Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Bible Happened

I have always had a hard time getting into history and I tried to avoid those classes in college at all costs. The same sadly, goes for the Bible. I just can’t get my head to visualize some of the stories enough to really understand them. The same goes for all books really. My roommate loves reading biographies, commentaries, and books on theology. I am always reading sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology instead. I can see the dragons and Hobbits in my favorite books, but I can’t picture the Tower of Babel and the culture of the people in the Old Testament, usually. Today though I had breakthrough! Are you ready for this revelation of crazy significant proportions? I realized that...

...The Bible actually happened!

Hear me out. I was reading the commentary in my Bible about records of kings (secular texts) from the time of Noah that speak of a flood and match up the lifespan of the people in the Bible. Then I explored a diagram of what the Tower of Babel probably looked like based off of other buildings that have been uncovered. Then I read about how people started to spread over the world because of the new languages and how these migratory accounts match up with ideas about the world population outside of Biblical texts. It is sad, I admit, that I required proof from other sources to begin visualizing the Bible but I am so excited that I can see the people better now, and hear their conversations, and sense their struggles, and picture their lives. These people actually lived, and actually built things, and actually migrated to new homes, and actually were our ancestors.

I feel like I am not explaining myself well. Let me try a different tactic. For our ministry there is a woman in Temecula who receives applications, takes care of the finances, and does a lot of the nitty-gritty paperwork. I have received emails from her, mailed stuff to her house, heard of our directors visiting her, and I know her name. Never once, though, have I met her or even seen a picture of her. We all joked that she was a myth. Until... one of the students went to her house and took a picture of her. Then she because real. I couldn’t even picture what she looked like until I saw the picture and then it hit me. She exists. She actually has a life and a story and does our budgeting!

The same goes for the stories in Genesis I am working my way through. Now I want to get to know those people, I want to hear their stories. I want to know why Nimrod was a mighty hunter. I want to know how the Philistines got so big if they were only a few generations from Noah through his son Ham (were all people that big?). I want to know how high the Tower of Babel was before God came down and stopped their progress. I want to know what it felt like to be there when you could not longer talk to people around you. Was the language confusion gradual? Or was it all at once? What languages were there? I want to know what life was like in the city of Ur.

I have a renewed interest for the Old Testament. Every detail the Bible provides brings more questions now but I don’t think that is a bad thing. I am just so excited to be excited about these stories and to see so much more in them than I ever have before. Especially since, they actually happened! =)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Slowly Dying Computer

Yesterday my computer started showing signs of its eventual demise. I already have everything stored on an external hard-drive, since it couldn’t function with anything on it, but I thought we were doing good because of that! But alas, it will no longer hold a charge unless it is plugged into the wall. So I am sitting on my floor, next to the plug, typing out my emails, teaching notes, and this post. Still though, God has it running (though on the archaic simplified mode which doesn’t look nearly as spiffy) and able to do what I need it to do. I just pray it will continue being awesome till I can afford a new computer.

It has been a great 5 years though, despite my complaining about how slow it can be. Sadly, I am more grateful now that it seems to be really pooping out on me. The poor thing has just been toted to too many college classes, coffee shops, and foreign countries. It has sat on too many tables, laps, floors, and dashboards. Blasted too many movies, songs, podcasts, and youtube videos. It has lasted through too many weeks, months, and years. All in all, this Dell (sorry you Mac users) has proven to be a gem and I will be sorry to see it go. It is coated in stickers that I don’t want to part with and has so many little quirks that I am used to now. But I have faith that it will keep trucking for as long as I will need it to. Good job computer, I think you deserve retirement after so many years. Maybe it deserves a name too?

Monday, May 14, 2012

In God's Will

One final revelation from this month...
“When we are in God’s will, there is no such thing as a missed opportunity.”

When we are following the Lord to the places he wants us to go, into the conversations he has planned for us, and through the challenges he has prepared for us, there is nothing we can lament missing. For instance, if we are called to Mexico and something happens at home and we can’t be there to support someone or be an encouragement in person, we have to give that up to the Lord. Or if we can’t share God with someone because we are unable to contact them, we have to be secure in the fact that God still has a plan for them outside of our plans for them. The list goes on and on but God has plans above and beyond our time and travel constraints.

I am learning that though I can’t be home to mow the lawn when my dad has eye surgery and though I can’t be there to go to Kimberly’s track meets, God still cares for them more than I ever could. I am called to be here in Mexico and I have to give those people (that I really care about) to God in my absence. Even if I was there in person I would still have to give them to God but the distance makes it harder. Thank the Lord for his provision and love for us. When I am following Him, all the other pieces will fall into place.

My Cancer

Another, rather large, thing that God is teaching me lately is regarding my sin. Mis pecados. That sounds scary. It is a hard thing when God shows you where you are failing. But in this case it was just plain eye opening.

I don’t struggle with what I used to call “big sins”: sexual sins, murder, stealing, cheating, etc. So when people would talk about being convicted of sins I would draw a blank. “I’m a good person.” I would think. And right there, did you catch it?, is where I am sinning. My sin is not so much tangible in the things I do but rather in what I think, and what I say. I struggle not with a quickly destructive sin but rather a slow cancerous one that separates me from people and God. I struggle with Pride. Pride that grows as I think I am better than other people, that spreads as I refuse to acknowledge it, that riddles my life with tumors as I think that I am not in need of God’s grace. And I think, or maybe I know, that pride is more dangerous than the things I don’t struggle with. Mainly, because thinking I am above sin adds to my self-centeredness and encourages me to nurse my cancer to health.

As I have been thinking about it, God keeps revealing areas where in fact I do sin tangibly as well. It’s as if a wall was broken down, the blinders were taken off, and I can see myself for the broken person I really am. And I can accept God’s grace. I can appreciate his love and sacrifice for me. I love it.

Being Genuine

I had an “Ah Ha!” moment last week when someone asked me how I was doing. Even though I wasn’t doing “good” I replied with that scripted response and moved on with the conversation. I thought about what I could have said that would have been more accurate but I had nothing to say other than, “eh.”
Then the light bulb went on and I thought: “Our lives cannot be genuine unless we are pursuing the Lord. Without the Lord we have nothing to share that bonds us together.” Granted, you could be stoked on life because the man of your dreams asked you out or you got a new car. Or you could be crushed because a loved one died or you lost your job. In those moments you really have something to share when asked how you are doing. But in daily life we don’t have much to share with people when they ask how we are doing unless we are in the Word and learning from God. Whether you are going through challenges in your walk or high points there will always be something to share, if you are seeking God. And sharing your walk with people is when your relationships become genuine, it instantly takes your conversation deeper and gets you out of the shallow waters of, “I’m good.”

Through this I also realized that I am not really seeking the Lord or giving him the first-fruits of my time. I admit that the best parts of my day have been spent writing or reading Sherlock Holmes. So... there were two light bulbs this week with only one, “How ya doin’?”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mom Day

Mexico loves Mothers. No joke. On Wednesday (Mother's Day here was on Thursday) we spent hours cleaning, decorating, and cooking for a Mother's Day breakfast on Thursday. Then at midnight we went caroling to everyone's houses; waking moms up in the middle of the night to sing the traditional Mother's Day song and tell the moms how much we appreciate them. We started the night at Allison's house (one of our staff members) and ended the night with Carrie (our director's wife), pan dulce, and hot cocoa at 3 in the morning at Ventana. We then got up at 7am for the breakfast where we served 70 moms breakfast (tamales) and desert (banana splits). It was an awesome time, seeing some usually reserved kids crying and loving on their moms and being a part of such a cultural event.

Today is Mother's Day in the states and sadly I think I spent more time loving on the moms here than I ever have on my own mom on her holiday. Granted, my mom would not be happy to be woken up in the middle of the night to a mariachi band singing to her... but still...

I love you mom! And I have missed you a lot this week in the midst of all the festivities. You are such an incredible woman and such a rock in my life. Thank you for being a fighter this year with your open heart surgery and for being incredible no matter what is going on in my life. I could say so much more but I don't want to repeat myself with the card you will hopefully get in the mail tomorrow. Just know that I love you more than I could ever express in words. You are the peanut butter to my apples (I eat this daily so that's really important), the fabric to my quilt, the notions to my craft supplies, and the new doors to my totaled car. You complete my life, add so much to my character, and challenge and fix the parts about me that need you help. You are incredible! =)

Some Encouragement

“God not only walks with us through hard times, he turns them into stepping stones that take us places we never could have gone without them.”

Character Challenge

A few weeks ago our staff embarked on a very challenging, but rewarding journey together of speaking into each other’s characters. We watched a sermon from Dallas Theological Seminary about helping each other grow both in the things we are inherently good at and those things that are flaws in our characters. As a body of believers, and as a family of staff, we are in a place when we love each other that we want each other to grow, whether it is hard or not. So we wrote and shared three amazing things about each other in one of our staff development meetings. And it bonded us exponentially. Every group of people who work closely together has dysfunction, but I felt ours melt away as we praised each other for who God made them to be.

The hard part came when we handed cards to each other with an area of character improvement written on them. It was hard to give them and hard to receive our character flaws explained. My character flaws had a lot to do with my mouth and how quick I have to speak my opinions and ideas to the detriment of other’s feelings. Stubbornness was also on there. For those of you who know me, you are not surprised at that. I wasn’t either but it still hurt to know that I still struggle with those things years after starting to work on them and to recognize that I hurt people I love by lacking enough of a filter in my speech. But that was exactly the point of the exercise, to be able to improve ourselves and to make ourselves go from good to great.

I recommend trying this. In your marriages, your workplace, your ministry teams, your friend groups. Keep in mind that when you are aiding each other in this way that you are operating from a place of good will towards each other. You are not pointing out flaws in each other because you want to hurt them, but rather because you want to see them become more like Christ. You are doing it because you love each other and desire the best for each other. That is the only way it works and the only way you will be willing to except the constructive criticism from other people. But do it, let yourself be transparent with the people that are closest to you and be excited for what God can do through that willingness to bring you closer to him.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Camp Ventana

We recently completed two weeks of Camp Ventana and it was fantastically tiring. The first week we had four awesome guys come from Idyllwild (their group dwindled as the date drew near) and the second week we had forty-two people from San Luis Obispo (represent!) and Hydsville (near Humboldt). The weeks were packed with service projects in the community, authentic Mexican food, learning to “Surrender” (that was our theme) and fellowshipping. I was able to play cribbage with some people from the SLO crew and I was privileged enough to lead worship every night. It was such an amazing time of pouring into high school students and being poured into by them and their leaders.

Collectively we built a fence, dug up a ton of weeds, painted a lot of walls, and constructed a chicken coop. The groups helped local widows, the local rehab center, the elementary school, our church, and local businesses with all the ice cream and soda they bought. It was a very productive two weeks and a lot of people were blessed by the work done. The groups that came also seemed to be crazy blessed by Doug’s messages on Surrender and I heard a lot of awesome stories from the leaders and from the students about how God moved in their lives while here.

To my supporters, thank you for enabling me to be here, your support goes so much farther than just our small Ventana group! Whole communities (Porvenir included) are impacted by your prayers and generosity.