Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sermons in Spanish

I thought I had a short attention span when it came to sermons in English, until I started attending a Spanish church.

It's difficult to keep my mind focused on what the pastor says because I don't understand much. (Maybe I need to focus more on trying to understand, but it is easier to flip through my bilingual Bible than try to comprehend a sermon.) A word here, a word there, a prayer, a Scripture reference, etc.

Sometimes all I take home from a message is a sentence or two (or five), but sometimes those sentences are what I need to hear.

One day, I caught that God is always present.

Another day, I caught five main points:
1. We have a personal God
2. We need to know the context of our verses (surrounding verses, chapters, and book)
3. Drugs are bad
4. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble
5. We are dirty, pretending to look nice & be acceptable

Another day, I learned that the cross speaks of the cost, but the empty tomb speaks of the importance of Jesus. I also learned we should examine why we celebrate the Christmas in the way that we do.

My take-home point from another sermon was this:
God is eternal.
God is a constant presence.
God is Jehovah.
We live by faith.
We believe in the Word of God.

Palm Sunday (there was a PowerPoint to follow along with)
Jesus the Liberator is humble & He came to serve.
He came to give liberty from sin & evil (Romans 7:24)
He came to give liberty to the captives & oppressed (Luke 4:18-19)
He came to teach the truth (John 8:32)
He came to give us life (John 10:10)
He came to give salvation via grace (John 12:46-47)
Do we believe in Him?
Do we trust in Him?
Do we know of Him?
Do we share of Him?
Are we completing our mission?

Another sermon, I learned that we need to plant to harvest fruits of justice.

Yet another sermon was on atonement, grace, and repentance.
1. Christ died for us.
2. We are saved through grace. Salvation is God's idea. (it's prevenient grace)
3. We need to return to God; repentance is the first step

These are snippets of our year in Costa Rica and they serve as a reminder that God can work through any means, even sermons in a second language.

Monday, October 20, 2014

As a Volunteer Missionary

As a volunteer missionary, I have my Mt. Carmel moments alongside my flights to the deserts discouraged. I have my Martha behaviors crowding out my Mary mannerisms.

I doubt like Thomas. I lie & deceive like Abraham & Isaac. I boast like Joseph. I judge & condemn like the Pharisees. I wander from God like the Israelites. I fear like Gideon. I sin like Adam & Eve. I am stingy like Nabal. I have pride like Aaron & Miriam. I try to replace God with myself like the devil. Ouch. I'm like the devil.

Yet, I also sing like David (just flip through his Psalms in your Bible). I weep with compassion like Jeremiah (or read Lamentations). I help like Abigail. I open my home like Mary/Martha & Lydia. I write like Paul (see Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, the Thessalonians, the Timothy's, Titus, and Philemon)...(ok, maybe not quite so eloquently). I invite like Andrew. I encourage like Barbabas. I seek the truth like Nicodemus. I dance like Miriam. I work like Nehemiah.

It's funny how the 10 negative examples came so much more readily and easily than the 10 positive examples. I'm talking MAJOR brainstorming to reach 10 positive examples to go with my 10 negative examples. The 10 negative examples flowed out of the pen and off my fingers, but the 10 positive examples struggled to form.

As a volunteer missionary, I still reach the highs & lows of faith. As a volunteer missionary, God is still with me, just as He is with you.