care more than some think is wise; risk more than some think is safe;
dream more than some think is practical; expect more than some think is possible


Ometepe & Ometepinos

I am going to have the opportunity - I think - to go to Nicaragua for about a month for outreach, to work with an orphanage on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. What you see below is the island! The island is basically two volcanoes ... described by one Mark Twain as, "two magnificent pyramids, clad in the softest and richest green, all flecked with shadow and sunshine, whose summits pierce the billowy clouds. They look so isolated from the world and its turmoil, so tranquil, so dreamy, so steeped in slumber and eternal repose." Concepccion (1610 m) and Maderas (1340 m) are the two volcanoes. Concepcion erupted as recently as December 11 2009! Maderas is reported to be speckled with waterfalls, and to be home to a great diversity of wildlife, especially primates!

The island consists of about 42,000 inhabitants, with two "major" towns on the island, they are Altagracia and Moyogalpa. The islanders are called, Ometepinos, and are involved in fishing and agricultural industries; growing plantains, rice, tobacco, coffee, bananas, sesame seed and other crop species. Agriculture makes perfect sense, since the temperatures range between 24-32 Celsius (75-89 F). 

Religiously, Roman Catholicism rules and reigns. But roots of ancestry animism are vividly displayed in the annual "Baile de Zompopo" (Dance of Leaf Cutter Ant). The celebration is rooted in animistic Chorotega Indian mythology, who sought to appease the Leaf Cutter Ants which prehistorically destroyed crop stands on the island. Other such "superstitions"  include a well known legend about Charco Verde ... or the lake and ranch at Green Pool, which is watched over by the ghost of Chico Largo.

The history of the island includes many indian tribes migrating to the island from Mexico, the first of which are Los Mangues or Chorotegas, followed by the Nahuas, then the Mayas. The mixing of cultures led to one cohesive and meshed indigenous culture and religious system, characterized by the use of animal-like carving in totemism. They had rituals such as Quetalcoatl, Quiatoet, and "deities" such as Xochiquetzal, and sun god

The island was discovered by Spaniards in the early 1500's, and with discovery came mandated "religious reform" and evangelism. Franciscan monks arrived in the early 1600's teaching new customs, new language (Spanish), and new beliefs, and indigenous gods were replaced with Christian saints.

Thats the best brief history I can provide. I am sure there are gaping gaps in it, but its what I got. I hope you enjoy it.



My thoughts here are not going to be “so” profound, or far that matter real concise or logical. But, I just want to share a few thoughts in regards to how the Lord pours out blessings in our lives ... and specifically I want to share recent blessing from my own life.

Let's start with Scripture ... "It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it" (Proverbs 10:22). I start with Scripture because it is amazing to me that the Lord of all creation, the sovereign God who created you and me, who knitted you and I in the womb of our mothers (PS 139:13) chooses to bless us, daily! Not only does He bless us richly beyond what we know to ask for, but also He does so even in light of each and every one of us having cried out, “Crucify! Crucify!” as along with the angry mob of Jesus’ own day, as Pilate offered Him to them.

In light of this, life itself is a new blessing each and every day, and it is God that ordains our breath and heart to beat at night while we sleep!

Anyway, back to blessings.

First, my folks are now in CR! Of all places in the world for their church in Birmingham to take a trip, the Lord is so good to bring them to the country where I am currently living! I was there at the airport at 1 AM Saturday morning to pick them up. They are not here visiting me, but rather the whole group is working with friends I know in San Jose – the Longs (, they work with Christ for the City San Jose, CR …  I can’t begin to describe how awesome and wonderful that family is! So, I got to hangout with the whole team on Saturday, including some good time with my folks. But what’s more than this, is that next weekend I get to hangout the whole weekend plus Monday and Tuesday with them! I will be back with their team this coming Friday and Saturday, until they leave back for the States. Afterward, my parents and I are going to get a hotel and hangout Saturday and Sunday. Then, its back to the base, and time for them to get a taste of what their son’s life is like on the farm! I can’t wait! It will be fun! So, it’s just so gracious of the Lord to let my parents and I to be in the same foreign country at the same time, and in close enough proximity to actually be able to hangout! Further, on the topic of parents, I must say, I have the most loving and amazing parents! One of the greatest blessings of my life are my parents. Not only are they great parents, but they are best friends to me too! We get along like I get along with my brothers, with friends from college, etc … that is truly a blessing from the Lord. Some might even think it a miracle based on their relationships with their own parents!

Another blessing of life is … life. On Saturday, two of our three pregnant goats gave birth! Dotty gave birth to 3 baby goats, Kami to two, and Ginger the third pregnant goat is probably going to give birth to three more – ANY MOMENT! I must say the “circle of life” in the animal world is amazing. Just this past week I met two, two day old calves. They have some way of being cute that I don’t know how to explain! And for the 5 new goats, they are very cute. It is a shame that they will grow up to be unruly and stubborn goats! Its also a shame they can go from being so cute to so … well, grown goats are just not cute or lovable in anyway! What a shame! Also, maybe a month or more ago, Amber our gold retriever gave birth to three puppies. Two were bought and are no longer here, but Creamita (Little Creamy) is still here and she is a joy to play with. She is still very floppy like puppies are, and so she is funny in that way too. She is so loving and lovable too!

Lastly, and by far the most important blessing I wish to share is God’s love. Call it a cliché to write about, but its UNDENIABLY true. God’s love is the greatest gift we can ever experience in this life. The fact of the matter is this – God loves you better than you love yourself! He loves you perfectly, with His eternal, infinite, and infallible love! I can attest … I love me way too much, for I am so selfish, self-centered, prideful, and egocentric! And despite all this love for myself, God loves me infinitely more than I could ever! This insight came about today in my time with the Lord.

As we conversed this afternoon, He encouraged me to be totally honest with myself. I mean totally and brutally honest. And what came up is that there are parts of me, if I could, that I would change, parts of me that I view as imperfect, or not “up to par.” Not only is this sin, for I am rebuking God of His design, but it is also robbing God of the praise due Him for His workmanship called Adam! He created me just as I am, nothing is missing, and nothing is needed in addition. I am just the Adam He designed, and therefore I am a good creation, rather a perfect creation. We know from Genesis one that He creates nothing bad … and that includes you and I! But, before moving on, lets be sure we are straight, I am not a perfect creature … I am cursed with a hearth disease called SIN, but I am a perfect part of God’s wondrous creation!

And before I leave you with all this, I must share one last thing. Everyone who receives this email is a close friend or is family, but not everyone who gets this is a child of the God of the Bible. Not all of you are Christians, and I cannot in good conscience leave this email without encouraging you! First, you must know I love you very much, and the best way I can share my love for you is by offering a simply exhortation for you to seek out the truth about God, revealed to us in the Bible – God’s very spoken word. At the core of it all, is an unbelievably compelling story of love. It’s of a God who does not demand perfection, but rather seeks our abandonment to Him … it is not bondage, but freedom!

First, we must recognize that because of the first humans, Adam and Eve, that we are a cursed race, cursed so that sin and disobedience are our natural course! We are hostile toward a perfect – or holy – God. And because of His perfect nature, by virtue of it, He cannot allow sinful people to be in relationship with Him, or for that matter, spend eternity in heaven with Him. So, the immediate dilemma is clear, we as sinners are sentenced to hell for eternity, because sin is in our DNA!

But, as it seems hopeless, in His infinite storehouses of grace, mercy, and LOVE, He provides the means for our relationship with Him to be restored. He offers the gift of salvation! God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son to live in the form of humans, on the earth. The Bible speaks of Him as becoming to men “the very image of the invisible God” … Jesus is how we can know God now! As He lived and walked the soil of earth, He was given over to be crucified – all a part of God’s plan. As He was hanging on the cross, crucified and dying, because He is both God and man, full in both regards, He lived perfectly – or a totally holy life – a life that perfectly reflected the standard God has. As Jesus died, He took upon Himself the sin of all men. As He did this, He took upon Him the eternal judgment due to men who would spend an unending eternity in hell paying for his or her sin-filled life. What you or I could never pay for in an eternity in hell, Christ Jesus paid for in 3 hours on the cross, as He bore the full wrath of God. He died and was buried. Yet, as He is God, He not only conquered sin for man, but He conquered death – don’t miss this – He defeated death by coming back to life! That’s insane … and better yet, so unmistakably true!

He tells us in His scriptures, the Bible, that the man or woman, boy or girl who trusts Him to forgive his or her sins will indeed be forgiven, and given eternal life through faith in the Christ, that He died and rose again! In the book of Romans, in chapter 10 it states, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "(WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED … WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED" (v9-13).
If you have read all of this, thank you so much. What an honor that you would spend so much time keeping up with me, my life, and my thoughts and prayers!


adventuras en viajes en Costa Rica

So, if you have traveled in a foreign country at all (that is, foreign to the States), then you know traveling there within can be quite adventurous, exciting, and at times horrifying. Si, es verdad. no?

Well, I have three such stories here ... I will go from least to most exciting!

First, this happened just yesterday. My team and I had been traveling home to the base from the coast during the afternoon. Just after merging onto the highway, our big white 15 passenger van started puttering up this hill, jolting and lunging as it seemed to be dying. We pulled over,  which in Costa Rica means you are half-way in the lane of passing traffic, moving 80 kph give or take! Its a quite terrifying sight to see passing cars miss your own vehicle by inches! From there we managed to make it to the next exit, find a mechanic still open at 5:30 pm on a Saturday. The problem was our fuel filter. It was actually pretty disgusting, but more than that, they did not have the replacement one we needed - for our old modeled Dodge van! So, the rigged another one. We left, got back on the highway. About 5 km from exiting the highway ... it started again. The problem here is that we had to get from one side of San Jose to the other, and up to mountain sides before reaching home ... about 45 more minutes. Let me just tell you, the last several hillsides we climbed, I think all eight of us were praying that van to get home. I truly think the Lord was pushing us home, fully aware at our semi-laughable predicament. I mean ... it was sort of funny, but not very. On one note, if you could be praying for the finances for our base ... things are tight, and it seems the last thing we need in a broke down van. Please pray!

Second is from my hiking at Volcan Barva about a week ago. The hike itself was fine, and wonderful up to about 3000 mt. but getting there we had to get a taxi due to some unknown bus schedule problems. So, this taxi was an old Toyota Camry, typically a great car. NOT this one, plus it had five adults, backpacks the same and a baby, so it was a full load. But getting up the mountain side to the park was of the closet encounters I have had with death! After stalling on several of these huge, and steep climbs, the driver decided just to gun it the rest of the way ... including about 7 hairpin turns across bridges wide enough to have one car pass at a time! We all though we would die! Now, on the flip side of the day, we had hiked a lot and had to get 8 km downhill in 1 & 1/2 hours to catch the last bus that would get us home! It was 3:30. It took us about an hour to make it 4 km to a small town called Sacramento. We knew we were not going to make another 4 km in 30 minutes, no way! So, as it worked out, the Lord provided big time for us! First this guy offered to take us the 4 km to the bus stop ... which was far more than we would have asked! But by the time the rest of the guys riding with him were ready to go it was 10 'til 5, not enough time to even drive 4 km. We seemed to be doomed! But then after getting to know him some, we found out he lived in San Rafeal de Heredia ... where we live! He took us all the way home! I mean this was like a 20-30 minute drive! Further, he refused to let us pay him... his response, "Total tranquilo! ... Con mucho gusto!" Now, if it doesn't sound like a miracle, just consider that we would have either had to hike 18 km to Heredia to catch a bus back to San Rafael ... or caught some other ride to Heredia. There is no telling what time we would have gotten back, and we did have a 3 yr old with us! After eating dinner in San Rafael we had to catch the bus back to the base ... typically no problem. But, as it runs on the half hour, we saw that as we paid our bill it was 7:45 pm! No to catch a bus 10 minutes late is nothing new ... but to catch it 20 minutes late ... that miraculous! We jumped on our correctly routed bus at 7:50, and literally within 30 seconds of us getting on we left to go up the mountain!

Lastly, and this is mind boggling of just how great and totally sovereign God is! I had been in San Jose several weekends ago. The friends I was visiting offered to drive me back, instead of me taking the bus for an hour or so. I said yes. So, at this one particular street ... it dead ends, sort of. At the end you have to go left or right ... not straight. Going left or right, both lead to a typical 2 way street. Not a big deal, that is if unless you don't realize that the road you just turned onto is a 2 way street! Well, Mark didn't know! For a bit as the navigator & co-pilot, I thought he had simply adapted to driving like Ticos do ... as he was entirely in the left hand lane. As we approached a blind left hand corner, the words, "You know this is a 2 way .... ," were just barely getting out mouth ... and then it happened! We rounded the corner only to see another car rounding the corner directly at us! Ok, I have no idea how fast we were moving, but I would think at least 40 kph for both cars ... that 80 kph, or about 50 mph! I cannot even begin to do this justice, because it all happened in a split second! Mark, in remarkable reflex jerked the wheel to the right, the other car began to skid to a halt ... and we literally missed the car by no more than a foot ... maybe, very likely even less! And as if that is not enough ... we did not flip the SUV we were handling like an F! series race car!

So, what I have taken away from there experiences. First, God has more for me to do in this life (as well as Mark) or we would have been dead by hitting that oncoming car! Secondly, I have never studied any theology about angels, but I am convinced that at times we see them and at other times we do not. The guy who drove us back after our hike, I am thinking he served as an angel to us. However, the other two stories, I like to think that the Lord sent angels to protect us ... to see to that we made it to our destinations regardless of broke down vehicles or careless driving. I am convinced that there was an angel in front of our SUV that literally grabbed our car and tugged us to the side, while protecting the other driver too! As for the hulk of that van getting home... I am sure the Lord had angel pushing us! I mean, these things are all to unlikely without supernatural intervention. Nonetheless, God is good, and loves His children dearly, to take perfect care of us, even in the menial daily tasks!


Word and Deed

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down for Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him, bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus replied, “Go and do likewise.”

I need to follow this Samaritan’s example. During these past weeks of training I have studied much in regards to what Christians are truly to be about in this world. Just a few weeks ago my answer to the question, “What is you purpose and goal in life?” would have sounded, in short, something like this: “To glorify God the Father in all I do.”
Now, I still hold – clinching tightly – to this answer, but it has grown to be so much more. But the above answer may be shorting me just a bit. I have held for a long time that Jesus, himself, gave us a clear model for ministry through his own example. He addressed the physical – felt needs – of the people he met, and then followed by meeting their spiritual needs, namely forgiveness of sin! But all that is wrapped up in my previous “answer.”
But, my horizons have been broadened, my convictions deepened & challenged too! And for this I am so grateful! Praise God that he continues to work in us, his adopted sons (& daughters), stewards, servants and slaves!
So, what are these new convictions and thoughts … they are this…
I am more fully convinced at this time than I ever have been that Christ was not about a gospel that simply provides salvation. He did that, absolutely & it’s central to everything! But if that is all his death and resurrection secured for his glory, us his chosen ones, and his creation, is it possible we are selling his sacrifice short of its full purpose and potential?
I submit with a resounding YES!
First, Christ is about the work of the Father (John 6:35-40) … that is, he is about the work of the Kingdom of God (Matt 4:17; Mark 1:15)! I think we will all agree that he preached good news, for that is what the gospel is, its good news, the best news! But that is not limited to just salvation! Mark 1:14 & 15 reads, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.’” Christ labels his message as the “gospel of God,” and relates that to the “kingdom of God.” So, Christ worked not solely for the sake of salvation rather for the advancement of the kingdom of God. With Him it arrived – in part, not in full. That’s why we say the kingdom of God is now, and not yet – but that is for a different time.
Getting back to the claim, God’s gospel is more than preaching salvation. So, what is it? If salvation is not the main purpose, what is?
The gospel of God, that which brings the truth of the kingdom of God into being in an individual is a holistic gospel. It by necessity and definition calls for far more than just spiritual ministry. The gospel is multifaceted in its ministry … meeting the needs of humans alienated from God, since sinful man cannot dwell with holy God (Ex 33:18, 20); meetings the needs of psychologically disoriented humans, that is alienation for self (Rom 1:25, Col 3:5); meeting the needs of socially disoriented humans, or alienation from our neighbors (Gen 3:12, James 4:1-3); and alienation for the natural, created world (Gen 3:17, 19, Rom 8:19-21).1
All the forms of separation are due to the fall in the garden with Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:7-19 describes each of the four alienations that occurred at the moment of first sin, broken relations with God, with self (shame), with each other (blame), and with nature (cursed is the ground).
So surely, as we witness the total devastation wreaked upon the newly created world, we recognize the need for total redemption. If we claim that the gospel of God is strictly a gospel of salvation, then we lie to ourselves and create a God who is much less loving than the God in the Bible. If God does not restore each of these areas of alienation, then could it ever truly be called redemption? Now , hear me straight, this is not at all to blame God of anything, but rather to call to light how the Church has missed so much in regards to the full-forced, multifaceted gospel that Christ brought, the Kingdom that He began to usher in! When the Church seeks to evangelize alone, we miss the mark … and so, when the Church only seeks to address social chaos and disorder, we miss the mark. When Christians simply give money to agencies for the poor, and we say, “Oh bless that soul…;” we miss the mark!
The call of Christ is to become what He became, a laughing stock, a reproach, and despised of the world, for the sake of loving the unlovable, for the sake of advancing the kingdom of God, by both word (evangelism) and deed (mercy ministries)! Jesus preached holistically the gospel, proclaiming that the disabled no longer must be disabled, that the diseased no longer must remain diseased, that the poor no longer had to be slaves to their poverty, that the outcast were no longer outcast, but held high and treasured in the kingdom of God! 
And as many theologians declare, the Kingdom of God is now and not yet! This brings great hope to me for two reasons. Today, right now, the King of God’s kingdom is at work in this world – in the hearts of men everywhere, growing up an army of soldiers to advance the front lines of this good news! He is raising up sons and daughters to declare the revelation of perfect love! He is calling stewards forward to being healing to the decimated lands for the healing of the poor! He is wooing forth humble servants, setting aside their own interests for the sake of those who need their service! He is calling all of us to become slaves in His kingdom, slaves to righteousness and love! And all of this because Christ has already brought the kingdom of God, which reveals his power … “God’s ruling power present to heal all the curse of sin. It moves the people of God to meet psychological, social, physical needs, bringing God’s kingly blessing far as the curse is found!”2
The reality is that must live in anticipation of “substantial healing” in all areas of life, though the healing remains only partial, for the kingdom presence is only partial. Keller sums it all up aptly stating, “To spread the kingdom of God is more than simply winning people to Christ. It is also working for the healing of persons, families, relationships, and nations; it is doing deeds of mercy and seeking justice. It is ordering lives and relationships and institutions and communities according to God’s authority to bring in the blessedness of the kingdom.”3 Yet, the right perspective must be held to tightly … mercy ministries – ministering in word and deed – seem to aim primarily at physical needs, felt needs. But it is more than this. It is spiritual ministry to physical needs, namely that the motivation is born out of a spirit of compassion and mercy, having yourself experienced mercy unlimited in the saving grace of Christ Jesus. The spiritual ministry to real needs, open doors up to ministering to the real spiritual needs too!
The Samaritan was a man of true Christ-like compassion and mercy, recognizing that he had the capability to improve this man’s situation by simple mercy. He met all his needs, even at his own expense. He neglected his own schedule, finances, personal safety, and racist bigotries as well … however; I would argue this Samaritan was no racist at all. So, like I said, I need to learn a lot from this true minister of mercy! It is my prayer that I live in such a way as to be able to say, “I went & did likewise!”

1 Keller, Tim. 1997. Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. 2nd Ed. P&R Pub. New Jersey. p 46-51.
2 Ibid. p 53.
3 Ibid. p 54.