Uzbekistan Photos (Pt. 2)

I posted another round of photos from my time in Uzbekistan (Read the original post here about where these are coming from). As I said before, I will gladly sell these to you in any format for any price, and all profits will go to supporting the Kingdom of Jesus in Central Asia.

See the rest of them on my flickr feed here.

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Got a minute?

’cause if you do, I’d like to share a couple of neat opportunities with you…

When I went overseas, I had about 11 weeks to find enough folks to commit to giving about $1,200 a month for at least a year while I was gone. Once I had been gone for a couple of months, a good bit of my support dropped off. I ended up having to watch my finances very carefully, and I still spent a lot of my own money.

The day I got home, I pretty much had nothing in the bank, and I actually owed some money to cover travel expenses for getting home.

Missionaries shouldn’t have to deal with that.

Fast-forward to today: God is good and He takes care of me. Steph and I are ironing out some financial rinkles and God is teaching us in the process. But I want to introduce you to three friends who are now in the shoes I was in a couple of years ago:

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1) Meet Tricia and Matt. Tricia is my sister from another mother. She was with me in Uzbekistan, and is one of the awesome-est (yes, I just made that a word) people you’ll ever meet. Since we’ve been back, she and Matt got married and started a life together.

In a couple of weeks, they will be moving to Thailand to spread the Gospel. They will earn their place in the culture by teaching english to elementary school students at this school. Once they arrive in the country, their expenses will be paid as part of their teaching positions, but they are responsible to cover all of their travel expenses, which will be several thousand dollars.

Up until now, Tricia has been working at a church, and Matt has been working part-time while going to seminary. This is another way of saying, “These kids have been living on a string and a couple thousand dollars doesn’t come easy.” If everyone who looked at this blog yesterday gave 20 bucks, we could pay for their whole trip. Please pray about it and let me know if you wanna help!

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Isaiah 53

Have you ever read Isaiah 53 from The Message? It’s powerful…

Several days ago,  I saw Los’ suggestion to check out this song, “Healer”. So I went to the link and heard the song, and watched the video about the story behind it.

And then I watched the performance of it.

…over and over and over again.

At the beginning of the song, the artist reads the first half of Isaiah 53 from The Message, and made more sense to me than it ever has.

Check it out:

1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
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Reconciling the beatitudes with being American

I was reading in Luke 6 this morning. After Jesus pronounces His ‘blesseds’, He pronounces His ‘woes’:

24(AS) “But woe to you who are rich,(AT) for you(AU) have received your consolation.

25“Woe to you who are full now, for(AV) you shall be hungry.

“Woe to(AW) you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

And I asked myself, “What’s fundamentally wrong with being rich?”

And I responded (to myself), “Because all rich people know some poor people, and that means that they are withholding their riches at the cost of their friends’ comfort and provision.”

And then I thought, “Well, most people seem to agree that all Americans are pretty much rich by the rest of the world’s standards. So, who are the poor people that we know?”

And then I thought, “Well, pretty much the rest of the world.”

And that’s kind of funny

…for about 5 seconds.

And then it’s disturbing and overwhelming.

I’m typing this on a computer that cost more than many people will make in the next 5 years.

What kind of steward am I being?

What kind of steward are you being?

This seals the deal

Zack (vitamin z) Nelson points to Margie Haak’s blog review of “The Dark Knight”.

This seals the deal:

At the end of the Dark Knight I was left in want of a hero large enough to make life meaningful again, someone who could bring light to the set, who could heal the lives ruined by injustice, crime, ambition, violence. The Batman, the faltering, finite hero we love, disappears into the night still determined to try to fix the world, but everyone, including him, knows how impossible and grievous this calling will be.

The movie underscores how hopeless this task for human heroes – to heal the earth of all its injustices, to offer choice even to The Jokers of the world. We wait for consummation, like Simeon the priest waited for the Consolation of Israel.

Is it possible that a Marvel commic could stir up purer worship of Jesus?

I bought a christian t-shirt

Our local Family Christian Bookstore had a big sale yesterday, and they had a big pile of t-shirts for 50-75% off. I happened to spot this one and it caught my eye. As you can see, the front lists many (all?) of the names of God, which just makes me happy.

But then I flipped it over and read the back. It says, “All that Christ is, He is for you.”

I wasn’t sure what to think about that….

I think you could read that two different ways:

1) “God offers all of Himself to you, to demonstrate His greatness and glory by completely satisfying you with all that He is, no matter who you are.”

2) “God exists for you. You can think of him like a big Genie in the sky. Or a pet, perhaps.”

The first way seems good to me. The second seems bad….

In the end, I liked the front so much that I decided to get it anyways, but I’m wondering whether I should change the back.

I was hoping you all could give me some feedback here:

Does the wording on the shirt bother you?

Do you think it clearly communicates Truth about God?

If not, what would you do with a sharpie to change it?

I wanna go back…

Me in the ruins of Alexander the Greats palace in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Me in the ruins of Alexander the Great's palace in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

I would give a lot to be waking up in Samarkand today. I would walk down the street to get break baked just a few minutes ago, and I would come home and eat it for breakfast with sweet milk and tea.

Or I would fast and walk around the city all day and pray against the demonic strongholds that make a miserable place to live.

Someday, Lord?