Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 91:1-2’

I Will Not Leave You as Orphans, by Benjamin Riggs, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

August 3, 2009

The last night that I was in Monterrey, before communion Matt Massey shared some awesome insight to Jesus’ words at the Lord’s supper.  He spoke about how a bridegroom builds a house in order to have His bride to be in marriage.

“He is finishing a house to come get His bride,” Matt said.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about that and the scripture that was the backbone for discussion and theme for the week, the idea of Shelter, based on Psalm 91:1.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow the Almighty.”

What I took as a “typical” psalm at first has slowly been turning into part of the definition of my walk with the Lord. During the week, I was captivated by the fact that dwelling in the shelter of the Most High was a reality for the psalmist, as opposed to an idea. Secretly, while I gave my answers at our small group, I longed to understand that more.

Before arriving in Monterrey, I had been neck deep in college books and a society that sells me the lie that everything is about me. I hadn’t really seen how I had let it work its way into my walk with the Lord until then. In Monterrey, Jesus began a serious revival of heart from checking out Psalm 91:1 and being in the company of the staff, interns, volunteers, and children we served.

Part of the change in my heart was from seeing how He continues to sanctify and Father His children, just as He has promised. As much as He continues to change my heart to look more like His, I was made aware of the fact that this change involves more than just me. Since the experience of serving and loving in Monterrey, I have been more aware of how passionate Jesus is about the Body of Christ; He has given us the Spirit and He is indeed building a house (Ephesians 2:22). The more I saw what Jesus was doing in Monterrey, the more I saw the involvement of the Holy Spirit and it’s presence in the Body of Christ to serve and love those that He has and promises to continue to love.

During a ropes course exercise, we came face to face with the task of trying to put our entire group on a platform that was just big enough for me. One plan that we tried was putting the smaller people in the middle, while others linked arms around them.

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

With all this discussion of shelter, the image of the Body came to my heart. In the past when I’ve thought about the Body, the phrase being His hands and feet always came to mind. I’ve seen this past week that along with His hands and feet, Jesus is also changing us to have His heart (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) for the poor, sick, orphaned, imprisoned, and lost.

While on earth Jesus’ body was obviously the embodiment of the Most High that we seek shelter in.  Now we are being pieced together part-by-part into His body, to continue His presence, as He is the cornerstone of this structure (Ephesians 2:20) and the Head of this Body (Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 2:19). We are to provide shelter for others to dwell in as we dwell in Him. I experienced that reality being welcomed and loved by the staff, interns and others that I served alongside and now love. The last day I was there I fell in love with a little boy from Del Norte: Jose Daniel. There wasn’t a part of me that wanted to leave him, but I know that God has a plan for that little guy. As I was leaving him, I was reminded of Jesus’ promise in the book of John.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”(John14:18).

Since returning home from Monterrey, I know that I can continue to be an extension of His Body by reminding others that He has not left any of us as orphans. He is coming back for His children. He is coming back for His bride.

Benjamin and Jose

Benjamin and Jose

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Trust, by Beth Guckenberger

July 31, 2009

Last week I was at one of our squatter village sites, walking with an unbelievably gifted professional photographer (check out his pictures), helping him capture some images that could translate their world into ours.

During our outreach, a B2B staff member spends one-on-one time with a boy from the Rio - © DSL Images

During our outreach, a B2B staff member spends one-on-one time with a boy from Rio III - © DSL Images

A little girl plays outside her home in Rio III - Photo courtesy of DSL Images

A little girl plays outside her home in Rio III - © DSL Images

Outside their home at Rio III

Outside their home at Rio III

I was struck by the poverty, which I have walked among for a decade now, but some days it can still make the breath in me escape.  Another friend who was with me challenged me to always articulate a theology that reflects the reality of what I am seeing.  Since our theme this year is shelter the question begs How is He sheltering these forgotten people? How am I inserting my ideas of shelter into the Psalm 91 passage? How can shelter be metaphorical, even metaphysical?

We walked a little farther and I saw a little girl, around eight years old, kneeling outside of her shack, filling up an old Coke bottle with water. “Can we take your picture?” I kneel down and ask her. At that moment, I see her eyes for the first time.  Haunted. Hunted. Empty. Lonely.

“That’s the unmistakable look of a sexual abuse victim,” I whisper to my friend.  She was shaking her head quietly, signaling to us to move on.  We honor her and pass by.

A 100 yards later, I turn my head and see a man beside her, big, angry, with a stick in his hand, swinging it, looking at us. “God!” I just cry out in my spirit, wondering what I can or should do.

Shelter. What does it look like? For her? For me?

I come home and search for answers. I want the wisdom to handle myself well when confronted with those situations.  I read promises in Proverbs about searching out wisdom like a hidden treasure.  I am on the hunt.

My friend, Jenny sends me this quote from Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust.

“The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently people report that they have experienced a physical cure or inner healing. And they have. “Yet” as John Shea writes, “one brutal historical fact remains-Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite legions of angels, God did not save him from that hour… This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene.”  Often trust begins on the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then, at our wits end, trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, “Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,” surges from the heart.”

I am there. Even as I write this, I feel the trust swell within me, there are answers to my questions, there is hope for that little girl, there is a theology that understands the injustice in the world.  I don’t have to know all the answers to the when, the why or the where.  I just have to believe in the Who.

Shelter, by Angela Ramos

July 29, 2009

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord. “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91: 1-2

Shelter is the theme of this year’s Back2Back devotional.  Every group member, along with staff, receive this five day devotional during their trip.  As staff in Nigeria, we are taking a deeper look into each daily devotional.  We are thinking about questions like: What do you think of when you hear the word shelter?  In what ways does God provide shelter?  How does God provide shelter to the less fortunate?

When I first think of shelter, I think of protection.  But after studying God’s word and being in the midst of the less fortunate, I have found a deeper meaning.  Yes, God is our protector, but if something bad happens that doesn’t mean that God has ceased to protect me.  When we walk in the ways of the Lord we are not promised to live a pain free life.  God’s shelter is always with us no matter our circumstances.  His shelter is a constant peace that no matter what happens, nothing can take away His love from us.

On day three of the Shelter devotional, it states that God’s shelter is a “state of mind”.  That really hit home with me.  In America we can have a lot of false shelters.  We rest easy in our spouses, cars, homes, finances, our grocery stores, clothing stores….basically our modern day conveniences. Sure, we know God is there, but do we really know this?  Do most of us rely on the things around us rather than God himself?  Is it easy to just assume that God’s shelter is with us because we have all of these conveniences?

In Africa we don’t have any of the American conveniences. Everything here is more difficult and time consuming.  Like I said before, the need here is so great.  How does a widow who lives in a tiny hut with five children and no electricity and running water see God as her shelter?  In their hearts they know God is with them and they trust the Lord to provide for them and to protect them.  They have nothing, yet they are content with God and what He has given them (which is not much by our standards).  God’s shelter is a state of mind.  He is constant no matter the circumstances.  He is constant no matter what one has or does not have.  He is the same God to me and to the poor orphaned child in Africa, and to you.  His love never fails and is unending.

To be honest, it is going to be hard to come back home to the modern day conveniences.  Chris and I really like the pace of Nigeria.  Being here makes you appreciate what you have all the more.  Even our boys have been able to see the differences; one is in the education they are receiving compared to what the children here receive.  We are trying to help teach them these truths about who God really is.  It’s not about what we have, even though we are thankful for EVERYTHING He has provided.  All we have is because of Him.  It’s about who we are in Christ and living our lives fully for Him.  Giving everything, holding nothing back.

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base   (Top: Chris &  Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base (Top: Chris & Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Sarahi, by Cathy Huffer

July 1, 2009

There has been a faithful Back2Back supporter, who I’ll call Jill, who has regularly donated money for a little girl named Sarahi.  Sarahi lives in the Rio, which is one of the squatter’s villages that Back2Back serves. Sarahi is eight years old and just finishing 2nd grade.  Jill has helped to fund Sarahi’s education and provide staples for her family when they were without food and other basic necessities.

Sarahi

Sarahi

Recently, I told Meme, who helps with our Rio ministry, that I needed to talk to Sarahi’s mother, to see what they needed as I had just received another donation from Jill on their behalf. Meme informed me that Sarahi’s mother had kicked her out of the house and that her grandmother had taken her in. Sarahi’s mom is currently pregnant with twins and has another daughter who is a few years younger than Sahari who was allowed to stay in the home. I have had many people, Meme, Sarahi and her grandmother, try and explain this to me and yet it’s still difficult for me to understand how this can happen.

I could see the hurt on Sarahi’s face when she asked another woman and myself to pray for her. As I prayed, I told her that this was not a surprise to God and that He had already had placed someone in the states, Jill, to care for her. That was just one way God was showing her that He loves her. I don’t know what a girl that age can understand but her countenance changed drastically after our conversation.

I shared our theme verse of Psalm 91:1-2.  “He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in whom, I trust.”

As Sarahi learns to trust the Lord, He is showing her how He can shelter her through her grandmother, through Jill and through others like you who are praying for her.  Will you take a moment to lift up Sarahi in prayer today?