Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attacked by a mob in India.

So, the craziest thing happened today. We hung out at the hotel until mid-afternoon and then we decided to go our to see some sights. We were skeptical at first because of the Holi celebration, but we thought we would be fine. So, we all crammed into the bus and started driving off down the road. People were everywhere with paint on their faces and some were even screaming to us on the bus, "Happy Holi!" We turned onto this street and there was a mob of men dancing. They were all painted from head to toe and they started walking towards the bus screaming and dancing around. If you know my personality, I was pumped to see what was about to go down. They all got really close to the bus and began yelling "Happy Holi" at all of us. Eventually they were wrapped all the way around the bus so that we could not drive. At first they were only waving and yelling but some of them began getting angry and hitting our windows. One of them leaned in the drivers window and took the keys out of the ignition so we couldn't go anywhere. They started pushing through the door of the bus and one jumped on with us. It was absolutely nuts. By far one of the craziest things I have ever seen. After a few minutes they got out of the way just enough for us to begin driving and when we started driving off one of them threw a brick at the back of the bus. Haha. Oh my, it was intense. But I got every bit of it on video. Amazing.

I'm now back at the hotel in Ranchi and we are getting ready for dinner. It's almost 7 PM here. We will be heading to the train station in a couple of hours to go back to Calcutta. This is possibly the last time I will have internet until I get home. It has been an amazing time here in Ranchi. Meeting with other brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow-shipping with them is always an amazing experience... especially cross-culturally. I'm excited about what else is in store for this trip as we leave this place. Our God is glorious and righteous. 

Oh, praise Him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trip to India - Update 3.

Today is an AWESOME day.  It is a religious holiday for Hindu's called "Holi" and one of the things that happens is people run through the streets and throw powder paint on everyone.  Sounds amazing?  You're right, it does.  Last night from my hotel room I heard someone yelling in the alley outside.  I looked out and 4 guys jumped a man in a business suit and poured paint on him.  The people here go all out and it is outrageous.  So last night my friend and I wanted to go out and see if we could get in on the action.  We walked out and a security guard pulled a rifle on us... which was wild.  He let us out of the hotel and once we got in the streets 4 guys started following us with paint.  I was flipping out and went back in the hotel.  

Today I definitely wanted to be a part of this great opportunity to get painted up.  So, a few of us went out on the streets.  When you pass someone and tell them "Happy Holi" they dump powder paint all over you.  So we did that... and we definitely ended up being quite colorful.  it was wild.  Check out the pictures from this wild celebration.

Today is a fairly relaxed day.  We are just hanging around the hotel until this evening and we will be heading back to Calcutta.  I am not looking forward to the 7 hour train ride and i will definitely miss this hotel and the internet access.  Please pray for me and the group as we travel back tonight.  The train leaves at 7:45 which is 10:15 AM back home.  We will ride through the night and be back in Calcutta in the morning.

i also put up some pictures from yesterday evening when we visited some waterfalls in this area.  It was such a beautiful place and a great thing to see!  I almost jumped off a cliff into the water but I decided not to.

Enjoy the pictures!  Happy Holi!

Trip to India - Update 2.

God is working. God is moving. God is convicting. God is breaking. God is building. God is doing huge things and He is using the country of India to show me how real those things are. We serve a God that is active. We serve a God that convicts and changes lives all over the world in all types of cultures. He is passionate about His people and desires for them to know Him and to live their lives for Him. It is a beautiful thing.

Today, we had the opportunity to go to a training seminar called Tree of Life. It was for a church in this town of about 50 members. They met in a tiny building for the seminar and we were there to film and take pictures so that we could make a video for them to use to promote the program. Tree of Life is a training program that raises up disciples in specific areas so that they can be equipped to take the Gospel to the people in their community. This process is an incredible way to take the Gospel to the nations by training new believers in a specific community to lead others to Christ in their community. It is The Great Commission at its finest.

So in this training there were about 20 men that were being equipped to take the Gospel and the love of Christ to the people that were lost in their communities. The idea is to develop disciples, that will then make disciples, and those disciples will make other disciples, etc. It was great to experience and witness these brothers being trained and brought up in the knowledge of God and the Gospel. It was amazing to see the passion that was within them. The passion to take the truth and love of Christ to the ones that had yet to hear or had yet to receive. I could sense the urgency inside of them to get this truth out before it was too late. It began to convict me. I realized that I live my life without being as concerned about furthering the Gospel as I should be. I live my life as though I expect others to pick up the slack when I choose not to be urgent about the Gospel. I live my life as though God only suggested that we make disciples... and it's not just me. Most of you do it too. The thing is, we are commanded by God to make disciples. 

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you."

The men in the training understood and committed to this commandment. They understood that a lost soul is an urgent matter and that there is no time to waste. As followers of Christ we have been blessed with life. Life has been spoken into us and we are all called to speak that life into others. The key word in The Great Commission is "GO." This is not a suggestion. This is not an option. This is not a "do this if you feel like it" kind of thing. It is a command. It is an order from the creator of life that has spoken life into us. I don't think we realize how severe this calling is.

We live our lives waiting on God to tell us to go when he has clearly already done so. Seeing the need in this country for more disciples that can share the love of God has opened my eyes to how important this is... how important it is to go. Without you, someone may go without hearing. Without YOU, someone may go without hearing of God's love! We cannot go day by day relying on and expecting others to take Christ to the world. We cannot continue to latch onto our comfort and our self-centered desires. We are clearly ordered and commanded to go. I believe that it is impossible to truly be a follower of Christ if this commandment is ignored because this is the main point in BEING a follower... to bring others to know HIM. 

We have the life but we choose not to share it with those who need to hear. It is not a matter of how you can get there if it means distance for you. It is not a matter of why you should go because it is obvious. It is not a matter of whether or not you should because if there was ONE thing you should do and just one it would be to GO. It is a matter of where your heart is. Do you care enough to go? Is your heart for the world greater than your heart for yourself? Do you care enough to speak life into the lifeless? Hope into the hopeless? Healing into the broken? Love into the unloved? Someone cared enough to speak life into you.

It's very simple. Go. Make. Baptize. There is no excuse. We have been given all of the methods in doing so. Our heart will determine what we do with it. There is such a bigger picture than our safe and free America. 


The lost is waiting.

The lifeless is eager to hear.

You have life.

What will you do with it? 

Be precise in what you say and be BOLD in how you say it. It's time for the "followers" to be leaders and truly follow Christ. It's time to be urgent. It's time for disciples to be made. GO.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trip to India - Update 1.

Over the past few days my eyes have been opened up to a whole new world.  I have experienced a different way of life and been a part of a culture that is far different from my own.  I have had the privilege to spend time in India for a week and a half and the past couple of days in this country have been an incredible experience.  My words and attempts to describe this place could never be as great as being here yourself and experiencing what this country has to offer, but I would like to write just a little bit to fill my friends and family in on what has been happening here.

I left the states on the 5th and arrived in Calcutta on the 7th at 1:00 AM.  It was the longest trip/day of my life.  I had been up for 30 hours once we arrived and traveled on two 9 hour flights.  It was pretty insane.  Here are some highlights from the actual trip to Calcutta:

- While going through customs I was the only one pulled to get their bags searched and the security took my sun block and bug spray.

- Before boarding the plane I could not get in touch with my mom so I was calling and calling while sitting on the plane before take off so that I could tell her I loved her before going in the air.  I was warned once, twice, then three times by the same flight attendant to turn my phone off.  The last time I was told, "If this were an American flight you would be escorted off the plane!"  That was encouraging to here.  I finally spoke with her for a second while taking off.

- I had the great opportunity of sitting beside the craziest and most annoying woman ever and she happened to have her two year old with her.  This lady drank more liquor than I could count and told her baby that it was mommy's apple juice.

-The baby used the bathroom on the mom once... right beside me.

-She sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Christmas Carols" to her kid.

- And my favorite, when asked to stop trying to get her baby to go to sleep underneath my seat the woman said, "I understand that certain cultures just don't have manners."  That's when we reached the point of ignorance from the classic American.

- We flew directly over NYC, London, and Paris.

- I watched the sun rise 3 times in one day.

Our flights connected in Frankfurt, Germany and then we were off to Calcutta.  Once arriving in Calcutta I was extremely tired but glad to be off of the plane.  Everything was so different.  There were police men everywhere holding machine guns... it was slightly intimidating.  We met up with the missionary we are here to help named Philip and went out to get in the cars.  It was ridiculously hot and humid.  We all crammed in the cars and went to our guest house.  I was literally in shock by this time.  It was so different from what I was used to.  There were bars on every window of the house.  It's a custom to remove your shoes when you enter a house.  There was a guy staying in the house to guard it that didn't speak any english... so it made communicating an interesting experience.  We basically didn't have any showers in that house.  Just access to water and buckets.  The first night was very difficult for me.  I was experiencing culture shock at its finest.

The first day in India came and I only slept about two hours.  We went to the market to do some shopping.  I sat outside of the market and realized that I was a huge minority in this country.  it was a crazy feeling because as Americans we tend to feel superior to the rest of the world.  For the first time, I was on someone else's turf.  In someone else's culture.  As I was sitting there a little kid came up to me begging for money.  He didn't speak english but he would hold his hands out and then point to his mouth.  At first I ignored him but he continued.  I just looked at him and my heart began to break for him.  This boy was about 6 years old and looked so desperate for food.  They warned us not to give out money because we would have a huge mob asking for more.  So I'm sitting there looking at this boy.  He was filthy.  His teeth were slightly rotting.  He had no shoes and his hands were filthy with dirt underneath his fingernails.  He set his dirty hands on my arm and started rubbing it.  I was slightly concerned for a moment that he was touching me... but I immediately thought about Christ and my sin.  When I was dying, when I was filthy and rotting on the inside He did not hide from me or turn me away.  He simply showed love to the unloveable.  That is what I did to this boy.  I may not have given him money, but I sat with him and he held on to me... I loved him.

After the market we visited a Hindu temple.  As we walk towards the temple there are people asleep on the streets and everyone looked so rough.  There are no words that could fully describe the poverty.  We got closer to the temple and I could feel the darkness.  We stood outside of the temple and took a few pictures because cameras were not allowed inside.  So, in this temple the people prayed to two different Gods.  The God of life and the God of death.  They had to please both of them and stay on their good sides for lack of better words.  We walked towards the entrance and there were many places where you could purchase things to offer up to the Gods.  I had no clue how real this was about to be.  There were people praying everywhere inside.  There were lines everywhere so people could present offerings.  There were people burning incense to honor the Gods.  I stood back and watched.  These people were so passionate about their worship.  They wanted to make sure it was done correctly.  What was their passion and precision for?  Nothing.  This was their idol.  It was an idol that received urgent and passionate worship.  I was in shock.  We serve a REAL God.  A God who has proven to be true.  Yet, we do not worship our REAL God as well as they worship their false idol.  Even though they were worshipping something that was fake... it was still sincere.  I began praying and it was great to know that my one prayer was more powerful than all of theirs because I serve the Lord, God Almighty.

The next day we went to church and it was amazing.  An extreme change from the night before at the Hindu temple.  As I walked into the church I felt the power of the church.  I knew I was in the presence of Christ's bride.  It was so refreshing.  Being in fellowship with other brothers and sisters was nearly breathtaking.  I stood at the window looking out at the lost world that I had been in moments ago and I was overcome with hope.  There is hope for these people and greater things are yet to come for this city.  I felt so connected in this church.  The church is the BODY of Christ.  His children stretch across the world and are brothers and sisters through the blood.  Oh, how the blood of the lamb stretches across barriers and connects all believers regardless of language, color, country, etc.  Being in the service with the people of the city gave me a different perspective of this city and the saving power of the gospel.  Just the night before I was standing in a Hindu temple observing the sincere and passionate worship of false idols.  Today, I experienced sincere and passionate worship of a sincere and passionate God.  

This morning I woke up at 3:00 AM because we were leaving Calcutta and traveling to Ranchi.  I traveled on my first train and it was a seven hour trip.  Once we got to Ranchi we checked into the hotel and got settled in.  Then we left and went to the Christian fellowship that we would be working with.  We walked into this  shack that only had a tin roof with short walls that didn't reach the roof.  Our brothers and sisters were singing and praising the Lord.  We sat down and they welcomed us in.  When we got there it started pouring down rain.  We then found out that it hadn't rained in over 6 months and that if you invite someone over and it rains, that means they bring blessings.  That was a pretty awesome thing.  The people wanted to wash each of our feet... so I was blessed by an Indian lady and extremely humbled.  Then we prayed over the members of the church and fellow-shipped with them through song.  

I'm now back at the hotel reflecting on everything that has taken place.  This is such an exciting place and humbling experience.  Please continue to pray for me.  God is doing huge things here.  If I have learned anything while being here, it is that we serve the God of the nations... not the God of America.  He is moving through the world and it is incredible.   

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Forget Your Resolutions...

So it is finally here...2009!  This is the year everyone in the world is going to change.  The year everyone in the world is going to become a better person.  The year everyone in the world is going to lose weight, quit smoking, drink less, get out of debt, and help tons of people.  Apparently.  

People will soon be disappointed with the truth that this year's resolutions are no different than the one's made in 2008 and the many years before.  Somewhere along the way the majority of the self-fulfilling promises will be abandoned.  The majority of America will remain obese, 23% of Americans will smoke, alcohol will continue to be a problem, most people will have more debt than they can handle, and there will be even more people that find themselves less fortunate than others.  With that said, 2009 already shows signs of being a huge success for everyone.  Apparently.

The fact that we can become so wrapped up in the idea that we should redefine certain parts of our lifestyle for something as intangible and invisible as a new year completely amazes me.  We act as if we have a certain responsibility to greet the new year with proper habits as if he or she would be offended if we did otherwise when in reality, the new year could not care less!  The new year resolutions have absolutely nothing to do with the new year, but everything to do with our deep desire to be "good" people.

I say all of this in hopes of portraying how incredibly self-centered we are as a people.  We are constantly so wrapped up in what this world tells us we should look like, what we should sound like, how much we should weigh, where we should shop, what we should drive, how much money a person should make to be considered successful, and the list goes on.  The idea of a new years resolution is nothing more than another way to set people up for more disappointment in themselves.  It is another way of giving someone a reason to think they aren't good enough and it usually tells them that they will never be good enough...that we just can't do it.  

The truth is, however, that there is so much more to it than the lies that we are fed.  There is something so much bigger than what we have been programmed to believe.  Psalm 139:14 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We were created by a God who makes no mistakes.  It breaks my heart to see a people that pay so much attention to what the world tells them they need to be, a people that wrap themselves in what the world says they never can be, and a people that completely ignore what God has called them to be... what God has told them they are.

1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  I would like to know what more we need to be told than what God is saying in this verse.  We are a chosen people.  We are a royal priesthood.  We belong to God.  We are found in Him.  In Him is our identity and in Him alone.  We are not found in the desires of this world.  We are not found in the ideas of what makes a person successful in this world.  We are not found in what looks good, sounds good, smells good, is popular or is not popular.  We are simply found in Christ.  

If this is the case, (which it clearly is) then my ultimate question is this: Why do we go year after year attempting to become what we will never become when we already have everything it takes to become who we are called to be?!  There is absolutely nothing that we can do to change what we have been called by God to be.  We are so valuable as we are.  You are so valuable as you are.  Nothing can make God love us more, nothing can make Him love us less.  "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  -1 John 4:10

The greatest love died so that we would know love.  Therefore, we have all we need.  We are made complete in the love of Christ.

So this year, I pray we forget the resolutions.  I pray we do not get lost in what the world says we need to be, but that we would find ourselves in awe of everything that God tells us we are.  It is time to forget the resolutions and time to spark a revolution.  There is truth that needs to be heard and it is way more than anything 2009 can offer us.  People need the hope, love, peace, comfort, contentment, and joy that only Christ can offer.  Once this is found then I believe we will see a revolution like no other.

The time is now.  The time is here.  Love is here.  Let's not choose to redefine our lifestyle for something as insignificant as a new year, but let's be fully transformed by the love of Christ that remains year after year.  2009 has absolutely nothing to offer this world.  Jesus Christ has everything.  Be the revolution that He has called you to be... and forget your resolutions. 


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I shall explain...

I suppose it would be fitting for my first blog to explain why I have a blog and honestly, I have no clue. I have to admit it has everything to do with two of my friends. (Bear with me while I entertain their pride) Matthew and Mitchell both have blogs of their own and I long to be just like them. So, this is my next step in that venture. Ok, since that is out of the way I will continue. I have a confession to make to everyone. I am a human. Shocking, huh? Indeed, I am a human and just like the next human I tend to want to be happy. Lately my thoughts have been intoxicated with the idea of life. Life seems to constantly leave me asking a question that is very popular between myself and my friends: What is the point? All I seem to come across when my thoughts are dumbfounded with this deadly cycle is one common characteristic: the pursit of happiness. Just as I tend to want to be happy, the entire world desires to be happy. Now, the idea of "happiness" is a great invention...but honestly, who is happy? What is happiness? Has anyone really found it? What is the point? Antoinette Kopperfield closed her poem by saying: "I dream with my heart that someday man will rejoice and return to his roots: life, love, and the pursuit of happiness." The search for happiness will always be dominant in our world but it seems to me that the pot of gold has yet to be found.

So, as I admit to you that I indeed am human and my brain is addicted to the idea of life...I welcome you to my blog. This is where I will be discussing it all.