Friday, September 07, 2007

Guayaquil, Ecuador. These photos were taken two years apart at the same hotel. One of us didn't have quite enough material to pull across our body.
The attitude we present to the Lord when serving Him is very important. Not only does He already know our hearts, but those around us can read our faces, our body language, our disposition. If we are to be Christlike in our lives, that clearly includes our demeanor in approaching each task before us.
The above photos were taken at the nicest hotel we stayed in this past summer. While I did not want to rob my team of the pleasures it had to offer, I did not want to set the precedent of staying in this hotel at the beginning of our journey.
They were very focused on ministry, and anxious to get at it. We flew into and out of Guayaquil, Ecuador, en route to Peru, as it was considerably cheaper than flying into and out of Lima. This hotel had the potential to plant a seed in each mind that we were going on vacation, and were staying in really nice places. For that reason, I chose to reserve our time there until the very end of the trip. A sort of reward for a summer well spent.
The places we stayed in Peru were certainly adequate. It is my desire to live in the countries we serve in, as closely to the way the locals live as possible, while still being safe. This usually found us in places that spilled onto the streets where much traffic of people and business were taking place.
There were times that some of our team were literally sleeping on cheap box springs that had been mistaken for mattresses by some of the hotel owners. I never heard a single word of complaint from them. Their expectations from this experience, did not include living in luxury. While I would not call a simple mattress, luxury, at the end of a very long and tiring day, wooden slats instead of pillowy comfort could cause frustration, even weariness.
I never heard a disparaging word. The team embraced each thing that happened as part of their experience. They knew the Bible said that as believers we will suffer. They were prepared. When a 6 to 8 inch rock crashed into our bus, 3 inches below a window, their attitude was to pray for the hurler. He was not mad at us, but at the ideas our country represented that he did not have access to.
Though the Word says as Christians we will suffer, and to count it gain when we do; I am amazed at how often we suffer more at the hands of fellow believers, than unbelievers.
What is our attitude to be when we serve?
When the end our of our journey in Peru had come, and we retreated to the hotel pictured above, I met a fellow believer. She was in charge of another US based mission team. She asked about our journey. As I told her what we had been up to, and how many lives the Lord had claimed for His kingdom, I also made a reference to this nice hotel. I spoke briefly of how it was by far the nicest we had inhabited all summer.
Her reaction? She began to tell me a story of how their youth pastor was supposed to lead this trip, but had resigned. The leadership had fallen to her. She did not seem pleased. She said, "I made an advance trip here to find a place like this to stay, because I don't rough it!"
Clearly, we are each allowed to have our own opinions about how and where we live. I have no quarrel with that. However, when the reality of those feelings are superimposed onto a group and do not stop at the conditions of the hotel, but are transferred into nearly everything the group does, the result has a major impact on the ability of that team to have impact.
This lady had little to no joy. I did not sense much joy from the others on her team, either. I don't think I would enjoy sitting through their description of their trip back at church. This same lack of joy in serving, is likely to be what others sense when stories are told.
Was she just having a bad day? Perhaps. Should I cut her some slack? Probably.
As Americans we face significant judgment and scrutiny from others, nearly everywhere outside of our own borders. If our attitude is not Christlike, that is what people will remember. Our general attitudes of entitlement have been experienced by people in other cultures and they do not understand it.
We should not be accepting of those attitudes. As believers, we need to be aware that the only thing we are entitled to is eternal separation from God. Yet because of His grace and mercy, we don't receive that. We get a reward we don't deserve, and while it comes at the end of the journey, it is eternal.
Lets convey that attitude to others.
For some reason when I post, all of the paragraph breaks are being deleted. I apologize for how hard this makes it to read.


At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand what you are refering to: our feelings of entitlement. I'm not sure I would have understood until I had the opportunity to travel in the Yucatan and around the Shanghai/Ningbo China area. It's like Jesus said, it is only those with much to forgive that appreciate forgiveness. We all have so much to learn and so much to understand. At least the wheels were on the road. The rest is up to the Lord. Paul never realized when he left to chase believers in The Way that he was the one being chased. And he may have never had the encounter with the Living Jesus had he stayed in Jerusalem. I pray that even in my infantile and childish ways, that the Lord will be glorified. I know I don't always do or say what is right. But I know I serve a Wonderous God who is able to take the least of this world, even the dust of the ground, and breathe LIFE into it. I'm so far from where I should be and a young man of 15 was lightyears beyond my understanding, but I am where I'm at. All I can do is try to learn as much as I can and move forward one step at a time and I may never move near that bright light. I fail and falter but I keep getting back up. Maybe I should just stay down? There are days... But I look up and He still says to 'follow me' so even crawling, I'm doing what I can to follow.
Frustrated, confused, struggling and stretching to make the goal,
Mark \o/

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Leafamily said...

Good Morning Higgins family, Just wanted you all to know that I am thinking and praying for you all.
With Love and Prayers from KC-Tracy

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photos are great to see! Thank you for sharing them with your blog family.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Brent and Deanna,

I appreciate your honesty about how hard it is to go on without BJ. I am blessed to have the opportunity to share your journey. I sometimes still ask the question to God: Why did you take BJ from this world? He stood for all that is good and pure in this world. He was not afraid to stand up for You. He made a difference. He was just getting started. I know God is in control of all and praise him for all the lives that have been saved and revived because of His work through BJ. BJ stood up and made the ultimate sacrifice for our Savior. I praise God for the example that BJ is for Jonathan. He has really grown spiritually in the last 2 years since BJ's death. I have the joy of seeing an example of BJ's sacrifice everyday. I know it does not ease your pain but I wanted you to know.

Kathy H.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this entry. i remember when that pic of be-jota was taken (i think i might've been the one who took it or courtney?) and, yes, we were all so floored at how beautiful that hotel was with the indoor soccerfield. but i also recall feeling guilty the night we spent there... we really didn't belong in a place like that especially for the purpose we had. i couldn't help but think of how much money, time and energy was spent on building something so grand and luxurious (specifically for missionaries) that could have been spent on helping the needy and oppressed. however, those feelings led me to judging people i had never even met. it is right to recognize extravagance and injustice but so difficult sometimes to not cross the line into prejudice and judgment especially when i myself have been guilty of being selfish and materialistic and having no compassion towards the needy around me, both in the spiritual and physical sense. this world and this generation desires so much to see authentic Christians who practice selflessness joyfully. by realizing how great our God is and how utterly selfless Jesus was on the cross that we should have bore, we realize our own depravity and false sense of entitlement. it's really having the wrong view of God and grace that we have that sense of entitlement. and often times, we have to be reminded by fellow brothers and sisters who are not afraid to speak truth.


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