Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Wildness" of God

"Now believe it or not, we are threatened by such a free God because it takes away all of our ability to control or engineer the process.  It leaves us powerless, and changes the language from any language of performance or achievement to that of surrender, trust and vulnerability... that is the so-called "wildness" of God.  We cannot control God by any means whatsoever, not even by our good behavior, which tends to be our natural instinct... That utter and absolute freedom of God is fortunately used totally in our favor, even though we are still afraid of it... It is called providence, forgiveness, free election or mercy... But to us, it feels like wildness - precisely because we cannot control it, manipulate it, direct it, earn it or lose it.  Anyone into controlling God by his or her actions will feel very useless, impotent and ineffective."  Richard Rohr from the Daily Office
I wanted to share this with you mainly because it spoke much to my heart of fear.  I think this quote plainly explains why I fear God.  I am powerless!  Yes, I want some semblance of control in my life. And I fear because I don't believe that He will use His "wildness" in my favor.  Now, I will be the first to tell you that He ALWAYS uses it for my good AND to make me more Christlike - but right there is where the rub comes in.  Those words are easy to say, but I must confess, I want an easy life, meaning I don't like hurt, pain or God's times of "on hold".  I so easily forget that I am called to suffer. "For it has been granted to me that for the sake of Christ I should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake." Phil 1:29  
Where do I get these ideas that my life should be a cake walk? Why does my flesh fight against difficult circumstances and especially when I look back and can only see that He has been so faithful to me!  It is easy for me to surrender when all is going well or in areas that are easy to surrender, but when the going gets tough it's much more difficult!  But the exciting thing is that God is teaching me that all I really need and long for is His presence.  This past week has been somewhat of an "on hold".  And I fought against it only to begin to pray for just a glimpse of His presence, "God just let me know you are right here with me, that is all I need". And He answered by prayers abundantly and indeed my heart and soul settled right down and my focus became once again not one of "my life feels out of control" but seeing and savoring my Savior!  "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Ps 46:10

Monday, February 23, 2009

Patient Trust

We had a day with Peter Scazzero during cross cultural training in New York City.  God prompted us to purchase his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and also his small book called the Daily Office which are bite size pieces from the bigger book.  If you haven't read his books, they are great and I highly recommend them.  
But anyway, this morning's Daily Office really spoke to my heart and I wanted to share it with you.
Genesis 12:1 - "The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."
Scazzero paints the image of the Christian life as a journey.  And he points out so well that "Journeys involve movement, action, stops and starts, detours, delays, and trips into the unknown".  And he states that "journey's with God require much patient trust", the area that I so often struggle the most.
Patient Trust
Above all, trust is the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything 
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to 
something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress 
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability - 
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually - let them grow,
let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances 
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Inly God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that His hand is leading you.
And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself 
in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
"Grant me courage, Father, to embark on the unique journey you have crafted for me.  By faith, I surrender my need and desire to be in control of every event, circumstance, person I will meet today.  In Jesus' name, amen."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Girls Home - Ang Bahay Parola 4 (The Lighthouse)

This is ABP4, our newest home which houses little girls from the ages of 6 years old to 12 years old.  The top story is the girls home and the bottom level is an MTW church plant.  As many of you know there are 1.2 million children on the Streets in Manila and this is one attempt to minister to these kids and also to reach these girls with the gospel.  They are given a roof over their heads, food, clothes, a bed and the opportunity to attend school.  Most street children cannot afford the simple clothes to attend public school.

These are the precious girls!

This darling girl on the left is 6 years old and her older sister is the girl in the black and white stripped shirt.  They both have beautiful eyes and all live at ABP4.

Just some more cute kids along the way.  The little girl had wavy hair and was a cutie! The little boy was obviously not too sure about this white American that wanted to take his picture.  He was boxing all the kids around him cause he wants to be another Manny Pacquiao - the Filipino hero! 

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pictures of the Philippines

Typical squatter's homes.  The poor Filipino's find a piece of land and "squat" upon it.  It's actually a law here that after so many years of living on this piece of land that it becomes their land.

The market on the street where the majority of Filpinos shop.  Notice the cart in 2 on the pictures.  They just load their vegies (one has watermelons) into a cart and sell them right off of the street or at market

The Filpino church Iglesia N Cristo.  They are everywhere and are a combination of Catholic and Mormon doctrine.  Like the Mormon's they take a percent of the congregations wages (and are quiet strict about it) so they are able to build these huge churches.  The saddest part is that they believe when Jesus comes back that they have to be inside the church and that they will go up to Heaven in the rocket like spirals on top.
The backside of a pedicycle.  These guys make only 10 cents per ride. You find them mostly to carry people into the smaller more rural villages.
The traditional tricycle which are the hub of transportation into villages within the city.

The rice fields which always interest me.  It's planting time now and soon they will be bright green. Notice the "mud" plow in the first picture.  These guys work long hours in these field with no shoes on their feet.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Humbled by Worship and Surrender

This morning we visited a church plant out in the providence (Filipino word for country) of Tanauan (see pictures below). For those of you who have visited the Philippines, it's on the way to Batangas, south of Manila. It took us 1 hour 15 minutes by car one way.
When we arrived my heart was overwhelmed.  There stood in front of me a tiny, tiny building, 15 feet by 16 feet, crammed (literally) with Filipinos worshipping the Lord.  My heart sank as I thought of the huge churches in America and also the often luke warm worship of our Savior. The chairs were crowded into this small building and people were standing outside in order to hear.  One elder candidate was standing outside the window just in order to be able to hear the sermon. 
Pastor Marlon, his wife and 4 children ride a bus at least 2 hours (one way) each Friday to Pastor this small church which is truly hungry for the gospel. They sacrifice much to pastor these people as they spend 2 nights in this church of only concrete block walls and then return to Manila.
Pastor Marlon preached about Jesus this morning being truly God, all powerful, everywhere and all knowing.  It was exciting to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It was an incredible sermon and at the end he had a simple call for anyone who wanted to know and accept Jesus to step into the isle (if you can call it that).  When I looked up, the Pastor was standing their with tears rolling down his face as the congregation was singing a hymn, he couldn't even sing because he was crying so hard.  There in the isle (only wide enough for 1 tiny Filipino width wise) stood 5 women and 2 men desiring to commit their lives to the Lord.  The first girl to move into the isle was a visitor and she also had tears streaming down her face. It was a site to behold, I wish you could have joined us.
This tiny church baptized 41 members in 2008.  They have 50-80 people who attend each Sunday and their goal for 2009 is to have 100 members baptized.  There are 2 elder candidates and 1 deacon candidate.  Outside on the right there is 3 feet which they hope to purchase to expand their church on the right hand side along with the 3 feet behind their building. There is also an empty lot next door which they would love to purchase for approximately $5,000.  And this church is on a main inland road to another subdivision which means there are many who pass right by the front door.
I must confess it was all I could do to maintain my composure during this worship service as I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and saw how the Lord was worshipped by the Filipinos in this tiny place.  We stayed after church for Sandra to hold a workshop on Christian Education, even though they already have 3 Sunday School Teachers.  
Would you please pray for this church in Tanauan, and Pastor Marlon, his wife and family and their commitment to share the gospel in this place?

Mountains on the Way Back from Tanauan Church

Man these kids capture my Heart!

Steven speaking at the CE Worship, Tanauan Church - Pastor Marlon, His Wife and Congregation

Some things are Universal - boys and dirt

Ate Shelia the Social Worker from ABp3 (home for little boys) and 3 of the boys