Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vietnam Video

Here's a video about our team's work in Vietnam. One of our guys put this together while we were cooped up in the hotel during some of the flooding.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving - What question should we ask?

In a little more than a week, the United States will indulge in the national holiday called Thanksgiving. I, personally, love Thanksgiving and consider it possibly the best holiday of the year.

I know what you're thinking...what about Christmas? Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, and I consider it and Easter to be the most significant holidays of the year. My problems with the holiday called Christmas is that it has become over-commercialized, including in Christian circles, as we have commercialized the over-commercialization of Christmas. (For example, I've seen "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" plastered on everything from bumper stickers to throw pillows.) But, this is all for a separate blog post, so I'll get back to Thanksgiving.

The most common question surrounding Thanksgiving is "What are you thankful for?" I would contend that this is the wrong question to ask. We should be asking, rather, "Who are you thankful to?" As with many originally religious holidays, society has watered it down. While the Pilgrims expressed thankfulness to the LORD on that first Thanksgiving for giving them life and the necessities of life, we now express thankfulness for the things we have (much of which is above and beyond the necessities of life). As is common with humans, we've turned our thanfulness inward. We focus on what we have over Who gave it to us. In this context it's nothing for a Buddhist or an atheist or a Wiccan to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." My prayer is that we would recognize that everything we have belongs to the LORD and that we are merely stewards of it ... that we would recognize the Giver over the gifts. Who knows, maybe when we start doing that at Thanksgiving, the meaning of Christmas will take on a clearer meaning as well.

Now for a confession...I have realized that the primary reasons I love Thanksgiving are selfish reasons. I love hanging out with my family, overloading on incredible food, and watching NFL football. Sure, we say a prayer of Thanksgiving, but I don't usually dedicate the day to expressing my gratitude to God. The Bible says I should live everyday this way.

LORD, forgive me for failing to recognize You as the Giver of all things with my thoughts, my actions, and my words. Remind me each day in Your Word how blessed I am to know You and walk with You. Not only are You the reason for Christmas, but You're the reason for Thanksgiving and every day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Breaking the Silence

Well, I took a hiatus from posting on my blog for a while. In the post below this, I put some videos showing what I've been doing. I've been very busy, but here's a quick rundown of what I've been doing and where I've been:

August: 2008 Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD
I went with the seminary to South Dakota to minister and share the Gospel with bikers from around the world. We had an incredible time and saw lives changed for eternity.

September/October: Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief in Southeast Texas
When Hurricane Ike hit shore in late September, the storm surge flooded large parts of Southeast Texas, where I was raised. My parents had 6 feet of water in their house and lost pretty much everything they had. Additionally, my dad's church had 3 feet of water inside, forcing them to have church services in the parking lot.

I have organized and led several teams down to help with the disaster relief. We helped tear out walls and flooring in houses and treated them for mold. We will be sending more teams in the future to help with the rebuilding process as well.

October/November: Trip to Hanoi, Vietnam
I went with my church to Vietnam to provide humanitarian aid and complete service projects in the region. When we got there, it began raining heavily and didn't stop until we left 10 days later. The massive rains caused the worst flooding in nearly 30 years in Hanoi, claiming the lives of at least 89 people. This threw our original plans into a tailspin and kept us from completing many projects, so we regrouped and were able to complete service projects at a couple of orphanages in the area, helping them clean up in the aftermath. We saw a someone become a new family member and will hopefully see another one soon. As one guy says, "The Kingdom of God runs on the rails of relationships."

Family Update
Everyone is doing well. Will is 4 1/2 and Blake is 2 1/2. Will is going to pre-school two days a week and continues to amaze us with how quick he learns things. Blake is talking up a storm and is proving to have a much different temperament than his brother. He is generally a jovial kid, but we've seen our share of terrible two meltdowns. Mostly, he loves to laugh and is very athletic. Amy has been taking classes for early childhood education in the church at seminary and is enjoying it. We're planning on going to Florida to see my grandmother for Thanksgiving and then trying to lay low for a while after all the travel these past couple of months.

If you want to see some of what I do at work, visit

Two Videos that show what I've been up to...

I have two videos for you to watch to show you what I've been up to this semester. The first one is a Veteran's Day interview I did at the seminary. You can send people the link to share the Gospel. At the end of the video, there is a link to a Gospel presentation. Don't say I didn't make it easy for have no excuse.:)

The second video is a recap of a Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief trip I led to my hometown. My parents' house had 6 feet of standing water and their church had 3 feet of water inside them. Our seminary has led several teams down and look to continue to do what we can to get people back on their feet and show them the love of Christ.