Friday, March 23, 2012


But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.  (Matt. 6:6)
When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting—only your Father, who is unseen, will know.  And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.   (Matt. 6:17-18)
I never saw it before.  The Father, who is unseen. 
I started thinking about why it mattered to say that the Father was unseen in this teaching.  Obviously, we know that we don’t see God all the time.  Given.   So why does it matter so much in this passage?
Jesus is teaching about things he wants us to do in secret:  giving, praying, fasting.  They are disciplines that Jesus wants us to keep under wraps-so that even our best friends don’t know what we are doing.  Why does it matter so much?
As I reflected on this, I realized all the blessings that fill my life daily, carefully planned out by my unseen Father, that go unnoticed.  How many times has the Father snuck into my life to throw me a little (or huge!) blessing, and I went on my way, completely oblivious?  The right door opens up for a job opportunity, a word of encouragement from a friend just in time, a little extra cash in a really tight month that comes from an unexpected source,  a trip to the doctor’s that “accidentally” finds something they weren’t even looking for that is in the early stages of developing instead of the last…..there are unseen blessings everywhere that reflect the unseen Father.  Unnoticed.  Undetected.  Overlooked.
And so it seems that Jesus is telling us that we should try to do things the way the Father who is unseen does things.  It might be an anonymous detail that touches the heart, or even something huge and costly that absolutely no one knows about.
It feels like He just wants us to walk a mile or two at His side.  To understand for a moment what it means to do something that brings us nothing except His pleasure-to totally erase the flesh factor from an act of devotion.  We religious types can get confused as to why we even started down this road.  The flesh can learn to masquerade as ministry with a little practice.  So in some of the most flesh-costly acts—prayer, fasting, and giving—He asks us to just out-and-out kill any possibility of getting a kick-back to our ego or reputation.  Don’t even put it on the books.  Slide the money into the basket in a blank envelope.  Don’t explain to anyone why you have to get up at 5 or 6. 
I personally have a long way to go on this one.  I think I need Unseen 101, the remedial track, so don’t call me for advice on how to live this one out.  And I know there are those of you who are out there who are really good at this, but you won’t say anything.  You’ll just smile and move along.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bakersfield First Assembly Missions Team

A missions team from Bakersfield First Assembly came down and worked in the Catacaos, Piura, heat to raise the walls of a new high school and bring healing to sick families. Thanks to all of them for joining us in the mission of spreading the good news of Jesus to Peru and blessing the poor through Latin America ChildCare.

Please click the link to see photos of the team: Bakersfield First Assembly Missions team

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dancing the Marinera

While the Bakersfield First Assembly team was working in Catacaos (a suburb of Piura, Peru), the pastor asked two individuals show us the Marinera. It is a traditional dance from that region and is supposed to be two chickens courting. I love it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Severe Pruning

Our journey into missions started with a bang!  We had prophetic words from God, incredible excitement, great vision deep in our hearts, and an assurance that God was up to something big!
We had no idea what we had just stepped into.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I can tell you this--- I was not prepared for the gut-wrenching trial that we were about to step into.  We went through relational trials, legal trials, relational trials….did I mention relational trials?  I loved our new world, and at the same time, I feared it, that it would take me out before our adventure had even had a chance to take root.  Never in my life had I undergone what I will call such a severe pruning.  The kind of pruning where you look at the bush you just hacked and wonder if it can survive with so few leaves left.  
We landed back in the States like people jumping off a train—still rolling, rolling, rolling.  You stop a second to ask yourself if you can get up or if you need to wait for the ambulance.  You find that, yes, you can get up, and you start doing normal things.  I painted the house for two months straight.  I was very, very happy to just paint the house, if you know what I mean. 
We came back to Lima, not sure how we would be there.  We got settled in, and things felt pretty good.  It felt pretty normal.  Bill and I both started pressing in to the Lord, finding that place with Him that is the bedrock of everything that we build—just a place of communion.  I started praying in the Spirit a lot.  I started seeing branches sprouting on my little bush of a life, and before I knew it, I felt good.  Really good.
Severe pruning over.  Thank God it is over!!
But I will tell you, that as scary as it was for me, as deeply pained as I felt, I can tell you that the branches that are growing back are thicker and healthier than I have ever seen on my little bush.  When all my precious leaves were taken from me, and I sat barren for what seemed like such an unbearable time, wondering if I would ever be the same again, something was happening deep inside of me.  In the middle of excruciating pain, we can quote the passages of hope, but we don’t usually feel them.  It takes such a long time, but one day, it is there.  It is over, and we are not the same.  We are better.  We weren’t sure we would even survive, but there it is.  Buds are everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!!!  THANK GOD, THANK GOD!!!  EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!
I am so thankful to my God the Gardener,  who watered my little bush faithfully, put some manure down in the right season, and waited patiently for his work to be seen.