23 December 2008

Politics and Christianity

I've been thinking a lot about politics and the church's role in them lately. Most of you who know me know that my personal politics are strange and hard to define and are neither right, left, or center. I will be posting some blogs digging into that in the near future. The first thing I want to encourage pondering upon is the separation between church and state. To me, the main reason for this from a Christian perspective is so that the state does not become confused with our Savior. From social programs to abortion, the church should be the moral compass rather than the government. That view has been lost by both Democrats and Republicans. More on this will follow, but I want to leave with one thought to get you thinking...

Biblically, the only God-approved type of government was a benevolent autocracy (Godly king). This was only put in place after the people asked God for a king, because His system of ruling and guiding them directly through the words of the prophets and judges was not good enough for them. The principle is the same, however, being submission to a God-appointed authority (not a constantly changing man-elected authority). The only democracy mentioned in the Bible was Rome, which the Israelites assumed would be removed by the Messiah. Majority rule by will of the people is not mentioned as something we should strive for as Christians. We are instructed in the New Testament how to act if we are oppressed and enslaved, but not how to overthrow our oppressors. The key here is finding joy in salvation and living with an eternity mindset, rather than a worldly mindset. This should leak into every aspect of our lives, including our politics, so that we can submit ourselves to the true Priest-King (Jesus) more than we do our president. When we do this, we return to God's original plan for government of our lives. Jesus is our one Savior and head of the Kingdom we should strive to build as faithful citizens. Electing this King should be on the forefront of our thoughts and concerns rather than any man standing for office. He is the only one that can save, and can bring an instantaneous and permanent change to any life. No political system or party can do that.

18 October 2008

Thank you, God

Thanks for my life and the way it is playing out. Thanks for 29 years of Your mercy. Thanks for sending me to Nicaragua. Thanks for making it hard on me sometimes so that I see how good You are when it gets better. Thank you for the family I came from. Thank you for the family that I will start with You as the head that I don't even know yet. Thank you for my friends that have helped me make where You sent me home. Thanks for the Bible...it's a really good book. You did a lot of really cool things that they wrote down in it. I'm glad it's not fiction...it makes my life more fun to know that You did all those things and You do not change and will still do them for me today! Thanks for making trees...I really like them and the wood that comes from them. Thank you for Andrea (show us all Your will as to where she fits in my life) and how much she has taught me about You.

Thank you for not expecting me to earn my way toward you.
Thank you for understanding me as I am and being cool with the fact I can never repay you.
Thanks for Jesus.

Love you,

16 October 2008

My Girls

I had a fun night playing with some of my favorite kids tonight...and it was actually an all around great day all day. I walked in the shop this morning to Greg blaring some worship music, and that just kind of set the tone for the day. The guys at the shop have started dedicating the first 10 minutes to pray for everyone there. Two guys a day, rotating days...I love that idea, and I'm so proud to be working with guys that think like that! We are up to 34 guys now, and I am learning a lot about how important it is to make "deposits" in people's lives. Naturally, given the nature of our work, Greg and I have to critique and correct things quite often. It is so obvious how much better a man takes that critique if you continually build him up when he does well, and show him respect on a day to day basis. You have to make deposits, or you will go bankrupt when you have to make a withdrawal. (I learned that from my mom.) Today I actually got caught up enough on design work that I got to go build something in the shop! That's a big deal for me, and it was so much fun. All I made was a little table that I promised a friend some time ago, but it felt good to have the free time for a day to get in there and work with the guys. I do that all the time at installations, but it just doesn't have the same "home" feel as getting dirty at "our" shop. It really does feel like family among those that have been there since the first few months: Greg, his wife Sam, Armando, his mom Vilma, Roberto, Francisco, Danilo, Oscar, El Peludo, El Pelibuey, Reinaldo, Luis, and Elvis. I love those guys, it's such a blessing to go to work with them.

Then tonight I went to Casa Havilah to help with homework before finals tomorrow. We had some goofy fun with the camera on my computer. Those girls sure do make a lot of deposits.


23 September 2008

Dimas and James

There's an old bum here in Managua that is doing his best not to be a bum. He guards cars in front of some bars and restaurants in the Bolonia part of town. I can't remember when I first met him, it was probably close to a year ago, but he came in where I was eating and told me that he had checked my car doors and that one was unlocked...I took a liking to his honesty and appreciated his effort. We've been friends since then. He used to be a crack addict, he's a civil war veteran, he's homeless, but he makes ends meet with the few coins people give him for watching their car. There was a period when a good friend lived in the area and didn't have a phone and he would leave messages for me with Dimas. We would keep up with each other and arrange times and places to get together through him, so I try to make it a habit to go see him now and then to talk. A couple months ago some kids tried to rob him of what little he had and hacked his left arm up pretty bad with a machete. He's blessed they didn't kill him. As you can imagine, medical bills are pretty tough for a guy like him, so now I have been checking on him a couple times a week to make sure he has enough for his shots and pill that he needs. (He was nearly gutted some years ago in a knife fight and still needs medicine for the after effects of that as well.) He's the kind of guy that runs up to hug me and shows me the medicine he bought with the last bit of money I gave him, just to make sure I know he is using it for the real reason. I had told him I would come see him tonight, but I was a little late because it was my Mom's birthday and I had waited to talk to her on the phone. I told Dimas this and he asked if we could go pray for my family...wow. He took me behind my truck, held my hand, and prayed a prayer for my mom and sister (he didn't know I had a sister) that brought me and him both to tears. After that he began to tell me about the mercies of God. How, even though our situations are so different, we are both servants of the same Christ.
...and then he told me that he had been saving money from the cars he guarded to buy me a gift.
He told me the Lord put it on his heart as he was praying for me (HE prays for me!! How humbling!!) to buy me a watch.
Anyone that knows me knows that I struggle with time management. How amazing is our God that he would put it on the heart of a homeless Nicaraguan man to buy me a watch!?!? In the words of Dimas..."So that you will know what time it is and can make it to all your meetings."
I go to meet him Friday at 9pm to pick it up.
I know that every time I look at it, it will remind me that God has worked in a mysterious way to help me manage my time.
Tonight I saw a homeless, destitute beggar...rejoicing (and quoting the scriptures from Romans) in the fact that we all fall short of the Glory of God, but we are saved by our faith.
He walks in it...he lives it. I look up to him. And it makes me want to crawl underground and hide that he would save up money to buy me a watch, because the Lord put it on his heart.
...he might as well have handed me the deed to a house.

Matthew 25:40..."as you have done to the least of these you have done to me."

This rings so true, as I think of Dimas and another homeless friend I had in the states named James. Those two men have taught me more about the nature of our Christ, and His passion for the poor, than any preacher in a pulpit than I can remember. James never had one material thing to give, but whenever I was about to go on a mission trip he would come to the fundraisers and work all day. He used to come watch me play church league sports and sit with my family. He asked me to stop once as we were driving down the road near a thicket of trees and he ran up and tucked his bundle in the pines before we went to lunch. He came out grinning from ear to ear, and as he climbed back in the truck he said, "That's where I hide my Bible." The only thing in the world he had to be proud of was the place where he hid God's word. It was a Bible he got in prison when he was sent up for stealing the copper wiring out of an abandoned building so he could buy food...and maybe some crack at the time. James put VALUE in that Word that he had.

These are the things I have noticed that James and Dimas have in common. In Christ, and Christ alone is where they see their own value. They are both always joyful in their hardships. They have both gone out of their way to do things for me. They pray for me. I learn more from them than I could ever teach them, just by the way they live their lives.

No wonder Jesus has such a heart for the poor...they are just like Him, and they glorify Him so much more by being so unconcerned for themselves.

Matthew 8: 20
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Matthew 25:40
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

...if you want to know what it is to live like Christ...make friends with a homeless man who has faith in Jesus to provide his daily bread. God has some missionaries out there in strange places, that might just be there to teach and convict those of us who think we have it all figured out.

06 September 2008

"Go Away, Jesus."

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

How often do we see the power of Jesus over evil in our lives and say, "No, I'd rather hold on to this for awhile." His power brings great fear to our sin nature, our unbelief causes us to fear. We are so comfortable in our sinful life that it is easier to say, "Go away, Jesus." than to live in the freedom that He offers. Sometimes it hurts to be redeemed because our prideful nature as men wants to pay back every good done for us to the One who does it, or try to take the punishment for our sins upon ourselves. We can't do that with God...and we know it. It's easier to deny the gift rather than accept what we can never repay.
Even on human terms, how often do we resent when someone buys us dinner when we would like to pay for our own? I do this with my own grandfather. He tries to pay when I take him for lunch...and he always wins. I go away upset that he didn't let me buy his lunch, rather than basking in the love that an old man has for his grandson. I'm his beloved child...he will always be my provider. He has done more for me than I will ever be able to repay to him. My duty is not to repay him. My duty is to love my fellow man as Christ has loved me.

How much greater is God's love for us than that of our grandfathers?


...the scariest thing about this passage though, is that when the people told Jesus to go away...He did. I pray that I never become so comfortable in my own sin, or so arrogant in wanting to deal with it myself, that when Jesus says, "I will free you of this." That I tell Him to go away.

24 January 2008

Evan Almighty

I just watched "Evan Almighty" and it was great. Probably the best portrayal of interaction between God and a man that I have ever seen in a Hollywood film.

It was not only acceptable, but Biblical. I love seeing the Holy Spirit use the secular for the greater purpose of God.

21 January 2008


I know a little girl that has it in her to be a punk. She was raised in a garbage dump. Not real big on manners. Likes to steal. Doesn't follow rules that are for her own good. Throws selfish fits when she doesn't get her way.

The first day I ever interacted with her I was installing doors at the rescue home where she lives. She was climbing on things that I told her not to, kept going through my toolboxes, and when I went to the hardware store for 5 minutes she hid my circular saw in a closet.

In other words she's done some punk stuff to me.

Saturday I was at a church party and she was there with tons of other kids at the garbage dump where she grew up. Long story short, the pinata fell early and she got caught at the bottom of a dog pile for candy. I could barely see her pink shirt and her hair as she was being pushed face down in the dirt...but I could hear her crying. The other kids were of one mind and that mind was candy.

I didn't realize how much I loved her till I saw her in that much pain and went and pulled her out of the bottom of the pile.

She didn't let go of me for at least an hour. The house mother and I washed her up and nursed her scrapes and cuts, then she wrapped herself around me and wouldn't let go.

...and I didn't want her to. She did the same thing at church yesterday.

Moral of the story...that little girl used to do some punk things to me. But I couldn't love anybody more than I do her. I have never hurt so bad as I did when I saw her scared and alone in the bottom of that pile. All I ever wanted was to pull her out and hold her.

I realized how parents feel...and maybe how God feels about us...at that moment.

And you know. Nobody started loving her because she stopped being a punk. She stopped being a punk because people started loving her.