Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Song Blog: Part 2

Then we’ve got “More Like Falling in Love” from Jason Gray.

Give me rules, I will break them
Give me lines, I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves and breathes
To sweep me off my feet

It oughta be more like falling in love than something to believe in
More like losing my heart than giving my allegiance
Called up, called out, take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh, it's like I'm falling in love

Give me words, I'll misuse them
Obligations, I'll misplace them
Cause all religion ever made out of me, was a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free

It's gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in
More like losing my heart than giving my allegiance
Called up, called out, take a look at me now
It's like...

Love, deeper and deeper
Love that made me a believer
And more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

This one applies less to my personal life and more to ministry here. Because these people have religion. You don’t even have to ask them, and they’ll tell you, “No thanks, I’m Catholic.”

But this religion that they have is yet to set them free.

They are still bound in sin, that stone tied to their feet, and they are trapped in a cycle of works-earned salvation. All they know is a list of rules they need to follow, a list of requirements they must fulfill, and they are painfully aware of all the times they fall short.

There is no freedom there.

A book that has been really influential in my spiritual life is Searching for God Knows What, written by Donald Miller. And throughout the book, he talks about how the formulas we are taught in order to relate to God are just not enough. The formulas are completely incapable of changing a person’s heart. He says that, “the difference between Christian faith and all other forms of spirituality is that the Christian faith offers a relation dynamic with God,” and he asks, “Why are we cloaking this relational dynamic in formulas?”

I think that is a really good question.

Because in door-to-door evangelism, which I do on a practically daily basis, it is really tempting to explain what I have come to “offer” them in a list or formula.

Example: God loves you. You’re a sinner though. So you need to ask for forgiveness from your sin. And then you’re saved! Just accept Christ into your heart, okay? Now repeat after me…

I’m not saying this is completely wrong, but I will say it is most definitely not enough.

Because that just gives them another religion to ascribe to. It gives them more rules and requirements, when what they need in a Savior who wants to know them and wants them to know him.

I like telling stories when I evangelize.

I like talking about the lost son and the lavish, prodigal love of a father.

And I love talking about how what Jesus did throughout his whole ministry and especially towards the end of his life fits in with the Jewish marriage customs of the day. That through his life and death, Jesus is calling us into an intimate love affair with him.

Talk about something that can really change a life. Thinking about cheating on my husband really puts sin into perspective.

Now Donald says many quotable things in his book, but I’ll leave you with just a few:

“I realized the gospel of Jesus, I mean the essence of God’s message to mankind, wasn’t a bunch of hoops we needed to jump through to get saved, and it wasn’t a series of ideas we had to agree with either; rather, it was an invitation, an invitation to know God.”

“If we think of God’s grace as a technicality, a theological precept, we can disobey without the slightest feeling of guilt, but if we think of God’s grace as an invitation, an outreach of love, we are pretty much jerks for belittling the gesture.”

“I began to wonder if becoming a Christian did not work more like falling in love than agreeing with a list of principles.”

It’s more like falling in love.

A Song Blog: Part 1

A better title for this blog might be, “A Lyrics Blog,” because in all reality, I actually listen to music for the lyrics more than anything else.

And this week, I listened to a couple songs that I had either never heard before or just never paid attention to, and I really liked them. Maybe they just really hit home with me at this point in my life, but I thought I’d share them.

First off, “Shadows” by David Crowder Band.

Life is full of light and shadows
Oh the joy, and oh the sorrow, oh the sorrow
And yet will he bring, dark to light
And yet will he bring, day from night

When shadows fall on us, we will not fear
We will remember
When darkness falls on us, we will not fear
We will remember
When all seems lost, when we're thrown and we're tossed
We remember the cost,
We rest within the shadow of the cross

I wrote recently in my journal something that I had heard a long time ago: “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Darkness encircles us. Shadow overtakes us. But we are not shaken. We refuse to stop running the race. We will not be moved.

And what is the secret to perseverance?

To keep our eyes on Jesus.

We cannot get caught up in our own suffering or hardships when we look at him on the cross.


When I think about the prize, and not just the one in heaven, but actually seeing Jesus Christ himself as a prize, I cannot be beat down. I might be bruised, but I will not go down for the count. I refuse to quit running the race.

I was reading Philippians this week, and a commentary to go with it, and the author of this commentary points out that in chapter 1 verse 7, we see the only time Paul refers to suffering and hardship as GRACE.

The Philippians share in God’s grace along with Paul. Now, Paul is writing to them from prison. He knows suffering, and yet he talks about it being GRACE!

Oh to see my hardships as GRACE!

Because most of the time, I don’t. When something difficult is going on at home, or we have a tough day of work, or I am sick, I see it as really unfortunate things. I see attacks from the enemy. I don’t see blessings. I don’t see God’s grace working in my life.

But they are grace. Shadow is grace. Suffering is grace. As long as I am continuing in this “partnership of the gospel” as Paul says, everything I experience for the sake of Christ is grace.

As long as I still get the privilege of seeing Jesus, it’s all grace.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fellowship in the Gospel

Philippians 1:3-11
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

As I am reading the first part of the book of Philippians, I feel like this is how it should be, and will be, for this group of missionaries. I don't want to get mushy here, but I think I will always hold my team in my heart, with the affection of Christ Jesus.

My commentary on Philippians says, "Paul's affection overflowed here because 1) he held the Philippians in his heart, and 2) they shared in the hardships of the ministry of the gospel, and 3) Paul truly longed for them with the affection of Christ Jesus."

Now, I obviously don't really long for any of the people on my team, because I am with them 24/7. But they are dear friends, and people that I am extremely close to. I hold them in my heart, and I think I always will. And honestly, there is pretty much no one else who truly understands this work. Very few people in the world can relate to what it's like having a rough day the way we have rough days, with doors slammed in our faces, rough Spanish blunders, and many cancelled visits. But we are facing hardships for the sake of the gospel. 

And in this commentary I am using to study Philippians, he talks about how the foremost theme in the book of Philippians is fellowship. But not sitting-around-drinking-coffee fellowship or potluck fellowship that we associate with church fellowship in the States, but a fellowship that comes only from a unified focus. 

And not just any focus, but a gospel-centered, others-focused ministry. We want to share the gospel. We want to put others before ourselves. We want to speak about and represent the love of God in every way. And because of this unified focus, we are bonded together through the Holy Spirit. Like Paul and the Philippians.

I hope that this also becomes the case with the churches I am planting. I don't want fellowship for them to just mean coming together and eating choclo con queso (corn-on-the-cob with cheese), but to actually be bonded together through the shared goal of sharing the gospel and making disciples in all the world.

And I ask that this would be your prayer for me, that my love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that I may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Walking Through Open Doors

I shared last week about a cool opportunity that we had to go to a home for abused women and minister to them. Last Wednesday, Kathy, Emily and I went to Casa de Acogida (house of refuge), where we met with six people and five kids. I stayed with the adults, and Emily and Kathy worked with the kids.

With the women, I shared about a love story. It may have sounded like any love story, but it reality, it was a divine love story.

And these women have known very few good men in their lives. Some were more than likely abused by their fathers. Many have been abused by their husbands. One teenager who lives there was abused by her cousin from the time she was six years old.

So when we talk about a Heavenly Father, or a Holy Husband, these are concepts which are not easily-understandable for the majority of them. Fathers may not be providers. They may not protect. Husbands might not love. They might not care for them.

I think the only way we can eventually show them a Loving Father and a Caring Husband is to show them the love of the Father week after week.

Fortunately, after they all accepted Christ this past week, they are allowing us to return and do discipleship classes with them.

So I pray that in everything I say and do, I show Christ's love and grace.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I recently celebrated my one year anniversary in Peru.

January 31, 2010, I left my home.
February 5, 2010, I arrived in Peru.

Over a year ago now!

And a lot has changed in the past year.

At home, friends have graduated, friends have gotten married, family has changed, my church has changed.

Here in Peru, we have seen victories, we have experienced troubles, people have left, etc.

And today, we welcomed a new member of the group. His name is Eli, and he has come to be Alex’s partner for the next fifteen months. We worked with him briefly in Arequipa, and now he will be part of the family.

I actually heard a cool story about Eli this morning. When he arrived in Arequipa to be a 40/40 missionary in May, he actually asked the co-director, Pastor Solano, if he could go to Cusco. But he was assigned to Arequipa, and got very comfortable there, and didn’t want to leave. But he started hearing God speaking to him about going somewhere else. And God told him that place was Cusco. And now he is here to be Alex’s partner.

So God really does have a plan. Sometimes, in the face of obstacles, it is hard to believe that. It is hard not to question that. But he has a plan.

And even without my original partner, I know God still has a plan for me and my ministry here. Keep praying for me and this ministry. We are still waiting to hear if I will get a new Peruvian partner. If not, Kathy and Emily are great, and we are currently doing ministry together, and would continue doing ministry together. If so, that is great too. God has the plan, and we will keep going forward.

Monday, February 14, 2011

God Opens Doors

God opens doors.

And that was my prayer last week as my two partners and I started our work in San Sebastian.

We went to the municipality of the district of San Sebastian to get some basic info about the district, and also to leave a letter of permission with them to see if we can have an event in the plaza next month.

And while we were there, asking about social problems in the district, we met a young woman who is an intern at a place called Casa Acogida. It is a home/refuge for women coming from abused situations. Many of them have husbands who beat them. Some of them have been raped. All of them have received some form of abuse. And we were invited to share the word of God in this place. So on Wednesday, we get to visit and share with the women and the children.

My partner Kathy, has a true gift for working with kids. During the pastor's family's vacation, she has been in charge of working with kids, and she has done an amazing job. So she will be preparing something for the kids while Emily and I spend time with their moms. 

Pray for this amazing ministry opportunity! This is the beginning of our church in San Sebastian.

And the amazing thing is, for months, I had no idea where to start in San Sebastian. And last Wednesday morning on the way to the municipality, I prayed that God would give us an open door.

And he did.

Also pray for our event in San Sebastian. We were told that they usually don't give permission for the use of the plaza, so pray for that to come through, or another place to present itself. 

As soon as the priests....set foot in the Jordan, it's waters...will be cut off. (Joshua 3:13)

     The Israelites were not to wait in the camp until the Jordan was opened but to "walk by faith" (2 Cor. 5:7 KJV).  They were to break camp, pack up their belongings, form a marching line, and actually step into the river before it would be opened.
     If they had come down to the riverbank and then stopped, waiting for the water to divide before stepping into it, they would have waited in vain.  They were told to "set foot in the Jordan" before "its waters...will be cut off."
     We must learn to take God at His word and walk straight ahead in obedience, even when we can see no way to go forward.  The reason we are so often sidetracked by difficulties is that we expectect to see barriers removed before we even try to pass through them.
     If we would only move straight ahead in faith, the path would be opened for us.  But we stand still, waiting for the obstacles to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles at all.  from Evening Thoughts
-excerpt from Streams in the Desert

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sad News

I have some sad news...

My partner, Ester, is officially not coming back to Cusco and will not continue her work as a 40/40.

She is still struggling with her own health, and her father is having some health problems as well.

I am continuing my work, and have teamed up with Emily and Kathy for the time being. We are still waiting to see if I will have another Peruvian partner.

Jorge, Alex´s partner, also decided not to return for personal reasons.

So our team has been reduced to four 40/40s and our parents. It has been extremely difficult.

The good news is, on Monday, Alex´s new partner will arrive and join our team. His name is Eli, and he has prayed a lot about coming, and really feels that God is leading him here.

I ask for you prayers. The enemy is really attackingus here. We feel the warfare every day. We need your prayers.

But now, forgetting what is behind and STRAINING towards what is ahead, we press ON.

She´s Like Us

Something reallyexciting happened recently in my churchplant site, Lamay. Now to many, this wouldn´t seem like a big deal. But it certainly was to me.

We have been doing discipleship class withEufemia and Felipa on Tuesday mornings, by far my most consistent class. And last week,Felipa´s husband Inocencio was there (for the first time since our first lesson). He attended, seemed really interested, and evenparticipated.

Later that afternoon, we were headed to catch the bus back to Cusco, and we walked past Eufemia´s house where they were all three drinking chicha with another woman. They waved us down to come chat for a minute.

Inocencio introduced us to the other woman who was there, and said, ¨She´s us.¨

I  said, ¨Oh, really?¨ but I wanted to be sure that I understood his meaning, so I asked, ¨Does she attend a church?¨ He told me that she attends the evangelical church in Calca.

Now that is technically the endof the story. So what could possibly make this story extraordinary?

He said, ¨She´s like us.¨ He meant, ¨She´s a Christian, too.¨ Which means that they consider themselves Christians!

Now these are the people who told us from the get-go, ¨We are Catholic and you will not be changing our religion.¨ I told them that I didn´t want to change their religion. And I meant it. All I care about is that they really know Jesus Christ. But now they consider themselves Christians!

And that is exciting. That is reason to celebrate. Because God is changing their hearts. And it´s a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.
-St. Seraphim of Sarov-