Losing Our Lives

Living in Juarez is exactly like living at the beach… just without the water. The place has changed. I last came here in 2010 when an average of 8 people a day were getting murdered and sketchy trucks with men and machine guns rumbled up and down the trash covered streets.

The streets are still covered in trash. It’s like driving on mini sandy dumps with dogs that lazily move at the last second as you drive along. I don’t think I can overestimate the number of dogs that sleep, fight, bark and defecate on the streets. All sorts and kinds of dogs. Big ones. Small ones. Cute ones. Hairy ones. Dirty ones. And yucky ones.

I had to remind myself, as I saw a giant festering pustule on one of the dogs waiting outside of the supermarket, that everything that has life has purpose. Looking at that poor homeless creature I was reminded that mangy and diseased as he (or she) was that God had given that dog life and that God was continuing to sustain it. It still had purpose. Maybe that purpose was for me to remember that. Maybe that dog is in heaven tonight. Qien sabes?

And just how does one end up in the premiere vacation spot ofCentral America?

God.

Let me esplain, no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

About a year ago my father gave me a book to read. Normally I’m a terrible book reader, but, this time God told me to sit down and get it done. Okay, I lied. It was an audio book and I crushed that puppy in like a week. Important note: the book was “Radical” by David Platt.

In the book Platt kept talking about being a Christian that actually took God at His word and stopped living for things.

It was like cool water for any of us living in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert.

Then I started listening to Francis Chan. Holy Biblical teaching Batman. Here is a guy that started a church then left it because he was afraid that he was going to miss Jesus. Miss Jesus? How is that possible? You are a pastor for crying out loud. The safe Jesus that loves me that I have on my keychain and bumper totally wouldn’t throw anyone into hell.

Then I read his book “Crazy Love” and instantly I was convicted that I wasn’t living out the gospel. I knew that if Jesus came back tomorrow that he’d look at me dead in the eyes and say, “I was hungry and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty and alone and you didn’t give me a glass of water or hold me in your arms. Now, go away from me because I never knew you.” I’d miss it.

I was living a good life, yes. But, it wasn’t a life that was sold out and dedicated to the fulfillment of the great commission or the benefit of those God so desperately cared about while here on earth.

Then came Shane Claiborn who wrote a book called “Ordinary Radical” and he said stupid crazy things like, “And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about” or “All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.” Stupid right? He’s got a few more that I want tattooed on my arms so I can read them every hour, but I’ll spare you.

Then I finished by reading about this crazy homeless guy that died a few years ago. He was convinced that if you wanted to keep your life and live in comfort that you’d lose your life. He’d walk around and find people at their work and look them in the eyes and say, “Follow me” and people would. I’m not making this up, he had a band of teenagers following him around controlling crowds and feeding people. He said outrageous things that eventually got him killed. One time he told a bunch of his followers that they’d have to love him more than their families if they wanted to follow him, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it (Matthew 10:37-39).”

Anyway, I was hoping to keep this one short, seeing as this is the first blog post for the wife and I, but alas I am wordy and she is patient.

More is on the way, possibly tomorrow, but I have to wake up in a few hours and feed Jesus. He said that if you did anything to the least of the people on earth that you were doing it to him. I think that orphans in Juarez count as some of the least on this planet, so, I think I’ll make Jesus french toast and omelettes for breakfast!

Until next time,

lose your life.

BenandStef

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