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Pearl 59: Testimony

TOPIC: Goals and Encouragement

"When all the Israelites who had hidden
in the hill country of Ephraim heard that
the Philistines were on the run,
they joined the battle in hot pursuit" - 1 Samuel 14:22.

When you pursue and achieve goals, you give others permission to do the same. While same may not notice, others will, and you will provide incentive for them to ask how you did it and then set off to set their own goals. While your goals are private, the process and results are not, for those become your testimony, and you give testimonies publicly to glorify God and encourage others. How recent is your latest goal testimony?  With whom have you shared it? What more can you do to stimulate others to 'good deeds' as the writer of Hebrews called it?

Lord, I value my privacy but You don't. You want my life to be an encouragement and witness to others and that requires I be more public than I would prefer. Help me overcome my shyness and fear. Give me opportunities in which I can glorify You and stimulate the interest and activity of others toward goals.

Pearl 58: Delay Tactic

TOPIC: Goals and Prayer

"Saul said to Ahijah, Bring the ark of God.'
(At that time it was with the Israelites.)
While Saul was talking to the priest,
the tumult in the Philistine camp increased
 more and more. So Saul said to the priest,
'Withdraw your hand'" - 1 Samuel 14:18-19.

While Jonathan was climbing and fighting, the army of God was on maneuvers and then asking for the ark so they could seek the Lord about His will.  His will, however, was for them to fight and eventually they had to stop stalling and start acting. If you are going to pray about your goals, then do so actively and fervently. Don't use prayer, however, as a delay tactic, blaming your inactivity on the Lord and His refusal to respond. What does your prayer life consist of where your goals are concerned? What are you hearing? Are you praying looking to act, or are you praying looking to wait?

Lord, I confess that at times I have used prayer to delay acting on my goals. Then I have blamed You for my lack of effort, not really wanting to act, but using Your lack of response, or my lack of listening, as the reason for my inactivity. No longer will I use You as an excuse, but will pray and act or not pray at all.

Pearl 57: Your Effort

TOPIC: Goals and Work

"Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet,
with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines
fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and
killed behind him. In that first attack Jonathan and
his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of
about half an acre" - 1 Samuel 14:13-14.

Jonathan and his companion had to scale two cliffs to reach their goal, cliffs that had names! That means they faced the risk of falling, had to get their fingernails dirty and probably scraped their arms and legs. The point is that they had to work hard to reac their destination. Once they did, God helped them and granted them great favor. Once they did what only they could do, then God did what only He could do. Are you waiting for God to do what only you can do? How much energy are you investing in your goals? What more do you need to do to succeed?

Lord, I sometimes get confused between my role and yours as I seek to do Your will. Help me understand when to wait on You and when to act like it's all up to me! I know You want to partner with me as I do Your will, and I want to do my part faithfully.  Help me climb my cliffs and give me success when I reach the top.

Pearl 56: Confirmation

TOPIC: Goals and Certainty

"Jonathan said, 'Come on, then; we will cross over
toward them and let them see us. If they say to us,
‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where
we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come
up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our
sign that the Lord has given them into our hands'" - 1 Samuel 14:8-10.

Jonathan looked for confirmation before he set out on his goal, but it wasn't what you would think. He didn't ask for the sun to stop or five rocks to fall at his feet. He simply said if his enemies called him up to their high place, he would take that as a sign to go. He wasn''t trying to looking for an eccentric sign; He was looking for the simplest of confirmations in order to go. What about you? Have you contrived a complex series of confirmations before you will take the first faith step toward your goal? Or are you looking for some small, little thiing that will speak to you and enable you to go forth?

Lord, I often look for reasons not to do what's in my heart instead of reasons to move forward. This is motivated by fear. You have given me all the confirmation I need with the inner peace I feel when I think of my goal. Forgive my unbelief and give me some small encouragement today to help me get started.

School Fees

It is a common thing in Kenya for children to go away to school, sometimes as young as six years of age!  Someone approaches me every time I go to Kenya to help with the cost of sending someone away to school, where they will get a better education and be exposed to more growth and learning opportunities.  So far, we are sponsoring two.  One is a young lady named Deborah and the other is a girl named Nuru.  I am attaching their thank you notes to us for you to see what it means to them to be sponsored.

Now we have another worthy candidate and her name is Mary (pictured right).  Mary is an orphan at the 1 Mary PicUpako Centre ministry and everyone who sees Mary is impressed with her.  She is almost 12, a bit small for her age, but what she lacks in stature she makes up for in heart and enthusiasm. We love to watch Mary perform with the children when we visit, but now it's time to find a better school and housing situation for her.  The needs are small -- $700 will get her started with tuition, uniforms and supplies, and then $400 two or three times every year for tuition after that.

If you can help sponsor Mary, then I urge you to act now so we can get her out of the slum and on the path to a better education. My family supports Deborah as an expression of how well God has taken care of us and our children. You may want to do the same.  Regardless of why, I urge you to send help today to the Mary education fund via my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.  I promise to pass along all donations directly to Upako on Mary's behalf, and I will keep you posted on her educational progress. On behalf of Mary, may I say thank you in advance for your help.

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Upako Thanks

Pst FrancisHere is the thank you I received this past week from Pastor Francis, founder of Upako Center and pictured left wth his children. It was great to see him and the children and our hearts go out to him and them as they manage life in the Kawangware area of Nairobi:

Dr. John Stanko,

I hope your flight back home was cool! You are a great Father to us. I don’t know what could have happened to all these children had it not been for your continuous help to feed them.

Each time you visit Upako Centre God gives us new revelation on how to minister better to this children. The love that we feel when you are with us can not be explained but God knows what I mean.

I could have written to you about how Upako administration is and let the children engage with you about what they feel, but its unfortunate that they are not able to email you because we lack the facilities to teach them and empower them to do it. This is why I have to appreciate you on behalf of them all and they are here as I write this.

We all want to say a big thank you to you for visiting with such a wonderful team and we are humbled and love your spirit. We again learnt so much and may God be with you and give strength to all those you love your ministry of feeding and helping orphans.

Thank you again and again for the food money which we are using to create a food store for the orphans especially during this election period. The price of food has started going up and it may be even worse by the time we get to the election. We want to tell you that you are a great Father to us-God bless you so much. The $1500 is being used to buy food stuff and is really helpful.

We thank you. The children you are supporting are doing very well in their academics and we have 16 of them we qualified to join high school this year.

I will keep you posted on the happenings over here. Shalom.

Pastor Francis

I will return in September, but we can't wait until then to help the chidlren and Pastor Francis, so please find it in your heart to give a gift toward The Sophia Fund that is used to help feed the children and orphans.  You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and may the Lord bless your generosity!

Pearl 55: Heart Goals

TOPIC: Goals and Emotion

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said.
“Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul" - 1 Samuel 14:7.

Goals involve the mind and the heart. You should involve rational thought, but also heartfelt emotion and passion. What's more, Jonathan had someone who encouraged him to do what was in his heart and the armor bearer would support him. What is in your heart to do? Why do leave it in your heart? Why not take it out by setting a goal? And do you have the support you need from those who can help? Are you in a position to help someone else with their heart goals?

Lord, I get hung up sometimes, concerned whether or not what is in my heart is from you. Yet those things have been in my heart for a while and I am tired of inaction and of putting things off until tomorrow. Also, send me those who can help me achieve goals and show me where I can help others achieve theirs.

Pearl 54: Perhaps

TOPIC: Goals and Failure

“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men.
Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder
the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few" - 1 Samuel 14:6.

Jonathan had faith but he had imperfect understanding and information, so he said 'perhaps the Lord will act.' When you set a goal, the future lies ahead of you and you cannot see it clearly or perfectly. Therefore you set your goals in faith, but you realize that things can change or happen over which you have no control. Are you waiting to have everything figured out and foreseen before you set a goal? Are you willing to fail while pursuing success? Are you willing to start over if you do fail?

Lord, You control the future, I don't. Therefore I will function in what I know today, set a goal and trust you for the results tomorrow. If it does't work out, I still trust You and will learn from the experience so I can be more effective the next time. Give me the same attitude that Jonathan had when he decided to climb those cliffs!

Pearl 53: Cliffs

TOPIC: Goals and Obstacles

"On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross
to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called
Bozez and the other Seneh" - 1 Samuel 14: 4.

The cliffs Jonathan faced were so imposing that they had been given names!  That made them serious cliffs to climb and overcome. Yet the daunting task ahead only became possible because he had set a goal and the cliffs just happened to be in his way. Do you set the goal and then face the obstacles, or do you look at the obstacles and then decide whether or not to set the goal? Are the cliffs in your life keeping you from getting to the next level? What are you prepared to do about them?

Lord, mountains are part of life, but I allow them to intimidate and keep me from moving onward and upward. The highest mountain to me, however, is nothing to You. I need to live in Your perspective and not my own. With your help, I determine to set goals regardless of the obstacles and trust You for the outcome.

Pearl 52: Confidentiality

TOPIC: Goals and Others

"No one was aware that Jonathan had left" - 1 Samuel 14:3.

When Jonathan decided to attempt his almost impossible goal, he did not tell anyone that he was going, except for his sidekick the armor bearer. Why was this? His father's army gathered everyday to do nothing by a pomegranate tree and perhaps Jonathan knew they would try to talk him out of the goal, preferring he remain safe like them and not expose himself to danger. The lesson is clear: Only share your goals with those you trust and who can help you achieve them. Have you ever been discouraged by others as you set your goals? Discouraged others yourself? Who do you know that you can trust in this process?

Lord, the things You put in my heart are for me, and may not be understood by others, even those closest to me. While I want the affirmation of others, I am ready to go it alone and rely on your support and strength as I set and pursue my goals. I do ask, however, that you send someone to encourage me along the way.