Monday, April 28, 2008

Just a thought...

As I was sitting in Church today looking at all the youth, I thought about all the youth I saw on the street on Friday night. There are literally thousands of teenagers in Loja. What do we do with all these teenagers who are lost and desperately needing a Savior? How do we reach these thousands of high school and college students? It feels like something that can never be achieved. But then as the pastor spoke, I began to think back to the time of Christ and their mission… not just to reach a city, but to reach the world. Now THAT was something unachievable.

I have been giving some serious thought to how this might be done in Ecuador and to be quite honest I have no idea. Well, I have half an idea but have no idea how to carry out that half of an idea. I guess it’s the same idea that they had thousands of years ago and the same one they will have a thousand years from now. You must teach other people how to share the gospel. If you just attempt to do it solo, you will only get so far.

This morning as I sat in church I became impassioned about how to get these kids to know Christ and how to equip and empower them to share the power of the living Gospel with another. And this is what I came up with NOTHING.

I had a million and one ideas… having a youth conference, learning Spanish really fast and becoming a motivational speaker for Loja teenagers (yeah this one went out the door really fast!), rallying the youth pastors and teaching them how to teach their students… and seriously in the 2 hours that I sat there, the list could have gone on and on (and not all of the ideas were that bad), but THIS is what I heard from the Lord… pray.

Pray that HE would give just the right idea… you could do exactly the same thing as someone else did in a town 20 miles from you, which worked beautifully and it could completely flop in Loja. HE is the God of original ideas. He knows what Loja youth need and how they need it. It might not even include me… He is calling me in this moment to love people and to pray.

So that is what I am asking you to do… my heart is bursting right now over the lost ness of the youth in Loja… even the “believing” youth in Loja live life like they have little or no purpose. So would you beseech the Lord with me… would you partner with me and allow yourself to be burdened for the people of Loja?

It’s just a thought….

Monday, April 21, 2008

How do you pray?

When you pray, do you think He actually hears you? When you pray do you pray like he is going to answer or do you pray thinking, ‘Well, it couldn’t hurt… might as well pray about it.’

I realized that lately I’ve been praying like he doesn’t hear. But this week he decided to just blow me out of the water.

Here’s the story: I’ve been praying for a couple of my friends (friends I’ve written about before)… one is dating a married man, the other is dating 3 guys, another is settling for a guy who isn’t really what she wants, but he’s the only one around, and the latest one is dating a guy who even SHE says isn’t that great. So I’ve been praying asking the Lord to do something… but not really believing that he would. This week my friends had some fun stories to tell me. My friend who is dating the married guy told me that they got in a fight on Monday and she hasn’t spoken to him since. She said its probably for the best (yeah it is!). And that night I went out with my other friend who told me she broke up with all 3 of her boyfriends and thinks she’ll be single for a while. I found out the next one broke up with her boyfriend (again) and I hope it stays that way. But there was still my last friend who just started dating this guy so I didn’t figure that she would break up with him anytime soon. We were talking yesterday and she said, “I’m going to be single as of tomorrow.” Of course I was shocked and inquired as to why and she just shrugged and said, “He’s not a good guy.”

You see, with all these girls, it’s not really about the guys that they’re dating or not dating, it’s more about them not being with the One who can truly satisfy them. I pray that all these “break ups” are just the first step in the Lord grabbing hold of each one of their lives and showing them his love.

Pray like you mean it and watch God show up!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

7th Grader at Heart?

As I sat in a little restaurant listening to American music, speaking only English and looking at a half dozen other white faces I felt so out of place. This week I got to take a little “vacation” to Cuenca (a more modern city about 5 ½ hours away). There you can find all sorts of things that you can’t find in Loja… for example: a mall, Burger King, a latin version of Walmart, and lots of foreigners.
One such foreigner asked me what I did and I explained a little about what I do in Loja. With a hint of animosity he said, “You’re not Mormon are you?” I tried to explain that I was just a Christian to which he responded, “I thought everyone here was already Catholic?” I found myself shrinking back; ashamed of who I was and more importantly WHOSE I was. To say the least, I said very little after that about why I’m here and the things that I love.
As I sat in my bed that night I was tore up by what I didn’t say more than what I did say. I felt the shame of a 7th grader when your mom walks through the doors of the gym wearing slippers and a robe screaming your name and waving your lunch. I thought I’d gotten past that in my Christian walk. I thought that I was somehow grown up and ready to scream at the top of my lungs about Jesus. But in that moment I felt like Peter swearing that he didn’t know the Creator of the Universe… this week someone reminded me about Paul asking the Galatians to pray that he would preach the Word boldly as he should. If he was asking for prayer in this area, he too must have struggled with the temptation of shrinking back in fear. So I guess that means at some point we are all just a scared 7th graders afraid of rejection…

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Thing I was most afraid of has come true…

Before I moved here I remember crying about the Thing I was most afraid of. Some peopl wondered if it was the lack of friends… others thought maybe getting sick… or new food… or new culture… but I really I was TERRIFIED that my Spanish would never be good enough to express my heart.

This week it happened. Three different times I had the opportunity to share my heart with someone and I was found wanting due to my lack of Spanish ability. Here’s the story: Leydi is a friend that I’ve been hanging out a lot with and we’ve gotten really close. Right now she is having some guy “issues” and so we met for lunch. She explained to me her desire for a good man and when I asked if she could just be single for a while she said, “No.” And then asked me how I did it.

The there was Philippe. He’s a guy in the English class. This week we ended up talking about heaven for a really long time. He told me how only good people go to heaven. We discussed what separated a good person from a bad person… and eventually he asked for my opinion.

And finally it was at the Bible study as Gabi, one of the girls told a story about her mom not liking the fact that she was going to the Bible study. Last week her mom asked, “Are you turning into a Christian?” She calmed her mom’s fears as she told her that she was indeed still Catholic. This week as she was heading out the door to go to Bible study, her mom stopped her to tell her that if this “change” in her life was due to this Bible study, then she was fine with Gabi going.

Did I have deep thought-provoking words to tell Leydi? No, but I did share with her how my Jesus completes me. That he satisfies me loves me deeply.

Did I have a theologically worded argument to tell Philippe? No, but I told him how much God desired to have a relationship with sinners like me. That no one was good enough to have a relationship with the perfect God of the universe and THAT is why he sent Jesus.

Did I encourage Gabi with a well-worded monologue? Of course not but I loved her and I praised God because of the growth that I (and her mom) see in her.

This week I was more frustrated that I have been in the last 3 months over my Spanish. I was on the verge of tears during Spanish class on Friday. As I sat on the steps and cried out to the Lord, he brought back these three instances to my heart and said to me, “The thing you were most worried about, I took care of. No, your Spanish isn’t good enough to express every word on your heart, but I the Lord will speak for you and will say the things I want to say.

The thing I was most afraid of has come true, but the One I trust with all my heart has come through for me in spite of my inadequacy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hole in My Heart

One wants to be loved so badly that she will settle for someone who isn’t what she really wants. Another will be with someone who is married because he shows her a little attention. Mind you that attention is only when he feels like it and when he’s not with his other family. And then there is the last one who will be with more than one someone just to fill the gapping hole that is in her soul.

My heart has been broken by these women. I cannot figure out how beautiful, intelligent, fun women would stoop this low just to have someone to fill their hearts. They are looking for someone to complete a part of them that was only meant to be filled by One. Why do we as women desire relationship in such a powerful way that we are willing to sacrifice our heart to get it.

I wonder if that’s why Jesus mentions his interactions with women on so many occasions. When he speaks to the woman at the well, “You are right when you say you have no husband, for you have had 5 husbands and the man you are now with is not your husband,” I wonder if he is speaking to every woman’s heart. He’s pointing out to us, LOOK you are looking for someone to fill your emptiness! Only in ME will you find satisfaction.

So, next time you want to settle, next time you think that you can’t get any better, next time you think that all you need is a little more, I want you to remember that the God of the Universe has come to you to say, Nothing on this earth will satisfy… come to me and let me fill you.