Tuesday, March 18, 2008
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
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.