Tuesday, September 02, 2008
This is a great video about the *excuses* that we all find for not sharing our faith. Let me make this clear: NONE of these excuses are valid. All we are called to do is to reach out to the lost. Nothing should stand in the way of that. And by the way, by *sharing* your faith, you learn a lot about it in the process. You grow closer to God, learn new things from older Christians, and excersise it at the same time.
Take a few minutes to watch this! Then ask yourself, "Do I ever use any of these excuses?"
I know I do.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
So, the Adventures In Christianity site I mentioned in a previous post has been hacked (again). The site has been under attack for awhile now, and this is the latest hack of several. Please be praying for the site and it's managers! Pray that they can work through this problem quickly and efficiently (and patiently). AIC really is a great contribution to Christ's body, and it's definitely a bummer to have it down. Also be praying for whoever these hackers are; everybody can have a change of heart.
Go with God,
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Wow, so the last three or so weeks have been amazing. As I told you in the last blog, I took a trip to Mongolia to teach English there for a couple of weeks. We've totally posted all about it (with pictures and all) at www.mongolia7.blogspot.com , if you want to read about what we did and the students we interacted with. It really was an amazing experience.. even though it's not exactly what most people think of when they hear "mission trip". We didn't see all that much poverty, even though Mongolia is a poor country in general. But the people there need Christ just as much as any of us, and I was glad I got the chance to help that effort, by teaching English.
When the team flew back to the States via San Fransisco, I split off from them and flew up to Oregon to meet up with my family in Cannon Beach, where they had already been for a few days. Our family goes to a Christian Conference Center there every year. It's an amazing place. Established near WWII, the Center focuses on family retreats during the summer. Cannon Beach is one of my most favorite places in the whole entire world. I highly recommend checking it out for your own family: www.cbcc.net
Anyway, it was a chill time hanging out in Oregon for a few days; the first couple of days were rainy, which was just fine with me, then it got more sunny, so my bro and I took our skim boards out. Man I'm sore. =P On one of the rainy days, I walked downtown with Morgan (a long-lost friend) and Brady (my brother). Morgan had wanted to show us the historical center that no one knew about. But here comes the part that I really wanted to share in this post. Before the historical center, we stopped in "Mike's Music", a little music shop that looked like it was adjacent to a hosue. The place had a few CD's, more music books, and even more instruments. After a bit, we started talking to the owner (Mike), and realized that he was a believer. He told us that he was in the final stages of recording (and producing) his own CD. He was just sending a few of the pieces up north to a friend in Canada to be mixed. I ask if we could hear a couple of the songs, and he scrounged around until he came up with a CD with most of the unmixed versions. Man, they were good. Mike played all the instruments in them and sang; his son played the drums. He told us he wanted a little something for everyone, and he definitely did. He had a classical-ish piece, one that sounded a bit like the Eagles, one with Spanish guitar and mandolin, and a Beatles-style. Every song had it's own sound and it's own message. Some of the songs he said he'd written more than 25 years ago, and God had told him to put them away for awhile. Until now. This guy was totally on fire for God and serving Him with music. It was a joy to meet him, and I'd appreciate it if you'd pray for him as he's putting the finishing on his album "Lights and Perfections". The title comes from the Old Testament, when God gives David the "light" of the Holy Spirit to put into the high priest's breastplate. It was the only non-manmade item of the entire outfit.
We sat and talked to him for nearly an hour and, honestly, it was the best "sermon" I've heard in a long time. He talked about how God has sent us the Word and the Spirit; the thing is, now days, some churches focus on the Word alone, while others focus on the Spirit. Very few find a balance between the two. He's a great guy, and I really hope to meet up with him again next year.
For now, I'm up in Spokane, WA, taking my older bro to college. He's going to Moody Aviation here in Spokane. It's a satellite of Moody Bible in Chicago. I'll be here for a couple more days, then heading back home to California after 4 weeks of being gone. There's no place like home. =)
Go with God,
Monday, July 14, 2008
So, most of you don't know, I'm going to Mongolia this summer! Originally, I was going to India, but the trip was cancelled because the team members couldn't raise enough funds in time. At first, I didn't understand. It seemed like something God would want done. Why did we run into a brick wall? But a few days after I heard the news, the missions pastor emailed me and told me there was one more opening on the team to Mongolia in August. I had raised a little more than half of the needed funds, and he told me I could transfer the funds to the Mongolia trip. I took it.
Basically, I'm letting ya'll know about this because prayer is much needed right now. There are seven of us going, and about half of us don't yet have the funds we need to be able to go. Pray that God will open this door for us, if it is in His will! Below is a copy of the letter I sent out via snail-mail about a week ago. It explains the circumstances, and the basics of what we'll be doing in Mongolia, and our primary purpose:
Dear Family and Friends,
Some of you received my previous letter, which asked for prayer and financial support for a planned mission trip to India this year. I write again to you in order to explain that, in what seemed an unfortunate event, some of my fellow team members were unable to raise enough funds for us to buy the plane tickets needed for the trip. As a consequence, we had to cancel the trip. At first I was quite disappointed. If this trip had been in God’s will, why hadn’t He provided the funds? But then God reminded me that He works all things for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Shortly after, the missions pastor told me that there is a planned missions trip to Mongolia a bit later this year, in the first part of August. He told me I could transfer all raised funds from the cancelled India trip to the Mongolia one. I guess this is how God worked it for good. J So now I write to you again, and some of you for the first time, to ask for support both in prayer and financially for this mission to Mongolia!
The missions team will be teaching English in a small town in Mongolia. The missionaries we will be working with have been there for about 15 years, making them some of the longest-term missionaries in Mongolia. Fifteen years ago, there were zero known believers in Mongolia. Now, in the town we will be teaching, there is a small church of about 15 people, and there are, of course, other believers in other parts of Mongolia. The team will be teaching two classes: one consisting of doctors and nurses from the local hospital, and one consisting of high school aged students. The English curriculum we’ll be using is designed to raise spiritual questions, without being overtly evangelistic. Our four major goals in Mongolia will be to enhance the reputation of the church and the missionaries in the community, to build friendships with our students, to identify those who seem most interested in spiritual issues (so that we, or the local missionaries can follow up), and of course, if the opportunity presents itself, to share the Gospel message.
Thank you all so much for your financial and prayer support! Through God’s grace, I’ve received over half the needed funds, and trust that God will provide the rest. Thank you for joining with me in this trip, whether it be with finances, prayer, or both. If you haven’t contributed financially and would like to, use the same form and address that was provided in my first letter. Just in case that has been misplaced, the address is below as well. Include my name and “Mongolia Missions Trip” in the envelope, so that they know where it is to go. Again, if you have any questions, concerns, or advice, please call or email me. I’d be happy to hear from you. Finally, please pray that God’s will be done on this trip; it is, after all, His trip, not ours. We are merely His servants and tools; here to serve Him as best as possible until we are called home.
-----------Last week the team had their first meeting; we went over the basics of the English material we'll be using, some of the culture tips, etc. I'm really excited about this!! Personally, I'll be teaching the high school class alongside one of the dads that is coming. We'll be teaching from a curriculum called "Common Ground". It's designed to teach English in a fun, conversational way.
Please be praying for these few things:
1) For the team's preparation. (Funds, curriculum, etc)
2) For the hearts of the people we will be reaching.
3) For the mission itself! We're leaving the 1st of August and returning the 17th.
Also, we've put together a blog for the trip! It doesn't have much on it yet, but hopefully we'll be posting before, during, and after the trip. www.mongolia7.blogspot.com
Thank you so much!
Go with God,
p.s. Friday was an amazing night down at 3rd Street promenade in Santa Monica. I'll be posting what happened then soon!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
So, this is something that I've been meaning to do for awhile now. Now I'm finally getting to it. =P Anyway, there's this great Christian website called adventuresinchristianity.com. It's basically a community of believers all around the U.S. They post their "adventures", or witnessing experiences, on a bulletin board to share with the rest. There are also prayer requests and discussion forums. This site was started around a year ago by a buddy of mine, Joey, and a few others. It's now grown incredibly, and such an encouragement to so many people.
If you want to check it out, click on AdventuresinChristianity.
Read through some of the adventures, and make an account if you want! It's a great way for believers all around the country to connect and share their experiences and encouragement with one another.
Hope you all have a great weekend!
Go with God,
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
In the previous post, I raised the question of how much we ought to serve God. The answer seems pretty obvious: We need to serve Him all the time, give Him our all. The key here is that we can serve Him in different ways. We don't need to be out on the streets talking to unbelievers about Him in order to be serving Him. Rather the opposite, we can serve Him in all that we do. School, work, friendships, relationships. They should all fall under one category: Glorifying to God.
The Sunday after the 4th, I visited a church I hadn't ever been to before. The speaker, or pastor, pointed out that too often nowadays, people cut their lives up into "little pieces of pie." We have the work piece, we have the entertainment piece, we have our relationship piece, and then we'll have our God piece which, most times, is much smaller than any of the others. This is not how our lives should be modeled! Don't separate your life into different "pieces of pie". When we surrender to God, we are surrendering our all; our whole life. C.S. Lewis said "A man may have to die for our country, but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself."
When we surrender ourselves to God, we aren't just accepting Eternal salvation with Him. We are offering our services, however small, in this life. If you keep that in mind, it puts everything in perspective.
So, the answer to my question of how often we ought to serve God is all the time. In the area of evangelism, the thinking is often "off duty" and "on duty". When I got out to 3rd Street or the theatre or the mall, I am "on duty". I'm serving God by talking to people about Him. When I'm at home, or out with my friends, or whatever, I'm "off duty". I don't have to worry about doing God's will.
That's not how it should be at all! We are "on duty" for God all of the time, not just when we think we are. He may have something for us to do when we least expect it. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be ready for it.
Sorry if this all doesn't flow together exactly.. I'm just trying to put my thoughts out. Usually when one tries that, they don't come out quite how one wants them to. =P
Have a great week...even if you're having a bad week. Serve God. =)
Go with God,
Friday, July 04, 2008
Tonight I experienced another little encouragement from God. I went to the fireworks in Moorpark with my family and a group of friends. Had a good time, watched the fireworks, swing danced a bit. When the show was over, the park started to empty, and the sidewalks filled. On my way out, I saw a lady carrying a Giant Money tract (click on the link to see the tract's text). I asked her where she had gotten it, and she said there were people handing them out at the entrance. She told me she hadn't read it yet, but was bringing it home for her son. I encouraged her to read it, telling her there was an important message on it.
Somewhere in that park, there were other believers working for God! Reaching out to all the people that had come. On one hand, it was greatly encouraging. On the other hand, it was extremely convicting. I had a great time tonight, but I didn't do much of anything for God's glory. I could be doing so much more!
Hmm.. that raises a question that I've fought long and hard with myself about. Basically, how *much* do we serve God? Since really the only reason we're on this earth is to reach out to people, it seems we should do that without ceasing. I think I've finally found the answer. I'll get more into this in a later post, but for now, I gotta get to bed. =P
Have a great Independence Day, all! Serve God. =)
Go with God,
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
A few weeks back, a buddy of mine (Peter) was back from Cleveland to visit. He stayed at my family's house for a few days until his family got down from S.F. One night we decided to walk over to the theatre/Borders area to talk to people. It had been too long since I had been out, so I was all for it. We wanted to come from the approach of "How can we pray for you", so we did. The first lady we talked to was a believer! Had been for twenty-odd years. She asked us to pray for her son, who was soon going into the Navy. We talked for a bit about church background, where we were from, etc. She encouraged us to keep up the work we were doing. Is that from God or what??
We tried talking to a couple outside of the theatre, but they were closed to anything "religious", so we moved on to Borders. Again, we started talking to an elderly lady sitting outside of Macaroni Grill, and she said she is a believer! She was raised a Christian and had kept the faith all thru her life. She, too, encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing, and to stay in the faith. We asked her if there was anything we could pray for, and she said something I won't forget. "Well, mostly just pray. There are people praying for things, for people, for health. But just pray to God, and thank Him for this world, for this life." This lady was such an encouragement to us that night.
So, don't forget to thank God for the big and little things! Without Him, we have nothing. Don't take it for granted.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Go with God,
Back-up story: I go to, and am a part-time leader at, a teenage bible study in Thousand Oaks. It's an amazing oppurtunity.. about 25-30 kids from all around the area.. different churches, backgrounds, everything. God's definitely doing a lot through it. Almost two years ago, a kid named Rich started coming to the bible study. He brought forward some strange beliefs, and eventually stopped coming altogether. Now, most people would consider this guy "weird". He's kind of an outcast at my school.. people make fun of him, including his sister, no matter how hard he tries to talk to them. Since he left the bible study about a year ago, I've seen him several times at school events and such. Each time, I've tried talking to him about his beliefs. He no longer claims to be Christian.. in fact, he outright denounces Christianity and its followers. Now he believes in "the spirit world".."Vanhala"..and "positive and negative spirits". Basically, his beliefs are a combination of Wicca and other pagan belief systems that I do not pretend to understand. This kid's beliefs are really scattered, and I have a hard time understanding what exactly it is he believes in, where he learned it, etc.
So, there's the back up story. This is what happened today:
On thursdays, I usually have an English class with a friend (Jeff, who also goes to the same bible study). But today, it's cancelled. The teacher has chicken pox. (Sounds bad, right? Just wait and see how God works bad for good). My friend and I decide to go to my school's "park day" a sort of social gathering for us home schoolers who don't get any other social contact throughout the year. -) We get there, hang out a bit with some friends, and then are about to leave when we run into Rich. (My other buddy, Jeff, also knows him from the bible study). We started talking to him, catching up a bit. I ask him if he's thinking about coming back to bible study, and from there the conversation turns towards his beliefs. The converation lasts about ten or fifteen minutes, and then I have to leave. Brilliant. I get in the car, and start to drive away. You ever have the feeling that God is telling you something distinctly? Yeah, He tells me to turn around and go finish talking to Rich. I call my buddy, Jeff, and we agree to meet back at the park and find Rich. (Guess this goes to show that God does things on His time, eh? =). Well, we get there, and ask Rich if we can keep talking to him. Really, so far it has just been us asking questions about what he believes, why he believes it, etc. After another half hour or so, Rich has to go. That's the end of the conversation (for now). (Switching tenses now, sorry =p) It was great to be able to talk to him, learn more about his beliefs, and get him questioning them. I just have to say, God is pretty much amazing in the way that He works. Our English teacher told us a few weeks ago she might be getting chicken-pox. Sure enough, she got them. That made us able to go to a place that we wouldn't have other wise. Which in turn made us run into Rich again, which brought about the conversation.
Now, I don't really know how to describe this kid's beliefs. It isn't one set "religion" or cult.. just a combination of a bunch of them. That's kind of where I need your guys' help. I don't know much about pagan beliefs. Here's just some scattered things that were brought up in the conversation:
He mentioned Wicca's belief in the sun god and moon god, as well as the "book of shadows". He keeps sage in his pocket to keep away the "negative" spirits. He started to make a ouji board out of bark. He believes that there are "gods" of different things.. such as Thor. Of war, the ocean, etc etc. Under the gods, there are "spirits". These can either be "positive" or "negative". When I asked him what makes the positive spirits positive, or the negative spirits negative, since there is no *one* God to dictate it, he couldn't really give a straight answer. He believes the "spirit world" has been around for eternity, that it was not created, but he doesn't know who or what created the physical world. He thinks that Christ may have been sort of a spirtual leader, but not actually God. He actually called Him a "magnificent wizard", or something to that effect. I asked him if he thought Christ was a "positive" spirtual leader or a "negative" spirtual leader. He said positive. "But, Rich, why would He claim to be God if we was with the *good* spirits?" .."Oh, well he must have been negative then."
This guy really needs help. He's thrown out his bible, refuses to come to bible study anymore, has attempted to contact spirits, and is really confused as to why he believes what he believes. I've told him outright that he's being misled by Satan. He knows where both Jeff and I stand. Now only time, and God, will tell. Be praying please.