Gosh, I almost forgot. This is my trusty dog, Foxy. I called her and called her to come over, and finally she did, with her back to me. "Good dog." I borrowed my cousin's Nikon d50, took some shots of her this evening and eventually ran the battery down, so they can't take anymore shots of their kids. (Insert evil laugh here.) Now my only problem is I want one I can call my own.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
In order to join much of the blogger world, I'm instating Photo Phriday. I took this while I was in Minneapolis back in October for the Desiring God Ministry Conference 2006. Ben's wife Maris--my roommate from college, him, not her--saw this about the same time I did and made someone stop to take the shot. Check out some of these guys, their shots are great: Joe Thorn, and Steve McCoy.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Seminary classes can be really interesting sometimes, especially when you have 10+ hours in the car to think about the semester you just finished. Even more so when it's the first semester that you've finished all the work within the semester. North Park's in Chicago, Chicago and so we get people from all parts of the city and all parts of the faith traditions that are represented here. More than one would think, we get a lot of people from the South-side, which, according to my roommate, is just as ethnically diverse as the North-side, but without all the glitz--which is probably a good thing. Many of our South-side brothers and sisters come from more vocal traditions than the rest of us. (It seems Presbyterians and Covenantors have a few things in common.) During lectures, one can hear "mmm" or a few "Amens," and an occasional "Preach IT, Brother [or Sister]!"
During most car rides, I listen to sermons or talks, along with the usual plethora of music. Today, I listened to Dr. Timothy Keller's talks from the Reform & Resurge Conference 2006. He's the Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. In his three talks, he spoke on "Being the Church in our Culture," "Preaching the Gospel," and "Doing Justice." I can't begin to do them justice even though I've listened to them several times now, so I'll resort mainly to the descriptions of them from theresurgence.com. "Being the Church in Our Culture" puts a lot of emphasis on doing Church in the cities, having a better understanding of the Gospel, integrating their faith with their jobs, committing to the good of the city and contextualizing the Gospel. In his second talk, "Preach the Gospel" he spoke on preaching the gospel as the building of God's Kingdom through people being redeemed by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, combining older evangelical thought with the pervasive postmodern outlook. In "Doing Justice" he provides the first Gospel centered explanation of being justice-oriented that I have heard--and I've been at a justice-focused seminary for 2.5 years--speaking to what is justice, as defined by the Bible, what it means to do justice, who should do it, and how you can be one of those people. It's well-worth your time and should bring you to think of Campbell's Soup--mm, mm, good.
P.S. I'm not trying to side-step any more conversation about Women in Ministry. I'm just writing what's going on in my life right now. Plus I'll be in New Testament 2 this next semester, and have a feeling we might run across a few verses on the topic.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The most annoying question a guy like me can be asked is: "Room for cream?" This happens whenever I find myself in a coffee shop, trying to figure out how grande is actually small and if the words chalked onto the board behind the counter are French, Italian, Spanish or some combination of the three. Frangalian? Anyway. As I've said before I like my coffee with beans and water. Don't serve it to me cold. Don't add flavors. Don't try to sweeten it. Don't muck it up.
Why does this dude keep talking about his coffee?
First, I'm trying to convince all of you to drink it this way. Second, the most efficient way for Christians to get anything done is over coffee, of which I've sat down twice with my sisters and hacked out some understanding between us.
I know it's been a while since I posted about anything. School work had to be done. Thanksgiving was upon us. More school work had to be done. But instead of mass marketing my theology tapping at keys and burning my retinas, I got to have face time with some real people, asking real questions, and hammering out real answers. We opened the Scriptures together and philosophized and theologized. For me, it was extremely beneficial. I can only hope the same for them. Not that I convinced them of my particular viewpoint, but that we are able to come to a better understanding of where we're both coming from and where we can sharpen one another.
Hopefully, when the semester dies down, I'll be able to start posting on a more regular basis.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
I love coffee. I love it. I drink it strong and black. When I go to Starbucks, I don't get room for cream. However, I rarely go to Starbucks. I order my coffee straight from Costa Rica-- always whole bean-- by the box and I go through about a bag a week. I'm very specific about the coffee I like, not that I won't drink other coffees, but the one that gets me going is Cafe Britt Tres Rios Valdivia.
I used to brew with a french press, a very delicate process of boiling the water, grinding the beans coarsely, pouring the water over the top of the beans and letting it sit for five mintues, before plunging it down. This makes some wonderfully aromatic coffee. The problem I found is that there would be coffee "dust"-- for lack of a better word-- that would not get plunged down, so when I would pour a cup I would get sediment making the coffee gritty toward the end. Later, I switched to a coffee maker that uses a gold filter. This allows for the water to run through the beans into the carafe without going through paper. However, to some degree I still get grit.
I've been talking to a lot of people about my blog-- it seems to have gotten some recognition. To be honest, I'm not even sure how anybody found this site! That's not the issue though. In writing a somewhat emotionally charged blog, I failed to recognize that the language I was using would be offensive. I sinned. In trying to brew a strong pot of rhetoric, I failed to see all the grit that was coming through the filter. My sarcasm got the best of me. I want to publically apologize for my words that offended anyone. And while I had no intention to denegrate by the use of feminine language, I did. So I ask for forgiveness from those I offended overtly or covertly. I do not want my language to cause the same damage to females that I so vehemenately am against (the damage, not the females).
James writes this about the strength of the tongue. "For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" (3:2-5).
I am happy about the discussion it has garnered and I look forward to sitting down over a strong brew to continue the conversation. And I'll continue to post on the issues related to massive topic that is Women in Ministry.
May You, Father, guard our mouths and our words from doing damage to others. May You make them to cause blessing and not cursing. May You watch over us to help further Your Kingdom and the proclamation of Your Son, Jesus, in whose Name we pray, Amen.
Sunday, November 5, 2006
My mom bought me a sweetly designed can-opener when my old crappy one broke. It cuts around the side of the lid, so as to not leave any sharp edges to cut one's self on-- safety first! I hope that's the device used to open this proverbial can of worms and that we leave each other sharper, not cut, from these discussions. I have, however, contracted carpal tunnel trying to keep up with the comments that I've received. Woof. I'll refrain from the sarcasm, as much as possible, on this one, cause I'm not a hurting, judgemental, repressed effeminate male. (Okay, maybe just a little sarcasm-- it's a Biblical literary device, read Jeremiah). I want what I've received: communication. Open dialogue. That means two points of view, two voices, speaking at equal volumes refraining from "ad-hominem."
First, or second, depending on how one reads the above, I would love to sit down with anyone (including you, Ingrid) for coffee. Please. Seriously. No bull. The position is so misunderstood here at North Park and by the egalitarians, that ad hominem-- name calling-- and I would include, labeling, which may be the same, has happened everytime the subject has come up. EVERYTIME. Pop shots are taken at white middle-class males in a variety of arenas, ranging from class to chapel to announcements. If you haven't noticed, start.
Next-- cause I don't know where I'm at-- I'd like to apologize for my own ad hominem, because I certainly didn't intend that to happen. But if my "angry middle-aged women" comment seemed off color, then attendance to Wednesday's section of Leadership and Empowering the Laity for Church Growth would perhaps have cleared that up. For that reason I don't want to mention any names, but those who were there, hopefully, can testify. But for those of you asking, "Where's the Beef?" Grab that big beautiful steak knife, my friends, it's dinner time.
[I'm going to be dealing with these in slices, cause the roast was pretty big when it came out of the oven. Today will be Worth and Wills and the Trinity. I'll be getting to Real Men and Women's Leadership and Strength later in the week.]
Worth. Our worth does not derive from what we do or the roles we play. I find too often that we, as humans, relegate our value to what we do in this life, how much money we make-- or don't-- our family, our bloodlines, our positions at our job, etc. This leads almost immediately to the devaluation of women, poor, and minorities (in America). So women who stay at home to raise their children, instead of working their way up the corporate ladder are no bag of chips. So those girls that dream of being mothers and at the thought of a child or the coo of a newborn are looked at having a less than adequate idea of who they can be. Instead, we are to look at our worth from God's perspective who does "not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature..." (1 Samuel 16:7). We find our worth in Genesis 1:27, "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." We humans were made in the image of God. We were made after the "likeness" of our God, who created the universe and everything in it. We are distinct in this nature. Humans are the only created beings that are given this distinction. Humans are higher than dogs and smarter than monkeys. This is why we don't lick our crotch, eat our own feces and hump everything that moves (at least, God told us we're not supposed to). It looks like this in order of worth: 1. God; 2. Humans (that includes men women and children, no one that can sign up for their own blog is left out here); 3. all other created beings--plants, animals, but also not limited to those we see here on earth, but also the angels and the fallen angels (demons). [Theologically, I'm still working that last one over though, cf. the implications of above and Hebrews 1.]
So far I don't think there are any issues. Most complementarians and egalitarians agree at this point. Where we go from here is the rub. So let me answer your question: How can worth be found equal and the men have authority over women through the role distinction? (I hope that's a valid statement of that objection. If not, please let me know-- I do want to be fair to the egalitarian position.)
Wills and the Trinity. My illustation is the Trinity. I'll give it in short, cause I'm running long, and because I want to deal with the further objections to this as the illustration. Both Jesus and the Father are equal in worth, but throughout John's Gospel, Jesus says, "I have come... not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (4:34; 5:30; 6:38, 39; to name a few). So while Jesus is not less valuable than his Father, he submits to his will. The argument(s)?
[Note: I'm using feedback that I've received through personal email and this person said it'd be fine if I quoted her. So credit is given where credit is due.]
Kathryn Tanner says this about comparing human relations to the relations of the Trinity: "One should avoid modeling human relations directly on trinitarian ones because trinitarian ones, say, the co-inherence of trinitarian Persons, simply are not appropriate as they stand for human relations." (Jesus, Humanity, & The Trinity 82)
While not all aspects of God and His triune-ness can be brought to human relationships, this illustration is pulled not from thin air, but from Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." The correlation that Paul uses for male/female relationships is the Trinity, "the head of Christ is God." So the relationship that husband and wife have is modeled in the relationship of the Father and the Son.
Still flawed it seems. Christina Tingloff, good friend who has entered into the conversation with me writes this, "You can say that Jesus did the will of the Father, but ultimately it was his own will, because ultimately it was the will of the Triune God. That kind of co-inherence, or interpenetration, that makes the work of one person in the Trinity the work of all the others, is not translatable for humans because our wills will always be different, even if we want to do the same thing. Our wills are still our own."
While I respect the interpenetration of the Trinity, there is still a distinction in the persons of the Trinity. This is evident in Matthew (cf. Luke 22:42). Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray and says, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt. 26:39) And again he prays, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" (26:42). It reads that there are two different wills running their courses here. Jesus is praying, "Isn't there another way? Do I really have to suffer this? Is it necessary? But not my desires, but yours Father." Further that he says it twice emphasizes moreover that it was a submission of Jesus' will to the Father's. But I know as a good Calvinist that "all" doesn't always mean "all," so this could be one of those instances too.
Flag of caution for the domestically strong handed boys reading this: This does not give you license to domestic violence. It should not be read as "obedience even in the face of suffering." And ladies, this obedience is to be done "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:11). That means, if the dude is beating you, or telling you to do something that is unholy like watch porno with him, you don't have to. That ain't "in the Lord."
If you're still with me, I want to emphasize my disgust for the abuse of women by men a few cans short of a six-pack. I had the pleasure of working at a center in Costa Rica for the rehabilitation of teenage girls called Renacer (Rebirth, or to be reborn). They came from homes where they were prostituted out by their parents to selling drugs and living on the street and everything in between. Some of their stories can be read in the archives on this blog. I wish they had never gone to Renacer, but I was glad to be a model of what a godly man looks like in their lives.
Now just sit back on the couch, let the food settle and find someone to rub that belly. To quote The Thomas Crown Affair, "It's Friday... Come Monday there'll be hell to pay."
Thursday, November 2, 2006
It's feminist's week here at North Park, which means that angry middle-aged women stand up and tout the evils of white middle class men, resorting to name calling before Biblical excellence. They do serve a nice spread though.
The "Women's Luncheon" today was to promote Christian (jhem) Feminism, but as any single male will tell you, it doesn't matter what the occassion is, if there's food, they're there. It started with fruit salad and wraps- a good femeal, complete with the vegetarian selection. There was beef though, which I ate with my bare hands, letting the juices run down my chin, or at least I would have. Ending with cookies big enough to send any diabetic reaching for the needle.
Mainly it was a discuss... no, dialo... no, monologue, there we go, a monologue about what the Covenant (ECC) is doing to combat "sexist bigotry" (as was stated the day before). They have a commission publishing material appealing to the emotions, with poor, which is generous, exegesis. It seems that they are seeking to move this issue, which has typically been held in the proverbial "open hand" of the Covenant to the closed fist. Those that are in charge of interviewing and ordaining for the ECC are making this an essential. We talked about ECC polity a week ago and this can't happen.
I asked-- because I'm really struggling with this, amongst other, issues if I should go into the ECC-- what was the future of complementarian pastors/churches in the Covenant? They will increasingly be marginalized and separated from the rest of the ECC. Is that a denomination that I want to go into? Is it an issue that I'm willing to separate over?
Fortunately, that decision may already be made for me.
Friday, October 6, 2006
I've wanted to sit down and write for about a week, but after going away for the weekend, I had some catch up to play.
Where did I go you ask? I was able to go up to Minneapolis to the Desiring God Conference entitled, Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. It was a great time of teaching and fellowship. I was able to stay with some college friends of mine and got to meet his wife and be encouraged by them. The speakers were great. Big names like, D.A. Carson, Timothy Keller, Mark Driscoll, John Piper. Driscoll was the biggest draw for me. He's pastor of Mars Hill Church out in Seattle. I was turned on to him a few years back, but just started listening to him regularly back in January. He doesn't pull his punches preaching and always starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. That's what really impressed me about him. I was listening to him once and I'm quite sure he said "Jesus" about 15 times in 2 minutes. You don't hear preaching like that very often.
It was interesting, most of what was talked about, or against, at the conference is what I'm living in here at Seminary. Truth is something that can't be found. Do we really need Jesus? Scripture is central, but not inerrant-- which leads to dismissing of verses we don't like. It's an interesting atmosphere. But so I can react after some reflection, which doesn't always happen in the moment, I'll be posting my commentary here.
The name still applies though.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Be glad there wasn't a gun around me last Friday. It may have been a permanent silence. I'm kidding of course...
For one of my classes this semester I had to do a solitude and silence retreat just outside of Chicago. It was about 12 hours, half of which I slept through. I'd never been silent so long. It was an interesting experience, but not one that I'll purposely seek after ever again. I did get some good photos, which I posted down below. The bottom two, the chair and massage bed, were in the room where I spent most of my day. It wasn't quite that dark, but I liked the effect the window gave them. And the blurry crucifix was just outside my room. I hope you enjoy.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I'm back in the States, and have been for about a month now. I was in Oklahoma for 3 weeks chillin' with my family, which was really refreshing. Able to relax and just hang out with no real things to have to do.
Then we put it in passing gear and loaded up two large GM products and headed north to Chi-town. Unloaded them and now the majority of my crap is here. I had a week to continue to unpack and get settled. Get back into the groove of Chicago, another adjustment that I had to go through. I was waiting for class to start up and working on some tunes for my ride-- 95 Chevy suburban. It's quite large for the big city, but it gets me around... usually.
Classes started on Monday and so far there great. I'm in Worship, Leadership and Empowering the Laity for Church Growth, Christian Eduaction and Formation in the Church, and Direction and Silence. Should be a great semester.
I'll be writing more later. Just wanted to put some updates up.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I sent my last team home 5 days ago before spending 3.5 hours in Denny's and sending Tyrel home; all before 8:30 in the am.
The team got in on Friday the 7th. Our orientation lasted 24 hours and we headed to Grecia Saturday. We spent the rest of the day with our families. Joe and I were with the pastor and his wife and kids-- two awesome young men that have a lot going for them. But they're also struggling in their faith.
Sunday we played soccer in the morning, had a time of relaxation back at the church, and then in the evening we joined them for worship. I translated, while Jeff, the youth pastor, gave me the material.
The mornings throughout the week were taken with construction, as we helped to build some aulas Sunday school rooms. Mixing cement and laying cinder blocks were the main duties. But even with such a small team, eight, plus the two missionaries, we had plenty of time to hang out with those that were around.
Monday evening we held a meeting for the leaders in the church and talked about missions and that they start right there in Grecia, reaching out to those around you.
Tuesday was our long day. After constructing in the morning, in the afternoon we held a children's activity at the community room. There were clowns and games for the children to enjoy. For our craft, the team brought down some bracelets with different colored beads on them. Jeff talked briefly about the colors and their significance before we let them loose. One family that was there showed up at the church that night, that had never been before.
Growing up Presbyterian, I had never really been there before. The pastor held what he called a "service of ministration". Translation? Healing. He oiled up our palms and we prayed for just about everyone in the building. Some fell, others wept. It was pretty powerful and interesting.
Wednesday was work again in the morning and just a regular service in the evening. Not knowing what the protocol was until about 15 minutes before the service, as the group walked in the door, I asked four of them to share their testimonies. They were all well received by the congregation and despite all their nervousness the group members did wonderful.
Thursday afternoon the women had a women's time, where they did womanly stuff--I don't know what they did there. The men had a meeting that night, where we did manly stuff--I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Jeff talked about what it means to be a man and about generational sin--sin that gets passed down from father to son to grandson and what it means to stop that sin. It was a very powerful time for the men of the church.
Friday we went to the Poás Volcano. I had never been there and it was a really special thing that the pastor took us up there. We had a great time crammed in the van and eating lunch and then some craft shoppinng in nearby Sarchí. That night was the Farwell service which was tearful as usual. A great time for everybody.
We headed out the morning of Saturday and had a great time relaxing and reflecting at the beach, but we forgot our tool boxes back in Grecia, so the church came out to see us, which tugged at some heart-strings again, but was over all a joyful time.
The team headed out that Monday morning at the literal crack of dawn. And my time of team leading came to a close. Please continue to pray for me as my transition here at home continues and I'll update more shortly.
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
I have been meaning to update my blog, but I haven't had internet in my house for about 3 weeks now and I'm just barely hanging on as it is with my emails.... But so I can let you know how some things went here's a quick update.
I had my second to last team 3 weeks ago and it went great, after a few hang ups at the beginning. We worked with Ronald and his ministry out in Guarari and in a local church we had services every night. We helped with the kid's clubs and the feeding program. Everybody was great!
After moving around a few times, I finally found a house that I could live in. I'm still in the same area and the family is great. They've lived in the States and also were missionaries in Mexico for some time.
Tyrel and I went to Manuel Antonio last weekend. Neither of us had ever been there. The monkeys would come right up to you. It was like living in a zoo.
Last night to celebrate the fourth of July, some of us younger missionaries went to Denny's and gorged ourselves till we had to be rolled out of the place. It was rather disgusting the amount of food we ate, but strangely satisfying at the same time.
I have my last team coming in on Friday and we'll be working with a church in Grecia, just outside of San Jose. I'm excited for them. Please be praying for us!
I'm almost done down here, so please be praying for my last 3 weeks here. It has been a wonderful year and I've learned a lot.
Monday, June 5, 2006
So, to continue my strings of much needed updates, I once again begin again.
Back at the beginning of May I had to renew my visa. I was thinking about not worrying about it, but my visa has to be valid for me to drive here and my parents were coming the second week of May. I decided to go to Bocas del Toro, Panama to enjoy the clear waters and to study up for my talk I was giving that Thursday. After taking a bus to the border, I crossed took a taxi to the water taxi. Took the water taxi to another boat and took that to another Isla Carneros Carneros Island.
There I spent half of the days on the beach and the other half in Colossians 1:15-20. The time there was very relaxing and I had some good food, which is essential to any good vacation. Really good food is essential to a good day, but...
So Wednesday rolls around and it's time for me to head back across. I began by catching the wrong boat, so I had to pay extra for the taxi to the border. I get to the Panama border, no problems. I go to the Costa Rican authorities and they ask me if I have a plane ticket. I do, but not on my person. But I can show my itinerary online. No need, they won't let me in anyway. WHAT? Something to the fact of I had overstayed my visas twice in 12 months and can't come back in to Costa Rica for a year! Umm. There has to be a mistake. We "discuss" back and forth. Nothing. They show me a sheet that has the "law" on it, but I'm not even sure anything was actually printed on it. So after trying my luck a few times, asking to talk to a higher up, and talking to Kellie back in San José, I decide the best thing for me to do is to try another means. Heading back to Bocas was the second half of the day, hoping that I could catch a flight from there to San José directly. Not till Thursday.
I ate well that night and just relaxed. Nothing that I can do to change the situation. In the morning I'm able to get the flight. One hour, minus the time change. We actually landed before we took off. Now I just have to see what immigration is going to do. STAMP STAMP. STAMP STAMP. "Bienvenidos a Costa Rica." YES! But wait, who's this guy asking me to come with him now? Taking my passport, he goes to a back room. Then coming back out asks me if I have a flight reservation. He cuts me off. No, with us, NatureAir. AH, here's my receipt. A few more moments pass and then he lets me go. He was an employee with NatureAir, just making sure I had actually paid for the flight, since I wasn't on his original flight plan. No worries, I had.
Back in Costa Rica, I had two days to settle myself before my parents came. They flew in on Saturday. We spent a day in San José visiting old friends, before heading out to Monteverde, the cloud forest and eventually Playa Junquillal, the beach. Both were great. I had a great time with my family. They were very refreshing to be with and to enjoy some of CR on someone else's dime! They were only here a week though and left on Mother's Day. At least I got to be around my mother for that day.
I spoke that next Thursday. The Wednesday night I sat down to write out my outline and had a really difficult time doing it, so I went to bed still not knowing exactly how it would go. In the shower the next morning, I decided I'd do it in a Bible study format, the group as a whole going through the passage. I started that way, but then changed back to preaching. I talked about how we work in these areas that are called Christ the King and Sacred Family, but were drugs are ruining peoples lives. So how are we different in going in there than other social organizations? We offer these people Christ, through whom these places were created, by whom they are governed and through whom they are reconciled. I felt like it went pretty well and most of the feedback was the same. A recent preacher I heard, analogized preaching with driving a clutch. You just do it till you learn. I finally feeling like I'm driving with semi-confidence I know which gear to go into now.
I'm now preparing for a team to come on Thursday. We'll be working in Guararí with the Transformations ministry, which Ronald runs. So be praying for us. It's a pretty tough neighborhood, so pray for our safety and that the power of Christ would be upon us in all that we do.
Continued thanks for all your support and prayers.
Friday, June 2, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
For those who are computationally advanced, there is now a way that I can be on your computer without even asking. Scary, I know. But if you have an RSS reader (Google Desktop, RSS Reader, Firefox) you can copy the site address below so you get automatic updates.
In event to "read it" before I "see it" I bought The Da Vinci Code and read it over the weekend, so I can go see the movie as soon as possible. I was in the middle of another book and set that down for 3 days, so I could pound through one of the most talked about books right now.
What'd I think? Well, maybe it's because the other book, Empire Falls, by Richard Russo, is a Pulitzer prize winner, I wanted more. The writing was clever, the story cute, but I found the overall plot simplistic and the characters lacking depth. The situations the characters found themselves in were easily gotten out of and the clues very easy to figure out. I had a lot of them figured out before the characters, especially the last one: APPLE. But it occupied a lot of my time and gave me something to do.
Theologically? One person I had talked to called it heresy. Is that too strong of a word? Nope. It is blasphemous, saying that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene. Plus nearly all of the church history is way wrong, but that's to be expected by fiction. He wrote the book not to be historically acurate, but to make a bunch of money. So what if Danny-boy steps on a few Christians toes? Some of them can't even make up their minds about these issues.
Well, there's books written about this stuff. I'd say just go buy one that talks about Church history itself. Plus read that big dusty leather-bound book that hasn't been picked up in a while. There's the real story. And it will change your life.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
In respect to all the parties involved with the relationship between Veronica and I, I have removed what I had felt to be a respectful, but clear explanation of our relationship. In short, our relationship has ended. It was a great time of learning and joy for me and something that will be carried with me for the rest of my life. I want to apologize for any harm that I may have caused her or her family by my posting and again thank them for the great love and kindness that they showed me throughout our relationship.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Alright so it has been forever since I've written anything meaningful. So this week I'll be updating on my adventures over the past month plus.
Back around the beginning of April, I got to lead a Youth Team from Louisville (pronounced Loo-ul vuhl), Kt. Ryan, the youth minister, and I had a great time leading the youth into new experiences with their Savior. I love youth teams cause that's how I got my start in missions, especially here in Costa Rica. And they've been foundational in God shaping me.
We went to Quepos and worked with a church outside of central Quepos. Q has a lot of problems with drugs, since it's a huge tourist dump. It's the last stop before Manuel Antonio, a national park that is beautiful, so it gets a lot of bleed over from the bums that bum around Central America. But the church was wonderful and I knew it would be a great trip from the first moment that I talked to Pastor Wilbur.
Through the week we worked on the church and did some more outreach ministries to bring more people into the church with the goal of them knowing Jesus. The kids were stretched in this area, as was I. It was the first time that I had to go around a neighborhood/community and invite people to come to church. We put on a youth service, a children's activity and a women's meeting. They put on a despedida "good-bye service" the last night we were there. It was a wonderful time to celebrate the work that God had done in all of us that week.
The challanges of this group? The church has a more liberal background, so getting the evangelism side of the trip across was difficult, but not impossible. They were greatly flexible in anything and everything that was asked of them. There were also some interpersonal issues in the trip. And so I'm not spreading anything that shouldn't be spread or ruining the "reps"
of anyone, I'll just say God worked on a lot of hearts that week and is doing a great work in all of them.
The team was wonderful and I'm blessed to have had the pleasure of leading their time down here.
Ah, a little explanation. The click below. A few of the youth, in the weird way that only youth know how to, wanted to express their love for Ryan, their youth pastor. So they told me they'd pay me 5 clams if I put my rump on Ryan and sang the "bum song," made famous by Tom Green. So I did. Still waiting for my dough though... still waiting... still.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Monday, March 27, 2006
So I haven't said much of anything in the past month, so I have about everything to talk about...
Tyrel, a good friend from Tulsa, came down two weeks ago and was able to see a lot of the ministries that I'm regularly involved in. He slept on the floor in my room and we lived much in community that week! We got to visit downtown San José on Monday. We spent most of our time in Teatro Nacional (the nation theater) and making a long story short, I got called an idiot by a prostitute. Good day! Tuesday we went to Guararí to help out with the kid's club. He loved it! Wednesday we went on the feeding program. Always a huge eye-opener for the first timers. From there we picked up our rental car, packed up and headed to the beach. After a 4 hour trip turning to a 7 hour trip we got there. Our two days there were completely relaxing, swimming in the pool, playing in the waves, reading and napping were our priorities, oh, along with eating. We got back to San José Saturday night, ate, and got up early to send him to the airport.
Verónica and I have been together now for about a month. We've had to deal with a lot of issues of culture and communication, both stretching the relationship and enriching it. God continues to confirm our relationship.
Monday, February 27, 2006
So yesterday I had a very interesting experience. Two couples, four people, came down to CFCI Costa Rica to pray for the ministries and missionaries. They set up times for missionaries to be able to come and get prayer. I wasn't sure if I was going to go, but my GIRLFRIEND (...read below) encouraged me! So what did I do, but sign up!
Remembering my faith heritage-- presbyterian, baptist, covenant-- I was definately a little, um, nervous about having some more pentecostal peeps praying for me. I've just never experienced that! But I was able to get to know them a little bit first and they're wonderfully down to earth people, who die laughing about casting out demons and seeing people fly across the room! They were very pastoral in their prayers and asked what I wanted prayer over. Two things: my calling, that it would continue to form and be clear; and my relationship with Verónica.
They prayed for about 30 minutes, or so. Shared some "words" they received and prayed them over me, one of which was a pastoral calling. Then they brought Verónica back in and prayed for the both of us. It was all very edifying and an overall joyful experience.
Reflection: I'm presbyterian and so none of this is in my faith background, but I also grew up in Tulsa, home of Oral Roberts University and Billy Joe Daugherty, with his Victory Christian Center. I don't doubt that God works in these ways and I know that I have a deficient theology of the Holy Spirit and all that He can do. Is there such thing as a baptism of the Holy Spirit that is separate to Baptism? I wouldn't argue that point, but these two couples would. Are tongues important? Sure, but look at the placement of 1 Corinthians 13, as Paul talks about the giftings of the Spirit. Slain in the Spirit? I don't know. I would probably argue though that it is more related to our inability to stand before such a strong Spirit of the Lord, rather than being struck down. I thought about this as I fell back on the couch after standing in prayer. I was guided back, trusting their hands on me that I wouldn't crash against the floor (and the couch was lower than I remembered it!). Was there lightning bolts of the Spirit passing through them to me as they would come back and touch my head? Maybe, but for me it was more of a shock, to that of being barely asleep and someone touching you.
Does this negate their ministry and giftings? No. As I said before, it was joyful and edifying. I think God has a strong ministry for them, but it's not something that everyone has been gifted for. Each of us have our own giftings that God has bestowed on us according to His plan for us and how He's going to use us. I would argue that the most important thing for us to continually seek is His presence. To find ourselves at His throne seeking His grace on our lives. To continue to take up our Cross daily-- sometimes hourly-- and knowing that we are not our own, that we were bought with a price, we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual act of worship.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Man! News travels fast, huh? And well, I promised a few people that I would be posting this news on the web.
Well, I did something yesterday that I haven't done in nearly 5 years. You might want to sit down... I went on a second date. Yep. How do I say this... it was good.
Ah, so the story you ask.
Well for ever since I got here back in July, I've been going to the CFCI office devotional on Thurdays. People come and go. But sometime this past fall, Veronica started going. We talked here and there, but it was nothing. Then this past Thursday I, jokingly, asked why she never calls me? Well by the end of the conversation I walked home with her number. Friday a group of people were going to go to the Jazz Cafe, so I called her up to see if she wanted to go. She couldn't, but we ended up talking for 20 minutes. We decided on Sunday. Sunday we decided on The Pink Panther and just hanging out.
I got to the mall pretty early, so I went ahead and bought the tickets, walked around and checked out some Diesels. I sat down around 5 and waited. Throughout my sitting, a lot of cute girls walked by, but then out of the crowds Veronica appeared and I was, at that moment, struck with her beauty and presence. We grabbed a quick snack before the movie and just talked-- about everything. I paid for the bill, partly cause I wanted too, but also cause I didn't hear the cashier well enough to split it anyway. The movie was hilarious. And the cultural moves were shut down. (I still don't know how to get a girl to take your hand when you've clearly put it on the armrest to be taken!) We ended up going back to her house-- she lives at home still-- and had a great time with her family. I felt really comfortable there, plus I knew her mom from Renacer. We looked at pictures, played pool and just talked.
Monday she called me half way through the day and told me she wouldn't call me that night, because she would get home late and it would be rude to call my house that late. Okay, no worries. When I was heading up to bed, though, I decided that I wanted to call her. The first words out of her mouth were, "OH, I'm so glad you called." We talked and talked. No games were played. We both made it clear that we like each other and by the time we finished talking it had been more than 2 hours. I had taken no notice.
Tuesday we saw each other at a seminar that CFCI was holding. I thought she had something to do, because she told me she was probably going to leave early, but turned out that was only if she was bored! We kinda looked at each other at the end of the time and said, "So, what are we going to do now?" I said let's just go back to my house and hang out, but she said she had a better idea. So we went over to the University of CR, where I studied 4 years earlier, and where she's finishing up soon, before pursuing a Masters in Education in the States. We went to her favorite cafe and again talked, trying to discover who this other person is and why were so comfortable around each other. Our lives and our dreams match up amazingly, something that only God could have put together. How much do we share about how we're feeling? How much do we still try to guard each other's hearts? Where is that fine balance?
I'll divulge some more information about her. Veronica Gutierrez is 22 years old and has grown up in Costa Rica her whole life. She spent a month or so in Virgina when she was 15. She gave her life to Christ when she was 12. She has brown hair and brown eyes (I'll get a picture up soon). She makes me laugh even when I've only had 4 hours sleep. She challenges me in my faith. She's worried about me, because I'm trying to grow a beard with a long goatee in the style of Charlie Hall, but knows I won't be growing my hair out. She wants to go to grad school in the States and isn't sure she is going to return to Costa Rica afterwards. She's flippin' awesome.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Right now I'm frustrated. I've been typing out my post about my team that I led nearly 3 weeks ago now and I have been trying to post up some pictures too. Through all of it, the pictures won't post how I want them to and the sweet story that I had about my time with the team is lost. Some where in cyber space I guess. Being as vast as actual space, at least digitally, recovery ain't happen-en, as we like to say in the Southern half of the Estados. So I'll write some other fleeting thoughts as I begin to reconstruct my last near-post to satisfy your desirous pleas for information of my life.
Second change of subject: (I'll leave the juicy stuff for later in the week.) I was able to have a day of "recovery" if you can call it that between dropping the Troyers off at the airport and going on another mission trip. It was an internal one, with as many ticos as gringos. We went to the Guaymis on the Osa Penisula in southern Costa Rica. I can say this about the trip-- it was the worst mission trip I've ever been on. I'll qualify that statement. Mission trips are good (period) They have this quality of building relationships between the team and those whom you are serving. This is good. They are a proclamation of the Gospel, in word and action. This is good. So naturally the mission trip was a good thing. But in all the mission trips I've been on I found this to be the worst. "Why?" I read on your forrowed brow.
A couple of reasons.
It wasn't organized. Now I'm in Latin America, so I naturally use that term loosely-- but it still wasn't organized. The call was placed a day in advance to alert the peoples that we were coming. This resulted in a few complications. The worst being that we weren't able to trek into the Reserve to spend the night there, so that we would be ready in the morning. Of course God works all things to His good, right, so it wasn't a huge blow out, but it caused a headache for a couple of hours.
The second reason was I just got off of being the "lead" of an awesome mission trip. How, what? Okay. I organized the whole 13 days of the previous trip I was on, I took on a lot of responsibility. And God sustained me through it and allowed everything to be awesome to His glory. But this trip I was a participant, I have no problems with this, except I was treated as a child by one of the leaders. There was a drill sergent attitude present in this individual. For ease, we'll call this person, um, Smith. I spent the night at Smith's house, cause we were to leave at 4 am. I figured 30 seconds to put on my shirt, shoes and socks-- in that order, it was 4 am. Then 2 minutes for the brushing of the toothes, plus another minute to repack my bag and get down stairs. Now that's like 3 and half minutes. So I decide I'll get up at 3:55. I have some spare moments, if needed. The bus actually got there at 3:57. I've put my shirt on and then I get "THE BUS IS HERE. EVERYBODY GO. COME ON..." I was being treated like a child. That's cool if I deserve it, but at this moment I didn't. Unfortunately, it didn't end once in the van/bus and for the next 11 hours traveling south, the drill sargent drove from the backseat for me and was overtly abrasive. We worked great together on Saturday when we were ministering, but then on the way home it was the same thing. I was amazed.
Well, enough venting. And I do thank you for that. The mission part of the trip was pretty cool. Saturday morning we loaded up an old Land Rover and piled in to head the short trek into the Reserve. I became a pharmacist for the day, when I wasn't scouting the area for the team I'm taking there in June. I filled baggies with drugs that I have no idea what they do! It was great. I'm excited about the team that I'll be leading there. We'll have a lot of work to do, but it'll be great. The experience gave me a picture for what we'll be able to do, plus a connection to the people.
Here's some more pics:
I had to post this very much in the moment.
I have been blessed with a lot of wonderful friends in my life and each of them have their own special qualities that endear me to them, but today in the wee hours of the morning, when I should already be tucked away sleeping, I found myself on Mr. Rude's blog entitled Practice Resurrection.
While Josh and I have had an interesting friendship, I'd say he's one of my very closest friends at Seminary. I say interesting because we're kind of opposites. For example: Josh's idea of the perfect New Year's Eve is sitting in a snow bank in Minnesota alone looking at God's starry creation and hearing the faintest "beep-beep" as his Timex notes the passing of another hour, while my idea of a great New Year would be having all my friends over with lots of great food and beverage celebrating with a big countdown and noisemakers to ring in the New Year. Slightly different.
But I think this is also why Josh has enriched my life. He calls me to things which I am not normally drawn. He gives me a fresh perspective. I see Josh as a quiet wisdom. He has taught me, more than anyone else at the Seminary, the importance of the quiet. The power that God rushes in during the quieter moments. Something that I know I need more of.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
It seems like most of what I've been writing recently have been towards the negative "get my butt in gear" kind of messages. But this may be but another.
It has been real difficult for me to come back here and throw myself into the work that has to be done here. I had, as I've described it, too good a time at home. While I'm not trying to make excuses for my less than exemplary work effort these past few weeks, it has made me think.
I've been preparing for this team I'm leading since I got down here, doing so much a day and taking my time preparing for their arrival. I only have a few more things to do before they get here tomorrow evening. If you know me well, this may seem like a huge difference in my life and truthfully, it is. I'm prone to procrastination. I don't know if it's genetic, but it has run through me for quite a while now. This preparation that I've been undertaking has been against my normal ways of doing things. If this was a paper I had to write at North Park, I would be just starting on it, hoping to finish with a decent work in the next 36 hours I have to write it. It would get finished after working furiously, in about 48 hours and then I would turn it in for an average grade, some where around a B. But here instead I have about 8 hours MAX work to be done and that includes packing, buying some food and withdrawing an uncomfortable amount of cash.
It's also given me a lot of time to thought as to what my heart desires when I eventually get out of ceme... er, seminary. Missions? Not at this juncture. My heart is tugging towards the Church. To be a pastor, mentoring, discipling and encouraging. To equip others to give their lives over to missions, bringing people into worship of the King of kings, that their hearts might be united with Christ and His purposes in their lives.
But for now I must realize that God has placed me here for such purposes as these. And so I concentrate on what He has given me in the next months of my life, specifically the next hours. Pray that this team would come with open hearts and hands. Pray that their would be a revival in this community, Boruca, where we are going. Pray that those coming would not see their missionary-status ending at the end of this week, but that they would carry what they have learned back with them to the States and live missionary lives where ever God places them.
Monday, January 16, 2006
This is for all my NPTS friends-- it's a little rant-y.
I've been sitting on my butt for most of the day waiting for the pastor of the small, rural Costa Rican Four-square church where I, a young Oklahoman, raised Presbyterian, Baptist-ically formed, and Covenant-ly trained, am about to take an Ohio-based Mennoite church team to call me. The rest of my preparation for the team means getting my finances in order, which I can't do until the sheet is explained by someone who has yet to explain it. Both of these things need to happen before I can do anything else.
So I've spent my time: reading Seminary books that I didn't read when they were required-- actually enjoying them; watching MTV Latin America, showing year old shows from Laguna Beach: The Real OC, otherwise known as a bunch of rich high school kids spending their daddy's money and making big deals out of nothing; memorizing Colossians, Paul's plea to an emerging church not to live by the cultist pressures and restrictions placed on them by both those inside the Church and outside-- an interesting read for those denominations who continue to argue the homosexual position.
I was urged to memorize Colossians in particular at the Passion06 conference I attended two weeks ago now. The conference was specifically targeted at college-aged young people, most of whose parents probably payed for their trip (I'm not judging because I'm included). Sometimes as much of an American Eagle fashion show as a worship conference, it was one of the most refreshing times I've had in my life. My question is why?
Maybe it was those with whom I went. Piling into the car I really only new one person well-- my sister, Laura. Tyrel, a good friend of my sister's, whom I was still getting to know, and Lacey, a friend of Tyrel's, whom I had met just 4 minutes before. We all grew closer and were able to draw out the best in each other throughout the week, encouraging each other through spoken means and otherwise. We ate together; we worshipped together; we were stretched together; we joyed together.
Maybe it was the worship. David Crowder*Band, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Charlie Hall are some big names in modern worship. With a mixture of newly arranged hymns and cutting-edge arrangements, they were able to engage a mass of 18,000 young people to lead them in God-exalting worship. I lost myself several times throughout the week during the worship. I felt closer to God being engaged in a worshipful experience not experienced on a regular basis.
Maybe it was the speakers. They dropped the hammer with people like John Piper, Beth Moore and Louie Giglio-- people who swim in the Word of truth; those who exhalt God, not their own agendas; people who speak of suffering; who speak of feasting on the Word; who push even those not called to professional ministry to live lives of excellence glorifying God where ever they are called.
And maybe that's where the difference came along. Not in the fellowship, worship or teaching, but in what was taught. Living a life of excellence. That really grabbed on to me. Have I been living a life of excellence according to Colossians 3:23, 24? Am I "working heartily" as I sit here on the couch where I have been for the last few hours, watching TV and reading books that were required to be read a year ago? Is my life a "living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God" (Romans 12:1)?
Friday, January 13, 2006
It has been a while since I've written, so I'll try to sum up the past two months succintly and give a preview of what I'll be doing in the months to come as I turn this corner to the second half of my time in Costa Rica.
The last month or so that I was in Costa Rica before I went home, I spend most of my time bettering the office. We needed to do some painting to make the place presentable to teams when they start to come early this new year. I also learned how to dry wall a wall, which was something I enjoyed learning to do very much actually.
I headed home to Tulsa the 16th of Decemeber, where my family met me at the airport before we began eating. Boutique chocolate, homemade cookies, Christmas crown roast; it was all wonderful! I spent a week in Tulsa getting my Christmas shopping started and ended, before we went through Kansas for my grandfather's birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We returned for our immediate family's Christmas the 26th. One of the most amazing things my mom made my sister and me was a book on the 12 days of Christmas with the reasons why she loves us. She put too much work into it and it showed-- it was beautiful.
I spent the new years with my parents, before heading out to Nashville on the 1st with my sister, Tyrel Lacy, and Lacey Leifeste for the Passion06 conference. It was a wonderful week. David Crowder* Band, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall and Christy Nockles were all there leading worship. Louis Giglio, John Piper and Beth Moore spoke. It was a wonderfully refreshing time to grow with friends and the Lord.
We moved Laura back in at the ChiO house at OSU and I got to be upstairs! I left Tulsa two days later on Tuesday. I've been trying to get back into the flow of things here in Costa Rica. It's been somewhat difficult after having such a wonderful time at home.
I have a team coming down the 28th of January. I have a lot of prep work to do for them with finances and reservations.
1. Pray for my transition back into Costa Rica, the culture, the language.
2. Pray for the Troyer team and their time in preparation and here.
3. Continue to pray for my advancement in the Lord and the knowledge of Him.
Thank you so much for all your support, prayerfully and financially. With a few added gifts over the break, I became fully funded for my year down here. Praise God.
Grace and Peace.