Friends,
Three members of my sister’s family (see photos 2, 4, and 7 at link below), along with several others from their church, went to Tanzania, Africa to watch a water well installed for the Hadza people. My sister’s children were instigators in raising the money, often through bake sales, for this project, and they raised over $22,000. My sister and her family, having a loving concern for the Hadza after having lived with them for a few years in the 90s, have periodically gone back to visit them, help them, and promote Jesus. Click this link to view photos of this latest trip a few weeks ago:

http://kylepaliotto.zenfolio.com/p403102053

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Unborn Are Persons

February 2, 2015

Friends,
If you, or your wife, or your sister, or your friend, said she was five months pregnant, would you consider that baby in the womb to be a person? I should think so. Does not everyone who joyfully anticipates the birth of any baby know that that baby is a human being from the time he or she is conceived? Why then do so many people uphold laws that allow for the murder of these helpless human beings? It is unconscionable. Yet in their selfishness, such adults deliberately deny what is true while pretending that abortion is merely the removal of tissue.

On January 22, the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade, a bill to ban abortions at and after 20 weeks gestation was ready for a vote in the House. Unfortunately though, it has been stalled. Please read here and sign the petition on behalf of unborn persons:

http://aclj.org/pro-life/womb-should-be-a-place-of-protection-not-murder?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=newsletter

Thank you.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
How deeply, how earnestly, how diligently and faithfully, do we crave God’s presence? We should evaluate ourselves on this point because God’s Word tells us that we are to love God above everything and everyone else. (Dt. 5:7 & 6:13-15) We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) We are to give up all –all things, all people, and our own life– in order to belong to Him. (Luke 9:23-25 & 14:25-27,33) And we are to show this love consistently / faithfully / till the end. (Mt. 24:12,13 // Heb. 3:12-14 // 1 Peter 4:2 // Rev. 2:4,5) How well are we doing this?

Most people, I believe, have to admit that they are not doing very well concerning this. Instead of loving the Lord’s presence, they love the world’s presence. They love movies, Facebook friends, their career, their hobbies, their idols, and most of all themselves. Oh, some hate themselves, true; but how they cater to their own desires, how they refuse to control their tongues, their thoughts, their attitudes, and their actions, reveals very clearly that they worship themselves, even if it be a love/hate reality.

Ps. 84:10 says, “For a day in Your courts [O LORD] is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Do we feel the same as the psalmist? Can we express the same thing to God? Do we think, “O Lord, even one day near You is better than a thousand days anywhere else, even a thousand days doing those other things that I love to do [–like eat, sleep, ski, golf, shop, fish, etc.].”

And what about our importance, our prestige? I’ve heard that the word here for “doorkeeper” is found nowhere else in Scripture but that we know it refers to a person of the lowest rank. Does this verse ring true in our own hearts? Are we one who has given up all pursuit of worldly recognition that might interfere with our ability to dwell in God’s presence? Have we rejected all our love of anything wicked so that we can love God whole-heartedly? Have we traded in the hangouts of sin and rebels for the company of God?

We are to love God and desire His presence just because He is who He is. He is the compassionate, mighty, Most High King and Creator, our Ransomer and our Shepherd, the One who is always and forever good. We are to desire God because He is God, the one and only God.

Even so, because God is so good, He bestows great favor on those who long to be in His presence and who live in Him. They are ever rejoicing in Him, trusting in Him, and thus receiving protection, honor, strength, refreshment, joy, and all good things from Him. (See whole of Ps. 84) Truly, being with God brings immense reward, both here in this life and in the one to come.

So, how deeply do we really desire God’s presence? Let’s be honest and alter our lives according to the claims we make.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
My brother was telling me the other day how he and some others from their church went knocking on apartment doors asking people what they want for Christmas. He said that most people wouldn’t really say, but a few did. And the ones that did were in for a very pleasant surprise. For what my brother and his friends were up to was this: My brother and a couple of others would knock on doors, give a small gift, invite the residents to their church, ask them what they want for Christmas, and then write down each one’s answer. As soon as they had said goodbye, my brother would call another church member who was waiting at Walmart, that person would buy the item, and another church member waiting in the Walmart parking lot with a van would pick it up and deliver it to my brother still at the apartments. So, about an hour after the request, my brother and his friends with him would deliver it to the resident who had told them what they were wishing for this Christmas.

One lady they visited had said she was longing for a vacuum cleaner. Pointing out her dirty carpet, as well as her mouth full of missing teeth, she had said she just couldn’t afford a vacuum cleaner but was sure wishing for one for Christmas. When my brother and the others delivered to her an hour later a brand new vacuum cleaner with a huge Christmas bow on it, saying, “Here’s what you wished for”, the woman burst into tears and screams of joy. She kept screaming with joy and crying so that even when my brother and his little group left and were way out in the parking lot getting ready to leave, they could still hear the woman screaming and shouting for joy. My brother was laughing as he told me, “The woman was so hysterical that we were afraid people were going to think we’d murdered her husband or something!” I couldn’t help laughing too. And I thought what they’d done sounded so fun! For isn’t it great to bless people, especially when they aren’t expecting it?

I hope we all can find someone needy to bless this holiday season. I already found such a family this last Saturday who I knew really needed some money and encouragement, so in giving to them, I was blessed as well. And I hope to find at least one more family to give to.

What would Jesus do? What did Jesus already do? And what has He done for us day after day? He has given us abundant blessings of all kinds that we so often take for granted. Like a towel rack in our bathroom. Or salt for seasoning food. Or a safety pin. Or a warm jacket. Or a spouse who loves and cares for us. Even when many things aren’t right, or society’s selfishness sometimes makes us want to get far away from everyone, or one problem after another pops up, we nevertheless have multitudes of blessings. We just need to notice them. Or if we can’t, then going without them for a week should open our eyes. When my husband and I went out after four days of being without some “necessities” in our new home –like a bathroom towel rack– and he installed them, I couldn’t believe how thankful I was to just have a towel rack available!

But some people have NEVER had a towel rack. They’ve never even had a towel. To dry off, they have to resort to using, at best, an old piece of cloth. My dad was telling me last month how the Agta, after he would periodically ask them what their upcoming meal would be consisting of, would usually say, “Rice and salt.” They felt it a luxury just to have salt with their rice. This is how most of the world lives, even while others gorge themselves on all sorts of luxuries –year after year, day after day, hour after hour.

If only people would let the change begin with their own family. If only they would agree that this Christmas, instead of piling gifts up under their own tree, the money would be spent to bring gifts to those who need necessities. For as Paul reminds us of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), we are also reminded to work hard to help the weak. (same verse) Not the lazy, or those who take advantage of kindnesses, but those who are truly in need.

Let’s remember that whatever we do for (and to) the least of them –the most impoverished, neglected, diseased, or insignificant of people– we have done it for (and to) Christ. (Mt. 25:35-40) –Whether it is love and help we’ve extended, or neglect. (v. 41-46)

This Christmas let’s take these things to heart, and act accordingly.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
This evening my mom told me that they’d received a nice letter from a fellow missionary woman (who had been my 4th grade teacher) informing us that Jamie M. and his family had spent three months early this year with the Umiray Dumagets, the village people his parents had translated the New Testament for. The wonderful thing about it, she said, was that he was able to get many copies reprinted, making them available for the villagers who needed more. What a blessing! Furthermore, Jamie and his family (who normally live in Canada) were able to teach and minister to those whom he had grown up with. Another huge blessing!

The reason this information is special to our family is because Jamie’s parents and my parents were very close friends and both worked with Agta groups, though the two groups have very different languages. I remember one time when our family visited their village. I was grade school age, but it was quite memorable to me as I can still picture my mom high up in an ocean wave, yelling for help to our Agta maid who had come with us. But she just stood there! (We realized later it was because she didn’t know how to swim in big ocean waves either since our village was on the shores of a quiet bay.) I remember that I felt like I was about to see my mom swept out to sea. Thank the Lord, that didn’t happen, as an Umiray Dumaget came to my mom’s rescue.

Well, my mom was very blessed to hear what Jamie and his family did for the Umiray Dumagets. And I am very blessed to hear of it too.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Mandela’s Noble Legacy

December 9, 2013

Friends,
People talk a lot about love, how wonderful, necessary, and nobel it is, but they usually are referring to that kind of love that speaks gushy words yet puts forth little else. Such love soon proves shallow, even hollow and false.

Those people who I admire are not those who talk about love, but those who show it. And who show it through great sacrifice. Those who sacrifice their entire lives for the cause of Truth, justice, and equality.

One of these admirable men is Nelson Mandela. Though he passed last week from this earth, Madela’s sacrificial life made the world a better place, especially in South Africa. What a legacy he leaves. I spent some time last night reading several articles about him, and could not help but weep. If only there were many more men (and women) in history like him. –A man who cared about others, particularly the oppressed, dispossessed, poor, and persecuted, more than he cared about himself.

Here are two of the several articles I read:

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/05/136590582/nelson-mandela-inspiration-to-world-dies-at-95?utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=20131208&utm_source=mostemailed

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/06/249210908/listen-two-mandela-speeches-that-made-history

All the photos I saw of Mandela made me start to wonder if he was a Christian. For looking into his face, I doubt that anyone could deny that Mandela’s face is almost angelic-like as he displays either a happy, loving smile, or an expression of calm confidence mixed with humility. I was glad, in further researching his beliefs, to find that Mandela’s contribution to our world was most certainly fueled by an admiration of Christ, and likely even a relationship with Him.

Here is a really good article, and one which also made me weep:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/nelson.mandela.and.his.faith/34956.htm

We can all strive to be like Mandela. We can all work to better the lives of those less fortunate. We can all live sacrificial lives for the cause of Truth, justice, and equality. We can all do anything God calls us to do. The call begins with the command to be like Christ.

What if we were given Mandela’s spirit? Would we expect to do great things as he did? Sure we would. Well, God has given us HIS own Spirit. Therefore we have no reason to not be doing powerful things through Him for the furtherance of Good throughout the world.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Everyone Matters

October 14, 2013

Friends,
People matter. Everyone matters. Each and every person. The guy who cuts others off on the freeway, the sullen clerk behind the counter, the friend who is inconsiderate, the boss who neglects to give due credit, the spouse who betrays, the janitor cleaning the bathroom, the foreigner who hasn’t learned our language, the neighbor who is too loud and too messy, and even that weird-looking loner at school. Everyone. Every single person matters. All have immense value.

Why? Why does each and every person matter and have value? It’s because God has created each individual and loved each one. God so fervently loves the world. (John 3:16) Yes, He hates sin, and He also loathes those who continue to rebel against His love and do evil. So how then are these two facts reconcilable? How can God love everyone, yet hate those who continue in their sin, deceit, pride, and brutality? (Ps. 5:5,6)

I don’t see it that hard to reconcile. Let’s think about it like this scenario:

We have children. We love them. We love them first and foremost because they are ours. We love them because we are responsible to care for them, raise them, protect them, train them, and develop a relationship with each of them.

Some of our children respond cheerfully and gratefully to our love, care, and training. But others act difficult, rebel, and show us anger and disdain. We, the parents, continue to extend love, but it is mixed with discipline. For some children this straightens them out so that they come to their senses and repent. But for some, they only rebel worse and run away. They thereby have left the presence of our care, protection, and love. Spiraling furthering into rebellion, these lost ones turn to more and more corruption so that through their continual practice of evil, and desire for evil, they themselves become evil. Cruelty, lust, treachery, murder… –these have filled the hearts of the children who we bore and once nurtured, but who chose to rebel and to continue to rebel.

What if one of these rebellious evil children became a murderer or a rapist? Would we still love him? What about if he became a mass murderer or a serial rapist? Would we still love him? Think about it. Think about the fact that he was the child we bore. Could we, would we, love him? I venture to say no. He would be so repulsive, I’d think, that we would find his name, his presence, and the thought of him utterly abhorrent. Ah, but what about this thought: What if he repented, called out to God to deliver him from himself and his demons, and truly (miracle of miracles!) was born anew?! Now, what does this thought do to us? It makes a faint spark of love jump within the heart, doesn’t it? Yes. So there it is –we hate the child we bore, yet we still love him too.

I believe it is similar with God. God created all people. Therefore, in this respect, all people belong to Him, for He is our Creator and we are His creation. He loves all He has created, yet concerning those who rebel, keep rebelling, keep wallowing in the filth of sin, and keep shutting their ears to their Creator’s appeals to repent, well then, God who hates sin lets them go and lets them be fused to that which they’ve clung to. Thus God’s hates them.

But, God also still loves the wicked. He loves because He Himself is love (1 John 4:16) and does not want anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9) So He looks for an intercessor. If one can be found, He pours His love into that person so that they will pray and exhort and be His ambassador. If that person continues to do everything He commands, then there is hope for the evil rebel to come to repentance.

Often there is not just one intercessor. Often God uses several, even many “stepping stones” –people who show kindness, love, and concern, and who rebuke, exhort, explain Truth, and give warning to the rebel, so that slowly but surely he comes to see himself for who he is and how direly he needs the Savior.

But do Christ-followers always know whom it is God is setting us up to meet and influence for Him? No, we usually don’t know. And this is precisely why we should always keep it in the forefront of our minds as we go about our daily schedules: “Everyone matters to God, so everyone matters to me as well, and every person is of great value to God, so every person is of great value to me as well. I will therefore take notice of everyone and treat everyone accordingly.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel