Sunday, July 29, 2012

How's your appetite??

Last week, we had a guest teacher on Sunday morning at El Camino.  The theme of his sermon was "How's your appetite...for the Lord?"  I don't know that I've ever thought about it that way before.  Hunger?  yes.  Desire?  yes.  But appetite, never.  He was talking about how we "fill up" on other things- television, social events, magazines, porn, drinking, other people- the list could go on and on.  
But in Matthew 22:37, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind."  or as my favorite version, The Message, says,  "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence."  
I had to stop and think as he had us ask ourselves, "What are you filling up on BEFORE you go to Jesus?"  Because when we fill up on anything other than him first, in our hearts, or in our minds, or with our strength, passion, intelligence, etc., our appetite for HIM becomes less and less.  How true this is in my life.  And of course when God tells us important little things like this that knock us back into place, it continues to tap you on the shoulder.  But what a great reminder to keep coming back again and again.  I pray for myself and for you that our appetites for the Lord would continue to grow and may they be fully quenched and satisfied only by the Lord, in our hearts, minds and strength.  

Last night, the youth of El Camino had their first Saturday gathering.  What a great turnout for an evening of worship, teaching, fun games and small groups!  This is a huge step for the youth ministry as they move towards small groups and focusing in our discipleship relationships.  Despite the fact that we played games that required sitting on the (very) wet ground and dunking your head in a bucket of water if you lost (which of course, I did- hence the hood) I am so glad I got to be a part of this very special night.  I am so excited about the things to come and what God is going to do in and through this gathering time every Saturday night.  Please join me in praying for the leadership, Jera & Eddie, for Hayley, as she teaches some girls on discipleship over the next few weeks, and for all of the students.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Vacations!

"Christians need to stop living like we are on perpetual vacation, viewing the world as a resort where "God is in control" and wake up to the reality that we are in a war zone that is ruled by the evil one."

Well what a "Good Morning!" wake up call that was this morning as I read a blog that I follow.  A little bit harsh and abrupt but totally in line with what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12...

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
A Fight to the Finish
 10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (The Message)

This reminded me of a message that someone shared last week in the mountains.  He said that we cannot take spiritual vacations.  He even had us turn to our neighbors and say "NO VACATIONS!".  We can never allow ourselves to take a spiritual break and "go on vacation."  He was teaching through the story of David & Bathsheba.  As he taught, I began to see a story I had heard, read, studied, etc so many times in a completely different way.  He walked us through David's unfortunate series of events that led to much misfortune and heartache, all because he took a spiritual vacation.  The enemy is waiting for us to let our guard down so he can attack.  And it doesn't happen with a big bang or all at once, no it usually is a slow process.  A slow, winding process of sin that will drag us into a downward tailspin until we are at the bottom of the pit.  

Yes, I believe that God is in control, but evil still exists and I can guarantee that our enemy is not now nor will ever be (in this lifetime on earth) on vacation.  Let's be on guard today.  Remember the battle we are fighting daily and that we are on the winning side of the Lord almighty. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG

Challenge: How many times can I thank God today?  I don't think Paul is so much saying we should thank God FOR everything but we should thank him IN everything.  I am thankful for his presence at all times, even bad times.

We had a great trip to Amixtlan & Cuautatola in the Sierra mountains last week, with a team from Fellowship.  The doctors, nurses and dentists saw over 900 patients!!  That's a record!  We also had an average of 50-60 kids every day!  I met so many new faces that I will never forget.  One in particular will always stand out to me.

This precious little girl is Elisa.  She became my sister in Christ last week!  On the last day of the kids' club, we shared the gospel at the end of our Bible story and gave kids the opportunity to come talk to us afterwards about what it meant to accept Jesus as their personal Savior.  As the rest of the kids were returning to their seats to finish their crafts and coloring sheets, I thought no one was going to stay up front and talk with us.  Then, I saw three girls standing together just waiting.  I asked them if they were interested in talking more about Jesus.  Elisa, who was standing in the middle of her two friends, very confidently said "Yo si" (Yes, me).  Now, you have to understand that in Cuautatola, people are very shy and the kids very seldom talk to us at all.  So for her to step up and say, "Yes, I am interested" was a huge step.  Marita walked the three girls through what it meant to accept Jesus and to have Him as your personal Savior.  I don't know what happened in their hearts that day, as those three little girls sat nervously listening and then prayed that prayer, but I could see a change in the eyes of Elisa.  It never grows old, experiencing someone, especially a child, experience the love of the Savior for the first time and choose to ask Him into their heart.  Please join me in praying for Elisa and for Barby, who will continue to try to water the seeds that have been planted in these three young hearts.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who is following you?

Hebrews 13:7
"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God.  Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." (ESV)

"Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God.  Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness.  There should be a consistency that runs through us all.  For Jesus doesn't change- yesterday, today, tomorrow, he's always totally himself." (7-8 The Message)

This morning as Hiram opened our staff devotion and prayer time, he read this verse to Spanish of course, but I just really love the Message version.  As we discussed the grand privilege and even greater responsibility of leadership and all that it entails, I was reminded of three keys to leadership : faithfulness, truthfulness and consistency.  What a challenge!  As leaders, we have to look backwards, following the path that others have led before us, "imitating their faith and way of life", as the verse says, but also looking forward.  Are we setting the same example for others to follow in our footsteps?  The most important thing about a leader is their character.  It's not my abilities or anything of me that makes me a good leader.  It has to be about my character that is molded by Christ in me.  It's also refreshing to remember that my skill, wisdom, creativity, guidance, and every single thing I need in leadership comes from God.  Someone told me a long time ago, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called."  I have seen this proven true in my own life.  When I was approached two years ago with the opportunity to come to Mexico and provide children's ministry training, I had no idea how I would possibly do that.  I felt so inadequate and lacking in so much training myself.  But God called me and then God equipped me. And he continues to do that every day.
I encourage you, look back and thank God for those leaders who brought you closer to the Lord and then, look around, see who's following you.  I pray that God will make us all leaders of great compassion, strength, wisdom, kindness and mercy, leaders that others can follow and imitate.