Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Donkey...

I heard a man’s story today at church that truly moved me. But let me back up for a second and tell you about my church. It’s probably one of the biggest churches in Loja… has a ton of teenage and college student, big building, really awesome band, lively worship music, and a good number of “programs” and meetings during the week. Here is the one thing about my church that breaks my heart, they rarely talk about Jesus. Last week, for example, the only time they said the name of Jesus was in worship songs or at the end of a prayer. This is something that continues to perplex me… what is a church without Jesus?

So on to today’s story… a man stood up and gave testimony of how the Lord had rearranged his life. It was the kind that people love to hear… “I was drinking, smoking, doing drugs, being sexually promiscuous, and the like and then I found Jesus.” I really was expecting him to say, ‘I found Jesus and I never wanted to do any of that stuff EVER again.’ But he didn’t… instead he said, “I was sitting outside on a Saturday night smoking a joint and wondering to myself if I would go to church the next day.” Isn’t that real life? And then he said, “And the Lord spoke to me and said, you can’t live like this anymore.”

I was listening to an English sermon on line on the way to church and the guy said that we were all in different places in our spiritual life… all had struggles, and if we SAID we didn’t we were liars. And then he said, “You’re messed up and that’s ok… BUT its not ok to stay that way.” How profound is that… people fall on both sides of the fense here… you’re a Christian now, so you shouldn’t struggle with sin (which is a load of crap) OR it’s ok for me to stay in my sin and not grow and because Jesus saved me (which is also a load of crap). We are all in progress, but the point is that we are GROWING to know Jesus more every day.

At the end of this man’s testimony he did something that I’ve been waiting to hear at my church for a long time. He spoke the name of Jesus. He spoke his name in relation to Jesus’s death and resurrection being our salvation… he preached the gospel. I almost jumped out of my skin I was so excited. YES! That’s where you find true freedom and purpose!

But he didn’t stop there, he went on to say that God has called us to be used by him… and talked about all the things that God has used of the decades for his glory. Five rocks, a staff, the sea, frogs, jars of water… the list goes on. But my favorite was this example: “If God used a donkey to speak to a prophet, he can use me to speak to the nations.”

I was brought to tears because I realize that I really don’t think God can use my “junk,” he can only use what I would consider strengths. So in that moment I confessed that I’ve been too cocky about my strengths and too timid about my weaknesses. If God needs me to be a donkey, then a donkey I will be.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


All is laid bare… nothing is hidden from his sight. I can almost see it now, standing naked before the judge with the accuser screaming insults, displaying all of my faults before judge and jury. The accuser points his finger as I shrink back knowing that all he says is so horribly true. His case is so solid, “She SAYS she follows you, but look at her! Look at that pride, the ugliness in her heart, her lust, her idols! Do you really want that?!” As the judge is about to pronounce sentence upon me, my High Priest steps in, and before I realize what is happening, he swoops me up into his arms. I cry out, “No! I’m too dirty, I don’t deserve…” My muffled cries are silenced as he whispers in my ear, “I have taken your place. Your sins are forgiven” The shrieks of the accuser are silenced as my Priest declares, “She is mine. My blood paid for that pride, ugliness, lust, sin. I have given myself for her.” He looks on my filthy body with love. Through my tears, he sees me. Through my filth, he sees his grace. “Nothing can separate you from my love.” My lover has come for me.

As I read Hebrews 4 this morning, this was the scene that was laid out before me. All is laid bare before Him. How much more bare do you get than naked… and thanks to the first sin, in that state is where you will feel the most shame. God sees what you try to hide. He is not fooled by your mask or your good deeds. His Word is able to divide bone and marrow, don’t you think he can see who YOU really are?? He cannot look upon your sin and do nothing, otherwise he would not be just. So, he chose to do something. He chose to send you a High Priest who has been there. He DWELT among us. He didn’t belong on this earth, but he chose to be here… to be one of us, to be with us. To sit in the dirt and to know what is was to be human. And in that dwelling, he suffered and he died. So when the accuser begins his tirade, our High Priest can step in and say, “I have made the ultimate sacrifice once for all. The righteous for the unrighteous.”

I don’t know where you are right now, but I know that the Creator of the Universe wants to pick up the broken pieces of you and make you useful. He has shown me today all that he has given up for me. And through my muffled cries, I hear the words that save me, “You are mine.”

Monday, June 2, 2008

Planes, trains and asians in automobils

So I have about the coolest sister in the whole world. She challenges me with the Word and encourages me with truth. She has been here in Ecuador with me for the past 2 1/2 week and it has been such a blessing. Let me give you some of the funny points and then some of the serious points.
Janna´s adventure started before she even arrived due to the fact that my mom told her she needed to go through customs in Panama. Naturally she followed the crowd through the customs line, got her passport stamped and as they were about to shoo her out the door into Panama City she realized that that was NOT where she wanted to be. In her broken spanish to desperately tried to explain that she DID NOT want to leave the airport as she watched her passport pass from person to person and eventually out of her sight. Thankfully she got it back and pointed in the right direction where she later arrived in Quito.
While we were in Quito, we decided it would be fun to take the public trolley despite suggestions not to, instead of taking taxis. (It was cheaper!) On one such trolley ride, we happened to get on during the lunch rush. Picture this with me: Janna is at least a head taller than all the Ecuadorians so they are trying to push their way around her as she is trying to do acrobatics around them. It was a picture perfect moment, EXCEPT that I was too crowded in to even pull out my camera.
Then there were the asians in automobils. Janna and I were walking through Quito when we have honking and we turn around to see a car full of asians waving. We look around assuming they are waving at someone else, but we are the only ones there... Asian Power! We stick together no matter what country we´re in.
As far as some of the serious things, my sister is so encouraging. She was the pick me up that I needed at this exact time. While she was here, she got to see my first attempt at a new bible study. Yep, that´s right... the Bible study with my friend Leydi that I´ve been praying for for months has finally happened! Praise God! And this first time we talked about the first chapter of John... but we actually ended up talking about everything from Genesis to the Gospel of Mary. The Lord is moving and I´m just excited that he´s allowed me to be along for the ride... so whether trains, planes or asians in automobils, I´m just along for the RIDE!