How a Peruvian Girl Showed Me How Poor I Was.

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I am Journaling Through Revelation Here in Tampa Bay

 

I think I’ve made an interesting observation, at least to me. The church of Smyrna, which receives no rebukes, thinks that it is poor but is told it is rich.

I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! Revelation 2:9 NLT 

Later, Laodicea, the only church that gets nothing but rebukes, thinks that it is rich, but is told it is actually poor!

 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Revelation 3:17 NLT 

Reminds me of my mission trip to Peru about ten years ago. We came from America to help hold meetings in several churches in Chiclayo. Many of the churches had no roofs, and seemed to be made out of tin. We pitied them and gave them our projectors and other equipment they could not afford. We thought they needed what we have. But they had many committed, passionate members. Their lives revolved around God and His church. They even took turns sleeping in the church every night to guard it from thieves. They held meetings in their homes. Whenever they were not at their regular jobs they were out working for the church. We had 1,000 baptisms after our meetings, and while the missionaries from America took all the credit, the real credit belonged to the local Peruvian church members who were studying with people in their homes, and inviting them to church and the meetings.

When we first arrived at our hotel in Peru rather late on a school night, we were greeted by about a hundred Peruvian Pathfinders. I approached one girl, about 14, who understood English. I told her how nice it was for them to welcome us. I tried to give her some money for her group of friends to get some ice cream. Kids in Peru don’t get sweet treats like American kids do every day. She smiled, almost laughing, and told me “no thank you.” They did not need any treats. They were just very excited that we were here in her city to hold meetings, so the people they were working with could get to know Jesus better. He reward would not be ice cream. The reward she was desiring, was to see her friends get baptized in our meetings!

I thought I was a rich man offering a poor girl somethings she needed. But when she smiled and almost laughed at my offering, telling me how excited she was that we were in her city to talk about Jesus, was there was such a beautiful glow in her smile and gleam in her eyes the most skilled cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills could never recreate. I walked away with all my money still in my pocket, not feeling like a rich man anymore. I realized she did not need what I had. I needed what she had!

Glimpses of Our God; God as Artist

This week’s SS lesson portrays God as an Artist in various ways.  Once while taking a walk near my apartment in Benbrook, Texas I saw a patch of Bluebonnets along with some Indian Paintbrushes. Unfortunately someone had mixed a little garbage in with the beautiful flowers. Still, I thought to myself, even in a world marred by sin, God still preserves His beauty amongst all the litter and garbage. “The whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

As beautiful as a sunset on the sea may be, God is just too glorious and beautiful for that one scene to express His majestic splendor. Same with an enormous snow capped mountain, or valley filled with Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes.

Please allow me to share just a morsel of the beauty I have captured with my camera over the last few years.

^This picture was taken last week near the Skyway Bridge near St.Petersburg, Florida. I had hoped to catch a cruise ship sailing under the bridge, but God blessed me with this scene instead.

This was taken at St, Pete Beach around 2007. I love the sunsets on the beach. As the sun sets on the beach, an erie calm and mysterious quietness seems to settle on everyone as they watch the spectacular sunset. Most people want a clear sky to watch the sunset, but often the couds reflect some interesting colors, adding to the beauty. Sunsets are my favorite photo subjects, but I have learned to take pictrures of other things too, after friends back home have asked me, “Are sunset pictures the only thing you can take pictures of?”

I took this pictue at Pine Lake Retreat, In north central Florida, back in 2007. I took several pictures for a friend back in Texas who loves horses. I call this picture, “More Than Friends.” God can express the beauty of love through animals as well as people.

In 2006 I went on a mission trip to Peru where I was a part of a large team holding meetings all over Chiclayo. All together we had over a thousand baptisms. Later we toured Machu Picchu. This is a picture I took from the bus as we were still climbing the mountain.  Every part of the world has its own beauty. Again, God is too great of an artist to be able to portray His greatness in one scene or one work of art.

God’s best artwork is with His people. While we are still in Peru, I want you to meet Juan Carlos and his family. Juan, seated on your right, was 18 years old in this picture. He had cancer, to which he had already lost one leg. Still, once hearing about our meetings, He walked, on crutches and one leg, over a mile each way to get to the meetings we were having. I might add these roads were full of pot holes and probably not the easiest to maneuver with crutches. He gave his heart to Jesus and was baptized before dying shortly after we left. I can’t wait to see Juan again in heaven! Juan and all the people we met in Peru were beautiful people. The people in the church were amazing! When we arrived from the bus to our Hotel, we were greeted my several Pathfinders welcoming us on a school night. I knew they did not have much, and I offered one who could speak English, money so they could go out and get some ice cream, but she said they did not want money for ice cream, they were just very excited we were in their city to tell people about Jesus. What really impressed me was that after flying from the United States to Peru, the same church, or Body of Christ, that bid us farewell from Florida, was there to welcome us when we got to Peru. God is everywhere! No matter where you go God is already there waiting on you! I thought the people in America were wonderful, but just like God has His beauty in nature all around the world, He also has his beautiful people all over the world. When I came to Peru I did not meet any strangers, only hundreds of friends I just hadn’t met yet!

Back in Florida now, God has created some beautiful Jacaranda trees. Mostly seen in Central and South America, but a few are found in South Tampa.

I took this picture recently at a friend’s house where I have had a few Bible studies. God’s artwork is seen in both the catepilar and butterfly, illustrating God’s artistic nature in re-creating us and making us all new creatures.

At my friend’s home, I also found this female cardinal guarding her nest.

I found the father not far away. I think cardinals are one of the most beauitful birds God has made, even though I don’t appreciate what they did to my Texas Team in the world series last year!

Even though I have shown my friends back home, that I can take pictures of more than just sunsets, still they are my favorite artwork of God. This was taken last Christmas season at Marco Island.

Key West Christmas season before last.

Naples

St. Pete

St. Pete

Clearwater, Florida

Health and Healing, Lesson 11

I am writing tonight from my motel room in beautiful Central Georgia.

This week’s SS lesson talks about our attitude.

It is a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance. While words express thoughts, it is also true that thoughts follow words. If we would give more expression to our faith, rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have–the great mercy and love of God–we should have more faith and greater joy. No tongue can express, no finite mind can conceive, the blessing that results from appreciating the goodness and love of God. Even on earth we may have joy as a wellspring, never failing, because fed by the streams that flow from the throne of God.—Ministry of Healing 251-253 (1905). 

On a Wednesday night in April 2006 I sat on a plane with 90 other missionaries waiting for our plane to take off from Lima, Peru and go back to the states! We were tired and weary. Some were sick. It had been a fruitful venture with 1,000 baptisms! Still we were tired and wear and ready to get home. We sat on the plane at the terminal for two hours before American Airlines finally cancelled the flight due to fog. Tired and weary, and now disappointed, we all wandered off the plane and into the airport where we slept on chairs or the floor. During the night I kept wishing I had something to lay my head on like other people had, bags and stuff. Then it hit me, I was suppose to have something. I left the projector on the plane! I could have used the projector and case for a pillow but instead I had nothing to lay my head on and spent the rest of the night wondering if I would ever see it again. We woke up the next morning (If we actually fell asleep in order to wake up) in an airport when we hoped to be waking up in our own beds.

First thing I did in the morning was email my parents and told them I had just woken up in the wrong country! Sure, I wanted to be home but a little humor made things lighter for me. Of course all 90 of us woke up in the same clothes we wore the day before. When I saw someone in our group to be funny, I asked them, “Hey wasn’t that what you had on yesterday?” Many got it and laughed. Others were confused and tried to explain the whole situation to me and why they could not change clothes. Others just got outright mad that I was having fun while they were upset they were not home by now. I was having fun, and why not? Would getting upset make it any better? I rushed to the gate to see if I could retrieve the projector only to find that my new best friend Juan Rivera had already saved it for me!

At 2:30 in the afternoon our plane finally takes off for Miami! As we are going down the runway about to take off the lady next to me says, “What’s that smell?” Scared me to death! If you want to scare someone, ask that question just as a plane is taking off. I looked around and did not see smoke or anything so I laid back and enjoyed the rest of the trip back to Miami. Glad God gave me a healthy attitude to make it through the bad times.

 More studies and devotionals available at In Light Of The Cross.