Connect to the Creator

Written by Maali Padro // Photos by Priscilla Du Preez

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There are many reasons as to why we should read God’s Word, but, first, I want to start off by answering a few questions.

What exactly is God’s Word?

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and
the Word was God” John 1:1

The real question is not “What is God’s Word?”, but “Who is God’s Word?” God’s Word is God. It’s as simple as that. While many of us may already know this, fully grasping the meaning of this gives the Bible a whole new meaning. It gives it life. It’s no longer just a book full of other books, chapters, and words. It’s no longer just a book full of short stories, parables, wisdom, or poetry. It’s no longer an ordinary book from the shelf written by a few men, but it’s an extraordinary book spoken into existence by the breath of the Creator (2 Timothy 3:16).

Fully grasping that shifts the act of reading the Bible being a chore to something we do because we want to know our Creator. The Bible is no longer just a book we read, but a person we can connect with. When we read God’s Word, He gives us a piece of Him. Just like when we speak, people get to know us, we get to know His heart, mind, and spirit. His Word gives us access to Him.

And on a side note:

It’s so beautiful that God chose to use ordinary men to be a part of something extraordinary, and that He still continues to use us as a vessel for His voice to be heard. It’s His breath in us and His essence in all that we do and say in His name. Isn’t that so humbling?

Who is God?

“In the beginning, God created…” Genesis 1:1

God is the Creator, our Creator. He has always been and always will be. He has no origin because He is the origin (Colossians 1:16-17). In the same manner, His Word has always been and always will be. It’s eternal, without end or beginning, because it’s the essence of God. It is God. One might say, “Well, the Bible only has a certain amount of books, it’s only so long. It has a beginning and an end.” Physically, it does, but the Bible isn’t just a physical book. Like God, it surpasses the physical realm and dwells in the spiritual realm, and spiritually it has no end. We can read a passage one day and get something out of it. Read the same passage a few days later, not even days, minutes later, and God will reveal to us something else. God’s Word will never cease to speak to our hearts and souls. It’s an endless fountain of words that bring life to life because it is life. He is life. He is the beginning and the end.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the
Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13

With that said, here are 5 reasons as to why we should connect to God’s Word, to Him, on a daily basis.

1. It’s through the written Word that we can resist the attacks of Satan and Satan himself.

The truth is that “Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). God’s Word is our weapon. It’s what God has given us to fight this spiritual battle (Hebrews 6:17) because this battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Hebrews 6:12). When Satan went to attack Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded to each attack with the phrase “It is written..” and He spoke the Word of truth over the lies of Satan (Matthew 4). Because God’s truth, His Word, pierces with light through the lies that Satan tries to darken our minds with. Satan knows the Word probably better than we do. He was one of God’s angels once (Isaiah 14:12-15).  In fact, He was one of the most important angels. He knows how to switch up just a few words so that it sounds truthful enough to be the truth (Genesis 3:1-4), but if you know the real truth no lie can get pass you. Light shines brighter in the midst of darkness. If God’s Word is in our hearts, when the lies come, the truth will shine brighter in midst of all that darkness trying to creep in.

2. It’s through the Word that our minds are transformed.

God uses His Word to convict us about the matters in our hearts that aren’t right and of the things that we do that don’t please Him.

“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul
and spirit, joints and marrows; it judges the thoughts and
attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Without reading His Word we will continue to stay ignorant in the ignorance of our sins. Our minds can’t be transformed without conviction of ourselves and of the things we do that we have deemed as not a big enough sin to bring us down spiritually, but like the saying goes “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). All it takes is a little bit of sin to darken our hearts. His word pierces through our hearts and souls bringing to light all the dark areas and gives us the knowledge our minds need to alter our behavior and to continue on or start walking in the truth and light of His Word.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living
according to Your Word. Order my steps in Your Word, and let no
iniquity have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:9, 133

If we speak His Word into our lives and declare it over our life each and every day. It’ll transform us inside and out with each passing day. It’ll become a part of us, of who we are.

3. It’s through the Word that God guides us.

God left us His Word as a guide in this life. His Word is as much as a physical guide through life as it is a spiritual one. His Word always has both a physical and spiritual application for our lives. There is no problem that can’t be solved with God’s Word. There is no answer that can’t be found in God’s Word. All we have to do is seek Him with all our hearts, silence our hearts, and we’ll find all our heart, mind, and soul needs in Him, in His Heart (Jeremiah 29:13). His Word is our light when our worlds get dark.

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Psalms 119:105

4. It’s through His Word in us that we will shine and the world will know we are His.

What we put in comes out. Plant an apple tree seed, an apple tree will grow. Our hearts are just the same. If we plant hatred in it, hatred will come out. If we plant love in it, love will come out. By reading God’s Word, we are planting its seed in our hearts, and as we continue to nurture it by spending time with the Source it will sprout from our hearts into everything we do; and everything we do, small and big, will point back to Him and the world will know we are His because His light shines through us. Because He shines in us, we shine over the world. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, creation pointing back to the Creator through its creation.

“…Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you
hold firmly to the Word of life.” Philippians 2:15b-16a

5. It’s through His Word that He directly speaks to us, and He wants to directly speak to you.

This is something that God has heavily been speaking into my heart. It’s so easy to replace God’s Word with Christian blogs, Christian books, Christian podcasts, Christian friends, and other Christian resources. All these things are good, don’t get me wrong. But those things or people should never replace God’s Word in our life. God wants to directly speak to us. For example, if you’re in a relationship with someone you wouldn’t want to communicate with that person through their best friend all the time. Occasionally it’s okay because it’s sometimes hard to get a hold of a person. But there are some things that regardless of how long it’ll take you to reach that person you’ll wait because it needs to be said directly to the other person. My point is there are some things that God wants to speak directly to us, and He can only that through His Word. He wants a direct relationship with us. Tune in and Listen. There’s nothing like listening to the Father’s voice as He whispers into our hearts.

“Faith (the beginning of our relationship with God) comes from
hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.” Romans 10:17

priscilla-du-preez-638149-unsplashLike any relationship, a relationship with God takes not only time but intentional effort. In a world full of so much distraction and time-consuming things, it’s hard to pull away from it all and make time for the things that really matter. I get it. I find myself wasting time away all the time. And the problem is that a lot of us use our time unintentionally. Living the Christian life requires us to live with intention and purpose. Apart from God, our intention and purpose for doing things will get jumbled up with the intention and purpose of the world. So connect to the Creator. Connect to the One who created you and in whom you’ll find your purpose –His intention for creating you– and the strength and tools to live out that purpose. Most importantly though, connect to the Creator because He’s already connected to you. He knows your heart and thoughts and what makes you you. Don’t you want to know Him too?

Breaking My Stride

I lived and moved with the world for a long time. For far too long, my feet fit in the shoes society handed to me, my stride agreeing with the rhythm culture had constructed. I might of told you Jesus was there too and, looking back, I know He was. I’d let you know I never let Him past the walls I built around me, though. I kept like that for years.

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Eighteen years, actually. But, at year eighteen, something changed. The world didn’t fill me like I’d always expected it to. I cried out for something more. I yearned for something different. To love boldly but to be loved even bolder, to find something that mattered more than this life. Little did I know that I was crying out to God. Little did I know that the walls I put up never kept Him out. I cried out to God and I found myself already in His arms. It was a game changer to find Him. At the time I had been making college plans for the year to come. I had a full ride and guaranteed job placement post-graduation, everything I could ask for. But the moment I found myself in the arms of God, I changed route immediately. I became a missionary.

Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I hopped on a plane to Amsterdam where I learned about who the Lord is. I learned of unconditional love and abounding grace. I came alive in a way I didn’t know I could. This love story was transformative. Knowing Jesus was metamorphic. I found myself immersed in a joy I couldn’t help but share. My heart learned of a love it couldn’t contain. I wanted more and more people to know about this Jesus I’d met. I needed to tell the world. I spent three months in Amsterdam before I hopped on another plane to Southeast Asia. There, I spent another three months working with local ministries in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. I shared the Christmas story in a closed country on Christmas day. I saw people who refused the idea of any God be healed of lifelong pains and change their minds. I met trafficked women and together, we redefined their definition of love. Jesus moved like a wildfire throughout Asia in a million different ways. It was unlike anything else I’ve experienced.

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After my time in Asia came to a close, I returned to America, but found that God didn’t want me to stay put for long. In only a month I will be returning to Amsterdam as a full time missionary. By doing so, I hope to aid people from around the world in going through the same transformation I did. My main focus will be staffing an Arts + Missions Training School. Through this, my heart is to see young artists collide with the love of God in order to make Him known. The weekdays will be spent arranging lectures for students where they’ll learn about the world of missions and arts place in it. Together, we will minister to Amsterdam’s homeless, tourists, those in the Red Light District, and more. From there, I will lead a three month cross-cultural outreach to somewhere in the nations. There we will put into practice all the students learned by partnering with local ministries and introducing people who never knew Him before to God. Aside from that, I will be serving a local missions base and the people living there or coming through.

I’m giddy over it all; however, there’s a few steps to take before booking a one way to Amsterdam. The biggest thing being that the Dutch government requires a minimum of a $1500 monthly income BEFORE I’m able to arrive in their country. As a missionary, paychecks don’t exist; so, I’m looking for a team of people willing to join me financially, prayerfully, and relationally. Before anything else, I’m searching for the church to back me up.

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More and more I’m realizing that we see God move in miraculous ways when the church rallies together for His glory. I want people who believe in that to embark on this journey with me. If that’s you, if you are willing and feel called to join my team as a one time giver or a monthly donor, I would be thrilled. I so look forward to welcoming you in and bringing you along. I never could have expected this calling placed on my life, and for that, I know it’s only by the grace of God that it comes to fruition.

A year ago God was a stranger. Today He’s a friend I can’t wait for the world to meet. I want to introduce everybody I see to Him. My stride matched with the world’s for far too long. I believe mine has changed so others can as well.

To donate, click here: ashtonperle.com/donate.
To follow her journey, click here: instagram.com/ashtonmsperle.

To Partner & Serve

Africa Blog

Dear online readers,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to click on this link. I really appreciate your willingness to learn more about my upcoming journey.

In early October, I will have the privilege to take part in a short term mission trip to Africa. My home church, Church of the Open Door, is sending out a small team to serve at the African Inland Mission Conference in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We have been given the opportunity to provide the speaker, worship leader, and a childcare team for their conference.

Here is a bit of what it will look like for us…

Speaker – Al Negron will be sharing wisdom from 1 Corinthians 15:58, with the topic of living “Not in Vain”.

Worship Leader – We are praying for someone who can come and lead the missionaries in corporate worship together. This is something that missionaries in the field rarely have a chance to partake in together.

Child Care Team – Michael Dubisz, David Newkirk, Kyleen Hughes, and I will be running a Vacation Bible School and providing a loving and safe place where the parents can drop off their kids and fully immerse themselves in the conference.

In addition to this amazing chance from God, we also have the privilege of serving a couple of our very own missionaries, from COD, while in Africa: Colin & Becca McDougall and Andy & Margaret Andersen.

By caring for the children, providing the speaker, and leading worship, our prayer is that the missionaries at the conference will be free to fully engage in the time of rest and community God is providing for them.

Africa Blog 7Our team is trusting Christ for all that concerns us as we prepare to head to Africa. We know that He will be doing part of that through you. Would you please consider partnering with us, either through prayer and/or financially giving to the mission trip? Each team member needs to raise $2,000 to cover flights and supplies. It is a privilege to be able to come to you with this need. Thank you in advance for your partnership as I follow the Lord’s leading to Africa.

Trusting in Him,
Rachel Morrison

“And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'” -Luke 10:2

Prayer Requests:

  • For the Lord’s provisions in safety, health, and finances
  • Unity for the team
  • To grow closer to Jesus
  • Peace as we leave family, work, and school

Photos & Words: Rachel Morrison | Additional photos courtesy of Rebecca McDougall & Margaret Anderson.

There & Back, Again

April 19, 2016: Well guys, it’s happening. I’m headed to Asia. A continent I have yet to step foot on, but boy am I excited to experience their side of the Earth.

I’m headed out June 5 with 30 hours of travel to meet the beautiful country and culture of Nepal. Illuminate Nations is heading up the trip and I’m stoked to come along and experience this place with them. Our mission while there is to share the gospel of Jesus to unreached villages, meaning lots of hiking.

Prayers are most heavily needed. We will be facing opposition, warfare, and hardship – but our God is good & we have no need to fear. Thank you for going on these adventures with me FAM!

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June 5, 2016: THE BEGINNING | NEPAL | Watch here: https://youtu.be/YjjFSKpYxAU

“The great Pioneers all had ‘inverted homesickness’ this passion to call that country their home which was most in need of the Gospel. In this passion all other passions died before this vision all other visions faded this call drowned all other voices. They were the pioneers of the Kingdom, the forelopers of God, eager to cross the border-marches and discover new lands or win new-empires.” // S. Zwemer

June 13, 2016: This place, this culture, these people, have given me a whole new view on hospitality. I thank God for these beautiful loving people who have lost much in the earthquake, yet continue to pour out all that they have on others.

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June 14, 2016: I remember being quite young when I realized I didn’t want to live an ordinary life. I knew there had to be something more than the mundane schedules and routines. I believe it was something God weaved into me before I was born. To do things differently for Him.

IMG_8492After surrendering my life to Jesus I clearly remember saying, “God I want to follow you, but I don’t know how.” And I reminded Him, “I don’t want to live an ordinary life.” It was in this willingness He began to show me what living for Him looks like. And here is what I found, I wasn’t living before I knew Him. To the One who made the Heavens and Earth, I asked for a life of adventure.

Of course, He answered with a larger calling than I could have ever dreamed myself.

Little did I know that meant going to the ends of the Earth to share His love.

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” -Exodus 9:16

One big dream after another led to this.

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I grew up riding my bike to the Public Library to hear a volunteer read the latest children’s book and I can remember clear as day thinking, “I want to do this one day…”

Fast forward over ten years, a passion for filmmaking, loving like Christ, helping others find their purpose, and using creativity for the Kingdom is my daily purposeful pursuit.

IMG_8483Quickly my oversized dreams started to become reality and I looked back on my childhood dream of storytelling, but on a much larger adventure filled scale and that brings us to now.

God brings a team of World Changers, Nation Shakers, Mountain Climbers, Kingdom Creatives, and Village Trekkers together. All meeting from different parts of the world through different forms – people, social media, trips to the Nations – whatever it took, God got us together.

We embark on the greatest story telling adventure of a lifetime – trusting God will make this reality.

WE GO AFTER THE CALL, WALK IN OUR INHERITANCE, & LIVE THE MISSION. 

July 13, 2016: I started slapping strings on a guitar when I was around 4 years old at a music store while my brother took piano lessons.

Then around 8, I’d ask my Mom if I could play her songs I had written. I’d sit on her bed, with no song pre-written just singing what came to mind, most the time they made no sense.

Now, I’m almost 20 years old and singing out my heart to the Lord is one of my favorite things to do.

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It keeps me grounded – in perfect Love.

So, I have decided to release a 4 song EP titled Quenched.

The songs were written in a raw state of being with the Lord, so I’d be lying to say Im not scared to share it with the world, but I pray it blesses you all and draws you near His heart.

I’m selling it for $5 (Download Here) to help raise finances for missions. After I finish my time here in Seattle, I’ll be headed back to Nepal for a month to tell stories through filmmaking of the children homes there.

I’ll be going to tell the story of two men named Sher and Lila, plus a woman named Sanga, who all separately run a Children’s Home. (3 homes in total) All in different spots of Nepal – they all grew up in Children’s homes which brought them to Christ and now bring orphans into a family of Christ and raise them up! It’s beautiful!

Your support means the world to me. Thank you support family.
You all rock – keep running after God’s heart.

To support Katelyn, her company, and her trip, please visit: http://www.purposevisuals.com/sendus/

Watch more videos from her 1st trip to Nepal here:
This is the Day | Nepal Series

Photos & Words: Katelyn Nix || Additional photos courtesy of Illuminate Nations & Spencer Gravely

 

Let all the Nations Praise You, Lord

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Dear Family, Friends, and anyone who happens across this corner of the internet,

This August I have the exciting opportunity to travel to Nicaragua with Celebration Baptist Church on a mission trip. We will be in Nicaragua August 2nd-9th. I pray that the Lord will work through me to carry His love and the beautiful message of His Gospel! But I need your help!

Our student team will be serving with On Eagle’s Wings Ministry. We will do outreach with over 4,000 youth in baseball and soccer leagues, fix meals and provide a mini VBS at a dozen or more local feeding programs directed by a network of 60 local pastors. Each program feeds and average of 150 children every day (9,000 total). We will visit hospitals, pray with patients and give gifts to children, as well as doing programs in local schools. One day will be spent ministering at the dump where 350 families live.

IMG_8376I am asking you to partner with me in praying for the people whom I will meet, for my own heart, and that The Lord would mold the hearts of the other individuals who I am traveling with so that we all might be attentive to what He is teaching us and who He would have us minister to! I ask you to pray that God would make Himself known to me and to our team, and would cause us to fade into the background in humility and awe of what He is doing.  Please pray that we would not lose our focus on Him and that he would soften the hearts of the people we meet!

The cost of the mission trip is $1500. If you would like to help with this expense I would be so, so grateful! Online donations can be made by going to the church website,  and clicking the “GIVE ONLINE” button. Select “Mission Trips” in the first drop down menu and then the name of the mission trip in the second drop down menu. Please include my name in the “comments” field. Here is the link: http://icelebration.org/giving/

If you would prefer to write a check,  please make it out to Celebration Baptist Church. Please include the name of my mission trip on the memo line but not my name. ON a separate note, please state that the contribution is toward my mission trip costs by writing my name on the note. Please send it to the following address: Celebration Baptist Church, 3300 Shamrock St E, Tallahassee, FL 32309. I need to have all my funds in by the end of April!

IMG_8375I am so excited to not only experience a new culture but also to learn more of my Savior through this experience. Thank you so much for your support, I am so grateful!

Love in Christ,
Madyson

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sign for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Seals Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:3-5

P.S. Madyson is also selling her handmade Nicaragua mission bracelets to help raise money for her trip here: www.beautiefullthings.etsy.com.

Blog and photo credit goes to Madyson from Beautiefull Things.