Monday, March 28, 2011

Search And Rescue


Search And Rescue

We have all been watching the horrible events unfold in Japan over the last few weeks. From the moments of the earthquake, the incredible and shocking videos of the tsunami, to the photos of the aftermath during search and rescue, we have been overwhelmed by images. We see hurt people, a devastated nation, and more importantly, we see an international response. People are doing what they can to help.

This search and rescue is something that is hardwired into us. We know that when someone is hurting and we have the ability to help them, then we should. But there are a couple of things that we need to deal with.

First of all, we have to open up our eyes to see the facts. People are hurting. The world is fallen. People suffer. People are persecuted. People are oppressed. People are hungry. People are dying. People need help. People need help. People need help.

And we can help them. I will write more about this next blog, but for now, let me put a cool video up for you to watch. Denise showed this at our banquet. She pointed out that the man wanted something that he thought Jesus could not give, and Jesus wanted what the man would not give.

I love the opening verse. The song and lyrics are by Derek Webb.


Leia Mais…

Monday, March 14, 2011

Constant Exposure


Eighteen years ago, in 1993, Denise and I made a decision one afternoon that changed our lives. Actually, it was in the evening, after the five o’clock news. We had eaten dinner, and then mindlessly watched the news as they talked about the weather, sports and the stupid behavior of celebrities. After we turned off the television, we started talking about what a waste of time it had been. Then we just expanded to how much of a waste of time, which meant life, that watching television was in general. At this time, we had three children four and below in the house. Denise said that she had watched Oprah that afternoon, and afterwards decided that a nap would have been a better use of time.

Now we were not a television family, watching hours upon hours a day. We limited our kids viewing to the Disney afternoon (we did not have cable) and we would watch the news and maybe something else together at night. We probably watched less than two hours a day.

But we decided that was too much. Life was too short to waste on knowing about the worldd’s dumbest celebrities or who won a sports game, or what the weather was like three thousand miles way. That night, we disconnected the antennae (it was 1993) and stopped watching television.

That was, in my opinion, at least in the top three if I list the best decisioins that I have ever made. We got back our two hours a day, fourteen hours a week, sixty hours a month, 720 hours a year, and almost 13,000 hours or us time later we are still…or were…still accumulating time away from the tube. The benefits have been tremendous. Now remember, this had nothing to do with morality or spirituality. It was simply this. This is the question that we used, and actually still use: “Is this beneficial to my life and/or family? Is this the wisest use of my time, or could I be doing something better?”

In the words of Denise, “A nap is more beneficial than watching Oprah.” So we quit watching television.

We also quit being exposed to Madison Avenue Marketing. A great way to illustrate this is at Chrstimas time and Birthdays. Our children never have an idea of what they want to get. We ask them for gift ideas, and they cannot think of anything. As a family, we don’t feel cheated because we don’t have what the tv says everyone either has or should have.

Fastforward to now. We came back to visit the States, and I felt that we were a little out of touch with American culture, so we started watching television. Once more, we do not watch any ‘questionable’ shows.

Yesterday my daughter Hope came to me as I was paying bills on-line. She asked me if I had car insurance, and I said that I did. She then, with full confidence in her opinion said, “Progressive looks good, but Geico has a lot to offer as well.”

Understand that she does not even know what insurance is! What has happened? We saw this at Christmas time as well. Our children went from not having an idea last year, and of being grateful for getting a box of Pop Tarts (true story) to having a wish list that would make Toys R Us jealous.

Exposure. That is what happened. They have been bombarded by ideas and opinions to the point that the ideas and opinions have become their own.

I was thinking about this and thought, “This is EXACTLY what God tells us to be in community!” God wants us to be a part of a group that shares His beliefs. He wants us to be exposed, constantly, to His truth. This is why we teach our children as we stand, walk and lie down. It is a constant exposure to the Son.

We are to be with people that push God’s agenda the same way that Progressive sells insurance to a nine year old. By constantly reinforcement of the idea.

This is one of the reasons that you should go to church. It is a reason that you should have a close Christian community. It is why we should prioritize our relationships above individual pursuits like computer games, shopping or television. In Christian community, we will rub off on each other. We will nudge each other towards Jesus. We will share our wish list of virtues with each other.

We help each other.

That is church.

That is Christian community.

That is what we need.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Is Your Story?

As he told his story, his eyes filled with tears and he actually stopped talking. It is always uncomfortable to see a grown man get emotional, even when it is over a good thing. I mean, guys are supposed to spit on the sidewalk and laugh in the face of a tear duct. Yet, in that hour long second that it took him to get control so that he could talk, I saw God working.

He was telling me a cool story of how he had been led by God to give to a missionary and the following week God blessed him over and above the sacrificial gift that he had given. He closed by saying, "You just can't outdo God. He always blesses you, maybe not in money, but always blesses you when you give."

After we left his house, Denise and I started wondering...what is your story? Many of you that read this blog have donated to our ministry. So, how about doing us a favor and letting us know how God has blessed you for doing it. You can send us a private email (Bolivianjoe@gmail.com) or just comment.

We really would like to hear from you. How has God blessed you for your generosity?

joe

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best Is Yet To Come--The Summary

I watched little Mercy the other day as she hit the lid to the trash can over and over. It would swing open, then shut and she would laugh out loud, then do it again. The next day, Patience, our six year old, dressed up and ran around the house singing silly songs—just being goofy for fun. David and Joshua spent three hours building a lego world with legos someone gave us. Caleb is working diligently at his first job, and Benjamin went to a Disciple Now weekend. Jacob is saving for college. I look at my kiddos and think about their age and the benefits that it has. I don’t remember when I was two, but I do remember dressing up like a cowboy, being goofy, building things with tinker toys, my first job and working through college.

Good memories, but to be honest I would not want to be two years old, or ten years old, or twenty years old again. Each age had a world of wonderful things, but each age was simply a journey preparing me for different, but more wonderful things. I would have never had the joy of parenthood if I stayed a ten year old, nor know the passion of mission if I were still 16. Every age is a gift, that when opened reveals the next present in God’s hand for us.

I was thinking about this and it hit me. I can see in hindsight that every year behind me was a stepping stone to a new adventure following it. Every year simply led to greater things. So, if that is how it is in the past, then isn’t it the same for the future?

I am 48, and ahead of me is the incredible year of 49! Who knows what God has in store for 50 year olds! Here is the problem. At some point, we stop dreaming and start remembering. We replace our ‘What If’s” with “What Happened’s” and our visions of the future are now reruns of the past.

I have it! The key to overcoming a midlife crisis is to keep looking ahead! Don’t stare in the mirror at what is behind you. Look at what God has in front of you.

I am 48 years old. If Jesus doesn’t come back, I have every reason to believe that I will live another 40 years. That means I have 40 years to change the world. I think that I will start today!

Leia Mais…

Friday, March 4, 2011

How I Feel About My Mid-Life Crisis

Leia Mais…