He who has ears to hear…

I’ve always thought of the above phrase simply as Jesus’ way of getting the Pharisee’s attention. Then I read Psalms 115. Now, I think Jesus is communicating something very specific.

Starting in verse 4…
“But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

It appears that Jesus is leveling quite the accusation. It sounds like he’s calling them either idol worshippers or idol creators… or both! It is easy for us to see, 2,000 years after the fact, that the Pharisees were bowing down to the idol of tradition. And because of that, though they did in fact have ears, they couldn’t hear.

But what of us today? What if we replace the word “tradition” with the word “heritage”? Does that strike a chord with any of us?

I need to ask myself, do I do what I do (how I worship, evangelize, experience God…) because God has led me to this point? Or am I simply allowing what my heritage has always done to dictate how I continue on? And I think Jesus is quite clear on this point. Doesn’t he warn us to never put our hand to the plow and then look back? I can’t look for God today if I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to see if the history of my heritage approves.

Sadly, if your heritage has become your idol, you won’t be able to hear what’s being said.


Psalm 147

Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
How pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Don’t know why, but it struck me today… that phrase, “it is fitting to praise him.” So I ask, what song are you singing today?


Family Update for May 08

May 20,
We had a wonderful time getting see so many of you during our month of travels through Oklahoma and Texas. We were constantly reminded that God has blessed us with bonus family. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your love, care and support.

Church in the Park
Just after we arrived back from our furlough, the church in the northern part of Guadalajara hosted all of the churches for an assembly in the park. More than 80 of us met under the shade trees to celebrate God together. We sang, ate, studied and played together. Writing this now, a month later, I don’t remember which songs we sang, nor what was preached. But I remember the smiles and the connection of hearts. God was worshipped and he encouraged us all.

Power of Prayer
Lilian, our sister in Jocotan, has been reaching out to one of her co-workers, Anna. Anna recently told Lilian that her son-in-law had been arrested and wouldn’t be released unless her family paid an absurd bribe. Lilian, a new Christian, told Anna about how loving and caring her church was... how they help the poor and would love to help her. So Lilian invited Anna to our assembly in the park where all the churches would be together and she could ask them all for money. (Let us go ahead and say, we are so grateful this happened on a Sunday where all the churches would be together and there would be many wise Mexican brothers that could help us navigate these waters.)
Our teammates Gerardo and Carola Garcia took charge of the situation. They didn’t want to do anything that would hurt Lilian or even embarrass her. Still they didn’t feel like they should give Anna money at this time. Instead, they offered to pray together for Anna’s family. So we all gathered around and placed hands on Anna and prayed for justice to be done. Anna cried. Lilian told us later that she thought it was exactly what Anna needed.
The next day Lilian called us all to inform us that Anna’s son-in-law had been released from jail without any bribe being paid. It was incredible to see how this encouraged the church. Though none knew the young man, they had prayed. And God answered in a powerful way. We were all left looking for another opportunity to pray for God’s power.

Omar’s Growth
Though Omar is an amazing Christian, he is quite timid and feels like he has nothing to offer. He’s ashamed of his tattoos and how they speak of his past life. But in the last month, we’ve seen Omar draw from his past experiences to minister to others.
One of he Christians in La Piedad, a couple of hours outside of town, recently fell back into his addictions to drugs and alcohol. Omar has connected in the past with this man, Martin. So he took it upon himself to take the bus trip to his home and, quite frankly, chew him out... in love. Omar shared with us later what he told Martin and it was evident that God was using Omar to speak truth in this horrible situation. Because of Omar and other Christian brothers who also spoke truth, Martin has stopped drinking and doing drugs. Omar even arranged for Martin and his son to find work with him.
All-Church Retreat
On mothers’ day weekend, the churches retreated to our favorite retreat spot, just outside of town. It wasn’t the best weekend to get away and many were missed. Still, there were between 80 and 90 in attendance.

We spent the weekend together, singing, playing and studying God’s word together. Joe Pruett prepared 4 lessons that encouraged the church to delve deeper and commit to spiritual disciplines. We spent a lot of time divided up into groups discussing what was being taught. I (Tim) was especially encouraged to hear from some of the youth what they were learning and what they were taking home from the retreat. They spoke of a renewed commitment to take time to seek God out.
Many came prepared to do skits, or puppet shows or even share testimonies. The church was greatly encouraged by all that was shared.
We closed the retreat with the baptisms of Manuela and Rosa from Cerro del Cuatro.
Three years ago, at the same retreat place, Jose Luis and Julianita were baptized into Christ. One of their co-workers shared Jesus with them and has since planted a church in their home.
Through this new church Jose Luis and Julianita have reached out to their family and neighbors. And so, at the retreat, Jose Luis’s mom and sister-in-law were immersed into Christ. It is exciting to see that God isn’t done yet with this family.
Visiting Cerro del Cuatro
Both Jose Luis and Julinaita have taken interest in the past in Omar. I think they’ve seen a bit of themselves in him and so have taken care to encourage him every chance they get. This past Sunday they invited our church to come be with them to worship together. Thirteen of us traveled together on Sunday to Cerro del Cuatro, which is located on the south western edge of town. Our two new sisters in Christ were there as well, with their families and a couple of neighbors.

The AIMers Have Arrived
On Thursday, the 15th, 6 AIMers arrived to intern with our mission team. We are all very excited about what they have to offer the work here. I’ve been reminded that God used past AIMers in a pretty powerful way to plant the church in Jocotan. I don’t even know how much those AIMers are aware of God’s power through their efforts. They planted the seeds and began watering the soil. Two years later, one of those AIMers introduced the family to Kim and I and we just happen to be blessed to see the growth. But we’re reminded that God uses his whole body for his purpose.

New Pics

This is one of my new favorite pictures. Clark is singing with his good friend Gerardo. While I'm at it, maybe I'll share a few other favorites.
Quincy with his cousin Campbell in Tulsa. Campbell just turned 3, by the way.

Our favorite mode of transportation.

Look ma, no tooth!

Karsyn's bonus cousin, Kira, teaches her how to color eggs.

I think Clark's eyes were a little bigger than his belly.


Tim and Noe

Tim is traveling right now with his dad and brother. I imagine Wendy is sad to not get to be there to complete the sibling set and see grandma. This has been a busy season for us and so Tim’s blog has gone MIA for awhile. I thought I would just send out a note as a surprise for his return on Friday.

Tim is a great dad and I have almost never had to do all the school runs, meals, baths, tucking ins, etc. I feel very blessed in that aspect (really more like spoiled.) Because of our schedule of life here, we get to share in the parenting tasks and in our ministry. Most of all I love to listen in on his talks with the kids, the funny ones and the ones that leave our three excited about some big or deep idea. They love to have all his attention and when he makes a big deal about something they did well, they all really light up.

At our church retreat this weekend he made a little friend named Noe (Noah.) It was so cute to watch that little guy follow him around and reach up to take his hand. It reminded me of the blessing our kids have in Tim and really proud to see him loving this other little guy whose life has already been so much harder. This picture makes me think also about Dusty’s recent thoughts about the children and Jesus, how they had little to offer and could not “receive” teaching from the great Master. But how great for us that Jesus just wants to let us bask in His attention and make our hearts lighter.