Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Liberty and Liberations

So, I had a interesting experience the other day. The last month or so I have been attending a new church. Due to a huge amount of things that I disagreed with in the church in Los Guido, I came to the conclusion that I just couldn't be at peace being a part of that church. Around the same time, Marilyn was going to a new church and needed some motivation to continue going to church so I agreed to go with her. Well, I liked the church and the people there so I have continued going.

Anyways, on Saturday they had a spiritual warfare conference and I decided to attend. At the end of the conference, is when things became uncomfortable for me. The guest speaker began to pray against demonic attacks and people began to fall to the floor and shriek. I was praying the whole time as I was really battling with my feelings on the whole thing. Is this right? Is what is going on here from God? One thing I could tell is that there were some very real things going on and very obvious demonic things going on.

I prayed that it would stop if it wasn't from didn't stop....I continue feeling uncomfortable with the whole idea but decided that I needed to block the activities around me and pray....after all this is about my communion with God and not the others there....that is between them and God.

God told me one thing while I was praying. I told God that I just don't understand and he simply said......that's okay, you don't have to understand. hmmmm interesting. I don't need to over contemplate it.....yes my opinion over the whole thing is fairly conservative but there is one thing that is sure. God is there and he is working in the people of this church. These people DO have a relationship with God so I need to step back and let God do the judging.

Can I worship God amidst this going on? The answer is yes. Will I have alot of questions when I get to heaven? Absolutely. So as I struggle with all of this.....pray for me. There are some things that I won't understand and there will be things that I downright disagree with but what this is really about is my act of worship to God. God sees my heart and he see's their hearts and in his grace he still speaks and works with  us flawed humans even if we don't get it quite right.

Another thing I have been going through is just accepting the expectations of the church culture here in Costa Rica. I struggle with the fact that in order to be a part of a church here there are certain liberties that I must give up that I wouldn't have to give up in Canada. It's hard to surrender to that when you have a stubborn, independant personality like me. I was shocked to learn to what extent the pastor's here have power and how much they are respected.

This is not a bad thing but something rubbed me the wrong way when I was told I would have to ask the pastor for permission for a bunch of things.........permission for what? Hmmm permission to visit another church, permission to be involved in any kind of ministry outside of the church, and if it ever comes up... permission to date someone. Oh yeah.....have I mentioned that when you choose to date someone, that it must be announced in front of the church? Hmmm I think I will just stay single for a long long for me!!!

I was also shocked to find out that I am expected to be at church for every service and that if I don't go that I have to answer to the pastor and give a good enough reason why I wasn't there. Doesn't sound like a big deal right? Well.......I find it tough. So please pray for a more submissive spirit on my part....and that these cultural differences won't make me dwell on the freedoms I had in Canada. I guess its not a big deal to be committed to being at church a minimum of 3 times per week:) I do enjoy it, so I won't let the idea that I have to, change my attitude.

On the bright side, the pastor is a good pastor and trust me......if I am not paying attention in the service......he WILL notice! His eyes pierce your hiding from him!! I keep reminding myself, there is nothing wrong with being held accountable.

******** I know that this blog entry might make some uncomfortable, I did not write it to give an opinion or to discuss theology but just to show a glimpse of my personal experiences and to be honest of my own personal struggles living in another culture and attending a church that is different than what I am used to**********

Monday, October 11, 2010

Last Night

Hey Everyone,

I just thought that I would update with you all that last night I made it through the day without saying anything to Marilyn and that we ended up talking and afterwards she seemed to be in a better mood.
I was still waiting knowing that she still might leave but had a sigh of relief when she asked if I could give her a back massage last night.....(meaning she was planning to be home :)  So she is still here. We had a good talk and prayed together last night.

But please, please continue to pray......the battle is not over. My life with my little sister is very much like a rollercoaster at times and the spiritual attacks go on. Today is a good day......but tomorrow could be different. I'm just taking it a day at a time and continuing to pray against these spiritual attacks. Also pray that God will give me the strength to continue on fighting against these attacks and that he would give me the discernment I need day to day as I interact with her. Thanks so much for the encouraging really helps me to have strength knowing that I am not alone and that people are lifting me up in prayer. I feel loved and blessed by you all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

like a stab in the heart.....

These last two months have been nothing but spiritual attack after spiritual attack.....and in the midst of it all, God's love and presence has given me the strength to make it through. The hard part is that it is not over yet. The intensity of the last month have been exhausting and as I watch my little sister who I love so much "dwindling"over a cliff of major decisions that will affect her instinct wants so bad to run over and not let her fall. But.....I am continually challenged to give her into God's hands and encourage her when the time is right but also at times sit back and not say anything.....realizing that I can't stop her and neither should I be that pulling force all of the time. I am not her savior...God is. Easier said than done.

This ache that I feel for her is also a gift from God. God is the one that called me to love her without holding back.... knowing that at any heart could be broken by the outcome. You see Marilyn doesn't see herself how God see's her and how I see her. She doesn't think much of herself and just doesn't believe that she can live her life differently than her past and differently than her family have lived. There is so much pressure pulling her to do everything that will leave her hurt and empty.

I know that God has connected me to her. When she is going through something, I can feel it in my gut....even when I'm not in her presence.....I just know when something is wrong. I can be enjoying time with friends when all of a sudden I feel something off and my stomach starts to turn. When it happens it is intense. This has been my life the last couple months about 4 times each week. Each time, this is followed by me talking with her for hours, encouraging her and praying. It has been hard but God has just opened up my world to the spiritual battle within her. The worst part is that I feel that Satan is winning despite my prayers and talks with her.

Anyways, I wanted to share this so that you can continue to pray for me.....I need it. This morning is one of those mornings when my stomach is turning. She doesn't know that I know what is going on. You see......she told one of my friends that she is planning to move out today without telling me. I am going to a Thanksgiving dinner tonight...and while I'm there she is planning to leave.Where? with a classmate that is not a Christian and a hardcore partier......which is one of her constant temptations.

 I can imagine how you parents feel. After investing so much time in the last year and pouring my heart into her.....its hard to sit back and watch her go downhill. She is like a little sister to me. The hardest part is that I feel God telling me not to say anything or intervene. My hands are tied. There is always a chance that she will change her mind, that this is a cry for help, manipulation, or that she will just move out, but until tonight......I am sitting here.....absolutely crushed and I can't even show it. I am seeking God and just praying. His will be done and not mine. If she does leave.....I will need God to help me through it.....I know that Satan tries to bring me down with feelings that if she falls that its my fault.....but I do the best I can.....I love with the love that God gives.....and I accept the pain that comes with that sometimes. It's amazing to me how God loves all of us in this way (and even more). I remind myself of God's unconditional love and how he loved his disciples even when he knew they would deny him and betray him. God calls us to love in this way, in a way that is radical and unconditional. Thanks for being prayer warriors for my situation/ministry.