Sunday, December 25, 2011

Where is the Line to See Jesus

I confess that my flow of tears kept me wiping my eyes during the Christmas Eve candle-light service. The chair alongside me where my darling Frances always sat, was vacant.

But I was cheered up by Christmas morning. There’s nothing like watching your own grandkids perform in the Christmas program. It’s worth coming home even if it means a 24 hour trip. 16 year old Michelle sang her first solo, “Where is the Line to See Jesus?” (See story and lyrics below) While Evan 14, played an obese Santa Claus receiving little kids on his lap in the mall.
And of course they finished up with children in costume doing the manger scene.
And as always, our son, Tim, is so inspiring as he leads the worship!

Oh yes, Felipe got into the act by telling his version of the Christmas story to the kids who sat on the floor on the platform. (Michelle was my helper.)
The service was capped off by a stirring message by Pastor Lance Lowell on “unreached expectations.” He started with several videos of disappointed and angry kids who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They were tearing open their presents then in a tantrum, screaming, “That’s not what I wanted!” Then he reminded us how the promised Messiah, coming as a humble baby in a manger, did not meet the expectations of many Jews. They were expecting a powerful Victor to stamp out their political enemies, but this Victor triumphed over the enemy of our souls. They expected a worldwide kingdom to be established with the Jews in power. Instead King Jesus established a worldwide “spiritual Kingdom.” They were expecting a King that would aid the poor and stamp out the oppressor. Yes, He brought hope to the poor, but His battles were won against Satan, the “spiritual oppressor.”
Then Pastor Lance made it personal. We must each accept Him as the “promise fulfilled”. We must accept Him as our “personal Savior.” And we must “proclaim Him to all men.” Good stuff!
After church we shared a wonderful afternoon at Tim and Cheryl’s home, along with Cheryl’s extended family, opening presents and enjoying a delicious home cooked meal with turkey and ham and all the trimmings!
Tomorrow I will take Tim and Cheryl and the kids to the Rain Forrest Café in San Francisco where we will meet for lunch with Ron and Elisabet. Then later this week I plan to drive north to Portland, where, Lord willing, I will see Mike and Mary, and my three living siblings and the rest of my extended family in their regular January first reunion.

So… Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!


Song story and Lyrics: "Where's the Line to See Jesus?"

“While at the mall last year, my four year old grandson saw kids lined up excitedly to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of God's son; with the innocence of a child, he asked his mom, ‘Where's the line to see Jesus? If Christmas is Jesus' birthday, why don't we see Him more?’ As his grandpa, I was so happy that little Spencer understood the meaning of Christmas at such a tender age, and then the words for a song were jotted down in just a few minutes. The song was inspired by my grandson, and the message was inspired by my Savior. Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation and our song will cause people to reflect on the love of Jesus, and the certainty that one day we will all stand in line to see Jesus. Merry Christmas everyone.”

(An Original Song)
Performed by father and daughter, Steve Haupt and Becky Kelley
Inspired by grandson, Spencer Reijgers
Written by Steve Haupt and Chris Loesch
The story behind the song, as told by Steve Haupt:


Christmas time was approaching,
Snow is starting to fall,
Shoppers choosing their presents,
People filling the mall.

Children waiting for Santa,
With excitement and glee,
A little boy tugged my sweater,
Looked up and asked me.

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
Is He here at the store?
It’s Christmas time, it’s His birthday.
Why don’t we see Him more?

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
He was born for me.
Santa Claus brought me presents.
But Christ gave His life for me.

As I stood in amazement,
At this message profound,
I looked down to thank him,
he was nowhere around.

Little boy at the mall,
Might as well have had wings,
As the tears filled my eyes,
but I heard him sing.

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
Is He here at the store?
It’s Christmas time, it’s His birthday.
Why don’t we see Him more?

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
He was born for me.
Santa Claus brought me presents.
But Christ gave His life for me.

In the blink of an eye,
at the sound of His trump,
We’ll all stand in line at His throne.
Every knee shall bow down,
every tongue will confess,
that Jesus Christ is Lord

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
Is He here at the store?
It’s Christmas time, it’s His birthday.
Why don’t we see Him more?

Where’s the line to see Jesus?
He was born for me.
Santa Claus brought me presents.
But Christ gave His life for me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

There is no place like Home

Last Tuesday I arrived back at my home in Modesto… a whole world away from Rooster Camp and the Island Church in Argentina. It is always good to come home to family, our church family and our children and grand children.
Saturday afternoon I drove our son, Tim, and his kids, Michelle 16 and Evan 14 out to Knights Ferry, a quaint old town hiding nestled down in a canyon alongside a beautiful river in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

A long covered bridge adds atmosphere alongside the ruins of an abandoned mill. It’s always a fun place to go hiking.

Evan squeezed through the bars at the old mill.

Evan and I climbed the rocks.

Michelle sat on in a high place to draw a picture of a tree. She excels in graphic arts and has quite a collection of her pictures.

As the sun was setting, Tim, who is an excellent and highly experienced photographer, moved about with his camera shooting unusual portraits...
one of me holding my camera taking a picture...
another of me with Evan on the porch of that old rock building, one into the sunset a silhouette of Michelle drawing that picture. The shots of both Evan and myself on the rocks. I shot the one of Tim and the kids (top) with my little pocket camera.

California is filled with interesting places to visit. You can go for a drive and visit lakes, rivers, the sea coast, high snow covered mountains, famous gold-rush towns, the incredible scenery of Yosemite Valley, forests of giant Sequoia trees, old steam engines and much more.

But the best place to visit is home… where you can sit down with your own family and friends and share experiences.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

River Island Church

I just got back at my borrowed "Prophet's Chamber" after a wonderful long day at the delta island church. It’s a 3 ½ hour trip out there on one of our five small church bus boats (35 to 45 passengers) and about the same to return. Left early this morning.
Pastor Cocholo is at the helm of the "Betel de los Alcanfores" boat and his wife, Lilia, always smiling, sitting beside him.
"Lip-burnng hot mate" (a strong tea drawn through a metal straw) is shared by all on board.
After one hour on Canal Arias, we turned to drive down a narrow canal for 25 minutes to pick up two families.
It is late spring and the flowers were blooming, especially the hydrangeas and camellias.
We stopped along the way to pick up more families, among them Juan and Juana Chico and their son, Victor. Juan was on the verge of suicide in 1984 when the Holy Spirit literally struck me in the chest alerting me to stop as I was driving the Messenger of Peace boat past their little shack alongside the river. Victor was a baby in arms then. He is now a musician who leads the worship at the island church.

I hugged and kissed the cheeks of some of the dearest people in my life. We reached many of them for Jesus years ago. One by one we stopped with the Messenger of Peace boat at their little shacks on stilts. We shared the wonderful story of Jesus with them and flooded them with His divine love. Some of them were little kids back then.
Now they are married and delighted to have their children meet Felipe. Many of our first converts are already with Jesus.

What a blessing to be able to minister to them one more time!

One of our five church bus boats, the Nelly, the one that hit a submerged tree trunk and sunk last year, has been restored. Some boys are the first ones aboard her as she will soon load up to carry many families back to their homes, some left their homes this morning at 6 AM and won't get home until 10 PM. All day at church with Jesus and His friends is the best day of the week for them... and for me, too.

It's bed time and I am exhausted and hungry. I lost the apple I was planning to eat for dinner… somewhere along the line. I'm hungry, yes, but so very full of the joy of the Lord!

Buenas noches.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Road to Rooster Camp

The town is called “Campo Gallo” which translates “Rooster Camp.” It’s located about 150 miles from nowhere in the northern part of the province of Santiago del Estero. I enjoyed a great service there last night! Packed church! Many youth. Lots of little kids. Good people, loving people, hugs and kisses on the cheek from big men, elderly ladies and little children.
I am reminded of Jesus’ words when told that his mother and brothers were outside wanting to see him. He looked around at his crowd of followers and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.” Some of my close family members live in “Rooster Camp.” (Spiritual family, of course.)

But the 150 miles of road to get there took me over 4 hours and then more than 5 hours to return in the dark. I have seen many roads of all kinds in my lifetime, but this one was without doubt the most difficult of any. It had been paved at one time and here and there would have 100 yards of pavement… or a half mile… but with huge potholes…
most of them about 8 inches deep and some so huge that they covered most of the road and 18 inches to almost 2 feet deep! Then the damaged pavement would come to an abrupt end and a drop off of about 8 to 10 inches onto a gravel road. Unfortunately parts of the former pavement were sticking up out of the gravel to grab the underside of the car. I had to slowly lower the car into deep holes and climb out on the other side… hundreds of them. Progress was slow going, but much slower in reduced visibility after midnight as I returned. There were cattle, horses, sheep, goats and pigs loose and grazing beside the road.
Most of the time mine was the only vehicle around. Sometime in the middle of the night on this lonely road I got sleepy and pulled off on a little spot I found by the road and slept soundly for maybe 30 minutes before going on. There were a few stretches of good pavement. I would get up to 40 mph or so and suddenly have to slam on the brakes again and lower the vehicle into a pit. Several times I was surprised by a huge pit and fell into it headlong. The poor car took a terrible beating, but kept on going even when I went through deep water… I don’t know how deep. I just know it sounded pretty deep as it made waves and then I came out on the other side. There were several stretches of miles of good road, but even then I dared not speed since a huge crater could appear at any moment and often did.

It was a challenge, but well worth it for the blessed fellowship we enjoyed as we worshipped as a family. After church the pastor begged me for a date to come back. The Wednesday previous they had gotten mixed up in the dates and had announced me for last week… and had a great crowd… only to find out they were a week early. So I could not consider leaving them out only because of a badly damaged road. I was safely back in my hotel at 5 AM.

Thank you Jesus! All is well. It’s now 3:30 PM Thursday and I think I’ll take a much needed siesta. Service starts here in the big city of Santiago del Estero is at 8:30 tonight. I continue preaching every day at least once. Recently I have had only about 4 or 5 hours sleep at night, but I’m doing fine, although I confess I would prefer 8 hours.