50 YEARS AGO

 

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George King, Blake Ostrosser and me on a later trip in my 1956 Bel Air station wagon

 

Have you ever thought, “If only I’d known this when I was twenty?” or something like that? I did. I was walking to work and wondering if it had really been nearly fifty years ago George King and I were making plans for our trip to Encinitas, CA to go surfing. We were both 18, not doing anything of dire importance, but always had the desire to find a better wave than the one we were currently riding at the moment.

 

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I didn’t expect to find Jesus on my surf trip

George came by my house, we loaded my baggage in his car and my surfboard on the roof of his, I think, 1963 VW bug with an engine that made it go really fast. And that began a journey that a few days later transplanted us in California for our first surf adventure. There would be many more of those that followed that involved other friends to other even more exotic places. The insatiable pull to surf and explore that seemed stronger than the gravity holding me to the ground, led me down a road that eventually brought me into the very presence of God. It took a few years to get there, but that’s what I was doing 50 years ago.

 

 

Have I learned anything? Sure. Made mistakes? Gotten lost? Who hasn’t? I suppose that’s what life is all about. The most relevant truth I found in all my meandering around the world has been that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His plans for me, and even you, are good and to be diligently sought out, and above all He is a redeemer of mistakes and missed turns on the road to eternal life.

Today, I’m in California again and have been here for almost a year.  Jackie and I have reunited with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), which sounds like a misnomer, but we are in with the youth and doing all we can to see that God’s love is extended as far as we can corporately push with our “Y” brothers and sisters.

Sent out from Christ the King Anglican Church in Saint Augustine, we are YWAM volunteers now living in Chula Vista, which is about 7 miles from the Mexican border where most of the ministry takes place. We build houses down there, about 420 this year. I don’t build them, but we have had the privilege of building two. The rest of our days are spent in the office keeping up with the details of running a multi-million-dollar ministry. Sound like fun? More than I can tell you.

People ask how we do it—live as volunteers (no salary) in California. YWAM knows the challenge of living in this area—it’s quite expensive—so they provide our housing for the $250 monthly staff fees we pay to serve. I have social security, which isn’t much, and we receive donations from a few friends. So far, we’ve met all our financial challenges and only gone into the red (spent more than earned) two months out of the first twelve.  Sometimes I wonder if we need more support, but then I simply laugh at myself because I have to give those kinds of thoughts to God and ask Him. He knows what I’m going to pray before my lips begin to move, so I’m confident He knows my need for “Daily Bread” before the bill comes to our mailbox or the car breaks down (that happened twice, thus the shortage one month).

Our journey begins its second year in YWAM in a couple of weeks, and after that year flies by we have to decide what the next step is. But that isn’t a worry now. We have always found God to be faithful, our lives sprinkled with uncertainty (other than the eternal aspects of life) yet we remain confidently aware that wherever we venture it will be where we are supposed to be. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Pr 16:9).

I could take another couple of paragraphs to describe the ministry we are involved in, but I think I’ll give you a link to our website (YWAMs) that will give you so many photos and stories you won’t have time to see them all. And if you are feeling like, “Hey, I will send the Robinsons a bunch of money to keep them above their expenses,” you can do that there, too. God bless!wave

 

 

 

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Then There Were Four

4family.jpgOn Wednesday, I received a call from Nathan, my son, and he was in Arizona to pick up his baby girl from the hospital. When he walked in and talked to the nurse, she said he could not pick her up, and he could not even see her. “Jackie, pack up, we are driving to Phoenix in the morning.”

We got up the next morning at 4:00 AM, we ate and prayed and got in our car and started heading east. Going through the mountains was cool and beautiful, but once Mr. Sun came up we were in the desert and looking straight at it. Outside it was 108 degrees. I’m so thankful our broken air conditioner started working again. Blinded, I continued until we pulled up to the house where we’d stay for the next 6 days to begin a fight—along with our kids—against Child Protective Services (CPS).

I’ve seen stupid plenty of times, but this took the cake. Nathan and Becka had applied for anpercie4Becka.jpg adoption, went through the background checks, and proved they weren’t ax murderers convincingly. So convincingly, the lawyer handling the adoption simply told them it was a done deal and they could go get their baby. No one knew that one single CPS agent with some sort of vendetta could cause so much trouble. At first, I didn’t know what to think because none of it made sense. Nathan told me what was going on. “Really. They think you are going to adopt this baby and sneak it back into Arizona and give it to the homeless parents who gave birth?” That’s what the agent thought.

Nathan has friends. Friends in high places and one got hold of the Attorney General in AZ and told him what was going on. “I’ll give ‘em a call.”  And he did. They ignored his wishes. There were more friends in the Senate so he gave‘em a call. They ignored him, too. They go to a court hearing on Friday and the judge says to CPS, “You need to get out of the way of this adoption.”

Percie2Jackie.jpgThey not only ignore him, they were overheard saying they would ignore him out in the hall by the lawyer representing the birth mom trying to keep her child out of foster care. She knew she couldn’t raise baby Percy but wanted our family to.

 

By now, CPS knows there is pressure so they had relented in forbidding Nathan and Becka from seeing and holding the baby. Three lawyers, the Attorney General, a judge and a senator, all on our side, were making headway against this one agent.  Saturday, as we are driving to the hospital, I hear Nathan through the blue tooth radio talking to his lawyer who is giving us good news. By Sunday we should have an answer to what is going to happen. Sunday comes along and we find out we are down to one more court hearing on Monday and it should be over. Baby Percy has some Native American blood so the Reservation also has to give their blessing to the adoption, which is more of a gesture than a legal roadblock.

We all drive over to the hospital Monday and our lawyer is driving up to Flagstaff, 250 miles north, for the hearing. From 9:00 AM – 8:15 PM makes for a long day sitting in the hospital waiting room, but Jackiepercy.jpg and I weren’t budging. I am thrilled that I finally see Tom, the lawyer, walking in and giving us the authority to take the baby home. The nurses, the hospital social worker, all are happy that this comes to an end. The CPS agent? God only knows what was going through her head to want to put Percy into foster care when there’s an approved family waiting to bring her home. God have mercy on her.

I thought about driving home early Tuesday morning so we could be

Percie6Bubs.jpgback to work by 1:00 PM, but Percy was just too cute and Jackie too unhappy to leave her, so I opted for driving home on Wednesday, giving another day of Percy time. I don’t anticipate we’ll be back in Florida for another 13 months—YWAM keeps up plenty busy—so by the time we see her again she’ll be up and walking around. I’m sad about that and Jackie is, too. But we are thankful that this adoption has been finalized and we have a granddaughter. Leah, 3 boys; Nathan & Becka, one boy, one girl; Glen and Boom, one boy and one girl. Are we done?  wave

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Keep Climbing

Philippians 3:12-14 has this to say:  “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

I remember a number of Blues’ Singers repeating this line: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”  That’s pretty sad.  But sometimes life seems to be that way. We’ve all lost friends to the wages of sin: Death. Kids with cancer, old people with dementia, life just seems, or maybe it is, more challenging.

 

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We all start somewhere

There’s a story of a young boy living in a slum who was out in the marketplace where all the vendors had their carts out with food and other wares to sell. Typically, it was hot, dusty, and dirty.  He was sitting in the dirt playing some made-up game and noticed people would stop, look over his head and just kind of moan and walk away.

He heard one man mumble, “I just wish I could get there.”  So he looked behind him and there were the mountains, with the highest ones still having snow at the top. He had heard the stories of the “place” in the mountains where life was beautiful, bountiful and brimming with blessings. He stared at it for a minute or so and thought, “I can never get up there, out of this dirt and dust.” And at the end of that thought was another one, “Why not? If I stay here in the dirt for 3 days and don’t go, in 3 days I’ll still be in the dirt. If I start walking now, in 3 days I will be safely up to that place in the mountains.

So the boy started walking and thought, “Even to fail in the attempt would be infinitely

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The path might be scary

more preferable than this existence in the dirt and misery.” He only had a little bit of food to bring, but water was abundant so he wasn’t worried.  After a few days he realized that this place in the mountains was much further than it looked from the dusty village, but all along the way he had found berries to eat and other plants that he knew were safe to consume. There were steep cliffs with deep dropoffs, boulders, wild animals and the things that he imagined were even worse. But he continued.

After many years had passed, he had grown into a young man, strong, knowledgeable and wise about the way to the bountiful place ahead. Every day he had what he needed to live upon–food and water to meet his needs, shelter to sleep in at night and even those things that he had imagined and scared him in the beginning had now become tame and his friends.

The young man grew older and feebler until at last he was barely able to put one foot in front of the other. He would never go back–he’d rather die climbing to the place than to roll down the mountain and back into the dirt.  Early that morning he was certain that this would be his last sunrise, but then saw another traveler coming down the path and asked, “Sir, where are you going.” Much to his surprise, the man called him by his name and said, “I’ve come down to carry you the rest of the way.” Falling into the kind man’s arms, he was carried to the place, the place that was beautiful, bountiful and brimming with blessings.

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The path might be steep

What seemed like but a few seconds, he was there, and there in front of him were people for as far as he could see, all bowing down to the man carrying him. The kind man sat him down, and his strength, health and youth were instantly restored and all the people came around to welcome him. He asked, “Who is this man who has carried me,” and they told him, “He is our King.”

We who follow Christ Jesus were all like this young boy, sitting in the dirt playing made-up games. Then one day, like the boy, we realized there was a better place, a better way to live, so we started climbing up our own mountains.  Along the way the foothills grew steeper, the valleys much deeper, the boulders blocking our way abundant, and we noticed that many who had begun the journey with us were nowhere to be found. But we still carry with us our desire to be free, free from violence and hatred, free from our fears, free from rejection, betrayal and free to be with the One Who truly loves and cares for us. We will get there, but it will require that we put one foot in front of the other

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day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, always keeping our eyes on the King Who will one day scoop us up into His arms and carry us home.

I began my climb to the bountiful place in an Eastern Temple where Paramahansa Yogananda was the founder. It’s just up the road from where I now live.

I found these cuties on my path

He was not a Christian, but he did say this and I think it’s worth repeating:

  “Those who take up the path for its glamor, expecting only blissful visions and a

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They come with thorns

comfortable, mossy trail strewn with rose blossoms of divine consolation, become discouraged when they find how often God neglects the moss and roses in favor of thorns.

                 

          For those, however, who cling to their purpose with devotion, taking the path calmly one day at a time, no test is ever too great. Obstructions are seen, then, as blessings, for they provide the strength one needs to reach the heights.”

Many of my long-ago friends gave up and no longer climb. I pray you won’t. I pray you will see that the trials of the trip are far outweighed by the beautiful, bountiful and brimming blessings that come from our Father in heaven. If you are feeling beaten down, you know how to find us–let’s talk, or better yet, let’s pray.  He’s waiting for you…  wave

 

 

 

 

Got Wounds?

 

“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”We’ve probably all heard that either in a song or conversation, right?

heaven.jpgAs I continue to climb up the age tree, I’m finding more and more about life.  Many of my friends have died climbing this tree and there are many that have forgotten they are even climbing because their minds are shutting down before their bodies do.  It might be funny to say those folks make new friends every day because everyone they meet is new to them, but the truth is—it’s not funny at all.IMG_9757.jpg

So am I trying to depress you?  Nope.  What I’m going to do is share with you some things that are going on in my life you may be able to relate to.  For example, there is a huge bruise on my right forearm from showing a kid how to receive a serve in volleyball.  My wrist is swollen and really hurts.  I didn’t even do anything but let the ball come into my arms and pop it up!  I did this for hours when I used to play a few years back and didn’t even get sore.  I went for a 3-mile walk yesterday and my knees felt like they were sliding around in circles inside my leg, threatening to give out.  I walk or ride or surf a lot—that knee thing is just a new reality my body is talking to me about.  I even run now and then and, yes, I can.  But when I’m finished the pain is so real it can’t be ignored.  I’ve even created a new rub I call “Bobathol,” which is a rich mixture of menthol crystals and essential oils. Jackie uses it every day on her back and hips.  Desperation has driven me to become an inventor!  No, I don’t sell it.  But you have pains, too, and you don’t even have Bobathol.  But enough about my pain.

Last Sunday our Priest shared from Isaiah 53 where it says, “By His wounds we are healed.”  In the olden days when I would hear that verse quoted it was usually mentioned to precede a healing service or showcase some “evangelist’s” power to perform miracles.  In the context we heard from our Priest, it was about the martyrs in Egypt in the Coptic church.  They are being wounded and martyred and the healing that is coming out of their persecution, through their wounds, is the miracle of forgiveness they are showing their persecutors and the effect it is making on the Islamic majority that has been doing the persecuting.  It is culturally correct that in Egypt if you are hurt you hurt back. But the Copts are offering forgiveness and it’s having an impact for good. Their churches are filling up more than ever before; the Islamic majority is looking on with wonder.  Who knows, they may even put down their swords.

“By His wounds” is powerful medicine, but have you ever thought what those wounds did to Jesus?  He allowed men to torture and crucify Him in order to get them.  His body hurt just like mine—it hurt when the nails were driven into His hands and feet or the whip ripped His back apart—a lot.  Those wounds killed Him.  Should we expect less from the wounds we pick up from time to time?

My Coptic brothers and sisters, along with their children, suffered a lot more wounding than I can ever imagine and they, in turn, extended forgiveness and love so that their persecutors might come to know Christ.  You have been beaten up a time or two, I’m sure. Are you letting your wounds bring healing or hurt? Unforgiveness brings anger, depression, sickness, gossip and can even sap what energy you have right out of you, so go ahead, forgive that person or even church who hurt you.  Let your wounds bring healing to even those who would do you harm.

My scratches don’t compare to what the Copts are going through and they are forgiving.  I’d rather they not be persecuted, so I pray for them and the rest of the Church that is being persecuted in other parts of the world, and for the children who are being made into soldiers by mad men.  The atrocities and evil that exist around our planet scream for Christians to intercede and bring healing.  One day, I think/hope/and pray, our wounds will bring about the return of Christ and we’ll see the salvation and redemption we all long for. And, if you are wondering, of course I pray for physical healing and good health. If you are hurting and ask me to pray, I will pray for you until you get better or die and even then I’ll pray for a safe journey into eternity! I pray for many of you daily and I pray for my wife and I simply pray for what God brings to my mind.  Please join me.

So, my friends, whatever stage of life you are in, serve God, love your neighbor and when you get that last wound you go to heaven.  If your life is pain-free, great.  If it hurts–you get wounded–that’ OK, too.  Your wounds might come through someone’s verbal abuse or they might come by some nutcase with a gun and his agenda to change the world through violence. No matter how they come, allow the wounds you suffer to bring healing to your neighbor.  It worked for Jesus.  

 

What Are You Doing?

My Life in the Cave

Have you ever wondered why Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians to the church in Corinth about the importance of each person in the Body of Christ?   Here’s what he said:  But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (1Cor 12:18) We are where we are, doing what we are doing because God placed us right where He wanted us most.  We all have roles to act out and they are all essential. 

Along My Walking/Biking/Running Path

As one who is getting closer and closer to the state of not living on earth, I’ve noticed that my life has gone through different stages.  Let me go back in time a bit.  I worked at my dad’s tire store from the time I could get there under my own power (motorcycle at 14 years of age) until I left for the last time at age 37.  I started by cleaning bathrooms and sweeping up.  As I got older I learned all about that business and how to do most anything needed tire related.  I did those tasks without giving any of them much thought—I could just do the stuff I needed to do.

When I came into Youth With A Mission in 1987 (37 years of age), I started all over again.  After the 1st year, I could lead schools and take teams into foreign countries like I had been doing it forever.  I could keep up with 40 passports, kids, staff and my own family of four without too much thinking. I lived in Hong Kong and it was no big deal—I could just do stuff and it came intuitively.  Those were the years before we used the word “multi-tasking,” and when I did it well.

Jackie Inside Her Cage

Today, not too much multi-tasking going on.  I’m working in the office at YWAM doing logistical work so that those who are younger, more energetic and able to keep a number of tasks (multi-tasking) flowing along at the same time—like building a 400 Sq ft house in a day and a half with teams coming from all over the world to work—can do what they are able to do.  Sure, I miss all that excitement and at times wondered why I’m sitting on the sidelines observing.  Then I noticed that the word “observing” has a very important part of it:  “Serving.” 

“Let Me Out”

We who work in Chula Vista—just south of San Diego near the border—are serving those builders and other workers in Mexico so that they can do what they need to be doing.  And what did Jesus have to say:  “Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, He came to serve others.”  That is so easy to say, right?  Now try and do it!  In the middle of what I do, that’s the new lesson I’m learning and the new stage of my life I’m in.  It’s slower for sure, but God places us in His body, no matter what stage we may be living in, and He does it to accomplish the good work of caring for the people on earth.  So I am stoked that I don’t have to measure if I’m doing enough—I only have to look at our Lord Jesus and say, “Your will being done in my life is what I want.” 

So how is the work we serve doing?  Pretty good.  Last year we had a few over 5,000   people come through here to build houses for the poor in Mexico and another 1000 or so kids, (entire youth groups), go on Mission Adventures and even a few of them built houses.  We also take care of refugees

and red light district kids at risk and their moms and skaters and surfers and had 200 and something come through our schools and built a bit more than 400 houses in 10 countries–most in Mexico.  So, yes, it’s one of the craziest and busiest places I’ve ever worked in YWAM, but we are putt-putting along and serving as we can. 

 There’s a bonus gift we received coming out here to YWAM/San Diego/Baja: Jackie and I are part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. Anthony’s, and blessed way beyond what we deserve by the life of Christ we receive every time we walk through the doors.  It is an amazing place for us to be.  What’s an Antiochian, you wonder?  You can read about it here: Acts 13:1  In the church at Antioch…While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke. “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for me,” He said.  Yep, it’s that church, the one you read about in Acts.  They have ’em all over the world.  Check one out. 

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Broken Heart

I was talking to a friend the other day and he/she was telling me of the joys of his/her life. The irony of the conversation was that me and said person once walked in complete agreement that Jesus was the true source of joy–we shared the same faith and beliefs that Jesus is the Truth, Way and Life. Today, said person denies the role of Christ Christians have assigned to Him, the Biblical one identifying Him as the “only begotten Son of God.”  Said person tossed in his/her belief in Christianity and Christ.


That broke my heart.  It’s an old wound, a recurring one that comes and goes. In 1971, when my best friends that I lived with denied the reality of my salvation and deemed me as a crazy and went their own way, one dying of a drug overdose and the other one nearly killing himself the same way, I didn’t know what to do.  I’d been a Christian at that time for…a day.  I began praying for them.  Like I said, one died and the other is my brother today–he came to Christ and lives to tell others of His love–leading three or four people to Christ a week.  It boggles my mind to hear his stories and blesses my heart.


Peter said, “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: A dog returns to its vomit. (2 Peter 2:20 – 21).  

Now you know why my heart is broken.  My said person is eating vomit and proclaiming how great it is and what joy it brings. One day he/she will stand before the Lord and try and explain why eating vomit is such a great idea.  For my heart to be healed, said person needs to turn back to Jesus, so until he/she does I will pray daily for his/her life and soul to be saved.  

How many of you have or have had the same circumstance:  Friends or family who started off and did great until a bump in the road sent them head-on into a tree?  If you do, let’s join together and pray for them.  You pray for mine and I’ll pray for yours–no names needed.  God knows their names and what it will take to see them restored. If you read this you probably know how to contact me by email or my FB location–or you can just comment on this and tell me you want to join in this praying vigil.  We want your help and you might even need ours.

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DO WHAT!?!

Christmas is drawing near and drawing us nearer to the One who came to live and die so that we can die and keep on living.  Those who don’t share our faith are trapped in the chaos that challenges our advent season, but we who believe have faith that is firm and filled with joy.

Over two thousand years ago, God the Father looked across the land of Israel for a sacrifice.  He was not looking for a ram or a bull or an unblemished lamb–He was looking for the right woman, the one who would contain His son in her womb–who could not be contained by the entire universe.  He was looking for the woman who would give up her life that the life of His son could be born, who was already existing before all ages and time.

gabriel.jpg“Today Christ is born in Bethlehem of the Virgin.
Today He who is without a beginning begins,
And the Word is made flesh.
The powers of Heaven rejoice,
The earth and her people are jubilant;
The Wise Men bring gifts to the Lord,
The shepherds marvel at the One who is born;
And we sing without ceasing:
“Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, (God’s)            good will toward men” (a hymn from the Orthodox church).

Mary said, “Yes,” and Christ was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and her willingness.  She would be branded a harlot.  Scorned by her neighbors and ridiculed by her peers. Engaged to Joseph, she didn’t even know if he would stand by her.  But he did.  What an amazing story Christmas is, and what a time of new beginnings for us.  We need only to look at Mary for a bit of inspiration.

This morning as I read Luke, Jesus had this to say:  “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”  (Luke 9:25)  I wonder what Mary thought when she heard Him say things like that?   There she was, the “Mother of God,” and He’s teaching people, some older and some younger, how to live lives that have value and meaning.  Maybe she thought, “Wow!  That’s my son.”

She gave up everything–reputation, her marriage, her family, her friends and I don’t know how much more–to say, “I am the Lord’s servant, … May it happen to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).  Her answer was costly.  She didn’t get Amazon gift cards for that one. She didn’t make friends and influence people (right away)–she got rejection and scorn, but her response to Gabriel changed the world.

That answer she made to Gabriel changed the entire course of her life, too.  One. Simple. Answer.  How will I answer when Jesus asks me the question we read in Luke 9?  How about you?  What have you got to say?  What you say–decide–right now, can change the rest of your life.  This Christmas we can choose to pursue goodies or to pursue God.  Goodies make you fat.  God makes you full–full of life, love, joy, peace and suffering.

When you get up tomorrow morning and you pray, ask God what to choose in regard to goodies or God.  I’m almost positive that He will simply say, “Come, follow me.”  Jesus said it to the apostles and they changed the world.  When we follow Him, we certainly change our own world, but we also bring grace and love to others, changing theirs. That’s quite a Christmas gift to give.

Merry Christmas to all…wave

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