Good Intentions vs. God Intentions

BE YOURSELF

Scenario 1:  I lived my life getting a corporate job and taking out thousands in student loans to be responsible and keep afloat in a state way too expensive to live in.  I never fit into the office culture and neither does anyone else.  Everyone was pretending to be someone they weren’t and my bosses never respected my personal life or me.  These were all my plans (good intentions often produce bad results) and they didn’t work.

Scenario 2:  (God intentions always produce good results!)  However, I went on a mission and realized that the job I thought I was supposed to take had more than enough time to finish my contract and it got so complicated that I couldn’t work there.  That the ministry I was supposed to do didn’t start for a year and a half.  That it still won’t be starting until (who can really be sure) the end of the month.  There was also another personal disappointment lately that I thought I was called for the last 15 months that fell through.  Something I honestly would have just moved away from and put out of my mind had I thought it wasn’t from God.  I’m worried I can’t hear the Lord’s voice and grieving that more than the situation.  These were all God’s plans (or so I thought) and they didn’t work either.

So when do we give up?  He says that His burden is light but we’re running a race.  He says that He’ll fight our battles but we need to endure.  Did I totally miss my calling?  Did I miss His voice?  I’m sure if there was some message He wanted me to convey, He’d let me know.  Where the heart is willing He will prevail…

I keep recounting every single sin…wasn’t I obedient?  Was there some resentment there that I needed to forgive that’s hindering His voice?  Didn’t I try to change countries, jobs, homes, and give up a ton of my possessions?  And what have I done? Nothing.  Was I supposed to do more?  This is a trap from the accuser.  Guilt and condemnation do not come from the Lord.

I keep racking my brain over the decisions that I have and haven’t made over the last year and a half.  I know I haven’t been perfect but am I being too hard on myself?  I already know that our plans don’t work and we shouldn’t be boasting about them, but I thought I quit all that.

When do we keep fighting for a square peg in a round hole and when do we give up?  I wish I had the answer.

You have to remember that in what we see as present failure is future success.  His successes aren’t like our successes as we are commanded not to conform to this world.  How many apostles were kicked off islands, out of countries, and run out of towns because there messages were rejected?  That sucks and I know it isn’t encouraging.  If I want encouragement I read I and II Peter.  Frankly Acts keeps it a little too real for me when I’m in a discouraged mood LOL.  Acts is wonderful but we are told to read different scripture at different times by the Spirit for a reason.  Back to them getting kicked off islands – they were probably like, this sucks!  I came with no sandals, no food, I’m just over here trying to minister the Word, and they’re chasing after me yelling at me in different languages.  Why would God put me here? This isn’t doing any good!  This is nonsense and actually I’ve made things worse.  I can’t speak for others, but there has to have been a point they felt like that; if not daily.

I know you’re all running off to become missionaries right now.  It’s really, really glamourous.

I have shoes and food and I live in a nice neighborhood and I eat food I buy daily from supermarkets with angry people cutting in front of me and in another language; but a supermarket nonetheless.  I teach people that I truly enjoy teaching and have other countless blessings.  I can’t complain.  Apostle life is hard, friends.  I’m really glad I’m not one of the original 12!

So when I’m thinking about, what the heck am I doing here and why aren’t You using me if I’m willing and the food sucks and I can’t hear Your voice and I’ve failed…I’ll just remember that maybe whatever it is I’m doing here will have a ripple effect and in 2000 years someone will have benefitted from it.

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Patience is the key to respect

I only know things because I learned them the hard way.  Patience is the key to respect.  My friend told me this when I was having anxiety about teaching young adults in Spanish.  Of course I imagined the worst up front, not that they’ve done anything to me so far.  I have yet to start ministry.  What if they don’t respect me and it’s a disaster?

If you want to teach, you’ll have to discover your patience, she said.  Well put.  People get rowdy in life and reacting with the same as others treat you never works.  Yes I know it’s like an unfair life thing that others can treat you like crap but if you do it back you’re wrong, you’re fired, etc.  Rising above puts you above – like in a higher position.  There’s so much responsibility there.  I get tired of Him being perfect in my weakness.  Don’t my strengths count for anything?  Do I even realize what they are anymore?

Patience isn’t always just waiting.  It’s hiking through anxiety and coming out on the other side.  It’s responding without a raised voice or an insult although they really have it coming.

The Bible says if we have knowledge and no love we sound like a clanging symbol.  Imagine standing up in front of twenty somethings in anger.  An image of a tin foil hat comes to mind.  Do I want to be patient?  Not really.  Is this an upward battle?  Yes.

She said I also have to invest in people.  Everyone I’ve asked to hang out doesn’t do it.  The people who ask me are creepy guys.  No I shouldn’t evangelize them.  That’s a man’s job.  See my Freedom post.  You know what you do in investing?  You wait.  Sometimes quietly (or loudly) while your stocks plummet temporarily and in 40 years you have a retirement fund that isn’t too bad.  I have 16 months here.   Quality friendships always take awhile to make.  Investing is also waiting.  Waiting until the thing you invested in (Buenos Aires, my life, my job, my relationships, etc., etc.), flourish.

Imagine how long Christ has been waiting for us.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God_s grace in its various forms. I Pedro 4_10

Waiting sucks.  There are no two ways about it.  It’s painful.  Sometimes there is no reason behind it.  Usually it’s because some bureaucrat didn’t do their job.  Usually it’s because someone isn’t considerate.

But that’s earthly waiting.  We’re in spiritual waiting.

Imagine how long Christ has been waiting for us.

Look at the above scripture.  “At the right time…”  Not even Christ knows the time or the day that we’ll be reconciled with him.  Only the Lord, since before the world was made, knows when we are to be reconciled with him.  Sometimes the Lord doesn’t reveal to us a certain time that something will happen and that’s where the faith is.

His thoughts aren’t like our thoughts.  And our waiting doesn’t even come close to his waiting.  Imagine to suffer what Christ had suffered and then to not know when it will be reconciled.

And that’s where your faith lies.  And all of your power is in your patience.

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Starting Ministry Update

After 16 months of being in the wilderness (of Buenos Aires) I can finally say that I am going to start ministry the end of September.  I’m going to help out in the college ministry with separating them into groups and connecting people and leading conversations between them once a month.  It’s called “Plug.”  I just need to improve my Spanish.  The good thing is that I have biblegateway.com to study the Word in Spanish.  Sometimes I do it for hours a day.

The process has been super long for doing any ministry in this church.  You have to have a background check from both countries, two church classes that take all day Saturday and come once a month, one ministry class (I’ll take next month), and an interview.

There are even more classes, interviews and requirements if you want to do different ministries.  They’re starting life groups for the college in March, they say.  That’s when, if all goes well, I’ll lead my own group but for now I’m just looking at what I’m doing in front of me.

For a multitude of reasons I’ve had to wait this long.  Other people just jumped into their ministries right away and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough or something.  Not everybody has a public ministry right away.  Moses had to wait 80 years.  Jesus and John had to wait 30.

I have learned a lot this year.

“In captivity we build strength.” – Lisa Bevere

When we are waiting to begin a new chapter, roam the desert, sit in the wilderness, or whatever you call it, there are things that we learn:

  • obedience
  • patience
  • endurance
  • preparation
    • positive choices
    • training i.e. Spanish
  • perseverance
  • consistency

“Most dreams die in the soil.” – Steven Furtick

This is where Steven Furtick says most dreams die.  In the soil.  In that place after we’ve done a ton of work planting and after we’re just sitting there like, why is this not happening, and then all of a sudden the rain comes and there’s a sunflower or something.  (Don’t trust me.  I am not a gardener.)  We’re not just going to sit in the dirt forever like a gross seed lol.

I go to the Purpose Driven church because church, ministry, and missions aren’t an option.  Not only do you cheat yourself of the best life possible but you also cheat everyone else of their blessings when you aren’t doing your spiritual gift.  Outside of living my life’s purpose I’m not really sure I know what I would want.  Why would you want an unfulfilled life?  We’re unfulfilled because we aren’t doing our assignments.  Trying to explain that to the pastor yesterday was difficult at the time and went something like this:

Her: Why did you come to Buenos Aires?
Me: I was called.
Her: How long are you planning on staying?
Me: I don’t know.  Until He tells me to move.

I actually think I did better on the Spanish part because at least if it’s in Spanish they think I’m confused because of the language.  In English I think it’s worse if I can’t express myself lol.

What I believe the Lord is telling me in this season of life is to help others find their life purpose so they can fulfill their assignments, live the Great Commission, and live their best possible lives as well.

I feel like I’ve got all of this knowledge stored up inside of me and then when I open my mouth nothing comes out, or it isn’t ready, or it’s poorly constructed in Spanish.  John the Baptist’s father couldn’t speak for over a year.  Can you imagine?

 

Snapshots of Encouragement

Last year I believed the Lord called me to move to BA on a mission and I have been in a waiting period of starting ministry.  How close you come to it when you feel like giving up.  It’s very exciting when it’s new but all great leaders from the Bible have suffered mountains of discouragement; which is only another deterrent when not properly prepared :).  Did you forget that the Lord already equipped you before He spoke the world into creation?

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Two weekends ago was super fun and then last week I spent another waste in government offices followed by a bout of the flu!  We are so supposed to resist the devil the same way as Jesus did in the wilderness, quoting, “It is written…” and the devil will flee from you.  He attacks you before you’re about to begin a strong ministry.  Even when your own thinking is going against you.  Anything that isn’t loving isn’t from God:

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Stop abusing Philippians 4:13! 😀  Yes, it’s great because it came from the Bible.  But when you need some more in depth encouragement and Christians shout, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” and then run off, that’s extremely inefficient.  Great, thanks.  You have solved all my problems and cured world hunger in one sentence.

What if your husband repeated, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” like a parrot everyday but didn’t take you out, didn’t do the housework, didn’t pick up the kids…do you see my point?  You should be going further.  You should be exceeding it.  The devil also knows the entire Bible, probably better than you.  So if you’re only reading pinterest he’s going to laugh at Philippians 4:13.

I’ve gone through every excuse not to do ministry.  Like I’m not one to just pleasantly do my work.  Some people have really easy times doing their ministries.  I’m one who questions all and analyzes everything.  Not that I’m not helpful or willing.  Don’t be afraid of the past:

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When I’m not feeling encouraged I really get anxious.  I think Satan’s biggest tool on me is discouragement.  This is a problem because we turn to the approval of others and for what?  For them to tell us what God already told us.  We do need encouragement.  Without it we will die.  Literally.  Exhortation is just as important as any other spiritual gift.  Mine are teaching and exhortation at the top in fact.  It’s the motivation that’s the problem.  We need to start moving.  We need others’ encouragement- not their approval.  I need to encourage others in order to enrich lives and my own.  Others need to encourage me because as the Charlie Brown meme says, “My anxieties have anxieties.”  But do I really have to?  You’ll be glad you did…

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WHATEVER GIFT YOU HAVE RECEIVED

Not the gift you think that you want to have.  Never hurts to try.  This is when regifting is socially acceptable!  Always regift your spiritual gift!

photo credit: flashpacker-travelguide.de <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/149324445@N08/33439363384″>Salinas Grandes | Argentina | South America | Südamerika</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;