Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Does Christmas Change As You Get Older?

When I was little.... I remember how hard it was to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. I would roll around in bed, count the hours until it would seem like a reasonable time to wake up my parents. I would run to my parents room, jump on their bed and scream IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!!

As I look back at it.... those days are long gone. Christmas is a dream for kids. But as you get older, the presents, the cultural norms of Christmas looses its intrigue.

The way I approach Christmas has been much different, as I got older. I rather sleep in, than wake up early for presents. But, the most telling sign is... I have become very reflective during Christmas. I much more concerned with spending time with friends and family. I even prefer the food over the presents. But more importantly, its about the birth of Christ.

I can't help, but reflect on the coming year. Christmas has turned to a day of rest and reflection, rather then the previous gift focused day.

I really cherish how I approach Christmas now, then before.

So, how has Christmas changed for you as you got older?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Importance Of Training

Now that I'm officially done with training. Its typical to automatically move into reflection mode. These past 8 weeks, have been completely humbling for me. I sat through many classes, studied the Bible like never before. I was stripped down to my core, ripped from everything and exposed in many ways. The reality was I need that, more than anything.

God has been ever so faithful.

Training usually is approached lightly, people feel they know all the required elements of most training. Yet, training still remains a pivotal point for any discipline. I would venture to guess, that most times we do have a good idea, of what the training will contain.

However, through any training there are "training nuggets" moments that make training worth it, enjoyable, it gets the blood going.

I would love to share 3 " training nuggets" that I have taken away from training.

1.Your walk with Christ keeps you on the field or takes you off. (Slap in the face "nugget" good stuff, so true)
2.Go to the field as a learner. (Humility " nugget" assume you know nothing)
3. Christ does the "changing" not the missionary. (The I'm not God "nugget" the most obvious of the 3, amazing how we forget)

I am grateful for the training I received.

The point of training is to find what you don't know already and to re- establish what you already know.

We all have a lot to learn.

In many ways, life is one big training. Through the different paths of life we take. We all find "training nuggets" that we learn from.

May we always be learners.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

As training comes to an end. I can't help, but reflect on what I have learned.

I've been able to met some really cool people. I've been able to really hone in on some personal
things, that I needed to work on. God has been ever so faithful, during this process. I'm excited to
see what God has for me. However, I'm also super scared and will be completely lost in a new culture
and language.

But the time is coming soon. It will become a reality....

There will be good times, bad times and ugly times. I know, there will be times when I will feel tired and hopeless.
I will be homesick, frustrated and missing my family and friends. But its the cost a missionary most take into account.

As anticipation becomes reality, no one is ever ready for that transition.

I do know this, I will have highs and lows. But God is bigger, smarter and wiser. His grace never runs out, He is our constant.

Through the good, the bad and the ugly. God will be there..... that much I know.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Burden

As a missionary, its important to take an interest in the people you will be dealing with. To be honest, its has taken time for me,to really understand this concept.

Not that I don't see the importance of what I'm doing. But as I get ready for the big move, I have really developed a burden for the Japanese people. Like Americans, the Japanese struggle with materialism, vanity, and the busyness of life. However, Japan does differ, compared to most developed countries.

Japan has a high suicide rate, depression is common, and the Japanese culture allows no room for error. Over time, I began reading and studying the nuances of the Japanese culture. To understand the plight, that the Japanese culture has produced on its own, one must enter into the Japanese world. I will be doing that soon.

That's what makes missions tricky, once you begin to feel for the people. You develop a connection, a heart for the people. In time, the harsh realities of the culture will be evident daily. But half the battle is simply acknowledging, that its imperative to develop a heart for the people. Which helps the overall goal.

To glorify God.

I have grown a burden for the people of Japan. I want to help and tell them about Jesus. So, that they can see there is hope. Their sins have been forgiven, there is no shame.

In time, I will be unable to imagine my life without the Japanese people.

Its funny how that works......

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Counting The Cost

Its been, nearly a month since I left for training. In my time of training, I've had ample time to learn, reflect, and more importantly grow in my spiritual walk.

There's something refreshing about being surrounded by people who are like minded. I'm around people who are adventurous, who speak more than one language and are eager to learn more. They love Jesus... all in their own unique way. But the one similarity that has developed over time. Is the reality of counting the cost of missions.

The harsh reality is that some of us, may never come back. We may never see our families and friends ever again. The people that I have gotten to know will face certain danger. Danger is in abundance, from the vast lands of Asia to the instability of the Middle East and North Africa.

I'm humbled to see the amount of parents who are taking there kids to these places. Showing there faith in Christ, not knowing the future.

I feel very blessed to be surrounded by so many willing witnesses. I have broken bread with them, talked in depth about the Bible, and even played sports. However, our time together will end and we leave to spread God's Word.

We all know the cost each of us face. Some are more daunting then others, but the goal is still the same. I may be in the urban jungle of Tokyo, but I know there is a lot of Japanese people who need Jesus. I know my cost is low compared to others. To be frank, I struggle with that...but as one brother told me.

"God placed you where He needed you, I wouldn't be able to live in a urban setting."

I know my place and I have counted the cost.

For His Glory.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Entitlement vs. Privilege: The On Going Struggle

San Antonio, Texas the place I call home, became a living nightmare for me. As I prepared to leave San Antonio, for the first time. I couldn't help, but count the days. I was so ready to leave. I felt trapped, unproductive, and entitled the latter being the reason for leaving so bitter. I left San Antonio, so angry, at so many people.

I felt that, I had been used and abused at the same time. That I had been left on the street, after being mugged. No one coming to my care, or asking if I needed help. I felt alone. I allowed this entitlement to drive my thought process and how I reacted to my bitterness.

As I left, I thought I was the better person. That I had it all figured out. Entitlement is a slippery slope to nowhere, it gives satan the angle he needs to create havoc in your life.

Peter disowned Jesus THREE times, however, Jesus respond out of love. Jesus, could of easily said " You fool, have you not seen what I have done?" Jesus had that chance to feel entitled. Because of how Jesus responded, Peter saw how privledged he was.... to be in His presence.

Now after time, to reflect.... I see how pompous I was.... I felt very entitled. I realized, when I return home I need to mend some broken friendships. That there is a constant battle going on between grace and pride.

Knowing that you come from a privileged setting, it humbles the person overall. Humility claims that we have no idea what we are doing. Entitlement claims we know and to move out of our way!

I have no idea what I'm doing, but I willing to learn. I know how blessed I am. I know, I'm in a position to serve God in Japan.

I'm truly humbled by that .....

Under construction, a work in progress aren't we all? How do you approach your everyday life?

Do you feel privileged or entitled?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pray Persistently

When anticipation becomes reality, we are never ready for the subtle truths that come our way.

For the past couple of days, I have struggled to understand what it means to be a prayer warrior. Prayer is something, that most people know how to start. But why is praying, so hard for us to do? It appears prayer becomes a convenient practice, when we are struggling. Yet, when all is well..... prayer seems like a distance memory.

Thus far, this has been my mindset. Prayer is important, vital to survive this battle we are fighting. As I inch, closer to the mission field. I'm beginning to realize, prayer MUST become a persistent and daily practice. I have been convicted of my lack of prayer.

Often times, its a "churchy term" we throw around. "I will pray for you brother/sister." But do we really mean it? Or is something we say in the "heat of the moment" that sounds right and originally "churchy"?

Those are the questions I ponder. I've been told by many people, that they will be praying for me. But do they mean it? But how can we make prayer more than, just a meal time ritual?

When I leave for Japan. Prayer will be key to my spiritual survival. Satan knows what I am doing and he does not like it. Prayer is important, it requires us to fight our spiritual battles on our knees, rather than on your own.

What does your prayer life look like?

More to come from my thoughts, while at training. New blog in the works, will be launched in 2012.