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:

—-

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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Video from youth retreat

A couple of weeks ago we took our youth group up to Asheville for a couple of days.

We stayed at a camp ground with no electricity, which meant no amplifiers or flashy lights, just guitars and voices worshipping the King.

Check it out:

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?

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?

What do you think?

Brace yourself.

For the first time in a while, I’m making some time to write something somewhat meaningful here.

It’s strange. Although these past couple of weeks have had me busier than ever (lots of driving back and forth between Greensboro and Creedmoor and working really hard to get up to speed at work, plus focussing a little bit more on church stuff), I seem to be experiencing more clarity than I have in a while.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just ’cause of the John Mayer song. Actually, I hope not. (Isn’t the point of that song that as soon as you realize that you’re having a moment of clarity it’s too late, because that realization will take away the clarity?)

But I digress…

To be honest, it’s not nearly that complicated. I think the bottom line is that I’ve had at least 2 1/2 hours a day to sit in a car and think and listen to some fantastic teaching from guys like Mark Driscoll and Francis Chan. And at least equally importantly, God has been doing some amazing things in Stephanie’s life too. She might not even realize it, but she’s more beautiful than ever — in every way. I feel more encouraged and supported than ever, and that makes more difference than any woman will ever understand.

So, all that rambling because I want to ask for some feedback. I had a rare moment this week when a Bible story became completely new to me — the meaning and value for my life right now came through in a way it never has before.

In our ‘Spiritual Gifts’ Bible study that our men’s group is studying through at work, the author makes a point using the life of Moses, and he focusses specifically on the story from early in Moses’ life where he kills the Egyptian. The author challenged me to consider the question: “Why did Moses kill the Egyptian?”

It seems like a simple enough question, but the answer is powerful for me: I think Moses killed him because he was beginning to get a grip on God’s calling for his life. God put in Moses’ heart a burden for His people. Moses felt God’s compassion and righteous anger towards the conditions of the Israelites.

And before he probably realized that God had put this in his heart, and certainly before he consulted God about it, he did something rash and chalked it up to passion.

The result: a man died, and Moses spent 40 years hiding out in the wilderness.

And I got to thinking: Did it really have to be that way? If Moses had realized that his passion came from God, and asked God for direction on how to act, and then waited, could it have played out better? What if God was ready and willing to lead the people out in 1 year? What if those 40 extra years of toil and death that God’s people experienced weren’t necessary?

But then again, God is sovereign. Someone in our discussion put it this way: What if God planned for everything to happen just the way it did? What if He wanted Moses to go out to the wilderness so that He could mold him into the redeemer of His people that He wanted him to be?

This definitely seems reasonable. Think about all the people who spent time in the wilderness before God really fulfilled His calling in their lives. There’s Moses, David, Paul, John the Baptist… even Jesus it seems to some extent.

So all that leaves me in a funny place because I have such an overwhelming passion for God’s church. I seriously feel the Gospel like fire in my bones and everything in me screams to give my whole life to see the world changed by the Gospel. I want to spend my life being poured out for the Bride of Christ in America until She is a true reflection of Him, and truly cares about His bride around the world. And I try to wrap my head around the story about Moses, and how God seems to send His servants into long seasons of waiting where He prepares them, and I try to think about how that applies to me, and I just don’t know what to take away.

In the sermon I listened to this morning from Francis Chan, he said that in Uganda alone (I think — that part wasn’t clear), 43,000 children are orphaned every day, and 29,000 orphans die every day.

Every day.

Part of me fights God about that.

“What can You teach me in 5 or 10 years that is worth so many wasted lives?”

I know. It’s an audacious question to ask the Creator. I ask it respectfully. I know that I have so much to learn that I don’t even know how much I have to learn.

But what’s the balance in the meantime? How do I stir up the passions God has put in me and take full advantage of what’s available for me to do in THIS season, while simultaneously resting in God’s sovereignty and just waiting for His leadership?

I guess I already know what I would tell someone if they asked me those questions… but all the same, what do you think?