Settling In

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Hello friends and family! I hope everyone is doing well and finding some way to glorify Him. The Hartsfield family has had some exciting days and weeks since my last post. Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and keep up with us daily. We have now been here in the Dominican Republic for 6 weeks and our new house, street, community, and country is beginning to feel like home. We have a long way to go, but we at least feel like we are on the right path. Lately, some new verbiage has entered our conversations and has become a part of our everyday lives.  This verbiage pops up in the form of a question from folks wanting to know how we are doing here and is being used by us as a way to communicate our progress. The verbiage I’m referring to is “getting settled”.  While I understand the meaning of this question and also know that when we say we are getting settled it means we are getting our house put together and beginning to find our way around town, I have been convicted of these words as of late. Along with this conviction has come an urging of the Holy Spirit to share. So here we go…

Last Sunday we visited a new church called Iglesia Bautista Vida Nueva (www.ibvnrd.org) [New Life Baptist Church]. Pastor John Webb started a message series last week entitled “All or Nothing” and Ephesians 2:10 was part of his message this morning: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do [Ephesians 2:10]. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the conviction to the words “settling-in” during the message this morning. It turns out that God actually created us for action, specific purpose, and forward movement. According to Ephesians settling-in or getting comfortable really doesn’t fit in with following Jesus. God has handcrafted each one of us by giving us specific gifts and talents, and it is our job to use them. We are the hands and feet so we must go and do rather than sit and stay. As Christians we have been given the awesome gift of the Holy Spirit that provides guidance and direction in our lives. If we will only learn to seek and then follow this guidance our lives will be so much richer. Connie and I have the privilege of doing life with a group of close friends (www.simplythechurch.org) that meet in each other’s homes (physically before our move to the DR, now virtually when possible). A couple of months ago we spent several weeks reading through Francis Chan’s book called Forgotten God. If you’ve never read this book I recommend checking it out as it made a huge impact in our lives. The Holy Spirit is real and if we are not tuned in we’re going to miss a lot and be much less effective. In other words, it’s nearly impossible to know what “God prepared in advance for us to do” if we are not looking to the Holy Spirit to tell us.

Many times we have this completely backwards picture of Christianity that infiltrates our lives, homes, and even Churches. We think that our relationship with Christ is going to produce a perfect life with no complications. Then, complications come and we blame Christ or turn away from Him saying this Christian thing just doesn’t work. In actuality, we are not promised a perfect life and certainly not guaranteed to have a life without complications. In James 1:2-4 the Bible says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James seems to understand a couple of things as he addresses other believers in these writings: 1) we are going to face trials 2) the trials are necessary. How different would our conversations and even our prayers be if we lived our daily lives with a true understanding of this? Would we praise God for our bad day? Would we ask God to bring trial into our life (gasp) so that we could learn to be fully effective for His kingdom?  Would we put fear aside and boldly ask the Holy Spirit to lead us on a daily basis and then actually do what He leads us to do? Perhaps. I’m not suggesting we look for trouble, but I am suggesting that we shouldn’t be surprised when we find it. Let’s fully rely on Jesus now and make sure that doesn’t change when the trials present themselves. He is much more equipped to deal with them than you or I.

Today my prayer is that I never become settled in my walk with Christ. I pray that He makes it new everyday. I pray that I never become so comfortable that I cease to depend on Him.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has some huge plans in store for the future of Project Mañana. Although, I am a little confused as to why He would use me as part of those plans 🙂 Whatever the reason, whatever the plan I also pray that He gives me the wisdom and clarity to see and follow His guidance weekly, daily, hourly. After all, that is the only way I can truly be successful in carrying out those good works He had in mind as He created me.