Archive for December, 2011

Cosmic Intervention

Many science fiction movies begin with a cosmic thunderbolt and an alien appearance. That’s when they lose me.

When I pondered the Christmas story–the story that is pivotal to the universe–the backstory of our lives, the magnitude of it awed me once again.

Philippians 2 is a great description of not only the incarnation, but of our example, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s how the New Living Translation puts it:

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Phil. 2: 5-8.

It’s as if the cosmic thunderbolt of all thunderbolts hit this planet when the God of the universe clothed himself with our skin.

To live a perfect life.

To die a gruesome death.

To be raised for our transgressions.

So we could have life.

That story never loses me.

Your Face I Will Seek, day 6 (I think)

A few years ago, I pleaded with the Lord to help me fall in love with Him again. He answered that.

Several months later, I asked Him to give me a love for His Word. He answered that.

Recently, I’ve petitioned the Lord to see His face. During that time of question, I came upon the passage in Psalm 27: 8. David is talking to the Lord: “When you said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

I believe He is answering that prayer. Not in the way I would have chosen or even thought of, but it is His way.

By a crisis of question.

Here is what I’ve learned so far. My POV is largely American, not Biblical, even though I thought it was. It is also human. Finite. Flawed. Fallen.

I couldn’t fathom the fact that a woman living in a remote part of Central America possibly suffering some sort of abuse could have joy. I now believe that is possible.

So for today, let me just share with you my thought process about part of that situation.

A person can be free on the inside and a slave on the outside. I Peter 2: 13-17 states, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” In Philippians, Paul commands believers, (many of whom were slaves), to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” 4:4 So a person who has the Holy Spirit living inside of them, can have joy in spite of any circumstance. Paul is proof of that. That person has divine hope.

A person can be a slave on the inside, yet free on the outside. How about a day trader that is addicted to prescription drugs? Or a woman eaten up with bitterness. They may be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness, but inside they are enslaved to their sin. Jesus said in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” That person does not have the Holy Spirit in their life. That is hopelessness.

A person can be a slave on the inside and a slave on the outside. Consider those throughout history who have suffered either justly or unjustly either in prison or under a slave-master who do not have the freedom found in Christ. Romans 6: 23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” That person has no hope in this world, and because they have not accepted the free gift of salvation will suffer judgement when they die. Forever. That is tragic.

A person can be free on the inside and free on the outside. That is the camp that I fall into. And probably you, if you live in the USA and have the Holy Spirit in your heart. Romans 6: 6 states, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with HIm, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” That is not only divine hope, but amazing grace.

We of all people are most blessed.

We of all people should be most giving. And loving. And praying.

Especially for those of our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed or persecuted.

That is what has been on my mind lately, and it’s made me have a grateful heart.

I’m going to take a few days off and enjoy the freedom of celebrating Christ’s birth. Take advantage of it. We may not be able to celebrate His birth for long.

A Crisis in Question, pt. 2

I remember the instant I knew I was in trouble. At church one evening before our trip, we had a team meeting. After I left, someone made the comment that we’d have to be ready to share our faith at a moments notice.

“I grew up doing that. I won’t have a problem.” My words dripped with arrogance.

It was true. Growing up as an OB (Officer’s Brat) in The Salvation Army, you get used to flexibility. I sang the alto part in my first duet at age 7. I stood kettles for the Army soon after that and each Sunday, we traipsed out to the street corner for what was called the “Open Air Meeting.” To a teenager, it was the “I’ll hide behind my horn in case my friends see me, Meeting.”

We’d march out with our instruments, gather in a circle and begin to play. The instruments were to attract attention. And it usually did. Both good and bad. Several times we listened to a drunk rant and rave. Sometimes, local children would make fun of us.

Then my dad would give a short gospel message, I might be called on to give my testimony or pray or even sing, and then we’d march back to the Army for the night meeting. If someone were interested, we’d invite them back to hear more about Jesus. It was impossible to be shy.

I also grew up giving gifts and time to poor people. I received a degree in Social Work at Asbury College. My whole life was filled up with service and testimony.

So when I heard we would visit people and share the gospel, secretly I thought, I’ll be good at that.

Fast forward to Sunday morning in Honduras. The building was to be dedicated. There would be many people attending and the place was packed. Again, the people worshipped and prayed with passion for a long time. Again, Lorenzo translated the message of the Lord for our pastor. It really was amazing.

After the service, the local ladies cooked for all of us. About 300. Over an open fire. The kids played, the adults ate together and talked. But, I couldn’t stop crying.

Why are we doing this? Why do we think we know anything? Are we really doing any good?

I retreated to my room. I flunked missions.

I tried to read a novel and couldn’t. I was drawn to God’s Word. David’s Psalms encouraged me. I asked the Lord to help me. “I flunked Missions 101, Lord. I know that you have answers. Please help me.”

I cried out to my Papa. And He answered with His Word.

Danielle Kreloff came into the room. We talked and I shared with her how weak I was. “I think the Lord wants me to share my weakness with the rest of the team,” I said.

That night on the porch, people shared one praise after another. I remained silent. There was a pause, like we were going to end. I knew that was my cue. So I shared my doubts and questions and that I’d flunked missions.

Mike Schadt encouraged me with God’s Word and then all of the team gathered round me to pray. Joe Tro led them. The scriptures he used were some of the very ones that the Lord had brought to mind. One of them was the father in Mark 9. He said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Another passage the Lord brought to mind was in John 6. Currently, I’m writing a Bible study titled, “Bread of Life.” I’m stuck on day 10 that deals with the end of the bread of life discourse.

Jesus tells the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they will have no part of Him. Many who followed Jesus left at that point. Jesus turns to the tweleve and says, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

Of course Peter responds. His response was my response. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

My crisis wasn’t over, but I knew where to look for answers.

More tomorrow.

A Crisis in Question, Pt. 1

On Saturday, I wrapped my ankle with an Ace bandage and got on the bus. We drove about a mile away. We were weighed down with sacks of snacks, water bottles, Christmas presents for the children and adults, props, and Gospel of John tracts.

The plan was to drop the team off at the bottom of a mountain, we would climb it, visit a village, visit another village and wind our way back to La Esperanza.

Except, that our bus driver wanted to come with us. We noticed a home slightly down the mountain and drove the bus there. We’d made arrangements to pay the inhabitants to watch it for us, and we would pick it up later.

Except the bus got stuck on the way down. Our team prayed a lot, and this was no exception. All of our strong men tried to pull the bus out, but had no success. Finally, we waved down a local with a truck and he towed the bus out.

The driver, Rene, who is a big part of our story, drove back to the church, and we marched up the mountain. There was a middle-aged woman and a young girl headed that way with some food, so we followed her.

I almost died. And, for 52 years old, I’m in pretty good shape. When I reached Tom at our first resting place, he was on all fours, trying to breathe. (Of course he was carrying about a 50 pound pack, mine was about 20.) People under 20 were fine, but the rest of us could have met Jesus and been okay with that.

The local woman and girl just stared at us.

We arrived at the village, and it was like a UNICEF infommercial. We walked in small groups down various footpaths to huts made of sticks and mud. When we approached with our Dum Dum suckers to entice the children, we saw movement. Half-dressed and dirty, the children peeked at us curiously. They were beautiful.

Basically, when we entered each footpath, it was as if we were standing in their living/family/dining/bed room. Most huts had an open fire just outside. Many women were either nursing young ones or cooking tortillas. There were a few men around, so I assumed many were working in the corn fields we’d passed on the mountains.

Beautiful roosters and chickens surrounded the yard, while mangy mutts weaved in and out of our sight. I thought of my puppy, Sam. I fed him the best dog food, and he even had toys. More toys than any child I saw.

After we invited them to a Celebracion de Navidad, we regrouped in an open section of the village. The program began. Diego, a believer from Jacksonville translated for us. We did a few skits, acted out the Christmas program, gave a few testimonies of how we had come to believe in Jesus, and then we handed out small presents for everyone. We marked their hands with a smiley face to show us who had received gifts.
That bothered me, and I refused to do it.

We did the same at the next village.

I was choking inside.

These were the thoughts that ran through my head: These people are so isolated. They will never leave here. They’ve probably been here for generations. They have no chance to have anything different.

Then I moved on to questions: What if there is sexual abuse in that small hut? Who would help them?

Then I accused God: Why did you create these people? Are you cruel? Are you good? Are you even there?

That night on the porch, everyone talked about how blessed they were to be involved. I was glad for them, but inside, I despaired.


So I forgot that the first night in El Salvador, we dropped luggage off and ate dinner at La Esperanza. This is a church meaning planted by SOS missions. After that we travelled to a local village for an open air meeting. We set up plastic chairs on a narrow street lined with simple boxed homes. A man bought a rooster while we conducted our meeting, displayed it and entered his front door about ten feet from our meeting.

This was my first introduction to a worship service in Central America. I was struck by two things: their passion and their prayer. When we prayed, many fell to their knees and prayed aloud while the pastor also prayed. When they sang, everyone sang out,some on tune, some off, and the song lasted much longer than in America.

Joe Trofemuk spoke as a local man translated. Myriads of stars shone on our little meeting as the local man showed off his new rooster. It was a good night.

The next morning, I twisted my ankle, and we boarded a bus bound for Honduras. There was a caravan of two trucks and our bus. All together, we numbered about 30.

At first, it was your typical bus ride. People interacting, looking at the sites, getting to know each other. After a few hours, Rob Ozburn asked someone to share their testimony. Than we played testimony tag team. We told how the Lord reached into our lives and made us alive in Christ. Interspersed were songs like, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Mighty to Save,” and “Amazing Grace.”

One of the trucks broke down in a town. While the leaders figured out that situation, some of the team visited local people and gave out the gospel of John. A few team members witness to a 14-year-old-girl named Sarai. She goes home and brings her 18-year-old-sister, Alexandria. She asks what she should pray to God to be saved. They encourage her with scripture and KR prays out loud in Spanish.

They secure one truck to our other truck with A TREE BRANCH AND A JUMP ROPE. Then we continue along treacherous mountain roads. The testimonies and songs continue. After 30 minutes the trucks are pulled over since the branch-rope thing didn’t work. Eventually, we arrive in Honduras at about 8:30. A delicious dinner is waiting, and then it’s time for “the porch.”

I’ve been sick so sorry for the delay. I’ll cover the crisis soon. It began on Saturday as we visited remote villages. Today’s entry was from Friday.