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Still Standing

As we entered the spring season, not knowing what we were about to walk through, I wrote out a prayer for our family, for the churches we serve all throughout East Africa, the students we disciple, ministry partners, and ultimately THE CHURCH; Lord would you rid us of the things we allow to fulfill us and be our all in all. Would you bless our children and families because our trust is in you alone, and may we be like the tree planted by the water, able to remain faithful and bear fruit in every season?

I wanted to be like a tree planted by the water, which bears fruit in every season. I still want to be standing when hardship comes because my roots were deep in Jesus.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

Within a few days, God had answered my prayer. He allowed circumstances that rid me, and all I know, of things I often clung to or choose to let fulfill me, other than him.

As I have walked these past two months I am consistently reminded of the second part of my prayer, oh Lord may our families’ trust be in you, and may we be found faithful when this most challenging season ends. God, could you help our family thrive and not merely survive.

The truth is that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, and it will not be our valiant effort which deems us faithful; it will be God’s grace alone and his faithfulness working in and through us.

So how then do I remain faithful and abide in Him? Two essential disciplines have marked our family and ministry throughout every season, but especially in this season: daily focus on God’s word and His character. If we are called to “trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding,” then it will not be our own understanding which gives us what we need in this season, it will be God’s.

I can trust in the authority and power of God’s word in this season, which ultimately places Him on the throne and not my circumstances.

Daily the enemy is trying to distract and pull our hearts away from the truth because he works through lies. In John 8:45, Jesus boldly declares “the devil as a murderer from the beginning and one who has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks from his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Therefore, we know that we are daily fighting a battle of whom we will choose to believe and trust. Will we place our hope, faith, and confidence in how we feel and what we see around us or stand firm in the truth of God’s word, which promises to set us free?

John 8:31, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We have to become aware, each day, of what we are placing our minds on and setting our hope on. Our peace will not come from this world.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27-28

Romans 12:1-2 is clear that we are not to conform to this world (even in this time, we should not look like the world), BUT be transformed by renewing of our mind in the truth. I love how science only supports this promise even further. Our brains cannot think two thoughts at the same time and we cannot make ourselves stop thinking thoughts. While you cannot stop thinking thoughts, you can replace them; your brain will create new pathways. We were made for God’s truth to set us free.

In this season, we immediately realized the necessity of spending extra time in God’s word. The news and media, what is happening around us, or even our emotions do not get to set the tone for our family; we look to God.

Psalm 119 is a beautiful reminder of God’s word that holds promises. God’s word is everlasting, it is fixed in the heavens. God’s word turns our eyes away from the things which are worthless and revives our very life. God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path; we can trust in His ways above the ways of the world. God’s word is sweet to our lives and more valuable than gold. God’s word is a hiding place and a shield, and therefore we can put our hope in His word.

Each day our family talks about what we are struggling with, where we are failing to believe God, what we are most afraid of. Fear is a liar, and ultimately it is the expectation of evil. Therefore, we must confess out loud to God and to others to determine whether what we are feeling and are overwhelmed by matches God’s character and his word or is instead, fueled by fear. Is our expectation in evil or in God? We are active in our pursuit of truth; we write it out, memorize it, meditate on it, and declare it to one another.

God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. The enemy wants nothing more for us in this season than for us to stop believing the truth, he wants to steal our life. We are not fighting a battle of flesh and blood. We must be diligent in putting on the belt of truth and standing firm in God’s word each day. Oh, how I long for that to take root in the hearts of believers everywhere, because truly it changes us.

May God strengthen you and encourage you in this season. May your family not only survive but thrive, bearing new fruit because your lives are rooted and planted in Him. We do not know what the future holds but, we do know the one who holds the future in his hands. May these truths encourage your family as they have so profoundly encouraged us in this season.

With Christ’s Love,

Kristin (Nathanael & Kristin Avery, Choose to Invest)

Isaiah 41:10 “ fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalm 91: 1-2 You Are My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord; and he will sustain you

Psalm 23: 1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 46

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.

9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;he burns the chariots with fire.

10“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah