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What comes to mind when you think about the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of God?shalom They are connected. The Gospel is the Good News about the Kingdom of God. About the King. We constantly need to remember who is the King of the kingdom. I think the Good News about the Kingdom is that the King is also our Father! Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven … your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10). I think that news blew the Jews away. We read a lot about kings in the O.T. Some good, some bad. Some who strove to be righteous and others who were very evil. Some powerful, some weak. But none of them were portrayed as a loving Father. In Jesus sermon on the mount, which is all about the Kingdom and Gospel, he uses the word Father as a title for God more times than it is used as a title for God in the whole O.T. God as Father was almost a totally new idea for the Jews of that era. God as King – of course. God as Judge – they knew that God. God as Creator – Right on. But God as Father – What a concept!


Why are Gospel and Kingdom so important?  Why is knowing God as a loving, compassionate Father something we need to embrace. Because God wants us to be happy. Because God wants Shalom. I have been thinking and reading a lot about Shalom lately. That word is generally translated as peace. It is a Hebrew word that is used throughout the Old Testament and it means so much more than what we think of when we think of peace. It is the glad result of Kingdom and Gospel. Shalom is the goal of God for everyone. Shalom is happy wholeness. Shalom is harmony and prosperity.  Shalom is all encompassing. Shalom is living in peace and right relationship with God, ourselves, our family and community. Shalom is whole, right relationships between rich and poor, powerful and weak, black and white, Jew and Gentile.


Alas, we see far too little Shalom in the world today. Why? Because human beings in and of themselves do not have the power to live in and practice Shalom. Power is defined as the ability to do something. We have no a ability in ourselves to live in right relationship with God! And as for loving our neighbor – We despise our neighbor! I think this is why Jesus and Paul talk so much about the Power of God. There is no Shalom without that power. Shalom is the Good News that that power is available. When Jesus said the Kingdom is near, I think he was saying that Shalom is available to all who come to the loving, compassionate Father in an attitude of weakness and realization that without the Fathers power, we will live sad, miserable lives full of conflict and strife. Jesus is proclaiming Shalom and telling the people the Good News that God the Father is inviting people into the Kingdom of Shalom!

It is kind of like what we do here at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico.  We take in poor children who are broken and by the power of God and our love, they are made whole.  Children come who are hurt and angry, confused and abused, betrayed and shamed.  Here they experience Shalom. They grow into complete, happy people, full of smiles and laughter.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It can be a long process.  But when the children hear about the love of God and experience the compassion of their Heavenly Father on a daily basis, and depend on His power for their wholeness, then they live in peace and contentment.  They live in Shalom.

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I pray the Lord’s Prayer every morning. I especially like the part about “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Kingdom of God on earth is Already – But not yet. It already exists.  It started with the new born King whose little body was laid in a wooden manger in Bethlehem and whose adult body was crucified on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem. It started out as the smallest of seeds, starting to grow over 2000 years ago, and is still growing, just like Jesus said in Matthew 13:31-32.  It has not yet come to completion.

When George Bush was President he promoted a 1000 Points of Light program. I like to think of the Kingdom of God on earth as a Million Points of Light program. Everywhere that Christians gather together to glorify God and love Him and love their neighbors is a Kingdom Point of Light.

I live at a Home for Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of those Points of Light. We take in children who are poor, abused, neglected and abandoned. They are hurt,sad, angry and confused when they come here. Here they experience the love of God and of Christians who care for them.  Here they are transformed.  We give them a safe place to live with plenty of nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink. They receive a good education and spiritual direction. Our goal is not just to make them into good people, but to make them into faithful disciples who love God and want to cooperate with Him in growing the Kingdom.

My wife and daughters and I spent Christmas day with a half dozen of these children, all under the age of 6. They are new comers to our little Kingdom Point of Light. Most of them are brothers and sisters who had been separated and put into different children’s homes in Oaxaca. Now they are reunited, happy and healthy, living in a loving Christian community that meets their every need.

New Kids at the Mission

Brother and Sister Reunited

God’s Kingdom is coming everyday in many different ways all over the world. In 2018 He may choose to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment; to completion. Then He will be the one to wipe away the children’s tears and there will be no more need for children’s homes. If that doesn’t happen in the new year, then God’s Kingdom will continue to come, on earth as it is in heaven. Little light by little light. Followers of Jesus will continue to spread the joy and peace of God and people all over the world will be coming into relationship with God, glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever. He is the One who truly puts the Happy in the New Year!

 

Psalm 16 is one of my favorite Psalms. In verse 2, David writes, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; Apart from you I have no good thing.’ ”

It’s Christmas and everybody wants Good Things! Kids look longingly at all the presents under the tree, thinking about all the good things that that they will receive. Adults want good things too. As the saying goes, That which separates men from boys is the price of their toys. True for women and girls too, I’m sure.

The best Good Things come from the LORD. Psalm 16 is like a Christmas tree with lots of gifts underneath. Gifts like –

security (vs5)

boundary lines in pleasant places (vs6)

delightful inheritance (vs6)

Godly counsel (vs7)

glad heart (vs9)

a body that rests secure (vs9)

no fear of death (vs10)

path of life (vs11)

joy (vs11)

eternal pleasures (vs11)

and the best Christmas present – God’s presence (vs11)

These gifts are way better than an iphone 10, Play Station or a Sony 50” TV. How do we go about acquiring these Good Things?

David tells us the secret in verse 8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD.” That reminds me of Hebrews 12:2, Let us “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Also sounds a bit like Colossians 3:1-2, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above.”

To get the Good Things of God we need to keep our eyes on the LORD, to fix our eyes on Jesus –

Jesus in the manger

Jesus turning water into wine

Jesus walking on water

Jesus multiplying the bread and fish

Jesus’ compassion on the sick, blind, and demon possessed

Jesus’ love for the sinners and tax collectors

Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead for our justification

This Christmas, instead of asking Santa for good things in our stockings, lets thank Jesus for the Good Things He has already given us, and that are available to us in abundance if we keep our eyes on HIM.

Merry Christmas from the

Schwab Family

Today is Tifani’s birthday. She is my oldest daughter and I dedicate this post to her. In Romans chapter 12 we find five ways to be, five ways to treat one another and five Do Not’s. Considering and living out these 15 admonitions from Paul we can all experience happier birthdays, merrier Christmas’s and happier lives.

The Five Be’s

Be devoted to one another in love.

Be spiritually passionate, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope.

Be patient in affliction.

Be faithful in prayer.

Five Ways to Treat One Another

Share with one another.

Rejoice with one another.

Mourn with one another.

Live in harmony with one another.

Live in peace with one another.

Five Do Nots.

Do not be proud.

Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Do not take revenge.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

God loves us and wants us to be happy. He inspired Paul to write these words so that we would take them to heart, put them into practice and live in right relationship with God and our fellow human beings. I think of them as 15 gifts  around the birthday cake or presents under the Christmas tree. Each one to be carefully unwrapped, treasured and used daily.

 

The 2017 Advent season has begun!

Advent is a time of anticipation. A time of looking forward to something unbelievably good. Looking forward to Jesus’ birth. God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. God condescending to be with us. Emmanuel.

Honestly, all that doesn’t mean so much to people anymore. Advent in our day and age usually means anticipating buying gifts, going to parties and family get togethers. Things that a lot of people Don’t look forward to. For too many people, the Christ birth event is a minor part of the holiday season, if it exists at all.

Jesus in the manger has lost it’s luster for a lot of Christians for another reason. It happens every year. It’s not new. We Want New. New electronics, kitchen gadgets, clothes and toys. Christmas isn’t new. It’s the same old thing, year after year. I’m 54 years old. I was raised in a Christian family. I have 54 years of Luke 2 and Matthew 1-2 under my belt. What could possibly be new in 2017 Advent? What is there to anticipate?

With this in mind, I began to think about how Jews might have been thinking around the time of Jesus’ birth. The Chosen People of God. They hadn’t had a prophet speak the Word of the LORD to them since Malachi, 400 years earlier. They had been under the thumb of foreign rulers for about 600 years. So, People Of God, how’s that working out for you?

Some of them probably decided that it wasn’t working and gave up on God, but many were holding on to the promises proclaimed by the prophets that someday a Messiah would come and bring peace and freedom. Proclamations like:

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

 Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Some of us look forward to celebrating the birth of the Messiah every year. The Jews had been anticipating that day for over half a millenia!

When I think of looking forward to something good, I  think about our family vacation that we took in July. We drove from Oaxaca, Mexico to Brush, Colorado. In May we began planning for the trip, and the anticipation began. Anticipation of crossing the border into the U.S.A. Anticipation of seeing my parents and sister and oldest daughter. People I haven’t seen for over two years. Anticipation of Mom’s great cooking, as well as Taco Bell and Mountain Dew –  food and drink that are not available here in Oaxaca. Normally we would fly to Colorado, but this time we were going to drive, so we were looking forward to close family time (four days in the car) that would include museum visits, tourist attractions and motel swimming pools (Sally and Kelly, my youngest daughter’s favorite). Anticipation of camping in the mountains and seeing a Rocky’s baseball game.

The fulfillment of all of those things was great. A wonderful time was had by all. Heart’s longings were met and we were filled with joy. And that was after waiting a mere three months.

After waiting hundreds of years, the Messiah came to the Chosen People of God, and brought true spiritual freedom to all who would accept him and his message.  Some were disappointed that he didn’t overthrow Roman rule and bring national freedom.  But many more people through the ages have received something greater to celebrate, freedom from sin and adoption as Children of God.  The hungry eat the living Bread and the thirsty drink the living Water.

One of the Advent readings for the first Sunday in Advent is Isaiah 64:1-9.   Verse four says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

This Advent season I hope we can all find time to “wait for him”. Wait for Him to reveal himself in new and wonderous ways that can fill our journey on earth with happiness.

In waiting for Him, in meditating on Him, we find hope and joy. Strength and peace. Below is a web address for a video meditation on Advent that may encourage you on your journey.

https://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/series/liturgical-meditations/

Last time I wrote about bread and happiness and the Lord’s Prayer.  This time I want tobreadbible continue thinking about the Bible, Bread and Happiness.  Bread is big in the Bible.  Many of our favorite Bible stories include bread.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).  That’s big.

Below I have listed some verses from the Bible about bread.  Do you remember the stories that go with them?

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.  He was priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18).

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah.  “Quick,” he said, “get the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread” (Genesis 18:6).

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew.  He ate and drank, and then got up and left.  So Esau despised his birthright (Genesis 26:34)

Rebekah handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.  He went to his father and said, “My father.”                                                                                                          “Yes, my son,” he answered.  “Who is it?”                                                                                           Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. (Genesis 27:17-19)

When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.  In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharoah, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” (Genesis 40:17)

And this is what Joseph sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grains and bread and other provisions for the journey. (Genesis 45:23)

That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. (Exodus 12:8)

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt.  Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” (Exodus 12:17)

When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.  Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:15)

Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times. (Exodus 25:30)

Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast.  (Leviticus 7:13)

This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. (Leviticus 24:8)

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:4, Matthew 4:4)

Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand.  Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread.  And the angel of the LORD disappeared.  (Judges 6:21)

Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.”  (1 Samuel 17:17)

Elijah went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.  (1 Kings 17:5,6)

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small loaf of bread from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.”  (1 Kings 17:13)

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread.  (Psalm 37:25)

God makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.  (Psalm 104:14,15)

Give us today our daily bread.  (Matthew 6:11)

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  (Matthew 7:9)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  (Matthew 26:26)

“First let the children eat all they want,” Jesus told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  (Mark 7:27)

“It is one of the Twelve,” Jesus replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.”  (Mark 14:20)

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:35)

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  (John 6:51)

They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread  and to prayer.  (Acts 2:42)

Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  (1 Corinthians 5:8)

Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  (2 Corinthians 9:10)

For me, those are some of the most memorable and significant verses using the word bread in the Bible. It kinda makes me hungry for a slice of the homemade bread that my wife just made.  Until next time …

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I think people generally take bread for granted.  It’s a staple of many peoples diets.  It’s common.  It’s cheap.  It’s conveinent. I have taken it for granted for most of my life.  Growing up we had toast with breakfast, sandwich for lunch and a piece of bread with butter for dinner. Lots of bread – little thought about it.

I stopped taking it for granted a few years ago when I began taking the Lord’s Prayer seriously and started praying it everyday.  The Lord’s Prayer has big spiritual ideas like the holiness of God, the Kingdom, the will of God, forgiveness of sin, deliverance from the Evil One, power and glory.  And right smack in the middle of it is BREAD!

Give us today our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).  Imagine that.  Jesus wants us to ask the Father for bread everyday.  Not take it for granted.  Not assume that we will always have it.  Ask God today for our daily bread.  So what’s the big deal about bread?  I think God wants us to remember, to remind ourselves, everyday, that we depend on God for everything in our life, everyday.  From our  salvation and sanctification, to our daily bread and daily breath.  If God doesn’t give it, we don’t get it.

So the next time we spread jelly on our toast, or bite into a Big Mac, let’s take a moment to thank our gracious, generous heavenly Father for the bread.  God loves us and wants us to be happy, so He gave us bread!

Have you ever read a passage of scripture dozens of times and thought you reallyfive loaves understood it, and then upon reading it one more time, you get new revelation that you never had before?  This happened to me about a week ago.  I was reading John’s account of the multiplying the loaves and fishes (John 6:1-15).  The words of Jesus seemed to jump off the page. He asks Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”. The passage says Jesus was on a mountain with his disciples and Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd approaching when he asked the question.  A number of things grabbed my attention.  Jesus was having a private time with his disciples, trying to escape the crowds.  Perhaps he was teaching them about the love and power of the Father.  Now approaches the intrusive hordes.  Thousands of people are streaming toward him.  Instead of complaining about the interruption, Jesus sees opportunities.  A great object lesson for the disciples.  Also an opportunity to once again show people how God loves them and wants them to be happy.  He sees both the physical and spiritual hunger of the people.  So He asks the question, “Where shall WE buy bread…?  The passage indicates that He already knew what he was gonna do, but wanted to test the disciples.  He had no intention of Buying Bread!  But he knows what humans natural impulses are. Many times our first response to problems is to throw money at them and they will go away.  Philip thinks about the question and answers Jesus, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  Money was not the answer.

I love the question, “Where are WE…?”  Jesus didn’t ask “Where are You gonna buy bread?”, but “Where are we?”  Jesus didn’t ask, “What should I  to do about this need or problem?”  Jesus says WE.  When we face incredible situations, as Christians, we can be sure that Jesus is cooperating with us to solve the problem, if we resolve to cooperate with him.  Not only with me personally, but With the Community of Faith that I am a part of.  All of the disciples were included in Jesus’ question.  Andrew piped up saying, “Here is a boy with two Small fish and five Small loaves of bread.” Andrew, like many of us focuses on the smallness of the resources at hand, the small fish and bread, rather than the Greatness of God who created the fish and the bread. Just like us today – focusing on the big problems rather than our Big God.  God wants to step into our big situations and cooperate with us in meeting felt needs and spiritual needs.

Most people have forgotten about the two big earthquakes we had here in Mexico about a month ago, but a lot of people are still suffering from them.  A week ago the Children’s Home where I cooperate with God in Oaxaca, Mexico,  sent down a few adults and some of the children with a trailer full of food and water and other material to help those whose houses had been destroyed . This week an 80 year old brother and his wife, Enrique and Elvira, who lead the prison ministry, were given a large monetary donation to help a suffering church in Chiapas, and they are there now, delivering not only the money, but spiritual direction and comfort as well.  The brother, Pedro,  who took the load down last week, noticed the people had no place and no way to shower , so he worked all week rigging up a shower system with a huge water tank.  He left early yesterday morning to deliver it along with more supplies.

Thinking about Christians responding to needs, I read in the news about different churches in Santa Rosa, California, helping out people who had lost everything due to the fires. Same with churches, Christians, Communities of Faith, helping the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.  All over the world, Disciples hear Jesus asking them, “What are WE gonna do about this situation?”  And all over the world, disciples are joining hands and hearts with their brothers and sisters and with God, to meet felt needs, and in the process, they are meeting even greater Spiritual needs.

What a story, human need, the loaves and fishes and disciples and compassion and power and God!  A never ending story, at least on this side of eternity!

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The Apostle Paul wrote 13 letters that are in the Bible. In his introductorygrace peace remarks at the beginning of each letter he includes this salutation, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the concluding remarks of his epistles he writes, “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Peter wrote two letters. He begins his letters with the phrase, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” He ends his first letter with these words, “Peace to all who are in Christ.” The second letter ends with “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I think grace and peace are the most important possessions we can have to be truly happy people. We need the grace and peace that comes from God to enjoy God in His happy kingdom.

Think of Paul before his close encounter with Christ. He claims that as for righteousness based on the law he was faultless, and as for zeal he persecuted the church (Philippians 3:6). He thought he could do it all spiritually speaking. He certainly tried, but apart from the grace of God he had no peace. Imagine the peace that flooded his soul when he encountered the grace that come from trusting Jesus and living in right relationship with God.

Think of Peter, living and learning from Jesus for three years. Boasting that he would never deny the Lord, willing to die for him if necessary. Hours later Peter claimed vehemently that he never knew Jesus. Jesus looked at Peter as Peter made his last denial while the rooster was crowing. He fled in tears. Not a lot of peace there. But later, he received abundant grace and forgiveness and was able to live and ultimately die, crucified upside down, in great peace.

It’s no wonder Paul and Peter begin and end their letters with reminders to their readers of grace and peace that are only found in Jesus Christ. It defined their lives. Those qualities of grace and peace were the foundation of everything they believed and did.

What did they have in mind when they used the words grace and peace.

With grace they meant the free gift of God that comes through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. This gift, totally undeserved by humans, transforms mere existence into Life, survival into thriving and flourishing.

Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but a deep and abiding sense that in the turmoil, confusion, pain and loss that we experience living in this broken world, there is Someone who is ultimately in control; a Savior who not only keeps us from going crazy, but who imbues us with a feeling of contentment. A God who loves us and wants us to be happy.

I live in Mexico and cooperate with God at a home for needy children. In the last two weeks we have experienced two really big earthquakes – an 8.2 and a 7.1 that caused incredible damage and took the lives of almost 400 people. Fortunately, by the grace of God, there was no physical damage to any of the buildings here at the mission, but many of the children, including my own two daughters, are constantly aware of what could possible happen and are reminded almost daily with the aftershocks. We felt four yesterday. To some extent we all waver between nervousness about whether or not there will be another earthquake, to outright fear. My daughters talk about earthquakes many times a day and sleep with us at night for fear of more of them.

I don’t understand much about God and natural disasters and suffering and loss. I can’t figure out exactly why God does what he does. I am perplexed at many turns on lifes long road. But I am grateful to God for that Peace that brings wholeness and well-being. That peace of God that makes me secure on the inside, even though things appear miserable on the outside. That peace of mind that comes from the God of peace. The peace of God which transcends all understanding and guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. The peace I have when I trust in the LORD with all my heart, and lean not on my own reasoning.

Peter and Paul begin and end their letters with Grace and Peace. May we begin each day by meditating and contemplating the incredible grace we have through Christ, and end each day thanking God for peace in our lives.

grace peace 2

Thursday night, before midnight, my wife, two daughters and myself were rudelyMexico Earthquake awakened when our apartment complex started shaking.  I’m no stranger to earthquakes since I have lived many years in earthquake prone California and Southern Mexico.  I told my wife that we were having an earthquake.  We have small ones every month or two an it has never been a big deal.  This one was a big deal!  It kept getting stronger and rocking our house more and more.  My daughters, Sally and Kelly, were afraid, especially Sally who sleeps on the top bunk.  She made it out of her bed and we all huddled in what I thought was the safest part of the house while tea cups rattled and my wife’s art work tumbled from a shelf onto the floor.  Finally, after about a minute it was over.  The house stopped shaking, but we were all shaking from the shock of what turned out to be an 8.4 earthquake.

Our house is an apartment that is part of a complex  located in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Nutty Naturedozens of people died as a result of the earthquake.  After the temblor I walked around our building  to look for damage.  There was none.  We live at a mission that cares for needy children and are grateful to God that nobody was hurt and there was no damage to the buildings to speak of.  Unfortunately, other parts of Mexico suffered much damage as the photos show.

I am the gardener here at the FFHM mission.  It is a rather large property and I am constantly battling weeds.  I use two lawnmowers, a weed-whacker and a lawn tractor in my struggle against unwanted plants.  There are tons of thorns here that puncture tires, especially the lawn tractor tires.  Fortunately there is a product that I spray into the tires that seals the punctures.  The directions say that the can must be shaken thoroughly for the product to work properly.

Sometimes I think that I need to be shaken thoroughly for me to function properly.  TheMEXICO-QUAKE-OAXACA earthquake did a good job of that.  The Bible talks about the importance of being thankful:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

 

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                         1 Thessalonians 5:18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6,7

In life we tend to get complacent, apathetic and take a lot of things for granted.  Sometimes God has to shake us up in one way or another to remind us of all the good things we have, and to express our thanks to Him and to others who bless our lives.  We can always find things to complain about or dream about how much better things could be.  God wants our vision focused on Him.  He wants us think about how much He loves us and wants us to be happy, and all the good things He has given us toward that end.

Instead of complaining about what I don’t have, I am full of gratitude for what I do have – citizenship in God’s Happy Kingdom, a loving wife and two super daughters, and fabulous parents who are always there for us.  I try to have an attitude of gratitude, but sometimes I need to get all shook up to really appreciate what I have.