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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Never Done That Before

In 53 years of surfing, I’ve never had this happen to me.  When I came to the surface I could hear that famous Saturday Night Live character, Mr. Bill, screaming, “Oh noooooooo, what’s happening?”

The day was another one of those perfect days we seem to get in Southern California:  Bright sunshine, no wind, ocean like a sheet of glass with five to eight-foot waves rolling in and only a few people out surfing.  The only problem was the tide–it was too low and the waves were collapsing over the sand bar all at once, leaving few opportunities for a clean take-off and ride.  But Jackie and I were there and I had my board and I needed the exercise…so I paddled out anyway.  Of course my beloved wife said, “Be careful.”  Am I ever not careful?

Paddling out was short of miraculous because I nearly got to the outside without even getting my hair wet.  I had to dive under one wave and then I was out.  As I sat awaiting the right wave to come, I could see that the smaller waves inside provided a much better chance of getting a ride without getting pounded into the sand.  But when you want to ride the smaller waves you must sit closer to shore, which means the bigger waves that come are going to have a wonderful chance of swatting you like a fly.  So I sat outside waiting for a wave to take off on.  A few came by and as I paddled to take off I could see that no matter which direction I would have gone, the ride would have been over in less than a second and I’d be spitting sand.  So I waited and waited and waited.

I let myself drift in a bit, hoping for a smaller wave when I saw a large set of waves humping up and moving in.  So I started paddling back out and it was all going well.  First wave, paddled over it and felt like I was on an elevator being gently lifted to the next floor.  Next wave, not so good.  It was about a six-foot wave and I was almost out when it  started to throw over (top to bottom for you who know the surf jargon), so I duck dived my little board and we got deep enough under that I was only pulled back a few feet and barely disturbed.  But the third wave, not the charm or charmer, reared up and it looked really big from my prone position on my board, paddling like a crazy man on meth.

I knew I wasn’t going to get out without paying, though still filled with hope I paddled.  Then I saw what that lip was going to do when it started to pitch out so I slid off the front of the board and began swimming to the bottom.  Only that wave was sucking up all  the water from the bottom and grabbed hold of me and it started twirling, flipping, yanking and pulling me in 5 different directions.  I’d forgotten how much power a Pacific wave carries with it as it glassily glides along in the serene-looking water.  But I’ve been tossed about plenty of times so I simply said, “Relax, this will stop in a matter of seconds.”  And it did.  I opened my eyes and alarmingly was aware that it was pitch black and I had no idea which way was up.  So this time I said, “Relax, your leash will show you the way up.”  And it did!  I was pointed to the bottom so I turned around and swam to the top, and though this had only taken 15 to 20 seconds to unveil, I needed a breath of air so I was thrilled when I felt my head pop out of the water and feel my board there waiting on me.  I took a deep breath but there was no air.  “That’s weird, I thought–maybe I’m still underwater and just thinking I’m above.”   But I was above water.  I’ve heard of guys in really big waves coming up for air only to find foam, but that’s what happened to me.  Foam.  Yuck.  Again, “Relax, it’ll settle down.”  And it did and I breathed and I got on my board and again started paddling out like that mad man on meth (no, I’m not a druggie) for the outside.  When I  got beyond the break I decided I was gonna catch a wave regardless of its form and get in.  A smaller one than the monster that tried to dismember me came in, though when I caught it and looked up it was well above my head.  I had my back  to the wave and was flying right when the wave hit the sandbar and began to throw the top to the bottom.  Being smarter than a wave, I straightened out, dove for the deck of the board and hung on as it exploded behind me and shot me forward like David’s smooth stone headed for Goliath’s hard head.  My surf session was ending fine and I simply lay on the board, held on and was propelled toward the beach.  Maybe 30 feet from the beach I saw another  wave was coming straight at me from shore (backwash), headed out to sea.  “Really, that’s a rather large wave to be heading out and breaking.”  So I hung on, hit the oncoming wave, but kept the nose up, got launched into the air and the two waves crashed together and I resumed my escape to safety.  All in all, it wasn’t a good surf day, but I got to experience new things. It did scare the bejeebers out of Jackie because she was watching me out there and freaking out at the size of the waves I was floating over, and she blames me for a migraine she had that night and Sunday.  “You made me tense.” So much for relaxing days on the sunny beach.

Every day there’s something new coming your way.  Sometimes it might hit you square in the face and tolambss you in five different directions and convince you that circumstances are going to mess you up. Other times it looks like a beautiful, sunny day with unicorns running up and down the street when one of them gores you.  But for us who call on God as Father and know what it means to abide in Him, the word that kept coming to my mind, “Relax,” means so much more.  Relaxing in Christ means we can sit back and know that life is going to be OK, perhaps even great!  We can relax in any circumstance, hang on tightly to our Lord Jesus and ride Him to shore.  I have no idea what kind of wave you are riding right now,
but I do know that as my brother or sister in Christ, or my friend (or even if you don’t like me), we can pray for one another.  And that’s the purpose of this little blog entry:  We  want your prayers as we live out here in California, working in missions once again in our “golden” years.  What do we need:  It’s simple:  to do the will of God. To watch and pray.  To become like Him Who became like us so we could all be rescued. What do you want? Need? Can we pray with you, for you, for someone you love?  All you gotta do is send us a comment via this blog and we will see it.    If you would like to see what we are doing here in Chula Vista, CA, go here:  YWAMsandiegobaja.org    Copy, paste in your browser and have a look.  Praying God’s mercy abounds to you.

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Starting Over

Life could not have been going much better:  Jackie had been told she was no longer needed at her job, which she had had since 1996.  I was working but knew it was a job with an ending on the way—working on a grant.  So what to do?  elantra


Pray of course.  Pray some more.  Really, God?  Pray some more, and more and more…times infinity.

With our 1998 Buick serviced and ready to go, we hooked up the 5’x8’ trailer and headed to YWAM San Diego/Baja with a 2-year commitment made and the excitement level of Bob and Bruce as 15-year-olds seeing a north swell filling in at 2nd street in Pompano.  You’d have to have known Bruce to really grasp the level of adrenaline and hooting that went on.

The car died on the way.  We were given another one by one of my oldest and bestest friends, Jackie (the other Jackie), left the trailer in South Carolina for Leah to use and 

JackCondo.jpgrented a truck with a tow dolly.  We got here, moved into our YWAM-provided condo and were blown away by its size and beauty.  Jake (grandson living in our house) sold our couch for $250.  For about $225 we furnished this condo.  $25 to the good!  That condo doesn’t look like any YWAM housing I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a bunch! It came with that cute girl too!

We took a week to settle in and find our way around Chula Vista. Chula Vista is a suburb of San Diego, about 15 minutes south, unless of course the traffic is backed up to eternity, which happens. Our new town is a cute one with a majority of the population being Mexican descent.  To the south of us another 10 minutes is the border to Mexico.  We  can see it from our condo.

 Image-1.jpgWe are both doing new jobs for us so we took a week at the office to begin learning what we are here to do (might be true, that saying about teaching old dogs!). Jackie is working in the office and running all over the place doing the logistical things that need to be done to support our 100+ staff  working in Mexico.  I’m learning spreadsheets and raising support for the mission, which I can kind of do.  

My trainer, Andrea, is a girl with great patience and a new friend–I gotta keep her close or I get swallowed up by the 10,000 details I’m supposed to learn in two weeks.

We made it through the first week of training and were taken to a smmexpoorall town just south of Tijuana to spend 4 incredibly glorious days learning more about the ministry we have joined and the people who work at it with such zeal.  

What’s it like in Mexico?  Once you get from the U.S. to Mexico, which is quickly done on most days, it’s a bit of a sensory overload.  You immediately get into wild and crazy traffic with dilapidated buihohldings and houses standing next to not-so-dilapidated buildings and house.  The above photo is quite normal for people’s homes in this part of Mexico.  The one to the left is one of the 5700 Homes of Hope YWAM has built.  The front room was added on by the folks living there.  When we came home from Mexico we stopped by here to pick up the mom and her daughter, who was being treated for her allergy to the sun, to drop them off at a clinic where she would receive care.  Her story is so sad, but that’s not a story to be shared today.  She is doing well because one of the builders saw the need and followed up and found the health care needed–for free.

We are thrilled to be here and thankful that God took a look at our circumstances a few months ago and must have thought, “These guys need a change.  I have an idea that might just work to get them moved to where I want them.”  It doesn’t take much for Jackie and I to “Go,” because it’s been something dear to our hearts for many, many years.  To go again ourselves was a wonderful surprise gift from our Father and one we were thrilled to open up and see what all was inside for us. Is it all goose bumps and fun?  No, of course not–this is life on earth after all.  

We get to “face time” with our grandson, Cadence, but we don’t get to squeeze and tickle natefamilyhim.  We still haven’t gotten to see Wayla (Glynn and Bum’s little girl) and she is already two.  We miss our kids, grandkids, son and daughter, friends, home church and probably more.  The admonition to “Go” by God never implied your family would go with you.  They did in our early years, but now we are doing our going on our own again, like our Thailand days bumfamilyonly with more kids to miss!                                    family2

Think we will make it for 2 years?  Yep, me too.  God got us through some challenges just to arrive on time, which we did.  He  provided extra finances before we left, which we sure needed, through friends.  Are we wrapped up tightly and prepared to keep on going in San Diego?  OK, here’s where we really need your help.  San Diego is in the top 10 most expensive places to live in America.  To give you an idea of what it costs out here, our friends live in a 1928 home with about 1000 square feet that would sell for $450,000.  The neighborhood, kind of ok.  We are bringing with us our Social Security check to live on and that won’t propel this ministry too far.  YWAM staff raises their own support to live on and we are needing to do that–soon.  If you are one of those people who can give us $5000 a month, or maybe $50, that would be awesome.  If we don’t fit into your budget, no worries.  Psalms 37:25 says:  Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. We are confident that God will take care of us.  He stirred up our nest and we are out here flying as He planned…so I’m thinking we’ll get the funds we need to pay our way for the next couple of years.  If you want to pray for us that would be great.  And if you need some prayer, let us know.  We both keep lists and we both pray for our friends.  Jackie is about to blow her mind now because with this move she has to get new California health care and one thing you can count on in CA is that what could be simple is not.  Finding a plan here is much different than it was in FL.  Like I said, God brought us here so He’ll keep us.  Thanks for listening (reading).  With much love and a hug. Oh, this is important, if you can support us, we are tax-deductible!  Send us an email at 071449@gmail.com and I’ll give you the how-to info.  Thanks again.

Bob & Jackie

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DUCK DIVING ACROSS AMERICA

“Duck Diving” is a surfing term.  When paddling out and a wave is coming your way that is  foaming and screaming threats of washing you all the way back to shore, you duck dive, which means you paddle as fast as you can, start a pushup and then push the nose of the board down, guiding it underwater and forward, underneath the threatening wave.  That usually works.

Duck diving is how our drive across America felt like.  In our ’98 Buick we were pulling a 5×8 foot trailer with the minimum amount of stuff we thought we’d need to get started over in Chula Vista, CA.  Just north of Jacksonville I noticed the heat gauge was a bit higher than usual, but no where near hot and probably not to be worried about.

Our first stop was Greenville, SC, where Leah and family lives.  80 miles from her house the engine was hotter but still not to the warning track, but it simply turned itself off—on the Interstate.  I guided it to the shoulder and stopped.  We had the car towed to Leah’s and no we don’t have AAA but we did have Progressive insurance and they towed it—but for only 15 miles.  The rest was on us. Thank God we had it.  We dove under that wave of opposition but the Buick was dead and is now at rest in Leah’s backyard, hoping one day Rob will tinker around with it and raise it from its grave.

We were there 5 days dealing with the Buick and had to rent a moving truck, load our junkelantra in there and head west again.  We are so grateful for those broke down days because we had a great time exploring Greenville with Leah & family.

Behind schedule, we went to Mobile to one of our best friends ever—I’ve known her (another Jackie), since I was 14.  She has a granddaughter, Cassie, and Cassie was about to inherit a 2006 Hyundai Elantra from Jackie but opted to give it to us instead.  Their family got together and took a vote and we did indeed become the owners of a Hyundai.  Hyundai now on dolly behind truck, we headed west again.  How grateful we were to see that car in our rear view mirror.  We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to do about a car once we got here.  God did.

Leaving Mobile you go across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in just a few hours and think, “CA is just on the other side of Texas.  I’ll be there in no time.”   When you see a sign that says your city of destiazmountainsnation is 827 miles and it’s still in Texas, it’s a bit challenging.  But first we had to get through Houston during rush hour with our car clinging for life to the back of the truck.  I thought Orlando had traffic challenges but it’s like driving through Whigham, GA, in comparison.  Never heard of Whigham, right?  No traffic at all.  We did get through eventually to a smaller town and pulled into the Everest Motel, tongues hanging out and worn out from the day’s drive.  Little did we know what a dive it was.  Beautiful on the outside.  We slept on top of the bedspread and got out as early as possible.

Our 2nd day in Texas was gorgeous.  We were on I-10 with the sun behind us and mountains surrounding us the whole day.  When we stopped for gas or food we were greeted by friendly people and blessed by cooler weather (than Florida) and God’s presence.  The roads were good, the traffic light and our spirits refreshed by God’s grace.  We streamed an Orthodox Liturgy I have on Google Music and were able to join in for the next 1.5 hours, worshipping and interceding and God’s presence was so in the  cab of that truck we nearly stopped right there to live.  We spent the night a bit past San Antonio in a Motel 6 (cleaner for sure).  Their rooms are bit crammed with stuff and the microwave sat on a stand and was about 5 feet high.  The  cat, who traveled with us, got up there somehow (she is so fat I don’t know how she jumps) and leapt unto the bed while we were sleeping and hit me like a 22 pound cat would feel.  I thought someone was making off with me in the night; Jackie jumped up, heart racing and wondering who was trying to mug me.  Cat fled, we went back to bed, she did it again and should be dead, but we were able to laugh and she continued the journey with us.

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The road was long

Our 3rd day in Texas was shorter and still filled with the glory of God, friendly people and a pleasant goodbye to us as we pulled into Arizona.  We were again blessed by mountains and beauty and cool weather, though it was warming up as we headed toward the deserts ahead. We made it all the way to El Centro, CA and decided to call it a day, leaving a 4-hour drive for the final day of travel.  California was not that pretty to begin with.  There was mostly scrub bushes in patches of dirt, a 55MPH speed limit on the Freeway (It had been 80 through Texas and 75 in Arizona) and HOT.  We had A/C in the truck and it ran…and ran.  We got through that and hit the sand dunes and that was pretty cool (actually hot) so we felt a little better; then we got into the mountains and were once again refreshed by the beauty.  The roads, going up and down and up and down, put quite a strain on the truck, but we made it here on Friday the 14th.  The Brewsters met us, took us to our new condo and we had two fold-up single beds and two bar stools Leah gave us and that was our furniture in total.

Twice a year a community (comprised of multi-million dollar houses) has garage sales.  It caatlastjust happened that the 15th was one of those days.  We kept the moving truck and went garage sailing with Ron and Jeanette.  Our couch in FL was sold for $250 and we furnished our condo with $225.  We were able to get a love seat, couch, 3 dressers, night stand, 2 coffee tables, queen size bed, a swivel chair, a rocking chair that is ancient, and a small bookshelf.  It took us all day to load and then unload and get it up the stairs, but on our 2nd day we were ready to live.  We still need a table to eat at and and chairs, but we are patient.

The first week was settling in and it was a lot of running around.  Today, the 21st, we are going to see Nathan and Becka, who are in town at a BeachBody conference, and will then roll to Monday and get into the work of the ministry we came here to be involved with, Homes of Hope.  Next blog, I’ll give you an update.  May need a month or so.

California, Here We Come

What an amazing turn of events that has come our way since last May.  Jackie was told there was no longer a place for her where she had worked since 1997.  To say that was shocking would be an understatement. To say it hurt Jackie and brought a black cloud around her world would also be an understatement, but the statement that rang much louder and with much more love than either was the one from our Lord Jesus:  “I will never leave you.” That turns those dark clouds into the puffy white ones we like!

Shortly after that we heard from friends at YWAM (Youth With A Mission) San Diego/Baja and from YWAM Montana that they would love to have us on their staff.  Really?  We aren’t 37 and 30 years old like we were when we joined YWAM in 1987.  Didn’t matter.  We read their offers and kind of found it amusing, like perhaps it was one of those things you just say.

Then Leah came along and bought three tickets to MT and said, “Come on, we are going on vacation together.”  Coincidentally, the dates picked for our YWAM/MT visit coincided with the dates that our friends from CA would be there, too.  So we had the opportunity to spend time with those who made offers in the same place.  After talking, quite honestly our heads were spinning with the opportunities before us.

After that we were flown to San Diego to see first-hand what God was doing with Homes of Hope on the Baja Peninsula.  Wow, what an eye-opener it was.  We were staying in Chula Vista and a 15-minute drive south into Tijuana was like going from high society down to your local slum—or worse.  The poverty was overwhelming.  It’s been a long time since Jackie and I have been out of the country and in the middle of that level of living.  And right smack in the middle of it was the evidence of God at work in the homes that were built by YWAM’s Homes of Hope ministry that we are joining.

Watch this short video and you’ll see what has stolen our hearts and drawn us to make a 2-year commitment to once again be on the YWAM road. 

  How awesome was that?  Today is August 28th and we are hoping to be out there in October.  To say we have a lot to do is another one of those under stated facts of life.  How do you move 2574 miles in your 1998 Buick Century with your cat, dog, each other and the things you need to live in an 1- or 2-bedroom apartment? We aren’t sure either.  We do know we will live in Chula Vista, CA, most likely, and we will live in a 1 or 2-bedroom apartment and serve as logistical staff for all the teams that come in to do the ministry in Mexico.  Yes, we will go down too, but we won’t be living there.  I think neither Jackie or I are qualified to build a house, but we can help now and again.

So…once again we are calling on you, our friends and prayer partners, to pray for us as we embark on a new adventure in YWAM.  We will rent our house to our grandson, so that’s taken care of.  I have my social security income and rent so that’s about 2/3rds of the support we will need.  I am grateful for being so old!  Ha.  Believe it or not, it’s quite expensive to live in Southern California—not our 1st choice for a place to live, by the way—so we are hoping to raise another $500 – $700 a month in support.  If you wanna help, we won’t deny you such joy!  We are once again self-employed YWAM staff and paying our own way with the help of all of you and of course by God’s marvelous grace and mercy.

Just write or email us if you think this is something God wants you to help us with.  Regardless,  please pray as we are going like crazy to get going.  We need lots of wisdom and packing skills.  More to come as we proceed.  Stay tuned.

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What World Do You Live In?

I woke up the other morning around 4:00 AM and this question was going through my mind, “What world do you live in?” My answer, “The one I created for myself.”  I’m guessing that some of you have been asked that same question or some variation of it.   For the next couple of hours that question and I danced down many trails, trying to come up with an answer.

The World God Created

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Think about this for a couple of minutes.  At some time in eternity, which there isn’t any (time), God the Father and Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit were talking about nothing when One of them said, “Let’s make something.”  Of course all there was, was God, and there was only nothing to create with, so out of nothing the Holy Trinity said:  “I want a billion stars scattered throughout the universe in perfect harmony so that none of them collide and destroy what I create.  I want them all to sing and I want the colors to be mind blowing.”    And it happened in a word.  We know that from there creation continued until God said, “Enough, that’s all we need.”

Here’s how Clement, the Bishop of Rome in 92 AD, tells what God can do with nothing:

The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed…The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish…for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever.

That’s what God did with nothing.  Now, go and look in the mirror and realize that you were made in His image and ask God what He can make out of you.  Spend some time meditating/contemplating the implications of what I just said.  I’ve said this before, but here it is again:  Your potential is in your will and the will of God is your potential.

The crown of creation was you and me, made in His image and likeness.  It is because of that image we, too, can create.  Before our ancestors ate the fruit, they could do about anything they pleased, spontaneously filling their days in the Garden of God tending to the birds and animals and fish and all the foliage.  I don’t know if they built a shelter or not, but they must have “created” some place to live, under a tree or something.  They were spontaneous in their decisions because there were no competing choices:  “Should I catch some fish today for dinner or maybe go to the club and cruise for a chick?”  There were no choices to make when it came to spending them on sensual pleasure and self-love. Before the Fall, whatever they chose to do was God centered.

What’s amazing, though, is this:  Now, after the Fall, we create entire worlds that we inhabit with rules that direct the way we live.  We build on the basis of what we think to be true and then move inside that world and feel safe and secure. If someone tells you your world is a bit out of whack, you might take offense and say, “No, your world is out of whack–mine is perfectly made in my image.”  And it is.
My World

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The problem, of course, is that our worlds are made with finite brains that struggle to keep the harmony of our spirit, soul and flesh in sync.  When we create, it is imperfect because we can only create with the knowledge we possess.

I’m a bit color blind.  Jackie will tell me something is green and I’ll argue with her it’s gray and I’m wrong every time.  I confirm I’m wrong by asking others if it’s true the shirt I have on is a shade of green and sure enough, it is.  My color world is a bit fractured, but it still works for me.  After all, who really cares if my color perception is lacking in accuracy?

Unfortunately, there are other issues beside the shades of green I  could be wrong about.  If I can’t correctly see green,  what else am I doing incorrectly?  That old saying about what you don’t know  won’t hurt you isn’t true, is it?  Truth is, what we don’t know is what we never incorporate into our worlds and therefore they may be lacking important components.  Can you imagine living in a house in Florida that’s not air conditioned?  You’d be miserable for most of the year.  What spiritual aspects of your world are missing because you built it with incomplete knowledge?

My brother-in-law died of cancer because he never went to the doctor to investigate the symptoms that his body was throwing out to alert him of a problem. When he had to be hospitalized because he could no longer breathe, it was too late to do anything but die, and that’s what he did.  You may be spiritually weak right now because of something you built your world out of.  You know there are 1000s of people who are dying or died of asbestos poisoning because it was thought to be a safe product to insulate with.  They didn’t build with the intention of compromising their health…they just didn’t know any better.  Have you built with toxic material?

Don’t worry, you can go to the doctor right now and find out what it is your symptoms are screaming about that need attention.   You just have to figure out what doctor you are going to see. Don’t go to a knee doctor if you have eye problems.

For me, I have a lot of good friends who are very wise, loving and just a whole lot smarter than me.  I can go to them and ask if they see something in my world that is out of whack. But what if their world is out of whack too?  Guess what? It is.  Everyone’s world is out of whack–some to a greater extent than others.  We all build with finite knowledge. Is there someone who can help?  Let’s look at building materials first.

1 Corinthians 3:11 – 13   For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  We’ll simplify this and focus on gold and straw as the materials we  build with.  Fire purifies gold but it eliminates straw.

In today’s world, “Straw” is satisfying sensual pleasure, chasing after things fueled by self-love. Straw competes with the will of God and takes away our focus, watchfulness, prayerfulness, good works and eventually silences our ability to hear our spirit and soul.  In other words, when we build with straw, our flesh begins running at full speed, unhindered.  When we build with straw, which is the striving after things rather than God, we are like the little pig living in a straw house, only this straw house will have to deal with fire and God.

Vitally important is to know the difference between straw and gold.  It seems like that would be easy to do, but the evidence of how our world is spinning right now defies that thought.  Jesus said this in MT 25: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food,   I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  That’s why we are to love our neighbors–they are living icons of Christ.

So where do you go to find the correct way to build your world, the place that shows us the difference between straw and gold, the striving after things instead of God?

Read your Bible.  The challenge with that is this: Do you understand what it means?  For the first 350 years after Pentecost there was no New Testament.  It was 100s of years after that until individuals starting getting their own copy.  In the early Church, the Bible was read and studied corporately.  There was no personal interpretation like it is today, no “I just think.”  The 3 most dangerous words in the Christian vocabulary are these:  “I just think….” Take out the “I” and put in: The Bible, the Church and her traditions think this…. That’s far safer to build with than “I just think.”

A trusted Priest/Pastor/Friend.  Oftentimes others can see more clearly what’s going on around us. Listen and pray about what they see.  At least that way you can say, “WE just think.”

What you believe to be true will govern how you live your life, and how you build your world. If you believe the world is going to end tomorrow, you won’t worry too much about paying your electric bill today.  So build with gold, build with eternal value as your qualifier and guide.  If what you are building with doesn’t glorify God and precede you into heaven, it’s probably straw.

If a 1st century Christian walked into a Protestant church today, he most likely would not know what was going on or if he were even in a Christian church at all. Here’s what I’ve been doing to discover gold–Reading the historical writings of the ascetics and early church fathers. They will take you to another time, unaffected by our modern norms, filled with advice you won’t get from the writers of today, about building a house of gold rather than straw.  We are called to become like Christ as we sojourn here on earth.  Those writers will give you invaluable insights into doing that.  I’m not going to tell you what they say—you will have to go to the fountain and drink for yourself.  You’ll find the water is pure, as pure as gold purged by fire.

 

 

 

 

CHANGES

About this time 29 years ago Mark and Marcia Benkert asked us if we wanted to go with them to Montana to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Base.  They began by telling us it was a 5-month program …and I turned off my hearing with the thought: “I have a job, 2 young kids, and a nice house 5 minutes from the beach that needs to be paid for.”  Jackie and I did talk about it and considered it too far-fetched for us to do.  Maybe lateDSCF1006r.

YWAM 1987

Within a  couple of weeks we had determined we must be crazy because we were selling stuff, getting a leave of absence from work, renting out our house and making our plans to go with them to Montana.  What a great decision that turned out to be.  I was 37 then and Jackie was 30.  That 5-month school turned into a YWAM ministry from 1987 – 1996 and then from 2003 – 2007.

That was 30 years ago.  Kids are grown and gone; house is paid for; grandkids are still around and that pulls heavily on our decision making and future plans.  I’m healthy, Jackie has had a heart attack and knee replacement and joint pains and couldn’t run out of a burning house.  Her spirit is intact, focused on God and she wonders, as I do, what are we thinking? Start over?  Again!  Have we lost our minds?

usSDdreaming.jpgTwo weeks ago we were in Montana and it was a time of rekindling old friendships

30 years later: same dreams but a lot less youthfulness

that run  deep and true; friendships with those we served with in YWAM for so long.  The encouragement was so strong for us to jump back in to YWAM we could barely resist saying “yes” on the spot.  But sometimes wisdom kicks in and emotions settle and a decision can actually be prayed about.

 

Before you click out of here because you know us so well and think you know what we are going to do, there’s a twist that came our way we hadn’t expected.  Homes of Hope, based in Chula Vista (San Diego), CA, is a ministry we were aware of and by chance (do you believe in “chance”?), leaders from that ministry were in Montana the same time we were and suggested they fly us out to see Homes of Hope and how  we might fit in there.   He was in the same DTS as we were in 1987 and his wife was one of our students in 1990 when we led the DTS program. You can see Homes of Hope and read about it here:  http://www.ywamsandiegobaja.org.  There’s a link to People Magazine at that site that has a brief history of Homes of Hope you can also check out.

August 18th we fly out to taste and see if this is indeed what God has for us.  As an added bonus, the man who led me (Bob) to Christ lives 30 miles from where we will be and has walked with us in our God adventures for 44 years. We will be able to spend some time with him and his wife, and I know that his prayers are going up on our behalf as I type.  And that’s why I’ve invited you to our blog:  We want your prayers too.  Starting all over again gets more difficult each time we do it simply because it’s just not that easy a task to shut down your home, load it all into a 1998 Buick, tell your kids and grandkids to come and see you and then drive to California.  And then there’s the little factor of how we pay for this.  The first time we went into YWAM we left Florida with $400 a month in support.  For a family of four, that’s pretty slim.  God provided.  Now there’s just the two of us but it is 30 years later and we won’t be getting paid to teach English as we were in Thailand to fund our adventure there.  We’ll be living in Chula Vista, about a 10 minute drive to the ministry in Mexico, and I hear it’s a bit more expensive than in Florida.  So we’ll have to raise a little support and figure out a lot of stuff over the next couple of months IF God leads us there, or to Montana.  We have invitations to go back there as well as Hawaii.  Oh my…sometimes options aren’t that helpful.

Please put us on your prayer frig (list) and ask God to speak to us in a way even we can hear!  Thanks so much.  We are thrilled about what comes next.

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