Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cowboys and Rangers

I went to two Texas Rangers games last weekend. On Saturday, the Rangers honored all the district Teachers of the Year. I was the secondary T.O.Y. for my school district. I had the honor of meeting Nolan Ryan. That was pretty cool.

On Sunday, I went to a game with my oldest son, a friend from church, and his son. It was my son's first professional baseball game of his life. I, myself, hadn't been to a baseball game in almost 20 years. We had a great time together.

I never realized how close Cowboy Stadium and Ranger Stadium were to each other ever since the Cowboys moved to Arlington. But that stuck in my head: Cowboys and Rangers.

*********
Fast forward to this morning when I went to the men's breakfast at my church. It was a great time of fellowship.

After breakfast, pastor Gary spoke to a couple hundred or so of us about the masculine journey. He drew upon the insights found in John Eldredge's latest book The Way of the Wild Heart. In the book, Eldredge identifies six stages of manhood that men go through—from Boyhood to Sage. At each stage there is something that a man ideally should "get" if he wants to successfully move to the next stage. Gary commented that if something happens to derail a man at one of the earlier stages, it will cause him problems in the later stages.

In the second stage (approx. 13-20 years of age), the overarching question of a man is "do I have what it takes?" Eldredge calls this the "Cowboy/Ranger" stage. At this stage, a man learns to have confidence in his abilities. When Gary spoke about this stage and when the title to the powerpoint came on the large screen, I sensed God speaking to me. I had missed some key elements at this stage. For years, I've struggled with an underlying sense of doubting if I have what it takes. That sense negatively affected me in my years as a pastor. And in many ways, it hinders me from stepping out into the fullness of what God has for me now. Having just been to where the Cowboys and Rangers play, God was showing me that part of the reason for Him bringing me to Dallas was to give me what I had been missing from the Cowboy/Ranger stage of manhood.

It's a sad feeling knowing that you missed out on something earlier on in life, but I'm glad my heavenly Father is with me and I know He will do a good work in me for His glory.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on Christ School Bundibugyo

I had reported earlier that 70 students at Christ School Bundibugyo, became followers of Jesus while I was on my short-term ministry trip in Uganda. I just heard from my friends that another 30 students accepted Christ yesterday! (There are fewer than 300 students total at the school.) You can read about it here.

Definitely encourages me to pray even more for the students at my school.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Fellowship of Christian Students

The week before school started, a student mentioned to my principal that she and some of her friends wanted to start a Christian club on campus: Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS). I was excited to hear of their desire, and volunteered to be their faculty sponsor.

About twenty students met for the first time last Friday in my classroom before school. We sang a couple of worship songs, and then broke up into two groups—girls and guys—to discuss godly vs. worldly characteristics. The topic was chosen and the discussion facilitated by one of the students who started the FCS group. This student reported having been saved and baptized over the summer.

It's so great to see these students take initiative, and be bold in their witness for Christ. May the Spirit of God do a powerful work in and through them.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ugandan pastors and witch doctors

One morning David and I were praying together, and we were moved to pray for all the witch doctors in the area that God would bless them. We really wanted to see God transform the lives of these individuals who are being held captive by the devil. During prayer, I had a sense that we were supposed to go to the home of a witch doctor, introduce ourselves, and tell him that we had come to bless him and his family. Before I could mention that, David said that he felt that the Lord was leading us to go to the home of a witch doctor who lives near the school and pray for him and his household. I told him what the Lord had put on my heart. We knew that was God's confirmation. However, we needed to find someone to translate, and we needed to find out where he lived. We prayed that God would give us what we needed.

The next morning, I took a walk in the village just to see the sights. On the road, I met Daniel, the pastor at whose church I preached the previous Sunday. After talking for a while, I told him that we needed to find out where a particular witch doctor lived. "I can take you to meet someone with that information," he told me. He brought me to the home of an older pastor, 'Kal,' who leads a group of churches in the district. Daniel translated for us. Kal told us that the man we were looking for was not a “normal” witch doctor, but was supposed to be a “night dancer.” They are more feared than regular witch doctors, and are supposed to have more power. Kal told us the man's name and where he lived.

As we were talking about the pervasiveness of witchcraft in the area, I asked him, "Have all the pastors in the district ever joined together to pray against the power of witchcraft?"

"No, we have never done that," he said. "But," he continued, "after you return to America, would you consider returning to Bundibugyo with another pastor to do a seminar for the pastors in the area?" I told him I would pray about that possibility.

The next day, Dave, two other men, and I visited the home of ‘King,’ the man who was known as a night dancer. He was not at all as I expected (although I'm not exactly sure what I expected.) He was quite old for a Ugandan—probably in his seventies. We all sat down in his "watube," a round structure with short mud walls, and wooden poles which support a thatched roof made of grass. He was very receptive to our visit, and actually told us that he wished we had come when more of his extended family was around. Several grandchildren gathered to see all the visitors. He even had a grandson named Brian. (We got along well!)

We talked for a while (through a translator), shared the gospel with him and prayed for him and his grandchildren. He had heard the gospel before on a number of occasions, but hadn’t yet decided to follow Christ. He invited us to come back for another visit in a few days. I left Uganda before having another chance to visit him, but I'm praying that others will make the time to do so.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Second week in Bundibugyo

Sunday morning July 19, I preached at a local church. The church meets in a very modest tin-roof structure made of cement and having a dirt floor. There were about 80 people in attendance, and I would estimate that about 70 of those were children 16 and under. There were a number of visitors that day. They were very encouraged when I gave them greetings from the church in the US. The pastor of the church translated into Lubwesi. I encouraged them that God wanted to use them to bring the good news of Jesus to Bundibugyo, to other parts of Uganda and beyond.

That night, I began three nights of training Ugandan student leaders and school staff in healing prayer and deliverance. I normally do this training over a number of weeks, but with time constraints I had to squeeze a lot into a few sessions. My prayer is that they would have taken away a few key concepts and will begin to pray in faith for one another and for others. Besides training, I also had prayer ministry appointments for those who were interested. It was wonderful to see God bring healing and freedom from demonic oppression.

Students also continued to seek prayer for difficulty in school caused by distraction, falling asleep, lack of concentration, poor understanding, sudden headaches or eye problems, and sudden desires to flee the classroom. It was very sad to hear how many were so harassed by the devil.

At the same time,
these students have such a sweet spirit about them, and a desire to be used by God. The final message I gave to the students as a group was based on John 14:12, that anyone who has faith in Christ will do the things that He did. I wanted them to understand that they could do the things Jesus and His followers did: preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, etc. I emphasized that these things were to be done for God's glory, not our own. I invited those who wanted to be used by God in this way to come to the front of the chapel area. Many students responded to the invitation. Two staff members, two students and I then laid hands on and prayed for the students who came forward.

School leaders and I saw definite signs of revival beginning among the students. We're praying for the sparks to be fanned into flame.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soccer field meeting in Bundibugyo

On Saturday, July 18, we had a worship gathering out on the "pitch," which is the large football (American soccer) field on the school grounds. During the planning stages of the meeting, a few people expressed some concerns. They had never had a large gathering on the pitch before. They usually have worship gatherings in the chapel area. It was going to be at night, which meant poor lighting (only a few lanterns and small battery-powered lights). Some were concerned that there was going to be chaos, and that the boys would be interacting with the girls in inappropriate ways. Despite the concerns expressed—maybe even because of them—we had faith that God was going to work. During the retreat, I had a sense that we were supposed to bring pen and paper to this Saturday night gathering so that we could follow up on the people who decide to follow Jesus.

The field was set up with chairs and benches. As is typical of most of the gatherings of this nature, boys mostly sat on one side and girls on the other. We started with several student-led worship songs in English and Lubwesi. Everyone was singing, clapping and dancing; there was such a sense of joy and celebration. There weren't any reported incidents of bad behavior. None of the fears materialized.

After the worship time, I shared a message from Luke 11:11-13. There was no sound amplification, but it did not seem to be a hindrance. Although it's a Christian school, students from all different spiritual backgrounds attend. We gave an invitation for students to become followers of Jesus. When students began to respond, one of the leaders emphasized that only those who were making a serious first-time decision to follow Jesus should come forward. He told them that the leadership intended to follow up with them to help them grow in their new faith. Some students who initially responded and realized they were not serious went back to their seats. When all was said and done, about 70 students made decisions for Christ that night!

We then had a prayer time for students who wanted boldness for sharing Christ with others, freedom from nightmares, and freedom from fears about the future. I prayed general prayers over the different groups. We also had students pair up with one another (boys with boys and girls with girls), lay hands on each other and pray for each other for their specific needs. We wanted to begin teaching them that it's not just the leaders who pray, but that they can all pray for one another.

We closed the evening with a few songs of worship. The students returned the chairs and benches and we called it a night. Jesus said, "'In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents'" (Luke 15:10). There was much rejoicing in Bundibugyo and in heaven that night.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Retreat in Bundibugyo, Uganda

On Friday (July 17), Dave and I went on a short retreat to seek the Lord and be refreshed. A family that used to do ministry in Bundibugyo left to be part of a work in another east African country, so Dave and I used their former house as our retreat location. The setting was very peaceful and beautiful.


I really enjoyed my time with Dave. He and I first became prayer partners about eight years ago when we were both living in the San Diego area. I have fond memories of sitting in his car in the parking lot of a coffee shop and praying that God would use us to further His Kingdom. Neither one of us imagined that one day God would answer those prayers by sending him and his family to Uganda for five years, and having me visit them for two weeks to help them out. Following Jesus has its joys and difficulties, but it is certainly not dull!

I brought a guitar and we worshiped the Lord and prayed together. We discussed God's work in our lives, shared the struggles we were facing and encouraged each other in our faith. We also read Scripture and books by Christian authors. I started reading The Heavenly Man, the true account of a leader in the Chinese house church movement who experienced beatings, persecution and imprisonments for his faith in Christ. His story reads like the pages of the Book of Acts—gripping and inspiring. It was a good reminder of what many followers of Jesus must go through, and of God's power and faithfulness on behalf of those who believe.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nightly student meetings in Uganda

Christ School Bundibugyo (CSB) is a secondary school which, like all schools in Uganda, follows the British education system. The students grade levels are approximately the equivalent of 8th grade to 13th grade in the U.S. Also, like most if not all schools, the students wear uniforms. Boys have blue top, girls red. The girls wear calf-length skirts. All students (including the girls) keep their hair cut quite short as is the culturally accepted norm.

There's not really a "separation of church and state" so all public schools have some Christian-based religious education as part of the curriculum. CSB, being a Christian school, obviously puts a greater emphasis on Christian education. For example, they have mandatory weekly chapel services and small groups led by teachers to help the students process and apply what they have learned in the chapel services. Because of my limited time in the country, I would only be able to speak at one chapel service. Below is a typical chapel service:

In order for me to have more time with the students, the staff and administrators decided to have a half hour time for me to pray with interested students. As this was optional, we expected maybe ten or so students to show up. I borrowed a guitar intending to play a worship song or two before praying with students. When I got to the meeting area, the chaplain was there as well as about ten students. As we were setting things up, more students continued to arrive. After several minutes the chapel area was full; most of the school's 350 students had showed up.

I wasn't quite sure what to do. I only knew one song that the students also knew and it was clear that they had come to worship. We started enthusiastically singing "There's No One Like Jesus." A couple guys played hand drums and a couple girls led vocally. The one song I knew was coming to an end, and I didn't know what to do after that. After that song was over, the student worship leaders just kept right on going with another song...and another...and another. All my internal stress was for nothing. God had things under control. (He often does :-)

We still did not have a plan for what would happen after the singing was over. There were too many students to pray for all of them individually as was the plan. During worship, I felt like the Lord gave me a short word of encouragement for the students: "The battle is Mine." The students face a lot of external and internal hindrances to fulfilling their educational and life goals. Many students are orphans or fatherless, have difficulties in their studies, struggle to pay school fees, and worry about their futures. Besides all that, many students are afraid of the witchcraft that is prevalent in this area. A majority have regular nightmares as a result. I shared the word with them, along with some promises from the Bible of God's faithfulness and His power over the forces of darkness. The students seemed to be encouraged.

After the meeting was over, the students went to their daily "prep time"—the time from 7:15 to 10:00 p.m. used for studying and preparing for upcoming tests. After all was said and done, we decided to have these half-hour meetings nightly for whoever wanted to come. From then on, the students led the worship singing time, and the remainder of the time went to testimonies or short messages from the Bible. By the end of my time there, the students were meeting on their own without me there. That was very encouraging. Some student leaders asked for an additional 1-hour time slot for me to pray for students one-on-one. Julius, a 16-year-old who pastors a church in the area—yes, I said 16—made up a schedule and organized everything.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

In need of healing

A picture of my friends' (David and Annelise) house where I stayed for all but one night of my time in Uganda.










They have a number of trees in their yard: orange (though this type is green when ripe), avocado, Jack fruit, and mango (below).









The morning of my second day in Bundibugyo, I walked with Annelise through the village to the local health clinic. I spent an extended amount of time in the pediatric area. Not many modern conveniences—it's basically a large room with mats for the children to lie on with their caregivers—but dedicated staff. A few health care professionals connected with World Harvest Mission serve here. It was very heartbreaking to see the children. Malaria, malnutrition, “wasting disease,” tuberculosis, fevers, sickle-cell anemia were the main ailments affecting them. A few of them had witchcraft amulets tied around them. Their parents/guardians hoped that these amulets would bring cures. With Annelise doing some interpreting into Lubwesi, the main local language, I spent some time praying for a number of the children that Jesus would heal them.

I didn't see any miraculous improvements at that time, but I'm praying that the Lord will continue to bring about healing in their bodies. One of the reasons for my trip was to train staff and student leaders in healing prayer and casting out demons. One of my main roles is equipping other Christians to "do the stuff." I've found that much more happens when I help others use the gifts that God has given them. I would love to see the staff and students of the school eventually taking the good news of Jesus in word and power to those in need. Since I've gotten back to the US, I've heard some reports of the Spirit of God continuing to work at the school. More, Lord!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arriving in Uganda

[Note: I brought my camera, but forgot to bring the battery charger so I don't have too many pictures. I used another camera while I was there, so I'm hoping to get those pictures soon.]

It was a 9 1/2-hr flight from DFW to Amsterdam, and then an 8-hour flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe, Uganda. On the flight into Entebbe, I sat next to a man who turned out to be a well-known Ugandan pastor and church planter. He has spoken to crowds in the thousands at evangelistic campaigns, but is now convinced that the best way to make disciples is through church planting. His ministry planted 14 churches in Uganda last year, and his team is working on a training program for church planters. We talked at length and exchanged information. It was a very encouraging "God connection."

My driver picked me up from the airport and drove me to the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) guesthouse in Kampala, the capital. After a night's stay, I took a Cesna six-seater from Kijanse airstrip to Bundibugyo. Below is takeoff.






The flight was about 1 1/2 hours. The small plane afforded a great aerial view of the country. Besides me in the plane, there was one American third-year med student who was going to work at a clinic in Bundibugyo. Two Hong Kong natives who were friends of the (German) pilot came with us just for the ride. One was a teacher and the other an IT guy. They were on their way to another east African country. All of us had different purposes, but it was cool to see how each of us was planning on using their gifts for the cause of Christ.

It was loud, but with the windows closed it was not unbearably so—kind of like the engine on my weedwhacker. The flight was much smoother than I expected. So I was taken by surprise when I got airsick about four minutes before landing. Thankfully, this was the only time I got sick on my entire two-week trip....And thankfully the pilot showed me where the air sickness bag was before takeoff.




I arrived in Bundibugyo at about 2:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, July 14. Upon landing, my good friend Dave greeted me. He was one of the main reasons I made the trip. I would stay at his house with his family. We embraced for a long time. There were lots of villagers who came to the airstrip in Bundibugyo to see the arrival of the plane. I guess it's a big event. Villagers at the airstrip (and most places I went) stared at me because I was a newcomer and because they were trying to figure out if I was a Muzungu. (Not many light-skinned people of African descent where they live.) We took Dave's 4-wheel drive vehicle on a dirt road from the airstrip to his home located on the campus of Christ School Bundibugyo in the small village of Nyakuta.

After I got settled, Dave asked me, "So, you wanna go to a funeral?" The daughter of one of the leading men in the area had died, so we decided to pay our respects. We walked along the main dirt road then turned left onto a winding path leading to the man's home. Many people were walking in the opposite direction having just come from the funeral. By the time we reached the house, they had just about finished burying the young woman on the property. Though we arrived late, the father was appreciative of our visit.

I'm told that funerals are quite common here. Sicknesses and disease take the lives of many well before their time. It was a sobering introduction to my ministry trip, but it certainly helped me keep things in perspective.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ministry trip is fully funded

The Lord provided all the money for my overseas ministry trip through many generous donations. Thanks to all of you who invested financially!

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Stealing Apples

I was in the Apple Store in Ft. Worth last week having my laptop looked at. It was around noon and the store was packed with people. Besides being generally crowded, there was also a separate long line of folks waiting to purchase the new iPhone 3GS.

All of a sudden the store alarm began to blare. I looked toward the front of the store and three or four guys probably in their late teens were running away from the building at top speed. One employee looked at the table where the iPhones were kept and confirmed that the bandits had made off with some of the prized merchandise. The thieves were wearing shirts that mimicked those of the Apple Store employees.

I've never been present during a robbery like this. It seemed so random. Thoughts and feelings raced through my head. First, there was confusion. Were those guys all thieves, or was one or more an Apple Store employee chasing the thief(ves)? Then there was anger. How dare they come into a crowded store and rip the place off! After that, strategizing. Do I have enough speed to catch them? Can I even run in these sandals? What if they're armed? Why couldn't I have been closer to the door to at least trip them? I kept my eyes on them as they made their getaway, but eventually lost sight of them among cars in the parking lot across the street.

Eventually, when I left, I noticed that one guy was being escorted by an employee back to the store: handcuffed. At least they got one of them, I thought to myself.

Driving away, I pondered the utter stupidity of these young men, and lamented that more Black youth were headed down the road of crime and self-destruction. Was this the kind of life they dreamed of as young boys? What kind of input, if any, did their fathers have in their lives? What will it take to turn them around?

Today at my church, a man shared about the jail ministry he's involved with at the Dallas County Jail. He said that the jail officials have been so impressed with how inmates' lives have been changed that his ministry is being given a wide open door to work with inmates in a new wing that's opening. Having ministered at Monroe County Jail in Rochester, NY, my interest was piqued. I talked to the man briefly after the service and asked him how I could get more information.

Maybe my being present during the robbery wasn't so random after all.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

One year down, ??? to go

I recently finished my first full year of teaching math. There were some challenges, but over all it was a very good year. My students did outstanding on their standardized state math test (Math TAKS Test). Well over 90% passed the test, and about 55% got "Commended Performance" (which, in this case, means they scored at least a 90%). This, combined with the fact that every student passed the Reading TAKS Test, earned my school an "Exemplary" rating by the state.

The students really worked hard, and I was very proud of them. Many of them are now taking classes at a local community college which has partnered with us. This is all part of their program in which they can earn up to 60 college credits by the time they graduate high school.

Additionally, I was honored to have been selected Secondary Teacher of the Year for my school district. It's especially amazing to me since less than two years ago, teaching high school was not even on the radar for me. God's ways are certainly higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

Our two-week Summer Bridge program began today with the incoming freshmen (and some new sophomores.) We have a great group of students coming in. I'm very interested to see what the next school year holds in store. My main two prayers are that my students would excel in math, and that I would be a compelling witness for Jesus Christ.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Change of mission plans

As you may remember, Amy and I were planning on going on a ministry trip to Uganda with our whole family. After looking at the financial situation and discussing it with our friends in Uganda, we have decided that I would take this trip to Uganda alone. We felt that given the circumstances and the needs, this would be the best use of the available resources. We were all somewhat disappointed, but Amy and I have peace about the decision.

The trip dates have been changed to July 12 to 24. Please pray for all of us as the time draws closer.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Teaching ministry

A couple of weeks ago, one of the pastors of my church asked if I would be interested in co-teaching a class for new believers. I had been feeling the need and desire to get more involved in ministry in some way, but wasn't sure which way to go. I'll be teaming up with a guy who's been involved in missions the last few years. He has a son my age, but he is very energetic and has a passion for discipleship. I'm looking forward to serving in this way, and to working with and learning from my co-teacher. The class begins May 3. I'd appreciate your prayers as I prepare for and begin this ministry.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Turning to Jesus

Here's another great testimony of what God is doing at Christ School Bundibugyo in Bundibugyo, Uganda.

Happy Resurrection Day!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

What's up with Bundibugyo, Uganda?

Here and here are a couple great links that detail some of what the Lord is doing through missionaries in Bundibugyo, Uganda, where we hope to be going this summer.

Dave and Annelise are our good friends we met when we lived in San Diego.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marks of a Spiritual Leader

Pastor John Piper wrote an article entitled "Marks of a Spiritual Leader." I got through less than half of it before I was cut to the heart by the truths in it. (I closed my computer, and made a beeline to my bedroom to pray.) I have since finished the article and really appreciate what he has to say in such a short essay.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

"In ( ) We Trust"

Take a look at those parentheses.

The most important thing you can do is decide what you are going to fill them with. I've been thinking about that a lot given the state of our nation and its economy. King David surveyed his own nation thousands of years ago. In Psalm 20:7-8, he observed:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses....They collapse and fall...
What about our nation today? Some trust in bailouts and some in stimulus packages; some trust in stocks and some trust in gold; some trust in presidents and some trust in lawmakers and judges; some trust in education and some trust in technology. None of these things is evil, in itself. They all have their proper place. But they all fall terribly short as far as something in which to put our hope. They will collapse and fall. They will disappoint and betray. They will grow tired and die. They will rust and decay.

Though some had their suspicions, not too many people would have imagined five years ago that the economy would be where it is today. Yet, here we are and we wonder where this is all going. Some say that we are headed for a depression worse than the Great Depression of the 30's. Some predict the downfall of the nation. Others that we will bounce back stronger after several years.

I'm not a prophet or a financial advisor. I have no idea whether or not you should stay in (or get in) the market, or if you should get out (or stay out.) I don't know if any of the policies our goverment puts into place will work. I can't tell you whether or not you should acquire land in the country, stock up on nonperishable foods, learn gardening, and get off the grid.

The best advice I can give is to tell you to fill those parentheses up there with the same thing that King David did:

...but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
The apostle Paul recommends the same thing:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).
What is true for the "rich" is true for us all. We must put our faith, trust, hope in the name—that is the character and nature—of the LORD. His Name means "I AM." He is what? Yes! He is Peace, Comfort, Fulfillment, Love, Provision. He is Friend, Counselor, Father, Lawyer, Real Estate Agent, Financial Advisor, Guide, Job Provider, Healer,... We must commit ourselves to Him and His Kingdom, seek His will as best we can, move forward in a direction, and be confident that He will lead and give us course corrections along the way.

Followers of Jesus must pursue Him with a passion especially in times of crisis like this—both for our own sake and for the sake of a watching world that is searching for answers. Now is not the time to shrink back in fear. Now is not the time to withdraw into a shell, and to only look out for ourselves. Now is not the time to back off of ministry. Now is the time to sink our roots even more deeply into the solid ground of Christ, and to extend our branches out to serve those in our neighborhood and the nations.

But it all starts with filling the parentheses.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Aaron ("Smokey") walks......



...and his dad figures out how to use iMovie to upload and edit the video. His big brother, Isaiah, did a great job of standing him up and letting him go. He still prefers crawling, but he chooses the upright position more and more. He's also learned how to climb out of the bathtub, which means I generally can't leave him unattended while I...oops, gotta go!

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mission trip to Uganda

As you may know, Amy and I have been considering missions opportunities for a little over a year now. Africa has been on both of our hearts: Amy, because she spent three years in Kenya with her family, and me because of my trip to Mali in 2006. We have wanted to do something as a family so that our children could have a taste of missions.

We are close friends with a family that is serving the Lord in Uganda. They have two children that are the same age and gender as our oldest two. Last December our friends asked if we would come out for a summer to help them in their mission work. They serve at a secondary school for Ugandans called Christ School Bundibugyo. Bundibugyo is a small, rural community in the western part of the country, less than five miles from the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They work with an organization called World Harvest Mission (WHM). He serves as the headmaster of the school, and she works with female staff and students. The school’s mission is to “develop young men and women into leaders equipped to foster the transformation of their nation.”

After praying and discussing the idea with some family and friends, we came to the conclusion that this would be a great opportunity for our entire family to serve the Lord, help our good friends, and get a feel for extended mission work in Africa.

Lord willing, our trip will be from July 1st to August 5th. We will be working with our friends as well as the other members of their small team involved in health care, education, etc. Our ministry there will include such things as: preaching/teaching at student assemblies, prayer ministry to students & staff, training in healing prayer/deliverance ministry for students & staff, and debriefing, and providing general support for WHM team members. We want our kids to be a support and encouragement for their kids, and to have an appreciation for what God is doing in other parts of the world.

We are excited about the opportunity, and would appreciate your prayers as we prepare for this trip. If you would like to support us financially, you can click the red "Support Us" button at the top. Thanks!

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Contentment and patience

I had coffee with an old saint the other day. John had served as a missionary for over 20 years and now speaks internationally teaching pastors and churches how to reach people for Christ in their country and in neighboring countries. I was telling him how I was currently teaching math, but that it wasn't my passion.

He gave me lots of good stuff to chew on, but probably the most meaningful thing he said was, "If you can't be content anywhere, then you can't be content anywhere." It took me a few seconds to really understand what he meant, but then the light bulb went on. If I don't learn to be content with where God has me right at this moment, then I will not be content wherever I may go in the future. But if I am content in the Lord regardless of my circumstances, then I will be content wherever I may go.

The apostle Paul, writing from a Roman prison, had this to say: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...." (Philippians 4:10-12). If Paul could be content in prison, surely I can be content where I'm at.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spiritual gift test online

Found this online spiritual gift test quite helpful. I hadn't done a spiritual gift test in a while and I was curious to find out what the results were. I don't think these tests are necessarily the best way to determine your gifts, but I think they can be interesting and useful. It's curious to me that the Bible doesn't mention how one discovers ones spiritual gifts. Probably the best way is simply to serve in whatever capacity the Lord puts in front of you and discover by doing.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hungry...but not for physical food

Our church is beginning a concerted effort to reach the people of Arlington with the Good News. All the home groups will be going through a six-week series of teachings to focus on "missional" living. Amy and I had been thinking about how we were to start getting more involved as far as serving in our new church. When we were asked to lead one of these groups, it seemed like the right thing to do to get our feet wet.

I've wrestled with the whole idea of reaching out in Arlington, and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, in general. One could argue that DFW is the most "reached" metropolitan area in the world. This area is saturated with seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian schools, and ministry headquarters (like Wycliffe Bible Translators, Pioneer Bible Translators, and Gospel for Asia)—to say nothing of the fact that it seems there is a church or two or four on every corner! I had a hard time seeing how it was possible that anyone could not at least hear about Jesus if they lived in the metroplex. I've always felt that there are many places so much more needy than here.

But hearing about Jesus, and following Him are two vastly different things. More and more, I am beginning to see the need around.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with a pastor friend of mine. I got to the restaurant a little before he did and decided to pull out my Bible and read a bit before he showed up. I had it laying on the table facedown when a busser came by.

"Is that a Bible you got there?" he asked. "Yeah, it is," I responded.
"Are you a pastor?"
"No, I'm a math teacher. My name is Brian," I said, extending a hand to him.
"I'm Jeremiah," he responded. (He had a biblical name, but I've changed it here.)
"That's a good biblical name," I said.
"Yeah, my mom was a strong believer."

"Brian, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"What do you think it means to 'live in the light'?"

We talked for a few minutes about that until my friend showed up. I introduced Jeremiah to my pastor friend and we both continued talking with him. Jeremiah was just getting off the graveyard shift and was planning on going home. "Would you like to sit down with us?" my friend asked. Upon checking things out, he agreed to stay. We invited him to eat with us, but he wasn't hungry.

After sitting down, the first question he asked us was, "What does it mean to meet Jesus?" It turns out that Jeremiah attends church every once in a while. He is not a follower of Jesus, but was clearly very interested. We had the opportunity to share the good news with him, as well as our own testimonies of how we met Jesus.

We spent about an hour together over our meal. When we asked him if he had ever considered giving his life to Christ, he said that he had considered it, but that his "pride" and "stubbornness" were preventing him. Jeremiah reminded me a lot of myself when I was his age (25). I think he's very close to entering the Kingdom of God.

We talked a little longer before I had to head off to school. As he left, my friend and I told him that we would pray for him.

This whole event was a good reminder to me that there are people even in DFW (!) who do not yet know Christ, but who are spiritually hungry. We who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good need to be ready to share our bread with them.

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