Waiting beyond my Pride

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Apr 112013
 

First off let me just apologize for not blogging much in the last couple months (or maybe at all). I am not off to a good start to my new year’s resolution about blogging more. I plan to carve out some time each week to be better at that.

It was a rough morning. My family received some disheartening news. It involved a loss that we had felt for months, but this morning we received confirmation of one of the worst scenarios we had suspected. It was a day of mourning and tears. But amongst the tears God showed me some things about myself. I already knew, from reading Rose Marie Miller’s ‘From Fear to Freedom’, that I tend towards an “orphan” mindset. My sinful tendency is to try to rely on myself rather than God, to try to solve problems on my own, and try to take control of my own life.

I saw today that my pride of trying to be strong, trying to shield others and carry the burden alone, and trying to take control is not just in my relationship to God. It is also with my family. God showed me a picture of what it looks like when I try to do all of the above with Him, through my father. My natural tendency when I received the news was to not tell my father until he was safely home from work, even though I drove in an emotional state. I think to myself maybe he shouldn’t be told every detail , out of my control issue I typically want to know everything there is to know even though I regret it later if it is bad news, so then I want to shield him from that heartache and stress. When the loss first occurred I didn’t want to talk about it because it was too emotional, and talking about it meant verbalizing all the worst case scenarios that had entered my mind and that I had forbid myself to think.  There were a couple instances where it naturally came up and I said I couldn’t talk about it. Probably due to the instant tears, people didn’t press. I probably wouldn’t have talked about it this morning with friends at bible study if I could have hidden it, but that is impossible when your eye lids are swollen to three times their normal size due to crying and your whole face is red and puffy.

But none of the above is what showed me how my pride in this area affects my relationship with God. What illustrated that was my siblings’ natural tendency to call my father at work to tell him immediately, and talk to him about it. They ran to our father, I ran away. They wanted him to have all the information we had been given, I wanted to shield him from the heartache. My family tends to talk about all the information and process together, I tend to grieve by myself and process alone. It was in seeing the reaction of my siblings that God whispered it was a picture of how I shut Him out at times. He knows that He has produced growth in this area of my life, but He wanted me to see there is still much more growth needed.

I don’t want my pride to be a barrier between my heavenly Father and me. I want to run to my heavenly Father instead of away when I am heartbroken and mourning. He is the only One that can truly comfort and heal a broken heart. I know this, and I eventually bring it to Him, but I need to bring it to Him sooner. He can handle my raw emotion and my messiness. He is waiting for me to turn to Him in those times, and embraces me once I choose Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Reflections

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Feb 022013
 

Two years ago, this week, I was surrounded by darkness, I was in a fog of hopelessness and had to force myself to get out of bed. Previous to that week, although I was saved, my relationship with Jesus was on my terms and therefore not what it should be. I had to be in control, and was unyielding to His sovereignty over my life. In the past I have used the analogy that I was like a house, that each wall had been demolished and rebuilt one at a time as I would go through a trial and reluctantly, and unhappily, give that area over to Christ. But my foundation was still just as cracked and unstable as when I started. He wasn’t my foundation, as I had made that my independence and my delusion of control.

Yet I knew something needed to change. That Christmas Eve I reflected on why I loved the Christmas season so much since becoming a Christian. Due to family being away or sick, I spent the evening by myself attending my church candlelight service and then watching Jesus of Nazareth by the lights of my Christmas tree. It gave me time to think. I realized that the reason I loved the Christmas season so much was because I had made Jesus the focus of my life in some aspects during that time. I was more intentional about my relationship with Him, although I now see how I was placing it on my terms. My Christmas tree had been decorated with ornaments that either told something about Jesus, about myself, or about my relationship with Jesus, therefore I decided I was keeping my tree up for the entire year as a reminder to stay focused on Him. It seems silly now, but I see how it was my independent and desperate attempt to hold on to even a little of that Christmas feeling. I wanted more of Him, I just didn’t know how to get it, and still maintain control.

Clearly, Jesus’ plan to keep my focus on Him was very different than mine. At the time, I would have not said it was superior to my way, as I was in the depths of despair, but now I see His faithfulness and goodness in it. I had to be broken. I had to be demolished down to my cracked and unstable foundation so that I could be rebuilt on Him.

While I do recount that time in a writing project that is almost complete (and  God-willing will be available in some form this year), let me just explain that it wasn’t solely the catalyst event that broke me. It was in my heart wanting more of Jesus and because of the event, and the lies the enemy was feeding me about it, feeling rejected and unloved by God. The lie was that Christ had never wanted me, never loved me, and I had deluded myself into believing He did or ever could, that this event showed His not protecting me, His indifference to me. I was beat down. I was broken. This time of being at the bottom of the pit, thankfully, only lasted a week before God broke through with His truth and showed the lies for what they were. Then it was a slow climb out of the pit, but then I was willing to start climbing. I could muster some strength after that.

Rose Marie Miller writes, in Nothing is Impossible with God, “Nothing is impossible with God. I had always heard this, but for a long time it didn’t seem true for me. For much of my life kept God at a distance, building walls of self-protection and self-reliance. I said I was a Christian, but my life said, “I can manage without God.” When crises came, the walls went higher. But there came a day when building walls did not work and I was left with, “I don’t believe God exists, or if He does exist, He is a dark cloud over my life- a cloud of fear, guilt, condemnation, and loneliness.” Into this dark cloud God spoke, not with an audible voice, but with life-giving words.”

I love this passage of her writing because it is like she is telling my story. The last two years during this anniversary, if you will, I have reflected back to what Jesus has done in my life since then. It is hard to believe how He has changed my life since that time, the way He has produced growth through relationship with Him. I will always be a work in progress, but I can see areas where He has changed my heart for what breaks His, I can see how He truly is my foundation now, and I can see how He has used His fruit in my life to direct me to His plan for my life. His faithfulness was there even when I was not faithful and tried to keep him at arms-length. His goodness was there even in allowing events to take place that would break me and ultimately bring me closer to Him. I can see how He allowed only enough to do what was necessary, not more than enough as discipline of which I deserved.

I do not reflect back every year to live in the past, but instead to reflect back in worship of His character and His love.

Review of 2012 [in books]

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Jan 022013
 
bookreview2

I read a blog post by someone else where they suggested books to read in the upcoming year and I loved the idea. But I also wanted to personalize it by suggesting some of the books I read in 2012 and explain how they spoke to me. I also wanted to reveal some of the books that I will be reading in 2013, in case anyone wanted to join in. I love this idea and I think I am going to keep this as a New Year’s tradition on my blog (which means next year it will be better because I will be planning ahead of time and collecting information and thoughts as I read them). You can also connect with me on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/9326025-tina) and see what I am currentlly reading. Goodreads also has a 2013 reading challenge, therefore I have challenged myself to read 24 books in 2013 (I am really hoping to read more, but felt I should start with a reasonable goal the first time, especially with resolving to blog on a regular basis).

So here is my review of 2012 in books:

 

 

From Fear to Freedom: Living as Sons and Daughters of God by Rose Marie Miller

This was an amazing book from a personal standpoint. It was a book that God very clearly had brought to my attention, and after reading it I knew what He wanted to teach me through it. Rose Marie Miller is poignantly honest as she speaks through her own testimony, but it was so often like I was reading about myself. She speaks of the characteristics of an orphan mindset as opposed to living as a child of God, such as living in our own strength instead of in Christ’s transforming power. I read this book on my flight home from Nicaragua, after living there for six and a half weeks with friends there adopting a sibling group of four children. So many times the children would handle a situation as an orphan would and I would feel God whispering to my heart of times I act like that towards Him.

 

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.” – Beth Clark (Author of the Introduction)

This book was referred to me by the same friend who is adopting the sibling group of four (we share a heart for orphans and therefore she knew upon reading this book that I would love it). It is one of those books that I know I will read again, probably many times, which my friend already has done. There are so many things in this book that are both convicting and inspiring.

 Katie Davis writes, “People from my first home say I’m brave. They tell me I’m strong. They pat me on the back and say, ‘Way to go. Good job.’ But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for ‘the least of these,’ so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living”

To read this story of an ordinary girl doing something extraordinary through Christ, as a response to Christ’s love, spurs me on to live boldly for Christ in His transforming power. I cannot live boldly for Him in my own strength, but I can “do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

Real Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples by Jim Putnam

I read this book as part of a small group as my church moves towards being more intentional about making disciples, but it was very informative even in my own walk with Christ. As it teaches through spiritual maturity from a standpoint of training up disciples, it is also revealing about your own spiritual maturity and areas where you need to grow. I also found this understanding of spiritual maturity has helped my relationships as I can see the role spiritual maturity plays within the relationship.

 

The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter

My finding this book was unintentional and ironically after beginning the book recognized Kelly Minter’s name as the author of a study that my small group was going to begin upon my returning home from Nicaragua. What I love about Kelly Minter is her realness. She is funny and uses daily life illustrations. It appears that she also has a heart for foreign missions, is also a single woman of God (like myself), and clearly we both love to write and study God’s Word, therefore I related well with her and saw similarities to my own life.

Kelly Minter writes, “For it is out of the unfathomable riches of Christ’s love for us that all these characteristics become attainable virtues: First, because His love gives us a new life, literally allowing us to cast off our selfish natures and clothe ourselves in the character of Christ. Second, because knowing we’re loved gives us the confidence and freedom to live in this new way. When we know and believe God loves us, the biblical virtues are no longer like school uniforms we begrudgingly put on but exquisite clothing we are eager to slip into. When we are confident we are loved, Paul’s list of Christlike characteristics become less chores and more delights we are eager to embody, because we trust the ways in which God has called us to live. We understand that these characteristics will not only bless those around us but will be beneficial for us as well. This is all a distant cry from moralism or behavior management.”

 

Fearless by Max Lucado

Oh where to begin. I had seen this book in a catalog and made a mental note that I wanted to read it, but had done nothing to pursue reading it. While at a friend’s house, I was asked if I wanted to borrow any books, I took a look at her bookshelf as I thought about how many books I was already in the process of reading and therefore how I really shouldn’t start another one. Then I saw Fearless on her shelf and immediately picked it up. Then it was a done deal and I had to borrow it. I read the book that week and loved it. I struggle with fear and tend to live according to my fear, so it was not hard to figure out that Christ wanted to teach me a few things before I left for Nicaragua. Many of the areas in this book were areas where I struggle with fear. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone else who struggles with fear.

What I am planning to read in 2013:

 

Nothing is Impossible with God: Reflections on Weakness, Faith, and Power by Rose Marie Miller

 

Love Does by Bob Goff

 

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan

 

Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Timothy Keller

 

Don’t waste your life by John Piper

strong

New Year’s Resolutions

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Jan 012013
 

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. In the past I have pondered a few and just kind of nonchalantly thought ‘yeah, I’ll do that this year’, but they were never serious goals in which I planned to hold myself accountable. I am going to make a few this year, and here they are:

Seek Christ more & be more obedient. I want to be boldly obedient to Christ, therefore I want to move toward that goal. Bold is tough for me, and this will require leaning into Christ more in this area.

Complete a Bible reading plan. Last year I had begun two Bible reading plans at the start of the year. Then I fell to one. Then I got way behind on the second and gave up. This year my pastor invited my church family to complete a reading plan along with him, so I am going to attempt this again. The reading plan we are doing can be found here: https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/14-first-steps-reading-plan

Write & blog more. I love to write, but finding the time to do so is not always easy. I love when Christ lays a subject on my heart to write about, and then He teaches me as I write through the topic. In 2012 I completed writing a book and wrote the first draft of a bible study on a topic that is a struggle for me. I plan to complete the bible study and publish both pieces in 2013, although I do not yet know which avenue Christ will lead me down in this area. I plan to set up a blogging schedule and be more intentional about posting regularly.

Be more intentional about missions. I want to be more intentional about being on mission every day for Christ, whether that is locally or travelling to do so. I am in the process of moving toward leading my first mission team to Nicaragua towards the end of 2013.

Reflect Christ’s love in my relationships more. I want to acknowledge the Christ is at the center of every relationship and be more intentional in loving others as Christ does, even when it is messy and hard. I want to rely on Christ more in moments of raw emotion and set aside the personal hurt and instead actively love in spite of it.

Feel free to comment some of your resolutions for the upcoming year.

 Happy New Year! Wishing you many blessings in the upcoming year!

 

Be Still & Behold

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Dec 192012
 

The thing about being rendered helpless is that I get to see God’s provision. I am given the opportunity to stand back in watch in awe as He works around me. I am even more thankful for His provision as I know, beyond a doubt, it was nothing I accomplished. Moments like this not only lead me to worship, but to repentance that I am so apt to miss this when I do not feel helpless, even though I really always am. It is a deception that I can ever be in control, that I can ever be my own provider, or that I am anything but weak and helpless.

 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

It is never easy for me to be still and wait on God, but He commands me to it because it strengthens my trust in Him, therefore strengthening and illustrating our relationship. Our relationship of Creator and created, Redeemer and redeemed, Heavenly Father and child of God. He knows that no matter the outcome of the waiting on Him, be it my definition of good news or not, I will come out the other side of this wait more confident of His provision and at peace.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Behold means “Don’t miss this!” or “Be sure to see…”. Don’t miss this, don’t miss the work of His hands. Don’t miss resting in His embrace as He does all the work. When given this opportunity, don’t miss out on wholeheartedly trusting Him and the peace that surpasses all understanding. He will reveal His path for you in His perfect timing, but right now we wait in awe and wonder. We play the part of the wide-eyed child anticipating the Father’s gift. We get to live out our child-like faith.

This next scripture is one I love because of all of the phrases in it that points to our child-like role and His Fatherly love and care for us. Listen for them.

“But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

    he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

    and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

    peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you;

    I will bring your offspring from the east,

    and from the west I will gather you.

I will say to the north, Give up,

    and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

    and my daughters from the end of the earth,

everyone who is called by my name,

    whom I created for my glory,

    whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:1-7

He who created you, He who formed you. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. I will be with you. I love you. 

 

The Battle of Reality

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Oct 152012
 

One of the things that I love about short term missions is continually feeling like I am in God’s sanctuary. It is like I feel His presence more, maybe because I am in a heightened state versus being comfortable and complacent. I feel his protection more, maybe because there is more that I am fearful of outside of my comfort zone. Being surrounded by Christ centered people is not my normal, so for everyday to include praying together, encouraging one another, and studying the Bible together is refreshing.

Now it is gearing up to go back to the battles of reality. I am praying for God to have used this time away to strengthen me. I am praying that I remain in a state of relying on Him and not returning to complacency. I am praying that when I no longer am surrounded by biblical encouragement, I will recognize Christ’s encouragement through His Spirit instead of through others. I am praying that my focus will remain on Christ’s priorities, not on the priorities that the world tells me I should have. My identity is in Christ. I am who He says I am and therefore I pray that the approval of others will remain meaningless.

Upon leaving home I took on the battle for my identity and asked Christ to teach me of my identity in Him, now the battle will be clinging to His truth amongst the everyday warfare. As the enemy wields lies, I need to counteract and respond with truth.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,  and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:10-20

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:6-10

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17

It is almost time to return home, not in my own strength but in His.

Simplicity

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Oct 052012
 

It seems like I see more clearly here. It’s as if I am able to focus here, like things are so simple. Today I played with a child as they played with a plastic shopping bag with a string tied to the handle, as if it were a kite. Maybe because I am less busy, but I can revel in moments here. Hearing a Twombly little  say “Si, me comprendo” when told something in English. Sitting in a protection center with a child, as they cuddle into my arm. A smile, a laugh, a hug. I’m sure there are little moments, like these, that pass by when I am home, when I have a list of things to accomplish and it feels like time is of the essence. Life is too short to miss moments like these. I do not want to be nearing the end of my time on earth, regretting that I was so overly busy that I missed out on important things in life. I can accomplish a list of tasks by the end of the day, but what good is it if I ignored or passed by someone that needed a hug, a smile, or just to feel that they aren’t invisible. Someone that needed to feel that they matter.

While at the center of protection today, and waiting for the child I had been spending time with to return, I sat down at an empty table. A girl, who appeared to be doing homework, that had been sitting at the next table over got up, picked up her books and moved to my table and continued working on her homework. We never had a conversation, just exchanged smiles, due to the language barrier. I admired her boldness, vulnerability, and transparency that she didn’t want to sit alone. As the first child returned and sat down, another joined us as well and the table was now full. It was humbling to think about how we could not even converse, but they wanted to spend time with me nonetheless. Just being together outweighed the limitations.

So many times at home, I easily give up on things that seem too hard, the limitations too much, or the risk too high. I avoid being vulnerable or transparent. I avoid looking most people in the eye, nevermind exchanging smiles. I am not bold. I complicate and analyze everything. I talk myself out of doing things outside of my comfort zone. My priorities are skewed, and need to be reprioritized. People are always more important, more valuable. Always.

Keep your eyes open

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Sep 302012
 

Sometimes I forget that I am in a third world country. It is easy to have days where you forget between our home being behind a fifteen foot wall, internet access, skype meetings, and social media. Even being driven around, at times I get caught up in what the kids are doing inside the vehicle, or talking and laughing with others. But then I take a walk, and I am completely brought back to reality. The sights, the smells (mostly burning), and the sounds. Seeing what is considered, in America, as dilapidated buildings. Hearing car horns honking (it is a courtesy here to let pedestrians know you are driving near them), and not being able to comprehend most of what anyone says when we walk by. I tend to just shut down, stop looking around and not look anyone in the eye. But I realized this is not because of where I am, but where I come from. We are taught that if you walk in downtown Portland not to make eye contact with anyone, don’t speak to anyone, and keep to yourself. This is the opposite of loving our neighbor and being a light to the world. As Robin and I grabbed a taxi to go pick up dinner, and the taxi (a compact car type) already had two adults in it, my tendency is to not even look at anyone. However as I realized my reaction, and we pulled over to drop them off, I looked back to see an older couple who eagerly waved goodbye and smiled sincerely. In America, if anyone was even willing to share a taxi they almost certainly would not be happy about it. There are areas that are best to stay away from, usually noted by Robin as we walk by, like this afternoon’s “Be careful around here, that is a bar”. Helpful, but alarming as you walk by. At one point Robin asked a police officer if everything was okay with a guy we could hear screaming around the block, to which the reason of drunkenness was given. There are reminders all around of dangerous possibilities, but I need to not shut myself off from the people around me as my own delusional protection. There is a difference between wisely cautious and cowardly doubt.

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Every Step Forward

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Sep 222012
 

Every once in a while my old self takes over and I think ‘What was I thinking?!’ But then I have to take a deep breath and remind myself why- my life is not mine, it is not for my comfort, it is not for my selfishness.

These periods usually come in response to being out and about and feeling vulnerable. I hate feeling vulnerable, but I also know God has made great strides in my life in this area. However feeling vulnerable also leads to feeling His protection all the more. Last night I went to watch Christian play soccer. I didn’t really think anything of it since usually there are others, I have met, that go and watch. But last night was not one of those nights, which meant I was the only one, of the group I went with, not on the field. When I first realized this fact I was a little anxious but it quickly went away, thanks to Jesus no doubt. I didn’t think about it again until I realized that all of the families that had been sitting around me had left and it was just me and a group of guys that were hovering close by. Looking down the field and realizing that everyone I knew, probably the only ones there who knew English, were at the opposite end of the field just made matters worse. It was a deep breath and pray moment. But it was also a moment of feeling His protection.

Every time I leave our gated home, at some point, I will have an uncomfortable experience of questioning my safety. But my safety is not based on remaining in comfortable, seemingly safe surroundings, my safety is found in Christ. Every time I return home I thank Christ for His protection and keeping us safe, but in reality I am not any safer back home. It is a delusion. I wake up every day, go about my normal routine and everything is familiar which feels safe. It isn’t safety, it’s complacency. Comfort does not lead to happiness, it leads to complacency. I have been in more dangerous situations in Maine than I have been in Nicaragua, yet I do not thank Jesus for His protection upon returning home every day. With one exception, after being present during an armed robbery I lived months at a heightened state of awareness and fear, but the difference was the fear. During that time I was fearful all the time, unless at home, because I was not trusting Jesus. My faith was lacking as faith and fear cannot coexist (except a reverent fear of God).

I am not any safer at home than I am here in Nicaragua, I just have to rely on Christ more here. I don’t have the delusion of comfort, routine and familiar to find refuge in instead. I don’t want to return home and fall into the same complacency, I want to rely on Christ fully no matter where He places me. I am happier and more alive in that state of being. It means focusing on Jesus with every step forward.

“for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:28a

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7

Sep 152012
 

Yesterday was Independence Day in Nicaragua. The patio of our house is shared with a church building that is directly in front of the house, so when they are having a service they have the doors open leading to the patio. I am sure we would be able to hear them even if the building was closed up, but with the door open, it is like we are there attending. The service started at 7pm and was still going on when I went to bed at 9:30pm (I haven’t completely adjusted to the time difference so it feels like 11:30pm to me by then). I woke up at 12:15am to them singing “Open the Eyes to my Heart” in Spanish, followed by” How Great Thou Art”, a song I did not recognize, and then a sermon. I remained awake until about 1am, so at that point they had been worshipping for six hours. And I have no idea what time they actually ended the service. On a holiday. On an ordinary Sunday, I have never heard of a church in America worshipping for six hours, even shorter on a holiday because people have plans with their families. While I laid awake during the midnight hour, I thought about how we should want to worship at great lengths as well. Not to keep up, not to brag, but out of a heart for Christ. After all, that is really a picture of Heaven- we are going to be worshipping.

“After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”  At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:  the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4

Are we worshipping first and all else is second? Or are we fitting worship into our already busy schedule? I am praying to have more of a heart of worship. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.