Worry Time to Prayer Time

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything in my blog. I guess too many things have gotten in the way, and I haven’t made it a priority, not that it was a consistent priority anyway. I’m thinking about starting again.

As kind of a restart, I want to share one that I wrote a few years ago on “worry”. I wrote it during I time that I was dealing with a lot of worry and stress. What made me think of this is that the message at our church last Sunday was on the same subject. So,I thought it would be good to re-post it.

Please read. I hope you enjoy it and might take a little something from it.

Beginning of Post

I’m not one that usually worries too much, but I find myself doing it more and more recently. I guess it’s understandable with recent events at work, the seemingly never ending rise in the cost of living, one of my children driving now, and just the usual concerns about kids and other family members, but that doesn’t mean I just accept it and live with it on a daily basis. So, what to do?

A few weeks ago, our Pastor spoke on this very subject and the message really hit me. You know how you feel sometimes that the message was written specifically for you? You know how, as Christians, we’re always listening for God to speak to us? Sometimes He speaks in a quiet, still voice, but this time, there was no quiet or still about it. It was loud and clear. I almost felt like I was back in my high school or college basketball days and the coach was screaming at me, telling me how to do something correctly. Needless to say, He got my attention.

The message was from Philippians 4:4-9. But for this, I’ll focus on verses 4 & 6. Verse 4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!“. Verse 6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.“. Since that message, I’ve been spending time in that passage trying to understand what God is saying and then put it into practice. During my reading, I came up with a list of questions and these are probably some of the same questions you might have.

  1. How do I rejoice in the Lord always with all the stress?
  2. What does worry do to us? What are its effects?
  3. Why do we worry in the first place?
  4. What does worry show about us? As Christians, what does it show about our faith?
  5. What do we do about it? How do we deal with worry?

Verse 6 is pretty clear about what to do. Basically, my paraphrase of it is “don’t worry, but bring all my concerns/worries to God Himself, and be specific”. So, that’s what I decided was my first application of this passage. Now, when I feel the worry coming on, I pray and lay it at the feet of my Lord, the God of the universe. And, I have to say, there is comfort found in that.

So, do you worry? Do you have some of the same questions about dealing with it that I do? How are you dealing with it? I encourage you to spend some time in Philippians 4:4-9 because God has answers for us there. Turn your worry time to prayer time and engage with the Lord God Almighty.

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 7 The Sunset

Our final day here in Costa Rica has now come and gone. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here an entire week already. Tomorrow, we head home.

Today, was a day to rest after the Pastor’s conference that ended yesterday. So, what better place to kick back than at the beach. It’s about a 1 hour drive from Atenas to the beach and what an eventful drive it was. We stopped at a roadside stand and bought a couple of fresh coconuts and drank the coconut water inside of it. Delicious! Next we stopped at a bridge over a river where the crocodiles hang out. The week before coming here, I saw a show on Animal Planet called “The Killer Crocodiles of Costa Rica”, and there I was seeing them first hand. We saw about 10 of them. 3 of them were huge. The next stop was the beach. Black sand, big waves and clouds. Yep, clouds, it’s the rainy season here, but it actually didn’t rain today. We had a good time playing in the surf and just listening to the ocean. We had a first time experience of feeding an Iguana right from the table at lunch. He was about 2 feet away, on the ground, so, we gave him some tomatos. Also, we saw about 30 Scarlett Macaws, you know the really expensive birds in the pet stores in the US, just flying around and hanging out in the trees, at the beach.

As we left the beach, the Lucas’ took us to the Villa Caletas Hotel to view the sunset from the hotel’s restaurant/amphitheater perched on the top of a mountain, looking down over the lush, green forest and out over the ocean. They thought it would be the perfect way to end such a great trip. Well, they did not disappoint. It has to be one of the most magnificent views I’ve ever seen. All I could do was just soak it all in and say thank you, God! It was the perfect ending.

We’ve seen and done a lot this past week. It’s been a week that I’ve witnessed the work of God’s hand in His creation, the children at Hogar De Vida Orphanage, and in His people. It’s been a week that God used me and my 2 kids to bless the lives of others. And, it’s been a week that God, in turn, used others to bless us. God’s taught me many things this week. I have a new perspective on what following Jesus is all about.

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 6 Conference Ends

The end of our 6th day here has come to an end, and we only have 1 more full day left. What a great day it was. The closing of the Pastor’s conference was a blessed time. Although it’s been a very busy 3 days, I was kind of sad to see it end.

We started out early once again to get to Vista Del Valle before breakfast started. After breakfast we were to go on the hike down to the bottom of the waterfall for a morning Bible study, but because it rained all night last night, we had to cancel it. The ground was too slippery. The remainder of the day consisted of 1 more session, lunch, and then a final session dedicated to testimonies.

Oh man, what a blessing to hear those that shared a testimony. We had one of the Pastor’s wives, who spoke very good English, sit with us and interpret for us. Each 1 that got up to speak talked of how the conference had been a blessing to them. How it was a gift from God. A few of them talked about how they didn’t know what to expect and were nervous about going, but were now, so glad that they had come. One spoke of how they had had a number of issues come up right before coming, and that Satan was doing everything possible to stop them, but they came. And with tears in her eyes she expressed her heartfelt thanks and praised God. When they were done, they had all of us (the Lucas’ and Caskey’s) come to the front, and then they prayed over us. Just WOW!

I know these Pastors and their spouses were blessed by being there, but little do they know how much they blessed us. They left with a new fire burning inside of them. They left feeling like they had just taken a dip in a nice, cool pool on a steamy, hot summer day. They left feeling encouraged, loved and supported. And, they left with a renewed faith in our Lord. I left with a new sense of awe at what God did in their lives over the last 3 days. I left with thanksgiving that God gave me and my kids the privilege of serving them.

After we left the conference, it was time to celebrate what God had done. It was time for…Pizza Hut!

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 5 Pastors Smiling

Wow, day 5 has been a loooooooooong day. It began by us leaving the house at 5:30 AM to get to the conference center by 6:00 AM for breakfast. Ouch! But, the long day was fruitful and we saw God working.

After breakfast the Pastors and their spouses loaded into a tour bus and headed to the San Luis Canopy Tour that me and my kids went to a few days ago. It’s a standard part of the conferences and is meant to give these Pastors and spouses a chance to cut loose, have some fun, and share the experience together to build relationships and camaraderie. Just like many of them have never been on a vacation, or to a retreat, they probably have never had an opportunity to go on a Canopy Tour either. It’s a very “touristy” thing to do and is usually too expensive. Jumping ahead to their return, evidently the Canopy Tour was a success. Everyone of them returned with smiles on their faces, laughing and sharing their stories about the zip-lines. “BUENO” was the common response, with 2 thumbs up.

Session 3 started shortly after, and once again I spent the time praying for the needs expressed by some of these Pastors and spouses. What struck me this time was how basic some of their needs seem. At least to me, someone from the US, they seem pretty basic. As I read through some of these prayer requests, translating as we went, I was stunned by the lack of things that I thought everybody, including them, already had. But, they just don’t. To these guys, these needs of theirs are almost monumental and sometimes appear to be unmeetable. For instance, today a number of them expressed the need for a car for their family and ministry. My heart sunk to think they don’t have a car. As I prayed and then read some scripture, God led me across Psalm 11:4 & 7.

4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.

7 For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.

As I read that, I asked God to let these Pastors know that He is in His temple and on His thrown. In other words, the Lord is in total control. Also, that He knows their heart and sees their needs. And I prayed that they will see his face through his provision and blessing. It’s interesting to me that later in the evening, when Steve gave a special message regarding what The Brook Ministries is all about, one of the key points that he stressed to them is that God provides and knows each one of their needs in their ministry and in their life. I thanked God for His affirmation of what I prayed earlier.

What a great day it was! The stress and strain of ministry is being relieved from the shoulders of these Pastors and spouses, they’re having fun and their faith in the Lord is being renewed.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 4 Conference Starts

The end of our 4th full day in Costa Rica has come to a close. This was the absolute busiest day, so far, from beginning to the end. Though it was busy, it was a wonderful day. The 3 day Pastor’s conference began today.

It wasn’t too early of a start as the Pastors and their spouses weren’t actually to arrive at the conference until around 12:00 PM, but we knew that some would probably arrive early, so we did get there between 9:30 AM and 10:00 AM. We got everything setup for the conference pretty quickly and then were ready for everyone to arrive. They all arrived over the next couple of hours. All of us had our assigned duties of either welcoming them, helping with registration, taking pictures or getting the audio/video equipment setup, and everyone jumped right in. It was a good start to the day.

The Pastors and their spouses were all very nice, friendly, a bit quiet and a bit uncertain about what to expect the next 3 days to be like. Many of them have never been to a retreat or conference like this. For many of them, this may be the first time they’ve been on anything like a vacation, away from home or the family for any extended period of time, or even to a hotel. One of the goals of The Brook Ministries is to provide the opportunity for these Pastors and their spouses to be refreshed, renewed, have a chance to get away and be ministered to, instead of them being the ones doing all the ministering. If you think about it, being a Pastor can be emotionally, physically and spiritually draining, and they need to have times to relax, to be supported and encouraged by others, which includes the support of other Pastors. They also need to be fed, and that’s where The Brook’s goal of teaching and equipping these Pastors and their spouses to help them deal with relevant issues in their ministries, church congregations and their lives in general comes into play.

During today’s sessions I had the privilege of spending the time praying for their specific needs and praying for them in general, for their time at the conference. I’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow and Saturday as well. They’re provided with cards to submit prayer requests on, and we pray for them during the sessions, along with, I’ll call them “prayer partners” around the globe, around the clock. Going before our God in prayer for these Pastors and their spouses is a powerful thing and I’m glad to be a part of it. As I was praying during the first session, God put on my heart to pray about how these Pastors and their spouses needed to be ministered to and I thought about the story of Jesus when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11). After the temptations were over verse 11 says “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”. So, Jesus after all that was over needed to be attended to, refreshed and renewed. I pray that these Pastors and their spouses will feel that renewal and refreshment, that they will feel ministered to, and cared for, and that their passions for teaching the Gospel, caring for their congregations, their communities, and their families will be burning hot when they leave on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 3 Party Time

Day 3 is now in the books. It was a pretty easy day today, by design, as we were resting up, and prepping for the Pastor’s conference, which starts tomorrow. But, that doesn’t mean we did nothing.

The day started with me wishing my oldest daughter a happy 19th birthday. Yes, she turned 19 years old. Man, am I feeling old. Then after everyone was up, we went on a walking tour of the town of Atenas. The town is your typical Costa Rican town with a big Catholic Church and a park as the center pieces on the main square. We got a glimpse of what life is like in Costa Rica by visiting the local grocery stores, some restaurants, walking through the church, hanging out in the park for a while, and just walking along the streets. The people are really friendly and very laid back. The slow pace here, could be very contagious. We had lunch a one of the local restaurants, which was nice. Also, we were able to pick up a few decorations and things for my daughter’s birthday party we were going to have later back at the Lucas’. I was also able to buy a few bags of Costa Rican coffee to bring back home. It was a requirement from my wife that I bring back some coffee. Costa Rica is known for it’s coffee and Atenas specifically is one of the largest coffee growing areas in Costa Rica. It’s the best I’ve had and it’s very inexpensive here. Bonus!

Later, back at the Lucas’ I spent some of the afternoon listening to and watching some iWorship DVDs in preparation to lead worship at their Wednesday night English speaking service at their church. Then, we got everything ready for my daughter’s birthday party where we had pizza and a delicious, homemade chocolate cake. What an experience she had spending her 19th birthday in Costa Rica.

After that, it was time for church. We got there a little early to get setup, and the church’s Spanish worship team was still rehearsing for their Sunday service. So, I got a chance to listen to them for a little while. That was pretty cool, but of course, I couldn’t understand hardly anything, but their sound was good. Finally, our service got started and it was a lot of fun getting a chance to lead worship for the group that was there. I’m glad I was able to help Steve out. It was a great night of teaching also, because Steve, as usual delivered a great message. It was awesome hearing him teach again. It was on Revelation 2 and the first part of chapter 3.

Once back at their house, it was time to get things ready for the Pastor’s conference to start tomorrow. We spent the rest of the time preparing the packets the Pastors will receive, the gift bags and going over the agenda for the next few days. It’s going to be a packed 3 days coming up, but  looking forward to it. It will be a privilege serving these Pastors at the conference. I look forward to meeting them and seeing how God can use me and my kids to meet their needs. I pray that they will be blessed, refreshed and equipped for their ministry. Please pray for them.

Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 2 Adrenaline Rush

We had a very early start to our day, today. It was our excursion day, which was a day set aside for us to get a chance to have some fun and do something that’s somewhat uniquely Costa Rican. So, we headed out to the San Luis Canopy Tour. What’s a Canopy Tour, you may ask? You can check it out at the link I just provided, but in a nutshell, it’s zip lining, but zip lining on steroids. The most intense rush ever!!! And, I wanna go again, and again, and again!

The whole time you’re immersed in the lush green forest in the high mountains. ‎12 different zip lines of different lengths and heights, and you go from 1, to the next, and the next, until you’ve done all of them and you’re back to where you started from. This included 1 free swing they call “Tarzan”. You swing out 3 times over the tops of the trees, with the guides catching you each time and pushing you as hard as they can back out again. About 150 feet below you is a river and you’re swinging out from the mountain side, from between trees, and then over the tops of trees. It made the old rope swing you might have had in your back yard or maybe one that you used to swing out over a lake look pretty small. Then the tour concludes with the ultimate zip line that they call “Superman”. You’re strapped into a special harness and you’re going HEAD FIRST! The line is about 350 meters long (almost 4 football fields), and you’re about 300 feet above the canyon floor. Yes, you read that correctly. From the platform, you shoot out off the mountain side, between some trees, and then it’s like the whole valley opens up below. There is nothing but you, that line, and maybe some birds flying around. Just unbelievable! I still can’t get the view, from that high up, out of my head. It was like flying. No amusement park I’ve ever been to even compares.

I’m thankful that we had a day that we could just have some all-out, adrenaline rush kind of fun today. I’m thankful that God gives us those experiences. It was a thrill seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces, listening to their laughter and yes listening to their screams as they were flying through the trees. It was fun doing that myself. We now share that experience, that thrill, and no one can ever take that away. I’m sure we’ll always look back at this and tell stories about it. Today, we created some memories.