A constant battle that I deal with is unbelief.

Today I came across a question in J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God, “Am I afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life?” I will confess, I am terrified at times. I am afraid to go all the way in accepting the authority of God, because of my secret uncertainty as to His adequacy to look after me if I do. To put it in more simple terms, I struggle to believe that God (who is all-sufficient) can hold it altogether. One reason is that I am a control freak. Another reason is that I fail to have faith in the God who has saved me, this could be a result of lack of trust in my childhood (not sure where it lies). It is horrifying to think that I will shrink back. I want to serve God with all that I am, but I’m scared. Thoughts rush into my head coward, you are fake… Why are you here. No one understands you. You are a failure and you always will be. You should just pack up and go home. Lies lies lies! You see how me-centered I am? Can you see how Satan is at work to destroy me, to cripple me from doing anything for the Lord? Satan is the father of lies, and these lies are from the pit of hell. He will do anything to destroy the follower of Christ.

It is true: unbelief has crept upon me. So what went wrong?

I find it kind of funny, and i find it kind of sad (If you thought Gary Jules’ Mad World, so did i ) that I begin to think of myself worse than ever than when the Lord reveled the gospel to me. I often forget that the Lord knew the worst about me at the time when He accepted me. One thing that has gone wrong is that I forget that I need the gospel. The gospel is not just for the lost, but for every believer. We need the reminder that God loves us so much that He sent His son for us. Remembering is a vital tool in my life and I believe for every follower of Christ. Take a look at Psalm 77: (These are excerpts from it but I would encourage you to read the whole chapter)

I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray!

This person is constantly calling out to God but there seems to be no answer. What is our reaction when we call out to God and there is no reply? What do we do when we feel like our prayers are just hitting the ceiling? If we forget to remember, we drift into the lie that “God has abandoned me”. Take a look at verses 11-15:

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

As soon as the psalmist remembered what the Lord has done he quickly shifts from his own circumstances and suffering to an adoration and exaltation of God. We must intentionally pray that we remember all that the Lord has done for us. 

When God said to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), He was not only telling them not to bow down to idols, but that He is the only All-Sufficient God. St. Augustine of Hippo stated that “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee”. Unbelief can sprout from a root of idolatry. When my heart bows down to an idol rather than the One who created me, my life falls apart. I begin to damage my own walk with the Lord and I begin to damage others. The only remedy is repentance and a relentless pursuing of Christ. 

I want to be safe, but the Lord requires me to surrender all. That means risking everything. Let me ask the question again: Am I afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life?

No, I am not afraid. Why? Because the One that created my soul is near. Let Romans 8 be a remembrance of God, an adoration of Him, and a killing of our unbelief. He is ALL-SUFFICIENT!

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Oh may I never forget who God is in this journey. He is worthy to be praised; I pray I will go all out for the Lord.

blessings,

Kayvan

John Owen: What Is Sanctification?

Posted: November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Originally posted on Already Not Yet:

John_Owen_mortification-of-sin

Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing of their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God, and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience unto God, according unto the tenor and terms of the new covenant, by virtue of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Or more briefly:—It is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit into the image of God, through Jesus Christ.

The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 386.

(HT: The Old Guys)

View original

Something that I have been reflecting on lately is my sanctification, that is, becoming more like Christ. If I am honest with myself, this past season of my life has been the hardest season of my life. For the first time in my life I am learning to admit my baggage and acknowledge my shortcomings, and surrender it all to Jesus. It has not been easy.

One of my constant prayers can be found in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death”. As I have learned about myself, I learn that I have a humble heart, and that my heart is to know Jesus more, but I lack the motivation at times. As I lack the motivation, I begin to fall into this vertigo spiral of becoming an ineffective follower. To the point, I become a failed ambassador for Christ. Did I mention that failure is my biggest fear? It paralyzes me.

All in all, the point of this post is to bring light to the rock that I stand firm on through the storms. This rock is the very truth that Christ is my Savior! He has rescued me from the power of sin and death, and saved me unto righteousness (meaning He took my sin and declared me forgiven, then He accredited His righteousness towards me and has declared me blameless, holy, and God’s child).

More to the point, There is hope! There is hope in my suffering. There is hope when i’m going through the hard times in life. There is an Anchor I can hold onto when I am dealing with my sin; Jesus is the Anchor of my soul, and He sustains. One of the most depressing Psalm in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 88. It describes much of what this season has been:

O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten, cut off from your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me. You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O Lord; I lift my hands to you for mercy. Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love? Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness? O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. O Lord, why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like flood waters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.

Reading this passage through the lens of someone who is not a child of God (someone who has not surrendered to Christ) is the most horrifying thing ever. Without God being the God of my salvation my life would result in despairI stand in this hope, that I am a child of God! That my salvation is found in Christ alone.

Why should I fear? Why should I be afraid of failure? I can’t fail, because I am Christ’s! I stand in victory that God is the God of my salvation! Trials, tribulation, sanctification, no matter the season, I have the Lord!

Here is a reminder: Romans 8: 31-39

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him (Job 13:15a) He is the God of my salvation!

Grace and Peace

Have we ever wondered how we will be used if we are disqualified from ministry? Have we ever wondered, “what if I can’t go overseas because of my health”?  Or “what if this or that happens, can I still be used by God?” I often think this way because of my health, but the reason for this blog is to refocus on our purpose. Today’s missionary attended Yale to be a pastor, it was required to have a degree at that time. God’s plan was different for him. This missionary was expelled from Yale, only to fall right into God’s will; to not be a pastor, but a missionary to the Indians. Today’s post is about a missionary named David Brainerd. And God used him mightily!

David Brainerd lived a short life, (29 years) and those 29 years were filled with complete suffering. However, in the moments of despair, God displayed his all sustaining power and glory. There is a reason why we as believers face trials and suffering. Here the words of David Brainerd:

Taken from Desiring God’s autobiographies: Oh, That I May Never Loiter On My Heavenly Journey!

Brainerd struggled with almost constant sickness.

He had to drop out of college for some weeks because he had begun to cough up blood in 1740. In May of 1744 he wrote, “Rode several hours in the rain through the howling wilderness, although I was so disordered in body that little or nothing but blood came from me (p. 247).”

Now and again he would write something like, “In the afternoon my pain increased exceedingly; and was obliged to betake myself to bed … Was sometimes almost bereaved of the exercise of my reason by the extremity of pain.” (p. 253) In August of 1746 he wrote, “Having lain in cold sweat all night, I coughed much bloody matter this morning, and was under great disorder of body, and not a little melancholy.” (p. 420) In September he wrote, “Exercised with a violent cough and a considerable fever; had no appetite to any kind of food; and frequently brought up what I ate, as soon as it was down; and oftentimes had little rest in my bed, by reason of pains in my breast and back: was able, however, to rode over to my people, about two miles, every day, and take some care of those who were then at work upon a small house for me to reside in amongst the Indians (p. 430).”

In May of 1747 at Jonathan Edwards’ house the doctors told him that he had incurable consumption and did not have long to live. (p. 447) In the last couple of months of his life the suffering was incredible. September 24: “In the greatest distress that ever I endured having an uncommon kind of hiccough; which either strangled me or threw me into a straining to vomit.” (p. 469) Edwards comments that in the week before he died, “He told me it was impossible for any to conceive of the distress he felt in his breast. He manifested much concern lest he should dishonor God by impatience under his extreme agony; which was such that he said the thought of enduring it one minute longer was almost insupportable.” And the night before he died he said to those around him that it was another thing to die than people imagined (pp. 475-476).

What strikes the reader of these diaries is not just the severity of Brainerd’s suffering in the days before antibiotics and pain killers, but especially how relentless the sickness was. It was almost always there. And yet he pressed on with his work.

Brainerd struggled with relentlessly recurring depression.

Brainerd came to understand more fully from his own experience the difference between spiritual desertion and the disease of melancholy. So his later judgments about his own spiritual condition are probably more careful than the earlier ones. But however one assesses his psychological condition, he was tormented again and again with the blackest discouragements. And the marvel is that he survived and kept going at all.

Brainerd said eh had been this way from his youth (p. 101). But he said that there was a difference between the depression he suffered before and after his conversion. After his conversion there seemed to be a rock of electing love under him that would catch him, so that in his darkest times he could still affirm the truth and goodness of God, even though he couldn’t sense it for a season (pp. 93, 141, 165, 278).

But it was bad enough nevertheless. Often his distress was owing to the hatred of his own remaining sinfulness. Thursday, November 4, 1742. “Tis distressing to feel in my soul that hell of corruption which still remains in me.” (p. 185) Sometimes this sense of unworthiness was so intense that he felt cut off from the presence of God. January 23, 1743. “Scarce ever felt myself so unfit to exist, as now: I saw I was not worthy of a place among the Indians, where I am going … None knows, but those that feel it, what the soul endures that is sensibly shut out from the presence of God: Alas, ’tis more bitter than death (pp. 195-6)!”

He often called his depression an kind of death. I counted at least 22 places in the Diary where he longed for death as a freedom from his misery. For example, Sunday, February 3, 1745. “My soul remember ‘the wormwood and the gall’ (I might almost say hell) of Friday last; and I was greatly afraid I should be obliged again to drink of that ‘cup of trembling’, which was inconceivably more bitter than death, and made me long for the grave more, unspeakably more, than for hid treasures.” (p. 285) sunday, December 16, 1744. “Was so overwhelmed with dejection that I knew not how to live: I longed for death exceedingly: My soul was ‘sunk in deep waters,’ and ‘the floods’ were ready to ‘drown me’: I was so much oppressed that my soul was in a kind of horror (p. 278).”

It caused him compounded misery that his mental distress hindered his ministry and his devotion. Wednesday, March 9, 1743. “Rode 16 miles to Montauk, and had some inward sweetness on the road, but something of flatness and deadness after I came there and had seen the Indians: I withdrew and endeavored to pray, but found myself awfully deserted and left, and had an afflicting sense of my vileness and meanness.” (p. 199) At times he was simply immobilized by the distresses and couldn’t function anymore. Tuesday, September 2, 1746. “Was scarce ever more confounded with a sense of my own unfruitfulness and unfitness of my work, than now. Oh, what a dead, heartless, barren, unprofitable wretch did I now see myself to be! My spirits were so low, and my bodily strength so wasted, that I could do nothing at all. At length, being much overdone, lay down on a buffalo skin; but sweat much of the whole night (pp. 423f.).”

It is simply amazing how often Brainerd pressed on with the practical necessities of his work in the face of these waves of discouragement. This has no doubt endeared him to many a missionary who know first hand the kinds of pain he endured.

Brainerd struggled with loneliness.

He tells of having to endure the profane talk of two strangers one night in April, 1743 and says, “Oh, I longed that some dear Christian knew my distress (p. 204)!” A month later he says, “Most of the talk I hear is either Highland Scotch or Indian. I have no fellow Christian to whom I might unbosom myself and lay open my spiritual sorrows, and with whom I might take sweet counsel in conversation about heavenly things, and join in social prayer.” (p. 207) This misery made him sometimes shrink back from going off on another venture. Tuesday, May 8, 1744. “My hear sometimes was ready to sink with the thoughts of my work, and going alone in the wilderness, I knew not where (p. 248).”

In December, 1745 he wrote a letter to his friend Eleazar Wheelock and said, “I doubt not by that time you have read my journal through you’ll be more sensible of the need I stand in of a companion in travel than ever you was before (p. 584).” But he didn’t just want any kind of person of course. He wanted a soul companion. Many of us can empathize with him when he says, “There are many with whom I can talk about religion: but alas, I find few with whom I can talk religion itself: But, blessed be the Lord, there are some that love to feed on the kernel rather than the shell (p. 292).”

But Brainerd was alone in his ministry to the end. The last 19 weeks of his life Jerusha Edwards, Jonathan Edwards’ 17 year old daughter, was his nurse and many speculate that there was deep love between them. But in the wilderness and in the ministry he was alone, and could only pour out his soul to God. And God bore him and kept him going.

Brainerd struggled with immense external hardships.

He describes his first mission station at Kaunaumeek in May, 1743: “I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life: most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty pudding, etc. I lodge on a bundle of straw, and my labor is hard and extremely difficult; and I have little experience of success to comfort me.” (p. 207) In August he says, “In this weak state of body, (I) was not a little distressed for want of suitable food. Had no bread, nor could I get any. I am forced to go or send ten or fifteen miles for all the bread I eat; and sometimes ’tis moldy and sour before I eat it, if I get any considerable quantity … But through divine goodness I had some Indian meal, of which I made little cakes and fried them. Yet felt contented with my circumstances, and sweetly resigned to God (pp. 213-214).”

He says that he was frequently lost in the woods and was exposed to cold and hunger (p. 222). he speaks of his horse being stolen or being poisoned or breaking a leg (pp. 294, 339). He tells about how the smoke from a fireplace would often make the room intolerable to his lungs and he would have to go out into the cold to get his breath, and then could not sleep through the night (p. 422).

But the struggle with external hardships, as great as they were, was not his worst struggle. He had an amazing resignation and even rest it seems in many of these circumstances. He knew where they fit in his Biblical approach to life:

Such fatigues and hardship as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter. Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart (through the grace of God) and my eye is more to God for comfort. In this world I expect tribulation; and it does not now, as formerly, appear strange to me; I don’t in such seasons of difficulty flatter myself that it will be better hereafter; but rather think how much worse it might be; how much greater trials others of God’s children have endured; and how much greater are yet perhaps reserved for me. Blessed be God that he makes (=is) the comfort to me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts be attended with terror or melancholy; but they are attended frequently with great joy (p. 274).”

So in spite of the terrible external hardships that Brainerd knew, he pressed on and even flourished under these tribulations that led to the kingdom.

The reason for our suffering is for God’s glory! David Brainerd pressed on to look past his suffering and look unto eternal glory!

As I reflect on this missionary today, I often wonder, “Am I prepared to have no control?”. Are you willing to let go of your own control and let God use you (me)? Whether it means a short life like David Brainerd, or a long life discipling others overseas or here in the States, we must be willing to relinquish all and rest in God’s will. He doesn’t promise us safety, but security! it is for His glory!

Grace and Peace

Kayvan

Back in 2012 I wrote a blog about Adoniram Judson and how he has impacted my life. You can find the blog here. I often write in a small journal blessings and remembering of God’s goodness. For example, I will write the date and “God has proven Himself faithful in keeping my health”. So when I am discouraged or start to lose my identity, I can go back and re-read how God has proven Himself to be who He is; Immanuel! You see this same concept throughout the old testament, they would often build memorials of what God has done. It is a remembrance, kind of like our ordinances we practice with the local church (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).

I say all that to confess that I lose focus almost constantly. This week, my goal is to write a blog each day about a missionary. I will be reading their autobiography and expressing my thoughts and prayer through writing. This challenge I set for myself is for a focus shift. I want to get into their minds. What were their thoughts? How did they react to joy, suffering, circumstance? I look forward to this challenge. As each blog comes out, I will provide a link of that missionary’s autobiography, so that you can explore the lives of these great cloud of witnesses! Adoniram Judson.

One of my favorite quotes by John Piper is that “missions exists because worship doesn’t”. It is true. Our worship of God brings Him glory. When was the last time you sat back and set your affections on God? But how do we keep focus? We will grow in our faith if we are studying the Word and praying, but we need community too. Aside from the Word, I like to read about missionaries who have already been through life. I am eager to get out and go overseas, but I know God has me here studying for this season. For now, the best thing to read are about the lives of the people that walked down a road that you may very well go down. So here we go!

After a long 114 day journey from New England to Burma, Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann Judson arrived in Burma (modern Myanmar). From their arrival in 1813 to the first convert baptized in 1819, Judson spent most of his time translating the New Testament into the Burmese language. It was a difficult task but both Mr. and Mrs. Judson were determined to know the language. After ten years of translating and praying for souls, there were eighteen converts in Rangoon, and Adoniram had most of the New Testament translated into the Burmese language. He was beginning to reap what was sown, the Burmese people were seeing the gospel, and the Kingdom of God was advancing. When I begin to thing of missions, this is what I desire. I have this tendency to look for results. I want to see converts. Someone asked me recently, “what if God just want you to go an no one is saved? Would you be ok with going for 2 years or 10 years overseas and seeing no one come to know the Lord?” That was a hard question for me, but we must remember that God causes the growth, and we must be obedient to go!

Suffering: Adoniram went through much suffering. How can I (we) learn from this?

Are you sure that God wants you to continue your life in this comparatively church-saturated land? Or might he be calling you to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, to fall like a grain of wheat into some distant ground and die, to hate your life in this world and so to keep it forever and bear much fruit?  From Piper’s autobiography of Judson (p. 21)

Is God calling us into some distant ground to die? I’m not saying we will die as soon as we go, but that we would die to self and give up everything in order that some may be saved. Judson understood the risk. It meant death. His purpose was to proclaim God’s glory among the nations; despite a life-long battle in the 108-degree heat with cholera, malaria, dysentery, and unknown miseries that would take two of Judson’s wives and seven of his 13 children, and colleague after colleague in death.

One thing I want to bring light to is that Judson gave up. After losing Ann and the death of his first child, Judson went into a deep depression. There was even a time before that when he spent time in prison and wanted to throw himself off a bridge, but didnt because he feared the other prisoners shackled to him would be in hell. How many times do I want to give up? How many times do we give up? I’ll admit that I need to give up daily, but have we ever truly been in the deepest darkest pit as Adoniram was in? May we be reminded of this man’s life and pray that this story would draw us more to the feet of Jesus.

Was it worth it for Judson? Yes. He suffered greatly, but his death produced much fruit for God’s glory! Are we wasting our lives? We must be on God’s mission proclaiming His glory to all peoples of all nations. Whether you are a lawyer in the States, garbage man, baker, or a missionary among the people of Iran or India, you are called to be on God’s mission. How few there are who die so hard, Adoniram Judson gave his life away. Will you? Will I? Pray that we will Go.

Take some time to shift your focus. How can you intentionally be on God’s mission. Suffering is promised, but we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12).

Grace and Peace

Kayvan

To forget something then to be reminded of it is a blessing. How many times have we driven ourselves to the point to believe a lie? “I feel alone. God where are you?” We dive into this pool of hyper-reality, thinking that the reality that we perceive in our minds is truth, when in actuality it is a lie. To make things more clear, how many of us have felt abandoned by God? Feeling so isolated and alone, that we have taken the steps into the deep end of the pool of hyper-reality and actually believe that God is far away from us? (Did you catch my redundancy?) Our prayers seem to make it to the ceiling, but that’s as far as it gets. I am prone to fall into this snare of the devil.

Here is where it starts to happen. I expect God to show up. (honestly). If I am real with myself, I actually demand Him to show up because I know the consistency of His character in the Bible. God is faithful. My blind spot is that I demand Him to show up in my timing rather than His. I know God will show up in His timing, but when I fail to trust His timing I begin to lose sight of His faithfulness. Then comes fear of my circumstances. And then I doubt His goodness. Then I feel abandoned and not longer trust that I am His child. Then anger. And finally despair. How many of us have actually say they have not been through that process?

We are not alone in this battle. When you read the scriptures, you see a reoccurring theme of despair, but then a memorial of God’s faithfulness. In Psalm 13, David states in verse 1, “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” Then in verses 5 and 6 we see the psalmist remember who God is, “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Another example is Habakkuk. Habakkuk cries out because of the upcoming  judgment of Judah for their sins; the Babylonian empire was about to lay waste of them. He cries, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” Habakkuk could have believed the lie that The Lord would not rescue, but the book does not end here. A memorial is found at the end of Habakkuk chapter 3, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feel like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

To my point, we are prone to forget who God is. Yes He may not show up in our timing, but we must trust in Him. Memorials are something that help us remember His character. When the people of Israel crossed over the Jordan river they built a memorial to the Lord, remembering what He has done for them. Another example of memorials is found in the way we Southern Baptist’s observe baptism and the Lord’s supper. They are a memorial of what God has done and a testimony of His faithfulness to His children.

With that all said, I have a challenge for you. As often as many of us blog, journal, or write, start writing down memorials of God. I have a small book that all I write down is what God has done and who His character is. When I begin to doubt, I read through them and remember. Just a disclaimer: This is not to replace time meditating on the Word or gathering with the local church. We are to fight this battle together.

The Lord is good, gracious, great, and glorious….remember that!

blessings

Kayvan

Post Brazil

Posted: June 13, 2014 in Some things on my mind...
Tags: ,

It has been about a week since Ashley and I have been back from Brazil. Wow, what a blessing to have spent time with the people there. After a 27 hour travel time, we landed safely in Florida last Saturday. I have reflected much about what I experienced and have been processing a few things post trip. I am about to write about some of my experiences, convictions, and post trip thoughts regarding my time before Brazil, there, and now. These are reflections of a sinner’s heart who is striving to give God the glory in everything. 

Before Brazil, many people would ask, “why are you going?” My response, “To give God glory”. What others would hear was that I (we) were going on a vacation. Mission trips are not vacations, it is hard work. One of my prayers was to identify if the Lord is calling me to tribal missions (with Ashley or without her). As of right now I do not believe the Lord is calling me to Brazil, but that could change.

My Role

Pre-Brazil, my prayer was to serve the missionaries in whatever capacity needed. Ashley and I were there to serve them. My role in Brazil was to shadow Don (a missionary). To walk with him through thick and thin (literally, spiritually, and physically as much as you can walk together for 16 days).

Experiences

Adjusting is tough. You are surrounded by unfamiliar. You are surrounded by voices and languages that are foreign. Then comes the moment when you want to escape. But you can’t because you are committed and there is no way to leave (Deep down you wont follow through with leaving). Gracefully, after a few days you begin to get into routine of how things work and what to avoid (bugs and whatever else). Soon before you know it (it took me about 4 days) you begin to love where you are. You are struggling because it is unfamiliar, but you look past your feelings and remember the mission of God. That you are in this place to advance the Kingdom.

The students took about a week to start interacting with me more. They would say my name “kayveen” almost like a funky way of saying Kevin, and they would stick their thumb up. I would great them in their name and say “tudo beim?” (all is good?). I just want to say that 16 days is definitely not enough time there to understand and experience the culture in its full capacity. The school’s curriculum is to story through the Bible so that the students can take it back to their people and share the Story of the Bible; with the prayer of a birthed church. It was amazing to hear the story of Solomon and the temple in the Portuguese language (even though i didn’t understand it). What was even more incredible is that the students would go over and over these stories, then stand up and repeat them. Many of the tribes don’t have a written language, so it is vital that stories of Scripture are given. My prayer is that each tribe would formulate a written language, so that they have God’s Word not just in orality, but on paper.

Another class was to learn the Portuguese language. It was a great time to sit in and observe and listen. This class time included a video of Planet Earth on caves. I was amazed to see the reactions of the students, because they have never seen these parts of the world. It reminded me how much I take for granted God’s creation and how much I should enjoy it, because He is in control of it.

Each day I was out the door about 7 am, learning from Don, talking with him about life, and prepping for the afternoon. Sometimes we would lay brick for the corner joints of the duplex, so that in the afternoon work time, the students can come and fill in the middle sections quickly. Afternoon work-time (1-4pm) is designed for discipleship. At 1pm the men would meet and talk through the story learned that morning, then we would pray and be divided up to do farm work, duplex, or other smaller tasks that need to be done on the property. Much of my time with the guys was laughing with them. I was picking up the language quickly and I could tell by body language and certain sayings when the guys would goof off and/or when they needed more cement for bricks, or even a water break. Hard work in the sun, but it was well worth the sweat, cuts, and mosquito bites. Personally I faced the thoughts, “how can i be effective when I don’t know the language” or “I don’t know how to do this”. But as I searched the scriptures, I faced the truth that no matter how great the task or little, it was worthy for the Kingdom.  Overall it was a tremendous blessing. I believe they ministered more to me than I them.

Convictions

A thought came to mind as I rested my head for the first time in about 2 weeks in the States. “All I did was physical things in Brazil, nothing really spiritual”. I served mainly with helping Don fix the water pump, mowing (with an electric mower), mixing cement and laying bricks for a duplex, and mainly observing him in his business of life on life discipleship and ministry. On the field I realized that at first I was frustrated….as big-headed arrogant seminary student, I stuck out my chest in pride and wanted to teach the Bible or share the gospel with hundreds of people. The Lord revealed to me that if His will was that He wanted me to mow or lay brick for the rest of my life, then I would have to lay down my life doing just that. After about 5 days i confessed to Don my struggles, of my past and now. He told me to write down all the negative things and the positive things, then to give over the negative things to the Lord. Being on the mission field magnifies your sin and struggles; it exposes your heart. I am grateful for this time, because the Lord has brought to light what is an idol in my life and with a doubled-edged sword, He gently severs what does not belong.

One thing that has burdened me is the fact that there is a high need for laborers. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”. Don was basically taking on three roles, I believe if it wasn’t for the sustaining power of the gospel through Word and prayer, and the fact that those who are there have a deep sense of community and accountability, it would be easy to burn out and want to quit. But praise be to God that He doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called! As of right, I don’t believe God is calling me to Brazil, but I know this can change and through prayer I will be open to that. My prayer is that by reading this, someone will be driven by the Spirit to go and lay their life down in Brazil.

Post Brazil

Brazil was not a vacation, it was hard work. My role was to be with Don, mainly working outside, and Ashley’s role was to serve Vera in aiding in ESL and devotions for the single girls on the campus. I would find my eyes heavy around 10:00pm and my ears awakening to the sounds of the first bell and roster crowing at 5:45am, daily. It was only 16 days, but I personally believe we needed more, I needed more time there. I love the people and my prayer is that I would hear stories of them growing more in the faith, especially one brother named David. I pray that I would hear of churches being birthed in the most hard places to reach. I pray that The Light shines in the darkness, bringing forth more laborers for the Kingdom!

As I sit here in my new apartment in NC on school campus, I reflect on how God has gently taken my heart and how He is starting to shake it of idols in my life. Idolatry is poison and it is crazy how we (I) think it is ok to hold them. So with once fists closed, demanding God for Him to give me what I want, I am now letting go…opening my hands and allowing God to take control.

Brazil revealed to me…reminded me of God’s mission and my role in making disciples. No matter how small the task, it is an important one in God’s eyes. Do I need anyone’s approval? That is a battle I am learning to let go right, because I am a people-pleaser and I squirm when I know people are in opposition of me. I only need God’s approval and He already approved of me when He died on the cross! My role now as a student preparing for the mission field is to focus on what the Lord is telling me, and finding my soul satisfied in Him.

Brazil….or should I say Brasil, has impacted me not in a drastic way, but in a way that has caused me to slowly allow the Lord to prune my life, so that I would look more like Christ.

Go…that’s all I can say…Go and see…Go and pour your life out for the Kingdom. For the advancement for our King’s Name!

If you would like to know more…just ask me!

Blessings

Kayvan