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Think of the blessings that we have received in our lifetimes. Think of how many times we have grumbled about what we did not get. Think of how many times we have lacked contentment and been dissatisfied with the hand God has dealt us, and then look around the world and see the vast multitudes who have no idea what it means to be born of the Spirit. If we are living in a hovel or are living through constant chronic pain and illness but have received the supernatural work of regeneration in our souls, we have no reason to do anything but praise God for the rest of eternity because we have received the pearl of great price. We have been raised from the dead already. We are already going to live into eternity because the sting of death has been removed. Death cannot destroy what God has regenerated.

R.C. Sproul
Commentary on Romans. Pg191

Eve of heading off to Missions.

If you read this, and I sound whiny, I’m sorry.

Tomorrow, our team heads off to the Philippines. I am leading this team. Usually, when we plan these trips, there are many involved, many taking part so that not one person is doing everything. This year, that is not the case. Largely due in part of my lack of preparedness, but also, I am the only one that has undertaken a leadership role and have gone on this trip several times.

I have to plan, organize, execute a youth camp where around 175+ youth plus their pastors are coming. That number is staggering when you consider that it is basically me and 3 others who either just graduated high school or are in high school. Also, I am the only male (Not saying that females aren’t capable, I’m just going to be lonely).

I have to come up with the schedule, what we are all doing and when, come up with all the activities, who is in charge of what and how they will do whatever their tasks are, I am have to prepare every lesson, teaching, sermon, etc and then give them. And that’s just week one.

Although, if we can make it through week one, the rest will be cake walk in comparison. Thankfully, we have volunteers from these churches who are all of adult age and that can help out once we are there. 

However, I can’t help feeling overwhelmed sometimes. And even now, the day before we leave I still battle it. Especially after I was told we would be having early morning prayer/worship as well that I need to prepare for. I kind of froze right there and then as I was being asked then for the schedule. My mind wouldn’t function, I couldn’t talk. I was just so overwhelmed at that moment. 

But now that I’ve collected myself and have started working again, I am learning once again, to surrender myself, and be obedient to, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He leads me all the way, and I just need to keep running. I am going to be working until the last possible second, and I know that this is my fault and I repent. I could have been more diligent, voiced my concerns earlier, but my pride and arrogance got in the way. And once I accepted all these roles, my laziness got in the way and now here I am. I am really surprised God has not stricken me down. Although, this week has had its ups and downs and I’ve definitely experienced His heavy hand.

God, may I trust you ever still and even more so as we head out on this mission. Thy will be done.

Heading to the Philippines in a week and as usual, I feel very unprepared.

Random thoughts as I continue to prepare for the mission trip coming up.

It’s been two years since the last time I went and I am excited for sure, but at the same time, I’ve never been this nervous. 

We’re going there with the smallest, the least experienced, and the least prepared team ever. Sounds like it’s going to be a huge success right?

However, I know that at these times, when we’re the most helpless, we’re most able to surrender it all to God. I know that this team will work hard for the Kingdom, and if we keep believing in “Thy will be done,” then we will be fine. And not just in our states, but the work that we will do will honor and please God. A couple years ago, our team was fully prepared, ready to go. And when we got there, there was a huge rain storm, washed away roads, and we couldn’t do even half of what was planned. We felt defeated, we felt lost. But God used that opportunity and showed us to surrender even our itineraries to Him and let Him lead. We ended up doing evangelizing where ever we could go and the result was so beautifully glorious. And so, I know I can trust the Lord to make do with this trip as He wills.

As much as I have faith in that He will lead us all the way, I still feel nervous. I mean, I’ve preached and taught and all of that for most of my adult life! So why do I feel this way? There is something unique about going overseas, and preaching the Gospel, sharing the Good News in a church filled with people who do not have much knowledge if at all on who Jesus is. And I just don’t want me to get in the way of Him. And more so than at other times, my prayer is that I would have a true servant’s heart as I lead this mission team. 

What’s interesting about this year is that instead of a VBS, we’re holding a retreat at the mission center for the youth on the island. Specifically, we’re inviting those who are native to the island itself. These people are very much different than what most people would consider “Filipino.” For one, you can tell that these people are different physically. Second they use a different dialect of tagalog. And lastly, their culture, is different than mainstream Filipino culture. A majority still live in huts with thatched roofs. They live off the land completely. And it’s been reported to me that we are expecting 175+ participants in this retreat. I’ve never gone to a retreat stateside that was anywhere near that number and here we go, running a retreat in a distant land with over 175 youths to adults! And more than that, I’m going to be teaching them over the course of three days. My task is to equip them as much as possible and by the grace of God win as many souls as possible. My goal, as I’ve heard this before, is to make disciple making disciples. God help me to be faithful.

Supposedly, the three hardest things to say are “I’m sorry, help me, and I love you.” 

I believe that as a Christian, those three things should be some of the easiest things to say.

                                    “When You Come Back”

I don’t know how to follow you without losing my way
Jesus come and take me by the hand
I don’t know how to trust that you will do the things you say
Spirit teach me how to understand

That your love can heal the wreckage of my soul
The beauty of your light shining in me

I don’t know when you’ll take me home to paradise with you
The day when I will finally be free
Oh the day when you come back for me
Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities On Earth

"He who follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord. By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden strength. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

This is the greatest wisdom - to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.” Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.

Thomas A. Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter One.

In the quiet

The quiet times in life, when everything is steadily moving on, are the best. Some live for busy, action packed lives, which can be good, but I enjoy the simpler seasons.

When everything is crazy, it’s hard to hear everything and everyone and so many things can get lost in translation. But when the loud voices cease, you can then hear the quiet ones. And so many times, the still small voices are the most powerful.

Also, it’s only when we can tune our ears to hear in the quietness, can we familiarize with it when things get loud.

When things are quiet for me, I can hear His words so much louder, especially in Scripture. And in these times, I learn the most. These are the times when we can search out the riches of His truth since we are not distracted. And so much growth can be had.

And here, reading the book of John, it has been so invigorating for me. I can quietly sit and hear the words of Christ as He teaches or as He prays. And I can leave my home filled with joy and the Spirit because I began the day with Him. As the light shines on the Gospel through these pages, I find myself reminded of His power, His wisdom, His assurance, and judgment this time around. And though these words are not the most pleasant of words, I find myself growing in comfort with these reaffirmations since these words help our understanding of Him. And they are all for good. So many times He affirms our inability and then shows us His ability. He tells us that we are chosen and that it was not due to merit but instead, love. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have read this book in the same way if I had been going through a different kind of season. And for that, I’m thankful.

I’m ready, are you?

I’m ready, are you?

My 2014 Resolve

Not a resolution, but much more, a resolve. Like last year, it is the same:

To love Jesus a little more and to know Him a little more each day. - Rick Warren

I can achieve many things in a day but if by the end of that day I had not loved Him more or known Him more, then my day was a failure.

I can fail in my many ways and lose many things, but if by the end of that day I had loved Christ more and had come to know Him more, then my day was a success.