Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Countdown...

My Father is always working, and so am I… I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.  ~ Jesus (John 5:17; 6:36)

The capsules of typhoid medicine are finished. Today I started the daily regimen of malaria pills that will continue for the duration of our time in Peru and extend a week beyond our return. I have checked and rechecked the packing list. It appears I have everything recommended for our 10 days on the Amazon. Over the last couple of months Rick, Royce, and I have huddled up, planned, and laid out a basic strategy for once our boots are on the ground. But like most things in life, nothing will go as we planned. Yet, we know that God is always at work, always has a plan, and we leave with a clear understanding of the need to be fluid and flexible to His purposes.

Me, I wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would Jesus.

Lord willing, we will land in Lima, Peru just before midnight this Friday. In the morning we will take another in-country flight down to the Amazon. Rick and Royce have been nurturing this outreach since 2007, so once on the river, we will rely heavily on the network of interpreters, and Peruvians my comrades have developed over the years.  If need be, we will be able to touch base with the U.S. via satellite phone. My friend, Jerome, lent me a Gopro camera for the trip. It is brand new--never been out of the box. Since I have tried to live most of my life out-of-the-box, I had to get my 12 year old neighbor, Scott, show me how to use it. I will show Jerome how to use it when I return. It has a waterproof case, so I plan on getting some adventurous pictures beneath the surface of the Amazon.

Enough calories will be stowed away in my backpack--rations of dried fruit, nuts, and powdered electrolytes--to sustain me physically. Enough of the Truth is stored in my head and heart to sustain me spiritually with plenty left over to feed those I will be teaching. God is always at work, so we should be too. It's not about what we want--it's about what He wants.

Thanks for your prayers...








Thursday, April 24, 2014

Glimpses...







Typhoid medicine is already circulating through my body doing it's work to provide me with a shield of  immunization against contracting typhoid fever. In five days my first rounds of malaria medicine begin that will greatly decrease the likelihood of contracting malaria. One week from Friday, I will board a plane and fly to Peru. Another short flight within that country and I will be on a boat headed down the Amazon River. Yet another adventure that would never have been mine, if God hadn't first made me His, and then began ordering my footsteps when I accepted his offer of salvation through faith in Christ.

Three of us, all men, will be boating into the interior, sleeping on the ground under mosquito netting most nights, meeting in crude buildings, and with the aid of interpreters, providing training and encouragement for indigenous preachers of the Good News in Peru. Apart from knowing Christ as their Savior, most of them know very little about Christianity. Any instruction they receive from us will be basic, steeped in the Scriptures, and focused on the most practical--and practicable--elements of being a Christ-follower. It's about building upon the foundation of their faith in Christ. Layers of simple and reproducible truths. Rick, Royce, and I have no desire at all to export a heavily Westernized Christian "church" culture.

Personally, the invitation to join my comrades is part of the lavish grace of God toward me. If this comes across wrong, it's due to my inability to articulate what is on my heart, but I believe that God chose to wire me with this hunger to see His Kingdom advanced abroad, Christ's Church with its many facets, and to be an eyewitness to the truth that Jesus would build his Church and that not even the gates of hell could stop its advance into every culture, kindred, and tongue.

I believe my head is on straight and my heart in the right place. I believe God has definitely called and equipped me for this sort of mission. I believe I would shrivel up and die if I didn't have these opportunities to export to foreign lands what God has taught me. All the while, when here in the U.S., and in particular, Georgia, I do my dead-level best to stay engaged in what God is doing here on my native soil. Responding to what God puts in front of me day-to-day is equally important. Short term mission trips--such as this one to Peru--are not vacations or venture quests. I already eagerly signed up to live abroad, but it was not to be at this season in my life. For now, I have the privilege to see the grandeur and marvelous worldwide work of God in glimpses.






Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shafts of Light



Late Tuesday afternoon black thunderheads rumbled over The Shire and dumped about a half-inch of rain. In the aftermath, the westerly journey of the sun created visible and shifting shafts of light that pierced a sheer curtain of fog trapped under the spreading branches of the trees.    

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tetelestai

To the Greeks, the perfection of oratory was being able to say much in little: "To give a sea of matter in a drop of language." ~ A. W. Pink

"It is finished." ~ Jesus Christ

Last night, at Crosscurrent Church, I spoke on Jesus' sixth saying from the cross.

In Luke 19:30, a single Greek word was translated into English as "It is finished." Had you or I been at the foot of the cross, we would have heard Jesus cry out Tetelestai. That one word contained a sea of matter in a drop of language.

As I was preparing to speak to that phrase my goal was to keep my remarks to five-to-eight minutes. My first thoughts focused around the inflection we would have heard in Jesus' words. Mark's Gospel account tells us that Jesus' words from the cross were spoken in a loud voice. Jesus cry: It is finished, was not the desperate scream or resignation of a helpless victim. No, his was a shout of triumph; an exclamation that the fulfilling culmination of a treacherous mission was completed. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus talked of his commitment to carry out the precise will of his Father. There was nothing random about the footsteps of the Son of Man…

The Son does nothing by himself. He only does what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does the Son does… I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do…  I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me… My Father, if it be possible may this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. John 5:21; 6:35; 17:4; Matthew 26:39

Hanging on the cross, Jesus could see beyond the physical horizon. Just a final breath away a new day was about to dawn. Soon, behind him would be every prophecy that spoke to him as the suffering Messiah, the Law--that he didn't come to destroy--would be fulfilled and take its proper place in his Father's plan, the shedding of sacrificial blood of bulls and goats would be rendered unnecessary, and the painful and agonizing violence of the wickedness unleashed against the Lamb of God would soon end.

But most important of all, the journey toward mankind's redemption and salvation--determined before the foundation of the world--was procured. It is finished! Soon he would be seated at the right hand of the Father as the advocate for us sinners for whom he laid down his life.

Tetelestai   

Seascape




I did my first watercolor today: a seascape. It's simple with all kinds of things to improve on, but, once again, I find a great deal of pleasure in the process. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Let It Rain...

For most of this week I have been inside. Three days were spent in Raleigh, NC with my colleagues of Corporate Chaplains of America receiving training, encouragement, and inspiration to further advance Christ's Kingdom purposes. Upon returning, I have been doing rounds with the companies I serve and meeting with some of my clients. Being the outdoors person I am, I have been itching to take walks through the woods, listen to birds, cut grass, and feel the ever strengthening rays of the sun warming my face. Friday is usually my day to do so.

But today, we will be under rain here in Cataula, Georgia. For me, that is a blessing. I want to take extra time to read and prepare for easter Sunday, so the compelling to get outside will be easier to put aside. Also, tonight I will be gathering with a group of people--many of them I don't know--and will be speaking about the implications of one of Christ's seven sayings from the cross: "It is finished."

I am looking forward to the tranquility that living here at The Shire provides, so let it rain. Reading, writing, meditating, and reflecting on this Holy Week suits me just fine.

I long for a fresh Word from God.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Beautiful Mother




I tried to sketch mom from this photo taken around 1951. I love this photo of my handsome father, beautiful mother, and adorable sisters. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

First Ride

This morning, I got my bike out and prepped it for my first ride of the spring. It's been a beautiful day here in Cataula, GA. Among the many blessings in my life, living in the country is one of them. It's kind of a cyclist's paradise. Traffic is rarely an issue and riders are likely to see more wildlife than human life. Rolling pastures, weathered barns, beautiful horses, and grazing cattle make up the peaceful pastoral scenes. Today, a couple of hen turkeys were feeding on the shady edge of a field, pecking at the ground amid grass that is quickly turning greener and standing taller.

Winter clothes have been shed and packed away. Now, the extra pounds packed on around my waist need to come off, too! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

We're Not Finished...

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 
~ Acts 1:1-2

As I was growing up, many, many times those already grown-up told me, "Your dad is the hardest working man I ever met." Nothing I witnessed ever contradicted those unsolicited testimonies. He provided for a family of seven. We didn't get everything we wanted, but we got everything we needed.

Dad was also a better than average athlete. Many from his era would remember how he could whip a softball, windmill style, that would zip across home plate like a blur. He also was artistic, creating lettered signs for businesses, pin striping his vehicles, and sketching anything that captured his imagination. Maybe it's because I was so fascinated by his ability to draw that I clearly remember seeing his creations and instructional books lying around the house. Many of his drawings were unfinished (I never remember him taking a day of vacation). Sometimes dad would doodle comic-like pictures also. One in particular comes to mind: he drew it for me as I fidgeted during what seemed like the longest church sermon ever preached. It was a Model T, Ford. It had no engine, but instead was powered by two sets of human feet! The guys sitting in it--one in the front seat, and one in the backseat--were wearing hats and waving. The driver was smoking a corncob pipe.

At this point in life, I, too, am starting to sketch and see if there is a latent gift my father left me ready to be developed.

A couple of weeks ago I came across the "Unfinished Portrait" of FDR that was started at "The Little White House" in Warm Springs, Georgia. President Roosevelt died before it was completed. When I saw it, I thought of how much I wished I had something that my father had started that I could finish. Nothing remains that any of my family is aware of.

But, not so for any of us that are a child of God, through faith in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Luke's statement about Jesus, bears a vague resemblance to the thoughts about my father, and reminds us of "The things that Jesus began to do and teach." The physician/apostle knew that even though everything needed to provide our salvation was provided when Jesus said, "It is finished," the completed portrait that will make up Christ's church in the end, a montage of people from every tribe and tongue, is a canvas that we all are to put our pens, pencils, and brushes to spiritually speaking.

Thankfully, Jesus gifts every last one who receives him to pick-up where He left off...

 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brother...


I have two younger brothers. This is a picture of Burleigh, taken in 1957. He is just shy of two years younger than me. I was born in 1955. Burleigh was as beautiful as the Gerber baby, had dark, curly hair, and big, bright eyes. Now, as an adult, he lives in Maine with his wife Kathy. They have two children, Kristen and Isaac.

He will hate me when he sees this!

If I live long enough, all my siblings will see a pencil drawing of themselves on Facebook, or on this blog! Can't wait to sketch those graduation pictures of my two OLDER sisters!

Besties...


Sandy and Sherran have been best friends since Jr. High. Sherran visited us last year around this time. They are two beautiful ladies that share a beautiful friendship.

Sherran, don't hate me! Pencil sketches are hard to photograph, and Sandy will vouch that the actual sketch looks more like both of you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

High School...


This is a sketch of my high school friend, Dan. He and his wife Karen visited Sandy and me this week in Saint Augustine, Florida. To date, this is my most accurate drawing ever… he is actually this ugly.