Given the two choices, which would you pick:

1. Move from one house to another. Pack it all, move it all, unpack it all.

2. Someone offers to pack, move, unpack everything for you as long as they get to smack you in the face with a rubber hose.

I love moving.

On a happier note...

Lysol kills so many things. I'm not sure when it was invented (anyone know?) but it is just so versitile. Mildew - dead. Mold - dead. Trichophyton mentagrophytes - dead.

And has anyone noticed that the Cowboys are 3-0? And scoring. A lot. No one here in Guatemala cares. They are the Vaqueros de Dallas. But they still put pictures of their cheerleaders in the paper. Funny.

Ok. I do have more serious things on my mind but those must wait for later.

ramble done.


Happy Monday

People hate Mondays. Since I'm people too, I tend to turn a sour face when Monday comes around.

So, Monday, take this:

Oh, if possible, please read aloud. It's short - you won't get fired.

Psalm 150

1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!

What a way to start the week!


Missing the point

I read this article interviewing a guy who read the Bible and decided to follow all of its rules for a year.

He previously wrote a book where he spent an entire year to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, so he thought he would try this with the Bible. It's a really interesting article and I can't wait to read the book. He observed the Sabbath and wore only white and tried to do a lot of other things - not sure what all. I don't think he killed any sheep, but he did grow a beard and throw some gravel at an admitted adulterer.

But somewhere in there he missed the point, didn't he? He talked with Jewish leaders and met with a Jehovah's Witness - of course they don't really read the Bible - and all seemed well and good to him. He missed the structure of the law when the year was over.

But remember that guy who asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is? Remember what Jesus said?

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and the second is this: love your neighbor as yourself"

Now, granted, I haven't read the book, so maybe he goes into that more. And the fact that the guy read the Bible is great. But he said something that i thought was interesting:

"One thing I learned is that the outside affects the inside, your behavior shapes your thoughts."

And at first blush, that sound right. Right? But that's not what the Lord tells us. He says that it's what's inside of us that affects us. He wants to transform us, not by having us behave correctly, but by us loving Him. Behavior follows love. Just like works follow faith. It's not the other way around. And this poor guy - he missed the forest for the trees. He missed a relationship with God for the rules of religion.

Any thoughts folks?


We have a lot of plants

I didn't think we did, but after moving all of the plants on our terrace (which is on the 3rd floor), I put the number of plants we have at "a lot".

A friend helped me move them. His name is Wilson. And, of course, he was hardly ever even winded but graciously acted tired when I needed a break.

The best part was the two 30 gallon planters with some sort of evergreen and a eucalyptus tree.

Lesson learned: Put trees on the first floor.


Oh, and I forgot what sore meant. Why did this not hurt so much 10 years ago?

So we're moving

Well, we're moving!

To a different house in Xela.

We asked and the Lord just provided.

For those of you who have visited, we're moving out of La Esperanza and into Xela, pretty close to where the mall is. For those of you who have not visited and have no idea what I'm talking about: we're moving.

I'll try to post a few pictures. For now, I am the sole member of the Scott family capable of lifting heavy things. So I have a lot to do. But Jenny is a packing whirlwind! It's amazing, AMAZING that my wife can, while 6 months pregnant and taking care of a freakishly active 21 month old, pack up almost the entire upstairs while I'm out running errands. She is - well - amazing.

And we'll have a guest room ready for you.


A bad prayer still counts

We went to church this morning.

It's a small church - maybe 30 people - and we walked there in 10 minutes.

We like it so far and they seem to preach sound doctrine from the Bible. I say 'seems' because we only understand 70-80% of what they are saying and there could be something wacky in that 20-30%.

We are, of course, the only white people in the service. We have not been able to attend regularly because we're out of town a lot on Sundays. So when we're there they make a big deal out of it, have us stand up, thank the Missionaries for coming, and we wave and look embarrassed and point to the ceiling trying in some way to deflect the attention back to Jesus.

Today the service went a little long. They had a guest preacher. He was 70-80% great. Deacon got a little restless and Jenny took him outside. So there I was all alone on the front row. The preacher (not the guest one, the regular one) gets up and starts to pray. And they pray loud here and say, "En el nombre de Je-SUS...AMEN!" a lot and so I think it's fun because most US churches I've been to seem afraid to get excited when they pray. Not that getting excited is the point, but sometimes, talking to God should be exciting, right?


So a couple comes up and the preachers (guest and regular) are up there with them, and the regular preacher asks me to come up and pray for this couple.

I look up.

He says, "venga" - "come", and waves me up front.

I walk up front and quietly ask the pastor what these folks want prayer for because, well, I wasn't paying full attention and when you multiply the fact that I was only half paying attention with only understanding 70% of what he was saying - well, I was no math major, but that adds up to not getting what's going on. Certainly not well enough to pray a Big Missionary Prayer for these folks. So the pastor tells me nothings wrong and that they just want a blessing.

And so I pray.

Now, I wasn't really listening to myself, but I'm pretty sure it went something like this:
[word-for-word translation] -- this is what I said - there are no typos.

"Holy Father, thank you for your love and for life eternal. Thank you for your son and that because of him we have life, because of his blood. And thank you that gave us eternal live on this planet and for all eternity. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for my sister and brother and I pray that you to give them power and grace and your life. In the name Je-SUS...AMEN"

And there were some "amen's" out there. And the pastor patted my back and pointed to my very lonely front row seat. And I went back and sat down.

Normally, when we enter the service, everyone knows we are missionaries and so we get sort of this wow factor: people sort of look up to us. We don't like it, but that's how it is.

Not so much anymore.

You know when someone says something that doesn't really make sense or apply to the situation, you know the look people get? THAT is the look I got today. And usually when we visit this church and the service ends folks sort of crowd around us and everyone shakes our hands.

Not so much today.

And so, finally, I managed to knock us (or at least me) off the Missionary Pedestal for now.

We'll see if they ever ask me to preach.


To search the unsearchable

This morning I started down one of my favorite paths. Like a well traveled trail through the woods, I remember things from the moment I enter - the crunch of the leaves, moss-smell trees. Distant critters romping through the underbrush. And the tingle of the adventure ahead.

Psalm 145 begins the ecstatic climax to the book of Psalms. Each of the last 6 Psalms are a praise. The last 5 all begin with, "Hallelujah" - "Praise God!"

I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless, and I will praise your name forever and ever. Today, I can begin to practice what I will do for all eternity - praise God forever and ever. And oh, the many ways we can praise Him!

But then comes this:

3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
5 ...And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

And here's the impossible. God's greatness is unsearchable and yet we can seek Him! That's impossible! How can you seek the unsearchable, know the unknowable?

Paul tells us this in Romans 11:33,

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

What an adventure! How many times has someone told you, "You can't do that" or "That's impossible"? How are other people so certain what is possible? And we are we so afraid of the impossible? What do we have to lose?

I read the other day that mother Teresa's diary has been brought out and it reveals a life of deeply troubled faith. She is quoted as writing,

"The damned of Hell suffer eternal punishment because they experiment with the loss of God. In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist."

She did not let her doubts keep her from her duty. She doubted and oh the torment it caused her. And she is not alone! The Psalmist cries out in Psalm 88

Why, O LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?

The walk of faith is not a stroll but a journey. And each one of us walks a different path. Some days that path is familiar and we are excited and hopeful. Other days that path is and dark and we tremble with the deep fear of unknowing. There are days for praise and there are days for fear and doubt and sometimes those two things seem to happen all at once.

And yet the Lord tells us, "this is eternal life, that you may know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." and "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart". An invitation to know the unknowable - seek the unsearchable.

So take courage today! If you are excited and hopeful - rejoice! If you are scared and tired and full of fear - take heart! Do not fear the unknown - seek Him! And embrace the tension of walking ahead. For even the unknown can become familiar when we hold onto the One who knows what lies ahead.


And a new day cometh

I was reading Psalm 144 this morning.

Verse 15b says, "How blessed are the people who's God is the LORD"

I thought, hey. He's right! Who is my God? It's the LORD! That's the name for Yahweh in your Bible - it's the name that God gave to Moses when Moses asked, "Who shall I say sent me" It means, "I am that I am" and it's such an awesome name that the Jews wouldn't even speak it.

Who is my God? The One who Is. The One who created everything and holds everything together. The One True God. There is no other! Only one person is worthy to be God and that is God himself. The Triune God, the only God, and He blesses those who worship Him.

People make lots of things their god's. I had a post a few days ago where I talked about an actress who pointed to her Emmy and said, "this is my god now" See, she will never be blessed by that. It's just a shiny pretty thing that someone made. Some people worship their job, or even their 'ministry'. But those things aren't God either. And they will not be blessed by that. Some people worship their spouses or their children or (and lots of people do this) themselves. What a silly thing to worship! I love my wife and I love my son. But they make very sad, silly gods. They really do. And me? Goodness - I make a really puny god. I can't even hardly take care of myself. What kind of god is that? Some people worship feelings or things or their country or freedom or clothes or popularity or food or sex...if you can think of it, chances are someone worships it.

And none of them are blessed because of it.

But to worship the LORD, to worship Jesus Christ - that is to be blessed! So who or what is your god? I was reminded this morning that only when I worship the One True God, only when I look to Him and say, "You alone are God - everything else is not YOU and therefore cannot be my God. So I worship You alone" only when I do that am I blessed. And that's the incredible part. God should be worshiped just because He is. And yet when we look to God and say, "LORD, you are my God", He doesn't just say,
"That's right - I am - you should have bowed down a long time ago."

NO! He blesses us for doing what we should be doing anyway. How incredible is that? How incredible is God?

So, today, put all those things that get in between us and the Lord aside and proclaim His majesty, His greatness. Proclaim that He, the Great I Am, who shares His throne with no one - is your God.

And you will blessed!


The world in which we live

Today is September 11th.

I am sure all of you reading this blog remember exactly what you were doing that day. I was in a deli on the first floor of the office where I worked. I was talking to Jenny on my cell phone when the 1st tower fell. I too drove home in the silence of plane-less skies, a silence that filled my ears like cotton. I too remember how I was reminded of the way things are in our little world.

At least the way things are for now.

I found myself on a news website today. Not much about 9/11. Not surprised. I found this article about Kathy Griffin's Emmy acceptance speech. She eloquently stated:

"a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

I was not upset at her. Saddened, I guess, more than anything. Her god will help her little when she stands before the King of kings, the Risen and Exalted Christ who made all things and holds all things together by the power of His hands. But stand she will, as will we all. And her trophy will give her no fame. No glory. No hope. Indeed, without the Lord, she has received her reward in full.

But there will be a day when no one will utter contempt. When the treasures of men will have no hold. When evil men will not kill mommies and daddies and humans will live as we are meant to: in peace.

But until THAT day...

wait we must.


Prayer, elections and independence day

I was reading Psalm 141 this morning and I just cannot get out of my brain how bold David was in his communication with God. He talks to God, asks rather forcibly that God listen to him, asks Him to help him and then, get this - he expects God to do what he asked Him to do.

How revolutionary is that?

I've read books on prayer and heard sermons on prayer and some of them are good, others great, others heretical. But can you imagine a person, a Bible study, a whole church praying to God and then actually expecting Him to do what they asked? I'm not talking about people asking for a fancier car - I'm talking about people who have been given direct access to the very throne of God through the sacrifice of Jesus - I'm talking about those people asking God to work here and now on planet earth. James tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. So the question I got hit with is what am I praying for? What is there that God is not able to do? Am I praying in such a way that it cannot be answered except by God?

More on that at a later date.

The presidential elections were held here in Guatemala yesterday. I know, elections on a Sunday, but hey, it's their country. There was only one incident where a mob of 3000 stormed a voting place, took the ballot box, and burned the ballots. Apparently they thought the guy running for mayor brought people in from El Salvador to vote. I think the mob got to one or two other polling places before the riot police hosed them with tear gas. I read that there were 30,000 riot police on patrol yesterday. Guess it worked. Not sure who won yet but with 13 candidates I believe there will be a runoff.

Sept. 15th is independence day for every country on Central America. The Spanish gave them back their countries in 1821 (I think) so there will be lots of parades, etc and fairs where we can go and have a little cultural experience. Look forward to sharing some of that later.

Did I mention I watched the Cowboys play last night? Maybe nothing for you - but that's the first Cowboy game I've seen in Guatemala. A landmark day, really. And those announcers - wow - they speak Spanish INCREDIBLY clear. It was amazing. I wish everyone spoke Spanish that clearly.

Oh, and I had an interesting discussion with a drunk gentleman at my front door this morning. He rang the bell (a very common occurrence ) and wanted a Quetzal (or a 'Q' - the Guatemalan currency). It's about 1/7th of a dollar so whatever that comes out to in dollars (just checked - $0.13) and he wanted one. Unfortunately he was quite obviously drunk and I wasn't about to give a drunk guy money. We discussed this for awhile (well - I told him "sorry, sir, but no" 20 times and he asked for a Q 20 times). I told him that I would not give him any money because I could smell the alcohol on his breath and he was drunk. He said that he had a job. I asked him why, if he had a job, did he have no money. He said he had money but he spent it all on booze. We both laughed at that and I had to give him credit for honesty. Then I told him no way would I give him a Q.

He was a very nice drunk at least. Most of them are.


The Majesty of College Football

For those of you expecting something uber-spiritual this morning...sorry.

I have lots of spiritual things going on in my little mind but on a Saturday morning in September, well, it is the Ramble Zone.

I love college football. I believe it to be the greatest sport in the history of mankind. A close second is Calvin Ball or maybe Racquetball, but I digress. I am unabashedly Texan and as a Texan I was bred on Football. For those of you not familiar with Texas, please let me clarify:

A lot of people in Texas go to church on Sunday morning and worship at a church. In West Texas, 80-90% are in a church building come Sunday morning. But, and I say this only slightly tongue in cheek, more people worship Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a stadium temple with grid-iron carpet where the coveted back row is the 50 yard line about 15 rows up. A book, Friday Night Lights (later a movie and now a TV show) was written about the phenomenon of West Texas football and the Odessa Permian Panthers. It's not a joke. Football in Texas, particularly in small towns, is as deeply felt as the price of cotton, cattle and West Texas crude.

I live in a country where football is futbol and is played with a spherical ball on a larger field and on every plot of land flat enough to stick a dozen kids and two goals. Here is it Football Americano Colegeio and the papers don't write about it and no one talks about it and on a Saturday in September no one cares. I have moved from a land where a game was sewn into the fabric of my being to a land made of a different thread, a different pattern - one of its own beauty and grace. Still beautiful but different, foreign.

So today, one day out of seven, for a dozen or so weeks in the fall, I celebrate my heritage. I was woven with the strands of football - they help make up the earthly Brandon - and while they hold no eternal value (at least not much) they, like barbecue, bluebonnets in the spring, red oaks, and pizza on Christmas Eve are the things that gave me a place to call home. And to reject them would be silly. To reject all other things would be tragic. And so I hold them both and relax in the tension. And I follow a game that means very little, but matters much.


Tropical Depression

No, I'm not sad. Well, maybe a little.

Hurricane Felix slammed into the norther coast of Nicaragua as a terrifying Category 5 storm. The predictions brought it directly over us in Guatemala as a Tropical Storm. We were ready. Water, food, gas for the stove, fuel in the car, candles, batteries, hand-crank short wave radio, windows sealed, hatches battened - we were set to go.

And now?

A Tropical Depression. That may not even reach us. A really big thunderstorm. Not even a really mean one, just large.

We sent out an e-mail asking folks to pray. Really, I should not be complaining. Really, I should be thanking God for answering all those people by protecting us even from heavy rain that, here in Central America, can be devastating.

But I'm a little - although just a little - disappointed. And it's silly, I know. Next time there is a Category 5 hurricane coming our way - someone remind me that it's better to NOT be slammed by a monster storm.

So today, their may be a little rain and then, from our end, some thankfulness is in order.

Because someday, the storm won't fall apart. Someday it will hit. Someday it must be endured. But not today.

Thank you, Lord.


God bless the internet

I know that technology can be used for good and evil alike. And the internet, for all the evil it has been used for, allowed me to listen to my Red Raiders put it to SMU today. It's Labor Day in the US but here in Guatemala it's just Monday. ESPN carried the game on nationwide coverage but that doesn't include the nation of Guatemala. We DO get ESPN but they are playing the US Open instead - great sport but far from college football.

How did you enjoy your Labor Day?