The Most Wonderful Woman

It’s been exactly two years since I posted The Most Incredible Woman. We were in Honduras and it was Cathy’s birthday. 

We’d lost everything we owned in a landslide just two days before. Most people are baffled that the experience of losing all but our lives and being rendered homeless in the third world became one of the greatest blessings of our lives. Still, I had nothing to give her on her birthday. Nothing that would sufficiently express my love and gratitude that she is my wife. I wanted to tell the world about God’s goodness that is expressed in and through my bride. I did my best in a blog. I am attempting to do the same now.

Today is Cathy’s birthday

But I feel like it’s mine because she is the greatest gift that Lord has ever given me.  I may have more in the way of material things to give her this year. But nothing compares to what she has given me.

Our marriage is our ministry.

That’s what I tell people, especially young couples prone to the temptation of seeking their own significance in Jesus’s name. 

Quite often the message falls on deaf ears.

Ephesians 5 begins with Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children...and concludes with the mystery of one flesh that is marriage.  And while the church has often emphasized Wives, submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord, sometimes to the point of abuse, the overarching emphasis is Husbands, love their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  The chapter concludes with


Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church”.

There is no better or faster way to touch the heart of God and the mystery of Christ’s relationship with His church than in the context of marriage -no easier way to comprehend what God is doing in and through us the Bride of Christ.

The Rhino Refugee Camp 2016

We were in Northern Uganda ministering to South Sudanese refugees from yet another civil war. I was a videographer consumed with a self-appointed mission to be a voice for the voiceless. Naturally, I assumed Jesus had called me to teach South Sudanese orphans how to film. 

I Did.

I usually tell people that all I did in Harvest school was repent. The Lord had been stripping me of the idolatry of “my” ministry and “my” purpose when we got to Uganda.  Cathy was oblivious to the struggle that I could not articulate at the time and has an entirely different recollection. But I saw it as the lowest point in our marriage. Not because of any discernable problem between us. Rather what God showed me about myself revealed an inner jerk that Cathy had not seen. It made me fear for my marriage.  Alas the love of God shines brightest amid our repentance.

Ironically

At the end of the outreach, one of the base leaders asked these war-torn, traumatized children to say how each of the missionaries had impacted them.  Naturally, I expected to hear about videography. Instead, they unanimously agreed that they were most affected by our marriage.  They “saw how Cathy and I loved each other” and

“They wanted what we had”.

Our marriage is our ministry.

Everything else flows from there.

If you’ve read The Most Beautiful Woman then you know that Cathy was the forerunner in our mission work. I am Cathy’s husband – her covering. I was more like Joseph with Mary as she bore the Lamb of God.

On the mission field I never completely transcended my tendency to be the proverbial watchman on the wall always on patrol and or the one who just wants to ‘git er done. That’s fine when you have to haul hundred-pound bags of beans or sheets of tin roofing up the side of a mountain filled with potential banditos. But missions is about relationship, not just humanitarian projects. At the end of the day; who cares how many people you feed or house if the occupants are going to hell?

Thank God for my beautiful wife.

Where I am prone to bulldoze the one for sake of the mission, Cathy invariably stops for the one.

Honduras 2008

That said, she’ll bulldoze through whatever she must to get to the one.

Honduras 2020
Seley is a Lenca Indian girl with Cerebral Palsy.

Everywhere she goes she connects with others, especially children out of a pure and child-like heart.

Palestinian 7th graders in the Negev.
Cathy and her best friend Keisy in Honduras, 2020.

I had no intention of ever marrying again when I met Cathy. We became friends when she heard I might be her key to getting into the jail to minister. “Hi I’m Cathy” she began. “I heard you can tell me how to get into the jail.” “depends on how long you want to stay there…” I almost joked. We started ministering at the jail every Thursday night. Soon after we began hiking together.  She’d been fasting for ten days on the first hike. It was sixteen miles on the Kalalau trail on Kauai where we lived. She handled it like a Marine. Suffice it to say, I was more than a little impressed. Nine months later, we were engaged.

Only Cathy would marry a crazy guy like me to spend the next 12 years living with inmates and their children and then tell people that she

felt privileged and spoiled because of it.

I often joke that I had a crush on Marcia Brady as a kid.

I would have fallen head over heels in love with Cathy if I had met her as a kid.

By the grace of God, she didn’t meet me as a kid…

If you spend any time at all with Cathy then you know she is super sensitive to Holy Spirit, and she often cries when she worships, reads, or speaks God’s word, especially when speaking to those who don’t know they need Jesus.  

Make no mistake she is the reason for any favor I have with the Lord.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Prov 18:22

Like a lot of parents with adult children these days we have a son who for reasons unknown to us abruptly stopped talking to her three years ago. It hurts me to watch her suffer as only a mother can.

I’m writing this in hope that he reads it.

But also to dispel any illusion that might lead people to believe we have all our proverbial ducks in a row.

We are just little children. 1 John 2

We have found that God teaches us various aspects of Himself through the process of our becoming identified with His heart via circumstances and relationships. Like Mary with Jesus in the movie The Passion of the Christ,

Sometimes Cathy struggles to let go.

Then she does it with patience, forgiveness, and grace.

She loves her son from a distance and prays that God will soften his heart.

It’s what God did and does with us.

After God and people, Cathy loves anything related to horses. We used to do equine-assisted discipleship at the children’s home where we lived for three years in Honduras.  As is the case with people Cathy was drawn to the most broken unwanted albeit ornery teenage horse named Diablo (the devil).

We renamed him Mr. Botangles.

A few fun facts that few people know about Cathy are that she was the Hawaii state Karate champion, she taught Kareem Abdul Jabar to windsurf, and taught our missionary dog Mariposa Loca to swim.

I could go on about all the things I love about my beautiful, fiery, passionate, insanely forgiving, Holy Spirit-filled wife and how she never ceases to amaze me – all the myriad things I have learned by simply watching her…  Still, there is one thing that I miss. 

I miss seeing the world through her eyes.

While video production was my forte.  Cathy loved still photography.  Her camera went everywhere with her on the mission field until it was swept away in the landslide. Photography is an easy way to connect with people in the third world if for no other reason than many people have never seen a photograph of themselves or their family.

Cathy never missed an opportunity

She has an uncanny ability to peer into people’s eyes and capture their souls.  Unfortunately, nearly five years’ worth of photos were buried under the mud. Thankfully I produced and uploaded this slideshow just before the mountain came down. 

If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye then you might to want check if you still have a pulse.

I plan to see through her eyes again starting today.

Regular readers may be scratching their heads especially since I am so prone to rant over life-sucking self-centeredness and narcissism in the body of Christ.

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
    a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

I am ranting over the awesomeness of my bride the way I believe Jesus will one day rant over His.

For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

I’m trying to articulate my gratitude to God for the gift He has given me. As usual, words do not suffice

It is through my marriage to Cathy that Jesus teaches me the most about His heart for His bride. It is through her being my bride that Cathy models what it means to be a bride. That is part of the mystery.

and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Mark 10:8

It is in the context of marriage that the depth of God’s endgame is revealed. The realized Kingdom of Heaven is a marriage.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
 and his Bride has made herself ready;
Revelation 19:7

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

And while you don’t have to be married to know and love Jesus, let alone be loved by Him, marriage is the foundation of any Christian community. As far as “community” is concerned, a given Christian community is only as healthy as its marriages.

Everything else flows from there.

As for me, I remain joyfully mesmerized by my bride. It is because of Cathy that I even have a clue as to what it means to love and be loved. It is in her presence that I can most easily appropriate the love of God which is His presence.

Thank you Jesus for my bride!

For The Love of Sid

“It’s not glamorous here but it is glorious” – Able Carrico –

While you won’t find the glitz associated with big social media-driven mega ministries, there are enough love, joy, and miracles in this place to confirm God’s presence. In our case we see the Lord calling us deeper into the other fruits of the spirit especially peace, patience, faithfulness, and self-control which can be unwittingly sidelined in charismatic circles. More often than not their cultivation takes place in the context of His longsuffering.

All that being said, the following is excerpted from a previous blog and describes just one of my experiences with a Holston child. It is my experience and by no means representative of the average Holston child or any official position of Holston or Holston staff. If your spirit is quickened and your heart resonates with what you read then you just may be called to work here with our rejected, abandoned, and traumatized, adolescents, and or their parents.  

Snapping turtles will invariably bite any hand that tries to feed them. I was a snapping turtle as a teen. Those who have heard my testimony or read some of my previous posts will know what I mean. God loved me despite me. Ephesians 2 Several of those whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure of serving are the same. One particular boy has a special place in my heart. I can’t tell you his real name so I’ll call him “Sid” after “The Evil Sid” from the movie Toy Story. 

Sid is the marginalized and forgotten archetype of a traumatized child.

Our Sid made a bomb just for fun and accidentally blew himself up. While his physical injuries were healed it was part of the reason for his being sent to Holston. I get that. I made bombs when I was a boy too. In this case, it was the overarching paradigm for Sid’s daily existence. He laughed while telling me he’d enjoyed the burns on half his body because he “got high for free”. “They gave me the good drugs!” he laughed. As one might expect, Sid had a particularly foul mouth.  My supervisor counted the number of times in the course of three minutes that Sid referred to me in the urban rendition of a female dog. She told me she quit counting at forty-seven.  That’s not accounting for the myriad of other profane conjunctions. He was particularly frustrated that day because he’d dropped the pencil with which he’d planned to stab me.  “Go – head bend over and pick it up so I can kick you in yo face!” I held his gaze and calmly kicked it away.

“You a b#&*!” Sid snapped.

Still, Sid was witty at times. “I need to s*&t!” he blurted. “Can you find another word?” I asked. “Ok,” Sid said. “How about “shoot?”. “That’s fine,” I replied. If you keep cussing it’ll be another grounding. “Grounding” at Holston means sitting alone at a table where you can read, write, color or draw without talking to any other kids as they play games or watch T.V. Sid was always grounded. In fact, his record was twelve hours without being grounded.

Later that evening Sid told me he was about to shoot himself.

“Are you thinking of killing yourself?” I asked completely forgetting our prior conversation.

“Blank No!… Remember? You told me to find another word.”

“Can you unlock the bathroom?”

Sid ran away for a second time a few days later.  We call it AWOL. The police brought him back in handcuffs a few hours later. He was cursing and spouting off about “swinging on staff” as soon as the cuffs were off. I guess he thought he sounded pretty tough even though he’d clearly been crying. The cops told us he’d surrendered when they threatened to release the dog. 

They thought that was pretty funny.

They didn’t have a dog. 

Every day I’d greet Sid with a smile and a hand on his shoulder.  “How ya doing Sid?” to which he’d reply,

“Blank you! You blanking blanker!!!”

“Sigh…That’s a restart on your grounding Sid.”

This went on for weeks. Every day I’d let Sid snap until he was tired of snapping which was usually when he fell asleep. I’d hold him accountable and give him every available consequence. I’d tell him he needed to stop proverbially blowing himself up – that threatening me amounted to him holding a gun to his head and screaming “stop or I’ll shoot!” But Sid didn’t care. At least that’s what he wanted us and maybe himself to believe. One day the Lord prompted me to stick my head in his room after he’d had a particularly rough phone call. He had at least three tears streaming down his face as I spoke.

“You don’t want to hear this now”, I began. “But let me just plant one seed. If you ever get tired of blowing yourself up and give your life to Jesus, that demon that is destroying your life will leave.”

“Hell yeah,” Sid said.

The next day I told Sid I loved him after he called me and other staff the usual slew of explicatives.  He finally laughed. 

“You really like the bad kids don’t you?”

“Hell yeah!”

Then one of Sid’s sidekicks, asked me if there is anything a kid could say or do that would make me hit them? 

“Absolutely not” I replied.

“Well…what if I hit your wife?” Sid grinned.

It was around that time that Sid started to open up about the most horrible trauma you can imagine.

“My mom is a whore.” he began. “One of her boyfriends was beating her up.  I thought he was gonna kill her.  So I grabbed a bat and beat his @$$! Then my mom called the police and pressed charges on me!”

Sid’s favorite aunt shot herself in the chest and bled out in front of him when he was 12. “I didn’t know what to do…” he said nearly crying before he could get his walls back up. Sid had concluded that not giving a “blank” is the key to survival. I told him that’s only true if you’re planning to do life in prison.

“That’s where I’m going,” he said.

Then a miracle happened.  Sid started saying “thank you” instead of “F-you” and “good night” instead of “Blank you mother blankers”. One day he stopped on his way to do his laundry, turned to me, and said,

“You know I could be a really good man if I changed.” 

If you don’t quit; you win. -Heidi Baker-

The next day Sid asked me a question. “Hey, Mr. Brian, ya know what you remind me of?” “What’s that Sid?” Given the previous night’s revelation, I was half expecting some genuine spiritual fruit.

“A Q-tip!” he cackled.

“I can see why you might say that” I laughed.

Sid’s shoulders sank as he walked away.

Then Sid tried to form a gang of other broken boys. He facilitated a classroom brawl and tried to lead a rebellion. In the end, they took him out in shackles and drove away.

One plants, one waters, but only God gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3

I wept for Sid.

 The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.  2 Pet 3:15

One reason why I have such a heart for the Sids of the world is that they have had transparency imposed upon them. Their Sid reputations are fully documented often in a way that embellishes the bad. They don’t bother to pull punches in telling us the truth about what they think. Where others see a menace to society, I see budding apostle Pauls if the scales would fall from their eyes.

Hence when “F-you!” suddenly becomes “thank you” you can be fairly certain of genuine transformation.

We do a lot of things to facilitate transformation. At the end of the day, I suspect that one of the most significant ways a child encounters the Love of God at Holston is when we don’t beat the tar out of them when they do everything in their power to prove they are “Children appointed to wrath.” Ephesians 2:3. And while so many in our identity-focused culture recoil when I say that I work with Sids because,

I am Sid

Those who really know me know it’s true. The Sids of the world is what will keep me at Holston.

Any power or ability I may have to love is the fruit of my brokenness. Luke 7:47

My prayer is that the gift of repentance would fall as it did in H.A. Baker’s Visions Beyond the Veil. Still, the older I get, the more I am convinced that places to which God has us “GO” are more for our transformation than His need for us to accomplish His will. Those who proclaim they want “More! More! More!” – those truly called to the “deep that cries out to deep” will encounter, and become increasingly identified with the brokenness, and sorrow, of our Lord, not only His joy. Isaiah 53.

If this message resonates with your heart and you identify with the Sids of the world, then maybe give Able a call and he’ll point you in the right direction.

MARANATHA

Maranatha ( ) Maranatha

I know it’s Christmas and depending on the audience, “Merry Christmas” can be a sincere wish, an act of defiance, or a virtue signal. As for us, Marantha seems a more fitting greeting this year.   

It’s been about a month since our little mission cabin was destroyed in an Iota landslide. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since God called us out of the City of Refuge into the mountains here.

To say that we loved our little cabin would be an understatement for sure.  Of course, we always knew our time there would come to an end.  That awareness only added to the sacredness. Ironically last year I wrote that Water brought us here. I guess it’s only fitting that water-soaked earth should take us out.

I ended that post with Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Like a lot of people, we’ve had our times of wrestling with God this year. Perhaps you can relate. “Why Lord did you bring us here only to lock us down in our house for 13 out of every 14 days.” Yet “Why?” is the cry of spoiled children. “What are you doing Lord?” is the only valid one.  The only thing that came to mind each time I asked was the word “preserve”.  Cathy heard “worship me”. Meanwhile, each time we stopped wrestling with God over our situation, let go, and focused on Him and His word, He’d bring His purpose into our lives.

I can’t describe the confusion I experienced as I walked down the road that morning and realized that our house was completely gone then saw the two boulders laying side by side in the exact place where our heads would have been had we chosen to sleep there that night.

I did get part of an answer to my question for the year.

The Lord had directed our steps and preserved us.

The other part came from Jacob. The story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 has always been one of my favorites.   It was during our morning devotions the other day that the word “preserved” emerged again in verse 30. I’d never really noticed it before. We looked it up and found the original Hebrew word is “Natsal”. 

It means to “deliver, rescue and save.

“Natsal” also means to strip.

We had been stripped of everything but the clothes on our backs and we were homeless in the third world.  And yet a strange supernatural peace enveloped us as well as an even stronger bond between us as husband and wife. 

That bond and peace remain with us now.

It is a peace that comes with the reassurance that His hand is indeed upon us and the understanding that true worship is trusting Him no matter what. We did. We do. If we leave this earth tomorrow it is only because our appointed time has arrived.

In the meantime, He will preserve us.

Like most full-time missionaries we’ve had our share of weird harrowing experiences. One thing we have observed is that life goes on as normal until suddenly it doesn’t. One minute your driving down the road singing silly songs then staring down the barrels of rifles or threatened with spears in the next. In any case, facing one’s imminent demise is always surreal.  One thing is certain. All of life as we know it will one day be swept away. As our 78-year-old friend, Maria just said,

“He gives and takes away.”

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Mat 6:25-27

It didn’t take long for us to release all our worldly possessions that were buried beneath mud and wreckage.  The ease with which we did this surprised everyone especially us.  A few days later our Honduran friends asked us to come to their house.  When we arrived we found clothing and other things that the community had painstakingly dug up and washed for us. 

They even dug my drone and a pouch full of Cathy’s special heirloom jewelry she’d made 40 years ago out of three feet of mud.

The love was priceless and palpable even if our hearts sank under the renewed burden of stuff.  

That sounds crazy. I know.

What are you doing Lord?

While we are certain more will be revealed, at this point, the joy of a James 1:2-4 testing that increased our faith and the contentment described by Paul in Phil 4:11-13 appear to be the biggest takeaway right now. It’s one thing to read and know the word. Living is is another.

Since then we’ve been consumed with helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If you follow us and or Hope In Time Ministries on FaceBook then you know what we’ve been up to.  As for our welfare, we have a fully furnished house to stay in until March 1st.

We have no idea where we are going after that. Mat 6:25-27.

The devastation here can be mind-numbing and the temptation to check out is real.

Yet on this day, our hearts go out to so many in the 1st world.  Those grasping for the material. Those praying that their old lives will be restored and those with all hope in a political candidate. Those with the same hope in a vaccine. Those who remain terrified and angry about so many things beyond their control. Those consumed by the cares of this world and are blind.

To those I say, “there is a better way”.

I’m not a prophet, fortune teller, or seer but I’m guessing that events in the coming weeks and years are going to draw many to the Lord and cause others to fall away. I believe there is a message in the recent events of our lives that applies to all.

Everyone on earth has a world view.  Everyone frames their lives accordingly. Every world view is framed or bracketed by unprovable assumptions regarding one’s origin and destiny. It is on these assumptions that we all place our trust and fill the space in between. That so many today are thoroughly consumed with anxiety and fear over things that they can not control let alone understand is not the result of events between the brackets.  

They are a result of bad bracketing.  

Maranatha is an Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means “Jesus has come” and “Jesus is coming”.  It is the gospel of the Kingdom condensed into one word. It is the truth claim that brackets the life of every true follower of Christ regardless of how messed up things might be in the space in-between. It is the truth claim the brackets our existence and supports everything we do whether or not we have a place to lay our heads. Let’s face it. “Hard” is a relative term. This past year has been hard for everyone. Yet while Jesus did not promise freedom from suffering He did promise peace.  That peace is contingent on the bracketing. 

He came. He is coming. He knows you by your name.

Be Merry.

(Maranatha!

Maranatha!)

OUR THEME SONG FOR THE YEAR

The Most Incredible Woman

And walking in Joseph’s shoes

There is an amazing woman here in Honduras. Today is her birthday and I have nothing to give her so I thought I would tell you all just a little about her. I’ve learned more from her than any other human being on earth. She is tough, obedient to God, and has an immovable faith. She is a living epistle of Truth, love, and the compassion of Jesus Christ. She is always available even when it’s uncomfortable, always willing, always stops for the one.

Her best days, the ones that most fill her with the manifest presence of God and make her face light up with His light and love are those spent walking miles through the mountains carrying a few bags of rice and beans to feed the poor and then sit in the dirt with them. Lower and slower and to know Christ and Him crucified is her goal. Her greatest most heartfelt desire is that others would know Jesus as she does and more. She is a true worshipper who loves God more than anyone I know. She loves to dance. To see her dance before the Lord in worship is to witness one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on earth. Her very presence is a constant reminder and frequent conviction to me of what is most important. I am so very blessed and honored to call her my wife.

I want to honor her today in particular because today 11/22/2020 is her birthday. She lost almost everything and doesn’t even have a home. Still her greatest concern right now is for those who just lost theirs.

Her favorite movie is The Passion of the Christ. Lately she has been pondering aloud the scene where after being nailed to the cross the soldiers pull Jesus into a vertical position and the cross settles into the waiting post hole. Meanwhile Mary rises from her knees, her fists full of the earth she’d been clutching. Her hands slowly and reluctantly open in apparent surrender.

Cathy frequently wonders what she would have done had she been present when Jesus was tortured and crucified. Would she have become dejected as the Apostles did. Or would she have screamed “Why?!!” in rage at God. What was in the natural the most horrific treatment of any human being at the hands of another became the path of redemption for all of humanity.

His ways are not our ways.

For example, this Land Rover that you saw parked across from our house the day before the landslide does not belong to us. We don’t own a car. It is a ministry vehicle and was used to rescue us after the landslide. Josh picked it up the day it started raining because someone had siphoned half a tank of gas. It would be gone and we would still be completely stranded had the gas not been stolen.

While Jesus is the eternal answer to everything that ails us, Mary is the often under rated example of what it actually looks like to embrace that Truth here in earth. Perhaps it is the suffering of childbirth and motherhood that afforded Mary and all mothers with the deepest understanding of God’s grace and compassion such that they become living epistles. All I know is that Cathy is God’s living epistle to me and more people than she knows.

Today I want everyone to know it.

I want to honor my wife today because today is her birthday and I almost lost her. If there is anything at all that is good in me here on this earth it’s because God knew I needed her for a wife. Frankly, I don’t know how I would ever go on without her.

Ironically we slept under this statue of Joseph on the night our home was washed away. I felt, but could not identify the significance at the time. There’s not a whole lot written about Joseph in the Bible. We are left to imagine how he might have felt and what he thought as he became homeless and stood by and supported his wife who was quite literally filled with the manifest presence of God. When I tell you that children and adults  in our village cry and ask us to stay, they are not crying to me. They are crying to and over the loss of Cathy. Cathy’s birthdays have been historically tragic. There is a time and season for everthing. This is Cathy’s season. I can not give her anything. Even if I did she’d give it away. My prayer today is that God grant her His peace and joy.  All I can say is that today

I think I have a better idea of what it it must have been like to walk in Joseph’s shoes.

We’ve got a long hard road ahead of us. If you think of it perhaps say a prayer for Cathy today.  I am so much more aware of just how much she has impacted the lives of others than she. I just wanted the world to know just a few of the reasons why I love her and am so amazed by her.

MARANATHA!

Still Growing Down in Honduras

A Gray Hope Missionaries Update

When people ask missionaries about missions the easiest answer is to give details about ministries and what we’d like to think we see God doing through us and around us. There have been times when our own reports sound more like an investment prospectus than a report of what God is doing. Most missionary blogs and newsletters do not begin with a list of failures and brokenness.  And while the secular cults of personality and comparison have invaded the church and made the quest for personal significance and success into idols,

His strength is made perfect in weakness.” We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.  For when we are weak, then we are strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Brokenness remains the key to missions.

Therefore we are always compelled to first qualify ourselves according to our failures and infirmities before we qualify any ministry we do. Our lives before Christ included things like addiction, divorce, suicidal ideation, and prison to name a few. I struggled with alcoholism for two decades and failed at everything before being instantly delivered from it and the buckshot coming my way amidst a point-blank shotgun blast. I wasn’t looking for Jesus at the time. I was looking to die. I did. Cathy was essentially looking to do the same when Jesus delivered her. John 15:16

The extent to which God uses us today remains a function of our brokenness and the utter dependence upon Jesus that flows from it.

That brokenness is not just historical.   

Like most aspiring missionaries we had dreams of changing the world for Jesus when we began. That’s before we accepted that God may use us but He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He places us where ever He does because where He puts us is the best place for Him to conform us to His image. Rom 8:29 As easy it might be to tell tails of adventure and harrowing brushes with death, and how we are saving Honduras in spite of it. The fact is that while the adventure is real it is God and sometimes Hondurans who save us. If that weren’t bad enough, for the record, we have never led a single person to Christ. We have planted and watered a lot of seed. 1 Cor 3:6-8 We have also been present when people made the decision to surrender John 4:36-38. We have never healed anyone. We have seen God heal people when we prayed for them. John 11:4 I once saw a demon-possessed man set free on a short term mission trip as I prayed. But honestly, I only prayed because I was last in line in a fire tunnel and the pastor was yelling at me. I didn’t know what to say so I just started saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over until he fell down sobbing at my feet. People said it was amazing. I was more amazed than anyone because I didn’t believe in any of that stuff at the time. When we teach we assume we are there for one person because most people usually don’t care what we say. As it turns out we frequently teach in tongues. Many times we hear, “Wow I really liked what you said.” Only we never said what they heard. My point is that our path was and is one of God accomplishing His will in spite of us rather than because of us. We are not spiritual special forces as some are prone to view missionaries. We are people that God uses to prove that He can use anyone anywhere provided they are a yielded vessel. He is the potter. We are His cracked pots. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other as His will and purpose unfolds before us.

Most times it feels like we are just along for the ride.

I realize this might not be the purposeful and intentional way in which many imagine the great the commission should unfold.

However, it does lend some perspective to Eph 2:8-10

The valley of Megiddo from the Mount of Transfiguration. We received a free round trip to Israel last year.

There is a tendency in the contemporary body of Christ to pursue Mat 17 Mount of Transfiguration type experiences.  Many Christians spend their entire lives chasing prophetic affirmations mostly about themselves and encounters with the manifest presence of God. Yet the mountain top is the place where God reveals Himself as the anchor to which we tether our faith as we venture into the valley below. It is the firey crises of faith in the valleys of life that burn off the dross and purify us.

Becoming a missionary is volunteering for the valley.

COVID was one such valley for us as we found ourselves locked down immediately after moving to a remote mountain village where we didn’t know anyone and many had never even met a gringo before. The State Department kept sending emails advising us to evacuate. When the border closed we knew we were committed and that we were on our own if we get sick. Several months in, depression and anxiety crept up on Cathy. A sense of futility bordering on apathy snuck up on me as I heard that familiar Gen 3 whisper, “Did God really say?…” “Did God really place you here? Or were we imagining things?” There were only two places to go to at this point. One was what AIM alumni know as the “Q” zone (the quit zone) deep in the valley of the “Project Mood Curve”. The other was deeper into the Secret Place.

  Thankfully we were both compelled toward the latter.

Yet even that was a function of His grace more than it was our will and our choice.

That’s when His purpose opened up. God confirmed that we are exactly where He wants us.

Perhaps the biggest difference between full-time missions in the third world and ministry in the first is that missionaries have fewer options from which to choose before God becomes the only one. While the first world rewrites the book of Ecclesiastes, missions offers a short cut to the truth in chapter 12.

Never the less it is a paradoxical process of growth that He brings us through.

“When you are done growing, you’re done.”

-Heidi Baker-

We want less of us and more of Him.  John 3:30-36

So we keep growing down.

All that being said, “becoming” a missionary is simple.  It is hearing and being obedient to God’s call regardless of whether it makes sense.  It is counting the cost and laying down in faith whatever is, for what God’s word says could and should be. 

Being” a missionary is living in James 1:4 and sometimes enduring the reality of the verses immediately before. 

Lately, it’s been walking through mountain jungles to deliver food because of the lockdown. 

And filling the gap at our house because fear canceled school. 

Of course, the true purpose is neither food nor school but opening doors to eternal Truth. More often it means planting in hope that another may harvest. One thing we have learned;

People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care. 

We Do.

We are into our fifth year on the field and our fourth year in Honduras. 

Right now, we are in a fairly remote mountain location called Cerro Azul Meambar and in Luke 10 forerunning stages of a new ministry among partly Miskito Indian people. That means going low and slow, building relationships and trust, and becoming a part of our new community. We do a lot of children’s ministry. Children are great ambassadors between us and sometimes more skeptical adults.

Our real heart is for discipleship which among other things means involving kids ages 10 -13 in outreach.

The second aspect of forerunning is not as fun. It is finding and binding the Mat 12:22-30 strong man. In missions terms, the strong man is the person, issue, or situation that impedes gospel truth. It can be an individual, political party, or social issues like poverty, domestic violence, or addiction, etc.  After nearly six months we are narrowing it down. Most children here only attend school up to the 6th grade at which point they might grow coffee and net an average $3 for every hundred pounds of beans they grow.  If they harvest for someone else, they might make $2. 

Hondurans are notorious for their stoic, and fateful surrender to hopelessness.

Our prayer is that the fateful become faith-filled.

That said, the strong man appears to be alcoholism here.

It makes perfect sense in the spirit.  In addition to the two of us being former addicts, I was an adolescent substance abuse counselor and a clinical supervisor for a decade before I was a missionary. For fun, Cathy and I ran a faith-based co-ed transitional housing program for prison inmates. We lived with 5-10 inmates and sometimes their children for twelve years. As much as we have tried to get away and do something different, God continues to place this population in our path.  It was our brokenness that led us to Christ.  Apparently, it is still the same brokenness that continues to qualify us in ministry.  Ok, Lord.

Thy will be done.

Maranatha!

The Miraculous Mundane

How to name a puppy

Several years ago, Cathy had a vivid dream involving butterflies before we left for mission school in Africa and then moved to Honduras. Then she began seeing butterflies and butterfly symbols everywhere she went. It was happening so often that it seemed more than just a little prophetic and she began researching the history and symbology of butterflies. As you might expect the butterfly is a universally, age-old symbol of transformation.

Butterfly in our house

Some transformations are sudden. Most are gradual. Romans 12:1-2 tells us “not to be conformed to the ways of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds”. In Mathew 17:1-13 we see Jesus suddenly transformed in the presence of Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration before leading them into a crisis of faith in the valley below. Israelis call this peak Mt. Tabor or “A Megiddo “ (Above Megiddo). Megiddo is the valley of the final prophetic battle of Armageddon. We were more than amused to find ourselves surrounded by butterflies as we walked this sacred ground when we were blessed with a free ticket to Israel in 2019.

A Megido

God shows up in so many poignant ways for us since we entered the mission field that only made sense that we would find ourselves surrounded by the most amazing butterflies in Cerro Azul when God uprooted us in January.

There is one variety here that only appears in pairs. They are small, pure white, and too fast to photograph as they dance in perfect unison forming a double helix as they ascend. They fascinate me. Ironically, I hadn’t seen any in several weeks when two of them suddenly appeared as I wrote about them here.

It occurred to me that maybe they were always there, and I had merely stopped seeing them.

We Christians can be rather impetuous in our expectation that God should always do a new thing. The end result can look a lot like ingratitude and even idolatry.

Cathy has always been just a tiny bit anti-dog. Don’t get me wrong, she loves dogs. Unfortunately, she’s allergic to shed animal hair. While we had dogs in Hawaii, they did not enter the house. Here in Honduras, she didn’t even want dogs in our yard. Then one day we went to buy eggs and carried a shedless short hair puppy home. If that weren’t enough this dog lives inside like a child. As of this writing, she’s even been sleeping in our bed. 

Still, our dog did not have a name.

As might be expected we are the only gringos here. In fact, many in our village had never met one face to face. Suffice it to say we have a near-constant flow of people knocking at our door. Ten-year-old Carmen, one of the firsr girls we met was the first to come knocking that day.

Carmen

¿Cuál es su nombre? What is her name? She asked. “She doesn’t have a name yet,” we said. “What should we name her?” “Mariposa” she replied without hesitation.

Mariposa means butterfly. 

I have yet to meet a Honduran dog named “butterfly”.

It seemed like a no brainer to me. “That’s too long,” Cathy said.

“Dog names should only be two syllables.”

Thirty minutes later a family we’d never met came to sell papayas. The daughter looked to be about Carmen’s age. She freaked out with joy when she saw our new puppy. ¿Cuál es su nombre? She asked? She doesn’t have a name yet. What should we name her? The girl paused and said,

“Mariposa”.

But Cathy was still bucking the name. Go figure. That’s when I posted “Name our dog” on Facebook.

We got well over one hundred excellent suggestions. Any of them would have worked in my book. But Cathy was still racking her brain. Hosanna, Java, Esperanza, Glory, all of them sounded so good. 

“Help me, honey.” She said.

On Saturday we had our usual children’s ministry.

One sweet little girl named Alicia showed up early. Cathy had gone to retrieve a new girl and I was left to introduce our new puppy myself. Alicia was enthralled. ¿Cuál es su nombre? she asked. “Nunca.” “None” I began in my characteristically horrible Spanish. “Que nombre para mi perita?” What should I name her? I asked.

“Mariposa!” Alicia blurted.

Perhaps the prophetic people out there will see a deeper message in all this. There’s certainly no lack of prophetic words these days. I think God wants us to see the sacred within the moment, to pay attention, to remain grateful amidst the current and coming chaos, and embrace the miraculous within the mundane.  I am certain more will be revealed provided we don’t allow the times to change who we are. Thankfully there’s nothing quite like children and a puppy to facilitate our transformative process of growing down in Honduras.

For now, it is a simple act of obedience when I declare,

Nuestra el nombre del perrita es

Mariposa

(Our dog’s name is Butterfly)

Sometimes the mundane is the miracle.

Anatomy of Deception – Binding the Strong Man

How do you determine what is true? How do you discern right from wrong?

How you answer these questions is determined by your world view. There are many. If you are Christian the Word of God should interpret your experience and frame your world view. Deception results when people interpret the Word of God via their experience and allow their experience to frame their world view. The first is objective. The latter is subjective.

Subjectivity is a growing problem in the body of Christ

Many refuse to see it.

In Mark Chapter 3 Jesus appoints the 12 disciples and gives them the power to preach, heal, and cast out demons. When the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees heard this they tried to attack Him.

Jesus was the Truth and they called Him a liar and a devil.

So He used the laws of coherence and correspondence to refute their claims. The laws of coherence and correspondence require that a truth claim makes sense and corresponds to reality within the context in which it is being stated. Violations of these laws are most easily demonstrated by the oxymorons like this famous nursery rhyme that result.

“One bright day in the middle of the night two dead boys got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords, and shot each other.”

In this case, Jesus simply points out that a house or a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and asks,

“How can Satan cast out Satan?”

He goes on to say that

 “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.”

While people tend to focus on the unseen supernatural power involved in casting out demons, Jesus began every confrontation with the truth. E.g. Luke 4:1-13, John 8, John 17:17. Objective truth is the most often overlooked supernatural aspect of God.

The strong man is the lie that masquerades as truth.

Of course, the natural man wants to find a natural manifestation of the lie to oppose in the flesh. Social media and our city streets are proof positive of this. Yet we do not war against flesh and blood. While our battle is ultimately metaphysical against rulers and principalities of the air Eph 6:12 the more tangible context is often in the realm of belief and world view. It makes sense given that everyone’s eternal disposition is contingent on these.

That’s probably at least one reason why belief is addressed 148 times in 135 verses in the New Testament alone.

Satan has from the beginning always attacked belief on the grounds of the existence and nature of truth.

Today we are facing an outright assault on truth in the form of a calculated deconstruction of our history, identity, language, education, culture, and most importantly our faith. While people like Paul-Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida often get much of the contemporary credit, deconstruction began with Satan in Genesis 3,

“Did God really say?”

Deconstruction always attacks meaning and is ultimately about power.

Random and crazy as it often appears, deconstruction is neither of these.

On January 10, 1963, Cleon Skousen a former undercover FBI Agent, presented 45 stated American communist party goals to congress. These enumerated deconstructive goals included tearing down statues, defunding the police, and replacing them with mental health professionals who would diagnose anti-communist propensities as mental disorders. It proposed using the UN to achieve a global communist government. Getting people to accept this would be gradual and achieved by first circumventing education and dumbing down the curriculum. This would be further supported through the discrediting of parents and the institution of the family as a whole and finally teaching violent student insurrection as a legitimate method for achieving political goals.

Sound familiar?

Of course, the Christian church and our faith was and is acknowledged as the primary obstacle to achieving all the other goals.

Hence

Communist agenda #27 “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with social religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a religious crutch.”

This is happening!

In addition to the social and political deconstruction of the American way of life, there is a growing Christian deconstruction movement resulting in people including leaders rejecting Christ. The supporting intellectual framework is often just a cover for sin and or a worldly agenda. The most sophisticated arguments usually revolve around apparent textual inconsistencies in the Bible, as yet unproven historical claims, fake science, and false justice. “How could a loving God…? “If God is real why doesn’t He…? “Where is the proof of….?” They demand proof according to human criteria in apparent ignorance that God is sovereign, His ways are higher than our ways and that faith, not empirical proof is the foundation of lived Christianity. Luke 18:8 In the end Biblical truth is deconstructed according to the standards of man. Like Jesus, in Mark 3 God and His Church are judged as evil.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum.

Once God is removed from the equation, those programmed by media to embrace an entitled, monetized victim mindset are more than ready to accept the State as the god who provides.

#27 accomplished.

Do not be deceived. The real battle is against God regardless of the social issues in which it manifests.

Today we have growing divisions in the church. There are political divisions, racial divisions, and divisions over gender to name a few. More importantly, there are divisions regarding God’s position on these and other issues. Every conflict is ultimately rooted in Pontious Pilate’s question in John 18:38,

“What is Truth?”

If you are a Christian then Jesus is the Truth. He is also the Word. We learn what is true by studying it. 2 Tim 2:15

We bind the strongman by knowing and proclaiming it. 2 Cor 10:4-5, 2 Tim 2:15, Col 2:8-10

Biblical truth always corresponds with the Word of God and remains coherent within that context or it is not Truth.

Coherent exegesis is always God-centered and objective.

Man centered exegesis is always subjective and results in perverted truth, sin, and divisions.

Not sometimes.

Always!

Hence Jesus ended the discussion with a warning.

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—because they said,

“He has an unclean spirit.”

In it’s simplest form, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the insistence that the Truth is a lie and a refusal to be corrected.

If we profess to be Christian but lean on our own understanding of God and His will and refuse to be corrected by the Word of God, then we risk being as guilty as the Scribes and Pharisees and subject to the same consequences.

So how do we avoid this?

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

Anytime you find yourself passionately arguing for or against a particular world view or moral issue etc. be like the Acts 17:11 Bereans and do so Biblically. That means citing scripture or at least being able to support your position with scripture if and when your position is questioned or opposed. It means demanding the same regarding all truth claims from brothers and sisters whether or not we agree with them.

“Where is that in the Bible?” Should be our default.

Sometimes this requires long-suffering and bearing with one another while Prov 27:17 sparks fly. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening today. People are refusing to even discuss let alone debate essential doctrines. In the case of radical subjectivists, either you agree or you get canceled. This rapidly emerging trend looks a lot like a 2 Thes 2:1-3 falling away. So be it. The Bible says that will and must happen.

One thing is certain. Truth isn’t Christian Truth unless it corresponds with scripture and remains coherent within that context.

Any other standard of truth, justice, or righteousness is at best an attempt to cast Satan out with Satan. At worst it is the manifest presence of Satan himself. Many today refuse to hear this. The organization Black Lives Matter is a perfect example. I realize that my saying this will send some people into a rage. Several have already accused me of misrepresenting Jesus. Others have accused me of white supremacy and of representing Satan myself.

I’m ok with that.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” Mat 10:24-25

Besides, Jesus “didn’t come to bring peace but a sword.” Mat 10:34-39

In any case, BLM supporters should definitely watch this and listen to the words directly from their founders before disagreeing.

The salvation of some could very well be in the balance.

Then explain,

What fellowship does light have with darkness? 2 Cor 6:14

Call it subjectivism, Marxism, witchcraft, progressivism, Critical theory, postmodernism, deconstruction; call it whatever you want. The Strongman is doing home and church invasions.

If we don’t bind him with Truth now, we are going to be bound and plundered later.

Maranatha!

Racism, Truth and The Samaritian Woman

As missionaries, we view the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John Chapter 4 as a wisdom treasure trove and a template for ministry and missions especially within the context of racial prejudice.

As is the case with pretty much every ethnic conflict, 1st century Samaritans and Jews were diametrically opposed to each other on the basis of race and heritage. The Samaritans lived by Jacob’s well and believed they were God’s righteous people. The Jews in Jerusalem believed the exact opposite. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim. The Jews worshiped on Mount Moriah.

Both groups were focused on the fleshy constructs in the name of the kingdom.

Samaria was regarded by the Jews as a racial no go zone kind of like the old “wrong side of the tracks” or “skid row” in the US. In fact, Jews would walk several extra miles around Samaria when journeying between Judea and Galilee just to avoid walking through it.

John 4 says Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.”

Upon arrival, He encountered a disenfranchised adulterous woman at the community well and asked her for a drink. Community wells were a focal point for village social life among women. The same practice can be seen throughout the third world today. That the Samaritan woman was there alone in the heat of the day is an indication of just how ostracized and shame-based she must have been. Not only did Jesus violate the rule that Jews did not talk to Samaritans. But Jewish men, and especially Rabbis did not talk to women at all let alone known serial adulteresses. While both the woman and the disciples were incredulous that Jesus would even acknowledge her presence, He turned around and drank Samaritan water from a Samaritan cup. Anyone involved in third world missions will be familiar with the thoughts that run through one’s mind when handed a cup of potentially bacteria-ridden water to drink. It always comes down to a question of personal well being versus honoring your host.

Honor is the foundational key to opening doors in missions and reconciliation.

Racism, be it rooted in ideas of racial supremacy, purity, or systemic power, is anti-relational at its core in that it denies an individual or group their inherent, God-given dignity in order to dominate them. That Critical Race Theorists and Social Justice Warriors do so for the sake of achieving dominance over those whom they regard as abusively dominant still qualifies as racism. As in the case of any sin, the devil doesn’t care if one is obsessed with continuing to sin or obsessed with not doing it.  He just needs sin, not God to be the main focus.

The same applies to the sin of racism.

Jesus repeatedly ignored man’s interpretations of identity, value, culture, and morality. He never debated because He knew what was in man, namely a constant vying for personal prosperity, privilege, and power. Neither did He debate the devil when he tried to tempt Him with power and privilege. That’s not just white people. That’s all people and is a result of the Fall.  Sometimes he exposed and firmly rebuked those like Peter, who should have known better than to judge according to the standards of fallen man. More often He simply short-circuited false and or disingenuous arguments with parables and scripture then left people alone to wrestle with the truth before God.

The story of the Samaritan woman is poignant in regard to race and racism because Jesus modeled the correct approach. He honored her in spite of her sin and in the presence of those who normally would not have. He didn’t embark on a long diatribe about inequity or misogyny. He did not engage in a long philosophical and historic apologetic analysis of systemic issues. Neither did He ignore the woman’s sin. He called it out in a very matter of fact way and then directed her attention to Himself.

The end result was a flipped script among everyone present and the transformation of a shame-based and marginalized woman into the first recorded evangelist in the Gospel.

There are so very many lessons and prophetic implications contained within this story. The moral as it relates to racism is that racism is best countered by ignoring all its fleshy social constructs and short-circuiting it with honor in the presence of others. Healing comes with an intense focus on Truth. Jesus was clear.

True worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

Flesh based socially constructed racism is not possible within that context. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Think about it.

Still Growing Down in Honduras

Like much of the rest of the world, COVID cases in Honduras continue to climb in accordance with increased testing. The more relevant mortality rate has remained at around 2.5 – 3.1%. Whatever the biological and clinical reality of COVID turns out to be, the economic fallout is wreaking havoc in the cities here. Thank God we are not in a city. At this time we are allowed out to buy food in the city once every 15 days. For the most part, we eat, rice, eggs, beans, and bananas.

The good news is that at the time of this writing, the uber strict nationwide lockdown has started to ease. A lot of Hondurans are convinced the whole thing is a power grab and are ignoring the lockdown anyway. Of course, that could change at any moment.

We still don’t want to catch COVID in Honduras.

Thy Will Be Done!

I’ll be honest, it has been hard at times. I really don’t like to admit that. I’ve never really experienced anxiety over God’s provision before. The havoc that has been wrought upon the global economy means money is tight for everyone and our personal support has dwindled. Lately, I’ve been wondering if God isn’t going to take us to that place that so many other missionaries like Hudson Taylor have described, of being down to their very last dollar or dime or piece of bread only to be lead by God to give it away. At the end of the day, being a missionary isn’t about being some kind of world-changing superhero as so many imagine. It’s about growing in dependence upon Him. That always involves a shaking and a breaking. There’s a lot of that going on today. Heb 12:25-28 While James 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” is my official mission motto, I know a breaking is taking place when I sit in our river and cry and can’t for the life of me explain why. As Cathy recently wrote, this is an ongoing daily call to surrender even if it means

“living like this for the rest of my life – if it is your will, God.”

Thank God, we have each other. Even so, we miss our friends both here in Honduras and in the US, not to mention our family. Some times the enemy plays mind games and we wonder if anyone cares or if we’ll ever even see anyone again. These are the days when we lay it down even more. Other days we wrestle with the feelings of utter uselessness and futility. Cathy just presses harder into the Lord when this happens. “Where there is no vision people perish…” Proverbs 29:18 is a bigger struggle for me. The men in my family keep going until their purpose is gone. Then they die. My sympathetic nervous system responds to a lack of purpose as a life-threatening event. Of course, the struggle is not for a lack of knowledge. We both have the words we would and have given to those whom we counseled through the years. In any case, I’m sure we are not unique. So…

Cathy made her own prayer closet in the old coffee mill / guest house in our yard.

In any case, we both spend a huge amount of time in God’s word. While I’m not the least bit prophetic, I keep hearing the word “preserved”. The other day Cathy mentioned the fact that Abraham waited 25 years, Moses 40, Joseph 13, David 22, Jesus 30, and Paul waited on the Lord for 14 years. Any genuine word that one of us receives is always confirmed by the other. One thing we have learned. If you don’t know how to wait,

don’t even think about doing full time missions.

Hope In Time Ministries

We are still working to get Hope In Time off the ground. Unfortunately, Josh is still in the US and Paulet lives in another village. She’s definitely got her hands full there right now. Initially, we had envisioned getting scholarships to get kids into school, showing the Jesus film in remote villages and doing discipleship with people an families struggling with substance abuse. We thought we’d be providing solar power to families without electricity and concrete floors. We could blame it on the enemy but it is the Lord who is saying otherwise. Again, sometimes roadblocks are for our growth and protection. Proverbs 14:12

In any case, Cathy and I have built many relationships over the years. We wanted to let people know where we are at without speaking on behalf of the ministry as a whole. That’s why we are doing this update on our website rather than on Hope In Time’s. God willing Josh will back in the next month or two and the next update will be a formal Hope In Time newsletter.

If you’ve been following Hope In Time Ministries posts then you’ve seen our Hope In Time outreach videos where we delivered six thousand pounds of food to Lenca Indians.

We had to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to pull it off but it happened. This is the same village in which we have been slowly building relationships for several years.

We still struggle with the language. But the soul to soul encounters we’ve experienced sometimes makes me think that words are overrated.

And true gratitude is often better seen than heard.

I wonder what you all see when you look in their eyes?

Of course, we had to quarantine inside our home for 15 days when we finished.

Then COVID came to Bacadia, the village where Paulet lives about three miles down the road. Normally we could walk there. But the leaders of Cerro Azul locked us in.

We didn’t really want to walk three miles to return a vacuum cleaner anyway. JK. That’s actually Cathy’s idea of a good time.

The roadblock was technically illegal. We figure that’s why guys in the guard shack hid from the camera.

In the meantime, Cathy and I continue to look for opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel anyway we can.

As it turns out, landslides are a relationship catalyst. Especially when you own your own ax and shovel.

“Why are you helping us? We can’t pay you.” is a great conversation starter.

The village has a school but many of the children still don’t read.

So we started a children’s library.

Carmen (in light blue) reads a little. Valerie reads a little more. Even so, Carmen has excellent taste in literature.

Green Eggs and Ham es mi favorito!

Carmen and Valerie are a bit intimidated by Cassie and Daisy who read really well. They declined to participate when they came to the door and saw the other two girls sitting at the table. Turns out girl drama is cross-cultural. We’re working on it. In any case, we gave them a children’s bible and we hope to create questions in their minds that will lead to ongoing discipleship.

A worker is worth his wages 1 Tim 5:18

We promised you’d be hearing more about Alfonzo.

He spent some time working in the United States then returned to Honduras where he was attacked by a man with a machete during a robbery. Today He has one hand, one ear, and one eye.

This is his coffee and yucca and Malanga farm.

It’ a hard one hour walk through the mountains and rain forest just to get there. Alfonzo walks it alone every day and carries what he needs. This day he carried I tree he wanted to plant.

The locals here know a lot about natural medicines. This bark “is good for your stomach”. “Some people get drunk on it,” he said.

Alfonzo has his challenges but he never complains, he is always grateful, always joyful.

and he loves the Lord.

He’s also a former Honduran Marine which probably explains his ability to adapt and overcome.

His coffee is nearly ready to harvest.

He nets $3 for every hundred pounds of raw cherries he picks. If he’s lucky he’ll bring in $90 this year.

How much do Americans pay for a cup of coffee at the highly WOKE Starbucks?

We are researching coffee and the coffee industry in hopes of creating a coop and finding a way to get these farmers fair market value for their coffee and their labor.

That said, we are not experienced entrepreneurs.

If you or someone you know is knowledgeable in this area and would like to help or advise us we’d sure appreciate it.

In the meantime, we keep pushing deeper into the mountains above our village on foot.

and leads to some pretty amazing views

On this day we were looking for a boy named Manuel and his family. Manuel had come to our door to sell plantains one day and he invited us to his house. We finally found them. Manuel is in the rear.

This was our first visit so naturally, we wanted to honor them and didn’t take many pictures. Like so many Hondurans their house has a dirt floor and everyone sleeps in the same room. They may be cash poor but they are rich in love. Norma the mom looks like she might be pregnant but Cathy didn’t want to ask. A low protein, high carb diet often consisting of nothing but corn results in an odd combination of malnourishment and weight gain in women here. The whole family seems to be nearsighted and needs glasses. It would be great to have a small medical brigade visit here one day. Anyway, we stumbled through a conversation with our not so good Spanish, and played some worship music over which the girls were mesmerized. We prayed for the whole family and invited them to visit us. We look forward to a growing friendship.

We think this is an abandoned baby “?”

Manuel found him and was caring for it. He tried to give it to Cathy.

We spent some time with our friend Jose on the way. He’s another hard-working farmer who also spent time in the USA.

Jose works hard and is very proud of his farm. He has a fair amount of land but is only able to work seven to ten acres by himself. He grows beans, corn, and coffee. Everything is done by hand.

Jose’s hunting dog.

Jose says he likes to hunt raccoons when he has time.

There is so much to learn each time we venture out. We are constantly amazed by the ingenuity and resilience of these people. There is so much we’d like to do to help. At the same time, we have seen the damage that Western materialism has wrought in the lives of indigenous people. We want to honor them as brothers and sisters in Christ, equals in the the light of Imago Dei and not as props in a missions drama that supports our own sense of purpose and significance. They have survived and thrived here for generations.

We wouldn’t last a week by ourselves.

Growing down never ends.

Thank you for your prayers.

If you are receiving this its because we love you.

Walking in Dust

We were with South Sudanese Refugees in the Rhino Refugee camp in Northern Uganda when our team was asked to address leaders from multiple tribes several of whom had previously fought one another in the ongoing civil war. Unity was the theme. We were all assigned a time slot in which to teach. I felt completely inept and I don’t remember anything said by our team only one South Sudanese leader, a former child soldier and “Lost Boy” who stood up at the end and proclaimed,

“There is no good tribe! There are no good people! There is only one who is good! That one is Jesus!” He went on to say, “We must forgive. We must turn the other cheek. We must love our enemy!”

After praying with a woman whose child had just died Cathy asked the man with whom she was walking. “How do you cope with all this pain?” “We have nothing…” He smiled as he continued,

“…but we have Jesus!”

These doctors, nurses, lawyers engineers, teachers, professors, and preachers in the camp never imagined they’d end up living in the dust with their children in scorching heat without food or water for days at a time. They never imagined that at least one of their children would die every day due to starvation or a lack of medical care. Now they understood the futility of human resolutions and justice. Now they were on fire for God in the spirit of 2 Chron 7:14.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I can not even describe how much we loved these people.

If there is any other place we would most like to serve as missionaries it would be there in the dust with Jesus.

I recently wrote a blog about the Fourth Turning by two historians who observed an Ecclesiastes 1:9 and Chapter 3 cycle in American history. They identified a pattern where a new era, a season, or “Turning” emerges every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. If you are unfamiliar with the Fourth Turning you can get the breakdown here Character.

Here are a few highlights.

“Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”

“…The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule…”

“ …Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time…”

The Reckoning is Here

We were in the beginning stages of the Corona crisis when I said I believed we are in another 4th Turn Crisis that will ultimately culminate in another 1st Turn High.

I have since revised my outlook.

This is the beginning of sorrows.

I want to scream every time I read things like the over 74 people shot one of whom was a 5-year-old in Chicago on, and immediately following Memorial Day weekend. What happened to George Floyd was dead wrong. But where is the logic? Where is BLM when scores of black people are being killed by black people in inner cities every day?!

Why do black lives only matter when a white person takes a black life?

I don’t see how we move forward without first identifying the truth regarding all the bogus agendas. Lately, I’ve been battling a temptation to make another appeal to critical thinking on social media. I wrote about cognitive dissonance in The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The problem is that the agendas of man are at the center of everything and emotion in King. Suffice it to say that given the reactions I received, things probably would not have gone well for me if I were saying all this in the street. Luckily I am safe in Honduras. How’s that for irony?

Anyway, I’m just gonna leave this here…

The black life of this former police chief killed by a looter mattered so much that Twitter took it down.

The most recent the FBI UCR Crime Stats are nearly the same

Offenders:  54.9 percent were Black or African American, 42.4 percent were White

Victims: 53.3 percent were Black or African American, 43.8 percent were White

46 million slaves in 167 countries today.

the problme is that too many refuse to see, hear, and be confronted with facts.

Either you agree and “virtue signal” your approval or you are regarded as the enemy.

I was living on my own by the age of 14. I understand the temptation to hate, to succumb to fear, and the trauma that arises out of violence. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint and beaten down by a mob. I’ve had my nose broken, jaw broken and my neck fractured. As a young adult, I lived in a neighborhood full of crack houses and nightly gunfire. My ex-wife was raped by a gang of black men and our house was burned to the ground. The difference is that I never once blamed it on the perpetrators being black. Instead, I blamed it on crack!

Besides, most people said we deserved it. After all, I was a drunk and my ex-wife was a heroin addict.

My healing came years later when I surrendered to Jesus, repented before God and forgave man.

Now I’m supposed to get on my knees and repent to man for being created white?!

Then the Lord spoke to my heart.

This is exactly what the enemy wants; everyone acting like donkeys instead of horses. When threatened, donkeys look outward to focus on an enemy and then proceed to kick each other. Horses look inward and do the opposite.

I’ll let you decide which one applies.

Like a lot of people I was getting sucked into a world over which I have no control, and of which I am not supposed to be a part.

Even so, I am human and it can hard to avoid. That’s why God gave us His Word. I don’t know about you but Cathy and I are in a season of Sola Scriptura because

sound doctrine is being sacrificed on an altar of secular humanism masquerading as love and Holy Spirit.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. Mat 24:4-5

“According to both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish oral tradition, a Messiah is a king, a warrior, a political figure, or a revolutionary whose mission is divine and specific to the Jews. But the leader is neither divine nor a savior concerned with the afterlife of humanity. Neither is a Messiah worshiped as a deity.”

It seems like this fits the definition of a contemporary secular social justice warrior, more than some poor nut job claiming to be God.

Yeah I know… But think about it

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Mat 24:6-8

Ethnos is the Greek word for nation.

Ethnos means people group. It is the word from which we derive the English word ethnicity.

For Ethnos will rise against Ethnos

And there will be famines, pestilences

Global deaths due to hunger are predicted to double this year thanks to wars and rumors of wars, and ongoing pestilences like Ebola, COVID, and locusts in Africa and Eurasia to name a few.

and earthquakes in various places.

According to the NOAA and the National Disaster Database there has been a 400% percent increase in yearly natural disasters since 1970.

As for the character of people; Paul nailed it again.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves,

lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.2 Timothy 3:1-9

Jannes and Jambres were sorcerers and we know from 1 Sam 15:23 that God views rebellion and sorcery as the same.

Furthermore, Jesus warned us to avoid the leaven of Herod which is the politicization of a spiritual issue. Mk 8:15

There is a whole lot of rebellion and Herodic leavening going on today.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” 2 Tim 4:3

There is a famine of sound doctrine.

To paraphrase a comment on a recent blog that I read,

“The problem started when we stopped teaching our children right from wrong and began discussing it instead”

Today there are growing numbers of Christians who pursue Jesus but seek identity in everything but Him. There is lip service to the Word. But individual actions demonstrate an identity and faith more rooted in worldly things like psychology, the enneagram, and postmodern political solutions to spiritual problems. There is a celebration of God’s power when He heals a headache, but a deference to the world’s methods the moment God doesn’t come through as expected. There is a cherry-picking of scripture to fit an unbiblical narrative supporting a path to justice in a Postmillennial kingdom of heaven on earth. Most are sincere and not even aware that they are in error. Still, others are blinded by resentment and pride. This latter group is growing fast.

The error is rooted in an interpretation of reality according to experience instead of experiences according to the Word of God.

Jesus has become a social justice warrior within instead of the substitutionary, propitiation for sin. This movement is obsessed with worldly justice. As a result, it has become a friend of the world James 4:1-4 in unwitting opposition to the scheduled fulfillment of biblical prophecy regarding God’s redemption of man and the reestablishment of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Its priests and prophets are the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. The media is their pulpit and smartphones their sanctuary. It is fraught with anxiety, and a false understanding of John 13:35 Koinonia. This movement emphasizes fellowship with the body at the expense of Truth. It pursues consensus, comfort, and validation in lieu of conviction. It’s adherents expect to be seen, heard, and pursued. Questioning them is regarded as harsh, intolerant and unloving, sexist, or racist. While the outward compassion of this group may manifest “a form of godliness, it denies its power”. 2 Tim 3:5 The growing Deconstructionist movement and the subsequent abandonment of the faith by so many should be no surprise as self-centered, worldly expectations of a narcissistic generation become impossible for a headless body to fulfill.

Paul was clear that this must happen as well.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

As for the current chapter in the ethnos versus ethnos conflict…

Even TD Jakes recently admitted “we are in the last days” and said “this is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.”

He also said, “We need truth”.

We do need truth.

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.Rev 12:10

The Greek word for ACCUSER in this verse is katēgoréō. It is the word from which we get the English word

“Category”.

Satan literally categorizes us before our God day and night.

His minions in the media and the streets are doing the same.

Black and White are categories.

They are not identities.

Not Godly ones anyway.

If you are really a Christian then your identity is in Christ. Eph 2:4-6

PERIOD.

The job of those in Christ is to preach the Gospel to every Ethnos and invite them in.

Judgment and the sword of justice will come with Jesus when He returns. And for the record, Isaiah 61 isn’t talking about narcissistic Christians anointed to bring forth justice on their own.

Its a prophecy about the anointing and justice of Jesus.

In the meantime…

It doesn’t matter if its the cop who killed George Floyd, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, or the father and son who killed him. It doesn’t matter if its an abusive black cop, white cop, Hispanic cop, Asian cop, or a BLM member shooting at cops in the streets. It could be a SJW repenting for white privilege, the thug beating up the SJW, or the Antifa methhead throwing Molotov cocktails at SJWs in a suburb. They could be looting a home or defending a store. Jesus said we will all spend eternity in hell unless we repent to God.

“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5

The desire to repent and power to forgive is a true sign and wonder that follows the preaching of the Gospel.

All our empathy, virtue signaling, inner healing, and understanding of enneagrams isn’t going to change a thing. All the repentance for being created white won’t help either. It just perpetuates a false worldly narrative. All the protesting and demands for reparations, all the secular counseling, committees, political parties, and political solutions in the world will never bring an end to racism and true social justice to fruition. That’s because secular justice is of the world and according to the flesh.

In case you didn’t know or forgot, it was the myth of Jewish privilege that justified the Holocaust in the minds of German Nazis.

Secular justice simply tips the scales in the opposite direction.

Biblical justice is the ministry of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not appeasement.

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:11-21

One thing is certain. God is no respecter of individual differences or the ways in which we categorize each other. His only categories are those who love Him and obey His commandments versus those who don’t. Acts 10:34-35

Period.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3:27-28

As for us, we are on our knees with broken hearts. This is a season of Lamentation. We need to learn to sit in the dust and lament instead of taking to the streets in protest, to pursue the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified so that we may do our best, incompetent as we are, to disciple the Ethnos God puts in our path. Mat 28:19

Even so, the only prayer we seem to be able to pray is

“Thy will be done. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

The hardest part is coming Mat 24:9-14