Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Midweek Reflections

Feb 13, 2013 - Iloco Sur Trip: Day 7

9:36 pm - Really been neglecting my play by play. Most of my days are spent preparing sermons and eating, at least before the afternoon meeting. Afterwards I've been just hanging out, until supper, and then the crusade is at night. Quite a busy time!

Today was a good day. God really blessed the message today...I totally did not feel ready.

(Note: All last week I was praying over and wrestling with the message. It was also a struggle because I hadn't been in the practice of studying something for the purpose of sharing it in a sermon. It was easy to get distracted, especially as I was in a different environment than I'm used to. But God had to bring me through a certain trial before He could give me the message. I had to experience it first. So when Thursday came (departure day) I only had an outline for the week, most of the first sermon prepared, a bunch of random notes from studying, and no power points made. It was a faith-building experience, that's for sure, and it still is, as I've been having to prepare a sermon and powerpoint during the day and then preach it right away.)

Yesterday I had felt much more ready for the meeting (it was a close call though!) and God truly blessed. If you read my last post then you know how utterly I felt my I capability to do this, and the prayer in the post was what helped me hold on to faith in God, and He proved Himself faithful.

Today He also blessed. Like I said, I really felt so unprepared. I think the power point was literally made in the last 20 mins before the meeting. I laid it before God and pleaded with Him to in mercy intervene and supply my need as He promised. I didn't know if there was time I had spent doing other things that should have been devoted to the message, but what was past was past, and I knew God had put the message in my heart. He gave me peace that He would give the message.

And He did! Praise God. I didn't have as many illustrations ready as I wanted to or even an appeal, but God brought things to mind at just the right time. He is also making me more bold, preaching with some spice, as David Asscherick calls it. (See "Broken" post about ARISE preaching practicum) Thank You, Lord!

I am so thankful for this experience. It has really made me realize my incapabilities and weaknesses. Even now, as I look back on the past three sermons and the past three days, I see so many things that desperately need improvement. One thing that is really bothering me is that I didn't use any personal element in the past three sermons. I don't know how I could have forgotten that personal context is half the life of the sermon. It makes it tangible and real. Perhaps I didn't think about it because I was planning on telling my testimony tomorrow and Friday, so I was in a way "saving up." But I realize that my sermons lacked that personal power. And there definitely could have been a personal element in those topics: God's promises, temptation, and the cross, in the backdrop of the Story. Why, Lord? Why did I forget? Ugh. I still praise You for using this imperfect vessel. I know I won't always have all my ducks in a row all at once.

I wish I had told the students more about myself at the beginning is the week. Now they are going to get it all at once tomorrow, and the week is already more than half over. Sigh. I know that You are still blessing, as well as teaching me so much.

And now, tomorrow. The students want me to visit their classes, but I haven't had time because of sermon prep. I really would like to. But I still haven't laid out tomorrow's message yet. Whenever I give my testimony You always bring something new out of it. And I'm still not exactly sure how it plays out yet. I know it has to do with Jacob wrestling with the Angel; I believe that is what You have given me so far. Other than that, I'm not sure yet.

Please, Lord, over and over again I've realized that I have nothing of my own to give, except that which You give me to give, so I plead with You to please show me what to do with Your message, and how to share the experiences and lessons You have brought me through.

I need to be vulnerable, Lord.

I need to be unashamed to tell who I was and who I am, which really is wrapped up in who You are. Please open me up. Perhaps there has been a sort of personal barrier between me and the people that has prevented me from using personal stories so far. I don't know what it is exactly. I just know that this week has been like an intensive in preaching and learning from mistakes -- like ARISE Preaching Practicum: the Sequel. Not to mention an intensive in praying and preparing and power-pointing. And in utter dependence on Jesus, my only Sufficiency.

Well, it's getting late and I've learned that I really need sufficient rest in order to have a clear mind to commune with God and prepare the message. This has turned into quite the interesting post. I'm still waiting for my roommate. Maybe she's not coming tonight. That's a bit sad. She is really nice and I was looking forward to spending time with her...

Thank you to those who have been praying for me, I believe that God is blessing the students and giving me the experiences I need, even if they are not always pleasant. The place and the people are beautiful, and even more so because I know God wants me here.

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