Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is 46:4

"I am he, I am he who will sustain you, I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you." - Is 46:4
This has been the verse that has sustained me lately. The thing that catches my attention the most about this is that it is all about HIM. It really has nothing to do with me, what I do or don't do. What's I'm good at or what I can't do to save my life. He is the one who says, Look I know you inside and out... so let me be the one who takes care of it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wet and wild ride!

When I first heard about this little hike I thought it sounded alright (though the beach sounded MORE fun). When my beach option fell through I decided to go with the group on their hike. There were two options… #1: Drive to a place about 40 minutes away, drop all our junk and take 2-3 hour hikes to different places. #2: Drive 45 minutes to Vilcabamba and hike 6 hours WITH all our junk to a refuge. Guess which one I wanted to do. If you picked number two… you know me well. If you picked number one, you know the guys I went with very well. Because Carolynn and I were outnumbered 5 to 2, we went on the 6 hour up hike with all our junk. BUT the guys said they would be the pack mules.
Even so, I did not realize what I was getting myself into. I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally got there (1 hour straight up, 2 hours pretty flat and another 3 hours up), but that was short lived as it began to rain and I mean RAIN for 5 hours. So that 6 hour hike UP became a 4 hour hike down a slippery muddy slope.
As we slid down after one another through muddy water, I learned something… how to follow. I am not a good follower. I think that somehow my way is better. This thought quickly disappeared as I thought that I somehow knew better than the person I was following and dropped into a soupy mess covering my shoe in mud and filling my socks with water. If I put my foot where he puts his, I’ll be ok. If I decide my way is better, I’ll end up knee deep in crap. Does that sound like my walk with God or what?? You have to know and trust the one you are following. If you know that that person wants the absolute best for you, you know that where they walk will be the most secure.
Though I’m sitting here today sore as can be, it was a good hike… I got to see God’s majestic creation and learned a thing or two about following.

If you want to see some pictures of the beauty we saw (and craziness of carnaval), click here:
pictures of carnaval

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goodbye to a dear friend...

I remember when I met her. I had just recently come to Ecuador and my Spanish was crap. We were at a barbeque farewell for another friend of ours and I was introduced to her as someone who was interested in a Bible study. My very first thought was: YEAH RIGHT?! There is no way I can lead a Bible study in Spanish… I can barely get myself around town!
But as always God had other plans and that’s when we started our Bible study about a year ago. Since then I have seen Maria de los Angeles grow into an amazing woman of God. I’ve seen her take the challenge of studying the Word and challenging her friends with the same. I have seen her telling others about Jesus and becoming burdened for her family. I’ve seen our little Bible study grow from just a couple to six. And above all of that, I have a gained a dear friend who I will miss terribly. At the same time I am so proud of who she is and what she will be doing. She is going to a small town in Bolivia, Chiquito (literally translated SMALL… and that it is!) for a year as part of her studies in University. She will be helping poor indigenous people there.
In a recent conversation we had, she informed me that after this year, she is thinking about joining a mission and helping people physically as well as spiritually. What a blessing to see what the Lord is doing in her heart. Please be praying for her as she will be quite far from any evangelical church (at least I think so). Pray that the Lord would provide other believers to encourage and uplift her. Pray also that she will have ministry opportunities among these people.
My heart is broken because my friend is gone, but it rejoices knowing that the Lord has her in His hands whether she is in Ecuador or Bolivia.
(Picture from left to right... Carolynn, Maria de los Angeles, Susi, Gabi, Margoth and Me)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To complain or be thankful... hard choice

Do you ever find yourself moaning about how horrible your life is and how you wish that whatever CRAP you were going through right now would just end? If I could take a poll, I think 8 out 10 people would say yes.
But how many of us actually look at the things to be thankful for that we take for granted. "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God and the peace of God which passes ALL UNDERSTANDING will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
So here are 13 random things that I am thankful for... maybe you should try it.
I am thankful...
1. For electricity and running water (most of the time).
2. For friends who love and care for me.
3. For the Word of God in my language.
4. That I can see beauty.
5. For my two legs to walk on.
6. For a family that supports me and loves me as I am.
7. That I live in Ecuador and I get the chance to see a beautiful country and culture play itself out ever single day.
8. That I can make my own food, and don't have to eat platanos every day.
9. For internet (somedays I complain that it doesn't work, but I should be thankful that I have it at all... I could be like the missionaries in the 1920's and never get to see or speak to anyone at home ever again!)
10. For Jesus Christ and him walking close to me in times of plenty and in times of want.
11. For the ability to smile and laugh
12. For a normal toilet, though I can't flush toilet paper.
13. For coffee... but that's a given.

There are a million other things I am thankful for, but this is my little starter list. Take time to thank God for all He has done for you. I for one can I say I have no idea where I would be without him.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I think you got the wrong one...

I am so quick to judge the stupid things people did in the Bible. Take Moses for example... I give him such a hard time for saying NO when the Lord said you're going to save my people. But as I really think about it, that's pretty gutsy to say no to God. Then there are stupid people like me who say YES, but have a really hard time trusting that the Lord will do what he says he's going to do.
Like yesterday when I say to God (like Moses): I'm not kidding, I think you picked the wrong person to run the cafe. I think you made some mistake in asking or I made some mistake in saying yes. I take it back... I take it back!!
As I was sitting on the roof of our house, crying out to the Lord telling him he made a mistake he opened my eyes to see several bright stars in the sky.
He said: What if that one star wasn’t there? Would it make a difference?
My response: No… not really.
So He said: But what if I have a plan and a purpose for that star? What if my will wouldn’t be done without it. If you knew all of that, would you dismiss it so easily?
My obvious response: Of course not! If I knew that you had some great plan for it, I would never discount it.
His zinger: Then why would you discount your reason for being here at this time in this place for a reason that is not yet known to you?

I sat in silence as I was put in my place by my loving Father. I thanked him for choosing me even if I didn't understand the reason because really, it’s all about his plan, not mine. I love how the Lord uses my weak things to show his strength. If all of my weaknesses need to be exposed so that he receives ALL the glory, so be it. My job is to be obedient, to walk close to his heart and know him more every day. Some days that seems harder than others.
What about you? Are you living in accordance with his plan or are you discounting yourself thinking he has no plan for you?
"I am with you, that's all you need. My power shows up best in weak people." -2 Cor 12:9 (TLB)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Tone...

You’ve heard the tone before. I heard it from my friend Kuky (pronounced liked “Cookie”) when he was ordering and looking at a Christian CD that we sell in the cafĂ©. As he examined the CD called, “El Salvador” (The Savior) he got the “tone” and said, “Oh, he’s a Christian.” A little in jest and a bit in sincerity I asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Kuky quickly tried to get himself out of that hole. “Nothing… I mean I believe in God and whatever.” And that started a really interesting conversation as we sat at the register. He informed me that he had faith and he believed that Jesus was a revolutionary, which I quickly agreed to. (Jesus put out ideas that would rattle most “modern day Christian’s” closed minded little boxes.) But as we continued to discuss, I said that I believe that the Bible is truth and the Word of God. He just smiled and said, “Now there is where we differ. I think it’s just a whole bunch of crap that man made up. The Koran has a better chance of being truth than the Bible does.”
That made me start thinking about the people who call themselves “religious” here… whether Catholic, Evangelical or (like my friend Kuky) somewhere slightly off in left field who are confused by the idea of truth, the Bible and a relationship with Jesus. A fellow missionary friend of mine reminded me today of the percentages of evangelicals that live in Loja. This number doesn’t even mean they are growing believers, it’s that they CLAIM to belong to some sort of Evangelical movement opposed to a Catholic movement… and the numbers are staggering. Less than 1%. Sometimes this number blows my mind due to the fact that I live in a normal apartment with normal electricity and water. I don’t live in the jungle or in a tribe. I live in a thriving city where they have heard the name of Jesus. Here’s the catch, they have not heard that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with them. They have not heard that this is not some set of rules by which to follow in order to “please” this angry God. Instead He is a God who was so angry at our sin that He sent His Son to take care of it so that by belief in Jesus Christ(not by going to church or doing good stuff or praying to Mary) each person is offered a living relationship with a living God!
All that to say, please continue to pray for open hearts to true Gospel where true freedom lies. Pray for my friend Kuky that he would know the TRUTH that is found only in Jesus Christ.