Thursday, February 14, 2019
Thursday, December 13, 2018
i was gone at work, and kerrie took the call.
"jake ruined my son's christmas." thats what she said. seriously... thats what she said.
she went on to explain that jake had told her son that santa claus was not real and that christmas was about the birth of jesus, not santa. kerrie kindly told her that she was sorry... but also explained that while we don't tell our kids to go initiate this convo with their friends, we do tell them the truth about santa and expected something like this would happen eventually.
but this mom wasn't satisfied with that. she said something to the tune of, "jake doesn't have the right to ruin someone else's christmas." to which kerrie responded with one of my favorite kerrie moments. "wait... so everyone else has the right to tell a made-up story to my son and expect him to believe it, and my son doesn't have the right to simply tell the truth? look, we tell our kids the truth about christmas. i'm sorry if that didn't work out well for you."
to be clear, we aren't on some mission to destroy santa or the easter bunny. typically not boycotters or picketers. in fact, marshmallow-filled chocolate santas and peeps are two of my all-time favs!
but here's why we don't teach or celebrate santa with our kids:
1 - its not true. i have trouble teaching mythical santa claus and flying reindeer as fact, and then say i'm committed to teaching my kids biblical truth. the two contradict. we do our best to always tell our kids the truth no matter what. everyone says it's innocent, but what makes it innocent? who determines that? when the emotion and the "magical christmas feelings" that culture throws at us are removed, it becomes clear to us that there is no way we're teaching fantasy myths to our kids, especially during the ripe age where their hearts and minds are hungry for God and his word.
2 - santa for jesus is the lousiest swap in the history of time. the true story of jesus is more amazing, more wondrous, and more spectacular than any story ever told. its "i'll give you everything no matter what you've done" versus "i'll give you a present if you are good." are you kidding me?!
3 - as jesus followers we are expected to not conform to the patterns of the world. we want our kids to learn to discern what patterns are "of the world" verses what patterns are good, pure and true. we believe this is a real-life example that helps them do that.
4 - santa is a feasible tale only for the wealthy and privileged. living the last decade in a poor third world country, the issue of santa rarely ever came up. simply put- for people without resources to feed the story, there is no story. we are not ok telling our kids that santa doesn't make it to guatemala, or to the rest of the world's poor. and we don't want our lives (or our kid's lives) to be so out of touch with the poor, that living in such a false reality could even be possible.
if you celebrate santa in your home (most of our friends and family do!), we're not against you and we're certainly not judging you. but we get asked this question often, which is why i'm sharing our take on it.
kerrie and i have raised 4 children that we've always told the truth about santa. interestingly, none of them ever felt hoodwinked. i don't remember ever hearing them complain or say that it wasn't fair. recently, our three adult kids all expressed their gratitude for it.
we've always had plenty of fun at christmastime and we have several of our own traditions. we aren't scrooges!
but we do refuse to trade the most extraordinary true story of God's journey from heaven to earth (Emmanuel, God with us!)... for the untrue story of santa's journey from the north pole to good boys and girls' chimneys.
that classmate of jake's was mad at him the next day. jake came home and told us that he asked him if he would still be his friend. but he didn't apologize for telling the truth.
we celebrated! the experience gave us a great opportunity to teach him - at a 5yr old level - about not conforming, what it means to suffer for jesus, and how to live a life that balances love and truth.
john piper has an "ask pastor john" segment on that tackles this issue head on, if interested.
Friday, November 30, 2018
but paul actually talked about this in philippians 3. remember the list he writes to describe himself? it includes his religion, family, heritage, career, and ambitions... then he famously says he considers all of that crap compared to knowing Christ. he says those things are of absolutely no value - they are like garbage - compared to sharing in the sufferings and the glory of Jesus!
in light of his "identity", he's saying "it's all irrelevant without Jesus."
in light of his "legacy", i bet he'd say, "don't remember anything about me... just remember Jesus."
more importantly, i want to live every day with that in mind. i want my zeal for Jesus to surface in every conversation, relationship, and situation... that i mayleave the sweet aroma of Christ wherever i go.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
|enjoying time together as a family|
i'm working on being with God. Jesus cherished getting alone with his father. as awesome as the last decade of ministry has been... i haven't been great at cherishing my alone time with Jesus. i'm learning and growing in this area.
|with cesar and andrea in guatemala october 2018|
we just got back from a recent visit to our guatemala and honduras academies, and are so encouraged by how things are going. i love talking with our missionaries, encouraging them and helping with whatever they need.
we don't yet know exactly when and where the next ministry plant will be. we thought for sure we were headed to iraq. i'd be on a plane tomorrow if God would confirm and release us. but we've put it all back on the table in light of what we believe He is asking us to do. "BE STILL. BE WITH ME."
please pray for us. i want to be better at being with Jesus. i thought i knew how to do that, but i think he wants me to do it better. i've heard this before - its precious and familiar to me. similar to how he spoke to the rich young ruler (matthew 19:16-22) i hear his voice telling me "i want everything."
but Jesus, you know i love being with you. "i know, but you can be with me better."
Jesus, you've blessed me so much. i know, i know... you want to bless me more.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
|fam together at a friend's wedding|
sounds great, right? should be nice and easy! after all, we've got a place to live, family and friends nearby, and all the conveniences that have eluded us over the last 10 years. (i.e., "i'm going to get coffee creamer, be back in 5 minutes!" are you kidding me??!!)
then why is this so hard?
the last 10 years in central america completely transformed our way of life. total immersion into a poor and virtually unknown rural village - located 7,000 ft up in the guatemalan highlands - does wonders to your perspective and priorities! your worries and concerns forever altered. and your overall family rhythm becomes something entirely different.
we miss that. and we miss our guatemalan family.
but being back has been good in so many ways. God has shown us a few reasons that He called us here during this exact time that we had not seen before. special reasons that involve all 4 of our kids. and being with parents, family, and friends for an extended period of time (as opposed to a 1-week visit) has been wonderful beyond words.
still, the ultimate mission of Jesus (matthew 28:18-20) is what firmly has our hearts. we press forward and look to Him for our next steps. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied Him. right now, we are pursuing being fully satisfied in Him - and nothing more. as we seek Him, we ask that He show us how and where, once our sabbatical is over, we can best be used in achieving His great commission.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
the giant BVSA logo and "academia deportiva de buena vista" was literally glowing in the night. at that moment, kerrie walked in... she laid beside me in luci's tiny bed, and we looked out the window together - crying - and giving glory to God.
this was different than any other move. 10 years in guatemala had solidified our life and ministry there. our friendships were deeper than ever. our kids grew up there, our youngest born there. spanish had become just as common, if not more so, than english in our home.
the village of buena vista, as troublesome as it might be, had become our home. fears from the early years that kept us from letting our kids freely rome the streets (kidnapping, gangs, abusive men, etc) didn't affect us much anymore, even though the actual risks may have never changed. this was our village. these were our friends and neighbors. its amazing how we adapt. we actually feel more comfortable in rural guatemala than when returning to visit jacksonville, FL!
the rhinos are our sons. most of them lack involved parents, so that became us. we were the ones who cared about their emotions, feelings, spiritual growth, temptations, physical health, grades in school, and if they had a decent pair of shoes. parenting 30+ boys is exhausting and wonderful.
it also makes saying goodbye extremely difficult. one of the hardest days of my life, actually.
|brothers & rhinos forever|
witnessing the heart-brokenness of the boys who lived with us in our home was probably as tough as anything else. hearing them work so hard to articulate the pain they were feeling in their hearts... their love for us as parents, for jake and luci as brother and sister, etc, etc... there's nothing i can write that will accurately express the weight of the moment.
if i weren't certain that this move is out of obedience to God, i think i'd be legitimately angry! in my limited ability to see things, i feel like those boys need us (and us them). my limited visibility leads me to wonder how they will grow in their faith, and make good decisions, without us there?
but when i come close to the Father, i realize how weak and faithless that way of thinking is. i realize how limited, ignorant, and arrogant it is! i am reminded of His power, His grace, and His love. He loves those boys far more than i do... and if He has called us to leave for His purposes, than i trust that He knows what is best, and that His timing is perfect.
i miss my guatemala family. i miss my friends and i miss the boys. my heart hurts. but i trust in the Lord and i know He is faithful.
Friday, June 8, 2018
the recent eruptions from volcan fuego ("volcano of fire") have left over a hundred people dead, hundreds still missing (likely dead - buried under dried lava flow), over 3,000 evacuated, and almost 2 million affected. according to rescue workers on the ground, the disaster is much worse than reported through the media. in fact, a group of prosecutors and politicians have opened an investigation of criminal negligence by CONRED (guatemala's emergency response agency), after not heeding the warnings given by the national institute of seismology and volcanology.
in countries of extreme poverty, disasters such as these lead to unnecessary death and destruction. not only are the warning systems archaic (if not absent), but the poorly built homes simply give no protection.
the varsity rhinos went down to the disaster site the day after the tragedy. they worked in the relief center, unloading donations such as water, food, and clothing, and helping organize the distribution area. as expected, it was complete chaos. please pray for those who have lost loved ones, are still searching, and whose lives have been turned upside down.
if you are interested in donating towards this cause, we have friend-ministries who are directly working the disaster relief. these are trusted ministries who will assure that the donations meet the greatest need. you can donate through deepstream guatemala HERE, and we will pass the donations through. please note "volcano relief" with your donation.
farewell night with Rhino grads
as we prepare to leave guatemala in 3 weeks, official goodbyes have already begun. we are excited for what God does in the coming months, as we prepare to plant more BVSA academies in tough places around the world. but the excitement is currently dampened by the sadness of leaving.
for me, one of the sweetest moments of the night came from josue (abuelo), who is now married with 2 children. as he reflected on all that he learned at BVSA, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "but something i always told myself over the years was that i want to be a dad like brock and mynor... and now i'm doing it."
while our emotions are all over the place right now, we are excited to turn over the leadership of this special place to mynor and walda leiva. we trust they will continue the vision of BVSA with passion, and many more young men will come to faith in Jesus.
gymnasium naming rights
one of the things i've wanted to do for a couple years is officially name our gym. as our time in guatemala is coming to an end, we finally did it.
we gathered the rhinos and i explained to them how most sports arenas, fields, stadiums, etc, have a name. usually, the name reflects a financial donor or sponsorship. in our case, we want to name our gym after someone who has "sponsored" us through fervent prayers.
this man prays for us every day - not only in general, but for each person by name.
this man has encouraged me so many times over the years. his counsel to keep fighting has motivated me time and time again.
his insistence that BVSA is a church - not just a boys academy - has helped me keep my focus on being a good pastor, not a soccer coach or administrator.
his example as a godly husband, father, and lover of jesus has inspired me like no one else. he is a modern day hero of the faith, not unlike those listed in the hebrews 11 "faith hall of fame."
such an honor to give our gym the name: CESAR GARCIA GYMNASIUM. you can watch the video on our may 25 instagram post (@BVSARhinos).
it was also pretty special to see his son pablo's reaction. and encourage him to always be proud to say "i'm cesar garcia's son."
jake and E
i've been saying that phrase - "jake and E" - for the last 15 years...
they possibly played in their last game together yesterday.
best friends since 2 years old, God has been sweet to allow them to grow up together in 3 different cities and 2 different countries.
they will be uniquely linked forever. missionary kids. lovers of Jesus. lovers of soccer. fluent spanish speakers. funny, handsome, genuine, soft, strong, well-rounded over-comers.
they've faced challenges together and overcome obstacles like not many young men their age ever will. they've fought and made up. they love and defend each other like best friends should.
i have no doubt they will rock their college campuses with something different - not just as lovers of life, but also as lovers of Jesus. able to influence those around them because of their love for the world, while walking against the ways of the world.
2 unique MK's - actually missionaries in their own right. 2 future awesome husbands and dads. 2 future world changers, with desires to carry the love of Jesus to the nations.
would God have their paths cross to share another chapter of life together in the future?
|after yesterday's game|
Monday, June 4, 2018
|pastor marcos (orange shirt), wife olga (red shirt)|
|sunday school class|
when i finally met him, i immediately felt his passion. clearly passionate for youth ministry, he was convinced that the next generation could make lasting change. he had married a woman from nearby magdalena and described how he eventually felt a specific call to the village of Buena Vista. but after working to plant a church in BV, he had been beaten down by the legalism. he had already made the mental shift from the adults to the young people. go figure!
|marcos and olga (with mynor and allan) singing with kids|
|praying over marcos and olga|
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
|allan & glendy with rose stacy|
|brooke with me and matt, right after surgery|
caribbean sea. jeff, our cfo at bvsa, had been baptized as a child but described it as being without any real meaning. having made a true decision to follow Christ around 5 years ago, he decided it was time to proclaim his faith decision with baptism!
|mynor and i baptizing jeff and darwin|
but after a solid year of growing in his faith and truly giving his life to Jesus, he decided it was time. when he approached us, he said that he told his parents "i respect your opinion and all that you have done for me, but i have to make this decision for myself because my faith is my own." to his surprise (and ours too), they were very understanding, and told him they respected his decision! (pretty amazing for our legalistic "catholic vs evangelical" village!)
it was a beautiful time together with friends. two great men from completely different lives and cultures, now forever connected by the blood-sealed bond of Jesus. a little glimpse of heaven...
|wilson's donations for dr. carlos|
|ryan and cesar|
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
no empty bags of chips or candy wrappers everywhere... so why am i sad?
no missing cans of mini-cokes from my private stash recently... so why am i sad?
haven't had to yell from my bed "quiet down!" at 11pm for the last few days... so why am i sad?
the bathroom isn't so disgusting anymore... so why am i sad?
no rowdy games of tag in the house, banging through kitchen chairs, recently... so why am i sad?
our grocery bill went down dramatically... so why am i sad?
nicho and mash moved out of the house last week after about a year and a half living with us. true, they only moved to the guard-house next door... but our home feels completely different. i thought the change might be nice... so why am i sad?
luci asked us at dinner last night, "why do things always have to change?". such a good question. after some logical reasoning that left her 5 year old heart/mind less than convinced, the only thing we could think to tell her was that, no matter what else:
Sunday, April 15, 2018
|Click here to watch a video of BVSA Honduras Opening|
it was a little less than a year ago when unforeseen circumstances caused the academy in honduras to shut down. i'll never forget my friend cesar's advice shortly thereafter... "don't lose heart. God is faithful. Jesus is the head of the church. if He started bvsa travesia, He will keep it alive! let's pray that he sends new workers into the harvest."
still mourning over all that had recently happened, i was blown away by cesar's optimism. and i was (very) soon to be left in awe of how right he was, and how faithful God is!
right away, jason and axel moved back to guatemala to continue working with the academy here. peter, our staff member from travesia, stayed on site to take care of the property.
just a few days later, i received a call from a friend telling me about the foster family, who was feeling called to the mission field.
a few months later, the fosters came to visit bvsa guatemala, and on that same trip we traveled together to honduras.
about a month after that they moved here permanently, to start 3 months of training at bvsa guatemala.
in january 2018, they moved to travesia.
last week, only 11 months after its doors were closed, bvsa travesia is open and the Spirit of God is alive and moving there again!
during those 11 months, 3 people have been baptized on site, families have moved in, their kids put in local schools, prayer teams have been welcomed, new relationships have been formed, and enemy strongholds dismissed in the name of Jesus!
i am blown away by God's faithfulness.
when over 80 boys showed up for tryouts, i fought to hold back tears. when i saw that many of them were rhinos from before (for only a few months in 2017), i fought even harder to hold my tears back!
as i watched our leadership team - the fosters, jason, axel, peter, rosemary, and marcio - step up and lead with love, passion, humility, and confidence... i felt overwhelmed. not to mention so proud of them.
and when the varsity rhinos finished up their first (brutal, 2hr) physical workout chanting Rinos! Rinos! Rinos! as they jogged around the field... i was overcome with emotion.
thank you Jesus for your faithfulness! may your church in bvsa travesia lead many people to follow you! and may those lead and disciple many, many more.....
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
5. missionaries to partner with in iraq and around the world!