Thursday, November 27, 2008

From all of our family to all of you, have a CHRIST CENTERED, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deanna and Lauren pause for refreshment in North Africa

Last night, Deanna set out to make White Chicken Chili. It is sooo good and one of my favorites! Last night she nailed it! The spicy hot stew looked the completely wrong color to be called chili, but wow. It was great!

Early on in preparing the meal, she pulled the chicken from the freezer and put it in water to begin to boil it.

She left the kitchen as she was also packing for Thanksgiving. Heading to a cooler climate, she was trying to make sure she had the right clothing for warmth and comfort, along.

She returned to the kitchen, and exclaimed in laughter.

We had both been quite busy pulling out clothes and talking about our trip apart from our girls (who will be together in Texas). We are not looking forward to being separated, but are extremely thankful for the families the Lord has given us.

With our minds full of what was to come, her laughter from the kitchen, penetrated the silence.

Seems she had forgotten to turn the fire on, under the pot of chicken. She was laughing at how distracted she was, knowing how hungry we both were, and knowing we would now be delayed at least 15 to 20 minutes longer.

It was truly not a big deal, but of course, it started me thinking.

Frozen chicken put in a pot of water will warm to room temperature over a fairly short period of time, but will never become the finished delicious masterpiece it ultimately was, without fire to prepare it.

As a matter of fact, once it has thawed, it will remain unspoiled for only a matter of hours. If fire is not added to the process, the stewing in lukewarm water will produce something inedible and even dangerous to our systems.

Similarly, when we come to Christ, it is imperative that the discipleship process begin shortly thereafter. If it doesn't no growth is experienced. Transformation of the soul without the ingredient of growth, produces a believer who is not sure about the Truth they have just experienced.

In many cultures, what happens next is dangerous. If missionaries come into a culture and share Christ and ultimately lead people into a relationship with Him, but do not stay to disciple them or set up a process for others to do so, then history repeats itself.

When Catholicism was originally introduced by the Spanish into South America, basic principles were taught, but not Biblical teaching or discipleship. The result was that the different cultures combined their former religion with the new Catholic principles and produced an offspring religion that did not resemble either parent.

This dilution of the Gospel is incredibly dangerous.

Today, for example you can go into the country of Chile (to keep with the current food theme) and the nationals know who baby Jesus is, but they have never heard of a Savior, nor do they care about Him. Chile is an affluent culture that has long practiced traditions which have syncretized two different religions into the practice of Saint worship.

At each benchmark of life, you are given a new saint to worship. They know nothing of Jesus who died on the cross for the Salvation of the lost. They only know and raise monuments to different saints. What an unbelievable distortion of the Gospel message.

In our churches, we sometimes fail to disciple new believers and then wonder what happened to them when they stop attending, three weeks after coming to Christ.

In our relationships, churches and on the mission field, we need to be willing to focus and spend time in the area of discipleship. It is part of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. We cannot make disciples unless we spend time discipling.

Salvation is critical. Discipleship is crucial. Without it, we are doing little more than stewing in the lukewarm foolishness of our culture.

We know what Christ said about the lukewarm in Revelations 3. He would "spew us out of [His] mouth" a piece of spoiled, or undercooked meat.


Monday, November 24, 2008

a byway outside of Trujillo, Peru

Deanna and I spent the weekend cleaning our home. She worked on the inside and I worked outside. Vacuuming, mopping, scouring, cleaning gutters, doing laundry and raking leaves, cleaning up flower beds, and mowing was how most of our Saturday was spent.

There was a sense of accomplishment for both of us when all was finished.

This morning, since our home was sparkling, I found it necessary to dump my coffee all over the carpet. Nice move.

Yesterday, Deanna went to church ahead of me. She called me and asked me to do her a favor. She asked me to get her lip gloss out of her jacket, and bring it to her.

"I have my lipstick, but I want my lip gloss," she said.

I'm thinking, if you have one, do you really need the other? but said nothing.

I went to her jacket and turned it inside out looking for her gloss. First I didn't find anything. Then I took to crumpling and wadding the thing to try and sense a foreign object in any nook or cranny.

Success! I unzipped the inside pocket to find Blistex. Proud of myself for finding it, I started to place it on the counter where I would not forget it. On my way, a bad thing happened. I started thinking.

This is not lip gloss, this is Blistex. The lip gloss I was familiar with came in a tube with an applicator, or in a little quarter sized container with a screw top lid. This was neither. This was more like Chapstick. I put it back.

She would laugh at me for bringing her chapstick, when she asked for lip gloss.

I began to look everywhere in the room. I looked on her dresser, under the bed, in the rumples of the comforter, everywhere I could think of. I did not find it.

Defeated, I decided to go on to church without completing the favor that had been asked of me. What a slug.

As you can imagine, we made it all the way through church without either of us remembering to bring the subject up.

When we arrived home, she asked me if I remembered to get her gloss.

I began to convey my disappointing tale.

She began to laugh at me, hard.

Apparently it is okay for women to use code names for their stuff. Men who have lived with them for nearly 26 years are supposed to know these code names. I did not.

Through her joyful gasps for breath at my foolishness, she kept repeating, "I can't believe you had it in your hand and didn't bring it to me."

I tried to declare my innocence. I told her this was B-L-I-S-T-E-X, not lip gloss. She was not having any of my foolishness. She let me know that when applied, it felt just like lip gloss, so that is what she called it.

"How would I know that?" I begged. "I've never worn lip gloss."

She continued to laugh.

Apparently, my attention to detail is far too literal.

I apologized, and teased her back. "Who offers pet names to their beauty condiments and expects their husband to know?" I pleaded. This was far too confusing. I thought I was doing well to know what lip gloss was and how it was different from lipstick!

I was wrong. I lost.

Our discussion remained good natured, throughout. Neither of us engaged in a mean spirited attempt to reduce the other for this issue.

I have seen brothers and sisters in Christ engage in public forums where they lambaste the other personally in an attempt to prove themselves superior, with deeper understanding of the things of God. Simultaneously, they consider what they are doing to be "iron sharpening iron."

There are many things in the Word that can be confusing, and merit further study. While the world is watching, and we fire emotional weapons at one another through conversation, the end result is likely to be, non-believers who want nothing to do with the madness of this "healthy discussion."

There is nothing appealing to me about these conflicts. Imagine being a non-believer who is searching, and then encountering this kind of exchange. They will likely walk away with no further desire to emulate what they have just seen.

Just because words were used instead of fists, does not make this okay.

Christ called us to Unity. We need to study. We need to discuss. We need to grow. We also need to protect those who do not yet understand. Our goal should be to shed light on their lack of knowledge, not prove to others that we are smarter than they are. There is nothing Christ-like in the attitude of belittling others for our own gain.

Be knowledgeable and know why you believe what you believe. Be able to defend it. Just don't attack brothers in the process. There is usually unintended collateral damage in that method.

Unity is not conveyed through attitudes of superiority.

We cannot 'gloss' over the flaws of our methods by forgetting whose we are and using Scriptural terminology in attempts to justify our misbehavior.

Seek Him first! By His Spirit, we can learn, grow and lead others to a similar saving knowledge.

His grace will be the balm to cover all of our sin.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Ahhh, Africa!

I have CDC (Center for Disease Control) downloads all over my desk. I have one for every country our missions organization will visit, or those I am considering having us visit, in the next couple of years. I didn't really realize it until this morning, but it kinda looks I am obsessed with disease issues.

Part of my role is to take what shots the CDC says are required for visitors into each country, and then to talk to my contacts in each area for clarification of which ones are really needed. If we are not headed to the jungle areas of a country for example, then there is generally no need for malaria or yellow fever shots.

What I find a bit ironic and sometimes overwhelming, is how I came to really know to check with the CDC.

As the father of a young man who would lay down his life in a mighty battle with a disease that remained unidentified to the very end; and looking on and waiting for the CDC on multiple occasions to try to pin down what he was battling, and then (in effect) later, to be responsible for the lives of each missionary we take and trying to protect them, it can be a difficult thing to say, "you don't need this shot, but you do need that one." I understand that parents are placing their trust in me.

[Often I hear people say, "Bubonic Plague took BJ's life." I've seen it in print and heard it spoken by others. Some who should know better say this, others who are relaying what they have heard, share it. The truth is, it was the most likely disease, but it could not be proven. To us, his family, there is a reason it could not be assigned. It was not about a disease that claimed the life of a young man, but about a testimony that would bring glory to his Savior! The focus needs to remain on Christ, not the disease.]

I do not want to betray that trust, ever. At the same time, I realize that I cannot control circumstances that occur on the field. I must trust the Holy Spirit and His guidance. Somehow, in my flesh, I still fear having to one day, have a conversation with a parent, where illness becomes an issue. Realistically, students get sick on the field, but seldom is it a life threatening issue.

The disease that is most rampant is one the CDC cannot do anything about.

This one is present here in the US and everywhere else. For some reason, it is usually more of an issue at home than on the field.

This one keeps many from ever going. It claims those who have signed up, and they walk away, saying "I guess it wasn't supposed to be." This disease even claims some who were supposed to be in leadership.

This disease is called 'distraction.'

Distraction comes in many forms. Busyness, better jobs, summer school, new girlfriend/boyfriend, family issues, money, etc.

Distraction is usually wrapped up in the framework of "a better offer."

The enemy loves to steal, kill and destroy. He does so to our testimonies, and it seems to happen overnight. I see it happen every year. A student will start out enthusiastically with God's call to go. They will be working along, doing well, and suddenly the inevitable attacks come.

We are promised a life of suffering as believers. We know that the enemy will come after us harder if we are practicing obedience. Preparing to go to the mission field (whether here or abroad) is that kind of obedience. It almost always brings more significant attempts from the enemy.

When successful, potential missionaries somehow begin to think differently. What they saw as "extremely important" yesterday, is gradually or suddenly viewed as not necessary.

This happens through many different vehicles, but most have to do with an easier way of life and the promise of better things.

My question is, for whom?

The reality is that I have also seen many of those who were called, who then walked away, suffer even more for their disobedience.

I got myself in trouble with a parent one time for trying to convey that message to their child.

If 10-15% of the believers in the US are doing 85-90% of the ministry, why would I expect any different? We live in a culture that teaches us to sit back and expect everything, for very little effort. If you don't believe me, go overseas and see how they live.

I know there are people who work very hard...for their jobs. I am talking about ministry...the real reason we are here...that for which we are called to Go!

If we are in true fellowship with our Savior it is a very natural extension of that relationship. If we are not sharing, we are likely not in a healthy relationship with Him.

The landscape is changing in the US. Did we learn a lesson from Sodom and Gomorrah? Are we destined to repeat that history? A day of more severe suffering is coming for American Christians. Will we be ready? Will be able to withstand the blatant harassment of the enemy? Will we crumble under the pressure?

We must learn and teach others, to lay down distraction, and remain in flourishing fellowship with Christ. If we do not, many will not be ready. Many will perish without Christ.

It's not somebody elses job. It our job. We must remain engaged for His sake.

We have to pray! Change will only come through prayer and then obedience.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

practicing for the joy in transition

I'm listening to Christmas music while I write this morning, mindful of the pictures that the news has been rolling of the 10" of snow that fell in my home state. It's gonna be 72 here today. I'd like to trade.

I know I am in the minority. It's okay, when you play outside in the cold, you tend to be in the minority anyway. I guess we each have different tastes, or likes.

Our office and my family share a love for taking advantage of Sonic's Happy Hour, where you get two slushes or fountain drinks for the price of one. It's really two hours but it would just be stupid to call it 'Happy Two Hours.'

What Deanna and I like from there are not even close.

She always gets the same thing... cherry lime-aid.

I don't like it. I do like it at the state fair, but when I taste hers from Happy Hour, it always tastes like somebody just punched me in the mouth...yukky!

I'm not sure why I keep tasting hers. I do it I think because I am so confused about what there is to like. One time, I did it thinking it was mine. Wow! Big mistake!

It's not the bitterness of lime. I usually order lime in my water at restaraunts. I like that. I think it is just their recipe. It makes me pucker and shudder to think about.

I make a similar face when I order Pepsi or Coke at a drive through and they give me diet, instead! That assaults my senses as well. I wonder if they thought I was fat and needed a diet drink?

Anyway, I think one of the problems we have when we try to study the Word of God, is that we may not have liked how it "tasted" last time. Some of us approach every reading as if God has to hit us with a lightning bolt of revelation or we won't continue.

Sometimes study is like honey coating your throat on a cold day. Other times it's seems to be as dry as the Sahara.

We learn through both experiences, but one is sweet and the other tastes gritty and unsavory.

The key is we cannot get so addicted to 'sweet' that we lose our sense of direction or expectation when it isn't. God reveals Himself through most of the experiences we have in life and in the Word. We have to be listening and processing. Often the teaching is simple and we try to complicate it.

One of BJ's Bibles (that currently resides with my Mom) was marked up with writing in his own words of what ideas are being conveyed. I believe this helps us grow even through the bitter times. If we take the time to study and write brief notes, then when we return later we see something new and different.

This is one of the primary ways God moves and works within us. This is how He shows us that His Word is relevant and applicable to our lives today!

Keep returning for new sips, even if it is bitter at times. The next taste may surprise you!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One of my favorite pics from my team in the Sahara

I was eating at a seafood restaurant recently. In case you've forgotten, Oklahoma is landlocked, and their isn't a salt water body for hundreds of miles. That being the case, all of the "fresh" seafood has to be "shipped" in.

I had never seen how lobsters were crated and shipped until this day. I happened to see the large lobster tank, and decided to take a look inside. In doing so, I noticed a white Styrofoam crate sitting next to the tank. In it were dividers that sectioned the crate into around 24 separate units.

An employee happened to be taking the seemingly dead lobsters from the dry crate, and depositing them into the large tank. After they sank to the bottom, and laid there for a few moments, something unusual occurred.

They began to move!

Since they appeared dead in their small little dry cubicles, I had to ask questions.

What was the deal? Was this woman the Benny Hinn of lobsters? Was she resurrecting each one?

She told me something I did not know. When lobsters are removed from the ocean, after they have been out for a time, they go into a "dormant" state. Liken it to a bear, hibernating. They are put into these cubbies in Styrofoam and kept cool for their journey.

Cool! I didn't realize.

I wish this worked on missionary teams! It would be so much cheaper to ship them around the world. Much less stressful as well.

Anyway, as I stood there looking at the immobile crustaceans in the box, and then watched life spring into them in the water, I could not help myself.

I began to think about so many churches, and so many believers. I saw myself as if standing in front of a mirror.

Back in the 70's and 80's, Christian music artist and evangelist, Keith Green wrote a song that will always have deep meaning to me. The title is "Asleep in the Light."

You don't even have to hear this song to know what it's talking about. You don't have to look much beyond a box filled with inanimate lobster to sense that the roof has been plucked from a local church and you are peering in.

I can remember when the Lord got hold of my heart and I began to share Him with others at every opportunity. I remember watching and listening to my son do the same. I remember those stories he would tell and how motivated I would become at his dedication and surrender.

There is a distinct difference in the lives of those who are active in their faith, and those who are "container christians."

One is active and alive, and very naturally shares Jesus in conversations. That one is seldom awkward.

Then there are those who seem void of life and joy, who walk through their experience in robotic fashion. If they share it is forced and difficult and they seem disconnected from the Life source.

I remember times in my life of being in both places. I remember getting up in the morning and withdrawing from my "cubicle," but conducting myself as if I were still in it. No life, no enthusiasm, nothing to reveal that I was involved in the most amazing relationship ever!

Somehow, the majority of believers today have never shared their faith with anyone and are very accepting of that disposition. They have justification lined up like trophies on the mantle. They can tell you why that is someone elses role. They have grown very comfortable in their tiny little square of discomfort.

I can't find that in the Bible. I've tried.

In view of the fact that we each will have to give account of how we have used our time here, it is quite amazing that we are so easily lulled into a catatonic state of disinterest.

Apathy and lethargy are mighty weapons of the enemy. He has empowered us to wield them well.

A relationship cultivated in Christ is transforming! It's full of power! It cannot be "contained" behind an iron curtain or a Styrofoam box. It transcends our own abilities and spills into the lives of others! It happens because of how surrendered and devoted we are to the Savior! Wake up! The Light is shining His warmth into our lives. We need to be conduits, or refractors...not containers!

Go and spill...overflow the walls of apathy and watch Him break down barriers in the lives of others!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Emily, Lauren, Whitney and Ari

A week ago at our iGo conference, I met a man and his family who came from Cambodia as refugees back in the early 80's. I was given a copy of his book, which is his life story. The book, entitled, "My Journey to Paradise," chronicles an unbelievable life of torture, torment and God's amazing grace!

This past weekend, Deanna and I were invited to their home. They were having a get together of friends and asked us to come and share our story. According to them, word spread, and many students and adults came. They grilled food, had a hay ride, and then had us share. It was a wonderful evening!

Every testimony is precious in the sight of the Lord, and each contains the power of the Holy Spirit when poured out at His prompting.

I confess, that in reading Heng Lim's story, I was tremendously humbled at the circumstances of his childhood. I grew up in a small three bedroom home. My home was a palace compared to the thatched huts he shared with other families.

Heng was the second son of five boys and one girl. In his life as a boy, he saw two of his siblings pass and watched his father die of starvation in camps run by the Kmer Rouge. His story brings about holocaust to mind all over again. Many of his extended family and friends were tortured, raped, or beaten to death...all this after the Vietnam war was over.

Heng grew up in a Buddist land, knowing nothing of the true God, but saw His provision in event after event. He suffered in about every way possible. Disease, malnutrition, torture, and many other indelible images scar his memory. He cried out to the true God on more than one occasion, and was heard.

The fact that he is even alive is a miracle when you see where he has come from.

Add to this that he arrived in the US at around BJ's age (when he was serving as a missionary), and was so far behind in school that he had to work a job, and study for hours a night to catch up.

Ultimately, it paid off. Heng met is wife Ra (who goes by Rachel) here in the US, but she too suffered in her youth in Cambodia and has an equally harrowing tale of life and her journey here.

Heng studied hard after arriving in the USA. He had desired to do so in his country, but the opportunities were virtually, unavailable. He grew up with a desire to help others, after seeing so many perish under such dire circumstances.

While known as Heng to his friends, the Lord has truly blessed him. He is known professionally as Dr. Heng Lim, DDS. He studied at a local Oklahoma University and became a dentist.

Many would call his story a "rags to riches" epic. He grew up being bounced around from one shanty to another, often being forced to co-habit with other families in a very small space.

Now Heng and his family live in a lovely home in Oolagah, Oklahoma. They are each, believers, and serve the Lord will glad hearts. They have made many trips back to their homeland to serve the Lord as missionaries.

Heng self published his book and I do not know if it is available on-line (as I have not checked). However, to search and see, the author is Dr. Heng Lim, and the title once again, is "My Journey to Paradise."

The story will break your heart, but you will rejoice once again, at the incredible provision of our mighty God!

As we shared in his home Saturday night, we saw two people surrender their lives to Christ! One woman, and one young lady who is around the age BJ was when he went home to be with the Lord.

I praise God for allowing us such a wonderful opportunity for friendship, and to be a part of His plan to draw others to Himself!


Thursday, November 13, 2008


Exaggeration and lack of humility seem to go hand in hand.

They seem to fit some like a latex glove that tightly surrounds the flesh and amplifies its flaws, rather than leather which smooths and conceals them.

If we know that pride is the very basis of sin, why do we so proudly proclaim our shortcomings as if we are the only ones who know this. We are not fooling anyone. When we do this, we become fodder for conversations at the water cooler or coffee shop.

If we truly understood our relationship with Christ, we would be exalting Him, alone.

I do not exempt myself from this issue, rather I know I struggle with it.

I understand that this is a difficult issue for many. I am frustrated with the tolerance we extend to one another when it comes to self promotion. I know we need to be "grace" to others, but we are also to hold one another accountable. That means someone needs to reveal the haughty, self righteous attitudes that our "believing" families have been filled with.

Do not think the enemy is blind to our sitting back and tolerating the putrid self intoxicated sots. Rather he is cheering our apathy along. Who better to destroy our witness, our attempts to point others to Jesus, than those who are most impressed with self and those who feed this gluttonous attitude by our own inertia.

A friend who attended a state convention of pastors, recently relayed to me that one who stood to address the body of pastors, proclaimed his own humility. Humility does not equal self promotion of the same virtue. In fact, the Word speaks directly to this and reveals our lack of the same if we proclaim.

I sound hyper judgmental. I apologize.

I just know that the enemy must sit back and laugh as we are blinded to his sinister schemes which clearly include preaching a humble spirit and living quite the contrary. Oh how we further his cause with our own blindness.

Even the affliction of this inability to have sight into our flaws stems from our preoccupation with our perception of the importance of our own accomplishments.

The Word speaks to this as well. Telling us that if we tell others about such things that we have already received our reward...none will come in heaven for the very things we promote ourselves for.

What to do?

Study the life of Christ and emulate Him, ALONE. Do not give in to the selfish desires that always lie between epidermal layers, waiting to erupt in spews of perspiration. Be self-controlled. This is not a body response, it is a mind discipline. One that is gained by spending time with Jesus.

The more time you spend WITH Jesus, the more you'll resemble Him. The more time you spend working FOR Jesus the more you'll look like the reflection in the mirror, if time has not been taken to get alone with Him. This includes significant prayer time. Humility is not born of the flesh. It is not born of serving others with selfish motives.

Humility is born of the Spirit. It is on display in the lives of those who closely pursue Christ. It is not on display in the lives of those who seek the platform of any gathering. It is not present in the lives of those who build their own when one is not present.

Jesus "made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death - even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the bride, the flower girls, and the sword bearer

I heard from a young woman yesterday who told me the following story. This is part of the testimony of her life, and I pray that it brings encouragement.

When she was a teen, she was spending time with the wrong crowd. She frequented parties where things were available that she knew she should not indulge in. Even so, what happened to her, should never have happened.

She was overwhelmed by a group of young men. Horrifically, they raped her.

This experience was so dark and filled with terror that she somehow blocked it out. Now an adult, she had no memory of the event...until last summer.

She spent her summer on the mission field. She had given her heart to Christ years ago, and began to serve Him through missions.

While out of the country this summer, she began to be tormented by nightmares. These were so intense that she struggled significantly. Friends often came to her aid when they occurred.

Over the course of the summer, she came to realize that this was an actual event. By God's infinite grace, He delivered her from this suppressed experience. She came to understand that even in the horrendous experiences of life, that Christ is with us, and she was able to discover Him in this way. Doing so, set her free of the torment. The enemy no longer had the ability to cause her pain from this.

She lives a long distance away from her home as a teen.

Not long after she arrived back in the states, she was contacted by a male friend. The friend said, "I got a call from one of your old friends. You knew him when you were younger. He moved here and wants to know if he can come and see you."

She realized that this was one of her attackers. This would not be an easy decision. She prayed over her answer, and then said, "if you go with me, I will meet him."

Nervous, she and her friend made the trip to meet him on neutral ground.

She shook his hand and they all sat down. He began to tell her that he had been tormented all summer over the memory of what he and his friends had done to her. He had relived, over and over the experience. His stomach was sickened, and could not move forward without seeking her forgiveness.

They had in fact, seemingly, had the same dreams at the same time...only they were not dreams but memories.

She had prayed a great deal over this meeting. She knew that since she had been set free, that she also needed to release him, to forgive him. It took all of her courage, but she summoned it from the depths of her relationship with Christ.

She told him, "I forgive you."

This man was older, and had tried to settle into the life of an adult, but had been troubled by many things. As they shared, she told him of the Salvation of Christ and how he could be set completely free. He was not interested. He thought he would find redemption in her forgiveness, alone.

They parted company and weeks went by. Each carried on with their life.

Weeks turned into months...and then a phone call.

She was on her way to run errands when the call came. It was him.

"Hey can I see you again? I need to talk to you."

She was alone and did not want to be foolish. She offered to meet him in a public place... Wal-Mart.

They found each other there and began to talk., He told her he had thought a great deal about what she had said. He thought he was close to giving his heart to Christ.

They talked about this for a time, then decided to get something to eat there in the store. They sat down and had lunch. Their conversation took them many other places, but when the food was gone, he returned the conversation to where it began.

"I think I am ready to accept Christ," he said.

Two days ago, sitting in a Wal-Mart food court, this rape victim who loved her Savior so much, denied her own pain and led her attacker to Jesus!

His Grace is sufficient for a rape victim. His Grace is sufficient for a rapist. His Grace is sufficient for me!

I gotta go and tell!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Groom (Jared) and the father of the Bride (me)

My good friend and country contact, Tito from Peru, preached at our missions conference Sunday morning. He did an amazing job. He always does. We share a bond that neither of us ever sought out. We each lost a son. We have each seen our ministry expanded as a result of the significant pain of those journeys.

I want to share his favorite story with you today.

A woman named Maria was a believer. She had failing eyesight that was more of an issue in low light. She cleaned the house of a woman she knew, for a living. Before accepting this position, she told the lady of the home that she had to take a couple of hours each afternoon to go into the marketplace to share the Gospel.

Knowing she had been called to share Christ with others, she had made a commitment to the Lord that she would share her faith with at least one person everyday. Maria had led many souls to Christ.

On this particular day, she had a great deal of work to do around the house. The result was that her opportunity to go out didn't come until much later in the day. When the time came she wondered, should I go, or should I not go?

The issue was her inability to see in the fading light of dusk. She feared she might get hit by a car or perhaps have some other accident. After pondering for a time, she decided she needed to honor her commitment to Christ, so she left.

She made her way down familiar streets, seeing almost no one.

She finally reached a bar where she could just make out the silhouette of a man out front. Clearly this was a bar, as this man was leaning back and looking up at his mug of beer which was being held out from his body by a fully extended arm.

Maria began to tell this man that the Lord did not want him to live a lifestyle of partying. That he needed to repent and receive Christ.

He did not move.

Realizing that he didn't respond, she tried again, only this time she placed her Bible between him and his drink.

Around that time, some of the people Maria went to church with wondered past the bar. They saw Maria, and recognized her. They kept their distance from her and began to whisper, "Maria has gone crazy."

What they could plainly see, and Maria could not, was that she was witnessing to a man made of wood. He was a statue in front of the bar.

The next morning was Sunday. Maria fulfilled her usual routine by heading off to the church early. She wanted to be able to clean and organize everything before services started.

As she was cleaning, others began to arrive. While Maria cleaned, they began to whisper to others about Maria and that she had "lost it." They giggled as they recounted the story of seeing her sharing with a man made of wood. The giggling turned to all out laughter as the story was relayed over and over.

Maria began to listen intently to the hushed tones of conversation. She picked up on the story and realized her mistake.

She made her way to the front of the church and clapped her hands and asked everyone to be quiet.

"It's true that I made a mistake," began Maria. "In the darkness I could not tell that the man I was sharing with, was made of wood." "However, to be honest with you, I would rather be a Christian who shares with a man made of wood, than a wooden Christian who never shares my faith with anyone."

While the mental pictures of this story are certainly humorous, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are like Maria, and how many of us are more like the rest.

Be intentional with your faith. Tell someone about Jesus, today.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Maid of honor (Lauren)

This past weekend we had the unique privilege of spending time with missionaries from around the world. Some that are my contacts in the countries we serve, and others we had yet to meet. What an incredible blessing it was! It was our (Awe Star Ministries) third annual iGo event.

Billy and Cindy Foote led worship, and we had a host of different speakers and breakout leaders. The fellowship was sweet, and the worship amazing. I have a renewed enthusiasm for missions!

One of the stories I heard this weekend, was new to me. It happened as a result of the last team I took to Mexico, but Anabel, my contact, waited to share this story until this event. She closed with it last night at the final service.

A week after my team left Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a knock came on the church door. The church is La Primera Iglesia Bautista, or PIB. Anabel, who fills an unpaid role as director of missions, works harder than anyone I have ever met, serving the Lord. In her thirties, she is a most beautiful woman, with long black hair. After completing a 12 to 14 hour day of missions work, she will go home and begin to sew, to make a living. I do not know how she has the energy. She energizes each of our teams!

Anyway, Anabel answered the knock. She opened the plate glass doors to a woman and her three small children. The mother asked if they could talk. Anabel invited her in.

She began to share her story with Anabel.

A week earlier, this woman had reached a low extreme. She moved her family to Nuevo Laredo, in hopes of finding work. She was unsuccessful. She found it easier to turn to drugs to numb the pain of what she did not have and could not provide. She had lost all hope and could not continue like this. She was upset with herself for using what little money she had for herself in ways that did not help their situation.

Hopeless, she made a critical decision. She gave a sleeping pill to each child and headed off to the store to buy rat poison. She was going to end the suffering for each of the four of them.

On her way, she saw a crowd. She could make out just beyond the sea of people, a group of American students in funny costumes jumping around to music which if she was hearing right, was in her own language!

Her curiosity piqued, she drew in to see what this was about.

She watched a Gentle Ruler banish an Evil Knight from his kingdom for trying to steal the hearts of his people. She saw the people, reject the Gentle Ruler. Then he sent his Son to the people to try and restore the relationship. At first the people were enthusiastic, but ultimately, fell under the influence of the Evil Knight and turned on the Good Prince.

The people's hearts had grown dark and in a fit of rage, they beat and nailed the Good Prince to a tree. The Evil Knight and his band of minions, had taken control of these people.

Unexpectedly, the Good Prince was restored to Life! In so doing, his band of Good Knights fought valiantly against the Evil one. In a most compelling scene, the Good Prince and the Evil Knight cross blades in a mighty battle for the hearts of the people.

The Evil one is defeated. The people are set free! Sadly, some still reject him as their ruler.

Twenty minutes after this mother arrived to a most unusual scene, the drama was over. She was approached by a couple of American students. These students asked if she had understood the drama. They talked through the symbolism and told her of Jesus Christ the Saving One who wanted a relationship with her. She enthusiastically prayed with these students to receive Christ. She was given a Bible.

She returned home to find her children still asleep. She sat down and began to read this book. Her heart hungered for what she had been told. Every word seemed to apply to her life! She found what she had been searching for! How could this be? It seemed so random!

Her hope had been restored! She changed her mind. She was not going to use the poison. She was going to teach her children this story.

A couple of days later, she found a job. Her life was turning around!

The only thing missing was fellowship and the opportunity for additional growth. She remembered the name of the church the students had told her about. She found the address to PIB and she headed there to find out more.

This led her to Anabel and the telling of her story!

I can tell you now that she and her children are thriving at PIB and are active members who are learning so much!

Praise God for His amazing love for us! "I once was lost but now I'm found!"

Our obedience is someone else's Salvation!

Be encouraged! We are called to Go!

BJ told his friends, "Go til God says stop!"

Are you ready?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

She is so gorgeous!!!

Last night I spoke to two different groups of children at Awana's. First I had the kindergarten through 2nd grade. They were followed by 3rd through 5th graders. What an interesting evening!

I remember when I was growing up, watching the Art Linkletter program. It was so funny to see the kinds of things the children would say that would catch him off guard. Last night found be thinking on those old tv shows.

I introduced myself as a missionary who took students to the mission field. I brought with me a bag of "resources." The first one I pulled out was an inflatable beach ball, style globe.

I showed them where we lived, and then took them on a journey to Peru, Morocco and other places.

When the kids came in, they were rowdy, and the staff struggled to calm them down. It was like they were on an IV sugar rush. I thought, "this is gonna be interesting."

I began to talk them through the drama our teams take overseas. As I spoke about each role, I put on pieces of costume for that role. They enjoyed watching me do quick changes, and laughed with glee when I got stuck, or caught with the wrong costume pieces on.

I didn't have a lot of time, so I was moving fast. At one point, I realized I was talking about Jesus and how he got to the cross, simultaneously I was crucifying myself for visual effect. The problem was, I forgot to take off my Satan mask.

I had to stop to their delight...that I was crucifying the wrong person!

Anyway, their attention was held for the entire period which amazed me. I worked through six different roles, doing my best to portray each, while telling the story the drama portrays. Though the message was the Gospel, I fear it resembled a bad comedy routine.

When I finished explaining/acting out the drama, I moved on to talk about Peru. It's people, children, animals, etc.

"Did you know a Llama tried to eat my hair, once?" one boy randomly offered (He was a redhead with an afro hairstyle).

I told them how children their age were shepherds in other countries and would have responsibility for the livestock. That as 6 to 10 year olds, they would sometimes leave for two to three days at a time to tend the sheep/goats/llamas.

"A Horse sneezed in my hair!" shared another boy.

We talked about how sheep often went the wrong way and had to be corrected. In the States we have fences, but in other countries, it's up to the shepherd to steer them. These children learn to drive the animals with sling shots made from llama wool. They become marksmen at an early age.

"One time, I was in a pasture, and cows chased me!" said a tiny framed little girl.

I told them about how Jesus was our shepherd. That the Bible teaches that we are like sheep and often go astray and how He acts on our behalf to help us through dangerous situations.

"I had a friend who went to Peru. It took her FOREVER to come back!" said a boy in the front row.

It was evident the children understood. Most of their participation was right on. Some of it was straight from their heart and needed a bit of truth applied.

"God and Jesus want to KILL Satan, don't they?" came a response from the back.

After working my way through the Gospel, and showing my "resources," I concluded my time with these precious little ones.

"How can we sign up to go with you?" asked a young girl.

Well, I reminded them, you have to be 13 first, and then you can go to the internet, get an application, fill it out and send it in. How precious these kids were! I feared spending time with them before I came, but thoroughly enjoyed their honesty and the lack of filters used to process life.

"When I told you I was chased by cows, did you know it was the whole herd?" queried my tiny new friend from several moments ago.

We had a great time together. The frazzled teachers seemed to thoroughly relax through the course of our time. It was precious. It was priceless!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Beautiful girls (dressed for costume wedding rehearsal)

Working for a missions organization, it should be no surprise that attacks come on many fronts.

They seem to come so frequently at times, that it is easy to forget that they are attacks from the enemy and not just "stuff that happens."

These can come in many ways. Some are more obvious and others tend not to be. Regardless, it is imperative that we prepare ourselves on a regular basis, by not only "putting on the full armor of God," but also through intense prayer and seeking after Him (which is really part of donning the armor).

Technology can be one of the areas that becomes highly frustrating to deal with. I cannot count the times that our technology has been overwhelmed with issues, just before major events.

Yesterday, a friend who knew I was struggling with our home pc, came into my office to offer a solution. He told be of a program called "glary," that I could download for free and it would clean up many areas of my pc that malware and other methods miss.

He stood by while I downloaded the software on my work pc. I went through the many steps while looking forward to the whole thing operating much more quickly. My anticipation was pretty high.

Once the software was installed, I ran the program and waited for it to tell me what my issues were.

Kind of an on-line shrink for pc's (who seem to have a complex from all of the Mac bashing commercials on tv).

Anyway, as we waited for the inevitable, I was not prepared for the result.

When things stopped spinning and churning, and results were posted, I was given the following:


I admit, I began laughing. I could not believe it. I quickly lunged forward from my office chair to click on the "repair" button. In moments, all was well again!

Oh that dealing with all such life issues were as easy as clicking on a 'repair' button.

We lament and are tormented for much longer than we need be, because we are looking for an "easy button" (like the office supply store commercial). We want things fixed now, but we don't want to have to do anything for the repair to occur.

We don't want it to cost us a thing. No effort, no money, no more thought. We just want it fixed, NOW!

The reality is, that our lives in Christ are never going to be 'easy.' We are required to deny ourselves daily, to die daily. Only then will our lives bring glory to Him. We need to stop looking for the 'quick fix' buttons in life and start living for Him.

When we pursue Him and live for Him, He provides the way out. Ways out of all of our problems and issues are there, if we put Him first.

As long as we continue to indulge selfish desires, we'll also keep looking for 'fix it' solutions that don't require real surrender. These 'buttons' will never bring about the sought after results...they will only delay real freedom, and come at an increasing cost.

The sooner we leave our complete selfishness at His feet, the sooner He will truly begin to use our lives for His glory. He can do far more through us, if we get out of the way.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


This morning I feel like a little kid. I completed an adult activity, but I feel like a child. Why? I am not sure.

Maybe the euphoria of fulfilling a right. Maybe the method of having to fill that right. Maybe both.

I voted this morning. One of the most important elections of my time on this earth, and I got to vote! Woohoo!

In the past, I have voted in Indiana where we used machines of one sort or another. We had no issues with "hanging chads" or any other mistake as the machine would only allow you to vote for one candidate per section.

I live in a different state and the method is more... childlike!

Do you remember some of the coloring books you had as a child? You know, where you had to complete the dots to discover the picture? 'Dot to dot' or draw a line from number to number in ascending order? These type schemes taught us to... draw lines, I guess.

Well, this morning I put all of those learning skills from my childhood to use. I got to complete the arrows! Every candidate had broken arrows pointing at his or her name. If you want to vote for that candidate, you have to fill in the arrow! Wee!

I live in city that has a suburb called Broken Arrow. Perhaps this is why we use this method. Perhaps this method has gone national, I really don't know. For sure, there are no 'hanging chads,' but I fear a new problem will emerge.

I got consumed drawing pretty lines and was disgusted that 'black felt tip' was the only color of pen they would let me use. I wanted my ballot to express my inner child, and this lone color was not filling the need!

Where was orange and red and yellow? Why not let me match my ballot to my outfit? If you dress for your mood, why not vote in the colors of your mood? The end result does not change... or does it?

The problem with connecting the arrows is that I got caught up in making it look good. I was compelled to make my ballot symmetrical. There was no room for lopsided coloring. Sometimes, I needed to vote for both candidates to make my ballot balanced.

I haven't drawn on dot to dot schemes since I was... I don't remember. It sure was fun. To be truthful, I am not sure if my ballot was going to be accepted or not. I did not want to get a lower grade for not being creative enough. Come to think of it, when I stuck it in the cool machine that ate my ballot, it made funny noises. Maybe that was the noise of laughter or rejection. Maybe it was the noise of, "Wow, way cool!"

At any rate, I got to vote and I am giddy.

I can poke fun at the process, but that does not reduce the need to fulfill this right. It is important!

We need to stand for what we believe in. We need to stand for Christ! We need to vote for those who best represent Him.

It is not always easy, but it is our right, and I am thankful for it!

Don't forget to vote!

Oh yeah... I got a cool sticker for all my effort... maybe that is why I am so joyful! I don't usually wear stickers, but this one makes me happy! It says, "I Voted."


Monday, November 03, 2008

Whitney and me at her wedding

This past summer, Lauren moved out of our home and into her own. Deanna remodeled our main bathroom while I was in Peru. She, with minimal help, hung a new lighting fixture, textured the walls, and repainted nearly everything that would hold paint. It looks amazing!

This past weekend, we finally decided to tackle Lauren's old bedroom. Next will be Deanna's scrappin' room (third bedroom).

The walls were scarred from sticky-tac that clung a bit too tight. It had been used to hang posters and pictures. Nearly everywhere a picture had hung, it was evident.
We took down curtains and an old fabric covered window treatment left for us by the previous owners. In it's day, I imagine it was expensive. Today, it "one man's trash"... We began by spackling, then sanding, then respackling.

Once we had things smoothed and the scars "healed," we began to paint. A trip a few hours before to the hardware store found us picking two colors of paint. A warm caramel color and a lighter cream. We began to lather these tints over the once white walls.

It was an amazing transformation. The room warmed and inspired us both. Three walls accepted two coats of the darker hue, and the fourth wall received the lighter.

When we finished, we decided that the former accents needed to go, and we began to compile new ones. Most of these new treatments were made up from items we had brought back from our mission trips. Tonight, we will adorn the room with the new decorations.

There is one remaining problem.

Somewhere back in the 80's when it was popular, new carpet was installed in this room and the third bedroom. I was good carpet in it's day. Unfortunately, the color doesn't match anything in the room. The 80's were famous for 'wedgewood blue' and 'dusty rose.'

Former owners decided pink was a good color. Calling it 'dusty rose' makes it sound better, but it's still pink.

We decided ahead of time that we wanted to paint before we replaced the carpet so we wouldn't worry about spilling or dripping. Well, we didn't spill or drip enough for my taste...covering up dusty rose is not a bad thing to me.

We'll replace the carpet soon. For now, we pulled out a double wedding ring quilt, handcrafted by Deanna's mother, that tries to tie the awkward colors of warm caramel and PINK, together. It'll do for now.

When my own life was overhauled or reworked it happened in a similar fashion. Christ came in, not when I was ready, but when He let me know it was time and I yielded. When He did, all the former decorations came down...the obvious things that needed to go, went.

However, there were other things that seemed less obvious. Over time, these things also needed to be laid down. To be truthful, it is a constant process. I am still being shown things that are ugly that need to be eliminated.

The ugliness from the past that was most visible, went first. Then, when the time was right, His Holy Spirit revealed additional areas that need to go.

Walking with Him is more than whitewashing walls and putting on appearances. It is about total surrender. When we yield completely, others see Jesus when they look at us. When we hold on to control, others see us when they look our way.

I want people to see Jesus, not me.

I have a long way to go, but the journey has been amazing! It is worth it.