Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In the Stillness

In these last couple weeks, I have had a whole lot to think through... the last year of challenges and blessings... how God continually provided the grace to do what was needed... how many doors He closed that I expected to open and how many doors He opened that I expected to be closed. Truly, His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways, higher than mine.

Just to give you a little bit of an idea what God has been doing in my heart over these last couple weeks... when I came back from Mexico, I felt somewhat lost. Obviously, there is great joy in serving Him... especially with a bunch of people all seeking to honor Him in word and action. I was truly blessed throughout the whole trip by His amazing faithfulness, by the things He taught me, and by the people on the team that He used to build me up in Christ throughout the trip. Coming back, I really had to reevaluate my priorities. I can't stress how important it is to really sit down and take some time to think and pray. In the busy-ness of life, we can so easily lose track of His voice. We must be still and listen attentively as we seek Him with all of our heart. You would be shocked if I told you all the things that I had at least considered over the last couple weeks. After talking with a friend about these things and praying and thinking about all the different directions I could go from here, God graciously reminded me of many of the things that I have to work on during this "waiting" period. Alex and I concluded the trip with that study on waiting on Him... and I struggled until the other day to really understand how that looked on a practical level for me at this point. Thanks to His patience and guidance, I was reminded of a huge Bible study that I had been working on for several months now that really needs more attention. I was also reminded of the need to keep better records of my finances and be preparing for the future in that area. He also reminded me of the importance of spending time with my siblings and making a difference in their lives... not to mention that it will help me when I enter a relationship. He also reminded me that I need to be careful to take good care of the things He has given me. I have so much, yet the world is not my home... I must take care of these things and use them for His glory.

I have been studying Romans since I got back from Mexico and it has been a huge blessing to me. One passage that really stood out to me was Romans 12:10-16.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

We would be so well off if we just lived in accordance with this passage. I often pray that He would help me hate evil and cling to what is good. I really never noticed the first part of that verse explaining why we need to live that way. It really is hypocritical to love what is evil. Knowing that God is love and all good things come from Him... to use love as an expression toward something evil is to really mix God's character with evil... which is really hypocritical. Being devoted to one another is really an essential aspect of fellowship. God did not create us in our own little worlds for a reason. He created us to fellowship with one another... to truly love each other as He loved us... to put others before ourselves. In so doing, we are serving Him and blessing each other. We desperately need people to stand firm by us and keep us going in the right direction when we start to stray. We need to be praying for one another! I really struggle with the idea of weeping with those that weep. I am generally not an emotional person. I do cry when I feel I need to cry, but that is very rare. I generally think very realistically about things. For example, if someone dies and they know the Lord, that is something to celebrate... even if I will miss them. If they don't know the Lord, it is extremely sad, but I figure crying won't help that. I can focus on praying for the salvation of others... etc. While I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with this, we are called to weep with those that weep... and that is something I need to work on. We are also called to have the same mind toward one another... and I believe that mind was specified in the verses above. We are to have a heart of humility modeled after Christ who came in human flesh--the ultimate humiliation for the Creator of the universe. I pray that my heart would be full of these things and that it would manifest itself in the way I live.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

His Faithfulness - Mexico 2010

I can't express in words all that is going on in my heart. I think it will take months to process... and I think I want it to take a long time. I should be posting pictures in the near future. To at least give you an idea, here is the work crew with the almost completed roof.

Your prayers for us have been such an incredible blessing. We all arrived safe and sound back to our homes. Alex is probably still on the road headed to some relatives and will be on the road for the next week or so, so you can continue to uphold him in your prayers. I was telling the team the other night that I fully expected to have some sort of major issue on the trip and the only "major issue" we had was that we were given old versions of paperwork for our travlers permit and they wouldn't let us pay for it at the banks. This "major issue" saved each of us $30 and didn't hinder us from getting back to the US. He is so good!

Just to give you a glimse of His visible faithfulness to us on this trip:

-He supplied far above and beyond the necessary funds to complete the house while making it so that we could take no credit for it.
-He brought us safely down to AZ... Alex having spent like 40 hours driving with no issues whatsoever.
-He kept everyone well the entire trip other than one day where Alex was sick and God used that day in incredible ways in his heart.
-He kept us safe during the construction other than cuts, bumps and brusies.
-He gave us great times of fellowship from singing in the car to Bible studies on the beach.
-He truly did unite our hearts to sing His praise.
-He cleased the mission house of Satan's attacks on the Powell family... we literally saw Benny (one of the Powell's little boys) go from coughing non-stop to resting peacefully.
-He broke our hearts to tears and yet still abundantly supplied His grace and mercy.
-He opened doors of opportunity to speak the truth of the gospel to many.
-He displayed a glimse of His majesty through the ocean waves and the vastness of the stars.
-He graciously allowed the things of earth to grow strangly dim in the light of His glory and grace.
-He renewed the joy of our salvation.

Alex and I had a great Bible study in Lamentations 3, yesterday morning on the bus and it really brought great closure to the trip for me.

Lamentations 3:17-26
I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD." I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

At the beginning of the week, we talked about Isaiah 40:28-31 which talks about waiting on the Lord. We often associate waiting with doing nothing. We came to the conclusion that this waiting is not an inactive waiting. The Word is full of instructions for our daily living. Let's take Romans 6:12 for example... "Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies...", or how about 2 Timothy 2:22, "...pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace..." This is not a time to wait inactively... we have so much to prepare for! Hebrews 11 clearly shows us that He is faithful when we trust Him and act based on the truth of His promises.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Waiting on Him is living for Him every moment of every day, trusting that His ways are best, and eagerly seeking to see Him do His part as He promises. We may not always be blessed with being able to see the results, but He will do it regardless, and we must trust Him.

Thank you all for your prayers. Pray that His work would continue in each of our hearts as this is prime time for Satan's fiery darts, and they must be quenched with with Spirit. Join me in thanking Him for His faithfulness.