Dear Friends and Family,
Jenna and I are so excited to tell you some of our upcoming plans. Many of you already know that we want to be long-term missionaries somewhere in the world. We have been walking down that path for quite some time and this summer we have the opportunity to take a HUGE step in that direction. With the help of our church, we’ll be going on an exposure trip with a small group of people to the country of Papua New Guinea. This is a region of the world that has been on my heart for over a decade and we are so excited for the chance to experience a small bit of what life could look like for us to live and minister there in the future.
As for the trip, we’ll be leaving Fresno on June 8th and returning two weeks later on the 22nd. New Tribes Mission has offered for us to stay on their missionary base in Lapilo where we will be helping with a small construction project on the K-12 grade school. This supply base serves the surrounding region where missionaries live isolated in the native tribes. The people who serve on this base provide the essential support that missionaries need to survive out in the bush. We’re really hoping to get out for a day or two into one of these tribes but we’re not sure if that will be possible, so be praying for that to happen.
The goal of this trip is to see what it is like to live as a missionary and to narrow down where Jenna and I might best fit in the future. That way as we go into the next phase of our missionary training we might be able to be more focused on a specific direction we think God wants us to go. This exposure trip is huge for us, scary but huge. Jenna and I have never done anything like this before but we feel like it’s time for us to step out and step up. Much like Isaiah heard God ask, “Who shall go?” to the crowd and answered with “Here am I. Send me,” we also want to be ready to take the next step forward and respond to God’s call.
As we do step out, please be praying for us that we would gain a better understanding of how God made us and how he has designed us to fit into the work of bringing the Best News to every tribe on the planet. Also that we would raise the finances we need to be able to take this trip (it’s going to be roughly $7,000 for the two of us). And finally, and most importantly, that we would trust God, and not ourselves. I have a strong natural desire to rely on myself but we want to rely on God. Pray for us to trust God wholly, in whatever He does and in whatever direction He leads us.
Jebediah + Jenna
P.s. If you have any questions about the trip or just things in general, give us a call, text or email. We’d love to hear from you. Also be on the lookout for more updates as the trip approaches on our Facebook page “Jeb + Jenna” and join The James Gang @ Jebandjenna.wordpress.com
If you would like to support us financially:
Visit thewellcommunity.org. click on Connect > Missions > Exposure Trips > Donate Online. That will direct you to a login page where you can sign in and select us as the recipient of your donation.
Make the check payable to The Well Community Church and send it back to us at: 4960 E. Lane Ave. Apt. 111 Fresno, CA. 93727. For tax purposes, please leave the “Memo” line blank.
Jenna here. On Thursday mornings I’ve been going to a women’s bible study called “Sister to Sister” through an awesome church (not our home church, but one where some friends attend). They provide child care (hallelujah!) and afterwards I usually hang out for lunch with my sister-in-law and Cale’s cousin Major, which is really fun. We’re going through Ephesians, and I have been so, so encouraged and challenged by God’s Word. It’s seriously refreshing. Honestly I haven’t done much studying since I graduated from bible school. God really used the daily ‘homework’ that I did today and I decided to share what I’m thinking about.
We are in chapter four, and today I was going over verses 17-24.
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do,
in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding,
alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality,
greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt
through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
In our notes I read that the word renewed (Greek: ananeoo) means to renovate. That idea of being renewed in the spirit of your minds really struck me, and the Holy Spirit helped me understand it like this: I am undergoing a renovation of the mind. God is literally knocking out the ‘walls’ of my old way of thinking. He is doing this by the Truth of Scripture and ministry of His Spirit.
Thoughts on demolition… IT’S VIOLENT! Ok, so Cale loves to watch the show Bob the Builder. Therefore I have every episode memorized. And I’ve never built anything like a house, but even I know there’s a lot more to it than Bob and the team let on. For example: building stuff is not as easy and clean and calm as Bob makes it for two-year-olds. Demolition is messy. It’s the destruction of something (Cale’s actually pretty great at destroying stuff, so I’m definitely not asking Bob the Builder producers to make the projects any more intense or something). Another example: I am aware that you cannot lay the foundation for a house and finish building that same house in the single day. With the exception of “Extreme Home Makeover”, tearing down a house and replacing it with a brand new house TAKES TIME. A lot of time.
Thoughts on time… IT’S PAINFUL. “We must get to know ourselves and that we have no strength.” Thank you Miles Stanford (or whoever it was you quoted). If demolition is violent, then SLOW demotion is excruciating. And seemingly never-ending, at least that’s where I am right now. I’m trusting that when I embrace the process of having my thinking ‘renovated’ (a much cleaner-sounding word than ‘demolished’) God will bring joy into the equation. But right now, it’s mainly just painful. It hurts to have everything in life remind me of how much of a failure I am. It hurts to have my thinking torn down. I mean, guys, I heard somewhere that we think 90-something % of the same thoughts EVERY DAY. Over and over. And over. Annnd over. After I heard that I started paying attention…and I think it might be an accurate concept (that was a new thought for me). I think the same thoughts, about my feelings and my experiences and just everything, over and over day after day. And that predictable routine makes the ‘interruption’ of Truth (scripture and the subtle voice of the Holy Spirit) feel incredibly unnatural and well, painful.
All that to say, my encouragement came today when I read about what God’s working to accomplish. My mind is being renewed into God’s image, created after His likeness in true righteousness and holiness (vs. 24). I believe Scripture when it says that I am a new creation because of Jesus’ finished work, that my standing before God is in Christ and therefore unchanging. But God is also changing me so believe and live and experience what is already true. It’s the daily choice to “keep reading, keep believing for real life” (Rex!) that can seem so hard in the midst of my auto-programed thought life. My Ephesians homework said this: “Christianity is cognitive before it is experiential.” I am finding that to be true as the renovation of my mind takes place moment by moment and I get to know Jesus, walking with Him by faith. It’s the pain of growth that I trust will lead to more purposeful pain…and hopefully joy.
when i first met jenna at the hospital and saw my new baby girl.
As many of you know, jenna and i had another baby. Elsie Grace was born sept. 28th – in the front seat of my sister’s civic (i’ll leave the complete story for my wife to tell). Since then it has been a crazy time for us, adjusting to having two children. I’ll tell you what though, i love them both very much.
Other then the new addition to the James Gang, the only other news I have is that we’ve been planning a ‘vision trip’ to Papua New Guinea for next year (june/july). The purpose of the trip is to get a better understanding of where we might fit over there and how we can be preparing for it now. Never has any trip given me so much trouble and excitement. I am completely overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and feel totally incapable of doing it all. That being said, if ANY of you have advice or can help in any way, please let me know in the comments, facebook or via eMail. I will gladly accept any help because i’ve never done this before. Truth be told making a plan for all this stuff – baggage, plane tickets, customs, hotels, and everything else – is super intimidating to me. So again, this is a call for help. If you know the process of planning a trip overseas, if you live in PNG, or know of anyone who could help me – please let me know.
Some people find it weird that i’ve never been overseas and yet I want to be a missionary. The thing is, though I don’t have any personal experiences overseas that would make me want “to go,” what I do have I feel is far more concrete. I have the Words of God that tell me that my “life is not my own” (1cor.6:19) and that I am to “go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS” (mt.28:19). These passages and the many like them make me feel like i have little room for my own agenda. Rather, as a follower of Christ I need to actually follow what he said, and go into the world to make disciples – despite my own lack of experience.
So please consider what the Bible has said to us, and consider how you might partner with Jenna and I in taking the best news possible to those who have never heard it.
Keep on the lookout for more news as PNG 2013 gets closer.
We get this expression quite a bit now. Usually in reference to a couple different things; 1. Our family. 2. Our future.
1. As many of you know, we are adding another person to our family. We found out about two months ago that Jenna is pregnant again and is due around the end of September.
Obviously, we’re super excited. We don’t yet know if it’s a boy or a girl, but either one will be fine for us.
Jenna has been spending her days looking after a much more mobile baby Cale. He’s 8 months old now and can roll around like a mad man. He’ll be 14 months when the new baby comes, so our house could be a little crazy for a while, dealing with a newborn and Cale at the same time. Which reminds me – pray for Jenna 🙂
2. As for our future, the advent of our new child hasn’t changed our plans much. We still really want to go to the next phase of training with New Tribes (MTC) but we arn’t sure when timing/finances/and everything else will work out. Hopefully Jan. or Sept. of 2013 will see us at the Training Center, but only God know when for sure. There are many days where I feel quite frustrated, like I’m stuck and I have no way of getting out of CA and this place in life.
(As a side note those of you who have supported us, or are currently supporting us, I thought you should know that any aide we have received has gone into a separate bank account where it will stay until we head to the MTC. But should we never be able to make it there, we will donate all that money to other missionaries. Either way, when you give to us, your money will go to the expansion of God’s global Kingdom.)
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Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
That’s the name of a book we recently read to Cale while visiting Jenna’s family in Michigan. Crazy how fast this time has flown since he was born. He’s already 7 mos. old, close to 25lbs. and taller then some 1 year olds.
This is a recent favorite picture of mine taken by Jenna’s brother, James.
While we were out in MI visiting family, we also got a chance to stop by our old alma mater – New Tribes Bible Institute. When we were there Jenna cut her hair and as that was happening (because let’s face it, what guy likes to hang around a ‘salon’ with a bunch of giggling girl talk going on? not this guy.) I had some free time to talk with a couple old professors.
I was so encouraged by them.
Now as many of you know, Jenna and I are working to become Missionaries, but with Cale being born our finances are taking a pretty big hit, so much so that we were unable to go to school when we had hoped.
My professor told me something completely un-revolutionary. I have been so stressed to hurry up and get into the training and try to finish it as quickly as possible. The problem was/is I have little control as to when we can actually begin. We don’t have the money, and with the income I currently make there is no way I can earn the cash we need short of selling drugs or my organs (neither of which sound very enticing).
What was so encouraging to me was when my professor said to…. wait. Wait patiently for everything to come in – then go.
Wait? Wait! Wait.
Who can wait at a time like this? When billions of people in this world will die without the saving knowledge of Jesus – the last thing I want to do is “passively” wait. How frustrating.
But one of the things I’m learning is to trust the Lord, the owner (and sustainer) of everything – even if it means waiting. I will be honest and say, I don’t care much for this lesson and I’m not too good at it.
But my Professor is right and what he said was simple, easy, and potent.
I had never thought to just make a list of costs, add them all up, and then go when all that money comes in. (It kinda makes me embarrassed to admit that).
Our initial guesses at how much the three semesters, the summer and winter breaks in between them, food, books, bills, baby stuff, and an assortment of who know what else will cost us around $2,600 a month (this is an initial assessment and will likely change later). With that 2,600 we’ll be paying our bills, tuition, food, clothing, gas/travel and everything else in our life.
(I will have a detailed list of the upcoming semester’s costs soon to anyone who wants to see it more in depth.)
As I write this, I am worried and excited – all at once. I worry about how long it will take for us to get to the training, but the weird thing is I also feel equally excited to see the crazy stuff God will do in the future (because if the present is any indication, it’s going to be ridiculous).
p.s. i love hearing back from you guys, so leave a comment.
Recently I’ve been contemplating about how the action of preaching has caused undue problems to the Kingdom of God.
As heavy as that sentence sounds, what I really mean is; preaching has incited inside believers the notion to change ourselves. At first glance that isn’t that bad of a thing. Shouldn’t we want to change? Shouldn’t we want to be better? The obvious answer is, Yes. The real question is, how should we go about that change?
Let me first define my terms.
Preaching: the active telling of scriptural truths to promote in the listener a desire to change his or her current way of life. Or to put it more simply: preaching = persuading/convincing and, in some instances, manipulating.
Now let’s contrast that with another definition.
Teaching: the act of informing individuals of factual and specific information, whether spiritual or secular. Or said differently: teaching = informing.
And here is where I reach my current dilemma. Has preaching hurt the Church? My answer; Yes. Yes, because in the process of desiring the body of Christ to grow, we have unknowingly substituted persuasion and wisely crafted sentences into the place where only the Holy Spirit deserves to reside.
As John 16:7-8 says
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”
Just a couple verses later it says, “When He (the Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all truth.” vs. 13
Who does this passage say convicts people of sin? Who is it that guides us into all truth? Clearly it’s the Spirit who does it.
(…..at this point you’re probably thinking, “Good one Jeb, way to be Mr. Obvious.”)
And that’s exactly where my trouble lies. It’s such an obvious thing we have overlooked. We have used pulpits repeatedly to plead with people to “be better because that’s what Christ wants”. Don’t misunderstand me, I do think Christians should be growing, and as a result living differently then they had in the past. I’m just not convinced they should be doing that at the hands of a spiritual salesman. These two sentences might clarify what I’m trying to convey.
A preacher may convert people by pleading, but a teacher convinces people by proof.
A preacher may speak biblical truth, but a teacher let’s the Bible speak for itself.
Have you ever sat in a service and thought to yourself, “Am I only going to hear this guys opinion on why I should be better?” I have. Many times. I’ve heard dozens upon dozens of preachers start there sermons by telling the congregation to open their Bibles, only to read through the passage once, followed by 25 minutes of persuasion, pleading and “scripturally exhorting” us to take the passage to heart.
I’m convinced that is it only the Bible and the Holy Spirit who affect long-term change. What will help us believers in the long run is being able to say, “the Bible says ….. ” not, “well, pastor so-and-so says ……” The difference is when the former is done, we are grounding our lives on the specific truths of God’s word, not the notions of a human.
Here’s a thought – why not give us the information and then let the Holy Spirit do the persuading. It is His job by the way, not yours. And frankly, He’ll do a much better job of it.
p.s. i hope that all made sense. if you have a question on what i meant or a problem with what was said, shoot me a comment.
News first: As for all of you who knew we were headed to the next phase of our training in January (the MTC) I regret to inform you that that will not be the case. We had hoped to be able to make it there this next semester but we just can’t pull it off financially.
It’s not all bad news though; since we get a longer time to work with our Jr. Highers, more time to connect to our church, and some much needed time for spiritual growth. For all those reasons, we’re excited to be staying, but I can’t help but be frustrated that more time is passing without us being on the field or at least seemingly moving in that direction.
So our new plan is to head to the MTC (missionary training center) in Missouri next August at the beginning of the fall semester to start our 1 1/2 year training.
Now for some other thoughts: Did y’all catch The Well’s sermon today? PJ brought it home.
In the past I have openly claimed to not really know what most Christians mean when they talk about “Walking in the Spirit”. It always sounded a bit etherial to me. A bit ‘out there’. A bit ‘ungraspable’ – if that’s even a word.
But today the Spirit starting turning on some little lights in my mind as to what that might mean. Now I want to be clear, I still don’t really get it, but mental progress is being made.
I think in the past what I’ve been missing from the formula was I just wasn’t listening. I wasn’t taking the time to slow down. I tried to just make decisions off of past experiences, previous knowledge, or just my gut feeling – all without listening.
Now what’s so important about listening you might ask?
It’s not that action of listening that’s important – it’s who I’m listening to. When I make a decision based solely off of past knowledge, experiences, or my ‘gut’ who am I listening to? Answer: Myself.
That’s a problem.
See I’m pretty dumb, but don’t feel too bad for me because you’re dumb too. And I think that’s exactly where God wants us to start. Once I remember how dumb I am, I can open myself up for someone else’s opinion – and that’s I think where the Spirit comes in.
When I stop, shoot up a quick prayer, and wait to hear back – good things happen. Really good things. The Spirit can situationally use that time to; tell me what to do, not do, who to talk to, what to say, where to go, and even – what to buy.
So I challenge you to slow your life down, and don’t just do it to become ‘less stressed’ or whatever. Do it to have the time to listen.
to view PJ’s message click on the link and look for “1st corinthians 2:6”