Tag Archives: Faith

Anticipation…one of my favorite feelings…

dsc_1338

I love this time of year! But not for the reasons you might expect. It’s not for the lights, the music or Santa…for me it’s the Anticipation! You see, I love that feeling! If Christmas were up to me…I would never open a gift…I would just leave it there…all wrapped up so I could look at it and wonder what was inside. I wouldn’t shake it or gently peel off the tape from the wrapping paper…I would just look at it…and that would make me happy.

Well, it’s Christmas time here in Antigua, Guatemala and the churches are celebrating Advent, which means “coming” in Latin. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, the streets are filled with people, bands and processions carrying statues of Mary, Jesus and various Angels. They shoot off fireworks in front of the procession as well as after it passes.

The anticipation of the birth of Christ and the celebrations that are to come in just a few weeks cannot be ignored. I catch myself being both joyous and humbled as the crowds of people pass by my door in celebration that God came thru with His promise.

dsc_1295

Thinking about the fact that 400 years passed between the promise of the coming Lord (Malachi 3:1) and the news of His arrival (Matthew) humbles me on several levels. First of all…that’s a long time to wait… and secondly…it’s a long time to hold hope. I’m not sure I could have done it. But as always…God was true to His word.

So, as I think about “Anticipation” being one my favorite feelings, I begin to wonder where that feeling originates. I believe it originates with “Hope.” This may not be the correct definition, but this is what I believe. I believe Hope is the belief that something is good is coming and Anticipation is the feeling that is caused by Hope.

We don’t hear too much about Hope these days. Maybe it’s because many of us feel like we are in control of our life and circumstances and we feel like we don’t need it. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone needs Hope! I love this quote:

“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”           – unknown

dsc_1280

I believe it!

I have been working here in Guatemala for several years and living here for almost two. During that time, I’ve been involved in training pastors and business people, working in medical clinics and building stoves. All of that has been wonderful and I think we have made a positive impact on the community to some degree. But what I think has made the greatest difference is just being here… and lovin’ on people.

I think that just lovin’ on people gives them Hope. Hope that they are ok and that they will be ok. I think it provides a spark where Faith can grow. Faith that might lead them to do something that will improve their life, Faith that tomorrow might be better than today. Faith that God has not…and will not…abandoned them.

Yep, I think Hope is the spark to everything that is good. We need it…and we need more of us dishing it out to others in massive proportions.

img_2307

So my prayer for all of us this Christmas season is to make a concerted effort to “love on people.” Anybody you can, wherever you can. Love on them with a smile, a pat on the back, a “good morning” or a “thank you.” Everytime you pass by that man or woman ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, drop some of your spare change in the bucket…not necessarily for them…but for you.

Everyone you can…wherever you can.

P1010610

Give Hope this season…it costs you nothing…but its affect never goes unappreciated…or unnoticed.

Merry Christmas.

Signature

How do you boil a frog…

Lemur Leaf Frog (Hylomantis lemur)

The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger, not jump out and will be ultimately cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for our inability or unwillingness to react to threats or harmful conditions that occur gradually over time.

Like the frog, so many of my friends are in water that is slowly being heated. They are struggling with problems… family problems, problems getting along with co-workers, problems with health… and many of those people are Christians! I understand the problems…I don’t understand the extended struggle. Jesus said that “in this world, you will have difficulities.” Being a Christian does not give us a free pass away from difficulites, but what we DO have is a better way to deal with them…

We are to pray, then we are to focus on what we can and should do…and then do it…then we are to turn the rest of it over to God.

That’s it…every problem…every situation…same remedy.

So why don’t we do that?

  1. I think many of us love God…but deep down…we don’t trust that He will work in our favor…or in our timeframe.
  2. I think there is a certain sense of pride that comes with having to “deal” with stuff…laboring brings a certain sense of self worth.
  3. I think we know what we need to do to get out of our problems…but we imagine it to be far scarier or more painful than our current condition…so we stay put.

What we fail to realize is…

  1. God can be trusted. Think back on your life…has God ever told you to do something and you are worse off because of it?
  2. We miss out on “peace.” I think having a peaceful heart is one of the most underrated conditions we have as humans. Peace reminds us that everything is just as it should be. Peace tells us…someone else can… and will take care of me. Peace reminds us we are not God, …nor should we try to be.
  3. Sometimes we are a “stiff-necked people.” We know what to do…but we just don’t do it because what we “imagine” we will have to experience. We think about the future and in our mind…it is scary, painful and uncomfortable and that “picture” has less than a 10% chance of really happening anyway. Yet…it is enough to stop us from moving forward, growing closer to God and being happy…we CHOOSE not to move.

What this reminds me of is…God is extremely patient with us.

  1. He will love us enough to allow us to wallow in our own “stuff” for an extended period of time.
  2. He will listen to us say how much we love Him, but understands that we don’t really trust Him.
  3. He will be there for us when we finally DO turn to Him and He will welcome us with open arms.

But in the meantime…many of us will just continue to struggle, kick and complain…

Go figure…

 

 

Photo Credit:  John Clare.  Flickr.  Lemur Leaf Frog.  No changes were made.  

You’ll see it…when you believe it…

This has been an amazing couple of months for me.   I have traveled over 25,000 miles and have been in 5 different countries.

I’ve hiked, toured, preached, taught, built, led and followed…and all the while I’ve tried to keep my awareness centered on the overwhelming gratitude I feel to be fortunate doing what I’m doing.

During the past couple of months, I’ve been able to travel to Israel and walk in the footsteps of where Christ walked.  Hiking through Israel brought the Bible to life for me.  Being able to spend day after day in the quiet countryside walking from town to town was almost like walking quietly with Jesus himself.

Then spending a little bit of time in Paris was eye opening as well. Beautiful churches and cathedrals of massive scale but in a country where 63 percent of the youth claim to have “no religion.”  I read in a recent poll by the Christian Missionary Alliance that less than 0.5 percent of France’s population claim to be Evangelistic Christians.  What was once the world’s center of Christian faith is now quickly becoming a Christian graveyard.

Then moving into Africa where the exact opposite is true. Christianity is growing at an significant rate and Africa will be the world’s center of Christianity by the year 2050.  People in Africa have nothing but their faith…and that in itself makes them rich in God’s eyes.

Finally in Guatemala, I got to observe Oscar and Amy Garcia.  A husband and wife team living out their faith…not by what they saybut by what they do.   They care for an entire village by providing the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of anyone that they come in contact with.   Much of what they do gets no “air time” and many times they provide for others out of their own finances.   But in doing so, the community gets to see something they may not understand… they get to see a glimpse of Christ moving through the hearts and resources of Oscar and Amy and into their own hearts.

During this period of intense travel, I wanted to always be mindful that “God was with me.”  Either as a protector, a guide, a doctor or my father and Creator, I never wanted to get so caught up in what I was doing that I overlooked my need for God.   So during my travels, I decided I would seek Him out.   I would take a photograph of anything that existed in nature that looked like a cross or reminded me of Him.

Here are some of the photos of what I saw…

Carpet in our hotel room in Israel.
Carpet in our hotel room in Israel.
Window in Paris
Window in Paris
Light pole support in Israel
Light pole support in Israel
Tow truck on freeway.
Tow truck on freeway.
Utility cover in Guatemala.
Utility cover in Guatemala.
Telephone pole in Africa
Telephone pole in Africa
Guatemala home
Guatemala home
Widow's home in Guatemala.
Widow’s home in Guatemala.
Marking on the wall of an old cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala.
Marking on the wall of an old cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala.
Side of a home in Guatemala.
Side of a home in Guatemala.
Marking on a stone in Zippori National Park in Israel.
Marking on a stone in Zippori National Park in Israel.

These are just a few of the photos…but you get the idea… God is all around us… and is available to us at all times…we just sometimes forget to look.

Christ's Burial Tomb
Christ’s Burial Tomb

I really enjoyed doing this…and like the Bible says…seek and you shall find.  My prayer for all of us…especially during Easter…is that we take the time to look.  If you do…He promises…you’ll find Him.

P1000649Happy Easter!

~ Bob