Friday, May 27, 2011

What is Our Focus as The Church?

As you are probably aware, Pastor Harold Camping predicted the second coming of Christ was going to happen on May 21, at 6 pm, EST.  Based on his interpretation of the Bible. But the Bible clearly says, "36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36) Yes, as Christians it is easy to sit back now and knowingly quote this verse.  But I think of those people in this man's church who went out and sold EVERYTHING they had and spent their money going around promoting the message, "'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'” Matthew 4:17b.

Those were the words of Jesus.  

The second coming of Jesus is not a joke.  And yet, it has become one.  To everyone.  To many very very good Christians.  Here is where I confess that I laughed a lot at some of the comments I have seen. "Worst Rapture EVER!" is one that comes to mind.  Lots of  quotes from R. E. M. (a pretty cool song, I admit  and it gives  you a little glimpse into my before children life. I wasn't in this group, but did perform for years and taught afterwards.) Anyway....

I doubt very much that Mr. Camping's focus was truly on Jesus.  It may have started there, but if he was truly Bible focused, he would have remembered Jesus'  very telling words. The Bible does not hide secrets about the second coming of Christ.  It tells us that very clearly.  So, Jesus was not returning on the 21st of May.  Just as He is not coming in October as Mr. Camping is now predicting because he "misread' or 'misinterpreted' or whatever.

But I think, as Christians we need to remember that Jesus IS coming!  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe sometime yet today.  And it is our job, the only one He gave us,  "19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20a

So, maybe we have a little bit to learn from the members of the congregation of Mr. Camping.  First, to hold our pastors accountable, to not just take what they say as, well, gospel.  To study and  be in our Bibles. (As a pastor's wife, I urge you to do this, remember that your pastor is human!)  And to remember that the people all around us need Jesus! They are not going to come into the church seeking Him, necessarily. We have to go and seek them! It is scary sometimes, but their very lives depend on it. And He promised to be with us, and to give us power that is as great as He had here on earth!  Don't believe me?  Look it up!

Because He Lives,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hanging Out With My Dad

A few weeks ago I was driving to work at the food pantry our church.  I have to pass the local elementary school to get there and it is at the same time that kids are going to school.

This particular day there was some road construction going on a block away from the school so the sidewalk and street was blocked by some heavy machinery.  And I noticed a dad with his daughter on his back.  He carried her that way out into the busy street around the obstruction so that he knew she would be safe.

And I was struck by how much he loved his daughter.  He galloped around so she would laugh.

And then I was struck that this is how God protects and loves me! He holds onto me, carries me around dangers that I am not even aware of and even gallops around just to hear me laugh!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So, Are We Still Stuck on That Hill?

We never did see that mechanic. We were eventually pointed to someone down the road who might be able to help us.  He tinkered about with the engine.  We left.  Headed up the hill.  As we started up the incline, I remember praying.  I told the kids to put on their shoes, they might have to push (silly kids that they are, they did!)  And La Limosina started to slow down.  Jose was gunning it, trying to keep us from rolling back ground.  And I kept looking at the top of the hill. Sloooooowly getting closer.  And I sang and prayed and thought of how great God was.  Because I could feel Him right there.  He was pulling us up over that hill.  Like He so often pulls me up over the hills in my life. 

There was no earthly way we should have gotten up that long hill.  La Limosina didn't have it in her.  And there is no earthly way I should be able to do much of what God has me do.  He has used me in so many ways and just when I have felt I cannot do what He has called me to do, He grabs ahold and reminds me that HE is the one with the power.  Not me, that is for certain.

So, on Holy Spirit power, La Limosina came up over that hill.  After that point, we were lead to a mechanic who fixed that old Toyota van so we could get home.  Just like how I, on Holy Spirit power, can do that things that GOD calls me to. 

How Great is Our God!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

La Limosina

We have many amazing adventures in Cub@. One of which was our mode of transportation. It was this old, rusted out Toyota van that we dubbed La Limosina....I'm guessing a translation is not need.  But a description is.  The is nothing in the dashboard of La Limosina.  No odometer, no speedometer, no radio, no dials, nothing.  Most of the starter is there. That is a good thing.  Within a few minutes of our loading up a storm came over Hav@na.  Not good because, although there was a windshied wiper, there was only one, and it didn't work.  And there wasn't a defroster (or heat or air conditioning for that matter.) So, as it rained the window steamed up and Kevin and Jose had to constantly wipe down the inside of the windshield so Jose could see to drive. No matter how I tried, I couldn't convince Kevin to reach outside and wipe the water off of the outside.

To let you further experience the ambience of La Limosina, you should know that the sliding door on the side fell off if you didn't hold it on when you opened it.  The window on the left side had cracked and actually been sewn back together with wire. There were several holes in the bottom so some of our luggage got pretty wet during our storm (the only time it rained while we were there, by the way.)

We spent our first full day of our trip doing several days in the city and then headed out into the country that evening.  We started out knowing we would be at the house in plenty of time for dinner.  Then we hit the hill.  A really really loooooooooong hill.  And La Limosina started to climb. And the higher she climbed the slower she got.  The adults were all trying to will her to go up the hill.  I think we were leaning forward.  I know we were all praying. 

So, we did what you do in Cub@.  We stopped in a little town at a church were Jose happened to know the pastor and asked if they knew a mechanic.  They did and told us where to find him. So we went looking for the mechanic.  Which was good, but nobody in the neighborhood seemed to know where he lived or who he was.  And very few people have phones so there was no one to call.  So eventually we gave up and went back on the pot-holed highway and started up that loooooong hill once again.

And, you guessed it, the further up the hill we got, the slower we went. Do you ever feel like that in life? Like you struggle up hill all of the time and work so hard and just seem to roll backwards?  And you are praying to God and wondering where He is? Because it sure isn't getting any easier.

So, as we are struggling along, Jose pulls over to the side where there are some men alongside the road. He explains to the what is happening and they offer to call a mechanic they know and we will just need to wait for him to come help us.  Okay.  So we wait.  And we wait.  And we wait.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What It Means to Worship Here

Church in Cub@ means if someone paints "Viva Raul" Or "Viva Fidel" (meaning Long live Raul  or Long live Fidel as in Castr0 the rulers of the Communist party) on the front of your church, you do not have the legal right to remove it. That's right, that graffiti must remain on the front of the Lord's house of worship.

Worship in Cub@ means that, as you are worshiping God, next to you, on the other side of the wall, this one right here beside where you are worshiping

someone is practicing witchcraft and making sacrifices to the devil trying to stop the worship of God.

Worshiping God here means that you are not supposed to not gather in public in groups of more than 14 people without permission of the government.  But they won't sanction a gathering until you reach more than 40 people, but that is illegal. So, technically, there is no way for your church to become legal.

 But God keeps bringing you people. And you worship in groups of 70 and God keeps bringing you more people.  And you continue to worship because it is what you are commanded by God to do. And you are willing to go to jail if it comes right down to it, because you are living out the book of Acts. And how do you say no to God?

I have had some people ask me how you can help.  For right now, I just ask for your prayers.  Yes, there are tangible ways you can help.  And it is desperately needed.  But for now, please pray and I will continue to share what is happening in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Cristo en Cub@.

Kevin& Tonni Jobe, Yamy & Jose Santiago

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Where and What

For the past several years this beautiful island nation is where God has called my husband, Kevin, and I to serve. Now, don't get me wrong, it is not the only place to we are called to serve. We are a pastoral family and serve a congregation that we love very much in a community that has become very dear to us.But that is another entry.

We have been on several mission trips to Cub@. (Before you ask, I use the @ instead of the letter a in Cub@ so that it does not come up in searches. While we go in and out of the country legally, we don't want to cause any issues for our friends and family south of the border.)

Mission trips to Cub@ tend to be different than to other places.  We don't go in and build things. We spend our time encouraging the Christians there. Letting them know that they are not forgotten. They don't get support from the communist government and it is easy to get discouraged. We encourage. We pray. We preach. We bring in medicines that they cannot get in their country. We bring in what we can to equip their ministry.

Kevin and I partner with two pastors who have become our family, Jose and Yamile Santiago.
We, along with our former church,  outfitted their church with electric drums, electric bass, dvd player, percussion instruments, projection system, sound system, Sunday school supplies. And then their denomination pulled them from their church and they had to leave all of these thing behind.

Since then, they have started a new church.  Actually they began this new church in January.  They started with 6 people in what used to be a pig shelter. Now they have over 70 people attending worship and Sunday school, mid week worship and Saturday morning prayer and fasting. They have no sound system. Their only instruments are few handheld percussion instruments. And yet their sacrifice of praise is so genuine." But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
   will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
   I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’” Jonah 2:9 
They sacrifice so much to proclaim the name of Jesus.  More than we here in the United States can even imagine. They really are secluded from the rest of the community. Ridiculed by their peers at school. And yet there is such joy.

So, our calling is to these people.  To help to outfit this church. To help them to reach out to their community for Jesus.  Jovellanos, the city in central Cub@ where they live is the center of a religion called Santaria.  Santaria is a mixture of Catholicism and voodoo. It shrouds the city in darkness. And, being as awesome as God is, He has decided to shine his light in this darkness and create revival where the enemy would have none.

Please be in prayer for us and for these beautiful people.  If you have questions, leave them in the comments.
God Bless You!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making Your Marriage A Priority

Relieving some of the pressure.  For what one of my favorite writers has to say, click here.

I will be posting updates from our recent mission trip soon! It was amazing!

In Christ