Friday, March 19, 2010

Obligation or Obedience?

A friend, who I highly respect as a man of God, once said that oftentimes God gives us a vision and we add so much of our own ideas and plans to it that it no longer looks anything like what God intended for us. He was honest in saying that he and his wife did this to some extent and then God called them to change directions.

Does God give us ideas? Yes. Are they creative? Yes. But not all of our creative ideas are from God nor should all of them be put into action using the name of ministry as an excuse. Ask yourself, does this glorify God? Is this just an excuse for me to look “busy” in my ministry? Does it make a difference in the lives of others? Am I just entertaining others for my own benefit and glory?

These are important questions to ask in any ministry. Whether you’re the pastor of a church where hundreds of people attend each week, with professional-sounding worship, 20 different study groups to choose from, ‘round-the-clock childcare. But the people are hungry for spiritual meat, they’re not growing, they’re not reaching out to the community or even each other.

Or if you’re a youth minister who buys into every gimmick there is for bringing new youth to your events. The only measure you use to know if the event was a success is, “did they have a good time?” You place your focus on entertainment and fun so you can avoid the work it takes to develop relationships and disciple young men and women.

I think some of these situations occur because so many people take positions they not called by God to take. They fill the position because there’s a need, not because they have a calling, vision, or desire for that particular area. And in some cases, God called them to that ministry long ago and since then has called them to move on to something new. Because they have become so comfortable and secure in their current position of ministry, they refuse to move on to where God is calling them. Both of these will eventually lead to a sense of bitterness toward that ministry because you feel obligated not obedient. God desires obedient over sacrifice. You may sacrifice your whole life for a ministry position you were asked by man to fill but if it was not God who called you to it, He does not care how much you have sacrificed.

If you want those under your authority and leadership to walk in the roles in which God has assigned them to, ask them what it is that God has given them a desire for. Ask them what God has given them a vision for. Find out what gifts they possess. Encourage them in developing those gifts and using them to glorify God. Filling positions out of necessity, starting ministries out of obligation, that’s not the way God intends for the Church to do it. He may have shown you the need but if He didn’t give you the heart for it, the end results will not be success in His eyes. If you see a need but you don’t feel it is your job to meet it, pray for God to show you what you can do, pray for Him to send the person who does have a heart for it.

Sometimes we stay in a position or place and do for others what they can do for themselves, not with a servants heart but with a controlling spirit. God doesn’t call us to run the whole race by ourselves but to take what He has taught us, teach it to others, and pass on the baton. When you continue to treat others as though they need your help, what you’re really doing is refusing them a chance to grow and mature in their walk.

Out of Character

One day Christie and I were talking and I mentioned that I’m the shyest person I know. She said she was really shocked. She knows I’m very quiet here because of the language and cultural differences. She was surprised at that because I flew 5,000 miles from home to live with a family I had never met before. She said that even before I came here she thought about what a brave person I must be. I’ve never been accused of being brave before either, quite the opposite.

Sometimes I just sit and think about this whole experience and wonder how in this world it’s happening to me. I think it’s funny to think about how comfortable I have been with the Hagermans from the very first day they picked me up from the airport. Before I came here, I felt like I had already known them my whole life. Normally, I would be nervous even spending the night with someone for the first time. But I never got nervous, worried, or uncomfortable about coming to live in someone else’s house. They have done a fantastic job of making me feel like part of the family.

When things seem a little hard and I get overwhelmed, I have to remember that this was all God’s plan, not mine. Most of you reading this know me personally and probably have known me my whole life. You know that I would not come up with an idea like this on my own….and if I ever did, I would never follow through with it. I’m a quitter. When things get tough, I quit, I give up. This is a quality I don’t want to possess. But I have to admit that so far in life, that has been my way of handling things.

I want God to teach me perseverance. I know it’s a little risky to say that or to pray that. It’s like asking for patience. You know He doesn’t just hand it you, He will start trying your patience more than ever. Asking for perseverance is sure to bring testing and temptation to quit. I love these verses in James 1.…Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be STRONG IN CHARACTER and READY FOR ANYTHING. I had a homework assignment last week. Part of it was to write down what qualities and characteristics I need to have in order to do what God has called me to. The first two I listed were courage and perseverance.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A busy and productive week

It’s been a productive week. Sunday night Ken and Christie went to pick up Dr. Henry at the airport. His plane was late getting in. I think they finally made it home around 4:30 am. Monday we spent the day getting to know Dr. Henry better and went over the material for his prayer seminars.

Monday night we had a surprise birthday party here at the house. It wasn’t a surprise for the man who’s birthday it was but a it was a surprise to us. We had been invited to celebrate with this couple but didn’t realize they were planning to have the party here and that they had invited about 40 people. We only found out they were coming here an hour before people started showing up but even then we were only expecting 4 people. Things like that happen a lot here but it always turns out to be a lot of fun. Unlike us, the lady was not surprised at how many people showed up and she came with enough food for everyone.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights we had seminars in a town about an hour away. There was a great turnout. Also, they did a seminar for the workers and house parents at Hogar Ganar this morning. I decided to stay at home with the girls today since it was going to be a full day, 6:30 am - 10:30 pm.

As busy as things have been, our days have seemed really quiet this week. We’ve gotten a lot of work done. I finally finished reading my second book for missions class.

We have seminars scheduled here in Carapeguá during the day tomorrow and Saturday. We have to be at the airport at 6:30 Sunday morning. Our flight leaves for Uruguay at 8:30. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I know God will do great things through the prayer seminars and the services we will be visiting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I scream like a girl!

I just posted that about how the bugs don’t bother me much. God reads my blog and my mind. I think maybe He thought He’d have some fun this week and see just how tolerant I can be of His little creatures.

Tuesday we took a trip to a nearby park. On the way there, I saw a huge spider web with a huge spider in the middle of it. Within a few minutes, I had counted about 4 of these that I had seen in trees on the side of the road. When I can see it riding down the road, that’s way too big for it to be anywhere near me.

As we walked the trail at the park, we sent the guys in front of us so if there were any spider webs, they would knock them down first. It didn’t always work out that way. At one point, Christie walked through one of the webs and the spider fell down right across her face. I think I would have died right then.

One of the guys who went with us actually got bit by one. He was knocking it out of the way and it bit his finger. He was just as calm as he could be about it. Apparently they’re not deadly because he didn’t die.

There were too many to count, all along the trail. Once, everyone just sort of stopped and stood there looking at me. That scared me because I knew there must be a reason for it. Christie said, “Look right above your head.” I said, “No, that’s okay.” I looked anyway. I couldn’t move. I just stood there for a minute staring at the big scary spider. Then I took a picture if it. I didn’t scream yet because that one wasn’t moving.

Later on, while we were all in the water, I looked over and saw one on Caroline’s flip-flop that was sitting on a rock right beside us. I pointed it out. One of the guys tried to hit at it. When he did, the spider jumped into the water and was moving toward us. I took off running and screaming. I don’t know that I have ever screamed like that. The boys were able to chase it down and kill it.

I hate spiders! The ones in the house don’t bother me much because they’re much smaller than the ones we saw that day. The ones in my room just stay on the ceiling. They’re high ceilings and I believe the spiders stay up there all night long. They may not but just let me believe that they do.

The park was so pretty! I mentioned that we should go there and camp sometime….then I thought about the spiders and changed my mind. When I was little, I prayed every night that there would be no spiders, ants, or bugs anywhere on me or near me during the night. Seriously I did….and to be honest, sometimes I still say that prayer. I can not handle the thought of things crawling on me during the night.

Last night we were sitting out on the porch and a cricket flew up on the porch. Yes, it flew. I’m not making it up. The crickets here fly. The frogs walk and the crickets fly. It flew on me….and again, I screamed like a girl. Yes, I know, I am a girl. But it’s still funny. I didn’t know I screamed like that until this week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lizards, Bugs and Frogs, Oh My!

Some of this may fall under the category of “things you don’t blog about.” I’m not a good blogger. I don’t like to have to sensor myself. I’d rather tell it all. But I know that’s not always appropriate.

We have tons of bugs and creepy crawly things here. When it gets cooler at night, all sorts of strange things come out. And they’re not like what we’re used to at home.

Lizards - We have normal looking lizards here but we also have these teeny tiny ones. From their head to the tip of their tail they’re no more than two inches long. They’re so cute. They don’t bother me much because they run fast. And if you get close to them they run. So I’m pretty sure they won’t try to get on me. The only time I was freaked out by one was when it was in my bed. It was actually in a plastic bag that I sat on my bed. It crawled out of the bag and under my sheet.

The bigger lizards, I call medium-sized because I’m sure there are bigger ones somewhere here that I haven’t seen yet. They like to crawl into the dining room. I always see them on the wall or the window. One night I was sitting at the table and I saw one crawl in through the window. Then another one crawled in. There was a third one also but it stayed on the outside of the glass. I thought I had just stepped into a National Geographic show on lizards when I realized what was going on. Now of course I’m not going to describe it, only to say it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. I sat at the table with both hands over my mouth. I couldn’t wait till morning so I could tell Christie about it. I warned her first that what I was about to describe was a little gross but I felt like if I had to see it, I had to at least tell someone else about it.

Bugs - There are these bugs here that are very strange. It’s like once they land, they die. They’re not very big at all. They’re black, with wings. They come out a lot when it’s cooler. A few nights ago I think they decided to have a party in my bedroom. I had my light on, which I do most nights before bed. There are usually bugs flying around the light but never anything like this. I had been on the computer for awhile. When I went to my room to go to bed, I noticed the whole floor was covered in these bugs. It was like a sheet of bugs across my room. I looked at the curtain over the doorway and it was also covered. I then looked at my bed. My sheet was covered from top to bottom. There was no way I was getting in that bed. I took a sheet and blanket that were not on the bed and were free of bugs and slept on a mattress in Camille and Caroline’s floor. The next morning I explained to them why I was there.

Frogs - We have several different kinds of strange frogs here. The big ones outside really freak me out. They don’t hop, like a normal frog. They actually walk. Like with one foot in front of the other. When we come home at night, there may be 4 or 5 of them on the porch and sidewalk. If they start walking toward me, I want to run.

There are also these little flat ones. I haven’t had one on me but I’m told that if they jump on you, they suction to your skin and you can’t get them off. I see them a lot on the bathroom wall. One night I took a shower with one on the ceiling. I kept my eye on him the whole time. I tried not to move around a lot because I wasn’t sure if he could see me too.

Last night I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I turned the light on and saw that there was a frog sitting on the sink. He was just sitting there looking up at me. It was a different kind than I had seen here before. He was small but not flat. I thought about it for a minute and then decided that my teeth could wait till morning.

One day I took a shower with a frog on the wall, a beetle on the floor, and a praying mantis sort of thing that kept hopping on my leg. I’m learning to become tolerant of all God’s creatures.