Sunday, August 29, 2004

There Are Times

I was just reading through some of my old poems and wanted to share this one. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes and it is ok to feel that way. But God is always so faithful and He gives us strength to work through these feelings and trials that come our way. He teaches us lessons and helps us to grow if we allow Him to. This poem is an expression of a hard time in my life, but a praise to God for his love and faithfulness to me, and an appreciation for the lessons that I have learned through those times.

There Are Times
Christina L. Castelin
November 25,2003

There are times when I don’t understand
Times when I wonder why
There are times when I question Your will
Times when all I can do is cry

There are times when I want to escape this world
Times when I just feel pain
There are times when I don’t know up from down
Times when I can’t see the sun through all the rain

There are times when the stress becomes too much
Times when I want to give in
There are times when I worry about what to do with my life
Times when I can’t seem to win

But even when the times are rough
I know You’re in control
You take my hand, You walk me through
You breathe new life into my soul

And so I will endure the trials
And learn new lessons each day
Learn to trust, learn to love
Learn to follow Your way

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Beans and Rice...Rice and Beans

Well I am back from my trip and it was wonderful! Although it was very hot in Puerto Rico and we had no A/C, it was a great experience. At the beginning of the trip I felt very discouraged because we were told the children spoke a little English when in fact they didn't. We were supposed to teach Bible lessons to them without an interpreter. It was obvious to me that they were not getting any of it. I started to wonder what my purpose there was. It was revealed to me one night after Jaime shared something with the group. He said that he really felt like we were there in large part to be an encouragement to Juan. Juan is the pastor at the Church of the Brethren where we helped out. Believe me when I tell you he is one of a kind and he loves the Lord! He is an incredible person, full of joy and love for the people of God. His entire life is devoted to God's ministry and God is using him tremendously in P.R. Practically everyone on the island knows him and loves him. And he is always smiling and saying "I love you my friends." He was a blessing to me! But he has said that it gets pretty lonely sometimes and that he knows he is not the "Lone Ranger" anymore. You could tell that us just being there boosted his heart and his spirit to keep on going and serving the Lord. Once I saw my purpose more clearly, it became more enjoyable. It ended up that one night during a service, several kids got saved! It was great! God really taught me a lot about loving people and serving so graciously and humbly by allowing me to meet Juan and get to know him. Oh, and the official food of P.R. is "Beans and rice...Rice and beans" :) We had a lot of it, but at least it did taste good! Thanks for all the prayers- God was with us and blessed us tremendously. And we can praise Him for the new souls that will be with us in Heaven one day!
My devotion tonight was about discipline. And I just want to share a quote that I read. Richard Foster said, "Discipline in and of itself does not make us righteous; it merely places us before God. The God's work." I struggle a lot in this area of being disciplined enough in my time with God. I spend time with him, but it's not always the best quality or most amount of time. God deserves more effort and discipline on my part and I know that. But I just thought that this quote was really cool because it takes the pressure off of us in a sense. We are required to put forth the effort to be disciplined, but we are not responsible for the transformation of our minds and hearts- that is God's job, and I'm so glad it is. I think a lot of times I try to do it in my own effort or think I have to, and it runs me down quickly and I get discouraged. I need to just give him my time and sit before him. He will then take that and his Word and change me and mold me into who he wants me to be. That's exciting! Oh, and last night at Acclimate, the message was on patience, which is what I needed. Maybe I'll share some other time about my struggle with patience lately. God is so good, so loving, so faithful. He deserves all I can give and more!