Here are just some of the videos that Peichi and I made in Asia. We made them mostly for our youth group in Texas. I hope you enjoy watching even close to as much as we did making them. Several places, crowds gathered as we made the videos and asked me afterward if I was someone famous. Of course, I am.
I am writing this on Thursday, simply because Wednesday was way too full to post.
Yesterday was another amazing day. I left the base in the early afternoon, so it doesn’t really count as a full ‘day’ but it was full nonetheless. My morning started out with reading the Bible and prayer, but then I got to my guitar and decided to play some worship. I played through songs as I randomly flipped through my music book. I was having a pretty good time in worship.
I used to worship like that on my own quite often, especially after I got back from my first missionary tour. I would sing and play through songs that I knew, and suddenly as I hit upon some random song that struck me, the Holy Spirit of God would just kind of pour over me. My friend Harold says “The Spirit gushes out like a fountain.” I guess that is the best way to describe it.
As I was worshiping on Wednesday morning I hit on an old hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” I have never had hymns mean all that much to me, really. I didn’t grow up with them all that much. The third stanza says,
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
I couldn’t finish that last line. I was on my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks, suddenly hit with the power of God’s Spirit, and the fact that God would go to the cross for me, for what I’ve done, for all my rebellion. It isn’t fair. As God sprang out of me like a fountain, I wept out of joy, out of sorrow, out of repentance, out of thankfulness, all at once. I hadn’t felt that in quite a while.
After all of that, I remembered Harold, and that he had called me a few weeks ago, and asked me to call a friend of his who had been doing inner-city missions work. So, I decided to call him. We talked for quite a while. He told me that he and his wife had met Harold because Harold had opened a door for them, and they struck up a conversation. He was from the Seattle area. Harold had made it a point to keep in touch and to regularly pray for he and his wife.
He told me that recently he had been out in Idaho at a parade for some special occasion (maybe it was Thanksgiving) and he looked at the guy next to him, and unbelievably it happened to be Harold! He then paused and said, “You know, out of all of the men who have ever been anything like a mentor to me in my life, Harold has got to be in the top 5.”
All because he happened to be caught in Harold’s tractor beam as he opened a door.
I want to be like Harold some day when I grow up. Harold is in his 80’s. Harold should by all accounts be kickin’ it at some Sun City somewhere. Instead, he takes every day and every meeting as a chance to really make a difference in someone’s life. I think Harold is in my top 5 too. He is my hero.
I spent time saying goodbyes to the Thorstads, and looking around the YWAM base one last time. I’ll be back here, I prophesied.
I hope that no one misunderstands my purpose in writing this. It could seem like I’m being really self-indulgent here, writing everything about myself and my week, like some Twittiot (my word) telling the world about his mid-afternoon snack. That really isn’t my heart here at all. I knew I would have some incredible experiences this week, and I want to chronicle it all for me, if no one else. But maybe my experiences will find some way of blessing someone else. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, Paul mentions that God has chosen the weak and fooling things/people of this world in order that we could not boast in ourselves, but in God alone. I have written this short blog series as a point to say, “I am one of those weak and foolish people.” It is Jesus who this series is about. It is He who made my week noteworthy. My attempts to even describe it are largely in vain, but I would shame Him if I didn’t try my best.
And a little fun from Tuesday:
Today was a crazy full day, and fortunately I got enough sleep to survive it. Now it wasn’t bad, it was amazing, but it was full.
The morning started out with me rolling around for 45 minutes simply because I could sleep in. When I finally got some coffee going I started reading the Bible. I have been really ruminating over Jesus statement in the gospels, and Paul’s reiteration in 1 Corinthians that communion symbolizes “a new covenant in my [Jesus] blood.” In John chapter 6, Jesus says that his disciples are to drink his blood, and if they don’t they have no life in him.
But in Genesis, God commands man to not drink blood. I really spent time thinking over this, and praying over it. I was going to teach over the implications of a new covenant in Christ’s blood in view of the Abrahamic Covenant. I needed to fully understand the implications of what Jesus was saying here. I resolved that God would have to work it out with me through the day, as He often does stuff.
I then read through a little of Othodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. He points out how the universe has a real order to it, but enough disorder to really make any reliance on the universal order a ridiculous pursuit. He gives an illustration of how the human body has symmetry, with two arms and legs, and even a two-lobed brain. But the body does not contain symmetry in all its organs (like the heart). This has its point in that Christianity matches the sensed order of the world, but is just peculiar enough to match its idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, I am not as eloquent as Chesterton and am not doing his point justice. I shall not bore you further with direct quotes. But all of this stuck with me.
After this, I spent some time in worship alone in my room. I hit on some songs that God really used to touch my heart. Then I was ready for my lunch appointment.
I spoke twice today, to a group of Junior High students in school where I talked about Jesus new covenant, and to a youth group on the YWAM base. There I spoke about how God wants them to orient their identity and their base of knowledge in Him. I used 1 Corinthians 2 as my passage. God has been really speaking to me through that this week. It is going to be one of my theme verses in 2009.
Later tonight they had a worship service that they do annually called “Dwell.” I attended and really felt that power of God. God was really working in me there, as He has pretty dramatically this week. It was kind of open mic, and one guy got pretty Pentacostal-ly, which I have less and less patience for. If God is real and really moving, and there can be no doubt in a place like that He is, then there is no need to hype Him up. He doesn’t need a “hype-man”. But that didn’t take away from what God was doing for me too much.
I went forward for prayer, and a guy immediately came up and prayed for me in an incredible way. I have never met him. I never will see him again. It didn’t matter. After I left, I walked past a guy I’ve never met, and he shook my hand put a hand on my shoulder and smiled, and asked me how I was doing. Chesterton came flooding back. “These are weird people,” I thought. And they are. People don’t share these experiences with strangers. People don’t put their hands on random strangers’ shoulders and smile either. But then again, that is the right kind of weirdness that the world is crying out for. We are a peculiar people, us Christians. Normal is nothing I want. I’d rather share these moments with strangers than be stoically stuck, looking cool.
Now I’m in my room for the last time. I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m thinking about my half-week, and eating Slim Jims. Since I disconnected my fire alarm (long story—it doesn’t work—I’ll reconnect tomorrow), I thought about using this kerosene lamp that sits on the little writing desk, under the faded old still life desk picture, the type that seems to be in every older Christian place of prayer. The kerosene seemed to be still good. I had to jury-rig it though (pictures below), and it never did seem to function completely well. I finally put it out, just to be on the safe side.
I’m buying an old writing desk, a faded still life picture, and a kerosene lamp soon, I’ve decided. Every Christian needs one. We are, after all, weird people.
Today started out really difficult, and ended up really sweet. I really had a hard time dragging myself to prayer, and to be honest I didn’t feel like I got that much out of it. I went back afterward to take a nap (which was great).
This afternoon I got to tour the base, meet a lot of awesome people, and see many of the amazing ministries that are packed into this little city. I can’t believe how many world-changing ministries are right here almost within walking distance. Part of teen challenge is here, one of the biggest YWAM bases, Mercy Ships, Teen Mania, Keith Green’s ministry was here, and probably some others I am forgetting. YWAM’s facility here is huuuge.
Then I got to meet with Chad, Jeff, Jack, and Andy Adam who are a part of the SSL SST program. For any Grace Revolution people who read this, you will get to know the SSL SST program very, very well. It was an amazing plan of God to meet with these guys. I hope he has a lot in store for this. It is my great prayer that He does.
Just now my fire alarm started going off. I have no idea why. It wasn’t any other rooms, just mine. I had just gotten out of the shower, and it must’ve been the heat. Scotty ended up coming over here, and he happened to be one of the bigwigs in YWAM over church planting. He is in charge of the church planting in a whole slew of South Asian countries. We had a chance to talk and pray. His good friend was there and he is a member of the Tyler Vineyard.
Here is some video from the day.
My apologies to Adam and SST for getting the names wrong. I was pretty tired when I wrote that.
I am spending part of this week at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Tyler, Texas. I was invited by The Thorstad family, who moved here to work with YWAM from our church. I am going to be blogging (both text and video) about my experience. As always, I blog for me, and any of you who’d like to come along are welcome to. 🙂
Yesterday was awesome. I got to spend some great time with Dean and Cecilia (and their girls) both hanging out and talking about things related to our relationships, both with people and with God. It was a great time.
But just as great was the worship service last night. Dr. Lee spoke. He is a Korean who is the Vice President at Mongolia University in (you guessed it) Mongolia.
This soft spoken man told many stories that were very powerful. One in particular told of how he was really seeking the Lord on what to do about a situation. He heard a sound like a terrible groaning and weeping. He said, “God, you are too great and powerful to weep, why would you do this?” (He said this in a raised accusatory fashion)
He heard the Lord’s answer, “Weep with me.” That was his answer. That is all God wanted him to do. Weep. If he could get the Lord’s heart for these people and their brokenness, then he would understand. It was very powerful to me.
The whole thing was really about following the will of God. He asked the question, which was very impacting to me, “Is there anything in your life which seems bigger than the will of God?” Hmmm. He also talked about how the American Church seems so fat and happy, and yet, we are often missing the true will of God. He told about a church in Indonesia that is praying 24/7 (literally) for revival in the American Church.
I was really left with the feeling that we (myself included) miss the will of God so often. We don’t see Him do powerful things because we are not truly looking, not truly seeking.
Here is some video from the day
This definitely was not the best message I ever gave. Some people said that it really impacted them, and it does mark an important part of my life. If you have time, enjoy. Maybe God will move in your heart.
This is the fourth and final part in a brief series on communication as part of the very quality of God and His Kingdom. It is also a clarion call to that Kingdom to become excellent at this vital issue, the very thing we were made for. You can find part one in the series here.
When people don’t see what we are doing as vital in their lives (and I mean everything from a church picnic to a Sunday sermon) then they begin to look at church services and events as religious duties performed by the faithful, but having little real meaning or import. They actually begin to view these times as something that must be endured, often primarily in order to maintain their fellowship with the people in the church.
This premise is held up by statistics. Our young adults are leaving the Church in record numbers. The reason that they list for this boils down to the fact that they don’t see Church as being something vital and essential in their lives. These statistics are addressed in both The Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer, and Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. These 18-30 year-olds are not leaving randomly. They are leaving after fellowship in their church is interrupted by going off to college, graduating youth group, and a change in job schedule. Put simply, people are leaving Church when they are unable to maintain fellowship with the people they are close to in their church, because they don’t see the other functions of the Church as being important to their lives.
We cannot believe that the other functions of Church are not essential, but maybe we are making it seem that way. Our fellowship seems to be very good. In all of this, I am suggesting a deep examination of our communication styles, methods, and practice. Then based on that, we should endeavor to be the world’s foremost experts in communicating. Our pulpits should be studied and taught as the model of how to best share, motivate, and inspire. It is not just a good idea, it is our mandate. –Ryan
My monthly project is progressing, although slower than I expected. I think I need to babysit it more in order for it to happen.
I have taken to writing thank you cards once a week to a few people. I think it is funny that people almost always contact me back and thank me for sending them a “thank you.” I have flirted with the idea of sending out a thank you card for thanking them for thanking me. OK, I would never do that. When they call I think “Hey, you can thank me for sending you a ‘thank you.’ That erases the thank you.”
In reality, I am happy that they are calling. My mind just jumps around to funny semi-sarcastic thoughts all the time. I don’t do it because I am cynical or mean. My mind is always just entertaining itself in the background.
I have realized through this that thankfulness begets thankfulness. People read the card and their response is to say “thank you” for me thanking them. Mother Theresa once said “We don’t have to reach the whole world. If half the world was loving the other half, then everyone would be being loved.” I like that. If I can be the most thankful person I possibly can, then the people around me will be more thankful. If they are thankful, then the people around them are affected, and on down the line. Like a pebble in a pond, the ripples could reach the whole pool.
I want to reach the whole pond, but I really need to pay more attention to me being more thankful. After all, I am doing this because I get frustrated at how much we (me and most people around me) pay attention to the failures around them. Psychology calls it the Fundamental Accountability Error. Every schoolboy knows how it works. When a fly ball goes into right field and the fielder has to dive to catch it. He gets up and says “I am an awesome fielder.” If he misses the catch, it is “The sun was in my eyes.”
That kind of thinking is what causes us to have an entitlement mentality. This error makes us focus on others failures and what we deserve. It is the opposite of thankfulness. It is sin. Although I fall prey to this law of psychological tendency just as much as anyone else, I am trying to burn it out of me. That is part of my prayer. Please pray for me in this regard. –Ryan
Yesterday was my birthday. Typically, people enjoy their birthdays, I think. In recent years I have been increasingly becoming quite the birthday party-pooper. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is that makes me feel so un-festive on October 1st. There could be a bunch of reasons, and perhaps many of them work together to make me a little bit gloomy and highly introspective. I feel a combination of wanting to huddle up in a ball behind the washer and dryer like some sickly cat, and wanting people to gather around me and make me feel loved. I endure it with a relatively normal look on my face. I do enjoy the love that people show me, for sure though.
One of the things I’ve dealt with over the last couple years is the knowledge that I’m not getting any younger. When I was younger I dreamed that I would accomplish all manner of amazing things. These weren’t just selfish ambitions, but godly Kingdom goals too. But now the older I get, I see people around me who are my role models, and I realize that by my age, they had already accomplished much more than I. Some of them are now even younger than I am. It is starting to feel like that moment in a football game where you realize that there just isn’t enough time to score the three touchdowns you need in order to win, even if you keep the other side from doing anything. You start to have those thoughts of forced turnovers and onside kicks, but you also really wonder if it is all possible. Yeah, I know that I’m being overly dramatic, but I already told you that I’m in that sort of mood. It is my birthday. Indulge me a little.
When I got home from Barnes and Noble, Peichi was waiting for me with some dinner and a mixed drink that she had made, and cupcakes she had just baked to top it all off. She is very good to me sometimes. I felt loved.
As I was eating, she pulled out a milk carton. I’m lactose intolerant, which means that I can only drink lactose-free milk that just happens to cost twice as much as regular milk. She showed me the expiration date, a day in late August, a whole month ago. I’m bad with those kinds of things. I’ll be in the grocery store and see something on sale, and thinking that my frugal spouse will be proud of me, I’ll buy two. The problem starts when I forget to actually eat or drink said product. I’ll put it in the fridge. It will slowly move to the back as I reach for other things and just put them in front. Two months later, she’ll pull out an expired milk carton, half full of milk, half full of a green ecosystem complete with Greenpeace activists demanding it be declared a protected environment.
I smiled nonchalantly and continued to eat. The date stared back at me, boring a hole in my forehead. As I ate, I realize that sometimes I feel a bit like that milk carton. I look back on my year and realize that some of who I am has just sat on the shelf. Some of my gifts have just not been used.
Just like that milk, I have an expiration date. We all do. It isn’t known, but it is definitely stamped on our foreheads in some ink we can’t see, but it is indelible. We are also filled up with gifts, dreams, passions, and all manner of good stuff. When we can’t use these in the way God intended, they just sit there and slosh around inside of us. I think that is why Proverbs 13:12 says “hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I was meant for those hopes, gifts, and passions to be used for God and His kingdom.
I don’t believe that I’m sitting on the shelf, but as I sat on my birthday I realized that I have so much more to give. God put things in me that I want to be used for Him this year. I can’t put the blame for this on anyone but myself. The possibilities are endless, and ultimately any blame for my shelf-ishness (see I just made a ridiculous pun) is my own. But I know I don’t want things in me to sit on the shelf for another year turning green. I never know when time for me, just like it did for that milk, may have passed. -Ryan