Monday, July 20, 2009

Too Many Facebook Friend-ships

I have a confession to make. I like Facebook. Didn’t think I would when I joined it, but, well…I do. Now you will never get a poke, superpoke, or a pig thrown at you from me. I don’t play any of the games or apps, and although I had to sign up for Speed Dating to see a quiz my son made, I don’t plan on using it to connect with a future spouse anytime soon. But I do like Facebook. It is a great way to share information about your life. A quick “here is what is going on, check out the photos, or see the video”. I like to look at other people’s photos, do a quick funny post of something stupid my kids said (which could keep me writing full time), or find out what is happening in someone’s life.

But there is something that I think is true. I think that many of us have too many facebook friends, and not enough real ones. If I were pasturing in the States, I would preach a message called, “Too Many Facebook Friends”.

Now don’t jump to conclusions and defriend me. I want to be your facebook friend. What I am saying is this. For many of us…our friendships are limited to a superpoke on facebook. All we do is let people on the outside look in…but we don’t let people inside. We keep them an arm’s length, or a web page, away from our heart. We will let them see our lives…but not our soul.

Facebook is safe. I can control it. I can post, or not post. I can read, or not read. I can choose what I expose to you, and how much of you I expose myself to. I don’t have to accept your invitation, take your quiz, or view your video if I do not want to. I can limit the level of my involvement, of my relationship to you, with little or no pain.

That is the issue. This describes the majority of our friends doesn’t it? We are facebook friends, even when we are not on facebook. We limit our involvement. We keep our distance. We might do a quick ‘throw a lamb at someone’ but it really isn’t going to change anything about us.

If there is anything that I have learned from living on the mission field it is this. I need heartbook friends. Friends that connect. Friends that sometimes drain, and yet still fill me. Friends that do not respect my limited involvement and who want to be a part of my life. I need friends who are not just there to chat when or if I log on, but friends that are there all the time. Denise and I have found some here on the mission field…but only some. We need more. Do you? Maybe you are like me and you find yourself with a lot of facebook friends…yet lonely. Maybe it is time to risk, to step out of the web and into someone’s life. Maybe it is time to start doing what it takes to become part of another person’s life. Come on my facebook friend, lets face it…that is what Jesus did for us!

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Little Things

Denise and I checked into our room and guess what was waiting for us. Reeses, Hershey’s, Peanut M&M’s, Starbucks and Duncan Donut coffee. Our friends knew that we loved and missed these things so they purchased them and put them there for us. What a treat. As I was popping a reeses into my mouth I thought. It is the little things, the little acts of thoughtfulness, the little considerations that have the most impact. Just a bag full of “We love and are thinking of you” left in a room. Lets look for a little thing to do today.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Cultural Difference...But Not A Good One

You hear this alot. Life is slower in other countries. It is more ‘tranquil’ and less stressed. That is true. While other countries lack the production of the U.S. and could learn tons from her…I do think that sometimes the good ole USA can go overboard. I experienced this afresh in a church I was preaching in. There were several things going on that day, of which I was one of them. Before church the pastor met with me and the worship leader and told the worship leader that the last song had to be cut. “It is only 2½ minutes long” replied the worship pastor. “Gotta go, we have too much to do” was the final call. Less than three minutes, but had to get rid of it cuz if not, church would go over by three minutes and the world as we know it would or could conceivably end….or something even worse? We are so tied to the clock…so worried about the time…are we managing time or is it mastering us?

Another viewpoint. I was chatting for a few minutes with a friend (whom I haven’t seen in over two years) who came to hear me preach when I was in the States. We were talking after church and they looked at their watch and said, “Well, it has been great talking to you I have to go.” I asked, “Where do you have to go?” Now, I wasn’t being facetious, just curious. They mumbled and I realized that they did not HAVE to go…it is just that we had done our allotted and allowed 10 minutes of chatting….it had to end.

I know that Bolivia can learn a lot from the production mentality of the West…I am a type A person living in a type Z world…but there is some learning that we US Citizens can learn also…let me put it in a simple sentence. “Chill out, relax, and enjoy the moment.”

Leia Mais…

Where’s Home?

I have a new answer for that, and it is super cool. I used to say that I was a pastor in Virginia, but I was from Texas. Then, I would say, “I am from Virginia but I live in Bolivia.”

Now, here is my answer. “My home is in Bolivia.” My heart, my home, and my family are there. God has called us to a foreign country to serve Him, but it isn’t foreign any more. Where’s Home? Bolivia…you should come visit me.

Leia Mais…

A Proud Papa

Denise and I went to the States for a conference and a chance to visit a couple of our ministry partners. We left Jacob and Caleb in charge. I just have to say, my guys ROCK. Jake and Caleb took care of everything. They oversaw the clan. There were 9 kids here in Bolivia, and Jacob was the lead man and Caleb his wing…and they excelled. Jacob…Caleb….GREAT JOB DUDES.

Leia Mais…

Seatbelts And Ministry

How To Use A Seatbelt

Okay. I have to just say, “I have been using a seatbelt for 45 years now (literally with no exaggeration). You don’t have to explain how to connect it or disconnect it.” I just watched the flight attendant explain, complete with belt in the air above her head, how to connect the belt by putting this end in that end, and when you want to disconnect it, by lifting up on the handle. Who makes them do this? Why do they do this? Is there anyone on the planet, or at least flying in USA Airspace, that does not use a seatbelt…or cannot figure out how?

As I was watching this demonstration…and I was the ONLY person watching it, I thought unfortunately that this is a picture of many churches. I am writing this as a person who has devoted his life to helping churches, so I have a right to say this.  Many churches are still explaining how to use seatbelts. No one is listening, not because seatbelts are not important, but because it isn’t addressing a need. I need the belt, I don’t need to be told what I already know and shown how to use it. Tell me something else. Teach me something. Show me something. Let me hear how Christ can change my life!

We have the seatbelt…the gospel…the truth…and people need to know it. However, maybe there is a different way to explain. Just a thought from a sociological (not pathological) pastor.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And Now, For Another Viewpoint

I wrote about the chip choices (197) in Wal Mart and how that is one of the massive decision making processes that I am glad I am freed from in an earlier article. Now I would like to counter that with something slightly funny. Before we left for the States, I walked in on Denise on the computer. She was researching Soda Pops. She was looking at, I think, Diet Caffeine Free Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. I asked what she was doing, and she took me to three or four pages of all these flavors of Soda Pop. She told me. “We have Coke, Coke Zero and Fanta. When I am in the States, I am not ever going to drink one of those. All I am drinking is stuff I can’t get here.” She stayed true to her word, and she made me follow her example. I just finished a big can of Arizona Diet Raspberry Tea. I had a coke zero in my hand and she said, “Your not going to buy a coke zero are you? We can get that in Bolivia.” Quick on the take, I said, “Why no, it was just in front of….of this Arizona Diet Raspberry Tea that I have been dying to drink.” Guess what? That is some good tea.

Leia Mais…

I Need Help

“Joe, I need help”.
“Joe, I need help. Please.” This is what I heard Denise say. It wasn’t a scream for protection, it was more of a muttered frustration. I walked over to where she was…on the baby food aisle in Wal Mart. Here was her problem. “I can’t choose. My brain has shut down. There are too many options.”

Now granted we had been awake for over 40 hours (we could not sleep on the plane for some reason). Also, this was the first time we were purchasing Baby Food. It cost too much to buy in Bolivia and the fruit is much better. However, I did not see what the problem was. Then it dawned on me. There was simply an overload of choices. If there had been one choice, or even two, it would have been easy. But now, suddenly there are all these nice packaged and attractive boxes, jars, and plastic containers staring at you. I did the super dad thing. I reached up and grabbed one. No time to think. No time to process. Act now!

Two things happened. First of all, we forgot to take the baby food with us to the conference the next day, which is why we purchased it. The second thing…she did not like the mixed tutti fruit applesauce cinnamon stuff I got her.

However, this did get me to thinking, so, while Denise was still stumbling like a zombie through the aisle of the super Wal Mart, I went to the chip section. I counted. Yes. I counted. How many chip options do you think the Wal Mart in Charles Town West Virginia offers to its discriminating shopper? I counted flavors and sizes…here you go. You have 197 different options available to you.

We go to the store to purchase chips, and we have to decide between 197 types, flavors, and sizes. In Bolivia, and where we live is in a city of almost a million, we pretty much have two choices. You can get a potato chip or you can get a tortilla chip.

What is my point? I don’t know. Maybe we spend so much energy making chip choices that we don’t have the strength to decide on the big stuff that matters? Maybe we devote so much time to keeping our options open, that we never do anything? Maybe Wal Mart has a lot of chips?

All I know, is to be honest, I have been able to survive for over two years with a lot more chip choices than I used to… and I like it.

Leia Mais…