Thursday, August 31, 2017

LIVING FOR CHRIST





By Jeannie L Horton
Life Christian University student

INTRODUCTION
Chacalte is a very poor community located high in the mountains of the northern part of Guatemala and usually isn’t listed on any maps. To get to Chacalte, it’s a 7 ½ hour drive from Guatemala City and a 1 ½ hour drive from Nebaj, the nearest town. The roads are extremely run down and make traveling difficult and slow, especially during the rainy season. However, the close-knit community of Chacalte is extremely grateful and excited to see a group of missionaries that come twice a year, a near 20-hour trip. The missionary group is from Evergreen Christian Center located in Hillsboro, Oregon. They are the only group of missionaries that come, there is no one else. When you’re in the town, it’s almost hard to believe that 600 people reside in Chacalte. It appears to have one main dirt road, but after further examination, there are side roads. The side roads are steep and extremely slick especially when it rains. But for the kids who wear gel shoes and the mother’s who wear flip flops, they seem to get around fine. When the van carrying the missionaries arrives, almost every child comes out to greet them with such excitement, they even chase the bus! This year was different as more adults from Chacalte came out to greet and shake our hands. They trust us to come back and relationships are being formed. We are salt and light to them, showing them the love that God has for them.
As Christians, we are called by God to be seen by others as living examples of the love and grace of God, which others are encouraged to follow. God loves all of His children and He truly wants us to live the Godly lives He intended for us from the beginning of time. We do this by staying close to Him, influencing the world as Christians, and letting God’s light shine before others. 
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven (Mathew 5:13-16). 
These verses are from the Sermon on the Mount, found in Mathew 5-7. It is part of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and is one of Christ’s most famous teachings, consisting of a variety of topics that dealt with matters of the heart. The sermon occurred on a mountaintop above the city of Capernaum. The twelve Disciples of Christ were there, along with a great crowd who came to listen.
I.       THE IMPACT OF SALT AND LIGHT
Why is God comparing us to salt and light? Salt is a preservative, it enhances flavor, and makes us thirsty! As Christians, we are the salt of the world. We are to preserve God’s greatness; Enhance the flavor of God, and make people thirst for God! We can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit and by being obedient to Christ. We want others to get a taste for something better, to thirst for the Living Water that is Christ, for it is He who came to give eternal life!
Jesus also has called us to be light to this world, for God is light. “For God Who said, Let Light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”(2 Corinthians 4:6). The Dictionary defines light as a “source of illumination.” Illumination, as part of the 5 infallible steps of faith, is when God’s Word awakens within our hearts, mind, and soul. “Illumination is when God is able to bring across spiritual truth from His kingdom in such a way that suddenly our minds are in agreement with our spirits” (Wingate 85). Christians shine Light in a dark and sinful world through the truth of God’s Word. We shine God’s light into the hearts of unbelievers and help bring them to a place of faith in God.
II.      STAYING CLOSE TO CHRIST
God loves us, and truly wants a close relationship with us. Just as salt and light can dissolve, we can also as Christians!  I believe that in order for us to stay on fire for God, we need to stay close to Him. Most importantly, we need to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; He needs to be #1 in our lives. He wants us to daily read and study His Word. It is not for His benefit, but ours! God’s Word is a love story to us from Him; it’s an instructional manual on how to live the best possible life that He intended for us, and is a useful tool to fight against the attacks of the enemy! We are to worship Him and pray daily, asking Him for everything, from the big things to the little things. He wants us to go to church as often as we can, as an act of obedience; fellowshipping with other believers and receiving encouragement. When we sin, we should ask for forgiveness and repent immediately as sin breaks the fellowship with Him. And be thankful, giving thanks to Him for everything! He’s the God of life, glory, love, mercy, goodness, grace and hope! Everything He does is good and for our benefit so we should thank Him for it.
III.    WE ARE TO INFLUENCE THE WORLD AS CHRISTIANS
Joyce Meyer says that “All life is tasteless without love. Even acts of generosity done out of obligation, but without sincere love, leave us empty. Love represents the salt; it is the energy and the flavor of our lives” (Meyer 1485).
We serve a great God and we need to fill our lives daily with Him and share His love with others. As a believer, I want God’s love to shine through me. I want my life to be a reflection of who He is and I want people to say, “There’s something different about her!” Since we may be the only Christ some people will ever see, I want to live as God commands me to live in His Word and I want His light to shine through me and make people thirst for Him! 
With the help from Food For The Hungry, the missionaries from Evergreen Christian Center have a 10-year commitment to go. (This is the 3rd year). According to the Food For The Hungry website, it is an organization that “provides life-changing resources such as clean water, medical aid, food, equal educational opportunities to girls and boys, vocational training and empowerment in the midst of unimaginable hardships.” (www.fh.org). With each visit, the relationship with the community gets stronger. My daughter and I were on this year’s trip to Chacalte, Guatemala. The trip lasted 8 days and our time in Chacalte was four.
While in Chacalte, our main purpose was to install water filters in the homes and to put on a vacation bible school for the kids. It was the women that wanted the filters. By installing these filters, we were saying “Yes, we heard your requests, you matter and we care about you!” Normally what the families had to do was boil water on a wood burning stove to get rid of bacteria so that they could drink and use it in their food. During our stay, three groups of at least 5 missionaries went into 15 homes a day to install the water filters. We also showed the families how to use them and clean them.  Each time we finished installing the filters, we prayed with them. When we were finished, they all said the same thing; that they were very grateful for the filters because it would save them a lot of time and firewood.
We also put on a VBS for the kids each day. Our main goal was to teach them how to hear from God. We did this through skits, coloring, worship, and games. We knew that if just one kid understood what we were trying to teach them, that person would go and tell the other kids and their families what they’ve learned. I am pleased to say, several got it and they saw the Light!
IV.      LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE MEN
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Mathew 5:16). I believe this verse is saying that we need to live our lives in such a way that makes people thirsty for God. We want to give the world a taste and glimpse of who Christ is, so as believers, we should strive to do our best to follow His perfect example. They will see how we live our lives, God’s light that we give off; they will see our good deeds, and they will want to also praise and glorify Him who is in heaven.
Fresh water is something that the youngest children of Chacalte don’t think much of. They know when they are thirsty; their mom gives them something to drink. But, to most of the community, the ease of how they now obtain fresh water means a lot. The kids in this village do know that twice a year, a group of missionaries comes to visit and play with them and they feel God’s love! For this community, they don’t have a lot and they are not visited by outsiders often, but the impact of each special visit will live in their hearts for a long time.
CONCLUSION
“Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you,  and behold, I am with you all the days, to the close and consummation of the age” (Mathew 28:19-20).
As Christians, the world is watching us. I want to show the world the love of God and I want to share His goodness and glory. I want people to come to know Him as I do and to have faith in Him. He has said in His Word that we are the salt and light of Him and that is what we truly are. We are called to live as Christ commanded in His word, loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and being led by love for others as He did. We are to stay on fire for Him by staying close to Him. We are called to be Christ-like imitators, letting God’s light shine before others, to influence the world, and to go out into the world as His disciples making new disciples. I want Him to be proud of me and to one day say, “well done you true and faithful servant.” 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

All scriptural quotations are from Meyer, Joyce. The Everyday Life Bible: Containing the Amplified Old Testament and the Amplified New Testament. New York: Faith Words, 2013.

Agnes, Michael. Webster's New World Dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.


Wingate, Douglas. Divine Faith & Miracles. Harrison House Inc, 2012.


Meyer, Joyce. The Everyday Life Bible: Containing the Amplified Old Testament and the Amplified New Testament. New York: Faith Words, 2013.


"Food for the Hungry Works to End Poverty in the World's Hardest Places." Food for the Hungry. Accessed July 25, 2017. https://www.fh.org/about/.




 



















Saturday, October 22, 2016

I had a great 7 mile taper run today, gorgeous day here in Oregon. I'm 1 week until my first ultramarathon in 3 years, a 50K. I have a knee doctor's appointment on Wednesday, a 1 year check up with the surgeon who did my double ACL and meniscus repair. I didn't have to make it, my choice. I do have another story for you, it's personal and a little crazy. I'll try to be brief. I've been a distance runner since 2005 when I ran my first marathon, I ran my first 50K in 2008, first 50 miler in 2010 and first 100 miler in 2012. I was really good at running, the longer the distance the more boastful I became. I mean I could close my eyes and run down the street without tripping or falling. I of course put running before EVERYTHING, even God. When I suffered through depression in 2011-2013, I would remember running being my companion, a friend. I told my husband, "you'll know I'm really bad if I quit running!", but never did. I in fact trained for my first 100, dove myself into it, consumed by it. This was about the time that I started my Facebook page Dare to be Different, an inspirational page that grew to over 26,000 likes. The running and the page were something that I could control when my life seemed to be out of my control. I would even run 25+ miles with the stomach flu, a couple of Redwood trees got my illness. I'd throw up and just keep running, well I felt better! Someone could have criticized my running and I would have been quick to defend. I'd pray when I would be in bed, consumed with emotion and ask God to hold my hand and I would imagine him doing so. I didn't feel like anyone else was comforting me, the kids were too young. I realized that God wanted to be my main source of comfort, even though I had put running above him. His grace and love for me are so good. I mean, He gave me this gift and I put it above him! I'm so sorry. Am I worried about what the doctor might tell me? Nope, God's in control. I'm not worried. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

Monday, October 3, 2016

God help me!



Now to Him Who, by the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] Ephesians 3:20 

Because of God’s great loving grace and mercy, we have been saved (forgiven) and have been united with Christ in the Heavenly realms. God loves us so much that He sent His only son to die for us, saving us from sin so that we would have eternal life. That is love! God is love and He wants us to boldly come near to Him. He wants us to talk to Him about everything. He wants to have a personal relationship with us, wants to be involved in all areas of our lives and wants us to have a happy life and be thankful. 



There are so many people that think they are bothering God if they pray for the little things! They say, “God has more important prayers to answer, He doesn’t care about my little thing!” This is untrue! He created you, loves you and desires to have a relationship with you! 


I pray about everything and with thanks. A while back, I asked God to bless us with one good trip with the girls before they move out of the house. A few months later, my mom called and said she wanted to treat us on a trip! We went to Maui! I pray big, bold prayers. I know that if God doesn’t want me to have something, He won’t give it to me and that’s okay because He truly loves me and knows what is best for me. The timing to receive the gift could also not be right as God’s timing is always perfect and on time.  I can think of many unanswered prayers that I am so thankful for. I've even prayed for God to help me find my keys (okay this is a frequent prayer), I’ve asked help with driving directions, I’ve prayed for safety before riding my bike and help with running. These are just a few examples. One thing that I’m sure my husband will be grateful for is that I have finally learned that giving things to God, things that I want my husband to do (you know, the honey do list?) is better than frequently nagging at my husband and him finally giving in and doing things in anger. I used to say, “It’s not easy nagging, it’s frustrating and a lot of work!” Now, I give it to God and when God wants my husband to do something, he’ll do it and he’ll do a better job because he thinks it’s his idea and wasn’t forced. This also works with being offended by things and hurt feelings. I can just rest in the Lord, knowing all things work out better when they are done in His perfect timing, not mine.


I’ve also prayed several times that He would put a guard over my mouth. I’ve realized that my “honest opinions” are most often negative opinions, that nobody asked for and I definitely need help in controlling my tongue. Listen, we can’t do anything without God, especially not sin! Don’t even get out of bed without praying to God to help you with your day. There's a joke that I heard, it's called The Morning Prayer and it goes something like this: "Dear Lord, So far I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper,
and haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm really glad about that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help." We need Him! Give everything to God and He will be your strength. He will help you! 

He doesn’t want us to only talk to Him when we need something.  God wants to spend time with us. So a lot of times I just sit and think about all the beautiful things that God has created. I’ve been enjoying watching my neighbor’s trees change color this fall season. So every Wednesday, I take a picture and it really is interesting watch God’s handiwork. 


I always want God looking after me. He created me and knows what is best for me.  He loves me and He loves you just the same. If you do not have a personal relationship with Him, say this prayer with me, “Father, because of your great love for the world, you sent your only begotten son to die for our sins. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins. I ask for your forgiveness and I am now willing to turn from my sin. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and that God raised Him from the dead. I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Neighbor's trees





Thursday, September 8, 2016

Living a Life of Boldness



Exiting the lake at my first triathlon

I am panicked. Bodies are everywhere. I can’t breathe. I feel as if I am about to drown and I think, “I can’t do this.” I turn on my back to try to relax; it helps a little until I turn back around and another swimmer almost kicks me in the face! “My Lord, help me!” 10 more strokes I say to myself, just 10 more. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… I see the shore. No, 10 more! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5……I’m out! I peel the zipper of my wetsuit down. I made it! I breathe a sigh of relief. That was the hardest thing that I have ever done! This was my first triathlon in 2014, a sprint. 

When I made the decision to train for my first triathlon, I was terribly afraid of open water swimming. As a child, I had witnessed my beloved dog almost drown in the ocean. Fortunately, my sister (who was a very strong swimmer) saved him. In addition to the terror of almost watching my dog drown, I had seen Jaws several times: not a good thing for someone to watch who didn’t know that sharks were uncommon in the Pacific Ocean and didn’t live in any other body of water. 

I didn’t allow my fear to keep me from my goal. Prior to that first triathlon, I practiced just once in the Willamette with a group and it was initially terrifying. I even screamed when a twig hit my hand. However, I did it! At that first triathlon in 2014, I was very scared, but I came out of the water relieved to be done, proud and thankful. 

God wants us to be confident! Proverbs 3:5 says to Trust in, lean on and be confident in the Lord Jesus with all your heart and mind. So, the next day, I signed up for an Olympic triathlon! I realized that I needed more training in the water. A sprint triathlon had a ½ mile swim, but an Olympic was a mile. I trained for the swim by showing up over the next few weeks with the group practicing in the Willamette and I did get more confident. Now 3 years later, I’ve swum a couple of times at a 2 ½ mile lake event, several triathlons! I feel fear every new season, but one scripture that has always stuck with me is in Isaiah 41:10. Fear not, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. 

Another fearful moment that unsuccessfully attempted to cripple me happened about 4 years ago, I had a bear encounter in Gasquet, Ca. This is the story: I ran on two trails that connected. The first is 3 miles long and the 2nd is more of a fire road that seemed to rarely get used and it went on for many miles. I usually never saw anyone up there and if a car came, they would just wave. The only way back to my car is from the trail. I spent most of my time on the fire road. I’m on a 17 mile run and I'm just about on the trail headed back to my car and I hear a noise in the bushes. (I had heard there were cougars, but had never seen any yet). I heard the noise again and I think, “If I hear the noise one more time, I’m going to stop and see what it is!” This is when I see a large black bear, about ¼ mile away on the fire road! I first pull my body alarm, I now can’t hear, but the bear doesn't even look up! I yell at it and it finally looks up, but starts walking towards me! I keep yelling, I wave my arms and pull the alarm again and it doesn't stop! I walk away from it, but then stop when I was out of its sight. I then walk forward again to see if it's still there, it is and it’s stopped and looking at me. I yell again and it starts walking towards me! I pray for help! I am told to go into the forest, to go around him. Because stomping around in the forest made me louder as I walked by it, I finally see the bear run away to the opposite side of the forest. Because I didn’t want the bear to scare me away from my favorite running spot, I went back up to the exact location where I saw the bear the following weekend.  I’m thankful to say, I never saw another bear while we lived in California.

Romans 5:19 tells us that our choices to obey God’s calling not only affect us but our future generations. In obedience to God, we will impact not only ourselves to the blessings that God has for us, but our obedience will impact others (friends, acquaintances, family) in a positive way. 

When I got the calling to train for and run a marathon, I was watching the marathon runners in the summer Olympics. I said out loud, “I could do that!” A few weeks later, I got an invitation to train for a marathon in the mail after having a beer in the driveway with a neighbor. The seed to run was planted and I just needed to obey and say yes. I did say yes and that decision has changed my life forever. I learned that running is truly a gift that God has given me. Since running that first marathon, I moved on to several 50 milers and a 100 as well as triathlons. My kids have always known me to be an athlete who works hard and motivates others.

Running has taught me patience; it has taught me about hard work, to not allow fear to consume me, self discipline, self respect and strength. What if I had disobeyed and said with doubt, “I don’t think I could train for a marathon; I feel afraid; I don’t even like running and I’m too slow!” Disobedience also impacts everyone around us. Think about the lives around that you have touched because you chose to obey and not allowed fear from holding you back!  

God does not want you to live in bondage to the fear that is holding you back from living your life and your goals. Live in boldness for Jesus. Lay your fears down and ask him to help you. In II Timothy 1:7-8 Paul states that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."

If you feel fear and don’t want it to hold you back from living out your dreams and goals, pray this prayer with me, “Dear Lord, I thank you that you didn’t give me a spirit of fear nor timidity; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me. You are my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in you and I thank you for helping me. I ask that you will strengthen me for I believe that I can do all things through you who strengthens me, in the name of Jesus I pray Amen.” 

Seen on the Gasquet trail
The fire road in Gasquet is actually all uphill until you decide to turn around.


The fire road