Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carb-Loading on Missions

The past week has been more than a little eventful. I spent the weekend in Minneapolis, MN for John Piper’s Desiring God Conference. Here is a link to the sermon’s/speakers. I encourage you to take a listen (especially David Platt and David Sitton). For the most part I’m still processing the conference. It’s a lot to digest to say the least.

The theme for the conference was “Finish the Mission”. The idea was to spur conference goers to the idea of reaching the unreached across the globe for the sake of the gospel. There are over 3,000 people groups who have never had access to the gospel and about half of those groups are unengaged (no mission organization is targeting them). Most of these groups are in South East Asia/the Middle East.
While sitting in the conference, my mind kept drifting back to the thought: will this passion last? It was so encouraging and exciting to see thousands of people exhilarated about missions but for how long will their passion burn? The inner cynic inside of me says it won’t last long but I pray and hope that I’m wrong. Mission work is unglamorous in nature. Kind of like whittling away at a boulder with a spork.

Right now, my biggest takeaway from the conference is a willingness to die for the gospel. Before going to the conference I was having a pretty consistent stream of nightmares about being martyred and the process of dying was really terrifying to me (not death itself). David Sitton gave a moving sermon about how Jesus is worth the torture, pain, heartache, trouble, and death. The gospel is so worth it and if our treasure is in heaven… why is our earthly treasure so important to us (for to live is Christ… to die is gain...)?

I spent all night Friday night crying in my hotel room to God in fear (literal tears... well not really… my eyeballs were probably just sweating). I was so afraid for my life. I just didn’t want the pain. I didn't want to risk my body, my teeth (seriously...), my health, my comforts... I didn't want to experience torture, malnourishment, or physical pain on any level. But John 12:17 came to mind and I repeated it through my tears. Here’s the poem I prayed:

Fear, taps delicately along aortas,
Hitchhiking on the backs of Red Blood Cells.
A Chesire grin draped over his face,
He quickly tiptoes across
Fertile soil, leaving a trail of feces in his wake.

Images of shattered teeth,
Broken bones and wounded loved ones
Flash through my mind.
Still shots of gun shot wounds
Tortured souls, and bloody nubs
Threaten to unearth the foundations
Of conviction.

Give me rest in the eternal presence of an eternal Father.

In a few seconds, it will all be over.
In a moment, the rushing of air
Will bring with it an exceeding brightness.
And I will be with you.
Leaving my heart purged from every fear.
For now, it’s back to reality. Seminary homework surrounds me in bundles and I’ve got some serious catch up to do in OT Greek. I don’t know what God requires of my life, perhaps he even requires it… but to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. Death isn’t the finale but rather the crescendo that ushers us into the presence of our King. In a few moments… it will all be over. For right now, that’s my antidote to fear.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fast-Forwarded Memories

I was lying in bed and all I could think about is the marathon that I’m training for this upcoming month. I’m not really anxious about it. I guess it’s more the implications of running a marathon are hard for me to digest at the moment. This blog is a little more “open” than I’m normally comfortable being… but I guess there’s something to be said for transparency. Filling in the blanks would probably help you follow my train of thought.

I’ve always valued time with my dad. He’s a pretty cool dude. Not as cool as he thinks he is, nowhere near as cool as he remembers being, but still… a pretty cool dude. When I was sophomore in college my eyes kind of opened to the fact that time with him was valuable. He was getting really into weightlifting at the time and, since I was working in a research lab with him, I jumped on the bandwagon.  Getting stronger never really mattered to me. I just wanted to hang with my dad.

Then, he had surgery on the calcified lump on his shoulder. That kind of ended the whole weightlifting endeavor. So I started running. I figured, my dad had already run a marathon; it would be awesome if we could do something like that together. We started getting lofty ideas of running an Ironman and Triathlons… hilarious concepts in hindsight (did I mention that I can’t swim?). But then, knee surgery on his right knee and the doctor tells him running is a no-go. No more triathlons. No more Ironman. No more running period.

Everything is greener on the fairway
So of course since my dad loves golf, I try to pick up golf. Try is the key word here. We played a couple 18’s together. Not more than two because his knee never fully recovered and watching him limp up and down a green is not my idea of fun. He’s essentially been sidelined and in a few weeks the other knee is going to undergo surgery. Getting old sucks but watching Superman age is kind of brutal.

A few of my good friends have lost parents and I don’t know how they manage. Both of my ‘rents are still here and I’m already replaying my life on fast-forward thinking… As we age and as the loved one’s around us advance in years, faith is really put to the test. Do you really believe that they’re headed towards eternity? And if so, are you overjoyed at the fact that they’re about to be rushed into the presence of a Holy God? And doesn’t marriage just mean that I’ll be spending holidays with a family I barely know?

 It’s a hard pill to swallow… one that’s still stuck somewhere in the back of my throat. But the presence of God is the epitome of everything glorious and wonderful. A friend of mine says over and over that in heaven "we get God". I'd add to that the fact that in heaven, getting God makes everything so much better. No more goodbyes. No more sports injuries... just endless rejoicing.  For now all I know is that I’m fighting to rejoice in the fact that the relationships and reunions will be even more enhanced when we’re rejoicing in His kingdom.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Feet Hit the Pavement

My friend Mark's picture from Indonesia
It seems each week gets busier than the last. And I’m okay with that! I’ve been walking around college campuses and trying to reach out to the kids for our church’s new college ministry and it has been pretty cool so far. Now, getting shot down by anyone is not my idea of fun (I've started implementing the phrase "fare enough" whenever someone makes it clear they want nothing to do with the gospel) but evangelism is an opportunity to share the joy that beats so readily within our hearts.  Some people won’t appreciate the One we treasure but we’ve got to share the gospel. If we believe that the God is righteous and holy, it’s our privilege to spread this truth. I also got a chance to lead ABF (Sunday School). Here are the notes.

The Campus Outreach has been complicated to say the very least. Tonight we have our first small group at my apartment. While I’m not an optimistic person to begin with, I know that God is working and my job is to simply trust him and rest in his providence. He’s the one that establishes the work of our hands. He’s the one that waters the seeds that we plant.

Even though it’s an online class, my Intro to World Missions class is by far the most exciting. Now granted, Old Testament Greek has its moments, but I just keep getting blown away by the need for missionaries. Here are some of the stats from this week’s lesson:
  • ·      There are 4.4 billion non-Christians in the world.
  • ·      Approximately 1.8 billion of this group has had no opportunity to respond to or understand the gospel
  • ·      27.9% of the world’s population will live and die without contact with a person who knows Jesus Christ
  • ·      625 million children worldwide suffer from some form of child abuse each year.
  • ·      11 million children die every year from a preventable disease

Kevin Pinter teaching in South Africa
Talk about conviction… and that’s just the beginning. When I think of all that Christ suffered so that I could know the truth, when I think of all the people who poured truth into me until God opened my eyes, how can we not be moved by this?

Many times when I tell people that I’m going to do World Missions, they respond with the question: “why go abroad, there are non-Christians here?” But just look at those numbers… Almost 3 out of every 10 people will die without knowing the pleasure of Christ and will not have received his sacrifice for their lives.

Here are my notes on the Pinjara people of Nepal/India. I ask that you pray for them with me. Out of these 1.5 million people, not one of them knows Christ. If that fact doesn’t make you want to lace up the Nike’s and hit the streets, I don’t know what will.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seminary Dreaming

roughly 1/3 of the books that I'm reading right now...

This past Saturday marked the start of Seminary and it has been intense. From sitting in class from for 8 hours straight on Saturday, to learning ancient Greek… I’ve been doggy-paddling it out for the past few nights. Thankfully, whatever happens is a result of God’s grace and I can try to find rest in that (although my sleep schedule is reckless).

Classes have been pretty smooth (except for taking notes with nine fingers thanks to a dislocated pinky). I was definitely in “Deer in Headlights Mode” for all of the two hours we spent in New Testament Greek. Apparently, we were supposed to memorize the Greek alphabet before class started but I had assumed that homework started after classes (my mistake!). Needless to say, the entire class was me trying to figure out why everyone else already knew these Greek terms. Reading is fundamental.

yep... that's me in class
All in all, one of my online classes, Introduction to World Missions, is my favorite by far. I’m trying to hold back the urge to do all of the reading and watch all of the videos this week. I just get so excited about that class (you know you’re a nerd when…). Right now I’m just trying to make sure that I throw myself into all of the classes and both honor and value the information that the professors present.

It’s good though. I mean, the insanely large To-Do List keeps growing, college outreach opportunities are starting to fall into place and I’m just happy to be used by God. We've been playing frisbee on the weekends at college campuses and will be stepping that up to actual "walking around campus and talking to folks" as well as reaching out to the campus ministries. I know that sometimes the list of things to do is endless (technically it always will be even if it’s just: “give thanks to the Lord”) but it’s so important to seek God first and foremost in your day. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have a quiet time at the end of the day but rather, make it a point to spend time with him even if it doesn’t look like there’s time. It’ll always be the most important part of your day. Time with the Father is always time well spent.

I don’t really have any deep philosophical point to present (both fortunately and unfortunately). Hopefully, sometime later this weekend or early next week I can bang out a Vlog but until then I’ll leave you with some Driscoll. I hope it blesses you like it’s blessed me!