The Cross

At the center of Christian theology, we see the cross of Christ. This cross was outside of the gates in Jerusalem. Yet, the crucifixion of Christ resonates to all who are called to Christ, everywhere in the world. The message was spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and out to the ends of the earth. We are a part of this story. The ends of the earth have been identified and we live in a time where we are close to reaching the farthest reaches of the globe!

Changes

I have realized recently that there are a couple of events that happened in my life recently that not everyone knows about.

On June 11, 2011 my mom’s long battle with cancer ended and now she is not struggling. I got to spend the last few days with her and I was amazed at her determination to glorify God until the end of her life. She opted to not take large medications to ease her pain and sought to pray and seek God until her body could not longer continue. When she couldn’t sit or lay in a position where she could read the bible, she got an audio bible. She kept her mental facilities until the very end, she did a crossword two days before she died!
I was so glad to witness God’s provision and faithfulness in her life. He brought her from spiritual death to life and no one around her doubted his closeness to her.
She was one of my best friends and a selfless mom. I still miss her and want to tell her how my life is going, when I bake bread or make it to work. She cared about me and she prayed for me and I would love for her to be here today but I’m glad that she lived soberly and gave all that she had to Jesus Christ.

I would love for her to be around to celebrate because I just got engaged!

God has blessed me with an amazing fiancee. The last year or so has been an amazing gift from God and I delight in the gift of this relationship.
We haven’t set a date yet but are praying and seeking advice on that right now.

The Substance Belongs to Christ

The substance belongs to Christ. We must bear our crosses and deny ourselves for the lives we lived are dead and we have been raised to Christ, through baptism. Our appeal to God, through Christ, is for a clean conscience. The passions of the flesh wage war against the soul but these passions are but shadows. The substance belongs to Christ. Therefore, having fastened on the whole armor of God, we must stand firm. And our toiling must be done with all of His strength that He wondrously works within us.

We ought to set our minds on Christ, preparing them for actions, with our hope fully in the revelation of Christ, making our minds sober and determined to work good in all circumstances. As Christ’s word dwells richly in us. Let us bear fruit in keeping with righteousness as we abide in the vine. Us in Him and He in us. His Spirit leading and guiding, comforting and counseling, convicting and correcting, empowering and enabling. So that all times God the Father may receive glory through Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Turkey Recap

I am somewhere over the Atlantic right now. The last two weeks, though quite strenuous, were thoroughly fantastic. To be honest I not thrilled to be coming back to America. I have never been a huge fan of Western culture but after my first chance to experience something else, I like even more the Eastern culture mindset. There are high values placed on families and no one is in a hurry. People are outgoing and generous. I would like for my home to be, wherever I live, quite a bit like an Eastern home. I want to be more outgoing and caring to all the people I meet. I want to hurry less and enjoy more.

I enjoyed meeting Turkish people. I enjoyed experience Turkish culture. Rebekah and I attempted to learn as much Turkish as possible so that we could go to the town and be as most not like tourists as possible. It is amazing to be able to speak to people in their native language; you can usually seem them light up when you say some simple phrases!

The vast majority of the time I spent in Turkey was helping to run a children’s program to enable their parents to partake in a time of growth and training. We spent quite a few hours each day working with some of the most amazing kids (aged 4-13) that I have ever met. There are so many incredibly solid families that are investing in many countries all over the world! The first week was singly focused on working with the kids. As the others came in, we opened a prayer and worship room. It was very refreshing to have worship and prayer each day. I felt my inner spirit were being revived and made new. I also witnessed the beauty of international prayer and intercession. It is amazing to have people who are very focused on praying for the nations and specific nations. It is also fantastic to hear people praying in many different languages.

My favorite time of the entire two weeks was at the end of the first week. It was an exhausting, trying, draining, fantastic week that culminated with a play of Noah’s ark directed by the kids. I went to Turkey knowing that my mom’s health was not doing so well and that she could have died while I was there. The Thursday of the first week, I was able to talk to her on the phone for the first time in over a week and I was very broken and moved. I had heaviness on my heart all that week for her and hearing her voice was very moving. The heaviness was greater on Friday going into the play and I had shared with some friends that I was having a really hard time with it. After the play, I was prayed over by all the kids and their parents. It was undoubtedly the most beautiful picture of the Body I have ever experienced. And in that, the feeling and caring for my mom continued but without the fear and heaviness of losing her while I was several thousand miles away.

Underscoring the entire time was the beauty of spending time working with good friends. Josh, Mandy, and Rebekah were in Turkey for the whole two weeks. Derek, Kate, Jessie, Alicia, Ryan, and Michael came over for the second week. Working, praying, and worshipping with good friends in a foreign country is spectacular. These weeks helped to grow and expand these friendships. We were able to support and encourage each other. We spent a lot of time making sure that we were all managing the schedule well and that we were still seeking our First Love.

Rebekah and I grew quite a lot individually and in our relationship. We had the opportunity to work through some communications issues regarding things like offense, disappointment, and frustration. At the end of the two weeks, I feel that our relationship has grown immensely and I am very much glad to have her as my best friend and girlfriend.

Simply being in Turkey was one of the best constants for the two weeks. The landscape is thoroughly amazing and beautiful. Out of the hotel room, I could see mountains and the sea. Each morning, I could wake up and read my bible on the balcony, enjoying the wonders of God’s earth all around us. We were able to travel around some places in Western Turkey. It is such a gorgeous country. We went to Milli Park, a national park just south of our hotel. We ended up hiking up a mountain and seeing the sea and the Greek island, Samos. It was a gorgeous experience.

We also went on a tour of the ancient city of Ephesus, where Paul stayed for several years and to whom he wrote the epistle to the Ephesians. We read the whole book at the amphitheater and read the Acts 19 account of Paul in Ephesus. We sat in the huge theatre where there was a riot regarding the Way.

There is a noticeable spiritual difference in Muslim countries. One such example took place at a nearby town. I was having Turkish coffee with Rebekah at a cafe. People were going around, walking, talking, buying, and selling. They were conducting life as they usually do. We were several meters from a mosque and the evening call to prayer sounded throughout the center. We watched as most people walked on, all of them seemed to not notice the sound coming from the minaret. The shop keeper sitting next to us continued to smoke his cigarette while he rotated through his prayer beads quietly. I stared ahead and felt a spiritual blanket cover the land. It was as if there was a renewing of the darkness. I felt an intense sadness in my heart and a longing for those around us to know the light of Jesus. The other shop keeper asked me if I was sad, all I could say was that I was thinking. He asked us if this was different than at home and we said they have some mosques back home. When he asked us if we were Muslim, we could only say that many of the people we care about are. It was a great reality check for me. But I know that it doesn’t take much light to overcome the darkness. This experience and trip have encouraged me to be a stronger, brighter light and to pray more.

As I have been back in the States for a few days now, I am challenged to make the best use of the freedom we have been given to share the Gospel and to live lives devoted to the teaching and life of Jesus the Christ. Whether we are here or there, East or West, we are to live lives worthy of our calling. May we toil with all the strength of Christ that is working powerfully within us!

If you would like to see pictures of the trip, please send me an email.