don’t be offended when they don’t believe

So I had a good learning experience today.

I was sitting at a coffee shop with my friend from class here in Costa Rica.  We did our spanish homework, and I finished mine before him so I began to read the bible.  This lead the conversation into a really fun place, as he literally asked the question, “What is this name to you, Jesus?”  It also led to places like, “Do you think things are in your path because of destiny or chance?”  Both valid questions.  I began to answer the questions, in spanish of course, only to be greeting by the response of laughter or mockery when I would say things like, “Jesus died so that we could be saved and know Him in a real way,” or “He’s a real man sitting on a throne in Heaven.”

My first reaction was to become offended.  Why is this guy (who I really do like and have spent about a month with thus far) mocking the very Person in which I base my entire existance?  But then I stopped, and looked at the story from his perspective.  How can a man who has not received the grace to believe in such a stumbling block as Christ (1 Cor. 1) be expected to just snap into the realization of His need for a savior?  Only the Holy Spirit can do it.  So I trudged on through the difficult work of telling a man the things most dear to my heart, knowing that disbelief and mockery were around the corner. 

This left me in a weird place.  I could now just agree to disagree, or I could really pour my heart out a bit further.  I could choose the easy way for my flesh and say, “listen man, we really just have different opinions and that is totally okay,” or I could choose an option a bit more vulnerable and bold, and say, “I have to tell you what I believe out of love for you.  I really believe that eternal life with Jesus is available for you with all of my heart.  You can so easily choose it, and His yoke is easy.  However I also believe He’s a real man who is coming back to bring judgement upon those who don’t choose Him and restore the earth to be free from sin.”  I chose the latter.  I told him this in love from my heart, and I only hope that the seeds that I trust Jesus planted will grow in his heart.

Oh, and in case you were worried, we left the conversation on a really good note, and will continue hanging out daily.  Haha.

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scripture that keeps me on track in the wilderness.

There are a lot of verses that I have been meditating on in this season to attempt to walk in the fullness of what God has for my life while I am here in Costa Rica.  A lot of them are from Proverbs, and I am finding more every day, but I just wanted to put them out here so that they can encourage anyone else who is in a similar season as myself–one of intense prayer, trust, and communion with Jesus.  This time in my life is the most barren I’ve ever been, but I believe it is because the Lord is stripping me down to build me back up stronger, and more fortified in Him.  I praise Him for the faithfulness He has already shown me in this season, and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for me.  I hope this scripture encourages you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“Be not wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your flesh,

and refreshment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:7-8

 

“My son, do not lose sight of these–

keep sound wisdom and discretion

and they will be life for your soul

and adornment for your neck.

Then you will walk on your way securely,

and your foot will not stumble.

If you lie down, you will not be afraid;

when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” – Proverbs 3:21-24

 

“A wicked person earns deceptive wages,

but the one who sows in righteousness reaps a SURE REWARD.”

-Proverbs 11:18

 

And a quote from a song by Rachel Culver found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svuaVpC_iBM

“So for now I will keep trusting,

I’ll keep holding on to You.

I’ll believe the way

that You’re leading me is good.

You’re so faithful, You’re so kind.”

 

And some more of Proverbs:

 

“In the way of righteousness there is life;

along that path is immortality.” – Proverbs 12

 

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and He will establish your plans.”  – Proverbs 16:3

 

“When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,

He causes their enemies to make peace with them.”

– Proverbs 16:7

 

“The highway of the upright avoids evil;

those who guard their ways preserve their life.” – Proverbs 16:17

 

“There is a way that appears to be right,

but in the end it leads to death.” -Proverbs 16:25

 

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,

keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” – Proverbs 15:3

“For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

some lists to share my thoughts with you.

things I really like in Costa Rica

  • going to sleep early, waking up with the sun.
  • eating three wonderful meals a day with the following components
    • fruit
    • vegetables
    • meat
    • rice
    • beans
    • rice
    • beans
    • rice
    • beans
    • juice.
  • being able to practice my spanish everywhere, all the time
  • the immense amount of time I have to talk to Jesus every day.
  • being out of my comfort zone, and having to trust in the Lord for every little step along my path.
  • having a mom who loves to wash my laundry, make wonderful meals, and tell me to be safe everytime I leave the house.
  • being able to sow into the next season in prayer.
  • finding a new interesting place to go everytime I leave the house
  • being able to say that I lived in Costa Rica for two months.
  • being able to survive living in Costa Rica for two months.
  • the beautiful mornings and nights here
  • how every older person with whom I talk is extremely nice and caring (minus the bus drivers) haha
  • that I know Jesus has planned for me to be here, and is using it for His glory
  • that I have eaten a pack of Skittles almost every day…
  • rice, and beans
  • that I flew over a rainforest on a zipline
  • that my insides haven’t completely exploded from change in diet—yet
  • that I have seen more diverse wildlife than I will ever see back home
  • that I seem to have forgotten that I am a picky eater
  • that I have become a person who writes—a lot
  • that I have become a man who prays—a lot, lot
  • that I have made new friends
  • that I have a family that I can come visit any time
  • I can feel God building my foundation deeper, daily
  • that I don’t care what I look like, thus I’m growing the narstiest beard I’ve ever seen
  • watching TV with my host dad
  • helping to teach my little host sister english
  • looking forward to having a new adventure every day
  • sharing the little thoughts and fun things I think about with Jesus because I don’t have anyone else to share them with… 🙂 that’s been really good.

things I don’t really enjoy about Costa Rica

  • my shoes and pants getting soaked everyday on the way home
  • feeling like i’m out of place almost everywhere I go
  • not being able to really fully express myself with the vocabulary I have now (almost!)
  • not having the familiar fellowship of my friends at home
  • not being able to break out in song in the comfort of my bedroom
  • the fact that most girls in Costa Rica have never, ever heard of modesty
  • that there are at least 4 dogs barking directly outside of my window at all times
  • that I have been asked for money at least once daily
  • the fact that I still cannot figure out the bus system fully
  • still feeling a bit awkward every time I get on a bus
  • missing Jacy…
  • that I wake up with a few new bugbites every morning.
  • that I can’t go outside and look at the stars without fearing getting mugged.
  •  seriously, freakin dogs.

things I am looking forward to

  • coming home to live with two awesome guys, Nic and Wayne
  • coming home to my wonderful girlfriend
  • seeing the progress that I make with Jesus 
  • seeing the progress that I make with spanish
  • the rest of my time here
  • being faithful to what I’ve been called to do 

in all honesty, I am so happy I am here.  I am so happy I get to do what Jesus has guided me to do this summer.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.

A Long Post from a Long Way South. Costa Rica.

The view from my home

 

Today marks the second week I have been here in San José. I thought it would be fitting to make a fairly lengthy and super informative post about my time this far in Costa Rica, and what I am expecting for the rest of my time here.  Although, here is a disclaimer for those of you who may not know me too well…, this post is going to be very “Christian”, so if that throws you off a little, don’t let it, because Jesus loves you. 🙂 and would really like to have your love in return!  Okay, now that I got that out there….brace yourselves, this is gonna be a long post.

I AM LOVING COSTA RICA!


mostly. 

Okay, where do I even start.  Let’s go through a normal day in the life of Dakota.


In the morning, I wake up around 6:00 am.  I would let this fact disturb me if it weren’t for the fact that it seems like the entire world was already up at 5 with the sun.  The dogs next door and the birds outside the window most certainly were.  I then try to master the shower situation (which, for me, is either skin scorchingly hot or ice cube cold).  After this, I mosey my way out to the kitchen where my host mom (who is one of the most amazing people I have met) has prepared for me a breakfast of eggs, ham, toast, and the freshest fruit I’ve ever had.  This morning was watermelon, tomorrow might be mango.  I leave the house and walk down the beautiful lane to a street where I catch the bus to head over to campus.


the lane to my house

I’ll take this time to describe the city life here in San José.  Crime is an issue, as with most larger cities, but the way it is handled here is quite different.  Every house I have seen here has a “porton”, which translates loosely to gate.  It is a heavily locked metal door that reminds you of a jail cell, or those big walls they pull over shops in the mall when they’re closed.  Inside of the porton is either a yard, or in my family’s case a small porch, with another door leading into the house.  As far as I know, the neighborhood in which I live is fairly safe, but there is not really a “safe” part of this city for a “Gringo” (white person, foreigner).  That being said, everywhere I go in the city I have to make sure that I guard my belongings and move fairly swiftly.  The least I can look like a tourist the better, as the people here know that the tourists have the money.  I keep thinking that in the future, if I am ever married, I probably wouldn’t choose to bring my wife here if I could avoid it.  From catcalls to just blatant staring, men definitely enjoy to make a gringa woman feel a little uncomfortable.  No me gusta.

I don’t mean to put a bad spin on Costa Rica, or San Jose for that matter, but the facts are that there are not many white people who live here.   However, there are a lot who visit here for vacation.  That means that the general idea of a white person here is a rich, spoiled, uninformed person.  The people who I have encountered here in San Jose have given me a lot of reason to be on their side on this issue, as I have had to repeat many times to people who ask that I actually have a job in America, and that I work to pay for my things.  It’s actually pretty funny, the stereotypes that are set forth.  Sadly, a lot of them are true.

OKAY… back to my day.  I hop on my bus labeled “Cedros” (the small street/neighborhood in which I live).  I pay my bus fare of 250 colones, or about 50 cents.  I find a seat and brace myself as bus transportation is something that would probably make my grandmother cry.  Bumpy, scary, and unsure is how I felt for the first week on a bus, and now I can’t help but laugh when I see some of the moves my bus driver pulls.  A cool story, one morning there was an old man playing classical guitar and singing on my bus, and he was so talented that I couldn’t pass up giving him money.  I wish I would have recorded it.  

I hop off the bus at the stop for the university, and navigate myself to the Casa de Idiomas for my 4 hour class of Spanish tought by a graduate student here at the University of Costa Rica.  The class is mostly a review grammatically for me, but it is very challenging to learn to understand and speak the language efficiently.  I am getting very close, thankfully. 

After class, friends and I usually find a local place to eat.  There are many, many restaurants here and all of them are affordable.  I spend 4 dollars for a pretty good sized pizza, three toppings, and a drink the other day.  Find me a place in USA where that happens :).

Walking around the city is a strange feeling, because there is so much that is new to me each and every day.  It is strange feeling the glances that I catch from all of the people here only because I am most definitely a minority.  It isn’t a bad thing, it is just very different for me.  The building on the street are usually a little worse looking than a normal building in the States, but that isn’t to say that the company isn’t doing well.  In my experience so far, some of the most run down places have the best products and food.  It’s strange.  I really enjoy seeing how the buildings are built.  They are all scrunched together, with tin roofs, because it rains just about every afternoon here in San Jose, like clockwork.  The traffic here is really dangerous, as I feel scared crossing the street most of the time.  Pedestrians don’t have the right of way.  Cars don’t have the right of way.  If you’re stopped at a red light people will honk at you to go.  It’s loco.  Haha.  I then catch a bus and head home for the day.

Upon returning home, I have a lot of time to reflect on my day, do my homework, watch television with my host family, and eat a dinner that is tasty and usually consists of rice, beans, and a meat of some kind.  (I am definitely not complaining about the food, I love it so much.)  I usually relax and watch the rain for a while.  I really enjoy my room and I am thankful that I live with a very nice family and that I feel very safe in the house.


Okay, stuff is gonna get a little spiritual now. 🙂

Coming into this season,  I had a pretty clear word from the Lord that it would be a time different from what I have experienced in the past.  I knew that it would be similar to Jesus’ time in the wilderness (thanks Andrew Whalen for that word), and that it would be a time to really find out who I am in the presence of God without leaning onto anyone else for support. 

Yeah, that is all happening.

The first week here I an immense amount of free time.  I was too scared to venture out into the city alone, and so I stayed in my room for about 3 or 4 days.  The time I had I spent praying, reading, and seeking the Lord.  I can’t remember a time when I had been so scared, so exposed, or so lost.  I remember thinking, “Okay, Jesus.  If what you said is true, let’s do this.  You’re my rock, my comfort, my home, my helper, my shelter… so it doesn’t matter than I am halfway around the world from the ones I love.. it matters that You’re here with me.”  I knew at that time what I needed to do in this season… I need to be fully invested in the time I have here, in this season of sowing.  I know that it will go quickly, it will be but a vapor, but I know that it will be monumental for the rest of my life.  I can surely say that the Lord is with me here in Costa Rica, and that I have confidence that He will continue to go with me, walk with me, and protect me.  I can see the way He is growing in me, and I know that He is hearing my prayers for the ones who are dear to my heart, and answering them.  

I’m finding my identity in who He is.  I am building my foundation upon the rock that is higher.

“I have a plan for you… It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of Me.”


Sure, homesickness happens.  I surely miss Jacy more than I thought I ever would (and trust me… that is a whole stinking lot).  I miss a lot of things.  But the thing is, those feelings are but a vapor in the grand scheme of things.  The Lord has a plan, and in this part of the plan, He has me in Costa Rica, praying into the rest of my life, and living out a wild, spanish-adventure-filled life while I am here.  

And I couldn’t be happier.

—————————————————————————-


As far as plans go, I went to a volcano last weekend, have been to two museums, and this weekend I am going on a three day ziplining, waterfall swimming, hiking adventure in Monteverde.  Google it… it’s gonna be awesome.


I plan on going to some beaches, and do whatever else comes up here in Costa Rica… after all the motto is Pura Vida!!



Dakota
—————————————————————————–

Defeating ‘Spiritually Dry" Times (forever)

My heart has burdened recently with something.  I woke up early this morning, unwillingly, at about 5.  I immediately knew it was God who woke me up, because I had gone to sleep at 1, and I was planning on sleeping in until who knows when.

Anyways, I tried to go back to sleep for about an hour, and then I realized that the Lord wasn’t going to allow that.  So I finally surrendered and said, “Fine, God, what do you want?”  I thought He was telling me to be like those people I always hear about.  Those ones, you know, who get awoken in the middle of the night because God needs them to pray about something.  Or they are driving and they break out into tears and begin to pray for someone they don’t even know.  I don’t know if that is why He woke me up, but He did end up putting something on my heart.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my friends who are spiritually dry.  I couldn’t stop thinking, almost hearing God say, “They just need to know me intimately.”

That’s it.  That is the solution to spiritual dryness.  Stop reading your bible because you think it’s the right thing to do.  Stop praying because without it you, “just feel bad.”  The church today needs to understand that Jesus is a real Person with real emotion and love for each one of His children.

When you understand that He is Person that earnestly desires your affections and a relationship with you, everything changes.  For me, this happened as a single event.  For about two years of being ‘saved’ I loved Jesus and loved the bible.  But I loved Him and it for the wrong reasons, mostly.  Granted, I was growing… but without this individual event I fear that I would still be growing into the headstrong theology buff that I was on my way to becoming.

 What was this event?  Some call it baptism in the Spirit, some call it being filled with the Spirit, and some don’t even know what it is nor do they study it.  It is Biblical (that is, if you believe that the Holy Spirit, who is God, is constant like God) and is mentioned much in the book of acts.  Acts 2, at Pentacost.  Acts 4:31.  Acts 8:17.  And on and on.  This looks different for a lot of the people a lot of the time, but for me, it was physical, spiritual, and emotional (actually, He has ravished me 3 or 4 times, but the first is the one I am referring to).  Long story short, He showed me how real He was by coming upon me in a way I couldn’t (and can’t) deny.  He lit my soul on fire.  My heart exploded with love.  I could hear the Lover saying how much He loved me.  How much He longed for me to know Him more.  All I could say was “More, Lord.”

After this single event, my entire demeanor was changed.  No longer did I desire to know in my head all of the knowledge about theology and the bible that I could cram.  That didn’t matter.  What mattered, and still matters, was a real friendship and relationship with the One who saved me.  A knowing that the Holy Spirit lives within me, and is as powerful now as ever.

What I want to encourage you with is this — He longs for this to happen in you.  Whether it be an event, or a process, He wants to change your heart as He did mine.  I remember specifically what thought opened my heart to this desire.  Maybe it will open yours, too.

The sermon before this happened to me was based on the fact that although Peter betrayed Jesus three times before Jesus died, He still used Peter to build His church in the book of Acts.  He used him to administer His Holy Spirit.  He used a broken, “good-for-nothing” sinner for so much good.  He wants to use you for this too.

When my heart opened up to the fact that God actually wanted to use a lowly sinner like me to do things like Peter did, the Holy Spirit came upon me.  I welcomed Him into my heart, and He completely wrecked me (and several others).

So invite Him.  Say, “Lord, my heart is completely open to anything You want to do in me.  I don’t want a life of meaningless devotion and failure.  I want to be motivated by love and longing for You.  I want my relationship with You to be the center of every thought I have and action I make.  Come Holy Spirit and fill me.”  Don’t be afraid to ask for change.  Don’t be afraid to ask for things you might be scared of.  Let Him have you.  He made you so that He could love you and have your love.

Listen, and don’t be offended at this.  If you are more excited to watch a movie or play a game than you are for time with Jesus, there is something wrong with you heart.  Accept it.  Own it.  He will change it if you let Him.  He wants to bring you to a place where your sole dependence is Him.  Where you could let go of everything and it would be okay.  Because you have Him.  The one Constant.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not there yet.  My heart is in the wrong so much of the time.  But I do know what He is calling me to, and when I listen and agree, He moves in big ways.  I want that for all of His children.  Especially His, “Spiritually dry” ones.

And just a random tangent – don’t be afraid to let Him do some “weird, charismatic stuff” in you.  It’s biblical.  Don’t give me that “it only happened in the early church,” stuff.  The Holy Spirit wants to equip His church today just like He did in the book of acts.

If you read all of this, bless your soul.  I hope that it made a difference in your day.

God bless you all.

Marks of a Believer – 1st Thess. 1

Today I started reading 1st Thessalonians.  I was completely amazed when (and I’ve read this book before several times) the Lord started revealing a whole bunch of new stuff to me.

I believe that Paul completely outlines what someone who believes in Jesus should look like, by simply recalling how the Thessalonians were saved.  This is so helpful today, because it is a constant reminder of our mission as Christians, and what our lives should look like day-to-day, as well as showing us the key traits of a Christian conversion.

In verse 4 Paul tells the Thessalonians,

“We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but in power and in the Holy Spirit with conviction.

 These believers didn’t just decide one day, “I’ll believe today… I think that will be good.”  They had a drastic change, caused by God, inflict their life.  They received the gospel in power and in the Holy Spirit, which was accompanied by great conviction.  They realized that they were sinners in need of a Savior.  If one claims to believe the Gospel and does not realize his or her own sin and short coming, they are not looking at the same Holy God that the Bible is describing!

Then, Paul begins talking about the way the Thessalonians acted after they received the Gospel and believed.  He says they, “became imitators of [Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy] and of the Lord,” and, “became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

The importance of this is grand.  Their conversion wasn’t just internal.  It wasn’t a little inside change that happened.  They were transformed in such a way that not only did they become new people, they became people who led other people and became examples in all that they did. 

Paul goes on to describe them, saying things like their “faith has gone forth everywhere,” and that they, “turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (Verses 8-10)

That last sentence is my favorite.  The true marks of Jesus working in the Thessalonian church:  that they turned from their idols to God and waited upon Jesus.  That’s what I want to look like.  That’s what I want our church to look like.  The church of Bloomington, the church of Peoria, the Church of Illinois, the Church of America…. I want us to be seen as a people who turned from our idols to pursue God.

Transition

Looking back at the past year, my life has seriously changed so much.  

Last summer, I was at summer camp for 8 weeks.  Then, lived at home for about a month.  Then, lived with Wesley and his family for the school year.  Now, I live in Bloomington with 3 good, God-fearing men.
Moral of the story, the Lord is faithful.   Haha.  Through all of the material changes that have happened in my life in the last year, the Lord has proved His faithfulness to me through providing me with spiritual stability,and people to care for me.  I can’t even describe the way that He has cared for me, and shown His love to me in the last year.  
The Lord took my heart last fall and transformed it.  He showed me His love in a real and tangible way at a time where what I was looking for was someone to care about me.  He showed me that He really does care, and that He wants to be my father and friend.  He changed everything.  Today I am amazed as I look back on the way that He pursued me and used the bad things in my life for good.  He took all of the things that depressed me and showed me how much He could love me through those things.  He taught me to embrace trial because it’s in trial that He increases my capacity for faith.
I’m now enrolled as a freshman at Illinois State University, and attending Clearview Church.  I’m beyond excited for this school year, and I can’t wait to see what God does in my heart next.  No matter what, I know that it will be for my good.