Sunday, December 25, 2005

Incredible day

I know our kids are growing up. No more rising out of bed at 6:00 or earlier to open presents. Today we slept in til 9:30 and then got up and opened presents. It was so relaxed and fun.
Also the kinds of gifts has changed. No toys and games, instead more clothes, books, CD's and DVD's.
The afternoon had us driving to Ruth's sisters for a family dinner. All of Ruth's family was there. I looked around and saw how blessed I was to be at a family meal/gathering where we were all together.
At the same time a good friend of mine celebrated Christmas by himself, well not really. He cooked a turkey and shared it at home with Jesus. He called me this morning to share how he was spending today at home, just he and God. He invited Christ to be his guest and welcomed Him into his home. He even put out a place setting for Jesus.
This may sound trivial but I did not miss the point. My friend recognized that we are never alone and he wanted to be sure to think about Jesus this season and this day in particular. It will certainly be a Christmas he remembers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Family time

Last night was special. Ruth and I had the opportunity to go out for dinner with my brother and his wife (who now live in British Columbia) and my sister and her husband (they live in Fredericton). It was nice to sit around the table as family. It made me desire to have many more times like this. Unfortunately we have very few opportunites as my brother and I live on opposite ends of Canada.
Ruth and I then headed for the dreaded mall to do some last minute shopping. It was wonderful to do something together. Yes we were both in physical pain but at least we were in pain together. Sounds weird to say that.
Today is the day to get presents wrapped, go to the Christmas eve service, and get ready for our trip "up river" tomorrow. Christmas day we will spend time with Ruth's family. Boxing day, the 26th we will spend time with my family. I am praying for strength for both of these family days so we can truly enjoy them.
Our son Ryne is coming over today and stay with us overnight. It will be nice to have all of our family together under one roof and open our gifts together in the morning.
I really dislike certain aspects of Christmas, especially the focus on spending lots of money. But I really do enjoy the time where we can focus on family.
To all of you, may this time of celebration with family and freinds be blessed.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

Well it is good to be back home for the Christmas season. I flew home yesterday and arrived to a teamperature of 10F. That is cold. What a contrast from the much warmer Florida temperatures and Alabama.
I want to take this time to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. You are all such an encouragement and a blessing to me.
My time in Florida was great. Our vision for the future is sharp and focused on reaching people for Christ. We are united as never before and saw Christ's provision in a powerful way during our time there. We saw God move and answer specific prayers during our time of refreshing together.
My prayer for each of you is that you will see the hand of God in your life over the Christmas season. Let us be thankful together for the Christmas season. It is the time where Christ began his time on earth. It is the time we can focus on how much God cares for us. It is a time where we can give the gift of ourselves to God and to others.
Blessings of Christ and Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Getting together

I am thrilled to be at our headquarters for a few days of meetings with some of the others in leadership with COI. It is a blessing to see the number of quality people the Lord has raised up to be a part of this ministry which is focused on reaching the lost.
Whenever we get together I meet new people. It is exciting to build new relationships and to hear what God is doing in our ministry worldwide. We have been able to see how clearly God is blessing and using this ministry. God is raising up new leaders in the COI minsitry who are focused on the same vision.
I am so thankful to be in a ministry that is focused on reaching the lost and hurting. We are making a difference.
You who read this are also making a difference. I can feel your prayers. I hear your words of encouragement.
I appreciate you all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas in the gulf

I have never really had the opportunity to see Christmas decorations set up in an area where there is no snow. I have never been in a place where the lights of Christmas have lit up a hurricane disaster area. Now I have experienced both.
In Bayou La Batre things are not back to normal but the people have their electric up and running so they can show off their Christmas spirit by putting out Christmas lights. In this way they are fortunate.
In Biloxi and many other areas there are not any lights on, and certainly not any Christmas lights. It is so sad to see the conditions people are still living in. This past weekend we handed out supplies in Biloxi and people clammered out of their "homes" to get warm coats and other things. We met one man who was living in a home with three others. In their front yard was a "bonfire" and a pot sitting above it to boil water. The water was being used to provide a warm bath. It would also likely be used for staying warm overnight as the temperatures were dropping down below freezing.
Many people in Biloxi and other areas will not be celebrating Christmas as many of us will. They wont have gifts under a tree. They won't have a tree.
Let us all remember how blessed we are. Many are not so fortunate.

Right place...Gods timing

As we headed to Biloxi yesterday we had our van loaded with supplies to give away to very needy people. (As you can see in the picture above, Biloxi is still a very needy place, this picture represents what Biloxi looks like as of yesterday). We had clothing and shoes, diapers and baby wipes, and other essentials.
I pulled into a gas station because we were about to run on empty, we do not usually stop at this gas station. As we were filling our car another car pulled up beside us. In it were two young ladies probably in their mid twenties, and a little boy who was not quite two years old. They asked us if we could help them and they began to explain their situation.
One of the girls had a black eye as she had beeen punched in the face the night before by her husband. Her husband took away her car keys and taken her purse and any money she had. The decision had been made to get away from the abusive relationship and her neighbour/friend had been willing to help her get away. They had packed into this old beat up car and were getting away from the abuse.
What they asked for was not money. They asked if we could by them some gasoline as they were literally on empty. We were able to fill up their car. We were able to give them diapers and baby wipes. We were able to pray with these two young ladies as well. We will likely never meet them again but it felt great to be used by God to meet a specific need.
A few hours later we went into a store to get some bread for our sandwiches. As I walked in I saw a lady walk out who was filthy. She was in her bare feet. I watched as she went to the corner to sit down and beg for money. I was tempted to drive away but I was reminded that this lady was precious to God and was also someones daughter. I walked over and talked with her and asked her if we could help her. I shared that we had a van packed full of things she might need. She came over to the van and we were able to give her a new coat, a pillow, food, water, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a bag to carry it in. She thanked us and wished us a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I am thankful for the people God puts in our path. It is such a blessing to help them and show them Christ's love.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Broken homes...broken families

Typical scene in the gulf coast, just a reminder of why we are here
Today we met with a 26 year old Christian man, a husband and father of two children. His home sits about 8-10 miles inland just north of Pascagoula. We drove to his home to find it had been hit by a tornado during the winds of Katrina. He had lots of structural damage but his problem was deeper.
Not only has Katrina ruined his home and severely challenged his business his family is in crisis. He and his wife are going through very deep waters in their marriage. He has so much weighit to carry with trying to fix his home, run his business and at the same time try to keep his marriage together.
I told Charles that he needed to let other people come in and help him rebuild his physical home because other people could help him do it. I also shared that by doing this he could spend more time focusing on his family and spending time with them.
Charles, his wife and their two young children aged 4 and 1 have had to live in a small hotel room since Katrina. They are stressed out. They are handling their stress in different ways and that has led to some misunderstandings. Please join with me in praying for Charles and his family. They represent so many families that are falling apart as the direct result of Katrina.
When we came to the gulf coast it was to invest in people and to impact them personally. Today, once again, I can see God clearly leading us to the place where He wants us to be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Challenging words

This short poem was sent to me by a friend, I wanted to share it with you to consider where you are in life. Thanks Tara for encouraging me with this poem.

Not Like Most

While most people have decided to become part of the problem,
you have chosen to be part of the solution;

While most people question "Why?"
you have dared to ask "Why Not?";

While most people have accepted defeat,
you have accepted the challenge to compete;

While most people focus on the obstacles,
you remain focused on the openings;

While most people are overwhelmed by difficulties,
you have transformed them into opportunities;

While most people give up,
you certainly don't give in;

While most people have resolved to talk,
you have resolved to take action;

While most people have lost all hope,
you have remained hopeful;

While most people are discouraged by the output,
you are encouraged by the possible outcome;

While most have forgotten from whence they came,
you haven't forgotten who brought us this far;

And while most people wish they were like you,
thank God you're a person who's NOT like most.

Actions and not words

After my challenge to invest some time talking or sharing with someone who has a "profile", God let me have the opportunity to do more than talk but to put these words into action.
As we drove to Pascagoula we saw a man standing at the street corner with a sign that read, "Homeless and Hungry, Please Help!!! I stopped our van and got out and talked to this weary traveler. He has been living on the streets now for a couple of months. He was not greedy or rude. He was a hurting, lonely man.
After a few minutes of talking we were able to give him the sandwich meat, cheese, mustard and mayonaisse we had brought with us for our lunch. We gave him some water and encouraged him that God loved Him. He talked about God with us. As we left his words to us were, "God Bless you".
As I write this it causes tears to flow down my face. Why? Because I am more blesed to be able to meet the needs of this desperate man, than he was to receive it.
I love how God allows us opportunites to live out what we say. He puts us to the test to see who if we are all talk or serious about what we say and put it into action.
Which one are you? Which one am I?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Profiling...I hate it!!!

Yesterday my family and a friend of my daughters drove with me to the Bangor, Maine so I could catch my flight this morning. As we crossed the border we were asked to pull over which was no problem. Then a vehicle came by and out jumped the drug dog to sniff out our vehicle. This never happened to me before but I was not surprised. You see we were "pulled over" because our daughters and their friend have body piercings and their friend has dreadlocks. In reality none of these three kids have ever used drugs or has any desire to do so.
Isn't it amazing how we do the same thing. We don't call it profiling we call it something else. We stay away from people because they look a certain way. We make sure we are not seen with a person who looks different than us because then we might be associated with them. It really struck me, that as Christians we do that to non Christians. We profile them.
My daughter explained to me how mad it makes her to have people think she is a certain way just because she chooses to look a little different. As I thought about it, it made me mad as well. Then it just made me sad to think of how many of us judge people before we ever walk a few feet in their shoes, let alone a mile.
Here's my challenge to you who read this. Go and talk with somebody you would normally walk by or pass judgement on. Sit down, talk with them and you may find that you have met someone really special. I did today, as I understood my daughters are really very special.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Movies and kids

I must say I have enjoyed spending some time at home and hanging out with my kids. I confess to you the biggest challenge in ministering in the south is not having my family beside me.
Ryne and I went to a movie on Friday, "Aeon Flex" I think it was called. It was not necessarily my favorite type of movie, but I did want to spend some time with my son. After the movie we had a good chance to talk about life. Ryne shared with me that life has a completely different perspective and that he is happy to be through the high school years and all the pressure it brings. He talked like an adult and I was happy to hear how well he is doing.
Last night the girls asked me to watch a DVD with them. It was a movie with the script being close to "Columbine" and the tragedy there. After the DVD we had a great discussion about how difficult the teen years are and how there is so much pressure to look and act a certain way. They also shared how they were beginning to really see and understand what is important in life.
I am very proud of my kids and how they have battled through adversity and continue to do so. God is teaching me so much about how important it is to love your children unconditionally. It takes more than words, it takes an investment.