Thursday, January 21, 2010
So, I had posted that I was going to talk about all my trips and make it "Around the World in 80 posts" thing. No, that hasn't changed. I'll still be doing that. But first, I wanted to start with a foundation of sorts. A 'why I do this' foundation.
I received some great news tonight. To make a REALLY long story short, months worth of story, I thought all doors had closed on the ONE trip I wanted to take this year. I was so upset when I found out that I couldn't go because the dates at work were already claimed. I cried. The wonderful person that does the planning for her mom, who I would be going with, tried everything to no avail. I had resigned myself that I wasn't supposed to go and there was something else for me.
Alas, when I went to talk to my pastor to ask her where else she is going this year, she told me the dates for the trip I wanted to go on had changed and check to see if I could get those dates off. I figured it would take a miracle to be able to go. And you know what? A miracle happened. With only 2 1/2 months to prepare, I will be going to Bhutan in April. (I'm not excited at all - said with rolling of eyes.)
So, now that is said, why do I go? Why do I want to go to a foreign country to talk to people I've never met? To places that it's not legal to be a Christian? Places where they have to go to a secret meeting under the cover of night just to fellowship with others that have given their lives to Jesus? Short answer? I'm crazy.
Long answer? If you read back on some of my other posts, you will see a pretty clear theme. Jesus is the only way. He was very clear on that. John 14:6 "Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." There is no other way.
There is A LOT of stuff out there today. You have the old religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslim. You have new weird stuff, Scientology, Oprah religion, new age. A couple of people that sit around me at work were talking about meditation and yoga.
Back to the question at hand. Why do I do it? It's not a question that I can answer quickly or lightly. First, I do it because of Jesus. He told us to. Matthew 28:18-20 "Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”
Jesus gave His life for me, you, for the people around the world. He didn't do that lightly. He prayed that His Father would pass the cup from him. He also told His Father not his (Jesus') will, but the Father's be done.
I don't travel the world lightly. Sure, its fun to go to different countries, see new lands, take pictures. All the touristy stuff. But it's the people. There has not been one country that I have not fallen in love with the people to some degree. Some more than others. One thing remains the same in every country. The people have no hope. They are all searching for something that their gods, their idols, cannot give them. Love, hope, joy, satisfaction. I know someone, however, that can give them all that. Why keep it to myself?
It hasn't been easy. I'm human. I've had crappy trips. It's hard to be away from home, away from family. It requires sacrifice. It requires vigilance. As we press ahead in this time, the end days, it's not a time to be passive.
Why do I do it? Because it's time to break the silence.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
You'll be taking a journey around the world while I share some of my mission stories with you. It is a missionary blog, after all.
I've been thinking about posting some for awhile. Then my sister in law said it would be cool to post some pictures with them, too. I've got some cool pictures of some of my more recent trips. I've also discovered a newly acquired talent for writing, so hopefully I'll be able to make the stories come alive for you, as well.
First, a little about my history with missions and then I'll get to the good stuff.
I first got involved in missions when I was 16. My Bible teacher at the Christian school I went to at that time was really excited about a group called Teen Mania Ministries. He would talk about his experience with them all the time.
That year, I went to Acquire the Fire, a weekend long youth conference Teen Mania does, and I was turned on to missions.
I filled out the application to go to Ecuador and sent it off. A few weeks later, I got an acceptance letter from them saying I was going to Panama. Needless to say, and you can ask my mom, I was upset that I didn't get to go to Ecuador. I cried and said I wasn't going to go. However, God had a different plan.
After all was said and done, I went to Panama on my first mission trip. For a month. Seems like a long time, huh?
Next time, I'll post some pictures and some stories of my time in Panama. Also, how it opened up the door for the next trip.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The other was The Journeyman. It follows a man looking for the answers to two questions. "Who made me?" and "Why am I here?"
Now, I don't remember exactly how the whole thing goes as the last time I did this drama was in Malaysia in 1998. However, I will tell you the gist of the whole thing. Now, you need to use your imagination. The drama was done to music, with a narrator telling the audience what was going on in the language of that country.
We start with a man. He is asking two questions; "Who made me?" and "Why am I here?". Sound familiar? OK, back to our drama. . .
While asking these questions, a man appears on the scene. He tries to answer Journeyman's questions. Journeyman shrugs him off. The man leaves.
In comes a group of people. They have treasure. Gold. Journeyman starts fighting them for it. He hits one. They fall dead. Suddenly, Journeyman has blood on his hands. (Represented by red gloves.) He is guilty. Exit the treasure people.
Next, and I'm sure I have my order mixed up, but in come the intellectuals. They are book smart. They can find the answers to anything in books. Journeyman asks them his questions. They cannot give him the answer. He asks them to help him take his gloves off. They can't do it. Journeyman moves on and the man enters the scene again. And again, Journeyman waves him off.
Enter the party people. They are laughing, dancing, drinking. They are having a good 'ole time. Journeyman joins in the party. He asks his questions, but they can't answer them. They try to get the gloves off. They can't do it either. After a while, the party breaks up, leaving Journeyman in a lonely position.
The treasure hunters come back. They are seeking justice. They are seeking revenge. They take Journeyman, intending to make a sacrifice out of him. Enter the man. He takes Journeyman's place. They crucify the man. He dies.
Not the end of the story. The man is resurrected, takes off the Journeyman's gloves and answers the mans questions. But that's not the end either. The man offers the same to the other groups the Journeyman had come across. Some accept, others reject. The man is sad each time someone rejects, but is overjoyed when someone accepts. The 'new' group gathers around and faces the audience. End drama.
Now I know that I didn't represent the drama perfectly or to it's full intent it was meant to be. But it will do for this time. (I did try to look for the script, but didn't find it.)
We are all Journeymen. Male, female, young, old, red, yellow, black and white. We are always searching for the answers to the two questions Journeyman asked.
When I went to Texas several weeks ago to spend some time with my cousin, a door was opened for me to speak into her life after a discussion about 'worldly humor' and the lack of morals this world has to offer.
Without getting into complete details, and make the post even longer, I told her she's too busy doing her own thing to care about what she was really created for. Sure, she searching for a plan for her life, trying to discover who she really is, but where is she doing that, what is she looking to and what is she finding?
We're all like that. We want what we want, without rules or anything getting in the way. We live in a world of do-what-feels-good-when-it-feels-good. We don't like the thought of someone putting regulations on what we can and cannot do, even if it's for our own good and/or protection. We look in all the wrong places.
Think about it. . . It goes back to the questions of the Journeyman. 'Who made me?' and 'Why am I here?'. Where did he look and who did he look to?
Think about creation. God said 'Let us make man in our own image.' He created male and female both and then had a relationship with them. He would walk with them in the garden. He would fellowship with them. Why would he do that?
After the fall, we were separated from God, from being able to have a relationship with him. But there's more to the story, more to what we were created for, more to who we are are.
We are created for God. To have relationship with him. If that wasn't true, why would he have sent his Son to die for us so that we can reestablish that relationship with him? How many times have I forgotten what I was created for? Too many to count. But there is Grace. For everyone.
Unfortunately, the world is looking in the wrong places. They are searching for that relationship that we were created for. Remember in Jerry Maguire, when Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) tells Jerry (Tom Cruise) that he completes her? Then at the end of the movie, he tells her the same thing? No man can do this for another. Know who can, though? Yep, that's what God does for us, if we let him.
You may think what I told my cousin was pretty harsh. And maybe it was. However, I believe that we are not living in a time that we can be passive. Time is too short for it. We need to tell the world, that includes the people we see every day-family, friends, neighbors-what we were really created for.
Isaiah sums it up nicely in Isaiah 49:5-6 "And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Talk about a call!!!!
So now, ask yourself. 'Who made you?' and 'Why are you here?'. The answer, you'll find, is bigger and better than you could ever dream. Not to worry, though. When we find God, start a relationship with Him, our journey isn't over. No, my friend, it is only the beginning. We're just a different kind of Journeyman. A New One.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
There are a few reasons I haven't written anything for a while. One, I just got busy and didn't really think about it. I did in passing, but in trying to finish other things out, this got pushed to the back burner.
Two, I've been working on my book. It's nothing big. My sister in law is a brand new author, her first book coming out this year (hopefully). I said something to her one time that I wish I could write a book. She told me I should try. So, a year and a half later, maybe more, I finally finished it. It's exciting. Now, I'm in the editing process. Still not sure what I'm going to do with it now. I guess I'll just see what happens.
Three, nothing has really gelled while trying to write something. I have a ton of ideas, but nothing has really come out like I want it too. Ever have that happen? Maybe it's just not the right time.
It's not like nothing has happened in the last month. I went to Texas to visit my cousin for a weekend. I finished my book. Work has been kind of crazy. Car is driving me nuts, no pun intended. Funny how we let time escape when we have other things going on.
There's no huge point to this post. Maybe I'm writing it for those of you that has commented that I hadn't posted anything. Maybe it will get rid of the block that I have. Maybe it's to show I'm human, too. Who knows.
This is the shortest post in a LONG time, but know that I am working on a couple of things. I will hopefully have something more posted soon. Thanks to all who read this. I don't have a lot that do, but I'm glad someone does! =)
Friday, July 31, 2009
That's a question that we ask a lot. It starts as little kids. Really little. I have a two and a half year old niece. She's very inquisitive. She likes to ask questions. One favorite is 'Why?' You answer that question, and it's 'Why?' From her age on, we ask that question many times in our lives.
One of the biggest questions in the world today; why do bad things happen to good people? I've heard people who don't know God personally ask it. I've heard Christians ask it. So why is it?
Unfortunately, I don't have the final answer. I do have a couple of things to input on the subject, however. First, we live in a fallen world. Plain and simple. Ok, so not so simple, but it's the truth.
God never intended us to live like we do. Nope, He intended us to live in the Garden, walking with Him in the cool of the evening. Adam did. Eve did. We were created to have relationship with God. But, man (that means both male and female sides) screwed it up. See, God gave us this cool thing that is called free will. We have the ability to make choices. He doesn't make us have relationship with Him. He wants us to choose Him. And, silly us, we chose wrong. We thought it would be cool to have our eyes opened and see good and evil like God. Hind sight is always 100% better than foresight. The fallen world is a consequence of that first sin. (Read Genesis 3:14-19 for the consequences of Adam and Eve's choice.)
Because of that choice, sin now has a place in this world. It tries to have a place in our lives. We all sin. No matter how hard we try, we fall. Romans 3:23 NLT "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." However, we don't have to let it have a place in our lives. We're still going to screw up; we are human after all. But remember that free will I told you about? Yep, we can choose not to let sin have a place in our lives. How, you may ask. Continue your relationship with God. Become more intimate with Him, and we won't want to do any of the sin that tries to have that place. We don't have to let sin rule over us. We repent quickly. We become completely vulnerable to what God is doing. We live under Grace. We imitate the example Jesus set before us. Jesus was completely human, but because of his completely intimate relationship with His Father, He lived a sinless life. However, He is also God, so we can't expect to actually live sinless.
I know it's a lot to get the mind around. I can't get my mind around it, so I don't expect you to wrap yours either. God doesn't expect us to. We are only expected to Trust and have Faith.
Now, back to the question of the hour. Look at your life. Are there things that have happened that you've asked why? A sudden death in the family? A job that was lost? A divorce that happened even though you gave it everything you had? A miscarriage? The list goes on and on. Why did these things happen? You've trusted God. You know that he provides. Why did it happen?
First, you need to know that GOD is not the one that did it!! It is NOT in His character. He doesn't have an evil or mean bone in His body. Matthew 7:9 NLT "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?"
But, Romans 8:28 NLT "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." So, even though we have bad things happen, God can work them for good. We just not may be able to see it at the moment.
Look at Jesus. One of the worst things happened to Him. He was betrayed, beaten, spit on, rejected, and killed in the most humiliating way. Even though He chose to die, for the people in the moment, it looked bad. The worst! But, God had a plan! He knew what was going to happen. He worked it for the Good, by Jesus' death and resurrection and it's through Jesus that we have Salvation! Now, how does our 'bad' compare?
There is a lot that happens just because we live in the world. We are IN the world, but not OF the world. Remember that. So even if things look bad, God is still in control. He still knows what's going on. He doesn't miss anything. However, just because He is in control, it doesn't mean that He has done anything to bring about the bad.
Second, these things are the consequence of sin. Some things are unrelated to choices we make. It's because of choices others make. The car our family member was driving was hit because someone was drinking and driving. That type of thing. But, we also have the consequences because of choices we have made.
There are doors that we have all opened, knowingly or unknowingly, that have let things come into our lives to wreak havoc. We continue to make bad choices, even after we know something is wrong. Look at the sexually transmitted diseases going around. Maybe it's the consequence that comes from the sexual sin people choose to be ensnared in? Because it's fun, and it feels good, and everyone is doing it? Not sure it's really worth it.
There are boundaries that God has set. It's not because He doesn't want us to have fun. He's a fun God. However, the rules and boundaries God has placed for us is to protect us. Not to be the party crasher. He never wants us to get hurt. And He's still there when we make those dumb mistakes, either out of stupidity or ignorance.
Think of a teenager. They just got their license. They saved up and got a car. It's a clunker, but it's a cool car to them. They get pulled over because they were speeding. Mom and Dad aren't happy with the choice their child has made, but they are there to help them through it. The teenager still has to face the consequences, but they don't have to do it alone.
God will never leave us or forsake us. He's given us that promise. And he has a perfect track record. We know bad things happen. We know that we have someone to count on when it does happen. Now, we have choices to make ourselves. But remember, when we don't make the right choice, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 NLT
Friday, July 17, 2009
To make a really long story short, I called a patients mom that we finally got a good phone number for and she yelled at me and then hung up on me. OK, no big deal. It's happened before. Probably will happen again. I cancelled the order and went on with the other orders I had. Then, a funny thing happened. Not 'ha-ha' funny, but funny in a 'you don't have that happen everyday' funny. Right before lunch, the patients mom called back to apologize. I can't say that in the two years I've worked there, I've had someone call back to apologize after they were mean and hung up.
Not only was that incredible in itself, she told me that God wouldn't let her go on another moment until she apologized. Talk about an incredible witness. She laid her pride down, humbled herself before God and called back.
Now, I wasn't hurt by it. But after the apology phone call, I was affected. I was faced with a question. Would I be strong enough or obedient to God and call someone back?
The story, however, doesn't end there. I told her that she was forgiven. I forgave her. No harm done, it's all good. Now, I work in a call center, and I have a voice that is loud (I'd make a good megaphone) and I can be heard by the people around me. When I got off the phone, someone laughed at what I told the lady who called. "You're forgiven?!" she asked. It was a scoffing tone, like it was a stupid thing to say. She understood a little more after I said the person apologized, but the fact that it sounded like a stupid thing to her was sad.
Why? you may ask. I don't know all she believes, but the fact that 'forgiveness' is foreign to her is . . . I'm not sure I even have a word. Sad, heartbreaking, disappointing are a few words that come to mind. I know she goes to church on occasion. How much teaching she has is a good guess.
The person that sits next to me believes in Buddha. He has a little statue on his desk. Buddhism teaches on the principle of not holding a grudge, or forgiving someone. Karma and all that. He even said he would hold a grudge. I don't know how close his following of Buddha is.
Colossians 3:13 NLT "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. "
We all have faults. I'm sure there have been many people that have had to forgive me. I've had to forgive myself. We all have opportunities to forgive someone. I was, for all intents and purposes, engaged several years ago. We hadn't made it official, but everyone knew we were planning on getting married. Then he crushed me. He was out of state and I went to see him. He dumped me the first day I was there and I spent four days alone, in a far away state. It took me a year to finally get over the numb feeling and get angry about it. Then he pulled a couple other crappy things. A real messed up situation. But I had a choice. Forgive him, or become bitter. I had to do some counseling, but I did forgive him. And I know I'm better off without him.
You see, forgiveness isn't all about the person you need to forgive. It's also about you. If you don't forgive, you will become bitter and hard and God can't work in you. It's not easy. It's something you have to make a choice to do. It's something that you will have to do over and over and over again, most likely for the same person. Luke 17:4 NLT "'Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.'”
Jesus also tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 NLT "'If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.'"
Jesus paid the ultimate price for our forgiveness. He died for us, so our sins would be forgiven and we can spend eternity with Him. He rose again to crush the hold that sin has over us so we can be free. How little of a price do we pay when we forgive someone? We don't have to die for it. We just have to make a choice. How is it that we have lost sight of that?
That's why the concept of forgiveness is so foreign to the world. We've lost sight of the ultimate forgiveness and we figure the world deserves what it gets. Without Jesus, they will get what we ALL deserve. We ALL deserve death. It's only because of Jesus that we have life.
Grace plays a huge part in this as well. When Jesus died and shed his blood, it covered all our sins and the law. We now have a way to God. And it's because of God's Grace and Love that He sent His Son to die for us to make that way. We have the perfect picture of Grace and Forgiveness. Why do we make it so hard? Why can't we follow the example that Jesus lived?
So now, we all need to look inside ourselves. Knowing that we pull on the Grace of God every moment of life, are we willing to extend that Grace to others? Are we willing to humble ourselves before God, be obedient to Him, and either apologize or forgive someone? Are we willing to do it, even if we get mocked? Is it in You?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This last week, the news has been focused on the loss of Michael Jackson. He was an international icon. There are people all over the world, especially in America, that mourn the loss of him. Besides the fact that I don't understand it, it grieves me. Why? I've seen a picture of a woman worshiping him. Holding onto a child, I'm guessing, she had one arm raised, eyes closed and looked as though she was singing. I was sick at seeing it. Michael Jackson is dead and cannot save her.
Another story was about a guy who found a picture of Michael Jackson in a tree stump. Like people find pictures of Elvis and the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich or a potato chip. A neighbor was quoted saying that this man looked up to Michael Jackson and that M.J. is more important to him than Jesus. Here again, Jesus should be the most important since He's the only way for Salvation. I'm sure the list goes on.
My cousin, who's eighteen, has hopes of setting me up with someone. She told me that this person believes in Jesus. I asked her what exactly he believes. She didn't know. I was thinking, That's great. He believes in Jesus. So do the demons and Satan. (I still don't know what he believes.) I have another friend that told me that a girl, we'll call her 'Sally', wanted to date him, but she didn't believe Jesus is the Son of God.
The difference between 'Sally' and the demons. The demons know the Truth. They know for a fact, they don't have to go on Faith, that Jesus is the Son of God. That's heart breaking.
James 2:19 NLT "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror."
Michael Jackson was raised Jehovah Witness. He then, in recent years, started studying Islam. Both religions believe in Jesus. Neither has the Truth. M.J. gained the whole world, as it seems, but if he didn't know the Truth, he lost his soul.
Mother Theresa. I met her. She was a cute little lady that had a great heart and a great sense of humor. She was funny, telling jokes, passing out St. Christopher medals, blessing everyone over and over. She had some incredible insight to God and incredible wisdom. She did some amazing things in her life time. She sacrificed her life to help people. However, if she did not know Jesus as her personal savior, she didn't go to Heaven.
John 14:6 NLT "Jesus told him, “'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'"
The Church today is more interested in being right, being bigger, being better than anyone else that we've lost the true sight of the Call. What is more important; people knowing who you are and what you do, or people knowing the Truth?
Unfortunately, the Truth has taken a back seat. Because of that, there are people exploring other ways because we've been a horrible representation of Christ and His Church. Recently, there has been some that are huge in the Christian world that are turning and searching out other avenues. These avenues are the things that the world is turning to. And there are people from the Church, knowing the Truth, that are following because it sounds good for the moment.
James 1:5-8 NLT "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do."
I have no way of ending this nicely or wrapping it up. I'm a missionary. My calling is overseas. That doesn't mean that I don't have a heart for America as well. I live here. I was born here and raised here. America is on a fast track to hell. A hundred years ago, our government would never had dreamed we would be at the place we are now. We were founded on Christian principles. Those principles are now just a memory.
Look inside yourself. Where do you stand? What do you believe? Are you going to let only the demons believe? Are you going to take a stand for Christ and let the world know that He's the only way?
Do you care?