Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pslam 107:9, For He satisfies

For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

When I was younger I wanted to kill myself, and I had wanted to kill myself for a very long time. Except, less than wanting to kill myself, I simply wanted to die and preferred that it be beyond my control.

I never made any attempts because through it all I believed in God and the murder-of-self is still very much murder in-and-of-itself, but in my belief I would pray and beg in one instance to be filled with something more, and in the next that my ministry and witness, so that my life would fulfill some purpose, might be from the death bed and sooner rather than later.

The hardest thing for me was wanting a miracle. I wanted to just suddenly be happy, for my problems to be fixed, and I knew He doesn't always, very rarely in fact, work that way; but I didn't have the strength, I didn't want to use the strength He gave me to struggle, to begin fighting that He might back me up in the hard things of life and teach, both my heart and head, the healthy and good reliance on His strength that he desires.

I had too little faith and was afraid to step out should my God not be there as He has promised.

But now look at me. A year long commitment and for the past 3 months I've been living in another country and doing the good work God's given me, not for justification or for fear of His commands, but because of a great, great love.

But here in El Salvador things have been a little crazy. Not necessarily all a bad sort-of crazy, (though some of it has been definitely not great) but today I hit a wall of exhaustion that made everything very difficult.

First and foremost my problem is that I haven't been reading the Bible as much as I want, allowing other things to take a temporary priority, thinking I'd have time later, and gradually falling behind in my reading plan. (Again, "first and foremost": this is going to change.)

But while I am not making enough time to read the Bible, I am by extension not making enough time to read the amazing books Pastor John Piedmont from Potter's Field assigned as 'homework' (and that's really not for brownie points, "Spirtual Leadership" is one book that I plan to keep for a very long time and would encourage everyone, young and old, both physically and spiritually in their walk with Christ, to read.)

I have a responsibility and a desire to use my time here to encourage those back home, and with modern communications technology there is no reason and no excuse for my not ministering to my loved ones and those I am praying for a thousand miles away or more.

God has satisfied my longing soul,
He filled my hungry soul with goodness. . .

. . . though the road I took to that satisfaction was not easy, and now He has given me the honor of being a vessel to pour out love and blessings and His message of grace on others who suffer from a deep waywardness that I could never imagine.

I want to remember the satisfaction He has given me and trust Him to give joy and rest even while utterly depleted both mentally and physically; and will not find the time, but take the time to further God's kingdom in the states, in action and prayer, in whatever ways I can and He leads by His innumerable blessings. For while my body and heart is weak, His Spirit in us is strong and infinite: a flame that never dies, a well that never dries. Amen.

While this study is back from January 16th, I was extremely blessed to pull open the file today, more than a month since it was written, and find the encouragement of my Father within. Although Saturday is a free day, there is a lot for me to do and I had to pass up on an opportunity to visit an orphanage some friends Karen has made since coming to El Salvador go to from time to time. It was a perfect opportunity to minister to those children whom God loves, but I couldn't have any peace about going. I know it sounds strange, but I was unsure if it was the best, most productive use of my time.

I really, really wanted to go, but I had many responsibilities, and while it is not as 'glamorous' as visiting an orphanage, there were opportunities to do good works and ministries that God was calling me to, ironically, on the computer and in the comfort of the living room; opportunities to minister and witness that I usually only have today. I felt torn and decided the best thing to do was pray, and slowly became more and more sure that this time was best used for the Lord working online;
but when half your group has gone off to do something special and the other half is sleeping in and you've become used to a much more bustling, even if at times distracting house, it can become very lonely.

When you have a slight cold on top of it all and you aren't particularly looking forward to the things you need to do, your mood can go south fast.

Before posting any study I try and make a point of reading them as a reminder of the things God has shown me and to consider how successful I have been in applying them to my life.

Seeing this study took me momentarily by surprise, and I'll admit that in the beginning I could not remember much of anything written, so there was a certain curiosity as I proceeded in reading the above.

What I found was a great relief, a reminder for times such as these.

Finishing, I prepared to post before thinking to check and see if anyone had written anything lately that I had a particular desire to share.

I opened up Jamyi's blog almost by accident, and was pleasantly surprised to see her first blog entry since returning to the states, with a message that was of particular interest on a day like today and with a study like this to share, both for to day, and those many days long past:
". . . the most beautiful and wonderful things in life often seem the most frustrating and difficult." But what makes the difference in those circumstances? '. . .who was in control. The first time, I was driving. When I was in control, it was difficult. As soon as someone else was driving and in control of the situation, I saw how beautiful and perfect their plan would reveal itself to be."

Moving to Michelle's blog, "Meanwhile. . .", in which can always be found such beautifully woven and uplifting words of God's presence in their lives, I was surprised to find that not only had she updated, she had done so more than once.

Coincidence of coincidences, her's too spoke important messages to me in this time. The first, Here and Now, was simpler and yet another reminder in these last few weeks to stay focused on today and the things herein that God places in my life, unworried for tomorrow and trusting in Him.

When I am Weak... was notably uplifting while I am feeling sick and downtrodden and know just how bad my mood is, but each time beginning to give it to God and am given peace, receive some new curve ball and allow it to shake the joy He gives.

I was reminded that times like these are those that God most loves to use in displaying His glory through us; when He can be our strength and our comfort, when we can be such a glory to His name and He so wonderfully leaves none to our own.

What do you hear? What do you see? was a much needed exhortation for my life as a witness. That we do not 'witness' though we are witnesses, and that the plans we make might not be the same as Gods; and which plan do you think will be sweeter?

- If I listen only to the struggle, the loud wind, I would not be able to hear the voices of those around me. If I look only at the rough waters, instead of the strangers eyes before me, I would miss out on a heavenly glimpse. -

This post is already running on quite long, with links to many other thoughts and studies as well, but I would like to close by sharing just these two short studies written by my friends Kayla and Josh, included below.
Psalms 107:9 Salmos 107:9
"Porque sacia al alma menesterosa,
Y llena de bien al alma hambrienta." RVR 1960

“For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.” NKJV

Once we were all lost, wandering in an endless desert searching restlessly for a meaning and a purpose. But everywhere we traveled our thirst grew, our hunger gnawed violently at our insides. And all the while He was there, beckoning us to come home.
Once we begin to follow our Lord, our Savior, on His path, we do find that our longing soul is satisfied, and our hunger is replaced by goodness.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who are humble in spirit, those who recognize what a wretched spiritual state that they are in, surviving by begging God to meet their spiritual needs, those who know that they are in great need of God. The poor in spirit realize the dire state that they are in, that without outside help they have no hope. They are fully dependent on God and in this dependence are given the promise of the kingdom of heaven.

Application- I pray that God will show me how desperate my need for him really is, and remind me each day of the blessing promised to those humble in spirit.
I pray
to God
that He brings
my heart
to want
the things
He wants
for the reasons
He wants them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Psalm 107:28, in their trouble,

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
We have had so many things happening lately, especially with the timing, when a hundred different things can blindside everyone in a single day.

I want to write more. To weave words to paint a picture, and even without detail share with you, my readers, some of our struggles and our feelings at this time.

But nothing I write feels right.

As I type it my brain just says 'no', and as I look at the sentence or two I have put down it just seems wrong.

Now honestly I haven't spent very long trying, but it just feels like complaining or crying, in my heart I'm really just whining.

And that. Is not. What. I. Want.

We are struggling, but we are not falling. We were shell shocked and we were shaken, but we have not been stopped.

Difficult decisions have been made, and more may be made yet, but that does not change that our little motley crew here in El Salvador has gained a special place my heart or that today and forever we, us interns, the Gilberts, the staff and pastors of Potter's Field, our friends at church and home, many of our families and millions around the world who we will never meet until Christ comes, are all of one body and a family in Christ.

In this time we need God more than ever; no, I am reminded of how much we always, always need God, of how important and good it is to spend time in prayer and remember our dependence on Him.

I am going to do what I can to keep everyone praying right now and focused and trusting on God.

Studies I'd like to share with you: Kayla's

I pray
to God
that He brings
my heart
to want
what He wants
for the reasons
He wants it.

This IBS was written shortly after Kayla hurt her foot, and within the same day of learning that Jaymi would be returning to the states.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nehemiah 9:3, they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.
I really wish I had the type of passion and fervor these Jews had in their love of my Father.

Or Him being my father, that my love were more like that of a child's; innocent and fully dependent, eye's wide with admiration and excitement at the wonderful things He does.

As a member of His bride, that I more deeply felt the divine romance, past, present and future, and waited with baited breath and greater anticipation for my Groom's arrival and the wedding to finally begin.

That as a sinful human I would look up to heaven knowing greater humbleness and awe.

Earlier today I was already vaguely sure of the application I was being called to, but now I would also like to make the above a prayer for God's work in my life, and would be glad if others could pray for me or would like for me to pray for them an increase in the love we have planted deep within our hearts and it's growth continuing beyond forever in all joy and excitement; as is promised us in Christ's coming and our resurrection, continuing to learn of the infinite beauty and perfection of the one and only God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"It may not be red as the roses yet
It may not be strong as the old oak trees
but love planted deeply becomes what it ought to be."

Thank you God for loving me, for saving me, for allowing one such as me to call You Father, Dad and Daddy; for all your blessings, seen and unseen, that have come and are still to come; the gifts and talents, resources that all have come from You, and please give me the honor of using everything You have given to serve and more greatly honor Your name. Fill me with your Spirit and let It overflow, fill my cup and pour it out so that many more may know.

Nehemiah 8:9-12, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.
What immediately springs to mind while reading this would be Christmas coming tomorrow; a special day we set aside to celebrate and remember the birth of our Christ, our Savior.

Then was a day of celebration that once again the Law was being read before the people, that they were truly and finally reunited within Jerusalem and rebuilding, on their way to being a people fully restored. At first they seem to weep with grief and condemnation, to finally hear the Law and know of their shortcomings, their sinfulness, but Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites said their should be no weeping. They declared that the day was holy, sacred, set apart "to the Lord your God". They were to celebrate this day, take pleasure and enjoy the delightful gifts of the Lord. They were not to be sad, the joy of the Lord was their strength as today that same joy is also ours!

They celebrated the rebirth of Israel, we celebrate the birth of our king!

As every Christmas I must guard myself from being swept up in the joy of celebration and forgetting the joy of the reason for our celebration, but as a special application to take away from this verse I want to 'set my hands to the good work' of giving our team here in El Salvador a very merry Christmas.

We can't really go out and hit a store whenever we please, and even if we could I don't have the money to get much for everyone anyway; but I am able to make fruit compotes, and thinking about it there was some non-Jello-brand gelatin Karen had bought once just encase a special occasion arose. I don't know exactly how much time there'll be tomorrow because we might be going out with Pastor Alejandro and the boys from San Martin for their Christmas outing, and we know at 3 o'clock a family we became friends with at the church will be coming to the property and sharing a Christmas dinner with us, so I'll likely need to prepare some things, if not everything tonight. The only tricky thing is that our fridge is broken, although there might be space in the freezer for storage. . . I'll need to think about this and get a definite plan of action down soon so that everything goes smoothly, but I want to give our team the best San Martin Christmas they'll have, and really want to give Oswaldo's family something back for joining us this Christmas and for everything they've done to make us feel welcome here in their church and in their country.

P.S. The custom in El Salvador is to have dinner at midnight on Christmas eve/Christmas morning, and Pastor Alejandro invited us to eat with the boys! Hip-hip-hooray! :D

Today I'd like to share two studies of Margaret DeStefano from 1 Corinthians on spiritual gifts, these from around the same time my Nehemiah 8:9-12 study was written. The Fruit of Proper Balance, Glorifying and Enjoying God.
[And with that I realize my attempt to slowly catch up this blog with my current studies has come to naught. I'll be posting multiple studies at a time from now on since I haven't been able to manage a one-a-day schedule withh posting.]

I pray
to God
that He brings
my heart
to want
what He wants
for the reasons
He wants it.