viernes, 3 de octubre de 2008

Are Christians Weak?

I've often heard people say that Christians are weak, that Christians just need a crutch and that is why they have turned to God. As I thought over this I realized that it is true! But that it is also biblical. The Bible says that when I realize that I am weak then I can be made strong in the Lord. When I realize that by my strength I am helpless but that "I can do all things through Him who strenthens me" (Phil 4:13) that is when I will truly be strong. II Cor. 12:9-10 reminds us, "...'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." Over and over again the scripture tells us that our strength lies in the Lord, not in ourselves and throughout the old and new Testaments we read again and again of men and women who recognized their weaknesses and were made strong because of their faith. Remember when Moses made all his excuses to God about why he couldn't go back to Egypt. When he finally realized that it was God who would be working through him, in spite of his weaknesses, then he was able to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites. In Hebrews 11, the great chapter of the heroes of the faith, we are given a list of people, who recognized their weaknesses and in faith trusted God to work in and through them. (vs. 32-34) "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by FAITH conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, FROM WEAKNESS WERE MADE STRONG, became MIGHTY in war, put foreign armies to fight..."
So, yes, I am weak! I cannot do anything on my own, but I have a God who is all powerful, mighty to save, and wanting to work in my life!

Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Eph. 3:14-21 "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

jueves, 28 de agosto de 2008

How Big is Your Box?

It's been forever since I wrote in this blog, not because I had nothing to say but because I haven't had time to sit down and write. Hopefully I will be able to put into words all that God has been teaching me in the past two blog at a time. This one is related to something I read while reading through the New Testament. Acts 7:48-49 makes reference to the old testament (I Kings 8:27 ;II Chron. 6:18; Is. 66:1) regarding the building of the temple by Solomon saying that David wanted to build the temple but Solomon was actually the one who built it.

"However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 'HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET; WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?' says the Lord,'OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE?"

We have, since way back then, been trying to put God in a box. We try to make Him fit into what we believe He is, or should be. But God cannot be contained. He is so much bigger than my box!! I have had the wonderful opportunity of being raised in a Christian home, and I have now been on the mission field for 15 years. I have seen Him work in such wonderful and mysterious ways. He has surprised me so many times and showed me that He does not fit into my box. He cares about the smallest details of my life. He cares about the forgotten, lonely, unloved people. And He doesn't care about my status, my prominence or anything else that this world might put value on.
My prayer for myself and for you is that as we get to know God more, as we grow, the box that we have put God in will grow too!

miércoles, 2 de julio de 2008

Forgiven Much, Love Much

Well, it's been way to long since my last blog. I'm still reading through the New Testament and we're in Acts now but this blog is actually about the portion in Luke 7 where Jesus tells the parable of the two debtors, one who owed a lot and one who owed a little. They were both forgiven their debts and Jesus asks, "Which of them therefore will love the moneylender more?" Of course the reply was the one that was forgiven more. As I sat thinking about this I realized that it is not really the amount of sins that are forgiven that make us love the Lord more because we have all done our share of sins. I believe it is the recognition of our sinful state that causes us to love the Lord more. So often we are self-righteous, believing that we are good, we do the right things, we say the right things but we forget who we really are...sinners saved by the grace of God. May I never lose sight of who I am and who God is that my love for Him may grow continually.

lunes, 16 de junio de 2008

Compassion Rather than Sacrifice

I have joined a Facebook group called the "60 Day Challenge" with my three oldest children. It is a group of people challenged to read the New Testament in 60 days. To be honest, I have never done this before. I have read the whole Bible, different books at a time, but never from the beginning to the end, so this is a new challenge for me. This week was our first week and we were reading the book of Matthew of course. Once again I was struck by the references to hypocrisy. This time Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, and condemns their behaviour because they are imposing man made laws as a requirement for spirituality. As I reflect on my own life and the religious leaders of the day today I see the same type of hypocrisy again. As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, it seems as though we are presenting a works based gospel. It is not wrong to fast and pray, or give to the poor etc., but when I look at the context of what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 when he quotes the old testament saying "learn what this means ' I desire compassion and not sacrifice' for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners', I see a God of love, a God that desires to save, not condemn. We are so quick to judge because of appearances and we are so quick to adjust our appearances for the judgement of others and yet we do not seem to give a second thought as to God's opinion. God does not care about what I wear (of course as long as I am modest as a woman), nor does he care if my friends are influential or if I live in the right neighborhood or if I have a certain job. What God cares about is my heart, my motivations, my passion, my priorities. Romans 12 reminds us to not conform ourselves to this world and it's thinking but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to have the mind of God, and see the world the way He does.

jueves, 5 de junio de 2008

Hypocrisy and the Gospel?

Ok, I have to admit, I have been chewing on this for several days. I have been reading in Galations and was struck by what Paul writes in chapter 2. Probably like you, I often think of hypocrisy on terms of not being who I expect others to be, but I realized after reading that it goes further than that. The gospel is: Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross, was buried and rose again on the third day. He paid the penalty for what we have done (and will do) and is offering us forgiveness and eternal life in heaven with Him. It is a free gift of salvation from condemnation, an eternity in hell. It cannot be earned but it is by God's grace, His unmeritted favor, that we can enjoy this free gift. We preach this gospel with words, but do we live this gospel with our lives? That is the question that has been hounding me for the past week. Often, I think, the gospel we portray with our lives is works based. We do, do, do and serve, serve, serve, which in itself, with the correct motivation of course, is not bad. But I'm afraid that many times, my motivation for doing or serving is "to stay on God's good side" or "to look good to others watching". I know God does not have a good side or a bad side but my actions and attitudes sometimes do not show that. In Galations Paul talks about Peter having stood "aloof" from the gentiles because they were not circumcized. I often compare myself to others, as Peter must have done, and stand "aloof", thinking that I am better than they are, because I "do" and they "do not" or because I believe my way is better than their way. With all of our discussions, denominations and divisions, what are we telling the world about the gospel? It seems to me that we are preaching with our lives that salvation is earned. If we do things a certain way, or if we are part of a certain denomination, than we can be saved. If you are on the outside we will look down on you. I am not saying that doctrine should be compromised, but I am saying that we need to be careful where we draw our lines. We are living in the age of grace. That does not mean that I should live my life however I please so that "grace may abound" (Romans 6) but it does mean that the same grace that was bestowed on me, I should be showing to others. I've often wondered what it means to "grow in grace". Could it be that we need to learn to show others grace just as it is shown to us? I am not better than anyone else. I am not saved because I am a wonderful person. I am saved because God chose to show mercy and give me His unmeritted favor because of who He is. I would do well to live in that grace!!

viernes, 30 de mayo de 2008

Hurricane Alma

I just wanted to let anyone know that reads this blog because they are interested in the Mingo family, that we are all fine after Hurricane Alma yesterday. We did get a lot of rain and wind but no damage was done to our home other than that we were without power until about 6pm today due to a fallen cable. The hurricane touched ground near Salinas Grandes, a barrio where Adrian works. Most of the people have taken refuge in the church because their roofs were blown off. Please pray for the pastors and leaders of the communities there as they deal with their own problems and losses as well as try to encourage and help others in their community.
Thank you for your love and prayers.

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2008

Be One

As I continue studying about growth I am once again struck by things that are so familiar to me but that hit me over the head like a two by four. I finished looking at all the passages that related to spiritual growth or increase and then decided to make a couple lists, one that was a list of commands and another that was a list of prayers. As I compared my lists I realized that they were very similar. There are only three commands that I could find where we are commanded to grow or increase. We're commanded to:
Grow in brotherly love (I Ts. 4:12)
Grow in the grace of our Lord(II Pet. 3:18)
Grow in the knowledge of our Lord(II Pet. 3:18)
Paul's prayers were similar, praying for their love for Christians and for all men to increase(I Thess. 3:12) for their knowledge of God to increase(Col 1:10) , that their love grow in knowledge and depth of insight (Phil 1:9) and that they increase (grow) in faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness & love (II Pet. 1:5-10).
So as I sat there thinking about all this I asked myself, "How do I grow in all these things?"
I remembered the passage in John 15 and decided to reread it focusing on the answer to that question. It's such a familiar passage but so easily forgotten. The passage seems to progress, "Abide in the vine...abide in His Word...abide in His love." The word ABIDE means to remain as one, not to become another or different. It started becoming very clear to me. I had been a bit perplexed at the fact that there were commands to grow or increase and yet there were other verses that said that God causes the growth. (I Thess. 3:12; I Cor. 3:6-7; II Cor. 9:12) I have developed a love for my garden here in Nicaragua and I love to watch my plants grow. As I began to think about this passage in John I thought about my roses. The branches will not grow on their own, they cannot even cause the growth but as long as they are ONE with the main stem they continue to grow and eventually have beautiful roses. I cannot cause my own growth but as long as I am one with the vine, Jesus Christ, His Word and His love He will cause the growth.
I John 2:6 says "the one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked"

lunes, 12 de mayo de 2008

A Good Umbrella

It has begun to rain here in Nicaragua. We have 6 months of rain and 6 months of no rain so we're glad that the rain is back. Unfortunately though, with the rain come surprises. One of my favorite songs in "Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me and it talks about the effect rain should have on my christian life..."rain" being trials. I was reminded of how important it is to be prepared for "rain" when it started raining Saturday night. I had rained once in March and we realized that our roof leaked, badly, so we called our landlady and she sent some guys over to fix it. We weren't home when they came to fix the exterior of it so we didn't really know what they had done. When they came to fix the ceiling inside the house I asked them if they had fixed all the leaks and they said yes and proceeded to fix several rooms that had been damaged by the rain. I told them it would be awful to have the roof still leak after they fixed the ceiling because their work would have been in vain but they assured me that the roof was fixed. Guess what? Saturday night as it began to pour I was walking around the house with pans finding all the spots that it still leaked!!! They had only fixed one of the leaks. All the other places were still leaking and, once again, ruining the ceiling. I was reminded of how important it is to make sure our spiritual umbrella (or roof as the case may be) is prepared for the rain that WILL come. It's not good enough to just cover up the bad, ugly spots on the ceiling by painting or putting new plywood or whatever if the hole on the outside is not fixed!! Sometimes the rain is what shows me where the holes are in my roof but if I don't fix those holes I will keep having to deal with the same leaks!! James says that we should not be surprised when we have trials but that we should count it as joy because it produces patience. I pray that God doesn't have to keep using those trials to show me the same old holes but that I would be strong in Him and that as He continues to show me where the holes are from time to time, that I would repair the holes, not just try to cover them up so they look good.

viernes, 9 de mayo de 2008

Growth - Good and Bad

As I began my quiet time with the Lord today I decided to do a study on the concept of growth so I looked up verses that had to do with growth or increase. It was interesting to realize that I can grow in a positive way as well as a negative way (letting things take root in my life that should not be there). I was overwhelmed with the number of passages dealing with growth, building up or increasing. I didn't even finish looking at all the passages but I was impacted again by the importance of growing and not just being stagnant. I, as a parent, would not be happy if my children got older but never matured and I'm sure that the Lord expects the same from me. There were passages that were commands about growing and there were passages about the Lord causing the growth but all seemed directed towards my responsibility towards this growth. If I do not spend time in the Word, gaining wisdom, or if I do not get to know God and His promises to me I can never grow in my faith or in my fruitfulness. So, today, my prayer for myself and for my friends is that of Paul's in Col. 1:9-11.
"...asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit in every good work and INCREASING in the knowledge of God; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
Enjoy the Lord today!

jueves, 8 de mayo de 2008

New Blogger

Well, I've thought about doing a blog for a long time but really wasn't sure what to blog about. I've even signed up at a couple of blog sites but was at a loss for words...until this weekend. I was at a ladies retreat with about 85 other english speaking women here in Nicaragua and we were challenged with "Becoming Strong Women in God". I was raised in a christian home, accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at the age of 6, was always very involved in youth group and any other church activity, went to a Bible Institute, became a missionary, began homeschooling my kids and the list goes on...and I never really considered myself a weak woman in the Lord. But this weekend I realized something. Many of the verses that we studied talked about growing and I will be honest, I have been relying on growing by experience much more than I have been spending time growing through the Word of God. So, that being said, this blog is going to be a sort of accountability check for me. I am going to share with anyone who takes the time to read this, what God is teaching me through His Word. Often I think we rely on experiences and little on TRUTH. Don't get me wrong. I believe God uses our experiences to teach us as well, but many of my experiences could have been so much richer if I had grown in the knowledge of Christ Jesus through His Word. So, that's my challenge! To GROW in my relationship with the Lord and not be satisfied with past growth but to press on for more! I know that the more I come to know God, the easier it will become to trust Him in EVERY aspect of my life. I'm looking forward to this new journey!