Monday, March 17, 2014

A Brief Update

Things have been incredibly busy here in the Netherlands, both in the Stewart household and at Tyndale. It is, however, the best busyness I have ever experienced! God is at work all around us. We will probably wait until after the baby is born to put together an official newsletter with pictures but I wanted to mention a few things now.

On the home-front we have been battling some form of flu for over two weeks now. All six of us went down with it; the boys are back on their feet and Jenny and I are on our way back to full health. Jenny's mom arrived from the airport this morning! She will be here for two months to help with the birth of the baby (two weeks or so from now)!

I spent the first two Sunday's in March preaching at a Ghanian church plant here in Amsterdam. I was translated into a Ghanian dialect and the style of worship brought me back to past mission trips to Africa. The services went very well and it was exciting for me to see the vibrancy and faith of one immigrant community here in the Netherlands. I am scheduled to preach at two different churches between now and May so please pray for this ministry in the local church.

At Tyndale the spring classes are going full-swing; I am teaching four days a week and spending every spare minute preparing for the classes. The morning Greek-reading discipleship group is thriving and we have around five students that voluntarily meet with me every morning for 45 minutes to read and discuss the Greek NT! This is a level of discipleship ministry beyond anything I have heard of or observed in the U.S. Please pray for these students as their hunger for the word of God drives them to pursue God in his word in this intensive way in addition to their normal studies!

Please also continue to pray for a healthy and safe delivery; we will update soon after the baby arrives! Also, please email us with any prayer concerns or needs you may have.

A Risky Faith: Mary's Response

Luke records the angelic announcement to Mary about Jesus' virgin birth. Mary’s final response to Gabriel epitomizes the response of a true disciple: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary’s world was about to be turned upside down; everything was about to change. She had no way of knowing the future repercussions of the angel’s announcement or how she would be able to explain the pregnancy to Joseph and her other family members. Despite all the uncertainties and possible ways in which things could go terribly wrong and end in utter disaster, she chose to willingly submit to God’s plan. She was committed to God and God’s plan no matter what the personal sacrifice or cost. There is nothing in the narrative that indicates that believers should pray to Mary or that Mary gives grace from heaven, but there is every indication in the narrative that this young Jewish girl’s example of complete commitment and fearless submission should be followed by all who consider themselves Christians. How have you responded to God’s call on your life, whatever it might be? Have you withdrawn in fear of the uncertainties of the future and settled for a safe form of Christianity that requires little or no faith and entails little or no risk? That form of Christianity is both rampant and lifeless. What would it look like for you to step out in fearless faith in response to what you know to be God’s plan for your life? Consider Mary, a young, vulnerable Jewish girl whose entire future and hope for a normal life was jeopardized by God’s plan for her life. Mary did not draw back to protect herself and her future. She embraced God’s future and God’s desire for her life. What about you?