Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Jim

Today is my (John's) brother Jim's birthday and that got me thinking about the following...

Jesus said that a prophet has no honor in his own town. You see, although Jesus was perfect in every way, even as a child, He still grew up as a little boy in his dad's carpenter shop in Nazareth. I would guess, He skinned his knee and He banged his finger. He grew up with the other boys from Nazareth. And for this reason, when He claimed to be the Messiah, the people of Nazareth did not or could not believe Him. In fact, Jesus marveled two times in His life on earth. Once, He marveled at the Centurion's great faith and the other time at the "lack of faith" of the people from Nazareth.

It was hard for them, after all... He grew up right here and played with our children. We know his parents, how can he be the Messiah?

Now, the reality is too many people have a different kind of problem. After telling everyone that they have a "relationship with Christ," their family members are the ones who don't believe it the most. Why?

Not so much because of the simple fact that they grew up and played in our house, but because of the WAY they live after they come to Christ. I can't tell you how many people have complained, "my son/daughter/husband/wife/etc says they are Christians, but with the way they act... who can believe them?"

You want to now how you are doing with your walk with Christ? Ask you parents, your wife, your children. Our families are the real testing grounds of our faith. And that is Just something to think about!

By the way... Based on my brother Jim's life... I know that Christ is real! My brother has always showed me that! No, he isn't perfect, but he was always true to what God called him to do. Thank you, Jim for being the genuine article. I love you and...

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Ultimate Gift

Tonight is pizza-movie night. We started this tradition about two years ago and it continues today. (I expect we will have pizza-movie night in Paraguay, although I do think the pizza will not be quite as good). Usually, we choose a kid's movie and have a good time laughing and hanging out with the kids.

Tonight we watched a movie called, "The Ultimate Gift." If you have seen it, then you know it can be quite a tear jerker. If you haven't seen the movie, it might be worth looking into. (Btw - I no longer officially recommend movies after a Tommy Boy fiasco many years ago - I won't go into that... but, thanks Stuart Jones!)

Anyway, without giving away too much of the plot, it boils down to a story about a rich guy who has to find himself by working hard and enduring problems. In the end he becomes richer but, in many ways other than money. (oops, there goes the plot)
It is funny, his whole life he had things handed to him, but it was only through pain did he really know what it is like to be RICH.

My mom once asked me if I (John) have come to a place in my life where I am truly thankful for all the things that have happened in my life (good and bad) because that is what made me into the person that I am? Good question, huh?

Side note - the indians (er, Native Americans) were famous for many things, one of which was not wasting anything. In fact, history tells us that the Indians used every part of the Buffalo. Every square inch. In contrast, the Settlers killed the buffalo, by the thousands, only to skin the hide and leave the carcass to rot in the rising sun. This lovely image has a point.

God uses everything. He uses everything in our lives... every square inch! The good, the bad and well, you know. God is the one who originated the recycling program! In fact, I have found that it is the worst times in our lives that God uses best. I don't necessarily like it, but I can't escape it. With God nothing is unusable.

So, now I ask you the same question that I have been wrestling with for the past 15 years. Have you come to the place where you are thankful for all the things in your life because that is what has made you into the person that you are?

And maybe to follow that up, have you asked God to show you how He has used those good, bad and ugly times?

Not a bad thing to do, if you have some time and a good hanky. ;)

PS... Tomorrow is Mother's Day... Thank you Mom for always challenging me! I love you

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ox Cart racing, anyone?

One of the customs here in Costa Rica are painted Ox Carts. This past week we had some great friends visit us (Thank you, Rett, Becky and Jeanne, for the good times!

One day, we went to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Lisa and Rett were able to ride on one of these beautiful devices. Below, our valient Lisa takes us on a journey, at break-neck speeds, in the painted ox cart.