Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In Memory of Ken Parfitt

Five years ago today a great man from our church was killed in a traffic accident; he stopped to be a good Samaritan during a snow storm near Rochester, NY. Ken was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back, and go the extra mile to be a blessing to you. The following is an article written by talk show radio host Bob Lonsberry and it recounts the incident as it happened. 

A Column From Five Years Ago

As I ran up to him, the first thing I noticed was the Bible.
It was small, a pocket-sized book, in black leather.
It had apparently been knocked out of his clothing when the car hit him, and had landed beside him in the snow, down off the shoulder of the road.

That was yesterday, a few minutes after 7 in the morning.
It was frigid and there was accumulation and black ice and two cars had slid off the busy Interstate. He had stopped and gotten out to help.

He had been on the way to work, with his son, and he saw the motorists who needed help and he stopped. Countless others of us drove on by. But he stopped.
And got out in the blizzard and was going to render aid when out of nowhere came a vehicle.

He was struck and thrown and he landed where I found him, motionless in the snow, by his Bible.There was a young man standing above him. A nurse from Strong Memorial Hospital was also there, and maybe another man, motorists who had stopped to render aid.

I knelt by the man in the snow. I could find no pulse in his right wrist. The nurse could find no pulse in his left wrist. She felt at his neck and I counted his breaths.They were the breaths of someone struggling to stay alive. It was as if he was snoring.

I asked the young man what had happened and he told me and he told me that the man was his father. He looked to be in his late teens or early 20s. He was well groomed and in business clothes. And his father was at his feet. It struck me what a horror he must be enduring. I asked him if he would pray for us, and he squatted beside his father and we three bowed our heads as he prayed and said “Amen” when he was done.

The exact details of what followed are kind of blurred in my mind, but a lady called 911 on her cell phone and I asked her if I could speak to the dispatcher. I tried to describe the gravity of the man’s condition and I told her we’d need Mercy Flight. It was a foolish request, given the conditions, and she kindly told me that they couldn’t launch in the blizzard. Then I told her that we’d need the county fly car and she told me that it was on its way.

He had a jacket on with the name of his company on it. The ID tag clipped to his shirt said that his name was Ken. Though he was unresponsive, I talked to him and called him by name and encouraged him and told him what was happening.
Traffic was heavy and slow and I kept looking up from the man to see if I could see any emergency vehicles coming.

The first to arrive was a captain from the Department of Environmental Conservation police. His presence was calming and professional. He and the Strong nurse checked the various occupants of the various cars to make sure everyone was all right.

A man from a utility – maybe the electric company or the phone company – came to offer aid. As the minutes passed, various passersby brought coats and blankets from their cars to lay over the man. One gentleman took the coat off his back and covered the man with it. Then he took off his gloves and put them over the man’s hands.

At a certain point, the man’s wife arrived. She had been called by the son and, their home apparently being close, had arrived quickly.

“Where is he?” I heard her say. “He is my husband.”

I looked up when I heard those words, and saw a woman walking toward us. I was dreading her arrival. I did not want her to see or experience this. I could not imagine the pain and sorrow inherent in a situation like this.
She was dressed as conservative Christian women sometimes are, in a long dress, it might have been denim, and I think her hair was long and up on her head.

As she approached us, she was calm and business like. She asked how he was and what had happened.Then she knelt and began to pray.

She may have held his hand, she may have leaned in toward his head. As she spoke, I cast my eyes down and reverently listened. She addressed God. Whether she called him “Dear Lord” or “Heavenly Father” or something else, I can’t recall. But she addressed him, and then she thanked him.
And she offered him praise.

Her words were not words of pleading, they were words of praise and gratitude.
And then she said something like, “If today you wish to call him home and take him from us – thy will be done.”

Thy will be done.The line from the Lord’s Prayer. The hardest part of faith. At a moment when most of us would be begging God to give us what we want – to spare us our loved one – she asked the Lord to do his will, what he wanted. She trusted him, and had faith in him.

Where could there be a truer test or demonstration of faith than in the snow beside the broken and near lifeless body of your sweetheart and spouse? In that situation, there can be no pretense, no show, only the heartfelt honesty of a soul in direct communion with its Creator.

And in her moment of test, in her own Gethsemane, she literally prayed, like her Savior before her, not my will, but thine, be done.
But if it was not his time to die, if the Lord did not want to call him home, she asked for his life, for her and their children, and strength through the weeks of hospitalization and recovery.

And then she asked that this event would be turned to the glory of God, that somehow it could touch the heart of someone, that someone might find Jesus, that someone might come to salvation.And that was her prayer.

While I listened for this man’s breaths, and rescuers sped on slippery roads, and neighbor helped neighbor. Soon I saw a deputy and a trooper, and then a fire truck in the far lanes, and then firefighters around us and finally an ambulance.

They were angels in turnout gear.They came with such a competence and earnestness. One medic, a younger man, had an Avon patch on his uniform. He quickly worked to help the man breathe. Another medic, slightly older, had a Livonia patch on his uniform. He worked on the man’s body. Another medic soon came, directly from home, in office clothes, and with the help of the firemen the three of them loaded the man first onto a backboard and then onto a gurney and up into the Avon ambulance.

In a minor and unskilled way, they needed an extra set of hands, so I climbed into the ambulance with them as the doors closed and the rig pulled out.
It may have taken most of an hour to get to Strong Memorial Hospital. We stopped at one point to pick up the Livingston County paramedic. He was a stunningly professional man, and watching him and the others work was like seeing a nuts-and-bolts miracle.

It was high science and true compassion, a moment-by-moment tending of an injured man’s needs. Each medic attending to different tasks or coming together to achieve one. Like a choreographed dance or a loose symphony. I was grateful such people and such technology exist.

In his own way, the ambulance driver performed his own miracles. In stalled bumper-to-bumper traffic, over miles and miles of snowy highway, he pressed forward, moving between and around any obstacles that presented themselves, using his resourcefulness to get the patient where he needed to go.

In the back of the rig, I noticed in the pocket of the man’s shirt six or seven little tracts, religious pamphlets, about the true meaning of Christmas. The sort of thing that religious people pass out inviting others to get saved. As they pulled the gurney out of the rig at the Strong ED, the tracts fell to the floor of the ambulance, wet from the melting snow and stained with the man’s blood.

Later, I would recount this story on the radio, and receive e-mails from coworkers and church members. People who knew him and loved him.
He always carried the Bible and the tracts, they said. And he was the nicest guy they knew. He would do anything for anybody and he and his wife had eight children.

And for the past three years, he and his sons had built with their own hands a house for the family. A house for which they had only recently been granted a certificate of occupancy – a permit for the family to move in and begin its dream life.

He was a good man, doing a good thing, and that didn’t surprise anybody. He came to be hurt because he came to the rescue.
When I went to bed last night, his condition was very grave and prayer requests were echoing across the Internet.And I couldn’t help but think of the verse from the Gospel of John.
“Greater love hath no man than this,” it reads, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

That happened on a cross once, and on battlefields countless times, and sometimes it happens on the side of the road.
I saw something sacred yesterday, and I hope I have communicated it adequately.
I hope I have done my part to help answer a good woman's prayer.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2010

Unrealistic Expectations Put on the Minister's Family and How You Can Help

After spending numerous years in the ministry I have come to realize that people forget that missionaries, pastors, their wives, and children are just normal people like the rest of us.

Recently this was brought to my mind as someone I had tried to help was inadvertently hurt by something they misunderstood that I said. I didn't say anything hurtful, and my only intention was to help them, but sometimes these things happen. We all get misunderstood at times, and no one likes to be falsely accused.

When trying to explain myself to someone involved in the situation, they replied "Don't take it personally."

I didn't respond to the comment, but I felt like saying something to the effect--do you think pastors and their families are made of stone? Are we somehow cut out of a different piece of cloth than the rest of humanity that we don't get our feelings hurt, or when people don't show us the same sensitivity that they expect us to show them?

I acknowledge that to be in the ministry you must have thick skin. You can't take things personally, and you do have to learn to have a lot of grace with people. I think anyone who has been in the ministry for any length of time would acknowledge this. Most missionaries, pastors and their families are not serving the Lord for selfish motives. I would venture to say that most do what they do because they love God and want to please Him. They have a call on their lives, and are examples to the flock. There are qualifications of an elder and bishop which includes high standards for his family. We can not excuse bad behaviour and attitudes.

My point is this, try to remember that people in the ministry will disappoint you sometimes. They aren't "perfect" people with "perfect" families. Give them a little grace to be human. Forgive them when you feel overlooked--perhaps they had something on their minds that day, or have a burden that you don't know about.

Pray for them, and don't be afraid to approach them either if you feel they have offended you--most of the time when someone has asked me if I was offended by something they did or say I am genuinely surprised as I had no idea they felt that way or that they were feeling such things. A word in private can correct a lot of misunderstandings.

Try to have realistic expectations of what you think a missionary/pastor's wife should be. Let her be herself and don't expect her to run every ministry in the church that needs filled. We often to try to fill in the gaps because that is something we do as a help meet to our husbands--but unless the pastor's wife wants to the nursery coordinator, the Sunday school teacher, the Junior church leader, in charge of the woman's Bible study and soul winning ministries, the church custodian, bus driver, and church pianist (I think you get my point) don't dump these on her. Let her choose where she feels the Lord can best use her gifts. She has her hands full being a wife, mother, and in many situations a home school teacher. On the contrary, try to see a need and ask if you can help.

Sometimes people have said to me "Our church needs a youth ministry, or we need a junior church, or more women's ministries ....." and my husband will consider the requests and see if that is what the Lord is directing him to do, but more often than not, what they really are saying is that "you need to start a youth program, you need to start a woman's Bible study and prayer group, etc. "

How about coming to your pastor and saying, I think the Lord has put on my heart to start ..........you can fill in the blanks.  This would be music to his ears! And don't be discouraged if the pastor doesn't respond as enthusiastically as you think he should--maybe he needs time to consider and pray about it.

Recently a lady in our church asked my husband for some John and Romans so she could pass them out to her neighbors. This delighted Doug beyond measure. Nothing encourages a pastor or his family more when they see the congregation participating wholeheartedly in unity.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Words of Wisdom

I recently saw a Facebook post on a friend's timeline that made me think. It said, "You don't own all the problems in the world." It was a poster with seven rules for life.

It reminded me to stop worrying about things you have no control over. Sure, we can pray for people, their situations, and try to bear each others burdens, but there comes a point where we have to leave things in the hands of God. Watching the evening news was dragging me down as I found myself contemplating all the world's problems.

I am an empathetic person--I feel the pain of others. That can be a good thing, to a point, but when you find yourself overwhelmed with care it can rob your joy. As long as we live in this world there is going to be human suffering, sickness, pain, loss, death, injustice, and on it goes. I firmly believe we are to weep with them that weep, but the Bible also says to rejoice with them that do rejoice. Like everything else in life, there is a balance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Missionary Wive's Wish You Knew Article by Alison Wood

I came upon this article on facebook and it was so well written and said so many things that I have experienced here on the mission field that I thought it would be nice to share it here on my blog. You can click on the link and read it on the author's blog, or I pasted it on my blog for the sake of convenience. The author's name is Alison Wood, and she is a missionary to Cambodia. She has also written several ebooks about the home. Here is the link to her website.


 In Alison's words:

I’m a missionary wife. My husband and I have been living overseas for seven years now, and I want to let you sweet readers know that there are some things that every missionary wife wished you knew. However, many of them don’t get the chance to tell you these things, or sometimes they don’t know you well enough to trust you with their personal struggles or victories.

Even though that is the case, I think you should know.

In fact, I think your pastor’s wife should know. 

 (This is Carolee adding a comment--personally, I don't necessarily agree that this should be added--I don't think the pastor's wife should bear any more burden in contacting a churches missionaries than any other member in the congregation. We have to be careful about adding unrealistic expectations to our pastor's wife--she has enough to deal with as it is and just because she is the pastor's wife doesn't mean she has the responsibility of this as well--just my thoughts.)

I think your best friend should know.

Why? Because many missionaries are leaving the foreign mission field because the missionary wife is beyond lonely, discouraged and has given up on the ministry overseas.
And maybe, just maybe, if you knew what the missionary wife really needs, thinks and experiences, then you could encourage a missionary wife to keep going.

It’s possible that you have no idea how much a fellow Christian can influence a missionary wife for good. It’s possible that you have no idea what your phone call, email or care package meant to her. It’s even more possible that you don’t know how many weeks she has spent in tears because she felt worthless, lonely and discouraged.

But, someone encouraged her in the Lord. Someone took her by the hand and helped her get up and brush off her knees. Someone encouraged her to keep being a soldier of Christ. Someone’s words brought cool water to her soul and helped her smile in the midst of unexplainable difficulty. Someone’s small token of love helped her sing the praises of God in the midst of loud monotonous chanting to a false god. Someone’s battle in prayer for her that morning helped her look to her Anchor once again while she watched her tiny child lie painfully sick without dependable medical help nearby. Maybe next time, that someone will be you.

I asked a group of church-planting missionaries to share with me what they wished people knew about the missionary wife. I want to share those with you today so you can get the “inside scoop” of what really goes on behind those prayer cards, prayer letters, and status updates you briefly read on Facebook.

It’s not that the missionary wife is seeking to hide anything from you, but most of the time it’s because she doesn’t get an opportunity to share her struggles and discouragement.
But today, I thank you for taking just a few minutes to read some honest, real and very transparent things that every missionary wife wish you knew. May you use this knowledge to encourage the missionary wife who is in your life! And if you talk to her, please tell her I said “thank you” for serving Christ!

What Every Missionary Wife Wish You Knew

We wished you knew that we’re not super-heroes. Just today I was chatting with another missionary wife about how going to a foreign field makes you realize how frail you are as a Christian. Sometimes missionary wives get put on a pedestal for being “brave, committed and dedicated,” but on the inside we all know that we are all just human beings who have to trust and depend on the grace of God with each every step we take. We learn that it is only Jesus Christ who is worth to be praise — and we truly are only people who have the privilege of serving Christ in a foreign land. We feel privileged to be honored to work for the one true king!  

We wished you knew we get very lonely. I never viewed myself as a woman who needed her “girlfriends.” I loved staying at home with my kids and spending time with just my family. However, I didn’t realize that I was spending time with my “girlfriends” every time I went to church and even at other events. I would also run into friends at the grocery store. But in Southeast Asia? I didn’t have the friends. It would get very lonely. The phone wouldn’t ring, the doorbell wouldn’t ring and no one would invite us over for Christmas. It was just our family for a long time and sometimes the world seemed almost silent. But someone, somewhere would listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit and would take time to send me an email or write me a short message on Facebook. I would find my smile and laughter once again as I began to feel like a loved human.
  • So what does this mean for you? It means you can encourage the missionary wife by just writing her a message on Facebook, sending her a short email or even better — calling her!

    When I got to hear the sound of an American, Christian voice, sometimes I would have to refrain my tears. It had been so long since I had enjoyed a conversation with an American, Christian friend and I was overwhelmed with happiness of familiar sounds, laughter and sayings I grew accustomed to in my native land.

  • Go ahead, send that email or call that missionary wife today. Psst! You can find most of her personal information on her family’s prayer card or website! You’ll be so glad you did, and she will treasure that communication for a very, very long time!

    We wished you knew we want you to say “hi” when we visit. When we come to a church or group, sometimes people walk right by our display and never say a word to us. Even if we’re busy looking after small children, it makes us feel more welcome if you just take a few minutes, say hello and check out our missionary work. It makes all the traveling and late nights much more pleasant!

    We wished you knew that we’re not all created equal. I’m a missionary wife who loves to sing and play the piano. However, that does not make me a better missionary wife than missionary wives who do not feel gifted in the area of music. There are many other talents and qualities a missionary wife can possess! Each missionary wife is hand-crafted by a loving Savior who knows just how to use their special, unique talents to bring glory to His name. Even their personalities, strengths and weaknesses are all different. Love the missionary wives for who they are and don’t expect all of them to fit in the typical missionary wife bubble!

    We wished you knew we don’t get acclimated to being separated from family. Oceans and thousands of miles separated us from people we dearly love — and times does not make it any easier. Sometimes people assume that you grow hardened and even callous to being separated from your loved ones, but it’s simply not true. We don’t cross the ocean to leave our family and friends, but rather we cross the ocean with tears and precious memories of the faces of people we may never see again on this green earth.

    We wished you knew we want you to love our children. It means the world to a mother’s heart when someone loves her children. Missionary kids travel from place to place and rarely have enough time to make close-knit friends. How can you encourage the missionary child who looks totally confused when you ask her where she’s from? It’s simple, really. Talk to her when she visits you. Read up on the country where she lives so you can actually engage in conversation about the foreign place she calls home. Another simple thing? If you know a missionary kids is coming to visit your church, you could prepare a small bag for each kid that has some well-loved kid snacks, coloring books and small toys that just seem to shout, “HEY MISSIONARY KID! WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE!” When someone makes a dedicated effort to show our children love and affection, we don’t forget it. We treasure that, and so do our children. And when you encourage our children, you encourage us.
    We wished you knew we don’t care what time of day or night you call us.
    If it’s night, our phones will be on silent. Don’t hesitate to call and leave a voice mail. We love hearing form you and we also know that sometimes people forget the time differences. We forget about those pesky time zones too!
    We wished you knew we need your patience when we’re on furlough. After leaving overseas for several years, we pick up unusual habits, phrases etc. And our kids? They pick it up even more! We also forget some manners that don’t apply in our new home country. And, most likely, America has changed quite a bit since we have visited. We may have forgotten how to work the credit card machines, the soda fountains and even how to order our favorite cup of coffee. And just one more thing. We may be a basked of emotions when we’re on furlough. Try to imagine hearing about 5 divorces, three deaths and wayward children in just a few weeks. While everyone else has moved on and already come to terms with those situations, they are all thrown on us at once and are fresh wounds. Then, add in the joy of reuniting with loved ones, learning how to function again in a completely different culture and you have a woman who is bound to burst into tears over the silliest of things. Yes, we need your patience, grace and time to adjust to our “homeland” once again. Give us a few months and we should be semi-normal again! :)

    We wished you to know your prayers really, really matter. We know when our family has faced some ginormous battle that relief and help came because people like you were on their knees begging God to help us. Remember Peter in Acts 12:5? He was put in prison, and would have most likely been killed by
    Herod, but the church prayed for him WITHOUT CEASING. And what happened? An angel came and rescued Peter out of prison. That’s just one biblical example of how God uses your prayers to work in people’s lives. Please pray for the missionary wife in your life!
    We wished you knew that the money and time you spend on packages is not wasted. It’s amazing how we are quick to assume we’re not materialistic. We live without air-conditioning, carpet, Wal-mart, Target, dishwashers, clothes dryers and other conveniences we were accustomed to in America. But when we see that unopened box sitting at the post office, we bubble over inside with anticipation of seeing Butterfingers, Crystal light, Crayola crayons, Yankee candles and Kool-Aid. Who knew that those small things meant so much to us and gave us sweet glimpses into our native lands. You see, to you it’s just a box filled with ordinary things that costs an exorbitant amount of shipping. But to us? It’s a rare, tiny taste into the land we grew up in. ut lost of all? It’s a tangible reminder that people are still thinking of us in America. That people still love us, believe in the work we are called to do and count the sacrifice of money and time worth the investment if it cheers up a missionary on the field. Yes, those packages are priceless to us an remember every single one — and our kids do too.

    We want you to know that we love being a missionary’s wife. Though our paths our often fraught with difficulty, we count our sacrifices very, very small when we think of what Jesus Christ has done for us. We are excited that we get to travel to foreign lands that do not have the privilege of hearing the gospel on radio stations, televisions or in churches. We are excited to be able to be the first people to tell others who never knew about Jesus Christ and the salvation, hope and peace that only He can bring.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Happiness Project

We had a delightful Thanksgiving, and I am truly grateful for what the Lord has been doing here in the Canary Islands, especially in my life.

We have lived on the island of Tenerife now for nearly nine years, and I have often struggled to find a sense of connectedness with the community surrounding us. I never really felt like this was "home" to me and I found myself often longing to be back in the United States.

I have tried to be proactive in my attempt to find purpose, and about a year ago my sister gave me a book titled "The Happiness Project" and I realized I needed to stop making excuses and take a step of faith that as long as we were called to live here, with God's help I would do my best to make the most of it.

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

The book gave pointers on small steps you can take--it is not a "Christian" book per say, but there are a lot of Biblical principles in it. Our bodies are our "temple", so I started going to the gym, realizing that I needed to have energy to enjoy life to its fullest.

 Another suggestion was working on relationships. I found myself being overwhelmed with the problems that many of our church people were facing, and the pastor's family can get weighed down by the negativity that often ensues as a result. I needed a woman friend who was also in the ministry that could understand my discouragement, frustrations, and trials that only a missionary or pastor's wife could understand. I called a fellow missionary's wife, who we used to work with a few years back and invited her for coffee at IKEA, and we both enjoyed it so much that we decided we would try to do it once a month. It helped me realize that we had the same type of battles that we face living in a country of people that doesn't always realize their need for God and spiritual life, nor or are seeking it.Having someone to bear our burdens with proved to be cathartic.

Next on my set of goals was to find something that I enjoy, an activity outside of the ministry that could be somewhat of an outlet or "escape" from the day to day routine. Something to take my mind off problems. I saw an add in an English speaking paper looking for volunteers for a charity second hand store in Los Cristianos, about a 45 minute drive from our home. I started working once a week, and it was nice to be with other English speaking people, as in the south there are many British people living and vacationing on the island.

Another desire I had was to teach English part time. I  prayed about it, and one day out of the clear blue sky I got a phone call from a young woman that used to attend our church in Santa Cruz. She was interested in taking English lessons from me. I knew it was an answer to prayer because I used to teach in the US and I love teaching. Mar was my first serious English student here, and that gave me the courage to expand and seek other opportunities.

One day I was at a local hospital for a doctor's appointment, and I decided to take a walk around the block while I waited for Doug to pick me up. As I was walking I looked up, and saw the sign "........School of English.|" They have a satellite school near our home, and it has always  been a dream of mine to work there part time, but once I stopped in the local office and they told me that I needed to go downtown to the Santa Cruz office and speak to the owner/director. I would put it out of my mind, and just never got around to it.....and now there it was right smack dab in front of my face.

The next obstacle for me was to get the courage to walk in the door. I contemplated it for a moment and tried to talk myself out of it. I don't know why I am so backward, whether it be fear of rejection and a lack of confidence--but it will keep you from experiencing all God has for you. Maybe it was the Spirit nudging me, but my inner voice said if you don't go in now you probably never will, so I took the first step into the doorway. I was greeted by a very lovely, friendly woman who welcomed me graciously. She was delighted to speak with me, and then said "Sit down, I want to go get my business partner, and the founder/director of the school. Turns out, we had a really nice conversation and my goals and qualifications fit with the school's as well.

They were able to give me a few classes to teach; some older teens with advanced English skills, younger children just starting out, and intermediate adults. Looking back, I can see where my experience in the past has prepared me--from teaching Sunday school and leading ministries, teaching three year--olds at a bilingual preschool in Mexico, working at Edison Community College as an English tutor/facilitator, , teaching Spanish at a Christian high school, and as an activity director at an Assisted Living facility.  I have had a lot of experience in a lot of different areas, and somehow it all worked together to give me the patience and experience to teach in a classroom environment. (Maybe the patience really came from the stint I did driving a school bus full of junior high students for a year--or having six children might have helped!).

Above all, teaching English in the community is a great way to meet and build bridges with people living here on the island that otherwise I would have never had the opportunity to interact with.

I can honestly say that I have never been happier here in Tenerife, and just taking the initiative to make small changes in your life will result in big dividends. I give God all the glory. We also have seen some positive things happen in our ministry which has given us the boost to continue on in spite of the discouragements and setbacks we face along the way. I write this to perhaps inspire someone else who wants to see changes in their life for the better. If we are willing to step out of our comfort zone, God will help direct our steps.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why did Job Have to Suffer

Ever read the account of Job in the Old Testament and think maybe God was a little too harsh on him? I know I have, then this morning I read the end of the book, where Job says, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee." Job 42:5

This speaks to me of the personal relationship we have with Jesus Christ when we ask him to be our Lord and Saviour. Before we "knew" or the Spanish verb "saber" which implies a head knowledge, but now we have a personal relationship with him because the blindness has been removed from our eyes with His spiritual healing; and now the verb "conocer" is applicable, which is much more intimate.

Jesus said in Mark 8:36-37: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Job appeared to have everything the world had to offer. It took the trials and tribulations of this life to show him that he needed a personal relationship with God, his creator.

Today my friend, think of your eternity. When I was growing up, I thought our family had everything going for us......and God graciously showed us what we were missing. We had "heard" of Jesus, but now we really know, or can see Him with our spiritual eyes by faith.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Life

Here is a list I came across and I added a few notes of my own. We all could use a little calm and relaxation in our life, and these ideas are good guidelines.

Stress Reducers

Start your day with Bible and prayer--get up early so you can start the day unhurried.

Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule or that will compromise your mental health.

Delegate tasks to capable others.

Simplify and declutter your life. This not only means material goods, but also includes making good and godly friends, and spending time with the most important people in your life. Avoid negative relationships. You only have so much time in a day so use it wisely.

Less is more.

Don't procrastinate, do a task right when you think about it otherwise you might forget.

Set things out you need for the next day, and have a place by the door where you exit for things you want to take with you.

Allow extra time to do things and to get to places. My Grandpa Hickok taught me to always add an extra half hour (at least) when travelling for unexpected events such as a flat tire.) There is nothing worse than rushing somewhere at the last minute. This recently happened to us one morning when taking Doug and Leanna to the airport for a flight to Madrid.

Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

Take one day at a time.

Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you to do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases unless you can pay off the balance at the end of the month (we use a credit card for groceries and gas to earn points and save money on foreign transaction fees). My dad taught me a great deal about finances and budgeting.

Get organized so everything has its place.

Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc., keep your passwords written down and don't think you can remember all your user names.

K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut.) This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

Do something for the kid in you every day and also for your children and husband.

Get enough exercise.

Eat right.

Take time to give thanks and put things into perspective.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pastor Quits Attending Sporting Events

I saw this on Facebook recently and thought it was funny--a pastor uses familiar excuses with a bit of a twist, when compared with the reasons why many people quit going to church .

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What on Earth is a Curiosity Room?

The  girls and I were shopping last week at the Carrefour in the Centro Comercial Meridiano in Santa Cruz, Tenerife and needed to take a restroom break. In Spanish, the word for public restrooms is "Aseos" but for some odd reason, the designers of the Meridiano mall choose to put "Curiosity Room" over the doors. I have never heard that term used in English, so my curiosity was getting the best of me. I thought it may be a British saying, as we have many people from the UK residing on the islands, but none of my friends ever heard of it in their country either.

My father suggested that perhaps it was a mistake; maybe they translated the words incorrectly and meant to say "Courtesy Room" which would make a lot more sense.

So I found the mall's Facebook page and wrote them. Their response was that it was not a mistake; they meant to use the word Curiosity-- and that it was their intent to "stimulate and invoke sensations" as each stall has vinyl phrases with witty quips adhered to the walls, and for example, on the mirror there is one that says "let's make-up." I don't know how much money they spent on their recently remodeled signs, but in my opinion it creates confusion, as most of the people that live here are Spanish, and why not just put "Aseos." I suppose that would be too boring. In my opinion, Curiosity Room sounds weird, almost deviant, especially in a public restroom. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sailing too Close to the Shore

I am blessed to live less than 10 minutes from the ocean. I have often sat on the rocks and watched the waves pound the shore. It is mesmerizing. I often meditate on the power of God and the glory of His creation.

Today I realized that my eyes were fixed on the shore, the waves rolling in hitting the rocks but I rarely lifted my to eyes to the horizon. I wondered what I might be missing. Perhaps I might see some whale or dolphin jumping out in the distant waters. Perhaps there would be some hidden blessing out there awaiting my gaze. I looked out and pondered what God might be trying to teach me in this quiet moment and it occurred to me what a big ocean it is--and how we are just a small part of His big plan.

I thought about those who ventured beyond their native lands to discover new worlds, who bravely chartered new waters and explored the earth. I am not a risk taker, and prefer to cling safely to the shore. I would not be one inclined to leave the calm waters to launch out into the deep ocean.

Sometimes in life we are forced beyond our comfort zone. God puts us in situations where we must try new things, go to new places, and leave the security of the shore. Of course there are dangers, risks, and disappointments along the way but God promises His children that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Testimony by Army Chaplain Darin Powers about Truman Dillon

I would like to share this touching testimony from a man, Chaplain Darin Powers, that I went to school with in New Lebanon, Ohio. We graduated from the same high school back in the 1980's, and we reconnected via Facebook. 

Darin wrote this tribute to Truman Dillon, who died this past week at the age of 91. He was a greatly loved member of our community. He was one of the kindest, friendliest, sincerest people that I have ever met. He worked as an outdoor maintenance custodian in the school district, and prior to that he was our town's milkman, so he knew everyone in New Lebanon.

Truman leaves behind here on earth a loving wife, Norma--they were married for seventy one years.

He touched so many lives, and here is just one testimony from Darin Powers, who now serves in the military as a Chaplain to our soldiers.

In Darin's Words:

On June 20th 1982 at the Dixie Middle School Parking lot 18 days after my 18th birthday, Truman Dillon was pushing a lawn mower to the football field. I had a summer job working for the school. I was washing school buses with a garden hose and cut off jeans and a tee shirt. I had known Truman since I came to New Lebanon in 4th grade. As he walked by in typical Truman fashion-- walking fast and pushing that mower-- he waved and smiled at me and said,

"Good morning Darin! it's a great day to be alive isn't it?!"

 I had been wanting to ask him this since I was 9 years old so I did with the water pouring onto the pavement....

 "Truman, what makes you so happy?" You see I always thought either something is wrong with this man or he has got something I want. 

He stopped and talked with me that sunny summer day....he said "Darin, it's not me..it's Jesus..he lives in my heart."

I said "I know about Jesus...." 

Truman said "You know about him..but do you KNOW him?" 

I didn't understand.

He said to me "it's not about religion or the sign on the church...it is about a relationship with the Lord."

We continued to talk. I remember his joy, his smile, and the fact I never ever heard him say a bad word about anyone or complain about anything. See, it never was his words though that did it for me, it was his love, and his heart, and all the joy that consistently exuded from him. 

Well we were on "company time" so he said to me, "Before you go home today, meet with me and I want to share something with you that will change your life."

Well, the next thing I call a miracle. I don't use that word often..but it started raining without a cloud in the sky. He couldn't mow grass and I couldn't wash buses. All we had was time. WE sat in his orange Mercury with the rain hitting the roof and he told me in the most gentle Truman kind of way that I was special and Jesus loved me. We looked at the pine trees south of the school and he said 

"isn't that a beautiful thing...See the design? that means there is a designer. Nobody has your finger prints. God made you. He wants to know you."

I wept. With the rain pouring down he held my hand and I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life. It was and still is so real. Not long after, aunts and uncles and my parents and sister and cousins all saw the change and all came to the Lord. I wouldn't have my family, or be a Chaplain, or be where I am today if it wasn't for Truman Dillon.

Now...he would say.."it's not me! Praise God!" but this one man changed the world. Not just me, and not just our town, but he MADE a difference. Now he is with his son (Bruce Dillon) and THE Son. I love you Truman. You and Norma have always shined brightly. I am so thankful for you. 

Darin Powers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

El Papel de la Esposa del Pastor en La Iglesia

Me gustaría compartir una porción de un articulo escrito por Tommy Ashcraft, misionero en Mexico

CLASE IMPARTIDA EN UNA SESIÓN DE MUJERES EN LA CONFERENCIA DE CELAYA, GTO. - See more at: http://www.iglesiacristianabautista.com/pastor-tommy-ashcraft/predicacion-para-mujeres-que-hacer-para-fortalecer-el-matrimonio-del-pastor/#sthash.BchaKr3m.dpuf

Quiero hablarle por unos minutos acerca de la esposa del pastor y su relación con la iglesia. Esta enseñanza en verdad es mas para las hermanas que no son esposas de pastor que para las que son esposas de pastor pero espero que haiga algo para todas. Recientemente fui invitado a enseñar en una sesión en una conferencia acerca de cómo mantener una buen matrimonio  en el campo misionero. Mi primer comentario fue que se necesita lo mismo para mantener un buen matrimonio si estas en el campo misionero viviendo en una choza de lodo y comiendo carne de chango, que si estas en el pueblo donde tú  y tu esposo nacieron. Uno de los errores más grandes que cometemos, es diferenciar demasiado entre la esposa y la familia del pastor y las de los demás. Le voy a decir algo que yo enseño en mí en mi iglesia y que enseño a los estudiantes del instituto bíblico que dirijo. La esposa del pastor no es una position, es una persona. El pastor es una posición, mi posición en mi iglesia es de pastor. No hay posición en la biblia que se llama “esposa de pastor“, nadie debe imponer sobre la esposa del pastor algo que es el pigmentó de la imaginación de la gente. La esposa del pastor no es empleada de la iglesia. Cuando la iglesia Bautista monte Hebrón me invitó a ser su pastor, mi esposa no estaba incluida en el paquete. Ella es mi esposa, no es asistente de pastor. La responsabilidad más grande de mi esposa es mantenerme feliz a mí. Y ella hace  muy buen trabajo porque yo soy un hombre feliz. Mi papá me decía mi hijo puedes escoger entre dos cosas tener la razón o ser feliz. No recuerdo la última vez que tuve la razón pero yo soy un hombre muy feliz. Yo siempre enseñe a mis hijos que vivimos como vivimos no porque papi es pastor, si no porque somos cristianos. Mi esposa hace lo que hace en la iglesia no porque es la esposa de pastor, si no porque es cristiana. No para cumplir con su posición de esposa de pastor si no porque ella ama al Señor, ama la obra de Dios. Esa iglesia, la iglesia bautista monte Hebrón es igualmente su iglesia como es iglesia de cualquier otra hermana.  Mi esposa serviría al Señor con la misma intensidad y con la misma dedicación con la que lo hace ahora si yo fuera médico o contador o albañil o Dios no lo quiera abogado. Ahora tal vez sería necio negar que hay presiones y situaciones especiales que experimenta la esposa del pastor que la esposa de un miembro de la iglesia y entendemos eso. La esposa del pastor debería de aceptar el hecho de que su posición sí la pone en un perfil muy visible y muy obvio. Es algo con que usted simplemente tiene que vivir. Pero nadie debe intensificar la presión que esa situación produce. Una de las responsabilidades más importantes que yo tengo con mi esposa es ayudarle con esas presiones de tal forma que ella pueda disfrutar lo que hace para el Señor. Que su servicio a Dios no sea una carga y una obligación. Ahora mucho de lo que voy a decir en esta sesión es obvio. Tal vez alguien diga, a mi no me hace falta que me digan eso pero a todos nos hace falta de vez en cuando como dice 2 Pedro 3:1 que se nos despierte con exhortación el limpio entendimiento. A veces dejamos estas cosas deslizar. A veces las abandonamos. A veces tomamos por sentado algunas cosas que necesitamos recordar de vez en cuando. Todos necesitamos ser recordados de las cosas más básicas de vez en cuando. En verdad es lo que hace mucho de esta conferencia, nada más recordarnos de las cosas básicas. Si usted es esposa de pastor quiero que esta enseñanza le ayude a aclarar algunas cosas acerca de su relación con su esposo y con los hermanos de la iglesia. Si usted es miembro de una iglesia espero que esta enseñanza le ayude a comprender mejor a la esposa de su pastor y ser un apoyo para ella para que ella pueda ser para su esposo y para tu pastor lo que el necesita.

1.      La esposa del pastor debe tener su propia identidad.

Ella tiene nombre. No es pastora. No tiene título. Se llama. Dígale por su nombre, refiérase a ella por su nombre. No deje que se le pegue el apodo “la esposa del pastor” ella tiene mente, tiene ideas, tiene una relación con Dios, tiene al Espíritu Santo, tiene una biblia y ella debe ser permitida a expresarse como ella es, como persona y no debe estar enjaulada en el contexto de la posición que tiene su esposo.

2.      La esposa de pastor tiene que tener su propia vida.

No debe ser sofocada por lo que hace su esposo en la iglesia. Simplemente porque ella es esposa de pastor no significa que ella no debería de poder participar en las cosas en las que participa la mujer promedio de su iglesia.

3.      La esposa de pastor debe tener su propio ministerio.

Todas las demás hermanas de la iglesia hacen lo que hacen voluntariamente. Nadie le presiona, nadie le obliga a hacerlo. Si usted es maestra de escuela dominical es maestra de escuela dominical porque usted aceptó hacer eso. Si usted funge en cualquier otra posición en la iglesia, usted lo hace porque usted quiere hacerlo voluntariamente. La esposa del pastor debe tener la misma libertad de escoger el área en que ella sirve en la iglesia. Hay varias áreas  en las que parece que todos esperan que la esposa del pastor tome liderazgo. El grupo de mujeres de ganar almas, o la sociedad femenil. Nosotros no tenemos sociedad femenil en nuestra iglesia, tenemos grupos de sembradoras. Yo no estoy en contra de que usted tenga una sociedad femenil siempre y cuando no se degenere a una sesión de chisme. No tenemos sociedad varonil en nuestra iglesia, tenemos club de pescadores. No tenemos sociedad juvenil en nuestra iglesia, tenemos grupos de jóvenes de ganar almas.  Todas esperan que la esposa del pastor tome el liderazgo en el asunto de la dirección de las mujeres en la iglesia. Ahora si ella quiere hacer eso, si ella disfruta hacer eso, esta bien. Pero nadie debe esperar que lo haga simplemente porque es esposa de pastor.  Mi esposa dirige un grupo de sembradoras, se reúnen todos los viernes en mi casa y hay otras hermanas que dirigen grupos de sembradoras en nuestra iglesia pero ella lo hace porque lo disfruta y quiere hacerlo. También el ministerio de niños. La esposa del pastor no debe ser la superintendente de la escuela dominical. Si ella quiere enseñar una clase de niñas o una clase de jovencitas está bien o tal vez un grupo de madres solteras, pero ella debe escoger. La música, preparación de comida para eventos especiales, la oficina, la limpieza de la iglesia, ¿Quién dijo que la esposa del pastor debe de limpiar la iglesia? Es ridículo. Muchos ni limpian sus casas, mucho menos la iglesia. Mi esposa dirige el grupo de sembradoras. Ella supervisa la facultad de música instrumental del instituto bíblico. Ella ha estado en el hospital tanto que ella podría supervisar la facultad de medicina. Toca el piano en la iglesia pero lo hace porque quiere hacerlo. Mi esposa organizó, cuando comenzamos nuestra iglesia, el departamento de cunas, pero nadie lo obligó a hacerlo, ella lo hizo porque quiso hacerlo. Jonathan nuestro hijo, estaba recién nacido y ella quiso hacerlo porque Jonathan estaba en la cuna y a ella le nació hacerlo. Tenemos un grupo en nuestra iglesia que llamamos “ministerio de Marta” preparan alimentos para eventos especiales de la iglesia y yo dirijo ese grupo, mi esposa no dirige ese grupo. A veces en el culto anuncio, hoy después del culto necesitamos reunirnos todas las hermanas del ministerio de Marta. Y nos reunimos, y nos organizamos para cierto evento para una comida que vamos a tener. La última vez que nos reunimos mi esposa ni estuvo, ella participa como cualquier otra hermana de la iglesia. La esposa del pastor no debe de ser cargada con esas cosas. Yo no se cuantas veces he ido a predicar a una conferencia, estoy tres días de lunes a miércoles, y toda la semana no veo a la esposa del pastor, aparece el último día después del culto toda despeinada, despintada,  su ropa parece que ha estado en un pleito callejero, ha estado en la cuna toda la semana.  Si ella quiere hacer eso, si ella insiste en hacer eso, está bien, pero no debe ser obligada a hacerlo simplemente porque es esposa de pastor, ahora cuando una iglesia se inicia hay muchas cosas que el pastor mismo tiene que hacer que no hace cuando la iglesia tiene cuatro, cinco, seis años. A la esposa del pastor también le toca hacer esas cosas pero llega el momento en que ella debe ser liberada para dedicarse a otras cosas y entregar esas cosas a otras hermanas de la iglesia.

4.      La esposa del pastor no puede ser la mejor amiga de cada hermana de la iglesia.

No espere que la esposa de su pastor sea su mejor amiga. Yo enseño que la esposa de pastor no tiene que tener a una hermana de la iglesia como su mejor amiga. Su mejor amiga debe ser tal vez la esposa de otro pastor. No te ofendas si la esposa de tu pastor no pasa todo su tiempo contigo como tú quisieras. No puede hacerlo. Si ella pasa más tiempo con otra hermana simplemente supón que es porque esa hermana necesita oración. Considérelo como un complemento, que tú no necesitas tanto tiempo de la esposa de tu pastor como esa otra hermana. ¿Tú te sientes ofendida cuando el médico no visita tu casa? O ¿el dueño de la funeraria? Pues no te visitan porque no hace falta, no lo necesitas. Ahora si ella pasa más tiempo con alguien más no se ponga celosa. No le de envidia de esa otra hermana. Simplemente supón esa hermana tiene una necesidad especial.

5.      Respeta su casa y su tiempo.

Si necesitas hablar con ella deja que ella escoja el tiempo.  Pregúntale, hermana ¿Cuándo podría darme 10 minutos de su tiempo? No la captures inmediatamente después del culto con una plática de 10-15 minutos. Ella también necesita llegar a casa y preparar alimento para su esposo y su familia. Igual que normalmente usted necesita salir de la iglesia y llegar a su casa a encargarse de sus quehaceres ella también. Considere su tiempo.
- See more at: http://www.iglesiacristianabautista.com/pastor-tommy-ashcraft/predicacion-para-mujeres-que-hacer-para-fortalecer-el-matrimonio-del-pastor/#sthash.BchaKr3m.dpuf

Saturday, March 7, 2015

How to Help a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child

I did not write this post, but am reposting an article I read on another blog. I thought it had some good insight on how to help people who are grieving.
Here is the link to the webpage in case you would like to read more:


Walking with a Friend Through the Loss of a Child

Losing a child is heart-wrenching. It can be difficult to know what to do or say to help.
For most parents, the thought that strikes fear in our hearts like no other is losing a child. No parent wants to outlive their children, and whether that child is unborn, an infant, a child, a teenager, or an adult, they are still our babies. The thought of saying an early good-bye is heart-wrenching.
When the unthinkable happens to a friend or family member, we often feel lost. Whether the loss is from difficulties in pregnancy, or cancer, or an accident, we want to make it better … but feel helpless because we can’t turn back time, or speak health and life into what happened.
Here are some things you can do to help someone you love who is walking the road of loss:


First, some background information to prepare you for the road:
  • You can’t make it better, but you can help to not make it worse.
  • Your loved one will never get back to normal. They will find a new normal, but the path to that point is different for each person. You can support them while they find it, but you can’t find it for them.
  • Men and women grieve differently. But that doesn’t mean that men don’t grieve. For some more ideas on what men need from the women in their lives when they are grieving, look here.
  • Your friend may bow out of social events with no warning. Baby showers, graduations, movies with a certain scene, family gatherings – there are all kinds of triggers for grieving parents. Let them bow out graciously.
  • Everyone grieves in their own way. There are no rules, as long as they are not hurting themselves or someone else. Don’t expect them to stick to a certain schedule or way to grieving.
  • This is not about you. It is about your friend. There is some great, practical advice in this article. Read it.
  • Your role as a friend is to comfort, not to fix.


We always want to know what to say and what not to say. Remember, your goal is to comfort, not to fix. Also, remember that words can be true without being comforting. With that in mind, here are some brief lists to tuck away in your memory:

Words that hurt:

  • “At least…” Anything that begins this way seeks to minimize legitimate feelings of loss and sadness because a) it could be worse, or b) someone else has had it worse. Your friend needs to have his or her grief recognized, not minimized.
  • “Everything happens for a reason.” In the worst moments of grief, no reason will ever make a parent content with the loss of their child. None. Don’t go there, whatever your personal beliefs are about this.
  • “He’s in a better place.” I believe this, I do. But when I lost my daughter Naomi, I didn’t care, because I wanted my baby back. I found great comfort in the words of C.S. Lewis, in his book A Grief Observed. He explains it this way: “If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created…A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.” Don’t brush away your friend’s grief, even with the glories of Heaven.
  • “Let me tell you about…” Followed with a story of someone else who had it worse. That doesn’t help.
  • “I know how you feel.” Unless you have also lost a child, you don’t know how it feels. And even if you have, you don’t know how this loss feels to your friend.

Words that heal:

Keep it simple and heartfelt.
  • “I’m sorry.”
  • “I wish you weren’t going through this.”
  • “I don’t know what to say, but I am here.”
  • “I’ve also….would you like to get together sometime to talk?”
  • “I’m praying for you.”


  • Weep. The Bible has apt advice – “weep with those who weep” There is great comfort in crying together.
  • Listen. Listen more than you talk. Ask questions, especially about the memories your friend has of his or her child. Let them talk. Or let them be silent, and then be content to be silent with them.
  • Remember. Write the date of your friend’s loss on your calendar for next year, along with a reminder to call them or send them a card in the months or weeks leading up to it. Do the same on the child’s birthday, your friend’s birthday, the major holidays, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Then do it again the next year, when most people will have forgotten.
  • Help with the mundane. Meals, laundry, yard work (remember, dads grieve, too). Help with the unexpected costs of a funeral. Offer rides to take surviving children to activities. Don’t ask a grieving parent to call when they need you. They are in survival mode and have no idea what they need. Instead say, “I would like to ______. Would that be okay/would that help?”
One of the tragedies that often accompanies the loss of a child is when the parents also experience the loss of friends who shy away because they don’t know how to come alongside them in their time of tragedy. Don’t be that friend. Instead, be the one who sticks around, who remembers the anniversaries and the hard days, who listens to your friend when they share again how special their child was and what they miss the most, the one who sees them through to the other side of the storm.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

El Amor de Dios

Here is my first post in Spanish. Forgive any grammatical errors, as Spanish is not my native language but I do my best. I wrote this for a devotion that I was having for a ladies meeting on Valentine's day, celebrating the love of God vs. the love that the world has, Agape love contrasted with eros.

Hoy el mundo está celebrando un día que se dedica al "amor." Todos sabemos que el amor del mundo en realidad no es amor verdadero. Dios es amor, y solamente los que conocen a Dios pueden entender  como el amor de Dios es distinta, o diferente que el amor del mundo.

Las películas de Hollywood nos presentan historias románticas en las que una chica atractiva y un chico alto, rico, y guapo se encuentran y aunque no se conocen de nada, en un instante saben que habían sido hechos el uno para el otro.

Ese hermoso sentimiento de estar enamorado no es una condición permanente. Es un sentimiento y los sentimientos van y vienen. Puedes estar en la cima de la montaña con sentimiento hermoso, pero si esperas vivir el resto de tu vida en esa cima, te vendrá una gran desilusión.

Agápē (en griego ἀγάπη) es el término griego para describir un tipo de amor incondicional y reflexivo, en el que el amante tiene en cuenta sólo el bien del ser amado.  El amor verdadero, Amor Ágape, es más que un sentimiento hermoso—es un compromiso. Un compromiso es una decisión respaldada por las acciones.

El Amor Ágape se compromete a amar a su pareja y se casa con ella. En el amor verdadero, el esposo ama a su esposa, sean cual sean sus sentimientos. La ama, aunque ella no sea muy fácil de amar en ciertos momentos. La esposa hace lo mismo. Están seguros en el amor el uno del otro, a pesar de la presencia o ausencia de los sentimientos románticos.

La base del eros es principalmente física, creada por una emoción que puede ser buena o mala. Busca satisfacerse y llenar sus necesidades con la otra persona. Es una buena parte del enamorarse, los sentimientos, y lo romántico. Controlado por Cristo, puede dar un buen apoyo a la relación e intimidad matrimonial. Dios creó el amor eros también.

Sin el control del espíritu de Dios, es el amor egoísta. Primero y ante todo quiere a la otra persona por lo que la persona puede hacer por él o ella. Ese amor busca siempre su conveniencia y su bienestar, no el del otro. Es amor egoísta. Es amor erótico, por eso se llama Eros. La persona que solo tiene esa clase de amor usa a la otra persona y no se preocupa del bienestar de ella. Vive de acuerdo a sus sentimientos y no de acuerdo a su compromiso.

Dios es el autor del amor. Pero sobre todo, el amor de Dios es amor Ágape. Dios siempre da y como es amor Ágape, es amor constante. Siempre quiere lo mejor para la persona.

El amor de Dios, amor Ágape, se refleja perfectamente en su Hijo Jesús. Si estudiamos la vida de Jesús veremos que él siempre tenía amor Ágape por todos.

“Mi vida pongo por mis discípulos”.

Dios es nuestra Padre, y el cuida sus niños y su familia. El quiere nuestra bien--siempre. Y esta trabajando en nuestras vidas para hacer nos mas semejante a su imagen.

Es un Padre infinitamente más amoroso e infinitamente más sabio que nuestros padres terrenales. Sólo El sabe lo que más nos conviene. Y a veces las cosas que consideramos “malas” son todo lo contrario: muy buenas. Tal vez mucho mejores que las que consideramos “buenas”.

No podemos medir las cosas de Dios con medidas terrenas, sino con medida de eternidad. Dios sabe mucho mejor que nosotros. Si nuestros padres sabían lo que más nos convenía cuando éramos niños, ¡cómo no confiar en que Dios es el que sabe lo que nos conviene a cada uno!

El problema es que los planes de Dios son a largo plazo, a muy largo plazo, a plazo de eternidad. Y nosotros queremos reducir a Dios a nuestro plazo que es muy corto. Queremos reducir a Dios a esta vida terrena, que es muy corta, si la comparamos con la vida en la eternidad.

Para poder comprender, aunque sea un poquito, los planes de Dios tenemos que comenzar a ver nuestra vida aquí en la tierra con anteojos de eternidad. Así, tal vez, podamos comenzar a comprender cómo los planes de Dios sí tienen sentido y cómo las cosas que creemos “malas” no son tan malas, sino buenas.

¡Cómo nos cuesta aceptar un sufrimiento, una enfermedad! Y en el plan de Dios mucho bien proviene del sufrimiento. Veamos a Jesucristo: su sufrimiento nos trajo la salvación. Por la muerte de Cristo todos tenemos derecho a una vida de felicidad plena y total para toda la eternidad.

Por cierto, no fue así al comienzo. Dios no creó a los seres humanos para el sufrimiento. Pero al oponernos a Dios por el pecado, entró el sufrimiento al mundo, así como la muerte y las enfermedades. Y Dios que es infinitamente bueno, cambia las cosas “malas” en buenas, cambia el sufrimiento en ganancia ... para la vida eterna.

El sufrimiento es un misterio. Como todo misterio no es posible explicarlo satisfactoriamente. Sólo lo comprenderemos después de esta vida. Allá en la eternidad comprenderemos los planes de Dios mucho mejor que ahora. Mientras tanto, confiemos en Dios. El es el que sabe.

La vida cristiana no es una cuento de hadas cuando Vivieron felices y comieron perdices.

 Romans 8

28 Y sabemos que á los que á Dios aman, todas las cosas les ayudan á bien, es á saber, á los que conforme al propósito son llamados.

29 Porque á los que antes conoció, también predestinó para que fuesen hechos conformes á la imagen de su Hijo, para que él sea el primogénito entre muchos hermanos;

30 Y á los que predestinó, á éstos también llamó; y á los que llamó, á éstos también justificó; y á los que justificó, á éstos también glorificó.

31 ¿Pues qué diremos á esto? Si Dios por nosotros, ¿quién contra nosotros?

32 El que aun á su propio Hijo no perdonó, antes le entregó por todos nosotros, ¿cómo no nos dará también con él todas las cosas?

33 ¿Quién acusará á los escogidos de Dios? Dios es el que justifica.

34 ¿Quién es el que condenará? Cristo es el que murió; más aún, el que también resucitó, quien además está á la diestra de Dios, el que también intercede por nosotros.

35 ¿Quién nos apartará del amor de Cristo? tribulación? ó angustia? ó persecución? ó hambre? ó desnudez? ó peligro? ó cuchillo?

36 Como está escrito: Por causa de ti somos muertos todo el tiempo: Somos estimados como ovejas de matadero.

37 Antes, en todas estas cosas hacemos más que vencer por medio de aquel que nos amó.

38 Por lo cual estoy cierto que ni la muerte, ni la vida, ni ángeles, ni principados, ni potestades, ni lo presente, ni lo por venir,

39 Ni lo alto, ni lo bajo, ni ninguna criatura nos podrá apartar del amor de Dios, que es en Cristo Jesús Señor nuestro.

Todos las cosas que pasen en esto mundo no son bueno. Pero confiamos que Dios tiene un plan para nuestra vida, y nuestra bien. Tampoco Dios no nos promete que siempre seremos felices. El nos da gozo, pero el gozo no siempre es un sentimiento tampoco. Viene con la fe en las promesas de Dios, y la esperanza que tenemos en Cristo. Por ejemplo, unos padres que pierdan su hijo al cáncer no esta feliz que murió de cáncer, pero si son cristianos tienen la esperanza que un día van a estar con su hijo por la eternidad. Eso es la esperanza que tenemos en Cristo.

Quiero darles un ilustración sobre la tema de Romanos 8: 28, que Dios esta trabajando en nuestra vida para nuestro bien.

Ustedes saben que me gusta hacer pasteles. Yo voy a poner todo las ingredientes aquí para que ustedes los prueban. Voy a seguir la receta que tengo en mi libro de recetas. Tenemos harina, sal, bicarbonato, cocoa, huevos, mantequilla, aceite, vanilla, y azúcar. Solos, no saben muy bien. ?Quieres comer solo harina? ¿Sal? ¿u toque de bicarbonato? ¿ Cocoa? ¿Huevos crudos? Vamos a poner todo junto, y mezclar la masa. Después ponemos la masa en el horno. Es necesario poner la masa en el horno--Sale muy rico y queremos comer todo el plato.

Dios esta haciendo una cosa bonita con nuestra vida también. Tenemos el libro con la receta para una vida cristiana con éxito. El libro es la palabra de Dios.  La receta tiene un poco de sufrimiento, con un poco dolor, quizás tribulaciones, enfermedades, debilidades, pero con mucho fe, el amor, esperanza en las promesas,  y paciencia. Y como la masa del pastel, tiene que entrar el horno para purificarnos pero sale algo muy preciosa, sabrosa en la vista de Dios.

Yo he tenido cosas en mi vida que no entiendo, y quiero preguntar a Dios porque. He sido tentado a ser desmayado, y hasta la punta de rendirme. Pero Dios nos levanta en el momento oportuno, justo a tiempo, y nos da un poco fuerza y la gracia que necesitamos cada día, cada momento. El está probándonos, haciéndonos más fuerte para su obra.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Doug's Christmas Present

My husband Doug has never been big on gifts. I have learned in our 30+ years of marriage not to expect big gifts (whether they come in big or small packages) on birthdays or anniversaries. He rarely even remembers his own birthday. That doesn't mean that he isn't generous though, because he is. He loves to give, and I would rather have a husband that is generous, kind, and loving every day of the year than one who buys me gifts for special occasions (although I must confess it did take some getting used to when he bought me a carton of diet coke for our first anniversary--I was a bit disappointed, but in his mind he was buying me something I really liked).

At Christmas, we really don't go overboard with gift giving, and this year I found the perfect gift for Doug. A few days before Christmas I was working/volunteering at the Charity Thrift store when a couple stood at the door holding two adorable black puppies. At first I thought they were selling them, but then they told me how they were giving them away as they had a litter of puppies and couldn't take care of them all. I thought they were very cute and asked them if they were male or female, and they were both male. I knew that wouldn't work with the two female dogs we already had at home because one of them is not fixed. The lady chimed in, "We have one female, all black and I could bring it to you."

I didn't expect that response, but I thought to myself, it would make a great gift for Doug because he loves dogs. She said she would be back before 3pm, when my shift was over. It got to be around three and she didn't come, so I figured it wasn't meant to be.

At the last minute, the lady with the puppy appeared. The pup was very afraid, shaking, and I could tell it hadn't been properly cared for, but she was adorable even though she was a bit dirty. I saw beyond that and immediately my heart was touched to bring this puppy home with us. I can't explain the feeling, but it is something you can't explain because I have never considered myself to be a dog lover. The ladies at the Thrift store couldn't believe I was adopting this little creature.

The car ride was a bit traumatic for the dog, and she threw up and had an accident (moral of the story, put the puppy in a box next time) and during the 45 minute drive home I began to question the logic of my decision. When I got home, I asked Doug to go out to the car and help me carry in some groceries. The dog was hiding under the seat, and only her rear end and tail could be seen. Doug thought it was a big black rat in his car! It took some doing to coax her out, and she even nipped Doug but it was out of fear. I really began to doubt my decision at this point.

She wouldn't even let us pet her or touch her for a day or two. I thought to myself, how are we going to bathe her? We took her to the vet where she got a clean bill of health and all the necessary treatments and shots, and I was able to give her a good bath. She has the most silky, velvety black coat of fur, and a big white heart on her chest. The fear and timidity has gone away, and  she has won her way into our hearts even if she is chewing everything in sight :). We named her Cocoa. Even though this was "Doug's" Christmas gift, she is really a gift for us all to enjoy. Our dogs certainly keep us entertained by their antics!

One big happy family!