Category Archives: Travel & Spiritual Growth

Israel-An Important Piece of the Puzzle

Shalom! Translated simply “peace” in English, it’s a much bigger word in Hebrew than that. It’s “greetings, hello, good bye, God’s favor, lack of conflict, God’s blessings, prosperity, health, ….” I think you get the idea.

Today continues the CUFI (Christians United for Israel) national, Washington D.C. conference in support of Israel. Like many events in our COVID stricken world, this year it’s being held on line. This may be a blessing, allowing for many people to have the opportunity to attend, who for time and resource reasons would not have had the opportunity.

I just wanted to make you aware of it. It appears you can watch some of the meetings free on YouTube, Face Book, etc. and the rest for a $25 registration fee. I attended this meeting in person a few years back and it was an inspiring, insightful, and enlightening experience. If you’re interested in Israel, world events, Bible prophecy, Biblical history, political science, etc. I think you will find it worthwhile and personally enriching.

I intend to do a series of blogs on Israel in the future, showing her uniqueness and importance on the world stage and in history. And why it’s important for individuals and nations to support, defend, and befriend her.

This is just a short blurb to make you aware of this opportunity to see this and learn for yourself.

Shalom שלום

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I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
” Gen 12:3 NIV

“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

Mark Twain

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Psalm 137:5-6 ESV

Grace & Humility

Grace to the Humble

Judean Wilderness near Jericho

With the advent of June, the DaySpring calendar with quotes and Scriptures that lives in our bathroom is speaking about humility.

June 1: “We have the perfect example of humility in Jesus. If He could bow to His Fathers will, and consider others as Himself, then it is our honor to do the same.”

June 2: “Lord, I ask for Your help to truly humble myself, seek Your face, turn from my wicked ways and pray more fervently.”

June 3: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Stone Mosaic Sea of Galilee

As someone has wisely said, when you see a “therefore” in the Scripture, you need to stop and ask yourself, “What’s it there for?” Then go back and read above it, or the context. I’ve included those verses below, and the context is humility.

We really can’t make too big a deal about humility, in our life and in our relationship with God.

In Psalm 34:2b we find the phrase, “The humble shall hear …” Evidently, not being prideful or boastful or trusting in oneself, but being humble is integral to hearing the voice or whisper of God.

Magdala

We know that satan’s biggest issue was pride and boasting that led to self deception. That’s true of secular humanist too, those who disregard God and make themselves out to be their own gods, and masters of their own fates.

But to all this boastfulness and pride the Scripture would say, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV

In fact the Scripture and prophets remind us in many places of a proper posture before God, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20b NKJV

Nazareth

Christ Jesus

To Whom did this magnificent, all powerful, all knowing God — the Creator and Sustainer of all, exalt to the highest place? And give the highest name?

His most humble and obedient Son.

Could this be the trait about God Himself He admires most? In Himself, the Trinity — the triune One God?

And in His creation? Especially His sons and daughters? Think about it.


Caesarea

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.”
Psalm 34:2 NKJV

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 NKJV


Neighborhood Bicycle Ride

“But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7

“Be silent before the LORD, all people, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13


“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.” Psalm 75:4

“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3

Happy Pentecost!

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 NIV

Church of the Holy Sepulcher 2019

That was 33 AD on this day. Last year on this day I was in Jerusalem with my good friend Joe Carruth. This year with the planet much sequestered by Covid-19, there is a completely different feeling, but then again, not really for the sons and daughters of God. We know He is caring, loving, powerful, and sovereign over creation and the affairs of mankind. So we look to Him, and we look within ourselves.

Why within ourselves? For His Holy Spirit Who came in 33 AD in power and birthed the church fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets Joel (2:28-29) and Isaiah (7:14), among others. That God would come dwell with us and in us.


Temple Mount Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

Like the Wind

And make us like the wind, by faith following His leading, not really knowing where we’re going, but listening and obeying and trusting Him for His good will, helping us fulfill His good purpose for us by His power — an adventure, happy and free.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV

Life In The Spirit

Western Wall Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

I have a nagging thought within me, conflicting thoughts really. One is that the Lord, full of grace, loves me and accepts me just as I am and doesn’t really expect that much of me, because he knows we’re all like dust. That He just wants my company and trust, so we can know each other better. What could I, or any human do for Him really? But two, could it be that I/we don’t really understand the Power and Person of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all believers? That we are living well below our call and station because of this lack of knowledge and experience? And what can I do about that, if it’s true.

Preflighting for a Dawn Flight Pentecost 2020

I’m going to leave you with those thoughts for prayer, mediation and reflection. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more and experiencing more as I pray. And I’ll probably blog some of it. Let me know if you do too!

Mainly I wanted to celebrate the day and give thanks to God for His Masterful plan to redeem us fully by His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, [Jesus — God is Salvation] and then empower us to live, love, and commune with Him by His Power sent to live with us and in us [Immanuel — With us is the Mighty One].

Sunrise Flight with son Joshua

Happy Pentecost!! He is Risen! He has Returned in the form of His Spirit! He’s coming back in Person soon! Glorious Day!! Today and That Day!!

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And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
” Joel 2:28-29 NIV

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).”Matthew 1:21-23 NIV

A special relevant message from one of my most important mentors, Charles Simpson, via Zoom.

Happy Pentecost from the Cabin

Why Andrea Bocelli?

I Don’t Know

First let me say I don’t know. Only God knows, and He doesn’t make it the most obvious, as is His Way. I just know I’m intrigued by the man, his apparent faith and life lived in his community, and with His God. I tried very hard to search the web and discover who picked the powerful music for the Easter 2020 “Songs of Hope” Bocelli sang to millions that day live, and many more millions since via YouTube. Apparently he did.

It started with a prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century put to music, asking that the Bread of Heaven (figurative of Jesus the Son of God — our sustenance and power for living) Who Is “the end of all Symbols” Most Highly Exalted, the promised One — come help us on earth, we who are “poor and needy.”

There followed two songs praising Mary, the Mother of God, for responding to God’s messenger angel, “Be it unto me as you have said.” Accepting God’s offer of divine life to be birthed within her, as mysterious as it mush have seemed to her, and to us still.

There is within these two songs, a prayer to Mary, not dead, but living in heaven, that she would pray for us in this time of our very real need.

His fourth song with 4th century lyrics was a powerful anthem of praise and acknowledgment, of worship, to God the King of the Universe and His son Jesus.

“O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!”

It ended with “Amazing Grace.” A humble acknowledgement that it’s in Him (by and in His grace) that “we live, and move, and have our being” as Paul told the first century stoic philosophers and men of Athens on Mars Hill (Acts 17). And it’s only by His grace that we behold God and know Him, “see” Him, as the African slave trader and ships captain, John Newton, discovered after almost destroying himself and others — then coming to faith and going on the write this song in England about the time of our Civil War in the U.S.. It’s one of the most telling, insightful, powerfully-true songs of all times. It is a fitting ending to humbly bow and acknowledge how needy we are and how gracious He Is. The ending says it’s only by His Grace we see. Amen.

Snippets from Wikipedia

“Doctors had advised the couple [Bocelli’s parents] to abort him, as they predicted that the child would be born with a disability. It was evident at birth that Bocelli had numerous problems with his sight, and he was eventually diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. He has stated that his mother’s decision to give birth to him and overrule the doctor’s advice was the inspiration for him to oppose abortion”

“Bocelli grew up on his family’s farm where they sold farm machinery and made wine in the small village of La Sterza, Tuscany, Italy, about 25 miles south of Pisa.”

“Bocelli showed a great passion for music as a young boy. His mother has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. He started piano lessons at age 6 and later learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and drums.”

“At age 12, Bocelli lost his sight completely following an accident during an association football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind.”

“Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, … selling over 90 million records worldwide. His first compilation album, Romanza, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, while Sacred Arias is the biggest selling classical album by any solo artist in history.”

“In 1998, Bocelli was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.”The Prayer” is his duet with Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.”

“Celine Dion has said that “if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”, and record producer David Foster has often described Bocelli’s voice as the most beautiful in the world”

In other places I’ve read he was first married ten years with two sons, and since married several years with one daughter. In spite of a normal life in many respects and a good deal of suffering, or because of it, he apparently has a heart of sincere love for people and for God. Although a somewhat reclusive, multi-millionaire, his wife mentioned that he visits local nursing homes and sings for the residents. Telling, isn’t it?

In His Own Words

Bocelli said: “I will cherish the emotion of this unprecedented and profound experience, of this Holy Easter which this emergency has made painful, but at the same time even more fruitful, one that will stay among my dearest memories of all time. That feeling of being at the same time alone – as we all are in the presence of the Most High – yet of expressing the voice of the prayer of millions of voices, has deeply impressed and moved me. Love is a gift. Making it flow is the primary purpose of life itself. And I find myself once again indebted to life. My gratitude goes to all those who made this possible, the City of Milan and the Duomo, and to all those who accepted the invitation and joined in a planetary embrace, gathering that blessing from Heaven that gives us courage, trust, optimism, in the certainty of our faith.”

            kpbs.org

In his own statement, Mayor of Milan Guiseppe Sala said, “I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation. This year, Easter will be very different for all of us. The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing. I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”

Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Milan, Italy will mark Easter Sunday by staging a very special concert featuring Andrea Bocelli. At the city’s request, the famed opera singer will deliver a solo performance at the historic Duomo cathedral on April 12th. Though it won’t be open to the public due to the countrywide lockdown, the event — titled “Music for Hope” — will be live-streamed globally to promote a message of “love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world.”

Bocelli will be joined by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who will be playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. The Easter Sunday concert will consist of “carefully selected pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion,” including “the well-loved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Mascagni’s Sancta Maria – uplifting sacred music repertoire on a day symbolic of the renewal of life.”

            kpbs.org

Andrea Bocelli performed a special online concert from the Duomo cathedral in Milan this Easter Sunday (12 April 2020).

Entitled ‘Music for Hope’, Bocelli’s concert was poignantly performed without an audience and instead streamed globally via Bocelli’s YouTube channel, in light of social distancing measures in place across the globe to stem the spread of coronavirus. Bocelli was joined – at distance, of course – by cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who provided accompaniment for his chosen pieces. Selected to communicate a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the rest of the world during this difficult time, the pieces included the popular Bach/Gounod setting of ‘Ave Maria’ and Mascagni’s ‘Sancta Maria’, as well as an arrangement of John Newton’s enduring ‘Amazing Grace.’

            classicfm.com

DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It is Easter this Sunday. And in Milan, the renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be sending a message of love and hope to the world, especially Italy, which has seen more death in this pandemic than any country.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PANIS ANGELICUS”)
ANDREA BOCELLI: (Singing in non-English language).
GREENE: “Panis Angelica” (ph) is one of the songs Bocelli will be performing Sunday at the Milan Cathedral, which is known as the Duomo.
BOCELLI: Many times, I’ve performed this piece also in front of the pope, for example. It’s a beautiful page of music.
GREENE: On Sunday, there will be no audience because of the pandemic, just Bocelli and his organist in the empty cathedral. He’ll livestream this concert on his YouTube channel for free. Bocelli joined me from his home outside Milan, where he and his family have been staying put, mostly. He says he knows how many Italians have been suffering through this. And he feels fortunate.
BOCELLI: For us – it’s very bad to say this, but I dreamed throughout my life to have a period to rest myself, to stay with my family, to speak with my sons, and I had. But anyway, I am privileged because I’m in my house with my families. And I’m – everything’s OK here.
GREENE: He was speaking to me along with his wife, Veronica. And as we were setting up, I could hear the tinkling of their piano. I mean, the idea of Andrea Bocelli playing for us in a moment like we’re in was a wonderful thought. Though, we were warned not to get our hopes up.
Who’s playing the piano?
BOCELLI: Me (laughter). It’s me.
GREENE: Yeah? Have you been playing a lot of piano during – while you’ve been home?
BOCELLI: Yes, yes. Many times during the day, I go to play the piano because it my first…
VERONICA BERTI: Hobby.
BOCELLI: Hobby (laughter).
BERTI: …And work. Work and hobby both go together.
GREENE: That’s great. Well, I want to hear about Easter Sunday. Andrea, you – the mayor of Milan invited you to do this show.
BOCELLI: Correct.
GREENE: Why did you decide to accept the invitation?
BOCELLI: Because I think that, in this moment, music can help. And in this moment, I think it’s very important to do our best to create positivity among the people. My idea – my will will be to help people don’t lose the hope.
GREENE: Well, I know the Duomo in Milan and the square would normally be very crowded on Easter Sunday. Is it going to be strange to be there and performing with almost no one else there?
BOCELLI: No. It’s not strange because this is not a concert. Basically, this is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening my singing can pray with me.

“This is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening … can pray with me.”

Sounds to me like someone who sees…. Amen?

Lord have mercy on our straying nation and world. Show us our blindness — help us see. Amaze us again, please, by your grace. Amen.


“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” II Chron 16:9

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

Beautiful, sincere, and recorded previously in NYC — “The Prayer”

[The NYC version has been removed by Youtube. This one is inferior but worthy of your time and mediation.]

The Word & The Wilderness

“The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that we are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Word of God transforms us as we read it, mediate upon it, memorize it, pray it, sing it, share it, and fellowship with the One Who wrote it. Our minds are renewed, our hearts are strengthened, and our behavior is changed; not by external force, but by internal transformation.”

I borrow that from the beginning remarks of Charles Simpson’s excellent pastoral letter this month. You can read the whole of it here. I’ve been in a spiritual wilderness of late, experiencing both the isolation, cleansing, and terrible beauty, reorienting as it is; and I’ve been in the Word experiencing it’s beauty, cleansing and reorientation.

Against the mostly hidden enemy of our souls, there is no substitute nor defense like the Word. Indeed Christ used the Word of God His Father, the the King of the Universe, when attacked in the wilderness by Satan.

Words from Luther’s most famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress”, come to mind: “…one little Word shall fell him.”

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours, through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

So we see the Word can silence our enemy and put him to flight — very important indeed, and the order of things in our earth journey in the seen and unseen realms.

But I’m thinking in this early morning moment by the fire of the “transformation and the renewing or our minds” power of the Word. It’s beautiful. It’s holy. It’s relational. It’s mystical. It’s joyful. It’s reorienting. It’s life and light really. It’s hard to describe, but beautiful to experience.

Our Catholic brothers have a saying, “Don’t read the Word, let the Word read you.” Indeed.

I have a very, very high view of Scripture. Yet once I felt the Lord impress me, “I didn’t give the Word for you to serve it; but for it to serve you.”That’s at once humbling, and important to know, if it is true. It’s an important distinction, even if both are true at the same time.

Jesus in His wilderness experience quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” We need food every day, in the natural and in the spiritual.

And we need to practice good hygiene every day to stay healthy. Ephesians 5:26 tells us Jesus “washes us with water through the word.”

We need healthy relationships each day to thrive. Our Father meets us when we read and meditate on His Word, to illumine us, love us, and just be with us, like a friend.

Recent visit to the College of the Ozarks with two friends

Please excuse me. It’s time to wash up, and have breakfast, with a Friend.

Valley of Decision

 This morning in our FYV Fellowship Matthew study, the location of this spot came up. I sent the following email to the leaders of the group in response and thought you might be interested as well. I hadn’t listened to Gene Little’s words in awhile, but they are timely perhaps and true. I invite you to listen with ears that hear, and see what you hear? For yourself?  Blessings
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More recent visit with my editor and friend – Jerusalem

Greetings Friends,

Good to be with you this morning.

I would not be clear on where the Valley of Jehoshaphat was myself except for a personal trip I took to Israel in 2017, when my lodging host in Jerusalem in a serendipitous fashion offered to take me to some of his favorite off-the-beaten-path places. Here’s what happened as he handed me his phone when arriving at the rim of the valley at Teqoa, and said “Record what I’m about to say.” I did, and that was that! Take one, take only, on the spur of the moment, without warning, then off to see Herodium, and his favorite, lesser-visited, Jerusalem sites. :):)  After getting home I added the introductory music, photos, title and sent it back to him. Since that’s a hobby of mine. Enjoy!
https://youtu.be/8_FgqGDbpdE

https://bibleatlas.org/tekoa.htm

“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.” Joel 3:1-2

From The Mt of Olives across the Kidron Valley
Most likely Joel’s Valley of Jehoshaphat

Many think this prophecy about the Valley of Jehoshaphat is the same location as the Valley of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20:20). After looking into it, I think they are a few miles separated geographically, but maybe not that different spiritually. His blessings as you ponder… or study further… and His grace to you and yours.

Addendum

After trading emails back and forth with Alan, a men’s Bible study leader, and doing more research the following came to light.

I never knew their was a reference of the Kidron Valley also being called the “the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” That’s where the confusion or debate comes from I would guess. This started in the 300’s A.D.? The ancient Jewish sources say there was no valley by that name. Wikipedia may have it as close as anyone, with their three insights or possibilities.

[1] The judgment we discussed will likely be in the Kidron Valley, between Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate and the Mt of Olives, which Joel called “The Valley of Jehoshaphat” for some reason. Perhaps symbolically? As the LORD vanquished Jehoshaphat’s attackers in his day. Certainly that’s what Joel heard the Spirit say to write. Maybe it was known as such to people in his day, and has been lost in antiquity? There is after all, much mystery in the Word… seemingly on purpose at times! As well as, much revealed!

[2] Jehoshaphat witnessed the LORD’s promised deliverance in his day near Teqoa… about 10 miles south.

The Word is always understood better in community with illumination by the same Spirit Who breathed it. 🙂 Grace be with you all.

Honduras 2019

I just returned from a week long trip to Honduras, Jan 16-23, with friends from Louisiana, Colorado, and California. There were eleven of us, 7 men and 4 women. The bulk of the team and it’s leadership was from the West Monroe, Louisiana, area. Our intentions were to teach a group of 20-30 village pastors from the surrounding mountains from the Bible and a book, “The School of Obedience,” by Andrew Murray, as requested by their pastor and leader, Dairo Deluca, in a two day conference at a remote mission house in the mountains. We also came to preach the gospel, pray for the sick, visit a prison to share the Gospel and distribute some needed supplies, then visit two villages with preaching, teaching, prayer, music, large boxes of food for families, and toys for the children.

It was a very enjoyable, successful, rewarding trip on many fronts. Unexpectedly in degree, because I’ve been to Honduras seven times now in the past five years, and five times with this team. I can’t really put my finger on the reason, but these trips seem to get more and more special and intriguing.

I continue to be amazed and impressed with what God is doing in this country and with these people. The people impress me too, with their humility, hospitality, transparency, and simple joy in living.

Honduras is in Central America about a three hour flight south from Houston. It’ s the second largest country in CA, slightly larger than Tennessee, beautiful, mostly mountainous, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast. According to Operation World, Honduras is “one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest countries,” with “widespread unemployment, low wages, and long lasting devastation from  Hurricane Mitch (1998)”… making it a country of great need.“ Thirty-seven percent of the population is under fifteen years old.” So there are lots of needs and opportunities to serve children in Honduras.

Operation World further reports that “Honduras has experienced five decades of evangelical growth. In 1960, evangelicals numbered 32,000 and were 1.7% of the population. They are now 1,750,000 and 23%, and growth shows little sign of stopping. Some polls show that up to 36% of the population identify with evangelical beliefs.” Local pastor Dario tells us more recent statistics show the number to be 45%. These statistics make me believe God’s heart and ear is turned to the people there, and the people are responding.

This infusion of truth from the Gospel and the resultant teaching of truth from the Bible, along with God’s love,  will transform this country, as it will any country and has historically, from the inside out.

The attractive lady sitting next to me on the airplane on the trip down was from Austin, TX, and had been to Honduras several times. She was traveling alone this time to spend two weeks at an orphanage where her purpose was to “refresh the workers, and love on the kids.” There were also several small groups on the plane wearing Christian t-shirts coming to serve. This has been the case every time I’ve come here. Maybe you’ve not heard about this on CNN. 🙂

Each year this group breaks up the long van ride back to the airport by stopping for rest and reflection for the night at the seaside city of Tela. Besides swimming, walking the beach, reading with the sounds of the surf, and enjoying some good food; the team meets and shares with each other their defining moment or moments of the trip. Let me end this post by sharing mine from my journal. Other reflections will follow in future blogs, I’m sure.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the twilight at Los Enquentros two nights ago. A sizable group of women walking down the road with heavy boxes of rice on their heads. I know that may sound strange for a defining moment but it just hit me: [1] The beauty of it [2] How other worldly it seemed and surreal [3] How happy they were with the gifts and to see their children happy and amused with toys [4] The joyful children [5] The curious attention they all paid to Mario while he preached his heart out minutes earlier [6] No idea what their thoughts were? [7] But we were in a village in the mountains of Honduras, preaching the gospel, praying for the sick, feeding the poor, loving on children and their parents [8] Are you kidding me? [9] Topped off by six boxes of rice being tossed back in Dario’s truck as we drove away with six grown women running like school girls, laughing and climbing in the back of the moving pickup with three men from the US — a truck that died on the bridge, then twice more in a short distance, before stopping to let them out as they unloaded the rice themselves before we could help — in front of their homes on the main gravel road, in the early evening darkness, right in front of two soldiers in starched fatigues with automatic rifles standing in the middle of the road. You can’t make this stuff up! The end.”

“The need, the joy, the love, the strangeness of the encounters, the leading and provision of the Lord. How the Spirit had us each doing our own thing but completely a team — comfortable and glad to serve and depend on each other. 🙂 How beautifully peaceful it all seemed. The end, again.”

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“How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; you give them drink from Your river of delights.” Psalms 36:7-8

Christmas 2018

Christmas is here! I have resisted the urge to blog or write about advent and simply read, meditate, and enjoy this season and its Reason the last month of 2018.

I wrote early this morning in front of our fire, with all our kids home in their beds, “Thank You Lord for this nice place to gather, and for Your indescribable Gift — becoming human, to dwell with us…

In accordance with the Word of the LORD given through the prophet Isaiah and other prophets:

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5)

“For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.” (Isaiah 60:2)

“… land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali …, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” (Isaiah 9:1–2)

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6–7)

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, ….” (Isaiah 11:1)

““Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“… which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”(Matthew 1:23)

You can’t say it better or more succinctly than that! Scriptures about the Blessed One — given 2700 years ago and lived out 2000 years ago. God is a faithful King. Amen. אמן”

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Time to add a few photos of our new home, with a Christmas poem I was inspired to write a few Christmases ago, then join the family to enjoy this moment in a quiet and relational way, as it began on that humble day. Noel.

Twice a King

In Bethlehem twenty centuries ago
A young boy was born and began to grow
He worked in Dad’s shop and built wooden things
He, nonetheless, was, the King of all Kings.

He now sits by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth
And remembers a time, when the Spirit of God
Was sent to give Him birth.

Into a life He hadn’t known
A life of joy and pain He was thrown
A life quite low, for a Being so high
Yet He bowed to His Father, and went without sigh.

He helped people daily
He healed many lives
By many men worshipped
By many despised
Now see what is written! What is said He did do!
Remember His living — He was king then too.

He’s coming again in unspeakable power
As a time is reckoned, we’re close to the hour
The whole earth will witness this most righteous King!
Rulers will bow, angels will sing
Tongue nor pen can describe what we’ll do
Now worship the Christ Child, He was King then too.

Within the vast expanse of space
Sits a resplendent, most beautiful place
Home of great beings, powerful and bright
Its Sovereign sits clothed with all glory and might.

He is creator; sustainer of all!
He’s worthy! He’s worthy! “
Around Him they call!
Angels and angels, their numbers a hoard
Fall before Him Who’s rightly adored.

Bethlehem Judea; a destiny for who?
Worship the Christ Child; He was King then too!

Dwayne Bell 2003
Based on Micah 5, Isaiah 6 & 9, Rev 5
[In a moment when a heart was warmed and spiritual eyes were open. Amen אמן ]

Serving In the Storm

(From my journal) July 31, 2018      FSM-DFW-BIL-Zortman Montana    Up early with Beth who takes me to the airport at 0600L.

We both feel it’s right for me to go but are hesitant to separate with so much swirling about us?

Cabin framing started yesterday (amid showers — signs of Father’s blessing) We found a house in Springdale EB loves and I am content and comfortable with. Our Adelaide oasis has shown 8 times today, after only three days on multi-list. With a quick call to USAA we were pre-approved for a VA loan. Kim is helping sell our Fort Smith home. Barbie is helping us buy one in Fayetteville / Springdale. All this coming about in the last three weeks!

I’m going today to Zortman, MT and an Indian reservation where Justin died about one year ago on mission — for six days of spiritual focus, prayer, asking and listening, and service to the people there — some who know the King, and most who do not. Lord show us Your grace and favor. Amen. A prayer.

I just read on my flight out, from front to cover, “God Came Near” on my iPad and received much, much, much peace, faith, grace, and confirmation from it that “all is well.” Ps 23, Isa 30:15, Zech 4:6 TYL! Amen.

I texted EB to read it within the next 24 hours — starting with chapter 10, “Selling the Farm.” There are many, many similarities! And many, many marks of the Lord’s leading and favor!! :):) TYL! for leading me to write it and then read it — perhaps “For such a time as this.”

I’m going to Montana also, and primarily, to honor Justin and pray for what was important to him. And to thank God for the privilege of having such a friend. 🙂 Amen.

Arriving in Billings Intl Airport, I realize I haven’t even asked some praying people I know to cover our time and efforts with prayer — something I’ve leaned by experience is critical. I do so with texts, emails, and phone calls; then have a salad lunch, pick up a rental car and start the three hour drive north to the reservation.

I cross the Missouri River, and drive a little distance past the quirky, beautiful little town of of Zortman to Beaver Creek Camp on the Belknap reservation. I have dinner, meet Rick & James from TN, also Michelle, Bruce’s daughter. And several other interesting folks, Philip from Lavaca, his wife and daughter, and Carol, with here friend Stephanie from TN. I walk up the beautiful valley past the camp, enjoying the pristine weather, and pray. The main part of our Arkansas  group is scheduled to arrive about 10 pm tonight.

Thank you Lord, for a good, good day of remembering Your faithfulness. And for allowing — leading me on this adventure! 🙂

Those new friends I met a bit ago from TN & GA, who are returning home in the morning, were so pumped up about the Milk River Pow Wow they had just experienced! They say Rocky Boy is much (4x) bigger. They also said it was so rough a few years ago that Bruce wouldn’t go, nor take anyone. Then two years ago two ladies from the mission were invited by the chief — Bruce said they could go under his protection — and since then Bruce has started going back there…

Sounds like adventure to me! ?:)

These folks in the camp tonight are from all over — and some have been coming since 2002 — 13 or 14 years — some stay for weeks, and some all summer. They have a calling and have developed a heart for the Native Americans here. TYL! for caring and for pouring out Your heart to and in these people. Amen.

Click here for photos of the week and adventure.

Click here for a video of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tent and An Altar

I’ve not really blogged about this nor told all that many people, but we are considering moving to another city an hour to the north, and into a new chapter of being, with God.

It’s a decision I don’t take lightly at all. We’ve lived in this area since the 1980s, a period now spanning most of our lives, some thirty-seven years. We’ve worked here, raised our children here, been a part of the same church family here for thirty-five years. Most of our close friends are here. We love our home as much as we love global life insurance rates. We love our neighborhood and neighbors. I’ve been a part of three men’s groups here for the past four or five years, and have made some deep spiritual friends. Life is pretty simple and comfortable here. Why would we leave?

About a year ago, I started feeling God was leading us into a new chapter of life and adventure with Him, especially spiritual adventure. I’ve been hearing and sensing His leading and promptings ever since then, and journaling about them, after times of reading His Word, sharing faith with others, and of meditation. Those promptings have intensified in frequency and intensity in the last six months. But there has been one serious sticking point — my wife. She hasn’t been hearing what I have been hearing or sensing the same thing.

And I couldn’t see dragging her away from her friends, and the life we have built here, unless I heard so strongly this is the will of the Lord and the right timing that I just did it. I have confidence she might come screaming and kicking, but that she would come in that case. Yet I’ve been praying as I walked, “God if this is You, please change her heart in this matter.”

About four weeks ago, after a sleepless night of “wrestling with the Lord,” to quote her, she said to me, “I think the Lord is telling us to move to Northwest Arkansas.”

And so it is… with somewhat heavy hearts, and somewhat excited hearts, we’ve moved out in faith (faith involves risk) and put our home on the market, looked around in NWA and made an offer on a home there. I would also mention we are building a cabin during this period. Are you kidding me?! All this upheaval at the same time? After we’ve fought for the peace and simplicity we have here?

Well, we who desire to follow Jesus as Lord, and count His Presence the most important thing in our lives, know that “when the cloud by day or fire by night” moves, we must move with it and Him. Maybe that peace and simplicity has allowed us to hear His gentle voice? And that same peace and simplicity can also translate to “comfort” or “being too comfortable?” which can be an enemy of our spiritual lives. I’m thinking of a quote from a recent blog: “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal” Paulo Coelho

At any rate, during this time of amazing activity, it’s been relatively peaceful spiritually, feeling His nearness. I went on a long-scheduled mission trip to an Indian reservation in Montana, and Elizabeth went on a trip to NYC with a friend to visit our son, while we trusted the Lord to work out the details as He wished. Proverbs 3:5-6, my life verse, continues to be applicable to my life and guidance. As does the main Scriptures journaled in the past chapter of my life: Isa 30:15, Ps 23, and Zech 4:6.

On my way to Montana, I reread my recent book, beginning with chapter 10, “Selling the Farm.” It seemed to be amazingly apropos to this chapter of our lives, as did the entire book. 🙂 Seems like the Spirit may have had me write it so I could read it and have my faith renewed, reflecting on His past faithfulness in our lives “for such a time as this.” 🙂

Yesterday I was with a new friend Jeff on top of a mountain standing by our cabin under construction. He said, “The Bible tells us two amazing things about “faith.” [1] It pleases God, and [2] it can move mountains.” May it be so!!

I told a new friend Joe at our early morning men’s meeting today, who had just prayed for us and expressed his excitement about the new chapter God was providing for us, “Derek Prince once said when teaching about the life of Abraham, “‘From the time Abraham started following God, he knew only a tent and an altar.’” Amen. He also came to know God better than thousands, and seemingly experienced God’s nearness and covenant love at every bend of his journey. Isn’t that what we all seek?

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For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”” (Romans 4:3)

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...He leads me ...” (Psalm 23)