Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's God calling...

I have been reading a few books recently! As you may notice in my previous post I was reading the book "Radical". I finished and have read two other books since! This is probably the first time in my life I have read so many books in such a short amount of time! The other books that I read were "Heaven is for Real" and "Sacred Romance", both of which I highly recommend! In reading "Sacred Romance" I discovered a new love for my Savior! A new love that He has for me! A love that goes beyond circumstances or situations; a love so deep that it reaches into even the deepest and most secret places of my heart and soul! It's not easy to seek Him as much as I should, but I am learning new things every time I allow God into my life, allowing Him to take my stress, take my worries, my fears! He is so faithful to strengthen us and carry our burdens when we relinquish ourselves to Him in humility and thanksgiving!

God is stirring new things in my heart. Calling me to a greater intimacy! I don't know all of the ins-and-outs of this journey or where I may end up, but I have a peace that passes understanding. I trust God will carry me through it all, knowing that His thoughts for me are good and not of evil. He has a plan and a purpose for my life!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

To be Radical

I have been reading a book called "Radical" by David Platt. This book is so good! I highly recommend it, but only if you are willing to open your eyes to God's view of His purpose for our lives. *The book is very straight forward and may be offensive to some readers, but I agree with much of what Platt says.

In the book Platt writes about the American Dream and what that means for us as Christians. Should we fulfill the American Dream? What does that look like according to the Bible and God's perspective? One chapter hit me really hard. It's called 'How Much is Enough? American Wealth and World Poverty' I want to share a few excerpts from the chapter...

p.111 "if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to question just how effective we will be in declaring the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth. More pointedly, if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all."

WOW! What a statement! I ask myself, "Am I living radically to reflect God's glory by showing compassion to the poor?"
Flashbacks flood my mind...praying for a woman on the bus who had an arm defect...sitting on a dirty sidewalk with a gypsy praying and leading her to Christ...holding small abandoned children fully aware of my chances of getting lice...
I hope and pray that my life is a reflection of God's glory and love to the lost and poor.

Later in the chapter the author shares the story in Luke 16 of the rich man who lives in luxury while ignoring the poor man, Lazarus, who sits outside his gate. The day came that they both died. The rich man went to hell and Lazarus, the poor man outside the gate, went to Heaven.

p.114 "The rich man in this story is not in hell because he had money. Instead, he is in hell because he lacked faith in God, leading him to indulge in luxuries while ignoring the poor outside his gate. As a result, earth was his heaven, and eternity became his hell."
Do we have poor outside our gate that we neglect? Do we turn our head the other way and think to ourselves "God wouldn't use me...look at my problems" or things like "There's no way I could give to the poor, my budgets too tight as it is"?

I have asked myself, "am I doing enough? Who else can I help?" After becoming a full-time missionary in Argentina, I was saddened by the fact that I was no longer able to monthly support a young girl in Honduras (who I had been supporting for a couple years). Now I wonder to myself, "was that the right thing to do, look out for my needs and stop helping this girl?", "should I have kept supporting her while at the same time raising my own support?" I don't have an answer, but my hearts desire is to bless others even while trusting God for my financial situation.

I have become content living with what I have and not buying more. Having lived out of the United States for the last three years, I have learned so much about my own culture. I realize that society says "It's all about you! You're wants, desires, needs!" Society says "Independence is the only way!" I have realized how little we Americans value our families. We look to better our own lives, we move out of our parents house to find our own, have our own car, while at the same time falling more and more into debt. I'm not suggesting we live with mom and dad forever, but why not save a few bucks! Oh, would that hurt our status queue? would we be seen as "out of date and totally not cool"? What would our friends say if they knew we rode the bus or walked? Before I left Argentina in May I really wanted to try and save money while here in the States; I thought about riding the bus, walking to the grocery close to my house, etc. Upon arriving I found out that the car I had planned on driving is now uninsured and not working. I was upset. I had planned on driving and was kind of excited after not having driven in quite some time! One day as I was walking down the road, a little frustrated with my conditions, God reminded me of my wishes back in Argentina. I chuckled to myself and thought, thanks God for making it impossible for me to drive! That way there's no temptation, I have to save money by walking or riding the bus! God has a funny way of giving us our desires!

Okay, back to the book!
I am learning and continue to seek God for guidance and wisdom in my finances. Just as Platt states in the book, p.123 "I wonder at some points if I'm being irresponsible or unwise. But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, "I wish you would have kept more for yourself". I'm confident that God will take care of me."
p.117 "In the dawn of this new phase in redemptive history, no teachers (including Jesus) in the New Testament ever promise material wealth as a reward for obedience."
I do want to say that following Jesus doesn't necessarily imply a loss of all your private property or possessions.
p.121 "Are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?"

When we believe God calls us to give extravagantly, go to other nations, adopt internationally, or just be radical with our finances, do we trust Him? Do we trust Him to know what is best for our lives, our families, and our financial future?

A phrase I learned and love says "Stop telling God how big your problems are and tell your problems how big your God is!" Finances are NOT bigger than God.

1 Timothy 6:6-9 "Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."

This isn't even mentioning the next verse that talks about the love of money, but clearly talks about the desire to even be rich! We need to be careful about what our desires are. Do we want to be comfortable? Live in luxury? I'm not saying that having things is bad or sinful, but let's remember to glorify God with all that we have. God has given us excess, not so that we could have more, but so that we could give more.

I love the example that Platt gives of John Wesley.
p.128 "Wesley identified a modest level of expenses that he was going to live on every year. The first year his income surpassed his level by a small amount, and he gave that excess away. The next year his income increased, but he kept his standards of living the same, so he had more to give away. This continued year after year. At one point Wesley was making the equivalent of about $160,000 a year, in today's terms, but he was living as if he were making $20,000 a year. As a result, he had the equivalent of $140,000 to give away that year."
Wow! What a testimony of someone who really lived radically! I hope my life reflects that same radical trust and generosity!

I'd love to hear your advice, encouragement, or thoughts...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fun with Friends!!!

This weekend I had a great time with old friends! We went to Hood Canal and had a great time even though it wasn't very warm... but that didn't keep me from going skiing!!!
I was so thankful I was able to ski. I had been a little worried because the last time I had been skiing was about 4 or 5 years ago and I have had 3 knee surgeries since then. But as I looped around the canal, tears fell from my eyes out of thankfulness to be skiing again!!!

The Girls right before skiing!!!
Hosanna, Emily, Lynne, me, and Lindsey (a new friend!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts and Ponderings

I am at home in the States right now!!! I have two siblings getting married in July!!! I'm excited to be here for summer...I hope it stops raining soon!

It has been great to reconnect with family after not being here for over a year. It has been great, but I do admit that it has been challenging. My family doesn't recognize their daughter/sister. They see someone who appears to be a part of the family but have said things like "you're very distinct...we're trying to figure out who you are." And when I say recognize, that doesn't mean physically. I look just about the same.
But I do believe God has done and will continue to do a lot of inside changes that may not be as obvious to see as I continue to deepen my relationship with Him. I have learned a lot about myself, my fears, my enemies, my potential, my gifts, my passions, about my past, my present and my future. I have been broken, I have been built up, I have been set free. I have experienced in God in a new and real way!
Talking with someone recently I asked why they believed God to be real. What I was looking for in their response was that they could say that they have experienced Him, beyond what the Bible says, beyond what their parents say, what church says, what their "supposed" to believe. But that really they believed in God because they had experienced Him!

My journey with God will never end. I will make mistakes, learn from them, and keep walking and growing; holding on to God's hand every step of the way.

One thing I have also learned is that when I hear from the Lord, I also look to others. I want to hear concerns and advice. But that doesn't mean that I will or have to walk exactly according to the advice or concerns. I want to go before the Lord with what He's spoken, with what others have shared and weigh them before Him, seek His best.

I will not doubt in the darkness/confusion/conflict/disagreement what I believe God has spoken to me in the light/clarity.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hey blogging world....

The past 5 months I was apart of the leadership team of the
Discipleship Training School here in Mendoza! We had 18 students from
5 nations, the school had two different orientations, one in
counseling/mercy and the other in sports! It was an amazing time of
seeing God transform lives, do miracles in everyday situations,
encourage and disciple others to seek God and a time of growing,
stretching and deepening my personal walk with the Lord! I co-lead an
outreach team of 5 students and we went to Santa Cruz, Argentina (far
south). We worked in various cities doing children´s events, sharing
with youth groups, and always interceding and evangelizing, and
showing God´s love through simple acts of kindness!

I am ready to continue all that God has for me to do here in Mendoza!
I am focusing on raising up the Children´s Ministry, working with
various activities in the different ministries here in YWAM
Mendoza...sports, mercy, art, King´s Kids, and so much more!

Please join me in prayer and support for the challenges and new
opportunities God has for this year! I hope to see great changes in
the lives of many children throughout Mendoza!