Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Good

Today is Good Friday. We normally use the word "good" when describing food we enjoy, a movie, or having a favorable outlook in our day. It was hard not to use the word "good" too many times in the last setence, because it is such a common word!! We say "Good Friday" because of the choice of Jesus to subject Himself to an earthly ridicule, suffering, and death. The form of capital punishment that Jesus suffered is one the most cruel forms of death ever designed. This type of suffering for the God of the universe? The King of Kings? Why did he go through with it? He could have called on legions of angels to wipe out those mocking fools, or those who were shredding His back open with the whip called the cat of nine tails. This is the script we like to see in movies, the good guy is saved from all the torture and pain. Jesus chose to stay in God's will because He knew that it was the only way that our sins could be paid for. "He made Him who know no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might be the righteousness of God." II Cor 5:21 Jesus knew no sin. He never sinned, and because of this, it allowed Him to be the sacrifice for us, suffer the punishment for our sins, and give us the opportunity to be saved. Here are some verses that help explain this important truth:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We have all sinned, which means falling short of being a perfect person. "Nobody's perfect" is certainly true for all of us.

Once we see this idea that we have all sinned, then we need to answer the question "So what?"
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages or results of sin are death. Now, we are all here to talk about sinning, and are not dead, so the death can't mean physical death. This death is a separation from God that is only fully realized once a person dies physically. Separation from God at the point of physical death means that a person is in hell. The death from sin on this side of the grave is experienced by not being able to be close to God, which typically shows itself with a sense of emptiness, feeling like there is much more to life etc. This is not a perfect science on describing spiritual death, but it is certainly real. The contrast in this verse to death is very strong, that there is a free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. More on this later....

John 3:16 helps us understand more about this free gift of salvation that saves us from the spiritual death that comes from sin. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

The key word in the verse is "believe." Believing is not the same as knowing. We can know that it is a good thing to eat right and exercise. It is only when we act on this information that we can say we believe the information. More on this idea to come....

2 Cor 5:21 helps to explain more how Jesus was our sacrifice to God for our sin, and that we can be righteous.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

All of God's wrath toward sin was expressed to Jesus when he suffered on the cross.

Now that we have a more clear picture of what "good" means with Good Friday, there is one more step that is needed. We can agree with the concept in our heads that we have sinned, and we can agree that there is a spiritual death, or separation with God. We can appreciate all the sacrifice that Jesus provided, and yet if don't take this last step, it becomes of no value to us personally. It is like someone else's mail. This last step of believing, and expressing this belief verbally to God is the point when we make it real for us. The truth is there for us to believe, and now we must take action to make it truth that we are believing.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord.... you will be saved - This is very important!!

God hears our prayers. You can pray this: "God, thank you for dying on the cross. I have sinned and am separated from you right now. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that I can have eternal life. Thank you for saving me." If you express this to God, He will hear you, and forgive your sins. God will also throw a huge party in heaven celebrating your forgiveness, and new life in Christ. Other Christians will also throw a party if you tell them about your new life in Christ.

Good Friday is really good, because we have a God who saw our need, came to earth, subjected Himself to mocking and suffering, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and wants everyone to experience His love and forgiveness.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Formula One Commuting

One of the biggest shocks of getting back (typing faster now that
melon had his fix - for now) is driving. This picture would only be
possible in a video game in Kenya. In the city, traffic is slowed
due almost constant traffic jams and zillions of speed bumps. These
bumps are huge. They look like coffins lined up across the road.
The only choice is to slow down to less that 5 km/hr (that is near
zero) and go kerchunk up and down over that poor coffin. When
traffic is congested, vehicles get with the thickness of paint to
each other (approximately 2 mm) and do their imitation of a cow in
a herd, trying to push their way into the desired lane of travel.
This normally happens in an ingenious traffic intersection called
"round-abouts" The concept of the round-about is to avoid those
nasty right angles of those narrow minded intersections, and have a
small circle that everyone merges into and merges out of at the
desired road. The problem is that there aren't any defined lanes.
The herding cows within paint thickness distances are inching along
without any order or submission to a lane of traffic. At this
point, you begin to be concerned about the condition of your
breath, as the norm of open windows puts you within closer
proximity to the next vehicle than you normally experience in a sit
down restaurant. Road rage has the potential of turning into an arm
wrestling match. Eventually, the ingenious driver always delivered
us to the desired location, all without a single street sign. Now
that we are back, it is mind boggling to zoom along at speeds
unknown in most of Africa.

Tom Butz

Safaris are over-rated

Yeah, the safari was pretty cool, but look at what I get when I get
home? This wild cat just loves to jump on my lap and look
longingly at me pleading to be scratched. That snobby leopard in the
safari didn't look at us once when we were the only other being
within miles. Well for now, this is my cat and I am sticking to it.
By the way, this entire posting has been typed with my left hand as
my right was occupied with,you guessed it, the cat (melon is the
name). If I don't pay attention to melon, it could get ugly. Kind
of the opposite of the leopard at the safari.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Here is a market. No refrigeration, no fancy shelves, no tile floors. This is it. Get your fresh fruits and vegetables. On the day we get back to the U.S. a long faught health care bill is signed. What? It seems like a childish board game.


This is our third morning since getting back on Tuesday. So far, it seems that adjusting to the 8-9 nine hour difference seems a little more difficult here, but I ended up getting up earlier than normal in Africa also. I was up at 2 this morning, and went back to bed until 4:30.

One of the biggest changes since getting back is the experience of driving a car. We didn't drive at all in Africa, so I hadn't driven from March 4 until March 22. Driving in Kenya and Juba (riding with someone else who was driving) was such an experience. First, the only way you know where you are going, is if your mental road map is up to speed. No road signs, so right angles, few lane markers, and continual pushing into your desired lane of traffic. It seemed that once the road opened up to less traffic, there were large pot-holes to dodge, and many people walking along the shoulder of the narrow road. Driving on March 23 here in America was like getting on a race car track. Smooth, traffic flowing, high speeds, and getting there much faster. Just to drive this point home, when we went to the Safari, it was about a 220 kilometers trip, (136 Miles) and it took us 5 hours to get there!! That is an average of 27.2 Miles per hour!! The roads were so rough at times, you didn't know if you were going to leave major suspension parts of the vehicle behind after hitting a bump, or nearly scraping the bottom of the vehicle. Here, it is smooth, much faster, and like driving a Formula 1 race car. Just to make it interesting, driving in Kenya was on the left side of the road (note to self, not how we drive here in the U.S.), and the right side in Juba. After taking all those turns in Kenya into the left lane(we drove much more in Kenya than Sudan), it starts to rub off on the old driving brain.

Spiritually and emotionally, I am sorting through quite a bit, and am confident that God has sown this experience in our lives to impact us on having more influence in our family, and in our world. It was a time of rest on one hand from all our responsibilities here, and allowed us to experience a very deep sowing of seeing the way another part of the world makes it through a day.
This second picture is a typical shot seen while driving down the road. This is where people live. It isn't much larger than tents use when camping. In many ways, their lives are as primitive as we experience when tent camping. Garbage is burned, water brought in by the jug, maybe some electricity for lights. They probably don't own the land they are built on, and in many instances, the government can come in and level a housing area with little or no notice. Let's get perspective on what we call a bad day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Duh!! It's the bean

Having a coffee addiction is socially acceptable. That's why I am not
afraid to come out the closet. The deep panging in my lower cranium
didn't register until a few minutes ago as a need for the bean(see
pic). I had a total of one cup of coffee on the way home, and didn't
think through how to nurse my addiction in the air. I was more
concerned about getting lots of water. The pot is brewing and relief
is on the way. Hi my name is Tom, and am a beanaholic.

The New High Noon

3:43 am. Normally not so chipper. This is 11:43 am Kenya and Sudan
time. I have never been much for sleeping in late. Up for the day,
ready to rock.