Sunday, August 21, 2011

Approaching the Throne!

You know, when you think about it, travel has really changed in the last hundred years or so.
Back about a hundred years ago, the most used means of travel was by horse, or wagon.  If you had to travel a long distance, then you either went by train or boat.  International travel was almost unheard of, because it took a LONG time to cross the ocean and get to where you were going.
Today, we can move around in the USA via our Interstate highway system, and literally be across the country in 24 hours.  We can travel from coast to coast in the time that just a hundred years ago, took us to travel across a few counties.
Today, we can travel by Plane literally around the world in a day.  In fact, this week, I will fly from South America, to New York City, to Atlanta, and then to Fayetteville Arkansas in a little over 15 hours. . . total!  That is AMAZING!  Over 4,000 miles in one day’s time!
If people of a hundred years ago were here today, they would be amazed!
We travel by Bicycle, Motor Cycle, Segway, Car, Bus, Plane. . .and much more.  And instead of using Boats now for travel, we use them for VACATION!  And the ships have EVERYTHING!  Driving ranges, Malls, Pools, Casino’s, Las Vegas Shows, Buffets, and everything else you can imagine.
But no doubt, the most amazing way to travel is what we are doing RIGHT NOW!  The INTERNET!
I am typing this blog from my office / bedroom in Guyana.  And seconds after I press the publish button, it can be read all over the world.  In fact, I was looking at the “stats” page for the blog tonight, and saw that people from the following countries have visited this blog. . . .The USA, Canada, The United Kingdom, Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, Australia, India, Switzerland, Germany, Nigeria, and South Korea.  I am TRULY amazed!
One of the real blessings of the Internet is you can literally travel the world over, right from your seat.  In fact, while I have been in Guyana this trip, I have been able to email, and even call my family with Voice Over Internet Protocol and hear their voice.  And so even though I am far away. . .I don’t feel so far away.  All thanks to the Internet.
And as wonderful and amazing as all that is, the truth is, that we can even travel further than our own planet today.  And no, I am not talking about space travel. . . I’m talking about talking to the one who created it all!
God gives us the incredible ability to enter His very throne room, and talk to Him about anything that is on our hearts.  And we can enter His throne room without hesitation, or without being timid about our requests!  And He listens!
Hebrews 4:16 says it best. . .”16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
While we are “on the road” we often find ourselves in need.  The good news is. . .God is there to listen.  And we can approach Him BOLDLY, and ask for His help!  We don’t have to skulk in the corner and wait for Him to see us.  We can approach His throne. . .as one of His Children, and ask for help. . .that we will receive in our time of need!
When you are out on the road, and things go wrong. . .remember that you can approach the very throne room of God. . .and find your help!.  You can do this with confidence and boldness. . .and know that He listens, He cares, and He will see you through!
Give that a try in your travels.  It will make the journey so much better!
See you on the road!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Travel in the 21st Century. . .

As many of you have noted. . .I travel a LOT!  When I am in the states, it is not uncommon for me to be on the road between 800 and 1,500 miles a week.  Much of that travel is via my car.  This lifestyle started about 20 years ago, when I started working in Guyana too.

20 years ago, when I got back stateside, I would purchase a new Atlas from Wal Mart, load up my car with CD's and Cassettes, and hit the road.  But today. . .things are different.

Today, when I get into my car, I plug in my XM Radio and listen to tons of music, news, and sports talk in CD quality no matter where I am.  I also plug in my trusty GPS device.

Now these two devices have UTTERLY changed my life on the road.  First off. . . I can listen to the same radio "station" all day. . . .even if I travel 500 miles in one day.  Secondly, I can leave a location ANYWHERE, and punch in the address I am traveling to, and it will lead me right to the door.  This is amazing!  And I don't have to look at a map.  I just follow the GPS attached to my windshield and get right where I am going.

Lots of times, when I am in a place I don't know so well. . .as soon as I get to my location (Church, Preacher's house, Hotel, etc.) I save the location so that I know I can always get back to that spot if needed.

One time, while Colleen and I were in Jacksonville years ago, we had gone to someone's house for the evening.  On the way back to where we were staying, I was on a major highway, and before I knew it, I was in a lane that made me take a different road.  As we were entering that road, I was complaining that I had made a wrong turn and now we were going to spend a while getting back on the road we needed to be.  Colleen said, "Why don't you just listen to your GPS?  It will get you back where you want to go."

She was right, and in just a matter of moments, we were back on track and on our way to our home for the evening.

There have been lot's of times that I have used that GPS to get me right where I wanted to go.  In fact, I have talked to people in a town I've never been to, and just asked for their address. . .and driven right to their door.  The GPS always guides me where I want to go.

You know. . . that is how God's word is too!  It leads us, it guides us, and it gets us out of trouble.  But only if we look at it.  Just like that GPS, if I don't look at it. . . it can't help me.

The Psalmist said "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway." (Psalms 119:105)  And much like the GPS is a light to our pathway today. . . God's word is our CONSTANT GPS!

My GPS keeps me from getting lost, it helps me to find my way, and it tells me what the turns and road looks like ahead.

God's word works EXACTLY the same way!  His word keeps us from getting lost, helps us to find our way, and tells us what the turns and road looks like ahead!

It occurs to me that if we would just follow God's word, many of the pitfalls, disasters, and wrong turns in life could be avoided.  If we spent just as much time in God's word as we do on the internet, or watching the news, or reading the paper. . . we would find that the road in life would be a lot less bumpy, and we would easily find our way on our journey.

We are going to make wrong turns. . .both in our cars. . . and in our lives.  When that happens, perhaps the best thing, if not the only thing we should do, is consult the guide.  Be it the GPS in our Car. . . or God's word in our life.

Spend time every day in God's word.  It will keep you from getting lost, and in fact, can keep you from making those wrong turns in the first place.

See you on the Road!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Planes, Storms, and more. . .Part Two

Well, a few days ago I posted a blog of my trip to St. Lucia. . .   Boy, was it a trip I won’t soon forget!
Virtually the entire time I was there, I got to see what a Tropical Storm looks like, up close and personal.  It was really an interesting experience.  And on the island of St. Lucia, there was flooding and even mud slides.  It was a real mess.
As a result, there were lots of Hotel employee’s at the hotel that could not make it to work.  Restaurants were closed, and the shuttle service through the hillside resort was greatly curtailed.  At times, the rain was coming down so hard, that you could barely see anything over 30 feet away.  
On Wednesday August 3rd, I started the journey back to Guyana, and it was not quite as eventful as the trip over.  However, Liat. . .the airline (?) that I flew with did NOT disappoint.  They were operating as normal.  Which meant of course that they were late. . . late. . . late.
I started by being about 30 minutes late leaving the island of St. Lucia.  When I arrived in Barbados, of course the flight was set to take off in about 30 minutes.  I of course knew it was not going to work quite that way.  Now we were supposed to take off at 8pm, so at about 7:55pm, they came on the intercom and said that we were of course delayed and that they would tell us more at 9:15pm.  Sure enough, at about 9:25pm, they came on and said it would be about an hour and we would take off.  (Of course the aircraft hadn’t even landed yet.)
At 10:45pm, they came on and said we would board sometime soon. . . and sure enough, about 11pm, we did start the boarding process.  Most of the people going to Guyana were in fact Guyanese. . . so once they announced the boarding would start. . .there was a mad rush to the door, and everything bottle necked.
Then, when they finally told us we could board, it was really funny to watch as all the Guyanese raced across the runway, and then pushed and shoved, and bottlenecked again at the stairway to the plane.
Once on board, we sat there until about 11:30pm and then finally took off.  This put us in at the airport in Guyana at about 1:30am.  After clearing customs and immigration, I was in the taxi and on the way home. . . only to arrive at about 2:40am.  This of course after the Police stopped our taxi and accused him of having “tint” on the back windshield (He did not, and after about 3 or 4 minutes. . .they sent us on our way.)
Once again, another eventful trip.
But you know, this one was different in one big way!
After all the trouble I had on Saturday morning, I fully expected that things to go about they way they did.  So. . . I wasn’t upset, frustrated, or even unhappy.  Things went pretty much as I expected them to.
You know. . .sometimes in life, the “surprises” we face on the road are unexpected.  Other times, we meet obstacles that we KNOW are in front of us, so we are prepared to some degree when those problems come our way.  But obstacles are obstacles. . . and we have to figure a way around them, regardless of our knowledge of their presence.  
Just like the pothole in the road on our way to work each day. . .some obstacles are always there, and we can figure ways around them.
In our journey through life, we need to remember that the main obstacle out there is Satan.  He is ALWAYS looking to derail us, to throw us off our journey, or to just plain destroy us.  In fact, Peter warned us of this in I Peter 5:8-9. . .” Be Self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Peter first warns us that Satan is like a Lion!  He is on the prowl, he is out there, and he is LOOKING FOR YOU!
Peter warns us as well to be alert, and in control of ourselves because Satan is looking to get you.  Not just to hurt you, but to devour you!  But we are warned of this, and told two things. . . .we must resist, and we must remember we are not alone.
This battle we have with Satan on our journey is not just our individual battle. . . but our COLLECTIVE battle.  ALL of us are involved in this battle, and must stand firm!  Satan likes for us to think that we are all alone in this struggle.  He knows that if we think we are alone, that we will try to deal with it alone, and it is easier for him to “pick us off”.  We need to remember that ALL of us struggle with Satan, and that struggle is sure.  We are NOT alone!  No matter how it feels at the time, our struggle is not unique.  Satan is trying to devour ALL of us!
Furthermore, I have seen many Christians who were utterly surprised with Satan’s attacks.  But we shouldn’t be.  We should expect him to come after us and we should expect him to try his best to cause us to lose our faith.  When we know the Lion is out there, we can be watchful. . . and ready for his attack.
I fully expected Liat to do nothing different than every time I have flown with them. . .and they did not disappoint me.  I was prepared for the delay, so when it happened. . . I wasn’t surprised.
We also need to fully expect Satan to come after us.  We should expect him to do his dead level best to shipwreck our faith.  And by knowing that, he does NOT catch us off guard.  Satan is an obstacle on the road that we KNOW will be there.  So be prepared for him, and don’t let him catch you off guard!
Be Watchful!  Be Prepared!  And don’t let him shipwreck YOUR faith!
See you on the Road!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crashes, Delays, and Tropical Storms!

This summer has been very busy.  We have had teams come and go since early June, and for a month, I have had not only a hotel full of people, but also a HOUSE full of people.  And it isn’t over yet.
Several months ago, I realized that things were going to be hectic, so I planned a little trip out of Guyana to give me some down time.  I decided to visit St. Lucia, and stay at a resort that I had visited about 10 years ago.  I knew I would only have a small window. . . so I set up a time to come to St. Lucia that would allow me four nights here to just relax.
It has not been the trip that I thought it would be.
When I arrived at the airport in Guyana at 3:30am on Saturday morning, I was surprised to see that no passengers were being allowed into the airport.  There were about 6 or 7 flights that were scheduled to leave between 5:30am and 8am. . .so there were literally HUNDREDS of people who were milling around outside.
The overhead announcement said that the airport was closed.  That is basically all they said, so I started asking around if anyone knew what had happened.
As it turned out. . . there had been a mishap on the runway about 2 hours before I arrived at the airport.  A Caribbean Airlines 737 had overshot the runway.  I started asking around to people I knew at the airport, and there were some people who were injured. . . but no one seriously, and there had been no deaths.
As time went by, we began to find out that it just wasn’t a case of overshooting the runway.  The plane had landed hard at about the mid point of the runway, then skidded off the runway, through a fence, and toward a 200 foot ravine.  Then. . the plane broke in two!  It suddenly looked like the airport would closed for a long while.

There has never been a large aircraft crash in Guyana. . . so equipment, trained personnel, and other emergency infrastructure simply are not in place.
Then. .  flights started being cancelled at an alarming rate.  My flight was delayed, but not cancelled.  The aircraft I was going to be flying on. . . a Turbo Prop aircraft. . . was already on the ground, and the airline people seemed to think it was going to be allowed to leave at a later hour.
Originally, my flight to St. Lucia was going to have me depart Guyana at 5:30am, and land in Barbados at 7:30am.  Then. . . at 7:50am, I would board a plane in Barbados to go on to St. Lucia, arriving there at 8:30am.  I was really looking forward to a full day of just relaxing and not having to worry about anything.

Now, as I was standing outside the departures area, there were hundreds of Guyanese. . . pushing, shoving, and crowding all around.  It was total and utter chaos in all directions.  Hours of this kind of shoving were really taking their toll.  I was hot, tired, frustrated, and grumpy to say the least.
Finally, my flight left Guyana at 7:30am, and landed in Barbados at 9:30am.  Of course, I had missed my flight to St. Lucia, but the people in Guyana told me they would put me on the 1pm flight, arriving in St. Lucia at about 1:30pm.
I called the Hotel in St. Lucia and told them that I was delayed.  They had arranged for transportation from the airport to the Hotel, and they informed him that I would be arriving late.
At 1pm, LIAT  (the airline I was flying on. . . for the last time I might add), announced that there was some sort of problem with the aircraft and there would be a delay. . .and they would inform those of us waiting in one hour. . . . 
This went on for SEVERAL HOURS!  Finally ending with the passengers boarding the plane at 6:40pm.
Finally at about 7pm, we took off, and landed in St. Lucia at about 7:30pm.  Although I was only 11 hours late in arriving. . . I was certainly glad to finally be here.
I arrived at the Hotel at about 8:15pm, and by about 9:15pm. . .was finally in my room.  Starving, tired, and glad to be here.
The Hotel was EXTREMELY sympathetic of the day I had, so they upgraded me to a WONDERFUL Villa, high on a hillside, overlooking the ocean on the west side of the island.  I was looking forward to seeing some famous Caribbean sunsets from my veranda!
Then. . . enter Tropical Storm Emily. . .  LOL   That’s right, Emily parked to the east of us, and started across the island on Sunday afternoon. . . so rain, rain, and more rain.  Followed by high winds, flash flooding, and lightning all around.

Then. . . last night (Monday) it got even worse. . . .   The rains intensified, and my Villa started leaking in crazy places.  Water just appeared in several places. . . in the middle of the floor. . . with no explanation of where it was come from.  
Now, here I am on Tuesday. . . it has been raining all day. . . and I still haven’t seen a Caribbean Sunset. . . .
Oh well. . . I wanted a change of pace, and something to take my mind off of Guyana. . . and it looks like I got my wish.
If you have ever seen the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, I sort of feel like that is what I am going through at this point.
But you know what. . . I still have a wonderful view.  The Hotel staff has been MARVELOUS, and I have gotten to rest, relax, and unwind. . . in spite of all that has been going on.
Lots of times, we get all upset about the things that are going on around us (and I certainly was upset in Barbados while sitting there for 9 hours in a small, hot, uncomfortable terminal.
But the truth is. . .I have a story now to tell of Plane crashes, delays, and tropical storms that I will enjoy telling for years to come!
Life on the road is often filled with interesting and amusing turns.  Things simply do not happen as you plan for them to.
The question is. . . when all is coming apart around you. . .do you come apart too?
I am reminded of the day Jesus had in Jerusalem many years ago, when they came and arrested Him in the Garden.  He watched is Disciples flee, He was abused by His own people, and by the Romans, He was lead from one “kangaroo court” to another, and ultimately He was crucified with common thieves.
And yet through all of that. . .He didn’t become angry, upset, or defensive.  Why?  Because He knew God had a purpose for Him.  And guess what?  God has a purpose for us too!
I don’t know what purpose is served with all the events of this week. . .but I know that GOD is in control, and He has a purpose for everything!
Romans 8:28 says it best; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.NIV
God does work things for good. . .even when things around you are crashing, delayed, and pummeled with storms.
Look for Him. .  .He is there!
See you on the Road,