HAPPY NEW YEAR! It is a time of self reflection. What were my goals in 2017? How many of them did I achieve? What are my goals for this year? How will I achieve them? For most of us, our goals probably include improving quality time with God through prayer and reading the Bible, talking to others about Him and encouraging one another in Him. The Bible emphasizes that time is important for us: Ps 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Ps 39:4 Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.
This life He gives us is precious and important. The short span of our lives, amazingly, can have an eternal impact. I am often amazed when I consider how little we may understand about the eternal impact we may have. Take Ruth, for example. Here was a Moabite woman who married a Jew in her own land. Yet, after he died, she remained faithful to her mother-in-law and adopted the God of the Jews. As a result, she was blessed. But, not only that, she became an ancestor of Jesus! (That is an encouragement for us gentiles!) How little we know about the impact our lives may have! But, we all think that it is important to live a life well spent. What does it mean to spend our lives well? Do we want to measure it by fun and excitement? Do we want to measure it by how busy we are? By how rich we become? By whether we complete our “bucket list”? Or, perhaps we want to measure it by how much time we have spent seeking to hear from God and then obeying. Consider Anna, in Luke 2. Here was a woman who had spent most of her life in prayer at the temple, and God had revealed many things to her. She was a prophetess. She was able to speak direction and correction into people’s lives, because she spent her life before Him in prayer and fasting. It doesn’t sound very exciting, maybe, by our American standards, but what an amazing blessing she was given when God revealed to her that the child Jesus who came to the Temple one day was the Messiah! She was a living confirmation that God is true to His Word and to His Plan. And so, her revelations from God were a great encouragement to others. Who knows how many lives were impacted by her wonderful relationship with God?
If we are going to be serious about our goals for this coming year, we must start with prayer, reading the Bible, seeking to hear God’s voice in all situations, and resolving to be obedient to what we believe He tells us. But, there are so many mountains in the way! The attractions and pleasures of this world constantly seek to distract us and to pull us away from that intimacy with our Creator. And right behind that is how these things interfere with our quality time with family and close friends, relationships that are also important to God.
For New Years, Pat and I spent several days with the girls at Casa and one of the things we did was to talk about the mountains in our lives that keep us from reaching goals of value to God. We talked about how exercising a little faith can make all the difference in keeping our focus on the things that are truly important and eternal. Matt 17:20 I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain , 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. We asked the girls to identify the mountains in their lives that kept them from reaching the goal of achieving things of value to God. Sometimes, it can be disappointment–“I tried this last year, but I didn’t make much progress.” Or, it might be depression–“nothing ever turns out right for me.” Or, it might be the typical things that get in the way for teens, like the opposite sex, wanting to appear to be cool to others, and so on. It was a great time of self-examination and faith building. We reminded them that our lives in God’s Kingdom are a partnership between us and Him. He is there at every point to carry us to the next step if we only make ourselves available. At the end of our days together, most of the girls had new resolve, new faith, renewed desire– Isa 40:28-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
That is our prayer for you and for our girls at Casa for this coming year! May God grant our prayers!
This past December, we had our Christmas celebration with our students and their families. This year we had the opportunity to attend each one of the churches we work with and spend some quality time with them; we had an excellent time with each one of them.
This month we invited the youth group from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua from the Church Golgota to share the Scriptures with our students and their families. They prepared two skits with a perfect theme for the upcoming celebration, the birth of Jesus Christ. Their first sketch was performed by three hilarious clowns. The main part of the sketch was, when one of the clowns shared with his clown friend the emptiness he felt inside of him. He mentioned how his life felt hollow. He mentioned, how he had tried everything to fill it, but nothing had worked. His friend, decided to introduce him to someone that had the same problem in the past. The third clown explained to them, that the emptiness couldn’t be filled with food, by drinking, or misbehaving. The only way they could feel complete again was by asking God to come and reign inside of them, to give full control of their lives to him. The clown friend then led all of our students and their families into prayer to ask God for forgiveness and invite him into their lives.
The second sketch was set in a family Christmas celebration. The family received a visit from an angel who told them that Jesus was coming to visit. The family was very excited, because they were expecting Jesus. Through their Christmas dinner, people would come and knock at their door asking for their help, but the owners of the house sent them away because they were expecting God. By the end of the day the family was disappointed because God never arrived; they even cried and asked why he hadn’t shown up. The angel returned to their house and told them that God was each one of persons that needed their help and that they refused to help. This sketch was to remind our families that God is everywhere; and he expects us to show our love to all of his daughters and sons.
These are two important reminders for all of us, since we can easily forget that the answers to any situation in our lives is God. We can also forget what God expect from us, which is to love each other and show his love to everyone. The importance of these topics is even more significant during Christmas, because God became man to save us and show us his love.
This upcoming month our students will be receiving school supplies to prepare them for the second half of the school year. We hope you had a Merry Christmas and that you may have a Happy New Year in the company of your love ones. We know that God will continue to bless you this new year. We are excited to see what God has planned for the Alas de Amor program. We know God will continue to surprise us.
Thank you for your support and your prayers. Pat will be sending out donation letters before the end of the month. May the Lord bless each of you for your faithful giving to this ministry!!
Bere, Jim and Pat