Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Life-Changing Moment (Part 2)

Life-changing moments happen without warning. They have a tendency to sneak up on you and grab you by the throat when you least expect it. In other words, a life-changing moment is unpredictable. Please allow me to share another from our trip to Parras, Mexico that grabbed me by the gullet and shook me out of my somewhat sheltered life as a middle-class American.

Shower door on left

Little did I know as we walked around the little adobe house across from the Dickey’s Plant in Parras that I would encounter God in the backyard. As Armand opened the plywood door on the sandstone colored adobe banos (Spanish for bathroom), I was stunned. As I looked inside everything one would need to take a shower— the shampoo, a bar of soap in a dish, a shower cap, towel, and a drain— was there, except a shower. There was no shower head, no pipe, no valves—just a dented old galvanized bucket and a ragged green hosepipe.  Here in a four by four foot little room two brothers and two sisters (the oldest only 20 years of age) washed away the dirt and grime after a long hot day of work with a bucket of cold water. I was shocked as I backed out of the little shower room and stood looking through the 2-3 inch crack around the door where these young people were bathing. Here in a little city of 45,000, how was this possible?

These four young people were the oldest of eight children who had grown up in a village twenty

The “No” shower

miles east of Parras. They had lived their life in a home with an abusive father. A local church had intervened and taken the mother and the eight children and put them in a safe place in hopes that the father would get some help. Sadly, the mother returned with the four youngest, but these four decided to start a new life in a new place.

As I looked inside that little shower room, God allowed me to see a sliver of the daily details of survival these kids struggled with every day. Poverty is such an ugly thing, and sadly most of us never notice it until it jumps up and hits us in the face. By the way, that same kind of poverty exists right here in the USA, but most of us never notice it. But, if you focus your eyes and look through God’s eyes you will see it.

In my other life I was/am a plumber. Preaching and plumbing are basically the same profession—except one has a spiritual application and the other a physical one. As I looked into that little shower room I knew we could fix this situation, and these kids would experience a life-changing moment. All those years of plumbing were about to pay off in a climactic moment I will never forget.

We headed to the local hardware store to get supplies. Pooling what we bought with some pipe from the Mexico Outreach Center—Roger, Jim, and I set about our work. In a few hours the job was complete. We not only able to take care of the shower, but we also installed a water heater so that they could have a hot shower. These four kids had never had a cold shower much less a hot one!

As we were finishing up, Maria (she is the oldest at 20 years) came out to check the laundry hanging on the clothes line in the backyard. I motioned for her to come over and look inside. Now I don’t speak Spanish and she does not speak English, so all I could do was point and all she could do was look where I was pointing. As she stared quietly, I opened the plywood door—revealing the new shower valve within.

A Life-Changing Shower

I will never forget the look in her eyes as the door opened. This little girl has lived a hard life and her response was filtered through a tough protective outward shell hardened by pain, but the light in her eyes jumped as she saw the piping, the shower head, and the little boiler and I saw it. It was pure—there was nothing fake in it—just sheer joy. It was a life-changing moment for her and…it was a life-changing moment for me.

All of us can make a difference in someone’s life. You don’t have to travel to another country—all you have to do is open your eyes and surrender your availability and will to a God who has the ability and resources to meet every need of those around you. A shower is not a big deal to most of us, but to a family who has never had the luxury of one, it is life-changing.

Our God is a life-changing God. Sometimes he uses salvation and sometimes he uses showers, but he always uses willing people to bring about the change. And…the wonderful thing about these life-changing moments is that your life is changed even more than that person you are seeking to serve.

A Life-Changing Moment (Part 1)

The Road to a LIfe-Changing MomentOver the next few blogs I want to share a handful of life-changing moments that occurred in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. I traveled with a team from Eagle’s Wing Church to Parras, Mexico to partner with the Mexico Outreach Center, as we participated in both community service projects and a mission Vacation Bible School with the First Baptist Church of Parras. This was not my first mission trip, but it was the first foreign trip for our new church. That in itself was life-changing.

Eagle’s Wing Church is approximately three weeks short being one year old. We’re a baby church toddling with God on a mission with a big vision. A part of our spiritual DNA is to be missional in everything we do, not just active in mission work or mission trips. We believe we are on a mission with Jesus every day, and thus, a mission work is not something we do, but rather it is a part of who we are.

Life-changing moments happen all around us every day. Many of them are missed because we are in such a hurry to get to our destination of the day. Too often, we forget the journey to our destination is just as important as the destination. We push, rush, and stress out with anxiety over getting there and miss all those God-moments along the way. Often the biggest thing we can do in a day is take a deep breath and ask God to show us what in the world he’s doing today. If you do this, I guarantee it will be a life-changing moment.

These moments are hidden for the most part from the majority of people. They are hard to recognize if you’re speeding along in life at ninety miles an hour. But—if you catch a glimpse of one, its effect is life altering. In a sense, these moments are like a cold shower after a long night of sleep—a slap in the face—or little brother who jumps out from behind the door and scares you to death. They come seemingly out of nowhere, and yet they come straight from the heart of God—designed with care instead of by random chance.

God has designed life to be anything but boring. If you’re reading this you know exactly what I mean. Life is chock full of the unexpected. Just when you think you’ve got everything down and know what’s about to happen—bam! Everything seems to go south. Nothing works like it’s supposed to. That my friend is a gigantic welcome mat—a red blinking light—a huge hello to the entrance of the carnival ride called a life-changing moment.

You are invited to join me over the next few weeks as I share a few choice nuggets from the divine construction site that is my life. And…who knows God may just use one of them as a life-changing moment in yours.

Party Time in Heaven

This past week I was part of a five person mission team from Eagle’s Wing Church. This was a ground breaking trip because it was the first foreign mission trip our eleven month old church has taken. Our destination was Parras, Mexico to work with Armand Lombardo and the team at Mexico Outreach Mission. The trip was life-changing and over the next few weeks I would like to share some lessons we learned.

Today, I simply want to show you a picture of what eternal life looks like. We did construction projects in the mornings and assisted one of the local churches every evening in a mission Vacation Bible School outside at one of the homes in the city.

Parras is a small city of 45,000 people. But God showed up in a powerful way last week and ten people (2 adults and 8 children) met Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The angels in heaven were having a party and I have to admit, I jumped up and down in unbridled excitement as I watched God move.

On Tuesday, evening one of the ladies motioned for me to come into the house. I don’t speak Spanish and she did not speak English, but both of us watch in awe as a little girl was birthed into the Kingdom of Heaven. You don’t need words at a moment like that, you simply watch the Holy Spirit work. One of the teachers was leading a little girl in a prayer as she asked Jesus to save her. And your know what? God did just that right there on the spot. It was matter of fact for the little girl and she went right back to her class. But…for me it was a moment of indescribable joy. I went outside and jumped up and down–sort had a come apart right there in the dirt street front of God and about forty others adults. They looked at me a little funny, but hey, I’m a gringo so they sort of expect things like that from us.

Words can’t describe the emotions or the joy of the Lord that welled up in me. And yet, I know in heaven the angels were going wild. In fact, it was party time in heaven. If you have ever wondered what salvation looks like–here you go!

Saved by grace!!

The Ever-Shrinking Honey Bun

Honey buns are addictive. I fell in love with them the summer after I graduated from high school, and that thirty-eight year love affair has not cooled one degree. When I began buying those delicious snack cakes their price was cheaper and they were quite a bit larger. In fact, at that time you could get a honey bun and a soft drink to wash it down with for much less than today’s cost of just the bun.

Honey buns are loaded with fat grams and sugar—I guess that’s what makes them so good. Most of the foods I love seem to be on the government’s list of unhealthy and hazardous things we simple-minded Americans need help with since we don’t seem to have enough common sense to eat them in moderation.  I’ve learned not to read the caloric intake information; it only ruins the culinary experience and then you feel guilty. I don’t, but you might. What’s that they say…a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips? Let’s be honest here—a honey bun every now and then won’t affect those buns of steel anyway.

One of my former pastors once said in a sermon (so it must be the gospel), “You are all going to die someday, so it might as well be the result of good food.” I took that biblical truth to heart and put it into practice.  Good food is in the eye of the beholder and since I am the one who has to look at what I eat—I think I’ll be holding a honey bun every once in a while.

I know—I know…I can hear some of you thinking, “That’s not very healthy.” And yes, I have reached that age where it is important to eat healthy portions so I won’t become an unhealthy portion.  My doctor’s directive was a helping is to be no larger than the palm of my hand. Guess what?  The modern day honey bun fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. Perhaps that’s the reason their size has shrunk and the price has tripled. Perhaps the production costs for shrinking this gastronomic delight into a healthy portion is this industry’s gift to a healthier America.

I am conscious of my health and I do watch what I eat. That’s my responsibility so that I don’t run out of body before I run out of breath. I just don’t happen to need our government of the people, for the people, and in spite of the people telling me what or how much I can eat. Let’s face it, if you don’t have enough common sense not to purchase a Big Gulp six times a day or compulsively stop at Mickey D’s for all your meals—government intervention and prohibition will not help you anyway. Truth is, if you can’t get your food fix there, you will probably go to the Big Saver and buy a ten pound bag of confectioner’s sugar and have yourself a party on the way home anyway.

So what does all this have to do with my love of honey buns you might be thinking? Just this—if you like to dip carrot sticks in Greek yogurt and get excited by a bowl of brussel sprouts and cauliflower—then have at it. But as you shrink away to nothing and as you can watch the Feds investigate, regulate, and eradicate all the good food out of existence—just know if you live long enough your carrots, yogurt, and flower sprouts will probably be declared unhealthy as well one day, and then they too will be outlawed by the food Nazis.

So, I am faced with a dilemma. Instead of one honey bun, it now takes two to satisfy my craving due to their reduced size. What to do—what to do? Perhaps I’ll contact my senator and see how our government can get involved. Naaaah! I’ve got it! I’ll just take a road trip to Krispy Kreme and get a dozen hot and nows—all they are anyway are honey buns with holes.