Saturday, December 12, 2009

This is the end?

All in all, Brazil has been one of the best experiences in my life so far. Just because I took this step in faith, God has honored it and has spoken and intervened. Distractions, mistakes, and sin have been with me as well as righteousness, success, and joy. I have gone through several conversions in my faith. I found out the importance, the wisdom, and the life that comes through the study of the Bible. God has shown his love in such a real way that he is no longer just a concept to me, but a real being that I need to know better. Becoming honest with my feelings about the heavenly being and his feelings for me allows him to speak to me exactly where I am, not where I pretend to be. I have realized the difference between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven and each of their “benefits” and “drawbacks.” My focus has completely shifted toward becoming worthy of the kingdom of heaven, the eternal kingdom. Clarity about my skills, passions, and who I am has come like a refreshing breeze in the Amazon. Although all these things have come to pass, I know that my mission was not for Brazil, but to prepare for myself for my next step and to bless some people along the way. Though this journey is ending, another begins and it is in my hometown.


P.S. Concerning the first post statement about my death, I’ve realized that I have died here in Brazil. Died to myself, the world, and for the sake of others because of the presence of Jesus Christ in my life. Though living physically (and generally healthily at that), I am no longer a prisoner to the law, human nature, id, and even death; however, the only way to achieve this was to take up my cross alongside my saviour.


I have just spent a week in Ft. Meyers, Florida with my grandparents. My arrival here was almost as amazing as my predicament before going to Macapá. We had a wonderful time as they heard about my trip, I learned about their lives, and as we had fellowship together.


IMPORTANT PLEASE READ

If anyone is interested I am more than happy to share adventures that occur in my life as well as revelations and insight which the Lord gives me. It has been interesting already having to deal with American culture, speaking english once again, and spiritual issues in the States. I'm sure God is about to do some awesome things, so let me know if you're a reader and would like me to continue posting!!! Please! Comment because I will decide if I will continue based on your responses


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving / Rio Round 2

I think I have finished with James’ art and that is a relief and I’m able to relax for the last week and a half of my stay here in Brazil. It’s difficult to realize that five months is almost over, which at the beginning was almost daunting. I’m in a weird in-between stage right now. Feeling a little anxious to get home, I also don’t want to waste my last days in Brazil feeling homesick. Steve tells me that I need to relish Brazil while I’m here because, now that he is home, he misses Brazil.


I have heard the legends of the Padley Thanksgiving celebration and I have eagerly awaited for this day to come. A little sad that I can’t spend Thanksgiving with my own family, however I know that this feast is not one to be missed (sorry guys). The meal took a full 2 days to prepare for, and not for just one person. Five women labored in the kitchen working to make this meal, possibly the biggest holiday for the Padleys. The meal included boneless chicken filled with stuffing (Flans’ work of art), leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, and of course, turkey. The main course (dessert) was made up of 20 pies. The varieties: pumpkin, apple, coconut, pineapple, peanut-butter chocolate, mint chocolate, two kinds of cheesecake, lemon meringue, etc. Everyone talked and had communion with one another until late into the night. When everyone had gone to their own homes to digest some more, something happened that left the night on a sour note that I won’t describe here. Though it was a great night full of fun and joy, we have to remember that people are suffering. Maybe they are next door or maybe they are across the world being persecuted for their faith or whatever the case, we have a responsibility not to forget them even though we are celebrating.


James, Sagares, and I are in Rio de Janeiro enjoying the company of Andrea and Nedson and their house church for a few days. We were going to spend time with Edson and his family but there is a viral sickness that both his son and spouse are afflicted with. I love watching the physical changes in the landscape when you pass from the state of Minas to Rio. The mountains go from smooth transitions and rolling hills to rocky, lumpy, loaf shapes. The rain comes down in torrents. Huge volumes of water cascade down the rocks and look more like liquid silver running down because of the illuminated cloudy sky. Around every corner there is another marvelous waterfall waiting. Like last time, we are treated like royalty though we are undeserving of such hospitality. We went to the beach and I saw the biggest waves I’ve seen in my life, though that is not saying much. I learned how to body surf and catch waves, which one of the greatest feelings in the world. The Beach Boys would agree. The next day I was able to skate at the skatepark by the beach for a couple of much needed quality time with my skateboard. Jonatan taught me some soccer moves and precious Carol played card games with me. Jonatan is the most impressive twelve-year-old I know. He studies the Bible and spends time with God every day, writing down in his notebook the things that God is saying to him. He is already praying for his future wife. He is light-years ahead in his walk than I was when I was twelve, which is extremely encouraging.


Psalms 127 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen stand guard in vain” but I want to take it a step further which has changed my life significantly. A life not lived for the Lord is a life lived in vain. A day not lived for the Lord is a day lived in vain. For if it is not for him, we only look to gain for our own needs. Something we try with relying on our own power will fail. David and Joshua always had to consult the Lord before a battle and ask if the enemy would be given into Israel’s hands. Whenever they did not consult the Lord they would end up fleeing and many Israelites would die. We are helpless without the Lord. We cannot even change ourselves without him. Many lyrics in rock songs sing about how “I’ll never change.” It’s not that they haven’t tried to change, but they find it impossible to, and it is. If we try to change through our own power, we just end up suppressing our problems and they will inevitably come out ... and not quietly. All of our efforts are in vain, but the Lord makes it possible though not always in the way we would like. Maybe we need healing, spiritual, mental, or physical, although we forget that Jesus is the great healer and all we have to do is ask. Solomon asked for wisdom and received it in copious amounts. Jesus healed lepers, the blind, and the lame and we think he can’t heal our addictions or our insecurities?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Macapá, Amapa aka the middle of the world






Before I begin telling the next story I want to share something concerning a previous post. I have always had problems with the common theme of the sheep in the Bible. Something that really helped me with this idea was a sermon by Margaret Feinberg about our image in God as sheep and him as the shepherd. She is very knowledgeable on the subject and I encourage you to listen to it as well as other sermons by my dad, joshua dylan, leanor ortega, etc. They have been very encouraging to my walk with God.


http://www.scumoftheearth.net

http://www.scumoftheearth.net/v2/sermons/sotec_8.2.2009_margaret_feinberg.mp3


James & I leave for the airport last Thursday and are at the counter about to check our luggage. The woman at the counter asks for my passport. To my surprise, I find out that I had forgotten it at home. When James reminded me to grab my I.D. before we left, I thought of my I.D. in my wallet, not my passport. Sometimes the word “blockhead” describes me very well. Regressing, we ask the woman if there is another flight available soon as she would not let me on the plane. She answers that there is another flight tomorrow morning at 7:30. Thinking that everything would be fine, we ask how much it would cost to change the flight. It costs R$549 to change the flight. So now we’re doubting if I will even go on the trip. I’m kicking myself for forgetting while James is explaining to me that our trip is ruined. He would have to cancel the entire trip because he refuses to travel alone. The woman returns (we didn’t even notice that she left) with great news. She was able to wave the flight change completely free of charge! Our trip was saved! James will leave tonight and I’ll stay at the airport while someone brings me my passport. The only way I can get someone to take me home or at least get someone to bring my passport is with a calling card (I don’t use a cell phone in Brazil). The only place that has calling cards in the airport was closed and James couldn’t reach Sagares on his cell phone. James leaves for the plane and I’m sitting, stranded at the airport. I kept thinking, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going to happen but you promised me that everything will be okay and I will be taken care of. I can do nothing at this point so it’s up to you to do something about this.” Finally I start asking people to use their cell phones and get a negative response. Figuring out that strangers are not too fond of eighteen year old guys asking to borrow phones, I changed my tactic. I go to the desk and the woman at the help desks let’s me use her phone without my asking. I was planning to call James’ house, but I accidentally called James cell phone. To my surprise James answers. I thought he would be on the plane by now. He continues to tell me that his flight was delayed and no one would make their connections so they rescheduled his flight for 7:30 the next day. My flight! Not only this, but since the airline messed up, they paid for a taxi to take us home and back to the airport. Neither of us have to travel alone and everything is the same only 11 hours after we planned. God is good and God must have something for us to do in Macapá.


Flying Gol, an airline, was a less-than-savory experience. The plane didn’t land in Brasilia, it literally bounded into the capital of Brazil. The plane we were supposed to take to Macapá was denied by the Health Department so we were transferred to another gate. The meal served on the 5 hour plane ride was a miniscule packaged cookie.


We are greeted at the smallest commercial airport ever to exist by a man named Washington. He is our connection to the English school, the English concert event, and the church that we are helping out with. Widowed with a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, he is getting back into leadership after the tragedy. Fish is what we have for lunch as well as every meal we will eat in the city by the river. This restaurant in particular is owned by someone in the church and gives us lunch everyday free of charge. We get our things settled in the hotel (doing God’s work is really a tough sacrifice) and take a nap. The first day was the English school. We are interviewed by a group of mostly non-Christians about American culture, how Americans view Brazil, etc. We also get to share a little about our lives and what we believe about Jesus Christ in a respectful way. One guy, Igor, talks to me after and tells me that he admires my courage to pause my life and take a trip to find out what I think is important in life.


After a satisfying breakfast, we visit an ancient fort that was built in colonial ages. This is an ideal place for a little parkour, however the security doesn’t think so. They have cannons, moats, bridges that can be easily taken out to take refuge during attacks, barracks, cells designed to drown people when the river was high, and a concert stadium outside. After we go to the church to practice and go over the set list because, after all, this is a concert, not worship. Taking another nap, we are ready for the concert and it goes great. James expresses his life story through the medium of music and song, ultimately stating that Jesus coming into his life was the one and only thing that he lives for and derives all joy from; he even derives joy in suffering. Straight from the concert we are taken to a wedding reception where we know no one. It is quite awkward considering we know one person and we show up in t-shirts and ripped jeans. The stares of the people at the party look at us in shock for showing up in such a way, but the bride and groom welcome us with open arms. It was an excellent nineteenth birthday.


Today, Sunday, we go to the “ground zero” or the “middle of the world.” It is the place on the equator that is the starting place for the degrees around the world going east and west. The monument they have is a giant wall with a circle cut out of it at the top. Being on the north-hemisphere side of things makes me miss everyone in the U.S. a little more. At night we are headed for the church to worship and for James to give a message. We show up and find out that their worship band will play four songs before we start. The band is phenomenal to say the least. Almost everyone in the worship band also plays in a thrash metal-core band called Martyrium (the members of which are very cool and I exclude them from anything I will say concerning the leadership of this church). I don’t know why they felt the need to play since James was already scheduled to play. The singer kept saying things like, “Give your best clap to the Lord! Everyone clap!” which, I’ve come to know as conjuring feelings and I got a very inauthentic vibe from it all. The music was great though. Then the pastor gets up and starts to recognize every leader in the church with a sort of role call because he feels that it is necessary to make the leaders of the church known to the public. He essentially wants people to come to the church because of the reputation that its keyboardist, drummer or apostle have. He feels that the only reason that he is the one on stage is because God gave him the anointing and skill to be there. So, now, he’s somehow better than all of us. James and I are called onto the stage and James begins to speak against having positions and hierarchy in the church and stating that the only thing that is important is what God has to say through us. We need to apply Paul’s teaching that we need to decrease and Jesus, increase. The congregation is very pleased with this and the pastor started to sink in his seat. God begins to do some amazing things. People start weeping, praying over each other, and confronting who they are before God. The holy spirit was doing something in myself as well. Usually I have to try to read James or find a beat. I’m usually timid when on the drums, but this time I felt loose and playing better than I ever have. Not that I was playing things beyond my skill, but everything felt fluid and easy. Every fill, every beat, every transition felt right. I don’t know how to explain it, but I knew God was with me then playing drums, controlling the movements of my hands. James finishes speaking about having the Holy Spirit come into your inner being and knowing the plentitude, the depth, the width, and the length of God, God’s eternity, and the “apostle” of the church, as he calls himself, comes onto the stage. He starts preaching about raising R$1000 a day from the church to pay for a giant new cathedral that will be “God’s place in the city.” Isn’t it the people that are God’s place? Aren’t people the one’s that we should be investing in? Places are a great place to serve people, but when the focus becomes more about the building than the people, we are not doing God’s will. Don't get me wrong, however, that I am against this church. I long for them to seek the Lord with all of their hearts and find fulfillment in him, which they are very capable of doing! Just the healing that occurred during worship alone is testament to this.


Talking with Washington and Ana about the dynamics of the church only confirmed what we had seen. There apparently is a constant flux of backslidden people in the church. James thinks that the pastor and the apostle are leading the congregation of amazing people away from the Lord. The people need to get away from them before they are deceived much longer. Washington’s spouse had told her husband before she died that the pastor and the apostle were stopping the church from growing and she thought they needed to leave before God started moving in their church. Only time will tell if this prophesy is true.


So I’ve been back in Nova Lima for a few days now and I’m working tirelessly on the art. Though I’m trying to get it done asap and the work is more involved than I originally thought, everyone thinks the drawings are coming along very well. I am so excited to see the final-product.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Uberlândia

Judging from just the name, I had pretty high expectations. First, we stopped in Pequi to cut the 7 hour drive by two hours and so James could teach at the ministry school there. The kids there are great and they’re about to finish their studies that have been a year in the making. A girl was telling me over what they call “Burger King” (Pequi is a small town), that the city of Pequi doesn’t have a college because the politicians in the town have such a desire for power that they won’t allow anyone to be educated in the town, so they can keep their power.


We arrive in Uberlândia and it’s Ubertastic. We pass Uberestaurants and Uberpeople on the way to the four-star UberHotel, which was a great blessing to us especially considering our hosts had never met us before. We have some time to relax and get a bite to eat then we’re off to the church. A sort of conference was going on there for three days about worship and James was asked to speak and worship for all three with me as his drummer. The first night we worshiped while another guy spoke about how we think God owes us something when he has already done enough for us. This is all true though he presented it by almost yelling at the congregation from a pedestal. People who want to express love should never preach like they’re angry. I think it would express the love of Christ by speaking to the crowd like they were talking with one person face-to-face, instead of insulting the crowd. We head back to the hotel and get glorious Brazilian pizza delivery to our room.


The next day James teaches for 4 hours with only a small break in the middle. After, James tells the people who were impacted by what he said to stay and talk with each other. Before we left we heard people weeping. I don’t think that change or sense of community occurs when we are in seats listening to a sermon. It happens when people gather and converse in the name of Jesus. We rest for a little at the hotel and come back a little less than enthused because we were so tired. We start to worship through music and we didn’t stop for two hours. James and I both sense that people are warming up to worshipful hearts. We leave with more energy and excitement than when we came.


After worship, we are taken to a very expensive restaurant. The hospitality of Brazilian culture and the influence of Christ in their lives continues to surprise me.


Another day of teaching and worship goes by. At the end, so many people were commenting about how God had spoken into their lives over the past few days. I don’t think i’ve ever actually been able to admit full-heartedly that God is good until now. i always knew that he is, but I didn’t fully believed it was true. Someone wanted to bless me and gave me a new pair of shoes. I am so grateful because I know how hard it is to get a pair my size in Brazil.


I am more thankful everyday that God called me to Brazil and that I took this step out in faith because he is teaching me new things everyday.

In a half an hour I am taking another trip to Macapa, Amapa with James to an english school where I will again play drums and help Brazilians practice speaking english. The city is practically on the equator so it will be hot.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Musings

Amazonian Bugses
Cachueira! (waterfall)

Luis & I
Hammocks! FTW!


Thursday October 22


Well Steve left tonight, so I’m all alone. I’m super glad for his presence and his friendship over the past 3 months. Having someone close to my age that I could talk with encouraged me greatly. We made sure we made more peanut butter (and experimenting with chocolate peanut butter), had a picnic with Sagares, Melissa, & the kids at the waterfall, and getting all the nostalgic brazilian things out of the way. I’ll never forget Steve and I hope to see him next year at the ARC conference.


I've been working on art lately as James has asked me to illustrate his upcoming book. I love art but I've never done anything like this before especially for one of the biggest christian publishing companies in Brazil. I'm doing a small sketch for each of the chapters and the cover. Not being a professional, I'm a little stressed out although my drawings so far have received praise from both James (a very critical person) and my sister Katina who just received her degree in art. This was a huge confidence booster and I think it'll work out with a lot of help from God. I'm so thankful that God is using me here in Brazil for so much more than just physical labour.


We had our last night hanging out with James. The things that come out of his mouth and life never cease to amaze me. There were a ton of different topics that we covered including relationships, finances, community, miracles, and, last and probably least, cheetos and cake.


He told us all about how God provided money for him to go to the Amazon when he was broke before leaving and how he received so much that he was able to bless many people along the way.


He explained the one thing that saved his life and his marriage. That is that no one knows better what they need to be loved than that person. All anyone has to do is ask, “What do I need to do to make you feel loved? How do you need me to love you?” If you’re serious about keeping the relationship, you will do anything and everything that comes out of that person’s mouth. He hasn’t had a significant argument with his wife in over 4 years. Another thing that is necessary in loving people that will change relationships and make them perfect is asking God to give an anointing that allows you to love others as God loves them, as the author of love would love someone. If you do this with all your mind, body, and strength, you may get the same results as James. Both his wife and his daughter told him the same thing separate from each other and that was this, “You are like how I picture Jesus. When I talk to you or am with you I feel as though I’m with him.” Wow... If I got that kind of compliment from anyone I would be set for compliments for life just because I know that I could never match up to Jesus and neither can James match up to him either. But it is God who is working through us. We just have to give him the permission. Out of these principles stemmed many more related philosophies about relationships with God at the center.


I feel like I’m called to bring community and church like the early christian church to Colorado. I want to live fully for Jesus and follow his commands exactly so that I can become a living testimony of his goodness. I want to bless others and explore God’s eternity with others at my side. A community of people who are willing to give to anyone in that community who is in need. An accountable, completely honest community dedicated to seeking God and spreading his love. Who knows. Maybe I hold off on college to help out at church and seek the Lord. Maybe I’ll hold off on college for a long time until god opens the doors because my priorities are different and i don’t want to go to college to ultimately get a day to day job. My priorities are expanding the kingdom and seeking God first. If god wills me to go to college and earn a lot of money to bless others than so be it. Or if God wants me to be an apostle who suffers and is persecuted for the faith, then so be it. How can I argue with the one that shaped me? (Though I'm fairly certain that more education is in my future) I don’t want to spend my life living mediocrely. I want to live it with a passion at whatever I do. I don’t want to spend it listening to the law and rules of man, but of the law and the spirit of God, the only authority. If I can do this faithfully I have no doubt that God will make himself present through his glory.

Sometimes I think the modern day church is missing out on many of God’s miracles and glory because we have secularized christianity. We have our bank accounts and save money for the future (which is not bad), but we rely on them instead of God to fulfill us daily as he promises in the Bible. In America all christians seem anxious about money and our security when God promises that he will provide for us. Now he never said we would be living luxuriously. It would be wrong when others are in need and do not have their basic interests met and sometimes that means a sacrifice on our part (Philipians 2). The lord is a faithful giver to those who choose to put their faith in him and obey. James cannot count the times that he has been struggling for money and miraculously the money came from out of the blue. One time he couldn’t pay a bill and he gave it to God as his problem because God said he would take care of them and the next day either a boy and his father that he had never known before came to his door and gave him 200 reis, or someone wanted to practice generosity and gave him another 200 reis, or more money showed up is his mailbox seemingly from no one. This is all a result of James obedience to God that these things happen. Now I don't think this is God's calling for everyone to live like he does, but everyone else has to realize that the money they have is not theirs, but God's. I was reading in Joshua about the Israelites crossing the Jordan and taking over the cities. God made a covenant with them saying that he would give the cities into the Israelites hands if they didn't take any of the riches for themselves, but rather gave them to God. One man took the riches for himself and Israel could not take city. One man, because of his greed, caused the Lord to turn his back on an entire nation of his followers allowing some of them to be killed. Once Joshua found out, he killed the man and burned the riches he stole, for they never were his. After this the Israelites were able to take the city using a strategy that fooled Ai into thinking that the Israelites were fleeing, like the last time, but really had an ambush waiting for them. So the disobedience of one person, taking money for himself and not realizing it is God's, can ruin God's perfect plan, though God uses the mistakes for his plan.

I don’t care if the living is hard financially, because I know God will take care of his followers. Though James can’t afford to build his house to give his children separate rooms, he still lives a fulfilled life full of adventure and has complete trust in God that he will provide. And if that wasn’t enough, we still have rewards in heaven. If we have an eternal perspective, our problems right now seem like a speck compared to a mountain of God’s glory. The speck will be forgotten. So what if we suffer a little right now. It will be completely worth it in eternity. I couldn’t be more sure of what I write right now and I can’t wait to try it out. actually i already have. My dad gave me 500 extra dollars into my bank account this month. i didn’t need all the money to pay sagares for my part of the month and I made sure I had enough for myself. I had excess but I knew he was in need so I gave a little extra to help out and he was blessed! He had prayed the night before that God would send some money. I didn’t necessarily feel called to give money to Sagares. The early christians gave freely because Jesus said to freely give. We don’t need to feel led to give to those in need. If we have extra, our natural instinct as part of our survival instinct as humans is to horde it for later. But when we go against our nature to do good in Jesus name, we prove God’s goodness and glory by his love through us.


All this revelation is an answer to many prayers. I know I am new to this kind of living and maybe my views are a little naive, so please forgive me if I seem inexperienced because I am. None-the-less, I have never felt more sure of my God and what he is capable of before in my life than I do now. Thank you.


P.S. Just letting you all know that I will be traveling for the next two weeks, more or less, with James to Uberlandia (coolest name for a city ever) and Macapa. He will be ministering and I have the privilege of playing drums with him. Prayers are welcome because the roads are infamously dangerous on the way and where I will be going in Macapa is right on the equator so the heat will be more intense than in the Amazon.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Amazonas!!!






Hey. So the last week before Amazon was great. Steve & I did many things we were always meaning to do since he leaves 5 days after we get back from the Amazon. We finally went to the tower. We could see the entire city of BH. The view is a little overrated but still it was fun to be with friends. Oh yeah, and I made beans and rice for the first time... correctly! I absolutely love beans and rice. I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life, like many people in the world do. A book by a guy named Bart Stamper found its way into my hands. It’s a personal testimony about his experience in Vietnam. The difference between his account and every other Vietnam account is that he is completely explicit. Other Vietnam veterans won’t tell much of their story because it’s too painful and they don’t have a sound mind. Their emotions and morals were so distorted by the war that maybe they can’t forgive themselves. This book couldn’t be sold in the U.S. as a war novel and a Christian novel with both parts - only as separate pieces.


More importantly than any of this, I’m in the Amazon right now! I stepped foot outside of the airport I felt the “Dragon’s Breath” on my face. The scorching heat wasn’t unbearable ... at first. We stopped at a restaurant and we had tapioca with cheese and delicious juices native only to the Amazon: cupuaçu and cajú. I arrived at the JOCUM base (YWAM).


So much has happened since my last entry. Steve arrived at YWAM and we checked out the boat. It has 3 floors excluding the hull. It was so hot. I was perspiring just sitting down and eating. We got picked up to go to a church by one of James’ friends. James did some worship, Tom spoke, then Judson led worship for a bit. God started speaking to me. Family is your first ministry. How can one preach the gospel to a crowd or another person if his family is in disarray? The body of Christ is essentially a family. If we can’t love our family, we don’t have the practice to love anyone else. I realized that before this trip and until that moment on the roof, I had been a man of little faith. I heard but did not hear. I saw but did not see. I didn’t fully believe that God was there. All the time. I heard about God doing real things, things that couldn’t be explained otherwise. My life is itself, since I was born, a testament to him because he saved me. I chose not to believe or live by his principles. I knew him and rejected him. I felt wretched, and loved at the same time. I believed the Bible was true and I spoke about its truth without knowing what God did in it. Loving God and accepting him is so much easier when one has read his word.


The boat ride was only a little short of being the best traveling experience of my life. We stopped by a gas station for boats in the middle of the water. It was like any other convenience store but everywhere around it was water. Moving water. I looked around once we embarked from the base. We weren’t even on the amazon river yet and already the river was so far across I could only see faint greys in the distance that resembled hills. Being so wide, it must also be deep. Tom told me that in places the water is so deep, the statue of liberty could stand at the bottom and would not penetrate the surface. The breeze created by the moving vessel made the hot, humid climate subside drastically. At one point in the voyage two rivers merged into one. One black, the other brown. Chemically the rivers were so different that they were not soluble. The two rivers ran beside each other for miles and never mixed. At night, Steve, Nehemiah and I watched Slumdog Millionaire, a beautiful film though above us was something even more beautiful. With the moon directly above us, a thin layer of clouds formed a perfect circle with the moon being the exact center. It’s a phenomenon that happens rarely and I don’t know the cause. However some of the drawbacks were that the boat was made for Brazilians, who’s height never reaches above six foot one inch, so I felt like I was in a hobbit hole. At night, it’s almost impossible to move around because hammocks are hanging everywhere. Also, where I was sleeping, right next to the engine, it’s impossible to sleep. It roars throughout the night which is bad enough, but also I had to get used to sleeping in a hammock which is another challenge in itself; though once I got situated it was very comfortable.


I met Greg, a pastor of the ARC. Greg is an awesome guy. The kind of guy that makes you feel comfortable enough that you want to tell him your life’s story within just four minutes of knowing him. It’s a trust thing that I think comes genetically from God. His short and chubby stature helps with this.


Talking with Josiah, a missionary from Alabama who plans on living in the Amazon, was also very enjoyable. Right away we got along. Maybe I have somewhat of the same gift as Greg or we are just very similar being two young guys, who have four siblings, are both the youngest in our families, and having a passion for missions.


The truck drops everyone off at their destinations. Looking around from the back of the flatbed truck, I notice that the grand majority of the girls here are very beautiful and attractive. I’m reminded that this city, Maues, is known for its sexual promiscuity. The city is known as the “Pastor’s Grave” as many pastors fell into sexual sin here; the YWAM base shut down here and I’m sure that sexual sin was a major cause of it. I’m the last stop and it’s a good thing too as our house is the most luxurious out of any of the others. Coconut trees and star fruit trees are scattered everywhere. We are left to help ourselves to the fruit and we eat a meal of delicious coconut water and coconut. Though the flavor is subtle, I enjoy it ten times more than the artificial coconut you will find sprinkled over cookies or cake.

Today Greg spoke about how the Bible isn’t supposed to be read as a rule book. Yes, the Bible talks a lot about “Don’t do this or you’ll go to hell,” and whatnot. However but we find out in the new testament, which is more applicable to our lives, that we will do God’s will by just asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The more we have the Holy Spirit the more we are able to love and think less about living a perfect life.


I don’t want to step on anyone’s beliefs ... well here we go. You alone are not the image of God. There. It’s out. When God first made the world, everything was good, until, however, he made man. He made us in his image, but it was not good. Anything that is not good, is not of God. So he changed it. It was not good in the sight of God that man was alone. So one single person isn’t what God intended. We become the image of God when we are together. Also it says in Matthew 18:20 that the Holy Spirit is present whenever two or more people meet in his name. In Psalms, there is a passage, one that my dad mentions, about a man speaking so passionately about how much he loves being in the temple. However, there is nothing holy about the actual temple. It’s only a man-made structure. The psalmist is talking about the people. After all, the church is about relationship.


James was talking about the church in America and the ritual of feet washing. Many think it is a practice of just being a servant to one another. Though being a servant is nice, I think Jesus intended something even deeper. After all Jesus rebuked those who were not willing to expose their uncleanliness so that it could be cleaned. So foot washing is about revealing your sin, accountability, and repentance as well as being a leader by serving.


During the conference in Maués, God healed me in many ways. The first day I was able to play drums. The second day, when Judson spoke, another drummer played. I noticed that he was better than me and he looked only a little older. An uncontrollable jealousy came over me. I couldn’t concentrate on worship. All I could do was watch him, examining him, waiting for him to make a mistake, and wondering what I would have done better. Feeling guilty for giving in to my jealousy, I then tried to worship God. Soon after, James came and prayed over me. He prayed that the Holy Spirit would come into my life. He prophesied that I would change lives and not know it, filled with the Holy Spirit, that others would weep at my very sight. He asked God to manifest himself in my life. This was exactly what I had been praying for the last two days exactly. Down to the very word “manifest.” Now it could be coincidence that he talked about the Holy Spirit coming into my life because it was what Greg talked about. Also the word “manifest” could also be coincidence because James uses the word often and maybe it found its way into my subconscious. Although I don’t want to pass off something that was of God to coincidence. this would be exactly what Peter did when Jesus walked on the water. He denied that it was Christ and thought he was just a ghost. After this, I felt compelled to pray for the drummer, despite my jealousy. Miraculously after I did, my jealousy was gone. Disappeared.


Drilling the well in the tribe is amazing though it’s a ton of work. Let me try to paint the picture for you. You can’t walk up a hill without sweating. When you play soccer, you feel as if you just dove into a pool. It’s a necessity to take baths in the river two times a day. I drink more than 3 liters of water daily. We take shifts working on the well - somebody is there at any time of day or night. The process of drilling the well is not that complicated, but it is also something that can’t be screwed up. The last well that was made in this village caved in. As a result, the Satere leaders have been passing on bad information about Christians and our God. We need to make one in its place to regain trust and access to the Satere Nation. This is also important because clean water is invaluable to them. If you have it, they will do anything to get it, even follow your god. But we don’t want to make a trade of any sort. We just want to bless them with a well and, if they accept it, a well that gives the water of life. A witch doctor of the Satere prophesied that our equipment would break, we would get sick, and end up leaving before the well was completed. The first two have already come true so far, but we’re not giving up. Being successful will prove that our God is more powerful and our love is greater than anything the witch doctor can supply. So there is a huge spiritual battle as well as a physical one.


As a side note, I got to bake bread on the boat with Kathy teaching me. Also we made a 1.5 inch thick pizza as well. The food was delectable. It would've been delicious even if we weren't on a boat. I swam across the river and took a walk in the jungle and found a stick bug and razor grass. The tribe has pineapple farms and cajú trees everywhere (cashews grow on cajú fruit).


The tribe also has a methodist church believe it or not. My guess is that a missionary came, planted the church, pumped the tribe full of religion, then left. We went to a service. The pastor, Leo, dressed in a collared shirt and khakis, started by praying then reading a single verse from psalms, which i thought was very comical. Although it was very sad because I feel like the gospel was delivered to them in a very religious way. I severely doubt that this tribe would worship God in a building with desks facing the front of a room like everyone in America.


The children of the the tribe are all beautiful. We would see them everyday swimming, washing clothes, and eating fruit by our boat. They all know Portuguese and the native language, but they are very timid to the point where you have to guess their ages and they will only give a smile and a nod as a response.


Never before have I both swam and played soccer at the same time.


Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m in the Amazon, with a tribe, living on a boat. Yesterday, I had an experience only a small percentage of Americans get to do: Alligator hunting in the Amazon with two Indians, one of them being the chief of the tribe. We embarked at nightfall. The air was cool, the water comfortably warm, and the moon lit our path well on this night I will never forget. You’d think that those jungle sound tapes created for relaxation are accurate, but, on the contrary, it’s quite loud. Frogs croak in unison. Some kind of large duck makes it’s mating call seemingly from every direction. Thousands of crickets chirp, a subtle harmony behind the bird’s melody. Layers upon layers of animal sounds make up the orchestra of the Amazon rainforest. There’s nothing relaxing about it. I’m definitely in one of the most famous place biologically in the world. We search around with a flashlight for the shining pearl that is the reflection of the alligator’s eye. It isn’t long before we find one. The alligator stops and is mesmerized by the funny light shining directly into its eye. Judging from the distance between the nose and the eye, it’s about a meter long - an adolescent, but still a fantastic meal. The 32-rifle remains steady as it aims. The next step would be to stab the reptile where the spinal cord meets the skull with a trident. Hesitating too long, the alligator realizes that the funny light is a threat and retreats in a splash of river water in an instant. Disappointed but still hopeful, we took the boat deeper into the jungle. Venturing slowly, at a paddle’s pace, we made our way through the trees. It reminded me of countless thriller/ monster movies concerning a giant snake or ape. We found some more alligators, but they were too small. Feeling a little defeated, we returned not empty handed, but with a small fish that we gave to the Satere rower.


Coming back from the tribe and back to Nova Lima, now a home away from home, I really started to reevaluate my relationship with God. Forgetting everything I was taught about God and just looking at our relationship, I realized that I wasn’t at the place with him that I thought. Asking questions like “How do I feel about God?” and “How does God feel about me?” prompted me to step into my subconscious. I thought that God was holding himself back to me. I wasn’t receiving the kind of communication that I would like from him. It seemed like others have a kind of understanding of him that was better while I still doubted. I felt as if I was waiting too long for the Lord to show himself. Now, knowing what I know is true about him, I find that I need to ask him to open my eyes to what he’s showing me. Open my eyes to the world around me. I don’t know how to seek him. In all of this I find that I am so conceited in how I relate to Christ. I want him to show me something or give me a supernatural understanding. I don’t want to doubt him anymore, but that is the essence of faith. Since I’ve been asking the Lord for these things, I find that he is nothing but faithful. One of the most convincing ideas for me that Jesus saves is that he transforms the wickedest of men like Paul, a murderer of the innocent, father’s who have become monsters or even me, into Godly men who live to serve God and love others.


Thank you everyone for your prayers and support while I was in the Amazon. No one got seriously injured and the well was a success. All glory and honor to God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pre-Amazon

ok. I'm leaving for the Amazon tomorrow. From what I hear, it's a phenomenal experience. Not only is it dreadfully hot and beautiful it could be extremely spiritual. I ask for prayer as the devil has made attacks, both physical and spiritual, on the team every year and also that the Holy Spirit would be ever present in the climax of my stay here in Brazil. The trip will be for two weeks and i'm not sure if I'll be able to access any internet so don't expect a new post anytime soon. I will still be documenting everything that happens. Thank you for all the support and prayers so far!

p.s. See post script from entry #1. Although I'm confident that God will take care of us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brazilians have no sense of time. In every house either there is no clock or a broken one. Steve had to travel to São Paulo to find the "Only Working Clock in Brazil"
Second bater laje for Wellington
Kyle is so happy!
My mind is a confusing place

Wednesday, September 16


I was taking loads of sand up the hill for wellington and I was thinking about being humble. I had just read in Acts that Peter healed a crippled beggar and credited everything to God. I cried out for this kind of humility. I realized that if God won’t tempt us beyond what we can bear, why would he give us power beyond what we can handle. He knows our hearts; whether we will take all the credit for a good deed or give the glory to him. In order to do what God wants and be great servants of Christ, we must first have the humility and give God what he deserves; everything that we do good is from the creator and everything bad is from our own weakness.


I’m just starting to read Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and it is exquisite. It makes me feel good to know that I’m getting the symbolism of a man so great and intelligent. Written, I believe, as a personal testimony, I understand the struggle he went through believing in God. Either it is really C.S. Lewis’ testimony disguised as a Greek myth or he’s an excellent, excellent writer, or both.


Monday September 21


James, Steve, and I were hanging out together talking about philosophy and theology like normal (when were not philosophizing we’re watching comedy routines on youtube), and the college subject arose. We concluded that the majority of college students won’t get a job based on their degree. All they have is a piece of paper stating that they studied about something that they won’t use ever again. Yet many things happen in an adults life during college, many of those things affecting them negatively. Though they may not realize it then, most college students end college worse and with less direction than when they started. This subject quickly turned to the topic of success. Who is a successful person? What makes them successful? “Success” is a relative term for everyone. For some it may mean wealth. In the United States, you could be a drug addict, an adulterer, or 50 Cent and still be considered successful if you’re rich. However for Christians, I’ve realized, being successful means obedience to God. Some people may think, “Wow. What a tool.” (the word “tool” of course meaning someone who is used by others and blindly submits to authority) The truth is Christians do have free will and the ability to question authority, although it is the authority of the one true God who created us and loves us to an unimaginable degree. If one had the conviction that this God exists through His appearance in their lives, how could he deny Him? The Padley’s testimony is proof of how obedience, though without support or a clear direction for 10 years, will always reap rewards. James tells me how genuinely content he is with his life. He lives in adventure everyday, has amazing kids, the chance to bless people everyday, and a priceless wife. Though he struggles to keep his car every month and put food on the table, God always provides. He is happy with his life and it is a direct result of his obedience to God. Divine authority over man’s authority. In my eyes and God’s eyes James is successful. A man who lives in a trailer, yet is a man after God’s heart is successful. I can only hope that when I ascend to heaven that God says to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Yesterday a group of us climbed Elephant Mountain. Normally, waking up at five in the morning and walking an hour and a half to the base of a giant hill, climbing it for another hour, then going down and back, doesn’t sound fun. This time it was. Later in the day a school had a pie fund-raiser. All the students made a different pie and I could eat as much as I wanted for 5 reis (equivalent to about $2.63). It was glorious.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Miscellaneous Thoughts and Observations


This whole sheep idea is a little confusing to me. On one hand, being a sheep sounds awful. We are all the same. We follow the crowd though the leader may be so dull that he leads the entire group to their deaths. However on the other end, we are sheep of an eternal God that is good and would never lead us astray. We are humble sheep before the Lord, pastors too. I hate listening to authority, but every man must serve someone. I don’t think it to be an individual with choices that chooses to serve the one true God, who is the only God that can offer eternal life and truth.


I think it would be ignorant of us to limit our God and think that the most fabulous thing he has created is earth and humans. We have a creator God who has made galaxies and space an infinity. It bottles my mind to think that God arranged physics that way that he did. We humans think of gravity, for example, factually. Gravity has always been, is, and will always be. Whenever we have mass, there is gravity. But the reality is, god invented gravity. He invented how light works. How the frequencies of light change so that our eyes can only see a certain spectrum of light. In heaven, physics is meaningless. Who knows how heaven’s physics are? They are no longer facts but mere concepts that can be distorted at God’s will. How will light work? is there light, or something completely new?


I discovered something interesting about being children before God. Children have a certain ability to see the truth that adults have lost. Children know when they are being lied to. They have a sixth-sense that tells them when something isn’t genuine. To be children is also to have this mindset, to see things as they are. What you see is what you get. In this way they are extremely perceptive. It should be easy for us to decipher between good and evil, between what is just a rule an what is truth, what is of the Pharisees or what is of Jesus. I just asked Ryan, a two-year-old, if the villan in the cartoon is bad. He nods his head without hesitation.


Thinking about God giving his only son to save humanity seems so much more profound when you see it from God’s perspective. He’s giving something so dear to him for a species he doesn’t need. God didn’t need to make us; he was perfect before he formed us from the dust. Receiving no benefit whatsoever, He gave his only son so that we might be saved.


Steve helped me realize something interesting about Jesus’ humor. When the woman begs him to heal her daughter, he says something to the effect of, “The children must be fed before the dogs.” In this metaphor, the Hebrews are the children and she is the dogs. If we take what Jesus says sarcastically, he is annoyed with the Hebrews because they have rejected him. The woman understands and counters with, “But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.” Because of her understanding and wit, Jesus heals her daughter.







Halfway (saturday september 12th)

Two and a half months down. Two and a half months to go. Wow. It’s so hard to believe it has already been this long. I thought i would never get here. Recall from my first entry that I thought I was going to die.


We just finished laying down the layer of concrete that is Wellington’s roof after hauling rock and sand up the giant hill, which has become a regular job. It’s awesome to be a part of helping this man provide for his family. Not only am I able to help him with his house, I enjoy talking with him, his wife, and playing with his kids. I met his father that Wellington didn’t even know two months ago. His father already adores his grand-kids. This is when I realize that there is no other place I should be; or want to be for that matter. Instead of sitting in a desk and learning things that have no value to me, I’m here learning what is valuable and why. I have something so much more precious to me with eternal benefits.


I had my first dream in Portuguese, if that’s any proof that my ability to communicate isn’t improving.


James invited Steve to a camp from Saturday night to Sunday. Nothing really crazy happened but two guys got baptized, I met a cool guy named Paulo from Betim, and I took a walk through the forest. We were with a house church started by women. Actually it started in a hair salon. Eliza went in and mentioned her love for Christ and the hair-dresser became interested. She converted and more people started hearing Eliza talk about it. Pretty soon the entire hair salon was converted. Anyway, the two guys that were baptized were a bit socially awkward. One had a long mohawk with piercings and tattoos and the other was quiet and spoke out of turn. It’s amazing how these women who met at a hair salon invited and accepted these men into their group.


Last night I found out that Juninho’s grand-mother died. It is customary in Brazilian culture to have the funeral the day after. Actually it’s normal for the person to be buried within 5 hours after death. Brazilians think it’s so strange that we have funerals 5 days to a week after. So I will be there, but not in the kind of clothes you would expect. At Brazilian funerals one can wear jeans and a t-shirt. Pretty much anything that’s not offensive. And that’s exactly how it was.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In January's River (Rio de Janeiro)



Speedos... gross. Apparently there is something interesting to the left of this picture.
Steve. And the mountain we climbed.

We arrived at our host’s apartment and we are treated like kings. I ate shark sufle. Delectable. Our hosts were Nedson & Andrea who have a house church. James visits here every two months to encourage and bless them as well as a number of other families in Rio. There was a meeting that night and people showed up to talk and receive an encounter from God. It was insane how intently they all listened to James. Andrea even took out her camera to record him speaking.

The next day Nedson took us to the beach. It was so clean and it smelled great. Everyone wears a speedo and it’s gross. We climbed a nearby mountain and could see the city, mountains, and the beach at once. It was beautiful.


One of the most important things I have learned here is how to be hospitable. Wherever James travels he has hosts and he takes visitors to the places that he knows they will be cared for. Oh and was I ever. Excellent meals were made and our hosts would not let us help or clean. They wanted us to feel at home, giving us access to their refrigerator and anything in their home. I need to learn to be a better host. If I have a guest with a dirty plate and they wonder where to put it, I show them to the dishwasher. All in all, I was treated like a king.


We left Nedson’s place on Sunday and thats when we knew things were going to get uncomfortable. James was asked to minister at a Baptist church whose pastor is names Edison. He had no idea what the church was like nor the people. He was also a little skeptical of their motivations for inviting him. Was it genuine or did they just want to use James’ status in the ARC to give them popularity. Churches in Rio have a tendency to be concerned with numbers. It seemed a little awkward at first(By the way the word “akward” doesn’t translate into Portuguese at all. It doesn’t exist. So it becomes awkward trying to express this sentiment) just because the ice was breaking, although it was apparent that their hearts were in the right place. Little did we know that God was planning something much greater for the next day. AfterI James conducted the service, we were given a meal and we slept at the pastor’s house and were again shown great generosity. I like traveling with James.

The pastor, Edison, has two kids, Didigo and Stephany. Both are the music leaders at the church and Godly kids. The former is 14 the latter is 18. Both play the keyboard. Didigo also plays drums, guitar, and a little violin. He is amazing at guitar. I was astounded by his skill and ease while playing. He played insane solos with finger-tapping and chords that spanned the entire neck of the guitar. He has been playing for two years.


The next day’s meeting at the church was amazing. It was here that I realized and experienced the presence of God. I always believed but never really felt it. This is precisely what James spoke about in Portuguese, and though I was not listening because I was playing drums for the church meeting (which was awesome). James told the people who believe but have not felt the love of God to come forward. Then he told those who told a stranger that Jesus loves them to run forward and prove it. Immediately people were hugging and praying over each other. Some were slain in the spirit for the entire service. Though I didn’t understand I felt an extreme sensation of love come over me sitting at the drum set. A feeling that validated my beliefs.

In the same way I realized the presence of God was through James and the pastors that he ministered to. The Holy Spirit seems to talk to James all the time, rather all of us all the time. Whatever congregation or group of christians he is asked to minister for, God puts something on his heart specific to that group. I stand in awe at how often God speaks. I’m with people who are listening all the time, but not only listening; obeying. And the results pour in. I can see physical changes being made as well as changes in the hearts of the people in Rio toward Christ. It’s amazing what simple obedience to the almighty God can do. I rarely see this in the United States; something specific that God lays on someone’s heart that makes itself known and changes people.


While I was in Rio, there were some things that I realized about my churches in Denver that I have come to appreciate. One, that both Scum and Celebration are open to new people coming in unlike other churches that are stagnant because the old pastors are afraid of change or a loss of power. They are unwilling to lay down all that they have achieved for God; they are unwilling to give up their earthly possessions. But not only new people, but the young and the entire body. My churches are not defined by an old guy preaching down to those from the pulpit. It is a community of believers that all bring something to the table. The pastors know that they are not the single most powerful one in the church, but rather the least. Pure humility.


Coming back to Nova Lima, we witnessed the most spectacular sunrise. I always like sunrises better than sunsets. It reminds me that we are on a planet constantly in motion. I can’t understand how some people can look at a sunrise like that and not believe that there is a higher power that gave us eyes to see the light frequencies to witness the spectacular dance of colors and a planet with an atmosphere to make it all possible. James described it as a marble-like sunrise. How the light played upon the beautiful green mountain ranges of Minas made my jaw hit the floor. But the thing I love about sunrises and sunsets is that the one we are witnessing at that moment is the best one we have ever seen, every time! Its glory is fleeting and can only be enjoyed for a minute before the entire sky canvass changes. A photo doesn’t even do justice to it because it is limited to a box of a photo. Our eyes can only fully appreciate it due to our periferal vision giving us the ability to see it all at once, engulfing us in its beauty. beleza.


Pre-Rio

Friday August 28, 2009


I just arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Driving here was amazing and beautiful. Water pours from every rock. the lush mountains are enveloped in mist, and cone-shaped like something out of Dr. Seuss. I step out onto jungle-like grass and immediately spot some geckos warming themselves on the concrete.


We had some good conversation on the 6 hour car drive, aka James giving us a lesson. One of the most interesting conclusions I came to were that perspective is everything. How you choose to look at something determines how you judge and act. Learning to view things from others’ perspectives, in my opinion, would heal relationships, feuds between families, and even nations.

Also that the Christian life is full of judgement. Some people say that judging people is bad and we should never do it. However we judge who is a good friend, who to confide in, who to walk with, who our pastors should be, but never defining that person by our judgement. God judges and tests us all the time. Who are we not to test others? However, we do not want to gossip and limit someone to our initial judgements as some girls do. “Look at her nails! It looks like she came out of some horror movie with... sluts!”

Stemming from that, it is good to be observant. Some of us, myself included, can be so oblivious that we don’t contain anything from the day. If we ever need to access in our memory anything important, like what someone was wearing because they committed a crime, we won’t know. In relationships, it means a lot to the other person if you remember details about them and make the right inferences. Also it’s a great way to test your memory and become more observant.

Another point: It’s better to work for something and pay the price up front than to obtain whatever it is you want and pay the price for it later. What price you pay will determine the quality of the product. This ratio works every time. Guaranteed. This has so many applications to our lives. Within a man and woman relationship, it is best to save physical pleasure until marriage. If you get what you want then and there with a woman or man you will not marry, you will pay the price in relationships to come. The novelty of having your first kiss with your wife will not be there. How could you enjoy your first kiss when you’re not married to the person you had it with? Would your husband/wife be jealous? What an awesome thing it would be to have had that experience with my wife! We could revisit that moment and take pleasure in it anytime we want! Also this concept of paying the price now relates to following Christ. The Bible says to deny yourself now and follow Jesus and receive life in heaven. What good is it for a man to own the world but not attain eternal life? Everything is dust, and all that will remain is heaven and hell. If we die to ourselves now, for 70-80 years now, we will have so many more riches and joys in heaven. Just thinking about heaven gives me such a greater love and understanding of God and how much he loves us. I look at the stars and begin to imagine myself exploring all of God’s creation. Every galaxy, every star, every planet, every coast, every sky will be mine to enjoy.


Rio is a beautiful city. My jaw literally hits the floor as we drive past a 9 mile bridge, gorgeous museums, waterfalls, mountains, and beaches. The salty ocean air brings back memories of being in Florida with my grandparents, Papou & Grandma Lou. Christ the Redeemer perches himself high above the city. Very ironic considering that it is one of the most violent cities in the world. If you step foot into the favela (ghetto) without business or being expected you are killed on the spot. We drove by the most famous favela in Rio, Rocina. This favela is owned by a drug lord and he takes care of the people who live there. No one enters or leaves; It grows by pro-creation. The children serve the drug lord as middle men for drug deals. It’s a very sad reality for those who live inside Rocina, never knowing any sort of reality outside the dictator community.


Observations while reading the Bible

I think anyone who knows the Bible’s stories finds the common theme that God’s followers are extremely dull & flaky. We read about the Israelites complaining to God after he rescued them from the hands of the Egyptians, David writing psalms of praise then turning and rebuking God, Peter denying Christ three times, and countless other stories and we think, “I wouldn’t do that, I would be smarter and more faithful.” But the more I read about this, the more I find this complaining unfaithful quality in myself. I am indifferent towards him, then I praise, then I yell at him for not giving me a clear sign when my entire life is a testimony to his greatness. I look at baby Kyle. He has just become competent enough to realize when he is being yelled at, when he is doing something he should not. He turns and looks toward his parents when his name is called, but then goes right back to what he was doing before. This sequence of events repeats. We are like Kyle and so were the Israelites, David, & Peter.


Sometimes I think to myself, “Why did Adam & Eve have to eat from the tree of knowledge, I wouldn’t have done that.” When the truth is that I know I would have. I would have screwed over all of humanity for the chance to find out what was really going on; find out if there is some greater truth than anything I have ever known. I do it today! Time after time I convince myself that God cannot be real. There is nothing he has done to convince me that he is real.


And many times, on the other end of the spectrum, I convince myself that there is nothing greater that what I know. I become satisfied. I realize now that I missed out so much on being a kid and exploring. Except I became contented with my video games or some of the other things I found “truth” or satisfaction in. Sometimes I feel content with my relationship with God. The gold that I have settled with is enough for me, though there is an entire city made of gold that awaits just a little deeper. There is no limit to God’s love and understanding. If we don’t consistently dig deeper, we become dead. Churches become dead. People who don’t believe in Christ become contented as well in the things of the earth whether it be drugs, their relationship with their girlfriend/boyfriend, porn, etc. when life is much deeper. Just as God has no limit that we can know here on this earth, people as well have no limit as we are created in his image. People forget this and their relationships and marriages become stagnant. But we are children of a limitless God! So there is a kind of contradiction in being satisfied in Christ, yet never being satisfied with how much you know him.


OH. and I realized that the book of Mark is just the Cliff Notes for the rest of the gospels.