Lesson from Jetlag

July 10, 2010

So we had another earthquake on Wednesday afternoon.

I saw the earthquake. Things were visibly shaking in the Compass Room (where I was when it happened.)

I heard the earthquake. The whole building rattled as it shook.

I did not feel the earthquake. Not one little bit. The ground felt perfectly normal to me. Why? I was jet-lagged, so it already felt like the earth was in a constant state of motion.

At 6:00 am Tuesday morning, I landed at LAX on a 14-and-a-half-hour flight that had left Tel Aviv at 1:30am local time. I made it through Tuesday alright, but about 2:30pm Wednesday afternoon, jet-lag swung by my office and began pounding my face into my desk (or so it felt.)

Few things impress upon me the futility of my own humanity more than jet-lag. Even though I am trying to be motivated and work, my body wants to do nothing but curl up into the fetal position and conk out.

Thankfully, I serve an infinite God. He never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121). He is omnipresent, so he never has to deal with trans-continental flights or jet-lag.

When I am at my worst (jet-lagged so bad I cannot feel an earthquake), I can still depend on him. That was the lesson of jet-lag. I was constantly forced to express that dependence on him through prayer and by running to his word. Thankfully, as the effects of jet-lag have worn off, the lesson I learned has not. I hope it stays that way.

All My Needs

April 16, 2010

In Philippians 4:19, Paul makes this amazing claim:

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

This weekend I am preaching to the high school group on serving the church, and I was reminded of this verse when one of the commentaries said, “When we serve, ‘God will pay the expenses, whether they be material, physical, or emotional.'”

Too often I have limited the scope of Philippians 4:19 to money. I think to myself, I can give financially because God will provide financially. Unfortunately, I do not make this same application to other areas. Time, energy, and rest are all other things that are required for ministry, but it is nonsensical to believe that God can provide the finances I need to give but not the energy and rest.

God can supply ALL my needs.

Game Day

October 10, 2009

Across the country this morning, hundreds of college football players are waking up with one thought on their mind:

“It’s game day.”

With the agony of intense physical effort and the straining of the strategizing mind, these young men and their coaches have spent the entire week getting ready for today’s game. They have watched films of the opponents. The coaches have crafted a game plan. The players have run through the plays countless times. The whole week has been leading up to today–this is what they live for!

As these young players go through the morning of game day, I doubt any of them are thinking thoughts like, “Why does this game have to take up my whole day?” or “Couldn’t I be doing something else with my weekend?” Rather, these students would give up anything else to be doing what they are doing.

Like football players, I have the pleasure of working on the weekends. Just like them, I spend the whole week getting ready for Saturday and Sunday. And I cannot help but think that I am more privileged than them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love college football. Just from looking at the scoreboard on my computer screen or flipping on my TV, I love feeling that excitement of competition. If my team is playing, their game will be a thought in my head the whole day.

Even so, I think I’ve got it better than those players and coaches. Sure, what they are doing must be incredibly fun and exciting, but can it honestly compare to the excitement of doing the ministry of teaching and talking to students about the Lord? I’m sure it must be fun to watch film and strategize all week for the big game, but isn’t spending the week studying God’s Word sweeter?

Every Saturday, watching football teams from across the country take the field helps me put my job into perspective. I can only imagine how fun it would be to be a part of that, but I would never trade my job for it. Like those players get amped for the big game, I anticipate getting to do the work of the ministry on Saturdays and Sundays at True North.

That is why when I wake up on Saturday and Sunday, I smile and say to myself,

“It’s game day.”

A New Beginning

June 16, 2009

It was once said that “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” I’ve had the joy of experiencing both of those over the past couple months. College, and life as I have known it, ended last month when I graduated college.

But that ending has quickly become a new beginning.

Almost a month ago, I started my new job as Assistant High School Pastor at Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, CA, and it is awesome. I’m quickly learning how busy full-time ministry is, but I cannot imagine anything else I would rather be doing!

Here is a little bit of what I have been doing lately.

I have already been able to preach in True North (the high school group) for two weekends since coming on staff. You can listen to the sermons here:

http://www.compasschurch.org/hs/sermons/

I have also been feverishly preparing for Revival ’09, which is our summer camp! I’m praying for and expecting God to do great things in the hearts of the students as Pastor Mike brings it from the book of Daniel each night. And I’m also thinking it will be one of the most fun weeks of my life. I made a promo video with some of the students. You can watch that here:

http://www.revival09.com

This year my Resident Director (Ona) and myself have developped a habit of eating breakfast at McDonald’s. (Sidebar. The Southern Style Chicken Biscuit is one of the most delectable things you have ever had for breakfast. Wash it down with a small parfait, and wow, your day is off to a good start. End Sidebar.) This morning, we ate there and reflected over the last four years. We tried to name every guy from every wing I’d ever lived on (and came pretty close, too!) We also discussed the future a bit by working through the dorm staff for next year.

When we got back to the dorm, I sat down with my Bible and journals. While looking at journal entries from the past couple Aprils, great memories began to fill my mind from all four years of college. Fun times. Spiritual lessons. Ministry opportunities. Relationships. Hard times. Tough lessons. All these things flooded my thoughts, and as they did I was just overwhelmed. Here were a few conclusions:

-I am very thankful for God’s goodness, grace, and faithfulness over the past four years. As I look back over the last four years, I’m really speechless. The Lord has been very kind to me even though I do not deserve it. He has blessed my time at TMC more than I could have imagined.

-More than just being thankful that God has demonstrated goodness, grace, and faithfulness to me over the last four years, I need to worship God because he is eternally good, gracious, and faithful! As is true in all areas of life, we should never just be thankful for what gives us, but also we should worship God becaue of his characteristics that have been displayed. He does not just do good things–he is good.

-As I look forward to the future, I should expect God to continue to be good, gracious, and faithful–even if all my plans for the future collapse tomorrow. God’s faithfulness is faith inspiring. Not only should it give me peace about the future; it should also inspire radical acts of faith.

McDonald’s and meditation…not a bad way to start the day.

Semester’s End

December 24, 2008

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I almost forgot my WordPress password…sheesh… I could begin by listing some excuses for my lack of blogging, but they would probably be lame and unacceptable, so let’s just dive into a new era in Step Onto Liquid.

I just finished my seventh semester of college; that means I have ONE left. Wow. Time flies.

Last night I read through my journal from this semester. (I strongly recommend journaling, but that’s another blog.) It was both an enjoyable and encouraging experience. One fun thing about reading through an old journal is remembering funny things you forgot about. But more than that, it’s refreshing to see what you’ve been through, both in your relationship with God and with others.

One thing I noticed about this semester was that it was a tiring one. For starters, I came into the semester tired. There wasn’t really any “break” last Summer break. I came straight from two weeks of Summer Camp back to school. Once back at school, things stayed busy. The weeks leading up to the beginning of classes is always a whirlwind full of meeting with the Servant Leadership Staff, welcoming the new students, and winning The Master’s Cup (well, only if you live in Hotchkiss.) Then classes began. On top of a full-load, I was heavily involved in Dorm Ministry as well as at my Bible study.

Fifteen weeks later, I’m tired. I’ve come into Christmas Break exhausted and got sick as soon as I got to my parents in Texas. It’s times like this that questions start coming up in my head. What am I thinking? Is what I’m doing worth it? Where is my motivation in this?

And it’s times like that where reading back through my journal is encouraging. It brings back Scriptures that have encouraged me over the last semester. It brings back events that have done the same. It helps remind me, “Oh yeah, this is what I’m thinking, this is why what I’m doing is worth it, and this is my motivation.”

One particular happening the encouraged me was in my Sermon Prep class. Pastor Scott Ardavanis was critiquing one of my sermons when he recalled one time when he got to meet John Piper. He asked JPipes, how do you preach like that? Piper responded, “You just have to fall more in love with God.” And that’s the advice Pastor Scott passed along to me and one thought from my journal read-through that I’m trying to take with me through Christmas Break. As I think through things and ponder the future this Christmas Break, I think that is a good thought to keep central.

Well, that’s it for now, hopefully I’ll be doing some more blogging over the break. Peace!

Past, Present, Future

July 24, 2008

Beth tagged me to do one of these, and this will be my last access to the internet for two weeks, so here goes.

20 years ago I…
1. was two years old.
2. did not have a clue about what was going on in the world.
3. lived in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

10 years ago I…
1. repented of my sin and put my faith in Christ
2. watched my oldest brother go off to college
3. spent my days chillin in Mr. Armstrong’s class at Believer’s Academy

5 years ago I…
1. was working as a telemarketer.
2. was fired from being a telemarketer.
3. attended Survival Camp for the first time!

3 years ago I…
1. graduated as Valedictorian of my graduating class of six.
2. attended the Rehrer’s memorial service.
3. moved into HOTCHKISS! (still one of the most legit moments of my life)

1 year ago I…
1. returned from a semester of studying in Israel–possibly the happiest 3 1/2 months of my life.
2. listened to lots of John Piper while I worked as a street sweeper.
3. won The Master’s Cup for the second year in a row.

So far this year I…
1. saw Wicked with Team 20 Seconds.
2. served as the RA of Hotchkiss Upper Front.
3. went to Uganda on a TMC Missions Trip.

Yesterday I…
1. learned about how to be committed to expository teaching from Pastor Mike at the CBC staff meeting.
2. practiced with the band for Junior High Revival ’08.
3. attended True North Beach Night at Salt Creek Beach.

Today I…
1. went shopping to get some things for Revival.
2. ate lunch at In-N-Out Burger.
3. helped load two Budget trucks for Revival.

Tomorrow I will…*
1. be at Compass by 4:30am.
2. ride up to Lake Isabella.
3. help set up camp for Revival ’08.

In the next year I will…*
1. be Head RA in Hotchkiss and love every second of my senior year at TMC.
2. win The Master’s Cup for the third straight year.
3. start/continue figuring out what I will do with my life.

Who’s next? Ona, Phil, Kelly

*Lord willing

Today I turned in a 7-page report on my recent missions trip to Uganda. This was one of the questions:

What person or event has impacted your life the most during this time? Please explain.

This was a hard question to answer, but I answered it with a journal entry I wrote on our last day of ministry in Uganda. I thought those that read this blog might enjoy this window into my brain on the trip. This is what I wrote:

6/27/08 Friday

“I just had the most heart-breaking conversation of the trip. We visited two nearby schools today with our program. They both felt like business as usual.

“After the second school, we were talking with kids. My group dispersed, and I was waiting for everyone else to finish up. To pass the time, I sat down on the edge of the building to be available if anyone else wanted to talk.

“Eventually, one boy came up to me with a very soft, high voice. He told me his name was Merry. He began asking me the standard Islam questions. Are the Bible/Quran the same? Is Allah God? So I gave him my standard 2-point answer:
1) the Bible says Jesus is God and our Savior, and
2) the Bible says we get to heaven through faith, not works.
At the end, I began to question him about what he believed.

“This is where the conversation took a new tone of intensity. This talk was no longer normal. He told me he believed in Allah. I then proceeded to remind him that Allah is not God. Jesus is the only way. If he wants to go to heaven, he must believe in Jesus.

“Merry sat there in silence as I found myself hating the cultural barrier once again. What was going on inside his head? Where was he coming from? Where was he going?

“I began to notice a sadness in his eyes. He remained silent as his eyes began to tear up. The tears began to form on his eye lashes, and they slowly dropped down his face.

“I did not know what to feel or think. What was going on with this boy? What kind of persecution will he face if he believes? Who will remain there to help him? Who will teach him more about Jesus? Who will be there for him if he believes?

“All these questions began to tear me apart. Our conversation was fairly silent til the finish. He asked another question about whether Moslems go to heaven. I again explained that Jesus is the only way, and I tried to say that as many ways as I could.

“Merry never came to the point where he said he wanted to be born again, but I pleaded with him to believe in Jesus. I encouraged him to find others who are born again to help explain more to him.

“Our group began to leave, so I prayed for Merry and said good-bye. As I left, I could not feel right. Something about that conversation broke my heart, and I knew something was wrong. Just like the feeling I had when I broke my collar bone, something is not right, and I want to wrestle with God now until I know what it is.

“Why did that conversation break my heart so much, and what difference will this make in my life?

“For starters, it put a crying face to all the ministry we have done this week. When I think of this week, I will not think of crazy questions and laughing kids; I will picture Merry’s tears. How many more are there like him? I can never, ever take ministry lightly. Souls hang in the balance. People are really going to heaven or hell.

“Again, this conversation challenged my faith. I am so frustrated by the fact that I am leaving tomorrow. I have planted a seed, but what will become of it? Do I really believe that God is mighty to save? Do I believe God can work here when I am gone? There is so much tendency to doubt, but I must live in faith that God will bring the increase and produce fruit from this ministry.

“I have often said that God does not call us to success; he calls us to faithfulness. Ultimately, I cannot be successful. It is God who works. God is the one who changes hearts. God is the one who brings people to repentance. And God will be faithful to complete what he started.

“BUT he calls us to be a part of the process. He calls us to go and make disciples. He calls us to be his ambassadors. This conversation with Merry has only increased by desire to be faithful. It has given me a whole new sense of urgency. The battle is real, and it is the most important thing in the world. Every comfort, every song, and every sporting event (that I might think is important) looks like rubbish when I think of Merry’s crying face. Nothing is more important than the work of Christ and the ministry of the gospel.

“And that ministry is more than just evangelism. God calls us to make disciples. I have so much opportunity to do this in the States. I have ministry in front of me at Compass. I have a year as Head RA of Hotchkiss in front of me. And I have a whole new sense of urgency about it.

“But I pray this conversation does not quench my desire for evangelism. I don’t want to pass up any opportunity to share the good news. Again, I must have faith in God. He will continue to work even when I can’t.

“At the end of the day, to live is Christ. My life must be about kingdom work. I pray for Merry, but I will most likely never see his face again. I pray that God saves him and uses him to bring others to Christ. But I must be radically faithful to the work of Christ. I must have a whole new passion about the phrase ‘to live is Christ.’

“This will look like a commitment to discipleship—whether reaching out to unbelievers or nurturing younger Christians. I have plenty of opportunities to that over the next year. This will look like commitment to the church. The church is Christ’s body, and it is where discipleship happens. This will also look like a commitment to missions. I cannot help but think of the Hurleys and the Conovers. They are working to make disciples who will make other disciples. I want to give my life to ministries like that.

“I thank God for my encounter with Merry. I pray that his life is forever and eternally because of it. And I pray that mine is, too.

“GOD, HELP ME!”

Out of Africa

July 3, 2008

Team Uganda at the Source of the Nile

Team Uganda at the Source of the Nile

Yes. Contrary to popular opinion, I am alive and back from Africa.

God was very good (as he ALWAYS is) and blessed Team Uganda’s time. I can’t really rehash the whole trip here and now. I blogged (along with Amanda) for the team at Master’s website, so I would encourage you to check that out for more details about the trip.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip! The ministry opportunities we had were very exciting, and I know that the Lord taught me many lessons on this trip. Here a few of them:

-From the missionaries: Discipleship is SO important. And that includes everything from evangelism to training pastors to hanging out with high school students! That makes me excited about the rest of the summer and this next school year.

-From my teammates: Consider others more important than yourself. When I am in an uncomfortable situation, it is so easy for me to think about myself. But my teammates constantly set and convicting example of selflessness. When the going got tough, my team got going in serving others.

-From traveling: When in Africa, one is more concerned about contracting some deadly illness or getting dismembered in a car accident (or by a lion). However, it does not take long to realize that those same things can happen in America (maybe not as much the lion, but watch out for tigers in San Francisco). The reality is we have no control over our lives. If God wants us to die today, there are about 1001 ways that can happen. The lesson learned: Life is fleeting; live every moment for God.

I will spend the rest of my summer as a youth intern at Compass Bible Church. Three of these weeks will spent camping with junior high and high school students. I am psyched out of my mind for this opportunity to serve and disciple here! Hopefully I’ll be bouncing in and out of the blogosphere over the next few weeks.

Peace.

Hugh, Adam, Julius, me, Charles, and Steve outside a church where we put on a conference

From left: Hugh, Adam, Julius, me, Charles, and Steve outside a church where we put on a conference

This summer is going to be full of lots of things for me–good things. On Sunday, I leave on a missions trip for Uganda for six weeks. As one friend recently put it, the trip will be full of ministry, ministry, and more ministry. When I get back, I will be working as a youth intern at Compass Bible Church in Orange County for six more weeks; this time will also be filled with ministry. My last three weeks of the summer will actually be spent back at school and filled with–you guessed it–more ministry. I will be getting ready for another year as an RA and helping out with the freshman orientation, known as Week of Welcome (or WOW). All of these are good things.

But all these good things are worthless without one other thing. Check out these verses

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.”

Philippians 3:13b-14

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Even though, my summer will be filled with many good things, only one thing really matters: Christ.

Will I grow closer to Christ this summer? Will I love him more? Will I long to gaze at his beauty every day this summer?

And this one thing will be the most decisive element in everything else. If I am not seeking Christ more and genuinely loving him and being devoted to him, my ministry will be uneffective and joyless.

So if you want to pray for my summer. Just pray for one thing: that I would grow more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

That’s the one thing I want.