Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blessed by Accident?

One morning this week while I was doing my Bible study, I went looking for a verse...However, it was early, and my brain hadn't engaged yet. I was looking for "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted among the earth." I know, Psalm 46:10. Like I said, my brain wasn't working, and I went looking for that verse at Isaiah 46:10. And the result was quite a blessing. Isaiah 46:10 says, "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." I stopped, and thought about it. I know this verse is directly talking about God's superiority over the gods of the Babylonians. I know that, in a less direct way, it is speaking about God's triumph over sin, and the promised deliverance of His people. But I couldn't help but wonder if there was something more there for me that morning. Does God know the outcome of every situation of life? Does His will always happen? Will He do whatever He wants in spite of my obedience or disobedience? And I came to Yes and No. He will accomplish His glory with or without me. But there are things that He may ask me to do that if I don't, won't get done. For example: the salvation of the person I am supposed to share His word with. What a fine line must exist in this balance. It baffles my mind. I have found yet another oxy-moron of the faith.
But that morning, God spoke to me in a simple way about this verese. He spoke to me about trust. He has always had things under control. You'll never here Him say, "Oops, I hadn't thought of that." or "Wow, I lost control there for a moment." He is God, and there is no other like Him. He will faithfully do what He desires, and has always done. Trust Him with the future. He can use the birds of the air to accomplish His will. He can use a talking donkey to accomplish His will. He can use a ruddy boy to defeat the giant. He has shown Himself faithful to His purposes. My responsibility is to be sure that I am in line with His purposes. I can't control the future, but I can get in line with God and His purposes. That's the greatest place to be. And I was reminded of this by accident?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In The Camp Of The Enemy

In his new book, "Organic Church," Neil Cole says something profoundly impacting. He says, "To reach the lost, you gotta sit in the smoking section." He's talking about how cushioned the church has become from the people we should be reaching. And, in many ways, he's right. I've said that for many years, but am really living it now.
I've actually had a couple of folks who read this blog ask me which coffee shop I've landed on. In case I didn't mention it, Aroma's is my new hang. While sitting there a couple days this week, I've noticed that there is a group that frequents there, and they are not the type groups I've found at the other coffee shops in town. So, this is where I'll wait for my first person of peace. It's not exactly the camp of the enemy, but it is a dark place. Pray for my light to shine brightly! God actually told me this would be the place about two months ago, and I just got side-tracked. My normal oikas (place to hang) has been Daybreak. But, back in July, they had a band and were charging a cover charge, and I was forced (because I'm cheap...) to venture out to Aroma's. The next time I was at Daybreak, lamenting the fact that I had been unable to enjoy Daybreak that night, God got my attention. He spoke to me about being in new places and meetin new people. He had been saying that to me for a while. It just took me a while to get it. And what a clue I missed that night as God showed me where I should be spending my time. So, here I am.
There is another place that I've camped, though, that will hit the enemy closer to home. I am serving in a volunteer position with American Field Services (AFS). They are an international agency for sending and placing exchange students. My position here in the Lubbock Chapter is that of Support Director. My job consists of spending time with the new students and their host families to ensure that their interaction happens in healthy ways. I am also responsible for making sure that problems get worked out. I am there for the host parents when the job is too big, or the week has been a long one. I am there for the students when life is overwhelming, or their family dynamic is too weird. Basically, I am a shoulder for them to cry on and an ear for them to speak to. Now comes the cool part: none of the students have relationships with Christ, and I think only 1 host family professes Christ. We had orientation today, and some of the students shared their "world view" of Christianity. In process, I realized they were raging against an institution, and none of them had encountered Christ. I found myslef in a discussion that most of us would have fought about, or at least fought to be heard. And it was okay to say nothing; to just listen. Most of them are liberal in their politics, and atheists in their beliefs. I've pitched my tent in the enemy's camp, right smack-dab in the middle of four families, four college students (liasons whom I will be training and supervising), 4 international students, and their four families in their home countries. Now comes the fun part. I get to be the presence of Christ in their lives and world. I will be as Christ, and let Jesus draw them in. I will serve. I will be patient. I will endure. I will not judge. I will take the high road. And in all that I do as a service to my King, may they see it and glorify God. We had several international students come to Christ last year without us having to convince them with our words. They came because of His life in ours, and His drawing them to Him. Once again, we're in the camp of the enemy, and we're going to stay put as beacons of light for those in the dark place.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Timely Word (x's 4)!

I know I just posted yesterday, so forgive me. But today has been a banner day, and I've got to get this down. It's long, and I'm also still on muscle relaxers, so if my spelling is off and this seems long, please forgive me! Anway, I love those days when you really get to hear God speak to you. I'm not talking the booming voice from behind the clouds. Although, the man he seems to use a lot in my life to speak truth to me has a golden voice! His name is Nick, and he always seems to have the right word for me at just the right time. I always tell him he could come read me Scriptures at night to help me drift off to sleep. Anyway, I digress. This morning, Nick reminded me of something that I easily lose sight of all the time. We had an area youth minster's meeting (and I'm still this morning at a local coffee shop. After everyone else left, Nick said to me, "Jason, you are highly esteemed by God. He has great plans for you. You just need to wait." Then he quoted Daniel 10, which says, "12 Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.'" He reminded me that God knows where I am, knows what is going on, and knows what's best for me. He reminded me that God has an answer for me. I just need to wait. The answers are coming. Of course, I know that. Everyone knows that. But I had lost sight of that. Nick reminded me. Well, God reminded me through Nick.
Then, I was having lunch with Joe, a pastor from a near by town, and he asked me, "What are some of your strengths?" I shared a little about my spiritual gift (teaching), and as I was sharing, God gave me another reminder. I remembered many of the times that I've been sharing truth with someone and the light came on for them. It's a magical, mystical, God moment when that happens. It makes the struggle worth the effort to see someone finally dial-in to God. It's awesome! And more than anything else, seeing them tune-in for the first time...that's Gold, Baby. And that's what it's all about. Being useful in someone else realizing God's fame for the first time!
And then, a third time today, God spoke to me. I was reading my friend Parke's blog, and was shocked that I was mentioned there. It's not in a bad way at all. Nor is it bad to be mentioned on another blog. It was one of those good shocks, where, as I read it i went in and woke my wife up to tell her I had made it onto Parke's blog. You have to know Parke, though. He and I met at a conference a month ago, and he really impressed me. He is a gifted encourager. And this evening, as I read his blog, he hit the nail on the head with an analogy. Here's what he wrote:
The Fog of Life
In computer strategy games there's a common feature called "the fog of war." If you visit an area of the map, you'll always have some general sense of the major landmarks, but if you don't visit again or keep people in the area you'll quickly see a grayed area indicating that there's some mystery about what will happen if you return there. Is there an ambush waiting? You don't know. You have to go there to find out.
A number of fellow bloggers,
The Bishop and Kieth Giles, are both walking out into a fog of life right now. Both are sure that God is good and know many things about how God works, but they don't know much about what's around the bend. We've all been there so if you get a chance stop by and share some encouragement. It's always great to be reminded that others have taken risks and succeeded before.
Parke, 12:34 PM
He's so right! And the best part is, the God who is leading is the God who reminded me twice earlier today that He made the map, and He equipped me for the journey, and I need not fear. All I need to do is live a life that gives people the opportunity to have an "ah-ha" moment with Christ!
I've been in a funk for about a week, and tonight it is done. Tomorrow, I'm going to meet someone at a local coffee shop that is now part of my daily routine. His name is Rick. He works the mornings at Aroma's. And I'm praying that he will have an ah-ha moment in the near future. What's beyond that is not important. Today, I've had an "o yeah" moment, as my Savior and Friend reminded me about what's important.
Then, Tonight, during our worship gathering, my wife told me if we have to live smaller to do what God wants, that's what it's all about. I asked her if her parents were freaked out about what we're doing. She said, "No. They've watched God provide for us over the last 10 years. They trust Him, and they trust you." Christ gave me such freedom when she said that. He reminded me of His goodness and His faithfulness. Come what may, we will be able to say we chased God with all our hearts! I'm done with worrying, talking money, and worrying about making a living. Christ is my living, and that's all we need. I will be able to tell my children, no matter what the cost, their daddy chased Christ, and the chase was worth the cost. Inspired, not required.
Jehovah Elah, You are surely the God that provides. That has never changed. Thank You for reminding me that You are on the journey with me. Thank you for speaking so clearly today. I imagine You've been speaking all the time, but I've been a little dense lately. Thank you for Godly friends who are sensitive to You, and speak the truth to me. Forgive me for my lack of faith and for trying to make things work in my time and in my strength. Satan has been houding me, and I'm fed up. No more. You are the Lord of my "map," the provider of answers, the giver of all good things, the light that brings life to those who are dead in darkness. I WILL TRUST YOU, AND YOU ALONE. Amen and Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saw You At The Pole

I've had an interesting 36 hours... It all started yesterday morning with a sinus headache. Caryn suggested that I take a sudafed. Sounds simple, right? And it would have been if "we" (meaning "she") kept our medicine in its original boxes. But the sudafed was not in its box, and was not labeled. And I have learned (by experience now) that I should only take one and not two. So, off I went to my Hot Hearts meeting higher than a kite! I remember little of the meeting. Our committee chairman said that my table dance was entertaining. It only got worse from there. So I went straight home to bed. The rest of the evening is a blur. My fever spiked last night at 104. It was a night of sweats, chills, and hallucinations. It turns out I have what my doctor calls a Fall Flu and a severly infected throat. It wasn't the sudafed that kept me from riding my motorcycle home. It was my 103 degree fever. This morining, the doctor gave me a "miracle shot." He said it was B12 and cortizone. Well, it is working. Now, normally, all of this would be no big deal. The big dilema was that I was speaking at a Saw You At The Pole Rally in Anton tonight. And I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to get there, let alone be able to speak coherently or be of any good at all. I slept and sweat all day, got up at 5:15 this evening, took a shower, and off I went. And the Lord worked a miracle. Not only did He get me through the evening, but He made me well for a few hours, and worked in the lives of several students. There were about 100 students in attendance. When I gave the altar call, about 30 students came forward, and at least 7 of them received Christ! God surely did His thing tonight. It's just another way that He reminded me that He really doesn't need me. Just be faithful and trust Him. He will do what He wants, and I get the blessing of being along to enjoy in it. He's a great God.
Well, I'm off to bed. The doctor also gave me a muscle relaxer to help me overcome my throat pain and back pain. It's kicking in about now...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How Saul Felt

Can I be really transparent and open? I hope that, as you read this, you will afford me the grace to just kinda let my hair down a bit.
You know, King Saul has an interesting story. I always look at him as a "how not to be" example. He decided to do life and ministry his way, and so God's favor left him and went to David. After that, Saul held on and tried to kill David and retain his position. Life would have been better for Saul if he had accepted God's move and embraced God's will. But that must have been hard. I understand that the circumstances were really tough for Saul. Today, I understand that all too well. Maybe Saul didn't understand why. Maybe, as a man, it was hard to let what used to be his go to another man, much like an old girlfriend or ex-wife. If I lay aside the why in Saul's dilemma, I find an element of human nature that exists in all of us. I know it exists in me: I hate to lose. I hate rejection. And I hate it when things are beyond my control. Today has been one of those days where I feel like I've lost, I feel rejected, and I am definitely not in control. Today, my former church is voting on my replacement and I am wrestling with knowing that God has it all under control. Today one of my best friends is celebrating his three year anniversary at his church. Today, I am on the outside looking in. I bet this is how Saul felt. I know there are some differences. I don't think at all that God's anointing has left me, nor do I feel that He has rejected me. But, something is just not sitting well within me. Someone else is with my ex-girlfriend, so to speak. Hmmm, I think this is worse. I knew this day would come. I thought it would be easier. And, this morning, as I decided this was silly and irrational, my wife just broke down in tears and cried all during worship, compounding my frustration. She is feeling it, too, and deserves better. At least that affirmed my feelings (she was feeling it, too, even though we didn't talk about it). And, my kids feel it, too. They feed off us and our emotional state. Jeremiah didn't want to go into the nursery this morning. He said his stomach hurt. It got miraculously better when I let him sit with me in "big" church. He colored and snuggled, and told Cayla that church was, "pretty awesome this morning."
I know God has something for me. I know that His calling on me has changed, and I am in the best place I could be. I know I have to trust Him and wait on His voice and His timing. I know all these things, but I'm having a hard time living all these things. So, today I am just breathing, and getting through the day. I am trying to dream of a life that feels normal again. I can see it off in the distance, but the way seems clouded. Ahhh, breathe. Breathe and rest. Lord, show us the elements You are putting into place for us to get back on our feet and get after it. Help me to hear and see You through all of this.
Thanks for letting me vent. It helps to get it out.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Risky Business

Before I get rolling, I want to direct you to another blog site for a 15 year old boy who is fighting for his life. His name is BJ, and he contracted a disease while on mission in Peru. You can read about his story, and get the latest updates at .
On to the task at hand, Risky Business. I've been reading of late about some of the things that believers in other countries face day in and day out as part of their life and faith. I am amazed at the risks people take for the Gospel. Not amazed in a bad way, but encouraged, really. Encouraged and somewhat shamed. What do I face every day as part of my life and faith? Now, most of you know that we are out on our own making a go of it, trusting God to provide what we need to live, but that pales in comparison to knowing your life may be demanded of you because of your faith and the cause of Christ. My good friend, Lance, shared a lot about that very thing at the revival we just did together. What do I risk? What am I afraid of? I need to be "riskier." I must train myself to have a broader view of life and God's place in it if I am to start looking beyond risk to God's fame and glory.
Tomorrow, I am going to "survey" some of the local coffee shops as part of a tour of prayer. I am hoping to discover the location God wants me to start finding people of peace. I'm going to hit a couple of my usual spots, and then branch out a little. I've decided to visit the new Coffee Haus at 82nd and Frankford. Then, I'm going to visit the Coffee Cup. I know the owner there. He's a believer, and would probably be open to helping with some sort of ministry. My dilema is that most of the coffee houses here in Lubbock are owned by Christians! Coffee Haus, J & B, Daybreak, Sugar Brown's, and the Coffee Cup are all owned by believers. This would seem great, except that I am trying to break into some non-christian circles. So, I'll just see how it goes. Pray with me that God will show me the place to land. Each of these places is frequented by non-believers, so I just need to be sensitive to God's leadership! I know that Aroma's is a little rougher at night, and is the teenage hot spot (being next to Hastings). But, I'm not much of an attraction for teenagers. I'll just explore! It'll be a grand adventure as I plow through these places. Person of Peace, here I come!
Now, you get out there, risk something, and find your person of peace. Peace.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just an update

I'm in Artesia, NM, doing the music for a revival at FBC. My good friend, James Rodgers, is the Student Pastor here. He has taken great care of us. FBC has been very gracious to us, and very complementary. They are a great bunch of folks. "Us" is myself and Lance Shumake, the president of iWitness ministries. We're having a great time. I've gained about 6 pounds since we got here Saturday night!
The whole time we've been here, we have had some "alien" encounters that have us talking abduction! Lance watched a National Geographic special on abductions right before we headed this way. He also has his "Worst Case Scenario" traveler's guide with him, and it has a section on alien abduction. Then, when we got here, one of Lance's e-mail cartoons was about alien abduction, and the movie "Contact" was on. It's been uncanny. Today, "MIB" was on...more alien stuff. And, the greatest indicator of our imminent abduction is that I am a UFOlogist. Did you know that? Lance did a google search looking for my blog spot. He entered my name, and it came back that I am a UFOlogist who has done some extensive research on secret government bases in New Mexico. Google me and see for yourself! So, tomorrow we are off to the Alien Museum in Roswell. Our hope is to learn enough to avoid the inevitable abduction that seems to be looming in Lance's future. But, just in case we don't get home....(hahaha)
On The Journey Ministries (OTJ) is nearly a reality. I got the paper work today from the firm doing all the leg work, and it's just a matter of filling it out when I get home and mailing it off. After that, I'll have an offical 501c3 corperation to use as a platform for raising money as I travel. We're hoping that it will be a way that many people choose to help us get the Gospel message out. If you'd like a brochure about OTJ Ministries, shoot me an e-mail. I'll get you the stuff in the mail. I also have what should be the final draft of the proposal for The Journey Church. It's starting to come together. As soon as we can find a sponsor church, we'll be able to get things rolling. Please pray that God will bring us to the right sponsor church. There is a church I've been dialoguing with, but can't seem to get to the next step with. Maybe it is God holding that back. Maybe not. I'm praying for wisdom in this.
I really miss my family. When I was younger and unmarried, I loved to travel and just be out doing life on the road. Now, with Caryn and the kids, I miss home every time I head out. I'm excited about what God is doing here (although I'm not sure what it is), but I really will be glad to be home. You know how it is. Once I get home, I've got some great stuff to post here. I just need to get to work on the power point and song list for tomorrow, so I'm off to bed. Peace.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Man's Gotta Do What A Man's Gotta Do.

Wow. It seems like a while since I last just sat and wrote something. I've been super busy. Probably too busy. It has been a hectic couple of days with all kinds of things happening. Here's the short list of things that have happened in the last 7 days: preached 3 messages at The Heights, played bass for the band at The Heights 4 times (1 rehearsal, 3 leading worship), been to the camp at Floydada three times (12 hours of mowing just today!), 14 hours of Red Cross volunteer work (all yesterday), killed 2 diamond-backed rattle snakes, learned to drive a big John Deer tractor, rode to Tulia on my Honda, Caryn's mom (Peggy) was here for Labor Day weekend, filed my 501c3 forms, finished what should be the final proposal for The Journey, went bowling with my kids, ate lots of Taco Bueno, and mowed lawns with my buddy Pedro. I've been very busy. It all really hit me tonight, though, as I helped with dishes at the camp. My passion, my calling, is to pastor The Journey. Yet, because of the status of things and it being a church start from scratch, my time is spent pursuing other avenues of revenue so that my family can get by. As I was putting away salad tongs, I thought, "I put myself through Seminary, 96 hours worth of grad work, so that I can mow lawns and wash dishes..." It was a pretty defeated moment for me. But, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And I gotta take care of my family. I know, God will take care of my family, and I'm sure that He is by providing me with many opportunities to make some extra moola. But I'm so "stopped up" with all my ideas and longings to be kicking it into high gear with The Journey that I feel like I'm wasting my time. Don't get me wrong. If I could chose to do anything, it'd be to hang with my family. And I'm getting some time to do that (more than when I was a Full-time Student Pastor!). But I'm just not finding the time to get in there and get the ball rolling. And I've got 5 other people who are part of The Journey that are all watching me, taking their cues from me, and I've done nothing for them. Now, the nice thing about spending so much time mowing, driving, and doing mindless stuff is that I get a chance to think. But too much thinking puts me into a stuper. And me in a stuper is no good for anyone. Be praying that I'll be able to get things moving. I'm still trying to find a sponsor church, and get our funding squared away. I have a couple of leads, but haven't had time to follow up on them. Can anyone add a couple of hours to the day so that I can find the time?
The highlight of my day was taking Jeremiah to school on my motorcycle this morning. He loves the bike (that's my boy!). He came into my bedroom this morning at about five o'clock. I had gotten in from Red Cross volunteer stuff at 1 this morning, so I'd had 4 hours sleep. He curled up next to me and just said he wanted to sleep there for a while. Usually he keeps me awake because he wiggles and hugs and snuggles, but he really went back to sleep there on my arm. It's fun to watch him and Cayla. They are both growing up so fast. It's hard to watch sometimes. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful family. My wife and kids are the best. And seeing them this morning before I left for Floydada was encouragment enough to get me through tomorrow when I'll see them again.
Well, enough typing. I gotta be up mowing again at 7 a.m. So, Peace out!