Thursday, May 18, 2017

Change of Direction

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you what I felt led to pray for my life and for the Church. It was mostly Paul's prayers for the believer in Ephesians 1-3. As I started praying these things consistently, God started speaking about some things more clearly to me. I should not be too surprised because one of the things I have been asking for is a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I would like to share some of this with you and then encourage you to go back to that blog and begin praying these things for your life and for the Christian community that you are part of.

A few days after I started praying these things, I had a dream. I usually do not think much about dreams but his one was different. It was clear and concise. I wrote it down as soon as I got up and as I wrote it became even more clear. I was seeing things beyond the dream but I knew that it was God opening my eyes to His heart. As I wrote, I got more insight and direction but not a specific plan. As I prayed about what I was writing I saw that there would be a time to act on these things but first there was going to be a time of waiting for God to work some things out in me.

The dream was short. I was moving into a flop house with a friend. I could not tell you who the person was other than that I knew we were friends. As we approached our room, he told me to wait. He had to check on the kids next door. In the room there was a 3 year old girl and her little sibling. They were just waking up. My friend talked to the little girl for a minute then we prepared to leave. As we turned to go, she said "I am hungry". I asked my friend if we should go get them something to eat since they were obviously left alone. He said, no, they would find something and we did not need to worry about it. This was the whole dream.

As I prayed about it, I began to see that the reason I could not identify the friend is because he was the Church. The children were orphans and our response was the typical response we tend to have. We want to look at needs and we are good at seeming concerned but we often do not go deeper to intervene in people's lies. I think that we feel the situation is too big and our help would not matter so why bother. I know that I often feel overwhelmed by what I see and it hinders my ability to intervene. I suspect that I am not the only one.

Some examples are the things that I see in  Guatemala. It is hard to get good statistics because every source seems to report something different so I usually assume that the truth is in the middle. There are 300,000+  homeless, orphaned, abused and neglected kids in a country of 16,000,000. About 40% or 6,500,000 residents are part of the Evangelical Church. 1/2 of the population is under 21 years of age. 15% of the population is wealthy but over 3 times that number live in poverty, many of them in extreme poverty, less than $1.50 per day. The income of the poorest in the population has decreased in the last 15 years while their numbers have swollen. Violence, rape, molestation and murder dominate the headlines of the national newspapers. In the last week 3 bus drivers and 3 helpers have been murdered in San Lucas, a usually peaceful community.

I felt like God was telling me that this is the natural outcome of people growing up orphans. Not all that are orphans are parentless, Most have at least one parent. The orphan condition comes from living in a fallen world and believing the lies of the enemy that we have to figure life out for ourselves. It is a heart condition that keeps us from being able to receive love and manifests itself in these various destructive activities. People with an orphaned heart will try to destroy what they cannot control. People with orphaned hearts believe they are on their own and the only thing that they can count on is their own effort. Unfortunately that always comes up short, leaving them more empty and more broken, angry and frustrated.

I felt like God was saying that He was showing  me these things because I was going to start working with orphans, street kids, the neglected and abused. I believe that is possible as of now. I know that God hates the fact that there are so many people He created as an object of His love who are being hurt each day because of the corruption of the world and the lies of the enemy. I believe that His desire is to stir up the Church to step into these situations and see people set free. I believe I will be working in this ministry in the future but then he revealed something closer to home for me.

I have been seeing all of the areas of my life that respond from orphan thinking. What was easy for me to see in some was hard in me. God stared showing me the ways that I respond and react that are based on the lies of the enemy. I would like to share with you this limited list, some of which have been issues for me and others that are common for many people. This is not comprehensive but they are just a few checkpoints that I have started to see so that I could recognize areas of my life where I have not been living like a son of God but like an orphan and a slave.

  1. Self awareness: Orphans have an inclination to process every decision based on perceived personal expense.
    1. Selfish motives; If I give or share I might not have enough for me.
    2. Fear of loss; If I obey it is going to cost me something, money, family, home, respect.
    3. I will be taken advantage of: People will use me if I am too giving.
    4. Poverty and lack mindset; How am I going to meet my needs and obligations if I obey God in this?
  2. Self preservation; I could die or be injured.
    1. Fear of suffering; I could suffer or die if I do that.
    2. Fear of the future; If I do this I will not be provided for until my life ends.
  3. Anger; Orphans often respond by lashing out when they are fearful.
  4. Need to be right or agreed with; Being right becomes a measure of worth
  5. Need to succeed; Orphans often measure themselves by if others see them as successful.
  6. Checking out; If I am destined to fail, why try?
  7. Defensiveness; Orphans are often expecting rejection or chastisement so they are ready to defend themselves.
There are many more but this is enough to get people thinking. Are you living like a child of a good Father? Are you secure in the identity that you have been giving through Jesus. If we are crucified with Jesus, we have a new identity. We are sons, through creation first and then by adoption. God has given us a new identity. I am beginning to see how important it is to embrace this identity. If I do not know that I am a son, raised with Jesus and seated with Him, I cannot offer the world the one thing that it truly needs. The purpose of the Church is to make disciples that are sons of God. We are called to call others into their destiny as Holy Spirit leads us. We cannot do that while remnants of the orphan remain in us. God is in the process of removing that. It comes through the cross and embracing it for all of our old, orphaned self and then being raised as sons, fellow heirs with Jesus. This is where I am today, learning to see all of the areas in my life that I am living in and have been embracing this lie. God is teaching me to be a son.

Read the prayer of Jesus for the disciples and let it sink in as you realize it is for you also.
[John 17:18-26 ESV] 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

God wants to heal us, teach us to live as sons, united with Him and as one in Him and then to transform the world. I am called to work with orphans but it might not be how I though of it. The world is full of people that do not know they are orphans and God wants to bring them, through the cross of Jesus to the place of adoption and sonship. He also wants to use you in this ministry. Are you ready?

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Unexpected Turn

For two weeks I had little to do but rest. There were a few small tasks but not much to keep me busy. The first week was Holy Week and we do not have any teams. The next week was the group from His Hands. They go to the school to get all of the sponsorship information for many of our students. I often dive them but it can be hard for the school when I come. Kids call out to get my attention at the most inappropriate times making it hard for the teachers to do their jobs. I stayed behind while Rene drove them out and dropped them off. It was all good because after the two weeks rest I was rested and excited to get out and work with my great friends from Hinton. It is always good to see Kelvin and his crew so I was excited to get back to work.

The team came in late on Wednesday night and we left at 7:30 Thursday morning to build a house in Zapote. I was feeling good and ready to get started. We carted all of the materials to the house and cut down about a dozen banana trees to make room for the house. About 2 hours in we had holes dug for the posts that would hold the house up and went to carry one from the gate to the house site, about 30 yards, through a narrow walkway. As I got to the clearing for the house I turned just slightly and felt a pop. I thought I was going to go down and pain shot through my knee. I had a slightly torn meniscus for about a year and a half but now something felt really wrong. Every step hurt. I was about to unexpectedly get a few more weeks off.

We has a doctor on the team and he narrowed it down to just a torn MCL or a bigger tear in the meniscus than I had previously. He checked at the sight and then again when we got home that night. I think he had narrowed it down to the meniscus that evening. Within a few minutes of this happening, I remembered that a friend, Joe Leier had a surgical team coming the next week. I messaged him and asked about the team and he told me that their was only one doctor doing surgeries that week and he was an orthopedic surgeon, the one that had repaired his son Micah's shoulder a few months before.

It is amazin whatthey can do through two small hole. $ days afte
It is amazing what they can do through 2 small holes. 4
 days after surgery
I went to have x-rays while the team went to work on Friday. On Monday Patrica, Micah and I made the trip an hour and twenty minutes north to see the doctor. He confirmed Dr Noel's diagnosis that it was a torn meniscus. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. Patricia and I got up early and at 5:30 Tuesday morning she again drove me to San Raymundo for surgery. After waiting for the complicated surgeries to finish, they took me to prep at about 12:45. They took me into surgery a couple of hours later and repaired the knee. It has been 6 days and I am feeling much better. I still have some bruising and a little difficult straightening my knee completely but I am almost back to normal.

When I look at all of the things that transpired, I have been amazed at how God orchestrated everything. The injury happened at the only time it could if I was going to get it repaired before I came back to the States. It happened while we had a team with a doctor and a nurse on the property to check up on me every once in a while and it happened when the best person to repair it would be available. God did not cause the injury but He allowed it to happen at the best possible time.

Many people would ask why He allowed it to happen in the first place. If God is good, why does He allow such injuries to attack His children? Why did He allow me  to have cancer 6 years ago> Why do so many face such bad circumstances? I do not have all of the answers but I have come to this conclusion; He is faithful and He loves us. These seemingly bad circumstances will cause growth in us that nothing else can. Through cancer I learned that I can trust God to lead in the middle of dire circumstances. Through the knee injury I learned something completely different.

The other day I woke up praying about some things and God spoke something profound and painful to me. He showed me how selfish I am. I have done lots of things that would look like that it not true but He showed me some of my motives in doing them. They usually made me feel good about myself but I often still grumbled and complained about the actual work required to accomplish them. Often I would complain on the inside even when I said little with my mouth. I wanted the gratification of helping people and I loved the acknowledgements but often hated the work. I am sure that was reflected in my attitudes at times.

Today, as I read 1st Cor 3 I was reminded that all of our work is to be built on the foundation of Jesus and it will have to withstand a test of fire. Whatever is build poorly, with a wrong attitude and not under the direction of Holy Spirit will burn and we will suffer the loss. I believe God has led me here. He has given me a supernatural love for the people here and a desire to see this country transformed by His love through the body of believers. Unfortunately, I had let my attitude be shaped by selfish thoughts and wrong thinking. I had forgotten to be thankful because Jesus has let me have a role in the work He is doing. I let work displace relationship and is was showing. Fortunately, He has been faithful to give me time to hear His voice and begin repenting of the wrong attitudes and to move Him back to the center of all I am doing. Without Him orchestrating the events with my knee, I may still be working from the same lies. Jesus is faithful to put us in a position to hear Him even when we resist. Thank you Jesus that having a right relationship with you is more important than finishing houses, playing with kids, building stoves or even building schools and \Churches. Thank you that you bring us to where we need to be to learn that lesson.

I will be back in the States for a couple of weeks starting May 15th. I would love to share more with you about what God is doing in my life and in Guatemala and also to catch up with you all. I want to say thank you for all that have been supporting me with your finances and prayers and also to all that have encouraged me. I cannot do what I am doing without your support and encouragement.

If you would consider supporting and praying for me, I would appreciate it. I still need to raise $5,000 approximately to finish this year. You can send support checks to:

Life Church Morris
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450
In the memo of your check write Mission San Lucas