Thursday, March 29, 2012

April prayer requests

Many of our core prayers for Los Anonos continue to be the same, including: to see broken families restored, teenagers making changes in their generation, children being able to grow and walk in the destiny God has prepared for them, and seeing the wounds in the hearts of the fatherless healed. We are also still looking for people from the community who are willing to step up in the church and take on leadership roles. This is a continual processes as the people involved in the church grow and mature in the Lord. We will continue to present these to the Lord until we see break through.

Another exciting upcoming addition to the community in Los Anonos is the beginnings of a new discipleship school. Last November a couple from another Vineyard church in New Hampshire, Les and Diana, left their careers to attend the Spanish language school in San Jose for 10 months. They have connections back to the Vineyard in Maine and met Rodney and Cindy back in the late 90’s. During their time this past year in Costa Rica learning Spanish, they became an integral part of our ministry here. They decided to return home last fall to raise the needed support to come back to Los Anonos and start a discipleship school in the community. Their plan is to focus on the intense spiritual development of the youth of this community in order to send them out to do ministry. They plan on returning to Costa Rica in May and renting a house in Los Anonos in the neighborhood above our house. They will also be taking interns into their house and spending intentional time during the week in discipleship classes, worship sessions, and intercessory prayer. Les and Diana will also take on the role of mentoring the musicians of our Vineyard church here in Anonos, co-leading our nightly Bible studies, and working alongside us in ministry. The availability of such a school is largely due to the growth and development of the church here in Los Anonos as well is the fruit of teams pouring into the community. We are very excited about the work Les and Diana will be doing as it is something we have not been focused on doing at this time. It is an expansion of the heart of what God wants to do here in the community and allows us to increase our vision and reach. Please pray that the Lord opens the doors for them to raise the needed financial support and to make the transition to Costa Rica smooth. 

We are coming close to the end of the dry season and soon it will start to rain again. We've basically had no rain since late November. Obviously with a lot of dried grasses, shards of glass, and a high smoking rate, the potential for fires is staggering. We've had two major fires in the last month. Praise the Lord no houses were burned and the people were able to put the fires out! However, there are places in the community where fire trucks cannot gain access due to the conditions of the roads. It feels inevitable that some day there will be a very bad fire in the community. Please pray for protection over the people from any more significant fires in the community this year, that no houses would be burned or people injured.
Carmen with her son, Starling, and her daughter, Milena

As a note of praise, Carmen's foot is healing nicely. There is only one small, unhealed hole by her toe where the wound was deepest. She has all new skin that is covering her foot. The doctors were fairly amazed at how quickly it healed. Still do continue to pray for her heart, though. She still has much to face in life. Keep her son, Starling, in your prayers, too. He struggles with an addiction to drugs, which  not only makes it difficult for him to hold down a job and help his family, but it causes increased stress and anxiety for Carmen.

Thank you for all of your prayer support. It is the most important support we can give and receive!!!

Battle Notes

Never underestimate the power of Satan. He was God's most beautiful and wise angel before being cast out of heaven (see Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19). He is smarter and has significantly more strategy than humans. He is tricky and the father of lies. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that he can appear to look too good to be true, meaning he can even look like an angel of light or a disciple of Christ. He knows the Bible better than most theological scholars and is really good at twisting the words to make his arguments look legit. On the other hand, never overestimate the power of Satan, either. He is not God and does not even come close to the power the Almighty God, maker and creator of heaven and earth has. Satan cannot be everywhere at once, only God can. Satan cannot read your thoughts, only God can.

Never underestimate the power of God.  There is NOTHING God cannot do. There is absolutely no impossible things for God. He cannot be limited or put in a box. Genesis 18:14: "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" ; Ecclesiastes 7:13: "Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?";  Isaiah 14:27: "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"; Numbers 23:19-20: "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it." All that to say, it is therefore impossible to overestimate God's power. Satan would like us to think this in reverse, but it just is not so. 

The only effective way to beat an enemy in battle is to know him. This is how all major wars through history were fought. Does this mean studying the devil? Absolutely not! That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, it's important to know what the Bible says as truth about our opponent so when we encounter him and the rest of his army in our lives or the lives of our friends and family we can effectively use our power and authority in Christ to defeat him. 
This imagery of the battle between good and evil is not a new one. This is the premise of pretty much every action/adventure movie Hollywood ever created. It's also infused in the Christian culture, too. Ever sing the song "I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot in the artillery. I may never fly o'er the enemy, but I'm in the Lord's army!" in Vacation Bible School as a child? Yup. That's what it's talking about. Why else would we need armor??

The Armor of God
 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 We are in a battle. We battle against an enemy that wants to see us weak and divided, hating and fighting against each other. We fight against an enemy that would rather see us playing video games and teaching our teenage daughters that it's okay to read and fantasize about falling in love with vampires and werewolves than  getting to know our neighbors, taking care of the sick, or helping around our community. We fight against an enemy that wants us be depressed, alone, and isolated. To feel bad about ourselves. We fight against an enemy that knows our struggles and weaknesses and constantly throws them back in our faces. It's an enemy that also knows what makes us feel better about ourselves and uses that to manipulate our emotions as well. 

But we fight for a God that loves us. That has placed an advocate for us (Jesus) who is constantly praying for us: For we are More Than Conquerors: 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8). As Jesus says for our battle: "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19). He has already given us the keys to fighting and defeating the enemy. We already have the power and authority to stand strong in the battle we are in.

As you ask God to put on your armor today, preparing to face the enemy one more day, remember: never over- OR underestimate the enemy we fight against. Instead, stand firm and strong in the truth that God gives through His Word to fight against the enemy of our faith. And also remember: NEVER underestimate what God can do.You can depend on that!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Princess Club: The best dressed girl in town!!

Today's lesson was simple: How are we to be dressed as princesses in God's kingdom? 

Colossians 3:12

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

I asked the girls what it means to be clothed with compassion. 
They said it meant to help some one who was hurting. 
I asked them what it means to be clothed with kindness. 
They said it meant doing something nice for some one. 
I asked them what it means to be clothed with humility. 
They said it meant thinking of others before yourself. 
I asked them what it means to be clothed with gentleness. 
They said it meant not hitting your sibling. 
I asked them what it means to be clothed with patience. 
They said it means not being impatient. 

I think they get it. I wish more adults did ;)
Then they spent the next hour and a half patiently and lovingly painting wooden fashion dolls.
They had fun "dressing" the dolls with glittery paints.

 They wrote the verse of the week on the back of the doll.
 This is me as a princess doll. Clothed in only the finest compassion, kindness, and gentleness, 
as any princess should be!!!

Proverbs 31:30 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.