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Thanks Rameys

I could make this post WAY longer... but it's WAY late! I'm trying to write things as they come to mind, rather than waiting until I forget (which is usually about 2 hours or so). I want to thank Paul and Mer for being who you are - shining examples, awesome leaders - and for what you are doing for Ethnos. I feel greatly graced by your presence and ministry. You will be severely missed. However, such sadness will be quickly replaced by great joy after hearing how amazingly you will be used in New York! That's a ridiculously awesome story you shared today - and a perhaps more ridiculously HUGE leap of faith your family is taking! The cool thing about that is that it is your faith that gives peace in my heart to know you are going the right direction. A verse comes to mind that has been one of many brought to my attention lately:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

~ I John 5:1-5

Now before we get all puffed up by our great faith and its potential, let's not forget the importance of the object of our faith. Faith implies faith in something or someone. Faith in faith means nothing. It must have a sure foundation or it is about as useless as totally meaningless positive thinking trash like The Secret. What better foundation or object of faith than Jesus Christ Himself? In fact there is no other object that has ANY value at all! Jesus is the Son of God, even God Himself. Don't believe? Think He's just a man or a teacher? Doesn't matter. Our opinions don't change fact. He doesn't need our approval to exist. He is (different tense - I dare not say "I AM", for only He can say that). He needs no testimony, for His testimony about Himself is the very testimony of God! So while it may be that God gifted us with some mysterious inherent power in our acts of faith, I tend to believe the power comes from the object of our faith, even Jesus Christ Himself! I dare not dream or wish to have power or glory myself. I wish all of it come from and return to the God of eternity! May He be forever praised!

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

~ I John 4:4

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me."

~ John 8:12-18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

~ John 16:33

This is he who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

~ I John 5:6-12

Okay... so that got a bit off topic (the topic being thanking the Rameys), but I've been thinking about it anyway, and it seemed like I may as well get it out.

I want to specifically thank Mer for speaking to me briefly in the backyard as I was finishing up painting the trim. Thank you for asking how things are going with "us". Thank you for reminding me of your great and glorious story. I got a bit teary eyed, for I admit I am a bit envious and wish God would pan out my story to have a similar redeeming result as what happened in the story of your relationship. However, my emotion was also resultant because I am so stinking THANKFUL for that result for YOU, despite what happens to me and my situation! I am so thankful that you were redeemed. Your testimony of obedience in spite of dubious emotions and circumstances is BRIGHT and SHINING! Thank God for this act of faith! See what is resulting?! How awesome! Thanks for being open and not ashamed to share difficulties you've been through... for it is a huge blessing and encouragement for those going through similar things.

Let me be clear about this... I don't know what God has in store for me. Of course redemption is my highest desire and I pray for it with tears! My love will not ebb away, for it is Christ in me - and He simply doesn't disappear or let go, even in spite of our lack of faith! Christ living in me is a force to be reckoned with! It is not by my strength but by the power and authority of the One who is above all and through all and in all. All things are under His authority! And by some mystery, we have inherited this authority as "co-heirs"... what a humbling thought!

Even if my path is one of pain and endless sacrifice for all my days - I desire to be obedient and sing praises to the glorious name of the everlasting merciful Father! He may choose to test me and break me. I may even shatter in my brittleness. He may throw a bit of "garbage" my way. Sounds harsh, but He is God - and if He so desires, He has the right to be harsh! He is sovereign, and I must submit! But I pray I am the most beautiful garbage can ever made, for it is Christ living with me in the clay! And if He's a key ingredient, let me tell you, let me boast how beautiful this jar will be! His strong arms form the "hoop/rim" if I am willed to receive difficulty... and He will not drop any load too weighty for me to bear! I'd rather be crushed and garbage ridden than to be a self-declared "beautiful pot" that is faithless and self-sufficient, comforted by all the sparkly deception this world has to offer!

This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, "Your older son will serve your younger son." In the words of the Scriptures, "I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau."

Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses,

"I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose."

So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, "I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth." So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.

Well then, you might say, "Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven't they simply done what he makes them do?"

No, donít say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, "Why have you made me like this?" When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

~ Romans 9:10-24

Rameys, don't give up on this that the Lord has shown you (unless He Himself - and only He - shows you differently). I guarantee you will see much opposition and testing of faith. The undertaking you are facing is not one of financial or circumstantial challenges. Those are easy for a limitless and rich God to provide! I dare say the most difficult challenge you will face will be one of darkness and evil. The enemy will hate your work and will work relentlessly against you because of your obedience. You may be tempted to sin or to give up entirely. Be aware of these likely attacks. Stay in the Word to ridiculous proportions!

If obvious spiritual battles come your way, read Ephesians a hundred times. Better yet, have someone read it to you! God is empowering me through this and other passages. I'm being attacked crazily, as you can imagine. Nevertheless, I'm ready to start using this knowledge to strike fear in the darkness. Not fear of me, for I am no one and nothing, but rather fear of Christ living in me! The darkness will also attack you in fear of the great work it sees potential in you. The place where you are going is surely a stronghold for darkness, and you may not always be met by appreciation or friendliness. May this be an encouragement to you to press on and fight the good fight! If it seems more than you can bear, contact us back here at Ethnos immediately, and we will intercede for you. The darkness will not prevail! As long as you are opposed yet obedient, you can be sure you are in the "right place" and equally sure that God will be with you! Um... and yeah, if God be for you, who can be against you? There's a reason that question is left unanswered... it's a tad unnecessary and rhetorical. We know the answer.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan...

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called - his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else - not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

~ Ephesians 1:9-11,15-23

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