy for when you are stuck- do the next thing! Mobilize!

For us, boarding the airplane for Tanzania this afternoon is our “next thing”. It is our statement of intent for this day. We intend to move ahead in the call of God. We intend to travel and minister. We intend to strengthen and encourage the churches in Tanzania. We intend to keep seeking God!

Of course there have been doubts. Can we really do this? Is this best for our kids? Will our family of five really make a difference spending 14 days in Tanzania? Is it worth the effort??? In a book by Price Pritchett entitled “You” he writes

Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but habitual thinking. Years ago you accepted flawed conclusions as correct, began to live your life as if those warped ideas about your potential were true, and ceased the bold experiment in living that brought you many breakthrough behaviors as a child. Now its time for you to find the faith you had before…..

Please join us as we stir up faith this day and ” fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you”  as Paul told Timothy. We will continue to move ahead in the bold experiment of living!! What seems impossible with man is possible with God! If God be for us who can stand against us?

So, I leave you with this challenge- what is your statement of intent for this day? Ours is to GO. Thank you for praying for us and encouraging us as we embark on this first ministry trip as a ministry and as a family.We will do our best to post a video blog as well as updates on our facebook page so tune in (subject to w-fi connections). Our love to each of you as you personally strategize the next step God has in your life.May you be mobilized to do the creative work called TODAY.

My One Word

I love the new year. I am always thrilled by new beginnings. I just prayed with a dear friend the other day and we ended by thanking the Lord for making all things new (Rev. 21:5).

It is January and the calendar has reset. This time of year I always look forward to what can be made new in my life. Thanks to the turning of the calendar it is almost as if we get to push a “reset” button and begin anew on January1. If we messed up on our etch-a-sketch picture in 2015 all we have to do is shake it up, the frame clears and we can start all over again! What sort of things need a shaking in your life as 2016 looms before us?LR Goals Countdown

I have always loved setting goals and gearing up for the new year and, like many other things, I have drug my husband and children along in my love for goal setting. Over the years we’ve used many different methods- a 4×4 grid that covers spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical goals or our favorite 5-4-3-2-1 goal sheet (see image- great for kids or adults) among others. But one of our favorites has become “my one word”. The premise is this:

Choose a word (one word) that summarizes what you sense in your spirit needs to be a focus for you this year. We write them out on construction paper and hang them on our bedroom doors not only so that we are reminded of them daily but so that others can see them and we can hold one another accountable. Shea wanted to focus on accomplishing things early on in the day last year so she chose the word “early”. Josiah was struggling with pitching in on chores and being helpful in general so his word became “helpful”.

Last year my one word was “CALLING”. In the beginning of 2015 I knew that God was calling our family’s life to look different. I personally wanted to hear, understand and begin to step into the fullness of that calling. I wanted the focus of 2015 to be finding and stepping into God’s unique calling on my life. Because I made it such a focus, that “one word” served as a catalyst for my entire year. During this past year it became clear to William and I that we were called to travel and teach full time to the Body of Christ at large. We knew that we were to re-instate William Deagle Ministries and begin to utilize it as a platform for ministry. God confirmed to me His calling on my life to get up and minister through song and exhort people before William comes to minister. I believe that most of that clarity and direction came from putting a focus on that one word God had placed on my heart- CALLING.

I kept that word before my eyes, my children knew of it and could hold me accountable. Was I praying about it. Was I studying and reading along those lines, etc. I made that specific word a part of my daily prayer time and pressed in to see its fulfillment. I sought after and pursued that word.

So, what will your one word be? My word for 2016 is STRATEGIC. I want to examine each area of my life in 2016 and determine how I can be more strategic  as a wife, a mother, a musician, a teacher, a missionary, etc. The Oxford Dictionary defines strategy as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim”. My overall aim is to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God…much fruit. Therefore, in 2016 I will be strategizing and planning in order to see more fruit produced in each arena of my life. More to come on that in future posts….. and feel free to hold us all accountable as well!

Team Deagle words for 2016 are:

William- EXPONENTIAL

Jessica- STRATEGIC

Jon Langley- PATIENCE

Shea- still undecided (they have until Jan 14)

Josiah- LISTEN (PTL is all I can say!!)

Welcome to 2016. What will your focus be in this day of new beginnings?

Prepare Him Room

jesse's stump

This past Sunday was the fourth Sunday of advent. Advent means “Arrival” or coming…it does not mean opening little flaps with chocolate behind them!(hee hee, I just added that because that’s what I thought it meant for the longest time) It is a countdown to something wonderful and almost mystical…the arrival of Jesus Himself.

If we listen closely to the beautiful, traditional songs of Christmas, we hear the continuous call to make room for the King who is coming. One of my favorite songs has become obscure and is titled “Lo how a rose ‘ere blooming”.

Our theme scripture for Advent this year has been

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD”   Isaiah 11:1,2

In other words, out of Jesse’s family, from one of the smallest clans in one of the smallest tribes in  Israel, a seemingly dead spiritual lineage, a shoot was going to begin to grow. Have you ever felt stumped in life? What sort of things feel dead in your life? Where has the enemy made you feel there is only a stump remaining and no life can grow there any more? Advent reminds us that out of what seems to be a dead stump, a shoot of life-giving power can spring up. In the song I mentioned, the beginning verse reads:

Lo how a rose e’er blooming, from tender stem hath sprung

Of Jesse’s lineage coming as men of old have sung.

It came a flow’ret bright

Amid the cold of winter when half dead was the night.

Do you have dreams that feel half dead as this year draws to a close? Is there hope that has been cut down to a stump? Have you heard what “men of old” have sung but don’t believe it can come to pass in your life? You just need  a little Advent celebration. Out of a stump can grow a shoot. Let every heart prepare Him room. Let us begin expecting once again. My kids can hardly wait and Shea wakes every morning to give me the official Christmas countdown- “Four more days….three more days, mommy!” Oh that such an expectancy would burn in us and we would go to bed tingling with the anticipation of what awaits us in the morning. My kids dream of kindles and Ipods these days and they can hardly wait to see if there is one under the tree with their name on it. I want to live with that same anticipation and thrill. What will God bring to pass tomorrow? How will we be able to serve God and know His pleasure more in the coming year? In what ways is He going to show Himself faithful to me once again? What gifts are in my salvation package waiting for me to open them and exclaim over their contents because they have my name on them????

Advent is exciting if we allow it to stir anticipation and create an expectancy that we all should feel at Christmas. You light a new candle each Sunday of advent as Christmas Eve approaches. Each week, the lights grow brighter as a new candle is added and we always have a little family tussle over who gets the light the newest candle because, somehow, it feels special and awakens our hearts.

This past Sunday morning at church we sang “Joy to the World” and my heart resonated with the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room”.I am excited for His arrival, only a shadow really of the true arrival we are all awaiting when Jesus comes again…but is there room in my heart and have I made preparations? My decorations are out, ornaments are on the tree and I even stayed home from going with everyone to see Star Wars the other day just to finish my present wrapping! I want to be prepared for Christmas……but how is my heart?

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Make straight in the desert a highway for our God!”

Christmas is two days away…how is your heart? Christmas is two days away…and it is not too late for the barren and deserted places of your life to be carved out with an adventurous highway of preparation! My desire is to prepare Him room and sound out the call to preparation, to repentance, to expectancy and to Joy. May we be ready to receive our king, not just on December 25th, but when He comes. On that day may we all be able to join Heaven’s choir in singing:

“Joy to the world the Lord has come, Let earth receive her king!”

PROVISION- Believe it before you see it

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.  Psalm 40:5

I love this scripture. It is so true of our lives. Can you look back over 2015 and see the numerous wonders of God in your life? How about this past month or even week? If the workings of God in our lives do not seem too many to declare, perhaps it is us who are failing to remember all He has done. Maybe it is us who are failing to truly SEE.

I have learned that it is so important to remember and rehearse the things God has done for us. During some of our driest times spiritually and naturally William and I have stirred each other up by beginning to count up the many ways God has been faithful to us. Once we get started, it is amazing that the list seems to have no end . Great is God’s faithfulness and His plans for us are wonderful. If He has been so gracious in the past, can we imagine the wonderful plans He has stretched out for our future?

Remember the incredible story of Abraham and Isaac? After preparing to obey God in an almost unreasonable act of obedience, God reminds Abraham that He will always be there to provide what is needed. The kids and I were talking about this very story and we looked a little closer at the word PROVISION. I was sharing with them the breakdown of the word- In Latin PRO means “before” and vision obviously means “to see”. So, in looking at God as our provider we know that He sees our needs before they even come up! I thought this was a great thought and that I had just given the kids some profound insight but I looked across and saw my thinker, Jon Langley, pondering an idea. He didn’t seem too impressed with my little lesson, like he wasn’t quite satisfied with my explanation of PROVISION.  “What are you thinking bud?” I asked. “Well, I was just thinking that you could really look at provision as what your faith brings about. It’s not just God seeing before. Abraham had to know there was going to be a ram up there or something.”

“Or even that God would just raise Isaac up from the dead like Jesus!” chimed in one of the other two. (I’m sitting there amazed, letting all of this sink in)

Jon Langley continued,”You could switch the words around and say it’s us who have to believe in God’s provision BEFORE we even SEE it, just like Abraham did.” I sat there and let that revelation sink in and it so ministered to my heart. I thought I was the teacher and yet I wound up as the one being taught! Yes! PROVISION comes when we believe God BEFORE we even see what He is planning or doing or bringing our way. We believe it simply because He is our Provider- Jehovah Jireh! We believe as we trust Him, He will supply all of our needs before we even see it.

I needed that lesson that morning and it stirred my faith. Now looking at 2016 I see the wonderful things God has planned BEFORE I even really see them. I see God’s Word going forth to other pastors and leaders in Tanzania. I see Bible School students in Honduras being strengthened and their knowledge growing to match their zeal. I see people coming along side us to pray and be a part of William Deagle Ministries. I see opportunities to minster in churches stateside and teach on marriage and Family. I see my children experiencing God first hand as they travel and minister with us. I see God using songs he has given me to bless others and to bring life and encouragement  and healing to the Body of Christ.I see William teaching and preaching with boldness and in the power of God’s Spirit. So, let me ask you….What are you seeing for 2016 BEFORE it even comes to pass? Write it down, share it with someone and begin to see it before it even comes to pass!

Let me share with you our schedule for the first quarter of the year and let us look forward to great PROVISION together.

2016

January 8- Jessica ministering at Such A Time ladies conference in Williamsburg, VA

January 17- 31 Ministering to Pastors /leaders in Tanzania, Africa

February 15-23 Teaching at School for Harvesters and weekend crusade in San Pedro Sula, Honduras

March- Dates TBD for Guatemala trip

Thank you for your love and prayers.The promises of God are “Yes! and Amen!” for your life.

Emotional Priorities

I have been reading John Maxwell’s newest book on personal growth.(Confession:Truth be told, I “borrowed” the book from my husband’s nightstand and sort of made it my own. I’m underlining and putting asterisks beside everything…he’s going to know something’s up! This is a bad habit of mine…anytime he is given a book that looks interesting I tend to commandeer it. Forgive me, sweet William!) It has been insightful and challenging for me and I have loved it! Today the author asked some challenging questions regarding emotions that have caused me to evaluate and reflect……

What are your emotional priorities? Have you ever asked yourself what is your most worthwhile emotion? No doubt we are emotional creatures. Emotions can either be an asset or a liability. Emotions have the capacity to send us flying high or they can plummet us into the “depths of despair” as Anne Shirley would say. They can powerfully manage us if we do not know how to identify and overcome them.

This summer Shea and I were out running errands on a sultry day. I had promised her a trip to Bush gardens that afternoon- time for just her and I together. By the time we had finished running errands the sun was high, our feet were sore and the thought of traipsing all over that huge park felt like torture rather than fun! We changed plans and decided to go and see the movie Inside Out and enjoy the cool comforts of the movie theater instead of steamy roller coasters! The movie was an insightful take on the power of our emotions and how they affect our relationships, our attitudes and our lives. The movie was an animated reminder of how our emotions jockey for control of our attitudes and action on a daily basis. Which emotions are running the command center of your life?

This morning I asked myself-

Which emotion is my most valuable asset?

For me, I would have to answer love. Love motivates me and energizes me. When I am speaking or singing God’s message of love I feel completely fulfilled and satisfied. I love to give love, show love and convince others they are loved.

What is my least worthwhile emotion? The answer would have to be any thoughts of self. Fear stems from selfish thinking, as does worry. Discontent comes from focusing on self as does greed, jealousy and even hate. Self-pity is ultimately the strongest focus on self. Growing up I heard my dad say often, “You can’t be pitiful and powerful at the same time”. There is great wisdom in that. Self-pity is, in fact, the very opposite of love. When I allow the emotion of self pity to run the emotional gear shift of my brain I am not even loving myself. In the book Earth and Altar, Eugene Peterson writes

Pity(Read:Love) is one of the noblest emotions available to human beings; self-pity is possibly the most ignoble. Pity is the capacity to enter into the pain of another in order to do something about it; self-pity is an incapacity, a crippling emotional disease that severely distorts our perception of reality. Pity discovers the need in others for love and healing and then fashions speech and action that bring strength; self-pity reduces the universe to a personal wound that is displayed as proof of significance. Pity is adrenaline for acts of mercy; self-pity is a narcotic that leaves its addicts wasted and derelict.

Powerful language…………. yet very true.  It intrigued me that my answers to these two questions were the same as John Maxwell’s. It cause me to realize that these must be universal truths. What emotion is more powerful than love and what could be more worthless than a life lived consumed by thoughts of self  pity. What would your answers be?

On Black Friday we stood in line at Best Buy to get the “best price” on a Christmas gift for our son, Jon Langley. (sshhhh…..Don’t ask it’s a secret and he’s going to be really excited!!!) On Cyber Monday I ordered things on Amazon for my children and various friends and family. But……..Today is Giving Tuesday! Have you heard of it? It is a new concept that after all the feasting and gift buying over Thanksgiving weekend, today we turn our thoughts to a day of giving back. It is a wonderful  opportunity to show love with your finances. This Tuesday, evaluate your emotions. Say no to the snares that so easily entangle. Identify areas of self-pity in your life. Allow the Blood of Jesus to give you power over those experiences and situations and embrace the love of God that has been placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Look for ways to give- of yourself, your time, your talents, and your money. You can’t be pitiful and powerful at the same time. Choose to walk and flow in the power of God’s love today and watch it transform your outlook and propel you forward in growth!

**Update: We have 9 committed individuals/families toward our goal of 50 committed supporters for 2016. Would you prayerfully consider becoming one of them? May God bless your life as you live to give and show the Love of God to others ! Also- click to the right of our newsletter page to support us through your purchases at Amazon Smile at no extra cost!

 

WDM: A Beginning Vision for 2016

 

Dear Family and Friends,

As we look toward 2016 we are finally ready to share some of the projects God has placed on our hearts for William Deagle Ministries in the coming year. Preparing to move forward, we know that our next step is to build a strong support base. We already sense the prayers and encouragement being offered up by so many of you. We cannot thank you enough for the encouraging responses to blog posts, the cards in the mail or the texts and emails we have received from many of you. Now we must turn our thoughts toward building a financial base to cause the vision for WDM to become a reality. Beginning January of 2016 we have several projects that we are asking you to be a part of. Our goal is to raise $5,000/month for the operation of the ministry and to finance these various ministry opportunities. Although daunting at first, we realize this only means that we need 50 families, couples or individuals who are willing to pledge $100/month toward helping this ministry. We are humbly asking you to pray and consider how God would lead you to be a part. Of course, any amount of giving, praying, encouragement is welcome but we are casting a vision for 50 supporters at $100/month. These are some of the projects you would be giving to at this time:

Tanzania, AFRICA

We will be partnering with Pastor Andrew Mukasa to strengthen and encourage the churches of Tanzania. We will be ministering to local pastors and training them to go back to their churches and lead their congregations. Jessica will have the opportunity to minister specifically to the women of Tanzania on who they are in Christ. William will preach on the radio program they have established and lead pastoral leadership conferences. This method multiplies our message as the gospel goes forth to thousands at once. Radio is a powerful medium in this country.

Peten, Guatemala, CENTRAL AMERICA

We will be ministering in Guatemala alongside our friends Tim and Doris Spurrier who run Hospital Shalom. They have a vision to begin a small bible school to equip current pastors and those who feel a call to the ministry. There is a great need for sound doctrine among the churches of Guatemala. We would have the opportunity to lead marriage and family conferences as well as help them with the start up of a small bible school, specifically for those in the region who have neither the means nor education to attend any of the bible colleges in the capital city of Guatemala.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras, CENTRAL AMERICA

We will be returning to the very place where we first met and served together in missions. In Honduras we will teach at the School for Harvesters where William first led bible classes and helped run the ministry. We will also lead the students in conducting evangelistic crusades in the village areas of Honduras.

Tierra Blanca, Costa Rica, CENTRAL AMERICA

We have recently learned of a wonderful work happening in a remote mountain region of Costa Rica known as Rio Lindo. People here heard the gospel for the first time 15 years ago when a local gentleman began to visit the area and had a vision to start a church there. Today there is a basic cinderblock building and the church is growing. They have their first local pastor who is in need of great encouragement and support. We would primarily be going to see this work first hand and pray about how God would desire to use us there.

As you can see, there are many possibilities, many doors of opportunity available to us and we believe God for the means to step through each one. We are excited! We humbly invite you to be a part. If you visit our website, there is a giving page. On this page you can give via Paypal and you do not need a Paypal account in order to do so. There is a place for giving one time but below that there is a place to set up recurring monthly gifts (see the Subscribe button). You may also physically mail in your gifts to:

WDM

466 Auburn Rd.

Auburn, GA 30011

We are excited to finally put forth this invitation and wait expectantly for the results. God has ALWAYS supplied our needs and will continue to. Please contact us with any questions or comments. You are included in this because you are special to us and to our lives.

Blessing to each of you,

William and Jessica, Jon Langley, Shea and Josiah Deagle

 

Faith in Action

 

(It takes faith to let Daddy cut your hair! I had to work this picture in of Josiah it just makes me laugh!!)

Josiah haircut

Faith always has an action to it. Jesus is always watching for our response when He calls. I know that when I call for my children, whether they are outside, watching TV, playing legos in the floor, etc., I expect for them to hear my voice and respond to me when I call. If I have interrupted what they are doing to say, “Set the table,” then I expect for them to stop and set the table. In fact, we are training this in them daily- a quick and obedient response when we call. Now I am learning that Jesus desires the same.

Deny Yourself. Pick up your cross. Follow Me.

See the activity He is looking for? Even James reminds us that “Faith without works is dead.”(James 2:17) The Weymouth New Testament says “So also faith, if it is unaccompanied by obedience, has no life in it- so long as it stands alone.” That takes me back to the illustration of calling on my children. Often they are unresponsive when I call. They are too focused on the activity at hand, too absorbed in the distraction of the moment, the game, the book, the activity. They may hear me call and even intend to obey but the intent never results in a corresponding action. So I call again! When they fail to come, I call that disobedience. Looking at the Weymouth translation of this scripture I see that even my best sparks of faith, even my greatest intentions when I hear the Word of God preached or spoken have no fruit or life in them if not accompanied by obedience. It requires an active response on my part.

As a woman of faith, God’s Word should always stir me to act. Each morning as he calls me to rise up and pray and enter into His day, there is a response He is looking for on my part. Will I rise? Will I respond? He is not requiring this response, but desiring it.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7

When we hear the Word preached, the call in the morning to pray, the unction to pray for this person or encourage that person, there is almost always faith to act. We sense it, we know it has inspired us yet we often come up against the enemy of paralysis and we fail to act. Though there is faith, if it is unaccompanied by obedience, it has no life in it. It is a faith that is dead and stands alone. Though we were stirred, though we felt the Spirit of God compelling us inside, there is no resulting fruit until there is action on our part.

Action is like the engine on a boat. Once the engine is running, the Captain can set a course in any direction He chooses. When we sit idle, remaining in neutral, there is no moving forward and no motion for the Captain to steer by.  Is it surprising that the first move is ours?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7

‘Come to Me, all you who are weary….” Matthew 11:28

Where is our action? He is looking for us to move. Activity is not the same as obedient action. Remember the disciple in Luke 9:59?

“Jesus said to another man, ‘Follow Me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

How many “firsts” have I pursued in my life rather than complete obedience to God’s calling? First let me finish this, first let me go and do that; I’m almost done with such and such, surely I can respond later….

As we have sought God’s direction during this life transition, we have found that he continuously waits for us to move out in faith before any more direction is given. Remember, God called the disciples onto the water but it was up to them to get out of the boat!

In our case, the calling was there but we had to bite the bullet and get up and go. First we would like to have saved more, first we would have preferred to see our children finish school, first we would have wanted to know exactly where we were headed but the call was clear: “Go to where I WILL show you.”

When we finally set a final date for William’s work in the church office, our house sold his final work day. AS we pursued a temporary place to live and prepared to sign a rental agreement in Georgia, my parents closed on a home the same week with room for us to share. Now as we venture to place dates on an itinerary and step out into the first phase of this new ministry for our lives, we do much of it by faith, believing for continued guidance and assurance as we go. Thank you for your prayers and your encouraging words. God is showing Himself faithful to us! And even in some of the turmoil of transition we sense His peace and hear the unrelenting call to follow Him. And we are going…..

If faith is an action and it takes faith to please God, what action is God calling you to today? Let us all bring Him pleasure by obeying right away!

 

The Kingdom of God is Within You

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

John Wooden

I have always liked this quote by Coach Wooden.

It explores the depths of who we truly are on the inside. It asserts that our true actions, what we are really made up of, come out not in the public arena of our lives but in the most private. We particularly find out what is truly on the inside of us when we are under duress. Where will we turn? Who do we call upon? Where do we draw our strength from truly when no one is looking?

Yet I think we could also argue that who we really are also comes out when our public life and decisions are placed under scrutiny. Once we have wrestled with a thought, a decision, or even a calling in private, what fruit is born once actual decisions are made? Since April when we announced to our church family the transition in our lives, every decision and move in our lives has been placed under great scrutiny. We have wrestled in private with decisions that would need to be made public and that would be telling of who we are and what we are doing with our lives.At times we have felt the pressure of being able to answer” Where are you living” and “What are you doing?”. We have been seeking that for our selves and until we have a clear answer in private we have been careful about making outward decisions and commitments. It has been challenging to walk out and through it we are discovering what the true nature of our character is and who we desire it to be in Christ or, rather, Who He desires to be in us.

Sitting in church Sunday morning I heard the spirit of God continuously speak to my heart, “The kingdom of God is within you. The kingdom of God is within you.” I recognized these as the words of Jesus in Luke 17:21. Then as I pondered these words in my heart I was reminded of Jesus standing before Pilate and boldly stating something Pilate could not grasp, “My kingdom is not of this world”. (John 18:36).  We like earthly kingdoms. We like to build churches, to build governments, to know who is in charge, to be in charge. While these institutions are necessary on the earth, they are not the kingdom of God We are not to be focused on outward things but internal things..Amazing- His kingdom is not of this world but it is within me. It is in our midst, Jesus says. Jesus is not building an earthly, tangible kingdom in the way we think of ruling and reigning yet he IS building one in the midst of His people, the Church of the living God.

For the past several years as we have pressed into more of what we believe God is calling our family to, William and I have prayed for this Kingdom to be formed in us. We have prayed to have an accurate picture of what it is to look like, of what His Church is to look like on this earth. And while I do not know whether praise and worship in the church should be contemporary or traditional, whether the lights should be dimmed or bright, whether there should be Call and Response or shouting out “Victory” I do know that God is desiring to build his church on the inside, soul by soul, life by life. He cares greatly about who we are on the inside and whether or not His kingdom is being established there.

Recently with our big transition we have been humbled. We no longer carry title or position at a recognized church, we no longer go to the grocery store and are recognized as Pastor William and Miss Jessica. We do not own a home to be able to proudly show people the equity we have built nor do we have a concrete or conventional reply to the question, “So, what is it you do?” We are not drawing a salary and we are sleeping in the homes of family members and friends. We are being confronted with who we truly are without title, position, recognition, or place. Who are we on the inside and is the true kingdom being built within us? I am beginning to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ words, “My kingdom is not of this world” and it causes me to ask myself, “Has my kingdom building been of this world? Have I been too focused on natural things, possessions and positions to truly allow God’s kingdom to be constructed within me and through me?” I desire the answer to be no. I desire to have my life broken and spilled out for a true and lasting kingdom and we are daily seeking what that looks like. May Your kingdom be formed in us, Oh Lord.

William shared in our last post that we had prayed about renting a house for us to use as a home base. Even though we have greatly desired a “place” of our own, we did not have a peace about renting for now. We had to go back to our original calling and know that we do not need to be tied down with a rent or mortgage but be free to explore what God is shaping our lives to look like over this next year. We are in transition and just like in labor and delivery, transition is absolutely the most uncomfortable time! However, we do believe that God has provided us with a place to live at least for the next few months. My parents have just purchased a beautiful home and have graciously invited us to be with them for a time. So, we will soon be unpacking our suitcases!

Please be praying as we use these last two months of the year to shape our ministry itinerary for 2016 and begin to raise support. We are looking at ministry opportunities in Tanzania, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica for now. More to come on those places later! For now I will simply close by saying may God’s Kingdom be formed within you and may He build His church through lives fully consecrated to Him.