Comforts of the Cross

Being uncomfortable or the lack of all the comforts you take for granted on a daily basis is the starting point of what I am about to write. The comforts we have all grown accustomed to and we expect without even thinking about it. The same comforts that if one is lacking we are in shock and can’t believe someone hasn’t fixed or replaced that comfort. As an American I know many of our comforts that we expect, those cushions that are soft, the toilets that are clean, the car that starts and stops, the faucet that runs water hot or cold on our command. These are the things that we have grown to expect even to the point of demanding, yet so many in this world have not even experienced many of our standard comforts.

Now look at the cross. Jesus said to: “take up his cross and follow me” *(Matt 16:24) What did He mean?

When I think of the cross, I think of the complete opposite of comforts.  There is no comfort with the whippings Jesus received before, the mental anguish of how he was treated, disdained and mocked. The thorns pushed into His head, the pushing, the prodding, the lack of energy and strength as blood already was being lost. Then the cross, the hard wood pushed into His already torn flesh, the nails piercing, the pain of holding Himself up with a nail through His feet and His hands as He was probably alternating His weight from one to the other. Christ had no comfort on the cross, no air conditioning, no pampering, no rest, nothing. He gave up all His comfort for us!

I am realizing how little I understood the notion of Christ’s suffering, how much He gave up for us. Could you imagine the comfort Our Lord has in heaven? His comfort is so much more than ours and He gave that up. He lived as a human with all the human frailty we all have, yet was God, creator, perfect and Holy. His humanly body was able to be beaten, feel pain and bleed to death. He left all His comfort. Who am I to say I cannot do something for Him because of how uncomfortable I might be. How thankful I am for every little comfort I enjoy each day.

So next time you feel uncomfortable and are thinking that this can’t be God’s will, remember what comforts He gave up for you and praise Him.

 

Creature of the night

A little off-beat, but something to share. I am sure all the ladies would love friends like these:

Our pets

Heather was in the pool by herself and called for me to show me one, then a few minutes later the larger one.

Some of the locals say they can kill you, yet even the local exterminator agrees with what I have read. They can bite, but are basically harmless. Still creepy if you ask me.

Where is my faith

I was doing a little pondering today while driving back from Puerto Plata to Sosua. It was about 3 years ago that Jessica and I first met up with Jim and Debra here in the Dominican Republic and they took us to a few places to show us around the area, not knowing then some of the things God had planned for us. It was during that visit that God was putting in me the vision of working with Jim and Debra in the Sosua area, yet before that trip we did not know anyone in this part of the country, however, we did know a few in Jarabacoa and in Santo Domingo.

What struck me today was my lack of faith. I keep finding myself questioning what I am doing here. We are spending time looking for the house to live in as we try to get started working in Villa Paraiso (Paradise Village.)  God was showing me and reminding me of all the things He has done already – from putting it on my heart to move here in 2003, meeting the Tunnicliffes, seeing God take us across the country and to fly here with a number of things timed that we could never have seen beforehand. God was reminding me that trusting in Him has always come to the result of what only faith could see. The visions He gives to us sometimes seem impossible and that is why I believe He does just that. How does our faith grow without the impossibilities to get beyond? If we could see how it would work out it would not take faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  God puts in us the vision and the faith of that vision. I know that over the last few years it has been challenging to even explain to other believers what God has called us to. And it took even more faith when it did not happen in our timing to continue to tell people what we were going to do. I can’t imagine what Abraham went through when he kept on getting older and not yet seeing the fulfillment of the promise of a son.  To believe and hope for something he knew was improbable and was only becoming impossible.  God uses the impossible to show us who He is. Thank goodness we have no say in who God is!

Be encouraged my brothers and sisters, God is not finished with us. He will continue to work out miracles as we look to Him. His ways are not our ways (thank goodness) and He has a plan with all the details already perfectly worked out. I challenge you to be stretched and that thing He has been prompting you with, trust Him. Accept that it is impossible for you and not for God. Let God grow your faith and take the first step in what He is asking you to do. Be blessed by allowing Him to take reign in your life and know that a perfect Father in heaven loves you and wants you as His devoted child.

Hit the ground running

We arrived September 5th and it seems like that was months ago. The process of finding a place to live, a vehicle to drive and how to even shop takes a lot of effort and lends to so much frustration. Stores are not set up in the way we are accustomed to in the U.S. and cars cost about twice as much. The cost of fuel leaves us with the option of buying a vehicle with a four cylinder diesel engine, which is actually fairly common when it comes to vans anyways.

Now beyond the practical, day to day living necessities, we have the village we are working in – Villa Paraiso. Here we have seen a number of people desiring to come to the church and not sure if they are allowed to come.  I have found that many more can read than I initially thought; however, there are still many who cannot.  Jim has stepped out of his comfort zone and has preached a couple of times in Spanish, which I am sure has helped him learn even more.

Our children have played a part in bringing families to the church, they have been a type of bridge in the community. When the children of the village see the gringitos arrive, they come running to play with our kids. An aspect of the culture that has sort of caught us off guard was the violent aspect in how the kids will play or fight. So often a teased child resorts to anger followed quickly by punching and kicking and then even rocks being picked up to be thrown (and believe me there is no shortage of rocks within reach.) As we interact with the children and something gets a little out of hand we become the peacemakers. Don’t let this come across as a negative comment, what we are seeing is what the Lord will work on as people come to know Him, the fruit will be revealed in time. Also, we get to experience little things that are blessings. As an example, one little boy who Silas has befriended went after a child who took his toy, which, by the way this toy was a moped tire that he rolls around.  The little boy Yannay (said the same as Johnny) took a rock to throw at the boy who took his toy. Silas grabbed his hand and said “no Johnny, no!” and held his hand until he dropped the rock. I think that Jesus spoke of these “peacemakers” if I am not mistaken.

There is so much to learn of this culture and of the people in the village. There are boundaries to get beyond, there are walls to be torn down and there are areas where we will have to be like Paul who became like those who he ministered to (maybe that is why God provided us the van that we drive.)

We are excited about what God is doing here and we are blessed to be working with Island Light Ministries, knowing Jim and Debra Tunnicliffe and even some of those back in Medford Oregon who play the “behind the scenes” roles. We have a vision of revival for God’s people and a great harvest that the Lord has been preparing.  The prayer God has put on my heart is for His people to come back to Him and fully love Him.  AND if you are one of those whose walk has been on the fence, come, return to the Father who is waiting for you with open arms!

Mitsubishi

Our Guagua

Feeding His People

Lately Silas is constantly hungry, always wanting something to eat. Most parents probably remember a time when their children were like this, one hour after eating complaining about being hungry. So, going up to the village we have been bringing something small like bread for him to eat if he gets to the point of complaining. We leave it in the van and take him out to it, so as not to create hunger pains in anyone who sees him eating.

Saturday I handed him a piece of bread and told him to eat it before going back towards the kids, however his little friend Johnny was right there. I told him that many of them are hungry and don’t have much food so it wouldn’t be nice for him to walk over to where they could see it. He then took a piece of the bread and handed it to his friend. This was heartwarming to see Silas understand enough that he wanted to share.

Now yesterday we had a similar event where I reminded him that many are hungrier than him and some may have not eaten anything that day. He then said to me “we should bring enough food for them” which I said “yes, we want to but we don’t have enough.” I could see his mind working on it, and he had a sad expression while pondering these thoughts.

The need is great; we have plans of having lunch served there which is their main meal. It would most likely consist of rice and beans (Dominican style) but God will have to do a miracle. You see, we don’t have the money to do this yet.

We hope to help in changing this need over time as we teach different skills to the men and women in the village so that they can earn enough to provide for their families. The trade school is scheduled to be finished in February and the plan is to have a woodshop and 3 other trade classes in the building. The Samaritan Foundation has the finances being given to them for this building praise the lord.

Please pray for the finances needed to bring food to these people. I was challenged to pray for this need after what Silas said. To him it was a simple solution of just bringing more food. Where is my faith to ask the same of our Father who is so good!

 Keep in mind that this food is our earthly food, while we feed their stomachs, we will be feeding them God’s Word.

Living in Paradise

We have been in the Dominican Republic for a whole 3 days now and are experiencing all that paradise has to offer! This morning’s power outage and water outage topped off the night of thunder and lightning and heavy rain. Since we have been here I have joked about being in paradise. The warm weather is great and the green is beautiful, but compared to what God has in an unfallen world, there isn’t anything here to call paradise.

If we are hung up in this world searching for the place of peace, retirement, relaxation in the tropics with no cares, we are only fooling ourselves. This world is in a fallen state. It is deteriorating and corroding (come here if you want to see corrosion.) If you are a child of God, I don’t believe you will ever find peace in this world. You will never find a place you can fully relax and enjoy. I believe God will have you stirred to do. To do things He planned for you long before you were born. Things that bring Him glory and you the fulfillment of following your King and Saviour. The rest we as Christians will experience is a rest in Him no matter what we are physically being challenged with. Our peace is from Him through events that no earthly peace can exist. Our paradise is not found here on the earth, but with Him!

Take courage my brothers and sisters, God does not overburden us. He allows us to find rest, strength, energy and peace while serving Him. Take your burdens to the cross and carry His burdens because they are light.

May our Lord and Savior grant you His peace today.

Revival of His people

Here we are in a hotel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri having jumped in the pool at 10 PM and ready for some rest. This was a short 7 hour drive (with stops) from our last stop with Shane and Kami who blessed us with their hospitality and the privilege of doing a presentation at their church and Jeremy did some music. As usual, the Lord moved and people were blessed and touched. It is so cool to witness God using the music to reach deep in the hearts of His people.

Back to the title of this post – Revival – I believe that God has us on this trip across the states to be part of an ushering in of a revival. The same themes are at each church so far, from Medford Oregon to Missouri. The Holy Spirit has been moving and just seeing what God is doing in the three young men with us has been inspiring. Jeremy, Sam and Matt have all been great to be with on this trip and I know God has great plans for them. Please keep them in your prayers. We are asking for safe travels and for God to continue to use them mightily.

If you haven’t been experiencing God in a deeper way lately, start asking for Him to draw you closer. God wants all of His children close to Him, asking Him for all things, and dependant on Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to enter in you fully and flow out of you, touching others and connecting His people together.

Also, keep my brother Garth in your prayers, I am not sure how He is at the moment, the last I heard was he fell about 15 feet off a ladder and was unconscious for a minute and may have some broken bones.

God bless!!!

On Our Journey

We were a bit too busy to post some updates, but here is one from Parker, Colorado near Denver. We spent the last two days driving the new shuttle (used, but a perfect vehicle for the drive) to Colorado. There are two shows for Jeremy scheduled in Colorado and we will be presenting the ministry as well.

We are asking God to be the one to move in the hearts of His people as we make this journey across the U.S. and then off to the Dominican Republic. We are excited about all He is doing in us and through us.

I was encouraged again with the faith of the young men with us. Jeremy, Sam and Matt are all a blessing. The Lord is working through these young men, praying that the Lord will use Jessica and I to impart some of the Lord to them as they travel with us.

A show tomorrow in Grand Junction (if I am remembering the correct city for the night.) May the Lord be glorified!

Benefit Dinner Tonight

Some families here in Medford have set up a benefit dinner this evening to help bring in support for Island Light Ministries. This will help raise money for the feeding program, scholarships for the trade school and more. If you are interested please give us a call or write on my FaceBook (email program is locked up for me.)

Please pray as we finish packing our bags into the shuttle today, try to sell my desk, move a few items to our storage, etc… we still have so much to do and so little time.

Also, I wanted to thank all of those who have been praying and encouraging us, this really has been hard but the Lord is seeing us through each step of the way.

I will try to post on the drive when I have the opportunity – God bless you all!

We have transportation to Florida

Returned home at 12:30 am this morning after driving round trip to Folsom California to aid in purchasing the shuttle van we will be using. Long day, but now we have a way to get to Florida!

It is a Ford Diesel van front shuttle with the wheelchair lift on the side. We will be able to have enough seats and then the room for the luggage and instruments. Thank you for all your prayers!

I will try to post some pictures later today.