Thursday October 22
Well Steve left tonight, so I’m all alone. I’m super glad for his presence and his friendship over the past 3 months. Having someone close to my age that I could talk with encouraged me greatly. We made sure we made more peanut butter (and experimenting with chocolate peanut butter), had a picnic with Sagares, Melissa, & the kids at the waterfall, and getting all the nostalgic brazilian things out of the way. I’ll never forget Steve and I hope to see him next year at the ARC conference.
I've been working on art lately as James has asked me to illustrate his upcoming book. I love art but I've never done anything like this before especially for one of the biggest christian publishing companies in Brazil. I'm doing a small sketch for each of the chapters and the cover. Not being a professional, I'm a little stressed out although my drawings so far have received praise from both James (a very critical person) and my sister Katina who just received her degree in art. This was a huge confidence booster and I think it'll work out with a lot of help from God. I'm so thankful that God is using me here in Brazil for so much more than just physical labour.
We had our last night hanging out with James. The things that come out of his mouth and life never cease to amaze me. There were a ton of different topics that we covered including relationships, finances, community, miracles, and, last and probably least, cheetos and cake.
He told us all about how God provided money for him to go to the Amazon when he was broke before leaving and how he received so much that he was able to bless many people along the way.
He explained the one thing that saved his life and his marriage. That is that no one knows better what they need to be loved than that person. All anyone has to do is ask, “What do I need to do to make you feel loved? How do you need me to love you?” If you’re serious about keeping the relationship, you will do anything and everything that comes out of that person’s mouth. He hasn’t had a significant argument with his wife in over 4 years. Another thing that is necessary in loving people that will change relationships and make them perfect is asking God to give an anointing that allows you to love others as God loves them, as the author of love would love someone. If you do this with all your mind, body, and strength, you may get the same results as James. Both his wife and his daughter told him the same thing separate from each other and that was this, “You are like how I picture Jesus. When I talk to you or am with you I feel as though I’m with him.” Wow... If I got that kind of compliment from anyone I would be set for compliments for life just because I know that I could never match up to Jesus and neither can James match up to him either. But it is God who is working through us. We just have to give him the permission. Out of these principles stemmed many more related philosophies about relationships with God at the center.
I feel like I’m called to bring community and church like the early christian church to Colorado. I want to live fully for Jesus and follow his commands exactly so that I can become a living testimony of his goodness. I want to bless others and explore God’s eternity with others at my side. A community of people who are willing to give to anyone in that community who is in need. An accountable, completely honest community dedicated to seeking God and spreading his love. Who knows. Maybe I hold off on college to help out at church and seek the Lord. Maybe I’ll hold off on college for a long time until god opens the doors because my priorities are different and i don’t want to go to college to ultimately get a day to day job. My priorities are expanding the kingdom and seeking God first. If god wills me to go to college and earn a lot of money to bless others than so be it. Or if God wants me to be an apostle who suffers and is persecuted for the faith, then so be it. How can I argue with the one that shaped me? (Though I'm fairly certain that more education is in my future) I don’t want to spend my life living mediocrely. I want to live it with a passion at whatever I do. I don’t want to spend it listening to the law and rules of man, but of the law and the spirit of God, the only authority. If I can do this faithfully I have no doubt that God will make himself present through his glory.
Sometimes I think the modern day church is missing out on many of God’s miracles and glory because we have secularized christianity. We have our bank accounts and save money for the future (which is not bad), but we rely on them instead of God to fulfill us daily as he promises in the Bible. In America all christians seem anxious about money and our security when God promises that he will provide for us. Now he never said we would be living luxuriously. It would be wrong when others are in need and do not have their basic interests met and sometimes that means a sacrifice on our part (Philipians 2). The lord is a faithful giver to those who choose to put their faith in him and obey. James cannot count the times that he has been struggling for money and miraculously the money came from out of the blue. One time he couldn’t pay a bill and he gave it to God as his problem because God said he would take care of them and the next day either a boy and his father that he had never known before came to his door and gave him 200 reis, or someone wanted to practice generosity and gave him another 200 reis, or more money showed up is his mailbox seemingly from no one. This is all a result of James obedience to God that these things happen. Now I don't think this is God's calling for everyone to live like he does, but everyone else has to realize that the money they have is not theirs, but God's. I was reading in Joshua about the Israelites crossing the Jordan and taking over the cities. God made a covenant with them saying that he would give the cities into the Israelites hands if they didn't take any of the riches for themselves, but rather gave them to God. One man took the riches for himself and Israel could not take city. One man, because of his greed, caused the Lord to turn his back on an entire nation of his followers allowing some of them to be killed. Once Joshua found out, he killed the man and burned the riches he stole, for they never were his. After this the Israelites were able to take the city using a strategy that fooled Ai into thinking that the Israelites were fleeing, like the last time, but really had an ambush waiting for them. So the disobedience of one person, taking money for himself and not realizing it is God's, can ruin God's perfect plan, though God uses the mistakes for his plan.
I don’t care if the living is hard financially, because I know God will take care of his followers. Though James can’t afford to build his house to give his children separate rooms, he still lives a fulfilled life full of adventure and has complete trust in God that he will provide. And if that wasn’t enough, we still have rewards in heaven. If we have an eternal perspective, our problems right now seem like a speck compared to a mountain of God’s glory. The speck will be forgotten. So what if we suffer a little right now. It will be completely worth it in eternity. I couldn’t be more sure of what I write right now and I can’t wait to try it out. actually i already have. My dad gave me 500 extra dollars into my bank account this month. i didn’t need all the money to pay sagares for my part of the month and I made sure I had enough for myself. I had excess but I knew he was in need so I gave a little extra to help out and he was blessed! He had prayed the night before that God would send some money. I didn’t necessarily feel called to give money to Sagares. The early christians gave freely because Jesus said to freely give. We don’t need to feel led to give to those in need. If we have extra, our natural instinct as part of our survival instinct as humans is to horde it for later. But when we go against our nature to do good in Jesus name, we prove God’s goodness and glory by his love through us.
All this revelation is an answer to many prayers. I know I am new to this kind of living and maybe my views are a little naive, so please forgive me if I seem inexperienced because I am. None-the-less, I have never felt more sure of my God and what he is capable of before in my life than I do now. Thank you.
P.S. Just letting you all know that I will be traveling for the next two weeks, more or less, with James to Uberlandia (coolest name for a city ever) and Macapa. He will be ministering and I have the privilege of playing drums with him. Prayers are welcome because the roads are infamously dangerous on the way and where I will be going in Macapa is right on the equator so the heat will be more intense than in the Amazon.