Monday, August 22, 2016

Can Dallas Be A Turning Point? - Part 3



Apologies for the delay in getting to part 3.  I've been dealing with some health issues.  To a degree, I still am.  But I also don't want to delay this part of the series any longer than absolutely necessary.  So, here we go.  As with the rest of the series, there's our exposed mango tree at the top.  And that's probably a good place to start.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dallas, Nice, Turkey and More


That's an evening panorama of Nice, France a much nicer image than the slaughter by truck of several days ago.  We have a military coup in Turkey.  There were the police killed in Dallas.  Katie Perry previewed her Olympic anthem with a comment that the world needs to unite.  Which had me wondering if she was talking about unity or one world.

So, we've decided to delay the third part of our series on Dallas.  There's enough of the end times unfolding before our eyes that I thought we could better spend the weekend with prayer.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Can Dallas Be A Turning Point? - Part 2


Last time, we began with a quote from Pastor Jason Moore.  And we talked about the root system and leaves, in terms of nutrition and growth.  But, even though part of the ground has pulled away from the mango tree in our series illustration, it's pretty obvious that that the root structure handles one more.  The root system keeps the tree or plant upright.

The same is true with how we feed ourselves, mentally and spiritually.  Martin Luther King put it this way: "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit.  You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."  We've gotten away from that with some movements, leading to less stability.  Let's take a look.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Can Dallas Be A Turning Point? - Part 1

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia, photo by Aaron Escobar
The "Root" of things is never "flesh-and-blood" it is always principalities and Powers and tactics of darkness. Prayer exposes and tears down the "Root". Prayer will change our nation. Our Authority is in prayer! Ephesians 6:10-13.

That's a quote from my friend, Pastor Jason Moore.  And it fits today's thoughts.  As does our illustration.  That's a mango tree, I'm not quite sure how the roots got exposed.  With a plant or tree, water and nutrients are taken in through the root system, while sunlight is absorbed through the leaves to create the conversion process so the plant can use the water and nutrients.

Our own growth, physically, mentally, and spiritually, works in much the same way.  We are a product of what we take in and how we convert it.  And that speaks to what happened in Dallas, too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Something New - Two Verse Musings #1

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia, image by AngMoKio
We're adding another feature to the blog.  At this point, it's more idea than full fledged feature.  Let me give you a little background.  I've been using smartphones since the days of Windows Mobile. And I've been actively Christian, even before that.  So, I've been very aware of the potential of smartphones both in aiding personal growth and for evangelism.

When I got my first Android phone, I discovered two Bible widgets and a sequence for reading them that almost always gave me a blessed meditation.  I say almost always because there were rare times when both widgets showed the same verse.  And there were occasions where I wasn't getting anything from the combination of verses.  But, mostly, God gave me things to "chew on" for the rest of the day, coming back for more at random intervals.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keep On Keepin' On

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
When I first started this, I was watching and listening to Bonnie Raitt on the April 23rd, 2016 edition of a CBS This Morning Saturday.  There was both performance and interview.  There's a lot about her life and attitude that resonates with me. We've both allowed substance abuse to detour us and we've both come back from that.  But there was an answer to one question that led to today's post.  Anthony Mason asked her how long she would keep performing -- Bonnie's 66.  

Bonnie Raitt's reply was that she hoped she'd be be doing this till she was 85 or 90, good health allowing.  She pointed to BB King and Tony Bennett as examples.  And she reminded us of Sir Paul McCartney asking if, instead of continuing to be active in music, he should just retire and go play golf.  I think we all agree that our ears are much better off because all of them kept doing what they're doing.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sandwiches and Wisdom (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia
I mentioned our International convention.  I thought I'd share our midweek service.  During convention, it always ties in with the theme and have a little extra kick.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Responsibilities of Salvation

It's the first day of our ministry's International Convention.  That means the better part of a week immersed in the Word, having fellowship with friends from all over the world (some of them missionaries, some native pastors).  And an array of booths selling a variety of things, mostly food and beverages, to support various foreign missionary efforts.  All in all, a great time.  If you're interested in joining us, here in Baltimore or streaming any or all of it live, go to the GGWO 2016 Convention page for more info.

In the meantime, here's a devotional from our one year year devotional book, Breastplate Gems, available on Amazon in bother paperback and Kindle editions, by following the link.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Today, UP and Out of Selfish Love

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
There is still lots coming out about the mass shooting in Orlando. Relatives and friends are still hurting, surviving victims are still healing.  There is also lots of rhetoric about gun control.  Much of that ignoring the fact that, for the most part, we have all the regulation we need.  But some of it needs repair to work as intended.  We need to be in prayer for the victims, their friends and families.  We also need to pray for Godly wisdom in dealing with gun legislation.

Let's get to some better news.  Tomorrow is Fathers' Day.  Three cheers for all the great dads out there.  We should keep all dads in prayer.

Finally, our International Convention starts Monday.  Although, with all the returning missionaries, you might think it started several weeks ago.  The theme is "Wisdom for Our Times".  If you're interested in joining us, registration and more information is available here.

Now.  Without further ado, here's a meditation from Todd Parsons.


Monday, June 13, 2016

What Happened to Accountability?

Recently, I responded to an online statement that the rioting at Trump rallies was incited by Trump's statements and he ought to shut up.  Then the riots would stop.  And we'll get into my reply. But take a look at our graphic for today's post.

Today's illustration was shared on Facebook by my friend Pastor Eric Anderson.  Think about what Toynbee said.  All the major civilizations arose via standards.  And they crumbled when those standards were set aside for the "benefits" of a wealthy, powerful society.

We tend to think of that in terms of what we'd describe as moral degeneracy.  But there's much more to it than that.  And it includes Trump's freedom of speech.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Lord is My Strength and My Shield

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia
We have another gem from Pastor Chris McFarland, this one fairly recent.  We'll let the Word and his thoughts on it speak for themselves.  Be blessed.

Psalm 28:7–8 (ESV)  The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 8 The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

Psalm 29:11 (AMP)  The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Breastplare Gems - We Need the Gentle Rain

It's the first Monday in June, time to share one of this month's readings from our devotional book, Breastplate Gems.  For those interested in the Kindle edition, there's a link to that version on the page.

The book's goal is to give the reader a chance to grow closer to God in a way that will leave us with something from the Word that will help us stay close to Him.

Life throws both good and bad events at us.  When we have a connection with God, it's no longer just us dealing with them.  We have God in that equation.  For instance, there's this:


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Eliminating The Blind Spots‏

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
Last Saturday, we shared the video from one of our Wednesday services.  Pastor Schaller spoke on blind spots.  Here, Todd Parsons continues on the theme.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial to No Offense

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by US Army Africa,, from Flickr,
website 
http://www.usaraf.army.mil/
Today is Memorial Day in the US.  It's the day we annually remember  those who lost their lives defending our country.  Other countries have other dates reserved for their own fallen heroes.  It's one thing we can all share in, no matter what the date or which country.  And more.

Pastor Peter Sheff, visiting from Maine, preached the main sermon in our 9am service.  He started by talking about John the Baptist, in jail, trying to find out if Jesus was the Christ.  John sent messengers to Jesus, asking Him.  And Jesus replied.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Blind Spots and the Joy of the Lord (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia

We talk about them in a variety of contexts.  Blind spots, that is.  It's why we have a blind spot monitor on our rear view mirror.  It's why we go to others for advice about some relationships, because we just might be too emotionally invested to see things clearly.  And there's our own spiritual life.  Oh, how easy it is to recognize everyone else's faults while not seeing our own.!

Pastor Tom Schaller gave a sermon about that, several Wednesdays ago.  Let's take a look.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Breastplate Gems - Life's Turbulence

It's still May and we'll share another reading from this month's section of our devotional book, Breastplate Gems. Or there's the Kindle edition.  I approached it like I do my blog posts.  I made a deal with God.  He supplied the content, I wrote it down.  As I said when I last shared one of the devotionals, I can reread Breastplate Gems and be blessed by what God has for me, too.

Our founding pastor was adamant that we needed Truth, not fluff and, if we were to make it our own, we needed repetition.  So, my devotional has 14 readings each month, to be read through twice.  Except for February, that still leaves 2-3 days to either have your own devotional reading or go back and do a third reading of some of the month's readings that particularly spoke to you.

All my books, including Breastplate Gems, are intended to help support my move to the mission field.  Or, right now, also some medical stuff.  So, if God leads you in that way, this is one way to make it happen.  But let's get to some thoughts on going through life.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Theantric Action

Our founding pastor sometimes came up with his own terminology for certain things, either borrowing from earlier students of the Word or combining several Biblical words to properly describe a concept, when nothing else properly fit.  The title of today's guest post is one of the latter.  Pastor Chris McFarland joins us, today, with some great insights.  And yes, he'll be back.  Having said that, let's take a look at theantric action.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Smoke Screens

image used under Creative Commons license,
courtesy of Wikipedia, image by Luc Viatour
Romans 8:38-39  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We know that passage because Paul talks about his confidence in God's protection.  But it also highlights the the flipside of that confidence.  The demonic influences are after man because of God's love.  There's a reality that Satan doesn't like us much.  And it means that demonic activity is focused on keeping the unsaved that way and the saved miserable.  Not a pretty picture.

That's where it gets interesting.  Satan never seems to like a full frontal attack.  Instead, he's like a magician using smoke and mirrors.  Or, actually, like a military strategist using tactical  smoke screens.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mary, Did She Know...?

Between some health things and Mother's Day, our posting schedule got shifted a bit.  So, even though it's Tuesday, make believe it's Monday.  Wait!! Do we really want to do that?!?  LOL

Sorry.  I couldn't resist.  But let's get serious. Sunday I shared a LifeNote about Mary, for Mother's Day.  And, while I gave the two most common overviews of how Christianity views her, I also expressed some doubts that either had it fully right.  That led to an brief online discussion with one gentleman who threw in some a passage that I really feel is a prime example of a place where interpretation went wrong.  

Today, let's look at it all and, maybe some more, to see why I come to my conclusions.  That's not an "I'm right and you're wrong" study we want.  I could very well be wrong.  But here's a chance to think and meditiate on it, pray about it, and discuss it. At worst, it'll give us more to meditate on, at best I might get some misconceptions clarified and corrected.  And, hopefully, we'll draw closer to God.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Breastplate Gems - Learning Self

It's May and we'll share a reading from this month's section of our devotional book, Breastplate Gems.  Or there's the Kindle edition.  The book was an interesting project.  I approached it like I do my blog posts.  I made a deal with God.  He supplied the content, I wrote it down.  As a result, I can reread Breastplate Gems and be blessed by what God has for me, too.

The founding pastor of our ministry had a principle he taught that I incorporated into this book.  He was adamant that we needed Truth, not fluff and, if we were to make it our own, we needed repetition.  So, our devotional has 14 readings each month, to be read through twice.  Except for February, that still leaves 2-3 days to either have your own devotional reading or go back and do a third reading of some of the month's readings that particularly spoke to you.

All my books, including Breastplate Gems, are intended to help support my move to the mission field.  So, if God leads you in that way, this is one way to make it happen.  But let's get to today's reading.


Monday, April 25, 2016

New Endings

"The worst sentence is this:

'It’s too late to work on my goals this year.'

January is for resolutions and goals. It’s when we buy calendars and running sneakers and kale. That’s the only time you can really focus on changing your life.

By April, you’ve missed your chance. Too much of the year is already gone. The moment of inspiration has passed.

That’s garbage."

The above is a quote from Jon Acuff, in one of his latest posts, "Don't Say This Sentence This Month".  Then, there's also our graphic illustration from the Gospel Coalition.

At this point, you might be wondering where we're going with this.  And you might be more incredulous if I added that this is actually a continuation from Pam Enderby's wonderful guest post, on Saturday.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Miracle We All Need

Recently, I read a post by Pam Enderby that resonated with some thoughts I'd been meditating on.  The context was a bit different, but the theme was similar.  So, I asked Pam for permission to reshare her post as one of our Saturday guest posts.

One of the greatest problems for the believer is faith.  Not the kind that carries us through our daily turmoil, but the faith that trusts God for more serious stuff, and things in other peoples' lives.  Somehow, our lack of understanding of someone else's relationship with God has a greater impact on our thinking than how big our God is.  Or how much what happens is all grace and all mercy, despite ourselves.

With all that in mind, let's see the insights God has given Pam.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Unity or Sinless Perfection?

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by mrehan, from Flickr
I have a date in mind for getting onto the mission field.  And I'm probably being overly optimistic. Mostly because of finances.  As a result, I've been thinking a lot about the prayer we know as the "Our Father".  Partly as an upcoming book project.  One of the things that caught my attention was the very first line of the prayer.  It speaks volumes.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Who Am I?" to "Who I Am..."

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
We shared the four videos from our church's Easter series of drama/sermon combinations.  It's time we gave Todd Parsons a chance to bless us, again.  In today's thought, Todd takes us to the final moments on the Cross.  Let's take a look at the passage, then see what God is showing Todd.

Psalm 22:1-5   My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?  O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You hear not; and in the night season, and am not silent.  But You are holy, O You that inhabits the Praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in You: they trusted, and You did deliver them.  They cried unto You, and were delivered: they trusted in You, and were not confounded.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Except Ye Be Converted

We try to share a portion from our one year devotional book, Breastplate Gems, monthly. So, it's time for one of the devotionals for April.

Our priorities change with having a relationship with God.  And our focus changes.  But that doesn't necessarily happen overnight.And that's the thought from our selected reading from April's section of Breastplate Gems that we'll explore.

What we see, today, is a turning, both toward and away from.  And we realize there's a flavor of repentance baked into conversion.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Alive: Follow Jesus and Be Surprised (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia


Our church, Greater Grace World Outreach, has been celebrating the Easter season with four dramas as part of our Sunday morning services. One drama each week for four weeks. We've been resharing those the following Saturday, along with the related sermon. I know. That makes this almost a week late in timing. But, perhaps, it'll stretch the Easter season a little longer. And it will prepare our hearts for the following Sunday service. Here's the fourth and last of the series.




Monday, April 4, 2016

We Gain the Life of Christ

image used under Creative Commons license, photo from Flickr, by user fairytaleweaver
John 17:20-24  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

We're still looking at Christ's prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.  We looked at part of the passage in John 17:20-24, last week.  But, today, we're going to focus on one word.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Alive: God Speaks to Unbelief with the Reality of Heaven (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia


Our church, Greater Grace World Outreach, is celebrating the Easter season with four dramas as part of our Sunday morning services. One drama each week for four weeks. We're resharing those the following Saturday, along with the related sermon. I know. That makes this almost a week late in timing. And there's still one more.  But, perhaps, it'll stretch the Easter season a little longer. And it will prepare our hearts for the following Sunday service. Here's the third of the series.





Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Salvation From Eternity Past, Determined in Unity -- Part 2

Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane -- photo used under Public Domain license.
The image is of a painting at the Darlington, MD Methodist Church, also under Public Domain license
We're back with the second part of this important Biblical topic.  Consider a couple of further things with me.  We can go to the book of Job and read about a person who is only a man, going through most of 42 chapters with trials and pain.  He decried His existence because of them.  But Job never asked God to change His mind about the trials nor did Job curse God.  And Job was only a man. When Jesus prays, in Luke 22:42, for the cup's removal, are we to assume that part of the Trinity is less than Job and willing to go against the Father by begging out of going to the Cross?  Let's look at the passage.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Salvation From Eternity Past, Determined in Unity -- Part 1

Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane -- photo used under Public Domain license.
The image is of a painting at the Darlington, MD Methodist Church, also under Public Domain license
There was an online discussion, based on a devotional that suggested Jesus was sweating blood because of the intensity of His prayer and asking to get out of going to the Cross.  He highlighted the struggle Jesus was experiencing, which I had no problem with.  But I suggested there was an alternative interpretation of the struggle that I believed was correct.  I still believe his interpretation, to my way of thinking, misrepresents Jesus' character and nature.  I could be wrong in my understanding.  But, it fits in with the Easter season.  Enough to make me want to document how I came to my conclusion.  And to open it up for further discussion.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Alive: Calvary, Cowardice and Honor (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia

As we mentioned, last Saturday, our church, Greater Grace World Outreach, is celebrating the Easter season with four dramas as part of our Sunday morning services.  One drama each week for four weeks. We're resharing those the following Saturday, along with the related sermon.  I know.  That makes it almost a week late in timing.  But, perhaps, it'll stretch the Easter season a little longer. And it will prepare our hearts for the following Sunday service.  Here's the second of the series.





Monday, March 21, 2016

Earth Music

The earth has music for those who listen.

That's an almost correctly worded statement that usually gets attributed to Shakespeare or George Santayana.  It actually is most of a line from the last stanza of a poem titled "The Magic of Sound" by Reginald Vincent Holmes, from his book Fireside Fancies.  The stanza reads like this:
The earth has its music for those who will listen;
Its bright variations forever abound.
With all of the wonders that God has bequeathed us,
There's nothing that thrills like the magic of sound.
The first and third verses caught my attention, Especially the first one. As a child I had music lessons, like many have.  My parents thought it would compensate, to some degree, for my physical handicap.  My instrument was the cornet.  Later on, I was in my high school glee club.  At this point, I don't have the lip for cornet/trumpet and  I'd need some help singing on key.  But God gifted me with a good ear.  Which can be a good or bad thing.  


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Alive: Darkness Defeated, the Cup Taken

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia

Our church, Greater Grace World Outreach, is celebrating the Easter season with four dramas as part of our Sunday morning services.  One drama each week for four weeks. We'll be resharing those the following Saturday, along with the related sermon.  I know.  That makes it almost a week late in timing.  But, perhaps, it'll stretch the Easter season a little longer. And it will prepare our hearts for the following Sunday service.  Here's the first of the four.





Monday, March 14, 2016

God Commendeth His Love Toward Us


It's been awhile since we've shared a portion from our one year devotional book, Breastplate Gems. So, we thought it was time to share one of the devotionals for March.

One of the powers of having a relationship with God is that our priorities change.  And our focus changes.  Let's start with the verse that brought on today's devotional thought from Breastplate Gems.  Then we'll move on to the reading.

Romans 5:8 (KJV) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lose Yourself at the Cross (Video)

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia
I'm blessed enough to be in a ministry where, when my pastor is away, there are other preachers who can stand in the gap and share great messages.  So we always get a great portion from the Word.  And if I'm away on a trip or on the mission field, I can always stream services and sermons.  But there's just something special about hearing your pastor live, in person.  I'd hope you feel the same way about being spiritually fed and taught by your own pastor.

Anyway, my pastor was away, speaking at our European Conference in Budapest.  And Sunday morning I was visiting one of our affiliated churches.  So Wednesday was the first time I could hear Pastor Schaller live, after that conference. It might be that I missed his portion, but I think this was just a special thought from God.  I think you'll be as blessed as I was, sitting in the chapel.  The video is on the other side of the break.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Man's Economy vs. God's Economy

 


There's a lot of rancor in the political world of US politics.  I reshared today's illustration as a commentary on some of today's political thought.  But, as I was rereading it, I started thinking about it, there's a spiritual aspect to that, too.  While some would suggest that the things of this world are separate from the spiritual realm.  But can we think, say, or do anything without it either being effected by the spiritual or it effecting our spiritual life?  Let's take a look.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Confidence Towards God

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
Since we gave our friend Todd Parsons a vacation of sorts, while we had our series based on our first trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, we get blessed by him two Saturdays in a row.  As usual, Todd has some great meditations to carry us a little closer to our Lord.  And, as usual, Todd makes us think.  But definitely spiritual thoughts.

There's a standard greater than our own.  Greater than our own imaginations.  When we hear "wisdom" from others, we need to be careful that we don't take in the world's wisdom, careful we're not fed by Satan.  Indeed, when we teach others, we need to be sure we're not giving them a spiritual banquet straight from the world, the flesh, and the devil.  That's the thought Todd has gleaned from today's journey into the Word.  Let's travel with him.

Monday, February 29, 2016

San Jose, Impressing by Impressions

Ministerios de Gracia Mayor, Third Anniversary
I promised to name names.  Not based on our starting picture.  That's from the San Jose church's third anniversary.  No, I haven't met all of them, yet.  But I will.  I threatened to name some names. Let's get to that.  And my impressions.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

What About God?

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
It's been awhile since we've heard from Todd Parsons.  Our San Jose series took on a life of its own.  Indeed, Monday will have some final thoughts for the San Jose series.

In that last of the series, I need to talk about some of the people I met and spent time with.  My reactions to them and to the city are important, too.  It was a special visit that deserves at least one more post.  Especially in terms of how God got me there and how He spoke to me while I was there.  

Todd's thoughts, today, address that, in a way.  So, let's use this as kind of an introduction to our closing thoughts in the San Jose series.  I think we've all been in a place where run out of earthly resources and discover we've left God out of our equation.  And then we find ourselves being reeled back in by God.  And, suddenly, there's provision in the midst of the battle.  Because we're in the place God intended us to be, with full access to all He can give us.

Monday, February 22, 2016

San Jose, Headed Home

That's the church logo starting this post.  Each year the church has existed, something new has been added.  That was one of the first.

Day 12 (continued): There was one other event, in between everything else.  One of the families in our church needed help moving out of one apartment, into another more secure place.  I couldn't help much physically.  But the prayers and presence go a long way.  Especially since I could honestly tell them I'd still be praying for them when I returned to Baltimore.  And I could tell them without a translator.  Real life John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Day 13: Saturday.  We did the walking street outreach. Brent has developed some skills with magic tricks. He uses that to share the Gospel.  The rest of the group that goes with him then talks, one on one, with people in the crowd that gathers.  I missed that one, both Saturdays I was there.  My ankles were swollen and sore.  But it's an outreach I intend to be part of, on my return.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

San Jose, Ripe for the Gospel

Teija Kortelainen, Sue Stevens, Pastor Mike Stevens, Brent Hillenga, Lucy Hillenga --
Not in picture: Jose Rios, Dominick Principe, Tracey Principe
As I write the posts for this series, I'm kind of doubleminded about whether or not to do longer posts, with more sweeping generalizations.  But each post seems to cover a whole area of thought and in more detail than generalities would give us. And, if I'm honest about the whole process, I'm still sorting out my experiences and thoughts.  Putting it all into words helps give me more insight, as well.  The one thing I'm certain of is that, when I'm done with this series, there will still be more thoughts rumbling around in my head, waiting to get sorted out.

Monday, February 15, 2016

San Jose, Stepping Out In Faith

Day 8:  Here we are on my first full Monday in Costa Rica.  It's either Monday or Tuesday that we visit The Farm.  The name fits on several levels.  It's a Christian drug and alcohol rehab.  It's growing spiritually whole men.  But they also have ducks that lay eggs, a vegetable garden, and their own chef.  That's part of the property, to the left. I thought I had a better angle at that table with the red tablecloth.  You can see the back end of one of the ducks.  He was one of the more interesting ones, with a bright red patch between his top bill and his head.

Keith started The Farm on a shoestring. And it's still run that way.  He takes donations, but he basically communicates the needs, then prays and trusts God for the results.  In that, Keith reminds me of George Mueller. There's a bakery that supplies them with day old bread, another shop that gives vegetables, and a fish shop that donates fish.  The men eat reasonably well.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

San Jose, Safe or Not?

Day 7 (continued): There was, as usual, more fellowship after the service.  And, after the service, the rest of the day was free...kind of.  But I was with two pastors who hadn't cut their ties to American sports and, particularly, New England Football.  So, there I was, eating Latino style food and watching the Patriots game at Pastor Mike's home.  Surrounded by some of the church team. It was definitely a fun time.  But this seems like as good a time as any to talk a bit about the realities of Costa Rica.
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Monday, February 8, 2016

San Jose Sunday Morning

We start today's post with my first Sunday in San Jose.  The first day of my second real week there, but that last day of my first full travel week.  It was a day of joy and a day of contrasts.  And it was a day that led into a busy week ahead.  Ministerios de Gracia Mayor does not lack for activity.  And I'd get to experience plenty.

Day 7:

For most of us, Sunday is the beginning of the week. It is for me, too.  But, on my trip, it was the last day of my travel week.  And our spiritual day of rest is just as good a way to end a "week" as it is to start one. Sunday has one service, at 10am.  The picture to the left is one side of the chapel.  I took that a little into the worship part of service.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

San Jose, Growing on Me


Yeah.  We used the title from the old Dionne Warwick tune for the title of our first post in this series.  I couldn't resist.  

That's the church entrance in our illustration.  The gate is typical of San Jose houses.  We'll talk about that more, in a future post.

San Jose is built in a valley, surrounded by mountains. So, while I'm checking out the effects of the city's altitude on my COPD, there's terrain that's even higher. As well, there are a lot of hills within the city.  

San Jose was founded in 1738.  The condition of some of the sidewalks show it's an old city.  And a poor one. That goes along with the gates, as we'll see, later in the series.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

We're back in Baltimore.  I still have a "summer cold" because I didn't include enough long sleeve shirts.  It was cooler than I expected.  And I probably didn't ask enough of the right questions beforehand.  And, two days later, my neck and back are bothering me some. The flight back seemed to take more of a toll than the trip down.

I took some pictures, but not as many as I'd originally planned.  I was unsure of Costa Rican legalities, in some places.  Other times, it was suggested that I might be mugged for my phone if I took it out in some areas.  And there were times when I felt privacy was more important than me getting pictures.

That's a selfie of this guy, to the left.  It was taken in the church patio area and I already shared it on Facebook.  I don't usually do selfies.  In fact not many pictures.  The trip was for me to gain some firsthand insights.  But, in a larger sense, the trip wasn't about me.  It was an opportunity to watch God at work, both around me and in me.

The earlier posts in this series were written while in Costa Rica, Later posts came after my return to Baltimore.  As I write this introduction, some are yet to be written.  We're starting out with a day by day format.  I'm not sure we'll stick with that or not.  But there's a lot to say.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Never Leaving, Never Forsaking

image used under Creative Commons license, 
photo by Todd Lindeman, from Flickr
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)  Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 

We're used to the verse in Hebrews, but most of us never think about that promise going all the way back to the Torah, in the book of Deuteronomy.  But the two highlight different suggested responses.  Let's think about that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Walk In The Spirit



Today, we have a guest post we're resharing from Google+.  My friend Jim Cassidy wrote an interesting post on walking in the Spirit.  It blessed me.  I thought it would bless you, too.  Some may have read this before.  That gives you a chance to relearn it.  For the rest, here's another shot at getting closer to God.



Monday, January 18, 2016

In This Will I Be Confident‏


image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org
God always does something wonderful through my friend Todd Parsons.  This one's titled "In This Will I Be Confident‏"  And it gives us lots to be confident in.


Philippians 3:3b   ...worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Psalm 27:3-4  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.  One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.


Friday, January 15, 2016

A New Thing?

image used under Creative Commons license, 
photo by Jorge Rodriguez, from en.wikipedia.org
Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV)  Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.

I feel like that verse applies to my life at this very moment.  As you read this, I'm probably finishing breakfast in the city to the left --  San Jose, Costa Rica.  As you can see, it's a mix of old and the world's idea of new.  But our starting verse isn't talking about new as the world thinks of it.  It's talking about God doing new things.  And that's why I'm here.

My path getting to San Jose had a spiritual foundation, but a more literal prod.  Some of it because of decisions in my past that have had physical repercussions.  The result is that, where I live now, cold weather makes going out less pleasant than I'm usually willing to deal with, unless necessary.  The result is evangelism and discipleship via the written word instead of verbal, in person.  But now, God is nudging me to look for places where the climate will allow one on one interaction much more regularly.  And, besides my own thoughts, there's a brief devotional thought that Minister Kenneth Tamara shared recently that I believe speaks to part of why I'm here.


Monday, January 11, 2016

About That Secret Place....

© Copyright Marion Phillips and licensed for reuse 
under the Creative Commons License
We've been discussing the ins and outs of Micah 6:8 (NKJV), "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?".  More specifically, putting that into action.  Or not.  And it's based on having a relationship with God and trusting Him.

Some have all that down pat.  Others aren't even close to either.  Most are somewhere in between.  Unless we're in that first group, we could use an assist in that.  And who better to do that than God Himself?  We've said before that God doesn't make it difficult to get close to Him.  He gave us a whole Bible to learn from.  But, today, let's look at one specific part.  And look at hiding out with God, in plain sight.