Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My American Idols

I had a great conversation with some one close to me recently. We were talking about things we turn to for comfort. My thought here is this, when I turn to something for comfort, peace, identity etc, I am allowing that thing to take the place of one of the roles that God wants to play in my life. Let me get a little biblical on you, I call this an Idol. Now - important - I am not accusing anyone of worshiping their favorite comfort food, what I am saying is that I see in myself the worldly desire to turn to worldly "things" for comfort instead of God. The reason I use the term Idol is not because I grab my cup of Starbucks, pray to it and then pour the contents of this holy chalice down my throat as a drink offering pleasing to the Stars of Buck, but because of the "relevant" definition I have of an idol.

In the old testament an idol was usually something that was hand made to represent an inferior God. I think in most cases, the Jews would build these idols not in opposition to God but to serve a felt need that they would not allow God to meet. They felt God was less personal and worshiping a lesser god as well as the True God would meet the need of comfort that the more distant and omniscient God seemed to be unable to provide. Before we start bashing the Israelites for their week interpretation of God, I can totally relate! Think about the head coach of your sports team, or the top boss at the top of the organization, or even the President. How approachable are they? Wouldn't we rather approach someone a little closer to our stature?

Okay, I am getting off topic. What I am getting at here is that Idols in the old testament distracted the Israelites from their true God that created them, set them apart and protected them. Can you imagine being a father and watching your son go play catch with his friends Dad every week instead of you? You buy him the mitt, the ball, you make a baseball diamond in your back yard, but your son would rather go to the ally and play catch with some other "dad" every week.

Idols are distractions from God. One person's idol may be TV and another persons may be Cheesecake. OK, you think that is too week, how about this one. You had a tough day at work, the kids are yelling and the spouse is on your case - where do you turn? That may be your idol. Is it Alcohol? Pornography? Another Relationship? Food? Work? ....

Living here in Costa Rica, I can see my "Idols" so much more clearly than when I lived with them in the states. It is a little embarrassing. I think of all the good things that God gave us that Satan likes to turn to idols. Time with the guys, Sports, Working out, and work are all things that have distracted me from God when I allow them too. I have to take the time, submit them to God and keep my focus on Him.

Final statement: This is my view and how I apply old testament scripture to today. I would love to hear about your views on the subject.

Sharing the experience,

Friday, October 13, 2006


“Never do anything alone. Always take someone with you so that you can model for them the vision, skills, and values that shape your life.”

This quote comes from a book I am reading called Church Planting Movements, and it is one of five books that Alternative Missions has deemed important for staff and interns joining to read in order to better understand some of the underlying principals that form the heart Alternative Missions has for mission in general.

Let me begin this blog by saying that God does not cease to amaze me.

The concepts I am reading in this book, that stories of house churches throughout Asia and India and the rest of the world that are doubling in size, the intention to keep growth and progress in the hands of the local people, and the heart to come and equip and then step back to be more an aid than a leader, are all concepts that I have spent the last five years of my journal ironing out and perfecting in my heart. God is showing me how this is actually working and how important it is to respect culture and the power of the local people, along with the respect that God will move where He wills. I cannot start anything in Costa Rica. God can.

We have been here for a little over a month now, in Hone Creek for a little less than that, and God has used so many moments to open my eyes to the fact that He has a plan for every place I will ever go. I can see how He was moving in Fresno, now that I am here, and how He has been moving here before I arrived. It is an incredible feeling to know that God is walking among us and it is only our job to follow the steps.

This quote that I placed at the start of my entry hit me for the reason that so much of my life and my faith have been far too personal and far too private for far too long. I took pride in the fact that I had intimacy with the Lord, that I enjoyed retreating into His presence and growing closer in the ways of knowing that He gives wisdom and direction to those who take shelter in His arms, yet I feel that there is a piece missing in that that could potentially explain certain parts of your soul to another human being. If I hold that my relationship with the Lord is what I hold the highest, that the work I do (any work) is for the purposes of sharing His love and showing His glory, than I must bring others alongside, and into my life to see that for themselves. That they could watch and know what I hold as values and vision, and that it would point in the direction I am aiming for everytime. That all things communicated would be understood as His guidance, direction, and impression on my life.

I struggled with this for awhile because I didn’t want to be one of those people who constantly through religion in the face of those who sought my company. I see now how God will give you ways to simply live, and in so doing, take others along.

I am beginning to teach Pilates to some of the women my age I have met since I arrived, and from the start have been seeking a balance between building relationship and being intentional in our conversation, until I realized that I was making it far too complicated and all I needed to do was genually, truly care about them. It is not building relationship for relationship sake, it is doing it because you recognize that they were created in the same amazing way you were and even if they haven’t realized it God has been working and moving in their lives and you want to discover those ways. It is living in front of them with love that has no agenda and simply asking about their day and sharing about the ways in which God has moved in your life when the conversation arrives. Sometimes it has shown itself as simple as dropping by their stores and shooting the breeze. All of us are trying to live and learning how things work and in the process by living the way in which you have chosen is the right way through what you have seen and know about Jesus’ life you explain the differences others see.

God has given us life to be lived in community and alongside others. We are all walking and how we use that journey, what we say, and how much we share along the way can make an incredible difference. My deepest desire is that the people I chose to share my life with would really know me, and I am convinced it begins with simply bringing them along.

Sharing the Experience,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Direction Description - What are we doing?

Hey there readers, I know it’s been while since I posted a blog entry, I am sorry. We have been very busy this last week and are excited to share our future here in CR with you. Shannon and I have been talking with the director of operations here and have now hammered out three main areas of focus each for us at the moment that we are all excited about.

Shannon will aid the entire staff in administrative needs in order to free up time for staff members to focus on larger projects. This has been a position that they have actually been praying about and upon meeting with Shannon and I found out that this is exactly what Shannon wanted to do, before they even asked! Second she will help start a women’s bible study with community members in the area that she is already building relationships with. This she is very excited about. Last, Shannon will play an integral part in the Youth Ministry of Alternative missions focusing on younger children and the young women in the community.

I will be focusing on aiding the Youth Ministry as well. This will be building relationships, increasing attendance and discipleship of young men. I am excited to start investing into potential leaders in the program. Tomorrow Night I will be speaking at the youth Club night, sharing about my story getting to CR and living life attached to the Vine (John 15) Second, I will be aiding the team in Financial administration which is mostly keeping track of finances to give to the accountant monthly on an excel file. Finally, I will be aiding the ministry in short term team’s administration and communication. Basically, getting them here, aiding them while they are here, and getting them home, all in one peace. Right now this is entirely run by T.J Gause and we will move into a more 50/50 role so that she can get more involved with youth.

We are excited to get started and this week Shannon and I are highly involved with the youth this Friday night. Be praying for us and we look forward to sharing more of it with you soon.

Sharing the Experience,

Monday, October 02, 2006

Meet our Friend Jose

Here's our new alarm system. It works great, there are no wires and it turns off by voice command.

We got Jose for free from the Director of Alternative missions down here whom we have now come to concider as friends, not just people that we will work for. Shannon has been running on the beach with Amy (the Directors Wife) and I have taken one trip to Limon with Barret (the Director) which allows for great conversation and "get to know you time." They are doing a great job and we believe in their vision for ministry here in Puerto Viejo.

One very cool part of living down here is church. As you may imagine, it is different than home. We attend a "House Church" that meets at Barret and Amy's Home. We pray, worship with guitars and voices, have a light meal together, and discuss the scriptures. There is not so much a "preacher" as a facilitator to help discussion move along. This experience has definitly expanded our mind as to what "Church" is. I would like to pose the same question to all readers of this Blog. What is Church? Is it an event? Is it a location? Is it a preacher and Choir? If there were no preacher can you still have Church? Are the purposes of Church still met and with that, what are the purposes?

I would love to hear people's comments as Shannon and I enter this discussion ourselves. We are looking forward to hearing what other people think.

Sharing the Experience,