Whenever we engage with people of other cultures, we are usually concerned about bridging cultural gaps and being appropriate and applicable in our host culture. We know that this is necessary in order to build relationships and to be effective in whatever our endeavor. However, there are some things that transcend cultural boundaries and differences. These are universal to the human experience and heart/mind. I have been reminded of this very graphically while here in the Philippines. Continue Reading…
Sitting here at the airport…all checked in and waiting to board my flight. This last week has been a whirlwind making sure all my bases are covered in the ministry at home and preparing for the work I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks. It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. I’m thankful God has opened this door and that I have the privilege of playing a small part in the equipping of believers and workers in the Kingdom on the other side of the world. Thank you, God.
God has given me this opportunity but there are many others who have made, and are making, it possible to do this. Many have told me they have been, and will continue to pray for me and this work. Many have given financially to support and participate in this mission. Thank you to friends, fellow church members, relatives, the church from my hometown and those who believe in what I’m doing in this endeavor. I’m also thankful for the sacrifice of my wife who hates being at home alone for extended periods of time. Although she does not like to see me leave on these trips, she wholeheartedly supports me and gives of herself to make it possible. Thank you Sweetheart!
You can read about the overall scope of this mission here, if you haven’t been in the loop so far. Specifically, this time I will be focusing on training. I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be involved in the following tasks. As you read this, perhaps you can pray more specifically about the work I’ll be doing over the next 15 days.
Best Counseling Practices for Crisis Intervention Pastors and deacons serving as pastors
Best Counseling Practices for Crisis Intervention Faculty and Staff – GBBC and School
Counseling Older Congregants Young Pastors
P.L.A.C.E. Assessment and Coaching Junior and Senior College Students
Teacher In-service Faculty GBBC School
Thank you in advance for your prayers. I ask that you seek God to give me wisdom in the material I present, the ability to discern needs on the fly, the discernment to make cross-cultural application and relevance and strength and stamina physically and emotionally. Your partnership is not taken lightly and you will share in the blessing of knowing Kingdom impact is being made.
I wonder what he thought as he watched us laugh and joke…as he saw us go about our days as though there was not a care in the world? As I looked into his eyes, I saw a depth of concern and burden that disclosed a faith that knows what it means to put one’s life on the line for following Christ. Don’t get me wrong, my new friend could laugh and smile…and he did often. However, he was never so serious as when he worshiped or spoke of his faith…he was never so passionate as when he challenged us to be bold in our faith as well.
Here are the words I read from my devotion on the night I was stranded in Guam:
STRIVE TO TRUST ME in more and more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in the difficulties. If you believe that I am sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to trust Me in all situations. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment—accepting things exactly as they are— and search for My way in the midst of those circumstances.
From Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young
Coincidence? No…not at all. God’s Word and His timing are prefect. He speaks in ways that we need to hear at the time we need to hear them. I’m reminded of this over and over again. Perhaps one of the things He is teaching me on this journey to the other side of the world is that truth…and that I need to trust Him more completely. I don’t do that very well sometimes.
May my faith be as the psalmists:
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
In my last post, I made a statement about the uncertainty of tomorrow and the certainty of God’s plan. I said, “However, here is the one thing that I know for sure…anything that is a question mark to me is an exclamation mark to God!” Now, I get to put those words to the test. Last night as I was presenting my credentials for boarding the plane from Guam to Manila, the airline employee asked me to step aside and have another employee assist me. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but I had a bad feeling about it. As I listened to the explanation of the problem I watched two of our team members stand at the boarding doorway to see what was going to happen.
You see, the very polite and courteous United Airlines employee explained to me that the Philippines has a very strict law requiring that visitors to their country have a minimum 180-day “cushion” between the visit dates and the expiration date on the passport. That’s six months. My passport expires in May. That means I have only five months. As she explained that I would not be boarding the plane that evening, I stepped over to the awaiting team members and told them I would not be on this flight. I said I will join you as soon as I can.
After a lot of waiting to have my luggage retrieved from the plane, completing customs forms, and obtaining Bureau of Immigration phone numbers, I found a taxi and made my way to the nearest hotel. It was a little funny, I said to the taxi driver, “Just take me to the nearest hotel.” He said, “Which hotel?” I replied, “I don’t know, I’ve never been here before and I plan on only staying one night.” He smiled and took me to a small, locally-owned hotel, pointing out with a chuckle that it was conveniently located across the street from McDonald’s. So…I had a good night’s sleep (which the other team members would not have been able to enjoy) and this morning the sun is shining brightly as the locals go about their daily routine on this Wednesday morning. And that reminds me that my situation is just as routine and normal as theirs…in God’s plan. He wasn’t taken by surprise by this turn of events. He has had this in His plan all along. There is a reason I’m in Guam this morning…maybe He will reveal this to me before the day is over. Either way, I’m trying to have the eyes of the Spirit to see what that looks like…to be available to let Him work through me where I am…not by coincidence, but by design. Therefore, as I stated yesterday, I get to prove that “anything that is a question mark to me is an exclamation mark to God!”
Thank you to all who are praying in this. Please ask God to reveal exactly what He wants me to do and how He wants me to respond to this opportunity. May He get the glory from whatever the outcome is.
I’m sitting here in the airport in San Francisco awaiting our plane. Today we fly to Honolulu, to Guam, to Manila (where we have about an 8-hour layover), then on to Davao City. I’m excited! I’ve met four of our team, all from Missouri. My roommate last night was a 22-year-old guy who is embarking on his first mission trip. I know what these two weeks will entail…and I don’t. I know sort of what we will be doing, but there is still much that is unknown. Actually most of it is unknown…people I’ve never met before, places I’ve never been before, situations I’ve never encountered before and lives I’ve never touched before. I’m the adventurous sort, so these unknowns don’t really concern me. I love to face new challenges and experience new things. I suppose there is a little bit of anxiety about what I will have to address in the ministry I’ll be doing. There is a little bit of concern about how I will interface with a different culture. However, here is the one thing that I know for sure…anything that is a question mark to me is an exclamation mark to God! He has already gone before us. He has already ordained our work and purpose. He has already made the path straight before us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
So…my expectation is in what He will do. My desire is for His plans to be brought to fruition. My glory is in Him, and Him alone! May He be glorified and His will be done. And…may lives be impacted for eternity.
Read more about it here.
This Sunday I board a plane for a region of the world I’ve never visited before. I will be off to Mindanao Island in the Philippines. I am on a mission that has been several months in the making…most of the time with little understanding of how God was working behind the scenes to bring it to pass. Phone conversations that confirmed God’s timing…planning for one type of mission when God was actually preparing me for more than could have been anticipated. It has God’s fingerprints all over it, so I am anticipatory of what He will accomplish during this two-week endeavor.
I would like to invite you to learn more about this mission by visiting my Mission Philippines page and reading how you can partner with me.
I’m not like my friend, Allen, who is a baseball FANATIC! :-) He loves the game, follows the game, is a die-hard Royals fan and can quote the stats and give you the latest update on who’s ahead in the pennant race. I’m not that kind of baseball fan…but I do like the game. I especially like to watch the game live. Although I haven’t traveled widely to the baseball parks and stadiums around the country, I’ve watched “America’s Pastime ” at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. One ballpark I’ve visited a few times that is most nostalgic, however, is Wrigley Field in Chicago. It is truly an experience to take the El from downtown to the stadium, watch the street drummers playing for the crowd in front of the statue of Harry Caray, and then to find your seat and watch the game in that old ballpark. Continue Reading…
In the last post, I introduced the thing with which I am wrestling these days. It is not a life or death struggle…one that will either result in my fully embracing faith or chucking it for something else. However, for someone reading this, it may be that kind of struggle. It is for that reason, that I am endeavoring to be totally honest with my thoughts, questions, conflicts and seeking.
Have you ever doubted? I mean…has the thought ever passed through your mind, what if all this stuff I believe is just a fairytale? Now I know that sounds pretty strange, perhaps, coming from a pastor, but I’m just trying to be real here, right? I once heard a minister/college professor/leader state that he’d never doubted anything about God, the Bible and his faith. I thought…good for you…I think you’re the exception, not the rule. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had those thoughts go through my mind. The good thing for me (perhaps) is that those thoughts never lingered there for long and it has never cropped up very often. I can’t say that it isn’t for lack of having my world rocked. That is usually when we get those doubts and ask the questions this series is asking, right? I mean…my world was rocked as a new believer when my parents divorced when I was 12, my world was rocked when I witnessed my grandfather’s death in a very volatile and disturbing circumstance, my world was rocked in trying to figure out relationships in college, my world was rocked when learning to be a husband that knew how to be a husband, my world was rocked when having to face some addictive behaviors, my world was rocked while trying to come to terms with some very deep and personal issues that are too difficult to share here. So the circumstances have been available to cause me to seriously question…”Why me God?,” or to say, “If God is love then why…?”–you get the picture.
12:05 am and two miles from my exit…my wife asks me what’s on my mind…I guess I’m a little quieter than usual. “I have a lot to do in the next 24 hours,” I tell her. I’ve been out of the office for a little over a week and only one day to catch up before another short trip that leads up to Sunday. I do that…get lost in my thoughts when there is a lot looming over my head. I’m planning and plotting to come up with a way to get done what seems to be mocking me from the shadows. Somehow, I’ll get it all done…or at least what has to be done.
However, there’s something more that is troubling my mind on this journey. It’s a gnawing at my heart and my mind that just won’t go away. It’s the thought that I later posted as my Facebook status, “I am so frustrated that God doesn’t fit in my box…yet if He did, I wouldn’t believe in Him any more.”
The last month has been filled with some good moments of worship, prayer, walking with brothers in pursuit of Jesus. A covenant commitment has brought some spiritual rewards for me…and others. I’ve been encouraged and bolstered in my faith by God’s Spirit and through the interaction with brothers. I’ve found strength and resolution in some aspects of my marital relationship. These days have been, at times, uplifting, and at others, extremely difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy or pity; I’m in a much better place than a brother with whom I’ve been walking. My faith isn’t shaken, for sure…but, out of this has come as much a question as an answer…and as much an answer as a question. The question is “Why?” Continue Reading…