Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seeing the effects of the Gospel

One of the main tenants of our church is:
"Exaltation of God in All Thing." 
From the beginning we have sought in our preaching to focus on the greatness of God and His incredible work on the cross.  A love that is incomprehensible.  Often I have left church on a Sunday evening in renewed awe of His indescribable love for me.

  I recently read a devotional by Eylse Fitzpatrick, that shared some incredible thoughts on obedience motivated by love.  
 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."  (Jn. 14:15)
It is so easy for us to think, "Okay, I've got the "love God" part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it.  It is right there that I fail to get the emphasis right...I mistakenly assume that my love for Him is what it should be...Jesus is saying "love me and your obedience will flow naturally from that love."  How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience?  By focusing more intently on his love for me than on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faithfulness than mine, more on his strength than mine. "  Comforts from the Cross

If there has been one overriding message of our church it has been to not move on from the Gospel.  Let its truth permeate your life daily.  Today I stand in awe of God's work in so many of the people of our church.  

One effect of the God's love for us, is a desire to share with others, to live the new life out in clarity before them.  Thus, one of our ladies brings  7+ kids who come from mostly broken, unbelieving homes to two of our weekly services.  This doesn't included our approximately 14 kids that come with their parents to church.  At times I feel overrun with kids.  They ARE a blessing but we don't have a gym for them to play in after church.  We don't have a "staff" to oversee their antics.  We don't have a church van or bus to bring them the 2KM during these cold/winter nights when they can't walk.  So last week, I broke.  After the final drop off of the kids, I opened up to the 2 families still at church about all my concerns.  We began formulating a plan to better mange the children.  Yesterday morning after our prayer service, James shared with everyone the needs and problems.  We decided to "adopt"  the kids without parents into our regular families. These kids will now sit with their adopted families during the services.  The "parents" will be involved in watching their "kids" before and after services and will be more involved in the spiritual growth of their adopted children.   We now have 4 people instead of 1 or 2 who do the car runs to pick up the kids; and we are doing a series of lessons on Sunday nights with the younger kids on why we come to church and how we act in church for the glory of God.  And finally, we PRAY!  

Sunday night went beautifully. The body of Christ pulled together in an incredible way.   I sat in amazement as the kids responded with huge smiles and sat with their adopted parents.  I think it made them feel like part of church in a new and real way.  After church it was 85% calmer.  We still had a few accidents and some running but nothing like before.  Daniel complained to me after the service that "this adoption thing isn't working very well, because everyone is being really bossy."  Which says to me, all the adults are really working to help keep all the kids under control!  
To me this is an example of the Gospel affecting our lives.  Everyone pulled together with joy to show love to these kids. For 7+ months many of these people have been hearing again and again of God's love, seeing God exalted in prayer, in preaching and in conversation.  A natural outflow of this is love for others. 

Here are a few other quick snap shots of the effects of the Gospel:

Edinelson quietly  shoveling horse manure from out in front of our drive way before the services begin.  (Imagine what our 21 kids could do with that...:)

 Teresinha serving with joy in our nursery, not just babysitting, but teaching the kids about our powerful, loving creator God!

 Bruna, stepping out by faith to teach our ever challenging children's church the power of prayer through the lives of Ezra, Nehemiah and Ester. 
The many faces involved in easing James' load on Sunday evenings by serving in the music ministry.  Many are stepping out of their comfort zone, to stand in front and lead. 

There are no pictures to show those who are:
-studying the Word to know their Savior more intimately
-praying ferverntly to see friends and family saved
-inviting people to church
-disciplining their children in obedience to God
-loving others
-showing hospitality to both believers and unbelievers
-looking around for ways to bless the brethren
We love Him because He first loved us!  
I Jn. 4:19

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dog Days of Winter...

 5 weeks ago today, we awoke at 4am to the loud cries of the first born pup.  After checking things out, I decided this was natural and Lila didn't need my help, so back to bed I went.  By 8:30 am she had 9, precious little pups. 
 Oh how we loved taking care of the puppies, rocking them in the hammock, hooking the pups up to Lila, calling, "She's Milking", making sure they all got a chance to eat; we rarely made it out of our pajamas before checking on the puppies. 

The puppies enjoyed  much love and many, many warm, cozy beds...

One of them even got his drivers license last week. 

 They soon were much larger and exploring all the fun things in the yard, including the steps which they could get up... but when it was time to come down, they would cry and then plunge off the edge hoping it wouldn't hurt to much! 
 At 3 weeks old they began to cry constantly and we realized that Lila was done feeding them.  It was much more fun chasing shadows than laying down to feed 9 hungry mouths.  And thus began the battle to keep 9 tummies full.  I felt like a new mother, getting up at 2am and 6am to make puppy food; or having to force Lila to lay down and feed them a little milk.  Even then, they all stayed healthy and kept growing. 

Yesterday was a big day around here.  I had checked at a vet and  since they were all eating puppy food and were 35 days old, we could begin giving them away.  We PRAISE THE LORD that we were able to give away 6 yesterday.   All the kids were relieved that not all of them were taken, so they could enjoy a little more puppy time.  I am thankful just to have less mess and feedings to worry about. 
 It is so neat to see God's hand of creation in these seemingly "simple" things of life.  The natural instincts he gives to dogs, as well as the variety of colors and personalities,  truly show His power and creativity. 

"Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

...abounding in the work of the Lord

Here are some snap shots of what has been going on around here the past few weeks.  

We started a weekly ladies Bible study using an Elizabeth George study on I Timothy.  It has been so neat to see how God has brought women together, old and new,  who all share the desire to know the Lord more intimately.  

We have a ladies meeting the first Saturday of each month.  This month we were excited to have several ladies out for the first time.  We praise the Lord for giving ladies the courage to serve in new ways, like opening their home to the group, teaching children's classes, and purposing to encourage one another through prayer and notes.

 July was our month for a church fellowship so we all met together for a cook-out and games.  We were blessed by one family who opened their home at the last minute  for our gathering.  God brought a new family that night, who have visited the church once, and we all enjoyed getting to know them better.

 The kids loved the open space for running and jumping!

We praise the Lord for the faithfulness of our young people, many who come without parents.   
We pray that God will use his Word  to bring them to the Cross and give them New Life. 
 One of our young ladies organized lots of fun games for everyone to play.  We all crammed into the house to warm-up and had lots of "close communion!"
 We are learning so much as we are seeing all of our faith be stretched and learning to rest on God's promises and trust the day to day details to Him!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Looking at what is NOT seen...

Oh how often we fall into discouragement when we do not see God working.  We are sowing with tears. Our hearts are poured out on dry land that seems to repel the life giving water we offer.

O God are you there?

Where is the evidence of the Power of the Gospel unto Salvation?

Buried with Christ and Resurrected unto New life???  Where is the fruit of that new life?

O God, work, show your power, be MAGNIFIED!

As we struggle with all that is not happening before our eyes,
we trust in FAITH that God is working out his plan.

Recently we have been seeing, what was not seen. 
God working where we can't see and then a burst of fruit.

O God, thank you for showing your glory and not sharing it with any other.

Sandra is a old neighbor of one of our families, who made a profession of faith over two years ago but got busy with work and fell away from the Lord.  Recently she was invited to church by one of our ladies and came.  She has since walked to church with her small son for 3 wednesday services and 2 Sunday services. 
When asked if she wanted a ride, she said,
"No, I will come with my own two feet but I would accept a ride home afterward."
She has also been able to participate in our ladies Bible study the past two weeks.

Another God connection in this story is that her 19 year old son did several bible studies with David back during our first year here and he came to several Sunday services alone.  How wonderful to see Tiago at church again on Sunday night, but this time with his mother, Sandra, and his brother! 

One more God connection in this story:
Sandra was surprised to see Duda, one of our young ladies at church the first night she visited.
"Duda, it is great to see you!  Does your mom come to church here too?"
"No, just me."  Duda said.
"Oh, don't worry, I will get her to come too!"  Said Sandra.

Sandra is friends with several parents of kids that have been coming to church and she is now inviting the parents to come.  Doors that are closed to us are very open to her! 

There is so much more I could share of the little glimpses of things that God is doing.

Pray for us that we would not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen...(2 Cor. 10.18) And wait on Him and His working in faith.