One Step Missions

Taking the message of REDEMPTION to Puerto Rico, one step at a time.

Today is Sunday… one of my favorite days of the week.

 

While I LOVE Sundays… church, family, fellowship, worship, the Word…. they are hard days.

Its the day where we feel the weight of this calling as pastors and missionaries more than any other day.
The day where we need our kids to do things in specific ways that can be contrary to their nature (i.e. ask a 14 month old to stay still-ish and quiet-ish for 2 hours and have mommy and daddy close, but untouchable).
The day when you have to be on top of your game, even if you feel sick, or tired, or dry, or whatever.

Sundays can be hard.

So we pray for strength and for God to do everything we can’t….. and He says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I am weak, but He is strong.

Sundays are easy for God and that’s the real reason Sundays are my favorite days.

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Tropical Fever

Last week, I got hit with a “mystery bug” that took  me out.  12 days later, I am still feeling the effects of this “tropical fever”.
I spent a lot of time sleeping, binge watching Lost (1st time for me), spending time with the Lord and in His Word, and surfing Facebook.

I also spent time thinking.

Alone.

Self-imposed partial quarantine will leave you lots of time thinking… maybe too much time.

And thinking can lead to googling.

Mystery illness and google…. BAD IDEA!!  If Dr. Google were correct, I’d be dead. Thank my sweet baby Jesus Dr. Google was waayyyy off.

All that thinking and googling and praying brought me to an interesting thought process (which was probably aided by all that binge watching of Lost).
All my life, I dreamt of living by the ocean.  It was always either Rehoboth Beach, DE, or some tropical island with crystal waters, palm trees, and beautiful sandy beaches.  I longed for that life, even while I was content with my life in York PA.

People all over the world long to live the island life.  Surf, sun, sand… that’s what the desire. They wait all year-long to take their 2 weeks vacation, save up all their extra money, and take a plane to an island and then live off the memories of that time for the rest of the year until they can do it again.

Tropical fever.

Places like Puerto Rico and Hawaii and the Bahamas are glamorized and idolized and obsessed over.

But few ever move to those places and experience true island life.

And those that do… find it to be something most never expect.

I can’t speak for other islands, but Puerto Rico, while dreamy and beautiful and perfectly tropical is not an easy place to live.

I could make you a list that would sound whiney and complaining to you… I can almost hear the snark “how can you complain when you live where I vacation”.

And I get it.  I do.

But imagine for a moment, a different side of that tropical paradise… a side where you can’t effectively communicate with more than half of the people you live with.  A side where food and clothing and basic necessities cost far more than they should, while minimum wage pays way lower than it should (if you can even find a job).  A side where your very purpose on the island brings you in contact with the dark and cruel parts of humanity on a daily basis.  A side where you are away from family and friends… where things you hold dear are impossible to reach.  A side where nothing is ever as easy as it should be.

Tropical fever.

For some, its longing to be living that island life.

For others, longing to leave it behind.

 

 

I could have ended this post here.. and really, I almost did.

But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I love it here.  Yes, I long to go home and be with my loved ones.  To have real, dependable income, Turkey Hill tea, and affordable groceries (don’t laugh, this is legit!), and a million other things.  God called us here.  He equipped us to serve here, and He continues to provide grace and mercy over our lives here.

It’s not easy.  Its not always pretty.   It can be frustrating and sobering, and maddening… but it is beautiful.

Life is beautiful.  Here, or there, or wherever you are planted.  Its your choice.  (My choice too).  You can shrivel up and die in rich lush soil, or you can blossom and grow in a crevice on a rock.  Its your choice, your perspective.

So… my point?

Bloom where you are planted.

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Re-Focus

It’s so so so easy to get busy and caught up in this crazy life and completely lose focus. Even when your working for The Lord it’s easy to lose sight of the most important parts of your life.
We let work, hobbies, housework, our kids schedules, school, even ministry to take up all our brain power so that the few minutes we have left at the end if the day, we simply want to check out and do some brain numbing activity like social media scrolling, channel surfing, or netflix marathon-ing (yes, I made that word up).
We don’t have time, energy, or mental reserves left to have meaningful conversations with our loved ones, or time for the most important piece of our lives…. God.
We fall asleep before the first sentence of our prayer is breathed. We bibles are dusty. And our thoughts are consumed with things that the devil uses to distract us from the good, pure and lovely things God wants us to think on.
It’s time to refocus. To get our priorities straight. To restructure our brains and hearts so our calendars can be restructured as well.
We need to dedicate time to The Lord… In the morning, mid day, or evening… Whatever is your preference… But dedicate that time. Stick to it!
We need to dedicate time for our families too. Our homes are our first and most important ministry! They deserve our attention and dedication as well.
It’s ok to say no sometimes… Our calendars can’t be so full that there is no room for fun? Family time or God time.
It’s time to refocus. To figure out our priorities and stick to them.

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I Will Bless The Lord!

I will bless The Lord at all times, in all things, through all circumstances, and with all that I am.

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God is deeply honored when we bless, praise , and give Him thanks during our hard times. And as an awesome by-product, we are lifted out if the muck and mirey clay and brought to a new level.
No matter what you are going through… Praise Him. Lift up His name. Give Him glory. Thank Him.
Bless Him.

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Faces Of Puerto Rico

Today, I spent time in the home of a woman who is a long time friend of our pastors.  As we were sitting in her kitchen, windows wide open to the jungle air high in the mountains, I looked at this woman, whom I didn’t know much about at all and wanted to capture that moment.
As a portrait photographer, I want to capture people at their best, when they feel beautiful, made up and ready to be immortalized.  But, there is this intrinsic piece to my creativity that desires to see people as real, flawed, life-worn creations of the Great Creator.  I want to see people in their environment, as they are, with those they love, feeling every part of their crazy life on this planet.  Since I am not very aggressive with my photography, I often see these moments, but fail to capture them.  Not today.
As I looked across the table at this mother, grandmother, friend, and child of the Living King, I saw peace.  In her kitchen, with her dear, life long pastors, her grandson working on the computer near by, her daughter in the next house over, I saw a woman dearly loved by her family and the Lord, and a women who cherishes it all.  I saw a woman who had been beaten down by life and the cruelty it can bring, but one who has risen (and is possibly still rising) from the ashes into a place of beauty.  I saw in the laugh lines crinkling her sparkling eyes a woman who knows the value of joy and holds her joy close.  I saw beautiful hands that have held life in them, and still have life left to give.    Hands that have worked, and written, and prayed, and praised.
Whether these feelings where true to her life now, or a prophetic view from the Lord, I saw it.
I saw true beauty sitting across the table for me, and when I asked to take her photo, she kept laughing.  So those hands maybe hiding the laughter, but the light and joy of the Lord is shining in those eyes.
Faces of PR

Tonight, my prayer is that all those beautiful things I see in her, she can see in herself.
I pray that the joy and peace and value the Lord wants to give to her is given in greater measure than ever before.
I pray blessings over her and her family.

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Holy Ghost

We watched the movie by Darron Wilson called Holy Ghost this weekend (twice actually) since it was streaming live on Bethel TV for 48 hours.
This documentary style movie showcasing and introducing the world to the person of the Holy Spirit was another life changing film in the series. If you haven’t seen Finger of God, Furious Love, or Father of Lights.., you need too. Especially Father of Lights. That movie changed our lives!!!
A word of caution.. If you are at all religious, you will have problems with these movies.., especially the scenes at the Korn concerts in Holy Ghost.
But if you love seeing peoples lives changed by the power of Gods love… Watch them.
Multiple Times.
Wanderlust Productions

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Insomnia Files

Ever have a night that you plan to go to bed early, yet you’re watching the clock creep through the early morning hours?
Ever wonder why you are watching that blessed clocked instead of the back of your eye lids?
It happens a LOT to me. In fact it’s 12:40 am right now and my family is asleep and I had planned on joining them about 2 hours ago after a very long and very hot day.
And yet… I’m still up. Blogging. And it’s almost 1am.
I used to curse the insomnia and pray (beg, plead, bargain with my first born’s life) for sleep. But I’ve learned that in those times I should be asleep (whether I was asleep and have been awoken, or just can’t fall asleep) it’s usually because there is something that needs attention.
Sometimes, it’s because I have unresolved issues from the day that I need to pray about or seek The Lord about and ask Him to help me deal with it. Other times God is asking me to pray and intercede for others. And there are even times when I just need to spend time with God. Not for a specific reason, just for the peace and rest that comes with soaking in His perfect presence. Just to get closer to Him.
Now that I’ve learned this… I don’t curse the sleeplessness… I’m thankful for the time I get to spend with my daddy God.

What about you? Why are you up? What keeps you up? How do you respond to insomnia?

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All About The Kingdom

Being a part of these 40 days of fasting and prayer in Mayaguez, has given me an even greater appreciation for a kingdom mindset.
Every morning at 6 am, pastors and leaders, and church members gather from all different congregations, denominations, and schools of thought to pray.  No one is there to promote a church, a pastor, or a belief system.  They are simply there to pray for unity among thew body of Christ.

Why doesn’t this happen more often?

Why don’t churches promote other churches events or outreach?

Why is there such competition among Christians?

Because we don’t understand Kingdom principles.

When we understand Kingdom principles… suddenly things like “our church”, “our outreach”, and “our new member” become God’s church, God’s outreach, and God’s new follower.

We need to understand that it is not about growing your church, but about winning souls to the Lord.  That’s it.  Forget who believes the right thing, or wears the right clothes to church, or sings the right way.  As long as we believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and we are preaching the Bible…. honestly the rest is just stuff.  (Important stuff, but stuff, nonetheless.)

Having a kingdom mindset means that if your church is having an outreach, you bet I will help you with it.  I will pray, I will promote it, I will share it on Facebook, I will tell my friends.  Why?  Because if someone attends that event and comes to Jesus because I shared it on Facebook, that is a soul that is bound for heaven, redeemed from the clutches of hell, and that is why I am here!

Having a kingdom mindset means that if someone comes to my church and says, thanks, but your style or denomination isn’t really for me, I am not only ok with that, I am going to tell them about this other great biblically sound church up the road that has a different style from us, but maybe they would be a better fit for them.

Kinda crazy huh… it’s like having a pizza place and someone comes for pizza and you send them to the pizza shop down the road because the like more pepperoni.  Makes no earthly sense.

That’s the best part of having a kingdom mindset.  You understand that all Christians are working towards the same goal, working for the same king, and basically working the same business. And as long as people are coming to know the King, how they get there, which church they attend on the journey, and whose stuff they decide to embrace is really irrelevant.

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Open Doors

Thank you LORD for open doors!!

After our Ignite event, the pastor of the church that hosted the event invited me to come to her women’s conference in October and LEAD THEIR WORSHIP!

After some praying and consideration, I have accepted.  I know this is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s a big reason why God brought me to this.  I won’t have my band or back up singers.  I will be leading in Spanish, and my team may not speak much (or any) English, so I have 2 months to bulk up on my Spanish.   (Lots of prayers please!)

But still…. what an awesome honor and privilege.  I am floored by this invitation.  Her last conference had about 300 women and they are expecting 500-700 this time.

God is awesome!

I am so excited to see what else is in store!

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Ignite

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For the past two weeks, we have been walking around the communities in Aguadilla praying for people, visiting shut-ins, telling people about Jesus, and handing out flyers for this event.
We knew, that despite our efforts, there was a chance the event wouldn’t really draw many people, but our Pastor felt God was asking for our obedience in this, so we did it.  She knew of a pastor of a Spanish church in Aguadilla who graciously lent us her building and some of her people for the event.
This weekend, a tropical wave (a storm that is stronger than a regular storm, but still doesn’t have the characteristics of a tropical depression or hurricane) has been moving at a snail’s pace across the island bringing bands of rain and thunderstorms, which means people like to stay home during those rainy evenings.
Saturday evening, our small church assembled together at the church building in Aguadilla and had our Ignite Service.  It was really just us and the other churches people, plus one family that came.
But God said, Do NOT despise the small beginnings.  If you are faithful in the little, I will give you the much.
So we had CHURCH.  God’s presence was real and fresh and beautiful.  Pastor Carmen’s short but powerful message was encouraging.
We asked ourselves, and were asked by others, why are you going all the way to Aguadilla?  No one is going to drive from there to Mayaguez just to attend church.  The answer is… we have NO idea.  But God does.  He truly does.  He had a divine purpose for this whole outreach and event.
Maybe it was so Mike could have a trial run at planning an event like this (He was in charge and it was his first event).
Maybe it was so we could meet and minister to Pedro and Delia (Read about them here).
Maybe to teach our new people what outreach is and give them a chance to get their feet wet.
Maybe it was so we could get even more connected to the pastor of this church in Aguadilla.
Maybe the worship or word that was brought was for a member of the other church.
Maybe it was so God could bring liberty and draw the visiting family back to him.
Maybe it was so we could experience This.
Maybe it was for something even bigger than we can see.
Maybe we will never know this side of eternity.

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