Archive for June, 2009

Akia-Ashianut and Uganda

In a matter of days I will be heading over to Pallisa, Uganda with the group Akia-Ashianut to help out at the Agule Community Health Center for the next month.  Our mission is one of community, service and love. 

There are myself and 11 others leaving from Washington DC on friday morning to serve in Africa.  We will be there for the month of July, and will be returning the night of the 27th / morning of the 28th of July. 

I will keep this short, but we still need support.  We are in need of prayer.  I ask that you pray for courage and strength to make it through difficulties that we will face while over there, love and compassion for the people of Pallisa, and spiritual, mental and physcal well being for the duration of the trip.  I am not asking that you pray for our safety, for we all know that sometimes the most dangerous place to be is in the presence of God and where he wants us, so instead pray that we will have the community that is needed to stay in the shadow of God’s wings.

I am not sure if i will be able to update this blog for the duration of the trip, so do not count on any updates until late July or earlyAugust. 

God Bless and PEACE

Accepting Christ and Surrender

There is a fundamental difference between accepting Christ into your life and surrendering fully to the will of God. 

Many people accept Christ into their lives.  We are a broken people before our perfect father, stained by our sins and unclean before the throne, but in accepting Jesus, we state that He died for all of our sins; past, present and future.  We take the freedom of this sacrificial gift (we have done nothing to deserve this) and are able to stand before God, a new being.

For some, it stops there.  They have accepted the gift of the blood of God, but they are reluctant to actually follow God, to surrender everything to him.  We live in a world of greed and wealth, prosperity and oppertunity.  Everyone wants to live the ‘American Dream’ and own a house with a white picket fence and a two car garage and earn enough money to raise our 2.5 kids and retire with enough to lay back and watch the world pass us by. We want to take the easy way out, the get the most out of life while doing the least amount of effort. 

It is hard for us, as a society, to follow God because we do not worship him first and foremost.  Instead, we worship Idols of money, technology, freedom, liberty and prosperity.  We want God to do everything for us, while we do nothing for Him or his Kingdom. 

God calls us to leave everything behind and follow him.  He doesnt want followers that look back at what they still have, because if we have all that stuff, where is there room in our hearts for him? 

To surrender to the calling of God means to put aside the luxuries of a retirement, benefits, vacations, wealth, storehouses.  Many of us cannot do it.  We cannot live day to day on what God provides becaue society has trained us to focus on tomarrow and the years to come. 

I put this challenge out to everyone.  Let go.  Trust God.  Learn to surrender all into the hands of your Lord.

God Bless and PEACE

Misconceptions and Assumptions

This past weekend i was at a family friend’s son’s graduation party (my God-Parent’s son) and i saw something interesting about people.

At the party, most of the guys were swiming in the pool, rough-housing, wrestling and attempting to play no-rules water basketball.  There was a motley crew of us, composed of family, friends and other assorted people.  After a while, we got tired and took a break from trying to kill eachother over a quickly deflating basketball and got to know eachother a little better than just a face and a name.

I was the odd one out.  Unlike most of the guys, i was not from the area, nor am i actually part of the family, so i started talking to some of the guys about school, life, art, and world issues (small talk, nothing to deep or serious).  Then, a coment was made that shook me and caused a couple people to be surprised at my response.

Ryan, my ‘cousin’ who was graduating, made the comment that God hated him (it had started to thunder, so we all had to pile out of the pool) and one of his friends made the comment “Well, maybe we should just kill him again.”

After this comment, he immediately realized that i was offended and said that he was an Athiest, and had assumed that because i was an artist and into Star Wars, i was also an athiest.  He was far from the truth.  Quickly, i became the person to avoid in the crowd of friends, and i came to see some things clearly.

Firstly, i realized that most people, including myself, quickly jump to conclusions about people through words associated with different things.  Like this kid associating me to athiesm due to my interest in art and sci-fi, people often assume and associate people to things becasue of interests and simple words, preconceptions and society.  I jump to conclusions a lot of times, and 99% of those happen to be wrong about people and events. 

Secondly, i realized that people dont jump to the same conclusions as everyone else.  Humans are complex people, and every single one of us are unique and believe in one thing or another.  No two people are going to look at one situation and see exactly the same thing, it doesnt happen. 

Third, i realized that many people, especially younger people, call themselves Athiests when they arn’t really athiests at all.  Like my ‘cousin’ Ryan, many people, especially guys for some reason, try to fit into the crowd and will associate with people because its the cool thing to do.  They call themselves one thing, Athiests, Christians, Agnostics, Pagans, and they dont know what the difference is from the next.

We need to be more direct with people.  I dont like conflicts, especially if it will cause a big fuss or scene and i dont especally enjoy calling people out for their beliefs, even if they are wrong. 

I was thinking as i rode back home this morning, are a lot of Christians like these high-school graduates?  Do they claim to be Christians, but nobody really explained what it actually ment to them?  Are so many people claiming to be Christians when they are waivering on the issues of true faith? 

We, as Christians ourselves, need to step up and take point and be leaders.  It cant always fall to people who have a Masters or Ph.D in Religious Studies to be leaders, but it needs to be everyday people like you and me.  We need to lead through our own walk with the Lord, studying the word, walking how we talk, being Christian Men and Women of Faith.  We need to be the ones to take action and take others under our wings, lead group Bible studes, disciple those who are new to the faith or questioning, learning to love with all our hearts unconditionally, no matter who the person in question. 

God has called each of us into service.  It is time to take up are own crosses and bear the burdon of spreading the Light of Truth into the darkness.  We can no longer assume that because people say that they are Christians that they have it all together, because some of us dont. 

Go and serve those in need

God Bless and PEACE

Unanswered Prayers?

There is one thing that frustrates me the most about people.  It’s when they say “I asked God for ________, and He didn’t give it to me.”  and then use that as their arguement that God isnt present or doesnt exist. 

I heard a story while listening to Positive Rock Radio (which i stumbled over a couple days ago) that is a powerful reminder that God is so much bigger and knows what is good for us.  It sums upas follows:

A Christian Marine was with his unit, driving through the Middle East in their carravan when a massive sand storm hit, halting them in their tracks.  He prayed to God that the sand storm would stop so that he could finish his mission and return home safely to his family back in the states.  As the winds continued to blow, he became increasingly frustrated with God not giving him what he wanted. 

A couple of hours latur, the winds died and the Christian Marine realized why God had sent the winds of the sandstorm.  The wind had revealed a series of landmines and IED’s in their path which had not been visible before the sandstom. 

This is a powerful reminder that God knows whats good for us.  He loves us, and sometimes he protects us from our own recklessness and wants.  Sometimes he wants us to learn that what we really ask for is not what we need. 

I do not believe in unanswered prayers.  In time, God will reveal his answers.  And to be blount, sometimes the answer is No, we just dont want to accept it.  At times we are so impatient, or so cought up in what we want, that we ignore the answers to our prayers.  Or we overpower the gentle whisper with the noise of our hearts and minds.

Just a thought

God Bless and PEACE

Faith in the Storms

So many times I hear people say, “God, shelter me from the storms” or something to that effect.  Is it because we are afraid to face the challenges that life places before us? 

Last semester while at FCA one night, we sang a song and in the first couple lyrics it said something about God being our strong fortress in the storm, and something started turning in my head.

I realized something as i stood there.  So many times people hit storms and instead of searching for God, they search for a clearing or a safer place than where they are.  People dont want to be in the storms, they want to be hidden from them.

I dont want God to hide me from the storms in life.  I want him to give me the courage to embrace them, to ride the waves, and to find Him in the struggle.  I want to learn how to trust God to guide me through the storms.

Following God is not supposed to be safe.  Jesus didnt tell his followers that thye would be safe, that everything would be alright.  No.  He told them that they would be persecuted, turned away, rejected.  Many of them were killed for following him, beaten within inches of their lives, put on trial, crucified.

Jesus asks u to follow him through the struggles of life, through the storms.  So i dont intend on asking him to provide me safety through this journey of life.  The most dangerous place, at times, is in the hands of God.

We, our society, are so focused on ourselves, our safety, our lives, our stuff, that soetimes we forget that God called us to give up everything and follow Him.  It isnt supposed to be a nice, clean path lined with gold and pillows so that when we fall we dont scratch our knees.

The path God has called us on is overgrown with weeds, something we so often forget about.  In following God, we must confront and weather the attacks of Satan at every turn.  We are told by so many that when we accept God, He will catch us every time we fall, protect us from death and stop evil from entering our lives.

That is what Satan wants us to think.  In accepting God, the temptations of sin will not magically go away.  Nor will the stumbling blocks of life and the world disappear. 

To many people abandon ship and search for an island amidst the waves when the seas of life get rough.  We forget that where God sends us, Satan will be there also, attempting to thwart Gods plan wherever and whenever possible.

God never said we would not get harmed.  Ask Paul.  Ask Peter.  Ask the thousands of martyrs who died in His name during the persecution of the Romans and other governing bodies of the world.  Ask the missionaries in war torn nations.

God didnt ans will never abandon his people.  He knows we will get hurt following Him, and He will constantly be at our side when it happens.

He has not abandoned us when the storms hit.  We have abandoned Him.

When storms hit, will you start looking for someplace safe to rest your head, or will you stand beside your God, your Father, Lord, and Savior and look to Him for comfort? 

You will get wet.  Knocked down.  Thrown around.  But you will always be picked back up. 

God Bless and PEACE

Living in the Presence of God

“Therefore go and make discipes of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything i have comanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 – Matthew 28:19-20

In my experiences with missions, i have seen many different people from around the world ministering to the community of God and to the world around them.  I have worked beside some amazing people, through Catholic Heart Work Camp (CHWC) in Va. Beach, Philly and Baltamore, Crossing Boarders in Honduras, Summer Staff up at Young Life’s Saranac Village, and on the campus of Anderson University.  But in all those experiences, i have learned that missions does not always mean physical labor.

While most missions trips consist of sending people out somewhere and they work in the community to provide something for people, the most effective missions are when believers go out into their own communities and serve those in need, even if that means just sitting and listening to someone talk for hours on end, or sitting in silence, just physically being there for someone who needs the comfort of presence in their life.

By no means am i saying that missions trips that consist of physical labor are not helpful in building the Kingdom of God.   Sometimes all that a community needs is to know they are loved and to know they have someone who is willing to help them in the time of need.

Take, for example, the two years that i helped out putting in a water supply system in Honduras with Crossing Boarders.  In reality, we could have sent money over and the water supply system would be put in anyways, but instead 8-9 of us went down to the outskirts of Concepcion de Maria and the surrounding community and dug trenches along side of them, laid down pipe, and covered it over again.  They could have easily done this without us, but to see them smile and laugh as we worked along side of them, that made the experience. 

Both, we and they knew that it would have been done if we were there or if we stayed at home, but they were honored to have us working beside them.

Or, take working with Summer Staff the past two summers up at Young Life’s Saranac Village.  A completely different experience with completely different people.  It was there, as i served high school campers for a month, that i realized that sometimes being in the presence of people and living your life in a Godly way is more powerful than serving the campers snacks at the Snack Shack or putting them through the ropes course. 

Yes, we were there to serve the campers, but we also lived with four groups for a week at a time.  In seeing people live as Christians, high school campers saw what it ment to be Christians.  Sometimes that is more powerful than any words a speaker can say in a week. 

God has called all of us to missions.  To call yourself a Christian and deny this is to turn your back on all you believe.  This may not mean spending two months in India for your summer vacation, or spending you spring break living with the homeless in Baltamore, Philidelphia, or DC.  It may just mean living your life as a constant example of God’s Grace.  It’s different for each of us, because God calls each and every one of us to a different way of serving.

God has called me to Africa, to serve in Uganda this summer.  He has called my brother to Guatemala.  Friends to Kenya.  To Italy.  To Anderson, SC. 

Some interpretations of the original texts of the Bible translate the Great Commission as “As you go…”  It doesnt matter where you go, God has called you to serve.

God Bless and PEACE