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9-12-2010 (Sunday)

As I have been thinking and reflecting on this trip so far and some of the spiritual dimensions that are involved bringing me here, I keep returning to the response Isaiah made when God said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah quickly responded with, “Here am I. Send me.” I notice that Isaiah said that immediately upon being asked by God. There does not appear any hesitancy or wanting to think about this awhile or “pray about it.” His response was quick and certain. He was willing to give up his plans and his career to follow God’s call. Would I respond in the same way with the same quickness? When God calls us for a particular service, do we respond like Isaiah? For the most part I feel our response is measured and studied possibly looking for any reason to not follow God’s call.

I believe Isaiah was able to quickly answer because he knew God. He had already established that intimate relationship with God. The scriptures don’t give us much detail on this but I suspect Isaiah had already established a long and close relationship with God and practiced that by walking with Him daily. When God simply asks a question, Isaiah responds with a willing heart to fill the gap for Him. Our devotion on Friday we discussed hiding God’s Word in our hearts and what that really involved. We realized to be able to hide His Word in our heart we must have a close relationship with God already established. We must maintain our daily walk with Him. Only through that context can we even hear and understand His Word. It is so important that we be like Isaiah. We have to know God.

Several years ago at a meeting on leadership development, the speaker challenged each of us in the room to develop our own personal mission and purpose statements. Just as a mission statement is essential for a business, it is also essential for your own life. Likewise, a business needs to clarify its goals and purpose for existence in the marketplace. The same applies to each of us personally. If we don’t really have a good idea of who we are and what our purpose in life is, we are like a ship without a rudder, adrift and unable to control its direction of movement. I remember spending some time trying to develop my mission and purpose statement. I needed to have this reflect as accurately as possible what I held as the most important part of me, what I stand for, what my life is lived for, who I ultimately associate and identify with, what my ultimate goals and career will be. This exercise was not easy as one needed to really study the words used and make a statement that really says who you are to those around you. Finally, I came up with what I felt was most important to me and is my mission all through my life. My personal mission statement is simply to know God and bring Him glory. Everything I am and do really revolves around this mission. If I stay true to my mission, I will do what I can to know God better and serve Him more to bring Him the glory. My personal purpose statement is to know God personally, to honor Him through worship, to be His eyes, mouth, hands, and feet in my world, and to emulate Christ in every detail of my life. My purpose statement is like a goals statement. It is how I will live out my mission.

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah and studying him from this perspective of his mission and purpose as he proclaimed God’s Word to the people of his day. His message was not a pleasant one to deliver and his people refused to listen to the warnings God was giving to the people. Over and over God warned the people to turn from their wickedness and follow Him and He would follow that with blessings beyond belief. Yet the people scorned this message and Jeremiah led a life of rejection and ridicule. He could have easily given up and I would have understood that choice. I don’t think I could hang in there like Jeremiah did. However, Jeremiah had a mission and he was not going to deviate from that path. He quotes God in chapter 9:23-24: “’Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” God is telling us through Jeremiah that we should understand and know Him. Charles Swindoll discusses this in an insert in the Insight for Living Bible. He states why it is important to know God. Knowing God: • Enhances our worship and prompts our praise. • Shapes our moral and ethical standards. • Directly affects our response to pain and hardship. • Motivates our response toward fortune, fame, power and pleasure. • Gives us strength when we are tempted. • Keeps us faithful and courageous when we are outnumbered. • Determines our lifestyle and dictates our behavior. • Gives meaning and significance to relationships. • Sensitizes our conscience and creates the desire to be obedient. • Stimulates hope to go on, regardless of what lies ahead of us. • Enables us to know what to reject and what to respect while riveted to planet Earth. • Is the foundation upon which everything rests! Think on these statements. One’s entire life each day involves one or more of these statements. Knowing God is so essential to life, to our home, our work, our friends, our relationships.

Swindoll goes on to give some more reasons why it is important to know God. • Knowing God gives us the desire to be like Him. We are called to be holy because God is holy. We are called to be good because He is good. The more I know God, the more I want to do what He wants me to do and be more like Him. Our Christian walk is to become more and more Christlike. • Knowing God reveals the truth about ourselves. We see ourselves as imperfect beings in need of God, in need of a Savior. • Knowing God enables us to interpret our world. Looking at the world through His lenses help me greatly in my reaction and response. It is amazing how God’s perspective helps smooth out the rough spots in the path. These difficult times don’t appear as difficult anymore. • Knowing God makes us stronger and more secure. When I am close to God I can resist the temptations of evil much more easily. It is when I wander away that I fall trap to sin so easily. • Knowing God introduces us to the eternal dimension of existence. If we didn’t know God, how would we know about spending eternity with Him? We live with eternity in mind all the time. Do you live with your eyes focused on eternity, focused on God?

Jeremiah knew God.  This is evident in his life and mission.  It also is evident in almost every chapter where he receives the word of the Lord.  God talked to him directly.  Jeremiah had to know God well to be able to hear Him and obey Him, especially then the message God gave him would be rejected by the people who were to hear these words.  In Jeremiah’s life the words of the Lord came to fruition.  Jerusalem fell to Babylon and all of the predictions Jeremiah gave to his people came true.  Yet, even in the midst of this the people all the way up to the king responded in disbelief.  I wonder how Jeremiah felt when he saw the words of the Lord play out before his very eyes.  Did he feel vindicated?  Was he filled with wonder?  Fear?  Peace?  Even joy?  Did this strengthen him and give him courage even in the times of mistreatment and threat of death?  In times like this knowing God would certainly change one’s perception and response.

My mission is to know God. That is a lifelong mission. I must read His Word, talk with Him, share life with Him and walk with Him every step of every day. The more I do this, the more I know Him and the better I will be able to hear His call in my life. That is why Isaiah did not have to hesitate when he heard God ask, “Whom shall I send?”

Father, as I focus on knowing You I am convicted of my shortcomings and failure to know You as good as I would like.  I realize my entire life is one of growth spiritually getting to know You more and more and becoming the person You want me to be.  This transformation takes a long time.  That’s the purpose of walking with You every step.  Lord, Thank You for inviting me to walk with You.  Thank You for You wanting to share life with me, to have me by Your side and to teach me more about You.  Lord, I am so blessed!  Thank You!!  Amen.

I slept soundly for a good 8 hours and didn’t wake up until the bladder said, “Enough!!”  I feel rested and refreshed.  I was able to shower and get ready for church and also spend some time online talking with Phyllis via Skype.  Then the power went out.  The generator came on and shortly after that Jane came to shut it off.  We don’t need the power right now and it saves on diesel fuel to not run the generator.  We went to church and enjoyed the fellowship.  There were about 50 people there.  The pastor talked about the rapture and worked through a lot of scripture to explore the details of this event.  Even though he spoke Spanish, I was able to follow along somewhat by reading the scriptures he referenced.  He presented the different opinions about the tribulation and the timing of the rapture.  I enjoyed the service and the singing.  After church there was still no power so Jane and I are planning on going into town to grab a bite to eat there. 

Father, thank You for Your work in the lives of these people.  Thank You for the energy and devotion the pastor and his wife give to this body of believers.  Thank You for offering such hope and joy to these people.  I pray for the church and I pray for their leaders.  Please keep them close to you and help them grow.  Please help them be a bright light in the darkness of the world around them and to shine that light boldly.  Thank You, Lord, for these people.  I pray for Your blessing on them.  Amen.

12 noon.  Viviana arrived!  She and her family came from Esmeraldes and left to go eat.  She will then move in.  Jane checked the room she was to stay in and it was not cleaned as she expected.  I am going to help her clean the room so Viviana can stay there.

1 PM.  Jane and I cleaned the room.  It needed mopped and a good general cleaning.  Jane got some bed linens and we made the beds and got it looking fairly nice.  In the process Jane asked me to make a list of what I would like to see in improvements for the guests who come to work at the clinic.  A few things came to mind and we talked about them.  She said Damarys is interested in upgrading the housing accommodations so guests will be more comfortable while here.

Jane, Viviana and I went into town for lunch.  We stopped at a couple places Jane knew about and both were closed.  We went to another small café and ate there.  Jane and I both ate fried sea bass and it was very hot and delicious.  This was served with rice.  Now I am full and back at the house for the afternoon.  I anticipate Damarys and Loida to arrive sometime in the next couple hours or so. 

I went on a walk around the clinic grounds to take some pictures.  There have been some nice upgrades to the walkway to the clinic building.  What was mostly mud and dirt is now covered with paving stones and it looks very nice.  I also went back and visited the goats.

6:30 PM.  Damarys and Loida arrived about 6 and I helped unload their car.  They came from Quito and stopped and bought groceries for our meals this next week.  I helped unload sack after sack of food.  We will be well nourished!  Nancy will cook for us starting tomorrow.  She usually cooks up some good meals.  Before she would go across the street to the local market and buy a few things to make our meals with.  With the variety Damarys and Loida brought I am looking forward to some really good meals. 

Father, thank You for the arrival of Vivianna, Damarys and Loida.  Our team is now complete and I am eager to work with them this week.  Thank You for equipping us with the right people and the right skills to accomplish the work You desire.  I feel so privileged to be included in Your outreach to the people of San Lorenzo.  You deliver healing and health through us, Lord.  This is nothing we can do on our own.  It is all from You and to You goes all the praise.  Lord, I pray for this next 5 days of surgery.  Please wrap Your hands around our hands and guide us through the surgeries.  Allow us to think Your thoughts and utilize Your wisdom and insight to render the proper care.  Lord, also prepare the hearts of those we serve to be open to the message of the Gospel.  Give us the boldness to speak Your love and share that message with them.  Father, I praise Your name tonight.  Amen.

It is dark at 6:30 here.  Coming from Indiana where we have daylight savings time and also because of being north and west in the time zone, dark doesn’t settle in until about 9 PM.  Having darkness at 6:30 is certainly different.  The church is meeting for its evening service of praise and worship.  Power is on now so the music is loud.  The pastor’s wife leads the worship with singing and playing on the keyboard.  She has a beautiful voice and plays the keyboard quite well.  I recognize the tunes but the words are in Spanish.  I enjoy just listening to the praise music drifting over the albergue into the house.

After Damarys and Loida moved in with Jane, the three of them came over to the house and brought Vivianna with them.  We had some popcorn and watermelon and then played a board game called Ticket to Ride.  It is a game where you build routes that cross the USA map on the board.  The goal is to complete as many routes as possible.  The risk is other players can block your route as they are building routes.  We had a lot of fun and plan to play this several more times.  Jane said I brought the game with me in the suitcase that her brother, Steve, packed for me.  That suitcase had various supplies in it and the game was among them.  I ended the day with a Skype call to my wonderful wife.  We had a good chat.  With Internet available and Skype we can call and talk to one another every day.  

Father, Thank You for a good day.  Thank You for assembling this team to work together serving You.  Thank You for the good fellowship we enjoyed this evening.  I pray for all of us to have a good rest and be ready to meet the day tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a big day in surgery and it will be demanding physically and emotionally.  Again, Lord, I pray for Your hands to encircle ours and guide us through the surgeries.  Thank You for Your infinite grace and unfailing love.  Amen.

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Comments»

1. Tom Beckner - September 12, 2010

Great Biblical teaching for my Sunday! Thanks, brother.

2. Lou Ann - September 12, 2010

Thank you for your message and notes from Chuck Swindoll…I will share them this week at my women’s Bible study at The Chapel. Praying for strength and wisdom as you operate tomorrow and for Phyllis to have peace and be comforted while you are gone.

3. Kent Brower - September 13, 2010

Thank you for sharing the biblical truths, mission and insight! Will be in my prayers!
Kent


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