Transform This — What the Gospel of Jesus Can Do!

Transform This | Comment Magazine | Cardus.

This is an absolutely beautiful story of what the LORD can do in people’s lives if they only trust in Him. There is power in His name and in the Gospel, my friends!! Read this and be encouraged. If He can work in these guys, He can DEFINITELY work in you, if you let Him. That’s my challenge for you and for myself today: will we surrender our own agendas and let God work in us??

Slavery — END IT

Join in the fight for FREEDOM. Spread the truth — bring hope from bondage.

DR 2012 — July 2nd (Journal #4)

9:30 pm
Today was an adventure! We (Kyle, Andrew, Lisa, Miriam, Brandon, Daniel, Kiersten, and I) left for the foundation site at 4 a.m. On the way there Crismery and I talked. One time we were talking about the word “broken” and she asked if it’s used for food. I laughed really hard and said, “No, only for things. Use “spoiled” or “rotten” for food.” ūüôā
We started the foundation by measuring the circumference, then digging a 6-inch wide, 18-inch deep trench for the concrete along the edge of where the chapel will go. That was probably the hardest because there were lots of rocks (big ones) in the way. After that J.J. and Benjamin taught us how to mix concrete to fill in the trench. That took about 5 hours. After the concrete there are cinder blocks put level on top. Then we filled the blocks with concrete. That was the last step. Two wonderful ladies fed us amazing fried chicken, rice & beans, and papaya, mango, and pineapple. Nothing like fresh fruit from the DR!
On the way home I sat next to Jes√ļs. He speaks literally no English, so it was really hard to understand, but I got better with practice. I asked him if I have a bad accent ūüėõ and he said that it is better than one of the summer intern’s! She has taken lots of Spanish and knows way more vocab than I do, but apparently I speak what I do know well.
Tonight Ina came and shared with us about her ministry with women and children. They women make bags, headbands, and jewelry that Ina sells to make a living for them. I can’t WAIT to meet them on Wednesday! I want to meet the lady, Ricki, who made my headband. ūüôā
Abba, thank You for Ina’s story. Through her You reminded me to dream big and follow Your lead, for You WILL provide. ‚̧
¬°Buenas noches!

Beatitudes: Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn,¬†for they will be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4

Well, this one seems pretty straight-forward. When you mourn, God will comfort you. As I was pondering this earlier today, I thought, ‘What else can I say about this? Is there a point in meditating upon this one?’ And Abba has showed me just how important this one is this week. I’ve been going through some things the past couple months that are very painful — friendships don’t always last forever or turn out the way we think they will. People do not always act or react in ways that are wise or God-honoring — in fact, we often don’t because we are fallen human beings! I have been feeling particularly lonely lately, not just because of losing friendships, I’m coming to realize, but because Abba wants to teach me truths about Himself. He wants to teach me to rest in Him. He wants to teach me that He is the ultimate Friend; He is the ultimate Lover; He is the ultimate Source of relationship and support that anyone can have. Every human being will fail me at some point or another, but God NEVER will. He is ALWAYS here with me and for me, whether I can feel Him or not. This is part of what He means by comforting those who mourn.

Mourning — losing friendships, losing loved ones to death or distance, wishing we had back a past circumstance or opportunity, letting our dreams die in order to follow Abba wholly — these are all ways we mourn because we are human beings. We even mourn our own selves because of loss of youth or memory or abilities to do things we used to be good at or failure. There are many things in this world that we can (and often should) mourn. Jesus does NOT say “Do not mourn.” In fact, He asserts the opposite! He says, “Blessed ARE you when you mourn.” He encourages us to mourn, for in our mourning He will bring healing. He will bring comfort. He will bring about redemption. He will bring His joy. He will be our strength. We only have to bring Him ourselves and lay at His feet the pain, longings, hurt, and sorrow that reside in the deepest part of our hearts. When we accept the pain as real and do not try to reject it or ignore it, it is then that God can work through it to bring us healing. His healing doesn’t mean that the pain will necessarily go away; in fact, sometimes He increases the sorrow we feel to breed compassion in our hearts for others. I encourage you, just as Abba is whispering in my soul, to not seek the life without pain. That life will not come in this world, broken and fallen as it is. However I DO encourage you to seek the Good Life, the joyful life. The Good Life may be filled with much pain. It may be excruciating. People may think us crazy for seeking God’s Good Life rather than the pleasure-filled life of the world. Don’t be deceived. Though the road of the blessed is difficult and narrow, God assures us that He will walk it with us and He will comfort us in those deepest, darkest moments of pain and sorrow. He promises us LIFE to come that will be so much greater and more beautiful than anything we have now that this pain will seem like the blink of an eye, a fleeting shadow. Don’t pass up Eternal Joy with our King for the temporary pleasures this world offers. Stay with the pain and offer it to Jesus, moment by moment. And don’t give up! He will bless you for persevering.

Reflections: Joy and Hope

*This post will refer to¬†Saturday and the Hope of Sunday, so if you haven’t read that one, it might be helpful to read that first.

Abba, I have to confess that this morning I was not feeling celebratory. I know, I know… it’s Easter! It’s the day that we rejoice that You are ALIVE! How could I NOT be happy and excited?! Well, I was at first… but then I experienced the reminders of pain and suffering and knew the isolation of deep loneliness. No matter what I did, I could not get past the despair that seemed to hover over my soul as a storm cloud of darkness. I rested. I prayed. I read Your Word. I sat and listened. Nothing was working, and I was beginning to lose heart. I know that joy doesn’t equal happiness, but I so badly wanted even joy, if not Your happiness and tangible presence. I kept asking myself, ‘Why can’t I rejoice in this suffering, rejoice that I am carrying my cross for Jesus?!’ but then I came across 1 Thessalonians 1:6 — “You became imitators¬†of¬†us and¬†of¬†the¬†Lord, for you welcomed¬†the¬†message¬†in¬†the midst¬†of¬†severe suffering with¬†the¬†joy given by¬†the¬†Holy Spirit.” Woah. What I realized after reading this passage is that I DON’T have to rejoice in the trials themselves — they are evil and Jesus tells us to avoid them, to pray against them in the Lord’s Prayer! He says that we are to ask Him to “lead us NOT into temptation”. Since God cannot tempt us to sin, I think this means to lead us not into trials and bad circumstances. Now, even if I am wrong in this, Paul still tells the Thessalonians to rejoice IN THE MIDST OF severe suffering — he doesn’t say that we have to say “Yay! Suffering!” with a smile on our faces and laughing, but he does say that we should rejoice DESPITE suffering, rejoice in who we KNOW Christ to be and what the eternal outcome will be. This brought me so much relief this afternoon as I rollerbladed as far as my tired legs would take me (I ran my first 5K yesterday, so they were already quite sore!).

Not only did the idea of rejoicing despite the suffering bring me relief, but it brought me hope. (Yes, now I’m finally getting to the reference you’ve been wondering when I was going to use!) I was feeling earlier as if all hope was gone, as though Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t give me any reason to be hopeful. Now, I know that feelings are not everything, so I was determined to not let negative thoughts and painful feelings get the better of me. So I meditated on all that God has done for me in the past; I KNOW that He is faithful and that He can (and will) work in every situation for my best. I brought to mind testimony of the past where I know that God has worked in my friends’ lives and in the lives of His people (in Scripture) in similar ways. I took captive the negative thoughts (that God can’t work in my pain) for Christ and spoke His truth to my soul. Through this process, God brought hope back into my heart, even though the pain and loneliness still resided there. I did not feel His presence, but I did not need to. I KNOW that He is with me always, whether I feel Him there or not. THIS is how I’m able to speak with conviction and sing with sincerity these words which I felt guilty singing only a few short hours before:

Jesus, hope of the nations
Jesus, comfort for all who mourn
You are the source of Heaven’s hope on earth
Jesus, light in the darkness
Jesus, truth in each circumstance
You are the source of Heaven’s light on earth

He IS the hope for the nations, no matter how corrupt, no matter how broken, no matter how destitute, no matter how far away from Him they may be. He IS the comfort for ALL who mourn, whether they mourn in the open, physically, or mourn in silence, too tender and personal to ever show it. He IS the source of hope to the earth, to this fallen, shattered, broken world. Hope isn’t just wishful thinking; it is an expectation of what we know is to come. He IS the hope that we have of redemption, of healing, of love. He IS the light in the darkness of this sinful world. He IS the truth in every circumstance, no matter how painful, horrifying, or remote it may be. He IS the source of light — not just physical light, but spiritual light, too. Jesus Christ brings HOPE through His miraculous resurrection. He IS hope through His remarkable, unexpected return. And He will return again — it will be unexpected and remarkable, just like the first time, but this is where Christians place their hope. This is where I place my hope.

In what or whom does your hope lie? My prayer is that it lies in the only One who can fulfill it.

Prayer Requests

If you have anything — big or small — ANYTHING you would like me or anyone else who views this to pray for, I would be honored to lift you to the Father! Just comment and I will be faithful in praying.

Saturday and the Hope of Sunday

“Abba, You have taught me some really neat things this weekend. I realized that this whole life is a “Saturday”, You know, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Life IS a whole lot of Saturdays (confusing, painful, full of doubt, and close to despair), but I can know You better and differently during the Saturday than I can on Sunday. The thing is, we have to live through the silence of Saturday and the great pain and deep hurt that Friday and Saturday bring with the HOPE of Sunday. I’m not talking about wishful thinking or a nice, happy thought. NO, I’m talking about¬†HOPE — living, moving, breathing, life-sustaining, joy-giving, energy-filled, motivational, all-consuming, Christ-centered, selfless, strengthening, passion-filled HOPE!! I realized that living in a Saturday-world is all about the journey. I mean, yes, the goal and achievement IS Sunday and glory — the revealed hope of Jesus! but the journey is where we grow. The journey is where we¬†know You and become known by You. The journey is where we experience what it means to say “It is well with my soul” even when everything seems to be going wrong, no one understands me, people ridicule me, ignore me, or attack me, I feel unloved, I feel like I can’t be open and honest with people, or I experience deep loneliness. Even through pain, struggle, hurt, and doubt, I CAN say “It is well with my soul” because I know that it is only Saturday and that Sunday is coming! If there was no Sunday then, yes, I probably would (and with good reason) despair. But because You, Abba, my Almighty and All-Powerful Creator, are alive and can work in and through every Saturday to bring glory and honor to Yourself, I WILL persevere and not lose hope. Thank You, Abba, for this assured promise!”

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