Lost in Translation? Not when God's on it!

on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pastor Arsenio
and Arsenio Sr.
the leaders
Diriamba from the classroom

I had a dream last night.
I was swimming in deep dark waters along side of large ships. I was nervous because I couldn't see what was in the water and I had no idea what was coming, what was in front of me, what was in the water. Even though I was afraid I was amazed at the fact that I could swim so fast and get so far. Swimming next to the wake of an emormous ship didn't throw me off my path or push me under. I just kept swimming.

This is such an amazing picture of my life in this season. My journey as I move in the things of the spirit, intimidated by the greatness of some of the things I want to teach like healing and moving in the power of the Holy Spirit; ever feeling insecure because I don't know what's in me, can't see deep inside ... But God! Moving with the flow of His Spirit carrying me far and fast to accomplish great distances. It has been such an amazing experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity to swim this river in the season of my life.

It was an amazing weekend in Diriamba. The Holy Spirit came faithful to His promise to show up whenever we call on him.
On thursday night, I shared a testimony of a twisted foot being healed. The presence of Holy Spirit was on me so strongly. I knew God wanted to do it again. The leaders in the class were reminded of a guy, Francisco, who does maintenance for the church. He had a twisted hand. Someone went to look for him and returned to the classroom a few minutes later. I planned to teach the leaders the healing model so took this opportunity to demonstrate it to them. I was holding Francisco's twisted hand with both my hands while I prayed a simple prayer. As I prayed, I could feel his whole hand pivoting in mine while his wrist remained still. It was amazing! When we finished praying I asked him how it felt. His hand was still twisted, but the pain was gone! So I asked him if I could pray again. Once again, while we prayed I could feel his hand pivoting in mine and his fingers and knuckles straightening. It was so good. The translator and I could barely believe our eyes.
This demonstration of God's love set the stage for an awesome encounter with God. The faith of the leaders was growing as they heard the testimonies and watched God touch Francisco's hand and heal a woman's back pain. I spoke with them about words of knowledge and how God highlights a particular thing that he wants to accomplish in that moment. Everyone waited on the Lord for a word of knowledge and several things were called out like bone disorders, bronchitis, ear problems among others. People raised their hands and then I encouraged them to start praying for one another, to invite the Holy Spirit to come and minister to them, to command any pain to leave. It took a few minutes of clarification and reminders to keep it simple and suddenly you could see the joy start to erupt as people realized that they were healed and those praying realized how God had just used them in power. As testimonies came forth, more of the leaders came forward for prayer and I welcomed those who were just healed to pray ... And more testimonies came forth ... and more requests!! It was like supernatural dominoes as pain and affliction bowed at the name of Jesus. At least 9 people were healed in the meeting that night (knees, forearms, bronchitis, sore throats, ear problems, backs). The joy was bubbling over as they gloried in the demonstrations of God's love.
On Friday night, I shared with the leaders about SOZO, focusing mainly on the father ladder. I walked them through the tool corporately to give them a taste of the healing that it brings to walk through forgiveness of people and see the Godhead in a different light. Afterward, I took them on an encounter, a "first date" of sorts, to start their journey with the person of the Godhead that they felt least connected to. It was beautiful to see so many men and women touched by the presence of God, completely surrendered in the hope of knowing Him more. Many people testified after, through tears of joy and release, of a love that they had never felt, a sense of being in a place that they had always longed for. What a privilege it was to listen to their intimate love encounters.
Saturday was the icing on the cake. We learned together about Supernatural Evangelism, getting drunk and then taking the love out to the world. The healing that they experienced over the past few days and weeks had evidently become a new wine skin. The people were courageous and filled with a sense of hope and adventure as they dipped their invisible cups in the river and drank as much as they wanted. They were excited by the accuracy of their hearing when they went out with treasure maps to find the treasure that Holy Spirit was leading them to. One guy in particular, was dancing in the park with excitement when his treasure found him! A man matching several of the clues on his map approached us and asked us to pray for him. He was healed immediately and it glowed in the smile on his face. The team was as happy as he was. Back in the classroom we shared testimonies of people healed and treasures found and the leaders were filled with excitement. They couldn't believe all that they had encountered in the past few weeks.
No matter how many people you touch or encourage, I'm realizing that every outreach is an inreach because every time Holy Spirit moves in power you are once more in awe of the mystery revealed again ... "Christ in you, the hope of glory!"

Happy Valentines Day

on Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feb.14 comes once again. And love is in the air ... ahhhh. But it's not that squishy romantic boy meets girl kinda love, although I still enjoy that too :) Have you heard it? It's in the lyrics that fill our worship and the messages that are preached week after week no matter what country you are in. I believe the message on God's heart this year is love. It's not like it ever stopped being His message because He is love, but maybe we are starting to push back the clouds of fear and punishment just enough to see clearly His perfect love shining down on us. We have heard the message preached time and again that "they will know they are Christians by our love" but never has this message rang as loudly as it has been in the past few weeks.

We visited an "International" (aka American) church today. I had no idea of their theology or their vision, but knew that they had English worship and possibly Sunday School. It's been a tough go for the kids to attend spanish services week after week. To sit through spanish worship and often Daddy preaching has not been their idea of fun. So we agreed to visit this church so that they could feel more part of what was going on. I don't think the kids felt any more part of what was going on. In fact the whole thing felt foreign. It was a conservative service with some hymns and contemporary worship mixed together, which would have been alright. It was hardly the kind of worship we love to dance and worship freely, but it was familiar and some great songs like Everlasting by Hillsong and Indescribable. I knew we didn't quite fit in though when a couple of the youth noticed how freely we worshipped and turned and whispered to their friend and snickered. I thought .. Really? ... Here? ... in church I am going to be mocked for giving God glory? Can you tell it was already at this point that I was starting to get offended? I tried really hard to not be distracted by people and just worship, but the atmosphere was heavy and freedom did not feel welcome.

The guy that preached was in town doing a conference. He spoke to us about how much we allow sin in our life is the true testimony of how much we love God based on the scripture that says "if you love me, you will obey my commands." He had a point and I was trying really hard to get past the fact that he used scripture and words out of context, but when he started throwing shame and guilt into the mix and suggested that each time I fall that Jesus is feeling the pain of the nails driven once again?!?! He even had a guy dressed in a white sheet and then smeared actual excrement on him to demonstrate what we do to Jesus each time we sin. Gross! Poop! and I don't agree with this guy, but I totally understand his stand point. Leaders like this man so want us to make better choices that they try to make us feel dirty, guilty or ashamed enough about our sin that we will change, but they forget that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. Paul called us saints to encourage us to see ourselves as God sees us when he looks at us through the veil of the shed blood of Jesus. Did you know that when you are hidden in the rock of your salvation that God sees you as holy? He doesn't see all the poop. It is meant to encourage us to want to raise the standard that we live by because we love God so much that we want to live up to how he chooses to see us and we can't do this by our own effort, by our works (lest anyone should boast). Holy Spirit is there to help us with the new standard. We are going to mess it up sometimes, but there is no guilt and shame in that. God gives first honour, first grace. In Romans 5:19 Paul says that it is through the obedience of one man that many are made righteous. That is why Jesus says if you love me you will obey my commands. In 1 John 3:23 we are told what Jesus commands are: "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, (this is the "through the obedience of one man") and to love one another as he commanded us. We are commanded to believe in the name of Jesus and love as he loved us. It is not about keeping the 10 commandments. It is not about being sinless. We just have to believe that Jesus paid the price and realize that no matter how hard we try in and of ourselves that we could never measure up. But we don't have to. Holy Spirit will help us with that. We just have to learn how to love! And how do we do that? We take the time to get to know how much God loves us, how much Jesus gave us. Don't get to know it through guilt, but through gratitude. And what is the best way to demonstrate gratitude for a gift?!?! Use it for the purpose it was given, walk in it, share it. When we love one another and believe in His name, we are obeying His commands and it says in 1 John 3:22 to "... receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him."

I want to know His love so much that it becomes me. If God is love and I am becoming like him than I am becoming love. What does it look like when God's love comes from me? I started to wonder this week. How much of what I thought was love is merely responsibility... commitment ... obligation ...Ouch! I'm not trying to dish out guilt or shame! Don't get me wrong. No condemnation. I just started to wonder. Do I really know love? Do I know what it looks like? Do I know how to give it? Do I look like my Father in heaven when the world looks at me. The answer ?... I really don't know, but I know I want to and I know the Lord wants to show me. So what do I do? .... I have to boldly come before the throne of grace ...  quote Oliver Twist ... and ask "please sir ... can I have some more?" How else will we know it except to encounter it? When we can cast the shame and fear aside, we can see the loving heart of the Father just waiting for us to ask. His cup is overflowing, held out poised to pour out His love on us. Truly, we don't even have to ask. He is standing there loving us, but maybe we need eyes to see it.

In light of my need to see more of His love, I thought I would share a few little things that were a simple testimony of God's love for me this Valentines day. About Thursday, when Graeme was in another town and I was alone with the kids, I started to think about how I had not been away from my kids for over a month now and it was really starting to wear on me. I was starting to pout about how it wasn't going to be much of a Valentines Day this year. I was missing good chocolate, eating out and date nights, icey cold drinks and long walks. I'm not too proud to say that I was having a bit of a pitty party. But my bad attitude was no barrier for God's love. Saturday came and I got on my computer in the morning. There was a message from an American family here in Managua. They wanted to know if the kids could come over to play. They wanted to pick them up for the afternoon. The kids were thrilled and Eric drove up at 1pm followed only 2minutes later by Graeme being driven back from Diriamba where he'd spent the last 3 days. Eric said that they would keep the kids til 8pm and feed them dinner. Graeme got out of the car with take out that they bought for him on the way home. It was chicken and a big icey bottle of coke. We had a great afternoon of lounging in the hammock, watching movies and a nice long walk at the perfect temperature. It was just what I needed and I felt so grateful. God's so good at taking care of all the big things and all the little things. I think I have only seen the tip of the iceberg though so like the adventurer I am, I will continue the pursuit of understanding His love and I know my heart will be overwhelmed with the boundless expanse I discover. But I know I'm not just pursuing it for me but for it in me. I think this is how we display His glory; to be a true representation of His love.

Metanoia Children's Home

on Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The kids and I spent some time at the Metanoia Children's Home in Tipitapa this past weekend. The home has a similar vision and mission to that of the Villa de Esperanza that I shared of previously. They take in children from the local dump (another region of Managua - different dump), feed and clothe them and give them an education and a relationship with the Lord and a hope and a future. The children have at least one living relative so they are not "orphans" per say, but their living conditions left them in dire need of attention. Some from lifestyles of abuse, others neglect and still some are simply the victims of poverty. Their families are without the resources to feed and clothe them or make sure they are educated and cared for. These are the same children that were with us at the church in Rosario. They were the ones who so willingly participated in prophesy and prayer and saw 5 or more people healed when they prayed.

Some kids from a neighbouring community came to the home on Saturday for a friendly soccer match against the children in the home. Our kids joined in some of the fun, but not so much in the soccer. Ben would have played, but we were there barely 10 minutes and Ben fell and scraped his knee pretty bad, left him limping around the rest of the morning. They enjoyed playing in the playground, picking up the baby chicks, having lunch and just hanging around. The home is making a great effort toward raising revenue for the operations of the home. They are growing several types of fruit and beans, raising some chickens and just getting into Tilapia farming. The kids who live there are so full of life and joy. Such beautiful kids. There were some older boys who wanted Caleb's phone number so they could practise English with him and Ben has made friends wherever he goes. It was a full morning.

After our time in the heat of Tipitapa we revelled in the air conditioning of a movie theatre. It is one of the cheaper forms of entertainment here in Managua. We can watch a movie for about $3 a piece. Unfortunately, most of the more family oriented movies that are animated are quite easy to voice over with spanish so the English options for families are not many. We went to see "Old Dogs" with John Travolta and Robin Williams. It was alright, I don't think it would get too many thumbs up from our family, but it was safe and a brief reprieve from the heat. I'm sure we'll go again in the coming months.

Presently our days are filled mainly with homeschooling. I pray each day for an opportunity for the kids to do something so that they don't go crazy with boredom. The preaching opportunities are many, but the touring opportunities are few. There are several people who have offered our family time to spend a weekend at the beach or to visit in a Northern community, but we are waiting for the right timing. In the meantime we take short walks and read and watch DVD's or go to the grocery store once or twice a week and usually have at least one outing a week. We were taken out for pizza after church on Sunday, that was a treat. We are praying for some time at the beach soon. We may ask some friends for a ride.

Graeme is starting a teaching streak of 6 days in a row tonight. Please pray for him for strength and wisdom. He may be away from us for a couple of nights so pray for fun for the kids and I so I don't go crazy preoccupying them :) Caleb and Bailey are looking forward to youth group at the American school on Friday night and we told the kids we would take them to an English service this week. We live a block away from the American school where they hold English services on Sunday. I'm hoping they have Sunday school too.

I have posted a few pics in this update, but click on the "latest pics" link on the right hand side of the blog to see the rest of the album.