Monday, January 30, 2012

It Doesn't Take Much

Shouts of joy rang through the house.  I don’t know if I should be happy or sad.  The kids just asked if they could walk to the tienda and buy stuff.  I said sure, and gave them all a boliviano each.  They were running through the house, grabbing their shoes, asking if they could go to the farther tienda, laughing and shouting.  Let me explain a few things.  A boliviano is the equivalent of 14 cents.  A tienda is a small store that someone has placed in their home.  Tiendas are all around Bolivia.  Here are a few photos of them.

 This is their driveway.  They closed it in and it is a store.  You never 'enter' a tienda
you simply ring a bell or shout and then tell them what you want.

This is a small school supply store

I said that I don't know if I should be happy or sad.  Should I be happy, that our children's lives are so uncluttered and simple that a two block walk to spend 14 cents makes them thiink that I am the best dad in the world?  Or should I be sad for the same reason?  I am a little of both.

However, the point of this article is the tienda.  From my dining room table where I am typing this, I can see two tiendas out the window, and I know of three more within three blocks.  Tiendas are a great way for people to make a little extra money.  They are Bolivia's 7-11 or convenience store.  Don't want to take a taxi and go to the supermarket?  No problem, the tienda has bread, milk, toiletries, condiments, drinks, fruit, sometimes meat (which we never buy),  Just send the kids on a fun little trip and you can get your basics covered.  I love tiendas.  I also love the point of them.  Here is a person with a driveway, but with no hope or desire to get a car.  They are either unemployed or underemployed, or a full time mom, or in many cases there are kids at home.  They don't have much, but what they do have, they can use.  So, they save up a little money and brick off the driveway, put a gate on the front of it, and buy some inventory.  Now, they have a store.  Overhead is basically nothing, and the employees are in the house doing whatever they would be doing until the buzzer rings or they hear a shout.  They take a few minutes, and then, iin the case of my family, put 7 bolivianos in the cash drawer, with a profit of about one boliviano.  Then, back to their normal duties.  Entrepenaural, simplistic, and maximizing the litte you have are the point of these tiendas.

I think that this is exactly what God wants us to do.  He doesn't just call the super-gifted, the talented, the wealthy, or the professional to fulfill the great commission.  He doesn't want to limit the joy of service to those who can open spiritual superstores.  All He wants is for us to look at who we are, at what we have, and ask, "How can I reach people for Jesus?"  In my neighborhood, the tienda on the corner isn't trying to beat out Costco in the States.  All they are doing is targeting a couple of blocks with basic goods.  I think that sometimes we look at the superstar mentality in the church and think that God uses "Them", not me.  You are the spiritual tienda in your neighborhood.  What do they need?  Who are they?  What are they struggling with?  You can be the answer to these questions.  All you have to do is be willing to stop what you are doing in order to meet their needs.  Invite them over.  Cookout.  Have a game watching party.  Rent a moonbounce and invite the kids in the neighborhood.  Start a Yak N Snack where women can come over for a couple of hours one night a month and yak and snack.  

What I am saying is this.  You don't have to change THE world.  Just start letting God use you to change YOUR world.  Open up your doors.  Open up your heart.  People need Jesus, so why keep the light of the glorious gospel shut up inside your room darkening shades and behind your curtains?

It doesn't take much to do a lot...just a little love and the willing to step into the lives of other people.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just Like My Dad

We are rearranging our furniture and downsizing in the apartment.  As a result of this, stuff isn't where it always goes, nor is it where it is going to be.  This event led to something strange happening this morning.

I woke up and started getting on with the chores of the day.  As I walked down the hall, I saw something.


My father passed away over two years ago, but right in the corner of my eye, I had seen him.  I backed up and looked again.  It was a full size mirror.  I stopped and stared.  I look like my father.  I always envisioned my dad as, well, as dad.  He looked like him, and I looked like me.  However, here in front of me was a man that looked a lot like my dad.  I never realized it.  Somehow, over the years I had grown into the man that my father was.  

This got me to thinking.  Do I look like my heavenly Father?  When people look at me, do they see Him?  Do they see His love? His compassion? His mercy? His faithfulness? His patience?  Do they see me, or do they see Jesus?

I hope and pray that as the years go by, more and more my image will look like Him.  I pray that I reflect His Image and His glory.  

Who do you look like?

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where Are You Going?

We recently took a three day vacation and drove to the second largest city in Bolivia, Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz has about 2 million people in it, however the thing that we like about it is that it is the most “American-Like” place in Bolivia.  They have a good Burger King, and a Subway, and a couple of Mexican food places.  They also have a water park (it is summer here).  We go there and stay in a missionary guest house and can do a nice little vacation pretty cheap.

Santa Cruz is about 300 miles away.  It takes us around 11 hours to drive there.  Yes, you read that correctly, 11 hours to drive 300 miles.  This is without stopping for anything but gasoline, no lunches or breaks.  In Bolivia, highways are not what they are in the States.  There are really only two interstate highways.  One goes from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz (and on to Brazil).  The other goes from Cochabamba to La Paz (our capital) and then on to Chili and Peru.  I would say that the road in front of your house is probably better than about 90% of our highway.
This last trip took even longer.  As you can see in the photo, we were stranded on the side of the highway for almost three hours.  There had been a landslide in the mountains, and the road was washed out.  They had to bring in some equipment and get it opened. I have a question for you.  Why did we sit for almost three hours beside the road (the second photo shows how exciting it was)?  What would make us add this time to our trip?  Why do this?

We estimated 600 autos stranded

Here we are feeding the mosquitos a buffet lunch

As a matter of fact, we were not the only ones. There were North Americans, Quechuas, Bolivians, and a couple we met from the Netherlands. There were a few nice cars driven by rich people, and a bunch of very poor people.  There were old and young, married and single all on the side of the road.  Why?  There are two reasons.  The first is because the road was closed.  Everyone on this road had to wait.  The second is just as simple.  This was the road we chose. 
My point is something that I have been focusing on for the last year in my life, and I will be preaching a sermon series on starting Sunday.  I am "joeizing" a series from Andy Stanley.  Here it is:

Direction Determines Destination.
 I will end up where I end up because that was the way I was going.  I may not have wanted to go there. I may have wanted to go somewhere else, but it doesn’t matter.  My destination will be the end of the path that I am on.  Imagine if you loved the warm winter that you have had so far, and are bummed out about this snow.  So, you tell the kids, “Pack up your swimsuits and goggles, we are heading to Miami!”  Then, you got all packed up and jumped on I-95.  Only, you made a small mistake and took I-95 NORTH instead of SOUTH.  No matter what your intentions were, no matter how good of a Christian you are, no matter what you want or desire…you are NOT going to Miami.  If you stay on I-95 North, you will NEVER get to Miami.  You can pray about it.  You can talk about it.  You can plan on it.  You can dream about it.  You are not going to Miami.  Your direction determines your destination.
We can easily see that this is true in geography and on the highways.  What we don’t realize is that it is true in relationships in your life.  It is true in finances.  It is true in health.  It is true in your spiritual walk.
The direction that you are headed is more important that the desires of your heart.  It is your direction, not your dreams or intentions, that will take you to a particular destination.  Yet, we don’t really believe this.  We think that we can take Path A and end up at Destination B.  We think that we can neglect our spiritual lives and yet end up being like Jesus. Here are some examples of how we don’t see the connection.

“I want to be healthy and lose weight”.  (Can you super size that for me please?)

“I want to have a closeknit family unit.” (Sure, I can work 70 hours a week, commute 10 hours a week, play golf on the weekends and watch sports all Sunday and never spend any time with the kids)

“I want my children to love and respect my spouse.”  (Then we speak to each other in anger, sarcasm, bitterness and hostility)

“I want my kids to be like Jesus, giving and loving.” ( I can’t afford to tithe, let alone support world missions until the house, cars and vacations are paid off) 

Now, if we are talking about someone else, rather than ourselves, we can easily see that the direction they are heading will not take them to the destination that they are desiring.  But when it comes to our lives, we tend to think that if we just drive faster up I-95 North, or if we drive with good intentions, or if we love Jesus, then we will go to Miami.  It will not happen.  Direction determines destination. 

So, here is my point and my application.  Where do you want to be in your spiritual life in 5 years?  Are you heading in that direction?  Where do you want to be in your marriage relationship in 10 years? Are you heading in that direction?  Where do you want to be in your relationship with your kids in 15 years? Are you heading in that direction?  Where do you want to be in your health in 20 years?  Are you heading in that direction?

Direction determines destination.  (Download the podcast from Northpoint Ministries, Andy Stanley. It is a lifechanging series).

Leia Mais…