Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Helping The Poor


Hello!

Are you tired of people becoming dependent upon outside gifts or entitlements to live? Don’t you think that everyone has a responsibility to at least ‘try’ to provide for themselves? This year I want to help end the cycle by doing more than just giving someone money. Read on… 

Denise and I have discovered something that many missionaries have written about. I have been engaged in world missions for over 20 years, and actually on the mission field for five. In that time, I have seen how a blessing can become a problem. Let me explain.

Often, on the mission field, ministry is dependent upon the missionary, and the missionary is dependent upon money from the USA. This is a good thing because it allows so many people to participate in missions. It is Biblical. It is how we take the gospel to new places and minister to the poor. World evangelism needs not only those who go. We must have those who can send. So what is the problem?

You and I agree that while it is virtuous to help others, it is harmful to create a welfare mentality. Yet this is what happens in missions, sadly to say more often than not. The current method of doing missions is a system where the national church’s dependence upon the missionary’s dependence upon the sending church/people can spell the end of ministry. There is a cycle in world missions. Missionaries travel to other lands, establish churches and ministries to help the poor and needy, then after as little as a year to as much as a few decades, the missionary returns home.

What happens to the ministry now? What happens to the ministry of the national if it is dependent upon the missionary who is dependent upon the sending group…when either the sending group of the missionary breaks the chain?

This is what happens. The ministry stops. It ends. It is over. We have created a culture of subsistence missionaries that sadly produce subsistence evangelism because, when the pipeline of cash from the sending church/people ends, so does the ministry. So, there are two problems to overcome for long-term impact. We have to somehow give without creating a welfare mindset, and at the same time learn how to by-pass the dependency upon the missionary.

The solution, when it is economically possible, is job creation. More than once I have had people ask me, both in person and on Facebook, how they can give to the poor without ‘hurting them’. How can you help the poor without your short term help actually hurting them in the long-term? We believe that sustainable growth is only possible when the growth is not dependent upon outside factors. We know that this functions in the real world. That is why we try to use job creation in our own country (the States) to help the overall economy. I actually have a donor who has told me that he will give me $1,000 as soon as I have a clean water micro-enterprise project ready to go. It is in the planning phases now, but he knows that providing clean water is vital, and if we can do it in a manner that also stimulates economical viability and provides jobs, it is a home run.

We agree with him and believe that the best way to help the poor is to provide opportunities for them. We want to not only give them material assistance; we want to lead them to a point where they can help others. We want to provide jobs and business opportunities to impoverished Christians and through those jobs provide not only a way out of poverty, but also an income string to fund ministry.

We want Bolivian Christians to fund Bolivian Ministry with Bolivian money earned in Bolivian business ventures.

Our goal is to start small businesses that will be 100% non-profit. The businesses will provide good jobs and benefits to Bolivian church leaders (99% of Bolivian pastors are bi-vocational). We will provide slightly better than market salary/benefit packages to improve the quality of lives for these church leaders. These businesses will also provide money so that ministry to the poor such as helping orphans, providing food and shelter to the homeless, clean water projects, building homes, starting and constructing churches, etc., can happen without a dependency upon the missionary or the sending groups. If we can start businesses that create jobs and provide money for ministry, all “in-house”, then the ministry is no longer tied to a simple love offering or an expense item in a missionary’s budget. Ministry is now open-ended, multi-generational and avoids the welfare mentality.

This is the purpose of this letter. We are looking for start up capital to begin these businesses. Our current plans are to open a guesthouse, coffee shop, language school, and a hamburger fast food restaurant. The profit generated by our businesses will be used to fund local ministries. Imagine what would happen in your hometown if the owner of a Burger King, a Starbucks, a Private School, and a small hostel all donated 100% of their net profit to Christian ministry! We will not be franchised, but this is a good illustration of our vision. We want to start private industries providing honest employment, sustainable growth, and monies to invest in God’s Kingdom.

This is where we need you to make a high impact and eternal difference in Bolivia!

We need like-minded Christians such as you to invest in lives. Here is how you can do it.

First of all, there are some of you that are receiving this letter that have a large sum of money to invest. We are looking for people that can give us a “no to low” interest loan. We will return your start up capital at the agreed upon interest rate. This way you can take the money that you currently have in money market or low yielding mutual and invest it in the Kingdom, in lives, and in eternity while receiving both an eternal and temporal return. We are looking for people that can invest $10,000 to $25,000 for up to three years.

This probably doesn’t describe most of you. However, we are also looking for people that can simply give a lump sum gift of $1,000 to $5,000 for us to use as start up funds. The goal is to invest the money in a business, then as it becomes self-sustaining to take out the initial investment and use it in another start up. Your gift could be multiplied in maybe ten different ventures, giving us constant start up capital. This money is tax deductible and should be sent to Ripe For The Harvest, Holmans, Project #340. For more information on how to give the way that you want to, go to www.Ripeforharvest.org and click on the donate tab.

I don’t know how you can become involved in this exciting venture, but God does and He will reveal it to you. Please pray and join us in changing lives both here and forever.

In Jesus,

Joe Holman
Director Of Central And South America,
Ripe For The Harvest World Outreach

P.S. Please contact me directly with questions about how you can help or for more information on the project. Bolivianjoe@gmail.com


pps (as per IRS regulations) Contributions are solicited with the understanding that Ripe For The Harvest has total discretion and control over donated funds.

Leia Mais…

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas--Big Deal Or Not?

I was in an end-of-the-year board meeting a couple of days ago. As an icebreaker, our director asked us to share our first Christmas memory and why we remembered it…what was significant enough to have it stick around in our memories. As people told stories, and it was getting closer and closer to my turn, I was racking my brain. I finally admitted it using humor as my defense weapon. I could not remember a good or bad Christmas. I can remember Christmas. We were poor and did not ever make a big deal out of it, however I do remember for a stocking I would get one of my dad’s size 13 tube socks. In the morning it would have an orange and some pecans in it. That was pretty much it as far as bedazzled memories go. As an adult, I find myself hoping that the sock was washed and bleached but those ideas never entered my mind back then. Anyway, my point was that I could not remember anything significant about Christmas. There was nothing to make it stand out. I know that we celebrated it. We had a tree and Santa Claus would come in the night and leave us a couple of presents. But that was it. I had no memories of Christmas day or season. This brings me to my point. Some of my readers have young children, others of you have grandchildren. What are we doing to establish traditions and/or memories of Christmas into them? What makes Christmas special or even different from other days or holidays. As Christians, we believe that Christmas and Easter mark the two most significant events in the history of the universe. The day that God became man, and the day that He rose from the dead sealing our salvation forever. If these days are significant, then shouldn’t we be doing something to make them that way? Denise and I have things that we do, traditions that we have established as a family with just this purpose in mind. What do you do? We have traditions that I will share after hearing from you.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holman Newsletter Part One

Check out what God has been doing! Thanks for being a part of it.

Leia Mais…

Holman Newsletter

Part Two of the Newsletter...I could only add four pages of photos at a time. :)

Leia Mais…

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Slice Of Life

Here is a video that just gives a quick glimpse at our lives. If you want to download it for use at your church, small group, missions event or whatever, just message me and I will send you a link to my cloud.

Leia Mais…

Holman Newsletter

Here are photos of my newest newsletter.  You won't be able to click the links, but I will upload the Slice of Life Video in just a moment, it is also on Youtube, my account is Bolivianjoe.  At the bottom is a link to download the pdf file from my cloud if you need larger images.





Leia Mais…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First Podcast

Here is a try for my first podcast.  I have signed up for Itunes, but it may take up to a week before they have me officially listed.  I soon expect to have at least two subscribers, counting me and Denise.

It is not a video, but it automatically puts my podcast photo in the window.  You can simply stare at me and wish you looked like me, or just listen and wish you sounded like me. :)

Seriously, I don't know how to change the photo, so please don't label me narcissistic.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cut Finger Or Compassionate Heart

Loading Bricks

Carrying Water Up The Path

Carrying More Water

The Old House Only Had 3 Walls

Outhouse, Notice The Toilet Is Broken

The Kitchen

Josh Outside Old Wall

This Is The Entire House 

Preparing The Rebar For The Column

Notice The Walls Are Freestanding

Preparing The Foundation Of The Column

Mixing The Concrete


My Finger Hurts

Everytime that I type the letter ‘I’, my finger hurts.  Whenever I touch it, my finger hurts.  It is the big finger on my right hand, and the thumb.  It is amazing how much we use these two fingers.  It hurt when I opened the cover on my ipad.  It hurt when I shift gears on my truck. It hurt when I was taking the lid off of my coke zero.  It hurt when I brushed my teeth.

Here is what happened.  We went to help out a man that lives in our town.  He has a disease that is slowly paralyzing him.  Right now he can only walk with a cane, and has to take half steps.  He cannot use his left hand or completely close his right hand.  Because of this, he cannot work.  He lives in a house with his four children.  The house only had three walls made of dirt, no electricity, no water, no sanitation, and no driveway.  His house is on the side of a mountain and the only way to get to it is to walk up a dirt path.  The house is about 60 square feet, and has one room.  A local church decided to help him, so some volunteers went out and built three brick walls to give the man a new house.  Unfortunately, they did not know construction, and the walls were not built with a solid foundation nor were they ‘connected’ to each other.  The end result is that the house is falling down.  We went there this week to build support columns out of brick and using rebar and concrete to tie the walls together.  We were adding stability to the structure. 

We were limited on tools.  I had to carry a 50 galloon drum of water from my house in order to mix the concrete because no one in his neighborhood has water.  We dug a hole in the dirt to make the concrete.  I did something a little dumb.  I used my hands to stir it.  I would wash them off immediately after each batch.  However, the concrete has an acidic base that ended up giving me a slight burn, thus my fingers hurt.

It is driving me boinkers.  They hurt at every touch.  Now, get this.  This morning as I was driving, I had a thought.  Instead of saying, “I wish that I hadn’t been stupid and used my hands.” , I thought, “I don’t want to go build the other two columns or the third wall.”

I was having a distorted pity party.  Here is a man who is not only disabled, he is lost and if he does not repent will spend eternity in hell.  This will be after a miserable life without the basic necessities, with no friends, and with a huge addiction to alcohol which is destroying him from the inside out.  His life is HORRIBLE. His future is DISMAL.  His eternity is DOOMED.  

My finger hurts.

You know what I am thinking of more?  I am more concerned about the letter ‘I’ on my keyboard hurting my finger than I am the eternal destination and the horrible poverty of someone Christ died for.  Am I messed up or what?  I am just being honest with you.  My finger is more important than his soul.

Well, it was.  Now I am using my finger to pray for him.  When my finger hurts, I ask God to bring this man to Christ.  It is now my ‘prayer trigger finger’.  May God use our labor of love, and our slight inconvenience to reach into this man’s heart!

Now, it is time to be like Isaiah.  Remember in Isaiah 6 when he talked about how bad he was, then he said, “And I live with people just like me!” (paraphrased).

I am bad.  But I think that I am really a product of my sinful nature and my hedonistic North American culture.  In other words, I am just like you. J

What do I mean?  Lets get practical.  The vast majority of the world is hurting and in poverty.  People do not have clean water, sanitation, or food.  Housing is atrocious, and millions die of preventable disease.  Worse than all of this, billions of people are heading into a Christ-less eternity where they will suffer the wrath of God upon their sins for ever, and ever, and ever.

Does it bother you?  Do you even think about it? Or are you, like me, so consumed with a painful finger that souls in hell don’t matter? 

Let me cut to the chase.  The average EVANGELICAL Christian gives less than $20/year towards world missions.  That is four ten thousanths of their income.  How much do you give?  How much do you care?  What do you spend your money on?  I would bet that you probably pay more attention to lunch or a latte than to the thousands of children that die each day from malnutrion related illnesses.

Why are we like this?  I think it is because our finger is on our hand and although it is a little thing, it is always in front of us.  The needs of others are far away, both in sight and in mind.  Therefore, we think about our finger.  I think that I have a solution to this.  First of all, one of the reasons that I write my blogs and post so often on FB is to keep missions in front of you.  Maybe through my failures and successes you can be reminded of the needs of the world.

I also have a practical way of helping you help yourself and others.  The Bible says that where your treasure is, there you heart will be.  Notice the order.  Your heart FOLLOWS your treasure.  Your passion pursues your money.  So, here is a great way to get you to think about the needs of the world.  

GIVE YOUR MONEY TO MEET THEM.  

On a regular basis, no less than monthly, support some mission work.  I happen to think that we are a great place to send your money, but if not us, then send it somewhere.  Denise and I are missionaries, and yet we support two other missionaries in Africa as well as donate to other agencies.  This is because we don’t want to become near sighted and see only OUR needs. 

Sending your money is a great way to forget about your finger and remember the souls of others.  It is a little painful.  You will have to do without some cool luxuries and/or nice treats.  However, your inconvenience can change the lives of others.

If you want to give to us, and we can sure use the money for projects (we are fine on personal support—all we want is money to help others), go to my website: www.holmanfamily.org and click on the investing in eternity button.   

Just a thought.
Joe















Leia Mais…

Monday, April 9, 2012

Going North American--Or Am I Already There?



One more quick lesson from going North American.  For context, read the previous two blogs.  I hinted at it earlier.  I asked you this question:  What do others say about you?  Now, here is the real question that we need to answer: What do we want others to say about us?

I am so serious about this that one day, not long ago, I sat down at my computer and pretended that I was like Tom Sawyer listening to my own funeral. I imagined a line of people waiting to eulogize me, and then in my mind’s eye there was one requirement.  These people were going to tell the truth.  They were going to stand up at a microphone, look at my coffin and say in total honesty—this is the type of man that Joe Holman was.

I asked myself what would they say today if they were honest…and then what did I really want them to say.  What adjectives would I like to be used?  What stories would I like to be told?  What did I want my wife to say?  My kids? My friends? My co-workers? My churches?  How about my enemies? 

I am purposely trying to live out the life that I wanted them to describe. 

This is a big part of it.  When people see me, they see me as a North American Gringo.  They automatically know that I am a missionary so they see me that way.  They have a preconceived idea of who I am and what I am like.  I want to rewrite their book the more that they get to know me.  How?

My driving passion is not to be known as an American (and yes I am a patriot).  I don’t want to be seen as a missionary.  I want people to see me as a devout follower of Jesus Christ and to know Him by knowing me.  I want them to see Jesus in my life.  I want them to hear Jesus in my words.  I want them to experience Jesus in how I react…even when they don’t have change. 

I don’t want to be known as a uber conservative homeschooling fundamental Christian.  I want to be known as a CHRISTian.  I want people to see the facial expressions of the Lord in my eyes and on my brow.  I want my hands to do His work, my feet to go to His world, and my mind to think His thoughts. 

Who are you?  This is a pretty serious and thought provoking question.  For many of my readers, I can pretty accurately describe you.  You are a republican or a tea party member.  You are a fiscal conservative.   You are for the death penalty and the war but against abortion.   You are against immigration and the TSA.  You are against homosexuality and big government.  You believe in the original intent of the constitution.  You like to speak evil of others but hate it when others speak evil of you.  On my FB, probably 25% of my friends are homeschoolers.

How many of you can say that this paragraph TRULY describes you?  There is NOTHING NEGATIVE in that paragraph.  It describes almost all of my readers. 

Now read it again.  Notice that I said nothing about Jesus.  I just described you to a ‘T”.  The people in your office would put that paragraph under your photo as a bio of you.  It is WHO YOU ARE…and I did not mention Jesus.  I did not say that you were full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, meekness, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control, mercy, and truth.  I did not say that people knew who you were by the way that you loved one another. 

Think about it again.  You can be described WITHOUT talking about your love relationship with Jesus.  Here is what I believe.  I believe that we should be so much like Jesus, that we should be so in love with Him, that we should be pursuing Him with such a passion that ANY DESCRIPTION of us has to begin and/or end with Him.

One day, about 15 years ago, Denise came to me and asked if she could share something.  I said that she could and she said this.

“You are a great speaker.  You are a good leader.  You inspire others to do things that they would not do without you.  You are a good planner.  You are one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met.  You are a good pastor.”  I was thinking that I had married an insightful woman, but she continued.  “However, when I think of you, and when others look at you….I don’t think that they see Jesus.  They see a guy really good at his job…but they don’t see Jesus.”

OUCH!  Praise God that the Holy Spirit intervened at that moment and let me know that HE was speaking through my wife.  I don’t know about the first part, but the last part was accurate.  I was not a whole lot like Jesus.

This is my lesson from Going North American.  You see, when my buttons are pushed, I still see my culture coming out.  It is a reminder of how much I need to depend upon the Holy Spirit and why Jesus died for me.  I want to live in such a way that when my buttons are pushed, grace—love—compassion—mercy…the heart of God come out.  I want others to first see me as a white guy FROM the States, and then soon discover that I am a redeemed sinner GOING to Heaven.

I want my main identity, my source of who I am..to be Jesus.

What is your core identity?  Really? 

Until Next Time

Joe

Leia Mais…

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Lesson About Going North American



In my previous blog, I explained what the term “Going North American” means.  Read it for more insight, but here is a quick copy/paste.

North Americans have a stereotype based somewhat in reality, of being pushy, loud, demanding, overweight and rude.  You may not believe that, but it is true.  In America, when you are displeased with customer service or think that you have a ‘right’ to some different type of treatment than you are receiving, you can forcefully explain your point of view and demand to go up the ladder telling higher up people what you think.  This is okay when both the giver and receiver share a culture that permits and expects this behavior.  However, when you are in a different culture, it is not socially acceptable.  We missionaries recognize it and try to overcome our demanding and slightly obnoxious cultural background.  However, it is still such a part of us that sometimes when something triggers it, we respond as if we were in America…and since we are not it is totally out of place.  Our missionary friends are the ones who gave it this moniker, going North American.  It is a derogatory description of bad behavior.  In the other blog, I talked about how cashiers seldom had change and how I responded by going “North American”.  Todays lesson:

Another question …what do people think about you?  I mentioned that North Americans have a stereotype.  We may disagree with it.  We may argue about it, or even defend it by pointing out the virtuous side of it.  But, we do have one.  I promise you.  I have been on five continents and in about 30 countries…and we are viewed as narrow-minded, harsh, individualistic, rude, and loud.  In Bolivia there is a saying, “Ella estaba gritando como un gringo”, translated it means “She was yelling like an American.”  This stereoptype is so true that we missionaries actually call it ‘Going North American” when we are weenies to other people. 

So, what do people think about you?  If your co-workers were talking about you one day when you were on a trip or not at the office, or if your fellow students were chatting about you over lunch when you were not there, what do you think they would say about you?  I am not asking what do you want them to say, or what would you like to think that they would say….but be honest, what do you REALLY think that they would say about you?  What adjectives describe how you treat people?  What do others think about you?

Now…this is the point…WHY do they think that?  Right now there is a huge uproar over a new television series about a mega church in Texas and the women in that church.  I don’t know much about it except the fb chatter.  However, there is a stereotype of hypocritical narrow-mindedness and self righteousness that is the basis of that series (or so it seems).  I have to say, after being a pastor for 25 years…there is at least a bit of truth to the stereotype.  Instead of screaming at the stereotype, maybe we can see how the stereotype was formulated.  Was it based on misinformation, or just an extrapolation of the truth?  Let me give you an example.  I am a homeschooler.  For over 18 years I have homeschooled my children.  I have been on the board of homeschooling organizations.  I have appeared on television and been on the radio representing home education.  I have spoken at conferences, and taught at a college where 90% of the student body are homeschool graduates.  I pastored a church in which over 90% of the members were homeschoolers.  I have written for homeschooling magazines. I KNOW homeschooling.  I LOVE homeschooling.  I believe in homeschooling.  I am a home educator and will be for the next 16 years (my youngest is only 3 years old).

Negative stereotypes of homeschoolers.  Socially inept.  Judgmental.  Self-Righteous.  Know-it-alls. Chauvenistic. Backwards. Arrogant.  I know that there are positive things to say, but for the sake of this article I am using the negative.  Now, as you see my credentials above in the homeschooling arena, please take what I am about to say as an expert opinion.  The negative stereotypes are based in reality.  We can scream media biased and persecution all we want to.  However, there is simply some truth to the distortion.  It is like when you have a caricature drawn at the carnival.  Your ears may not be that big…but they are big.  Your nose may not look like a ski slope, but it is sloping.  We tend to be self-righteous and arrogant, looking down our noses at anyone who does not agree with us.  It is an accurate stereotype.  So, what do we do?  Do we judge the people using the stereotype and call them names, or do we try to break the image?

I believe the same thing is true about us Christians.  Yes, I believe in a media biased.  Yes, I do believe that there are supernatural powers at work trying to undermine our testimony.  However, I believe that in most cases it isn’t a situation of spiritual persecution…it is a case of a Christian who is a weenie being treated like a weenie.  Are we known by our love, or by the t-shirts that we wear and the mousepad on our desk?  Do we truly look like Jesus as we seek to be in the presence of lost people so that we can love them and help them come to the Father?  Or do we look like the Pharisees who simply tried to avoid contamination?  Do we judge sinners for sinning, or do we seek to help them break the shackles of hell?

I want to be honest with you.  One of the obstacles that missionaries have to overcome is our stereotype.  We have to break the North American stereotype by becoming humble students of culture and seeking to understand/learn before we try to convince/teach.  We also have to overcome the Missionary Stereotype where we are the superman who will fly in and save the day with all of our training and answers.  When I first arrived in Bolivia, I met with 10 different pastors one-on-one.  They all asked me “What are you going to do?”  I surprised them with my answer.  I told them that I did not know what I was going to do, that I did not know the answers to their problems because I did not know or understand the questions.  I said, “I am from a different continent, a different culture, in a different environment.  What I have done in the past is not what you need.  I must learn from you and then together we can see what God says about your problems in His word.”   One pastor told me that he had never heard a missionary say that they needed to learn. 

We have to be real.  We have to be honest. We have to let people see that we are nothing more than people who need Jesus.  How do we do this?  The same way that you can do it at your school, in your office, or with your neighbors.  By following Jesus.  By letting the Holy Spirit lead us.  By being filled with the Holy Spirit and bearing His fruit.  By becoming less like our Sunday School class members and more like God.

Until Next Time,
Joe    

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lessons From Going North American...


I have only gone “North American” a few times since moving to Bolivia five years ago.  Going “North American” is synonymous with what we used to mean when we said, “Going Postal”.  I have to explain and this may be the ‘ouch’ part of this little article. 

North Americans have a stereotype based somewhat in reality, of being pushy, loud, demanding, and rude.  You may not believe that, but it is true.  In America, when you are displeased with customer service or think that you have a ‘right’ to some different type of treatment than you are receiving, you can forcefully explain your point of view and demand to go up the ladder telling higher up people what you think.  This is okay when both the giver and receiver share a culture that permits and expects this behavior.  However, when you are in a different culture, it is not socially acceptable.  We missionaries recognize it and try to overcome our demanding and slightly obnoxious cultural background.  However, it is still such a part of us that sometimes when something triggers it, we respond as if we were in America…and since we are not it is totally out of place.  Our missionary friends are the ones who gave it this moniker, going North American.  It is a derogatory description of bad behavior.

            I have honestly been pretty good.  Before Denise and I came, we read five, literally five, books on cross cultural living.  We learned to identify what is part of our culture, and what is not, and to not confuse our culture with the Bible.  I have been good….but the fact is that I am an American.  Denise has said that I have such a hurdle to overcome.  I am an independent American who feels free to express my opinion.  I am not only that, in a sub-category of it I am a Texan, who has to deal with that even more independent mindset of slight arrogance. Then, I am a fundamental, conservative evangelical Christian homeschooler….need I say more?  If there was ever anyone in the history of the world that knew the best way to do anything it would be me.  (dripping with sarcasm).  So, I have really tried to NOT BE ethno or cultural centric.  But…every once in while I have gone North American.

            Two of the times that I have done this have been over the same behavior of Bolivian culture.  It drives me BOINKERS.  Bolivian businesses do not plan in advance and therefore have change in their cash drawers.  They do not start the day with the ability to make change.  Then, because they are always short on change, they NEVER want to give any.  It is up to the customer to have the correct change.  Many times they will take your money and then tell you that they will bring the change to you when they get it (if you are at a restaurant).  In an ironic lesson, I am at the airport on the way home from a trip and just tried to purchase a cup of coffee.  It cost the equivalent of $2, and I just handed the cashier the equivalent of a $14 bill.  He would not give me change.  He said he did not have it.  I told him that I saw the open drawer when he put the money in it for the man in front of me and I saw that he had change.  He said that I had to give him the right change or I could not buy my coffee.  I came back to my computer with a good attitude.  I think.  Maybe.  Well, at least I kept my bad attitude hidden. :0)   Back to my little story.  The last time that I went North American, I actually YELLED, yes, I yelled at a 17 year old cashier.  I told him that I KNEW he had change and that he was just keeping it.  I told him that it was HIS JOB to give me change, not my job to give it to him.  I said that it was stupid to start a cashier’s day without money, and that he had the money.  Then I said, “Give me my change now!”  He opened the drawer and out of the massive amount of change that he had he gave me my change.  I went back to the table and my kids said, “Two things dad.  Never make someone angry who is working on your food, and did you invite him to church?”  (AAAGGGGHHHHH  Children are so mean!)

Before going any farther, I went back and asked him to forgive me.
 
Now, my point…there has to be one.  Oh, yeah.  There are several.  Let me just point out one because I don’t want to write a book. J

These people are so worried about running out of change that they behave as if they had no change.  They treat people like they have no change.  They ‘think’ like a ‘no-changer’ would think.  They make ‘no-change’ demands.  They are so stressed out about the possibility that they will run out of change, that it distorts their entire perspective.  Customers are change takers.  It is more important to keep change in the drawer than it is to sell coffee.  The goal of the day is not to move a product, it is to finish the day with change.  Purposes, priorities, and actions are all based upon the worry of no-change.

What do you worry about?  Have you ever been so concerned about something that ‘might happen’, about something that ‘could happen’ or about what ‘someone might do’, that you responded to this fictional event rather than reality?  Have you ever found yourself clutching to what you have instead of reaching out for what God wants you to receive?  Have you lost sight of the purpose?  Let me give a missionary example.  God blesses us in North America with many resources.  We have houses, cars, education, talent, possessions, and opportunities.  If we are not careful, these things ‘in our drawer’ become our purpose.  Instead of using the things that we have in order to advance the Kingdom of God, we stop the advancement of the Kingdom in order to keep the stuff in our drawer.  Do we evaluate ourselves based upon our accomplishment of HIS purposes, or upon how much we retain in our personal cash/value drawers?  Why are we here?  What are we doing?  Why are we doing it?  Is it to protect and keep what we have, or to risk what we have for the greater purpose of what is ahead?  Do we even risk? 

This is not just a ‘give money’ thing.  It is holistic.  I think that the same mentality that causes a coffee shop employee to say not to a customer over the fear of losing customers because of no change…that same mentality causes us to say “No” to the call of God upon our lives.  He wants us to do something, risk something, try something go somewhere…change….but we look at what we have and think that keeping the status quo is why we are here.  God has not called us to keep the status quo.  He has called us to change the status go….we are to help people change the status of where they are going…heaven or hell.  We are called to risk it all for His glory.  We are called to sacrifice, to give, to lose it for His sake…do we?  Do we think about what He is doing, or worry about what it may cost us to do it?

Until next time…
Joe

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tearful Reminder


             It hit me out of the blue.  When I preach, I like to use graphics and photos to support what I am saying.  This Sunday, I am telling a story about my dad, shortly before he died.  I think I might write it out in a blog after this one…anyway, I was looking through old photos to find a photo of him.  Before we came to Bolivia, we took all of our photo albums and sent them to a company in California. This company scanned them so that we could have them electronically.  We had six thousand photos.  Yep, six thousand photos!

           So, I decided to get out the drive we have them on and get a photo of dad so that I could put it up on the screen while I am telling my story. 

            The tears started in about five minutes.  Then they hit me hard, including a little sniffle and snob in about 10 minutes.  Now, I am suddenly challenged and feel like I may be a little short on what should be happening. 

            The tears started when I could not find a photo of my parents.  During my growing up years, we didn’t take many photos.   I got married as soon as Denise graduated and we began a life in the fast lane…of work/education.  I worked three jobs and went to school full time until I received my Master’s Degree.  We then moved to Colorado, 800 miles away from my parents.  After Colorado, we moved to Virginia, 1200 miles away from them.  Then, we moved to Bolivia, 4,000 miles away.  I am saying this trying to make an excuse for what happened.  But, the bottom line is that there is no excuse.  I started crying because both of my parents have passed away…but that isn’t it…I wept because I realized how little our lives interacted from the time I was 15 years old.  When I was 15, they moved to Buenos Aires and left me to live on my own.  From that moment on, they were pretty much out of my life.  I went through my last two years of High School on my own.  Then college, marriage and seminary. 

            This isn’t bashing.  It is what happened.  Now that they are gone, I realize how much I missed.  I should have pursued them.  I should have made them a priority.  I should have called and scheduled visits. 

            This was driven home when I finally found a photo of my dad.  I saw it and cried out loud. 

            Time to evaluate.  I am examining the emotions that I am experiencing as a child, an orphan, and as an adult and a father.  I am typing this asking myself, “What will my kids think?”  Will they look at me and be blessed?  Will they say, “Dad was always there.  I know that I was important to him.  I know that he loves me.” ?  What will they think/feel?  What DO they think or feel?

            Dads, are you investing TIME and ENERGY in your children?  Are you telling them how important they are to God and to you?  Are you there, REALLY there with them?  Do they get more of your time than your computer?  Do they know that when you are not with them, you want to be…or do they feel like the opposite.

            As I look at my life, and realize that my first three kids have left the nest, I feel some pride, some regret, some happiness, some sorrow…and a huge challenge.  I have 8 more here to pour my life in.  I am going to do it.  I can FEEL the power of a father’s love by the emptiness not having it leaves. 

            How about you?  Why not go do something with your kids right now?



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