11/3/16

Reflection

I'm in line at the library.
I glance at some of the books nearby, and see that one of the books is in Thai. I ask the attendant if she reads Thai. She tells me that the book was actually brought here by a friend. I ask who her friend is, and she introduces us.

I meet him and he tells me that we've met before. In fact, that I was the one who told him about Jesus. 

He's speaking in English now, and is teaching me some deep things about the Bible, about it's history that I had never known. 

He tells me his name is Rin.


I'm filled to the brim with what has to be the joy of the Lord. 


I start to ask him so many questions.

My alarm pulls me from my dream. 

I am sad.




It's now officially been (over) a year since I have been "employed" as a missionary, though I have learned that the work never truly ceases. 

My year back "home" has been incredibly difficult, largely in part to my impatience, my lack of faith, and my stubbornness.

I now work a job in which I cannot see the eternal significance.
I talk  more regularly about non spiritual things.
With fear and trepidation I've tried to start engaging this culture, terrified that it might suffocate me.
I have a great lack of community, and a loss of peace.

Part of me died overseas, and part of me is missing back here.

It's just a reality. Something that I'm always aware of.

And this is where God finds me. 

To ask me, even here, "Do you trust Me."

and I want to grit my teeth and say "no."
I want to be stubborn
I want to dig my heels in

Instead, I plead with God.

Lord, I believe. Please, please help my unbelief.
(Mark 9:24)

My hope and my future is with You God.
Please be gentle with it; with me:
 a sinner who would rather look at what You have done in the past 
instead of what You are doing for the future.


If you have even once prayed for me, I cannot thank you enough.
If you are still praying for me, I can't believe your faithfulness, and I can't find the words for your role  you have played in my life. 
Thank you. 




11/6/15

Tomorrow


a few months ago many of my friends finished up their term.
We had a blast working together and sharing life.
On our final evening we were out cruising through our city and I had an absolute out of body experience with regard to what big change in our lives was about to come the very next day.

I wrote it in my journal and then wrote a song out of it.
It has been in my head a lot, easily because I have a big chance happening literally tomorrow,
and I thought I would share it with you.


It is a poor recording, but bear with it for now


Lyrics: 
music is blaring the windows are down
we cruise through this city our city our town
we try to remember so we don't forget
yearning for memories we haven't made yet

for tomorrow life ends
and tomorrow life begins

holding on to the last glimpse of light
denying ourselves that day has turned to night
now awake is the only thing that we must keep
because time only passes of we dare to sleep

for tomorrow I leave home
and tomorrow I come home

we're lights in the darkness 'till the Son arrives
but take heart cause demons fly slower than we ever drive
and the wind will scatter us all in a breath
adding to our lives just one more death

now uncertainty certainly calling my name
and the time in the past is all that remains
I won't blink even once
and hope to freeze the frame

for tomorrow never comes
and tomorrow has come 

10/22/15

Alien


The Martian, and Castaway are movies about men stranded, trying to survive and return to their home.

The interesting thing is that (spoilers, I guess) when both of them have returned home, there is at least one moment when they find something or do something that makes them reminisce...dare I say, miss? their time of desolation.

Mark Watley sees a little sprout growing

Chuck Noland plays with a flashlight and sleeps on the ground.

Both of these things brought some form of comfort, some form of nostalgia, or normalcy.

And interestingly they found these comforts from a place that had effectively separated them from what they wanted in the most extreme and physical way possible.

While they were trying so hard to get back to their homeland, they didn't stop to realize that life was happening. Like it or not, Mars or the island had infiltrated them and had become home to them. Ever so minutely.

Perhaps wrongly I find some affinity with these characters when I watch these movies

I only have two days left in Thailand. The countdown to my return is imminent.
 I have been through countless trials of varying degrees.

I fell through a roof.
I was separated by language and culture
I was in car and motorcycle accidents
I was away from friends and family
I moved to a different house
I had to pay bills in a different language
I had to get the services set up to even begin paying bills
I had to figure out how to eat
I had to deal with sickness
I fought spiritual battles

And yet, even now, still in the country, I can only look at my time here with great fondness and joy.

Making new friends
Understanding God's Will
Conquering language
Gaining a desire to serve like Jesus
Broadening and tuning my personal world view 
Better becoming a disciple of Christ
and the list goes on...

I will say it until I'm blue in the face  : Growth isn't enjoyable to experience, but to reflect upon. 

God has stretched and pulled me and asked of me much more than I could have even thought.

All in efforts to bring me closer to Him, and to call me to obedience.

He could have done this anywhere, but He did it in Thailand. 

My journey doesn't end here, but rather my time in this location does.

Perhaps God will call me back here, or perhaps this was all to help train me to better serve the people of my own culture. 

But by His grace, I am ready 

Thank you for your prayers









Growth

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." - 1 Corinthians 3:6


It's my second to last week with my small group. 


Today we are discussing our testimonies. 

I demonstrate a very simple testimony, maybe only 5 sentences.

What was my life before Jesus
What was my life when I encountered Jesus 
What is my life after I've confessed Jesus as Lord? 

It's just to get them thinking, and hopefully understanding their faith more. 

As they break off to start crafting their testimony, I begin to start rejoicing and thanking God for my time here.

The growth that God has caused in my life has been incredible

And then I hear one of the testimonies. 

He proceeds to inform the entire group about how he always used to go to the temple, and try to make merit.

How he always wanted to make more and more merit, but he was also confused because Buddhism doesn't provide a way to get rid of sin.

And when he heard the story of Jesus he was fascinated, because he had never heard something like this. So he began to study the Bible.

Many things, he did not understand, but he continued to study, and then he came to Ephesians 2:8.

To use his own words here, he said "This is the verse God used to open my heart."

I'd like to know how often Paul felt dumbstruck.

As this young man is giving his testimony, I'm honestly only thinking about who he was when I first met him.

He was incredibly quiet, and incredibly shy. 
I rarely knew if he understood what I was saying, or if he was even interested. 

and the man I'm looking at today is demonstrating a confident understanding of  God that I would've been incredibly jealous of if I was 16. 

I'm looking at a different person.

And it isn't because of me. 

I don't even know if I'd consider anything that I did out here watering or planting if I compare myself to Paul.

But this kid has grown. 

God has seen to that.

And it leaves me excited, and no longer fearful for his future

or mine.

Flashback



I'm in my final days of being "employed" as a missionary.

The paychecks will stop, but the responsibility will not.

I have less than 7 days left in my current job, and I have about 2 weeks left in my country.

The number one question I'm asked on a regular basis is "what are you doing when you go back?"

Rather ironic, because it's the last place my head is.

Back? Back where? Back in America? What's America?

I'm still here, fighting to be present and serve in a country that has in so many ways become my home.

The language that once seemed so alien is remarkably comforting to hear.

The culture that once drained me energizes me.

People that I could once only ask where they were from are now close friends.

I look at my church community, I look at my fellow servants.

I love it here.


I keep looking for...meaning, or some way that I can summarize my time here.

Some way that I can wrap it all up, and put a nice bow on it.

For myself

For you

And it hasn't come to me yet, and maybe it never will.

And perhaps it doesn't have to.

After all, if you've been reading my (sparse) posts for these past three years, you yourself have been on a journey as well. Could you summarize or tell me the "meaning" of your last three years?

My time hasn't been more or less special than yours because of my location.

I'm not who I was three years ago, I'm not who I was yesterday.

And I can't say I'm that interested in who I was, except in relation to who God has grown me to be.

Right here, right now.

The Bible tells us that tomorrow isn't certain.
Yesterday has already passed.
What we know is we have today.
How will we obey?



10/11/15

The Hearts of Men



"I would like to practice English with you if you are free."

I glance at the clock.

It's 1:30 am.

I'm in Tokyo, talking to a physically disabled man, who speaks some of the best English I've found in Japan.

I'm trying to see if this is an opportunity to share the gospel.

We hobble our way to a soup place. He is leaning on me almost the whole way.

I don't know how this man is traveling by himself.

We talk about simple things, as I begin to eat my food and he struggles with the chopsticks.

For all intents and purposes this dinner turns out to be a disaster.

Soup gets spilled almost immediately

Condiments are almost everywhere but the soup

He starts falling asleep as we eat and chat

People are looking at us.

I finally decide that his english is good enough, and start turning the conversation to Jesus.

He has heard the stories.

"So, what do you think about Jesus?"

His response is both quick and blunt.

"I don't care."

I'm a little taken aback, and perhaps it shows.

"Japanese people, for the most part, we don't care about God."

The conversation slowly trails off from there, and we make our way back to the hostel.


As I lay in bed, I mentally run through all the people I've proclaimed the good news too, and how this that have been interested have been a grand total of 0.

It isn't my responsibility to change hearts, that is a job for God alone.

It is my our responsibility to proclaim the good news.

This alone changes how I pray.

Why don't you change more hearts, God?

You had mercy on me, a sinner. Please extend that to those that live in darkness, that don't know you.








2/26/15

What Mercy Looks Like

"Every year, millions of people will come to climb these stairs."

I'm at a Hindu temple in Malaysia.

My friend continues explaining

"They will have made sacrifices for 90 days prior, and on the final day, they will climb up these stairs carrying a chariot, and depending on how desperate they are, they will have made multiple piercings in their flesh"

His smile widens when he tells me that he's not nearly as devout. 

I ask why they do this

He explains that many of these people are in a bad situation, and they are seeking mercy from their god. 


Then he takes me to a Chinese temple, that has a shrine to the Chinese god of mercy. 

I witness person after person come and pay money, burn incense, and buy idols, all in the hopes of receiving mercy. 

And I just can't believe what I see.

It's such a...human idea. Give something to get something. 

To see them expecting gods to behave the same as we do is just...saddening.


I want to tell these people, the sacrifice is done
and it wasn't because we were good.
but because He is good.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Not when we were finally good enough,
 not after we acknowledged Him as God,
and not when we did something to warrant a favor. 

That is mercy I believe in. 
and I'm ever more joyful that His mercy is greater than human mercy

Thank you for praying.