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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chasing After The Wind

Hi Everyone,

It has been awhile since I've posted. I am going to get a prayer letter out in the next week or two.

So many things are going through my head right now. May God give me the boldness to say them. I realize that a lot of you out there will not have much of a clue of what I am talking about in this blog post, and that is fine, but I've been waiting way too long to say some things that may be beneficial as a warning to those who come accross them.

I am concerned for the youth in the USA as well as other countries that are being swept away by a huge prayer movement at the International House of Prayer that at an outside glance, looks good, but upon more in-depth investigation presents some real red flags of concern--one red flag for starters being the origins of how it began.  (No need to read it all--the first line alone is a cause for concern)

I am concerned because so often people today seem to associate rapidly exponentially growing ministries or churches with "having God's blessing" when in reality people flocking there, might be caught in deception and could be chasing after the wind although they desire what is often termed as "more of God."

I am concerned for the music that our youth are listening to these days-and I am not just talking about the music of the world--I include in my concern music from bands like Jesus Culture--which sing long drawn out repetitive worship songs and teaching that seems to lean more towards experience rather than digging into the word of God and rightly dividing the Word of truth.

I sometimes lay awake at night praying and wondering about how all of these things will impact the youth not only of today but also the youth and families of subsequent generations to come. When all the fluff and hype is stripped away-what is really left? Someone once said that "Christianity is like a great ocean, but with three centimeters of depth." Today more than ever it seems this is the way things in Christianity in general are becoming.

My challenge to us all is that we guard God's Word as our greatest treasure, that we be absolutely sure that the light that we believe to have is not darkness, that we are not being tossed about by every whim and wind of doctrine, and that we continually use discernment.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Perfect Start For Thanksgiving This Week

I've had the perfect start to Thanksgiving this week!

I learned that a good friend of mine, who I had been praying for got away from some false teachings and is now walking in the truth!

Praise the Lord! I am so thankful! I feel like doing the victory dance and crying tears of joy! There is no greater joy to know that those we love are walking in the truth!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Headed to Durango

Hi Everyone,

Two days ago I got the best surprise ever. One of my co-workers asked if I would consider going on the Amigos Sin Frontera trip which is November 10th-17th in order to supervise two short term workers who are at camp ministry.

I called Amigos Sin Frontera and they confirmed that they had space for the trip. I got permission from my supervisor, so I am confirmed to go! Very excited as it has been almost five years since I have gone on a ministry trip with my dentist and doctor friends!

I have to hit the ground running Monday morning the 18th with a short term orientation week which I will be helping with for a family and another individual who are heading out to other countries.

Please pray for.......

Health for all of us.

Pray that God would use us on the trip for His glory.

Safety for all of us as we travel-it is a 12 hour drive there.

That I will gel well with the short-termers on the trip. We don't know one another.

For everything that needs to get done before I leave, for everything that will need to get caught up on when I get back, and for the class I need to prepare to teach for the orientation week.

Thanks everyone.

More details once things slow down when I get back!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Squeezing Of the Lemon


 This year has been challenging in many ways. Since about March it seems like one thing has happened after another-I feel like I am a lemon being squeezed. I know God is definitely with me, but there have been many times where it honestly hasn't been easy.

My reaction to the squeezing in various situations has not always been the best. I've reacted in ways that I shouldn't have. And it is easy for me to think that how I sometimes react when the lemon is squeezed "isn't really me"-I mean it's easy to think that under "normal" circumstances I wouldn't react in such a way.

But you know what? How I react when the lemon is squeezed is so just like me-it is me. When a lemon is squeezed it can only release the juice that is already there. What is produced by the squeezing is a reflection of my heart, of areas that still need to be transformed to be more like Christ-and those areas instead of what they reflect now, need to reflect other things like His patience, love that bears all things, gentle answers, and perfect trust.

The result of the squeezing, even though I don't enjoy it, is truly for my good--to sanctify me and make me more like Christ day by day. And being transformed into His likeness is worth it-no matter what I have to go through, no matter how many tears, heartbreaks, disappointments, or things that just don't make sense.

God is perfectly good-nothing has touched my life apart from what He has allowed for His greater purposes. So I trust Him as He in perfect wisdom squeezes the lemon----that these momentary trials will produce the testing of my faith and that in the end I will shine as gold.

NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, JESUS IS ENOUGH!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Celebrating Two Years

Celebrating two years with Grce today--and one year with Faith 10 days ago.




Friday, October 4, 2013

Rescued!


 Hi Everyone,

One of my frequent duties at the house is to scare cats away that sneak in our door from outside. I've learned to tell the difference between when my birds are just chirping away, and when a cat has arrived and they are in fright.

I always wonder what it feels like to them when I come running out of my room to scare the cats away.


But then I realize we do know what it feels like ----because we as believers have been rescued from  sin and eternal separation from the Lord---which is much greater than a cat sneaking in under the door.

Praise the Lord that we have been rescued!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Faith Singing Away!

Hi Everyone,

I have lots of blog posts thta I want to get up but am in the middle of working on some things today.

After several months of trying, I finally got a video, in two parts, of Faith singing, which he never likes to do for the camera.

Actually it's more like he's saying, "I'm a pretty bird-give me that millet spray or else." (And he rarely ever eats it.) Grace is the one that devours the millet.

video

video

Anyways, I have some serious blogging to do (lots to catch up on and a few "serious" ones to write as well)--so that is one of my goals for the next 30 days.

blessings to you all--and thanks for watching Faith sing "pretty bird." (which he learned from me)




Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Month of June Went By Fast

Hi Everyone,

My blog has been very sadly ignored as the month of June has gone by so rapidly! Time flies when you are busy!

The next few days-through Wednesday, I'll be helping a team member with updating some documents and such at El Monte.

Thursday I'll be cleaning house ang getting caught up on things from being gone for three days.

Friday Sara, our current short term worker, will be hanging out with me and I take her to Taxco on Saturday so she can buy gifts for friends and things.

Thanks for your prayers-blessings to you all!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three years ago

Hi Everyone,

I've reached the three year mark of the day that God transferred me from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His marvelous light

Colossians 1:9-14 "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Discernment--A Great Need in The Church Today

Hi Everyone,

I believe that one of the greatest needs in the church today for us as believers is discernment. There are so many ideas floating around out there and people (even evangelicals) are flocking to them as though they were some new great thing that God is supposably doing. Discernment is the ability to sift out the truth from the error and with some of these these teachings nowdays, some things can be totally Biblical while other things can in error. It isn't anything new.

We need believers these days that aren't afraid of what people are going to think. We need people that are wiling to point out error in love so that others are not falling into things which might lead them astray. We need believers that are bold and willing to stand for the truth.  Scripture says that in the last days that many will be deceived and led astray. Although we don't know the day or time of His coming, we certainly do not want to fall into Satan's snare of falsehood.  In Mathew 24 Jesus was talking to His disciples, but the warnings of not being deceived certainly apply to us today. Deception in the church is a big deal.

Mathew 24:4-13 "Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
 

The truth is that there is no greater joy when people are walking in the truth. John said it this way 3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."  There really is a joy to know that those we love are walking in the truth and when someone you love gets deceived by something that has serious error in it, the impact is sad and very real. But God is at work and He is faithful.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tickling Ears?

Hi Everyone,

OK so I think my blog might be changing directions for a few posts. I've got some things to say based on some things that have come to my attention lately regarding things that can be subtly accepted into a believer's life that lead down a path of serious error. The enemy is so subtle.

A good quote Elizabeth Prata taken from my friend Glenn's blog:  You shouldn't accumulate knowledge just for the sake of knowledge. Once you know something is true or false, you have a responsibility to do something about it. You have a responsibility to praise the Savior if you find a true teaching, but if you find a false teaching you have to say something about it, as well.” 

So here is the tip of the iceberg of what I need to say: 

1) Experience does NOT triumph over objective  and Biblical truth

Turning to our feelings and experiences and believing them rather than to the Word of God in a way is like turning from sound Biblical teaching. Our experiences MUST be rooted  in God's truth and experience is something that must be evaluated with much caution and certainly not immediately trusted in. Experience must never contradict scripture. Unfortunately and wrongly so, your experiences may get given a higher priority by you than by what the Word of God says.  Just because something looks and feels good doesn't mean it is good, Biblically sound, or even right..

Instead of looking toward experience, Turn deeper into studying the Word.


2) The Bible is NOT going to suddenly start meaning what it has never meant--people can make the Bible mean whatever they want it to, especially if they take verses out of context and/or throw "allegorical meaning and interpretation" to it--and yes this is rampant in certain circles today that claim to be evangelical.

SO PLEASE use correct hermeneutics and Bible study methods--and if you don't know what that means, take an opportunity to learn how to study the Bible correctly. Yes context, history, word definitions from the Greek/Hebrew, among many other factors really DO matter in how Scripture is interpreted.


3) There is NO such thing as an "elite group of believers" that is more "special" or that receives "more special revelation" than the rest of us

No where in Scripture is there a mention of an elite group of believers--this kind of thinking is very cult-like  God does not show partiality. Furthermore, if you are deceived into having an us vrs them mentality or you are deceived into thinking that you have information that other believers don't, its like you;re saying Scripture isn't enough and have to have more information from elsewhere or from experiences. God takes those who add or take away anything from Scripture very seriously. There is NOTHING as believers that we have to try to 'get" that we have not already received from the Lord. In Christ we ARE complete


4) The danger of trusting in man

 People can be easily deceived and think they are not trusting in man but when you take someone's word for something doctrinally without checking it out against scripture first or maybe you've heard it enough times that you start believing it you're trusting in man in a sense----following another person is really dangerous and is NOT something as believers that we should be deceived into. This is what the Lord said about those who put their trust in man-very serious words.

Jeremiah 17:5-9
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

5) As I already stated--the Enemy is so subtle!

Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light and his deception can be so subtle.

May this be our prayer and desire so that we are not enticed by those who offer teachings out there to tickling ears!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Choosing To Love When Its Hard

Hi Everyone,

Sometimes we have to choose to love even when its hard. My birdie Faith's personality has changed--now he hates being held and bites me if I try to hold him. :( Maybe it is because of breeding season, or because I have been busy the past months. Thankfully he still sings beautifully and even says "pretty bird" now

video
I choose to love him anyway even when he responds in ways that aren't so nice. I miss the sweet bird, that used to cuddle and beg me to scratch his neck, that he used to be.

To changing the subject, to a much deeper and more important matter, sometimes love isn't easy with people either. Its hard for example when you love someone that maybe makes choices that you don't understand. Sometimes love has to do things that are hard and it is difficult to know how to go about certain situations that come up. Loves bears all things, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love trusts that God is working out things for the good, living by faith and not by sight.

And then we think of God who loved us first---and chose to love is when we were trapped in sin and far from Him. Maybe we weren't that easy to love but He loved us so much and paid the price by sending His one and only Son to die for us taking our sin upon himself when He had never sinned. He pursued us with a love that persevered, filled with hope that never gave up and had a perfect plan to draw us to Himself at the right time.

So as we follow in His footsteps, we keep choosing to love even when its hard because He first loved us.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An Update From My Neglected Blog

Hi Everyone!

It's been a month since I wrote on here--time flies when you are busy!

Today I got a little blessing! A less than $1 dollar formal dress from someone's "garage" sale! Very cool! I guess I will be wearing it to church since I rarely have opportunities to go to formal events.


So you are probably all wondering how the youth missions conference went. About 670 youth attended and there were people represented from at least 14 different countries. I got to share a room with a lady named Angelica that was there representing a different missions agency, so it was fun to both be "older than the youth age-wise" as this meant we were in agreement about things such as when we went to bed and what time we got up each day.  It was fun to swap stories about our jobs and hear what God was doing through another ministry and agency. Very cool!


Each afternoon from 12-6 pm, I, along with various members of my team each day, helped represent our missions agency and talked to various people regarding their interest in missions. At the end of the week we had 42 people that signed the paper asking for more information, and I was in charge of following up those 42 individuals with a letter written by my leaders and some other information as well. The conference was a good change in routine for me, which I really needed.I also had a few opportunities to share my testimony with a few people, which was neat, because opportunities to share do not come as often as I would like.


    So after the conference, I've been busy with some administrative things related to the short-term ministry and such. Amanda, who came to Mexico in mid-January, leaves for the States in a little over a week from now. She really has been a blessing and will be missed.

   Hopefully I'll be able to get back to my posts about the walk of grace soon. I just wanted to give a brief update from the conference. Thank you for your prayers.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Youth Misions Conference This Week

Hi Everyone

Guess I haven't been updating my blog very well--maybe Lord willing when April comes??

Tomorrow I head out to a six day missions conference about half an hour away-800+ youth are suppose to be attending and my goal for the week is to be able to connect and later follow up with youth interested in missions.

I am not going to bring my computer-so as to leave the normal work and situations at home and to be able to fully focus on connecting with people/participating while I am there.

Thanks for your prayers for the people I will get to know, and pray that this week would be refreshing spiritually and physically for me as well. Thanks everyone-will update you most likely Friday.




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Roadblocks To Living Out Our Identity In Christ-Part 1

Hi Everyone,

I've missed writing here! Things have been really busy over the last month and a half, and unfortunately writing on my blog over the past weeks has been just about impossible (hence lack of blog posts). Hopefully I can find moments to continue writing in the days ahead.

There are roadblocks to living out our Identity in Christ, and living out that reality in the victory that is ours IN Christ! I've been learning this by personal experience the last three months.

Things to avoid:

1.  One very common roadblock that affects us living out our identity in Christ is comparison. (Unfortunately I do fall into this at times.)  If we are comparing ourselves to others, or are trying to be what we are not, we aren't allowing ourselves to be what God has created us to be--each one of us is a unique individual that God is working in and through in specific ways. God knows how to work with each person and is using us each individually and together in the plan that He as designed for us to fulfill according to His perfect eternal purposes.


2.  Shame is another roadblock to living out the reality of our identity in Christ--shame tends to pulls us farther away from God rather than closer to Him. Shame weakens us. When we are locked into shame we are tempted to believe the lie that God's love for us is based on the conditions of how we behave--which isn't true--as believers who have given Him our trust He loves us perfectly---and that doesn't change when we are at our worst. Now just because His love for us doesn't change, this does not give us the freedom to just "sin all we want." But living in shame makes us focus more on fixing and/or hiding the undesired behavior.



Both of these roadblocks in a sense have to do partly with falsely trying to prove ourselves. When I fall into comparison, I am trying to falsely prove to others or to myself that I am something or someone that I am not.I am not content with how God has gifted me, etc. I believe the lie that how God made me wasn't sufficient or that He should have made me differently in one or several aspects. (OUCH!)  When I fall into the roadblock of shame I fall into the trap of trying to prove to myself and others that I am not as bad as I imagine myself to be.

More to come later---hopefully tomorrow :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Conference Begins Saturday

Hi Everyone,

I am absolutely totally desiring to be writing on my blog, but between short term ministry and conference committee stuff I am going to have to wait till after our team conference next week. So at end of February please prepare for lots of blog posts again--things have been VERY busy the last month and a half--which I was expecting.

Anyways, out annual team conference is February 16th thru the 22nd. Thank you for praying for us all as a team.

I look forward to writing after conference and sharing more about the walk of grace! :)

Thank you for your prayers.

Crystal

Monday, February 4, 2013

Huge Things Happened Back There

Hi Everyone,

So it goes like this:

We think that the gospel in essence is "You are a sinner, Christ died for you, receive eternal life by trusting in Him"

Yes that is all true

BUT

so many of us stop there and the truth is that there is so much more to the gospel--the truth is that when we trusted Christ huge things happened back there--

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ask And You Shall Receive......Your Migratory Form!

Hi Everyone,

Things are getting quite busy at this time, so I haven't been able to blog very much. I have a lot more to share about the walk of grace, so I will try to write more again when things calm down some (May be a month or so before I can blog more regularly)

So yesterday I realized it had been just over one month sine I gave my fingerprints at the immigration office and that my migratory form had been in process for two months. I wasn't horribly concerned about it, but I really wanted it especially because next week I go to Mexico City to pick up a short term worker that is arriving---and having official identification from immigration is just so much nicer than taking my passport. So I started praying about it--you know God would help it get to me soon.

Ten minutes later immigration called---and told me my migratory form was ready to be picked up!

Very cool! All I can say is what a neat and quick answer to prayer--ask and you shall receive your migratory form! Mine is valid for three years!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Christian Life Is Ours To Enjoy

Hi Everyone,

The christian life is ours to enjoy---but many of us are secretly living it with dread and drudgery. Or maybe we look at it as surviving but not thriving.

Part of the reason we might be living it with dread is because we've turned the Christian walk of faith into something it was never meant to be,,,,,

1)  We've possibly turned it into a list of sorts by our own effort trying to please God and "do the right thing" rather than simply enjoying the relationship

2)  We're possibly viewing God  inaccurately--for example we may view Him as totally disappointed in us when we sin rather than realizing the depths of what it meant when we were justified at salvation and already made right with Him

3)   We possibly think that getting victory is something we have to work at, rather than something that we have already received.

4)  We possibly take on the responsibility of managing our sin and trying to stop, when in reality  the only real sin management isn't and can't ever be managed by us, because we are transformed only by Him alone working in and through us.  

5)  We possibly view ourselves inaccurately believing lies about who we  truly really are in Christ rather than seeing and believing the truth of all that we are in Him.

Are we just surviving, or thriving? We can thrive----because He is ours and the walk is ours to enjoy.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

We Can Be Real

Hi Everyone,

Somehow in those of is that believe, there seems to be a tendency to hide who we really are--I mean that we try desperately hard to give this image that everything is fine when it isn't--or we become afraid that if people were to k now who we really are, they wouldn't love us, or maybe somehow we think the command to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) doesn't leave room for us admitting how things really are.

Before I came to Christ, the whole "I am fine image" that I saw around me drove me crazy---of course the truth is that I, myself, was trying to fit in the mold and do the same thing. Trying to present an image that isn't who we really are takes way too much work. The funny thing is we can fool other people--maybe they believe we are who we pretend to be, but we can't fool God.

We all long for a place where we can be real---and as we learn to walk in His grace we find that we can be ourselves, just as we are, with nothing to be afraid of and nothing to hide. We are;able to trust God to work in and through us what we can not do for ourselves. As we learn to walk in grace, we are able to extend that same grace to others around us, realizing that it is not our responsibility to change them, but rather to trust God for His work in them, just as we are trusting God for the same thing in ourselves.

As we walk in grace as we really are, we are able to receive the perfect love that God has for us-- both the love that comes from Him and the love of other people around us.

God saw our reality as it really was---and is---and loved us in that reality. That is why He sent Jesus to die for us.

Walk in grace--and live in reality as you truly are, trusting God for all the rest.

Friday, January 4, 2013

We Still Can't Fix It

Hi Everyone,

There was nothing we could do to fix our sin problem before salvation, so what makes us think that it is up to us or that we can fix it afterwards?

Our view of God becomes distorted somehow--like we trust him completely for our salvation, but we in error think that when it comes to our growth and sanctification, it is up to us and our effort.

Philippians 1:6 "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.?

Grace helps is to see that the work is all completely His! He began the work in us and will bring it to completion. He is at work in and through us.

Our sin----we still can't fix it, but we have a mighty God who is more than able!His grace is more than enough.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stop Searching For The Next Thing

Hi Everyone,

So you know how it goes in Christianity, right? At least for many of us, things in our walk with God at times get kind of dry or we get stuck, or maybe if we are really honest the words would come to our mind, "I'm just not satisfied with how this is all working out."  For some of us we deal with that dry or stuck dissatisfied feeling by starting to searching for  "the next big thing" to satisfy us, hoping from one Christian conference to the next etc.

Now there isn't anything wrong with going to conferences, and we can really learn a lot from them. However, if our heart motive for doing something is to find satisfaction in anything (even if it is something Christian) that isn't God himself, we are going to come up being unsatisfied.

As we learn to walk in grace, we realize that we can stop searching for "the next thing" because our satisfaction and fulfillment comes from the very source of Christ Himself. While we are always learning more about God and growing in our relationship with Him, we are not going to "get more of Him" than we already have. At salvation, we were given the complete gift of Him. There is nothing that we lack from what we have already received.

Beloved,  you can stop searching for the next thing--walk in grace and run to the Source--the well-spring will never run dry.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating The Wonders of His Grace in 2013

 Psalm 63:3 "Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you".

Hi Everyone,

Here I am with the start of a new year celebrating the wonders of His grace. Something huge and amazingly simple, and yet deeply profound has happened in my life.

You know that chorus "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace" Well, it's true---the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. When we grow in our understanding of His grace, things that seemed important to us before,  just don't compare to Him. Like last night-I went to celebrate the new year with my pastor and his family.  Some of the youth turned the TV on. It was a series that  I had never seen before----there didn't appear to be anything wrong with it --but although I didn't say it, I was thinking, :"That just doesn't compare to the depths of the joy ans satisfaction in my heart right now." We can get so easily distracted  by so much stuff  that will never compare to Him. Don't settle for less.

His love really IS better than life or anything else that we could ever want or imagine. Do we believe that? His love IS ours. We are loved perfectly by Him and that doesn't change when we we've just had our worst day imaginable.

Come--enjoy, and be amazed by grace!