Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Converts or Disciples?

I read an article recently that has meant rethinking some things.  I remember, clearly, the day I walked forward to accept Christ as my Saviour.  I was but seven years old.  Young as I was, I was thrilled that Jesus lived in me!  My Mother reminds me of wanting to tell everybody, of inviting the neighbourhood kids to DVBS, of a vibrant faith...

As I matured, and grew in my faith, I heard many a challenge to share my faith, to witness.  We were encouraged to be evangelistic in our relationships. With the passing of childlike faith came the fear in how to do this.  But I also heard that preacher voice in my head about being a witness, evangelizing and making converts.

Back to the article that has me rethinking that voice.  Where in the Bible does it instruct me to make converts? The author of the article claimed we are instructed to 'make disciples'.  He also gives a list of how those two things are different.  The one that hit me was:

             "Converts are believers who live like the world.  Disciples are believers who live like Jesus."

This hit me on a couple of fronts.  Firstly, and most importantly, which am I?  How do I live?  When people look at me would they call me a believer? Do I live like Jesus?  I pray that I do. For my deepest desire is for people to see Jesus (when they seem me), and not me.  I want people to notice a discernible difference in how I live, from how the world lives.  This is something I need to constantly check, for it is a very slippery slope, especially if you are living in the world, as we are also called to do.

The second front is regarding those I bear witness to.  Am I seeking to make converts of those around me?  Or am I seeking to make disciples, as Jesus commanded me to, in the Great Commission?  I often tell my friends here in GDL that my desire is to help them become more like Christ, to help them grow in their faith.

I absolutely love it when our study groups get excited about Jesus, His truths, His Word, His life.  I enjoy watching them learn or understand something new.  I love to hear them share about how others see the change in them and look to them for answers.

The Great Commission from Matthew 28

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you.  
And surely I am with you always, to the very 
end of the age.



             



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Monthly Highlights


Our first highlight of the month was the arrival of the prayer team (pictured above).  They came to pray for Mexico, although some of our friends here thought that maybe, given the situation in the USA, they maybe should have headed there.  They also came to pray for us and our friends.  We were blessed to share our friends with them as they joined us in our activities.  Our Mexican hosts are such wonderful people, who open their arms, to love those we love.

I personally had the best crew in my house, although my co-workers might say the same thing.  We hosted, Don & Minna Thiessen, Marcella Barkman and Levina Friesen.  We shared many deep conversations and much laughter.  They were water to a thirsty soul.  We were blessed to have them.


While the prayer team was here we hosted a 'Convivio' (a gathering of all our people).  We began with snacks and mingling.  Then we had a bit of a church service, singing, testimony, a message, a graduation of our SEAN students, and some words from Jesse (our intern) as he is leaving on Friday. And then, to make a good event better, we enjoyed a meal together.  This was followed by a couple of rousing games of floor hockey ( a group favourite).  

What makes this event a highlight is that members from all of our three groups were present.  To watch them interact was great!  Lalo was frying up the steaks & quesadillas, Sergio was frying the chorizo (Mexican sausage) and Oswaldo was cooking up the disco ( a traditional meal of Chihuahua - where he is from).  Those of us cooking had a blast together.  Watching my friends become friends with each other was a huge highlight.



Then, after we said good bye to the prayer team, we took 2 days to organize ourselves and headed to the ocean for staff retreat.  We had a light schedule, for some much needed R & R, and enjoyed some good challenges from Darren Plett (our speaker).


So now we try to get back to routine.  We are glad we have the daily challenge of the gym, as it gives us schedule/routine.  We had a wonderful Bible Study last night with Oswaldo, his family, and Alfonzo, with some of his family.  We could have gone into the wee hours, as interest was high, and questions were ongoing.  I love how they ask things I have never thought of.  It is exciting studying with people who are eager to learn.  Tonight we meet with out other group and look forward to good conversations as well.

Then, December is right around the corner...

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Graduation

We got to make a very special presentation at our Convivio this past Sunday.  It was so much fun to be able to do this together!

If you look closely at the picture, I am laughing while Ernie is talking.  Why? Well this presentation was supposed to be done in two languages, as we had a Prayer team from Canada there. So I was to do it in English and Ernie would translate.  I got carried away more than once and forgot to let him translate.  My 'paragraphs' were a little much for him. 😏

So what were we explaining? We were telling everyone about our SEAN class and presenting our students to them.
Myself, Ernie, Claudia, Paty and Ale
I told everyone how I doubted that 3 Mexican ladies would come to our house, on time, every week, with their homework done.  Not only did exactly that happen, but they finished the entire course in record time - they did not want a break in between books!!  We were so very proud of these ladies and their accomplishment.  

I further explained that this group contained 3 Evangelicals and 2 Catholics.  How did we study the Bible together? With a firm base of love and respect.  On what basis could we do this? Jesus Christ is the unifying factor.  We both believe in His work on the cross, and we turned to what the Bible told us; not our own denominations.  

When we began we all tended to avoid the areas where we disagreed but as we became more and more comfortable with one another we had some rich discussions on various points of theology.  

So, we were thrilled to be able to graduate three wonderful ladies, women of deep faith, and desiring to grow in that faith.  We are considering what to study next.  They would like to continue to study where there is homework for them; not just to come and chat about Scripture.  Pray for us all as we seek to mature in our faith.
Claudia receiving her diploma
Paty receiving her diploma
Ale receiving her diploma (while I hug Paty)
Our graduating class
For those of you who are unfamiliar with SEAN, it is a Theological Education by Extension (TEE) course on the life of Christ based on the Gospel of Matthew.  It is six books, with tests and exams.  It builds on itself, so one needs to start in book one, and continue on thru book 6.  We have taught this material more than once, and learn and grown each time.  It is available in more than one language, for anyone interested in studying the Word of God in a more systematic form. 



Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Chihuahua Connection

Ernie making supper
I amaze myself sometimes! I say things that I believe in my head, but am later amazed when it actually happens to me!  

I once talked about the confusion created by the question "Where are you from?"  I then stated that it was about more than where you were born, geography and such.  Well, my post was something I sort of thought to be true, but didn't over think at the time.

We have been living in Guadalajara for almost 3 years - three wonderful years, I might add.  There are many things I love about GDL, things that will forever be a part of me.  

My Canadian-ness is something I assume and take for granted.  I don't ponder much about how much my time in Nicaragua and Chihuahua have impacted me. and have become a part of who I am.  The connectedness I feel to these places surprises me time and again.

We have a group that meets every Tuesday evening for Bible Study.  We were introduced through a friend at the gym.  Our connecting factor was that they are originally from Chihuahua, and we lived there for 5 years.  We met, connected and the rest is history, as they say.  
Osvaldo, Alfonzo and Ernie
This group has recently begun to get together outside of our study nights.  They came to our place for an evening, supper and friendship building.  The Chihuahua factor played into it once again.  It was decided that we would get together for a "Discada" - the meal pictured above.  This is a Mexican meal, but only served in the North.  We visited Chihuahua recently for a wedding. While in Cuauhtémoc we saw some discos, and purchased one.  

Our friends had 'chorizo' from Chihuahua and so the meal was perfect, with the flavour of the North! 




It has been a privilege to build friendships with this group of people.  We occasionally talk about Chihuahua, but mostly our focus is on scripture, growing spiritually, and applying what we learn to everyday life. 

We have made a lot of connections with people here in Guadalajara through the gym.  We build our relationship through that connecting point. We have also met people, through the gym, or through a mutual friend, where our connecting point was Nicaragua or Chihuahua.  Each life experience, each relationship, each view held, each conviction, etc, has the potential of bringing a connection.  That said, it can also bring division. Many of our friends here are Catholic, while we are Evangelicals. One has to allow the differences to connect, or divide. 

We choose to connect on as many points as we can.  How about you?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Balance???

Devotional Reading from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young
      So, should a missionary struggle with balance? What about a Pastor? It has been said that one of the greatest sins (probably even more so in the Western world) is that of 'self-sufficiency'. So what do I mean by 'balance'? On the one hand we recognize our COMPLETE and absolute dependence on God - for anything and everything! It is a great truth: Human efforts = human results, Divine efforts = Divine results. So, whether you/we are missionaries, pastors, or just believers, not involved in formal ministry, we recognize that we need God to be actively involved in our lives, in our efforts to share our faith, in our efforts to live out our faith authentically and vibrantly. Certainly an active prayer life is part of that dependence, and an expression of reliance on God that even Jesus demonstrated during His earthly life.
     So, what's the other part? Each and every human being is also an image bearer, created in the image of God. Although fallen, because of the stain of sin, that image is still there, in each and every one of us. What does that 'image' look like? Wings? NO! God is omniscient (knows everything), and He has given us the ability to think. He is omnipotent (all powerful), and He has given us limited power. He IS love, and has given us the ability to love, etc. etc. This means, from my perspective, that God actually wants me to use the brain He's given me, He wants me to use the gifts He's given me. He calls me to account for the use of the 'talents' entrusted to me (Matthew 25:14-30).
     The balance then, is, on the one hand, using the gifts and abilities God has entrusted to us, while at the same time recognizing, and living in absolute dependence on Him.

      As stated in the quote above, "Don't divide your life into things you can do by your self and things that you require My help. Instead, learn to rely on Me in every situation."

    I'm not sure how that's going for you, but I find that balance difficult to maintain. After doing something for awhile we have a tendency to trust in our own abilities and experience. The absurd thing is that you could actually get to the point of doing God's work without God!! How ludicrous is that! So, we are reminded to keep things in balance, trusting God from day to day while at the same time being good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us.
     All the best as you join me in working at maintaining a healthy balance!! God Bless!