Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Calvary Road

I have been reading and re-reading a little hundred page book called "The Calvary Road" by Roy Hession written in 1950.
It has been a great book to read for me right now and here are some of his quotes:

"To be broken is the beginning of revival, it is painful, it is humiliating but it is the only way."

"Grace is not God's gift to the faithful, it is his gift for the empty and the feeble and the failing."

"Jesus gets his glory not in the number of good Christians he pats on the back, but the failures he restores."

"Revival is not a green valley getting greener, but a valley full of dry bones being made to live again."

"The only beautiful thing about the Christian is Jesus Christ."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

There At The Sea

Not words that inspire or draw others to your cause, not words spoken from an oasis, but utterances from a soul desperate for peace. A broken hearts cry for solace spoken through cracked lips from a long thirsty walk in the wrong direction. A walk discovered to be a wandering of chaos and destruction. A man shaken by the realization that the footprints he just discovered in the sand are his own.
“I am here again” falls from broken, bleeding lips.
The carcass of rotting flesh has drawn me. The bloated hearts craving has steered the ship aground on the jagged rocks of its own embrace.
Can enough condensation gather on the wool to drip the shattering wave of grace again?
Is there one more measure of mercy to sing to this numb heart?
Is God’s grace gone a distant echo heard only by ears long since silenced? A nice theory painted on stony walls?

Surely not words voiced by a scarred wanderer, to him they are mere whispers of fantasy encased in turbulent seas. Yet the powerful voice that calmed the storm declares with redemptive authority their truth. Thirst speaks its need loud and very clear. Hunger displays the utter weakness of the human condition. Blind from desert wanderings we are led by the hand to the well, ushered there to be brought back to life, to see again, to hear the birds song in the trees at the oasis of mercy.
There is not but a drip of grace but alas, an endless ocean where wave after wave of unmerited acceptance fall upon the shores of our lives. The hideous disfigured wandering soul, unrecognizable to those closest, is there at the waters edge, beautiful. Favored and rescued he lay, having traveled through the barren inner lands now recognizing those fruitless attempts at peace, only and finally covered and free, there at the sea.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Starring through the dark portal my eyes sting again
Exhaustion has invaded my mind and travelled my veins
Dark thoughts invade my sanity stirring a cocktail of despair
The shell that used to be me paces in circles unable to eat or think
I am the leper on the street and alone in my stone cold bed
As this dark winter embraces me my heart loses all hope
Lips all around me speak of life, my ears are deaf to their bleating
I am the leper waiting for crumbs to fall from hopes table
Crashing and dying I spill my blood on this page
If I had the strength deep within lays a smoldering rage
But I am the leper again and no ear hears this pain
My body heaves with waves of grief pounding
My head constantly throbs as anguish makes its home
I am the leper again and this stain is on my shirt.
Pieces fall off of me out on the open road
Dogs eat my rotten flesh in the gathering place
What hope lies in this leper’s fate?
Its only when the incarnate One touches me again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Wrecking Will

I don’t even know what set me off. I was furious. I jumped on this guy, I’m not sure the button that got pushed even existed before it was done and like toothpaste out of the tube what was done could not be undone. If I remember correctly it was a warm fall day with the sounds of crinkling leaves beneath your feet. As we walked along, a group of us stomping home together, we noticed some other kids behind us, also on their way home from Angell Elementary School. What happens next is very cloudy in my mind and I am not sure if what I am remembering is what really happened or what I think really happened. I remember some pushing and shoving, but not the reason behind it all. I kind of think Will’s younger brother, Eddie, started running his mouth. I didn’t know these kids, they were obviously outsiders to my second grade world but I was determined not to let Eddie but in on my turf, except his older brother Will, who was in the same grade as I was, stepped in and was not going to let me have my way with his younger sibling.

I don’t get this part. I was never an outwardly aggressive person nor have I ever been. I mean sure my buttons have gotten pushed a few times and I have had some fist fights along the way growing up, but none were like this when Will and I squared off on the corner of Wiltshire and Elwood on that autumn day. I think it may have been a combination of me feeling pretty confident that I had two older brothers, Jeff in seventh grade and Mark in ninth grade at the time. Will, well he was the oldest child in his family and besides I am sure my dad could easily take his dad! So a confident new school year buoyed by the fact that my two older brothers had started taking Korean Karate lessons, I was the master of this little universe.

It wasn’t much of a fight really; no little kids fights really are, thank God. I think in less than a minute I had knocked Will to the ground and punched him three or four times in the face. Game over. The new flyweight champ of the corner of Wiltshire and Elwood, was me Craig Coon! I whooped it up all the way home with my friends and little Will and Eddie ran home to their momma!

I was greeted at the door with the obligatory “How was your day?” every schoolboy just loves to hear from their overprotective stay-at-home mothers! I am certain I must have responded with a “Great!” on this particular day. Then came an odd question from my mother:
“Do you know who Will Weckwert is?” Gulp.
“Umm, I think he’s a kid at school, why, why do you ask?”
“His mother just called and said that you beat him up today on the way home from school, is that true Craig?”
Man that was quick! I am certain that an entire litany of excuses proceeded from my lips trying to leverage against any sort of punishment, to no avail. My mom wasn’t buying any of it.
“I want you to go over to his house right now and apologize to him and his mother!”
What? Could anything be worse that? Didn’t she know that I was the new flyweight champ of the street corner of Wiltshire and Elwood? Hadn’t anybody told her of the “street cred” that I earned that day? Oh wait; “street cred” wasn’t even invented yet and I lived in the suburbs of Detroit.
So I made the long humiliating walk around the block and met Mrs. Weckwert that day and told Will that I was sorry for hurting him. His mom wasn’t very impressed with me then, but the funny thing is, Will Weckwert and I were best friends for the rest of our tenure at Angell Elementary School.

“At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility is our greatest friend.” John Stott

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Man I miss you Ryan.

Man I miss you Ryan. I just can’t believe that you are gone. There are days when it seems like everything is the way that it had always been. I go through my day subconsciously believing that real soon you’d come home smelling like pizza and asking me to crack your back. I loved giving you those great big bear hugs, even though in these last few years it was getting harder and harder to reach around you’re broad shoulders to do it. It was during this time of year we would start throwing the football around, talking about if the Lions would ever win anything again, since Barry retired. Or how we would do everything we could to get the TV remote and then crash on the floor after church on Sundays to watch the game, often wrestling around at halftime for control of the couch.

This is a really weird time for me. It’s a special bond that a man has with his children. I know that I won’t do it justice by the words that I birth on this page. Sons and daughters are so different. Daughters steal your heart away on the first hug and never give it back again and sons, well sons, are like a little pieces of you walking around that you hope and pray will “do” life more “right” than you did. I think that is why dads can be hard on their sons when they are growing up. I pray that God gives you many sons and daughters in your life. You need to have a lot of kids, you will be great with them Ryan.

I am so proud of you and I know beyond knowing this is exactly where you need to be, and that this separation isn’t the end of the story, but I still cry for the way it used to be. Tears roll down my face today, because while you were here, I acted like it would never end, never considering these days of separation that are now upon us. I long for your call as I never have before and that is a harsh and sad reality.

“Wherever you are be all there.” Jim Elliot.

Friday, August 22, 2008


It’s been a long blogging absence for me and I am going to try and rectify that a bit. As many of you know our oldest son Matthew recently got married and moved out and then nine days after that our youngest son, Ryan, left for two years on the mission field with Operation Mobilization, to be serving on their newest ship the “Logos Hope.” That coupled with a few other changes in my life: My dog died unexpectedly while I was in Mexico, my long-time assistant Emily took a teaching job down in the Detroit area, Peter my friend, and ministry partner is on sabbatical and in a couple of months Matthew and his wife Kenisha are moving to California. This has proved to be quite the season of loss and change for Connie and I. Many moments are filled with warm tears streaming down my face. It’s not like I don’t think that all of the before mentioned things are good, right and salutary (except Samson the mutt dying) they are, and God’s hand was in all of them. It just seems like his hand was on the grenade that blew up in the face of my life. then during a walk a couple of days ago I was meditating on this verse from John:

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:4

color: rgb(153, 153, 0);So that beget the question: where is my source of life really from? I am trusting Jesus in all of these things and I feel pain. I know that God’s hand is in this and I don’t like the separation. I do trust you Lord, help me in my days where that trust is lacking!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

(reaching back into the archives from December 2004)
While I was reading this morning in Psalm 20 a random thought passed through the confines of my brain. The verse reads “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 20:7
And reading the text note I saw that this was a confession of an army not to trust in there finest weapon of the day with the realization that the power for victory is in the name of the LORD our God.
Which took me back to the movie, The Raiders Of The Lost Ark because of the desire of the Nazi’s to possess the relic, the actual Ark of the Covenant that contained the set of stone tablets that God had written for Moses on Mount Sinai. They wanted the Ark to be taken into battle with their army to empower it to be unstoppable, undefeatable. They were dead set to use the things of God to justify their conquests. Where they erred in judgement was they wanted the power of without the presence of God. They wanted the things of God with out wanting God himself!
We do the same stupid things! We want the results of knowing God with out knowing him. We want peace, prosperity, hope, health and so we put an icthus on our cars so we can have great parking opportunities. Let us run away from the apperarance of Godliness with out Savior at the center of it all and let us run the desperate race to the cross yearning for Him above everything.

posted by C.M. Coon at Monday, December 06, 2004

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Miracle Update

On Tuesday April 22nd I traveled to Ypsilanti to visit the final member of the “Miracle Six” that still remains in the hospital, the driver, Alex Eagling. She had just returned from physical therapy and was pretty tired. As it turns out Alex had much more extensive issues in her neck and back than what originally thought. As she put it, “There is a lot of hardware in there!” and as a result she will be in the hospital for another two weeks. She is looking at an extended rehabilitation process before she is back to functioning how she would like. Her spirits were good and she is very thankful to God for sparing everyone and for all of the prayers that have been offered up on her behalf. Please continue to pray for her physical healing and spiritual well being. She puts a lot of blame and shame on herself over the whole incident, that was in fact, just an accident.

Last Sunday evening, with the high school youth group, we stopped into Joe Mundt’s house to pay him a visit. He was very happy to see everyone. His infection is receding and he is glad to be home. Insurance is covering the van but two insurance companies are fighting over the wheel chair, that is very expensive and was only a month or so old. So Joe’s mobility is limited because a couple of companies are fighting. Please pray for continued healing and a solution to this situation.

The other passengers in the van are progressing along. Last Friday Tim had the stitches removed from his forehead and he his doing much better, still at home from college and happy to be alive. Joey Richter is back in school, still in quite a bit of pain and he showed up last Sunday and went to Joe house. It seems that he and Alex Mirkin and Joe have become quite the pals through all of this and the week in Florida. Alex Mirkin still had the staples in his head on Sunday thought they were supposed to be removed this week. My son Ryan had all but two of his stitches removed on Tuesday and has returned to work, scarred and thankful. Thanks for all of your prayers and concern for these folks and me too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Accidental Miracle

It was like watching a movie in slow motion right outside my driver window in the rearview mirror. Many of you have heard about the tragedy that has struck our youth group with our accident this past Saturday afternoon on our return trip from a Florida spring break trip. We were traveling north on interstate 275 and as I was driving the lead vehicle pulling a trailer and Alex, who is Joe Mundt’s personal caregiver, was driving Joe’s van with Joe in his wheelchair in the back, Tim Obertien sitting next to Joe. In the front was my son Ryan riding in the passenger seat. Two young men from Port Huron Northern High School, Joey Richter and Alex Mirkin occupied the middle two seats.

Two lanes of traffic exit I-275 onto I-94 I was in the right lane and Alex’s van was in the left and as I glanced back in that mirror is when it all began to unfold. I saw Alex’s van make a quick movement right then left and on the second sudden turn it left the road way moving across the soft grass and reentered I-275 where immediately it was met by the front end of a semi-truck. The semi truck met the drivers side of the van somewhere around the front door and it seemed to explode right before my very eyes. All the glass was blown out and it began to roll violently, flipping three or four times. It was about the second flip that I noticed two bodies fly out of the van and a second later the van quit rolling and ended up on the passenger side. During those few seconds of watching I was yelling “No no, no!” slamming on the breaks and throwing the van into park on the side of the entrance ramp I yelled for everyone to stay where they were. I jumped out and ran as fast as I could back to the scene. While running I was still saying “No” and they prayed God please come, please come now! My gut was telling me that I was going to be running up on dead kids and I was thinking that my son Ryan was among them.

The first person that I saw was Joey Richter who was walking around I talked to him for a moment and then told him to sit down. I saw Alex Mirkin who was bleeding from the head and he was coherent and talking to someone. I turned and noticed my son Ryan had blood on both of his arms he was looking for his best friend Tim. As I ran up to him he was very upset that he couldn’t find Tim. I yelled at him to sit down and I reassured him that I would find Tim. I prayed for him that God would protect and heal him and that God would get the glory in this. He started crying for his friend. At this moment I called my wife and told her quickly about the accident and asked her to pray and to call others to pray. As I hung up I looked around for Tim and in the center of the median he was laying on his stomach and not moving. As I ran to him I noticed a large gash in his forehead from above his eye to his hairline that was laid open, I checked to make sure that he was breathing and I fell on the ground and put my hands on his head and started praying for him. That God would heal him and watch over him, protect him. He started groaning and moving trying to get up and I was yelling at him that he was OK and to lay still. It was about this time that some EMT’s came and were beginning to attend to him and they had to hold him down because he wanted to get up in his confusion.

Getting out of the way I went to the van and saw Alex laying in the passenger side door window with blood coming from her head and her right eye was already purple and swollen shut. Alex was conscious, already blaming her self and asking about everyone else, especially Joe. Joe, as it turns out, was laying on what used to be the sliding door to the van, right behind Alex. Yelling to him, he answered me, seemingly able to understand and respond. I reassured Alex that Joe seemed to be pretty good and that everyone was alive. She asked me to pray for her, which I did. I then yelled for Emily, my assistant, who had followed me out of the van to come and comfort Alex while I went and prayed for everyone else. The ambulances and fire trucks were arriving now in force along with a helicopter. I told Ryan that I had found Tim, that he was fighting to get up which was a good sign and that he should pray for him. Two guys that I don’t know asked if they could pray for us so we paused in the middle of I-275 and prayed for God’s help in the middle of this disaster.

I found Joey Richter again and prayed for him as he was being attended to and then I prayed for Alex Mirkin while someone was applying pressure to his head wound (he also had been thrown from the vehicle). I really have no clue how much time had passed when my phone rang it was Peter calling me from Scotland where he had just finished spreading his mothers ashes on a mountainside when he had gotten a text message that something bad had happened. We talked for a few moments and then police and firemen wanted to know who all of these people were and where thay came from and it seemed like Emily and I told everyone’s identities ten different times to different people. There were two Joe’s and two Alex’s in that one van which was confusing for a time. The first one to leave was Tim then joey and Alex Mirkin, and then Ryan. Alex and Joe in the van had to have the back of the van cut off with the jaws of life. They removed Joe and put him on a gurney where I was able to ask him about his injuries. Alex was the last one removed from the wreckage and then airlifted to St. Joseph’s in Ypsilanti. The firefighters had believed that she had been tossed about the cabin but Ryan informed them that he had let her down out of her seatbelt and layed her on the ground before he left to find Tim. Three others were taken to Annapolis hospital in Wayne and the final two to the University of Michigan Hospital. As the helicopter takes off I cried, Emily and I hugged. It was like a dream, a very bad dream. We looked around at the devastation and debris strewn for at least hundred yards and began to pick up identifications and important documents and things of value like laptops and Ipods and everything we could think of that would matter….

Emily and I spent most of the next two days with our spouses in and around Ann Arbor trying to care for the wounded. Monday I said to my wife that was the day that we could have been having a lot of funerals to perform but instead people were getting released from hospitals.

Ryan was treated and released late Saturday night with two cuts that required stitches a mass of bruises and road rash all over his right arm and shoulders and knees and feet.

Joey Richter who was thrown from the vehicle was released Sunday evening with a fractured vertebrae in his neck that wasn’t threatening his spinal chord, road rash a sore lower back and a twisted ankle, he went to school on Monday!

Alex Mirkin, also thrown from the vehicle, sustained a fractured sternum and a punctured lung and some road rash was released from U of M on Monday.

Tim Obertien thrown out up and over two lanes of traffic into the middle of the median into the soft mud, suffered facial fractures that do not require surgery, severe facial laceration, bruised liver, six broken ribs and severe sprained ankle was released on Monday afternoon.

Joe Mundt was thrown out of his wheel chair has a fractured vertebrae in his lower neck that is on the outside of the bone and is not threatening to his spinal chord. Joe developed an infection in one of his wounds on his leg that requires stitches and may be released Wednesday.

Alex Eagling the driver has suffered the worst. She broke her neck and Sunday doctors performed seven hours of surgery installing rods and screws in her neck. Tuesday she walked a few steps and sat in a chair before they took her in for surgery on her wrist that was smashed in the accident. Still Doctors are expecting a full recovery.

As a tribute the six were given superman shirts but God gets all the glory for His miraculous hand in the middle of this disaster. Thank you Jesus for answering the desperate prayers from many people.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Desperate Grace.

Having just returned home from a men’s retreat weekend with a group of guys from the Cornerstone, I needed some time to myself so I could rest, reenergize and reconnect with my family so I have taken a couple of days off. Today was a nasty March day here in Michigan with clouds, rain, melting snow and slimy mud. I slept in and looked outside and wanted to sleep in some more so I did! I have spent time reflecting on some of my motives in relationships and also spent time confessing my sin too. As I was walking today I was hit with the realization that no matter how “good” I get at life, no matter how much I kill sin inside me, no matter how many walls and obstructions that I overcome, I will always need Jesus. I will never get beyond a desperate need for Jesus. So we struggle with figuring out life and how we are supposed to act toward God and others. We confess our sin or maybe we run away from God in pursuit of fulfillment, identity, intimacy and admiration because life has become so hard and meaningless without these things. The truth is, that no matter where we find ourselves we will never outrun our desperate need for Jesus. Sure we go through seasons where circumstances have led us to believe that the whole Jesus thing was in our past and then grace smacks us right between the eyes and we understand again our desperation. May God fill you with a desperate grace to be connected with him today and all of your tomorrows too!
"Relying on God has to begin all over again everyday as if nothing had yet been done." C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


(Part Six of our recent Mexican Missions Experience)

Kids love to play and Mexican kids are no exception to this rule. Sometimes I think the Mexican children are used by God to get into the hearts of the stubborn, self-centered and selfish American more than anything else on our trips. So many people bond with these little humans in unique and real ways that make lasting impressions and changed hearts. I doubt that they understand the way in which God uses them just as we haven’t a clue all of the ways that God uses us either.

Working with Casas Por Cristo Monday is the day that I concentrate on doing a particular job which is pouring and finishing the concrete slab that serves as the foundation for the new home. It is a day that kicks my butt and wears me out. So on Tuesday I am not ashamed to say that I will not be working much today because Tuesday is “playing with the kids day” for me. Sure I do little odd and ends type jobs usually like roofing but mostly I play with kids.

This year was no different. After getting the furnace situation “straightened out,” I sought out the little ones when they got home from school and proceeded to swing them in circles and give them piggyback rides and tickle them relentlessly. I love it, they love it and all of the neighborhood adults think that I am crazy. Not that I can understand them its just the looks that they shoot my way. But in the end we all end up on the ground laughing and the onlookers are chuckling. It makes me think that is exactly what Jesus would be doing too. (sounds good to me anyway!)

Monday, March 10, 2008


(This is part Five on our recent Mexican Mission experience)

There is only so much that a person can stand. Push me so far and I would break at some point or another. I cannot fathom some of the graphic tragedy that many people all over the world face everyday. I know that I have led a sheltered life, protected from much of the pain and misery that this world can throw at its inhabitants. I am sheltered to a great degree by where I was born and who my parents were and the condition of my country and the time in which God created me to live. My mother and father are still married and my dad was blessed with a good job for the whole of his adult life with General Motors. My mom worked when the kids were in school. They were good with their money and didn’t get addicted to anything along the way.

In 2001 I met a family in colonial Juarez. The woman’s name was Patie (26) she had four children at the time, a husband and a “new” home. The reason that it was new was because her mother had just died three weeks before I met her and had willed her a home that she had started building several years before. The new home was four walls about 18’ x 32’, which is spacious for this area, but only the block walls stood. A group the week before us had built a roof and we were able to pour all her cement floors. The group took up an offering and bought her windows, doors and a set of bunk beds for the kids so that she could move in to her new place.

Almost seven years have past and two more children have been born, Patie and her family have really been engraved on my heart over these years and I try to visit her and her family when we are in Mexico. This past trip we were able to visit, spending some time catching up (trough my personal translator, Lorena) sharing a soccer game in the street. Patie told us that her husband has left again which is about the tenth time since I’ve known them. Benjamin is his name and he has spent his life drinking, beating his wife and working on cars, but not necessarily in that particular order. So every once in a while he takes off and leaves the family without any income or a father or much hope for a better life. I just don’t get it. I get angry, I feel helpless and i want to rescue them all from it. I mean sure, we have done a few projects to help around the house over the years, like: installed a beam to support a sagging roof, and then a wall for the same reason. Rewired her house, insulated and built a whole new roofing system a few years ago along with all of the countless food and money donations to the family. This has helped and feed them for a time but this woman’s faith in Christ makes mine pale in comparison. The immense pressure she must feel makes me wonder why she isn’t in a little padded cell somewhere or dead. So during our last visit I blurted out the their oldest daughter Cynthia should come back to Michigan, live with us and go to school. Anyone know how to bring a 13 year old Mexican to the U.S.A. legally? Please let me know!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


(Part Four of my recent Mexican Mission Experience)

Something always happens when I am gone from home. It’s like a demonic planning committee checks out my calendar and send out its demented minions on missions of misery when I am gone. So this time it was going to be different. I checked everything and planned ahead on preventative maintenance for other things. I had a list of to-dos a whole page long and I accomplished all of them. So this time I was cautiously optimistic that the twisted demon punks would be held at bay, at least until I made it home.

Have you ever heard the term “pride comes before the fall?” Well on Tuesday after the awesome prayer by Deborah, like two minutes after, I remembered to turn my phone on because it had died the night before and I plugged it into the van all night to recharge.

After it loaded up its programs the familiar buzz of information came streaming into its memory. Emails then voicemails and I noticed a few new ones from Connie. So I opened the second one and it said: “If you want to help me pick out our new furnace you had better call me!” Crap!

So for the next hour and a half I talked with Connie and the heating and plumbing people, finance people and sure enough we had to replace our furnace. I feel so bad that Connie has to bear the brunt of so much of the attacks when I am off engaged in mission work. It sucks. And that is exactly how Satan operates. Divide and conquer. Sow seeds of discouragement among Gods people and beat the crud out of their families that will turn the tide against God. NOT!

So now we have a nice new furnace and another story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of a trial. Take that you slimy punk! And through all of that talking on the phone the house was being assembled. Piece by piece the walls rose up in defiance to the arid desert. I noticed that in the smoking “kitchen” lunch was already being made. God is good even in the midst of trials.

More to come… the journey continues.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Not Want.

(Part three of our recent Mission to Anapra, Mexico)

As the sun broke over the horizon on the Tuesday morning in February I knew that it was going to be a good day. During the night Lori Eschenburg had given me a pair of ear plugs because the night before we had a snore fest and only a few people had gotten decent sleep, and of course they were the ones that were snoring. So this morning my outlook on life was a bit better than it had been the previous day.

After breakfast and devotions we loaded up and went back to Deborah’s and as normal we gathered on the new slab to pray. This time, in the circle, almost everyone prayed out loud. Thanking God for the opportunity to be in Anapra again, thanking Him for safety and the previous days work, asking him for protection and health and blessing on Deborah and her family. Then it happened. I remember that the sun was peeking through to my face from behind the neighbor’s house, washing me with a warm embrace and then Deborah began to pray. She was praying in Spanish but that didn’t matter. She was immersed in thanksgiving to God for his hand in providing for her. Wait! Wait! Injustice welled up inside of me. This was a woman, that in order to give her daughter and grandkids a good nights sleep, she slept on the cement floor. She slept on the concrete in a place on the floor that was under a Bible verse that she had written on the wall above her bed. The verse is Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” She sleeps on the concrete under the sign. I was very convicted for all of my pettiness, selfishness and lack of faith. This woman, for five minutes poured out her heart to God her loving provider and every Gringo gathered around that circle cried. What a lesson we learned, as the presence of the Son of God was displayed in grandeur through one small faithful Mexican woman. Indeed this was going to be a good day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


(This is Part Two, Part one is "Bleak" found below)
That first Monday we spent much of the morning getting ready to pour the cement floor. During this time Deborah was standoffish and seemingly shy. We worked and she watched as two distinct groups of people try to feel each other out as to whom would take which role. You see, for this build, and for the first time since the early days of coming to Juarez, we had another group join with us. Four people from Jonesborough, Georgia had already taken the time off of work when there churches plans to build a house in Mexico fell through. So one day, out of the blue I get a call from an obviously southern gentleman on my phone wondering about joining up with our group. Paul, was his name, and he offered to bring air tools and metal lath instead of the normal chicken wire that we use to get the stucco to adhere to the exterior of the home and some good old-fashioned southern hospitality. I was somewhat skeptical at first but we talked as a team and in our training time a quote from a book that said the “Quality of our love as a team and our ability to incorporate new members is our greatest witness.” Bingo Paul, Kevin, Jeff and Diane joined the build.

So this first morning while we are figuring out our roles, Deborah watched. She had no clue at this point that we hadn’t known each other for 24 hours yet. But she watched and her daughter Crystal watched. The grandkids came home from school and they watched.

Soon the cement truck arrived (yes we pay extra for them because they make life so much more bearable) and we had to wheel barrel the whole floor and men and women, southerners and Yankees all pitched in and it was the fasted and most efficient pour that we have ever had. Everyone worked real hard and Deborah watched us work most of the time with her hands over her mouth in disbelief. Then I was able to get to finish the concrete because that is what I want to do and have some skill at doing it from a previous job. And they all were watching.

The children played and everyone else built wall sections and roof sections and Deborah’s eyes sparkled and her smile appeared to be uncontrollable now in the afternoon sun. Then she started to laugh and smile and laugh some more. At just about the time the sunset was reflecting red off of the Franklin mountains to our north in Texas, we packet up the tools and said our goodbyes until tomorrow. As we left Deborah watched, not us mind you, but her new floor and the piles of sections that would assembled tomorrow. She watched and her eyes danced with excitement that comes from knowing a blessing is right around the corner.

To be continued…. (The picture really is Deborah in her “kitchen!”)

Monday, February 25, 2008


As I walked up to the shack I wondered. It was a warm sunny February morning and I had to climb up a couple levels of tires stacked to provide a type of retaining wall for the sand that had been leveled out to provide a place for her new home. Taking those steps I wondered what the week held in store for us, I wondered about who this family was and I wondered how we would connect. As we introduced ourselves to Deborah and her family I tried to contemplate life from her perspective at this very moment. She lives in a small (maybe 12x15’) two room shack that has a single twin bed with a small ajoining room where you access the toilet through the door in one corner and her kitchen outside consists of two cement blocks for a stove. Ten years ago she moved from the interior of Mexico to Anapra to get one of the coveted jobs at a local factory and then three years into the job she was struck by a car and injured to the point where she couldn’t work at the factory anymore and was replaced. Now she makes money by selling simple meals to other working families in her arid neighborhood. She cooks those meals on a piece of metal placed on top of the cement blocks over a fire made from cornhusks and old two by fours. Through the week she made us two fantastic meals in her kitchen and it is apparent why her neighbors would purchase prepared food from her. The kitchen uses two walls from the house and the other two walls are made from what appears to be old wooden garage doors and these same door-like pieces are laid across the top of the primitive structure for a roof. Inside she starts a fire and is inundated by the smoke that escapes through a four-inch space in the roof. It is here that she makes her living and also cooks for her family. For five years in this place she has tried to eek out a living to provide for her family since she is the sole breadwinner. Deborah was a bit reluctant to speak about her husband that abandoned then many years ago with much other than upturned hands, a shrug and some tears.
To Be Continued ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Another Day Moved By God.

I meet with a guy every week that technically is my boss. He is a foreigner, he likes soccer more than baseball, hockey and American football, he is a lawyer by training, he once wanted to be a communist, he lives in Marysville, he loves to eat at the Great Wall, (a local Chinese restaurant) he is insecure most days, he knows how to play rugby, he has advanced degrees and is way smarter than I am. So all of those things should add up to zero potentiality for a real friendship between him and I, except one thing. One rather large thing that is, and that is we have both been absolutely (hear the Scottish accent) transformed by the love of God found in Jesus Christ. We laugh and plan and complain and share and celebrate and eat together. I thank God for my friend Peter. He always makes me think and dream and wonder about just who this Jesus is and what has he called me to be. He has made me a better man, a better husband, a better human being, a better Pastor. Thanks Peter for being my friend and encourager!
We usually meet on Tuesdays at Taco Bell for our staff meeting over lunch. Today was another one of those days that I walked away from just so thankful to have Peter as my friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Living Frenzy.

Someone has asked me to compile a list of everyone that I have been on trips to Mexico with over the last 13 years. I have a decent idea who went but there are some from way back that I am struggling to remember. This is trip number 15 for me and I still get excited for the journey every time. Waiting and anticipating how the team will coalesce, wondering if there will be and van break downs (there has only been three that I can remember) Wondering about the new family that we get to meet and build a home for and start a long-term relationship with. Wondering how Chila is, and Pati and her kids and Pastor Miguel, and Pastor Elias and Maria his wife. Then there is Kate Cummings who went to Mexico a couple of times and now is an intern for YouthWorks at site number one in Juarez, the exact place where we served for a number of years. There are many relationships that get to be rekindled in just a few days. But until then there is much to do. You may not hear from me from this tornado again for a while, but thanks for caring!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Flunky god.

Running has been difficult these last few days and so has walking. A few days ago I bruised my heal playing a new game with some energetic middle schoolers and I have only been on one walk since. I am trying to rest it a bit to let it heal (pun intended). However it is very easy, at least it has been very easy throughout my history, to run away from God when things aren’t in there regular routine. Excuse after excuse has piled up over theses last 22 years of following Jesus, NOT to follow Jesus. Many things garner my attention very easily. Hockey, baseball, hiking, online newspapers and blogs, television and more, the list goes on and on of convenient excuses. Things more thrilling, more relevant, more exciting almost always were chosen. I had attached my will to something so fleeting, so random, such flunky gods I would run after time and time again.

Peter Scazzero nailed me on this in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality when he said: “The problem is that we attach our wills to something that we believe will satisfy us more than God.”

What is that for you? What/who is your flunky god today? It will never measure up. It will always let you down in the end.

6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith that you have been taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”Colossians 2:6-8

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I have been knocked out of spiritual rhythm lately with being sick for a few days, going off to winter camp with middle schoolers a week ago and coming back to be sick again, then being in the midst of an incredible busy season and wola.... I feel a bit out of whack.

Starring me in the face is another opportunity to lead a team to Mexico and build a house for some people that live in a cardboard shack. We had a final pre-trip gathering today and now I am pretty excited about the team we have going and seeing old friends. Yes, of course, we need a little financial miracle this time, only about $1,200.00 by a week from Thursday which is saying that God has provided about $7,300.00 already!

pray for us February 15th - 24th ... pray for me too!


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Limit Switch.

I really love to ski. Being outside in the snow with the wind rushing over your face and the challenge of keeping your balance through ever changing circumstances is invigorating. Today, the reality of 24hours of skiing over two days has caught up with my body and I am finding myself a little more sluggish than normal. The older I become the more I am recognizing some limits in my life and that is a good thing. We are all so very partial, in and of ourselves, we need food every few hours, we need companionship, we need air, warmth, shelter, sleep, clothes and on and on the list goes. This is the “gift of limits” as one author puts it. When we are young we don’t like limits, in this country we even tell ourselves; “We can do anything that we want!” No we cannot. No matter how hard I try I will never sing in an opera. Not gonna do it! I will never sprout wings and fly. I don’t have enough money to build a rocket ship and fly to Mars, that one bums me out. So limits are all around us and for many years I banged my head against that truth. I rebelled against the idea that life had limits, now after a few decades to mature a little I am beginning to see them as a gift from God, designed to show us that we need Him. Among human beings there has only been one without limits, his name was Jesus.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Colossians 1:19-20