Raising Kids 2 – Time

A critical part of raising children is spending time with them.  You cannot replace parent/child time with money, gifts, television, computer games, or other people.  If you don’t spend time with them, they will eventually come to the conclusion that they are simply not important enough to spend time with.  That’s sounds harsh?  Yeah, but what else would they think?  You can tell them till you are blue in the face that they are important, but in this case, your walk always talks louder than your talk.   

Following are ten things we did with our children.  This is a list that I hope you can get ideas from.  These can be varied to fit your family.  You may not agree with some of them.  But I am telling you, if I had to do it all over, I would change absolutely nothing.  Because they worked for me!

1)-My kids loved the outdoors, so a couple times a year we would go camping.  Usually to a camp ground close by.  Since we didn’t have a lot of money, I would sometimes rent a tent.  I eventually bought one.  We would get to the camp ground on Friday evening, have supper, have breakfast and lunch on Saturday, then pack up for home on Saturday night.  Needless to say, my wife and I didn’t get much sleep on those trips – but they weren’t about sleep.  We cooked what we could on the open fire, and the rest on a camp stove.  We would do some fishing, sit together by the campfire at night and roast marshmallows, and get close by it in the cool mornings to get warm.  And it wasn’t always perfect.  One trip it rained and stormed like crazy.  We huddled together in the leaking tent and laughed about it.  On another trip we brought the dog.  Big mistake.  Dogs like to bark.  But, because we were only 30 minutes from home, I was able to jump in the car, get the dog home, and be back within the hour.  We hiked, we played, and we just had fun.  Our children still have a lot of great memories from those “no frills” camping trips.

2)-Another special time was hiking.  We loved the outdoors.  Minneapolis had some great parks that we could hike.  They had a special fall program that if you hiked four different parks, you received a “hiking medallion” for that year.  On your first year, you got a hiking stick and a medallion.  The way it worked was you got a hiking card that needed to be stamped at each park.  The stamper was about halfway down the special trail you were to hike (no cheating – you had to walk the trail to get the stamp).  The trail lengths varied in each park – from half a mile to one and a half miles.  We always brought a special snack when we hiked – and we couldn’t eat it until we reached the stamper – the halfway point.  Fall hiking was beautiful with the colors, and my children got to hear the wind blowing through the trees – I told them that was God’s symphony – more beautiful and peaceful music than anything man could create.  We still have 5 hiking sticks, each with 10 medallions for the 10 years we hiked (we started when my youngest was three).

3)-We lived in Minnesota – the land of cold winters.  Usually once or twice, around February, I would get a hotel/motel in town that had an indoor swimming pool.  I’d get off work on a Friday as early as I could, and took everyone to the motel that night so the kids could go swimming, and stay in a special place.  It was almost like camping – one of those great times to do a “summer thing” in the dead of winter!
Of course ice skating, snowman building, and tubing down snowy hills was a special winter activity too.

4)-I had special date nights with my wife, but I also had date nights with my children.  We always had chores for our kids to do.  Usually particular chores would go in one-month cycles – and then switch to a different child.  But once a month, I would take one of the children out on a special “date” night.  They looked forward to that very special one on one time with dad, almost as much as dad did.

5)-We always read stories to the children at bedtime – I believe that is why they are all such avid readers.  Not only did they like the stories, they looked forward to them (thus making the bedtime process easier).  When I ran out of good books to read, I began making up stories – all with the same characters – a bunch of neighborhood kids, with odd names, and their adventures.  The stories usually were based on the antics of my own “colorful” childhood.

6)-Meal times were a very important part of our family, and I protected that time.  One special meal time rule was you always ate everything on your plate.  You got a portion of everything that was made.  And you ate all of it.  You could not say, “I don’t like this”, to any portion.  If you did, you got a double portion of it, and you didn’t leave the table until you ate it.  Making a face or any indication of disdain for whatever it was, got you a double portion.  If you didn’t like something, when seconds were offered, you could only reply, “No, thank you”.
Now, to those of you picky eaters, who think I am an evil father for making such rules, let me say this:  My wife made almost all of the meals at our house and she was an excellent cook.  But there were plenty of days she was very tired and it was discouraging for her to hear complaining about a meal she had just prepared.  That little rule brightened her day considerably by removing all of that complaining, and thereby, the discouragement.  And you know what?  We actually had a lot of fun with that rule, ate healthier meals, and to top it off, my children were able to handle the pain and suffering of eating their vegetables. 

7)-We took about 30 minutes each morning for our family devotions.   We always read a chapter of proverbs, and with that, psalms or something else in the Bible.  I read it, and as each child learned to read, they would help with the reading.  Each family member would talk about which verse stood out to them and why.  That helped them think about what they were reading.

8)-If you want your children (and you) to see God answer prayer, start a “family prayer book”.  This was a special item that the children loved and learned from.  The pages had 3 columns.  1-Date entered.  2-Prayer request.  3-Date answered.
Anyone could put a prayer request in the book (no silly requests – James 4:3).  You entered the current date, and the prayer request.  We prayed for all requests listed.  When God answered one, we would then enter the “Date answered”.  If you ever want to know whether God answers prayers or not, just start a prayer book with your family.  It was exciting seeing God answer prayer in His time!   

9)-I said at the beginning that my children liked the outdoors, we read stories to them, and they all loved to read.  We became a very close family – there was a reason for that.  I removed the television from our house for 10 years when my children were young.  Because of that they communicated more with us, with each other, their minds were more creative, they were outside more, they lived in a real world all the time, and they became what we wanted them to be, not what the TV taught them to be.  
A TV is a lot of things to a lot of people; it’s entertainment to some, a baby sitter to some, it is “noise” in a quiet house to others.  But don’t be fooled, the number one thing a TV becomes to a child is a TEACHER.  It teaches your children how to live, and what to want in life.  Its commercials are designed to break down their self-esteem  and to make them think that the answer is to buy whatever it is they are selling.  Computers were not an issue when my children were young.  If I had a young child today, I would NEVER allow that child to surf the internet in private, and I would NOT allow my children to play as much computer games as they want.  The games are designed to be addicting.  Look at the adults that can’t stay away from these games…. what do you think the games are doing to your kids?  They want your child to live in a world of speed, killing, murder, and sexual innuendos, all under the banner of ‘they are just playing’.  And then your children start asking for the new versions of that game.  Please just think about that.
This area of your children’s lives is incredibly destructive, and a parent needs to protect their children here. 

10)-I always liked smiling around our home.  Now sometimes smiling was not an easy thing to do.  However, it was always better than frowning.  At our home there were two kind of smiles;
     1-Regular smile
     2-Obedient smile.
The “regular” smile was easy.  It was when you felt like smiling. 
The “obedient” smile was when you didn’t feel like smiling, but you did anyway.  The “obedient” smile was for others, not for you.  Your smile was to make them feel better, thereby taking your thoughts off of you and focusing on someone else.  It really does work – you can make others smile! 

 

To Love Your Wife

I was very much in love with my wife when we were married 33 years ago.  And I can say this without hesitation; I am more in love with my wife today than when we were first married. :-)    I want to and I will explain that last sentence in more detail in a later writing. 
Because married life can get hectic, especially when your children are young, here are just two things that might be of help to other husbands.

Compliments.
It seems ridiculous to have to talk about this.  But, many men don’t understand, and I am the first to raise my hand about this.  As a man, you appreciate getting a compliment from your boss.  You appreciate getting a compliment from a co-worker.  You like to know that you are doing a good job at whatever it is that you do.  It’s human nature.  We all want to do well at whatever we do.  We like being around people who tell us that we do well.  Of course, your wife feels the same way.  If she is a stay-at-home-mom, you are the only one who can make her feel good about what she does.  And if she is a working mom, it is not a good idea that someone else is the only one who makes her feel worthwhile by complimenting her.   
Here is the problem.  True compliments won’t come out of you if you are not paying attention.  I realize this is not easy for men.  Gentlemen, try to keep this in mind; when you have children, getting meals ready, keeping the house clean, keeping the kids clean, and expecting mom to always have a big cheesey smile on her face as you walk through the door is not easy.  Think about that on your way home each night.
Your wife likes to know what you like.  Complaining to her about what you don’t like is not what I’m talking about.  Tell her what you like about her.  She may not know.  Maybe you like hearing her sing while she is busy, or maybe you like it when she holds your arm while you are walking together.  Or maybe you like it when she simply lays her head on your shoulder while you are sitting together.  Think about the things she does that you like and just tell her – she’ll appreciate knowing.

Date Night.
This was a once a week special night that I took my wife out.  It was something we put on the calendar and got a babysitter for.  She looked forward to it, I looked forward to it, and the kids even looked forward to it.  It wasn’t about spending a lot of money; it was about going out together.  When we could go out for a nice meal, we did.  When all we could afford was eating Wal-Mart deli chicken in the Wal-Mart parking lot, we did that.  Sometimes we didn’t have any money – and we went to the park, the lake, downtown, a museum, or just wandered through some specialty store.  The point was going somewhere together and talking.  We’d talk about the previous week and about the coming week.  A couple hours once a week isn’t too much time to devote to your wife, is it?  If you are too busy to do this, than this is probably more critical than you can imagine!  Look at it this way, if your boss told you that 50% of your paycheck every week was dependent upon you spending from 6 PM to 8 PM every Friday night doing a special job for him, you would mark every calendar you had, weeks ahead of time, you would always make sure you kept that time open, you would move heaven and earth to get those two hours done, because it would be that important .  If you had that situation with work, your wife would know that it was important to you – because of the effort you made to keep those appointments and never forget them.  She knows what things are important to you, and she knows if those things are more important than her.  So, if she asks to spend time with you, don’t hammer her down with those old guilt lines like, “I have to work to put food on the table!”, or she will eventually stop asking (and men, that is a bad thing that will get worse).  Harsh words never work, and men aren’t the only ones who can have a bad day!  Compassion is a good thing.  Work can be tough – communicate with your best friend about everything.

You taking the initiative and making it happen will remind her of that part of you that she fell in love with years ago.  Taking no initiative may make her wonder why on earth she ever fell in love with you in the first place. 😦

Maybe you think you enjoy your work (or ministry) more than you enjoy time with your wife.  Let me be the first to tell you, this is bad problem that needs to be fixed.  And trust me on this, she knows it.  Carefully consider these two thoughts;
(1) God never intended you to lose your children or your wife, because of your work/ministry – because He can solve any problem, including time.  Your life priorities should always be:
1-God, 2-wife, 3-children, and 4-work/ministry (don’t confuse the order here).
(2) Wealthy men on their death beds never talked of the great deals they made or the large amounts of money they made.  When death was at the door, they said they wished they would have spent more time with their family.  Because they realized too late, at the end of their life, that it wasn’t all the stuff you accumulated, but it was your family that was the most important thing on this earth.  Be smart; don’t wait until the end to figure out that truth.

Your greatest friend on this earth should be your wife, the mother of your children.  If she isn’t, she can be with enough unselfish effort from you – so how much effort is your greatest friend worth?

Raising Kids 1-Going to Church

A very critical part (and start) of raising children is going to church.  That has everything to do with your life  “priority list”.  To raise godly children, the following list has to be the priorities in your life:

(1) God
(2) Spouse
(3) Children
(4) Work or Ministry
(5) Hobbies or Whatever Else

From the children’s perspective, they need to see this list in the correct order.  Small children are highly perceptive and intelligent.  They know what is the most important thing in their parent’s lives, and if the parent’s priorities are different than this list, the child’s life list will be different too.  One thing is very clear in the lives of children, they will become what you are.  If you want God to be number one in their lives, He had better be number one in your life.  If you want your children to go to church, you had better go with no excuses, and it had better be important to you.  If you keep coming up with excuses not to go, then, when they grow up, they will come up with even more excuses than you had not to go.  And when, as adults, they refuse to go to church – don’t repeat that lame excuse, “I did the best I could”. 

I remember very clearly a response I got from my son when he was nine years-old.   It was Saturday night, and my wife and one of my daughters were sick, and I felt terrible.  I said, “I don’t think we’ll go to church tomorrow”.  He said, “I never thought I’d hear those words come out of your mouth!”  At the time it sounded funny, but the message about church in our family was clear.  And it wasn’t just Sunday morning.  It was Sunday night and Wednesday night.  Because this wasn’t just church, it was GOD’s house.  It was not the pastor’s house.  (I will explain God’s house below).

God was the most important thing in my life, and I didn’t feel that way because of my kids, I felt that way because of me.  I didn’t realize at the time that God was preparing to give me a priceless future blessing because of this.  They were learning to love the Lord, because I loved the Lord.  Because I was honoring Him, He was honoring me with a blessing through my children!  Can you imagine God honoring a man?  He does, and He will! (1Sam. 2:30) 

So if God was really that important, of course you would go to His house!  Listen to me parents, if you take church lightly, you are taking God lightly.  But you say, “I don’t need to go to church all the time, because God knows I love Him whether I’m in church or not”.  Yeah, try to explain to your children why your walk and talk are different.  Think about it – you go to work tired, sometimes sick.  You do everything you can to go to work each day, because work is not an option.  Your children can see that work is not an option.  Work is important.  But, what about church – God’s house?  Do you feel that you don’t have to go to church if…. you are sick/you are really tired/the once a year Superbowl is on/ you need a day off/you deserve a break?  Do you somehow imagine your children don’t see that? 

It becomes obvious to them that although you say going to church is important, your walk indicates it is clearly an option.  Under those conditions, while living at home they’ll go, but once they leave home, they’ll stop going to church – because they, like you, have other things that come up that are more important, because church is optional.  They feel they are simply choosing the best use of their time.  And of course, the world overcomes them and you will grieve.  And you end up praying that God will bring them back – and sometimes they come back – if Satan doesn’t destroy them.  What do you want for your children?  Do you want them to be marginal Christians, or a Christian that is useful to the Lord?  

 God’s House
Sometimes we don’t understand what church is.  A better name is God’s house.  Why do I say that?  Let’s start with the pastor.  This is God’s man.  God put him there.  You may have voted him in, but it was God who brought him there.  Your pastor may be a great preacher, but it is God who lays on his heart what to preach.  Sometimes when he preaches you might get mad at him because he seems to be talking to you.  Guess what?  It is God who is talking to you – the pastor didn’t write the book he is preaching out of! 

Second, the church is the Lord’s flock.  The Lord talks to his flock through His man, the pastor.  The Lord knows what His flock needs – that’s why God touches the pastor’s heart about what to preach.  So when you skip a service, you are telling God, that you don’t need what He has for you at that service!

And every day, you should have time with the Lord and His Word with your family – you need that time as well as your family!  That special “daily time with the Lord” keeps everyone dependent on Him – and teaches your children what they need to do to get through life!

Does this seem like I’m a little overboard on pressing the importance of going to Gods House?  Genesis 18:19 gives us a little insight into Abraham’s life of following the Lord.  Speaking of Abraham, God said that he will”COMMAND HIS CHILDREN”.  God could depend on Abraham to teach his family.  I’m sure people around Abraham considered him a fanatic about his relationship with the Lord – now THAT is something we ALL can learn from!

Raising Kids

When my first child was born, I was 31 years old.  I knew as much about raising a child as I did about growing a good apple tree…. absolutely nothing.  I was truly concerned as I held that little cutie (Tonia) – I knew her life was literally in my hands.  I didn’t want to raise a sad bad kid; I wanted to raise a happy good kid.  So, I started asking different people about how to raise children.  Wow!  Everybody had something to say about that!  And lots of them sounded very good – and with completely different opinions.  So how does an amateur like me make the right decision and pick the right route on raising children with so many choices before me?  The future of my daughter was at stake!  Well, there are many books written on child rearing.  So many, that you don’t have enough lifetimes to read them.  I decided to take a common sense approach to this. 
Getting back to growing a good apple tree, if you don’t know anything about apples, you could find a book, read it, follow it, and hope the apples turn out ok.  If the apples turn out bad, then you read another book and hope that crop turns out better.  Unfortunately, you only get one crop with the kids – they need to turn out right the first time.  So, books can be a bad idea if you read the wrong one.  So with apples, you find someone who grows apples and ask his opinion.  If you find two apple growers with two completely different ways to grow apples, which way do you (the amateur) follow – remembering you have only one shot?  That’s easy; you go and look at the apples!  The guy with the best apples has the information you want!
So, I started looking at the kids of the people who were giving advice.  It didn’t take long to determine what I didn’t want my children to be.   Then we met this family at church.  They invited Cheri and me to dinner at their house.  My children were very young at that time and stayed at home with a babysitter.  What I saw that night I would not have believed if I had not been there.
When we arrived, the parents greeted us as we came in.  Their 5 children, nicely dressed, were quietly standing behind the parents, side by side in a line, the oldest 11 and the youngest 3.  One at a time, they stepped forward, gave a big smile, shook our hand, and said “How do you do, my name is ____.” (the 3 year-old shyly said “Hi”).  We sat down in the living room with the parents and the children disappeared into the kitchen – they were finishing the dinner and setting the table in the dining room.  The 11 year-old boy was obviously running the show and the others were helping.  When the adults came into the dining room, the table was set and the food was ready.  When the meal was finished, the children removed the dishes and served dessert.  After dessert, the children took the rest of the dishes into the kitchen, washed them, and cleaned the kitchen.  The parents stayed with us the entire time.  I paid very close attention to those children, watching them and listening to them.  They were obedient, well behaved, godly, and happy.  This was the first time I saw those four things together in young children.  I realized then that this was possible in raising children.  Later, I met other parents with similar children, and decided that is how I wanted to train my children.
There were several very important principles involved here – and none of them were chance.  I’ll talk a lot more about this in future blogs.

June Mission Trips – 2010 – To Juarez, Mexico

Our June mission trips into Juarez, Mexico were simply spectacular!  What a blessing!  I’ve included some pictures from those trips.
This is our welcome sign in front of BPS.  Above the right side of the sign in the background is our “theme” for the summer – “Making a Difference – BPS El Paso 2010”.  Everyone who has come so far this summer has made a difference!

On the first night of each mission trip we go to our mountain place that overlooks El Paso and Juarez.  The Mexican border is about 6 blocks past the tall buildings (downtown El Paso).  The mountains to the right are in Mexico.  We always pray here before every trip, to claim God’s promises and ask for His direction.  He always takes very good care of us!   The young people in the picture are summer workers.

Prayer in the morning.  It’s the best way to start every day.   Our mission trips have always started with prayer.  Close communication with the Lord is an absolute necessity for any mission trip.

A meeting about the Lord before we go into Mexico.  He is what this week is all about.  We don’t have to wonder if He likes us going into Mexico, because we take His Word, that He wrote, to His lost, whom He loves.  He goes before us, He gets us through the border, He gets us to the meetings, He protects us, and He gets us home.  We are always careful to give Him the glory for the week.  As I said, He is what the week is all about.  Glory!

Before every trip, the groups work in the print shop to put together the John/Romans that they pass out while in Mexico.  The ones they put together have special covers that we print that has the church name in Mexico we are working with and directions to get there.  We also acknowledge the church or churches in the group on the J/R.

The meeting places are picked out by the pastor of the Mexican church we are working with.  They are usually within the proximity of the church, or in the area of a mission church they are starting.  We drive to the church, the pastor has people from his church meet there who will be helping, and he takes all of us to the meeting place that he wants.  We divide up into small groups, each with a Spanish speaker, and go door to door in the neighborhood inviting people to the evening meeting.

Going door to door, giving John/Romans, tracts, and an invitation to the meeting.  The guy on the left is a Wisconsin cowboy,  Pastor Navis.

God’s will is that “none should perish”, and what you see here are four reasons we go to Mexico with His Word and His message.

Overlooking an area of east Juarez.  The church we are working with is below.  They recently put up the concrete building.  They started with a pallet and cardboard church on this property.  A poor building by U.S. standards, but many a soul received a mansion in heaven in that place.  Those of you who know Pastor Abraham, this was one of his mission churches that he started.  The old church was in the open area by the bus.  Shortly after they completed the concrete building, somebody torched the old church at night.  Note the outhouse behind the church.

The Mexican kids love soccer.  Mexico really loves soccer.  How much do they love soccer?  They go wild over their team – much more than any fan of any sport in the U.S.  For most of those people, soccer is right up there with God.  So, when I’m in Mexico, and especially when they are playing the U.S. in soccer, I use wisdom and keep my allegiances to myself.

Hector usually starts the meetings with skits to get everyone relaxed – especially the parents.  Lots of smiling kids!

This picture shows how this missionary feels about God’s ability to protect us in Mexico.  My 9 month-old granddaughter Emma-Jean (Reed) likes mission work too!  Her two year-old brother Isaac, and parents were there also.  She worked in the puppet program.  She popped up during the laughing song   (-:    She definitely has a future in missions.  She is following in the footsteps of her cousin Lily, who, a couple years ago, also popped up among the puppets during the laughing song.

The people always come!  The area might not look very nice, but a whole lot of people in this picture who came to this scruffy, dirty place, now have a beautiful mansion in heaven!

We have songs to get the Mexican kids laughing and singing.  We will be telling everyone and giving everyone a copy of the greatest message man ever heard, so we might as well get the grinning started!

All the kids love the puppets (even the big kids)!

Chalk drawing during the preaching at our Wednesday noon meeting.

In June for one of our evening meetings, we had a very special guest chalk artist, Tonia Reed (my daughter).  For those of you who don’t know my family’s testimony, God used that chalk art picture she draws to bring my family to the mission field back in 1996.

While in Mexico, we saw soldiers go by in trucks.  We saw federal police go by in trucks.  And they all had guns.  Sometimes they stopped at red lights next to us.  We smiled, gave them a “thumbs up” sign, and they smiled back, probably glad to see someone smile.  These men were put there by God, to execute His judgement, if you broke the law.  I occasionally saw military and police, but I didn’t see any drug guys.  Maybe they were hiding.  I’ll tell you what I did see.  I saw God in every tree, every blade of grass, every grain of sand.  He was everywhere!  He was in the air that I breathed, the water that I drank, the sun that kept me warm, and the wind that cooled me.  How could I possibly be afraid?  I couldn’t see any enemy, all I saw anywhere I looked was the Lord!
And one of the nights of our meetings He gave us this sunset.  I can’t say that I have ever seen one like this.  But I do know that the Lord loves to put His special mark on the skies.  And on this particular night, He once again loving reminded us that He is with us, He loves us, and it is He, who protects us!

Make sure you read the Bus Story, a miracle that occurred on the second trip.  It was part of my prayer letter, but I put that story, with a few more details, on this blog site.

Let’s Talk About The TRUCK

  I had a few comments about this truck on facebook, so I thought I tell you about it.   Yes, this is the TRUCK.  And it’s spent a lot of time in Mexico.  My son Adam (it’s his truck) has driven this thing all over the place in Mexico.  At the 4-way stops in Mexico, the biggest vehicle gets to go first – and nobody messes with the TRUCK!  But when it comes to those Mexican kids, the truck is a softy – so it let’s us stick puppets out the window to bring those little ones (who also bring their parents) to hear about the Lord.   

But it is a real Texas truck.  It’s not like those shiny, candy apple trucks that the teeny boppers cruise up and down the street in front of the high school in.  Where neither the truck nor the driver has seen a lick a work their whole lives.  No, this is a working truck.   It is a four door, full size, 8 foot covered bed, with running boards, a cattle guard in the front, and lots of lights.  It has a 6.2 diesel engine that purrs like a mountain lion – oh yeah!  It’s been in a few scrapes and it has a few scars.  But I can tell you this; it WON every one of those scrapes!   In fact, I’ll tell you about one of those scrapes.  My wife was sitting at a red light at an intersection (in the U.S.).  Some character in a van came racing from the left, bounced off two cars, and angled into the front of the truck.  That speeding van did not “bounce off” the truck.  The truck stopped it cold.  Thankfully, no one was hurt.  The cattle guard in the front was bent up and I drove it to the shop for repair.  The van didn’t do so well.  The truck just about ripped off the whole side of the van.  As I said, it’s a Texas TRUCK.

A Good Story about a Mexican Church

In the summer of 2008, we helped an American missionary church planter, working in Juarez, Mexico.  By his own testimony, he was discouraged with the few people in his church and ready to quit.  We had just found out about his work in Juarez, and arranged a week to help him build his church.  He was excited about getting the help!  The week we worked with him, he got pages of addresses of Mexican people who were saved at that week’s meetings.  And he and his church followed up on them all.  In the summer of 2009, we had two weeks of meetings with him.  We normally don’t work two weeks with the same church in a summer, because so many people get saved, it becomes too many to follow up on.  But he was so motivated, wanted the meetings, and I knew he’d follow up on everyone. 

Today, that little church has grown to over 200 people and they have to meet outside, as there isn’t room in the church.  They are working on a building program, and they are on fire for the Lord.  Of course, we are planning on working with him again this summer!

This was just one story of God’s blessing.  This particular one I tell you for a reason.  Juarez, Mexico hasn’t gotten a lot of good press the last two years.  In the last two years people have scheduled mission trips because they felt God was leading them to go.  That’s good to listen to His leading.  Some have had to cancel because God didn’t provide the money, there were medical issues that God didn’t resolve, or work issues that He didn’t resolve.  That is God closing the door.  He knows how to do that very well.

Here is what you have to be careful of.  If you cancel a trip or anything else you are doing for God, because you are fearful, or, you feel you are using wisdom by canceling, listen carefully.
1- If you are fearful of doing something for God, that fear is not from God.
2-If you are using wisdom to cancel serving God, that wisdom is not from God.

If you canceled your mission trip in either 2008 or 2009 for either of the above two reasons, I believe from the story above, that God clearly wasn’t the one influencing you, because the Lord has been working big time in Juarez the last two years.  I’m not trying to be mean; I just want you to see what God has clearly shown me.

So what’s the bottom line?  How do you know how to make a decision like this?  It’s easy.  If God leads you to serve Him, in your church, to the mission field, or whatever,  go forward until God closes the door.   Let Him do any door closing!  If He doesn’t close it, that means He wants you to go!  If you close the door, you use human reasoning.  And your reasoning is always susceptible to fear.  Trust HIM! 
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” Prov. 3:5.

God is so good, folks!  Trust Him!  Follow Him!  Search for reasons to serve Him!  He will and He can take care of you — always!

A Tour of BPS El Paso

This is the main building at Bearing Precious Seed (BPS) in El Paso.  The building faces north.  Within this building are our offices, boys and girls dorms, nine motel -like rooms, upstairs apartment, downstairs apartment, game room, kitchen, and dining room.  Cheri and I live in the upstairs apartment.  When you look at the picture, there is a streetlamp in the center.  Our apartment sliding glass door to the patio is directly above that.  BPS has 20 acres, and along with our main building, we have a print shop, warehouse, and bus garage.  All these are to the left of the main building, and they face west.  Also on the property are five BPS homes, where some of the staff lives.

This is the back of the BPS main building, with your back to the print shop.

Inside the building I took a great picture of our trash can with the kitchen and dining room around it.


The BPS salad wagon is always popular during our meals.  This wagon was built by our old friend, Al Bower, who almost single-handedly built our whole print shop.  He gave this to BPS as a gift just before he retired.  Thanks Al!

Everybody likes the game room – we have two ping pong tables and a foosball table.  Needless to say, it occasionally gets a little wild in here.

This is the main stairway upstairs.  The Proverbs Room (boy’s dorm) is behind, and the Psalms Room (girl’s dorm) is straight ahead and to the right.

This is one of our dorms – we have room for 32 people in each dorm.

This is one of our rooms.  Most of the rooms have two double beds.  One has a king bed, and one has two double beds and a two person bunk bed.

This is my downstairs office.

This is the print shop – millions of tracts, John/Romans, and New Testaments have gone through here to Mexico and around the world – with the fingerprints of thousands of people who came here on mission trips to make that happen.

This is our warehouse.  Unfinished scripture is usually below, and finished scripture, ready to be shipped, is above.

Anyone who’s been on a mission trip and discovered this patio (above) in the early morning, will tell you is a beautiful, quiet place to pray and read.  The pine trees shade the eastern sun and give such  peace, it’s a perfect place to commune with God.

Now this is one of our ‘golden chariots’ that takes us into Mexico.  It has air conditioning when you get up to 60 mph and open the windows.  Anybody who’s been on a mission trip remembers this faithful bus.   The air horn is under the front bus steps.  No one can board the bus until the horn sounds.  The teens who line up at the door, waiting to get on, are the ones who get to hear that horn first. Usually this happens just once, and then they don’t crowd the door.  :-)

This is a picture off of my apartment patio, facing north.  The bus garage has the Texas star on it.  The warehouse is to the right.  The mountains are about one and a half miles away.  I have spent countless hours on this patio, talking with the Lord.  It’s a good place.

I couldn’t resist putting this picture in – I was standing on the roof when I took it.  That double rainbow was simply God showing His protection over the BPS ministry.  You will notice to the left, our flagpole.  There is a cross at the top.  When I come out the patio door of my apartment at night, and look at the flagpole, the cross at the top points directly at the North Star.  Now that’s cool!

 

Almost Home

Cheri and I are almost home – we’re in Abilene, Texas.  We’ll drive the last 400+ miles tomorrow and be in home sweet home, El Paso.  We have spent a lot of time on the road; we’ve been in El Paso a total of 3 weeks since last August.  The Lord has given us safe travel as we drove literally thousands of miles north, south, east and west the last 8 months.  And it has been great!  It’s 89 degrees here in Abilene, and last week in Pound, Wisconsin, I woke up in the morning with 6 inches of snow on my car (those Wisconsin folks thought that was really funny).  My cowboy boots were wondering where in the world we were – they’d have felt better if they had seen a cactus around, but no self-respecting cactus would be caught dead anywhere around there!  I did get a chance to ‘brush up’ on my snow brush skills.  Today we stopped in Tyler, Texas – they say it’s the rose capital of the world.  There was a rose garden, so we stopped to smell the roses!  Last night the church we were with, took us with them on visitation.   My wife Cheri was able to lead two 12 year old boys to the Lord.  Amen!  The fellow I was with led a man to the Lord too – while I helped keep his friend (Bubba), busy.  Bubba said he was saved a long time ago, so he didn’t need anyone preachin’ to him.  Hmmmm…
Did a lot of Texas driving today, but I love being back in Texas.  I am looking forward to seeing how God accomplishes everything that needs to be done with the summer mission trips.  Every mission trip I have been on, the Lord has amazed me with what He can do.  I don’t expect anything different this summer.  He is so good!  I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll be getting pictures on here too.

Love The Struggle

Being on the road brings me to a lot of different churches.  Tonight, April 23, I’ll be speaking at Black River Baptist Church, in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, Pastor Ken Jordon, at their mission conference.  On Sunday morning, April 25, I will be speaking at Tri-County Baptist Church, Osseo, WI, Pastor Gary Perreault.  On that Sunday evening, I’ll be speaking at First Baptist Church, New Lisbon, WI, Pastor Oatsvaw.  On Monday I will leave Wisconsin and drive to Kansas City, MO.  On Tuesday, April 27, I’ll pick up my wife from the Kansas City airport (she is flying from Columbus, OH, where she spent 12 days visiting my daughter Tonia and her family).  From there we will drive to Longview, Texas where I will speak to Pastor Bob Grey of Longview Baptist Temple about mission trips on Wednesday afternoon, April 28.  We will attend Wednesday night service there at the church.  We will leave Longview Thursday, April 29, to go back home to El Paso.  God willing, that’s the plan.
I truly enjoy this road the Lord has put before me.  I have been to many good places and have met countless good people.  I find out all kinds of situations that I pray for.  I try to be an encouragement to everyone I meet.  It’s easy to let the cares of this life overcome you.  But, if our focus on life can remain up on Him, rather than down on the potholes of the road we are traveling, hope can be a daily part of our life.  Life may seem tough, but the future is spectacular!  Stop thinking you deserve the things your ‘evil’ neighbor has, and remember that the Lord will give you everything in glory!  Isn’t a few years of any kind of struggle worth a trillion+ years in heaven?!  And what about that struggle?  Could it be the Lord is allowing that in your life for a good reason?  Just because He hasn’t told you what He’s doing, does that mean He has forgotten you?  If you are saved, you are not miserable slaves of the world, flesh, and the devil.   I believe you are described in the Bible as ‘more than conquerors’.   Love the struggle!  Develop that odd habit of making the best of anything!  Why, you say?  Because any clown can complain.  And plenty do!  But the Christian can rejoice!  You have a Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills!  He can do the impossible!  He is perfect, all-powerful, and He loves you!  That should count in our daily life!  The most important job you have on this earth is to glorify God.  And that means pleasing God.  And pleasing God doesn’t require money, a big house, a nice car, or a wonderful profession.  It requires obedience to His Word.  Please don’t make that ridiculous mistake that people make thinking God’s commandments is like putting a wild horse in a corral, and keeping him penned up from enjoying life!  The Bible was written as a guide for life, the perfect guide I might add.  Its Author wrote it to you because He loves you.  It shows you the path to the greatest life on earth, and the greatest life hereafter.  The Bible is not a fence to keep you in, but a wall to keep evil out.  It promises, and it delivers!  But you need to trust in a God you cannot see…… which I really think the Lord thinks is humorous, because He shows Himself clearly in everything He created on this earth.
It’s a beautiful day today folks; I hope you can see that too.

The Bus Story

On the second mission trip week in June 2010 a group came from Ohio on a bus they rented from another church.  The bus rental was $3000, and the original plan was that 30 riders would pay $100 each for the trip and cover the rental.  Satan began early trying to discourage the group when many of the original riders decided to cancel for different reasons, and only half of the rental was going to be covered. 
Their plan was to leave Ohio early Friday morning, drive 36 hours straight, and arrive in El Paso on Saturday night.  They got within 100 miles of El Paso and it broke down.  We took one of our buses to go get them (now, our bus was a much older model than their bus, but obviously, a bit more dependable)    (-:

Their bus was overheating badly but could be driven in the cool of the night.  So we picked up the people in the afternoon, brought them back to BPS, and their drivers brought in their bus late that night (Saturday).  On Monday morning, our mechanic Steve checked out the problem and made the necessary phone calls.  He then gave me his report.  The bus needed two radiators.  They were specially made, the radiator cores had to be ordered from out of state, the El Paso radiator shop (once they got the cores)had to re-build them to fit in the bus, and all this was not going to happen by the following Friday morning when they wanted to leave, but more likely 4 days later, on Tuesday.  And, last but not least, the initial cost estimate for all this was between $6000 and $10,000.  Flying back was not a great option, because without a two week notice, the cheapest one way tickets to Ohio were $900 apiece.  So I gathered the group together to break the news.

I started by telling them several miracle stories of God solving seemingly unsolvable problems.  And then I mentioned how everyone loves to hear stories like that, but no one wants to be there while you are going through it.  However, they were going to get that opportunity – because for their bus to leave on Friday would require a miracle from God.  And then I explained the details about the bus as told to me.  A number of people had to consider the fact that they may not get back to work on the following Monday, and one individual was starting a new job on that day. 
Does Satan know how to paint a picture of discouragement or what?!  The reason situations like this look so bad, is because  you look at it from your perspective only, how you can solve it, how you can pay for it, and leave God completely out.
I am telling you, this group had no intention of leaving God out!  They were excited!  They prayed and passed that burden to Him, and got busy with what He had brought them on this mission trip for…. To take the Word of God to the lost!

The first good thing that happened is that the radiator shop in El Paso was run by a Christian.  He dramatically cut the price for us – and the total price was down to $3500 for both radiators – including all rebuilding work.  Praise the Lord!
Of course, Satan never makes it easy to ‘trust God’.  We found out Thursday morning that the two radiator cores were shipped on separate pallets, because they damage easily.  Unfortunately, they were mistakenly loaded on different trucks…. one arrived in El Paso, and the other ended up in Louisiana.  At this point it’s easy to get angry and look for someone to yell at (how could this happen!?).  Of course, we all know that no matter who’s fault it is, all anger does is make you lose your testimony and ultimately, it doesn’t help anywayBesides, we knew who the troublemaker was.  It was Satan again, trying to make things look bleak (and I have to admit, he does an excellent job in that area).  So what do you do?  You do what we did – pray!  Folks, this is spiritual warfare!  Forget the grumbling and complaining and get on your knees!  Prayer is a great weapon against darkness!

On Thursday, the radiator shop ordered another ‘core’ and had it shipped overnight.  The one they did have they re-built and delivered to us Thursday night and Steve installed it in the bus.  The radiator shop was going all out to help us.  The second core arrived at noon on Friday.  They had two guys waiting to work on it.  Normally, one guy would take 8 hours to do this job.  Those two guys got it done by 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  The second radiator was installed, the bus tested, and ready by 9:00 Friday evening.  The group left two hours later, and arrived home on Sunday morning in time for church.  Amen!  They had two powerful services that day, and by the time the tears and amen’s had stopped, they had 45 people sign up for a mission trip in 2011! 
And if that isn’t enough to make you jump out of your shoes, remember the bus rental?  Only half was covered?  A dear lady (not a church member) stepped up, handed the pastor a blank check, and told him she wanted to cover the difference!  Glory to God, is He good or what!

God is so good – but you have to involve Him!