Monday, November 12, 2012

God's fellow workers

Before I forget... Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

For us the heat is on!  We are right at the starting line for summer down here in Asuncion and I am pretty sure I will suffer much evaporation of my precious 75% water.  It will be a totally different Christmas to be sure...    I am laughing right now as I write this... crazy heat is not my favorite thing, but we are loving that God has brought us here.  God is funny too.  I am thankful that we are made in his likeness : )

I have some words to share that have been the words of the Lord to me for a few weeks now... If you can bear with its length...(and at the end I am sharing some details about the next leg of The Jesus Adventure!)
"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames".  1 Corinthians 3:5-15
I can't read the Bible anymore without a million little connections popping up in my mind.  There is no unintended relation between one passage and another...Gods words to us are undeniably clear - We are the plan.  We are the body of Christ.  We must work together with him and with each other.  I love the wholeness of the words "for we are God's co-workers, you are God's field, God's building."  We are His fellow laborers who are to listen, obey and work in harmony in order to accomplish his perfect will.  We are also the field...the place where the work takes place, seeds are planted, the ground prepared through turning, digging and reforming.  We are also the building...God's temple, the end product.  It is beautiful and the complete description of our varied purposes that exist all at the same time in our journey.  We have the burden to reach others, to be yielding to all the different works God simultaneously is doing in us, as well as to be honoring and glorifying to Him as his precious and prized temple. 

And the beauty of the miracle in a tiny seed... I imagine the apparent simplicity on the inside of a small seed...they look blank with virtually no distinguishable marks.  Yet, the moment a seed is planted and then cared for by "God's fellow workers" the miracle inside the seed begins transforming it's very nature and appearance! No man on earth could design such a complete biological plan...this alone is the handiwork of our creator.  Something so plain and common as a seed...and God has designed in nature a multitude of ways for a seed to become planted...some seeds are sticky and attach to the fur of a passing animal, the wind carries others that are meant to be airborne, others are pleasing for food and fall during a harvest.  There is no mistake in the completeness of the analogy the Lord gives us when he speaks of planting seeds.  Let yourself carry on entirely in imagining the life of a seed and how it comes to be planted.  Meditate on the beauty of God's plan!  I believe God designed nature also as a reflection of who He is and how He works...and that is why there are so many comparisons between God's kingdom and vines, branches, fruit, harvest...  God's plans, creation and character are profound. 

What kinds of things are we building...?

Of course the other awesome parts of this passage are the materials with which we can build upon the foundation that has been there from the begining.  When we are talking about building in God's kingdom there is only one foundation that can be laid and that is Jesus Christ- BUT we can build shabbily or strong upon that foundation.  We can be and invest in the building of others into strong, lasting, fire-proof, fire-tested temples for the Lord.  If we labor without truly giving oursleves to the labor or give in work only the things that don't cost us very much, the end result will be buildings that are burned up with fire...only the bare foundation will last.  It is very easy to appear to be building, especially to others, even to toil much in our building.   But, it will be revealed to be nothing if we build with things that do not last.  We have got to build always with our whole heart, with our best attitude, a most sincere and generous spirit...always with love and obedience in faith.  What kind of buildings are we constructing? Clearly we should each desire to be a temple of gold for God... the most valuable, costly, strong and pure temple and equally desire to build as god's fellow workers into the lives of others so that they too can be strong and enduring.   

Oh I love the depth of God's word...  it is always complete and self-supported. 

Whew! And now for some further details about the future of The Jesus Adventure...
We have been so very blessed in this call to serve in international missions.  Wow, was it a crazy transition for us, but to be sure it was and is God's plan for us now.  Our project here in Paraguay is finishing up next year and our team of 40/40's will all be heading home for at least a small break before returining to the field in some form or another.  We ourselves will still have another year left in our committment to Extreme.  After much prayer and seeking, we have committed to begin again as Cluster Support for a new team of 40/40's that is heading to Ibarra, Ecuador next year!  (just northeast of Quito)


We are very excited for this next assignment!  We will be starting next June with the 40-Day Experience followed by theology/language training with the 40/40's and ministry training in Cali, Colombia and then off to Ibarra to invest ourselves with the planting and watering of seeds and the building of God's temples!  Ecuador is going ot be very different than our experience here in Paraguay.  The culture is very much more like the Peruvian culture and it has a much cooler climate than Paraguay.  The city of Ibarra is in the Ecuadorian Andes with a lake and two volcanoes nearby flanked by the Amazon Basin on the East of the Andes (location of events from The End of The Spear movie).  We are bummed out that the timing has not worked out for a short-term group from PortNaz and other interested friends to visit Paraguay while we are here, but I believe you will all be very much blessed in coming to Ecuador to see what God will be up to there!  Pray about it and start planning! in Paraguay is trucking along : )  The church here is growing, we are growing, our bible studies are growing and evolving into beautiful relationships and deepening walks of faith.  God is constantly speaking and is in control of each delicate seed.  We are at our mid-way point for the poject and it is absolutely amazing to have been able to count with some accuracy how many people have heard the gospel through the work of our team here...  Over 2000 lives have been touched with the gospel through outreach events and weekly evangelism!  In addition, each week our 40/40's are pursuing and discipling about 240 different individuals through weekly bible studies and friendships!  This sunday we had 17 people baptized, and two new home bible study groups are opening this week! Please keep our church and team in prayer.  The last months of a project need to be focused on the transition between missionary leadership and local leadership...this is where we need to really see the seeds budding.  And we shall not is God who makes things grow.  It is He who has always sustained His word and His church and this is where we place our hope.  Build with us on the foundation placed in Paraguay through your faithful prayers!! 

Here is the slide show some of you saw in Sunday School last week, and other of you may be seeing in the near future during Sunday School : ) 

We are also working on some Picassa albums for those of you that don't frequent facebook... Hopefully these work...I am a little new to some of this.

Picassa Album Paraguay 2   and   Picassa Album New Folder

Well that is our super long and long overdue blog for now : )  Keep us in prayer as we start figuring out how to prepare for Ecuador and as we continue in ministry in our community here in Paraguay.   We love you and don't forget about you even though we are far away...  We will be home soon for a break next year around May and June!! We will make plans as the time gets nearer : ) Lots of Love dear friends and family!!!  Big Blessings from South America!!!!

Grace and Peace to each of you,