Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our House the Concert Hall

How do you fit forty people into a living room that seats seven? Like this:
Patrick and Erin, our friends from Nashville came to town and performed at our house Monday night. It was an honor to have talent like theirs under our roof. In 1996 Patrick's band won a Youtube Underground contest for best song. Since then his music has only gotten better. It would be worth your while to check out Patrick's Facebook page and listen to a few of his original songs. After that knocks your socks off, you can see some of the most beautiful artwork ever on Erin's Web site. You can support them by purchasing a CD or, if you can afford it, one of Erin's paintings. I'm convinced that one day it will be like having a Van Gogh hanging over your fireplace.
We gave our grill a workout and enjoyed some of this Florida summer in the back yard.
Then our kids finished up the evening with some boy-girl arm wrestling.
Sometimes we forget that we've only been here a little over a year. The community that regularly meets in our living room feels like it's existed forever.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Waiting for My Friend

Sometimes I wonder what God is waiting for. How much worse is it going to get before Jesus returns and makes it all right? Very often when people learn what we do for a living they mock us or ostracize us. Those who don't are usually not shy about warning us not to "preach" to them. When we do have occasion to sit down with people to share what the Bible says, they are almost always impressed but don't necessarily respond well. So I wonder why - if nobody cares anyway - hasn't He returned.

I recently read through five chapters of Mark with seven women - six after one dropped out. The mother of one lady came from England for a visit and sat in during the last two sessions, making it seven again. We got to the part where Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" so I asked the girls the same question. My friend Hayley wasn't the most outspoken in the group but she made it clear that she believed in Jesus' claim to be the Messiah. Later that week she came to me and told me that, not only did she want to be baptized, but her mother did also. Her mother Wendy has been a Christian for over thirty years but never knew the importance of baptism.

Here's Hayley being baptized:
And her mother Wendy:
And here I am with my two new sisters:
This morning I can confidently say that God was waiting for my friend and her mother. I have a new-found patience and a stronger trust in His perfect plan. I am also asking Him to continue to send to us those who are ready to hear what wonderful things He has done for us and care enough to respond in love, just like my friend Hayley and her mother Wendy did last night.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago a couple of foolish lovers decided to try life God's way. They were married and baptized the same day, committing themselves to each other and to their creator. Here they were then:
And here we are now:
I barely recognize that young couple in the wedding photo. Though our marriage hasn't been without challenges, I can honestly say that we have been blessed beyond what we ever hoped or imagined when we decided to step out in faith. When we say, "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer," aren't we banking on the fact that the negative side of the equation isn't ever going to darken our door? Well, I am thankful for those things because I believe they have strengthened us and made us the people we are today. While I hope for the good times, health and prosperity, I am learning to embrace whatever situation God sends our way because in all things the presence of God is where we find true joy.

Now we spend our days teaching our kids what we wish we had known when we were their ages and sharing our abundance with others. I pray that you would have the faith to really trust God and allow Him to shower you with the blessings he has stored up for your life.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why We Need Missionaries in Southern Florida

A Christian homeschool mom recently asked me why we need missionaries in southern Florida. She seemed sincere so I sincerely answered her with, "Because most biblically literate people like you assume others know what you know and don't think we need missionaries in southern Florida." We went on to talk about what mission work in the United States entails. Allow me to share some of it with you.

In order to introduce Jesus to people who probably have only ever heard the name as an exclamation or in a cussing tirade, the book of Mark is a good place to start. Currently a group of women meets every Friday in our living room to read it together. I told them in the beginning that they were about to embark on a study of the basis for all Christianity - the biography of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I assured them that by chapter eight they would know everything they need to know to make an informed decision about whether they want to be Christians.
When we began the study, three out of the group of seven didn't own a Bible nor had they ever opened one, so we bought them each a copy. None of the seven had ever read more than small excerpts. One woman says she's Jewish and goes to Temple but didn't know where to find the Old Testament in the Bible. She has skipped Temple for the past month to be a part of this study that she says "is more interesting than Temple." Other comments and questions include:

"It keeps me up at night."

"I never knew Jesus was a real person. I always thought He was like Santa Claus."

"If Jesus came to earth once, do you suppose He'll come again?"

"I want to have the Holy Spirit but I don't know how to get it."

"I feel like I'm being sewn into this Book. Like I've always known it somehow but have never actually heard it."

"I'm being enlightened."

"What does it mean to follow Jesus?"

If someone were to invite me to a study of The Iliad I would certainly make comments that would seem foolish to scholars of classic literature. What we, as Christians, need to understand is that ignorance of classic literature may keep me out of the great conversation to some extent but it won't keep me out of heaven. Basic knowledge of the Bible is critical to understanding why we exist.

Our study group had a very sad but helpful object lesson on the parable of the sower when the woman who was most excited to begin the study told me just three weeks into it, "I won't be there. My heart's not in it any more." The night we initially read the parable in chapter four, I was met with seven blank stares. After this lady left the group, we revisited the parable and I'm sure I saw a few hovering light bulbs. It's always encouraging to see God's word come to life, even when it means disappointment on an earthly level.

Our family must have the best job in the world - not to convince people to become Christians but to share God's love and truth with them and let them decide what to do with it. If everyone in the United States already knew what the Bible said, as that good-intentioned mom clearly assumed, I would agree that we should move on to other unreached parts of the world, but it seems that is not the case. I'll let you judge the need for local missionaries by the feedback we've gotten in this study.