Thursday

The Flip side

I'm reading my Bible this morning and after asking the Lord to not let me be conformed to this world but to transform me by the renewing of my mind (something I find I need to pray more and more often) He has me read this:

Psalm 126

5Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.

6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

I thought about this guy living after Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians going around sowing seed for grain with the smoldering ruins of the City of God's Chosen People in the background. This guy has little to look forward to. But he has two things he has to do: eat and obey the Lord. The Lord told those who were left after Jerusalem was destroyed to sow seed. He had Jeremiah buy a field while Jerusalem was under siege! Why does God do that! Nevermind that we reap with songs of joy...why do we have to sow in tears? I'm tired of this whole planet either sowing in tears or ignoring those who weep.

But weep we must because this world, this time, this earth will not be like this forever. I kept reading this morning and ended up in Luke 18.


1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (italics mine)

Ok. So I know that God will bring about justice. But His chosen ones still cry out day and night. Jesus tells me that "they will get justice, and quickly" so that must mean soon, right? Ah! But what is 'soon' to God? A week? 70 years? 1000 years? And then this question, "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?"


Arh! Faith! Why is mine so weak? Why does that guy sow seed in with tears? Because he has faith that God will bring about good from his labor, that God will bring a harvest. So, in faith, he sows. What do I have to sow? What do you have? The gospel! We, in tears or joy, feast or famine, day or night have the greatest seed of all. And we're the only people who can do it. God has not given us reinforcements. No backup plan. God has, in a mind-blowing demonstration of humility, given that task to us. And He has given His Spirit to us to 'help'; like God needs help. And I am to pray. A lot. And all the time. Why? Because that's what faith does. It prays. It sows. It weeps. Yes! Faith weeps! It weeps and sows and prays all in one breath. Not because we don't trust God but because we do. Oh that I would sow more in tears that I would experience reaping songs of joy. I don't want more tears. Trust me. I do want to sow more in tearful times.

"Will He find faith on earth?"

Why ask that question? The answer terrifies me: because maybe He won't. I pray because I have faith...a tiny little mustard seed of it, but it's faith. I sow because I have faith. I have faith because God is the God who grows seeds of tears into huge crops of joy, who brings justice to his chosen ones. It is He who brings what we sow to fruition and it is He who will return again some day (oh Lord, come quickly) to make all things new. Sow, weep, pray with me. Wherever the Lord has you; as a farmer in a field of desolation, as a desperate widow. Let's trust Him together. Why? Because Jesus tells us this in verse 27 "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Woohoo!

Sunday

Thank you Linus











"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Someone has to tell the truth. And that's what Linus did. Now he ain't perfect. He needs his thumb and a blanket for security. He worries. But he's always been my favorite Peanuts character. Why? Maybe because I had a blankie too. And now, so many years later, so does my son. I don't know. But when it came down to it, Linus proclaimed what this whole holiday is about. He remembered. He told the story. He didn't toss the blankie first. He just said what happened.

Christmas can only be about a savior. I got this in an e-mail and thought it fit.
















Thank you to all who remember, to all who tell about Him. Thank you! Merry Christmas and blessings to you all!

Wednesday

For Deacon


Note: Deacon's birthday was 2 days ago. Jenny's was yesterday. So, needless to say, this is a little late.


Words are clumsy, but it's what I have.

I saw you a year ago and I've never been the same. You'll hear me tell you that emotions are a funny thing, and they are, but when God brought you to us, when you came out of mommy and into the world, I felt with my emotions the Word of God when Jesus said, "Unless you are born of water and the Spirit you cannot have eternal life." I have seen the first and I will never forget it. Oh, God, bring the second soon.

I love you. Just because you are. And I have a lot of reasons not to love you because you make our life harder. But harder is almost always better because it's how God transforms us and you will know that some day too...but not for awhile.

I love you. Because you bring life to us. You are full of life and everything about you screams "LIVE!". No other child moves so much. You are not a still baby. Even in your sleep you are in motion. But life moves and you bring motion into our lives. God made you to move, little man, so move how He does. Live for Him.

I love you. Because you laugh. I am certain in heaven there are greater sounds, but while we're in this life I'm pretty sure that's tops. No one taught you how to laugh so I'm not sure how you learned, but I think you laugh because God knows we need to hear children laugh. You will laugh when you're older and I will love you then too. But for now your laughter is an echo of the distant purity of life we lost and will regain when God makes all things new. Thank you for reminding us.

I love you. Because you hug your stuffed alligator. We're not sure who taught you that either and while we should probably be concerned that someone else is teaching you all these things, we're just enjoying them for now. Your mommy picked that alligator out because she wanted you to have something different and for you to be different. And you will be, for better and, maybe in your eyes (at least for a little while) for worse. But we love you either way.

I love you. Because you think I'm a big toy. You are free to romp and roll all over me. Dad's are good for romping. You slap my face (in a good way) and smile and giggle. Like a big stuffed animal, you hug and squeeze me, and that will always be ok.

I love you. Because you are a son. I've heard it said that daughters are better than sons but I've never heard anyone with a son say that. We know boys are better. It's our little secret.

I love you. Because you are messy. Boys make messes. I'll teach you how to clean them up.

I love you. Because you make me love your mother more. I see her in you and I guess that makes me love both of you more. Marry a woman like her, son. Just trust me.

I love you. Because you suck you thumb. I did that too so, we'll work through that together.

I love you. Because you want to walk. You'll always want to do things you can't quite get. This is a good thing, son. Keep at it.

I love you. Because you get excited when you see me. That makes life better. Thank you.

I love you. Because you grew your top teeth out of order and now you have fangs.

I love you. Because you love us too. People will tell you that you're too young to love, but they have forgotten what it means. Love the Lord before everything else. And hug people. They need it.

Thank you for being.

Tuesday

Es la Vida

Roads are how we get places. We like 'em because they give our trucks and cars a place to roll and they make travel a whole lot easier. But roads are funny things. They are also a little unpredictable.

Last week we were out near Comitancillo checking on a few things with sister churches. We were driving back with a pastor, Javier, after checking on some sheep his church is raising to care for some widows. Enrique (our fearless driver and fellow missionary) was pulling to the side of the road to let another vehicle by when this happened:















You can see Ovidio (a brilliant Mam/Spanish/English speaker who helps in the ministry) laughing. This is not his first time to get a truck stuck. The right front and back tires are stuck in a 4 ft. drainage ditch that was very well camouflaged - those ditches are sneaky!


Well, we tried a few things:
















But they didn't work. Enrique had put a tow rope on his "wish list", but, as often happens, he was still wishing. We were all wishing at this point. Oh, we tried to find a rock to put under the tire in the ditch. And I found one mostly buried. So I, being the industrious American, took a pick and started digging it out. The owners of the property started shouting so I stopped to listen. I heard the word "marker" and thought I had been digging up a grave marker! Well, Ovidio explained that it was merely a property marker...I'll ask him before I dig next time.

Anyway, so along came another truck. At my previous job I used to tell the kids who never wanted to do group work that, "Life is group work", and this was no different. With a skinny nylon rope (in which I had little faith) and a steady clutch, we were on the way.
















And next thing you know...















We're out.

That's life.

Whew

Well, we are now in the states again. We are here to visit over Christmas and will be in Lubbock most of the time. For those who live in the FlowerPlex, we will only be here for a day or 2 before Christmas and a couple of days after the new year. We won't be at church at CBC but will be in Lubbock for Christmas.

We miss you and love you all and will keep blogging. Sorry for the lapse.

Wednesday

Who needs a translator

So I'm in school today. From 2-7 I sit in a little room with Fernando and we speak in Spanish. I learn verbs and make mistakes, drink really good coffee (it is Guatemala), and pray that the Lord help me be a light for Christ and learn a little Spanish.

So, believe it or not, we discussed things today ranging from the history of protestantism in Guatemala to marriage (though he's only 20 and not married) to music (he knows every song on U2-War) and religion. I got to read the Bible with my last teacher; John 1-6. Not so this week for whatever reason.

Fernando is explaining to me that there are Catholics, Evangelicals, and Christians. Catholics = latin american religion. Statues of Mary, etc. Evangelicals = rules. Lots of rules. Women can't wear pants or earrings. No one can drink or dance or smoke or listen to 'wordly' music. Then there are Christians. People who just say they believe in Jesus. If someone leaves the Catholic church and then doesn't like the evangelical church, they can't go back. No swimming upstream! So they just stop believing in God altogether.

So I asked Fernando, "Que estes?" What are you? He said that he doesn't go to church but that he believes in God and His son and that he has faith in his heart that Jesus died for him. He said its more important to believe in your heart than in your head and that the external stuff doesn't seem to matter so much.

Hmmmm.


So I was sitting across from a Guatemalan college kid whom God has placed there to teach me Spanish. I was sitting across the table from my brother.

So I ask him if he wants to be a pastor. He laughs and says his brothers would give him a hard time. Then he talked about how walking with God is like being on one of two paths. One is the devil's path and only bad things happen. The other is God's path and He only does you good. I then told him that he is a gifted teacher (and he is) and that I believe he is gifted to teach the Bible and that he has no idea what is just ahead of him but that nothing is impossible with God. He said that he likes the word impossible because it's a big word.

I agree. And today I learned the Spanish word for edification.

It's good to be in the Body. It's so good to have the Spirit. How great is our God?

Monday

Something I miss

This is going to seem shallow, but I have found something I really miss having moved to Guatemala:

Football on TV.

Not "football" here. That's soccer. I mean futbol americano. Football where you don't hardly touch the ball with your feet. The game that's in my Texas blood. It runs deep and I mean, I miss watching it.

I will get to watch my Red Raiders on Dec 29th so that will help.

But, as silly as this is (and it's silly) I have had to grieve.

So, if you want to serve this missionary, watch a game or two for me. Or three or five.

Saturday

Best love song ever

On a not-so-deep note, those who know me know that I love my wife, Jenny, like crazy. She's just fantastic. Now, we don't really have a 'song', but if we had to pick one, this might be it.

Jim Croche's "Time in a Bottle"

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that Id like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
Id save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
Ive looked around enough to know
That youre the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
Ive looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with



What do you think? That's my vote for best love song ever. I know it's lame without the music but I don't know how to do that yet. Maybe it's lame with the music, but we like it!

Big shoes to fill

We try not to wear our shoes in the house.

I mean, we're not freaky about it, but it's dirty here. More dusty, but dirty in the don't-put-that-in-your-mouth kind of way too. And Deacon stays pretty low to the ground and everything goes into his mouth. So we try not to wear our shoes inside. Of course the floors still get dirty but at least we think they are a little less dirty than they could be. And that's worth quite a bit.

That picture is just how me and Deacon's shoes were sitting and it made me think of a lot of things. Being a 'missionary' isn't really all that special. I mean, we live not in the US and we have to learn a couple of languages, but we're not some kind of spiritual giants. We're just God the Father's kids and we want to do what He wants to do. And right now, He wants us in Guatemala.

But the work He wants to do here through us, that's another story. That's God's job. My teacher in Spanish school asked me how long we would be here after we returned from Christmas in the US. She said, "6 months, or what?" (well, she said it in Spanish). And I said, "Oh, maybe 20 years." (also in Spanish...no English). And she said, "2 years?" and then wrote the number 20 and showed it to me. I shook my head and said, "No, 20 years". She wanted to know why and I told her that real spiritual growth takes a really long time. And we want the work we do here to last. I said it's like trees. Trees that grow up really fast, in 50 years, they're gone. But trees that grow really slowly, like oaks, they are there for hundreds of years. Flash in the pan spiritual growth is just that. But real growth, well, it just takes time. But it doesn't get reversed.

Deacon will be awhile before he can fill my shoes, but I can't ever wear his again. I guess I could put them on my big toes and say I was wearing them, but that would be ridiculous. God has brought us here and it has taken awhile and it has not been easy. But, glory, it has been real.

So we go about every day clinging to the Lord and asking Him to grow us a little more. And you know what? He's pretty good at doing it. Even when I try to put on a pair of shoes that don't fit anymore, He gives me a new pair that fit just right for right now. And that's about all I can handle so it works out pretty good.

You know, the Lord is really good. And its fun to know Him and be known by Him. But mostly, it's good just to have real life that doesn't go away, that doesn't have to end. Eternal life. And a good life at that. I'm glad the Lord is the one doing the living through me. It sure works better that way, because His shoes...only He will ever fit in those.

Wednesday

A strange pull

We are going back to the States for Christmas. Language school will be closed and we will spend our time in Lubbock. I did not say we're going home for Christmas because we are not. Home is our little apartment in Xela where the fireworks wake us up and I look at mountains every day. Where I walk everywhere and can buy a bouquet of flowers (including roses) for about $6.50.

See, we are flying standby and there are 2 windows where the flights look good. If we take the earlier one, we miss out on a week of school and we just really don't want to do that. If we take the second window and miss it, we stay here for Christmas and there's no reason to do that. So, we are shooting for the earlier date and are planning out that week to study Spanish in the states. We're getting 'homework' from our teachers and committing to speak to each other in Spanish and, well, learn more. But we find it funny how much we want to stay. Sure we want to see our family. We miss them and you and everyone else with a dull ache that, honestly, doesn't seem to go away. But God has brought us here and here we are. So here is home.

If you get the time, read Psalm 107 . Verses 8-9 go like this:

8Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
9For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Isn't God amazing? "He has satisfied the thirsty soul". WOW. How awesome! Praise Him. I mean, He's just good.

So, a week from Monday, Lord willing, we leave home and visit the US. It's weired to say that.

Oh, and by the way, to those who read our blogs...thank you. Your encouragement is deeply appreciated.

Monday

Wake up call

Ok.

We love Guatemala. But it ain't perfect. There are things we like a lot and things we don't like so much. There are things we love and, well, things that make us want to cuss.

This morning we wanted to cuss.

5:15 - Deacon wakes up. This is normal. If he wakes up then, Jenny nurses him and he usually sleeps until 7:00 or so. Or he wakes up at 6:30 and is up for the day. No biggie.

5:20 - Jenny returns to bed and Deacon is screaming pretty good. We give it a few minutes.

5:22 - I go get Deacon, make sure he's not dirty, cuddle and sing to him and lay him down.

5:25 - I get back in bed.

5:27 - Deacon is now quiet. Yeah. We start to doze off and warm up. No heat here.

5:29 - We hear a loud pop.

Pause for explanation:

We hear lots of noises. We're in a city. We hears trucks rumbling and pigeons on the roof. Cats run all over the tin roof (that musical has more meaning now) and make a lot of racket. Oh, and in Xela, its tradition to set off fireworks on someones birthday, typically at 8:00am and 8:00 pm.

Not today.

5:29 - We hear what sounds like an artillery barrage or a volley from WWII gunships thunder through the pre-dawn air...must have been 40 or 50 booms, not pops mind you, booms. They don't mess around.

5:29:30 - Deacon is up again. Jenny goes this time to settle him down.

5:30 - More booms.

5:33 - Jenny back in bed. Deacon is asleep.

5:34 - Happy birthday Guatemalan person! Deacon is crying again.

5:45 - Jenny is back in bed. We're both pretty angry. I think, given the opportunity, I would have literally beat up whoever set those off. Seriously.

6:00 - my alarm goes off.


Ah, and I just heard more booms. Deacon is napping. Sigh. Oh, wait...still is. Bueno.

Thursday

For our family

Today is a day for giving thanks. It’s also a day where our family is spread quite thin. We eat today in 5 different houses, in 2 different states and 3 different countries. We wanted you all to know that we love you, that although we are separated by geography, we nonetheless give thanks for what could in no other way be described as the most amazing family God could have given us on planet earth.

Today we will eat a $55 turkey with three other Americans, a good handful of Guatemalans and a Dutch girl. But we will be thinking of you. We know that God is good and He has demonstrated Himself to us in such a way that we could never deny who He is. And yet we would be flippant if we said that our joy and thanks were not today mixed with a pinch or even maybe a dash of sadness. You are and always will be our family and today, more than most days, we miss you.

We give thanks to the Lord for each one of you and how marvelous God is in you. Oh, that you could all see yourselves as He does and, by His grace, as we do too. We embrace the tension of thanking God and longing for another time where distance and time will no longer matter. Where the table never gets too crowded and the rolls never burn and the pecan pie is even better (if that’s even really possible). There is a table set for us in heaven where the Lamb gives thanks to the Father and the Spirit shines glory back to the Son and we share in all of it together.

But today, we miss you and missing you just makes us love you all the more.

It’s a good day for a Psalm.

Psalm 100

A psalm, for giving thanks

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday

It's good to be in the Body

Yesterday we went to church. A little presbyterian church about a 15 min walk from home. We're no presbyterian, but who cares. We needed really badly to worship the Lord and the fact that everything was in Spanish really didn't matter much. God is the same everywhere, we just relate a little differently; because when the pastor says, "Jesu Cristo", it's my savior's name, and when they sing about their love for God, I share in their love for Him. The Holy Spirit speaks whatever language you do and yesterday He spoke renewal and fellowship and life to Jenny and I. The service started at 10:45 or so and by 1:00 they were done. Good teaching, at least what little I understood. I'm really thankful for that Spanish-English Bible, by the way.

I have some tummy critter but I finally started antibiotics and that seems to help. Thank you for all you who pray for our health. Just because I've got a few problems in the plumbing doesn't mean God's answering no. Jenny and Deacon are great. Its just life in Guatemala.

I tell you what. Life is good. I don't mean its easy or happy, although there are moments of that. What i mean is that God is good and He gives me life. So whatever life He gives, it's good. I think I want that on my tombstone, "God is good." Wouldn't that be interesting? Anyway, today we stop speaking English except at night. Not easy. But we ain't gonna learn Spanish speaking English all day!

Oh, we bought a turkey yesterday. Butterball. How funny is that? And turkey here is almost as much as steak. No T-day in Guatemala.

Quick look at our place

Mi Casa es su casa. This is our apartment from the front...the back is someone else's house. To the left is the washing machine and by the clothes lines you can see there is no dryer.











This is our bedroom and bathroom there through the door. No window in there but we have a skylight (meaning a hole in the ceiling where light comes through the corrugated fiberglass).














This is our kitchen. The fridge used to electrocute us but its fixed now. Those blue bottles are purified water. Don't drink from the tap! Oh, and that green thing on the table is our cooking range. The window looks out to the laundry. No oven, except the microwave oven. Jenny bought the great looking place mats.








This is Deacon's room, obviously attached to the kitchen. We are going to put up some sort of divider, but it works. That window looks out into the 'living room'










This is looking out of the kitchen through the living room. If you go right, you go to our bedroom. That's Marissa (the Coreano's daughter) on the left and Deacon crouched to pounce and the boy in the window, his parents' run the guesthouse. That's carpet!

Wednesday

The Lord is good and the days are long!

"Sing to the Lord a new song; for He has done wonderful things." Psalm 98:1

So sorry it has been so long since the last post. Apparently my blog was down but Jenny's was working. So I switched to blogger beta (I felt a little pressured there) and maybe things will be ok now.

We are in our apartment! I'll post some pictures soon. This is an amazing country. beautiful, beautiful, and just wonderful. We have just about unpacked all our things and found a place for them. Oh, and if you touch the fridge without shoes on, you get shocked. Pretty badly. We're working on that.

So we have been in Guatemala now for over 2 weeks. We just got to the guest house in Xela (where we will be living) on Monday and moved in tuesday night. We have internet access here (wireless - so strange) but that only works when the power is on. Which has been for only about 3 hours during the day.

Ok. Here's a few much needed looks at our new home country:














A few Mayan girls near a waterfall...which you can't see.















This is Lago de Atitlan, a caldera lake. The team stayed there for a night. Yes, that's a volcano :-) They make Deacon roar.















This is Comitancillo, where we stayed for 3 nights. The Casa is there and many of the sister churches are near there.















Jenny took this from the truck. Imagine a whole valley like this. Beautiful.



Ok. Just wanted to give you all a look at our new home. We love you all and hopefully will be able to blog with more regularity now. We start language school next week! Pray for us. We are not too scared, but we are excited too. It's raining and cold here now. Oh, man, rain sounds great under a tin roof. Wow. More tomorrow.

Monday

Back Home

Wow.

We're back in Xela (Shayla) where we will be living until...well, for awhile. We just moved into an apartment here so we have a lot to do.

Pictures and catch-up info tomorrow!

Read Psalm 98!
"Sing to the LORD a new song; for He has done wonderful things."

Wednesday

Out and About

Today Jenny and Deacon and I will head out to the Aldea (little village) to have lunch with the sister church and then return in the afternoon.

It will be Deacon's first trip like that and we hope all goes well!

It's only about a 25 min drive from where we are. We're very excited to get out and meet with the folks we came here to serve. VERY excited. Please pray Deacon naps!

Oh, and for those who are praying for our health, God is answering with a resounding "YES". We're doing great. Please keep praying. Hopefully some pictures later of our little jaunt out.

Oh, on another note, it's strange to watch the election results from another country. I'm not near as upset about the Democrats victory. Speaker Pelosi. At least the ads are over for you folks.

Tuesday

Week in Review

So today marks week one in Guatemala.

It seems contrite to say that we have experienced a lot of contrast but it's true. We have experienced it culturally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. We have gone from Guatemala City where the sports bar in the Marriott has 70 inch plasma screens and menus in English to the guest house in Comitancillo where the Mayan language Mam is clicked softly deep within the throat and there are no menus or plasma screens.

We have been ecstatic and distraught all in the same moment. We know nothing of the culture or language. Spanish looms over us like an iceberg - unavoidable, immovable; while Mam thunders in the distance. How will we learn a language that has only been written for 20 years?

We left the western comfort of Guatemala City where the TV in the hotel played Gilmore Girls in English and my credit card could buy me anything to drive in a 4x4 through the almost heavenly beauty of the western mountains where tiny, beautiful, red-brown children ran and waved. As we ascended the mountains our hearts soared at the opportunity before us: teaching grace and hope to a people who will teach us far more than we could imagine.

I have never experienced God's mercy so deeply as this past week. We have prayed for Deacon to sleep and he does. Prayed for safety and been kept safe. God has gone before us and with us and beneath us and above us and yet He has not made it easy. Easy is overrated. Hardship over glamorized. We have in this one week done nothing more than obey our Father and be sustained in our obedience.

Last night I was discouraged and tired and just plain old emotional. It was annoying. I haven't even been through that much. But God knows how much each man can take and He has given me enough. I turned to the Psalms and began to read the 92nd. I can't even remember what was in it, but as I read aloud and alone I wept as the Lord, my Father, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Counselor ministered to my soul. He whispered something to me as I read His Word and he healed me, filled me and reminded me Who He Is. There were no trumpets or lights, no earthquakes or parted seas. Just the Father, the Son and the Spirit working in the deepest part of a man in the quiet whisper of heaven.

And that was enough. And always will be enough. Forever.



And that's week one.

Sunday

Diesel Day

So today I drove a diesel pickup up the mountains.

I'd never driven a diesel, much less in Guatemala, but no one got hurt and a veteran missionary was there to give me pointers (which I needed a lot of).

Jenny and Deacon were in another vehicle because the one I was in didn't have seat belts in the back. The both got car sick and threw up and that was really, really hard for just about everyone, especially Jenny. Deacon had one bout and was happy after. Jenny was sick for 4 hours until we finally stopped in Xela at a guest house and she was able to rest for a minute. It's really hard to do your 'job' when you can't take very good care of your wife and baby. not fun.

But everyone is ok and tomorrow we go into the mountains again. This time with Dramamine.

Thank you to all you folks who encourage us. We, like everyone, never get enough. Just FYI, though, we're not perfect and this is a really difficult time. The Lord is holding us up, though, and that's about all we can ask for.

Oh, by the way, read Psalms 90 and 91. Teach me, O Lord, to number my days and remember Who protects us all the days here on earth.

Saturday

The Lord is Our Shephard

I was going to quote Psalm 23 for you all here but I'd rather you open up your own Bibles and spend a little time there.

We're here in Guatemala. God is really good and yet our time has been...weird.

We had a hard time with our bags leaving DFW but by God's grace and the INCREDIBLE kindness and generosity of the Farney's, Tolemans and Shoemakers, we have our bags. Thank you.

We landed in Guatemala with enough luggage to stage a coup. The Coreano's picked us up and have been the only reason we're fed and have a place to sleep. Seriously. We ate at Chili's the first night. No kidding. I had the Monterrey Chicken. Weird, huh?

We have cell phones now and I'll put those on our website soon. We've been really busy trying to get things done. Some things (like the phones) have gone unbelievably well. Other things, like getting stuff done at the Embassy, have been hours spent doing nothing. Welcome to Guatemala!

Tomorrow we pick up a team of folks to take to their Sister Church in the mountains. We will drive a lot tomorrow. I will actually drive a pickup truck from Guatemala City to Xela ("Shayla") then to a town called Comitancillo (Comi). Jenny and Deacon and I will stay in a guest house while the team goes to visit their sister church. I don't know Spanish or Mam or the culture or anything and being away from Jenny for a few days right now is not the best idea. Pray that God guides me as I drive. It will be an adventure.

We should be back in Xela next Monday where we will settle in to our new apartment in a guest house near the language school.

We're doing ok. I tell people that we're hanging in there and that's about it. We're tired even though we're sleeping pretty good. This whole deal is pretty stressful I reckon. I can tell you that the e-mails we have received have lifted our hearts. We have felt your prayers. I cannot explain it, but it is very real. God is very much with us and He is so very good at lavishing His mercy on us. Please pray for us, however. Our adventure has only begun.

To those who read this blog, we love you. Thank you for loving us and praying for us. God's goodness is most clearly seen in retrospect. Praise Him as we look back and forward to all He has in Guatemala.

Monday

Open up


Ok. I admit I've been on a rollercoaster here the past few weeks. My lovely bride can attest to that.

But man, the past couple of times in the Word have just been, well, amazing. I read Psalm 80 yesterday and 81 today and I am just so excited. I can't help but share. I'm not trying to caramel dip a rotten apple either. We're really stressed. But God is just so dadgum good.

Take just this one verse:

81:10
"I, the LORD, am your God,
Who brought you up from the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it."

I, The LORD, am your God

God is God and I am not. There is only 1 God and its not me or anything or anybody else. He establishes the foundation: God is who He is. He alone is God and that singular truth is paramount, monumental. Huge!

Who brough you up from the land of Egypt

You can only be brought up if you are lower than you ought to be. God is not the God who leaves us in Egypt, in slavery, bondage and fear. No! He brings us UP! He leads us out. He sets us free. Remember that, Brandon! He is a redeemer of the lost, a restorer of the broken, a freer of slaves and a breaker of chains. He is the I AM and He always was and always will be. Holy smokes that puts things into perspective.

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Only God can say this and make it true. An open mouth is a gateway to either nourishment and life or poison and death. God is who redeems, brings up and out. He is good. So when we open our mouths what will He fill it with but goodness? A wide mouth like a baby birds. open wide, eyes closed, knowing that whatever enters in from God will be good. Trust God and He will take care of you. It doesn't say, "Purse closed your lips and I will force in the spoon." But that's what I do on so many days. Deacon does that now because I have given him food that is nourishing and good but that he doesn't like. Why would I ever purse my lips to God? It is His very nature to fill open mouths with His goodness.



I have no idea what everyone is going through right now. But don't listen to my words. Listen to the Lord's! "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it" How amazing. How...wow. He is good and huge and I love Him because He is all those things.

Will you join me in opening your mouth wide to Him? Open wide and close your eyes and then let us praise His name together.



*7 days to departure*

Sunday

Restoration hardware

I hope no one was under the misconception that missionaries didn't need fixing-up every once in awhile. If you were, prepare to rethink that.

The past week or so has been the hardest week of my life. We're preparing to go to Guatemala and there are a lot of details that go along with that. And I'm not a detail guy. I'm a 'big picture' guy which is a nice way of saying I forget the details. I can take care of them but it takes a lot of work on my end. Things don't just get done, they have to be done. I'm not good at details. My wife is, so praise God for her. I'd be in trouble without her. So the past few weeks has been an exercise in needing to be proficient in that which I am deficient; an exhausting experience.

Our son has been sick. He had his first real fever (103.6) and now he has a cold with all the trimmings. Caring for a sick 10 month old is not the best way to complete that days to-do list. Oh, and seeing your baby boy lethargic with fever is simply gut wrenching. I'd rather have the stuffing beat out of me. I have been sick also. Not sick where I am bedridden or anything, heck, I hardly have any symptoms except that I am achy and freakishly tired. Very annoying, actually, because I am just really unprodctive which, at this point, just makes life more difficult.

We took off a few days to spend in Lubbock with Jenny's parents to say goodbye and give them a little grandbaby time before we head out of the country. Her dad, who is paralyzed on the left side due to a stroke, had his leg broken while being transferred into bed. They had to take him off his cornucopia of meds to evaluate him and suffice it to say he's still in the hospital and because Deacon has a cold he can't go up to see Jenny's dad which means her mom gets very little grandbaby time and we don't get to see them much either.

So I've been a little worn out and questioning whether God's amazing answer to our prayer to bring our support in by October was somehow misread. If we delay at all, we delay until January. Now, I know that God is not going to smite us if we wait. The question is do we trust Him? Are we making decisions based in fear or faith? We asked Him to show us when He wanted us to go and now that the time is approaching it's getting really hard.

This morning I got a few minutes and asked the Lord to just reveal Himself to me, to speak to me through His word. And then I read Psalm 80.

1 Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock;
you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
come and save us.
3 Restore us, O God;
make your face shine upon us,
that we may be saved.

The plea in v. 3 happens 2 more times:

7 Restore us, O God Almighty;
make your face shine upon us,
that we may be saved.

and

19 Restore us, O LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine upon us,
that we may be saved.

Notice the change? God then God Almighty (God as commander of the armies of heaven) and finally LORD (I AM, God of the armies of heaven). The plea increasingly looks to God as not just some 'god'. It doesn't stop at even the God who commands all the angels in heaven. But LORD, Yahweh, the great I AM, the One who Is, whose name is I AM, HE is who commands the armies of heaven. And what does He do?

He shines his face upon us! He saves us! He is not distant. He is not aloof. He hears our cries. Why? Because He is listening. God, I AM, the creator and sustainer and redeemer of all things is listening to us. And He is no passive listener. He is working and He is with us!

Do I need restoration? YES! Why? Because I am a person, a human, and we are prone to wearing down. Oh, praise the One who hears, who shines, restores and saves. He is worthy and He is with us.

Hallelujah!

Friday

Stealing good ideas

I stole this from Brent's blog. Too much fun.

Ok, here's a short story we all write. I'll start...you continue. Here goes:


"I've never liked the grocery store. Too many choices. I always try to go at dead times so I don't have to talk to anyone else. No dice today. I was up by the registers but the last thing I wanted to do was check out. The guy next to me had armed himself with an O-Cedar mop and a baguette. I grabbed the deadliest thing I could imagine: A can of Spam.

The creatures outside were almost through the door......."

Thursday

Please put trays in the upright and locked position

In an amazing display of provision, God has made it possible for us to leave for Guatemala on October 30th.

We have quite a lot to do, although in His providence we were already preparing to be ready to go on the 21st.

I never think much about flying. But when the plane lines up for takeoff and guns the engines, when I am pushed back into my seat, I always pray because it is at that moment that I am reminded that I am completely in another's hands.

I feel much like that now.

So, please pray for us. It should be a great ride.

Tuesday

October Raves and Rants

Rave - cooler weather. Nice...just nice

Rant - Being a Texas Tech football fan. Just get tired of 9-3.

Rave - Yankees are out.

Rant - Mosquitoes. Why did you make those, God?

Rave- DEET. I know its a poison but, whatever.

Rave - People who love God. Thank you. Spending time with you makes life very good.

Rant - Wanting to be in Guatemala and being here for now.

Rant - Wanting to stay here and moving to Guatemala soon.

Rave - Being free to live in that tension.

Rave - The mail. $.37 gets a thank you note to someone.

Rant - Rain gutters. More trouble than help.

Rant - Thin kleenex. I blow right through. Might as well just use my hands.

Rave - Puffs Soft and Strong!

Rant - Getting older. I get sore sometimes and I don't know why. Argh.

Rant - Technology. I'll never catch up.

Rant- Sin. It's crappy, ok? But won't last forever.

Rave - Grace. Trumps sin.

Rave - The pastors and elders at CBC. Read 1 Cor. 15 and pay attention to the last verse.

Rant - Books I need to read but don't want to and books I want to read but don't need to.

Rave - Calvin and Hobbes: The greatest comic.

Rant - Cathy: The comic I'll never laugh at.

Rave - Bacon. Name a meal bacon does not improve.

Rant - International politics. Why do we bother.

Rant - biting my nails. Mostly when I watch Tech play.

Rave - Samoa, our cat. She's cool.

Rant - Politics. Just in general. I love democracy, I love my country, but man, I hate October in election years.

Rave - My marriage. It's great because God is good and he gave me Jenny. I love you babe.

Rave - My son. Wow. How can you teach me so much already? I love you.

Friday

Prayer and such

Reading one of my favorite blogs got me thinking about prayer.
Here's a few of my favorite quotes. All from the same guy, I know.


“Prayer is the secret work that develops a life that is thoroughly authentic and deeply human”

“Prayer is never complete and unrelieved solitude; it is, though, carefully protected and skillfully supported intimacy”

“Before God in prayer we do not remain the same…God feels our pains but He does not indulge our self-pity” (my favorite)


all by - Eugene Peterson

I love those. Anyone want to share your favorite quotes?

Monday

just for a season

Ecclesiates 3

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:
v.4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance


Jenny and I were not at church Sunday. We were visiting her family out of town. We will not live here much longer and yet our hearts are every bit as much a part of Crossroads as before. A phone call followed by prayer and tears and more prayer. The Body of Christ is not geographical.

We went to a county fair in Lubbock last night. Let's say a distraction. There was a booth there with a Baptist church literally passing out cups of cold water in Jesus' name. As we walked by we saw a little sign that said, "Need prayer?" We paused, looked at each other, and wordlessly turned around. Not much was said. Not much needed. But 2 brothers and 2 sisters who we will never meet again in this life prayed for Crossroads Bible Church. They prayed words of healing and grace and restoration. They prayed for this season. We pray with them.

"My grace enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness"

2 Cor. 12 - The Message

Amen.

Friday

A good Quest-ion

People love quests. The Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, Legend of Zelda (for those of you who played Nintendo as a kid - it was a video game).


This is the little hero of the Zelda game. Sword, shield, boots, belt...all he needs is a breastplate and a helmet. Interesting choice of design on the shield. Wonder why they chose a cross??


On a quest you always have to move from one thing to the next. Now, I can't remember much about the Legend of Zelda (I know, I even beat that silly game) but I do remember having to accomplish one task and then another and another. All this is so you can get to where you want to go, save the princess or free the kindgom from some evil dude.

We're trying to get to Guatemala and it's a great microcosom of our journey to eternity. We know where we want to go - Guatemamala. And there are a whole bunch of things we need to do to get there. We have to raise support, find shipping, get rid of our suff, buy more stuff, get shots, visas and passports, sell my car, move and move some more. We're like questing nomads with a handfull of things and a heart for Jesus and not much else.

Yesterday I drove to Houston from Dallas, got a 2 pieces of paper stamped by the Guatemalan Consulate General, turned around and drove back. 10 hours and 550 miles later I was back home playing with my 9 month old son, one more task accomplished, one step closer to our goal. It's, just, well, it is what it is. And we're actually enjoying it, which is an awesome testimony to the Lord's presence and provision. You know how stressful moving is? We've sort of lived that stress since June, almost 4 months now, and we're not bonkers yet. God is very, VERY good.

Dios los bendiga!

Tuesday

Master of the Universe















When I was a kid I loved He-Man. I had Battle Cat and He-Man, Man-at-Arms...I even got Skeletor's Castle one Christmas. It had the coolest microphone that made my 10 year-old voice sound so boomy and huge. He-Man was sort of the leader of the Masters of the Universe, the good guys, who battled Skeletor for, oh, ratings I guess. They were the guardians of Eternia, he was the prince, and had a sword of power which he held aloft, shouted, "I have the power" and was trasformed into He-Man. But they were good and he was evil. I know it's goony now, but I just loved it.



Now it seems that our world is trying to sweep evil under the rug. Even the Pope gets bashed when he says Islam is evil. And it is. It's a false religion because Jesus is not worshipped as God and King. He-Man didn't join sides with Skeletor, he jumped on his tiger and went to war. Oh, and his tiger was also transformed from Cringer to Battle Cat. An armored tiger. How cool.














I mean, really, how cool is that!

Ok. Here's the deal. I loved this stuff because it, like all good stories, is rooted in the reality of the story of Christ. He didn't fight an evil skeleton, He defeated sin forever. I mean, He-Man is just made up, but God is reality. He's really in control of all things. He really created everything by speaking. Christ really holds all things together by the word of His power. The Holy Spirit really transforms me, really sanctified me, really justified me and will one day glorify me. I too have a battle to fight and God has given me the transforming power to do it. He is real. This life is not a dress-rehearsal for eternity. It's the beginning of it. I have eternal life, I'm not going to get it later; I am living it today. The question is: will I trust God and go His way or will I trust me and get in the way? I choose to trust Him. I choose to be filled with His power, real power to transform me in the the image of Jesus Christ.

We are moving to Guatemala. And it's an exciting adventure but it is no easy task. We are not going on a whim, on some fancy. We are going because the God of creation, the true Master of the Universe has lead us, equipped us and provided for us to go. There is a people who do not look or speak or live like we do and yet are one in Christ with us. There is a people who are struggling to live in the freedom of Christ and God is sending us to them to serve, to encourage, to teach and to love. How can we not go?

We are so excited and tired and desperate to get there and join the Coreanos in learning Spanish and Mam and getting into the work God has for us in Guatemala. Praise God that we do not go alone.

What about you? Where does God want you to serve? Next door, down the block, across the world? Will you go? I promise you will never regret it.

Friday

Buzz Buzz

We're scurrying around like little bees. But we're bees with a purpose and it keeps us out of the bars (an infamous LJism)

We're getting together our 1st garage sale. It's really a lot of work! And we're getting rid of most of our stuff. Ahh, stuff! The true American Idol. It's kind of freeing, really, getting rid of stuff. I reccommend it.

Oh, the sale is Sat (9/16) 7a-1p if you want to stop by.

Monday

All I have needed Thy hands hath provided!

Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

We are at 100% of our monthly support need! We came out to a missions conference in Lubbock yesterday and God moved in the hearts of His servants. How marvelous to share in His work here on earth. How marvelous to be so blessed by the deep and sacraficial generosity of the people of Christ. Thank you to those who prayed and continue to pray. Thank you to those who have joined our team financially. Thank you!

We are just all a-twitter with excitement as we now focus our lens on our one-time expense. Please pray with us in thankfulness to God for His faithfulness and power and mercy. Amen!

Tuesday

You know I was thinkin'

For a blog called Ramble Zone i haven't been rambling much. Oh well.

So -
In no particular order:

Raves and Rants

Rave - The weather. It almost, almost, felt like the first touch of fall out there today. It was NICE

Rave - My son. I just love him. He laughs more than any human I have met and likes me...a lot!










Rave - My wife. God has given me eternal life. Only that trumps the gift of Jenny. She is...beyond words. I love you!

Rave - Friends. I have a whole bushel (or peck, which is bigger?) of fantastic people who I have shared life with. Praise God for all of you.

Rant - Crime shows. CSI, L&O SVU, CI, Cold Case...I'm sick of e'm! I like old school Law and Order where the crimes are robbery but shows about little children being hurt or people in pain...i'm just done with it. I can take it anymore. Matter of fact, TV as a whole is crap. Give me Good Eats and Future Weapons and a few sports and I'm good. Even that's too much.

Rave - Crepe Myrtles. Great trees. Takes the heat and explodes flowers. Cool.









Rave - My brother. Ian, I am proud of you. You have much ahead but God is good and you are finding out who He REALLY is.

Rant - Clay soil. You stink to build a house on.

Rave - Lemon Ice Box Pie. Mmmmmm. Lemony smoothness.

Rave - Tracey McKinney Photography. You rock and the pictures of my family bless me deeply. Thanks.

Rant - Stuff. We're moving to Guatemala and we have too much stuff. Aaargh! Moving is stinky.

Rave - Coffee. You wake me up. But if I drink too much I walk around really fast.

Rant - Benedryl. I took you to clear my sinuses and I'm still in a fog 10 hours later. And stuffy.

Rave - People. We're all odd. But God likes oddness. It demonstrates His creativity.



Ok. That was fun. Feel free to add your raves and rants.

Monday

Praise God

Praise God for fresh rain and cooler weather.

For those of you reading this from somewhere other than north Texas, we are getting a little rain today and the mercury has simmered down a lot. We've had a horrible drought ridden summer and the rain is a reminder that God is a renewer and a refresher of souls. Praise Him with me!

This doesn't have anything to do with rain, but I was reading in 1 Cor. 1 this morning and verse 20 says,

"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

This is first century Roman empire here. Plato, Socrates have established western philosophy. Democracy has been planted and taken root. The mighty intellect of Western Civilization has sprouted and born it's first fruits. The seminary of modern western philosophy was in full swing.

And Paul calls these things foolishness in light of the Cross. Salvation does not come through philosophy. It comes through the "fooloshness of God." Verse 30 states,

"It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption."

WOW.

How wonderful that all the yammer and yack that drips from the mouths of those who call God dead is foolishness in the only eyes that matter. Praise God that I can trade in my own foolishness for the "foolishness" of God and receive righteousness, holiness and redemption! How great is our God? How merciful to allow us to repent? How awesome to be involved in His impossible!

Praise Him with me!

Tuesday

Psalm 31

If it seems that all Bible posts are about Psalms, well, I like 'em and I read them all the time. We are still working toward getting to Guatemala on October 7th. Lord willing we will land there soon. We have friends to serve with and encourage and two languages to learn. Best to get down there.

Alright. Psalm 31:3 has David saying to the LORD,

For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name's sake You will lead me a guide me

I have been under the misconception that God leads and guides me so that I won't get in trouble or that I will be protected or joyful or fill in the blank. He's my shepherd which means I follow Him and of course sheep think it's all about them. He is there as my fortress so I can retreat from the stress of living in this sinful world and be protected and above the fray of life and trouble. Even a rock of refuge in the midst of trouble. I'll take that. I need a rock, a level place above the wrath of enemies and the destruction of human interaction. I need a stonghold where I can feel safe even if the tempest is raging just outside. I need a rock to hold firm to in the storm. I need a guide and a leader who is capable of taking this mustard seed and moving mountains with it. All this is true.

But that's not the point. All those things are an aside, an echo of the power of God. They are side effects like getting sleepy when you take a benedryl.

For Your name's sake...

God leads and protects and guides and shelters because in His Glory He cares for His creatures. He is the one who's name is honored. He is the one glorified. God's glory is more important than my safety! His glory is more important than my sense of well being. His glory is more. More than I can imagine. His glory is not on the line! No one can take it away from Him. Who is able to take from God? What an obnoxious thought that humans could take from God. Who do we think we are?

I have to be reminded that life, yes, even "ministry" is not about me. It is for His name's sake that we go to Guatemala. It is for His name's sake that our support will come in. I can work my tail off and not see a dime and He is no more or less glorified by it either way. And yet...

He is my rock and my fortress. And that is not an accident of His. He seeks me out to invite me to rest and take shelter from all things. I think I'll take that invitation. For His name's sake.

Saturday

A day in the life

So missionaries aren't special people. I mean, we're just people serving the Lord in countries other than where we have a passport. We forget to blog (sorry) and our houses get messy and we mow the grass. But we do get to do something pretty cool. We get to be supported soley on the generosity of others.

It's no secret. We get a salary because people are kind and generous enough to send money to our mission agency. Now the salary is designed to work in Guatemala and not here but we won't be here much longer. This brings me to my point.

I was studying Genesis 22 where Abraham is commanded to take his son Issac and sacrafice him. He obeys and God intervenes at the last instant and provides a lamb to slay instead of a boy. It's one of the most amazing narratives in the history of humanity. At the end of it Abraham names the place (Mt. Moriah, in present day Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock is now i think - none too ironic) "Jehoveh-Jireh" or "The Lord Will Provide".

We are at the point where we are realizing the totality of our dependence on Christ. I said our motto is "Trust God and work your butt off" but we are careful not to switch the order.

"The LORD will provide" This is easily said in Sunday school or uttered from the lips of a well meaning friend. And we are going through NOTHING at all like Abraham did. But God has not changed and is still the provider of all our needs. I sign a lot of e-mails "in the Father's good hands" because I need the reassurance. Walking in faith was never designed to be easy. And it's not. But it's real and Jesus is there and that's makes it ok.

Just thoughts from a brain and a heart that has to trust God afresh every morning and finds Him faithful every time.

No time for love, Dr. Jones!

Ah, Indiana Jones. So much adventure.

We're pretty busy right now. But I guess life is busy. We still have time to sit on the porch and talk with my parents and if you're too busy to sit and talk a little you're just to busy. We, of course, can't sit in the porch for long before we start to sizzle. It's hot here. Really, really hot. Check our the weather in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala: http://weather.cnn.com/weather/forecast.jsp?locCode=MGQZ

Lord willing, we'll be there soon.

On a tangent...

I really love my son. He's amazing. He's just FUN and laughs and man. I love him. His head is in the 99th percentile which means that onyl 1% of babies his age have a huger noggin. I love his huge head! He crawls by doing the worm; (a breakdance maneuver for those of you not familiar) he looks like a miniature tuskluess albino walrus working his way across an ice flow. But he gets it done. He jumps and laughs when I enter the room and, well, however an 8 month old can love I guess he's doing it. It's great. Yeah. God is good to give us children to love and to get their love in return. How good a heavenly Father we have.

We are speaking at our home church tomorrow. Pray it goes well. Pray that Jesus is honored in all that is said and done. We trust Him.

Sunday

Today

Well, at this pace not much will get blogged.

-tangent-

Isn't it odd how new words pop up? 5 years ago if you told me to blog something I might get offended. Now it's a verb. Odd.

Ok.

So I am now (after a week) getting back into the swing of deputation. That's missionary talk for raising support. I, sadly, do not get a badge for deputation. But it is all about mindset. I was spending time with the Lord this morning thinking about the possiblity of leaving in 7 weeks. That's hardly enough time. And before we leave we must raise a little over $20K. Whew. So I was thinking about all that and said to myself, "It's time to step off the boat." I have to trust God and get moving. So, this week we begin. Pray we are patient as the Lord provides. Trust God and work your butt off. That's my motto this week. Please pardon the vernacular. It keeps me grounded.

More to talk about later.

Monday

Whew!

Ok, so I haven't blogged in awhile.

For 9 weeks I was on a high-speed wireless network. Now I'm back to a dial-up on our home phone so needless to say I have been online a lot less.

some things:

We are missionaries and are on full support. That means we are financially supported via the generosity of indivduals and churches. We cannot get much done if folks are not generous. We are getting a lot done.

I was speaking to a gentleman at church the other day who has been overwhelmingly supportive of our ministry in Guatemala. I was catching him up on where we're at and thanked him for his generosity toward us. He said simply, "You're my feet" and walked off.

Wow.

I mean, I know this cognitively. I talk about it to groups of people and Jenny and I have the mindset that those who pray for us and give us money are literally ministering along side us. But when he said, "you're my feet" I was hit with the reality of what I'd been saying and the gentle weight of responsibility that comes with it. I bear the joyful burden of being that arm of the Body of Christ which works for His glory in Guatemala. We're not special, we're just somewhere else. But we are a near physical extention of people here who desire to see Jesus magnified among the Mayans in Guatemala. Whew.

On a bit of a tangent...

I have never before in my life felt so confident of my occupation. For my ordination Jenny got me this beautiful clock with an engraving which says, "Every man complete in Christ...for this purpose I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me." When I see a man who is not complete in Christ my desire to see him complete is now overwhelming. It is like nothing I have ever before experienced and I praise Jesus that He has enflamed my mind and my heart with such a purpose. May He get all glory, honor and praise.

Thursday

Finished?

So Jenny and I have been visiting a lot of folks this past month and yesterday was no different. We went to visit an old friend of ours and when I say old I mean 95.

Madeline still keeps her home on her own . When she prays its like being near a crashing ocean. Power! And all you want to do is blast your hands into the air and shout praise to Jesus. She has 30-40 5th and 6th graders over to her house every week. She feeds them cinnamon rolls and slushies and talks to them about Jesus. They are from broken homes and when someone tells them about a "heavenly father" they think about men who either aren't there or whose presence only makes bruises grow. But Madeline loves. She loves with the love of Christ and children are coming to Jesus and growing in their faith and being transformed from cases of abuse to children of God. When they get too old, she teaches them how to pray and those kids, now in high school, meet several times a week to intercede at the throne of the Father. Madeline calls them her prayer warriors but she knows they are the Lord's.

She is all of 4'10" and walks with the briskness of an autumn storm. She told us that at 75 (for her 50th anniversary) her husband took the whole family to Europe to see where they all came from. She climbed the Matterhorn. At 75. Though she did say that on the way down her quads were burning a little. So her grandchildren found her a little cane on the mountainside and she still has it on the wall of her bathroom. I saw that cane and I thought, "She's Yoda."

She's not green or a Jedi. But she's the sage who still has it. She's at 95 what most folks never are at all. Have you ever seen how little children are often scared of really elderly folks? Not Madeline. At church camp, the same camp where Jenny accepted Christ and later felt a call to full-time missions, Madeline is swarmed by children. Have a troubled kid? Madeline takes them and walks and talks with them. She prays for them. And never has a kid not been brought around. Amazing? Yes. Surprising? Not really. Not when you consider her Source. She is no more and no less than a child of God, a servant of the King of Kings. She lives a life of power in the hunched little body of a lady born in 1911. She is a worshipper of God and I can only ask Him to help me finish so well. Ahh, but she is not finished. Not until she is taken home to her Savior. She told us that she might fall on her face tomorrow but until she does, it's her life to love the little children and let them come to Jesus.

Finish well



Sunday

The wait of glory

I was driving home yesterday with Jenny and Deacon. We had been swimming at a country club here in Lubbock. It was nice. Beautiful pool, shade. If you got hungry or thirsty you just ask a gal walking around to get you a coke or a club sandwich and put it on your tab. In our case, someone else's - a very generous someone's - tab. Not bad. As a matter of fact, it was good. And a great time. But it got me thinking.

We're heading out to Guatemala because we want to. We're excited about it. We're not trudging off to suffer as global nomads for Jesus. We're just going where He wants us and we want to go. But there are some things we will miss out on. We won't have a country club membership. Honestly, what we'll miss out on is comfort and familiarity. And while it seems really holy to forgo those for the sake of the call, there's a part of me that likes comfort and familiarity. But how important is all that and what am I willing to neglect or ignore in order to maintain a 'comfortable life'?

All this comes I guess from something in Hebrews that's stuck in my thinker:

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Heb. 13:11-14

We're strangers and aliens here. I said we were driving home, but really, home isn't in Lubbock or Flower Mound or Guatemala. It's in that "enduring city". Here on planet earth we're called to bear the disgrace He bore. That doesn't sound very comfortable. But it's not supposed to be a burden either. 1 John 5:3 says "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,". Yeowch.

It's sad, really, that I have to grieve the loss of comfort and stuff. I wish I didn't but I also know that there is something more important. Loving my God. He is better. His way is better. It's not always clear and it's not easy, but it's not a burden either. The burden (yoke) of the Lord Jesus is easy and light. It's freedom. How backwards does that seem? The yoke of freedom. But that's reality. That's life - eternal life - and I want to live it here and now.

Really living life here on earth means suffering in one way or another. And we don't like to suffer, at least I don't. But it's not forever. We're not yet in our "enduring city" but we can live in the freedom of eternity. How incredible is that?

Friday

Please wield correctly

So I was reading Psalm 3 today and verse 3 really caught me.

"But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head."

Shields don't work unless you are behind them. I know that the psalm says "about me" and that the Lord is not limited to place, etc. But work with me. It's poetry.

What does wielding a shield require of me? Trust. I have to trust that it will protect me from whatever is on the other side be it arrows or a sword, axe, hammer...name your impliment of war that shields defended against. If I don't trust my shield I am going to run and find something else. Something I can trust. Something that can protect me.

Now in this Psalm, David is running from his son, Absolom, who wants to kill him and take his throne. That's significant life-stress in my book. David's response is to trust in God to protect him, to put himself in a position where, if God fails, he will die.

David trusts in God completely...and he is not a perfect man! But he has chosen to look to God and say, "I'll get behind you. You will not only protect me, you will lift up my head, You will be my glory. I trust you."

I like the way the Message puts it:

"But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain. "

"His answers thunder from the holy mountain" I love that! "With all my might I shout up to God." I love that too! We have sterilized our relationships with God because when push comes to shove we often trust something else. God can take our shouts of joy, fear, frustration. God offers Himself as our shield and we think, "Hmm. What if He fails me. I'll trust myself or my education or my whatever instead." And in refusing to leap we miss the life abundant because abundant life is walking with Christ, trusting in Him, getting behind his shield and waiting for His answer to thunder. You know? Have you ever shouted to God with all your might? How did He answer you?

Man, I just love Psalms.

Tuesday

A visit with friends

Jenny and I drove to Midland today to visit a dear friend of ours and her family. We left about, oh, 10:30 or so and drove the 2 hours through pretty boring terrain. Mesquite trees and pump jacks. We stayed about 4 hours, had lunch, then drove back to Lubbock.

So why post about that? Because relationships are important. So important that four hours of boring driving to spend four hours of with a friend will always leave us richer, moe whole. We didn't do anything special. We ate with the family, looked at pictures, played with a baby boy and a 2 year old, talked, laughed and prayed together. We encouraged one another, challenged each other and left one another blessed.

And contrary to life in America (or anywhere else folks have enough money not to need each other), people are more important than things. Jenny and Deacon and I are important to our friend and her family. Why? Because we give each other stuff? Don't think so. We're important just because we are. We share a love with this family just because we do. We talk about the Lord, about our struggles, our fears. We pray for each other and we do more than say, "Jesus, we lift them up to you and ask you to be with them. Amen." We just talk to God together and thank Him and ask Him to help us. And somehow in eating and talking and laughing and praying we are strengthened and made more whole than before.

In John 17, Jesus prays for all those who will believe because of the testimony of the disciples. He doesn't pray that we get more stuff or keep up with the Joneses or even that we would have energizing worship services and happy lives. He prays that we would be one even as He and he Father are one. He prays that because of our unity the world would know that God loves them and sent Jesus to them. Is Christianity today a picture of unity? Is it more important that we worship with the right lighting or that we worship as one? It seems that the church has left her moorings in search of wholeness when unity in the Body of Christ is the holiest (and most whole) things that can happen. And I think that unity is better demonstrated in relationships than anywhere else.

Anyway...it's really nice to have friends to love...and be loved in return.

Friday

Cult of personality?

Oh, before I forget: Jenny and I are speaking at her home church (Lakeridge United Methodist) on Sunday. We have just 3 minutes before the offering! Please pray that the Lord gives us clear and succinct words that honor Him. Also, pray He brings in the remaining 10% of our monthy support and the $15,000 still needed for our one-time expense. Thank you! Oh, and Jenny's getting much better. Cough almost gone. Thank you for praying.

Ok. So I've been mulling over the TBS thing. The Great One (you know who you are) :-) told me to look at 2 Peter 1:4 regarding the Faith Movement. I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but I reckon you don't have to read it.

Here's the verse:
2 Peter 1:3-4.
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Quiz time. What is it that folks of the prosperity gospel have plenty of, are always asking for more of, and if you ain't got it you are not following God's covenant; you don't have faith?

Money.

Now for some reason Paul told Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 tim 6:10). What's even more is the verses preceding:

8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Hmm. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that? Paul had no faith! Ok, back to 2 Peter.

We have His promises (which are"precious and magnificent"!). So that...what?
We may have fabulous wealth? We may life a life of increase? We would have a life free of sickness, pain, sorrow...Heaven on earth? No. So that we would "become partakers of the divine nature". WOW. Who gives a flip about money when we can partake in the nature of God? How important is money to God anyway? Does He need any? Does He want more? Will He still be God if the stock market crashes and money becomes worthless? Does the gospel still matter in a world without money?

When did the gospel become about me? It's about Jesus! The only reason we have anything is because of
"the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." All we can claim is that we know Jesus. And that seems to be enough because He has given us everything we need. We are supposed to have escaped the world and its corruption. Corruption caused not by the work of the devil alone but by lust, evil desires, our evil desires. And the love of money (an evil desire) is a root of all kinds of evil because it puts my focus on me.

One other thing and I'll be done. The fellow on TBS called the Bible a "covenant of increase". That sounds great. Except a righteous man, a man so important that he was tasked with announcing the Messiah, didn't think increase was all that big of a deal. In John 3:30 he says, "He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease." He apparently thought that the only one doing the increasing should be the Lord Jesus and I certainly won't disagree. I realize that this was pre-resurrection, pre-Pentecost. But does the principle remain? God's promises to us, and they are many and wonderful and should be claimed and shouted by every believer, are meant to help us partake in the divine nature, not the the things of this world. We are meant to decrease so that the nature of Christ may increase in us. And that sounds pretty good.

Your thoughts?


Tuesday

All quiet on the Western front

We have gone from full throttle freeway to Sunday drive.

We're going through Rosetta Stone Spanish and it is the best thing you can do next to having your own language tutor. It's amazing. And even fun. One thing we learned at PILAT is that language is a natural human ability. Anyone can learn it. If you have a language now, you can learn another one. You just have to learn the way your brain learns language. You don't learn language like you learn algebra and that's what we do in school. Anyway...if you have ever wanted to learn another language, talk to me about it. I can give you some really great tools. It's amazing.

Anyway. We're not sitting around watching soaps and eating bon-bons. But we're not constantly on the go. Jenny's got a bad cold/sinus infection and she actually has time to rest. Not bad. We are doing a lot of sharing life with Jenny's family before we head out as well as speaking at her church this Sunday. Oh, pray for that please. We are speaking briefly at the morning services and setting up a table. We are praying that the Lord brings in the rest of our support so we can leave in September.

I'm studying through Genesis and Hebrews and have parked in John 17. Absolutely amazing! Wow. God is so...unpredicatable and yet unchanging. He's just huge and amazing. John 17 is absolutely revolutionary. I may post on that later but I've got a lot to sort through. And have you read Psalm 145? READ it. Wow again.

I'm also reading Robert Frost's Poems. They fascinate me. How people write poetry like that is a mystery to me. I can appreciate it and really enjoy it, but writing it? I just don't know how.

Oh, and about the TBN thing. This may take awhile. Sigh...

There was a guy (didn't get his name) holding up a Bible and calling it "The covenant of increase". He said if you are not increasing physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually that you are not obeying the rules of the covenant. My father in law was in there watching. He had a stoke in 1999 and is paralysed on his left side. His body has been decimated by disease and complcations from the stroke. He loves God. He asks God to heal him but God has, at least at this time, another plan for Robert. This man on television heaps guilt on my father in law and brings not healing but hurt. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no unwholsome words come out of your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." This man who swings the word of God around like a club brought no grace to my father in law, no edification. And it...it angered me. The health and wealth/name it and claim it crowd is a cult who has perverted the gospel into a sales pitch to the hurting and the poor. I stomped in and told Jenny that if I ever see that man I would slap him in the face because he didn't deserve the effort of a fist. Now, I know that's not right and I'm not going to slap him. But I know they preach a gospel where the reward on earth is over-realized. I know my theology is not perfect. But I also know theirs is false teaching. May God deal with them.

Maybe all is not so quiet...

Wednesday

Back "home"

Well, we're back in Texas again and at this point anywhere in Texas is close enough to home. We're in Lubbock visiting Jenny's parents and family the entire month of July. We're saying goodbye and just spending time with people we love and who love us. We're also speaking at a church and meeting with folks, learning Spanish and figuring out how to best move to another country, but that's just 'business', not life.

We still have a lot of processing to do and we are thankful to have this time to do it. We feel like our brains are computers without enough ram. The little hourglass is spinning and that's ok. It's not often in life that we will get the opportunity to rest. We have to fight for it.

Lots to talk about but I'll get to that later. I'm also steaming mad at TBN but that's nothing new. Better cool off before I put anything in writing.

Monday

A reminder...

Kids are pretty good at teaching. Deacon has taught me to laugh a lot and not to take life too seriously, even when you are forced to answer tough questions.

So, have a laugh. He won't mind.