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."



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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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 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.