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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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I haven’t written for awhile because Anita, the girls and I went to the United States for a month.  We hadDSC05862 not been there for four years, so we had a great time visiting family, going to a Giants game in San Francisco, Disneyland in L.A. and camping in the Rocky Mountains.  I loved driving on pot hole free roads and using free bathrooms that had toilet paper, toilet seats, hot water and paper towels.  I encountered no crazy taxi drivers, never heard a honking horn and saw no graffiti and little litter. These are things most Americans take for granted.   In Mexico these things are the exception.

But I am glad to be back at the Mission in Oaxaca.  Why?  Because, while we don’t have the best roads, nicest bathrooms or  cleanest cities, we do have, in my humble opinion, the finest people serving at the greatest Mission in the world.  The people serving at the Home for Needy Children in Oaxaca could work almost anywhere and make more money, if money was their priority, but it’s not.  Their priority is loving God with all their being, and loving their neighbors as they love themselves.  Their priority is helping the poorest of the poor in Mexico.  Their priority is bringing help, hope and love to the downcast, oppressed, abused and mistreated children of this poor land.

Now I am back with these fine people and enjoying seeing formerly sad children smile, discouraged little girls encouraged, angry little boys at peace, hungry teens well fed and losers at life’s sometimes vicious game, given another chance at happiness and contentment.

Of course, all of this is made possible by the grace of God, the prayers of the saints and the contributions of people who care.  Thank you God for people who care!

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poor one

Our family went to a wedding on Saturday.  Robin Williams committed suicide on Monday.  I’m not saying there was a connection, but there are some interesting  contrasts.

The young couple tied the knot on a beach in Puerto Escondido.  It was a beautiful wedding.  It was a solemn yet casual affair.  The young couple are Christians, children of missionaries who are working to bring the Bible to ethnic groups in Oaxaca, Mexico, who have never heard the Word of God in their native language.  We sang Christian songs in Spanish and English.  The grooms father is German, and he prayed for the couple in German.  The bride and her family are from Canada.  It was a great mix of people from different cultures who spoke different languages and lived different cultures, but all had one thing in common-a love for God and the work of Christ on the cross.

The young couple, Timmy Schwab (no relation to me, although, after the wedding there was a special activity for the Schwab family that I tried to horn in on, without success) and Johanna Quezada, beamed with joy through the whole ceremony, Timmy smiling delightfully at his bride to be throughout the whole thing.  After kissing his new wife he picked her up and ran down the sandy isle between the attendees.

So what does this happy occasion have to do with the self inflicted death of Robin Williams?  The news reports of his death said he had suffered from depression and drug addiction for many years, and in his last days the depression had grown severe.

What does the general public think will make them happy?  Wealth, power, fame, adulation, nice houses and cars.  For some you can throw in drugs.  Robin Williams had it all, and was so depressed he killed himself.

Timmy and Johanna barely have two pesos to rub together.  I don’t think they have a house and they may have an old car.  They definitely don’t have fame or power.  So why are they so happy and Robin Williams so depressed?  Because they have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in their hearts.  The have confidence and  certainty that the creator of the universe loves them and brought them together to live a life of enjoying God together as they cooperate with Him in bringing His kingdom and doing His will on earth as it is in heaven.

Robin Williams never had the eyes of his heart opened by the holy Spirit, and lost the battle with the world, the flesh and the Devil.  He seemed to have it all, and had nothing.  Timmy and Johanna appear to have next to nothing with regards to worldly possessions, but they are living large in the riches of God’s grace and mercy and in their love for each other!

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Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

 

The weather today in Oaxaca, Mexico, is perfect. It is a gorgeous day. Lots of blue sky and sunshine. I love it. It hasn’tgranted been like this for about three weeks. It has been cloudy and rainy. This morning I was talking to God about this beautiful day, or rather He was talking to me about it. He asked me if I liked the weather today. He asked me if I was happy. He asked me if the sunshine and blue sky made me happier than normal. I answered in the affirmative each time. He asked me if I had been taking the nice weather that we had been having in March, April and May for granted. I had to admit it. While most of the U.S. had been suffering unusually cold weather and lots of snow, we here in Oaxaca were enjoying temps in the 80’s and 90’s most everyday.

 

The point that God was making is that we have a tendency to take too many good things, too many blessings, too many gifts from the generous hand of our benevolent God, for granted. We don’t always acknowledge and thank God for simple things that make us so happy, like good health, delicious food, pure water, clean air and the ability to breath it. When, for some reason, God withholds these basic goodies, we are likely to complain and grumble. The apostle Paul admonishes believers over and over to give thanks to God, not just when we are fat and happy, but even in the lean times, for God is good all the time, and he always loves us and wants us to be happy.

 

I’m convinced that many times God withholds some blessings from us so that when they return to us we are happier than we were before. Take for example sickness. I hate being down with a cold or the flu. We all do. How thankful and full of joy we are when the sickness passes and we are feeling fine once again. Sometimes we even feel worse when a loved one is ill. My daughter’s, Sally and Kelly, had fevers and were coughing a lot last week and had to miss a few days of school. No parent likes to see their children suffer in any way, especially with an illness. After a visit to the doctor and taking some medicine they were feeling fine, and so was I. I wasn’t taking their good health and health care professionals for granted. I was thanking God for both, and was (and am) Happy for both.

 

My wife, Anita, has explained to our daughter’s about the importance of thanking God for all the food we have and eating everything on their plate, be cause there are a lot of poor children in the world who search through garbage dumps for something to eat. Our youngest daughter Kelly has taken this to heart and almost always asks to pray before meals. In her simple, four year old way of praying, she thanks God for our meal and  also that she does not have to eat trash.

 

So right now I am basking in the sunshine with a heart full of joy, praising our heavenly Father for the sunshine, and also for the eternal Sonshine that floods my soul.   I also need to ask forgiveness for all the times that I take for granted the incredible goodness that is always flowing from the hand of God. I ask God to remind me, that in those times when I feel something is lacking, that He is my Good Shepherd, and that in reality, I am never in need.

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be thankful

I made up a new song a couple days ago. It’s called I’m So Glad I’m Not a Worm.  It’s sung to the tune of Everybody Ought to Know. earthworm It goes like this:

I’m So glad I’m not a Worm

I’m So glad I’m not a Worm

I’m So glad I’m not a Worm

Eating dirt all day.

It was originally called I’m So Glad I’m not a Dog.  It came to me as I was taking a pail of table scraps out to the compost pit at the back of the mission.  As I approached, three mongrel dogs crawled out of the pit and scampered away.  I thought how glad I was that I wasn’t a dog like that, and began singing, “I’m so glad I’m not a dog.” As I thought about those words, I realized that there are probably some people in the world that would like to be dogs, especially a pet dog in the United states.  Most pet dogs in the U.S. have it made.  They have all the comforts of home.  They live better than most people in the world. I read recently that in 2012, Americans spent over 53 billion dollars on their pets, a large majority of those pets being dogs.  I read a mission web site that said that Americans spent as much  money on their pets Halloween costumes as they did on helping to send the gospel message to the unreached people groups of the world (310 million dollars).  It’s a dog’s life, and it’s a pretty good one.    So I changed the words to I’m So Glad I’m not a Worm.  Although I expect to receive a scathing email any day now from the NAAW (National Association for the Advancement of Worms).

What I am really saying when I sing “I’m so glad I’m not a  worm” is that I am glad that I  am a chosen, elected, predestined from the foundations of the earth, child of God,  who daily experiences the riches of God’s love, mercy, grace, kindness, gentleness, goodness and provision of all my daily needs and most of my wants because He Loves Me and wants me to be happy.  Much better than being a worm.  Although, maybe I am a worm at heart, or used to be.

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Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

At The Cross by Isaac Watts