Mar 17, 2017

What would Paul do here?!

That's my question!
 - by Lucas

What would Paul, Peter, James, John, and the others that called themselves apostles do here where I am and in this day?

I've no doubt they would be frustrated.  There is so much deception, so many lies and half-truths here.  It is, most the time, two steps forward, then three steps back.  Ugg.  Some of the folks we deal with are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a 'stiff-necked' people.  It makes things very frustrating.  Even within the walls of this Youth With A Mission campus, there is oppression, there is staunch opposition, there is pride, anger, deceit, bitterness...why?!?!...because we still have skin on!

Everywhere you find humans living and breathing, there is sin.  Even in a christian community?! Yup.  Even in church?! Yup.  Even in the midst of my 'quiet time' with God, I find my mind wondering off. If I can't stay focused on the truth, how could I expect others to stay focused on the truth.  Paul had that struggle.  I've also no doubt that the rest of the followers, even the one that Jesus loved, had that problem.

What is our solution then?
What can we do as humans to pursue and carry out our Lord's Great Commission?

I can almost hear Paul in the background saying, "Press on towards that goal!  That's what I've been writing to you!  Keep it up, no matter what."  And, he's right.  That's all we can do.  While I have breath in my lungs, I'm going to keep fighting the good fight and pressing on to the goal.

What's the goal?   ....ZERO

The goal is Zero.  Zero people that live around me without a bible.  Zero people who have yet to hear the good news.  Zero tribes, peoples, tongues, and nations that lack the gospel.  Zero is the goal.

I'm not in charge of the frustrations.  I'm not in control of the lies.  I'm not called to deal with the half-truths, opposition, pride, anger, deceit, bitterness, etc...

I'm called to go and do what Jesus has told us all as christians to go and do.

Here's the reference, because I know you want to look it up:

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That's it.  Go!  It sounds so amazing coming from the Master's mouth doesn't it?!  He makes it seam so clear and so simple.  In most aspects it is.  It just takes an attitude of humility, a servants heart, and time.  The time is what gets me most (I've clearly never had any trouble at all being the best, most amazingly and super awesome at being humble!!!)
So, I think back on my life.  I reflect on what God, in His awesomeness, has brought me through.  I must keep Him first.  I must remember always that He has called me, though I am incredibly unworthy, to be doing work for Him here.  That calling must remain supreme in the life of the one who receives it.  God's calling in your life, for example, must reign.  It must be more important that your wants.  It must be more important than your emotions.  It must be more important than your needs, or anything else that is important in your life.  God's call wins.  Period.  That is how we, as sold-out followers of Christ, must live.  Look at Paul, Peter, Andrew, and the rest.  That's how they did it.  They were done with living for themselves.  They were done living life their own way.  They were done living life on 'life's terms'.  After Jesus saved them and send the Spirit into them, they were on FIRE!  They died to themselves, they died to 'life's terms', and they began to really live.  This is life on God's Terms.  He Wins... Period.

And I want what they have!  I want a life that can be worthy of the call I have received.  Frustrations in my life be damned!  I want more!  I want to play, eat, drink, breath, and live on the winning team.  When I live like that, I can see through the current drama.  I can see through the current obstacles, barriers, and road bumps that lay in front of me.  I can see through all these things, because I keep my eye on the Prize.  

"God, may I live the rest of my life in Your truth.  May I never lose focus.  I'm so prone to wonder and loose focus.  I'm so stinkin' human!  Save me from my self, my selfishness.  Keep me in the hollow of your hand.  The hands that formed the sea and the mountain peaks.  I want that.  I want more of You.  I want more of the Spirit in me, and I want to show you I love you with the way I live, and the way I think.  Take me over.  Make me new, today, and always.  Shelter my family, my friends, and those that have hearts for you in the shadow of your wings.  Thank you for sending Jesus so that I may live.  I want to be effective for Your Kingdom. May it come soon!  Amen."

Jan 27, 2017

WHY DON'T THEY KNOW?

Hosea 4:6New American Standard Bible (NASB)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.



Ouch!  Wow.  That one has always been a tough one for me.  How can we know what we don't know?  

I was working with pastor Gary at a rehab center and a gentleman raised his hand at the first of the lecture.  

Before I go further...a side note.  These folks are there because their family or a judge has let them know that it is either this program, prison...or death.  The recovering alcoholics and drug addicts normally sit quietly and listen to pastor Gary's lesson...or just get up and leave, but they rarely are in a mood to ask questions.  

This guy asked Gary, in Spanish of course, "Who is God?"  Gary, not one to stray too terribly far from course, gave a nice quick response adding that he will go into detail on that later, but this lesson would be about, What Is Hell?.  So he continued with his lesson and after around 5 minutes, another hand went up.  This time it was a gentleman on the front row.  

His question was, "Si hay un Dios, puede ser un niƱo, o adulto, o una silla, verdad?"
in english: "If there is a God, He could be a any boy, or any adult or a chair, right?"

Gary tried not to lose composure and calmly replied, "No...He is the All Powerful, Almighty, Ever-present creator of Everything."  I leaned forward, interested in what would happen next.  The pastor looked over at me and said, "unless you have a different opinion, Luke?"  I told him that I didn't have a different opinion, but, in my best Texas accent I responded, "Gary, if I may, I'm chompin' at the bit to add my two cents!"  Gary could tell that I had something that was ready to burst out, and he 'gave me the reigns'.

I still don't know how it happens, but when I get passionate about speaking to someone on the topics of who we are and who God is, it is almost like the Spirit comes upon me and allows me to speak much more passionately and fluently that I normally can.  So I stood up and put my arm on the front-row-guy's shoulder and began to speak to the group of around 20 people.

"I like this guy," I started, "you can just tell that he is intelligent!  It is so very good to be intelligent isn't it?  I lived my life on pure intelligent head-knowledge for years and years!  Here's my question for you though, "What did your intelligence get you, sir?"

-"Who me?" He said.
-"Yes...you!" I answered.
-"Well...I don't really know?!"
-"I'll tell you then", and I continued, "Your intelligence got you a one-way ticket to this beautiful metal chair you are now so proudly seated in!"
He laughed, and so did most of the other guys.  They know most of my background and that I'm a ragamuffin, a man who has learned that I have no worth outside of what my Father sees in me.

"God wants us to be intelligent, He gave us amazing brains, and wants us to turn them on and use them every day, more and more. "He also gave us this," I said, holding up a Spanish Bible.  "This is more.  This is what you tried to get with alcohol, drugs, women, theft, anger, fights, and whatever else you were using.  This is more than all that.  This is more than intelligence.  This is how we know the answer to, 'Who is God?'" I pointed to the guy that asked the first question before Gary began his lesson.  "You...who do you think God is?"
-"I think He is Lord" He quickly replied.
-"I think He is Almighty" another one said.
-"You tell us" said one in the back.

I opened the Bible to 1st John and read one of my favorite sentences in the whole Bible,  "God is Love. Period. That's it.  No 'and', no 'but', no 'unless' or 'except'...just a simple period.  When I came into our program about 4 years ago, I had made myself like God.  I had lived a life by my own rules, my own force, my own decisions, my own strength.  I didn't need Him!  And my bottom hit the same seats in the same rooms 1,000 miles north of here.  So, 'Mr. Intelligent' sitting here in the front row...I can see what you're saying.  When you begin to live your life on God's terms, your god can be a child, an adult, a chair.  At first, the most important thing is that...it's not YOU!  The hope, your hope, my hope, God's hope, is that this will grow.  You should be reaching out to this Power that is bigger than you and learning more about it.  My hope is that you learn that this Power is more than a chair, more than a boy, more than an adult, more than anything your eyes can see.  He is the Almighty.  He is the one that listens and answers prayers, the one that we pass time meditating about, and He is the one that this Book (holding up the Bible) is about.  Your job is to allow Him to grow in you more and more and more and more every single day through prayer, meditation, and getting to know the Author of this Bible!  You can, you should, and you must...if you ever want anything better than this chair in this room...you must!"

I looked over at Gary.  "I'm sorry, but I'm passionate about this!" I said. "It's Great!" he replied.

"Look guys," I continued, "knowing about 'What is Hell' is important too, but you can't get into heaven just on fear of hell.  I spent most of my life worshiping and praising the God of my father and mother.  It looked good most of the time, and no-one would ever question it.  But I was missing something.  Something that has proven to be the key to every peaceful and truly enjoyable moment of my life; personal relationship with Him.  That's what it's about.  That's what He wants.  That's what He longs for.  That's why we are here!"

I thanked Gary for sharing so much time with me and he continued his lesson...which was a great one about why we should choose now, while we still have this chance to and before it's too late.

After the class, Gary pulled me aside and said he could see the Spirit move in that room, and he enjoyed 'getting out of the way'.  I love that man dearly!  He has spent the better part of 15 years pouring his heart out in those rooms too.  If it only saves one soul, then it's worth it all.

All the intelligence in the world can't get you a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  This is our job.  Our work is to know Him, to love Him, and to keep His commands.  We are to be love, to love, as He loves and is love.  And this Book of Love teaches us how.

"God, all of my 'wisdom' is foolishness before you.  You are the all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present God.  I want my life to honor you.  I want to be a child that brings my Father joy.  I want to be a better witness.  Let me never forget your love, your Son, and your desire for obedient believers. Father, I lift up the other ragamuffins out there that love you and want to win others to you.  Guard us, watch over us, protect us, and God, if it's your will, kick in a few more sparks between these rusty ol' brain cells!"

For the Kingdom,
-Dr. Luke



Dec 18, 2016

Since September

Wow!  So much has happened since my last update:


A few weeks before that last post in September, I was mowing the lawn here at the campus and heard a blood-curdling scream from Miles.  It was loud enough to hear over the mower.  I stopped, picked him up and saw a little yellowish-brown scorpion in his shirt.  I brushed it off and smashed it with my boot.  He was screaming and crying so loud I thought he'd been shot!  I handed him to Cassie, who was now nearby, and she said she would get him into the bath and put something on the bite to help him with the pain.  I fell terrible now...but I figured all was well and finished the last 15 minutes of mowing.  After putting the things away, I returned to our house and heard Miles still screaming!  I spoke with Cassie and she said, "I don't know exactly where he was bit.  I think it was his hand, but he won't let me touch him to see!  I gave him a bath, but he's not really any better."  She was beginning to get sad and worried, then something strange happened...Miles stopped crying for a bit, and started coughing up a thick mucus.  Cassie and I looked at each other, and knew it was time to get him to a doctor.  We threw the other kids in the car without shoes.  That caused a massive panic among them and they thought Miles was going to die!  Cassie had him in her lap as we sped to the nearby Red Cross.  During the ~2 mile drive, Miles started to have trouble breathing, his eyes started to roll into the back of his head, and he began to vomit.  We ran into the Red Cross Emergency Room and, in my best attempt at medical spanish, proceeded to tell them what had happened.  The doctor immediately began with an injection of scorpion antivenin.  We waited breathlessly for 10 minutes...no improvement.  The doctor gave a second vial in Miles' arm.  Another 10 minutes...Cassie is sobbing, Miles is maybe doing better...at least he's breathing between the screams.  Things were awfully tense that first 30 minutes.  Lots of prayer and then it seemed like he was going to be ok.  Thank you God!  We waited another hour after the 4th vial of antivenin, and he fell into a deep exhausted sleep.  The doctor said he would have a rough 2-3 days after that, "It's like being hit by a train!" He said before we left.  There was a part of me that was dreading paying the bill for the saving of my son's life, but Cassie took all the kids to the car, and I went to pay.  The total bill was $135 pesos ($7.50 USD).  Wow.  Thank you God.  I still can't believe it.  He is mighty to save!

The week after our 'scorpion-man's' recovery, we had to cross the border to renew our visas.  We had a YWAM Together meeting in Kansas City, MO and the kids got to stay the week with the grandparents.  That was such a blessing.  We learned so much about the national direction of YWAM and the importance of getting the gospel spread to every people, tribe, tongue, and nation. After the YWAM meeting we returned to Amarillo. What a wonderful visit with Cassie's folks and my parents as well.  I had to finish my continuing education for the optometry license, and there was a meeting in Ruidoso, NM.  Dad has a wonderful boss that shared his cabin with us and we took full advantage of it!







When we returned at the end of September, it was 'back to work' time.  We've had plenty to do outside the campus with the local villagers around us, and even more to do to get this place back up and running.  We've repaired a beautiful fountain that has not functioned for 5 years, a well that had been dried up, a septic system (yuck), numerous leaks, hot water issues, carbon monoxide venting, hvac repair on our walk-in freezer, chopping down trees, and Michael has been finding lizards everywhere!

I have been having breakfast (one-on-one) on Monday's with one child at a time, and we have cherished these moments.  It has given us the opportunity to share the Gospel with our favorite waiter, Nacho, too!  He has asked us for prayers for his belief and that of his family as well.  We also began blessing our children each Saturday night around the dinner table.  Marcus calls this "Family Fun Night", and we basically go around to each child telling them the wonderful truth about them and making sure we have apologize for any wrongs we have done to them.  This, humbling, experience has been a blessing to me as well as them.  Lord, may I never forget that my family is the primary mission that you have given Cassie and I.



We must train them up the way they should go, and they will know You by our love.

Dec 9, 2016

Dear Mr. Elf on the Shelf




Dear Mr. Elf on the Shelf,

Thank you so much for your diligent observance my children's' behavior. Thank you for showing up in funny, and sometimes inappropriate, places and bringing a smile to the faces of many, young and old, this time of year.

But, I have some bad news for you, my friend.

Christmas isn't about how good or bad my kids are. The gifts of Christmas don't depend on what they do, or what they say. Those precious gifts have nothing to do with whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, naughty or nice.

In fact, the worst of children are able to freely receive the gifts of Christmas.

Even the ones that scratch their hiney hole INSIDE of their underwear, and blow their stank morning breath in your face before breakfast, just to see the shudder on your face.

The ones that raise their eyebrows in distain at the mere existence their little brother.

Children who sneak candy after they've brushed their teeth, and then lie about it in the morning.

The ones who scream out mean names to their sister and threaten to never talk to her again because she is "SO STINKING RUDE!"

The ones who have hate in their heart.

The ones who are bitter . . . and angry.

The children who are self-absorbed and unrelenting.

The truth you need to know, you little red minion of Mr. Clause, is this:

Christmas is about the goodness of God, not about the goodness of children. 

 So, I'm sorry to tell you, you are completely unnecessary. In fact, you totally turn Christmas upside down and inside out (kind of like my son's underwear).

If you would like to be useful, please use your time to tell children about the goodness of God, instead of telling Santa about the goodness of children.

Sincerely,


Cassie Haney

The Struggle is Real: Legalism & Christian Living

Where do I even begin with this topic?

First, let me say this: living on a Christian Missionary Campus is THE PERFECT SETUP for legalistic Christianity. Many who come here are looking to the people here to see if they are 'holy' enough to be a missionary. Are they 'good' enough? Do their kids act 'right' enough? The men don't have long hair do they? Tattoos? Piercings? They don't listen to secular music, of course! Pokemon?? No way, those are little devils you know! The women aren't gossips, are they? Lazy? They don't get frustrated with their children, who are perfect and only watch G rated movies of course!

Although it's not hard to see how we get to this terrible, paralyzing place of slavery to 'right living'. I know I've been there, it's a slippery slope! It's the place where in my heart I truly want to serve and honor God, so I give up some stuff in my life. I might change the station I listen to, or start wearing more modest clothes. I might take up reading my Bible a little more often, or do any number of things to try to show my God that I am His, that I love Him, and that I want to live for Him.

Uh oh! Now I have something to be proud of don't I?? "I turned my life around because I love God so much. What did you do? I don't say that word or do that thing, but you do . . . maybe I love God more than you?"

GAG ME WITH A SPOON!

Here is the truth: I didn't turn my life around at all! Jesus turned my life around because He is so nice and good. He took pity on me because I was in dire straights, headed for destruction and He had mercy on me!

Lord, may I never forget where you brought me from . . . or think that I could have done it on my own! Forgive me for passing judgement on others!

Dare I say that the Pharisee leader's legalistic way of 'running' the church was Jesus' biggest pet peeve? Did anything else anger him so? Did anyone else (except maybe Peter "Get behind me Satan") cause him to speak so strongly?

The great burden the Pharisee leaders put on the Jews was so heavy, so burdensome, and so NOT in sync with the God that they 'served'. The Bible gives us many examples: "come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest", "cast all your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you", and "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free".

I truly believe the Lord does not want us to live burdened lives! We should be the most free, lightest, non-burdened creatures on the globe. All of our sins are forgiven and paid for. They are far away from us, and they can't find us out. How do we make God feel when we hand our burden over to him just to pick up a new one?

Please hear my heart here, I understand how tricky this is . . . the line is very, very thin.

When we become freed by Jesus, there SHOULD be a change in our lives! We SHOULD become 'better'. We SHOULD be compelled to start doing some things and stop doing others . . . out of a place of gratitude and affection for our Savior. We must, however, be so careful not to delude ourselves into the lie that we are better than someone else because of what we do or don't do. We are no better or worse than any other. Often our 'goodness' feels diminishing and demeaning to those around us . . . and that's not 'good' at all.

Legalism: Demeaning, demolishing, and diminishing by being a 'good' person.



My friend Jennifer wrote an awesome blog about the "Lure of Legalisme" here.



Oct 21, 2016

Mission Life Update

Life here at JUCUM Guadalajara is settling in to a nice pace. The kids and I have found a school routine that accommodates all our needs. They have resumed their gymnastics classes twice a week. We have started a weekly playdate on Saturday mornings which helps fill in some much needed time with friends, and we have implemented 'Family Fun Night' on Friday nights. Last week Marcus accidentally called Friday night 'Happy Kids Night' which made us feel great about the whole thing! We have found a church home that has a small group of young kids (mostly boys), and a women's Bible study I have been able to attend. I even found an organic market on Tuesdays (clearly the Lord loves me!!)  Luke is officially on staff here at the campus. Generally, he can be found doing something plumbing related (the fountain, the well, or the leaks), or computer related (the website, the printers, or the troubleshooting).  Most of my time is spent tending to the needs of the kids and the house. Last week I was able to make about 40 beanbags for the kids in Chapicolte (and some for my little hijos as well). I feel blessed to be able to take part in the kids ministry in Chapicolte, but lately I have really been convicted that my mission field right now is in my own home, with my own children.  The more I lean into what God wants from me during this season of our lives, the more I feel called to my 'domestic duties' as a wife and mother. It's amazing to me how the Lord uses the simplicity of being a wife and mother to draw out conversations that lead to Him.

On Tuesday I had all the children with me to take Mandie to her gymnastics class, and a woman approached me to ask the same four questions I seem to be asked everywhere I go: "Are all of these little blondies yours?", "Are you going to have any more?", "Do you live here?", "What brought you here?" At which point I was able to say how blessed I am by God to have all of these kiddos, and that I don't know if I'll be blessed with more or not. Then I get to tell them that we are living here at the mission because the Lord called my husband and I out here for the purpose of "knowing God better, and making Him known" (as they YWAMers say). It turned out that the woman I was speaking with was a Christian, and I believe that God was glorified in our interaction.

I hope the Lord will allow me and the kids more opportunities to give Him glory and to shine a light to Him as we school, work, and play here in Chapala. I hope I will be brave to point to Him every chance I get.

Luke's life as a missionary is probably much more 'missionary-like' than mine. He regularly leads worship here on campus, and he has even led worship at the rehabilitation center down the road. He attends / leads Bible meetings, gives his testimony, attends prayer meetings, and helps make future plans for this campus. He also works very hard to maintain the campus in the form of yard work, carpentry, mechanics, cooking, cleaning, etc. He is a hard working man, and I know there is nothing he wouldn't do. He is God's 'man on the ground' and I'm so proud to be his wife.

Right now our campus is sort of at a crossroads. The staff is new, the ideas are fresh, the calendar is flexible, and we are looking up to see what the Lord has for us and this place. We are wanting to fulfill the plans he has here, and we hope we hear a clear direction that we are all in agreement on as far as what our time, resources, energy should be spent on. Please pray that the Lord would use us to do His work, and that we would all be in agreement on what the future holds for this place. Also please pray that we would have the strength and courage to carry out the plans He has.

I am so grateful to be living this life that I have. I believe in my heart this is what the Lord wants from me, and I am relieved that my life is not contradicting my beliefs about God's will. I have lived with the contradiction before, and it was torture! He has freed me to live for Him, what a good God we have! Blessings to you all back home!!

Oct 4, 2016

Paper Tigers VS Lion of Judah

My friend Jennifer Lane at Citychurch is writing every day for the month of October about how we as Christians often fall before "paper tigers", as they are referred to in Galations 4 (the Message), instead of trusting and serving the one true God. This is my contribution to her blog.

8-11 Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years. I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke!  ~The Message

Paper Tigers vs. Lion of Judah

As much as I wish it wasn’t true, many years of my life in childhood and as an adult have been spent fearing paper tigers. I was a huge people pleaser, parent pleaser, teacher pleaser, youth minister pleaser, coach pleaser, friend pleaser, put on a happy face, “everything’s perfect here I don’t need any help from you but I can help you if you need me” type of girl. This attitude served me well in my youth, I did well in school, had lots of friends, and my parents were generally happy with my behavior. However, these traits began to feel more like chains as I progressed into adulthood. I became a secret keeper (a.k.a. liar at times), because I was scared to bring to light the darkness that was in my house. I was a pretender, going on for many years as if I didn’t have any skeletons in my closet. I was an enforcer, requiring my children to uphold this pretend world I had created. The truth was that I was always afraid. I felt incredibly guilty about who I was, and how I was behaving. I knew I was far from God. The scariest part of it all, was the reality that I didn’t know my way back to Him, and if it depended on me, I was toast. 

At that time, with nothing to offer, no good deeds in my pocket, my family life was a mess, my heart was hard, my parenting was ugly . . . I had literally nothing going for me spiritually . . . that was when I cried out to God. 

Jesus saved me. 

Jesus saved my marriage.

Jesus saved my family.

He is no paper tiger, He is the LION OF JUDAH! 



When He moves, it is undeniable. When He creates, it is undestroyable. When He saves, there is no vulnerability. When He loves, there is no pride left in me. There is power even in the mention of His name. 

Wow.

My God pulled me up out of the slimy pit, I was rescued from myself . . . not because of my redeeming character qualities, or my good deeds, or my positive attitude. All glory to Him. 

Because of the way He rescued me, I understand that it simply doesn’t matter very much who I am or what I do . . . as long as I’m with Him. I don’t need to be “happy”, or “good”, or “cheerful” as if He needs me to be that way. He doesn’t need me. I hope that I would never bow my knee and serve a “god” who needed something from me. If He needed me, then I would be the god. NO! I need Him, He is worthy, He is Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior! If I am happy, good, or cheerful it is because He loved me first, not because I’m doing Him a favor.

Jonah wasn’t “good”. He didn’t cheerfully fulfil is Christian duty by happily going about with the “joy of the Lord” on him in service to God. He was no people pleaser. God used angry, spiteful, bitter Jonah . . . because God chose Jonah. God gave Jonah what he needed because God had what Jonah needed. Jonah didn’t have it . . . but God could use Jonah because God is more than able to account for our shortcomings. 

So why are we prone to make God so little and paper tigers so big in our hearts? Why do we let fear of men override fear of God. Why do we believe that the physical world is more real than the spiritual? Why do we allow ourselves to be slaves?? We are free, under the care and grace of our loving Father and Savior, the LION of Judah, the worthy one, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to bow your knee, look up, and find salvation!