Putting the Zoo in Zumba

Zac and Jennifer are co-workers here in Puebla who are on the tail end of their initial language study here in Mexico. I don’t know them real well yet, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know them a little better since we’ve moved to the area. Jennifer is a pro when it comes to all-things-dance. Zac told me that she’s done all sorts of dance since she was 6 years old.

I really don’t know much about all that, but I can tell you, she’s an expert at Zumba. In recent months she has started a set of Zumba classes as a way to make new contacts for sharing the gospel. I think it’s going to be successful.

Somehow, she received an invitation to lead a one-hour Zumba class/demonstration at a ritzy department store (called Liverpool) at one of the nicest malls in Puebla. Very upscale. Earlier this past week, I ran into Zac and Jen at the seminary, and after hearing about the opportunity at the mall, I discovered they didn’t have anyone to take pictures of the event while she led it and Zac handed out flyers for their weekly Zumba classes. So, I offered to help out by taking pictures.

What was I thinking?!? Zumba is definitely something I would never want to be caught doing let alone watching! But, I was happy to be able to help them out a little and see if I was capable of getting some pics they might be able to use for their ministry.

In the process, I learned a lot about my camera and what it is and isn’t capable of doing…as long as I’m the one using it! It was a challenge, but I think we’ll come up with a handful of decent pics out of over 800 that I took. I still have a good bit of photo-editing to do, but I managed to work on a few last night after the event.

One pic that I liked shows Jennifer leading the group of ladies and one of our MKs (Lillian Bult) who apparently was mid-jump. She looks like she’s floating. I don’t know if the picture appeals to anyone else, but I really like it.

By the way, they had about 10 women sign up for more information about their classes and many others took flyers. There were over 10 women who they did not know or have any contact with before the event who participated. Some only came for part of the hour. It was quite a workout, and anyone who stayed for the entire hour was definitely sweaty by the end of it.

Great job Jennifer and Zac! I think their ministry will be met with much success as they begin to connect with the ladies who participate. Praying that God will use them to that end and that many women and their families will eventually come to faith in Jesus Christ through their relationship with J-Z!

Here’s the pic I mentioned above (and a few others):

And finally…a cute kid who insisted that I take his picture (yeah, why not?!).

This boy’s mother wasn’t going to sign up for more information (via email) about the Zumba, but she did anyway because she wanted a copy of the picture emailed to her! Oh and the little guy did join in for a little Zumba himself…sort of freestyle, but he was definitely moving!

And I survived the traumatic event while enjoying figuring out the camera work as best I could. (By the way, getting a picture while a whole group is moving, while getting the leader in the shot, and getting a good facial expression, and not getting something undesirable in the background, getting it focused just right, with the right amount of bokeh (background/foreground blur), etc. is truly a challenge…at least for me! It was fun though!

Oh, and did you spot the solid black mannequin above joining them in the Zumba routine? Didn’t even see that until I was editing the picture at home. ūüôā

Here’s a stock photo of Zac and Jennifer (I didn’t think to take a picture of them the event required their full attention and concentration):

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Majestic Morn

More often than not, it seems we can’t really see Popo due to dust, clouds, pollution, or a combination of the three. This week, we’re seeing evening rains which helps keep the dust level down a bit. My office work space at home is usually covered in a new layer of dust on a daily basis. I could shut the window, but it would be 90 degrees plus in here if I did that. As it is, the window is only open about 2 inches (vertically as it slides open from side to side).

But the rains are giving us at least a morning view at times. I had to go up and check the water tank on the roof this morning, so I figured I might was well take the camera up with me and see if I could get a decent shot (despite the high-tension wires that will always be the bane of my photog experience on the roof)). I did a little editing to bring out the blue and show up enough contrast to show the snow line. I could look at this all day. Lovely.

Not that I could. We’re working on renewing Dayton’s visa. Beth and I have permanent visas and will never have to renew them again (so they say). Cameron’s expired and it isn’t likely that he’ll be able to renew his. He’ll have to visit us as a tourist from now on. We thought the expiration date for Dayton’s was in May. Nope. It was in April. By the time we discovered that, it was already past due by a week. So, that oversight will cost us hours of extra work, waiting, interviews, and a couple hundred dollars extra. It pays to pay attention.

In the meantime, I’ll try not to think about that and look at this picture again. Lovely still.

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Truth and Buddha

Not too much happening out of the ordinary these days as our classes are going along well and routinely. That’s not to say nothing important is happening, but teaching is a process, and progress happens over time, which is to say, little by little. So, the extraordinary events are typically on a small scale and are typically incomplete and just one piece of many of a larger puzzle of life and growth.

Recently, I’ve been adding to my personal devotional time by listening to various YouTube videos of well-known theologians and pastors. A few months ago I listened to a number of messages by both Ravi Zacharias and his RVIM co-worker William Ramsden as well as a smattering of messages by others such as Francis Chan, John MacArthur, Michael Card, Daniel Wallace, and probably a few others.

Ramsden has an excellent 4 message series on Jonah that I particularly enjoyed. You can listen to the first part, and then follow YT links to chapters 2-4 afterward. I’ll embed the video below:

In the past week or two, I’ve come across some “round-table discussions” with various theologians on-stage who are either¬†answering a particular question or addressing a particular topic. The last couple of days I’ve been listening to a clip on “Inerrancy.” Great stuff. Here is the Q&A on that (I highly recommend you take the time to listen to this):

The inerrancy of Scripture truly is a central question for all of our lives. Our faith is in vain, and all that we think we know and believe about God is worthless if the Bible is not inerrant. If we cannot trust the Bible to be inerrant, we cannot trust the Bible. Period.

Satan has been attacking the inerrancy of Scripture for much longer than the 1960s and 70s and certainly long before publication of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 1978. In fact, pretty much every time Satan opens his mouth, an attempt to deny and overthrow the inerrancy of Scripture is what comes out.

Genesis 3:1 (ESV) –¬†Now¬†the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the¬†Lord¬†God had made. He said to the woman, ‚ÄúDid God actually say, ‚ÄėYou¬†shall not eat of any tree in the garden‚Äô?‚ÄĚ

The very first recorded interactions of Satan and mankind was not a temptation to become rich, not an attempt to attack personal self-worth to cause Eve to become depressed, it was not a sexual temptation as runs rampant today, but rather it was a direct attack on the very words spoken by God.

Did God really say? Did God really mean it? Did you imagine that God said it or did you mistake what he said? A good and fair God surely would not have said such a thing, would He?

Satan also attempted to twist God’s words in his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Same type of thing. Of course, Satan knew he could not be successful tempting Jesus by claiming God never said what He said, so he pushed for false interpretations of Scripture that would effectively nullify the meaning of those passages thereby undermining the inerrant foundation of the word of God. And of course, Jesus doesn’t fall for it. How could he? He would later declare that he himself is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and later prayed to the Father that His word is truth. Jesus is truth. The word of the Father is truth. And John’s Gospel declares Jesus to be the Word, and furthermore John explains, the Word was with God and the Word was God. It’s getting to be a tighter and tighter knot that makes truth, and the word of God, and Jesus, and the Father, and God to be inextricably connected. We cannot reject truth without rejecting all of the above. Thus, the truth (the TRUTH) cannot deny itself by accepting error.

Inerrancy is truly the most important issue of our lifetime, and it has been the most important issue since the Creation and Genesis 3. Everything is dependent upon it. Should we deny the inerrancy of Scripture, we have no reason for faith. If the inerrancy of Scripture isn’t true, I have truly wasted my life and have been following a myth. But, yet, however, without a doubt, the inerrancy of Scripture is absolutely true. Therefore, all that the Bible teaches us about God, man, sin, Savior, and salvation is true. Truth that is trustworthy.

What does any of this have to do with Buddha? That quote above attributed to Guatama Buddha rings true, doesn’t it? Apart from God ultimately destroying the sun and moon at the end of time (something Buddha wouldn’t have known about), the truth surely cannot be hidden for very long. Truth will always come to the surface even if suppressed for a time.

In our neighborhood, there is a house with a Buddha statue in front of it. In a land filled with statues (idols?) of Mary (“the Virgin”) and many other “saints,” a statue of Buddha sticks out as a bit odd. I’ve passed by it dozens of time, usually while driving that street, and usually I shake my head in wonder at who would place a Buddha statue in front of their house like that. It’s basically on the edge of the public sidewalk.

Today, I walked past it again still ruminating on the topic of inerrancy. I decided this time I’d take a picture of the statue, and so here you have it:

At first, I didn’t really notice that there was a sign on the wall or at least not what it says until I took a closer look. I assumed it had some sort of quote from Buddha on it.

Wow! Was I ever wrong. You know Yogi Berra is attributed as saying, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” To be honest, I had done neither.

I inched forward in order to verify what it says. And here is what I saw:

The Ten Commandments! Are you kidding me?! Here is this great big Buddha idol and next to it is the Ten Commandments!

And then I followed through with Yogi Berra’s advice. I observed what it actually said.

Wait…what?!? What kind of Ten Commandments are these?!

If you can’t read the Spanish, allow me to translate:

[I. (the Roman numeral is missing for some reason)] “You will love God above all things.”

“II. You will not take God’s name in vain.” (or “you will not blaspheme or swear by God’s name in vain”)

“III. You will sanctify the festivals.”

“IV. You will honor your father and mother.”

[V. (the Roman numeral 5 is also missing)] “You will not kill/murder.”

“VI. You will not fornicate.”

“VII. You will not steal.”

“VIII. You will not raise false testimony nor lie.”

“IX. You will not desire your neighbor’s wife.”

“X. You will not covet someone else’s things.”

I hope you don’t need any help figuring out why I found this a bit disturbing. Numbers 5 to 10 sound about right, but the first 5 are beyond help.

From Dt 5:7-21 comes the following:

#1 “‘You shall have no other gods before me.'” (that would include Buddha; not exactly the same as “loving God above all else.” Couldn’t one love idols but say, “but I love God above all my other idols”?)

#2 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.¬†You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the¬†Lord¬†your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,¬†but showing steadfast love to¬†thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.'” (that would include not making or having a likeness of or bowing down to or serving Buddha; notice that this one was cut out completely, much like #1, and replaced with what is basically #3)

#3 “‘You shall not take the name of the¬†Lord¬†your God in vain, for the¬†Lord¬†will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.'” (In the fake Ten Commandments, this one was bumped up to #2 and then their #3 is an attempt to make the actual #4 (regarding the Lord’s Sabbaths) to be changed from Sabbaths to a generic “festivals,” which of course, would have in mind Buddhist festivals rather than the Lord’s Sabbaths.)

#4 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the¬†Lord¬†your God commanded you.¬†Six days you shall labor and do all your work,¬†but¬†the seventh day is a Sabbath to the¬†Lord¬†your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates,¬†that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.¬†You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the¬†Lord¬†your God brought you out from there¬†with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the¬†Lord¬†your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.'” (As mentioned above, this one was twisted to “festivals,” no doubt implying Buddhist festivals or any festivals that Buddhism would approve of, and replaced at #4 is a form of the actual #5, though leaving out the blessing that comes with honoring father and mother which also specifies to whom and to where the blessing applies which is rather exclusionary in the immediate context of the Old Covenant Israelites and the Promised Land.)

#5 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the¬†Lord¬†your God commanded you,¬†that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the¬†Lord¬†your God is giving you.'” (as mentioned above a form of this was bumped up to #4)

#6 “‘You shall not murder.'” (this was bumped up to #5)

#7 “‘And you shall not commit adultery.'” (this was bumped up to #6)

#8 “‘And you shall not steal'” (this was¬† bumped up to #7)

#9 “‘And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'” (this was bumped up to #8)

#10 “‘And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.'” (a form of this one was also #10, but the part about coveting your neighbor’s wife was split off from #10 and placed at #9 thereby reaching the all-important total of TEN commandments!)

Confused yet? Buddha should also have said that while the truth cannot be hidden for long, the truth is also clear and not confusing…and certainly, the truth is not INVENTED!

Now I can’t necessarily blame Buddha for these fake Ten Commandments. I will take a chance and presume that he didn’t write these. However, all is¬† not lost in that regard. Apparently, Buddha’s, or at least Buddhist, writings contain his/their own version of the Ten Commandments. They are as follows:

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

The¬†first five of these commandments‚ÄĒnot to take life, not to steal, not to commit unchastity, not to tell lies, not to drink intoxicants‚ÄĒare binding on all laymen. The whole ten are binding on the brotherhood, and in their case the third rule means absolute celibacy. But the pious layman may take upon himself three more in addition to the first five. Those three‚ÄĒnot eating after noon, not witnessing dancing, shows, and plays, not using ornaments, scents, and unguents‚ÄĒare usually taken on the fast-days, and are only binding for the day on which they are assumed. Details as to the rules and organization of the Order will be found in¬†The Way of the Buddha¬†of Mr. H. Baynes in the same series as the present volume.

1. Abstinence from destroying life.

2. Abstinence from taking what is not given.

3. Abstinence from unchastity.

4. Abstinence from falsehood.

5. Abstinence from spirituous liquors, strong drink, intoxicants, which are a cause of negligence.

6. Abstinence from eating at the wrong time [i.e. after noon].

7. Abstinence from looking at dancing, singing, music, and plays.

p. 53

8. Abstinence from wearing garlands, scents, unguents, ornaments, and adornments, which are a cause of negligence.

9. Abstinence from a high or large bed.

10. Abstinence from accepting gold and silver. (Khuddaka PńĀŠĻ≠ha, 2.)

SOURCE: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/busc/busc11.htm

 

Not exactly the perverted version from my picture above of the Ten Commandments that God originally gave. I have to admit, in regards to these 10 Buddhist Commandments, I’ve probably violated in recent days #’s 1, 6, 7, 8 (possibly, if that includes deodorant), and 9 (if a bed not flat on the floor is reason for guilt). I apparently don’t make a good Buddhist. That’s a relief!

But wait…there’s more. My simple search has yielded me with “Buddha’s 14 Commandments.” Why can’t he make up his mind? So, in case 10 Commandments is too easy for you, here’s a total of 14 Commandments to add to your routine:

BUDDHA’S 14 COMMANDMENTS

1. The biggest enemy of human life ‚ÄĒ is himself.

2. The biggest folly of human life ‚ÄĒ it is a lie.

3. The greatest loss in life ‚ÄĒ is arrogance.

4. The greatest sorrow in life ‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs envy.

5. The biggest mistake in life ‚ÄĒ to lose himself.

6. The biggest fault in human life ‚ÄĒ ingratitude.

7. The most unfortunate in life ‚ÄĒ impairing their dignity.

8. The most admirable of human life ‚ÄĒ to rise after falling.

9. The greatest loss of human life ‚ÄĒ the loss of hope.

10. Greatest asset in life ‚ÄĒ health and mind.

11. The largest debt in human life ‚ÄĒ heartfelt feelings.

12. The greatest gift in life ‚ÄĒ generosity.

13. The biggest drawback in life ‚ÄĒ misunderstanding.

14. The greatest consolation in life ‚ÄĒ good things.

SOURCE: http://buddhismnetwork.com/2016/12/10/buddhas-14-commandments/

 

To be fair, God has more commands than just the Ten, so I guess I can let this growing list of Buddhist commandments slide a little. But, I’m beginning to wonder if there aren’t some contradictions in these Buddhist commandments.

I mean, health and mind are great assets, but I’ve been dealing with a painful nerve issue that requires unguents (violation of #8 of 10) in an attempt to heal them or at least to deaden the pain (maybe pain is part of health and a sound mind, but I beg to differ!). And good things are certainly a great consolation in life, but singing to the Lord (which is a good thing as a result of being filled with the Spirit, see Eph 5) is in violation of command #7.

The Passover meal was always to be eaten at sundown by command of God. Eating after noon is in direct violation of Buddhist command #6. Joseph and Mary accepted gold (and myrrh and frankincense from the magi). Accepting the gold violates #10, and if they used any of the myrrh or frankincense, that would have violated #8.

Mary (Magdalene) anointed Jesus’ feet with pure nard in preparation for his death and burial. The sinless Jesus would have violated #8! And he and the disciples sang a hymn (violation of #7) as they departed from their evening Passover meal (violation of #6) on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would willingly offer up his life to be killed (violation of #1 at least plausibly a violation ex post facto since he says beforehand that he gave up his life and that he willingly laid down his life, i.e. to be killed, though he did rise from the dead so perhaps Buddha would give him a pass on this one given things turned around by Sunday).

Hmmm…I’m beginning to wonder about the reliability of these Buddhist commands. They seem to have some contradictions, and also as pointed out above, there seem to be some tensions between Scriptural commands and principles as well as biblical norms and righteous acts.

What’s the problem? The problem is this: The Buddhist commands and religion is not INERRANT. Basing one’s life on these flawed principles and rules will lead to ruin and a wasted life. Sure there are some positive vibes mixed in there, but mix in a dollop of dog poo in your brownie mix (a la “The Skit Guys”), and I don’t care how good the chocolate is, I’m not eating that! Eating it will surely lead to ruin!

Inerrancy of Scripture. Truth.

These are all-important. And not just conceptually, but in reality and practice. We cannot live without them, and we can only live with them.

Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.

Amen.

 

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And There Was Evening…

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Still Here

I knew I hadn’t posted anything in awhile, but I didn’t realize it had been 2 months. Most of you keep up with us on Facebook, so it’s not the end of the world or the blog.

Recent news is that Cameron arrived Saturday night from Chicago for his spring break. He hasn’t been in Mexico for over a year (I thought it had been 2 years, but he did come home Christmas of 2016 which I had forgotten). On Sunday, we went out for a typical breakfast and a “taste of Mexico” and later went downtown for a walkabout.

Here are some scenes we came across…

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Vistas

I wrote the following post* on Facebook today. I’ll share it here because I know a few of you who visit here don’t do Facebook (or we just haven’t crossed paths on FB yet). Life here in Puebla, Mexico is interesting. We’re really enjoying our new house. The location is interesting too. We see interesting things from time-to-time. Here is a taste of what I mean….

So, a bit ago Bethie and I were driving back from dropping off a couple of Mexican brothers at an apartment that is less than a mile from here but across a major road.

The neighborhood looks quite a bit different over there. More gang symbols spray painted on houses, walls, buildings, signs, etc. Young kids riding their bikes on the streets and sidewalks. Youth looking at their phones (like where in the world does that not happen?!). Saw a young guy trying to plant a kiss on a girl who wouldn’t let him (that was amusing). Most buildings don’t seem painted, most doors are metal and painted black. All concrete block construction of everything.

We turned a corner about 2 blocks directly across from our house, and there presenting themselves were two, brand-spanking new vehicles parked on an equally nondescript street.

One was an exotic Mercedes sports car, silver in color. In front of it was a decked out, silver, all chrome trim Ford pick-up truck.

As we drove by (and I instinctively and unconsciously angled our van over the center toward the opposite side of the street), we couldn’t help but notice there were no people on this street. Not a single kid on a bike, no one walk walking on the sidewalks, not even a pair of kissing teenagers like we’d seen for multiple blocks before this. Not a soul.

Not a soul, except for 3 or 4 men. Big men. Dressed in suits. One standing at the rear of the Mercedes. One standing at the front of the pickup. One standing directly in front of the door of the nondescript building where the vehicles were parked. There may have been another man on the sidewalk as well. All of the men were facing the street, eyes gazing back and forth. They noticed us and took a good look at us as we passed. We passed and tried not to look interested despite being fascinated by the unexpected scene.

My guess is we just encountered a meeting of the area drug lords.

Now I really wonder what those special forces guys were doing in front of our house earlier today.

Who knows…maybe I shouldn’t even be posting this. Oh well, I don’t think my FB friends will nark on me…and now you can be fascinated too.

#PoblanoLife

(*I was going to copy and paste two posts from Facebook, however, I discovered that the first post in which I mentioned that there were some special forces dressed in black with black masks and impressive hardware has disappeared from my Facebook feed. It appears that either I somehow didn’t post it (but I remember seeing it post and show up) or the FB folks decided I wasn’t allowed to post that and conveniently deleted it for me (that apparently happens at times). I don’t know but at least now I’ve made that observation known. I just thought it was interesting. I think they were temporarily parked out front visiting a neighboring business for some reason or another.)

 

Oh, and after arriving home for a brief drive across the road, Dayton and I climbed up the stairs to the roof for a final vista of the day. How could anyone get tired of seeing this? Amazing…

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Housing Project Update

Having received more funds than were needed to help Lupe and Rocío with their impossible housing debt situation, we not only were able to pay that off a few months ago, but there were enough funds leftover to expand their house to add two bedrooms, enclose their lean-to bathroom, which will allow Lupe to partition off the existing kitchen/living/dining room into just a small kitchen and a workroom.

Lupe’s father was an upholsterer and Lupe was taught that trade long ago. He now has his father’s old industrial sewing machine and will move it into the house once the project is completed. One thing that must be done is he needs to take out a window on the end of the house, move that to another window opening and bring in a large metal door. The machine is too large to fit through their current front door.

Bethie and I went up on Saturday with an elder, Sergio, from the Abundant Life Bible Church so that he would know where they live and how to get there. With our upcoming move and desire for our three families to move to the other church, Sergio wanted to get up there for a visit. We took him by Jason and Kristin’s home as afterward as well.

Here are a few pics I took from our brief visit with Lupe, Roc√≠o and the boys. They have their “widowmaker” shower head still in place, but they haven’t had a toilet or sink for about a month now. They’re anxious for the workers (who disappeared over the last week for their Catholic festival days in honor of the Virgin) to return and get back to work! Everything has been ready for a week for the workers to put the wooden forms in place so that the electrical work can be installed and the concrete roof can be poured followed by the floors. The forms will have to remain in place for about 3 weeks before they can be removed.

Low temperatures have been in the upper 20s F with highs in the 50s or low 60s the past few days and will be for a few days more. It makes open-air showers quite challenging. Brrrrrr….

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