Psalm 146:2 "I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

Friday, September 30, 2011

On The Bus

Hi Everyone,

I was on the bus the other day....and the following conversation transpired.

A woman on the bus sitting next to me for quite awhile all of the sudden out of the blue asks me, "Are you religious?"
"No," I answered " "I have a personal relationship with God which means Jesus Christ died paying the price for my sin and rose again for me and I have given Him my trust."
"Oh, I've heard that" she says
"He did the same for you! Are you going to trust Him-Just Him completely?" I ask
Unfortunately, her stop came just then and she got off the bus before we could finish the conversation

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back from My Team Conference

Hi Everyone,
Being at my team conference these past three days was good! God really renewed our fellowship together. Thanks for praying for the prayer sessions that I led also. It was really neat how the information that I had gathered stretched for both of the sessions. I want to update with some devotionals soon. Please pray as I finish my required visa letters this week-planning to start that whole process on October 10th. Pray for me to be able to get back into the swing of things quickly after being out of my normal working environment these last few days--and just that what truly needs to get done each day would "get accomplished." I feel behind on some of my responsibilities and want to be faithful in all that I do, completing things well and in a timely manner. Thanks again for your prayers!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just So You Know.....

Hi Everyone,

God is doing some amazing things! To hear the whole story you are going to have to wait a month or so--maybe less--I will let you know at the right time.

Our team mini-conference starts this afternoon. I've been busy this week taking care of e-mails and administration tasks for it. Please pray that God would lead us as a team in our discussion and may decisions that are made. I am in charge of two sessions of prayer Monday and Tuesday evening--so thanks for your prayers there as well.

I will be without internet for the next few days and will get in touch with you again on Wednesday evening.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Heart Of TRUST: A Quiet Place

Hi Everyone,

The heart that trusts in the Lord is a quiet place--not filled with the anxieties and fears of the world. The heart that trusts in Him knows that He will work everything out for good, that he has greater purposes even in difficult circumstances, and that God will care and provide for those that are His. The heart that trusts knows that Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross was sufficient and that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The heart that Trusts is a heart at REST.

Psalm 28:7 "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

Psalm 33:21 "In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name."

Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

Psalm 112:6-8 " Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."

Have a blessed day at rest trusting in HIM!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Renew My Strength Like The Eagles

Hi Everyone,

It has almost been a week since I posted last--just due to the fact that I literally have not had time to post lately. Things have been quite busy. Thanks for your prayers for me that I can get things done efficiently and timely. Our mini-conference is September 25th thru the 28th. Please pray for me and my team during that time.

May God renew my strength like the eagles!

Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mexican Independence Day Celebration Highlights!

A Mexican Party (Fiesta Mexicana)

Hi Everyone,

Tonight was the Mexican Independence Celebration, which I attended at my church. Here are some of the decorations that were up for the event.

Our Church bulletin board---decorated by one of the youth! :)Here is my pastor, Luis Mundo Ocampo--just thought you might be curious what he looks like. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of him and his wife together.
Here I am-all dressed up with a few added touches to the same outfit that I wore on Tuesday night.
Our meal time together consisted of pozole (see photo below) and tacos dorados. Pozole basically means "foamy." It is a soup that is traditionally pre-columbian. It is prepared to eat on special occasions. It consists of corn (whole hominy kernals) and meat (Most commonly either pork or chicken but can also be made with pork rinds or turkey). It is then garnished with various other items such as: (dried cilantro, chili pepper, lime juice, and chopped onion just to name a few of them) depending on a person's preferences. This is a very Mexican dish and there are different variations in the different States of Mexico. It took awhile for me to get used to eating it when I first arrived---but now I really do enjoy eating it--especially when the meat in it is chicken! YUM!!
Here are some of the tacos before they were fried. They are tortillas rolled up and filled with things such as potato, cheese, etc. They go great with pozole.
We also played all kinds of games together as a church body! Some of them were just along silly and fun lines. The highlight was groups that had to dress up as Mexican historical figures and give a five minute "drama" with their other group members. I didn't catch everything in the sketches but the mix of history with modern day was very interesting! I must say there are some very creative people in my church here! (might have to see if there are ways to put their gifts to use in the future!) Here are the "drama actors!!!!"
An important part of the celebration is called "El Grito"--the Cry of Independence. This cry dates back to September 16, 1810 and marks the beginning of the Mexican war for Independence. The cry was announced by Hidalgo, Costilla, and a Roman Catholic priest. Now each year in remembrance of the event and I would sort of say this is like an emblem of Mexico's Independence, on September 15th at 11:00 p.m, "the Grito" is carried out. People typically gather in the town square together. It is a huge national and cultural event that typically takes place in the zocalo or the town square in Mexico City and in other cities and towns throughout Mexico at the same time. In Mexico City the president rings the bell and does the independence cry and in other cities and towns either the governor of the state or other government officials are given this privilege.

In my church we didn't go to the town square-several churches have their own Independence celebrations(partly to offering a safer alternative for celebration) as I had previously mentioned. So here is our youth leader giving his version of "The Grito." My pastor made a contest out of it and we voted on who did the best "grito" between the younger children and the adults. It was fun. Hopefully some year I will actually get the actual town square event on video so you can see what it really looks like.

After The Independence Cry, we all sang the Mexican National Anthem together....and then someone decided to put off some very tiny indoor "fireworks" on the cement basketball court of our church. Lots of them just made smoke though. Anyways, it really was really safe and fun even though it probably sounds scary!

So it was a fun evening---and really neat to get to know my church members better too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Way We Think

Hi Everyone,

The manner in which we think is so important. sometimes it can be easy to get trapped n those old patterns of thinking even when we know the truth. Satan also knows the times when we are weak. Sometimes when things happen such as expectations not being met, disappointments, hardship, or tragic circumstances, it can be easier to be tempted to believe a lie rather than the truth.

And while the temptation may be great to believe the lie, we MUST remember that believing a lie will put us in bondage but believing the TRUTH that God has said will bring us to freedom--every time. We can't always change what happens in our circumstances, but we CAN choose how we will react and what we are going to believe about God, ourselves, and others in the situation.

The way we think is very important.

Life is not about getting what we want--infact it isn't even about us.

Life is about those of us who TRUST HIM being transformed to be more like Him--and God can use anything and everything to that end--if we choose to allow Him to do so. That may not always be an easy process. We must seek to have our minds renewed in Him--and we must remember that HIS TRUTH will prevail.

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All Ready To Celebrate

Hi Everyone,

As I said it is our Mexican Independence celebration this week. Tonight I am gong to a celebration at Olag's church, tomorrow a celebration at my friend Conchita's, and Thursday I've decided to go to my church for their Noche Mexicana.

In the midst of food, fun, and cultural learning, pray that I would be used of the Lord as a testimony to others--especially with Conchita's family Wednesday evening.

More pictures to come!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are we "Forcing" What God Doesn't Want?

Hi Everyone,

I've been thinking about something and been challenged by it several times over the past few weeks.

So many times it is so easy to bring "our plans or desires" to prayer and ask God to honor and bless them---but the truth is our plans may NOT be His will for us at all.

Especially serving in a foreign country, (but I am sure it happens just the same in our ministries and lives at home), We are constantly made aware of needs or opportunities around us--it can be easy to "fill our plates" and get busy with all kinds of truly good things---but some of those may not be what God has for us at that particular time and such.

I am not saying we should just throw out our ministry opportunities, but maybe sometimes we need to seek God and really evaluate them. So I've been doing some re-evaluating lately as to what God does want me doing---and to what extent---for various aspects here.

HIS WILL IS ALWAYS THE BEST FOR US. It is far better to carry out HIS plans and will rather than our own.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Favorite Time Of Year

Hi Everyone,

Mexicans are generally VERY patriotic. The patriotism is a part of the culture that many times I enjoy and appreciate. September 15th is the Independence Day celebration. This time of year is one on my favorite's here from a cultural standpoint. Last year I remember how much I longed to be here to celebrate the bi-centennial, but this year I am excited to be here for Mexico's 201th Independence celebration.
The Government building in the town square called the Zócalo is decorated for the occasion where many Mexican will participate in what s known as "the grito." More about this later!

There are stands all over the place, a month or so prior to the day, with people selling Mexican flags, decorations, cheap jewelry, and all kinds of other things in red, green and white for the celebration.
Many churches also have their own celebrations for congregation attendees and their families and friends---complete with a brief review of Mexico's history, singing the Mexican National Anthem and Worship songs, games, and tons of delicious food options. And I haven't decided if I am going to the zócalo or to my church celebration yet, but I am leaning towards going to church since my ever-awesome youth group is in charge of planning the games---should be interesting! So in a week I will let you know which one I decided and how it went!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Video Update Praise And Prayer!

Hi Everyone

Here is a video update in two segments---for some reason my blog would not upload them when I tried to join them into one segment--but enjoy--and thanks so very much for your prayers!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today and Tomorrow

Hi Everyone,

I heard an amazing testimony from one of our short-termer's today--it sounded sort of like mine. I mean, I could relate to it at least. So at the end of our meeting, I shared my testimony briefly with the short termer.

Tomorrow I am "in charge of" our team's day of prayer from 9-5. Pray that God would just take over and lead it--things are much better that way. Thanks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Today At Church

Hi Everyone,

I absolutely LOVE this picture-it has become precious to me!--This is the youth group from my church---almost all of us--actually together! The photo was taken today at our church where we had Pastoral Recognition and Celebration--because our main Pastor celebrated 20 years of ministry there today--but we also celebrated the rest of the pastoral team as well.

We had an awesome Mexican style lunch--where people brought stuff to share. It was delicious--but everyone kept wanting to put food on my plate!!! (I felt like I was getting spoiled like those childhood memories at Grandma's house!) I guess people are getting to know who I am now----now I just need to get the names down of more people in the congregation. Anyways, it was fun--too bad you all couldn't have been here!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Living A Life Of Purity And Holiness For His Return

Hi Everyone,

We live in a world that says, "you can do whatever you want regarding sin and that if everyone else is doing something, it's ok for you to do so." We live in a world where things such as "social pressure" and "freedom of personal choice" have basically been used as excuses to just about justify every type of sin imaginable.

It isn't anything new......and even those that claim to have trusted Christ are falling into thee world's traps, belief system, and mindsets of thinking.

We cannot forget that HIS NAME IS HOLY--and He has set us apart and said, "Be Holy as I am Holy." (I Peter 1:16)

Obviously we all struggle and sin in many ways--and not one of us but Jesus Christ alone is perfect. However, we, as people that have trusted in Christ, do not have excuses to live in sin gratifying the flesh as the world does. With His strength, we must stand firm no matter how silly or strange it looks to the world for WE ARE HIS BRIDE--and He will return.

God's righteous standards do not "change with the times." He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our goal should be to live as pure and obedient as possible to Him preparing for the day that we will see Him face to face, reflecting Him to the world----and how we live matters very much to Him.

I Thessalonians 4:7 "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."

Hebrews 12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

2 Peter 3:9-13 " The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwell. "

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Joy Of Having Our Treasure In What Is Eternal!

Hi Everyone,

I have been thinking and reflecting upon the great joy that it is to have our treasure in what is eternal---and not being weighed down by the concerns and cares of this life.

Matthew 10:8b "Freely you have received, freely give."

Acts 20:35b "Jesus Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I am daily challenged to ask myself, Where TRULY is my treasure?" As we realize all that JESUS did for us, hopefully we reflect lives of wanting to bless others out of the gratitude of all that He has given to us--eternal life, forgiveness of sin, peace with God, every spiritual blessing in Christ-and so much more!

It all reminds me of this song.

The Lilies Of The Field--bu John Michael Talbot

Consider the ravens;
They do now sow and they do not reap.
Yet God, the Father, provides for them
Yet upon the earth these are among the smallest things.

Consider how the lilies grow;
They do not spin, and they do not reap
Yet I tell you now, not even Solomon
In all of his splendor was arrayed like any one of these

So seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And the Wealth of HIS righteousness
For wherever your treasure lies
There will you find your heart

Be not concerned for your life,
Or your body;
What to eat, what to wear,
Or what you will do for tomorrow.

Seek out instead His heavenly kingdom
And the rest upon the earth in it's own time will follow

(repeat chorus twice)

There will you find your heart