Tag Archives: Cartagena

Mid Week Thoughts

 

 

 

Some random mid week thoughts – and a photo!


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This is a normal view we have almost every day.  Sometimes it’s earlier in the day.  Sometimes it’s closer to sunset.  But the cool thing is, we get this view almost every day!  Our lives are blessed.  We take long walks along these shores multiple days a week. Sometimes we pick up sea shells. Sometimes we just walk. Last week we came upon two sea turtles – one dead and one alive. You never know what the gulf will give us!

We’ve spent a number of hours lately promoting a venture – All Tide Up.  If you have a second, check out our web site.  If you see something you like – go ahead and order it!  We’ll get it to you as quick as we can.

I become more convinced each week that nothing in life is a coincidence.  There are divine opportunities all around us if we will only be willing to look!  I’m pretty excited that God has provided some unique paths that have crossed and what potential there will be there.  Reminded that it’s not about me – it really is about others!

My friend Alex Rocha is raising funds to purchase a permanent location for his youth work in Cartagena, Colombia.  I’ll share more about that in a post to come – might be a divine opportunity for someone other than just me!

 

 


Mid October Thoughts

It’s been six weeks since we packed up everything we owned (ok it did take more than one trip) and moved from Inverness to Mexico Beach, Florida.  May be one of the best moves we have ever made!  Here are a few thoughts bouncing around:

1.  Jonathan Merritt gave an amazing sermon at City Church Tallahassee on Sunday.  Probably 900 people had the opportunity to hear him during the day and I’m sure others listened live on-line and/or will download the message from Itunes this week.  To paraphrase some of his words – “To live as Jesus lived, we have  to be present among those who need us.”  “It’s not your vote that’s going to change the world, it’s your own hands.”

2.  Loved have the opportunity to baptize my friend, Ryan Hachenberger  on Sunday morning!  Check out his blog, Florida Fowler, and you can see his baptism testimony online at City Church Tallahassee too!

3.  I have a blast each week introducing people to City Church through our 101 opportunities (general questions about getting involved) and our monthly Ownership Experiences (taking a formal step of membership).  People want to belong.  People need to belong.  Helping them find their next step is exciting – not everyone is at the same point in their journey and sometimes we just need some encouragement to get to the next spot!

4.  Annual Parent’s Weekend at Florida State University this past weekend!  Always a good time.  Both of my children were/are in the Greek system at FSU.  Totally different types of Parent’s Weekend celebrations!  Meghan’s Phi Mu events were always a brunch or lunch type event that involved a social time followed by a meal.  Very much a chance to show case the house and everyone had a chance to meet other parents/sisters, etc.  Ethan’s Kappa Sigma events are more of a tailgate event.  Food, beverages, bands, dancing, etc.  Always a good time at both of them – just different!

5.  One of the best things about our new location is the sunset.  We have the opportunity every evening to walk along Florida’s Gulf Coast and enjoy the magnificent sunsets that take place.  We actually do this about 3-4 times a week.  What an incredible way to unwind and let any stress go away!  Will post some of my views soon!

6.  Starting the planning for another trip to Cartagena in August 2013!  Excited about the opportunity to work beside our friend Alex Rocha there!  Hopeful for the work that will be done.

7.  Momma Goldberg’s sandwiches in Tallahassee are just as good as the original in Auburn, Alabama!  The only difference is I eat them in the afternoon instead of 2 or 3 in the morning now!

8.  My friends at Ella Bing and Tobacco Pipes inspired us to launch All Tide Up.  Check out all of these sites for some interesting products!  Each different but unique!

 

 


Perspective

Life is all a matter of perspective.  I’m learning this more and more each day.  While I tend to think of myself as a smart, educated man – I have quickly realized that education doesn’t mean you understand the real values in life – those things that really matter.

This week I have had some great opportunities.  Wednesday night Cyndi and I participated in our church wide community group.  During the summer we are meeting together as a church every other week, enjoying a meal together and then breaking into groups of eight or so to discuss the topic of the night.  This week’s topic was “greed”.  While that might not sound like a fun topic to talk about, we had a really good conversation with seven others about how greed can/does creep into our daily lives – sometimes knowingly, sometimes not.  Focusing on Matthew 6:19-20: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,   where moths and vermin destroy,   and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,   where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Last year we had an opportunity to travel with 14 friends to Cartagena, Colombia.  There we met some wonderful people.  One of those new friends is Alex Rocha.  Alex has a heart for God and for people.  Over the past year Alex has been planning and preparing to start a ministry to local youths.  This week, City Church Tallahassee committed to helping Alex financially with his ministry – along with regular spiritual guidance, training and encouragement!  Here are some photos of Alex’s new youth center:

While this may not seem like much to you or I, this is the beginning of a ministry to youths in the San Fransisco neighborhood in Cartagena!

I also had the opportunity to talk with a new friend today – Ricky Love.  Ricky is the pastor of a non traditional church plant in Richmond, Virginia called Matthew’s Table.  Ricky works with people that most of us would rather not be around.  Ricky has found enough love in his heart for the very people that need a whole lot of love!  Here’s a picture of some of the work he is doing:

Back to perspective.  Sometimes when I think I’ve got it bad, that nothing is going my way, that everyone else gets all the breaks in life, that maybe I should just give up and do something else, I’m reminded of friends like these.  And reminded that God really is good.  All the time.  To me.  And as I look at sunrises like the one at the top of this post, I’m reminded that God’s mercies are new everyday to me – and I’m thankful for them!

 


Friends Old and New

I have had some really neat conversations with friends over the last few weeks – friends I have known for awhile and friends I have known less than year!

Here are some highlights:

On a recent Sunday afternoon we drove to some friends house for a late lunch.  Our friends opened their home and hearts to us that day in a really neat way.  While our meal was cooking on the grill, we had an opportunity to really get to know each other – learning about each other in ways that can’t happen with a two minute conversation as we walk to our cars.  We spent a few hours that afternoon becoming closer friends.  These friends have a heart and longing for God and for others!

Monday night after our community group, a friend handed me a card.  I didn’t immediately look at it but politely said thank you.  As we were driving home that night, Cyndi opened the note and read it to me.  The encouragement and generosity the card contained was amazing!  We really needed what was in that card!  We have been friends for about six months and it is really neat to see how our brief interactions have blessed each other!  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Wednesday I skyped with a friend in Cartagena, Colombia.  We met this friend on a trip to Cartagena in August 2011 when he served as a tour guide and interpreter for our group.  We have maintained good communication since our return to Florida and hope to return again in August 2012.  This friend shared how he had been blessed with some good paying tour work in January.  Instead of spending his earnings on something for himself, this friend used most of his money to sponsor a Christian Hip Hop event in some impoverished neighborhoods in Cartagena.  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Today I had coffee with a group of men – men who I try to meet with every two to three weeks.  All of us range in age from early 50’s to mid 60’s.  Former law enforcement, postal employee, parks and recreation supervisor, small business owner, real estate, mason, advocate for homeless and advocate for anyone in need.  Men from all over the United States and even Europe.  A common denominator among all of us – we love Jesus and have a heart for others – especially those who are having a hard time helping themselves.  My time with these men always inspire me – inspire me to strive to be a closer follower of Christ and inspire me to intentionally look to help others.

What about you?  How did you interact with your friends this week? What did they share with you and what did you share with them?

We can’t live life in a bubble!


Passion

Tonight, I skyped (was this even a word 10 years ago?) with our friend Alex who lives in Cartagena, Colombia.  We met Alex on our trip to Cartagena this summer.  Alex speaks fluent English as well as his native Spanish. 

After conversing for a while we both realized the same thing at the same time:  People are people, wherever they are.  We all have the same dreams, we have the same fears, we have the same passions.  People tend to want the same things – recognition, respect, fame and fortune.

Alex and I both have a burning desire to do that what God has called us to do.  Sometimes it seems that others don’t really understand what we are trying to do.  And in that not understanding, actions and words can get in the way or even become a barrier to our goals.  Sometimes it hurts and we take it personal.  Often that not understanding is rooted in fear.  Fear that your passion or your dream is bigger than theirs.

God is bigger than any of that!  We know His plans for us are good and that He has plans for us to prosper and succeed!  I believe God allows others to act in ways that cause us to rely on our faith and our trust in Him.

All of us are passionate about something.  Whether your passion and vision is big or small, I encourage you to pursue your passion.  But along the way, understand that your passion is not the same as the one you’re explaining it to!  The other person is not going to care about it as much as you do.  And they may even try to disuade you from pursuing it.  Don’t let them.  Follow your passion.  Not only will you be glad you did but you may change the lives of generations by what you do.

 


Strangers in Another Land (or why we really need to go!)

While in Cartagena, Colombia, our team had the opportunity to experience so many new things.  From new food to crazy traffic.  From new friendships to negotiating/bartering for most things. One of the things that was not new but somewhat unexpected was the openness and willingness of people to listen to what we had to say.

Our purpose for going to Cartagena was purely evangelical.  We didn’t go to build houses, treat medical conditions, build wells or work in orphanages.  We went to share Jesus with children through a series of Vacation Bible School activities, offer football (soccer) and baseball to youth and present the gospel of Jesus during the evening in churches, in the streets and on football courts!  Dozens and dozens of people became followers of Christ. Children were told about the love of Jesus. Youth were exposed to the truths of Jesus and what the Bible says.  God answered the prayers of hundreds of people who were praying for the people of Cartagena for months before we arrived! Hearts were opened, minds understood despite the language differences and relationships were developed.  Conversations took place on football fields, in alleyways, on sidewalks, while sitting on porches and yes, just in the middle of roads.  Opportunities were seized by our team as often as they were presented!

One of the strangest events was also perhaps the most meaningful and demonstrated clearly the need for Christ followers to go and tell! Most days we  took time during the middle of the day to rest and try to stay out of the heat.  On this day, most of our team members were napping. I was returning to the front of the house when I looked up and staring at me from the open window (standing on the outside stairs) were two young men.  One was caucasian and the other South American.  While I didn’t know them I recognized their dress.  White short-sleeved shirts, dark ties, and dark slacks.  Here in the middle of a neighborhood in Cartagena were two Mormon missionaries.  These two didn’t care there were 14 Christ followers in the house.  They were intent on speaking with the woman they came to see.

What shocked me the most was the realization that most of the people I know who are proclaimed Christians don’t understand the urgency of sharing Jesus with others.  These mormon missionaries were intent on spreading a false gospel while many Christ followers won’t share the true gospel.

If we won’t go, who will?  If we won’t tell others, who will?  Jesus’ command was very clear.  These issues bother me at night.  They bother me during the day.  I struggle with the balance between home and another land. I want to do what He commands. I want to be a true Christ follower.


San Francisco, Cartagena, Colombia

During our recent trip to Cartagena, we experienced an unreal situation.

Following a day of rain, about 60 houses collapsed.  I mean collapsed.  They didn’t just have cracks in the walls or a hole in the roof.  Walls fell down, roofs were gone, foundations were torn apart.  When we heard of the disaster, we took the opportunity to purchase food and made plans to deliver it in the neighborhood.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw as we walked up the hill into the affected portions of the neighborhood.  People were in a steady flow down the hill – each carrying belongings.  Some carrying roof trusses or roofing material they hoped to salvage and use in their next dwelling.  Some carried what pieces  of furniture they could save. People were orderly.  There wasn’t mass confusion.  Strangely enough, there was no crying or hysteria.  It’s because this was just another day in the lives of those living in these conditions.  The residents have come to expect this type of event happening in their lives.  Here’s some video of what happened there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQiuhfTAj-8

As we split into two separate groups, Jason Priddle led a group and I led the second.  We found spots we could stand and speak to the affected people.  As dozens if not hundreds of people gathered and listened, we talked to them about Jesus and how in spite of their current circumstances, He is a God of Love and that He cares for them.  Preaching the gospel in the middle of what was going on was humbling.  When we finished we handed out the food we brought.  There was no pushing or shoving. There was no complaining when we ran out.  There were very grateful people there that day.  When we had given the food we had, we slowly went to various groups of people and prayed individually with them. 

My heart breaks for those that live in San Francisco, Cartagena, Colombia.  I cried that day.  Several of us chose to fast for the evening and asked that our meal be given to someone who didn’t have food that day. 

I’m excited to plan to return to that neighborhood soon!