As I write this, I am thankful for two things. We had a friend last night that blessed Beep and I with two tickets to a new show: The Illusionists. It was a great time spent with my son trying to figure out how each illusion was performed. Inside, I was grateful our God is the image of truth. Secondly, I am thankful for the Ecuadorian involvement and participation at the camp beginning to take shape. It is encouraging. Automatically, our nature is to look to see what people are affecting the change. Gods story on the camp is beginning to look more like a cast of characters in a play rather than athletes in a game (trying to outwit their opponents to win) as depicted in most theological analogies.
There is a book out that explains the bible as simply this: The Kingdom of God = God's people in God's place for God's purpose. If you notice in that formula, He comes first, us, our location and path falls in line behind him! Why do North Americans struggle so hard with this simple formula for follower-ship? Although the design was for Him to be reflected in us, we must first lift the boundaries of our life to follow and trust in Him, not in ourselves or man! The roadblock is our sin. In the old testament, even when God made the five covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, man's sin was at the core of breaking these covenants. This will never change, we are incapable of removing that barrier Jer. 17:1,9. The good news and the core of the gospel is this: that Christ is the new covenant, consummation of the previous five and releases us from the weight of our sin, worry and control of our lives. Although this is unattractive to most, let me give you a few good examples on our end that would provide reasons to do so.
Ecuador is a place of extremes, from the regions (they have 3 diverse climatic zones: Coast, Sierra and the Amazon) to the people. Last night, both the Coe and Brock couples participated in the annual school faculty retreat. As a side note, the Nichols were both missed and their lack of presence felt within the entire group. As Ann and I sat at our table to eat dinner, we couldn't help noticing that the Chief of the National Police (arguably the second most powerful man in Ecuador behind the president) was sitting next to and breaking bread with one of the Quichua cleaning ladies from the school! God orchestrated such a meeting, which would have never taken place outside of the event, to remind us that He has ultimate power and control regardless of our title, position or perceived status in this life! In addition, The Lord has placed two very different but effective gringo's in our lives who know the culture, are willing to help guide the Ecuadorian end of our ministry and overall have had a significant impact on the Kingdom of God in Ecuador (next generation of disciples putting their lives in His control). Rich, a board member at the school and a youth leader within the country, has raised a son who has befriended Tim and models Christ while his wife shares her faith through music by touring with a Christian rock band throughout South America. Don, a free-spirited missionary kid, gave up a lucrative engineering job in the states to return to serve the people and culture from his adolescence. He has followed what God has laid on his heart by providing a camp for pastors and churches, planting pastors in gospel vacant locations and placing leaders in businesses to freely give away his resources. Both are examples of selfless friendship, using talents for clearly different visions and life patterns to follow because of who they follow! Lastly, it's been said; it's about who you know, not what you know. I can't agree more. A certain date this fall marks the 2nd anniversary of the release of the Ecuadorian president from his captors who kidnapped him, celebrated by a national holiday. I wont comment , that's for others to judge. But, because of his beliefs he spends most of his time trying to keep many small factions happy within the country through social programs and making many politically weighted decisions to win over his power base (sound familiar). No doubt a difficult job and tough position to be in. So, when I look at this picture from now on, it will always remind me clearly of the similarity of actions that need to take place for the people of Ecuador while weighing the purpose, power, plan and goal to give people better lives.
See, it may seem that we 'randomly' ran into the president of Ecuador by chance, that on the surface our visions for the people of Ecuador are the same. Scripture clearly puts all of us in one of two camps: "A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord! will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter." Matt. 7:18-20. Although the Lord will be the ultimate judge of all of our work in the end, we can know for sure that our entrance into the Kingdom of God assures our price into the Kingdom of Heaven. It won't be what we accomplish or how well intended our actions are at the end of our lives. It will be for whom. The impact of one was made solely for the audience of ONE, to provide nourishing fruit rather than feasting on poison fruit inherited! What king are you following today? Our destination does change who we follow and what type of fruit we produce. I took advantage of the opportunity to have my picture taken with him not to show who I know, but as a time-stamp to remind me to follow 'Who' I already know and by whom I am known!