Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What does it mean to 'count the cost?'

Many count the cost to go on vacation, buy a house or car, or figure out college finances.

How many of us sit down and 'count the cost' of following our Savior?

It is one thing to budget for things we want. It is another to consider the expense of what He calls us to do.

Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

If this is true, then our lives should be lived in such a way that reflects Jesus. If we are living a life that reflects Him, then we are not self promoting, self serving, or self...ish.

I fear this is seldom descriptive of where I live.

I like routine, comfort, family, and for things to be predictable. I don't care to travel, like the heat of the southwest, enjoy crowds, or speaking in front of them.

God has not called me to the predictable.

If I were to live life like I'd like, I'd be in a mountaintop cabin with my wife and the bare essentials.

It's hard to be missional, if you don't live or move among people.

When we stop to 'count the cost,' I wonder if we set aside self.

How much different would the landscape look if we used our abundance to meet the needs of those who do not have. If we really sought to speak truth to those who don't know it, how different would our lives be? How different would our children's lives be?

If we truly 'counted the cost,' would we be prepared to die? His Word says we are dead already, and hidden in Christ. Too many of us live like we expect to be revered.

I've heard some believers crow about how they expect to be martyred. In the martyr stories I know, the individual bragged on their Savior, not how their own life would come to an end.

Self promotion even in death, falls short of bringing Him glory.

He is best glorified through our simple obedience.

We best 'count the cost' when we follow His heart and speak of Him.

What must I do to 'count the cost?'

For starters, stop looking in the mirror and start reflecting on His Word. Seek to serve, (not to be served). Love others. See their need and meet it.

He can change the world, if we 'count the cost.'


Monday, March 21, 2011

I just returned from Nuevo Laredo/Laredo. God moved mightily! Even the Mexican newspaper 'El Manana' interviewed us and wrote a story about the hope we sought to bring! Many were added to His Kingdom, on both sides of the border.

It is such an encouragement to walk out the obedience we are called to! Seeing the Lord move among the Latinos in Nuevo Laredo/Laredo was a blessing! Many surrendered their lives to Him.!

Many asked us why we were there and wondered if we were unaware of the many deaths that had been the result of gang violence in the drug community. "That is why we are here," was our reply. "We want to bring hope to those without it."

Plazas that used to be overwhelmed with people saw just a smattering frequent the lonely benches. The city literally looked like death. As if the violence of gang wars was not enough, most of the trees had died from a harsh winter.

The day we were in the paper, people began to smile and greet us. Even a US Border Patrol agent called out to us as we left our homeland soil to proclaim our Savior's truth. His normally sullen face became animated as he related the story he'd read, and connected it to our team.

This would continue until our final day. We were on US soil, but headed out of Laredo. Our team reached the final checkpoint. The bus was pulled over because of the number of people on it.

When the agent boarded our bus, he recognized the team. He had been playing basketball the day before, when we were in the same plaza. He quickly let us pass without further inspection.

God demonstrated His power throughout our time there. Doors opened before us in unique ways. Even the teaching time with our team was significantly blessed as He opened our eyes and hearts to His truths.

There is simply no substitute for serving Him with an obedient heart. He moves. He saves. He blesses. He meets needs.

When we get caught up in serving our own agendas, we miss out on His best. He came to serve. So should we.

His most powerful demonstration in teaching, was the way He lived His life. He compels us to do likewise.



Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Angkor Wat and some of the miles of carvings that still exist there

This week is crazy. I am preparing to take a team to minister along our southern border. We will be working both sides of the border.

I am still processing all that occurred in Cambodia, but have to put that on hold while preparations are made to take this team of 27 to share the love of Jesus with those who are hurting, broken, and in desperate need.

Over 100,000 Mexicans have taken refuge in the border city we are headed to. Please be in prayer for them, and for our team as we head to love them.

This past weekend, Deanna and I went to our daughter's home in Texas. We stayed with them, but worshipped with our friends, Afshin and Meredith Ziafat, at Providence Church (Frisco, Tx) where he has been pastoring since the end of October.

We had such a blessed time and gained such encouragement from our time together!

Our daughter was nearing the end of her first trimester of pregnancy. Sickness has been her constant companion through this time. She anxiously awaits the 'switch to be flipped' as she enters the second.

We appreciate the prayer support you each provide, and hope that Spring temperatures rush toward you!

More, after the week of ministry down south!


Thursday, March 03, 2011

a Buddhist Monk in the Temple (visit my facebook page to see many more photos)

You will no doubt notice the circular burns on the monks shoulder and back.

One of the startling issues for me was how many remedies are based on human tradition rather than science. But then, this country is far behind in terms of progress, so I should not expect anything different. Still it was heart wrenching.

What you see on his flesh, is a common practice. Fire is prepared and the coals placed in a crucible or cup and then applied to the skin and left to burn for a brief period of time.

My rather superficial understanding of this practice falls short. But I know it is utilized to bring relief to internal pain. I cannot say first hand, whether or not it works, but it is a routine form of treatment.

To us, it is foolishness.

This serves as a backdrop for the landscape of medical care that exists in Cambodia.
There are doctors who are better educated, but this type of practice is not unusual.

Another is "coining."

This is taking a coin coated in some form of menthol, and scraping it hard against the skin. The result is a person with red, irritated stripes. One man I saw looked "zebra-like."

How many remedies do we practice in our families that were passed on to us by our grandparents? How much 'religious wisdom' is carried on in similar fashion?

I am not against traditions. They certainly have their place in families and in society.

Some traditions are lies wrapped around a kernel of truth. The overall impact is grossly negative. In most cases, we don't even realize it until the damage is done.

How many scars do we bear because of such "wisdom?" Some are physical, some emotional, and some are spiritual.

I find myself pondering the loss of life in Cambodia alone, based on ignorance.

We were heading to the mountain city of Mondol Kiri. We were to spend a night there, and then head on the next day to a remote village of the Bunong (or Phnong) people. This indigenous tribe, is known to still dress in traditional ways.

We never got to see them. The Lord intervened.

Our contact didn't show.


While we were waiting, a conversation began with the man whose business were waiting in. He was a believer and said he had been praying for two days for the Lord to send someone to help his sister. He and his sister were responsible for the house church and many new believers in the area. His sister was ill.

Doctors had said, "we've done all we can do for you. We can't do any more. I'm sorry, but you will die!"

We drove to her hut. We climbed up the steps (homes here are on stilts for snakes and flooding) and entered her one room 12x12 home. She lay on a sheetless full size mattress on the floor. Hung on the wall was an IV. She looked pale, gaunt and lethargic. She looked like she was dying.

My travelling partner, a Cambodian American Dentist, began to ask questions. Her weak responses produced the following information.

She had constant headaches, her stomach hurt, and he believed she had meningitis. He thought for a few moments, then said, (looking at me) "Brother, she needs Cipro."

I jumped to my feet and exclaimed, "I have Cipro!" (an antibiotic)

I climbed down the ladder and ran to the van. I grabbed the medication and returned.

I gave her a course of Cipro, all my Tylenol, and my partners daughter gave her Tums.

My partner, Dr. Heng Lim, gave her and her brother instructions for each med. He asked me to pray over her.

I was deeply moved and felt the words of the Holy Spirit surge from my vocal chords... "Lord here lies one of your servants. One who is largely responsible for those who follow you in this area. Please bring her healing. Please use her recovery as a testimony to bring you greater glory. She is Yours! Bought with the price of your death. Please restore her. Amen."

I left her home with deep travail on her behalf.

village church and homes of the Bunong people

We headed on to meet up with the pastor of Bunong, though we did not get to see the people. This tiny jolly little man began to share with us. Not only was he the Pastor, but he was the tribal chief! There are 2,000 in his village, and 800 are believers, as he brings them the Word each week.

I know I was taught in school about many languages. This man speaks five and is learning English.

His tribal language?


I've been taught it is a dead language, that no one speaks it! Wrong!

It was written on his dry erase board in lesson form, and his people speak it! Unbelievable!

The next day, we received a phone call.

The sister we had prayed over and given medication to, was sitting up in bed and feeling better!

God had brought her healing!!! Praise Him!!!

Throughout my time there, the few meds that I had brought as a precaution for my own needs, the Lord dispensed to those who really needed it! This would happen at least four or five times over the two weeks and I can only give glory to Him for moving me to grab what He needed to bring healing to his own, and glory to Himself!

Praise God!