We were home from the annual Way of the Cross New Year’s Eve chili cook-off and fireworks. In bed and asleep by ten o’clock. On the way home there was a long line of people last minute shopping for fireworks at the fireworks stand on our route. At midnight they and everybody else in town lit off their purchases. Juanita pulled back the bedroom curtains and we watched the display before falling back to sleep.
Sleepy, pretty well describes our weekend. Puttered, shopped and went for a few drives and generally took it easy. There were several people missing from church with head colds and allergies. I have a head cold but occasionally revive and appear life like. Managed to take a couple of drives. One down to the border and looked at the border fence, following the military highway to its end in Brownsville before coming back on Business 77 as much as possible. Another through Rio Hondo to Arroyo City and back.
The drive through food bank resumes on Wednesday, January 5th. I’ll keep you posted on other activities more or less as they happen.
Oscar Brook’s Monday message was based on Exodus 1:15-21
Pharoah commanded the midwives to kill male babies born to Hebrew women. Two midwives are mentioned by name. There were so many Hebrew women that it is unlikely there were only two mid-wives. There is debate whether mid wives were Egyptian or Hebrew. In either case they risked their lives to obey God. I will fear God more than man. God is bigger than man even before there was the written word of God.
It cannot be hidden what they are doing. Can’t hide pregnancy. Impossible to hide children.
Example for today. We need to be good citizens but when some lawyer in DC commands something that is against God… Fear of God must be higher. Need to be able to say, I am willing to risk my life rather than disobey God.
These two women came together and decided to follow God. If you can find somebody likeminded it is a beautiful thing. They honoured God and God blessed their households.
Several people have head colds and other ailments today. A couple of people went across the border to bring back two of the trailers used for Big Feed. Juanita and I did some repairs at the warehouse, the training center and back at staff housing but it was mostly a quiet day for everybody. It was cold by Rio Grande Valley standards, but nice by our northerner standards.
Tuesday staff meeting was even more sparse with those laid up. Oscar spoke with Exodus 1:7-8 as a jumping off point.
Joseph was in a place where he could be a blessing to his people. But he died and the old Pharoah died. The new pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph except in a historical sense. The old pharaoh appreciated Joseph’s wisdom and how he saved Egypt. But that doesn’t matter anymore.
New leader who looks at how numerous the Hebrews were and fears them. Resents their blessings. The Hebrews have become the enemy with the change of government. This happens throughout the Bible. Solomon being harsh about taxes is an example.
A generation has risen up in America that has no sense of history and how God raised up and blessed America. There has been a change of government that does not know God and doesn’t care. Not talking about any particular administration. The tide has turned where nations are against God. Europeans consider themselves post Christian.
It is happening like in Egypt. China struggles with one child policy. Their tradition is not Christian but ours is and it has changed here.
Hebrews woke up to reality that there will little periods of time when people like them and long periods when they are hated. Christians can be accepted briefly but by only compromising Godly values. Sometimes pressured by external society. Sometimes internally by other Christians saying you can’t say that, or people will be offended.
You must live according to the Bible and get your values from there and not society.
A generation has risen up that does not know God and doesn’t care. But an opportunity has risen up. As long as the Hebrews were comfortable there was no longing for the Promised Land. The time has come to come out from among them. God is drawing us out saying you are not one of them.
The drive through food bank has been cancelled for Wednesday so no preparation required. We did some follow-up on repairs at the warehouse, the training center and the staff motel and ran a few errands. Pretty low-key day of puttering. We went for a walk after supper and fed the ducks. It was 22C. and staying lighter later each day. It will get cooler but is currently a contrast with reports of nasty winter conditions back home.
Wednesday staff meeting had a few more people but not up to anywhere near full strength. Oscar preached on Amos 8:11-13
Amos declared that God would send a famine. One not of bread or thirst for water but of hunger for the Word of God. There will come a time when people will be hungry for the Word of God but unable to obtain it. Get your fill now so that in that day you will have it stored your heart and will be blessed and be able to be a blessing to others.
Michael went out to tell the few people that showed up for the drive through food bank that it had been cancelled for lack of staff to run it. At least one driver was triple-masked! Fear of Covid seems to run higher in some groups than others.
Byron finished the repairs on the forklift and we looked over a school bus that is being sent to Nicaragua next week. I did some research and arranged for an appointment for service at a service center in Pharr about thirty miles up the valley. Juanita and I continued with some repairs at the staff apartment. In the evening we used the first portion of our Christmas gift card at the Texas Roadhouse. Busy. Crowded. Mostly only staff wearing masks. Good food. Noisy. Had to guess at what masked staff was saying.
Oscar was not up to preaching today, joining the numbers who are off sick. Solomon Trego stepped into the breech with several encouraging scriptures beginning with Isaiah 54:17 The Lord knows we are fragile. We are made of dust and face an enemy much stronger in comparison. But He says that no weapon shall prevail against us and that nothing can harm us. We are encouraged to use the Word to strengthen and encourage ourselves and each other.
A church from Rio Hondo has volunteered to man the drive through food bank on Friday so it is scheduled to go ahead. After staff meeting Byron and I took the school bus to Pharr to have the governor settings adjusted. It was a new experience for me to drive a school bus. My license covers that and the air brakes but with Covid I’ve mostly driven passenger vehicles for almost two years. With the governor set at maximum speed of 50 mph it was tedious driving there and much improved on the way back with a higher setting. Somebody drove that bus to Harlngen from the Midwest with max 50! Kudos to their forbearance.
Afterward Byron and I reviewed some of the potential jobs for volunteer teams later this month.
Today is January 6th. As an outside observer it is fascinating to see the viewpoints on the significance of the events of a year ago. People are looking through different lenses. I wonder what the truth is. This week I am reading a history of the War in the Pacific. It’s early in the book, but the details behind what was happening in Japan in 1930’s based on source material only recently available gives a totally different picture than what was painted during my youth. Incompetent politicians and military people with rigid but contradictory opinions blundered around creating a situation that resulted in immense loss of life. Some things never change.
Friday staff meeting was sparsely attended. The Rio Hondo church has been struck low by the prevalent illnesses as much as everybody else. One person who did show up was George, a former WOTC staffer. He delivered the devotional beginning with Daniel 6:1. Darius was king. Daniel in the lion’s den is a common, well-known story which is just one of many about Daniel. No matter what Daniel was commanded by men he obeyed God.
Fear can affect us and draw us to follow others, but Daniel acted correctly even in a situation where his life was in danger. In the lion’s den he and his friends didn’t choose life and death they chose to obey God. Verse three remarks on Daniel’s excellent spirit. He always did his best before man and God.
Elon Musk says the teachings of Jesus Christ make sense. Princes tried to find fault with Daniel but couldn’t but figured they might find fault in the law of God. You can see nowadays how Christianity is everywhere in this country but people are working at undermining it by attacking the laws of God and promoting unGodly behaviour.
Nothing can separate us from the Love of God even death. We are pilgrims. We are only passing through. We are sojourners. Even when we feel discouraged, we can know in due time we will reap the harvest.
Then we all got busy preparing boxes for the cars lined up for the drive through food bank. There were fewer than usual cars, but more than enough to keep the line full until quitting time. I helped until we were ahead of the curve. Juanita helped throughout the day doing more than her usual directing traffic and handing out literature. There were pallets of vegetables, hand sanitizer and bleach near the exit after the tent. Drivers were advised to load as much as they wanted on their own. Not all were capable. Juanita helped with that. Byron and I went to a metal shop and ordered tin for the roof of the fourteen plex and then went out to the training center to measure for estimates of material requirements for upcoming work teams. Then back to the warehouse to help until the day was done.
We had a quiet evening after a busy day.
Saturday is low key. Juanita did the weekly run to the laundromat while I did some online chores and started going through some accumulated scraps of paper I have been carrying around for weeks and years.
On one page are some notes from March 2020. I had observed a toddler dominating his parents in the airport in Houston and jotted down some thoughts about parenting and managing people and about the Canadian government and its handling of Covid in its early stages. These are contemporaneous notes while still in the early stages of this ongoing fiasco. Here goes:
Managing and parenting have a lot in common. Ignore small irritants with little potential for growth. Snuff out small problems with potential for growth. Bad parenting is to stew, stew, stew and then blow up over behaviour you have been permitting. My perception of the current Canadian government is not one of competence. My expectation is that the Canadian government is not doing enough now and will overreact in the future.
Do you think I guessed right?
Enough pondering. Off the chair and out the door to run some errands. The latest People magazine was displayed on the rack near the drugstore cashier. “Betty White at 100!” was the cover story. I wish it wasn’t ironic. I liked Betty and feel bad she died a few days short of her hundredth. We can’t count on tomorrow.
After dropping off our purchases we headed north, past the training center and then out to the coast. When we drove out to Arroyo City Juanita said it wasn’t quite as she remembered. I said it seemed pretty close to my memory. We talked about her memories and I knew the place she was talking about but neither of us could quite place them on the map. Definitely coastal Texas, but not as far north as Port Lavaca. Further shifting through Google Maps turned up a likely candidate. I remembered the drive and the return trip stopping for lunch at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Raymondville. Today we see if the overlay in our minds matches the reality on the ground. No Tex-Mex, though. We’ve had lunch and tend to avoid high carb choices.
Port Mansfield is a fishing and resort village on the Texas mainland, sheltered by South Padre Island but with ocean access through a channel cutting across South Padre Island. We drove around and admired the houses, fishing piers and the herds of tame, tiny deer. Juanita’s biggest memory from the last time we were here was the deer. I had totally forgot them but seeing them in the flesh stirred some faint familiarity. They are so friendly they walk right up to your car. If you were so inclined, you could feed them. There is a sign mentioning a $200 fine for feeding them, however, suggesting that is a terrible idea especially after you see the sign and then wave at the friendly policeman monitoring the situation. We explored by car and foot a bit in areas we discovered on Google maps. Then off to Raymondville and home. We drove past where we both remembered the Walmart was in Raymondville but finally gave up followed the frontage road and pulled onto the freeway and went home. We can buy that stuff tomorrow. A search on Google Maps showed that our memories weren’t at fault. Walmart was. That store is permanently closed. I wonder if the local businesses bounce back or if people just end up driving to Harlingen more often.
January 9 - 15
Sunday weather is forecast to be stormy and wet in the afternoon so before church we dashed to the local Walmart and got the groceries we didn’t buy yesterday, then back to the apartment not getting ready for church until the last minute. George preached. He shared what a privilege it was to share the word and his life. He shared the ministry he has recently been involved with and some changes n his life. He used to be full time with Way of the Cross ministry. He talked about how leaving was a hard adjustment. When he was here, he only had to show up each day and follow orders based on the vision that Brother Ben had received from God. Now he was responsible for seeking God’s will in daily choices, housing, employment. It has been a challenge, but challenges help you grow. The disciples had their lives all figured out and then Jesus walked by and said leave all your understanding and “follow Me.”
He went to the Spider-Man movie with his mother. There was a commercial with Betty White saying how she was going to celebrate her 100th birthday. Never made it. How many of us have plans where we have not consulted God?
James 4:13-17 James was the half brother of Jesus Christ. He was speaking to Christians scattered abroad. To Christians who were worldly.
We don’t know if we will be here tomorrow. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. You start off saying God I want to do whatever and then start worrying about things and doing things your own way. What are your plans? Only God knows what our future holds. Seek you first the Kingdom of God. What are you here for? What has God called you to do? George said “I do whatever I can do and God does the rest.”
Luke 12:13-21 A man asks Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance. Jesus warns about covetousness. The futility of building up treasures on earth.
On the way home from church, we picked up some tacos and spent a quiet day reading and avoiding going out into the blustery weather.
At Monday staff meeting Oscar is still laid up along with many other staff members. Ben shared his New Year’s thoughts and personal focus for the first couple of months of 2022. He plans to focus on one thing a month using a laminated sign on the dashboard of his truck as a daily reminder. January, time with God. February, time for others and family. March, work on personal health and organization.
Byron and I worked together changing the radiator on the ministry’s truck getting filter information off the bus going to Nicaragua and replacing the foot on one of the jack’s on the motor home donated to the ministry. Everybody pitched in to unload a semi trailer of mattresses that arrived. Juanita helped set up for Wednesday’s food bank. In the evening we did a bit of touch painting of the apartment. One side of one door and the bathroom left to do.
Tuesday staff meeting attendance was higher than the past week. People are starting to recover from the plague. Oscar and a few others are still laid low. Somebody read John 2:1-11 the miracle at the wedding feast in Canna.
There were six stone pots of purification. They added water. The water turned to wine. Not just good wine but excellent wine. This is strong picture of the old way which led to death and the new covenant which leads to death. Picture of Jesus’s blood paying a price for us.
Byron and I picked up the filters ordered for the bus and topped up fluids on the bus then started addressing the transmission fluid leak on one of the forklifts. When we got into where you might hope to see the shaft there was too much oily crud accumulated to hope to see the problem. He drove the forklift outside and we went to the training center to pick up a pressure washer. After pressure washing the forklift was reluctant to start so we left it to dry and did some fill-in tasks until quitting time. Juanita helped during the day set up the tent for tomorrow.
Oscar came by the apartment and we visited for a while. After he left we had supper and a quiet evening other than my trip to the Boost Mobile store where they claimed they couldn’t do what was promised a month ago and tried to appease me over the bait and switch by giving me more data which is useless to me. I had accumulated a credit with them by overpayments. When that credit is used up, I will walk away. Even the store clerk said he uses T-Mobile not Boost. I don’t blame him. They lie. Our experience with AT&T has been immeasurably better. Who would have guessed?
Wednesday is food bank day. Cars are already lined up around the corner when people arrive for the staff meeting. Lots more people show up than in recent days.
The devotional started in James 5:16-18 James says to look at Elijah as an example of praying.
1Kings 18:42-46 Elijah prayed and had faith his prayers would be answered. Professing it was going to rain. Believing it was going to rain. We need to believe in our heart that God is going to do what we are asking not just to be saying a mess of words to please the people we are praying for. Elijah bowed down Before the Lord. Head between knees. He looked up and there was nothing and he said go look. Seven times he sent his servant out.
James talks about confessing your sins to one another. Hard these days but need to have ppl who will stand with you and it stays there and not blasted all over the country side. Scriptures talk about the unjust judge. We need to pull on our Father’s pant leg constantly. Not give up.
There was a trailer of bread to be unloaded then I helped Byron with the forklift. We filled it with ATF and found a leak and began the long process of tearing it down to get to the leak. Byron working and me handing him tools. Amid that we went to the staff housing and directed the unloading of the metal for the roof. Juanita worked the food line, directing cars, handing out literature and loading bags of potatoes. One of us has to do the heavy stuff!
After work we decided there were no errands that couldn’t wait and had a quiet evening except for a brief flurry where I painted the bathroom ceiling.
Thursday morning I wrote and published a few Buddy Tales.
Oscar Brooks spoke at chapel this morning beginning with Revelation 3:14
This passage on the church at Laodicea can be read different ways. Is it talking about different times in church history or is it talking about different types of people. The Laodicean church think they have it all together but the don’t. They are told you are “lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
In Colossians 2:1 Paul is saying he had a burden for Colossus and Laodicea. In Colossians 4:12-15 he talks about Laodicea.
When I think of these churches it reminds of churches today everything looks good on the outside but God says the inside is a mess. It doesn’t matter what you think about yourself or what others think of you but it matters what God thinks about you. That is the measure.
Paul writes and tells the truth about their circumstances and shares his burden. He is from outside trying to minister to the inside. He mentions another that is from within. That is why looking at the outside of a group you can’t write them off there may still be God’s people inside. Elijah says I’m the only one left but God says I have 7,000.
John was on Patmos in prison but was in the spirit and wrote to the churches. I may have nothing but I have more than you. Your circumstances are better than mine but I am better off than you. God is going to do his work in you. You may have a church like Laodicea but there was a Paul and a John outside and people within.
Juanita helped set up for Friday’s food drive through. I helped Byron pull the motor out of the forklift and stood out of the way while he power washed the frame and motor.
After the warehouse we went home and changed and went for a walk in the Hugh Ramsey Nature park, a peaceful enclave on the east side of Harling along a stretch of the Arroyo Colorado. There are bikes available for rental and many paths to walk or ride. A little taste of summer for us.
I picked up an anchor at Home Depot and we went to Sam’s Club for dinner and some groceries. In the evening we used the anchor to install a new vent cover for the bathroom ceiling fan. Poco a poco.
Friday morning, I was reminded of our little taste of summer from yesterday as I scratched a couple of mosquito bites.
There was a good complement of people for chapel and today’s food bank drive through.
Oscar spoke on 1 Tim 5:9&10 They are having a problem. There is a standard for supporting widows laid out in verse 10 “well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”
The standards set here are so high. Did they really expect that? There is the risk that widows might take advantage of the church or their family might slough off their duty to the church.
There is the attitude in the church of a spiritual hierarchy. We had an argument in Africa over number of wives. The husband of one wife. I thought I had them, but their translations said the husband of at least one wife. They argued that the one wife standard applied to pastors and elders but not others.
Leaders have a responsibility to lead blameless lives but that is not cause for coming up with excuses for others. Paul said to Timothy that he didn’t get a pass just because he was young. We come up with excuses for people. “He’s a drug addict”. There are no excuses for drug addicts in the Bible. We want to apply Grace to people who are continuing in sin but that is not what Grace is for.
Oscar talks about easy things. Things that are not a problem for him. But the Bible warns of pride. Have you ever heard of a church that threw somebody out because of pride? Conniving? Evil toward bro or sis? Being a gossip?
How do we handle our struggle with sin? We identify our sin not someone else’s sin. We seek God. God doesn’t look at somebody and make excuses… they are young, an addict, serving God…
Don’t make peace with the struggles with the sin in your life because of your service. Grace is not a free pass. It is the compassion of God toward a sinner. We must realize we still will answer for every sin. He is looking for a holy people. That battle is for you. Not for others, for you.
Most everybody started getting ready to give out food and messages to the cars already lined up. Byron and I changed a hood latch on the bus and added the last filter to the ones being sent with the bus. It is scheduled to leave for Nicaragua this evening. Then we went up the valley and dropped off the forklift steering cylinder for rebuild and bought a transmission seal for the forklift. When we got back it was lunchtime. After lunch we installed the transmission seal and the torque convertor and got ready to re-install the motor on Monday.
Saturday dawned grey, cool and very windy. Juanita took the laundry to the laundromat and back. I puttered at the keyboard and plan to do more of the same. Maybe write a few more Buddy Tales to add to the ones written the last few mornings. After lunch we may brave the winds to run a few errands and if we get ambitious, paint the bathroom.
Kittens are delightful. Everyone thinks so. Kittens grow into cats which have their fans and not so fans.
Piglets can follow a similar trajectory. Delightful to handful. Pet to pest. This week’s video from WOTC has a few cameos of a pig. It lived at the Shiloh base camp in Nicaragua until this past week. She has been moved to a more agricultural setting as breeding stock. Probably doesn’t appreciate going from full reign of the camp to a small enclosure but certainly a better fate than Bessie. My mother, her sister and cousins made a pet of piglet, Bessie. When the appointed day came they all burst into tears at the dinner table when uncle said, “Have a bit of Bessie.”
Also on the video are departure scenes of the school bus we worked on leaving for Nicaragua and a few cameos of Juanita.
January 16 to 22
Sunday morning early, I ran to Walmart and Home Depot to pick up the last of the needed items to finish off the bathroom re-painting task. Walmart was almost empty of customers. Any time I needed to ask a question there was a Walmart employee nearby to ask. Not quite the same shopping experience as a busy weekend afternoon. There were no lines at the tills! When I got home we left for church.
The morning message began in John 10:10. It’s a new year. Many people make New Year’s resolutions. God is a God of fresh starts. Isaiah 43:18 & 19 remind us not to look back at bad things nor spend time glorying in the past. Look forward. Go forward. This year let’s give God the opportunity to work in our lives. By giving God time. By fasting.
We picked up lunch on the way home and then did some touch up painting so the paint would be dry enough to put things back in the bathroom this evening.
After an early afternoon coffee ritual, we drove to South Padre Island and walked on the beach. It was like a cool summer day in Saskatchewan so quite pleasant for us. There were a lot fewer of the locals than normal for a Sunday. Cold for them, I guess. Chatted with Lynn, a Sudbury resident we met on the beach and shared a few curved illusion tracts.
On the way home we drove back through Brownsville and went to dinner at a Texas Roadhouse. At home we put back stuff in the bathroom and I sorted my tools and stored the painting tools and supplies and leftover paint. There’s always one more thing that could be done but we’re at a good stopping point. The apartment is better than we found it. It was good enough, but better is better.
Oscar spoke at Monday morning staff meeting beginning with John 6:26.
When Jesus fed the 5,000 it brought people to Him in a way that bothered Him, just because He fed them.
Oscar has been studying animals for a kids’ Bible teaching series. Penguins are a funny animal. When courting the male brings the female a rock. Penguins pair bond. Sometimes, however, when female penguins don’t have enough rocks they will visit the single males on the edge of the colony and flirt and then steal the proffered rock. Or they may trade sex for rocks. They have a mate, but they will engage in casual relationships to get more rocks. Whatever she does has nothing to do with attraction just wants the stone.
Jesus told followers you’re following me because I feed you. They didn’t deny. They said our forefathers were fed for forty years.
God is not just there as a bank, when you need something from him.
Unless you drink this cup… He’s not just there when you need something. If Jesus gave me nothing. Just because he died on the cross should be enough. His life is enough for you to fall in love with him forever. Material blessings are fine, but they are not the point. They are not what you follow God for.
Look at Job. Everything was taken away. How would I answer if that was me?
Why do you follow Jesus? The only answer is because I love him. You want to spend every waking minute with him.
There are going to be a lot of people going to Nicaragua in February to help with the missionary training school there. After chapel Juanita was involved in a meeting to discuss plans for keeping the food bank going with so few people. Then she helped set up the tent for Wednesday’s drive through food bank.
I helped Byron with putting the engine back in the forklift and ran errands for parts as needed. By the end of the day, we had made a lot of progress. Then Juanita and I drove up the Valley to McAllen to pick up the overhauled steering cylinder for the forklift. We did a bit of shopping while there for some things not in stock at the Harlingen HEB and then came home for a quiet evening.
Oscar spoke at the Tuesday chapel on 1Thessalonians 5:18-22 concentrating on verse 19. Verse 18 provides guidance on interacting with God versus verse 19, “quench not the spirit.” Not that you can quench God. But how can the spirit of God be interfered with by human interaction? The Spirit is likened to a Dove. A dove can be very sensitive. You can clap your hands and dove will fly away. There are things you can do to quench the spirit. How many times have I been in a Pentecostal church and there is a sweet spirit and somebody gets up and gets out of place and prophesising out of sync. Or musicians and one out of sync.
A preacher starts with 3 points and a poem. When you are talking and things are flowing and Holy Spirit tells you stop at a point and dwell on it. But you have your agenda, and you keep on going anyway and the whole thing goes flat. How about you gave five songs and when there is one that wasn’t supposed to sung then and whole thing goes flat.
In all aspects quenching the spirit seems to be something we don’t think about e.g. God gives you a revelation. You go to computer to look it up and get distracted and after that five minutes you go back to that passage and the revelation is gone.
Israel was moving to the promised land would take 11 days to get there then they got distracted by “giants in the land” and instead they end up 40 years in the desert. A whole generation dies in the desert because they quenched the spirit.
Not speaking about all the hoop and holler. The spirit of god is throughout the Old Testament. Then Jesus, “I am leaving you the comforter.”
When the Holy Spirit gives you conviction in your heart of some sin then you quench the spirit by finding some preacher to affirm your sin. When God is dealing with you do not run to find somebody to ease the burden but run to God with your burden.
When you speak something and wish right away you could take the words back. You can’t but you can learn from that.
Juanita worked with others setting up the food tent for tomorrow. Many pitched in to get rid of a lot of accumulated debris. Byron and I worked on the forklift. By end of the day it was up and running with no obvious fluid leaks.
Another quiet evening at home with a brief shopping outing before Jeopardy! came on. While Juanita was in the stores, I cleaned up my tools in the trunk of the car sorting all the ones that had been returned from working on the apartment and the forklift.
Oscar spoke at Wednesday’s chapel. I took extensive notes in an email to myself but apparently didn’t send it and sometime during the day the open draft message ate its words. Here’s a very rough summary from memory nine hours later.
Mark 10:9 & 10 We all like to be liked but be careful of the cost of compromise.
The norm is for Christians to be hated and persecuted. We may have seen a time when that has not been the case but that is changing. The solution is acceptance of that reality and holding fast to the Word and promises of God not by watering down the gospel. God accepts all people but he is not willing to accommodate sin.
Realize that no matter how much we may want to befriend people of other religions the basic premises of Christianity oppose their beliefs and that Christianity will be hated.
Juanita helped in the drive through food bank and I worked with Byron to prepare for a team of volunteers coming next week. Notice I didn’t say I helped. There are a lot of details to process and I was probably more of a distraction and hindrance than a help today. I remember an essay in a high school lit book. The author said he was always bemused by math questions that asked if one man can dig a ditch in two days how long will it take two men. He said the answer was definitely not one day and was probably longer than two days. Two men will talk and get distracted and lose focus.
Speaking of losing focus, I frittered away the last nice evening for a few days in binge watching re-runs of Bluebloods.
Oscar won’t be at the staff meetings Thursday and Friday so on Thursday people shared some Bible verses that were meaningful them. After staff meeting Byron and I changed the brake control rod on the forklift brakes. The brakes worked better after that. Then we ran errands picking up stuff that the visiting volunteer team will need next week. Juanita helped set things up for the drive through food bank. Thursday was fairly miserable weather and overnight it got worse with much rain including freezing rain. When I went to bed Thursday night the weather app was showing it warmer in Edmonton.
Ben delivered Friday’s staff meeting devotional. He said he had talked with somebody this morning about David, who had always been one of his heroes. Then started talking based on 1 Samuel 21 & 22.
In chapter 21 David is running from Saul. Saul is trying to kill David. David is on his own. Stops at temple and asks priests for five loaves of show bread. It was made fresh every day and taken down. Priest said only the clean could eat the show bread. They couldn’t have been with a woman for a certain length of time. David said he hadn’t. Then he lied to the priest and said he was on a secret mission from Saul and left too quickly and needed a weapon. Then priest gave him the sword of the lion. Goliath’s sword. David went to Goliath’s hometown and acted crazy. They let him go because they thought he was crazy. Then he escaped to cave of Adullam not far from where he killed Goliath. David was there for some time. A time of rest for David. Time with Lord. From hero to down and out, alone, and a habitual liar.
Then we see more exciting things happen in chapter 22.
David got all the malcontents and they all served together. Very small portion were Israelites, but God sent them to David and they served God.
There were consequences for David’s lies. When Saul heard about the bread, he had the priests killed. There are times we need to go to the cave of Adullam. Out in the wilderness and alone with the Lord.
There are times we (this ministry) have been in the cave of Adullam. When the cartels hit Mexico we went from 40 groups a year to 1 and that was a small group. Finances went to almost zero. Before you knew it we were in debt and creditors were calling. Ben went to Padilla and walked down on the Purification River. God had already dealt with him over some issues. Need to be like a tree planted by the river. He saw two huge cypress trees right on the bank of the river. God was saying I want you by the river you’ve been too far from the river. I went to the trees and looked further down the river and there were two huge trees about a mile away, but they were dead. I went down and looked at them. The river had changed course and they were about a hundred feet from the river, and they died. We changed course to Nicaragua. God’s truth never changes but our methods change to adapt to changing circumstances.
Recently with Covid the river moved again. And we put up tents and opened the drive through food bank.
Remember if we get used to a method and things change we need to look for another method to do God’s work.
The food bank was cancelled due the windy, near freezing working conditions. Juanita went out to the training center and spent the day loading suitcases with stuff for Nicaragua. There are several staff members headed there next week and they will have one suitcase for their own stuff and will carry the balance of their allowable luggage as suitcases with stuff for the ministry in Nicaragua. Byron and I worked on planning some of the plumbing jobs for the visiting team next week. Before you can plan a job you have to find a working drain, which is a hands-on adventure in an old industrial canning plant like the WOTC warehouse. After we had a plan and a parts list, we ran related errands. At the end of the day, I abandoned Byron while he still had the task of augering out a sewer line at the training center.
Juanita and I got back to the apartment at about the same time. She helped carry my stuff upstairs. Good timing. The rain had stopped at noon. By the time we got home the ceiling leak had stopped dripping into the bowl we left under it. I guess the high winds last week took their toll. A leak showed up with last night’s downpour. The new roof the visiting team is scheduled to install couldn’t have come at a better time, except maybe two weeks ago.
We had scheduled a Zoom meeting at four. The first we have ever initiated. It was with Don & Carol Pickel a couple in Winnipeg that arranges support for churches in Cuba. The call went well. Afterward we went out for dinner and returned home for a quiet evening.
We drove north of the Harlingen drizzle for lunch at Baffin Bay Seafood Company on the shores of Baffin Bay. We ate grilled shrimp from Rockport, up the coast a bit and grilled Black Drum fresh caught in Baffin Bay. After lunch we toured the backroads and shoreline in the area before heading back to the Harlingen rain.
We wandered around Bass Pro trying to find something to buy with a gift card and admired the fresh water drum and other fish swimming in their huge aquarium. Like most days I handed out several curved illusion tracts when opportunities presented themselves.
January 23 to 29
It was a quiet Sunday.
The pastor’s sermon was more teaching then preaching. It looked at the subject of whether you could take the mark of the beast accidentally. After church Juanita pointed out a problem with the taps in the kitchen at the training center. The spigot had come out. It looked like it could be put back together if the scale was gone. I left them soaking in vinegar overnight.
On the way home we picked up a keto compliant lunch and ate it at home where we continued our quiet Sunday.
Some of the team members from a church in Iowa had arrived Sunday and were at the staff meeting on Monday. Oscar was traveling on Monday, so Ben shared what was in his heart.
We need to pass on what God has taught us. Moses was overwhelmed and God told him to choose 70 men.
When God sent Moses to speak to the rock and he said “we” and struck the rock and God prevented him from going into the promised land
God told Moses to take Aaron up the mountain and take off his clothes and put them on his son. This was a sign of passing the anointing to son. Commanded to take Joshua up the mountain and he received a portion of Moses’ anointing. So, Moses and Aaron couldn’t go into the Promised Land but their anointing went in.
He then talked about Elijah, Elisha at Gilgal. The next place on the trail of anointing was Bethel - the house of God. We’ve all been there. That place where we fall in love with the Lord. Then the trail goes on and they go to Jericho- “a sweet smelling fragrance” where we become a sweet smelling fragrance to others and the Lord. Then from Jericho and crossed the Jordan. Touched the water with mantle and crossed on dry ground. Prophets followed but didn’t cross river. Jordan means death. Means to Ben it is the place where you die to your flesh.
Asked for a double portion. Firstborn son received double portion
We have a responsibility to pass onto others what we have learned. That is why missionary training school is so important to Ben. Fathers have the responsibility to pass on what God has taught you.
After staff meeting Ben and Byron met with the team while I got the bike repair people set up. Then I ran errands for team supplies. In the middle of the errands, I tried to reassemble the spigot on the kitchen taps at the training center. It was beyond repair, so I bought a replacement set and installed them. Juanita helped with food bank tent set up and shopping for food for team meals.
Zac spoke at Tuesday chapel. Trust what the Bible says not what people say. He read the Bible five times in two years of solitary confinement.
More volunteer team members had arrived from Iowa. After chapel I got the A/C guy set up at the staff motel, ran a few errands and ended day with helping the A/C guy wire in a mini-split unit he had installed in an office in the warehouse. Juanita helped with food for the team, including cooking supper at the training center.
Oscar spoke at Wednesday chapel. Malachi 4:5, Revelation 2:20-23 Elijah had lived his life long before the book of Revelation. He had a great struggle. Her name was Queen Jezebel. They struggled for the heart of a nation. She wanted to control everything. She did it through her husband. She worshiped Baal.
Elijah was a great man. He commanded it to not rain and it didn’t. He commanded it to rain and it did.
They were going to clash.
His word was unambiguous. He didn’t go to homiletics class and learn to say things softly.
Jezebel had different approach. She was a seducer. Ahab wanted to buy a vineyard and was refused. Ahab came home and cried. Jezebel hired two to witness against vineyard owner. She created the environment she needed to accomplish what she wanted. Always going to clash with Elijah.
John the Baptist had the same spirit. Went to Herod and said it wasn’t lawful to marry his sister-in-law.
The daughter of Herodias danced before Herod. Herod said he would give her whatever she wanted up to half his kingdom. She asked for what her mother had primed to ask - the head of John the Baptist.
Now to the time of revelation, today or the future. Here we see Jezebel mentioned. She is long dead, but her spirit is alive. If Jezebel is here, where is Elijah? He is not the preachers who fit their preaching to please people. Elijah like John the Baptist points to God. John pointed to the first coming of Christ. Elijah will be sitting in this place in the heart of every believer who is looking to the Second coming of Christ.
Elijah and John say “this is what is right” this is the word of God. The Bible doesn’t change. Call sin, sin. Jezebel is in the ring. Where is Elijah? It is in the hearts of believers who love God no matter what and don’t compromise. Those who stand.
The big team from Iowa is still here and had grown in numbers overnight. A couple of electricians and I loaded some solar lights in the van and loaded the scissor lift and took it over to the staff motel. I took the van for fuel and left it at the motel. The brush cutters used it and the trailer to haul away their trimmings to the burn pile at the training center. Byron’s wife, Susan, gave me a ride back to the warehouse where I picked up our car. Most of the rest of the day was spent running errands to pick up stuff for the electricians or the group putting the tin roof on the fourteen-plex. I also picked up some pipe and fitting for the plumber for tomorrow and dropped it off at the warehouse. I learned that you can carry six ten-foot lengths of 2” PVC pipe in our car if you open the glove compartment, lower the back seats and feed it into the car just so. Juanita spent the day working the food bank drive through and then went out to the training center to help cook supper for the team.
I missed most of the message being mostly on hold with Service Canada until I got a real person and she put me on hold for “five to seven minutes” and the call dropped off about ten minutes later without her coming back on. Both as a client and an MBA I can see so many ways they could streamline their processes, but only the clients suffer with the existing processes so there is no incentive to fix things. It’s not like the clients have a choice in who they deal with. There is no “threat of substitution” with government services. I will have to find a couple of hours to set aside next week to deal with a two minute issue.
Oscar spoke to staff and the visiting team members. I caught the last couple of minutes. Gideon received two messages from the Lord but he was still doubtful about his success with only 300 warriors against an overwhelming force. Then in a dream he was impressed that he was only a barley loaf. Insignificant. It was only through God’s strength not his own that success was possible and he realized his force would prevail. We all need to realize we are just barley loaves.
I helped at warehouse a bit. Helped with the furniture being moved outside then ran errands. Midday the flashing was ready at the metal shop and I worked with the brush hauling team to pick that up. Byron was totally occupied going in multiple directions at once keeping the team going. He got a lot of small jobs out of way. When the team broke for lunch he used the rental forklift with man basket to finish off stuff on the punch list for the electric supply service entrance.
Ben had put out an e-mail to a large number of pastors in the valley that there was going to be furniture and supplies for the taking at the warehouse today. Juanita spent the day helping fill pastor’s cars with stuff.
The team invited staff members to dinner at a local restaurant. I noted to Byron that he seemed more relaxed. He agreed. All the loose ends had pretty well come together. Some of the team was late getting to dinner they had missed the turn to the training center and tried to go around the block at the next intersection and got bogged down on a backroad. Valley mud is just as nasty as prairie gumbo. They got out by disconnecting the trailer and manhandling it around and towing it our with a team members Dodge Ram then towing the van backward until it had traction.
Friday Oscar spoke beginning with Psalm 42:1&2. This is a popular psalm. Looking at the title remember this is as one of favour
Numbers 26:11 Korah was the leader of a great rebellion. He was a Levite. Both Numbers 16 & 26 mention the judgement against Korah, but “notwithstanding the children of Kora, died not”
Korah looked into the eyes of the leader and said if we are all the same who made you the leader? This is a common argument at university. It is flawed. It is based on the equality of results not equality of opportunity. It doesn’t work. Why are UPS & FedEx making money, but postal service is broke. If you don’t work in UPS you get fired. If you don’t work in postal service, you get promoted. The church in China tried church with no leaders. It didn’t work.
Here is a guy making an argument but wants to destroy system so he can become leader. God judged. Fire came down on some, earth opened.
Elijah went up to heaven alive. Korah went down to hell alive. Nobody in the congregation raised a hand against them but God did.
Socialism takes everyone to equality. Equally poor.
The judgement came down swiftly. Everything is dying because God judged it.
Yet in Ps 42. This is a psalm, but it is also Korah. God saw the rebellion of the father, but he gave the children an opportunity to prove themselves. They are crying out from a broken family, and they turned that into a blessing. They write from experience and brokenness. God saw something good in their heart and gave them an opportunity to become psalmists. To this day we benefit from their works.
You can turn it around and turn it into a blessing bc Gid sees something good in you. What did I do with what I gave you? You don’t get to say I was a son of Korah as an excuse.
Some team members had to head back to Iowa today, but most were still present and working on Friday and a few on Saturday morning. The list of jobs to do that had been used in planning was just that. A list. It was longer than possible to do to make sure nobody ran out of work and it would be possible to adapt to weather conditions. It also included some jobs that relied on certain skill sets being available. List of jobs is not necessarily list of everything that will get done. There is weather, skills, etc.
I woke up at 2:30 with much congestion. I took drugs which helped but by the start of the work day I was still under the weather. The teams had settled into a groove and didn’t need any errands run by me so I started work installed a new drain for the kitchen sink in the training center. We had bought the parts but the plumber ended up on other higher priority projects. Once I was into the project I didn’t notice not feeling well. Interesting work is a bit of an antidote. Juanita helped in the drive through food tent. It was short staffed so some of the Iowa team diverted from their warehouse tasks and helped in the tent. The day was rainy and windy with fewer cars showing up than usual. I had gone home and brought Juanita back some boots and dry socks. When the drive through ran down to a halt she got a ride home with Martha. I stayed a bit longer to finish my mini project. And that was the week.
I woke up Saturday with my cold still there but not so bad as on Friday. I keyboarded a bit while Juanita went to the laundromat. Then I keyboarded and surfed some more. Pretty low energy day for me. Not much physical action other than finishing caulking around the tub surround and do a walkaround with Byron and a hand-off of some tasks to be done while he is in Nicaragua. He and a number of staff leave tomorrow morning to join a few that are already there for Missionary Training School. Doesn’t look like I will run out of things to do while he is gone.
January 30 & 31
Another quiet Sunday.
Oscar preached at church. My incomplete notes of his message.
Want you to remember valley of Rephaim the valley of the giants. A great battle happened there. Many battles happened there. It was a place of battles
Isaiah 17:4-7 Makes mention of the valley of Rephaim. Have you ever been around a tree and the fruit you want is at the top. This is what is described here. This is not the low hanging fruit. It is the high hanging fruit. It is extremely difficult to get there. That is the valley of Rephaim. The valley of the giants. David’s men had to fight there. Israel were walking in the desert. They saw the giants and said we’re not going there. Goliath was 9 1/2 feet. Who’s the tallest NBA player. 7-1/2 feet. 2’ shorter. Average height in David’s 5’ 5’4”. I’ve looked at their shores. Tiny.
The valley of the giants needs to be conquered but only by those willing to go there. Willing to climb for the high fruit. Strategic location. Had to go through valley to get anywhere. To get to Bethlehem. The giants would fight you. They represented the demonic forces. Right there was going to be born the Son of God.
If you look today. The giants are there to fight against people coming to Jesus. Look at Bethlehem today. Look at the universities. You want to mention Jesus then becomes separation of church and state issue. Only for Christians. You can bring up Buddha or Allah and won’t be fought but bring up Christ and the giants come out and oppose you.
I see a great persecution coming. Not for groups that are just named for Christ but no different than the world.
I hope you are prepared to face giants. Persecution is not somebody looking at you in a funny way. I think the church is unprepared. We’ve had it easy.
Easy to preach here. But I’ve been preaching to Hindus and Muslims around the world. Your life is on the line. I’m not saying you need to do that. I’m saying it’s coming here. You can see it changing with the issues you are not allowed to talk about. Crazy things.
By blocking the path to Bethlehem he is trying to prevent you from reaching Jesus. Preach Christ everywhere you can. Live a life that makes your neighbour ask why you do that.
The devil will try to block you from the bread of life. You need to eat that bread every day. Read the Bible every day. Things happen when you go to read. You have to fight in the Valley of Rephaim. Fight your flesh. Fight distraction.
Nearby town meant fellowship. Giants are trying to prevent your fellowship with God.
The value of a life of discipline. 3 chapters a day will read the whole Bible in a year.
Climb for it.
A bunch of went to play basketball. There was pushing and shoving. Had to stop and pray.
When Israel lost a whole generation they were doing well. Sent spies. Spies came back. Described the land. Fruit etc. but 10 came back and said there are giants. We look like grasshoppers next to them. That whole generation died in the desert. I suspect there are many Christians who have no fruit because they don’t want to fight the giants.
Two made it into the Promised Land. One was Caleb. Went to Joshua and said give me Hebron. Boasted I’m as strong as I was when we left Egypt 40 years ago. Caleb means a faithful dog. You can read about his victory. He fought the giants. The other who faced the giants was Joshua. That’s how you fight the giants. You face them and you bite into the will of God.
We all need to learn how to fight in the valley of Rephaim.
After church we gassed up the car, picked up lunch and went home to eat it. I did a couple of items that needed doing before the rain hit or that had to be done before Monday. We had planned to go out to South Padre Island after that, but the weather was turning worse than predicted and we cancelled that plan. We spent the rest of the day visiting with a missionary from Mexico.
Monday’s message from Oscar: Amos 1:1-15, Amos 2:1, 4
God is not having second thoughts. He gets to a place and then says I have another one. He is talking about completion. If you read this passage, you’ll see something fascinating. He does not mention the first 3 but talks about the 4th. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s saying that you might seem to get away with sin for a time but now comes reckoning time. The ultimate record keeper is in heaven. Time is nothing to God. Time erases sin in the memories of humans but not God. God doesn’t live in time.
He calls them out for sin that they knew better than to do. The judgement is even harder for one who knows God. Because they rejected the word of God. Rejected his commandments. Judah because despised the law of the Lord, have not kept his commandments caused them to err.
Those inside rejected the law, refused to live, followed wrong doctrine.
Today a society whose prosperity is based on the word of God is rejecting God. Not going to live by his word. Even within the kingdom of God.
There is a remnant. I’m afraid that if Amos looked at us today he would say that you have reached the point and yet for four…
Look inside you. Don’t take grace for granted. Just because you’ve got away for a time don’t count on that continuing.
After the devotional we went about our tasks for the day. I carried on installing some drain lines for sinks and urinals at the warehouse while Juanita helped set up the tent for the drive through food bank on Wednesday.