Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sightseeing Today

And then there is Julie and her 21 year-old daughter, Natasha. Julie offered to take some of us on a sightseeing tour around the island today. Ralph and I were the only ones available to take her up on her generous offer. What a great time we had!! This lady is one of the most hospitable people I have ever met....and her daughter was a complete joy to hang out with. She is incredibly creative with a camera in her I asked her to be my "official photographer" for the day. I'll have to post a picture or two once I get them from her. All the way from the The Parish of Christ Church (which is where our house is located) on to The Parishes of St. George, St. Michael, Thomas, James, Peter, Andrew, Joseph and John....(did we see St. Lucy too?? I can't remember) dropping back down into the middle of the city, skipping St. Philip, back to where we started. Wow! What an adventure! At one point we saw the rocky mountains of Barbados literally contrasted right across the bumpy road to the gorgeous, turquoise ocean. I've never seen anything like it. We passed Chattal houses one right after another, Rum houses, churches of various denominations as well as black-bellied sheep grazing for their lunch. We stopped off at a privately owned beach house to "freshen up" and enjoyed the beautiful view of a private beach on the other side of a white picket fence. The varieties of sights were overwhelming to my senses. It was a great day of getting to know two of the people who make this their home.

That is the thing that is standing out to me: relationships happening. We came here for one main reason; to enter into relationship with these beautiful people and allow God to show us where He is at work. Believe me when I tell you, He is alive and well....and pursues all of us regardless of race, background, denomination or job title. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) The unity and freedom and FUN that we have in Christ transcends all denomination lines, all racial lines and miles of distance. Is this an incredible family to be a part of or what??


Say Hi to Nicole and Marie!

I had promised in some previous posts to give you a picture of Nicole and Marie. Nicole, on the left, is who lead worship last Sunday and Marie is a foundational member of BGF who, by the way, can whip up any kind of cheesecake you might want on zero notice.

We have had a continuous flow of people in our house or in their homes since we have been here. At least twice each day we have a group to bond with about The Ride, The Breakfast Club (we call it the dessert club here), youth ministry, children's ministry, worship, men's ministry, ladies ministry and any other possible idea that comes up in which people who want to know Jesus more can get with others and they can all learn. The conversations are all rich and deep and constantly amaze us!

The dynamics are going to change a little as we say goodbye to Ken and Pauline today and are welcoming Barry and Sandi Greco and David Lee any minute now. Ralph will return home tomorrow and we will certainly miss him and the Karcher's but we want to let them know how honored everyone was to have them here! It will be exciting to watch our "newcomers" as they get to experience what has been happening down here! We wish ALL OF YOU were here to experience it, too! Blogs are great, but they will never truly be able to share God's power in all of this!

Enjoy Grace Life tomorrow. Our hearts are with you!


Friday, February 27, 2009



Our week on this island paradise is coming to a close so I thought I would take a moment to share some of our journey with you. Since our arrival on Saturday, the conversations we have taken part in have been about God’s courtship of His beloved children. As one of those whom He is constantly pursuing, I am overwhelmed by the similarities of His pursuit throughout the world. Whether it is with a Bajan, Pauline or I, our Father is pleased with His BRIDE.

This island paradise has been a great backdrop for the BRIDE of CHRIST to worship in community this week. All around us we can see the fingerprints of God’s grace to His beloved (Heather, Nicole, Peter, Jeff and Sandy), His beauty on display for all to see and experience. I am thankful that God allowed our lives to intersect.

As His beloved I am continually overwhelmed by His love. This week in Barbados provided a place of rest and renewal for Pauline and I among friends. The grand finale came this morning when Pauline and I renewed our wedding vows after twenty- two wonderful years together. As I looked into Pauline’s eyes my heart stirred to know her as intimately as our Father knows her. As we leave Barbados it is my Bride, and (The BRIDE) whom I love.

Still Amazed!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Beautiful Bloom

My goodness. These people are dazzling. As is often the case, they don’t know it.

And that’s often where the pain is.

I’m not kidding—these Bajan (pronounced “Bay-jen”) Christians openly love God. In some ways, they’re like high school aged kids in love; they grin and laugh and tear-up at the mention of their Pursuer’s grace and affection for them. When we talk about Jesus around them, it’s like we’ve taken a peek at their journaled love affair—they get all happy and dreamy and maybe a little embarrassed.

But the Conspirator of this world (the Evil One) has long been sending them the message that they’re disqualified from anything of real value. Yes, God has made His love plain to them and they’re clearly enamored enough to be willing to do anything with Him. For a little while. But past experiences or educational fumblings or unresolved difficulties and tensions add up to scandalous headlines in their own minds that render them bystanders in God’s plan for glory. And pretty soon they begin to believe that someone else, someone who really has it all together, with education and upbringing and neat and tidy relationships should take the lead or help build the church. “We need an expert,” they might think, “and that sure isn’t any of us. I wonder when God will send to us the super Christians we need. Let’s begin praying for them now. Once they get here, then we can really get going. . .”

Have you ever heard something like that? That’s the kind of stuff the accuser of the church throws at these Bajan believers.

But God.

Somehow the mixture of love and sloppiness and belief and failure and hope and doubt has produced a church that is the envy of many—at least it should be. We should be studying them! They are at times so fragile that I think they can’t stand it—“I want to be strong!”—but we marvel at how God keeps them convinced that they’re right on course, right in the center of His will. They’re absolutely convinced that they need Him, and—shock—they openly act like it. Wonder.

Anyway, this fragile and delicate bloom in Barbados has me fascinated and in a little bit of awe.

They’re beautiful.

Here are a few pics from the last couple of days. (Click on the image to see it in a larger format.)


As I look out to the ocean below me I can’t help but marvel at the incredible shades of blue that the ocean is presently displaying for those who will stop to see them. Near the shore it’s pale with little brilliance; but, as you move out toward the horizon, the shades become brighter, fuller, and with a luster that can take your breath away. I’m told that there are several factors that contribute to this phenomenon – direction of the sun, the tide conditions, and the depth of the water. What a gift to have this view for two weeks – I don’t think I could ever tire of it.

Since we’ve arrived in Barbados we’ve been enraptured by the movement of God all around us, within us, and through us. Everyday has been miraculous, and I’m not exaggerating (as I would assume many of you who know me might be thinkingJ!). It’s not the kind of miraculous that you can send in a newsletter; it’s the kind that makes you say, like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, “I am undone!” Every encounter has been surprisingly real, full of mystery, and overflowing with the Life of Jesus.

So, the deeper the water gets, the darker the shade of blue. The light that is emitted from the sun can only penetrate so deep, so I suppose the spectrum becomes shorter and that causes the color appears darker. Ezekiel 47 has long been a chapter of scripture that has both challenged and inspired me. It’s a picture of what God had planned for His church in the New Covenant relationship that was to come. I would encourage you to go read it as it’s much too long to paste here on the BLOG. The picture in the chapter is of a river flowing from the temple of God. The water is full of healing and wherever it goes, it produces life. The prophet encounters an angel who leads him into this river. And as he wades into the water, he encounters different depths of experience.

At first, the water is up to his ankles, then his knees, then his chest, and then finally over his head. The deeper he goes into the water, the more he must stop relying on himself, his experience, and his knowledge. He must trust. He must be led. He must be willing to risk the possibility of being swept away by the current.

I think many believers have been limited to an “ankle only” depth of experience with Jesus. They find themselves in the river (Jesus) and begin to experience the refreshment of tired and hot feet being soothed by cool water. But, sometimes underneath, the ground is rocky and painful. So, in their confusion and discomfort, they decide, “this is far enough.” I can relate, I have often been deceived into believing that going deeper will only prove to destroy me. I’ve been wrong, many times.

As we sit amongst these dear people of Barbados hearing their stories, seeing their tears and their fears, and listening to their longing for more depth in Jesus, I am undone. God’s pursuit of us is blatant and persistent. He is not willing for an ankle-deep relationship with us. He wants to sweep us off our feet and to allow the river of Life to overwhelm us. These Bajan lovers of Life have captured my heart and poduced a deeper experience of grace from within the shadows of my heart.

I don’t know what today will hold, but as I glance again out to the water, I recognize that there is one sure thing – like the old hyms says:

“Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free.
Rolling as a mighty ocean, in it’s fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of Thy love.
Leading onward, leading Homeward,
To thy glorious rest above."

Have a great day…till next time…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothing Christianly Here

(Sorry that this is a day late, but, well, here it is.)

These are amazing people who make up an amazing church. Why they would so love God and each other makes God's work obvious. They sincerely want to grow in the grace and love of Christ, and to avoid some of the "Christianly" stuff that often goes with a growing community. You know, the stuff we do that looks spiritual, but is really fleshly control stuff. Here's how we get along, here's how we do church, here's how we don't, here's how we force unity, etc.

Herb Sims spoke at their gathering about "doing nothing." It was terrific. He drew from some of the many instances in which Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing and said only what He heard the Father saying. In other words, He did nothing on His own, but lived in order to know God all the time. And that's the new way of living for us, as well--life by the Spirit. It frees us from having to come up with what to do, and places it where it belongs--with Him.

Last night we met with some of the leadership of the church. Essentially, we hung out with them for several hours, which is another way of saying that we enjoyed rich fellowship. But that's too stuffy.

We spoke together about how God secured us individually, about our love affairs with Him, and about how that works out in the larger community of believers. They're from S. Africa, Canada, England, America, and even Barbados--fancy that, locals. And yet, each of them hs this terrific story of discovering the incredible love and grace and mercy of God for them. It's magnificent to be among them.

More, please!

Meet Heather!

Meet Heather! She is one of the fearless leaders of BGF (Barbados Grace Fellowship) and has been the original contact between Grace Life and BGF. She is wonderful, gracious, hospitible, kind, generous and totally devoted to sharing the grace and love of Jesus to the community around her. I hope everyone at Grace Life and Grace Connections will have the opportunity to meet her and others from BGF in the future! It just seems that we are all kindred hearts with common goals and struggles.

Last night we all met with Heather and Marie (another Saint) and learned more about how they started and their many adventures along the way. It is so amazing to see how God has directed their paths and brought them to this point. And this point is a fantastic place to be! This church has influenced the lives of so many people.....and the great thing about it is, that Barbados seems to be a way point in a lot of people lives...not necessarily a permanent as these people hear about the love and grace of Jesus and learn for themselves the difference that a community of loving people can make - many of them will then move on and take it with them "all over the world". Literally!

The people here seem to think they would love to have something comparable to "The Ride" and are encouraging us (Grace Life and Grace Connections) to come and lead one. Six months in Barbados......who would have thunk it! It is just an idea...maybe a dream....but hey....God is in the midst and I say Look Out! and see what happens.

Oh yea....we had a ladies meeting today. I will leave it at that and hope one of our other ladies will give you more details on that. All I will say is, "IT WAS FANTASTIC!"

In Amazement!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Wonder...I like that word, it makes me feel alive inside. Since we've arrived it's been non-stop "wonder" for me. At first, I "wondered" what the house we'll be like...the reality? Wow - could we be more spoiled? Then I "wondered" about driving on the other side of the road in a place with tiny streets and no directons...the reality? Depends on who you ask. For me, it's getting a bit more comfortable, but Herb had some really white knuckles riding to the airport with me yesterday. I think he has control issues :)! Those "wonders" don't go very deep or stay very long. However, there's a much deeper level of "wondering" going on with me here that has my attention.

Right now I'm sitting on balcony and the sun has just poked it's head through the morning clouds. The water is gorgeous - shiny shimmering blue...and the waves are crashing in total ecstasy as they welcome another day. It's so amazing to be here.

Yesterday we "oficially" began our journey into the lives of these dear people of Barbados Grace Fellowship (BGF), and they into ours. The morning worship service was really great. The music, the testimony, the teaching all pointing us to the reality of a living Savior and Life streaming from within us toward one another. It was glorious. As I sat there, watching these formerly strangers encounter us, receive us as one of their own, and open their hearts to us for whatever God might be up to, I "wondered" at the miracle of it all. Why us? Why now? Why here? These are all questions we cannot answer but expectantly watch to see Jesus reveal as we breathe together in these two weeks. One thing is for sure, something "wonder-full" is starting to break forth.

Last night as we gathered again for fellowship and discovering one another, again, I "wondered." Will we be free enough to not add anything of our own agenda in what God has prepared for us all in this time? I know that will take a miracle. What will Jesus reveal to me as I get to share Life with one, two, or twenty of the BGF saints? I think He has much to share with me through them (and probably this lunatic bunch of people I've come here with t00!). What a glorious mess (or if you like, "fractal") we all are, and what a truly facinating and exhilirating experience to get a glimpse into what Father sees within the messiness. It's not always easy, or even possible, for me to see- but wow, when I see it, I can't help but worship.

So, this morning as we move into yet another day...I "wonder" still. What will today reveal? What will I experience and what will thrill my heart about Life? I don't need to know...but I do "wonder." Till next time...

Our First Full Day!

And it was VERY full! This building is where BGF has it's Sunday morning services and is part of a school campus that is truly adorable and is full of truly adorable people who love Jesus and want to know Him more. How cool is this!?!?!?!
After a time of great worship, lead by Nicole (picture later), Herb spoke and reminded everyone about their job (as was Jesus'), to do nothing. Not sure if they ALL understand, but the message will continue. Ralph will speak next week and will have his "pause button" ready for them.

Then last night, we had a small group time with some of the leaders of the church (picture above). We all got to know more about each other, but it was just a start. Ken and Pauline shared their story and it was amazing how many people can seem to relate to them because of how the world had beaten them down and how God still has the strength and compassion to help them back up.

These people here are so wonderful! They have given us a car to drive (that is always exciting since they drive on the left side of a very NARROW street......narrow is the way), and have filled our refrigerator with enough food for all of you for 2 weeks. Wow. Too bad you are not here. Guess will just have to eat it ourselves...and you know we can!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weakness leads to Worship

I am learning as we sit and just have natural conversations with these precious people. Tonight Herb and Ralph "taught" just by being themselves and sharing from their heart. Here are a few one liners that spoke to me: "Weakness is an opportunity for worship"....and "Doubt becomes a doorway".... and lastly before retiring for the night, Herb reminded us that it our ministry here is about "Walking in dependence without an agenda." Wonder what difference that kind of ministry would make in all our lives regardless of whether we are in Barbados, Atlanta, SC, Colorado or Michigan??

Good stuff!

Now it's time to get some sleep....with the ocean waves slapping outside the window.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our First Evening

We arrived a little before sunset. Here are a few pics to get started on this Barbadosian Adventure.

Getting past customs was easy, although it took what seemed like forever.

That's Herb walking back into the living room after taking in the view from the balcony. He'd had enough. You know beach, sand, waves--that sort of thing.

Some of the locals doing the surfing thing.

Our first view from the balcony. It's simply magnificent. We think we can make it through a week or eight.

Sunset from our home.

And there you have it--our first evening in Barbados.

WE MADE IT!!! Feb. 21, 2009

This is the view from our back patio here in Barbados! We have just arrived and are getting settled in! We have already met a few of the people from Barbados Grace Fellowship (BGF). It seems quite surreal to me that we are here and quite humbling to me to think that there is someone here that wants OUR help. I pray that we can be that for them, but I truly expect to get more from them than they could from me.

The trip here was smooth, except that Ken and Pauline Karcher missed the flight. Because of a delay in their flight from Toledo, they missed our flight, but the mighty great service of Delta (or maybe that was God), got them a ticket on American and they will be in tonight!

We were also pleasantly surprised to see that we do have an internet connection at our house on the beach, so feel free to email us!

I hope this blog will be added to at least once a day by different members of our Barbados Team. Each time we will sign off so you will know who has been talking to you!

This time it is,

P.S Enjoy your Sunday tomorrow. Herb will be delivering this weeks message to BGF. Pray for us all!