Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The fun begins:

The more things change the more they stay the same.
Got a call from Frontier Airlines yesterday to say my flight from LAX to Denver was canceled due to "routine maintenance" (I booked this flight in June  - you would think they had figured out the routine part quicker than three days before departure). I will now have to lay over in Denver New Year's Eve.
Not satisfied to change that aspect they also changed the return flight leaving me with another night expense in Cancun but also another lay over in Denver with accompanying cost of yet another hotel room.
Frontier is now on my naughty list.

On the other hand I have great expectations for this trip and the time spent with these young people.

Looking for the bottle of Off I had left over from the last trip - economy size.

Everything is laid out on the bed and I am about ready to go.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Two Days to Take Off for Global Gathering

The new year is taking off at the same time as I am.
By Jan 1 I will be in Cancun preparing for the many volunteers coming to help with the 200+ young people who will join us Jan 3.
We have a great team being led by Scott & Gayla Congdon and all the Amor Staff along with the onsite couple Jordan & April Congdon.
I am looking forward to connecting with Gilberto Figuroa who has been so generous with his resources in making the dream of Cienega possible.
You can learn more about this dream at http://www.amor.org/Cienega.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Capturing Culture for Christ

Valentine's Day is one more holiday that exists because the early church approved the underlying meaning of local festivals but disapproved the way they were lived out. Christmas & Halloween are the most commonly referred to by critics of the church, but, Valentine's Day runs a close third.
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around A.D. 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
Since the celebration was so much a part of the local culture the church chose to capture it for Christ. Whether the stories of a priest who was prepared to die for love (there are at least three) or not is irrelevant to the underlying truth that God created us for families. This need to be in a family extends in adulthood to a need to create a family  and in that way we raise people who know and love the God who gave them this sacred institution for their nurture and encouragement. 
That we, as fallen humans, have tarnished that institution does not negate its importance to society as a whole. As a missionary I often helped local populations see the underlying truth from God attached to their celebrations or rites. It gave me a window into their lives through which they could see the God of creation. 
This Valentine's Day may we take the time to look for the underlying truth that God is a God of community who gave us the closest of all relationships in the love shared by a man and a woman in marriage.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

God wants us tick free

Author Timothy Keller in his book, “Walking with God through Suffering” wrote about the British shepherds dipping of their sheep. It reminded me of the first time I saw the Shona in Zimbabwe dipping their cattle – a monthly ritual.
The cattle were herded into a pen which was closed at one end but on the far end was a ramp that led to a 40 foot long, six feet deep, four foot wide pit filled with dip. The herds men would then force the mooing mass toward the narrow opening with each beast entering one at a time due to the narrowness of the opening. When the first cow got to the drop off into the dip it would stop and try to look back only to be pushed by the one behind into the foul smelling mixture. Cows don’t like to swim but they can so it would begin to make its way to the other side. That is when one of the herdsmen would take a long forked pole and force the cows head under. Now the cow was frightened – though in rare cases furious – and it would cry out and frantically try to leap out. At the time I thought that it was cruel, however, I learned that without the dip the cattle would be subject to ticks and many diseases.

As Keller writes, “As I watched the struggling sheep I thought, ‘If only there were some way to explain! But such knowledge is too wonderful for them—it is high, they cannot attain unto it’ (Ps 139:6). We too have a Good Shepherd who is committed to his sheep, though he often does things to us that frighten us and that we cannot, at the moment, understand.”