Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Break

Well, last week was Spring Break, and we had an awesome time in Colorado! We got to connect with friends and family, and I even got a day in of skiing. It was a fun-filled week, and the boys did well with traveling, staying at different people's houses, and meeting a lot of strange people who talked to them as if they knew them but who the boys didn't recognize.

Update on the family...

Will continues to amaze me with his insights and humor. Watch out Comedy Central, this kid is clever and funny and doesn't use any profanity in his humor. He's gradually becoming a daddy's boy much to mommy's horror. He loves for me to tell him stories, especially "Go Jesus" stories and The Adventures of Will the Wild-Hearted and Blake the Brave (with cameos from Daddy the Daring and Mommy the Marvelous). What are these stories you might ask??? Anytime we tell a biblical story about Jesus or something Jesus is doing present day, we always end with the cheer "Go Jesus!" with all the enthusiasm we can. Will just can't get enough of this Jesus who does amazing things, and daddy is always happy to tell him more "Go Jesus" stories and even to talk with Jesus together. The Will and Blake Adventures are ones I just make up, and they usually involve rugged, manly adventures like wrestling bears in the mountains or fly-fishing (two things I know very little about, but Will doesn't know this yet...shhhhh). I'm getting him ready for life in Colorado...more about this below. Another cool thing Will is starting to pick up on is who God is. It's remarkably difficult to explain God to someone who has no frame of reference and the vocabulary of a 2 yr old. We're doing our best

Blake is going to be our adrenaline-junkie. He is crawling and climbing as fast as he can. The other night, he pulled himself up to standing in his crib all by himself. He's starting to smile and laugh more, and he loves to tackle Will. I don't think Will is quite ready for the hurricane that's about to come through once Blake can walk/run.

Amy is continuing to be a wonderful mom and wife. She takes great care of the boys (including the big one). She is involved with MOPS and just started a class for Seminary Wives that has assignments and homework, so she's excited about that. She goes the extra mile and is very understanding about my school load. We had a great week last week just being together. She's wanting to get involved in the ministry to special needs children at our church, which will allow her to use her special education experience to minister to kids in a Christian environment.

I am heading into a 3-week cave that involves book reviews, tests, and research papers on top of my normal studies. I'm reading Jonathan Edward's "Treatise on Religious Affections", and it's great. If you don't know who he is, he was one of the most popular preachers during the Great Awakening. He's probably most popularly known for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which was completely misunderstood and taught poorly in my high school English class. "Religious Affections" is primarily based on the premise that if you truly receive the gospel, you cannot be unaffected by it. It discusses what true and false religious affections are as well. I highly recommend it for those, like me, who struggle at times with apathy in the Christian life. One way to jump start your affections is to read the Gospels (and you might even let out a "Go Jesus!" when you realize that people don't rise from the dead everyday!!!) Outside of school, I'm looking into a church planter internship at our church. I'll give more info later when I have it myself.

About preparing for Colorado...

God is continuing to give us a heart for the Denver Metro Area, and last week confirmed our desire to hear the name of Jesus on the lips of the unchurched in that area. Church planting seems to be our path for now, and I met w/ the regional director of church planting in the area. It was also very encouraging to hear friends and family who live there who are completely supportive of us returning to do ministry there. Hopefully some of them will join us in reaching out to the community and seeing lostness reduced and lives radically transformed. We're still about 2 yrs out, but we're going to continue praying and seeking God on his direction.

Anyone out there who is reading this...I am making a formal challenge to you to pray now about if God would have you join us in the future in Colorado. You may not be a "minister" or have any ministry experience, and that's totally fine. God is calling people of all backgrounds and abilities to join Him in his global purposes. Maybe he's calling you to use your vocation to do missions? Sound crazy? Businessmen, teachers, plumbers, secretaries, real estate agents, salespeople, students, factory workers, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. all over are leveraging their occupation to help start churches all over this planet. They are using getting jobs in their field in areas that need churches so they can be actively involved in church planting. New churches need people who are working in the community, building relationships, investing in the ministry, and sharing their faith. I hope you'll at least ask God if He wants to use you in this way, even if it sounds unrealistic. It's a whole new way of doing missions, at least as far as I've ever heard. We'd love for you to be part of our team...what do you think?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sow what!

"I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh...Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." (Romans 9:1-3, 10:1)

This passage showed up several times in several ways last week for me. Isn't it incredible how God knows how hard-headed and deaf-eared we can be that He shows us things over and over until we listen? I knew God was trying to get my attention.

Evangelism. This word evokes so many reactions. What's yours? For me, I think "Ouch!" This is an area I struggle in. Some people are faith-sharing machines it seems...not me. It would be easy to say I don't have the "spiritual gift" of evangelism, but this is mostly a cop-out for disobedience. Jesus told us to make disciples, and that will probably be difficult if we're not sharing our faith.

I'm kind of an "all or nothing" type person. If I can't do something right, I don't want to do it at all. This fleshes itself out in areas like home improvement projects. When we lived in Colorado, Amy wanted to do things to our townhome like paint or put tile down in the kitchen. Not ever having done this, I was petrified to mess it up. I'm a perfectionist, and if I put one tile down crooked, I would have to see it every day, and that's not a chance I was willing to take. I had a chance to do some tiling with a friend at his house who knew what he was doing, and after months of "encouragement", Amy finally convinced me that we could do it. I consented, and we bought the tile and supplies. It turned out to not be as difficult as I thought, and now I look back on it and think, "Sure, I'd do it again. It's not that hard."

I think this mentality permeates my faith-sharing as well. If I can't share all of the gospel in one sitting, I may never get to see that person again, so I'm hesitant to even start a conversation. I'm realizing that it's not about an all-or-nothing deal. God puts us in positions with friends, family, acquaintances, and perfect strangers and just wants us to share whatever we can in the time we have with them. This is a relief for me. I am not always responsible to cultivate, plant, water, weed, and harvest. I'm just responsible to be available to do the stage of where the person is at that day on their journey to saving faith. One person may need some cultivating; another may need some watering; and still another may be ready for harvest.

Now, back to the scripture above. I know that in order for me to be sensitive to the moments God gives me, I need to have a desire to see people put their faith in Jesus. I'm praying for this desire because it's not natural. God tells us that he will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches...maybe he's not just talking about our financial needs. I need to hurt for the lost people around me, whether I know them well or not. Paul was at the point where he was willing to trade places and give up eternity w/ Jesus just to see his fellow Israelites come to faith in Christ. Wow! I'm not there yet.

Like Amy and the tile, I'm also asking God to keep putting people in my life to "encourage" me to be sharing my faith. I'm also asking Him for a mentor in this area...someone I can watch in action and work alongside in the faith.

Tell the world that Jesus lives. Tell the world that. Tell the world that.
Tell the world that He died for them. Tell the world that He lives again.

We'll tell, we'll tell, we'll tell the world about You.
We'll tell, we'll tell, we'll tell the world about You.