Sunday, December 21, 2008

The rest of the story

The teaching at church today dealt with the birth of Jesus as did probably many sermons but what we were encouraged to do was contemplate the rest of the story. We all know the pictures of the manger scene... baby Jesus wrapped in linen, in the manger with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the angel all looking in awe of the new born child. We so often think of how this child will grow and become the crucified savior. We celebrate the beginning of Jesus' life on earth but this is not the beginning of the story of Jesus. Stop and think with me about who is it that lies in the manger. Too often we overlook the amazingness of the fact that GOD came to dwell with man. The Everlasting father, the mighty God, Emanuel (God with us), the one in which all things were created, the entirely of the God that created the stars, that knows you by name, that knows when a single sparrow falls, knows the number of hairs on your head ... the fullness of God came into this world as a helpless child! And why exactly did He come, why would He take on human flesh ... simply for you and me. We should be speechless, over come in awe... This season take some time to reflect on the bigness of God. Be in awe of who Jesus is and what he has done for you.

Scripture for further reflection: Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 40:10-31, Micah 5:2, Psalm 8:3-5, Psalm 33:13-15, Colossians 1:15-20, Philippians 2:6-7

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All In

December 15, 2008.

So I just finished
reading the book End of the Spear. If you don’t know, the book is about the result of the death of 5 missionary men who willing gave their life to make peaceful contact with some natives of the Amazon in Ecuador in the name of the gospel.

I really enjoy reading books like this because it is so easy for me being a missionary to focus on how much I have given up in the name of Jesus. On a daily basis I don’t really even think about it too much. However, you have those moments when you hear about even other missionaries going on vacation, or being able to go to Kampala for the weekend again, that the flesh rears up and you start comparing. Those moments are never uplifting and instead of looking at all that the Lord has provided with thanksgiving you end up having a poor me party.

Anywho… I had one of those the other night just after finishing this book and by my third or fourth cup of poor me tea I was disgusted with myself for even allowing my thoughts to go so far from God. As I sat there talking about how much we have given up I could not help but think about the real cost of being ALL IN for Jesus.

I don’t know about now, but a couple of years ago poker was a really big thing. People would get together to play or watch the World Series of Poker on ESPN. I never really go into it but I do remember the times when the players would go all in. I am not much of risk taker. I guess I am just too logical but I remember looking at the mountain of poker chips and thinking that they are crazy for chancing it all. What if they were bluffing and got called on it and lost! I think those players new something about risks – if you are not willing to risk big then often you are able to win big.

I think that same theory applies to our walks with the Lord. We have to be willing to go ALL IN. Now don’t think that just because I am a missionary in Africa that I have somehow got this handled. It is a constant choice to not hold back, to not have a plan B and just trust. It does not come natural or easily; it is an act of the will. But unlike poker our going all in for the Lord is not a gamble.

I don’t remember how I got on the conversation with Nemo but I was telling him about how Jesus said that if you love your life you will loose it but whoever looses their life will gain it. As I explained it to him it began to really sink into my heart. If I love my life and I am more concerned about me and my needs in the end I will have lost but if I give it up not just some parts of my life but every part, my family, my finances, my time, my health, my marriage, my friendships, my self image then I win. I think about those 5 missionary men who literately gave it all even unto death. I believe that before they ever gave up their life physically they had already in their mind had whole heartily given it back to the Lord.

Do we just say the words "to live is gain to die is gain" or do we believe it do we practice it? God has been working on me to go ALL IN. How about you? Is there an area of your life that you still have not TOTALLY submitted back to the Lord? Do it today! It is not a gamble it is a sure bet win. I most assuredly will never win the world series of poker but when this game of life is over and I get to heaven I want to be able to tell Papa that I went all in for Him.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What makes Christmas Christmas?

I have been catching up on all the blogs i follow and have enjoyed getting a glimpe of the holiday season. I must confess that I find myself missing so many of the things about this time of year and feeling very far away. This will be the second year in a row that we really have not celebrated Christmas at least in any way that resembles my childhood memories. Last year we were traveling to CA and spent Christmas night in a hotel. This year we find ourselves in Uganda. I really had not given it much thought until reading all the blogs for here it is hard to even get your mind to believe it is only a few weeks away. As i was filling out the questionare by KKK (See below) i really started to think about what makes Christmas Christmas?

For me my defination falls back to the childhood memories of hanging christmas lights on the house, setting up a tree, cooking a nice meal, shopping for gifts, opening presents, hanging around the house as a family etc.... But when i look at all the things that makes up Christmas for me i fail to find really anything having to do with Christ. Is not the reason to celebrate this holiday to remember the birth of our Savior? but in my heart the holiday is not centered on doing that. It is more of a foot note then the focus.

Now don't miss understand me ... i love the family time and the meals all of which can be God-centered. For me i guess being here with out all the things that to me make Christmas Christmas i have begun to ponder what Christmas legacy do i want to leave with my children (esp since isaac having grown up in Israel is not a big Christmas tradition person). What things will they associate with Christmas?

As i pray and seek what GOD would want to make Christmas Christmas for my family, i would love to hear from you on how you make Christ the center of your holiday.

1.Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Egg Nog though store bought tried a homemade one and not the same

2.Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We don’t want to be in the habit of lying to the kids so thus no santa

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Any lights are ok with me as long as they work

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. but as a kid in NW I remember having a tree and collecting bunches and selling them to the neighbors

5. When do you put your decorations up? No set time --this year kids and mom made pictures of decorated trees in art and put them up around the house

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Don’t have specific favorite – right now any grilled beef sounds yummy

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Stockings… was always my favorite part

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Don’t remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Usually the kids did

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Never consistent, lights was the only must (mom loved the “bubblers”)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Like it when can just enjoy it and not have to accomplish anything in it

12. Can you ice skate? Yes but not done in a long time.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Salvation – Jesus is the best gift ever!

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Time with family/friends.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? White chocolate peppermint bark that a friend makes --- mouth watering just thinking about it

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Elvis Christmas songs

17. What tops your tree? Don’t have a tree this year.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?" Mary did you know

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yum and kids enjoy

21. What do you want for Christmas? For it to seem like Christmas

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas Party? Yes CC Fort Portal has one

23. Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJs? Dress up whats that?

24. Do you own a Santa hat? Nope

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with? I don’t think there is such a thing as normal Christmas for us -- at least not yet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something in the air

As Christmas time rolls around here in Ft. Portal there is a buzz in the air literally....grasshoppers. They are a huge deal and many people look forward to this time of year. As we drove out to the open air market outside of town we saw groups of people scavenging the tall grass for the hopping creatures. It was really quite a strange site.

By now I am sure you are wondering but are afraid to ask "what is it that they do with these creatures?"... Yep you guessed it; in pure fear factor style they eat them. It actually is a big treat and quite the money making business. Just from the selling of grasshoppers people have made enough money to buy land, purchase a car, pay school fees etc. It is actually a tradition that if your wife buys you grasshoppers you as the husband must purchase her a new Christmas dress (no wonder they sell so well).

Anywho so when in Uganda do as the Ugandans do... at the market Isaac carefully picked out the grasshoppers that were alive and put them in a plastic bag to bring home. He wanted to cook our own so that we knew they were "fresh". We weren't quite done shopping so he poked a hole in the bag so they could breath and left them in the car. When we returned to the vehicle, we realized that we had hoppers all over the car. It was a TIA moment (this is Africa). We managed to round most of them up and proceeded home.

Before roasting the legs and wings had to be removed. I was too busy getting lunch ready to assist but the kids seemed to enjoy playing with the bugs. I think it was even hard for Isaac since he "let a few go". Anyways we roasted them up in a dry pan (no oil is necessary for when cooking they produce their own) and all (except mom who refused) tried our very first grasshopper.
So how did it taste? Actually not bad. It kinda reminded me of crunchy popcorn. I don’t think that we will be adding grasshopper to our weekly diet but am glad to have had the experience.