Friday, June 27, 2008

A friend from Michigan...

was sharing this week that she had never seen so many people without work and financial problems. She said "I think for the first time in my 36 years I am seeing the need for myself and my church to help. But I am having a hard time and I almost feel resentment when people walk up to me and ask for odd jobs or money or food." She also shared the following words from a blog she reads on a regular basis. Little did she know that I had just asked God to show me how to deal with being seen as a dollar tree by many of the people around me.
Freehand giving
by Rosemary ~ June 23rd, 2008
As I was loading several bags of groceries into my car, I heard a voice behind me saying, Excuse me, ma’am.” I turned to see a thin woman and a weary-looking boy, his skinny legs sticking out of his shorts. In her hands the woman held a cantaloupe that another shopper had given her. I had seen them talking to her, and hoped I could get away before she got to me. “Could you help me? I hate to ask but I need money to buy food for my children and get by until payday.”
Excepting the time we lived in Nepal, I’ve always had a policy of not giving money to people who approach me or stand at the side of the street begging. I don’t trust what they’ll do with the money.
“I’m sorry; no,” I said to her, feeling guilty that I refused her. Here I was, loading bags and bags of food for my family into the car, and there she was with her skinny, hungry son. The contrast was glaring. Besides that, I had been reading Piper’s What Jesus Demands From the World and these words were running through my head:
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.” ~Luke 6:30
Piper wrote: It seems to me that in all the complexity of life that can easily help us rationalize disobedience to these commands, we should default to literal obedience when we are unsure of what love calls for. For example, should I give to those who ask for money on the street in my context in urban America? How do I “do good” to those who ask? Jesus did not seem to be as concerned about being taken advantage of as I am (Matt. 5:40,42). I am often angered by the lies I am being told. But I do not think this is the spirit of Jesus.
I think the spirit of Jesus would first feel compassion even for a skilled liar. Then it would desire to move into the life of that liar with the good news that Jesus came into the world to save liars. Then it would try, if the other demands of love allow, to engage the person more deeply and, if possible, take him somewhere to eat together and talk. If that is not possible, then love may give freely even knowing the person is a con artist. And at times love may say no–for example, if the person has been back many times and has proven to be a liar and consistently refused a relationship of love. But my point is, when these things are less clear, the spirit of Jesus seems to me to call for freehand giving.
I looked in my purse to see what cash I had. A $5 bill and two singles. Skeptically, obediently, (almost) free-handedly, I grabbed the five and went after the woman. “You’re going to use this to buy food, right?”
“Yes, ma’am; thank you. God bless you, ma’am.”
I handed her the money and returned to my car. When I finished loading my groceries, I turned to see where the woman and her son were. The melon had been dumped into an abandoned cart, and they were far across the parking lot, on their way to somewhere. Obviously they weren’t very hungry or they wouldn’t have left the melon behind.
Right. I had been taken. Duped. The woman was a con artist who used the boy, whom I assume was her son, as a tool of her trade. I watched them walk away; taking my hard-earned money to use for goodness knows what. It ticked me off.
I despise being taken advantage of, so my immediate response was angry regret. Feeling naive and stupid, I drove home thinking about what had just happened. I wished that I had given the two dollars instead of the five. I should kept to my first answer and not been so impulsive. I should have grabbed the stupid cantaloupe so it wouldn’t go to waste.
After several minutes of spouting off, it occurred to me: my obedience wasn’t undermined by the woman’s response; it could only be undermined by my response. The spirit of Jesus calls for freehand giving. Whatever I have has been freehandedly given to me, without regret. How can I do anything less?As far as I know this was more about my giving and trusting God with the results, than whatever actually happened with the woman and boy. Only God knows what took place in their lives, which may have been little or much. But if I see them again and they ask me for money, I wonder if they’ll take me up on my offer to buy them lunch and talk for a while.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wonderful News.....

In March and April, I told you about Lucia being diagnosed with breast cancer. They did a mastectomy. This past week she reported for what she thought would be her first chemotherapy. We were all sad. She said her husband brushed her hair the night before as she cried thinking her hair would be falling out. To her great joy, the doctor was waiting for her to say All of your analysis are cancer-free. We are going to do bi-monthly check-ups for a year and NO chemotherapy!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucia's husband still wants nothing to do "with that church." But she came to church Sunday morning to give testimony of the great things God has done in her life. Her request was not for her health but rather for her husband to give our wonderful God an opportunity. Please pray for Julio Cesar.

Today Antonio came home with the new portable sound system. So he and TJ are doing solos in the livingroom. We will be using it for the first time this Sunday as we have a quinceaños and the mission team from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo Ohio will be using it next week in park ministry! Pray people to be reached for Christ and a burden for missions planted in the hearts of the mission team. I have lots to do this week and next, but I will try to share as often as I can how things are going.

Monday, June 16, 2008

John Bunyan said...

Orar es derramar de modo sincero, consciente y afectuoso el corazón o alma ante Dios, por medio de Cristo, en el poder y ayuda del Espíritu Santo, buscando las cosas que Dios ha prometido, o que son conforme a su Palabra, para bien de la iglesia, con fiel sumisión a Su voluntad.

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.

Sorry if you don't read Spanish. It is just so beautiful how it translates. Hey, maybe I am semi-bilingual!

I seem to be praying alot more lately. The more constant I am in prayer the more I know the life sustaining and renewing power it is and gives! As I counsel women and work with youth I am also realizing it is really one of the first things to model and teach about to new and old believers alike. On Friday we had a prayer vigil at the church and as one of ladies prayed she began to cry, her words were, "Hermoso Señor, no se porque mas de mis hermanos y hermanas en Cristo no se han presentado esta noche. Mi unico consuelo sera que estan en communion contigo en donde esten. Porfavor mi Dios, te ruego que me ayudes a demostrarles con mi vida que el hablar contigo no es opcional es mandatorio para conocerte y crecer en ti." ("oh my lovely Lord, I don't know why more brothers and sisters in Christ did not show up tonight. My only consolation will be to hear that they are in prayer with you where ever they are. Please I beg you to help me show them with my life that prayer/talking with you is not optional. It is mandatory to knowing and growing in You!")

If you have the time, read the following article by John Bunyan. On second thought even if you don't have time it would be a blessing to you to make the time to read it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hey dads.....

And to my dad especially, thanks for showing me how to walk in God's way. Thanks for reading the Bible to me everyday of my life until I moved away! Thanks for making church and fellowship with other believers first priority in you and your family's lives. Thanks for teaching me to pray and thank God for every meal I ate. That taught me to pray and thank Him for everything in my life. Thank you for never giving up an any one of your kids. They/we are who we are because you and mom loved us and showed us how to walk in God's way. You can be confident in the words of Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Much to pray for ....

Alejandra is one of the women who visited 2 weeks ago. She did not come the following Sunday but left a message on our answering machine that she was sick and to please pray for her. She did not leave a number so we have been praying for her each day. Yesterday she did not come again. Someone sent a text message to a cell phone number they had for her son. Seconds later their phone rang. It was Alejandra. She is sick with a nine month type "illness!" People get pregnant everyday right? Alejandra is 45 and believed she had gone through early menopause. Nope! The sporatic menstruation was due to a cyst. She is shocked, happy and praising God that after two ultrasounds in two weeks: baby is doing great and the cyst is shrinking and a separated placenta is reattaching? She said she was on bed rest for two weeks.

To our surprise, she and her husband and two sons, walked into the church last night! Her words, "I know that you all have been praying because I such a peace and feel great! I also feel so much like you are our family just after one visit and phone call."
This medically sounds like a rough pregnancy but our God is much bigger than any lab report!