Mar 22, 2019

JESUS HAD A SWEET BEARD!

Over the years, I have read too many stories about people who claim to be Christians but who are also not accepting of people who are not like them.  I submit that those people probably ought to spend more time reading their bible and less time judging others.


I read a story about a church which had a new family come for a visit. 

Their single first and last visit was for a regular Sunday morning worship service at the church.  This family had a father, a mother, one daughter, and one son.  And that one son was sporting a bright blue mohawk hairstyle.

Well, wouldn't you know it, one fella from the congregation took it upon himself to make fun of said bright blue mohawk hairstyle.  He also went on ahead and let the father of this boy know it was a disrespectful way to come into God's house.  Of course he did, because that is what Jesus did and would to...right?  Wrong.  You will find zero indication of such in the Bible.  Needless to say, that moment sealed the deal for this family.  They would not be returning to this church.  Chances are they may not visit any church in the near to distant future.

Just to keep things on the real, am I personally a fan of the mohawk hairstyle?  Maybe and maybe not.  But, who cares?  Would I go with that hairstyle for myself?  Nope.  


But, you better believe if and when somebody shows up at my church for a visit who has a weird haircut, I will make every effort to make them feel welcome.  It will be my great blessing and pleasure to do so.

Can I just tell ya something?  Jesus died for everyone...regardless of hairstyle!  If we do not - really, for real - buy into the Biblical principle that Jesus died for all, we are more likely to reject people who are not just like us.

I recognize that probably a few people may not have a full appreciation for my beard.  That's ok with me.  I really do not care.  It's all good here in beard town.  Besides, I know they will eventually come around.  Also, Jesus came to die for me AND the boy with a bright blue mohawk.  We need to keep in mind that Jesus is much more concerned with our souls than He is with our hairstyle.

Side note:  Why do all the pictures of Jesus show a trimmed beard?  I am convinced - and you should be too - Jesus not only had a beard, Jesus had a sweet beard!  I don't see Jesus stopping by the Jerusalem Cut N Curls to get His beard trimmed up.  His beard was surely a wooly man-beard and a thing of beauty!  

Prayer - 
Father, please forgive me for giving into the human and worldly inclination to judge others who are not like me.  Help me to have a heart which overflows with the kind of mercy, grace, and love which You offered freely to me.  Amen.

There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? -- James 4:12 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi

Mar 21, 2019

SET APART

Many years ago, in another lifetime and season of my life, I worked for an accounts receivables management firm.  I started at the bottom of the totem pole and over a period of over ten years, I worked my way into an upper management position.  The job was a great source of pride in my life.  During that same time, in my personal life, I had recommitted myself to God and the things of God.  

God took me from being the guy in the office who might organize a "guys night out" of bar hopping to being the guy who would pray with you and invite you to a 6 AM Bible Study at Cracker Barrel on Friday mornings.

I began to spend more and more time in prayer.  I prayed many times that I was willing to do whatever God wanted me to do.  I prayed that I was willing to go wherever and whenever God wanted me to go.

The problem was that for a long time, I didn't really mean it and God was, of course, fully aware of that fact.  I was not actually fully available to be used by God.  I was only saying the words that I was available.  I really enjoyed my job title, my company car, my office, my paycheck, etc.  The job was a great source of pride in my life.

It was only after God helped me come to a place in my heart spiritually where I was not only saying the words but also meaning the words.  As I continued to study His Word, God revealed more and more about Himself.  He was also revealing more and more of what I needed to know about myself.  He was moving me, as I prayed.  I was not moving Him.

It was only after I actually - for real - made myself available to be used by God that He was able to begin to use me in ways I had never even imagined possible.  

This happened because God had His hand on my heart with a plan and purpose for me and my life all along.  In my surrender, I was SET APART by God.  It was not my plan.  I had other plans.  I had to be willing to surrender my own plans.  I had to be willing to take risks and to step outside my own personal comfort zone.

I have no regrets about that season of my life nor would I trade it.  The job was a blessing financially to our family.  Those experiences and opportunities for professional and personal growth led me to be who I am today.  However, being in a position of a greater surrender to God and the things of God while serving God in ministry, has absolutely brought a level of satisfaction and reward beyond what I thought possible.

Can I just tell ya something?  I believe God is always calling us to something greater, to take a bigger risk, to stretch our faith, to something bigger than ourselves, to something which will require a deeper faith in Him.  What is God asking you to do which would stretch you beyond your own personal comfort zone?  Are you fulfilling your ministry?

Prayer - 
Father, I am humbled to consider all of the many ways You have worked in and through me as a man, father, husband, etc.  I do not deserve that You would even acknowledge my presence.  Your patience with me is hard to comprehend.  My heart overflows with gratitude.  Amen.


But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. -- 2 Timothy 4:5 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi

MYSTERY

THE ROMAN ROAD TO THE GOSPEL
SERMON SERIES

Listen as Pastor Chris Canote leads us through an in depth study of the most influential book of the Bible and the greatest letter ever written. You will learn about the true essence of Christianity and salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus.


So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.  -- Romans 10:17 (CSB)



SERMON AUDIO PODCAST


PASTOR CHRIS CANOTE - SERMON LIBRARY

Mar 15, 2019

WHO WAS THAT GUY?

Can you remember who you were at 16 years old?  Can you remember what occupied your mind or what you daydreamed about?  What were your motivations and inspirations for your decisions and actions?  What were your goals?  Why did you have THAT haircut?  Who was that guy?


In some ways, my life as a teenager seems like 100 years ago.  In others, it seems like it was not that long ago.  

In the 30+ years since those days, so many things have changed on so many levels.  Some of those changes are for the better...by far.  Some, maybe not so much.  I was skinny back then, barely shaving a wannabe mustache, and had a full head of hair.  But also, there was not even the slightest notion within me of the crazy Canote family circus life waiting just beyond the horizon!

Somedays, I think I would love to be that age again.  I can guarantee you one thing for sure.  I would definitely do a few things differently.  Other things, I would certainly not change one bit.  Of course, that is all a silly way to think either way.  We cannot change the past.  Yesterday was over last night - over as in, done and gone - finished.

The truth is that most attempts to analyze the past with an idea of protecting ourselves from being hurt in the future do not work. The only One who can effectively guard and protect you is your Creator.


It is easy to fall into the trap of believing we can handle our own trials and struggles in life.  

It is easy to fall for the stinking-thinking that our problems are too unique and specific, too insignificant, for God to care or to get involved.  But we cannot dwell on a problem, past or present, with any real hope for an answer to magically appear.  We must take our problems to the only One with real answers.  His name is Jesus.  He is patiently waiting for us to approach His throne in confidence, fully trusting Him to hear, understand, and to honor the promises of God.  We must reach forward with hope for what lies ahead and let go of the past.

Prayer -
Jesus, I know You hear me when I cry out to You.  And, You not only hear, but also respond to the faithful prayers of Your people.  Please forgive me for allowing the distractions of this temporary place to cause me to lose sight of who You are and who I am in Christ.  Amen.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  -- Philippians 3:13-14 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi






Mar 14, 2019

AGING GRACEFULLY

2019 has been an interesting year so far for me.  This will be the year I turn 50 years old.  I have not been overwhelmed by that idea or even dwelling on what is inevitable.  However, there have been more than a few days where the idea has occupied some of the limited real estate of my mind.  


And, thanks to an app on my phone, I know that it will happen in roughly 41 days, 13 hours, and 5 minutes...as of the moment I write this post.

It seems, as though April 24 looms closer and closer AND there are reminders of my age on a more frequent basis.  For example, I was recently diagnosed with tinnitus caused by mild to moderate hearing loss and was prescribed to wear hearing aids.  Of course, this is not the end of the world.  However, it is a reminder nonetheless that I am not as young as I used to be.  I do have 4 grandchildren which are absolutely the delight of my life.  I went with "Papa" instead of "Grandpa".  In my mind, Grandpa's are old.  Papa's are a younger junior Grandpa. 

Last week, upon leaving our local Sam's Club - where, by the way, I was purchasing new batteries for my new hearing aids - I lost my car in the parking lot!  Not only did I lose my car, I attempted to get into someone else's car instead!  To my utter delight (sarcasm font needed), not only was someone in said car, I happen to know the people in the car.  No keeping it a secret now!  So much for aging gracefully.  If anybody needs a grandpa, I'll just be over here driving too slow in the passing lane with my blinker on.  When I get home, I guess I'll just sit on porch in my rocking chair and yell at the neighbor kids to "Get off my lawn!"

Now, of course, I am just having some fun at my own expense.  Can you remember what it was like to celebrate a birthday when you 10 or 11 years old?  


Do you remember celebrating, full of joy, excited for the year ahead, and doing something you love with the ones who make you smile?  

What would it look like if some of us who are heading through our 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond were to really celebrate our years again?  What if we began to shift our perspective from a focus on the fear of aging to a focus on the the rich, full lives God is calling us into as the years pass?

Can I just tell ya something?  If we look to God's Word regarding aging, we are reminded about grace and goodness; not fear and resistance.  God tells us more than once that growing older is an honor.  The longer we live, the more experiences we are given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. When we see someone in their later years (or when we look in the mirror and it’s us!) we might be reminded of what a gift and opportunity that is.  It is a gift which not ever receives.

Whether you’re celebrating your own birthday or that of someone special, remember that every single day in every single life matters. Don’t wait for a milestone in your life to make it special. Look in the mirror and cherish those gray hairs and wrinkles.  Remember how they are created.

Prayer -
Lord, forgive me for allowing my age and the physical condition of my aging body to distract me from the reality of my hope in Jesus.  I know that You are with me and that this place is only temporary.  Amen.

I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you. -- Isaiah 46:4 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi



Mar 13, 2019

THE DAWG HOUSE DINER

In 2002, my wife and I bought, from her uncle Ben, what was for many years called the "Harrisburg Café".  We did some renovations and redecorating and re-named it the "Dawg House Diner."  

Though it was certainly a radical change in lifestyle, we did it because we felt a very strong leading from the Lord to do so.

We used the business, in part as a ministry tool in our community.  We had a new found strength and boldness in our faith as a result.  We held a weekly youth prayer breakfast there.  We even held Sunday evening church services there for a few months.

However, trust me when I say this, it NEVER made sense financially for us to attempt to support a large family through this business.  The numbers never added up.  But that did not matter to God.  It is interesting how hurtful things stick in your mind.  I remember a particular gentleman from our community who I overheard saying, "This place won't last three months!"  And, to be honest, that hurt a little.  It was a fiery dart sent in our direction meant to discourage.



But, you see God had other plans for us.  God had a plan to teach the Canote family how to live by faith.  God had a plan to teach us how to have your bills prayed in full.  

Can I just tell ya something?  God does not need a calculator.  In fact, as the Bible says, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  As the Martins sing, "God's gonna do what God's do!  He always up to something new!" 

As it turns out, that season of our lives, as the owner/operators of a small town café, was a financial boot camp.  Was it difficult?  Yes, it sure was.  Was it often stressful?  Yes, it sure was.  But, the truth and reality is that we came out on the other side with a much closer walk with God, a deeper faith, a stronger testimony, and a much greater appreciation for the promises of God.

Prayer -
Father, thank You for loving us enough to allow us to experience what we need to experience in order to know You better and to grow spiritually.  In my heart of hearts, I know Your plans and timing are the best even if it means stress and difficulty in the moment.  Amen.


Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you;  I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.  

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi





Mar 12, 2019

GRAFTING BRANCHES

THE ROMAN ROAD TO THE GOSPEL
SERMON SERIES

Listen as Pastor Chris Canote leads us through an in depth study of the most influential book of the Bible and the greatest letter ever written. You will learn about the true essence of Christianity and salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus.


So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.  -- Romans 10:17 (CSB)



SERMON AUDIO PODCAST


PASTOR CHRIS CANOTE - SERMON LIBRARY

Mar 11, 2019

JUST DO IT!

While preparing a sermon in a Nehemiah sermon series several years ago, I came across the following story:

As the story goes, three pastors were discussing prayer.  One of the pastors said he thought the best posture for prayer was pray with your hands in the air, your eyes closed, and your head bowed.  The second pastor said, the most effective praying was done on your knees, head bowed, and eyes closed.  The third pastor said the prayers which reach God the quickest are done while laying face down on the ground.

There happened to be a telephone repairman in the room working on the phone system.  He overheard the entire conversation.  He just couldn't take it and had to comment.  He blurted out, "You know the best praying I ever did was one time dangling upside down by my boots 40 feet in the air at the top of a power pole!"  Side note, in my mind, I read his statement with a serious hard core southern accent.

Can I just tell ya something?  The most important part of prayer is that you do it.  Whether it is private or public, in whatever physical position, eyes open, eyes closed, out loud, in your head, in a song, or in writing, etc...just do it.

I came across that story because I was studying prayer on account of the powerful prayer Nehemiah offered up, found in Nehemiah 1.  We can say from the text and Nehemiah's story that it is obvious the foundation of his public life was that his personal life was steeped in, bathed in, and shaped by a lifestyle of prayer.  It is obvious Nehemiah was devoted to AND dependent on God...and not just on the occasional Sunday morning, but all week, 24/7, 365.

We might examine our own lives and consider this:

If strangers were to read a biography of my life, could they honestly say: 
  1. It is obvious that my personal life is steeped in, bathed in, and shaped by a lifestyle of prayer?
  2. It is obvious I am devoted to AND dependent on God...and not just on the occasional Sunday morning, but all week, 24/7, 365.
Jesus taught us how to pray in His Sermon on the Mount in what we now call the "Lord's Prayer".  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that we should "pray without ceasing".  James wrote that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.  There will be no judgment regarding the "quality" or lack thereof of our prayers.  It is conversation with your Creator and the bottom line is we should just do it.  If we are to truly be "devoted to God", we will need to be in conversation with Him on a regular basis.  

Prayer -
Father, You are worthy of my devotion and dependency all day every day.  You deserve that I would make you #1 above all other things.  I pray Father that You would occupy the biggest part of what is a limited real estate of my mind.  Help me Father to more focused on You and less focused on me and my circumstances.  Amen.


When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens. I said, Lord, the God of the heavens, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands, let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites.  

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi

Prayer Partners preparing for another day of Team Ministry on the mission field in Acuña, Mexico - Dec, 2018

Mar 9, 2019

BACK IN THE DAY

Several years ago, my wife and I were in Atlanta for a conference.  While there, we found ourselves in need of a trip to WalMart.  When we travel, we always seem to end up at WalMart.  It seems to make a strange place seem more like home.  


We had survived the 1900's and were easing into the 21st century and the latest greatest technology of the day.  

This was, however, BEFORE smartphones were a thing.  Back in the day, many of us had a GPS unit stuck to our windshield just above the dash of our cars.  Today, most people use a smartphone's built in GPS for navigation assistance.  We looked up the address for what appeared to be the nearest WalMart using the world wide interwebs from a laptop in our hotel room.  We jumped into our minivan, punched up the address on our trusty GPS unit, and hit the road.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to WalMart.  We got lost.  It was late and dark.  We were not in a good neighborhood.  Evidence of this included abandoned buildings, bars on the windows, and gatherings of folks around trash barrels with fire burning inside.  No WalMart in site.

What happened was, we used a GPS unit which we had purchased two years prior.  The GPS worked off of pre-loaded maps.  Our destination was not on the map.  The GPS units back then, did not yet update themselves through the wonders of wifi or cellular technology.  In order to update the GPS unit, you had to connect it to a computer and download new maps for roughly $79.99.  I am not the kind of guy who would EVER spend another $80 to update that GPS unit.  

On a side note, the makers of the GPS units were apparently unaware of the coming smartphone technology.  Most GPS companies now provide a lifetime of free map updates.


We had depended totally on the GPS which was not loaded with current maps.  The result was, we became hopelessly lost.  

Can I just tell ya something?  God has pre-loaded HIS GPS with a map which will lead us to our intended destination.  God's Positioning System (GPS), tells us where we are and where we are headed.  It will also lead us where we need to be.  But, here is the difference:  His maps are always updated and current.

Prayer -
Father, I know Your plans, Your Providence, and Your timing for such are Your absolute best for me.  I know You always have Your best in mind for me.  Help me to remember to seek You and Your plans and purposes for me in all things.  Amen.

You were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  -- Ephesians 2:1-7 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi


Mar 8, 2019

MIDNIGHT NINJA

My wife is a light sleeper.  I am not.  You could drive a tractor through our bedroom while I am asleep and I will sleep right through it.  However, my lovely wife can detect a change in cabin pressure when a car drives down our road.  Then it might take an hour for her to fall back asleep.  If she gets up in the middle of the night, she can flip on the lights and do whatever she wants to.  I will never know.

If I am up while she is asleep, I must attempt to maneuver around with the stealth of some kind of midnight Ninja.  No lights - no sounds - move slowly - do not breathe.  Sensing a presence in the dark is one of her spiritual gifts.  I will think I have crushed it and suddenly, in the pitch dark, she will blurt out, "So did you just want me to get up?!?"

I made it a personal challenge many years ago that I would see how long and how far I can go in the dark.  The goal is to walk around our bedroom in the dark without bumping into something or stumbling.  


I tell myself: "I know where everything is anyway.  I don't need the light.  I know where that basket of laundry is sitting.  I know where the treadmill is, when to reach for the door knob... "  

I could use my cell phone for a night light.  But, pride tells me I can make it in the pitch dark without a night light.  Only children need a night light.

Then I bump into the bed and wake her up.  Then, 30 seconds later, pride is right back at it, telling me I can make it in the dark.  I don't need a night light.  Then I stub my toe on that box by the closet.  I say to myself, "I should have used a light."  Then, 30 seconds later, pride says:  "You don't need a light!  You've totally got this!"


We don't want to admit that we can get lost in the dark.  Loaded up with self-confidence and pride, we rely on our own memory and Ninja navigational skills.  


We think we know all we need to know.  What happens?  We stumble over stumbling blocks.  We fall.  Solomon wrote, in his Proverbs for his children, that essentially, pride actually leads us to fall.  Can I just tell ya something?  Pride gives us a false security in ourselves which is why we fall.  We must put our faith and sense of security in the Lord.  Paul says we should boast in Jesus rather than ourselves.  

Prayer -
Father, You alone provide the only real and lasting sense of security.  Please forgive me for putting too much faith in my own abilities.  Forgive me for boasting in myself.  Thank You for the promise to never leave nor forsake me.  Amen.

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.  
-- Proverbs 16:18 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi


Mar 7, 2019

LAB VS. LECTURE HALL

Some college classes are in a lecture hall.  Some are in a lab.  Some are a combination of both.  In the lecture hall, one person must come prepared to "do" something...in fact, everything which needs to be done.  That one person makes a presentation.  Everyone else sits and listens with the option of taking notes.

In the lab, however, YOU get to actually "do" something.  Most lab classes are science related.  You get to mix chemicals, dissect things, set things on fire, and maybe even blow something up.  In the lab, you are likely to be assigned to complete group projects where part of your grade may depend on your lab team.



Lab learning is hands-on learning which is very different from the sit-and listen-learning in the lecture hall.

In the western model of what we call church, we do a whole lot of lecture hall and not near enough lab work.  In our church lecture hall, the sanctuary, one or two individuals come prepared to "do".  Professional ministry providers are the only ones who are really required to be led by the Holy Spirit during the lecture.  We might describe our outreach ministry projects as our lab work in the church.  Again, lab learning is hands-on which is very different from the sit-and-listen learning in the lecture hall.

Simply reading the manual for your car will not make you a mechanic.  Neither will having that manual read to you by someone else.  At some point, you must get some tools and get under the hood.  After giving a lecture during a time-out, the coach does not then send the entire team to sit on the bench. Five at time make up the team on the floor.  If there is no team on the floor, there is no game.



Can I just tell ya something?  Jesus did not die on a cross so that His followers could only spend a lifetime warming a pew in the lecture hall.  

That looks a lot more like spiritual respite care waiting around on Heaven.  You won't find a calling from God for that in the Bible.  We were, in fact, created for a purpose.  God's Word tells us we were planned and designed even before the foundation of time.  We were created with a purpose in mind.  We were created in order that we might be in relationship with our Creator and that we might make His glory both our desire and purpose.  And, we might look to the ministry of Jesus for our own life application.  Jesus did conduct a preaching and teaching lecture hall type ministry.  But, He also spent a great deal of time in the lab.

Prayer - 
Father, forgive me for spending too much time in the lecture hall and not enough time in the lab.  Your Word says you created me for good works which You prepared in advance.  Give me the courage to step out in faith and the humility and surrender to follow the lead of your Holy Spirit within me.  Amen.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. -- Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi




























Mar 6, 2019

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!

I have been doing mission work in Mexico since 2003.  Our family now hosts cross-cultural short-term missions trips in Mexico using a Team Ministry approach through our own missions agency, Evident Ministries.  We are there every year in July and December.  As a result, I have been in Mexico many, many times over the years including all over Baha,  Mexicali, Nogales, Reynosa, and Acuña.  In all these years, I have never been to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.  But, I am certain if I were to pay them a visit, they would have some safety tips for me.  


For example, they would likely caution me against drinking water from the tap in Mexico.  

Our water in the U.S. is filtered, clean, and pure.  In Mexico, what comes from the faucet is most definitely not.  If you do drink water from the tap in Mexico, you may very well find yourself scooting around on the carpet in a day or so!  At the very least, you will be sorry you did it.  It is not good for you.  It will hurt you.

Can I just tell ya something?  The Bible tells us, in a sense, what kind of water we ought not drink.  For example, the Bible warns us about telling lies...that old chestnut of wisdom and good advice.  Lying will hurt us and others.  It hurts our testimony as Christians.  It is a reflection on Jesus and His church.  We are warned about allowing anger to cause us to sin.  Uncontrolled anger allows Satan into the picture.  Unbridled anger will hurt us and others.  It hurts our testimony as Christians.  It is a reflection on Jesus and His church.  In God's Biblical standard for living, we are commanded to not steal but instead to work for and earn our own income.  We are called to obey God.  Honoring God's commands is what it means to be obedient.

The bottom line is simple.  As Christians, whatever we do, we are to do for God.  As Christians, our perspective in all things ought to be entirely different than that of the world and of those who do not have a saving knowledge of Jesus.  Why?  If or when our perspective is no different than the world's, it will hurt us and others.  It will hurt our testimony as Christians.  It is a reflection on Jesus and His church.


Don't drink the water of this world.  It will make you sick.  It is not good for you.  


In other words, you cannot live on both sides of the fence.  It will hurt you and others.  It is a poor example of what it means to live for Jesus.  It will also begin to over time, harden your heart towards God which will tank your relationship with Him.

Prayer - 
Father, please forgive me for when I look away from your Biblical standard for living and drink the water of this world.  Your ways are the best ways.  You always have Your very best in mind for me.  Amen.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -- Colossians 3:17 (CSB)


#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi 



Mar 5, 2019

NOT OF THIS WORLD

Our family runs a non-profit missions ministry called Evident Ministries.  We host ministry teams for a week of Team Ministry twice per year - in December/January and July.  Our ministry teams participate in a week of Team Ministry as they reach out to groups in Women's, Children's, Sport's, and evening worship service ministry.

When we are in Mexico, we stand out in a crowd.  When we run errands and make grocery or supply runs, we are a small group of light-skinned Americans in a sea of darker-skinned hispanics.  We stand out.  There is no hiding it.  

We do not have to say anything to them to let them know there are differences.  We do not have to say, "We're not from around here."  They know because we look and act very differently.

The Apostle Paul issued a challenge, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, basically saying we should no longer look and act like unbelievers.  He challenged us, in his letter to the church at Corinth, to remember that if we are "in Christ", we are a new creation.  He said the old is gone and the new is here.

As Christ followers, we are to look different.  We ought to behave, talk, and think differently than the rest of the world.  Non-believers should know by how we do all of those things that we are different.  Non-Christians should know without us telling them.  They should not be surprised to find out we are Christian.  This should have already been obvious.



Can I just tell ya something?  As children of God, we not of this world.  This world is not our home.  We are just passing through in this temporary existence.  


We are, in fact, very different than this lost world around us.  We are, in fact, very different on account of God's Holy Spirit living inside us.  We do not have the same hardening of our hearts or blindness to the things of God.  We are different.

Prayer - 
Father, in my heart of hearts, I know that I am different thanks to Jesus and the cross.  Forgive me for allowing my circumstances and my human weakness to cause me to forget that.  Lord, help me to live in a such a way that I do not have to tell those around me that I am chasing hard after You.  Amen.


Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. -- Ephesians 4:17-18 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi



Mar 4, 2019

MY PRO BOWLING TECHNIQUE

Bowling changed my life.  To be more accurate, bowling caused a radical change in perspective.  Around 15 years ago, we visited my wife's sister and her family in Lawrence, KS.  Our two families decided bowling would be a fun way to spend some time together.  

At that time, I had been bowling a combined total of no more than five or six times in my life.  It was not that I disliked bowling.  It was simply not something I was ever inspired to spend a lot of time doing.  Do you know that my very first ball that day was a STRIKE?!?  


In that moment, I suddenly realized that I was really good....in fact, I was amazing at bowling!  

What technique!  I should think about going pro!  I will need to have my own personal bowling ball and shoes.  I could help my friends learn to bowl. Wow!  This new discovery had really changed my outlook and perspective on life!

My next six turns in the lane resulted in gutter balls.  I suddenly realized that I was really bad...in fact, I was terrible at bowling!  I quickly came climbing down out of my ivory tower of pro bowler technique and future success touring in the PBA.  Suddenly, I had another radical change in perspective.  Whew!  This 2-hour family outing which promised friendly, family togetherness had turned out to be a rollercoaster of emotion!  Well, that is how I remember it anyway.

The Apostle Paul experienced a radical change in perspective when he came to know the real Jesus and surrendered his life to Him.  He had previously considered Jesus and all those who followed Him to be enemies.  His new perspective knew Jesus as his savior.

Can I just tell ya something?  As Christ followers, we have a radical new perspective on life.  We no longer have need to look at others and categorize them by race, skin color, stereotypes, etc.  As a true disciple of Jesus, I should have two categories in my perspective toward others.  


They are either saved or not saved.  They are either a missionary or a mission field.  

That change in our perspective is due to our surrender to Jesus.  God has given us His Spirit and a new point of view has entered into our thinking.

Prayer - 
Father, You have given me a radical new perspective!  I am a new creation because of Jesus and the Cross.  The old me has passed away.  Thank You!  Amen.

From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! -- 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi




Mar 3, 2019

PATO, PATO, GONSO

Our family runs a non-profit missions ministry called Evident Ministries.  We host ministry teams for a week of Team Ministry twice per year - in December/January and July.  Our ministry teams participate in a week of Team Ministry as they reach out to groups in Women's, Children's, Sport's, and evening worship service ministry.


Our Children's Ministry teams quickly learn that children in Mexico do not spend all their time playing video games and staring at smart phones.  


Children in Mexico, like most third world countries, spend a great deal of their time, playing games with each other outside.  One of the games our Children's Ministry teams play with children in Mexico is Duck, Duck, Goose...or as it is called in Mexico, Pato, Pato, Gonso.  

As you likely already know, the game of Duck, Duck, Goose involves children sitting in a circle where the child who is "it" walks around the outside of the circle, touching each child on the head as they say, "Duck" for each child.  Randomly, they will choose a child who, when they touch their head, they will instead say, "Goose".  At that point, the child who was chosen as the "goose" will jump up and chase the person who was "it" around the circle and back to their empty spot in the circle.  If the one who is "it" makes it back without being tagged, the "goose" becomes "it".  If they are tagged by the "goose" before sitting down, they remain "it" and go again.

Here's the thing.  The truth is that every child in the circle hopes to become the "goose" so they can jump up and maybe get to be "it".  As a result, each child will sit up straight and attempt to stand out in the crowd by maybe sitting taller or somehow triggering a "goose" when they are tapped.  


Too often, we are playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" with God.  We are trying to sit up straight to get His attention.  

We are trying to act right and to behave in public in order to impress God.  We think, even if only subconsciously, that we must surely need to impress God with our good behavior, or He will not notice us.  This kind of stinking-thinking belongs to the world.  It does not belong in the life of a Christian.  You won't find this anywhere within God's Biblical standard for living.

Can I just tell ya something?  You cannot impress God.  There is nothing you can do which will ever cause God to love you any more OR less than He loved you in the moment of your salvation.  This is not a feeling.  This is a Biblical fact and truth.  God already chose to love you and not because of how well you behave in public.  It was the result of His great mercy and love for His own creation.

Prayer -
Father, please forgive me for ever thinking my good or bad behavior will influence Your love, grace, or mercy for me.  Your Word says nothing I do will ever influence those things in either direction.  I don't deserve those things, cannot earn them, and could never repay You for them.  Amen.


#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift ​— ​ not from works, so that no one can boast. 1 -- Ephesians 2:8-10 (CSB)




Mar 2, 2019

HORSING AROUND

Many years ago and for several years, I worked for our local elementary school as a para-professional.  I also drove a school bus for several years.  Over time, I began to amass a list of standard responses and strategies for addressing issues with kids.  


As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.  

There were about 15-20 top, seemingly random, interactions with kids I would have nearly every single day. 

On the bus, a regular issue was the age old practice of tattling.  "Richard is looking at me."  "Amy said she doesn't like me."  "Michael is chewing gum."  My response was most often something to the effect of:  "Please submit your complaint in writing and it must be in triplicate."  The response was usually a deflated look but no words.  Sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts.  

One of the duty's on my list of responsibilities was Recess Duty.  Only about 10K times did a child run up to me and blurt out:  "HE'S CHASING ME!"  My standard response was to stand very still and say, "Ok, now chase me."  Since I was already caught from the start, they didn't know what to do.  Can I just tell ya something?  You cannot chase someone who is standing still.

Sometimes, we act like we are chasing God all around.  But, He has been right there beside us, standing still the whole time.  He was never running from us.  


Sometimes we spend so much time trying to get His attention, we don't realize He is trying to get our attention.  

We are making checkmarks on our list of good behaviors and trying sit up straight in church so that God might notice us.  But God is saying, "I see you.  I can wait.  Let me know when you are done horsing around.  I'll be right here."

Prayer -
Father, the Bible says You came looking for me and not the other way around.  Thank You for Your mercy, Your unconditional love, and definitely for Your great patience with me.  Please forgive me for my horsing around trying to impress You when it is a total waste of time.  Amen.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. -- Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)

#Missions #Evident #MásDeTi