Friday, July 24, 2009

An Amazing Day

(I am still in El Salvador. The campaigns are nearly over. It is hard to believe.)

Tonight was amazing. Life is interesting. Nearly all the day I was tired and grumpy. Tonight as we left for the church it was pouring rain. And I was just so tired. We got to the church and nearly no one was there because of the rain. We still had 20 visitors but a bus bringing a bunch of people including around 10 visitors didn't come. So a lot of people were not there. I was just so tired and trying desperately to energize myself. And I was unsure how the message was going to go. I didn't practice as much as I usually do. But I prayed.

Everything went very well. I've been trying to always include a personal experience/make the end personal so the people feel relating to me and I am being vulnerable. I told how I ended up in El Salvador. (First plan was to go to Argentina, then Mexico, then that was changed to Nicaragua and then one spot left in El Salvador trip that I slipped in to. And God provided the money) and how God knows the plan He has for us. It is never by chance where we are. He knows our hearts and knows exactly where we are this very moment. He has a plan for us. I wasn't sure if I should share that tonight but I was praying for a story and couldn't think of another. God knew that was the story. The pastor said that really touched him. And he continued the appeal from that. Then he appealed for people to come forward who wanted to join the church. And slowly but surely 10 people came up! Praise the Lord!

The coolest part was how a couple members brought others up. They encouraged those around them. There is this lady who lives in such poverty. Her home is literally a shack. She sleeps on a stack of cardboard. She quietly got up and was encouraging a family. She could see the tears in their eyes and the conviction on their faces. She went over to them, took them by the hand and they allowed her to bring them to the front. It was powerful! I stood at the front with a huge smile, tears in my eyes and trembling lips. We need to genuinely care that people are following Jesus. We need to be encouraging each other to choose Christ. God is teaching me so much on this trip. I'm not sure how I will use it all when I go home. But I am convinced that is why I came here: to learn and to use these experiences wherever I end up. God has His hand writing a story for me. I'm just not sure the next chapters. But I want to be faithful.

So my grumpy day became one of the most blessed experiences ever. Satan wanted me down, grumpy and tired. But God prevailed! Praise the Lord! I am so thankful! I will never forget this ever.

God is so good. He is all we need.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Spite of Myself

"Lord, don't let me stand in the way of Your work. Don't let me be a hindrance. Lord, in spite of myself, please use me as Your instrument."

This was my prayer this evening before standing up to preach. This was the burden on my heart. You see, as I sat there waiting to take the stage and present the Word of God, realization of my own failings was before me. I realized that today, I had not been faithful as a Christian. And in a flash of horror, I realized that I could misrepresent the Word of God I am presenting and the proper actions of a Christian. Thus, my prayer.

I am in El Salvador with Southern's Evangelistic Resource Center. I am preaching an evangelistic series. I don't speak Spanish so I am working with a translator who is the pastor of the local church that I am at. The series is nearly 1/2 over which is very hard to believe.

This has been an adventure and I am still in disbelief that I am actually here. I never would have thought I would do this. I never really thought I literally could do this. But God has had other thoughts and other plans for me.

I stood up the first night with fear and trembling. In spite of myself, I stepped forward in faith that Christ would bless my willingness. And He has! In spite of my natural self, He is using and blessing me beyond my imagination. It is still a struggle. I still get nervous. But the clarity of the Word of God is encouraging. The encouragement of others is priceless. And the blessings have been extraordinary. I don't plan on becoming an evangelist. But I am seeing that fear is never a reason to not do God's work. I am naturally fearful and timid. Slowly but mercifully God is breaking down those barriers. I am so grateful.

There are some heavy topics still to be preached in the next week and few days. Truth is cutting. The Word of God is nothing to be trifled with. I have a new appreciation and respect for God's word. I admire and am learning so much about how the church's here in El Salvador are growing. My perspective on life will be different when I return to the U.S. What God is preparing me for, I am not entirely sure. But I pray that I will have eyes open for the opportunities He wants me to see and the path He has laid for me.

El Salvador is a poor city. Today I saw a boy asleep on the sidewalk. A lady in the church lives in a dilapidated shack. The city is dangerous. Nearly every store has an armed guard standing outside the entrance. It is a different world. And yet it is so similar. Because humans are the same, the world over.

It is so encouraging to come here and have family- the church family. They have welcomed me with smiles and hearty greetings every night. Even when we can't speak many actual words between us, their gestures speak volumes. It is so touching. The children are especially loving and adorable.

I am being challenged here. I feel unworthy to present these Bible truths and yet God is teaching me that there is no qualification for presenting the Word of God other than a heart for Jesus. I pray that my sincerity and love for Jesus will radiate through every message. I am challenged by preparing the messages as well. Each message I am trying to include an experience or an application to my own life to share with those listening. I am reminded every night about how God loves me and has worked in my life through the years. I am so thankful for Jesus! I am also challenged to be faithful to the messages I am presenting.

Like tonight, I was called to be faithful to the messages and the life I was representing. I had fallen short today. But praise the Lord, the grace of Jesus that I am presenting is real, and He blessed in tonight's spite of myself.

Blessings from El Salvador!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sock Story

- My mom wanted a story for church-

Are we like socks? That is a strange question isn't it? But how many of us have worn holey socks? How many of us own a pair of socks where a toe is worn out? Or how about the bottom of the socks? I have worn socks where the bottom of the sock is worn and threadbare. But it doesn't matter what the condition of the sock if it looks good, right? As long as no one can see the toe sticking out or see the threadbare bottom, we will still wear the socks.

Let me ask again.....are we like socks? Is what others see of us not what we are? Are we hiding holes? Are there sins in our lives that we are very aware of but we don't repent of because no one else can see them? Don't be deceived. God can see them. God knows our hearts and our lives more than we know ourselves. If we are seeking acceptance and approval from anyone it should be from our Heavenly Father. His opinion is all that matters.

Perhaps we need to clean house. Just as one would go through a sock drawer and throw out all those which have holes, we need to go through our hearts and rid our souls of anything which hinders us. Don't hold on to the old and the worn. We are new creatures in Christ when we choose to follow Him. Embrace the new life. Embrace the power of sin through Christ Jesus. And wear His clothes of righteousness. :)