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God's Love Story

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Sunday, 30 November 2014 in Uncategorized

What the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them--living and breathing God!  Romans 8: 4-6 (Message)
It might come as a surprise to you (I know it did to me), that the biggest individual obstacle keeping people from surrendering to Jesus here in Paraguay (much like in the U.S.) is the misconception that a relationship with Jesus is really just a set of rules, of “do’s and don’ts”. Or it’s the misunderstanding that faith is something inherited, much like green eyes or skin coloring.
So when we attempt to start spiritual conversations it’s often met with a head nod, but inward thoughts of “yep, got that. I know who God is.” Or in one case I overheard one well-meaning person say to another who was in tears as the Holy Spirit began stirring things up, “well don’t worry, there is no need for tears, its not like you’ve done anything that bad.”
At some point along the way, many people have accepted that God’s intent is to impose a list of "do’s" and "don'ts" that will somehow make us into better people, sort of like a year-round version of Santa Claus, keeping his list and checking it twice. And it has encouraged the idea that if you haven't really done anything "that bad," then you are probably in the good graces of God, with an eternal reservation in heaven. End of story.
The problem is, the real story is nothing like that. Our life here and the choices we make are all only part of Phase I of the great story God has been writing since the time of Adam and Eve. God is the great romancer of this story and each one of us is his beloved. So what does it look like to be romanced by God? In a dating relationship, I think of a guy wooing and pursuing a woman. I think of flowers, date nights, moonlit conversations lasting late into the evenings, colored with laughter and stories that communicate a shared knowledge of each others’ past, creating a deeper sense of knowing the other person and true intimacy.  I also think of time, spending lots of time together--getting to know each other and deepening the relationship. A deepening that comes through sharing hard times, fatigue, joys and hurts.  We usually DON'T picture a first date where one of the individuals hands the other a list of rules and explains that every week they will be evaluated on how well they did or didn’t do and that a second date will be determined by whether or not they managed to do enough of the things on the "good" list (although this does sound like a reality TV series). Nor do we think of relationships without the key component of time invested in the other person.
So, what does all this have to do with ministry in Paraguay?  God is about reconciling the world and everything in it to himself through Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:20).  He is out to show the world that he pursues us as his beloved and wants a relationship with us, one based on love, not rules or a scoring system. And God calls us to walk out a life of love demonstrating it to others. We are the tangible presence of His love.

We can't be His love if we hibernate in our houses tied to our TVs, social media, and overstuffed schedules. We have to protect time and use it to invest in relationships. It's not a one-time visit, it takes patience, persistence, a willingness to love others even when they are not “loveable” and to show through both words and actions that our love, just like God’s, does not depend on performance. We have to show others by our actions that we love and value them as the precious creations they are in God's sight. To God the Father, each and every one of us was worth the sacrifice of Jesus. But people won't know or see that if we don't live outwardly. We must take that love outside our home, our church, our family.  For us here in Paraguay that's been hard (I'm not sure why I thought because we were responding to God's call on our hearts that it would be easy). We have had to be willing to let go of everything we thought we knew in order to learn from God a completely different, and at times painstakingly slow, way of sharing our lives with those around us. Not seeing immediate results isn't easy, but think of the time God patiently invests in us. It's worth it if by our lives lived in community here, we can show people God's great romance lived out.  Our prayer is that the words of truth we’ve been speaking from the beginning come alive by the power of the Holy Spirit as eyes are opened and hearts can truly see their need for Jesus.
As you go about engaging the world in the place God has you, please remember us and those that we are loving for Jesus in Paraguay in your prayers. Pray that God would open doors to building authentic relationships and that people would see in us the very same kind of brokenness and helplessness that they experience knowing Jesus is the only way. Ask God to fling open wide his gates that those around us would hunger for spiritual things and seek Jesus not a poor substitute. Continue to pray that we would be bold in the face of skepticism and unbelief. 
In Christ,
David, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Lucas & Isabel

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