Thursday, 30 April 2015

Instant Millionaire

Recently a lady from my hometown became an instant millionaire, which got me thinking about what I would do if I won a million (or more).  I must admit that the odds are not good given that I don't buy lottery tickets!  However, many of us have fantasised about being independently wealthy! So, as I pondered this, I asked others what they would do.  It was interesting to hear their thoughts...

One wanted to travel around the world, another talked about buying a house, while a third talked about paying off debts.  It was a nice conversation, as we dreamt about the possibilities together.  Yet, in the end, one of the ladies said that her dad had always said 'in the end, its just words.'  

Now, one always thinks that they would be noble, altruistic, and extremely generous with others.  My husband once said he would 'reverse tithe'  (live on 10% and give 90% to charity).  But as I thought about this, trying to be honest, I came up with a list of things I would do (I think) - who really knows what one would actually do...

1.  I would buy a house - one that would meet our needs. One where we could entertain lots of people in. Right now I would buy it in Mexico, however, that could change. Then the actual house dream is huge and can go all over the place.

2. I would help out my kids, pay their mortgages, university fees, etc. SO that they would be ahead and be more free to make life choices.

3. I would make a slush fund to be able to travel to visit my kids or pay of them to come visit me.

4. I would set up an account that I could live off the interest.

5. I would tithe - to my church, SBC and EMC.

I would most likely get someone with money smarts to help me use it wisely. I say that because I have heard that many, who win the lottery, end up worse off after it is all said and done. Since I have never had huge amounts of money (plus thinking of what scripture says about money) I would be careful. Well, since I don't buy tickets, it likely won't ever happen.  However, it is interesting to think about, and to hear other people dream or talk about.

What would you do? Or maybe a better question is, would you actually want to become an instant millionaire?

-Diane Koop

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Saturday morning hike

We hosted a visit from the EMC board of missions this past week.  They arrived on April 21 and left April 28.  Our guests were executive director Tim Dyck, foreign secretary Ken Zacharias, and board of missions member Beth Koehler.  We had many meetings during the week, some privately and several as a whole staff.  It was a good week although tiring for all.  Here are some pictures from our Saturday morning:
The hike ... 3K

The restaurant
The is a restaurant for bikers (mountain bikers) in the park.
John & Dallas bike here often on Saturdays.
Ernie, my handsome husband
Ernie sharing his wisdom ?
The view of the restaurant 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rejected... (a sequel to yesterday...)

News Flash!  People are gonna reject that creed (last week's post), and maybe even the teller of the creed.  Not every one is gonna be excited to hear that story.  But, in case you forgot, they rejected the one that the story is about!  They hung him on a cross!  So relax... tell it anyway.  But don't just tell it... live it.
I remember us trying to get a bunch of our neighbours to study scripture together, some years ago.  Them being from a different faith - Catholic.  Knowing what they believed and what we believed, we thought we had similar ground to walk on, and we could encourage each other in that faith. Well, they came, and one made it very clear that she would not risk us changing their faith. She looked for areas where we would disagree, focused on them, and effectively slammed the door shut to discussion.  It was an uncomfortable event.

Guess what?  That happened some 16 years ago, and we all remember it.  But guess what else?  We are still friends with those neighbours, even the lady who shut us down.  We chose to allow that door to remain closed, in the sense of studying the Scriptures together.  However, we lived Christ amongst them for years.  To this day, we have close relationships with them, have stayed in their homes, eaten with them.  We did go on to have ongoing discussions on faith, but in a more informal, personal (one on one), and less structured way.

I have not always responded as well as we did then.  But I believe the story, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the finished work of the cross.  I believe He has asked me to 'love the world' and He would save them.  When I share the story I must always allow people to chose.  I can not force them to choose Jesus but I can try to love them to Him.  I must love them even if they reject Him, even if they live as the world does.  I need to even be willing to enter their worlds, join them in their lives, and show them unconditional love.

It is probably easier to live in the safety of the church, with people who act like us, but we won't meet those that need to hear the story there.  I have gone to events and places most of my life that were 'out of my comfort zone.'  I have also 'hidden' in the safety of church and church friends.  But I have found my life is much richer when I leave the safety of the boat (Peter) and meet Jesus where He wants me to be.  I have some wonderful friends who chose to reject Jesus and I continue to love them.  I have even told some of them that my desire (my prayer) is for them to come to Jesus.
My challenge to us all is: Believe, yes, but Love also.  Be willing to love those who chose to reject the story.  Never quit loving them, only Christ knows the end of the story.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I don´t believe...

Can you love someone who rejects your beliefs? Can you be friends with someone who thinks you're crazy to believe in God? Can you care about someone who thinks you're wrong about the very thing that is central to who you are?

We are often told to not talk about certain subjects, like faith, money, politics, sex, etc.  These are tabu topics if you want to have a 'politically correct' conversation with people you meet.  On the other side of that coin is that we are told, even commanded, to share our faith.  Herein lies the problem, which causes fear.  How do I share my faith when it is considered a socially unacceptable topic?  How do I share what I hold dear, my faith, when I might be ridiculed or even rejected?

Ernie and I often talk about faith with our friends and acquaintances (you might think this is a pastoral or missionary 'occupational habit', when actually this task 'belongs' to all believers). We often open that can of worms at social gatherings, or at the gym.  Then there are those who throw open that door for us...knowing we are people of faith.  Responses vary.  Some people chose to keep their distance, some engage with questions, while some blatantly reject our faith. I say that each response is valid. Jesus himself was questioned, shunned and rejected.

Here is my theory on this topic. I am told to love the Lord, with all my heart, soul and mind, and my neighbour as myself.  I think my job is to love God completely, and that love will cause me to want to share that story with others.  I am called to love those who I share that story with, even if they reject the story, or me.
I think Evangelicals spend too much time hating or judging the world for their worldliness.  We are hating on the gays, hating on the sinners who are not living according to God's laws, and judging them. We judge people for how they are living. We expect people to be like us, look like us, and behave like us to be part of our 'church'.  We allow very little time for the process of changing into Christlikeness (which comes first: believing, belonging, becoming? or belonging, believing, becoming?).

I have been guilty of this, as I am sure you have. Our role model is Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the prefect example of love. He was rejected, despised; even hated. I must live as he did, giving others the option to reject the message, maybe even the messenger. I must love them even if they chose to not believe. Only God knows the end of the story.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

We Believe ....

If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  This question has been asked before, but it has a valid point, because we loftily claim belief but have little evidence of said belief (I realise that I am generalising, ‘to make a point’).

The apostle's creed is believed by many groups - most evangelicals would ascribe to its theology as would the Catholic Church.  There are songs written based on this creed, or the theology of it.  Yet I feel that there is a huge chasm between saying ..."We believe..." and how we act.

In Spanish there is a saying which we quote a lot, "El papel aguanta lo que se le pone".  It basically means ‘you can write anything on paper’.  So, we can say we believe the creed, we can even make it into a nice poster, but, it is completely another thing to live it, act upon it, and reflect it.

Where am I going with this?  Well, recently I have been struggling with how many of us espouse to certain beliefs, might even enter into debates or arguments where we can defend these beliefs, but our lives do not support those beliefs.  If I say I believe something, my actions should reflect those beliefs.  Like if I were to tell you that the roof of my house was going to cave in, one would not expect to find me sitting within the walls of my house!  If you did find me there, you would question my proclaimed belief.  Jesus seemed to make a big deal about ‘orthopraxy’ as well as ‘orthodoxy’ (right ‘acting’ and right ‘thinking’).

Ernie has often told me that if the children of Israel would have lived according to the covenant that God made with them at Sinai, they would have changed their world.  But they failed to obey.  If New Testament Christians would live out the instructions given in the Sermon on the Mount we would change our world.  Right ‘thinking’ doesn’t change the world like right ‘acting’ does. What is our impact today?

About a third of the world's population is said to be Christian (all denominations included).  That is an overwhelming amount.  Certainly that amount of people, 2.18 billion, should have an impact?  Are our belief's life changing? Or are we all just sitting around singing "kumbaya"? Or theologising? Or debating the finer points of doctrine (armchair theology)?

I often see the biggest signs of passion at a sporting event! Just look at all the passion shown when the Winnipeg Jets made the play offs! Or, great shows of emotion at a concert.  Is there anything wrong with being passionate about your favourite hockey team?  No.  Should music not provoke emotion within me, even deep emotion? Of course.  But should not the finished work of Christ evoke an even deeper passion within me? Should I not be overwhelmed by emotions, thinking of all those lost souls headed for a Christ-less eternity?  I would say more so.

Have we gone from ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching to lack lustre faith, in some ways?  Where do we get to interact with our faith?  Challenge it?  Ask tough questions?  Struggle through it?  We tend to have monologue teaching in many Bible school classes, sermons, Sunday School, seminars, workshops and other "Christian" events.  We often hear teaching in one of these places and we are no sooner in the parking lot and it is forgotten.  Often times, after Sunday morning or midweek Bible study, we come away with no application whatsoever.  We have not even been asked how the scripture should impact us or change us.  We have not been challenged to go out and BE and DO.

So what do we do about this, if anything?  I think we begin where we are, by changing.  First, it applies to each one personally.  I want people to see that what I believe impacts how I behave.  I will not water down how Scripture commands me to behave. I will not tell white lies, I will not gossip, I will not ... .... I will love my neighbour as myself, I will go the extra mile, I will forgive... ... Change must always begin in one's own life.

Then, when I teach or share Christ, I will encourage doubts to be voiced, disagreements to be expressed, thoughts to be shared openly and freely, I will encourage dialogue.  I will seek to develop an atmosphere that is not top down.  Then I will ask the hard questions, like what does this mean to us today?  How does this play out in today’s world?  What is the Bible saying to me and how will it impact me in my daily life?

We are about to embark on a new venture of getting together with a small group of people where we can do exactly this. Our prayer is that we will do exactly that - challenge each other to allow our beliefs to change how we live and eventually change the world in which we live.

How about you?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Do you Miss Home?

I often get asked if I miss anything from home...seeing as I live in another country.  The first time I immediately said 'my kids'.  That, I would think, would be a no brainer.  I have a mother's heart and I long to be near my kids.  That said, they are settled and and doing well.  They don't want to live here.

But, I get asked this often, and now reply with 'other than the obvious?'  To be very honest, other than people, there is very little I miss from 'home'.  I think I would admit that I miss the availability of gluten free products.  I thought they were expensive in Canada?  No, they are expensive here!  Over 10 dollars for a loaf of gluten free bread, and it's not even Udi's :(  Along those lines, I also miss pizza - to be exact - Boston Pizza's gluten free pizza.  

I get over those longings and cravings quite quickly when I get served a delicious plate of tacos!  Mexico has the BEST food!  It is actually NOTHING like Taco Bell at all.  The hidden reason I go to the gym every day is so that I can eat more tacos, not to get skinny!  

There is one more thing I miss, and it is probably weird.  I miss having a Dollar Store.  But it doesn't send my crying to my room that I don't have one!

There are things that you just can't get here, which we all ask to have sent when guests come.  The standard request is for brown sugar.  Their brown sugar just doesn't do what ours does - make a syrupy goo for your cinnamon buns.  We can't get jello puddings.  Haven't found a whip cream that whips like it does at home, but whip cream they have.  There are some other things that I would like, that I can get here, but the are pricey.  But most things I either make do without, or decide how bad I want them. It is truly amazing what you can do without.

When I sit and ponder living in Guadalajara, I feel truly blessed.  I have been homesick, but only for people.  I have really not longed for things from 'home'.  

Is there something that you just 'couldn't live without'?  If so what would it be and to what lengths would you go to get it? Is there something you would move heaven and earth to get?  

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Facebook Posts - Day 2

Penelope and Alegra with me

On Thursday, April 3, we joined people from our cells for a pool day in Chapala (about an hour from GDL).  We had a great lunch, if Connie, Rick and I do say so ourselves (the bbqer's ). Then they played in the pool and just enjoyed the wonderful day together. 

Ernie enjoys playing with the kiddos.  I am actually not sure who had more fun, Ernie or Alegra and Sofie?  Much laughter was shared.  I think he must be praying a blessings of many babies on his kids so he can spoil a bunch of grandkids.

John, Roy and Connie

Ana (Roy's wife) and Penny

Connie, John, Rick and Roy

Friday, 3 April 2015

This and that from Facebook Posts

Some things I have posted recently on FaceBook I remember I was going to also post here for those who don't have the other.

So here are some things we have been up to... ...

We had a 'Convivio' with our cells groups on
 March 29 to celebrate Easter together.  We shared the Lord's supper, shared a delicious meal together and just hung out together.  It was a great day together, great weather and a perfect place.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Culture Crash - Greetings

Recently at the gym, one of my coaches and I were talking about greetings.  I mentioned to her that my sons were about 'kissed' out after three weeks here.  I then told her that I had the reverse effect when I moved back to Canada, after 5 years in Chihuahua.  I felt like no one touched me!  She then asked me how we greet in Canada.  I said that mostly we didn't (this is where the culture crash came in - it sounded so WRONG as I was explaining it).

Now I know this is a huge generalization to say for a country, but in comparison to Mexico it would be more than accurate.  I NEVER go through a day here without being kissed (husband aside), touched, hugged, or receive some such sort of affection.  I don't think I could say that about living in Steinbach.

My family is not one that greets with a kiss (although I have heard that there are families that do that - even in Steinbach).  When one goes to work, one does not greet their co-workers with a kiss on the cheek.  When one attends a gathering, a "hi" into the crowd would suffice.  At a more formal event, one might shake hands.  In Mexico, that would never pass. In fact, you don't just greet everyone upon arrival, when you leave, you cannot just say a general good bye to the group and leave.  Nope, you go around the room 'despidiĆ©ndote de todos' (saying goodbye to every individual).

I would add a note here: it's not like you are kissing total strangers all the time (by the way, the kiss is on the cheek).  It would be acceptable to shake hands with a person you don't know, but were being introduced to.  However, when a friend introduces their mother to you, you would probably kiss that person due to the relationship you have with your friend, although the mother is a stranger. What is clear is that you would ALWAYS greet - EVERYONE.

Another aspect that this whole thing involves is the level of importance this holds to the whole relationship.  This culture is a warm culture, a people culture, a relationship culture.  Everything one does is proportionate to the building of the relationship. I do not want to offend and therefore the greeting at the coming and going is HUGE.  The better friends the men are, the louder the slap on the back seems to be! (Just for clarification, men don't kiss!)

I know I have shared something along these lines in an earlier post, my reason for bringing it up was due to the culture crash thing.  How many things does one's own culture do that we think is 'normal' but when you try to explain it to another culture it seems weird to them?  And, at what point does is almost seem weird to you!? No, I don't think we should all start kissing each other, but I think we most certainly can learn to be more relational.  More concerned about relationships, and not be so ego-centrical. Be more worried about the 'community' than the 'I'.