Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I wanted to update my speaking schedule for those who are interested:

September 30 Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma
October 1 "Send the Rain," Douglas, Georgia
October 3 Tulsa State Fair
October 12 Gracepointe Church, Denton, Texas
October 15 "MORPH" Ridgeway Baptist, Sapulpa, Oklahoma
October 17 "MORPH" Ridgeway Baptist, Sapulpa, Oklahoma
October 19 First Baptist, Bristow, Oklahoma
October 25 Whitney's wedding, Indianapolis, Indiana
October 30 Awe Star Ministries Board Meeting
November 7 - 9 iGo Missions Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma
an upcoming date in California (possibly November) is in the works.

Yesterday, about five minutes after my predawn alarm went off, my doorbell rang!
I was completely startled! Generally, our door bell doesn't ring often. When it does, it tends to command our attention. When it rings while were groggy/sleepy, I leap to action.

I went to the door, flipped on outside and inside lights and wondered who on earth would be at my door at that hour of the morning.

I opened the door to find my neighbor with a very concerned look on her face. She said, "the little red car is out in the street."

My mind tried to process what she was saying (still mostly asleep).

All I could think about was that little burgundy car that sat in my drive a couple of weeks ago...the one that sped off when I opened the garage door.

She saw my look of confusion and reiterated with hand gestures, pointing to where our Malibu usually sits.

I walked out with her to find that the Malibu had rolled down, out of our drive into the street and stopped perpendicular to it, with the back tires resting against the curb of her yard (she lives across the street).

I was stunned. What foolishness was this? How did our car end up there? The driveway has a slight incline, but only slight.

I thanked her, went back inside and found the keys, and returned to move it.

I inspected it in the dark and found no issues.

The car had been left in neutral and was unlocked. It appears it simply rolled out of the driveway. Of course we were very thankful that no one or nothing had been hit by it. Who knows how long it had been there!

This incident caused both Deanna and me to realize that we need to pay closer attention. It is far too easy to get caught up in the moment and not pay attention to details. Details that can alter circumstances in life.

Not putting your car into park can bring about unwanted circumstances. Most of us can remember a time when this happened in our lives. This served as a wake up call, a clear warning, if you will, to pay attention to the details.

Scripture teaches us the same premise. In I Cor 14:8..."if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?"

The fact is that we have been called to battle and we need to respond! Too many of us get lulled to sleep by other factors in life...like talking on the phone and forgetting to put the car in park and locking it. We cannot afford to walk around with our minds in neutral. We need to pay attention to the details of fully preparing our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our will to serve Him and Him alone.

Getting lost in the minutia of life is destructive and dangerous. Sometimes we get a mulligan before our wake up call comes. Deanna and I are declaring ours.

I hope we are now paying attention as we need to be.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Beej and Whitney in Colorado

Thank you so much to those of you who continue to check in here from time to time. You mean a great deal to us and this journey would have been far more difficult without you!

We are together today, and thankful. We are remembering, and grateful. I honestly do not have words to express myself today, and will just leave it simple.

God bless each of you on this day! Family that we are not with, we miss you tremeandously! We hope to see you soon.

Enjoy your day! We are planning to enjoy our time honoring and remembering!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My children a long time ago...

Sometime after midnight tonight, Whitney and Jared arrive. Lauren has to work tomorrow, while Deanna and I will not be. Lauren will join us in the evening. We are looking forward to this time together.

Lauren is making her debut performance (she has sung at church events of all kinds, but this is different) Saturday night at a local venue. She and several others will be playing their music at a place called Studio 47. We are very excited and anxious to see what the Lord has ahead of her. This night will be her, her original songs and a piano. The poster for the event reflects the line, "featuring: Lauren Higgins."

Last night before going to bed, I was thrilled to see that our book was ranked #1 in two categories and #30 in a third, on amazon.com. I cannot recall if it has ever been ranked so high, and I feel certain the Lord is gently showing us His love during this time.

Please understand, the selling of the book for us, has everything to do with the Lord conintuing to use BJ's testimony. Books usually have a 6 month run if you are lucky. I am told most never sell more than a few hundred copies. We are blessed to be in the second print run, and are praying the Lord will continue to use this far beyond the 9 month mark we are currently at.

Marti recently sent us a photo of our book on the bestsellers stand at a national Christian booksellers event. This occurred while I was in Peru this past summer. We are so thankful that the Lord has continued to see fit to impact others lives through BJ's. We know we are blessed beyond our expectations. To be completely honest, we have dreams that far surpass even where it is.

As a family, we cannot thank each of you enough for the endless visits to this site, prayer support, emails and phone calls that we have received in support of this journey. We know that what the Lord has done and is doing is significant and it has been our pleasure to have you walk with us through this time.

We do not pretend to know what is ahead at this point. We will continue to seek after Him and desire to be found constantly, instantly obedient to His direction.

For most, tomorrow is just another day of the week. A good day for many, as it is Friday. For us, it will be a day never forgotten...an unexpected day. Even at the end, I was sure the Lord was going to do something magnanimous. He did.

It just took us a long while to understand how incredible an event it is to be able to "go home to be with Him." What God has done would be significantly cheapened, had we manufactured it.

This is all about Him and His glory. This is about the impact simple servants of the Most High God, can have, if we are faithful.

One of my friends was telling me last night that his University professor was yelling at him in class yesterday. Screaming that God does not exist!

Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool says in his heart, their is no God. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."

A well eduacated, intelligent professor who teaches our children, would be considered wise in our world. They would be considered to be doing a good work by teaching/instructing.

That professor is a fool according to Scripture. It's always easier to believe the world. The results seem more tangible.

I'll stay with wisdom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Call me a fool, I don't care. Like Paul, if I am out of my mind, it is for His sake. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I would rather have a reward delayed, than receive instant gratification, and have that be it, for eternity.

I love you, Jesus. Thank you for first loving me...just as I am.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Deanna and me in the 80's...

I've been busy this week trying to get pictures scanned into the computer, for use in our upcoming wedding. When we unearthed this one, I could not resist posting it. The sign still describes our journey. Deanna has not changed!

The Lord has seen fit to bless us over the last few days with unexpected messages and encouragements. We are very thankful for this. It is never my desire to leave a somewhat distressing message up as the first thing you see when visiting here. For those concerned, I apologize. I apologize not for the content, but for any discouragement that seeing it up for 2 or 3 days may have brought.

Around a month ago, I wrote about a good friend of mine, Justin Magers, who died in India, while serving the Lord. Many things have occurred in the wake of his home going.

One of those things has been a new friend. Her name is Sarah. She is a senior at her university. The Lord has been ministering and revealing a calling in her life that seems to have begun a transformation from within.

She walks a difficult path that so many her age struggle with. She is a believer and resides among many who are not and many who claim to be, but whose lives more mirror the world than a walk with Christ.

Her struggle is how to 'come out and be separate' while still loving her friends. We have had several conversations over the struggles she faces, and yet she has been an inspiration to me as she opens up her heart.

I see more of Christ in her than she probably thinks resides there. Her hunger for Him and the things of Him is so refreshing to my sometimes weary soul. She sends me random email messages of encouraging video from youtube. She is such a blessing to hear from.

Her desire is to go to the mission field after graduation, and serve with us for a summer. I am praying for her and asking the Lord to make a way for that to happen.

I love it when God leads those who want to serve to our doorstep, and then allows us to see Him rise within them and begin to cause ripples in those around them.

It remains staggering to me that for every 1000 students who want to go to the mission field, 1 makes it, because of parental intervention.

Well intended parents. Parents who want their child to find good jobs, make money, and keep their loved one safe. Few of these parents seem to realize that the Sarah's of the world want desperately to shed the worldly view of materialism, and just serve Him.

Too many parents are tugging back on the invisible leash they have tethered to their child. They do so for the good, for the safety of the child. They do so to the detriment of the lost. This very pervasive attitude is reflected in the majority of parents who fail to realize that they are hindering the spread of the gospel.

They hinder the call of God on the lives of their children. They hinder the move of God in their own lives by "keeping their Sarah, safe."

When parents prevent their children from going, they teach them by action, that "going" is unimportant. That what is important is making money or remaining within a comfort zone.

Too many of these parents are so closed within their own comfort zones... cocoons... that they are ineffective at serving the Lord themselves. The whole point of a cocoon is transformation. Transformation cannot occur within a comfort zone.

Yes, we could have spared the life of our son, had we kept him safe. Our imposed safety net would have prevented his own obedience to the King of Kings. The lives of so many who were lost, would remain in darkness, had "comfort zone" been our motivation. The lives of so many believers who have been changed by seeing radical obedience walked out in a young man in a way we seldom see, would remain unaffected, unchanged and safe, had we kept him home.

As parents, we must let go. We must trust that His ways are truly higher than our own, and that He knows best. The Word says, "train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov 22:6

When we show them a way contrary to His way, they embrace it and usually replicate it. They produce children and grandchildren who don't serve...except for maybe Sunday and Wednesday.

"It's time that we as Christians stop being lazy and just talking the talk, and get our hands and feet dirty actually following him and serving him diligently every day of our lives. We need to take his message to the people of every nation - including ours (for we all know how much our nation needs Christ). He went through the blood; the least we can do is go through the mud." BJ

It's time to train our children in His ways, not our own.


Monday, September 22, 2008

I feel as if I'm holding my breath. Waiting for the unknown. Concerned over what is ahead. Yet the nature of my concern is based in the past. Focused on a date that will always be important to us, yet we do not look forward to it's arrival.

A date that remains difficult to mark. One that has us wondering whether to plan things or just be.

Last year, I was in San Antonio away from family on this day. It was amazing how God moved in that time. This year, we will all be together once again, plus one. It will be good to come back together.

There is no question that this needs to be a time of celebration or thanksgiving. There is no question that celebrating is far from my mind. Sometimes, wounds hurt too much and you lick them not because it helps, but because you don't know what else to do.

I have been gathering pictures together for an upcoming event. I did not expect photos of such joyful times to find me without.

I am looking forward to being with my family.

Seldom do I sit and count the cost. Usually, I am so in awe of all He has done with this journey, that I cannot help but be amazed. I am afraid that bitterness remains around each corner, even now.

The truth is that the pain from this blade never seems to retreat. The razor sharp edge has dulled with time, but dull blades leave uglier results.

I know He is still here. I know He would have me rest my head in His lap. Would that He'd embrace and hold me until this moment...this eternity... passes.

Nothing else seems worthy of attention just now. The book of Ecclesiastes is far too vivid.

All that throngs and wells within me has no place to lay its claim. Emptiness is at my grasp. Black and white memories jerk past like an old 8mm film. The experience seems so intangible and unkind. Where is the depth and breadth and girth his presence. Only in His presence.

How does one draw near to that which has gone?

Only by His amazing grace.

Friday, September 19, 2008

where BJ's ashes rest, high above Africa

It bears repeating that when we were in Africa, we left him on this mountain as a symbol of hope for Christ to come into the hearts of this people. Three years after our work there, the national we worked with (who was not a believer at the time) has not only given his heart to the Lord, but now pastors three house churches in the base city, where no believers were previously present. God is at work in Africa!

I also want to share, once again, a conversation that many of you are already familiar with. This took place after Beej returned from Peru the second time, but before his hospitalization. He had already told a few friends that God had called him to lay down his life, and that while he did not know the timing, he was ready.

BJ's moniker on instant messenger was Passion 8431. The friend he was talking with was Jack, one of his best friends. They had not connected since BJ's return home. They were often sarcastic with each other, which you will pick up on.

I am amazed once again, as I read this and see the clues that were present, whether he was aware of them or not. One day, I hope to ask about such conversations. That will be an eternal, deep day.

Passion8431 (10:36:34 PM): JERK!
Jacktopher Meils (10:36:48 PM): sup bro???
Passion8431 (10:37:27 PM): not too much man, how have you been? its been forever long since I've seen you!
Passion8431 (10:38:42 PM): ....?

Jacktopher Meils (10:39:35 PM): i've been great!!! how was ur peru trip???
Passion8431 (10:41:59 PM): It was awesome! We saw a ton of ppl come to Christ, and I got to share with all kinds of ppl who were SO sincerely seeking God---from gang members to policemen to the headmaster of a Catholic school. Tambien, God really challenged our team to truly live the LIFE of a missionary, since as Christians, we are ALL called to be missionaries, not just on mission trips, but EVERYday of our lives.
Passion8431 (10:42:41 PM): how was ur Pittsburg trip

Jacktopher Meils (10:44:34 PM): thats awesome dude
Jacktopher Meils (10:44:40 PM): pittsburg was amazing
Jacktopher Meils (10:46:56 PM): why didnt you call while you were here yesterday?

Passion8431 (10:48:44 PM): Well, i was kinda preoccupied... Heather, a friend of mine from my Peru team was with me and after we left the Hilfikers we were going to visit our friends work up in castleton... I thought about calling u, but i guess i decided i'd come up later when Heather wasn't w/ me... or.... something....
Passion8431 (10:48:47 PM): sorry dude

Jacktopher Meils (10:49:24 PM): haha i wouldnt care if your friend(s) were around..we havent hung out like since the beginning of the summer
Passion8431 (10:55:33 PM): yeah, well, I'll have to hitch a ride down sometime... if i can
Passion8431 (10:55:46 PM): and I may (or may not) see you at jumpstart

Jacktopher Meils (10:59:35 PM): im not going
Jacktopher Meils (10:59:58 PM): my brother gets out of jail the friday jumpstart starts, and honestly that means a lot more to me

Passion8431 (11:01:01 PM): ok
Passion8431 (11:01:12 PM): well i'll see you.... sometime, or else in heaven

Jacktopher Meils (11:03:52 PM): haha
Jacktopher Meils (11:03:54 PM): yeah
Jacktopher Meils (11:05:29 PM): dude come for wednesday
Jacktopher Meils (11:05:41 PM): its unleaveneds last wnt

Passion8431 (11:08:54 PM): i know... but i have work... I'm gonna see if i can get out of it though... i just start this week, and i forgot to ask from weds off, but they're usually really flexible
Jacktopher Meils (11:09:52 PM): where
Passion8431 (11:10:34 PM): Ward's, its a clothing store-levi outlet... anyway, i g2g, i'll ttyl
Jacktopher Meils (11:10:50 PM): ah
Jacktopher Meils (11:10:54 PM): call me sometime tomorrow if you can

Passion8431 (11:11:38 PM): ok, i'll try
Jacktopher Meils (11:11:56 PM): cya

These two had a deep love for each other. That BJ would say something like this, and that it would be their last or one of their last interactions is no small thing. I know it was very meaningful to Jack. It certainly speaks to who BJ was and how he thought.

We also, must live intentionally in our conversations and interactions with those He has entrusted to us.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

My friend Aimee and me in Mexico

I appreciated the radio interview opportunity yesterday on WBCL out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Deanna and I have had the privilege of doing many, but this was the first in my home state (at least that I can remember).

Since Deanna and I have begun to run to try to get into shape (her trip is much shorter than mine), I have been asked many times now if I was going to participate in a marathon.

I have consistently said, "No."

I say this because I have a hyper competitive nature. If I am in a race, I do not know how to not try to win (even when my raggedy overweight body couldn't possibly). This is a mind set that began when I was much younger. Many call it a 'killer instinct.' When you participate in athletics or games, you quickly see who has it and who doesn't.

As I write this I am reminded of Paul's words, of "running the race to win" (my paraphrase). So for me to say, that I run in such a way that I think I must win, sounds reasonable...even Biblical.

Yet, what happens inside me when I compete is not attractive. It becomes emotionally charged, and I get psyched up, and I am not pleasant to be around. My whole attitude becomes, win at all costs! And I don't mean that in a scriptural way. Not that I would ever cheat or play unfair, just that I think I MUST win.

For this reason, my purposes in running are for health and well-being. I participate many times a week to build my endurance and increase my ability to go further, faster.

The interesting thing to me is how I have had to beat my 48 year old body into submission. It has whined, objected, revolted, and mutinied on me along the way. I have had to take rest days when I did not want to as my body threatened all out refusal to participate.

Now that I have fought through and past that, I can pretty much do what I want. I can go farther than I thought, and my times are consistent...even improving. No, I don't carry a stopwatch. But I do reference a clock once a week or so to see how I'm doing.

I am trying to be as non-competitive as possible.

Usually, when I see someone in front of me, I go into 'battle mode' and have to track them down and leave them behind. Yesterday, I saw a cute woman in front of me so I began to pursue her (it was my wife).

We have a preset course, and I started before her, so I was on lap 3 when she was on lap 1. Just as I began to pursue, I got stopped at an intersection by a car, then sprinklers came on in front of a business. My resolve was being tested.

The difference was, I was chasing her down to run with her, not to destroy her. It took me longer than I thought to catch her, but I did (just like 25 1/2 years ago).

I would like to think that over the years, my attitude has settled down, my competitive nature is a little more under control, and my need to 'leave people behind' has dissipated. I would like to think I am a little more Christ-like.

When Paul told us to run the race in such a way that our goal should be to win, I don't believe he meant, destroy your competitors. I believe he meant, this race is a marathon, and you won't win if you are running at a sprinters pace. You will see people sprinting, and your juices will flow to try to catch and defeat them. Lay that aside, and realize that you are in this for the long term and you cannot lay waste to sprinting competitors by chasing them at speed. You must run your own race and you will see that they cannot continue their pace, and you will catch them.

When you do, invest in them. Show them how to run a marathon in a sprinters world. They will get much more out of life, and so will you.

Old habits die hard. The temptation will always be there to compete. I found it humorous yesterday, when I saw my bride, began the chase, and got delayed. The thing that made me happy was, I was okay with it. I did not need to blow her away to try and feel better about me. I came alongside her to encourage her, and she made it farther than she would have otherwise.

I am proud of her, and I am thankful that I am learning some lessons along the way.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tomorrow morning at 9:30/8:30 am (eastern time/central time), WBCL radio in Ft Wayne, Indiana, has requested a live interview. You can go to http://www.wbcl.org/wbcl_live.asx and listen (Thank you Marti) if you wish. Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

my love

I noticed something while I was running this weekend. I have noticed it before, but not in quite the same way.

I have established a 1.8 mile loop through my neighborhood (when I run) and it passes many homes, a church, and multiple businesses.

On this particular day, Hurricane Ike was due in at any time. It had made landfall in Houston much earlier, and we were anticipating its remnants. I was surprised at the number of people that were out and about.

Growing up in Indiana, I had seen this scenario play out many times. Though, it was always for anticipated, heavy snowfalls, there. People were out in significant numbers trying to get errands taken care of before the impending weather was unleashed.

On this particular day, it captured my attention because I was running multiple loops, so I passed these businesses several times. I noticed that there are two liquor stores and a bar on my circuit.

The time of day was from mid morning to just after noon. The clouds were gathering and darkening the midday sky. These three businesses were outdoing all others around them. There was significant traffic loading and unloading consistently, with each pass.

People of all (adult) ages were going in and coming out, in the most significant numbers I have seen at these places. Traffic was backing up to turn in to them.

In all fairness, this probably had more to do with upcoming football games on television, than anything else. Still it made me wonder.

What is it that we turn to when difficulty is coming? When promised bad weather is about to descend in any form and it carries with it a significant enough fury that damage is certain, what is on our minds? What will help us cope?

When the events of life turn ugly and are unrelated to weather, where do we turn?

I was struck by some of the defiant attitudes of people (on tv) in the hurricanes path, who were hanging out at a beachfront bar. They were flippant in their reflection of what was coming and their own safety.

It seems to me that what we turn to in times of crisis, says a great deal about who we are and what is important to us.

Are we running to that which will numb our senses and allow us to "feel" less? Are we accepting the reality of our situation, and pursuing Him and bringing Him glory?

Where we turn and how we respond in a time of crisis reflects directly on our relationship with Him.

If we turn to that which will bring us numbed pleasure in conceivably our most difficult moments, then the world has a serious grip on us.

What is most important in our lives? It is clearly revealed in times like these.


Friday, September 12, 2008

looking on with brother


It is amazing to me how hungry I am for more. More pictures of BJ, more videos with him acting a bit foolish, more memories of our conversations, more time with him...just more.

As we draw near the third anniversary of losing him, and another intense hurricane threatens the coast of the southern US, I am spending a lot of time remembering. Of course there are many things I miss, and have delineated over the 37 months we've posted on this site.

Were he with us, we would have seen him, our last child, off to college this month. There are even times I think about where he would have gone and tempt myself to pretend he is away at school.

Remembering my own interactions in college, and having drawn so close to so many students over the years, I find myself torn that he will never experience this.

On one hand, the enemy owns college campuses and I am glad he is not succumbing to the temptations of exercising independence in ways that fill the flesh and displease our Savior.

On the other, he was very strong in his faith, and I can just imagine the impact he might be having on the lives of many who are stumbling. His words echo on the 'favorite quote' pages of some who post much about their lives on "Facebook."

I am very thankful that his life still impacts others. I am very grateful to serve the Lord who continues to allow a ripple affect from his life and death. We have so much to be thankful for, and we are.

However, the truth is, that there are times when the longing for his presence is so intense that our blessings try to fade into the background as if they were unimportant.

They are not unimportant.

We have been afforded the privilege to speak into the lives of many across the states and beyond oceans. We have been invited to share in so many different ways. We have been asked to minister in ways large and small, because our King trusts us for some reason, with the hurts and hearts of others.

These things are not unimportant. They have helped define our lives. They have helped define our deaths, to self.

We are thankful that the community of support and encouragement runs in both directions.

Still, I hunger for more.

There will always be remembrances. We will always honor him in our hearts and memories. His life continues to be reflected by an unsheathed sword. Joshua is likely to carry BJ's in his honor, in an upcoming wedding, that is dear to us.

I am not sure parents can ever get enough of their children. I am not sure parents can ever give enough to their children. I am not sure children ever understand this until they are parents.

I am thankful for our daughters. We are so proud of them, and how they exemplify Christ at a time when too many of their peers have elected to follow worldly pursuits.

I am thankful for the time we had, for the view he now has, and for the promise of what is to come.

Until then, I will hunger for more.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Laura and Kristen from our summer leadership team

My attention has been drawn of late, to the love chapter in the Word. I Corinthians 13. It isn't a long chapter, but it is full of the descriptions of what our love is supposed to look like.

I remember when I was a child that one of the youth in our church memorized this chapter and quoted it in church in dramatic fashion. I've never forgotten her rendition of it.

Then when Deanna and I got married, her father (who married us) had planned to read it. The problem was he got emotional and his glasses fogged up and he could not see to read. He paraphrased it, and did a great job.

Our love for others is supposed to be a disposition of Christ-likeness. It should not be selfish or self serving. It should put their need above our own.

One of the things we learn in our culture as we grow up, is to get all you can out of life and grab it when it is available or you won't get it. Grab for your own needs cause no one else is going to look out for you.

Unfortunately, too many of us carry this attitude into our Christianity. We fail to realize as believers that this is a worldly reflection and should be shed. If we are to truly love others, then we will not put artificial, self imposed limits on who and when we love. We will simply, love.

There are many romantic notions about what missions is or means. Too often, there is an attitude that it happens overseas, and we exclude those around us. Some focus so much on what will happen in the future when they get to the field and have little patience for taking care of obvious needs in their own communities.

The idea that in the USA the Gospel is freely available and usually rejected, leaves many of us looking for an experience where people are actually receptive. This is understandable, but being tolerant of this in our own lives will cause us to miss opportunities that the Lord opens before us.

His will is that none should perish (from 2 Pe 3:9). That does mean we need to be looking to share with anyone the Lord brings into our path.

I have seen too many take on the attitude that "God has called me to a specific people group," and then only seek to meet their needs. There is no question that He calls different people to different regions of the world. However, it was never His desire that we would close ourselves off to the needs of others along the way.

Most of us can learn a great deal about how to love completely by loving the rejected ones around us. This can only serve to prepare us for future opportunities.

One of the reasons I find such fulfillment in leading students to the field, is they learn to love people overseas, and then return to their own area of influence and do the same thing. This is incredible training, and has the capacity to significantly impact others for Him.

However, I also see those who serve overseas and something different happens. God breaks their heart for a people group (a good thing) and they determine they are called to them and only them. In some cases this may be true, but in many others, if that calling is accurate, it is for later in their lives, as these are students, and this does not mean they should disengage from loving others who are in need.

We cannot become too narrow in our focus of love. That is the bottom line. We cannot use the excuse that we are called to Peru and therefore cannot go to Mexico when the Lord drops the opportunity right in our lap. We each need to be cross trained (that has so many meanings). We each need to be willing to meet the needs of others next door or across an ocean or two...wherever He opens up a crack for us to walk through.

Loving, is learning to walk through open doors. Sometimes they are wide open, other times only slightly ajar, and sometimes we have to knock (as He does). The point is obedience, no matter the person or people group.

Just love!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Longing for Truth (in Huaraz, Peru)

This past weekend, Deanna and I were preparing to head to a local park. I was going to run and she was going to walk. While doing so, I looked out the front window and noticed a car parked in our driveway that I did not recognize.

I headed for the garage and opened the door to see who was out there. As the door cleared for me to have a view, I saw a man I did not recognize behind the wheel. He became frantic to get his car started. It was a bit sluggish, but fired and he backed quickly from my drive and turned to leave.

He watched me watch him as he pulled away, and as I leaned forward to get his license number, he sped down the construction riddled street, at a high rate of speed. Clearly, he did not want to be seen.

Though we could find nothing disturbed, we felt violated.

For days since, a foreboding sense of being a target has been hard to shake. We are doing what we can to be more careful...even though we generally are, anyway.

We know there have been a rash of robberies in the area, and that it is likely he was casing our home and neighborhood. The brashness of doing so at 10:30 on a Saturday morning, seems completely foolish. He sat in our drive long enough to leave a saucer sized oil stain.

There is no doubt that some of the enemies attacks blind side us. However, it is not uncommon for his schemes to be visible if we are walking in the Spirit. Being aware of our surroundings does not exempt us from these attacks, but it can certainly help stave off the obvious.

I do not like the sense of being violated. I remember shortly after Deanna and I were married, and our apartment was robbed, that it took us a long time to return to a sense of normalcy. We often felt stalked, as a result. Our things had been turned upside down and tossed about as the offenders looked for drugs and money. We had little of value, but what we did have they took.

How often does the enemy gain victory in our lives through attacks that we fail to recognize? How common is it for thoughts or feelings he distracts us with to become actions that we do not even realize are the result of giving in to his offenses against us?

We must be more prepared. This only comes through increased time spent in the presence of our Savior. The more we spend with Him, the more like Him we will be. The more like Him we are, the more quickly we will recognize the points of offense for what they are.

Selfishness, lust, greed, chronic material pursuits, bitterness, complaining attitudes, self promotion, etc. are all victories of the enemy over us. When these are present in our lives, we have allowed our old sin nature to be dominant, and have cast our Savior from Lordship in our lives.

We cannot succumb to his foolishness. We all recognize his victory in the lives of others, but are slow to recognize it in our own homes.

Lord, help us to be safe and wise in our walk with you. We cannot do it without your intervention.


Monday, September 08, 2008

The Pacific at Pacasmayo, Peru

Deanna and I were at Riverview Baptist Church yesterday, in Bixby, Oklahoma. They were having a missions emphasis Sunday, and we were asked to share. It is always a blessing to spend time with new friends in the body of Christ. The people were warm and receptive.

They were conducting a silent auction to raise funds for missions. Many handmade and other items of interest were available. I thought it was a good idea, and one I had not seen a church do before.

The holiday season is fast approaching. If you have read this blog for long, you know that I love this time of year!

It is amazing to me how much different this one figures to be with Whitney getting married next month. It means we will begin that time in life where we will have to share her.

I'm not sure I'm going to be very good at that.

Knowing that she will be splitting her time between her new family and ours is one that we understand is a part of life, but it is also not an easy thing for us to grasp. We are doing the best we know how, in preparing ourselves.

We are blessed to have Lauren in the same city with us, and now that she is out of school and working, we will have to plan around her work schedule for much of what we do. This also a part of life.

Again, I am not sure how well I am prepared to share.

I liked it when they were in school and had extended breaks. All we had to plan around was Deanna and my work. Now we have three employers and one new married couple to work around. I think that might translate to much smaller windows of opportunity to share together.

I enjoy the time of gatherings when everyone arrives. I dislike the time when people start to trickle back out the door and into...life.

I love the down time we share as a family with no particular agenda and no specific goals that must be accomplished. The biggest decisions are whether or not to go to a movie or go hiking. We usually do both.

I enjoy sitting by a roaring fire. I am mesmerized by the cracking and popping of the hardwood as moisture pockets are consumed in flame. Those same flames dance atop the wood to display their own form of entertainment. I am drawn in and my attention at times is unwavering as I am ushered to places untold. Occasionally, I'll get up to poke the fire or add a new log or two.

I don't yet know where we will all be together, or for sure if we will all be together. I just know that the time with family recharges me. It helps me cope with the rest of life.

It is not unlike the our time with the Lord. We do a lot of preparation for a month or so on the mission field. That month is unbelievable in it's intensity and reward in terms of seeing the Lord move.

However, inevitably we must return to the work part of life. That time in the valley that helps prepare us for the time on the mountain. It is initially discouraging to return to what can be the mundaneness of life.

Spending time with my family, is another example of my hope for eternity with our Father in Heaven. We'll go from occasional mountaintop experiences to life everlasting in the presence of the Almighty!

The warmth and breadth of time with the collective body of Christ in perfect unity is virtually unimaginable at this point. I only know, I cannot wait to be in His presence, and know that those to my right and to my left are experiencing the same ultimate joy that I am.

For now, time with family over the holidays will bring a similar reflection. I look forward to loving on them, praying with them, worshipping, and just residing together, in His presence!


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Deanna and Whitney

I want to share a letter we received from Deanna's older brother. His name is Dan and he and his wife Jolene are pastoring a church in Tuxpan, Mexico. They live the lifestyle of missionaries.

They have been there a few months. Jolene speaks Spanish well and Dan is learning. This letter from them will give a glimpse as to what their lives look like as they serve the Lord with their whole hearts.

Dear friends and family,

Sleep eludes me tonight because of a story I need to share.

Last Thursday evening, Jolene and I and three adults from the church returned to Juana Moza, a community off the beaten path in northern Tuxpan. We had a wildly successful VBS there in July and they begged us to return. We loaded the truck with tables and chairs and headed out. Since the community center was not available, we met under the mango trees.

When we arrived, a few people were already congregated. We unloaded and got things ready for Bible Study and crafts. More and more children and adults arrived bringing food and drinks. There, under the shade of 80 year old fruit trees we sang choruses, prayed, and shared the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den with adults and children. Jolene and I led the adults and the children were taken a few feet away to also be told the story of Daniel and work on a craft project.

We took some of the Bibles Uncle Joe and Aunt Margaret bought for us. I was impressed how reverently they held and turned the pages of the new Bibles. We read together the story in Daniel 6, then had discussion and questions. There were about 15 adults in our group. I talked and Jolene translated. I asked how many of them had heard the story before. Not one of them had ever heard these words! They eagerly read and gave their total attention during the discussion, asking and answering questions. Afterward, the group stood in a circle and we prayed. Then, like good Baptists, we ate food together. They brought tamales wrapped in banana tree leaves, and a drink made from rice water, cinnamon and sugar. It was all very good.

They requested that if possible could we bring some diapers for an elderly, bed-ridden lady in the community. The next day one of the men from our church brought by two packs of diapers and asked us to take it to them, since he could not. Jolene and I headed out again. It had rained very heavily during the night, so the truck slipped and slid and once I thought we were stuck, but the trip went fine.

We were led in the mud to a very humble one room home. The walls were made of bamboo with mud and straw plastered between the bamboo poles. The roof was rusted corrugated tin and the floor was hard-packed dirt. We walked through an opening that had no door. Inside were three beds and little other furniture. There was a huge chest of drawers with many religious artifacts on it. Three elderly widows in their eighties live there. One is bed-ridden. All three were skin and bone thin. The woman in the bed was mostly under a blanket with her boney legs protruding out. They eagerly got us chairs to sit in and then the talking started.

At times all three talked at once. Jolene was able to communicate quite well. About all I said was hello and good-bye. When I shook hands with the bed-ridden lady as we were leaving, she held on tight and would not let go! As I looked in her eyes, they were full of tears and she asked us not to go, and even asked one of the other ladies to get us some coffee.

This simple visit has had quite an impact on me. Here I am, dreaming and talking of buying land and building buildings, and there are people here who have never heard the story of Daniel! There are lonely, starving, widows who crave our attention and just wanted us to be with them! I'm ashamed of my American arrogance and my lack of vision to see the needs right in my face. Oh, I believe my dreams will come true one day, but TODAY, TODAY, some people only want diapers and a little of my time.

God, forgive me!

Thank you Dan and Jolene for your faithfulness to our Savior. The insights you gain and the love you pour out with your time are making a difference.

God be with you both as you overcome and help others to do likewise.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kristen and I preparing lunch for the team...

The remnants of Hurricane Gustav have arrived. Trees are bending over as if trying to reach their toes during morning calisthenics. Our daily temps of the 90's will drop 30 degrees today, and peak in the 60's. I like the 60's. I'm not a fan of the 90's. I'm talking about temperatures...not dates.

In the 60's I was a boy. By the time the 90's arrived, I was married with three children. I struggled during that latter era to figure out who I was.

On one hand I was a man in his 30's. On the other, I was very much still a boy at heart, who enjoyed childish things. I learned that I often related better to students during that time, than adults. I'm not sure much has changed.

One thing that troubles me in the lives of students and adults alike today, is how prevalent lying has become, and how often it is used in everyday circumstances.

Lying has become a coping mechanism for many. It is a routine part of how they view life and how they deal with other people. It begins in small ways and grows into life sized manifestations of gross misconduct.

We compartmentalize lies. We call them "little white lies." We call them "exaggerations." We act as if they really are harmless, and even tolerate them within our own homes. Too many of our children grow up learning our cultures concepts of untruths, embracing them and making them their own.

This is not limited to the secular world. It happens in Christian circles as well.

Exaggerations small and large happen everyday. Some are self serving. Some are for self protection. All are wrong.

I've heard exaggerations from pulpits, far too often. We have taken these friendly little examples in, and assigned a name to them... "ministerial license." We make it okay to say things that aren't true to make a point. I'm not talking about harmless made up stories, I'm talking about embellishing facts to have deeper impact on congregations. The end result becomes the objective, and whatever it takes to get people in the aisles is acceptable.


I recently talked to a minister's wife who asked me, "How do I respect my husband when I know he is lying from the pulpit?"

When we begin to confront lying, it gets very personal. Most of us have areas of our lives that we are being less than truthful about. When we do make attempts to deal with issues, we find it is much easier to step back in retreat than to forge ahead and correct wrongs. Fewer people get hurt, it seems, if we just let things ride.

We are yielding our culture to the enemy on the cusp of untruths.

We are lying to ourselves in the process and even believing that everything will be okay if we continue as is. Meanwhile, the enemy reclines in pleasure that we are so gullible.

We really need to surrender this area of our lives to our Lord. Only He can bring proper restoration.

We need to get back on track of making Truth the main thing.

The Truth can stand on it's own. It does not need our embellishments to make it true (or compelling). Moving a congregation was never intended to come through fabrication or manipulation.

It resides in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We just need to be faithful.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My Peru team in Yungar...at the beauty of His feet

It's September again, and I can hardly believe it.

Yesterday morning, Lauren gave a mini-concert outside at our church. She was asked to do so during the festivities of a 5K Run. This was accompanied by a pancake breakfast, all sorts of activities for children (young and not so young) and much interaction by the people of our community.

She did an amazing job. The Lord has gifted her significantly. Among the songs she chose to share, only one was original. She had written it after losing BJ, almost three years ago now.

I have many favorites when she sings, but this one is very special to me. It speaks of the her reliance on Christ to deliver her through such tragedy.

I must say, He has done so. She is such a strong and beautiful woman. She is seeking after Him and desiring more of Him in all she does. It is evident to those around her.

After she sang, she was approached by a man who wanted to see the words. I don't know the whole story, but I did see him approach her, and tell her of his own loss, and that the song had touched him.

Through significant struggle comes such godly power and strength. It is available to each of us if we are seeking Him with our whole heart. I am often amazed at how tragedy can result in such beauty.

The depths of ministry are often born here. Real people who experience suffering while walking in obedience, become the extended hands of the Father.

Lauren did that beautifully, yesterday.

She clearly touched the heart of one man. Without doubt, God moved in the hearts of many more.

I am grateful to her for using her giftedness for ministry.

I pray we each will allow the Lord to use our sufferings to draw us into His presence with more focus and desire. What He does with our obedience brings glory to Himself, and blesses the broken.