Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adonai - Lord and Master

At K-7 this summer the girls leadership gave us some devotion and bible study resources. One of the ones that sounded really interesting to me is called Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur because so many of them said that it really transformed their lives. I went home and bought the book and began going through it. Today I didn't have the opportunity to go to church because we traveled into Panama City for the day, so on the bus ride I spent some time reading the book. God revealed so much to me during that time and I just wanted to share a little bit of what I learned. Lord, I Want to Know You is a study on the names of God. The name that I learned about today was Adonai. Adonai is the Hebrew word for Lord and Master. This, to me, is one of the most significant names that Christians should understand. Viewing God as the Lord and Master of our lives can be a scary and humbling decision. If we truly believe that he is master and put Him as the Lord of our lives it requires obedience and submission on our part.

Kay Arthur said it well, "Many don't mind acknowledging Jesus Christ as a good man or even as a prophet, but they do not want to acknowledge HIm as God. If He is God, then He must be honored as God. Every knee must bow and confess Him Lord to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus' deity and His right to be worshiped as Lord is brought constantly to our attention. And we must make a decision."
I don't know about you but the decision that I want to make is to acknowledge Jesus as God and submit fully to His will. The study goes on to share some scripture.

Luke 14:25-27 "Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple."

Matthew 10: 34-40 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I am to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a mans enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."

I have heard and memorized those verses in the past but today they spoke to me more than before. I was really challenged to make sure my heart is fully devoted to the Lord, Adonai. It's so easy to run to those in your life who are there and can show their love faster and easier. I realized that I am often guilty of loving my family before God. It is so essential to run to Him with ALL of your troubles and desires FIRST, but sometimes the selfishness in me wants that instant gratification from a physical presence. God says, if we love our father or mother more than him we are not worthy of He wants the first fruits and the whole entirety of our hearts, everything we have to give. We are called to carry our cross and follow Him. Carrying our cross is an act of submission, just as Jesus carried His cross and paid the penalty for our sins in submission to God's will, we owe the same to Him. God blessed me this morning by speaking to my heart and opening my eyes to reveal more of Himself to me.

I had a lot of fun today in Panama City. It was a nice break to get out of the vastness of the rainforest and see Panamanian people. We took a painted school bus from Gamboa to the city for 65 cents, a fun way to get there! We spent half of the day in Cinco de Mayo plaza exploring the city and getting a feel for the area. I had some 75 cent ice cream, yum! We walked along a long strip of building where they had food and all kinds of department stores that blasted cold air into the street through open doors. I am definitely not used to all the attention from guys that we got. I knew it would be like that but it's always awkward when you walk down a street and you see 10 heads turn towards you and yell in your direction. The way men treat women sure is different than what I expect! I found a few bracelets and fun things in the market as well. It reminded me of the market in Ecuador this summer with similar items that had their own Panamanian spin to them. We also took a bus to Albrook Mall for the rest of the day. It was a very large mall with a lot of things to see, and I got to have pizza for lunch :) After meandering around for a few hours we hopped on the crowded bus home. It was so full we were all sitting on each others laps, it reminded me of crowded disney world buses. We ended up sitting by a bunch of guys our age who are training to be police men. We had an interesting conversation with them in half spanish half english and learned a little about what their lives are like in Panama. It was good to get some interaction with people outside of our GALA bubble.

Tomorrow is our first exam so I'm off to go study...hopefully....

Love, Shelby

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Called For a Purpose

Panama: Day 5.

Things are getting more comfortable here as we all get to know each other and get the feel for class expectations and routine.
It's a pretty laid back atmosphere in Gamboa. We have been taking a lot of hikes into the rainforest and learning about tropical ecosystems, biodiversity, species adaptation, evolution, and mammals. Evolution is an interesting one for me. It's not that I don't see where plants and animals can evolve and adapt to their surroundings, I do and that probably did happen some but WE did NOT evolve from anything. Humans were created in God's image to fulfill a purpose. We are called to share the word and bring disciples to Jesus. We are called to love and serve others before ourselves. We are called to do God's will and follow his path for our lives. It hurts me to know that people believe that we as humans, God's most precious and amazing creation, have evolved from apes and just exist because of a mechanism that had nothing to do with God or any sort of creator. But anyway, it has been really cool to learn more about evolution and find the holes in it. For one thing it has made me more passionate about being able to defend my faith and really learn about apologetics. We have had some really interesting lectures and I have enjoyed stretching my brain to see both viewpoints and perspectives.

Today we took a field trip to summit zoo and got to explore the exhibits there. The zoo had a lot of land but not as many animals as a zoo in America would. My favorite thing that we saw were the monkeys. There are so many different kinds of monkeys in Panama and they are just so curious and cute and I really enjoy watching them interact with each other. We also got to see a tapir, ocelote, crocodile and various birds. I had fun walking around and getting to know some of the girls in my group better. After the zoo we took another hike into a the rainforest but this time there was a beautiful stream that flowed by the trial. The water was cloudy which really surprised me but apparently thats what the water looks like in the rainy season here. There were a few waterfalls too and I really wanted to jump in the water but we didn't have the chance.

The food here is good and we have a chef that cooks three meals a day for us. There is rice at almost every meal. We have had chicken, beef, and some other meats. We have a lot of salad and vegetables with interesting flavors mixed into them or added to them. I like when they fry plantains for us or make fries out of them. We'll see how long it takes me to really start missing American food. So far I've been able to have soda from the local tienda which has been fulfilling my craving :)

Well that's it for now. Thanks always for everyone who is praying for me and being so loving. I love you all!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Mercy Comes With the Morning

Well I'm here. Gamboa, Panama. It's been one full day and I have already experienced some extreme highs and lows. I have always been the type of person that thrives in comfort. Like most, I like to know that I am loved and cared for. Meaningful relationships are really important to me and when I don't have that it scares the heck out of me. Obviously, when you are meeting a whole new group of people those relationships aren't going to be established yet. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed with the fact that I was in a completely new place, a different country, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, and unaware of the schedule or flow of our trip. However, the Lord is so faithful and continues to provide for me through it all. I am humbled to be able to experience this kind of challenge so that I may be more like Jesus. He has already answered my prayers for encouragement and knowing that everything will be alright. I really do have amazing friends and family. Whenever I am in need of some love or just a listening ear they are always there to pick me up and be my rock.

I have been learning lately to take things one day at a time and dwell in the new hope and beginning that each morning brings. On the plane here as I was seeking some hope and direction from God I was listening to Brooke Fraser and this song really stuck out to me. She sings:

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me

When I woke up this morning that was exactly how I felt. As I wrote in my prayer journal in the light of a new day I felt refreshed and appreciative of God's mercy and creation. I had a peace about being abroad that everything was going to be ok and hope in the Lord's promises and faithfulness. I still would not say that I am completely at ease or comfortable yet, but I know that will come with time.

So anyway, enough about how I am feeling. I'll share some of the things I have done and what it's like here in Panama. We are staying at STRI (smithsonian tropical research institute). It's air conditioned (thank goodness) and actually a pretty nice place. I have my own bed and closet area in a large room with six other girls. We have our bathroom, kitchen, rooms, and living area all in the same building which is nice as well.

This morning we had an orientation to the three weeks that we are here and went through our itinerary. It will definitely be an outdoorsy part of our adventure but after being at camp for six weeks sweating is like breathing to me. The course we are taking is Environmental Biology taught by Dr. Salsbury. This morning we took a walking tour of Gamboa and got the lay of the land. It is very tropical but also has a neighborhood feeling to it. We had a break for lunch and I squeezed a much needed nap into that time. Then we were off to our more strenuous hike of the day up to a beautiful, above the canopy view of the area. It was a hot and sweaty and very steep hike but it only took us about an hour to get to the top. Dr. S. said the tourists usually take a gondola up but we got to do it the fun local way. The bugs really aren't too bad yet and I'm hoping it stays that way. At the top of the viewing area we got to see the Panama canal and gorgeous views of Gamboa. It was fun to see it from a bird's eye view. Tomorrow we have some lectures and another forest hike planned.
Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me and showing your love from miles away, I really appreciate it. I'll be thinking about you guys and praying for you as well :)


Friday, August 13, 2010

Counting My Blessings

God first, others second, I'm third. What a simple sentence but something so difficult to really live out. The I'm third lifestyle is something that we strive for at Kanakuk. I wonder what the world would be like if everyone took the same approach. Looking back at my experience working as a counselor at K-7 this summer I am truly amazed at the growth that I have experienced and everything that God allowed me to be a part of. I now understand what it means to put myself third when it is the last thing I want to do.

As I write this and reflect on the last 6 weeks I have spent loving on kids, having a kingdom mindset, being uncomfortable, annoyed, tested, and blessed beyond belief I can't do anything but praise the amazing God that I serve. I pray that my friends and family will see the change in me that I truly feel. There are so many pieces to the puzzle of camp growth that I have experienced but I think one major piece has come from disciplining myself to spend daily quiet time with the Lord. Some mornings I would wake up at 6:15 asking God, how can I do this again? I'm exhausted, drained, and unmotivated. The last thing I want to do right now is clean for tip top teepee and teach a class in the blazing hot sun. But day after day the Lord was so faithful and taught me that I need to find my joy in Him. Life isn't easy. It's a daily choice to be joyful and love the ones who seem unlovable.

I read Romans this summer and my co-counselor, Lyndsie, and we were convicted by Romans 12 and began to memorize what it tells us. Romans 12:9-12 talks about what unconditional love means.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need.
I think love is something that our culture has commercialized and most people don't really understand the meaning of the word anymore. I am as guilty of it as anyone. I walk around telling my friends love you without even thinking twice about it. But am I really loving them like God calls me to? Is my love sincere, and honoring them above myself? Probably not. I had the opportunity to show that unconditional love that God so badly wants us to give, to my kampers this summer. God taught me that I tend to love conditionally, when I want to and when it is easy. But that is not what He calls me to do. I need to love those girls, the people in my life who frustrate me the most, with the same care as I do my best friends and family. Romans goes on to say, never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Zeal: readiness, eagerness, prompt willingness to spread the gospel. I want to be zealous in all aspects of my life. Ready and eager to share the message of hope, joy, forgiveness, and peace that Jesus brings. And then we read be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Joyful in the hope that the Lord is always with us and has a plan beyond our wildest dreams. Patient through the trials and bumps and bruises that we experience constantly. Faithful in our prayers so that we may know the Lord better and understand who He really is.

I am so grateful that I got to taste what it will be like to be a parent. Being responsible for 12 eight and nine year olds opened my eyes to a world of serving and loving like I never have before. God humbled me and revealed my selfish nature as he showed me how often I am impatient and think only of my needs. At kamp there wasn't enough time in the day to think about me. The Lord began to remold my thinking and gradually transformed my thoughts and prayers from myself to others. He also revealed to me the power of prayer and the importance of intentional prayer. Keith Chancy, the director of K-7, asked the staff, if God answered all of your prayers right now would you even know? His statement really took me back and challenged me to rethink my prayer life. Praying aloud with Lyndsie and other staff as well as writing in my prayer journal changed my prayer life into something much more intentional and memorable. I was able to see God work and answer our prayers in a tangible way.

I could write for hours about what I learned at Kanakuk this summer but this is just a snapshot of my adventure in Lampe, MO. Now it's time to refocus my mind towards another opportunity that God has allowed me to have. Eight days from now I will be on a plane to Panama to spend 12 weeks in Latin America studying abroad. I'm not going to lie, I am a little anxious. I just got home and I am not ready to leave again and journey to a foreign place. But when am I ever ready? I titled this blog I will go because I know God opened this door for me and planned it in His timing. I am ready and willing to serve him as I venture again into unfamiliar territory. I will write along the way and continue to share how God is working in my life and everything that He is allowing me to experience. This will be another chance for me to lean on Him and trust in His plan.

Until next time.