Update

It has been a bit of time since I added a post. This seems to happen after my January trip to Mexico – really not a bad thing but rather a sigh and looking back on such a wonderful experience.

I took an opportunity I have here at my local church to put together a summary of what the ladies’ groups have done in Cofradia. You can help pray that it is useful to begin or further a conversation with one of our missionaries in women’s ministry. Cofradia report summary This is a PDF that may or may not be of interest to anyone, but I do ask that you pray for the Cofradia women’s group, the CyFair ladies, and the First Baptist Church women’s groups.

Thank you.

I am involved in an exciting adventure this year. Our women’s study leadership group is doing a trial run with a daily chronological Bible reading program. The web site is here – As We Walk Along – and you are invited to click the sidebar there to join in. An email will be sent to you daily with questions based on the reading and your comments are very welcome! I admit to having a lot of comments on the blog – just can’t help myself – I am excited about this opportunity and the potential for more to join “As We Walk Along”. Isn’t that really why we do Bible study? To feed on, to correct our walk, to invite others to join, and to say “Come!”

Rosa – Joy in the midst of Sorrow

Rosa and her family run a restaurant just a few steps from the base in Cofradia. It is a favorite of ours for it’s half-size bottles of real Coca Cola and frozen juice popsicles. We did not see much of Rosa. Her brother, Vincente, is dying of cancer and lives across the street and she was spending time with him.  We passed her on the street or waved as she worked at her restaurant and always, her face and demeanor showed her sorrow.

Our team became acutely aware of a cultural difference when we heard about both Secu and Rosa spending time with their family members. Instead of living out the last days in a hospital, the family member is taken home and a vigil of sorts takes place.

On Tuesday at noon, a few of us stopped in at Vincente and his wife Eladia’s house and we were privileged to witness his baptism. Steve Silberman, the base director, played guitar and we sang some worship songs. Pastor Gollo read from Psalm 139. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. … Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (139:16, 23-24)

My reflection on this baptism was that this so represented real life. First that life on earth has many sorrows and cares. Our loved ones become ill, or life’s cares are heavy, and sorrow flows out of our hearts. And yet, on Rosa’s face and that of others, the joy at his baptism was a heavenly crown on their sorrow. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that – obvious, bitter sorrow but joy and hope in Christ laid over it.

In John 16, Jesus spoke to his disciples about exactly this sorrow and joy. When he died, they would weep and lament, but the world would rejoice – believing of course that death had ended Jesus’ influence. But he does not stop there and assures them that “your sorrow will turn into joy.” Like a mother giving birth, the pains and anguish are necessary before the new life comes forth. “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

Vincente will die and Rosa and Eladia will have great sorrow, but they know the hope of the certainty of “seeing again” as promised by Christ Jesus. The water baptism we witnessed was such an illustration of the sorrowful earthly life buried with Christ and raised to newness of eternal life!

Joy and sorrow – real life and death – Lead me in the way everlasting!

This photo of Rosa was taken Thursday evening at the variety show and I was happy that for a few moments, she was able to enjoy her life in the body of Christ.

Rosa - A momentary sweetness for her broken heart

 

Secu – Meditating on God’s Word

One of the greatest blessings I realized on this trip is connected to Secu.

Secu - Renewed by The Word at night

She is the mother of four little girls and a boy. In addition to her children, she has been caring for her father who has Cancer and is expected to die soon. Her father is not a believer in the salvation secured by Christ and Secu is deeply concerned about his soul. [UPDATE: I received word the Secu’s father passed away on Wednesday. I will update again if there is anything else.]  We had hoped that Secu would assist us by preparing to read our daily Psalms in some dramatic way to emphasize the various emotions, but she was unable to attend due to the drama occurring in her own home and in her own emotions.

Thursday night was the all-night event and Secu was encouraged by her husband to attend. Praise be to God and bravo for Secu’s husband because he took care of the little girls AND his father-in-law! [The local ladies wanted a sleep-over from the very first time but it took until last year for us to agree to do it. One of the issues is that they cannot bring their children and need a husband, neighbor, mother, or someone to be willing to take care of them – kind of unusual for this culture.] Secu came and enjoyed the hot dog roast and variety show.

In one of the lulls between acts, Secu went to the microphone and recited Psalm 51 from memory. I was so impressed and later I inquired of her how that had come to her. Secu said that it was hard knowing that her father was not saved and many nights she would wake up. Then, to keep her mind from worrying, she would recite Psalm 51 over and over all the while praying that her father would come to that great point of repentance like King David had.

Our very first lesson with the Cofradia ladies was an encouragement to them to let God enlarge their hearts and minds to learn and understand the poetry forms of the Psalms. Secu found a place to leave her anxiety in the darkness of night and God enlarged her heart with His words. She ministers to her father through the strength and counsel of her heavenly Father. Psalm 16:7 says, I bless the LORD who gives me counsel, in the night also my heart instructs me.

Secu fits Peter’s description of a proper adorning beauty: Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gently and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4) I was blessed by her offering to share Psalm 51 from the hiding place of her lovely heart.

Cofradia 2012 – Reflections

We had a wonderful trip to Cofradia! The team was willing and open and the local ladies were warm and open. This was our 6th trip and the growth in all the ladies – the support group and the Cofradia group – is a work of God that is visible.

Here is a photo of the entire group on Wednesday morning:

Cofradia 2012

I have been reflecting and if I had to chose a theme for this year’s trip I think it would be something like “Real Life” or maybe “Life and Death”. Several of the long-time ladies in the local group are affected by the impending death of a loved one and I think I want to relay their stories to you in the coming days. For now, here are their photos and a request for prayers for them:

Rosa - A momentary sweetness for her broken heart

Secu - Renewed by The Word at night

I wonder if I have settled on the mentioned themes because of the overall focus on the Psalms. These laments and praises truly do reflect real life and I think the women responded to them because of that. Another clue was that the new members of the Houston team specifically mentioned recognizing that the Cofradia women had many of the same issues that we all face – cultures are different but human needs are the same.

Enough for now – check back to get the stories behind these photos….

 

Psalm 51

David was overcome by strong emotions and passions in the story in 2 Samuel 11-12. God’s question to David is, “Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in His sight?” and the consequences are connected to “by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord.” We can list David’s sins and yet miss the fact that God’s word speaks to us about our daily walk before God. This Word is good and sweet like honey and precious and pure like refined gold and is for us today. It tells of God’s righteousness, His goodness, and our errors and needs.

What does sin do to a person? Psalm 32 tells us: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged by sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:1-5) The contrast is between the blessed forgiven one and the heavy weight of God’s hand; between the blessed one whose sin is covered to the wasted, weakened one who tries to cover his own sin; between the blessed justified one who speaks to confess his sin and the one who groans all day long.

How can sinners come before a holy, righteous God? Psalm 52 is an example for us to follow.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

What do we need the most from God? Mercy. Depend on His love and compassion to come to Him with your sin, come to be cleansed.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

What do we do? Confess. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God is God, pure, holy, righteous, and judge of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Every single one of us are born in sin and sin all the time when compared to God’s truth and wisdom. Only God can remove sin and clean away the blackness and teach us from the inside out. Hear the affirmations “Cleanse me and I will be clean,” “Wash me and I will be white,” “Let me hear and my bones will rejoice.”

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Then something really wonderful – a miracle – happens!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

God is the creator of all things and when you confess, he creates in you a new heart. Jesus told a priest named Nicodemus that a person had to be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God – in order to see God with new spiritual eyes and someday real eyes. Later in the New Testament, the disciples who believed that God sent Jesus save people from their sins received the Holy Spirit because they were born new. This is a new life! A new life that is for you! God’s Holy Spirit then helps you to be willing to live right, in hear truth, and seek after God’s wisdom. This is really Good News that you can share with others!

Be humble and broken. God takes and works on this kind of sorrow to clean, heal, and restore.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Finally, here is a prayer for the community of God’s people. Jesus told his disciples that he would leave them but that his work was to prepare a place for them to live. He promised that he would return for them and that those who are his would live with him forever. Jesus guaranteed this could happen and his life was that righteous sacrifice offered to God. God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and raised Him out of the tomb. When you accept that Jesus’ sacrifice covers all of your sins, when you call Him LORD, you belong to Him – you are in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

Psalm 51 shows us the truth. We are sinners and sin against God. Only He can take away the sin when we are sorrowful, confess, and ask for a new life. This is the truth. Don’t let any feelings, emotions, or passions take away this truth. God is a merciful God. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Come!

Long time…

OK…!

It has been a while.

I have spent time in the hospital and in recovery from a ruptured appendix. (This is not something recommended for fun and enjoyment.)

I have adventured with my husband to Los Angeles and Kansas (highly recommended).

NE Marion County, Kansas - Country Dreams B&B

The first blog post after a long absence is the hardest – so now it is done.

God is Faithful

I don’t often post links, but this one was too good and I wanted to share…

God is Faithful

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