Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Doctor's Update April 28

Some of you may be wondering what the doctor said.... well he decided to give me a cordozone shot in my ankle and to wait and see. He has also prescribed some special shoes to stablize my ankle. There are quite expensive, around 600 CHF or $580. Please pray that the insurance will pay for them. If my ankle doesn't inprove in the next 2 months I will need to think about surgery. That will mean 3 weeks in Switzerland.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Culture: Understanding culture's place in my life

It is funny how I see my truth as God's right perspective of His Kingdom when in fact it is just me looking at the world/God's Kingdom through the glasses of my culture. Through the past couple of years the Lord has been pressing me as a result of my culture clashing with Polish culture to find Him in the midst.
One of the things I realized is that I couldn't really know & understand the effects of my culture, beliefs and values on my thinking, behavior and even my understanding of God until I could embrace the good, bad and the ugly of another culture. It all began a couple of years ago when I was going through Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. There was one statement that got under my skin. He mentioned that, whatever you are passionate about today will become a part of who you are in 20 years. It is at that time that I had been ministering in Poland for 20 years. It was at that moment I got a bit scared. I felt a small voice scream in side my heart,"Oh no Lord...I don't want to be Polish!" And then I had to ask myself why not. What was I so afraid of?
It was in that process that I realized that I was seeing the unredeemed Poland, it's people and it's culture through the glasses of my unredeemed American glasses. Then I prayed that the Lord would work into me the redeemed qualities of Polish culture. That somehow through the work of Christ's blood it would transform those things that I was afraid of becoming into the very character of Jesus that only the Polish people can truly represent well.

Isaiah 45:22-23 "Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other...Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God."

As I looked at these verses I realized that each people group and their culture represented an aspect of God's imagine that could not be complete without them. I saw in a much deeper way just how important not only our uniqueness as individuals is but also as separate cultures. And just like individuals our cultures have been corrupted by sin and no longer reflect the true and uncompromised character of the King.

Jesus is calling me to submit all of me...including my culture to Him and the working of His Holy Spirit. I believe that when I really allow Jesus to work in me in this way I'm not only transformed into His imagine but the reflection of Him within my life will reveal the redeemed elements of my culture. My Swedish/French American, Polish culture.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Sometimes I'm a techie novice. But I have begun to use and enjoy writing sms' or for the American crowd...text messages. One of the things I do is save those encouraging messages for those moments when life it a bit too much to handle. Then I go back and read those uplifting words. A few weeks ago I had a problem. I had kept so many of those messages that I didn't have room for new incoming messages.

I broke down and cleaned out all those messages but I just didn't have the heart to erase them from existence so I transfered them to my journal. I thought it might be interesting for you to read some of these messages. Hopefully they will be an encouragement to you as well.
Today I will share two of those messages.

Thank you for attending the presentation. Everyone was very impressed by your knowledge, philosophy, warmth & attitude.

Dear Denise! I want to once again express my gratitude for everything you're doing for me. It is extremely hard to meet people like you these days. Take care!

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Act of Worship

Mondays are typically my "Sabbath Day". I have been learning what that means to rest in the Lord and to put aside "ALL" work...emails, computer stuff, ministry, etc. It has been a bit of a pendulum swing trying to find the right balance without being legalistic while at the same time really trusting Jesus and understanding that HE is God and I'm not. Meaning that I will not be able to FINISH. This of course has been a great challenge for someone like me who has a strong need to have closure. Yet in it all have found a greater peace and trust in Jesus than I could ever imagine. I also have begun to experience a level of freedom that I could not have thought possible before. Let me just share with you about my Monday.

Who would have thought that paying the bills could be an act of worship?

I walked into town to get money from the ATM & pay my bills before spending time with Jesus at my favorite cafe. A month or so ago I wouldn't have allowed myself to pay the bills on Monday as it is my "SABBATH". But today all the way into town I prayed for God's help with my finances...we discussed various options of which there really aren't any. I voiced my concern of my quickly diminishing bank account, the dollar value dropping like a rock, and the cost of living skyrocketing to the European standard. Realizing all the while I may not have money to pay the bills that come next week let alone buy food. As I reached the ATM I realized that I have been faithful to do, give, share, budget, tithe in every way. I have no choice but to trust Jesus. I put in my card and took out my 450 zloty to pay the phone bill & condo dues. Thinking that that would give me 50 zloty for whatever but with the fees for paying the bills it cost me 21 zloty more. Jesus I Trust You!

On my way to the cafe I thought I would stop and see one of my students who works across the street from the post office where I paid my bills. I asked about her health, as she has been sick and if she would be joining us for lessons this week. Stuff like that. Like I usually do. Then out of the blue she invited me to have coffee with her. We talked about this and that...then one thing led to another. All of a sudden I found myself sharing my life with Jesus. The grace, love, freedom and peace I've found in Him. We talked about how Jesus made away for us to have direct conversation to the Father and how I read my Bible. By the time we ended our conversation I had been there 3 hours. Jesus starts and He finishes things. I pray that the power of His true word would be firmly planted in this woman's life that she might know the freedom that comes from being in a personal relationship with Jesus.

The numbers in my bank account may continue to diminish but the joy and life that I experience with Jesus is worth it all.

Friday, April 11, 2008

God's Creative Spirit

This is a prayer request:
One of the young women from the Thursday Bible Study is starting a franchise business. This young woman was in one of the first Bible Studies that Carol and I did 11 years ago. There was a group of about 10 young people who travel from a town 2 hours away to be in this study. Now Ola is living in Krakow. And Yes, you heard me right creating a franchise from scratch. Tonight she share with us not only an idea but a reality. Next month "The Polish Hot Dog" stands will hit the streets with hopes of 1000's of them being spread throughout the country and maybe even Europe. It is an original version of the New York style hot dog stand, complete with cooperation from Coke Cola.

All I know is that I tasted the dogs for myself and it is worth the price of $1.50. Look out McDonald's there just might be some competition around the corner.

I don't really understand business let alone franchises but I ask that you would join with me in prayer that God would bless this creative idea and that it would not only be a blessing to many but bring glory to the kingdom.

You can find their webpage at www.polishhotdog.pl . It's in Polish but take a look at it anyway.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

God's Timing

Have you ever noticed that when things don't go the way you or I want them to go, that there is the thinking that God's timing is off?

Today I was reading the story of the death of Lazarus. I realized that so many times I, like Mary and Martha, say to Jesus "If only you had been here Lord!" All the while I'm implying that Jesus made a mistake by delaying. Or I question His love for me. Or maybe I believe some lie of the enemy that I have done something wrong to cause this delay.

I lose sight of God in all my attempts to "figure it out". God's ways are not all about "ME", they are about Him and His glory. John 11:4b "No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this."

I also realized that I usually don't pay attention to all the times God's timing is amazingly perfect. Those situations when things come together when there is no reasonable way they should have or could have.

Like today when I left the cafe where I had been spending time with Jesus. I was thinking about anything or anyone in particular. I had no "spiritual mindedness" about me what so ever. If I had been thinking of anything it was how I was going to walk home without getting soaked.

As I stepped out the door I greeted the lady I have come to know as the Ice Cream Lady. She owns the local traditional homemade ice cream shop that is only open from spring to fall. I didn't think anything of it at first. But....she did something very unusual. She took me by the arm and said "Come and see". She wanted me to show me how they had remodeled the ice shop. For some reason this woman I have only said "Hello" to for 20 years needed me to see and approve of her work. It's hard to explain the feelings I felt...maybe honor, acceptance, I didn't even really know what to say.

But back to timing: If I had waited for the bill instead of paying at the counter I would have missed that woman.

Then as I continued my trek home through the pouring rain (of course I hadn't thought to take an umbrella) I bumped into a student I had last year when I substituted at the local Community College. I had even forgotten that I had prayed that the Lord would allow me to meet her in town one day because I felt a connection with her. Today was the day that the Lord had ordained as the day we should meet and exchange numbers.

I guess I need to remember. when I want to have my 3 year old temper tantrum because God didn't show up according to my timing, that Jesus really does LOVE ME and His plans are perfect and beyond anything I can possible imagine.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Growing Faith & Trust to a New Level

"Do you Trust Me?" Jesus asks.
"Well of course I do, Lord."
"How much do you Trust Me?" He asks.
"I trust you with everything, Lord. I left my home, career and country to serve you...of course I trust you." "I trusted you when you asked me to take only teaching jobs here that would develop relationships for your kingdom" "And you have been faithful to meet my every need."

"But will you Trust Me if it looks like the money won't be there?"
"Sure Lord, no problem, you're God I can trust you." "But wait!" "I don't see the money?"

The Lord is challenging me to a new level of trust. I cancelled the lease for the building in Zakopane and the Lord was so good to give us favor with the landlord that he let us out early and compensated us for the repairs we had made. But the young couple who had been living there and renting a room have gone through financial problems and didn't pay 2 months worth of rent (which meant I did).

"Yes, Lord, I trust you"

Then when I got the final electric bill 2 weeks ago & it was over $500 and they couldn't pay (I had to pay). (Of course the contracts were in my name so I was a bit stuck). Then my gas bill came. It was a bit higher because I had had a number of guests (showers you know).

"I trust the Lord"

I will have to pay some US taxes this year as none of my donation points handle withholding. Plus, my health insurance is due in June. The dollar dropped again to the lowest I can remember to 2.15 zolty to the dollar. Any one or even two or three of this at one time would be a stretch but now I'm at a bit of a panic.

"aaaah, trust? Lord, aha, I trust....you."

My monthly support has been averaging (to Mission Dispatch) $1,300 per month. With all the above challenges it would be tight but managable.

"Oh yes, Lord, I trust you"

However, THIS MONTH my support was $440.

"Now Lord, you said I can trust you...right...that you will take of me if I'm faithful to you...right?"

Now my rationale mind goes nuts. I am the daughter of a banker. I've had a savings account since I was born. And I hate being over-extended even just a bit. I know that I will need to fill the tank in the car at least 2 more times ($65 each) this month if I fulfill my ministry obligations. The phone bill and the condo dues are coming at about another $150. Physical therapy $40. The way I do math, that leaves about $150 for food for the month. Not to mention that my washing machine was leaking the last time I used it, it's time (past time) for the car to go for a check up and my computer is seriously limping along. Oh, I have a house guest who is unemployed.

"Jesus, can I really trust you?" "I mean really?" "Jesus I have to trust you because there is no other way through this."

Jesus says, "I love you and I will not leave you alone in the struggles in your life." "Watch, See, I take care of my sheep"

***While writing this post I recieved a phone call from a woman asking me to come visit. Of course I said yes but I had no idea what the reason was for the request. After finishing this post I went for the visit. Upon arriving she told me that it wasn't urgent that I come but that she had something for me. It was an envelop with payment for some editing I had done months earlier.

Yes, Jesus you do take care of me. You are teaching me what it means to live by daily bread. Thank you for today's manna.

Denise’s News from Poland

Spring 2008

Dear Friends,

I’m always amazed at how quickly time really does fly. It seems like just yesterday I was shoveling snow and now the grass is green and the storks have begun preparing their nests. Hmmm well I was shoveling snow at Easter.

This new year has brought with it many new and exciting changes and challenges. The new relationships with the church in Krakow and the people of the church have been a great source of encouragement and cooperation. I have discovered how connected I really am to the community in Nowy Targ. As I walk the streets (exercising my leg) I meet people everyday that I have opportunity to encourage and bring hope. The Lord has been showing me how much more fruitful I can be when I take my time to listen to Him and go where He leads me each day (literally). My heart’s desire is to be able to each day say “I do what I see and hear my heavenly Father do and say” and nothing more and nothing less. Of course some days are better than others but I haven’t been so happy and so at peace in such a very long time.

True Confessions: Those of you who know me well, know that I am a social person and that spending time alone has been almost torturous. In the last few months I have been learning what it means to enjoy solitude. Being both a social person and single this is a real miracle. Now I didn’t say that I’m alone or that I’m enjoying loneliness but solitude. In the past I have run and hid from quiet solitude because I think I was afraid of what I might find in that stillness…ME. The me I didn’t want to see. But you know what I found…ME….and JESUS. I discovered a whole new awareness of what GRACE is and means. No more SHOULDs. No more shoulds; of how I should minister, who I should meet, how I should have worship, what a sermon should look like, how many chapters of the Bible I should read, what I should do or shouldn’t do. In the process I began journaling like never before. This is a miracle as “I hate writing” but my solitude is filled with an on going dialogue with my friend Jesus. I find myself repenting every other day because of what I have read. I discover truths of God that have always been there but my clouded eyes just couldn’t see them.

The most exciting thing is that through this honest, heartfelt time with Jesus I experience that He uses what He teaches me almost immediately. These times of solitude feed me and prepare me for those visits from the young people who are searching … for hope, guidance, wisdom, advice and more of Jesus. It is like the very truth He gives me today with be the answer for the question I will be asked tomorrow.

Through this process I have discovered myself or maybe I ought to say rediscovered who Jesus has made me to be…I knew this but somehow I allowed myself to be trapped by the well meaning expectations (real or only my perception) of godly people. It was almost like magic…the shoulds fell away and then I could see myself as Jesus sees me. I’m a storyteller. I’m a discipler! I don’t know if I will ever see myself in front of another church building. But I know that Jesus will bring young people to sit and have coffee (good coffee) and listen to stories.

Easter weekend was just that. I had a Easter film festival of sorts. (Thanks to Travis and Jordan who brought a LCD projector to convert my basement into a home theater). Good Friday we watched “The Passion”. There were 5 of us who cried, reflected, worshiped, prayed and shared communion. Saturday we watched “Luther”. Sunday we had a worship time scheduled for 4 PM but everyone got here around 6 something we worshiped and prayed. Then they decided they wanted another movie. One of the young people decided to stay the night. Monday is also a holiday here: I had “Pollyanna” schedule for 5 but God had other plans. One of the young people came needing a hug. The whole family, holiday thing was just too much and she needed to come “home”. And then at 7 another person showed up for a movie.

So my plans….? Lots of SOLITUDE with Jesus. LISTEN for Jesus voice. ENJOY the adventure of letting Jesus have his way with every moment.

In His Loving Service,

PS. Check my blog for more regular updates and pictures. Also, Travis fixed my internet phone so you can call me at 1-206-400-2999. It’s free for me and my be for you as well.

News Briefs
Travel: April 19th to May 4th I will travel to Switzerland for a Pastor’s Conference. It is a great opportunity to meet and fellowship with other Foursquare workers in my region of Europe. Praise God for frequent flyer miles! While in Switzerland I will also see a doctor about my leg.
May 24 -30 I will fly to Houston to attend the Foursquare Convention. Some of you may have heard my desire to attend through my blog. I hadn’t planned on going but this year the Mission Director Mike Larken resigned. Mike did so much for me and helping me to be accepted as a Foursquare Missionary that I really felt strongly about attending to thank him one more time. It is also a good opportunity for me to meet and begin building a relationship with the new director. (God miraculously provided the funds through a dear friend just at the deadline for registration).
I have been planning and still hope that God will provide for me to go to Ireland in June. I have a number of dear Polish friends who have relocated there for work. They have been begging me to come and encourage them. Though the tickets are fairly cheap I don’t have money at the moment to buy a ticket. I would appreciate you prayers about this.

Health: I still go to physical therapy once every other week in Krakow. The Lord somehow continues to provide the finances to pay for these visits as the insurance stopped after 10. Each visit costs 90 zloty and with the current exchange rate that translated to $30 in June and $41.86 today, plus travel to and from Krakow. Recently the stiffness has been having an effect on my knee and hip causing pain. I have an appointment with the best orthopedic doctor specializing in ankles in Bern, Switzerland. Pray that he will be able to fix whatever is not working properly and that my insurance will cover the costs.

Freedom: A Winter snow camp weekend February 22-24th. We are planning on between 20-30 people who will participate from various countries. We are praying for a release in many people’s lives from the bondages that keep them from the life God has for them. This winter weekend really came together. I was uncertain that there would be anyone around to go. In the end Travis and his friend Jordan came from the US and helped join the young people from the Krakow Bible Study with some young people from Nowy Targ/Zakopane. It was a great time of fellowship and really set the stage for openness and further freedom through the Bible Study.

Krakow Bible Study Group: Life Hurts God Heals. This study has been the highlight of every week. The material is a wonderful mix of sound psychological principles and strong Biblical truths…my two favorite topics! Add that together with a group of college/career young people who truly want to grow into all that God has for them and you can see why I’m having such a great time.

Coming Soon! Ladies Night: Still coming soon. We have had a difficult time being healthy. I’m sure that the Lord has just the right time prepared. Please pray the Lord would prepare their hearts and that He would give me wisdom on what and how to organize the time.

Current Financial & Other Needs:
I want to thank all of you who have been so faithful to support me in prayer and finances. My financial support for the 1st three months of this year was amazing. I was able to do everything the Lord set before me without concern. I have had many visitors during this time which has been a great delight. However it has resulted in an increase in my expenses. Also the church was short approx. $2000 that I had to pay which has drained my savings. I’m looking at paying my taxes and health insurance with anxiety, as well as the possibility of a long fast. This is new territory for me. Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the Lord’s provision and peace while I wait.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support, Denise

Financial Information Contributions:
Denise Johnsonc/o Mission Dispatch, Inc. 21911 76th Ave W., Suite 211Edmonds, WA 98026

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

God's Amazing Financing

Some of you may remember my desire to go to the Foursquare Convention in Houston. I shared how it was an impossibility with the cost of the ticket being over $1800 plus incidentals. My main reason for wanting to go is that the Mission department is going through a major transition. The director who made it possible for me to be a Foursquare Missionary has resigned and the new director is someone I have never heard of let alone met before.

Foursquare was generous enough to cover my registration and hotel but.... still there was no money in my pocket for an unplanned trip to the US for less then a week.

Last week I recieved an email that the deadline for registration was this last Friday. I had pretty much resigned myself that I wouldn't be going. Then a little bit ago I talked to a dear friend who said that she had money she wanted to give me for the trip. And as only God can do, it was plenty, plus I was able to find an even cheaper flight on a carrier that I have frequent flier miles on.

Praise God for His Faithful Love and Care